WHEN THE RIVERS WERE DROWNED
When a Theosophical writer emphasizes the fact that some of the most striking discoveries in modern science were anticipated in the Theosophical literature, this is not done to glorify H. P. Blavatsky, or in any way to minimize the magnificent research-work of our scientists, which deserves the highest admiration. Its object is to provide evidence for the use of "Theosophical students that a profound knowledge of natural law existed ages before the last few centuries in which science has made such great advances after the medieval pralaya. Also, that the Great Masters of the Ancient Wisdom possessed it, and revealed a little of their immense learning through H. P. Blavatsky and her work. During the last few years we have had several valuable opportunities of proving this, owing to utterly unexpected discoveries such as that of the intensely hot atmospheric shell high above the earth's surface — a fact in nature stated in writing by the Master K. H. more than fifty years ago, at a time when it seemed absurdly improbable and contrary to the "established fact" that temperature steadily declined with increase of altitude until the cold of outer space was reached. Other illustrations could be given.
In this connexion, a most significant suggestion has been offered, which, although not the announcement of a new discovery, is of great importance to Theosophical students because of its radical nature, and because it is exactly the same as one of the most "unorthodox" statements in The Secret Doctrine. It is contained in Science for April 3, 1936, in a long communication by Professors H. H. Hess and MacClintock of Princeton University regarding the recent discoveries of submerged river valleys in many parts of the world. By means of the new echo system of ocean sounding it has already been found that between the latitudes of sixty degrees north and south, approximately, at least forty enormous submerged valleys extend from continental coasts. Some of them cut through hard granite, and many have been found to be thousands of feet deep. The extension of the Potomac River reaches a depth of nearly 9,000 feet, others 14,000. Geologically speaking, they are not very old, so far as known.
How were these enormous submarine valleys cut? Certainly not while under water. Why are they not found in high latitudes, and why do the valleys (so far as the limited evidence tells) increase in depth as they approach the lower latitudes?
No satisfactory explanation has been forthcoming until now, and the remarkable thing is that the theory put forward by the Princeton experts is in precise agreement with a fundamental statement of The Secret Doctrine, which until now would have been scouted by every astronomer or physical scientist as incredible! In brief, it is that a sudden decrease in the rate of the daily rotation of the earth took place, and after a certain length of time it speeded up again to the normal! This, of course, is rank heresy; it is more than improbable! A very slow and gradual reduction in speed, caused by tidal action, may have taken place in a billion years, though that is disputed, but there is no plausible explanation for a speeding up. The Princeton professors almost apologize for proposing their "radical hypothesis," and only dare to offer it as a basis for further inquiry and discussion. According to The Secret Doctrine, however, they have hit upon the truth, however strange it may seem.
What would happen if the earth slowed down? Firstly, vast quantities of water would flow toward the polar regions where great submergences of land would take place, leaving the regions nearer the equator partly or wholly dry, according to the irregularities of the surface. Equatorial lands already above the water would seem to be greatly raised, the more so the nearer the equator, where the remaining oceans would become shallowest. Climates would change, vegetation and animal-life would have to migrate or become acclimatized, and many strange effects would follow from the alteration of the sea-levels. Even mountains might be upheaved as the result of new stresses. But one thing is certain: the river valleys would have to be greatly lengthened in order to reach the lower levels to which the oceans had retreated. Near the equator this effect would be the most marked and the new valleys longer and deeper.
Then, after a more or less lengthy period of equilibration, the earth's rotation would increase in velocity, the "centrifugal force" become greater, and the waters would withdraw from the poles and up again toward the equator. The lowlying lands in temperate and equatorial regions would be submerged, drowning the newly formed extensions of the river valleys, and considerably changing the configuration of the earth's surface, though not necessarily to the former condition. This may have happened more than once, but the scientists suggest that the last change took place not much earlier than the Glacial Period if even so far distant, and this practically agrees with H. P. Blavatsky's estimate. The Wegener theory of sliding continents, now being widely discussed, would not be needed under this hypothesis of reconstruction.
Additional evidence, for which we have no space, has been found in high latitudes (where submerged river beds are not known) but of course there will have to be much discussion and study before this revolutionary rotational theory is accepted as a fact by astronomers and geologists. No better reason for this world-wide change of sea-level, however, has appeared, and at least one eminent astronomer has suggested that the fact may remain unexplained for a long time.
The great difficulty is to find a reason for such an apparently impossible event as the slowing down, and above all for the subsequent speeding up, of the earth's rotation. The obvious explanation — a collision with "a comet or something," has practically insuperable difficulties. Another convenient celestial body would be needed to bring the rotation back to normal!
All this is interesting, but what is specially so to us is that the Princeton scientists have really discovered exactly what is given in The Secret Doctrine, in a quotation from the immensely ancient Tibetan "Commentary" on the Book of Dzyan, the archaic Book of Wisdom preserved by the Masters. The Secret Doctrine, however, goes farther than the scientists, for it gives the reason for the incomprehensible change in rotation. We fear, indeed, that scientific research has to advance a few more decades, or perhaps centuries, before the votaries of celestial mechanics will be prepared to understand the explanation, highly important though it be in a true picture of the history of our planet. It touches on the Spiritual Intelligences (the Pitris or Dhyan-Chohans) which are inextricably involved in the action of so-called "natural" forces, and what does official Science yet know about "spirits" of any kind! Here is part of the explanation. Speaking of the breaking up of the continent of Lemuria in its higher latitudes, H. P. Blavatsky writes in The Secret Doctrine, II, 324-5:
This is due, according to the explanation in the Commentary [an extremely ancient esoteric work] to a decrease of velocity in the earth's rotation: —
"When the Wheel runs at the usual rate, its extremities (the poles) agree with its middle circle (equator), when it runs slower and tilts in every direction, there is a great disturbance on the face of the Earth. The waters flow toward the two ends, and new lands arise in the middle belt (equatorial lands), while those at the ends are subject to pralayas by submersion. . . ."
"Toward the close of the age (Kalpa) of a great (root) race, the regents of the moon (the Pitar fathers, or Pitris) begin drawing harder, and thus flatten the wheel about its belt. . . ."
How did the ancient writer of the "Commentary" know that slowing down the rotation would produce exactly the effect that our modern scientists are invoking to explain the ultra-modern discovery of the drowned rivers of the world?
MODERN SCIENCE AND THEOSOPHY
Among the contributions made by the Theosophical Movement to the elevation of humanity we must never forget that which in large degree initiated the modern transformation of scientific opinion, on the whole, from crass materialism to a more spiritual outlook. This is a large claim but it is supported by the facts, and students should learn it in order to be able to show the high intellectual as well as spiritual standing of the Masters" work, when called upon by scientists and others who are completely ignorant of the situation, and who may be prejudiced against Theosophy by the preposterous campaigns of fakers who cunningly use the credit of the true, sane, wholesome teachings of the Masters to bolster their fraudulent claims.
In Science, for March 27, 1936, the "official organ of the American Association for the Advancement of Science" we read in a review-article by Professor W. F. Magie, of Princeton University, on Faraday's Diary, recently published, that Faraday in his earlier years "had made all the discoveries of major importance which he could have made with the appliances that he had at his command." For more than twenty years nothing of any importance was done by experimental methods until "improved methods of obtaining high vacua made possible the work of Crookes, from which the modern development of physics may date its origin." (Italics ours)
What has the "modern development of physics" done for the world? What was behind Crookes? Listen to this quotation from The Secret Doctrine, I, 611:
The exact extent, depth, breadth, and length of the mysteries of Nature are to be found only in Eastern esoteric sciences. So vast and profound are these that hardly a few, a very few of the highest Initiates — those whose very existence is known but to a small number of Adepts — are capable of assimilating the knowledge. Yet it is all there, and one by one facts and processes in Nature's workshops are permitted to find their way into the exact Sciences, while mysterious help is given to rare individuals in unraveling its arcana. It is at the close of great Cycles, in connection with racial development, that such events generally take place. We are at the very close of the cycle of 5000 years of the present Aryan Kali-yuga; and between this time  and 1897 there will be a large rent made in the Veil of Nature, and materialistic science will receive a death-blow. . . .
Remembering that it was due to Crookes" early improvements in the air-pump that he was able to make his great discoveries on the "fourth state of matter," as he called the electronic phenomena he obtained in the extremely rarified contents of his "Crookes" Tube," which led to his and others" later developments (X-rays, radioactivity, etc.), let us see what Dampier-Whetham says in his recent and authoritative A History of Science. Speaking of the tremendous changes in the modern point of view brought about by the new physics, he says that the "new revelation" began to take shape from 1895 onwards, the discoveries of Crookes and others having been brought to a focus by the attention aroused by Rontgen's X-ray sensation. Then came Becquerel with his uranium rays, and finally the complete definition by J. J. Thomson of the electrical nature of the atom. This was in 1897, the exact date mentioned by the writers of The Secret Doctrine nine years before, and as Dampier-Whetham remarks, it was the deathblow to the old materialism. Today, Jeans can say "The old dualism of mind and matter . . . seems likely to disappear . . . through substantial matter resolving itself into a creation and manifestation of mind."
Who, then, was behind Crookes in starting this cyclic revolution whose effects are so marked already? Who gave the "mysterious help" which comes at the close of cycles as mentioned in the above quotation from The Secret Doctrine, and which strikes the keynote of the coming age? The answer lies in that book and in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, where we learn that one of the Masters, attracted by Professor Crookes" independence of thought, and his courage in defying public opinion by his pioneering efforts in psychic research at the risk of losing his scientfic reputation, helped him; at first without his knowledge, but later openly. When the Mahatman Morya said: "And Crookes — has he not brought science within our hail in his "radiant matter" discovery? What but occult research was it that led him first to that?" he saw that a fresh link was formed in the chain that would ultimately unite science, philosophy and religion into a harmonious whole, a chain which is now rapidly growing.
We cannot enlarge on this important subject here, but students will find full particulars, with quotations from the Masters" letters, in Lucifer for March, 1933. Keep this in mind for use when needed. An inquirer of scientific bent of mind is more impressed by a single ounce of fact than by a ton of theory that he cannot test.
DID THE MOST ANCIENT AMERICAN LIVE IN CALIFORNIA?
Things are moving in American pre-history of man. Only yesterday it was hardly permitted to suggest that man had lived in the Americas for more than a few thousand years — five or a little more, perhaps. He "cannot" have been here before the Glacial Period because the route from Asia was solidly frozen for thousands of miles, and, "of course," there was no other way of getting here. But facts are rapidly being found that indicate that man was here before the end of the glaciation, and that American human pre-history is approaching in duration the immense periods recorded in the Old World. We have mentioned some of these already in this Department. The latest report comes from Los Angeles. We quote from the Los Angeles Times, March 28, 1936:
An amazing discovery of prehistoric remains that may link the American Indian with the Mongols . . . was disclosed yesterday by Dr. A. 0. Bowden, chief of the University of Southern California Anthropology Department, and his colleagues. A skull, femur, and fragments of other bones of a human skeleton found in a storm-drain excavation . . . was pronounced by Dr. Bowden to be a find which he believes to be unprecedented in the archaeological history of the Western Hemisphere. . . . Dr. Bowden and his associates concluded that the bones may be as much as 50,000 years old. At any rate the investigators concluded that the bones are those of a prehistoric wanderer, possibly of Asiatic origin, who roamed Southern California in the days of the imperial elephant, the ground sloth and the saber-toothed tiger. . . . Concurring with them in their placing the fragments in the Pleistocene Age — from 16,000 to 50,000 years ago — was Dr. Thomas Clements, chairman of the Geology Department of the University. "These bones could not possibly be those of a more recent western Indian," Dr. Bowden said. "The strata lying over these remains and those of the imperial elephant were undisturbed. The great animal became extinct more than 16,000 years ago. . . ."
So perhaps the Asiatics found their way here while the glaciation was present; but why should wanderers have not also come across the Atlantic or the Pacific by lands that have perished? The glaciation of the northern and southern latitudes would have been no obstacle. As to Mongolian immigration the student will find some useful hints in The Secret Doctrine, II, 182, 250, 424 (footnote).
The Theosophical ForumTHEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE