Edios (idea or essence in Greek-an appropriate name) started its exotic classes in a deserted country place near Moscow. The neighbourhood watched with apprehension as the fifteen students cleaned the turf off the site, brought a stock of dry wood and made a great big bonfire.
Igor Matyugin, Eidos president, explained to the gaping crowd: "Many Indians and Bulgarians safely walk on coals. Why not try it here?"
The five volunteers in his class, two senior schoolgirls, a newly demobbed soldier, a performing musician and a nurse, unlocked the old house, arranged their chairs in a circle around Igor's - and the psychological preparations started. "Close your eyes, take fast little breaths," he ordered.
When the group was nearing a trance, he started the suggestion part of the business: "Your feet are ice-cold, and so is the floor. Whatever you touch is cold."
Someone came from the garden with a smoldering twig out of the bonfire. Igor took it and went on, imperturbed: "Now I shall touch your bare feet with this twig, and you'll feel it's ice-cold"
The twig touched the delicate feet of the first victim, a young girl. Dazed, she answered Igor's queries in monosyllables: "Cold?" "Yes". "Hurts?" "No."
When all were tested, Igor reclined in his chair, smiling: "You see the hot twig seems cold. When you step into the bonfire you'll feel its coals are just as cold. Take deep breaths as before. Up! Now, it's the fire dancing for you."
The barefoot gathering followed him with merry enthusiasm.
The bonfire was smoldering. "Ice, ice," Nadezhda Pasechnik, a nurse, loudly repeated-and stepped in. Several faltering steps and she jumped out with the triumphant cry of "They are cold!" - and in again, for a wild dance, sparks bursting up from under her feet.
Oleg Nikiforov, Galina Logvinova and Marina Skuratova bravely followed her. Only Irina Smyk, a girl of fifteen, stood at a loss, eyes shut. At last, she, too, stepped on the red coals, rocking like a sleepwalker. She, too, came out unscathed.
Worked up, the group brought armfuls of thick logs, which caught fire in no time-and Nadezhda jumped in and resumed her dance, all smiles, singing a ditty. The others followed her into the fire. "Ice!" she cried as flames were licking her bare legs.
Walking on fire, obviously, is not that painful!
After she washed her sooty feet, no one saw a single burn on them.
The experiment went on. Igor Matyugin was explaining to the astonished spectators: "They'll be all right, after several days of training. They know the special way of breathing and how to enter into trances. They were rolling hot-water bottles with their bare feet and have held their palms over a candle flame."
Next, a big torch was lit: a long stick with a tinful of spirits on its end, a wad of cotton wool soaking inside. The flame spurted up, and the gathering stretched their bare hands and arms to it. The schoolgirls screamed in ecstasy: "Doesn't hurt in the least! Look, no reddening! No soot, even!"
I saw such things only once in this country, on stage, when the girl fakir Svetlana Tim of Astrakhan was performing. Yet it had taken her years of training-and now teenage girls were rivalling her after four days' exercises.
The dancing over, one boy used the coals for a barbecue - the best proof that the fire wasn't a fake.
"When shall we walk on water?" Marina Skuratova, one of the schoolgirls, happily asked Igor.
"Quite soon," he replied, and I do not know if it was a joke or if he really meant it.
Naked flesh invulnerable to fire-what a graphic demonstration of psychic power! Yet how can mental energy transform itself into physical abilities? That is something for scientists to think about. Eidos is eager to cooperate.
To dispel the last remnants of my scepticism, I asked Nadezhda Pasechnik, the Lady of the Day with a conventional medical education: "Do we need this hair-raising entertainment at all? There are lots of safer things to do."'
She said with conviction: "It's good for one's mental health. I was terribly neurotic quite recently. Doctors stuffed me with tranquillisers, but things were only getting worse. I kept crying for no reason at all. It was a rare stroke of luck to hear about Eidos. So I joined the group to master my emotions. Now I don't care a straw about things that used to drive me to desperation. Today is red-letter day for me-I know what exhilarating happiness it is to break psychological barriers. Now my inferiority complex is gone forever, I'm sure. Ours is a time of psychological overloads, and I think training of the Eidos kind is necessary for all."
The other members of the group made similar statements. They may seem like nonsense to the European mind; but then, Bulgarian fire-dancers are healers at the same time.
According to Bulgarian experts, extreme conditions sharply increase the potential of material fields in the human body. If the person is physically healthy, he or she thus receives healing powers; and Bulgarian fire-dancers are all in excellent health.
Fire-walking and touching flames are only instances of Eidos practice. The centre gives people seemingly superhuman abilities which we usually see only in fakirs or movie stuntmen. Eidos members say they have found health and happiness.
Yet these enthusiasts may be victims of illusions. So I felt obliged to address a medical expert on hidden psychological powers. Says Dr. Grimak:
"It is hard to say a flat yes or no to Eidos fire tests. If the boys and girls experiment on themselves without trained specialists around, they are in for trouble. But if there is an experienced psychotherapist to superwise their doings, he is sure to turn away volunteers with any counter-indications. As to the rest, they are sure to gain in mental health. Such training steels the will and helps to fight complexes. When the safety rules are strictly observed, we can only welcome firewalking, levitation and instant memorising exercises."
From: Prakash Seernani, Member,
6, East View Building, 3rd Road, Khar, Bombay 400 052.
To: The Editor, Sunday Mid-Day, Mid-Day Publications Ltd.,
156-D, J.Dadajee Road, Tardeo, Bombay 400 034.
Kind Attention: Shri Nikhil Lakshman, Editor.
September 15, 1990.
I would like to bring to your attention to a news item published in your paper exactly two months ago. I am referring to the item titled "Told you so" in Sunday Mid-Day dated July 15, 1990 (Xerox copy enclosed for your ready reference). The article shows belief in astrology being a science, or rather of astrology being capable of predicting future events. The article claimed that Shri Bejan Daruvala's baseless prediction had come true.
As is usual case here too the predictions were vague and did not answer questions which would substantiate that astrology is a science. The reason I am writing after two months is that I have been waiting for Shri Daruvala's prediction to come true. But, it seems that Shri Daruvala himself is waiting for it to happen, as and when, to claim that he had said it would happen.
I expect your paper to at least do the job completely before saying that there is something to number-jumbo. The following questions should have been answered in your article.
a) If the people in general, and the Janata Dal in particular, were to address Mr. V.P.Singh as Vishwanath Pratap Singh, Raja-Saab, or Mr. Singh how long would he last in power?
b) If the people in general, and the Janata Dal in particular, were not to address Mr. V.P.Singh as Vishwanath Pratap Singh, Raja-Saab, or Mr. Singh how long would he last in power?
As for Mr. Daruvala getting excited over Mr. V.P.Singh's resignation, I would like to say, with all respect to his grey hair, that resignations are just a part of politics.
I take this opportunity to inform Mr. Daruvala that The Convener of Indian Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, Mr. B.Premanand has thrown a challenge to any astrologer who could, by knowing the date, time, and place of birth of ten individuals answer 2, yes, only two questions regarding the ten sets of data. I believe there is a prize of Rs.1,00,000 for the above. Of course the minimum success rate is 80%. If Mr. Daruvala is so confident of his predictions, I suggest he take up the offer. Also looking at his popularity and absolute belief in this number-jumbo I think Mr. Daruvala would not mind a penalty clause of Rs.10,000 if he fails. Note that at present there is no penalty clause existing. For further details contact: Mr. B.Premanand, Convener, Indian CSICOP, 10, Chettipalayam Road, Podanur 641 023. (Tamilnadu) INDIA.
I feel that Mr. Daruvala now has only two options.
a. If he believes he can predict future, or rather read horoscopes and answer questions, he should take up the challenge.
b. Declare publicly that he cannot read horoscopes and answer questions, as he has been declaring that he can, and stop fooling people with his baseless number-jumbo.
Expecting an early action from you and Mr. Daruvala.
Sd. Prakash Seernani.
Sunday Mid-day, July 15, 1990.
* WHO can resist the temptation to say 'I told you so'? Certainly not Capital Eye - given half a chance, we grab it with both eyes, so to speak.
Like, way before the Parliamentary elections last November, our captive stargazer Bejan Daruwalla in his Sunday Mid-Day column had warned that if the people in general, and the Janata Dal in particular, wanted V.P.Singh to last in power, then they should - repeat, should - address him as either Vishwanath Pratap Singh, Raja-saab or plain Mr. Singh.
None of you would listen - not the press, not the public, not his own partymen. And now look where it's got you - the man's quit, and no one at the time of writing knows what's in wait for us, come the morrow.
So there, scoffers, there's something to number-Jumbo after all.
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Last update: 22 July 1998