Dr Abraham T. Kovoor
The Rationalist of Indian Subcontinent

"He who does not allow his miracles to be investigated is a crook, he who does not have the courage to investigate a miracle is gullible, and he who is prepared to believe without verification is a fool."

- Dr Abraham T. Kovoor -

Dr Abraham. T. Kovoor was a free thinker and rationalist originally from Kerala, South India who later spent his life in Sri Lanka. He was the president of the Rationalist Association of Sri Lanka where he and the renowned Professor Emeritus Carlo Fonseka held regular meetings at Thurston College, Colombo. He came to the conclusion that there was absolutely no objective truth behind such claims and beliefs in all types of alleged psychic, parapsychological and spiritual phenomena based on his intensive scientific researches for over half a century. He was one of the first and the only scientist among psychical researchers in the world at that time to have been awarded a doctorate for his research by the Minnesota Institute of Philosophy of U.S. for his thesis on psychic and para-psychic phenomena

I was told by Mr C. Pathmanathan in Sri Lanka who used to attend the meeting of the rationalist association of Sri Lanka, how Dr Kovoor used to distribute the so-called "Holy Ash" in the same manner as some self-appointed Hindu gurus did. "Sathya Sai Baba" one of those Gurus from Karnataka, India whose performance of "Holy Ash" distribution among his followers was considered to be very miraculous. His assertion was that all those who claim to possess psychic, para-psychic, and spiritual powers were either hoaxers or mentally deranged persons suffering from cryptesthesia. He said, "nobody has and nobody ever had supernatural powers. They exist only in the pages of scriptures and sensation-mongering newspapers " Dr Kovoor's main aim was to enlighten people and teach them to go by reason and scientific verification.

He was born at Tiruvalla in Kerala, (South India) on 10th April, 1898 in a Christian family. His father was Rev. Kovoor Eipe Thomma Katthanar, the Vicar General of the Mar Thomma Syrian Church of Malabar. He completed his basic education at the Syrian Christian Seminary in Kerala and received his higher education along with his younger brother Dr Behanan Kovoor (who was at Yale University and United Nations), at the Bengabasi College, Calcutta, where he specialised in Botany and Zoology. He was the only scientist in Asia to take part in an expedition to the Indian Ocean along with other scientists at the invitation by the " Ernst Haeckel Ecology Center" of U.S.A Dr Kovoor was very much attached to the rational teaching of Buddha and that was one of the reasons why he moved from Kerala to Sri Lanka, where the majority of the population were Buddhist.

Buddha was indeed a great social and religious reformer of India, who rebelled against Hindu dogmatism and taught a more rational and tolerant philosophy than any others at that time.

"In the heyday of the Sri Lanka Rationalist Association thirty years ago, Abraham Kovoor used to quote from this regularly at the Association's public meetings. The Buddha's rejection of authority, tradition, hearsay, dogma, and so on, and his position - stated very clearly to the enquiring Kalama people of the village Kesaputta - that one should accept something as true and valid on the basis of verification by oneself, naturally appealed to the rationalist mind. Many have also cited the Kalama Sutta as evidence that the Buddhist attitude is essentially a scientific one."

Dr Kovoor disregarded his Christian faith and tradition as he couldn't accept the Bible as the word of an omniscient god. As he gradually matured he became a free thinker and adopted rationalism as his philosophy. He passed away on September 18, 1978 in Colombo, Sri Lanka at the age 80


Dr Kovoor's Conclusion

Sincere and honest persons earn their living by sincere honest work. Dishonest persons do so by cheating those who work and earn. To the category of dishonest parasites who thrive by cheating the credulous among honest workers belong the teachers, preachers and priests of dubious religions and cults, mystics, saints, arahants, sidhas who claim that they have acquired enlightenment through meditation or penance; gurus, babas, anandas, rishis, swamijis and yogis who claim that they have obtained miraculous powers through yogic practices or as from boons from gods; oracles, exorcists, charmers, soothsayers, fortune-tellers and all types of occultists who claim that they have developed their special powers through spiritual exercises, astrology, palmistry, numerology, telepathy, clairvoyance, telekinesis (Psychokinesis), precognition, necromancy, spirit possession etc

In recent years a new type of hoaxers have cropped up in India in the form of incarnations of one or other of numerous gods of the Hindu pantheon. Intelligent crooks of that country have found a new method of amassing wealth with the least effort. They get hold of a person who is clever at sleight-of-hand tricks, and brand him as an "avathar". A lot of cock-and-bull stories about the miraculous genesis and divine powers of the godmen are published in books and newspapers. Whenever this imitation of god appears in public, his agents offer him flowers and prostrate before him. As most gullibles have the habit of doing exactly as others do, the thousands of credulous spectators too prostrate before the miracle performing charlatan. Money pours in lakhs (one hundred thousands) to be shared by the juggler and his agents. It is indeed a tragedy that among these crafty god-makers are some of the highly qualified scientists of that country

Although the acts of these hoaxers are as criminal as those of robbers, cheats, smugglers, black marketeers, pickpockets and thieves, governments are reluctant to prosecute them because their practice is sanctioned by most religions. In a democracy where the majority of people are blind believers in religions, these hoaxers can carry on their trade of cheating with impunity: If legal action is to be taken against them, the first person to be prosecuted will be the Pope, the earthly representative of Christ, for cheating his gullible flock by making them believe that the wine they are given during the Holy Sacrament is the blood of Christ. This is a fraud that can be proved by subjecting the Sacrament Wine to a chemical test.

It was to convince the ignorant masses that there is absolutely no truth in the claims of these hoaxers that have been challenging them staking all I have to demonstrate their powers under fraud-proof conditions.

I am aware that my various challenges, staking large sums of money, are liable to create a false impression in the minds of the public that I am a fabulously rich man with plenty of money to throw about for cheap publicity. I am also aware of the dire consequences of these challenges. If there is one person in the world with supernatural or paranormal powers, I will eventually have to end up in a" home for destitute", but I was, and still am, fully confident that I will not be losing a single cent by these challenges, because nobody has, and nobody ever had, miraculous powers although we read in scriptures and sensation-mongering newspapers numerous stories about people possessing miraculous powers. That is why I am keeping these challenges open till my death or till I find the first winner.

None of the hoaxers who claim supernatural powers will dare to take up my challenge for fear of their fraud getting exposed under scientific tests. The only person who was foolhardy to deposit Rs.1000 as proof of his earnestness to face my challenge, was, strangely enough, not one of the charlatans, but a highly religious person who blindly believed in the supernatural and the miraculous. Dr G. Venkata Rao, a medical doctor of Bangalore, who was credulous enough to believe that his Guru Raghavendra Swamiji of Mantralaya, Andhra Pradesh, has divine powers, paid Rs.1000 as earnest deposit, and finally lost it!

Dr G. Venkata Rao, a medical doctor of Bangalore, who was credulous enough to believe that his Guru Raghavendra Swamiji of Mantralaya, Andhra Pradesh, has divine powers, paid Rs.1000 as earnest deposit, and finally lost it!

Dr Rao foolishly believed that a person could obtain divine powers by chanting the mantra "Om Raghavendra Sharanam" daily 100 times. Being an extremely gullible person he also belied the cock and bull Story the sacred ash, honey and flowers come out like fountain from the eye of a 6 year-old child in a village in Mysore district.

Later, getting wiser-probably after testing the claim of "the miracle child himself at my request-he wanted his deposit returned. Much against my wish, I had to decline his request as it-was against the conditions of my challenge.

published by Shri Aswin J. Shah 

Copyright © 1976,  Dr Abraham Kovoor

Another wonderful book by Dr Abraham Kovoor is
"Gods, Demons and Spirits"

Shri V.A. Menon from Bombay, who had known Dr Kovoor well and brought out his writings as a book, writes " Dr Kovoor had been a terror to those who cheat innocent and gullible masses in the garb of holy men or miracle performers. His fervour to wipe out superstition from the face of earth, and establish a humanitarian tradition makes Dr Kovoor one of the noblest personalities of the twentieth century"

He wrote with great skill and a wonderful sense of humour. The variety of material gives a real insight into the intensive research and thoughts of this outstanding rationalist. He was able to prove many things that people believe were wrong. His earnest hope was that his efforts would be helpful in getting rid of many of these parasitic charlatans, who have been spreading darkness, false and superstitious belief among people, and weaning out the credulous and simple-minded masses not only in Indian Subcontinent but also from the rest of the world. Their foolish and naive beliefs in the supernatural and the miraculous without scientific verification.

I personally cannot remember any other person in the 20th century other than E.V.R.Periyar, (a social reformer and uncompromising fighter against the primitive caste system and ill-treatment of Hindu women in South India) and who has done so much to enlighten the people in Indian Subcontinent where superstitious belief very common among people.

I feel privileged for having read some of the writings of this extraordinary man and regret that many so-called educated people in India are not familiar with his writings. The majority of Indians have not even heard of him. I really appreciate his philosophy of rationalism and his service to the mankind. I take this opportunity thank Mr Ashwin J Shah, Jaico Publishing House Pvt. Ltd- Mumbai for having granted permission to quote from his book.


Dedicated to Mr Balendra at Kotahena who had once generously provided me with shelter and occasionally food and in Colombo when I was so young and was on the brink of starvation and desperately need of help. Thanks also to his cousin Mr C. Pathmanathan having introduced to Mr Balendra.


Prakash Arumugam


The Miracle of 
Ganga Water  
by Dr. Abraham Kovoor

by Dr.Abraham Kovoor

Dr Abraham Kovoor

BEWARE OF GODMEN by Dr. Abraham Kovoor

The Modern Rationalist , India

Studies In Rationalism

Social Reformer
E.V.R. Periyar

Rationalist International, India

Buddhiwadi Foundation
educational trust for promoting
rationalism and humanism 

History of Freethought
by Bertrand Russell
Was once a Sai Baba Devotee
a mail from Joe-Penna

International Humanist and Ethical Union

What is humanism

-Babu R.R. Gogineni-

Rationalist Society of India

James Randi Educational Foundation

Rationalists of East Tennessee, USA


This article was written with the kind permission from
Mr Ashwin J Shah, Jaico Publishing House Pvt. Ltd - 121, Mahatma Gandhi Road
Mumbai - 400 023 India - E-mail :- Jaico Publishers

Copyright ©1995-2009 Prakash Arumugam