Occult Science in India, by Louis Jacoilliot, , at sacred-texts.com
Every European has heard of the extraordinary skill of the Hindu. Fakirs, who are popularly designated under the name of Charmers or Jugglers. They claim to be invested with supernatural powers. Such is the belief of all Asiatic people.
When our countrymen are told of their performances, they usually answer: go to the regular magicians, they will show you the same things.
To enable the reader to appreciate the grounds of this opinion, it seems necessary to show how the Fakirs operate. The following are facts which no traveller has ventured to contradict.
First.They never give public representations in places where the presence of several hundred persons makes it impossible to exercise the proper scrutiny.
Second.They are accompanied by no assistant or confederate, as they are usually termed.
Third.They present themselves in the interior of the house completely naked, except that they wear, for modesty's sake, a small piece of linen about as large as the hand.
Fourth.They are not acquainted with goblets, or magic bags, or double-bottomed boxes, or prepared tables, or any of the thousand and one things which our European conjurors find necessary.
Fifth.They have absolutely nothing in their possession, save a small wand of seven knots of young bamboo, as big
as the handle of a pen-holder, which they hold in their right hand, and a small whistle, about three inches long, which they fasten to one of the locks of their long, straight hair; for, having no clothes and consequently no pockets, they would otherwise be obliged to hold it constantly in their hands.
Sixth.They operate, as desired by the person whom they are visiting, either in a sitting or standing posture or, as the case may require, upon the marble, granite, or stucco pavement of the veranda, or upon the bare ground in the garden.
Seventh.When they need a subject for the exhibition of magnetic or somnambulistic phenomena, they take any of your servants whom you may designate, no matter whom, and they act with the same facility upon a European, in case he is willing to serve.
Eighth.If they need any article, such as a musical instrument, a cane, a piece of paper, a pencil, etc., they ask you to furnish it.
Ninth.They will repeat any experiments in your presence as many times as you require, and will submit to any test you may apply.
Tenth.They never ask any pay, merely accepting as alms for the temple to which they are attached, whatever you choose to offer them.
I have travelled through India in every direction for many years, and I can truthfully state that I have never seen a single Fakir who was not willing to comply with any of these conditions.
It only remains for us to ask, whether our more popular magicians would ever consent to dispense with any of their numerous accompaniments and perform under the same conditions.
There is no doubt what the answer would be.
Without drawing any conclusions as to causes or methods, I merely state the facts.