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Jacolliot, Louis - Occult Science in India - 01 Fakirs Introduction



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Jacolliot, Louis - Occult Science in India

Having spent twenty years of his life after receiving the first degree of initiation, during which the body is mortified by fasting and privation, and the intellect is trained and disciplined by means of prayers, invocations, and sacrifices, the candidate finally takes his place in one of the three following categories:

  • Grihasta—he remains at the head of his family until his death, and attends to his social duties and business, whatever it may be. Of all that he has been taught he only retains the power to evoke the domestic spirits, or in other words, those in the same genealogical line as himself, with whom it is lawful for him to communicate within the sanctuary which it is his duty to reserve for them in his house.
  • Pourohita—he becomes a priest attached to the popular cult and takes part in all ceremonies and family festivals, both in temples and private dwellings. Phenomena of possession come exclusively within his province: he is the grand exorcist of the pagodas.
  • Fakir—he becomes a performing Fakir, and from this moment forward all his time is employed in the manifestation of occult power by means of the public exhibition of exterior phenomena.

Neither Grihastas, Pourohitas, nor Fakirs are ever admitted to the second degree of initiation. Their studies are ended, and with the exception of the Fakirs, who are constantly in communication with those who have been initiated into the higher degrees, in order to augment their magnetic and spiritual power, they take no part in the mystic instruction, which is given in the temples.

Only a few among those who have distinguished themselves in their studies for the first degree are able to pass through the terrible ordeal of the higher initiation or arrive at the dignity of a Sannyassi or Cenobite……………………

Lack of fraud or trickery

We assert nothing positively with regard to most of the facts which we are about to relate. The skill derived from long experience, charlatanism, and even hallucination itself, may assist to explain them. We are bound to say, however, as impartial and faithful observers, that though we applied the severest tests, to which the Fakirs and other initiates interposed no objection whatever, we never succeeded in detecting a single case of fraud or trickery, which, we admit, is far from being a conclusive proof of their honesty.

Hue, the missionary, who also gives an account of similar phenomena, witnessed by him in Thibet, was equally at a loss to account for them.

We are perfectly ready to admit, also, that we never knew a European, either in India or Ceylon, even among the oldest residents, who was able to indicate what means the votaries of the Pitris used in the production of these phenomena……..

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.

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps