When Yogi Rao walked on water

Lakshmanasandra Srikanta Rao was an Indian yogi who claimed to have such total control over his body that he could eat glass, swallow poison, eat live vipers, walk on fire, and even survive an atomic bomb. But basically he was just a stage magician who knew a few tricks and put on a good act.

He made headlines in the 1950s when he moved to America and gained heiress Doris Duke as a follower, but he returned to India after only a few months, apparently recognizing that he had gotten in over his head and promised his followers more than he could deliver.

He laid low until 1966 when he returned to headlines with his claim that he was going to publicly walk on water. Over 600 paid to see him do this, including some of the most famous people in India. But Rao took one step and plunged right to the bottom of the pool he was supposed to walk across.

What had he been thinking? Had he somehow convinced himself that he really could walk on water? Maybe. He was later quoted as expressing regret at his failure, saying, “I am so angry that I feel like drowning myself even if I have to tie a stone round my neck to do so.”

Two years later he offered to try again, to prove he was for real, but the performance never happened.

You can read more about Rao's colorful career in this interesting article by Philip Deslippe.

Tampa Tribune - June 13, 1966

La Crosse Tribune - Mar 14, 1965

     Posted By: Alex - Thu Dec 06, 2018
     Category: Frauds, Cons and Scams | 1960s

From the Yogi of yesteryear to goat and beer yoga today.

agent j
Posted by agent j on 12/06/18 at 11:54 AM
Great play on words in the Deslippe article: Almost two years [after the walking-on-water fiasco], Yogi Rao resurfaced and told the Times of India that he was going to reattempt the feat to convince the public that he was not a fraud.
Posted by ges on 12/06/18 at 09:49 PM
Walking on water is easy. You can do it after any rain storm. Walking on deep water is a different problem. That is done by placing something just under the surface and walking on that. While keeping the audience at a safe distance.
Posted by eddi on 12/06/18 at 11:01 PM
Where I live, people walk on water every year. Some even drive on it. It's already begun to happen this year, at least in the northern part of the state. Frozen water is still water.
Posted by Fritz G on 12/07/18 at 06:21 AM
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