If credit can be given to the stories of Indian fakirs, it appears that human beings can pass voluntarily into a state of suspended animation that may last for weeks.
There are two classes of these Indian Fakirs, (1) the religious orders, and (2) the nomad rogues who infest the country.
This treatment of the " Fakirs and Ulemas " (as he called them in his letters), who formed the most powerful element in the monarchy, would alone have ensured the failure of his plans, but failure was made certain by the introduction of the conscription, which turned even the peasants, whom he had done much to emancipate, against him.
The begging fakirs also go about with a lighted stick of incense in one hand, and holding out with the other an incense-holder (literally, "incense chariot"), into which the coins of the pious are thrown.
Formerly the fakirs were always nude and smeared with ashes; but now they are compelled to wear some pretence of clothing.
These orders are of very ancient date, owing their establishment to the ancient Hindu rule, followed by the Buddhists, that each "twice-born" man should lead in the woods the life of an ascetic. The second class of Fakirs are simply disreputable beggars who wander round extorting, under the guise of religion, alms from the charitable and practising on the superstitions of the villagers.