Kuda Bux Maharaja of Magic

By Reeta Rani Nayak

Kuda Bux Maharaja of Magic

Hours before a hugely popular magic show in England, the performing female artists complained that the Kuda Bux, a male Indian artist, should not be anywhere near their green room. Fair enough. But the dilemma was Bux from Kashmir was the master magician and it was his own show. He was not peeping tom either. But the problem was that the famous magician Bux could see behind concrete walls, read and write blind folded and even drive a motorcycle on busy European cities with thick surgical bandage on his eyes fixed by doctors in public.

Bux claimed that he had been practising to look through brick walls, which led to the women demanding Kuda to be away from the dressing room far away so that Bux cannot see them while changing costume. “There is only one brick wall between us and Bux,” they murmured. So convincing was Bux’s act that it made people believe that he could really “see without sight”. Bux’s claims, which was widely repeated by the press, led to unease among the female performers. Surprisingly, his eyes used to be covered with lumps of dough, thick swabs of cotton and several layers of gauze - and he had multiple layers of bandages wound tightly around his head in such a way that only his nostrils were left exposed? Bandaging is done in presence of doctors, journalists and experts so that there is no trickery.

The irony of the fate that Bux eventually lost his eyesight to glaucoma. He died in 1981 in his sleep at the age 75. But fellow magician John Booth wrote that Bux was a dedicated showman who made a point of using reading glasses when he was not onstage. His partners in card games used to claim that they can defeat Bux only if he is not blindfolded.

Kuda Bux, was famous for performing this cycling feat on streets of Europe and USA in the 1930s and 40s - something he claimed he was able to do because he could “see without eyes’ ‘. He headlined his magic shows “the man with X-ray eyes” and would appear to perform a mind-boggling range of activities - including reading passages from books and threading a needle - while covering his eyes in his signature style. Bux, whose original name was Khudah Bukhsh, was born in Akhnur in a wealthy ethnic family in Kashmir. He changed his name to Professor KB Duke and then to Kuda Bux. In May 1935, he sailed to England, where there was clamour for magicians from the Eastern world. He was also known as Daredevil or The Man Who Can See Without His Eyes. In the 1950s, he had a TV show called Kuda Bux, Hindu Mystic.

Bux claimed that this “inner sense of sight” also helped him perform his “X-ray vision” feats and that he honed this sense by “concentrating the conscious mind” through exercises a yogi taught him when he was a teenager. The magician from Kashmir also performed all routine magic shows like walking on burning coal but he was more famous for his X-ray vision. Thousands flocked to watch his shows, while the press labelled him “the wonder of the century”. Bux appeared on the first televised episode of Ripley’s Believe It or Not and even had his own TV show: Kuda Bux, Hindu Mystic.

Bux eventually left London and moved to the US, where he continued performing, including at the famous Magic Castle, a club in Hollywood. He died in February 1981 in Los Angeles; He spent his last days playing cards at the Magic Castle with magicians who - Booth notes - claimed they could beat Bux only if he didn’t put on his blindfold. 

Source: Himalayan News Chronicle