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India’s forgotten magical history

‘Fakirs’ and their prophetic powers make a telling appearance in the book. Photo: Alamy

‘Fakirs’ and their prophetic powers make a telling appearance in the book.  Photo: Alamy

By Manu S. Pillai

Sometime in the last decade—when I was still in school and the world was less hysterical—I happened to meet a “sun yogi”. He was a fascinating man, swathed in white, with a long beard and an enviable figure. His face beamed, more or less on a permanent basis, and he endured cheerfully my stabs at polite conversation. Mr Uma Sankar, I was eventually told, meditated daily, staring straight at the sun. And from the sun, “like plants and trees”, he absorbed energy in such adequate doses that since 1996, he had neither eaten, nor slept, nor tasted a drop of water. To be clear, I wasn’t prepared to digest such claims upfront, but the unwisdom of picking a public quarrel with a yogiwas manifest—and so, having made mixed sounds in response, I excused myself to return to people of my own nutritional preferences.


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