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Observations placeholder

Professor Harry Kellar – High Caste Indian Magic – The Levitating Fakir



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Professor Harry Kellar – High Caste Indian Magic – The North American Review 1893

When I appeared before Queen Victoria, at Balmoral, in 1878, I was asked if I could rival the feats of levitation which Her Majesty’s officers in Northern India had observed and described in their letters home.

My reply was that with proper mechanical appliances I could produce an illusion of levitation and appear to overcome, as the jugglers did, the force of gravity but that the actual feat of suspending the operation of that force was beyond my powers.

As evidence of the world-wide curiosity manifested in these wonderful phenomena, I may mention the fact that the King of Burmah, when I appeared at Mandalay, and the venerable Dom Pedro, in the Teatro Dom Pedro Secundo at Rio, made similar requests, to which I was compelled to return the same reply.

On the occasion of the visit of the Prince of Wales to Calcutta during the winter of 1875-6, I saw a marvel of levitation performed in the presence of the Prince and of some fifty-thousand spectators. The place was the Maidam, or Great Plaza, of Calcutta, and the old fakir who was the master magician of the occasion did his work out in the open plaza.

Around him, in raised seats and on and under the galleries of the-neighbouring houses, the native Princes and Begums were gathered by the score, arrayed in their silks and jewels, with a magnificence to which our western eyes are little accustomed.

After a salaam to the Prince, the old fakir took three swords with straight cross-barred hilts, and buried them hilt downwards about six inches in the ground. The points of these swords were very sharp, as I afterward informed myself.

A younger fakir whose black beard was parted in what we now call the English fashion, although it originated in Hindustan, then appeared and, at a gesture from his master, stretched himself out upon the ground at full length, with his feet together and his hands close to his sides, and after a pass or two made by the hands of the old man, appeared to become rigid and lifeless. A third fakir now came forward, and, taking hold of the feet of his prostrate companion, whose head was lifted by the master the two laid the stiffened body upon the points of the swords, which appeared to support it without penetrating the flesh. The point of one of the swords was immediately under the nape of the man's neck, that of the second rested midway between his shoulders, and that of the third was at the base of his spine, there being nothing under his legs. After the body had been placed on the sword-points the second fakir retired, and the old man, who was, standing some distance from it, turned and salaamed to the audience.

The body tipped neither to the right nor to the left, but seemed to be balanced with mathematical accuracy. Presently the master took a dagger with which he removed the soil round the hilt of the first sword, and, releasing it from the earth, after some exertion, quietly stuck it into his girdle, the body meanwhile retaining its position. The second and the third swords were likewise taken from under the body, which, there in broad daylight and under the eyes of all the spectators, preserved its horizontal position, without visible support, about two feet from the ground. A murmur of adulation pervaded the vast throng, and with a low salaam to the Prince, the master summoned his assistant, and lifting the suspended body from its airy perch they laid it upon the ground. With a few passes of the master’s hand the inanimate youth was himself again.

The source of the experience

Hindu and yoga

Concepts, symbols and science items



Activities and commonsteps