|Born||February 17, 1930
Kozhikode, Kerala, India
|Died||October 4, 2009
|Occupation||Guru buster, rationalist, skeptic, owner-writer-publisher of The Indian Skeptic|
In the 1940s, Premanand quit school to take part in the Quit India Movement. With that ended his traditional schooling. His next seven years were spent in newly started Sri-Steila Gurukula, where the Shantiniketan-Wardha brand of education was imparted.
Around 1975 Premanand started publicly denouncing the Indian godman, Sathya Sai Baba, and devoted his life to exposing godmen and paranormal phenomena. He was arrested in 1986 by the police for marching, with 500 volunteers, towards Puttaparthi, the town where the main ashram of the guru is located; in the same year he sued Sathya Sai Baba for violation of the Gold Control Act for Sathya Sai Baba's materializations of gold objects. The case was dismissed, but Premanand appealed on the ground that spiritual power is not a defence recognised in law, which was also unsuccessful.
Premanand used his skills as an amateur magician to try to give a natural explanation of some of the alleged miracles of gurus and godmen. Guru Busters, the documentary by the British filmmaker Robert Eagle, features Premanand displaying and teaching his interpreted explanation for many supposedly supernatural stunts such as levitation, flesh piercing and live burials.
He took active part in Vigyan Yatra (Rally for Science) organised by Maharashtra Lok Vidnyan in 1982 to popularise science and scientific thinking as well as in the Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha held in 1987 espousing the same cause.
He later founded the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, which tours the villages of India to spread his ideas of natural explanations of gurus and fakirs whom he considered frauds or self deceived. He was the convener of Indian CSICOP, a Tamil Nadu-based skeptic group which is an affiliate of CSICOP. He was the owner-publisher-editor of the monthly magazine, The Indian Skeptic, which "publishes articles on the scientific investigation of apparently paranormal occurrences with a special emphasis on cases from India".
Once referred to in a BBC anti-guru show as India's leading guru buster, Basava Premanand has "been honoured by the government with its highest award for the promotion of scientific values among the public."
In 1963, Abraham Kovoor offered an award of INR 100,000 for anyone who could demonstrate supernatural or miraculous powers under fool-proof and fraud-proof conditions. After the death of Kovoor in 1978, Basava Premanand continued his challenge by offering INR 100,000 to any person who would demonstrate any psychic, supernatural of paranormal ability of any kind under satisfactory observing conditions. The challenge remains uncontested.
Books and pamphlets
- Science versus Miracles
- Lure of Miracles
- Divine Octopus
- The Storm of Godmen, God and Diamond Smuggling
- Satya Sai Greed
- Satya Sai Baba & Gold Control Act
- Satya Sai Baba & Kerala Land Reforms Act
- Investigate Balayogi
- United Front - FIRA 2nd National Conference
- Murders in Sai Baba's Bedroom
- A. T. Kovoor Octogenary Souvenir
- Saibabayude Kalikal
- Saidasikal Devadasikal
- Pinthirippanmarude Masterplan
- "National Awardees for Science Popularisation". NIC. Retrieved 2008-05-16.
- Datta, Tanya (2004-06-17). "Sai Baba: God-man or con man?". BBC. Retrieved 2007-02-24.
- "An Indian Skeptic's explanation of miracles". Mukto Mona. Retrieved May 15, 2013.
- The Telegraph, Calcutta: Sunday, November 21, 2004
- Johannes Quack (2011). Disenchanting India: Organized Rationalism and Criticism of Religion in India. Oxford University Press. pp. 95–104. ISBN 978-0-19-981260-8.
- Indian Skeptic official Website
- Interview with Premanand
- BBC radio documentary about Premanand (in RealAudio format)
- Skeptical Enquirer article on B.Premanand
- Guru Busters
- JREF Obituary