In the above very brief streaming video clip (only 312 Kb), you can view the common feat of producing lingam-type stones from the mouth by fakirs and street illusionists. This one was filmed by a German crew I watched filming in 1990 at Brindavan ashram. The German commentary stated that Mustapha, the magician, earns his money as a ‘wonderful artist’ who genuinely brings out a stone from his mouth.
The world-famous stage illusionist, Harry Houdini, performed it, having practiced by swallowing balls attached to a piece of string. Later he would and re-gurgitate them without any aids. Quite large objects can be kept in the stomach or throat for at least several hours. The regurgitation can be stimulated by massage, even by vomit-inducing pharmaceuticals. Sathya Sai Baba was seen to swallow a lot of water before he brought out his lingams (none larger than the illusionist managed).
Sai Baba has always claimed that his lingams are produced in his stomach. They are of all kinds of material, from stone to crystal to gold… which variety alone makes their production in his stomach beyond all likelihood! The film evidence suggests that he used to regurgitate them from his throat or stomach. More recently, when he gagged for some time, he was seen to cover his mouth with a large towel and only then let it seem to emerge from his mouth.
Due to the massive testimony by many hagiographic writers, combined with film evidence which seemed genuine, I came to believe around 1984 that the lingam productions were most probably real. Doubts about it were never really quite removed, however, and since then I have looked into the matter much more closely. The BBC film ‘The Secret Swami ‘ produced the most compelling filmatic proof of fraud by Sai Baba (see clip here and here).
Sai Baba was losing his foreign followers fast, so In 2000 he produced a golden lingam without warning at Shivaratri and said that everyone who had seen it actually emerging would be ‘liberated’ (not have to be reborn ever again). This attracted all the blind believers again and for several following years brought in much larger crowds than usual at Shivarathri. To make sure everyone saw it. he even once put it back in his mouth after it ‘came up’ the first time!
Houdini on Regurgitating Objects at Will
“A number of years ago, in London, I watched several performances of one of these chaps who swallowed a hatful of stones, nearly the size of hen’s eggs, and then jumped up and down, to make them rattle in his stomach. I could discover no fake in the performance, and I finally gave him two and six for his secret, which was simple enough. He merely took a dose of powerful physic [emetic--ed.] to clear himself of the stones, and then was ready for the next performance.
During my engagement in 1895 with Welsh Bros. Circus I became quite well acquainted with a [Japanese] of the San Kitchy Akimoto troupe and from him I learned the method of swallowing quite large objects and bringing them up at will. For practice very small potatoes are used at first, to guard against accident; and after one has mastered the art of bringing these up, the size is increased gradually till objects as large as the throat will receive can be swallowed and returned.”
Houdini, Miracle Mongers and their Methods, Coles 1980, (reprint), pp. 160-161.
“In order to produce an effect such as the production of the lingam, all that is required is the swallowing of the lingam ahead of time, and its regurgitation at the appropriate point in the ceremony. Note that the description of Sai Baba’s swallowing of water prior to the regurgitation, and the churning of the stomach muscles both correspond to the standard hatha yoga technique described by Swami Satchidananda.
The reader interested in further information which bears on this might enjoy reading the Chari article referred to above. In it Chari describes a scientifically studied street performer who makes his living doing regurgitations. He is able to swallow as many as 10 live snakes at a time, and regurgitate them in a `reptilian ball with a diameter of about 5 inches’ (Chari, op. cit., p. 168).”
See also: Sleight Of Hand. The Sleightness of Sathya Sai Baba (Exposing film clips)
Sathya Sai Baba’s ‘divine magnetism
Sathya Sai Baba: lingam photos-liberation from rebirth
The magnet of Sathya Sai Baba’s ‘lingam’ miracles