"What really are manthras? They are a certain co-ordination of words, sounds and phrases which, when chanted a required number of times, harmonize to produce an ethereal vibration. This vibration causes ripples in the Pancha Maha Bhutha (five elements). As all living beings are composed of the jive elements, these vibrations have an effect on living matter.
"In certain charms the forces, which are the Devathas, come under three categories. These are brought into force by the constant and rhythmical repetition of their names and powers. In other charms, only the cosmic forces and their vibrations are brought in to play. In the third forms of manthra, devils' names and evil forces are brought into play."Charms could either bring evil spirits (devils) into service or repel them. A charmer could be bound by a devil, or he could drive it out of a possessed person".
(Gaston de Rosayro, The Ceylon Observer, 8-5-67.)
This great vibration theory of charms as expounded by Mr. Rosayro should find a place along with subjects like heat, light, electricity, magnetism etc., in text-book~ on Physics, and should be included in the G.C.E. Syllabus for our students, especially because - unlike other countries - charms, manthras and devil dances are special features of our culture. Is it not necessary that we should have a faculty in the
for this specialized branch of
science? It may be that we may not be able to get suitable persons from abroad
with university degrees or doctorate in occultism or demonology to chair this
faculty. In that case the university authorities should not overlook the claims
of local Kattadiyas. At least there is one among them with specialized training
in demonology in University of Ceylon America.
Of course, like all living organisms, when he finally dies the demonologists and charmists in this country might claim that his death was due to the delayed action of their charms.
One Mr. Nandiris de Silva, a kattadiya from Panadura, claimed through the columns of the Sinhalese newspaper 'Silumina' that he could, by his charms and medical powers perform various miracles such as putting a ghost in my palm, show a demon in a mirror, get me stucked to the chair I was seated on, and smash up the pieces of furniture at my home with the help of demons under his control. Though several dates were fixed both by the editor of the 'Silumina' and myself for Mr. de Silva to demonstrate his tall claims, he never turned up.
The following letters which passed between us will expose the bluff of this typical charlatan:
26th July, 1967
Dear Mr. de Silva
Although you published through the columns of the 'Silumina' that you were prepared to take up my challenge, so far you have evaded to demonstrate your socalled mysterious ability on the dates fixed earlier. Since the readers of Silumina are liable to lose faith in you, the Ceylon Rationalist Association whose main aim is to eradicate superstitious beliefs from the minds of people, and the newspaper Silumina, a final date to demonstrate your so-called power to smash up the furniture in my home by the help of demons or ghosts you claim to have under your magical control, has now to be fixed.
"The time fixed for the demonstration is 30th July, 1967, between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. You are therefore requested to be present at my bungalow at this time to carry out the demonstration in the presence of Mr. Subasinghe, Deputy Editor of Silumina, Mr. Kapila Somaratna and Mr. Garnini Cabraal.
"Though the original challenge of mine was with a bet, tins test will be conducted absolutely free. Your failure to be present on this occasion on some lame excuse will make me come to the logical conclusion that you, like all kattadiyas, are out to cheat the gullible public by your bluff, and that conclusion will be given due publicity. Please remember that this is the last and final date, and no postponement will be made as the readers have waited too long already.
Yours faithfully,Abraham Kovoor
On 3rd August, 1967, I got the following reply from Mr. de Silva:
I am in receipt of your letter dated 26th July, 1967. I have already mentioned in my stories in Silumina that I wanted enough time to produce a ghost before you.
"Herewith I certify that I would produce a spirit of ghost before you. Please fix the date in September, because at present I am undergoing medical treatment from Dr. Ratnavale for an ailment in my body.
"Please let me know the date enabling me to prepare for it in time.
S. Nandiris de Silva
On 3rd August, 1967, I followed it up by the following 1etter:
Dear Mr. de Silva,
Thanks for your letter of 1-8-1967. Though I said in my previous letter of 26th July, that no postponement would be made, in view of your illness I am prepared to accede to your request.
"The new and final date now fixed to conduct, the test is 4th September from 10 am to 11 am Please note that this is the 4th postponement, and no further change will be made.
"Though I am sorry to hear that you are not well, I am glad that you are doing the correct thing by taking treatment from a medical doctor instead of depending on the magical powers you claim to possess. While ignorant persons seek the help of Kattadiyas, the Kattadiyas themselves seek the help of doctors. It is to expose this type of fraud that I have been all along challenging Kattadiyas.
Hoping to meet you on 4th September.
Abraham T. Kovoor
Following is an English translation of a letter from Mr. Nandiris de Silva written in Sinhala.
Respected Sir, ,
Thank you very much for the two letters. I am not in a position to show you the powers of ghosts on the 8th of next month owing to the following reasons:
I have been suffering from a brain trouble for the last three months and now I am feeling better. I am medically advised to rest for another month more: Before the 15th of October I will show you what the ghosts can do. This I will do at the
in the presence of you and a limited number of persons. This is because the police will object to public demonstrations. Panadura Town Hall
I wish you long life and happiness.N. de Silva
On 31st August I sent the following letter to Mr. N. de Silva.
Dear Mr. de Silva,
I am in receipt of your letter dated 28-8-1967. Although several dates were fixed in the past for you to demonstrate your claim, you have cleverly evaded facing the test each time giving some sort of excuse. The final date in September was fixed at your own request, but now you want it to be postponed again.
"I have now learned by experience that you are not in any way different from other Kattadiyas who claim that they could take up my various challenges, but in the end slowly back out by keeping silent. Hence, I am not prepared to waste any more of my time with an unreliable person like you. Right from the very beginning of the controversy you have shown your unreliability by changing your claims and conditions from time to time.
"First you said that you could put a ghost on my palm. Two weeks later you said that you could produce a ghost to be photographed. When this was accepted you changed your ground again and said that you could show a ghost through a mirror. Later you said that you could get me glued to the chair I was seated on. When asked to do it, you cleverly evaded that also and said that you could smash up the furniture in my house with the help of demons or ghosts.
"It was to demonstrate your claim to smash up the furniture that the last few days were fixed. Now you are trying to back out on the plea that you are having some brain trouble.
"Your last letter of 28-8-67 does not say a word about the smashing up of the furniture. On the other hand you vaguely say about 'what ghost can do' at the
, on the plea that the police will object if it is done in public. What was wanted of you was to break up my own furniture in my own house, and not in any public place. There is no question of the police interfering in it as you are doing it at my own request, in my own house. Panadura Town Hall
"All you claim is mere bluff - an excuse to back out. Or, could it be that you find it difficult to introduce your accomplices to help you by some tricks if it is done in my house?
"Though I am not going to fix any more dates, you are at full liberty to fix a date most convenient to you to smash up the furniture. You can do this even without informing me. If at any time you succeed, that news will be given publicity in newspapers.
"In the meanwhile I am releasing to the press the contents of the letters which have passed between us so that the readers may know the actual state of affairs.
"Though I am sorry to hear about your mental trouble, I am glad that you are taking treatment from a neurologist, instead of trying to cure it by your so-called manthras, thovil, bali and other fraudulent practices.
Abraham T. Kovoor
(It is a pity that the newspaper Silumina, which sponsored this controversy for many months, failed to give its readers the opportunity to know the final outcome of it by publishing these letters in spite of repeated requests. After all, who is the editor who will knowingly kill the goose which lays for him golden eggs regularly by way of lengthy advertisements?)