isis unveiled: chapter xv (knowledge is power)

“And this is what we find in the explanatory notes of Colonel Yule, in relation to this degrading Asiatic “superstition”:

“Marco’s account of the pearl-fishery is still substantially correct. At the diamond mines of the northern Circars, Brahmans are employed in the analogous office of propitiating the tutelary genii. The shark charmers are called in Tamil, Kadal-Katti, ‘sea-binders’, and in Hindustani, Hai-banda, or ‘shark-binders’. At Aripo they belong to one family, supposed to have the monopoly of the charm. The chief operator is, (or was, not many years ago), paid by the government, and he also received ten oysters from each boat daily during the fishery. Tennent, on his visit, found the incumbent of the office to be a Roman Catholic Christian (?), but that did not seem to affect the exercise of the validity of his functions. It is remarkable that not more than one authenticated accident from sharks had taken place during the whole period of the British occupation.”

Two items of fact in the above paragraph are worthy of being placed in juxtaposition. 1, The British authorities pay professional shark-charmers a stipend to exercise their art; and 2, only one life has been lost since the execution of the contract. (We have yet to learn whether the loss of this one life did not occur under the Roman Catholic sorcerer).

Is it pretended that the salary is paid as a concession to a degrading native superstition? Very well, but how about the sharks? Are they receiving salaries, also, from the British authorities out of the Secret Service Fund? Every person who has visited Ceylon must know that the waters of the pearl coast swarm with sharks of the most voracious kind, and that it is even dangerous to bathe, let alone to dive for oysters.

We might go further, if we chose, and give the names of British officials of the highest rank in the Indian service, who, after resorting to native “magicians” and “sorcerers”, to assist them in recovering things lost, or in unraveling vexatious mysteries of one  kind or another, and being successful, and at the time secretly expressing their gratitude, have gone away, and shown their innate cowardice before the world’s Areopagus, by publicly denying the truth of magic, and leading the jest against Hindu “superstition”.”

H. P. Blavatsky

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