Brahman: Jadua- Jaduah
This article was written in 1916 when conditions were different. Even in
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From The Tribes And Castes Of The Central Provinces Of India
By R. V. Russell
Of The Indian Civil Service
Superintendent Of Ethnography, Central Provinces
Assisted By Rai Bahadur Hira Lal, Extra Assistant Commissioner
Macmillan And Co., Limited, London, 1916.
NOTE 1: The 'Central Provinces' have since been renamed Madhya Pradesh.
NOTE 2: While reading please keep in mind that all articles in this series have been scanned from the original book. Therefore, footnotes have got inserted into the main text of the article, interrupting the flow. Readers who spot these footnotes gone astray might like to shift them to their correct place.
This is the name of a 1 This article is based on an account Superintendent of Police, I'atna, and of the Jaduas by Mr. A. Knyvett, kindly communicated by Mr. C. W. C.
class of swindlers, who make money by pretending to turn other metals into gold or finding buried treasure. They are believed to have originated from the caste of Bhadris or Jyotishis, the astrologers of western India. The Jyotishi or Joshi astrologers are probably an offshoot of the Brahman caste. The name Jadua is derived from jddu, magic. The Bhadris or Jyotishis were in former times, Mr. Knyvett writes, attached to the courts of all important rajas in western India, where they told fortunes and prophesied future events from their computations of the stars, often obtaining great influence and being consulted as oracles.
Readers of Quentin Durward will not need to be reminded that an exactly similar state of things obtained in Europe. And both the European and Indian astrologers were continually searching for the philosopher's stone and endeavouring by the practice of alchemy to discover the secret of changing silver and other metals into gold. It is easy to understand how the more dishonest members of the community would come to make a livelihood by the pretence of being possessed of this power. The Jaduas belong principally to Bihar, and Mr. Knyvett's account of them is based on inquiries in that Province. But it is probable that, like the Bhadris, travelling parties of Jaduas occasionally visit the Central Provinces. Their method of procedure is somewhat as follows.
They start out in parties of three or four and make inquiries for the whereabouts of some likely dupe, in the shape of an ignorant and superstitious person possessed of property. Sometimes they settle temporarily in a village and open a small grain-shop in order to facilitate their search. When the victim has been selected one of them proceeds to his village in the disguise of a Sadhu or anchorite, being usually accompanied by another as his chela or disciple.
Soon afterwards the others come, one of them perhaps posing as a considerable landholder, and go about inquiring if a very holy Brahman has been seen. They go to the house of their intended dupe, who naturally asks why they are seeking the Brahman ; they reply that Plowden, Deputy Inspector-General Provinces Criminal Investigation De- of Police, Bengal, through Mr. G. W. partment. Gayer, in charge of the Central
they have come to do homage to him as he had turned their silver and brass ornaments into gold. The dupe at once goes with them in search of the Brahman, and is greatly impressed by seeing the landholder worship him with profound respect and make him presents of cloth, money and cattle. He at once falls into the trap and says that he too has a quantity of silver which he would like to have turned into gold. The Brahman pretends reluctance, but eventually yields to the dupe's entreaties and allows himself to be led to the latter's house, where with his chela he takes up his quarters in an inner room, dark and with a mud floor.
A variety of tricks are now resorted to, to impress the dupe with the magic powers of the swindlers. Sometimes he is directed to place a rupee on his forehead and go to the door and look at the sun for five minutes, being assured that when he returns the Brahman will have disappeared by magic. Having looked at the sun for five minutes he can naturally see nothing on returning to a dark room and expresses wonder at the Brahman's disappearance and gradual reappearance as his eyes get accustomed to the darkness. Or if the trick to be practised is the production of buried treasure, a rupee may be buried in the ground and after various incantations two rupees are produced from the same spot by sleight of hand.
Or by some trickery the victim is shown the mouth of an earthen vessel containing silver or gold coins in a hole dug in the ground. He is told that the treasure cannot be obtained until more treasure has been added to it and religious rites have been performed. Sometimes the victim is made to visit a secluded spot, where he is informed that after repeating certain incantations Sivaji will appear before him.
A confederate, dressed in tinsel and paint, appears before the victim posing as Sivaji, and informs him that there is treasure buried in his house, and it is only necessary to follow the instructions of the holy Brahman in order to obtain it. The silver ornaments, all that can be collected, are then made over to the Brahman, who pretends to tie them in a cloth or place them in an earthen pot and bury them in the floor of the room. If buried treasure is to be found the Brahman explains that it is first necessary to bury more treasure in order to obtain it, and if the ornaments
arc to be turned into gold they are buried for the purpose of transmutation. During the process the victim is induced on some pretence to leave the room or cover himself with a sheet, when a bundle containing mud or stones is substituted for the treasure. The Brahman calls for ghl, oil and incense, and lights a fire over the place where the ornaments are supposed to be buried, bidding his victim watch over it for some hours or days until his return.
The Brahman and his disciple, with the silver concealed about them, then leave the house, join their confederates and make their escape. The duped villager patiently watches the fire until he becomes tired of waiting for the Brahman's return, when he digs up the earth and finds nothing in the cloth but stones and rubbish.