Sai Baba's Secrets Revealed?
"A highly entertaining travel-cum-adventure book which includes an entertaining description of the author's brief apprenticeship to a master (whom he calls Feroze) in miracle techniques, like going into a trance, materialising vibhuti and regurgitating lingams:
"Shah is fearful when his newly-found master suddenly goes from meditation into a trance. When he returns to consciousness, the teacher explains that it is done with a walnut: 'The illusion is elementary. ... First, stick the walnut in your armpit, and pretend you're going into a state of samadhi. Next, gently press down on the nut. The trembling of meditation masks the contraction of one's shoulder muscles. Soon, as you saw, the nut reduces the pulse, by pressing on the axillary artery.' (p. 98)
"Feroze insisted that mastering vibhuti would develop my sleight-of-hand abilities. Adept conjurors, he said, can eat, drink tea, and write with one or two of the pellets - hidden in position - lodged in the web of skin between the thumb and forefinger. With a single circling movement of the hand, they can withdraw the pellet and crush it with the fingertips.
"Feroze demonstrated how to make the tiny pellets. A quantity of perfume and ash is mixed in a pan with a few drops of kanji, a starchy water in which rice has been washed. Stir in enough ash and one gets a form of dough. Pea-sized beads of the preparation are dried, ready for use." (p. 101)
"To produce the lingams, Shah describes how he graduated from swallowing small potatoes and provoking a violent regurgitation with a powerful emetic to stage 2 where he was able to produce the same effect with pebbles by control of internal muscles (pp. 104-108). He quotes his master as commenting: 'Houdini claimed to be nothing more that an illusionist. But here, in India, godmen have taken these feats a stage further: they are passing them off as actual magic.'
"And (on p. 110): 'Houdini understood that without mystery there was no magic. He knew also that without publicity, word of one's skill would not travel.'"
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