Just 50 kilometers from the city of Guwahati is a village which is secluded and away from the hustle and bustle of the world. An island surrounded by the mighty Brahmaputra river and at the heart of it is the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary famous for the one-horned rhinoceros, the inhabitants of this village have had the privilege of living an isolated life which has helped them practice black magic for thousands of years. No doubt, Mayong is called ‘the black magic capital of India’.
Since childhood, we’ve heard several stories about the black magic tricks like Tantric vidya and witchcraft in Mayong from our grandparents and other elders. The stories were so scary that no one ever dared to visit that place and see for themselves. Curiosity just kept creeping over our minds until after years we decided to visit the mystic land and witness the unnatural happenings.
A group of four, we set off in our Duster amidst the heavy rainfall and the dense forest to Mayong connected through a single bridge, which was built 10 years ago, to the rest of civilization.
At the touch-point of Mayong was the village panchayat. Unable to figure out where to start from, we walked up to the panch who told us a little history about the village and guided us with the list of people we should meet and places to visit.
As per the instructions of the panch, our first encounter with black magic was with a university professor Dr. Utpal Nath who holds a PhD in black magic in Mayong. An enormous gate leading to a small cottage overwhelmed with a blooming garden on the banks of the river lived Dr. Nath whose house was a library of books on black magic. He was warm and patiently swirled us through the evolution of black magic in Mayong and the stories that followed.
The tales Dr Nath narrated left us spellbound. He took us back to the 60s when there was a Tantric who would kill tigers with the power of magic. The plot would be such that the villagers would chase the tiger with sticks and iron rods and bring it to the centre of the forest where the Tantric would be waiting. Then the Tantric would read some mantras that would induce pain onto the tiger’s body. Out of pain, the tiger would collapse and hardly could move. The Tantric would then kill the tiger.
Dr Nath also told us fascinating stories like how Tantrics used to make eggs of ducks roll down and attack on people, how Tantrics could fly with magic, how they could become invisible and how they could destroy their enemies’ lives.
The supposedly last Tantric of Mayong, Lakhi Nath, was famous for being unseen (literally). In 1990, he was received by Loknath Mishra, a former member of Rajya Sabha and also the then governor of Assam, who travelled to Mayong through a boat and then crossed a wooden bridge which collapsed every monsoon due to floods. Mishra was enthralled to see Lakhi Nath apply his magic tricks to his physical existence and becoming invisible. From that day, Mishra considered Nath, his guru (teacher).
The Tantrics could also fly with magic. This simply means they could do things faster than normal. For instance, earlier people used to go to Guwahati by foot. The Tantrics flew instead. During boat races, Tantrics did magic on their boat so that it would sail faster. In cricket matches, Tantrics caught the ball so quick that it was impossible for the opposing team to win.
All these magic tricks are no longer in practice, at least not in the open. The Tantrics didn’t pass on their knowledge and wisdom to the next generations, either out of pride or a fear that these magic tricks might destruct the world. Dr Nath along with his colleagues have been working towards the preservation of Mayong’s traditions and culture which is rooted in black magic. They have collected over 50 manuscripts of black magic from door to door and put it on display at the museum they have built.
There are still over 400 manuscripts that are lying in the villagers’ homes. The reason why the villagers have not handed over the manuscripts is that they believe that a curse will fall upon them if they do so.
Many manuscripts are still practiced for goodwill. One suck living Tantric is Tilak Hazarika who is known for his magic tricks that has been a boon for the people with back pain or those who have been bitten by snakes. In the last 40 years of his magical journey, Hazarika never had failure in curing a single case of snake bite. Anyone who is bitten by a snake in any part of Mayong, even in the wee hours, Hazarika will rush to the patient no matter what. So what’s his magic spell all about? We visited him and were thrilled to hear his story.
When he was a little child, Hazarika was once visited by a Tantric who acquainted him with his magical powers. The Tantric gifted him manuscripts which were over 350 years old and Hazarika has treasured them until this day.
What he learnt was a blessing upon the health of the village. On a patient with snake bite, Hazarika places a copper plate on the bite and chants his mantras. The plate becomes hot as it pulls out the venom and breaks into pieces. Similarly for back pain, the copper plate automatically gets attached to the spot of the pain and extracts the soreness out until the plate becomes extremely hot and cracks. This is an apt example of white magic.
As we drove further deep into Mayong, clues proving that it was a birthplace of magic unfolded themselves. Borghat was the ground for human sacrifice by Tantrics in ancient times. Located at the feet of a hill, this place had an eerie sense to it. A small pond surrounded by rocks that were sculpted into the figures of Lord Shiva and Parvati, Borghat screamed the misery people went through while being slaughtered.
The fact that Tantrics worshipped Shiva, Parvati and Ganesha could be seen in the lost symbols of black magic. There was a tree in the village known as Ronga Dangoria Ashram Tree which is more than 500 years old. Villagers believe that this tree is Shiva’s home and if anyone pricks even a leaf of the tree, he or she will have a life of melancholy and someone in his/her family will die. When we saw the tree, we could feel the magical aura it had around it.
Close to the tree, we saw two women worshipping the tree. They were in their 70s, old and wrinkled and their faces were painted with a unique design. On chatting, they told us that they were witches!
After a long day exploring the unnatural, we headed back home with memories that will stay in our minds for long, with magic that has mesmerized us deep within.