ancestor Abbe Faria (deceased)

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About ancestor Abbe Faria

To the best of my recollection the genealogy of Abbe Faira was published in Heraldo, Goa around 20th September 1945 when his statue was unveiled in Panjim, Goa. --Luis Vas

When you run up your genealogical tree you will reach one Nuno Vaz. He was a son of Antu Sinai, the last Hindu in the line to be converted to Christianily. One other son took the surname Faria and became the ancestor of Abbe Faria, or Abade Faria in Portuguese. Did you hear of him? If not here it goes. Love Luis

BUT:

My apologies. I made a mistake. Abbe Faria, was not the descendent of Antu Sinai but of his brother whose name escapes both me and my sister. She was told this by another descendent of this Sinai and a distanty relative of Faria whom Isabel knows. LUIS SANTA RITA VAS

SOMETIME in the early 1950s, British novelist and travel writer Norman Lewis arrived in Panjim, Goa's capital, by steamboat. "The quayside, which is really the heart of the town," noted Lewis in the inevitable travelogue that emerged from the visit, "is presided over by a statue, not--as one would have expected--of the great Albuquerque, founder of the colony, but of one José Custodio Faria, who, the inscription relates, 'discovered the doctrine of hypnotic suggestion'. Faria, who is not mentioned in short textbooks on the subject, is dressed in a wicked squire cloak of the Wuthering Heights period, and is shown strikingly in action. His subject--or victim--a young lady with a Grecian hairstyle, has been caught in the moment of falling, one trim foot in the air, left hip about to strike the ground, while Faria leans over her, fingers potently extended. Her expression is rapt; his intense, perhaps demoniacal...".

Who was this enigmatic Faria? Why is he not mentioned in some textbooks on hypnosis? Who is the lady in question? Lewis did not pursue the matter. Had he done so, he might have discovered a most colourful, if half-forgotten, 18th century character, perpetrator of amazing exploits, mainly in France, some of them still shrouded in mystery. Lewis might then have been more reluctant to be "whisked quickly beyond the range of Faria's ardent gaze"; and Faria might have been revived in one of his novels as he was, years earlier, in Alexander Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo.

So, then, who was José Custodio de Faria, later known as Abbé Faria? Firstly, he was a son of Goa, at the time under the Portuguese, born on May 31, 1756 in Candolim village, in a house that is today an orphanage, to Caetano Vitorino de Faria and Rosa Maria de Souza. The house belonged to the mother, a wealthy heiress with an irascible temper, who also had an adopted daughter, Catarina.

He was taken to Portugal at the age of 15 by his father after the latter separated from his mother with the Church's permission and returned to the seminary to complete his priestly training which he had interrupted to get married. Father and son sailed on a medium-sized sloop, the S. José, in 1771. On board was another young Goan, José Pinto, who was later to return to India and join the Maratha army where he would rise to the rank of general.

Back in Goa, José’s mother became a nun and joined the St. Monica Convent eventually rising to become Prioress of the Convent. Her successor in 1848 was mistakenly kidnapped by the British explorer who was after a younger and prettier nun.

Faria's father carried with him letters of introduction to influential figures in the Portuguese Court. So, on arrival in Lisbon nine long months later, he could easily rise to a prominent position in the Portuguese Court. The son, too, studied for the priesthood and the father arranged for a scholarship from the King so he could proceed to Rome to acquire a doctorate in theology at the College of Propaganda Fide.

At the age of 24 he fulfilled this ambition. His doctoral thesis in Latin, Theologicae Propositiones: De Existentia Dei ( 20 chapters)- Deo Uno( 20 chapters) et Divina Revelatione ( 23 chapters), that is, Theological Propositions: On the Existence of God--One God and Divine Revelation, was dedicated in gratitude to the Queen whose father had financed his studies. He wrote another work Adventus Spiritus Sancti (The Advent of the Holy Spirit) which he dedicated to the Pope. Perhaps in consequence he was invited to preach a sermon on the day of the Pentecost in the Sistine Chapel with Pope Pius VI in the audience.

He now returned to Lisbon and to his proud father. There is an undocumented legend which most families in Goa have heard, that on his arrival, Queen D. Maria I (the king, her father, having died while Faria was in Rome) asked him to preach to the Court just as he had done in Rome in the Pope's private chapel. As he ascended the pulpit, however, the young priest was struck dumb with stage-fright. The father, sitting directly below, noticed his nervousness and whispered to him in Konkani, "Cator re baji" ("Chop off these vegetables"); "hi sogli baji" ("These are all vegetables"). These potent words had the desired effect and Faria preached eloquently.

His father's words of encouragement and their dramatic effect on him continued to prey on Faria's mind and there is reason to believe that they were responsible for his later interest in hypnosis and his contribution to it, particularly his exploration of the power of verbal suggestion.

In 1788 the younger Faria left Lisbon in mysterious circumstances, surfacing in Paris where he came to be known as Abbé Faria.

"In Paris, they both [father and son] pursued clerical activities but they did not please the authorities and the son was imprisoned in the Bastille. He spent several months there. One of his guards was fond of playing draughts; however, each game only lasted a short time and had to be started again. José Custodio de Faria often played with this guard and to prolong the pleasure, he invented hundred-square draughts. This was his first contribution to history," writes Dr. Mikhail Buyanov, President of the Moscow Psychotherapeutic Academy.

In October 1795, the Abbé got embroiled in the French Revolution, leading a battalion of French citizens taking an active part in the attack on the French Convention.

Among those fighting on his side was a Colonel attached to the artillery regiment of Strasburg garrison. He was Marquis Chastenet de Puysegur, the famous disciple of the Austrian magnetiser Anton Mesmer who had taken Paris by storm by claiming to cure all kinds of ailments with his magnetic treatment. But Mesmer had been banished from France after an investigating committee had declared his claims fraudulent.

There can be little doubt that the Indian priest from Goa and the Marquis met and discussed 'magnetic' therapy. Later, Faria's book on 'lucid sleep' was to carry the following dedication to the Marquis: "By asking you to support a work on the cause of lucid sleep and matters incidental to it, I merely seek to pay the tribute to which your labours and zeal have undeniably entitled you. I owe it to you in all the more fairness as I recognise in your wise advice and benevolent instruction the seed of my meditations and persevering efforts."

In 1797 "he was arrested in Marseilles, taken in a barred police carriage and sent to the Chateau d'If by a law court. He was shut up in solitary confinement in the Chateau d'If... While imprisoned in the Chateau, he steadily trained [himself] using techniques of self-suggestion. It appears that this helped him retain a sound mind and memory," writes Dr. Buyanov. Today, tourists visiting Chateau D’If are sold pens supposedly made by Abbe Faria out of fishbone!

After a long sojourn in the Chateau d'If, Faria was released and returned to Paris. Here he may have met Alexandre Dumas, who was then only 14 and not yet a novelist. He apparently was so impressed with the Abbé that he later used him as a character in his novel, The Count of Monte Cristo.

Faria embarked on research of ‘mesmerism’ or lucid sleep as he termed it, experimenting on some 5,000 subjects by conducting classes that anyone could attend just by paying 5 Francs per session. He demonstrated numerous uses of hypnosis. The entry on hypnosis in the Catholic Encyclopaedia reads: “It was reserved for an Indo-Portuguese priest, a man of strange bearing, the Abbé Faria, to recall public attention to animal magnetism and to revive the science. The Abbé Faria was the first to effect a breach in the theory of the ‘magnetic fluid’, to place in relief the importance of suggestion, and to demonstrate the existence of ‘auto-suggestion’; he also established the truth that the nervous sleep belongs only to the natural order. From his earliest magnetizing séances, in 1814, he boldly developed his doctrine. Nothing comes from the magnetizer, everything comes from the subject and takes place in his imagination. Magnetism is only a form of sleep. Although of the moral order, the magnetic action is often aided by physical, or rather by physiological, means -- fixedness of look and cerebral fatigue. Here the Abbé Faria showed himself a true pioneer, too little appreciated by his contemporaries, and even by posterity. He was the creator of hypnotism; most of the pretended discoveries of the scientists of to-day are really his. We need only recall here that he practised suggestion in the waking state and post-hypnotic suggestion.” Other than becoming a scientific researcher on hypnotic phenomenon, he thus also became the first stage hypnotist in history, though he used the stage for research and healing, not entertainment! He also become the toast of high society in Paris.

But success was short lived. At one point in 1816, a well-known actor attended Faria's classes, pretended to be hypnotised, but jumped up in the middle of the session, yelling that he was a fake.

Some members of the clergy, too, pounced on him, considering his doings diabolical. Impoverished by the drop in the attendance to his classes, and besieged by critics and enemies, Faria was forced to retire and take up the post of chaplain in a religious establishment. There he wrote the first volume of his projected four volume work, De La Cause du Sommeil Lucide (On the Cause of Lucid Sleep), in which he refuted Mesmer’s theory of animal magnetism and propounded his won theory that lucid sleep or hypnosis was caused by suggestion suitably planted into the mind of the subject. He had it published in 1819. The same year at the age of 63 he was killed by a cerebral hemorrhage. A Brazilian scientist, Karl Weissman, who pioneered in the use of Faria’s discoveries in hypnosis by producing painless child birth and painless extraction of teeth during the 1950s, was to write: “According to a book published more than a century ago, authored by a former officer of Parisian police, describing a ‘true’ case that would serve as the source of inspiration to Alexandre Dumas, Abbe Faria died in a prison in Esterel, due to a false complaint, where he was jailed for political reasons, leaving all his fortune to one of his cell mates -- a fortune calculated in those times at four billion.” (O Hipnotismo - Psicologia - Técnica – Aplicação, Karl Weissman - Livraria Editora Martins - 1973 - 2. Edição).

Weissman had an audience pope Pius XII during the 1950s and as a result the pope issued a proclamation in 1956 stating that the use of hypnosis to eliminate pain in childbirth was legitimate.

With the death of Abbe Faria, the study of trance slid into neglect until Liebeault and the French Nancy School picked up where Faria stopped, giving credit to Faria for the original discovery and even termed the most refined forms of hypnosis "Fariism".

Here is a final assessment by Dr. Buyanov: "[Faria was] great, because he had no fear and fought for truth rather than for his place at the vanity fair. The Abbot de Faria's mystery does not lie in the circumstances of his life that are unknown to historians and lost forever (a detail more or a detail less, is unimportant); his mystery lies in his talent, courage, and quest for truth. [...] His mystery was the mystery of someone who was ahead of his time and who blazed a trail for his descendants due to his sacrifice."

Faria apparently saw and was impressed by fakirs and yogis in Goa at that time since he refers in his book to their ascetic practices and their superhuman abilities. He wrote in De la Cause du Sommeil Lucide : "Brahma among others, [a deity] of the East Indies, had foreseen well before the divine founder of Christianity that mortification of the senses was the only rule for moral human actions. He was convinced that flesh submitting to a reason mostly directed by positive precepts was the necessary extension of such mortification and, in turn, the source for moral virtues. But such useful weapons handled by fierce reason could only cut unfavourably and bluntly. Does a sword handled by the inexpert hands of a child provide more safety than danger? This [deity]'s recommendations to his followers for perfecting their morals or expiating their crimes are so far beyond man's natural strength that, had repeated testimonies from travellers not confirmed the voluntary or imposed penances endured by fakirs, it would have been difficult to believe that men made of bone and flesh could submit themselves to such a way of life."

He also wrote that “regular folks are ignorant of the state of [hypnotic subjects], and nobody in the world cares about this singular phenomenon. Brahmins, however, have a deep understanding of it and benefit from practising it in their…temples. These oracles make it available to common man solely through idols or large figures with human faces, so that the people who rush to consult them concerning certain matters or illnesses believe they are hearing supernatural voices. Other frightening …artifices with which these....priests surround the states exhibited by [hypnotic subjects] prevent Christians from attending, from fear of seeming to participate in profane mysteries. But the Portuguese garrisoned in these countries cared little for censoring public opinion and often witnessed all the incidents of this practice.”

He was impressed with the drugless healing techniques used at that time in Goa by the common folk.

In his book, José described at great length the curative powers of massage as practiced worldwide and then went on add: “In addition to these testimonies, I can add my own for having received massage in Goa from childhood to the age of fifteen. This practice is so universal in the Indies that all families consider the first method of healing, or at least of discovering the nature of diseases. There are two kinds of massage: one is used out of necessity to fight disease; the other is a luxury and increases relaxation….

“European travelers who have at length described this methodology have always confused the two techniques and have called them both by the common name of massage. I should say more accurately that they witnessed only the second type of massage which only maintains and ensures health by pleasantly titillating the senses and most frequently inducing a sweet and quiet but light sleep from which it is easy to wake. The first technique, which deals only with understanding the type and nature of diseases, was more worthy of attention. I will give here a detailed description of both, beginning with the action of massaging out of necessity, as it is more likely to elicit the reader’s curiosity.

“When a person complains of feeling ill, even if it is just a headache, his relatives will require him to lie down on a mat laid out on the floor. The patient will place his hands on his stomach, and a robust man will squeeze his forehead by twisting a thick cotton band, approximately four fingers wide, slowly and gradually with a small stick approximately one foot long. The two ends of the strip are tied around the stick which is used as a crank, and the knot is to remain behind the patient’s head during the entire operation. The patient must endure as much of this torture as his courage will allow. Upon the patient showing signs of vivid pain, the operation will stop for one or two minutes, remove the band and lightly wrap the head on the same way with a belt.

“This torture must be applied equally to shoulders, stomach, small of the back, knees, thighs, knees, calves, heels and toes. Arms too must be placed in instruments of torture large enough to accommodate them so that fingers can be submitted to the torture endured by the small of the back. The tightening of the ribbon is useful only on the head and used nowhere else. The rest of the body needs only protection from drafts by a blanket, and cloth must be placed on the limbs that will require squeezing.

“Following this painful operation the patient’s heels are placed one at a time and intermittently into extremely hot water and wiped each time with a cloth. After this little bath the patient drinks very sweet and hot rice water instead of tea and covers himself with blankets in his bed in his bed for fifteen minutes to induce sweating Perspiration resulting from these violent preliminaries require constant changing of cloths and induce a calm and peaceful sleep at night. If the condition is light, it will disappear the following day; if it is serious, all the symptoms and its nature will be revealed at that time.

“The natives call this type of massage ‘woll,’ which means ‘stretching.’

“ The other type of massage, considered a luxury, is called ‘mutt marunk’, which means ‘to strike with fists.’ While it is available to all, only wealthy families indulge in it. Old people and women, at siesta time or before going to sleep at night, are in the habit of having their claves struck by children between the age of ten and twelve or by servants until they close their eyes and fall into a sweet and quiet sleep. The servant strikes slowly or quickly based on his master’s taste, and his task is finished when a state of sleep resulting from the master’s wish and the servant’s work has been induced.” (De La Cause Du Sommeil Lucide by Abbé Faria)

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