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New Delhi: Newly-appointed IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) Mandi director, Laxmidhar Behera, has sparked controversy after a video surfaced online where he is heard saying he was involved in an act of exorcism to rid his friend’s apartment and family of “evil spirits” by chanting “holy mantras”, Indian Express has reported.
Behera, who earlier served at IIT Kanpur, was appointed to Mandi IIT on Thursday, January 13. As per the IIT Kanpur website, he is a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering. He holds a PhD from IIT Delhi and a post-doctoral degree from German National Center for Information Technology.
In the five-minute video clip, Behera recalls an incident from 1993 where he travelled to Chennai to help a friend whose “family was affected by ghosts”. He then goes on to say that he wanted to help his friend to “demonstrate the potency of the holy name” as he had started “practising the thoughts and wisdom in the Bhagavad Gita” along with chanting the ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’ mantra.
Giving a blow-by-blow account of the incident, Behera says, “So I took two of my friends and reached at 7 pm. He was in a research scholar apartment. After 10-15 minutes of loud chanting, we suddenly saw his father, who was a very short…person, absolutely old, barely able to walk, and suddenly his hand and leg was…he was creating such a ghastly dance and his head is almost touching the roof. You could feel that he is being completely devoured by the evil spirit.”
He then goes on to say that the mother and wife of the friend in question were “possessed by the evil spirit”, adding that it took them about 45 minutes to one hour of “loud chanting to ward off the evil spirit”.
When asked about his act of exorcism, Behera told Indian Express, “I narrated what I said. Ghosts exist, yes.” He also added that “modern science cannot explain a lot of occurrences or events”.
The video was posted on his YouTube channel titled “Learn Gita Live Gita” seven months ago. Soon after the controversy emerged, the video’s setting was changed from public to private.
Behera was appointed to IIT Mandi after a panel comprising IIT Hyderabad chairman B.V.R Mohan Reddy, Government of India’s principal scientific adviser K. Vijay Raghavan, IIT Mandi chairman Prem Vrat, Standing Committee for IIT Council chairman K. Radhakrishnan, then Higher Education secretary Amit Khare and education minister Pradhan selected him.