Sabaka (fire demon)

Thrasher, Allen athr at LOC.GOV
Tue Jun 14 21:24:11 UTC 2011

There is a film entitled Sabaka (alternate title The Hindu), about an young mahout,  an Indian General Pollegar, played by Boris Karloff, and the cult of a fire demon named Sabaka (a fraudulent commercial enterprise kept going by agents who burn the houses of people who refuse to donate).  In the film the demon's name is pronounced SabAkA, but there is also a Devanagari title SabAka, which in a modern Indo-Aryan language would presumably be pronounced SabAk.  If have looked at several of the online dictionaries in the Digital South Asia Library and found no such word in Sanskrit, Hindi, Telugu, and Tamil (it was filmed in South India), plus Burrow and Turner's comparative dictionaries.

Has anyone heard of such a demon, or a word from which his or her name might be derived?

I cannot comment on the value of the movie, since the disk degenerated at the third track and I sent it back to Netflix for a replacement.  Other early Boomers may remember the section in the Andy's Gang TV series with Gunga Ram the elephant boy, played by boy actor Nino Marcel.  Apparently he had built up such a following that a feature movie was thought profitable.  Perhaps they hoped he would be the second Sabu (Sabu Dastagir), who was such a star that his early movies gave him top billing above his white adult costars.   There was another early TV series set in India, Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers, a few of which can be found on DVD.  It took me hours of net-surfing to clarify my vague memories of these, but it was worth it for the fun of nostalgia.


Allen W. Thrasher, Ph.D.
Senior Reference Librarian and Team Coordinator
South Asia Team
Asian Division
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20540-4810
tel. 202-707-3732
fax 202-707-1724
The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Library of Congress.

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