Meet a man who practices black magic and chants his way to defy science.
Before I visited Mayong, known as the black magic capital of India, black magic to me was a bit of hocus-pocus, abracadabra, an avoid-it-to-avoid-scary-thoughts subject and a problem deeply related to illiteracy.
Mayong, situated 40 kilometers from Guwahati, is a small village that rests near the mighty Brahmaputra. A mysterious, yet peaceful, silence clouds over the place. It’s also blessed with mighty beasts that are now guarded and safely kept within the bounds of Pabitora National Park.
Before we begin, let me tell you, history testifies to the wrath of this place. Mughal armies feared not the armies of Assam, but the power of black magic that was contained in Mayong. The Alamgir Nama, that chronicles Aurangzeb's reign, while talking about an invasion by Muhammad Shah in 1332 with one lakh horsemen, says, "The whole army perished in that land of witchcraft, and not a trace was left".
Black magic equipment. Image source: grabhouse.com
Growing up in Assam, I heard a lot of stories about Mayong. Everyone here, in Assam, had. We grew up on stories of a land where people could turn leaves into insects, tame impossible beasts, win over anyone, catch thieves with a bowl and a flower, manipulate people to no end, cure any disease and even travel in time.
The reputed sorcerer PC Sorcar has many a times expressed his indebtedness to Mayong for some of his tricks.
How much of it was true? None of it? Then why would these stories never stop? I had to go there myself and find out.
Dressed for the part in Mayong. Image source:thecitizen.in
I was hosted by Dipon Kathar and his wife, Rupali Kathar, local residents of Mayong. According to them, Mayong got its name from Maya, Assamese for illusion. “Some people also believe the name originated from Ma-or-ongo, or Ma’s part, which means it is a part of the Goddess herself,” Mr. Dilip Kathar added.
“Is it true there’s black magic in Mayong?”, I asked him out of curiosity.
“Yes, there is. I have seen it myself.”
“What have you seen?”
“Back in the day, there were a lot of wild beasts entering our farms. It was very difficult to stop them. But the bez (village doctor/black magic practitioner) would chant some mantras and through it create a fence for them. They could tame the wildest of beasts.”
“And you’ve seen this with your own eyes?” I asked to confirm.
“Do you go to the bez to get treated?”
“Yes, I had some pain in the body. I got relieved of the pain.”
At this point, we were joined by his wife. I turned to her to confirm.
“Do you believe in black magic too?”
“Yes. Most of us do.”
Dilip Kathar with Trilok Hazarika, the bez
I pleaded with Mr. Dipin Kathari to take me to a bez who performs black magic. Most people shut down talks of black magic because they think of it as superstition. I was told, with education, people started moving away from black magic. Ironically, the bez Mr. Kathari took me to, Mr. Trilok Hazarika, was a retired school teacher.
As we entered the gates of Mr. Hazarika’s house, the front yard sported a small temple which was guarded by two statues of lions. At this point, Mr Kathari told me almost everyone in Mayong had written manuscripts on black magic. But most of them burned it or threw it in the river to avoid complications.
“I would have been a tantric too had my parents not burned down the papers we had,” he said with a sudden sadness taking over him. “There are good practitioners and evil ones”, he warned me.
“What is Mr. Trilok Hazarika then?”
“Good one, madam,” he exclaimed.
In Mayong, people use their magical power for social welfare. Image source: Jagran Post
TBH, when I was told he practices tantricism, I expected to meet a man in saffron robe, locks of dangling hair, ashes smothered over his body. Instead, I found a man dressed in a white top and a dhoti with a gamusa (Assamese towel) around his neck. He rushed to greet me.
“So you practice black magic?” I asked.
“Yes, I do.”
“The media denies there is black magic. But then again, they only come in search of black magic”, he added with a laugh.
“What tricks can you perform?”
“Magic is not something to be performed. I perform it whenever people need me to. I have tamed beasts, cured snake bites, fought ghosts, and cured people of chronic pain when people wanted me to.”
“But with science and medicine in the picture, isn’t it too old a trick?”
“See, when a ghost enters a human body, doctors push injections and ask patients to pop in pills. Later, I have seen they come to me and I cure them. What’s this then? I once had a patient who came from Guwahati Medical College. Those people could not treat the patient. I cured him,” he added. Mr. Kathari added he witnessed it.
Manuscripts at Hazarika's house
Black magic had been a part of the Hazarika family for generations. But Trilok's father didn't want him to learn any of it. Then one day, when Trilok was on his way home from school – class 9, he recollects – a man followed him and insisted he should be taught the black art. Upon his mother's insistence as well, his father agreed. The old man was a bez. He taught Trilok a few mantras and promised to return and teach him some more later. When he did return, he took Trilok with him to help treat a snake bite victim. Trilok treated the man as he was instructed by the bez and the man recovered fully. After that, people from all over would go to him. Even the Governor of Assam, Loknath Mishra, once called for him. He wanted to know more about his black magic.
The black magic museum in Mayong. Image source: LuxeIndia
“Do you get paid well as a bez?” I asked him, curious to see if it could be a career option for me.
“We are not allowed to take money. I don’t even drink water from the house of the person I cure. Even if they keep some money and go, I donate it to the temple. Curing snake bites, I was told, was dharma. You have to follow certain norms for the powers to come to you.”
“Do you use animal sacrifices in your practice?”
“Not at all. I use tribal medicines, powerful chants and a little bit of tantric techniques. That’s all.”
“Do a lot of people come to you?”
“Yes. People from all over India and the world come to me. I use simple solutions to treat problems. I believe in the goodness of people. Science cannot cure diabetes but I give simple, readily available products to be taken. People want to know what I do and find science in it. I think if it cures you, it is science enough.”
The brass plate trick that absorbs pain
After a thousand requests, he agreed to perform the brass plate trick. It is said whenever there’s pain, they chant mantras and pass it on to a brass plate and slap it on the patient. After the plate absorbs all the pain, the plate falls off on its own.
It really was incredible how a plate, without any static charge or glue, stuck on to the person’s back. In the earlier days, tales of enigmatic tricks performed by Chura Bez passed from village to village. Chura Bez could perform the ‘Luki Mantra’ and disappear. “Like poof,” I was told.
Some tricks like the ‘Uran Mantra’, Trilok told me, were used to win cycle races.
“They could travel in time,” he exclaimed.
Sadly or not, I don’t know, some of the tricks can’t be revived because they haven’t been decoded yet. On second thoughts, if someone wants a challenging research subject, start here...
Trilok Hazarika and a few others are the last brigade of black magic practitioners in Mayong. With them, we might just lose the entire art to history. It is not for me to answer if black magic, tribal medicines or tantricism is real or not. Like Mr. Trilok Hazarika, the bez, says:
You cannot see black magic. You have to experience it.
1. Mayong is easy to get to by road from the city of Guwahati (About 40 km from it).
2. If you're taking the train, get off at Jagiroad Railway Station.
3. For a comfortable stay, try the wildlife lodges at Pobitora.
4. Stop by the Mayong Central Museum to get your fill of Mayong's black magic history
5. If magic doesn't excite you, stop by the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary nearby. It has the highest density of One-horned Rhinos in the country.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of 101India.com.
By Priyanjana Roy Das
Photographs by: Priyanjana Roy Das
Cover photo credit: triphobo.com