The South Asian Life & Times - SALT   
  Spring 2014          



 Spring 2014


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 Arctic to Antarctic
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India Art Fair 2014

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 Tribal Victories 2013

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THE SORCARS – Nine Generations of MAGIC!


Priyanka & Partha Mukherjee


Almost 400 years ago a wandering Yoga-Siddha (one who attains control over the physical and metaphysical through the mastery of Yoga) held the Mughal Emperor Jahangir in awe and wonder by his amazing magical feats at the emperor’s court. The astounded Emperor, a connoisseur of all arts and culture, gifted him the Sarkari (as the landlords of yore were referred to) of Sutigram village near Dhaka. The name of the “miracle-man” was Krishna Chandra Dev. In appreciation of the emperor’s grand gesture, Krishna Chandra added Sarkar to his title and became Krishna Chandra Dev Sarkar. And the saga of the illustrious Sorcar family began. “The gene of Magic is in our blood,” says Prodip Chandra Sorcar, recognized the world over as Magician P. C. Sorcar Junior, the eighth generation in the Sorcar family of magicians.

 Over time, the Sarkars and sorcery became synonymous with one another. While Krishna Chandra gained popularity as one of the pioneers of Bangal Ka Jadu, his descendants forwarded the Gharana – captivating spectators with their unique brand of Indian Magic – from royal courts to the parlours of the eminent personalities to local festivals to street shows. Magic had become their way of life.

 It carried on this way for some generations until Atmaram Sarkar, magician, visionary and philanthropist, took up the cause of enlightening the masses on the indelible truth behind the art of sorcery – that all magic is performed with the help of science; that there is no hocus pocus involved as many people would have you believe. Atmaram took the cudgel against superstition; consequently, he also made powerful enemies. There were too many who were milking the impressionable masses off their religious sentiments and psychological weaknesses. His detractors started spreading rumours about Atmaram’s alleged connection with the dark arts, that he performed his wizardry by calling upon unearthly spirits, forcing them to carry his bidding. The village folk were instantly enamoured of the incredible stories. They, who stood to strike down the popularity of Atmaram as a social reformer, immediately took up the golden opportunity, smashed his head in the dark of the night and then declared his death to be the result of the fury of those phantoms the magician had conjured up. Even today, the legend of Atmaram and his spine-chilling fate lives on in the “magical” chants of the Madaris (traditional street magicians of India) – “Ja bhoot, tu ja. Atmaram ka matha kha!

 Read the entire article in the print edition of The South Asian Life & Times



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