Theosophical University Press Online Edition
Let there be exaggeration or not in attributing to the Atharva-Veda and the other books such a great antiquity, the fact remains that these prophecies and their realization preceded Christianity, and Christna preceded Christ. That is all we need care to inquire.
One is completely overwhelmed with astonishment upon reading Dr. Lundy's Monumental Christianity. It would be difficult to say whether an admiration for the author's erudition, or amazement at his serene and unparalleled sophistry is stronger. He has gathered a world of facts which prove that the religions, far more ancient than Christianity, of Christna, Buddha, and Osiris had anticipated even its minutest symbols. His materials come from no forged papyri, no interpolated Gospels, but from sculptures on the walls of ancient temples, from monuments, inscriptions, and other archaic relics, only mutilated by the hammers of iconoclasts, the cannon of fanatics, and the effects of time. He shows us Christna and Apollo as good shepherds; Christna holding the cruciform chank and the chakra, and Christna "crucified in space," as he calls it (Monumental Christianity, fig. 72). Of this figure — borrowed by Dr. Lundy from Moor's Hindu Pantheon — it may be truly said that it is calculated to petrify a Christian with astonishment, for it is the crucified Christ of Romish art to the last degree of resemblance. Not a feature is lacking; and, the author says of it himself: "This representation I believe to be anterior to Christianity. . . . It looks like a Christian crucifix in many respects. . . . The drawing, the attitude, the nail-marks in hands and feet, indicate a Christian origin, while the Parthian coronet of seven points, the absence of the wood, and of the usual inscription, and the rays of glory above, would seem to point to some other than a Christian origin. Can it be the victim-man, or the priest and victim both in one, of the Hindu Mythology, who offered himself a sacrifice before the worlds were? Can it be Plato's Second God who impressed himself on the universe in the form of the cross? Or is it his divine man who would be scourged, tormented, fettered; have his eyes burnt out; and lastly . . . would be crucified?" (Republic, c. ii., p. 52, Spens. Trans.). It is all that and much more; Archaic Religious Philosophy was universal.
As it is, Dr. Lundy contradicts Moor, and maintains that this figure is that of Wittoba, one of the avatars of Vishnu, hence Christna, and anterior to Christianity, which is a fact not very easily to be put down. And yet although he finds it prophetic of Christianity, he thinks it has no relation whatever to Christ! His only reason is that "in a Christian crucifix the glory always comes from the sacred head; here it is from above and beyond. . . . The Pundit's Wittoba then, given to Moor, would seem to be the crucified Krishna, the shepherd-god of Mathura
. . . a Saviour — the Lord of the Covenant, as well as Lord of Heaven and earth — pure and impure, light and dark, good and bad, peaceful and war-like, amiable and wrathful, mild and turbulent, forgiving and vindictive, God and a strange mixture of man, but not the Christ of the Gospels."
Now all these qualities must pertain to Jesus as well as to Christna. The very fact that Jesus was a man upon the mother's side — even though he were a God, implies as much. His behavior toward the fig-tree, and his self-contradictions, in Matthew, where at one time he promises peace on earth, and at another the sword, etc., are proofs in this direction. Undoubtedly this cut was never intended to represent Jesus of Nazareth. It was Wittoba, as Moor was told, and as moreover the Hindu Sacred Scriptures state, Brahma, the sacrificer who is "at once both sacrificer and victim"; it is "Brahma, victim in His Son Christna, who came to die on earth for our salvation, who Himself accomplishes the solemn sacrifice (of the Sarvameda)." And yet, it is the man Jesus as well as the man Christna, for both were united to their Chrestos.
Thus we have either to admit periodical "incarnations," or let Christianity go as the greatest imposture and plagiarism of the ages!
As to the Jewish Scriptures, only such men as the Jesuit de Carriere, a convenient representative of the majority of the Catholic clergy, can still command their followers to accept only the chronology established by the Holy Ghost. It is on the authority of the latter that we learn that Jacob went, with a family of seventy persons, all told, to settle in Egypt in A.M. 2298, and that in A.M. 2513 — just 215 years afterward — these seventy persons had so increased that they left Egypt 600,000 fighting men strong, "without counting women and children," which, according to the science of statistics, should represent a total population of between two and three millions!! Natural history affords no parallel to such fecundity, except in red herrings. After this let the Christian missionaries laugh, if they can, at Hindu chronology and computations.
"Happy are those persons, but not to be envied," exclaims Bunsen, "who have no misgivings about making Moses march out with more than two millions of people at the end of a popular conspiracy and rising, in the sunny days of the eighteenth dynasty; who make the Israelites conquer Kanaan under Joshua, during and previous to the most formidable campaigns of conquering Pharaohs in that same country. The Egyptian and Assyrian annals, combined with the historical criticism of the Bible, prove that the exodus could only have taken place under Menephthah, so that Joshua could not have crossed the Jordan before Easter 1280, the last campaign of Ramses III. in Palestine being in 1281."*
* Bunsen's "Egypt's Place in Universal History," vol. v., p. 93.
But we must resume the thread of our narrative with Buddha.
Neither he nor Jesus ever wrote one word of their doctrines. We have to take the teachings of the masters on the testimony of the disciples, and therefore it is but fair that we should be allowed to judge both doctrines on their intrinsic value. Where the logical preponderance lies, may be seen in the results of frequent encounters between Christian missionaries and Buddhist theologians (pungui). The latter usually, if not invariably, have the better of their opponents. On the other hand, the "Lama of Jehovah" rarely fails to lose his temper, to the great delight of the Lama of Buddha, and practically demonstrates his religion of patience, mercy, and charity, by abusing his disputant in the most uncanonical language. This we have witnessed repeatedly.
Despite the notable similarity of the direct teachings of Gautama and Jesus, we yet find their respective followers starting from two diametrically opposite points. The Buddhist divine, following literally the ethical doctrine of his master, remains thus true to the legacy of Gautama; while the Christian minister, distorting the precepts recorded by the four Gospels beyond recognition, teaches, not that which Jesus taught, but the absurd, too often pernicious, interpretations of fallible men — Popes, Luthers, and Calvins included. The following are two instances selected from both religions, and brought into contrast. Let the reader judge for himself:
"Do not believe in anything because it is rumored and spoken of by many," says Buddha; "do not think that is a proof of its truth.
"Do not believe merely because the written statement of some old sage is produced; do not be sure that the writing has ever been revised by the said sage, or can be relied on. Do not believe in what you have fancied, thinking that, because an idea is extraordinary, it must have been implanted by a Deva, or some wonderful being.
"Do not believe in guesses, that is, assuming something at hap-hazard as a starting-point, and then drawing conclusions from it — reckoning your two and your three and your four before you have fixed your number one.
"Do not believe merely on the authority of your teachers and masters, or believe and practice merely because they believe and practice.
"I [Buddha] tell you all, you must of yourselves know that this is evil, this is punishable, this is censured by wise men; belief in this will bring no advantage to any one, but will cause sorrow; and when you know this, then eschew it."*
It is impossible to avoid contrasting with these benevolent and human sentiments, the fulminations of the OEcumenical Council and the Pope,
* Alabaster: "Wheel of the Law," pp. 43-47.
against the employment of reason, and the pursuit of science when it clashes with revelation. The atrocious Papal benediction of Moslem arms and cursing of the Russian and Bulgarian Christians have roused the indignation of some of the most devoted Catholic communities. The Catholic Czechs of Prague on the day of the recent semi-centennial jubilee of Pius IX., and again on the 6th of July, the day sacred to the memory of John Huss, the burned martyr, to mark their horror of the Ultramontane policy in this respect, gathered by thousands upon the neighboring Mount Zhishko, and with great ceremony and denunciations, burned the Pope's portrait, his Syllabus, and last allocution against the Russian Czar, saying that they were good Catholics, but better Slavs. Evidently, the memory of John Huss is more sacred to them than the Vatican Popes.
"The worship of words is more pernicious than the worship of images," remarks Robert Dale Owen. "Grammatolatry is the worst species of idolatry. We have arrived at an era in which literalism is destroying faith. . . . The letter killeth."*
There is not a dogma in the Church to which these words can be better applied than to the doctrine of transubstantiation.** "Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life," Christ is made to say. "This is a hard saying," repeated his dismayed listeners. The answer was that of an initiate. "Doth this offend you? It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing. The words (remata, or arcane utterances) that I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they are Life."
During the Mysteries wine represented Bacchus, and bread Ceres.***
* "The Debatable Land," p. 145.
** "We divide our zeal," says Dr. Henry More, "against so many things that we fancy Popish, that we scarce reserve a just share of detestation against what is truly so. Such are that gross, rank, and scandalous impossibility of transubstantiation, the various modes of fulsome idolatry and lying impostures, the uncertainty of their loyalty to their lawful sovereigns by their superstitious adhesion to the spiritual tyranny of the Pope, and that barbarous and ferine cruelty against those that are not either such fools as to be persuaded to believe such things as they would obtrude upon men, or, are not so false to God and their own consciences, as, knowing better, yet to profess them" (Postscript to "Glanvill").
*** Payne Knight believes that Ceres was not a personification of the brute matter which composed the earth, but of the female productive principle supposed to pervade it, which, joined to the active, was held to be the cause of the organization and animation of its substance. . . . She is mentioned as the wife of the Omnipotent Father, AEther, or Jupiter ("The Symbolical Language of Ancient Art and Mythology," xxxvi.). Hence the word, of Christ, "it is the Spirit that quickeneth, flesh profiteth nothing," applied in their dual meaning to both spiritual and terrestrial things, to spirit and matter.
Bacchus, as Dionysus, is of Indian origin. Cicero mentions him as a son of Thyone and Nisus. [[Dionusos]] means the god Dis from Mount Nys in India. Bacchus, crowned [[Footsnote continued on next page]]
The hierophant-initiator presented symbolically before the final revelation wine and bread to the candidate who had to eat and drink of both in token that the spirit was to quicken matter, i.e., the divine wisdom was to enter into his body through what was to be revealed to him. Jesus, in his Oriental phraseology, constantly assimilated himself to the true vine (John xv. 1). Furthermore, the hierophant, the discloser of the Petroma, was called "Father." When Jesus says, "Drink . . . this is my blood," what else was meant, it was simply a metaphorical assimilation of himself to the vine, which bears the grape, whose juice is its blood — wine. It was a hint that as he had himself been initiated by the "Father," so he desired to initiate others. His "Father" was the husbandman, himself the vine, his disciples the branches. His followers being ignorant of the terminology of the Mysteries, wondered; they even took it as an offense, which is not surprising, considering the Mosaic injunction against blood.
There is quite enough in the four gospels to show what was the secret and most fervent hope of Jesus; the hope in which he began to teach, and in which he died. In his immense and unselfish love for humanity, he considers it unjust to deprive the many of the results of the knowledge acquired by the few. This result he accordingly preaches — the unity of a spiritual God, whose temple is within each of us, and in whom we live as He lives in us — in Spirit. This knowledge was in the hands of the Jewish adepts of the school of Hillel and the kabalists. But the "scribes," or lawyers, having gradually merged into the dogmatism of the dead letter, had long since separated themselves from the Tanaim, the true spiritual teachers; and the practical kabalists were more or less persecuted by the Synagogue. Hence, we find Jesus exclaiming: "Woe unto you lawyers! For ye have taken away the key of knowledge [the Gnosis]: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering ye prevented" (Luke xi. 52). The meaning here is clear. They did take the key away, and could not even profit by it themselves, for the Masorah (tradition) had become a closed book to themselves as well as to others.
[[Footnote continued from previous page]] with ivy, or kissos, is Christna, one of whose names was Kissen. Dionysus is preeminently the deity on whom were centred all the hopes for future life; in short, he was the god who was expected to liberate the souls of men from their prisons of flesh. Orpheus, the poet-Argonaut, is also said to have come on earth to purify the religion of its gross, and terrestrial anthropomorphism, he abolished human sacrifice and instituted a mystic theology based on pure spirituality. Cicero calls Orpheus a son of Bacchus. It is strange that both seem to have originally come from India. At least, as Dionysus Zagreus, Bacchus is of undoubted Hindu origin. Some writers deriving a curious analogy between the name of Orpheus and an old Greek term, [[orphos]], dark or tawny-colored, make him Hindu by connecting the term with his dusky Hindu complexion. See Voss, Heyne and Schneider on the Argonauts.
Neither Renan nor Strauss, nor the more modern Viscount Amberley seem to have had the remotest suspicion of the real meaning of many of the parables of Jesus, or even of the character of the great Galilean philosopher. Renan, as we have seen, presented him to us as a Gallicized Rabbi, "le plus charmant de tous," still but a Rabbi; and one, moreover, who does not even come out of the school of Hillel, or any school either, albeit he terms him repeatedly "the charming doctor."* He shows him as a sentimental young enthusiast, sprung out of the plebeian classes of Galilee, who imagines the ideal kings of his parables the empurpled and jewelled beings of whom one reads in nursery tales.**
Lord Amberley's Jesus, on the other hand, is an "iconoclastic idealist," far inferior in subtilty and logic to his critics. Renan looks over at Jesus with the one-sidedness of a Semitomaniac; Viscount Amberley looks down upon him from the social plane of an English lord. Apropos of this marriage-feast parable, which he considers as embodying "a curious theory of social intercourse," the Viscount says: "Nobody can object to charitable individuals asking poor people or invalids without rank at their houses. . . . But we cannot admit that this kind action ought to be rendered obligatory . . . it is eminently desirable that we should do exactly what Christ would forbid us doing — namely, invite our neighbors and be invited by them as circumstances may require. The fear that we may receive a recompense for the dinner-parties we may give, is surely chimerical. . . . Jesus, in fact, overlooks entirely the more intellectual side of society."*** All of which unquestionably shows that the "Son of God" was no master of social etiquette, nor fit for "society"; but it is also a fair example of the prevalent misconception of even his most suggestive parables.
The theory of Anquetil du Perron that the Bagaved-gita is an independent work, as it is absent from several manuscripts of the Maha-Bharata, may be as much a plea for a still greater antiquity as the reverse. The work is purely metaphysical and ethical, and in a certain sense it is anti-Vedic; so far, at least, that it is in opposition with many of the later Brahmanical interpretations of the Vedas. How comes it, then, that instead of destroying the work, or, at least, of sentencing it as uncanonical — an expedient to which the Christian Church would never have failed to resort — the Brahmans show it the greatest reverence? Perfectly unitarian in its aim, it clashes with the popular idol-worship. Still, the only precaution taken by the Brahmans to keep its tenets from becoming too well known, is to preserve it more secretly than any other
* "Vie de Jesus," p. 219.
** Ibid., p. 221.
*** "Analysis of Religious Belief," vol. i., p. 467.
religious book from every caste except the sacerdotal; and, to impose upon that even, in many cases, certain restrictions. The grandest mysteries of the Brahmanical religion are embraced within this magnificent poem; and even the Buddhists recognize it, explaining certain dogmatic difficulties in their own way. "Be unselfish, subdue your senses and passions, which obscure reason and lead to deceit," says Christna to his disciple Arjuna, thus enunciating a purely Buddhistic principle. "Low men follow examples, great men give them. . . . The soul ought to free itself from the bonds of action, and act absolutely according to its divine origin. There is but one God, and all other devotas are inferior, and mere forms (powers) of Brahma or of myself. Worship by deeds predominates over that of contemplation."*
This doctrine coincides perfectly with that of Jesus himself.** Faith alone, unaccompanied by "works," is reduced to naught in the Bagaved-gita. As to the Atharva-Veda, it was and is preserved in such secrecy by the Brahmans, that it is a matter of doubt whether the Orientalists have a complete copy of it. One who has read what Abbe Dubois says may well doubt the fact. "Of the last species — the Atharva — there are very few," he says, writing of the Vedas, "and many people suppose they no longer exist. But the truth is, they do exist, though they conceal themselves with more caution than the others, from the fear of being suspected to be initiated in the magic mysteries and other dreaded mysteries which the work is believed to teach."***
There were even those among the highest epoptae of the greater Mysteries who knew nothing of their last and dreaded rite — the voluntary transfer of life from hierophant to candidate. In Ghost-Land**** this mystical operation of the adept's transfer of his spiritual entity, after the death of his body, into the youth he loves with all the ardent love of a spiritual parent, is superbly described. As in the case of the reincarnation of the lamas of Thibet, an adept of the highest order may live indefinitely. His mortal casket wears out notwithstanding certain alchemical secrets for prolonging the youthful vigor far beyond the usual limits, yet the body can rarely be kept alive beyond ten or twelve score of years. The old garment is then worn out, and the spiritual Ego forced to leave it, selects for its habitation a new body, fresh and full of healthy vital principle. In case the reader should feel inclined to ridicule this asser-
* See the "Gita," translated by Charles Wilkins, in 1785; and the "Bhagavad-Purana," containing the history of Christna, translated into French by Eugene Burnouf. 1840.
** Matthew vii. 21.
*** "Of the People of India," vol. i., p. 84.
**** Or "Researches into the Mysteries of Occultism"; Boston, 1877, Edited by Mrs. E. Hardinge Britten.
tion of the possible prolongation of human life, we may as well refer him to the statistics of several countries. The author of an able article in the Westminster Review, for October, 1850, is responsible for the statement that in England, they have the authentic instances of one Thomas Jenkins dying at the age of 169, and "Old Parr" at 152; and that in Russia some of the peasants are "known to have reached 242 years."* There are also cases of centenarianism reported among the Peruvian Indians. We are aware that many able writers have recently discredited these claims to an extreme longevity, but we nevertheless affirm our belief in their truth.
True or false there are "superstitions" among the Eastern people such as have never been dreamed even by an Edgar Poe or a Hoffmann. And these beliefs run in the very blood of the nations with which they originated. Carefully stripped of exaggeration they will be found to embody an universal belief in those restless, wandering, astral souls, which are called ghouls and vampires. An Armenian Bishop of the fifth century, named Yeznik, gives a number of such narratives in a manuscript work (Book i., §§ 20, 30), preserved some thirty years ago in the library of the Monastery of Etchmeadzine.** Among others, there is a tradition dating from the days of heathendom, that whenever a hero whose life is needed yet on earth falls on the battle-field, the Aralez, the popular gods of ancient Armenia, empowered to bring back to life those slaughtered in battle, lick the bleeding wounds of the victim, and breathe on them until they have imparted a new and vigorous life. After that the warrior rises, washes off all traces of his wounds, and resumes his place in the fray. But his immortal spirit has fled; and for the remainder of his days he lives — a deserted temple.
Once that an adept was initiated into the last and most solemn mystery of the life-transfer, the awful seventh rite of the great sacerdotal operation, which is the highest theurgy, he belonged no more to this world. His soul was free thereafter, and the seven mortal sins lying in wait to devour his heart, as the soul, liberated by death, would be crossing the seven halls and seven staircases, could hurt him no more alive or dead; he has passed the "twice seven trials" the twelve labors of the final hour.***
The High Hierophant alone knew how to perform this solemn opera-
* See "Stone Him to Death"; "Septenary Institutions." Capt. James Riley, in his "Narrative" of his enslavement in Africa, relates like instances of great longevity on the Sahara Desert.
** Russian Armenia; one of the most ancient Christian convents.
*** "Egyptian Book of the Dead." The Hindus have seven upper and seven lower heavens. The seven mortal sins of the Christians have been borrowed from the Egyptian Books of Hermes with which Clement of Alexandria was so familiar.
tion by infusing his own vital life and astral soul into the adept, chosen by him for his successor, who thus became endowed with a double life.*
"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John iii. 3). Jesus tells Nicodemus, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the spirit is spirit."
This allusion, so unintelligible in itself, is explained in the Satapa-Brahmana. It teaches that a man striving after spiritual perfection must have three births: 1st. Physical from his mortal parents; 2d. Spiritual, through religious sacrifice (initiation); 3d. His final birth into the world of spirit — at death. Though it may seem strange that we should have to go to the old land of the Punjab and the banks of the sacred Ganges, for an interpreter of words spoken in Jerusalem and expounded on the banks of the Jordan, the fact is evident. This second birth, or regeneration of spirit, after the natural birth of that which is born of the flesh, might have astonished a Jewish ruler. Nevertheless, it had been taught 3,000 years before the appearance of the great Galilean prophet, not only in old India but to all the epoptae of the Pagan initiation, who were instructed in the great mysteries of LIFE and DEATH. This secret of secrets, that soul is not knit to flesh, was practically demonstrated in the instance of the Yogis, the followers of Kapila. Having emancipated their souls from the fetters of Prakriti, or Mahat (the physical perception of the senses and mind — in one sense, creation), they so developed their soul-power and will-force, as to have actually enabled themselves, while on earth, to communicate with the supernal worlds, and perform what is bunglingly termed "miracles."** Men whose astral
* The atrocious custom subsequently introduced among the people, of sacrificing human victims, is a perverted copy of the Theurgic Mystery. The Pagan priests, who did not belong to the class of the hierophants, carried on for awhile this hideous rite, and it served to screen the genuine purpose. But the Grecian Herakles is represented as the adversary of human sacrifices and as slaying the men and monsters who offered them. Bunsen shows, by the very absence of any representation of human sacrifice on the oldest monuments, that this custom had been abolished in the old Empire, at the close of the seventh century after Menes; therefore, 3,000 years B.C., Iphicrates had stopped the human sacrifices entirely among the Carthaginians. Diphilus ordered bulls to be substituted for human victims. Amosis forced the priests to replace the latter by figures of wax. On the other hand, for every stranger offered on the shrine of Diana by the inhabitants of the Tauric Chersonesus, the Inquisition and the Christian clergy can boast of a dozen of heretics offered on the altar of the "mother of God," and her "Son." And when did the Christians ever think of substituting either animals or wax-figures for living heretics, Jews, and witches? They burned these in effigy only when, through providential interference, the doomed victims had escaped their clutches.
** This is why Jesus recommends prayer in the solitude of one's closet. This secret prayer is but the paravidya of the Vedantic philosopher: "He who knows his soul [[Footnote continued on next page]]
spirits have attained on earth the nehreyasa, or the mukti, are half-gods; disembodied spirits, they reach Moksha or Nirvana, and this is their second spiritual birth.
Buddha teaches the doctrine of a new birth as plainly as Jesus does. Desiring to break with the ancient Mysteries, to which it was impossible to admit the ignorant masses, the Hindu reformer, though generally silent upon more than one secret dogma, clearly states his thought in several passages. Thus, he says: "Some people are born again; evil-doers go to Hell; righteous people go to Heaven; those who are free from all worldly desires enter Nirvana" (Precepts of the Dhammapada, v., 126). Elsewhere Buddha states that "it is better to believe in a future life, in which happiness or misery can be felt; for if the heart believes therein, it will abandon sin and act virtuously; and even if there is no resurrection, such a life will bring a good name and the regard of men. But those who believe in extinction at death will not fail to commit any sin that they may choose, because of their disbelief in a future."*
The Epistle to the Hebrews treats of the sacrifice of blood. "Where a testament is," says the writer, "there must be of necessity the death of the testator. . . . Without the shedding of blood is no remission." Then again: "Christ glorified not himself to be made High Priest; but He that said unto him: Thou art my son; TO-DAY HAVE I BEGOTTEN THEE" (Heb. v. 5). This is a very clear inference, that, 1, Jesus was considered only in the light of a high priest, like Melchisedek — another avatar, or incarnation of Christ, according to the Fathers; and, 2, that the writer thought that Jesus had become a "Son of God" only at the moment of his initiation by water; hence, that he was not born a god, neither was he begotten physically by Him. Every initiate of the "last hour" became, by the very fact of his initiation, a son of God. When Maxime, the Ephesian, initiated the Emperor Julian into the Mithraic Mysteries, he pronounced as the usual formula of the rite, the following: "By this blood, I wash thee from thy sins. The Word of the Highest has entered unto thee, and His Spirit henceforth will rest upon the NEWLY-BORN, the now-begotten of the Highest God. . . . Thou art the son of Mithra." "Thou art the 'Son of God,' " repeated the disciples after Christ's baptism. When Paul shook off the viper into the fire without further injury to himself, the people of Melita said "that he was a god" (Acts xxviii.). "He is the son of God, the Beautiful!" was the term used by the disciples of Simon
[[Footnote continued from previous page]] (inner self) daily retires to the region of Swarga (the heavenly realm) in his own heart," says the Brihad-Aranyaka. The Vedantic philosopher recognizes the Atman, the spiritual self, as the sole and Supreme God.
* "Wheel of the Law," p. 54.
Magus, for they thought they recognized the "great power of God" in him.
A man can have no god that is not bounded by his own human conceptions. The wider the sweep of his spiritual vision, the mightier will be his deity. But where can we find a better demonstration of Him than in man himself; in the spiritual and divine powers lying dormant in every human being? "The very capacity to imagine the possibility of thaumaturgical powers, is itself evidence that they exist," says the author of Prophecy. "The critic, as well as the skeptic, is generally inferior to the person or subject that he is reviewing, and, therefore, is hardly a competent witness. If there are counterfeits, somewhere there must have been a genuine original."*
Blood begets phantoms, and its emanations furnish certain spirits with the materials required to fashion their temporary appearances. "Blood," says Levi, "is the first incarnation of the universal fluid; it is the materialized vital light. Its birth is the most marvellous of all nature's marvels; it lives only by perpetually transforming itself, for it is the universal Proteus. The blood issues from principles where there was none of it before, and it becomes flesh, bones, hair, nails . . . tears, and perspiration. It can be allied neither to corruption nor death; when life is gone, it begins decomposing; if you know how to reanimate it, to infuse into it life by a new magnetization of its globules, life will return to it again. The universal substance, with its double motion, is the great arcanum of being; blood is the great arcanum of life."
"Blood," says the Hindu Ramatsariar, "contains all the mysterious secrets of existence, no living being can exist without. It is profaning the great work of the Creator to eat blood."
In his turn Moses, following the universal and traditional law, forbids eating blood.
Paracelsus writes that with the fumes of blood one is enabled to call forth any spirit we desire to see; for with its emanations it will build itself an appearance, a visible body — only this is sorcery. The hierophants of Baal made deep incisions all over their bodies and produced apparitions, objective and tangible, with their own blood. The followers of a certain sect in Persia, many of whom may be found around the Russian settlements in Temerchan-Shoura, and Derbent, have their religious mysteries in which they form a large ring, and whirl round in a frantic dance. Their temples are ruined, and they worship in large temporary buildings, securely enclosed, and with the earthen floor deeply strewn with sand. They are all dressed in long white robes, and their heads are
* A. Wilder: "Ancient and Modern Prophecy."
bare and closely shaved. Armed with knives, they soon reach a point of furious exaltation, and wound themselves and others until their garments and the sand on the floor are soaked with blood. Before the end of the "Mystery" every man has a companion, who whirls round with him. Sometimes the spectral dancers have hair on their heads, which makes them quite distinct from their unconscious creators. As we have solemnly promised never to divulge the principal details of this terrible ceremony (which we were allowed to witness but once), we must leave the subject.*
In the days of antiquity the sorceresses of Thessaly added sometimes to the blood of a black lamb that of an infant, and by this means evoked the shadows. The priests were taught the art of calling up the spirits of the dead, as well as those of the elements, but their mode was certainly not that of Thessalian sorceresses.
Among the Yakuts of Siberia there is a tribe dwelling on the very confines of the Transbaikal regions near the river Vitema (eastern Siberia) which practices sorcery as known in the days of the Thessalian witches. Their religious beliefs are curious as a mixture of philosophy and superstition. They have a chief or supreme god Aij-Taion, who did not create, they say, but only presides over the creation of all the worlds. He lives on the ninth heaven, and it is but from the seventh that the other minor gods — his servants — can manifest themselves to their creatures. This ninth heaven, according to the revelation of the minor deities (spirits, we suppose), has three suns and three moons, and the ground of this abode is formed of four lakes (the four cardinal points) of "soft air" (ether), instead of water. While they offer no sacrifices to the Supreme Deity, for he needs none, they do try to propitiate both the good and bad deities, which they respectively term the "white" and the "black" gods. They do it, because neither of the two classes are good or bad through personal merit or demerit. As they are all subject to the Supreme Aij-Taion, and each has to carry on the duty assigned to him from eternity, they are not responsible for either the good or evil they produce in this world. The reason given by the Yakuts for such sacrifices is very curious. Sacrifices, they say, help each class of gods to perform their mission the better, and so please the Supreme; and every mortal that helps either of them in performing his duty must, therefore,
* While at Petrovsk (Dhagestan, region of the Caucasus) we had the opportunity of witnessing another such mystery. It was owing to the kindness of Prince Melikoff, the governor-general of Dhagestan, living at Temerchan-Shoura, and especially of Prince Shamsoudine, the ex-reigning Shamchal of Tarchoff, a native Tartar, that during the summer of 1865 we assisted at this ceremonial from the safe distance of a sort of private box, constructed under the ceiling of the temporary building.
please the Supreme as well, for he will have helped justice to take place. As the "black" gods are appointed to bring diseases, evils, and all kinds of calamities to mankind, each of which is a punishment for some transgression, the Yakuts offer to them "bloody" sacrifices of animals; while to the "white" they make pure offerings, consisting generally of an animal consecrated to some special god and taken care of with great ceremony, as having become sacred. According to their ideas the souls of the dead become "shadows," and are doomed to wander on earth, till a certain change takes place either for the better or worse, which the Yakuts do not pretend to explain. The light shadows, i.e., those of good people, become the guardians and protectors of those they loved on earth; the "dark" shadows (the wicked) always seek, on the contrary, to hurt those they knew, by inciting them to crimes, wicked acts, and otherwise injuring mortals. Besides these, like the ancient Chaldees, they reckon seven divine Sheitans (daemons) or minor gods. It is during the sacrifices of blood, which take place at night, that the Yakuts call forth the wicked or dark shadows, to inquire of them what they can do to arrest their mischief; hence, blood is necessary, for without its fumes the ghosts could not make themselves clearly visible, and would become, according to their ideas, but the more dangerous, for they would suck it from living persons by their perspiration.* As to the good, light shadows, they need not be called out; besides that, such an act disturbs them; they can make their presence felt, when needed, without any preparation and ceremonies.
The blood-evocation is also practiced, although with a different purpose, in several parts of Bulgaria and Moldavia, especially in districts in the vicinity of Mussulmans. The fearful oppressions and slavery to which these unfortunate Christians have been subjected for centuries has rendered them a thousand-fold more impressible, and at the same time more superstitious, than those who live in civilized countries. On every seventh of May the inhabitants of every Moldavo-Valachian and Bulgarian city or village, have what they term the "feast of the dead." After sunset, immense crowds of women and men, each with a lighted wax taper in hand, resort to the burial places, and pray on the tombs of their departed friends. This ancient and solemn ceremony, called Trizna, is everywhere a reminiscence of primitive Christian rites, but far more solemn yet, while in Mussulman slavery. Every tomb is furnished with a kind of cupboard, about half a yard high, built of four stones, and with hinged double-doors. These closets contain what is termed the household of the defunct: namely, a few wax tapers, some
* Does not this afford us a point of comparison with the so-called "materializing mediums"?
oil and an earthen lamp, which is lighted on that day, and burns for twenty-four hours. Wealthy people have silver lamps richly chiselled, and bejewelled images, which are secure from thieves, for in the burial ground the closets are even left open. Such is the dread of the population (Mussulman and Christian) of the revenge of the dead that a thief bold enough to commit any murder, would never dare touch the property of a dead person. The Bulgarians have a belief that every Saturday, and especially the eve of Easter Sunday, and until Trinity day (about seven weeks) the souls of the dead descend on earth, some to beg forgiveness from those living whom they had wronged; others to protect and commune with their loved ones. Faithfully following the traditional rites of their forefathers, the natives on each Saturday of these seven weeks keep either lamps or tapers lighted. In addition to that, on the seventh of May they drench the tombs with grape wine, and burn incense around them from sunset to sunrise. With the inhabitants of towns, the ceremony is limited to these simple observances. With some of the rustics though, the rite assumes the proportions of a theurgic evocation. On the eve of Ascension Day, Bulgarian women light a quantity of tapers and lamps; the pots are placed upon tripods, and incense perfumes the atmosphere for miles around; while thick white clouds of smoke envelope each tomb, as though a veil had separated it from the others. During the evening, and until a little before midnight, in memory of the deceased, acquaintances and a certain number of mendicants are fed and treated with wine and raki (grape-whiskey), and money is distributed among the poor according to the means of the surviving relatives. When the feast is ended, the guests approaching the tomb and addressing the defunct by name, thank him or her for the bounties received. When all but the nearest relatives are gone, a woman, usually the most aged, remains alone with the dead, and — some say — resorts to the ceremony of invocation.
After fervent prayers, repeated face downward on the grave-mound, more or less drops of blood are drawn from near the left bosom, and allowed to trickle upon the tomb. This gives strength to the invisible spirit which hovers around, to assume for a few instants a visible form, and whisper his instructions to the Christian theurgist — if he has any to offer, or simply to "bless the mourner" and then disappear again till the following year. So firmly rooted is this belief that we have heard, in a case of family difficulty, a Moldavian woman appeal to her sister to put off every decision till Ascension-night, when their dead father would be able to tell them of his will and pleasure in person; to which the sister consented as simply as though their parent were in the next room.
That there are fearful secrets in nature may well be believed when, as we have seen in the case of the Russian Znachar, the sorcerer cannot die until he has passed the word to another, and the hierophants of White Magic rarely do. It seems as if the dread power of the "Word" could only be entrusted to one man of a certain district or body of people at a time. When the Brahmatma was about to lay aside the burden of physical existence, he imparted his secret to his successor, either orally, or by a writing placed in a securely-fastened casket which went into the latter's hands alone. Moses "lays his hands" upon his neophyte, Joshua, in the solitudes of Nebo and passes away forever. Aaron initiates Eleazar on Mount Hor, and dies. Siddhartha-Buddha promises his mendicants before his death to live in him who shall deserve it, embraces his favorite disciple, whispers in his ear, and dies; and as John's head lies upon the bosom of Jesus, he is told that he shall "tarry" until he shall come. Like signal-fires of the olden times, which, lighted and extinguished by turns upon one hill-top after another, conveyed intelligence along a whole stretch of country, so we see a long line of "wise" men from the beginning of history down to our own times communicating the word of wisdom to their direct successors. Passing from seer to seer, the "Word" flashes out like lightning, and while carrying off the initiator from human sight forever, brings the new initiate into view. Meanwhile, whole nations murder each other in the name of another "Word," an empty substitute accepted literally by each, and misinterpreted by all!
We have met few sects which truly practice sorcery. One such is the Yezidis, considered by some a branch of the Koords, though we believe erroneously. These inhabit chiefly the mountainous and desolate regions of Asiatic Turkey, about Mosul, Armenia, and are found even in Syria,* and Mesopotamia. They are called and known everywhere as devil-worshippers; and most certainly it is not either through ignorance or mental obscuration that they have set up the worship and a regular inter-communication with the lowest and the most malicious of both elementals and elementaries. They recognize the present wickedness of the chief of the "black powers"; but at the same time they dread his power, and so try
* The Yezidis must number over 200,000 men altogether. The tribes which inhabit the Pashalik of Bagdad, and are scattered over the Sindjar mountains are the most dangerous, as well as the most hated for their evil practices. Their chief Sheik lives constantly near the tomb of their prophet and reformer Adi, but every tribe chooses its own sheik among the most learned in the "black art." This Adi or Ad is a mythic ancestor of theirs, and simply is, Adi — the God of wisdom or the Parsi Ab-ad the first ancestor of the human race, or again Adh-Buddha of the Hindus, anthropomorphized and degenerated.
to conciliate to themselves his favors. He is in an open quarrel with Allah, they say, but a reconciliation can take place between the two at any day; and those who have shown marks of their disrespect to the "black one" now, may suffer for it at some future time, and thus have both God and Devil against them. This is simply a cunning policy that seeks to propitiate his Satanic majesty, who is no other than the great Tcherno-bog (the black god) of the Variagi-Russ, the ancient idolatrous Russians before the days of Vladimir.
Like Wierus, the famous demonographer of the sixteenth century (who in his Pseudomonarchia Daemonum describes and enumerates a regular infernal court, which has its dignitaries, princes, dukes, nobles, and officers), the Yezidis have a whole pantheon of devils, and use the Jakshas, aerial spirits, to convey their prayers and respects to Satan their master, and the Afrites of the Desert. During their prayer-meetings, they join hands, and form immense rings, with their Sheik, or an officiating priest in the middle who claps his hands, and intones every verse in honor of Sheitan (Satan). Then they whirl and leap in the air. When the frenzy is at its climax, they often wound and cut themselves with their daggers, occasionally rendering the same service to their next neighbors. But their wounds do not heal and cicatrize as easily as in the case of lamas and holy men; for but too often they fall victims to these self-inflicted wounds. While dancing and flourishing high their daggers without unclasping hands — for this would be considered a sacrilege, and the spell instantly broken, they coax and praise Sheitan, and entreat him to manifest himself in his works by "miracles." As their rites are chiefly accomplished during night, they do not fail to obtain manifestations of various character, the least of which are enormous globes of fire which take the shapes of the most uncouth animals.
Lady Hester Stanhope, whose name was for many years a power among the masonic fraternities of the East, is said to have witnessed, personally, several of these Yezidean ceremonies. We were told by an Ockhal, of the sect of Druses, that after having been present at one of the Yezidis' "Devil's masses," as they are called, this extraordinary lady, so noted for personal courage and daring bravery, fainted, and notwithstanding her usual Emir's male attire, was recalled to life and health with the greatest difficulty. Personally, we regret to say, all our efforts to witness one of these performances failed.
A recent article in a Catholic journal on Nagualism and Voodooism charges Hayti with being the centre of secret societies, with terrible forms of initiation and bloody rites, where human infants are sacrificed and devoured by the adepts (!!). Piron, a French traveller, is quoted at length, describing a most fearful scene witnessed by him in Cuba, in the
house of a lady whom he never would have suspected of any connection with so monstrous a sect. "A naked white girl acted as a voodoo priestess, wrought up to frenzy by dances and incantations that followed the sacrifice of a white and a black hen. A serpent, trained to its part, and acted on by the music, coiled round the limbs of the girl, its motions studied by the votaries dancing around or standing to watch its contortions. The spectator fled at last in horror when the poor girl fell writhing in an epileptic fit."
While deploring such a state of things in Christian countries, the Catholic article in question explains this tenacity for ancestral religious rites as evidence of the natural depravity of the human heart, and makes a loud call for greater zeal on the part of Catholics. Besides repeating the absurd fiction about devouring children, the writer seems wholly insensible to the fact that a devotion to one's faith that centuries of the most cruel and bloody persecution cannot quench, makes heroes and martyrs of a people, whereas their conversion to any other faith would turn them simply into renegades. A compulsory religion can never breed anything but deceit. The answer received by the missionary Margil from some Indians supports the above truism. The question being: "How is it that you are so heathenish after having been Christians so long?" The answer was: "What would you do, father, if enemies of your faith entered your land? Would you not take all your books and vestments and signs of religion and retire to the most secret caves and mountains? This is just what our priests, and prophets, and soothsayers, and nagualists have done to this time and are still doing."
Such an answer from a Roman Catholic, questioned by a missionary of either Greek or Protestant Church, would earn for him the crown of a saint in the Popish martyrology. Better a "heathen" religion that can extort from a Francis Xavier such a tribute as he pays the Japanese, in saying that "in virtue and probity they surpassed all the nations he had ever seen"; than a Christianity whose advance over the face of the earth sweeps aboriginal nations out of existence as with a hurricane of fire.* Disease, drunkenness, and demoralization are the immediate results of apostasy from the faith of their fathers, and conversion into a religion of mere forms.
What Christianity is doing for British India, we need go to no inim-
* Within less than four months we have collected from the daily papers forty-seven cases of crime, ranging from drunkenness up to murder, committed by ecclesiastics in the United States only. By the end of the year our correspondents in the East will have valuable facts to offset missionary denunciations of "heathen" misdemeanors.
ical sources to inquire. Captain O'Grady, the British ex-official, says: "The British government is doing a shameful thing in turning the natives of India from a sober race to a nation of drunkards. And for pure greed. Drinking is forbidden by the religion alike of Hindus and Mussulmans. But . . . drinking is daily becoming more and more prevalent. . . . What the accursed opium traffic, forced on China by British greed, has been to that unhappy country, the government sale of liquor is likely to become to India. For it is a government monopoly, based on almost precisely the same model as the government monopoly of tobacco in Spain. . . . The outside domestics in European families usually get to be terrible drunkards. . . . The indoor servants usually detest drinking, and are a good deal more respectable in this particular than their masters and mistresses . . . everybody drinks . . . bishops, chaplains, freshly-imported boarding-school girls, and all."
Yes, these are the "blessings" that the modern Christian religion brings with its Bibles and Catechisms to the "poor heathen." Rum and bastardy to Hindustan; opium to China; rum and foul disorders to Tahiti; and, worst of all, the example of hypocrisy in religion, and a practical skepticism and atheism, which, since it seems to be good enough for civilized people, may well in time be thought good enough for those whom theology has too often been holding under a very heavy yoke. On the other hand, everything that is noble, spiritual, elevating, in the old religion is denied, and even deliberately falsified.
Take Paul, read the little of original that is left of him in the writings attributed to this brave, honest, sincere man, and see whether any one can find a word therein to show that Paul meant by the word Christ anything more than the abstract ideal of the personal divinity indwelling in man. For Paul, Christ is not a person, but an embodied idea. "If any man is in Christ he is a new creation," he is reborn, as after initiation, for the Lord is spirit — the spirit of man. Paul was the only one of the apostles who had understood the secret ideas underlying the teachings of Jesus, although he had never met him. But Paul had been initiated himself; and, bent upon inaugurating a new and broad reform, one embracing the whole of humanity, he sincerely set his own doctrines far above the wisdom of the ages, above the ancient Mysteries and final revelation to the epoptae. As Professor A. Wilder well proves in a series of able articles, it was not Jesus, but Paul who was the real founder of Christianity. "The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch," say the Acts of the Apostles. "Such men as Irenaeus, Epiphanius, and Eusebius have transmitted to posterity a reputation for untruth and dishonest practices; and the heart sickens at the story of the crimes of that
period," writes this author, in a recent article.* "It will be remembered," he adds, "that when the Moslems overran Syria and Asia Minor for the first time, they were welcomed by the Christians of those regions as deliverers from the intolerable oppression of the ruling authorities of the Church."
Mahomet never was, neither is he now, considered a god; yet under the stimulus of his name millions of Moslems have served their God with an ardor that can never be paralleled by Christian sectarianism. That they have sadly degenerated since the days of their prophet, does not alter the case in hand, but only proves the more the prevalence of matter over spirit all over the world. Besides, they have never degenerated more from primitive faith than Christians themselves. Why, then, should not Jesus of Nazareth, a thousandfold higher, nobler, and morally grander than Mahomet, be as well revered by Christians and followed in practice, instead of being blindly adored in fruitless faith as a god, and at the same time worshipped much after the fashion of certain Buddhists, who turn their wheel of prayers. That this faith has become sterile, and is no more worthy the name of Christianity than the fetishism of Calmucks that of the philosophy preached by Buddha, is doubted by none. "We would not be supposed to entertain the opinion," says Dr. Wilder, "that modern Christianity is in any degree identical with the religion preached by Paul. It lacks his breadth of view, his earnestness, his keen spiritual perception. Bearing the impress of the nations by which it is professed, it exhibits as many forms as there are races. It is one thing in Italy and Spain, but widely differs in France, Germany, Holland, Sweden, Great Britain, Russia, Armenia, Kurdistan, and Abyssinia. As compared with the preceding worships, the change seems to be more in name than in genius. Men had gone to bed Pagans and awoke Christians. As for the Sermon on the Mount, its conspicuous doctrines are more or less repudiated by every Christian community of any considerable dimensions. Barbarism, oppression, cruel punishments, are as common now as in the days of Paganism.
"The Christianity of Peter exists no more; that of Paul supplanted it, and was in its turn amalgamated with the other world-religions. When mankind are enlightened, or the barbarous races and families are supplanted by those of nobler nature and instincts, the ideal excellencies may become realities.
"The 'Christ of Paul' has constituted an enigma which evoked the most strenuous endeavor to solve. He was something else than the Jesus of the Gospels. Paul disregarded utterly their 'endless genealogies.' The
* "Evolution," art. Paul, the Founder of Christianity.
author of the fourth Gospel, himself an Alexandrian Gnostic, describes Jesus as what would now be termed a 'materialized' divine spirit. He was the Logos, or First Emanation — the Metathron. . . . The 'mother of Jesus,' like the Princess Maya, Danae, or perhaps Periktione, had given birth, not to a love-child, but to a divine offspring. No Jew of whatever sect, no apostle, no early believer, ever promulgated such an idea. Paul treats of Christ as a personage rather than as a person. The sacred lessons of the secret assemblies often personified the divine good and the divine truth in a human form, assailed by the passions and appetites of mankind, but superior to them; and this doctrine, emerging from the crypt, was apprehended by churchlings and gross-minded men as that of immaculate conception and divine incarnation."
In the old book, published in 1693 and written by the Sieur de la Loubere, French Ambassador to the King of Siam, are related many interesting facts of the Siamese religion. The remarks of the satirical Frenchman are so pointed that we will quote his words about the Siamese Saviour — Sommona-Cadom.
"How marvellous soever they pretend the birth of their Saviour has been, they cease not to give him a father and a mother.* His mother, whose name is found in some of their Balie (Pali?) books, was called, as they say, Maha MARIA, which seems to signify the great Mary, for Maha signifies great. However it be, this ceases not to give attention to the missionaries, and has perhaps given occasion to the Siamese to believe that Jesus being the son of Mary, was brother to Sommona-Cadom, and that, having been crucified, he was that wicked brother whom they give to Sommona-Cadom, under the name of Thevetat, and whom they report to be punished in Hell, with a punishment which participates something of a cross. . . . The Siamese expect another Sommona-Cadom, I mean, another miraculous man like him, whom they already named Pronarote, and whom they say was foretold by Sommona. He made all sorts of miracles. . . . He had two disciples, both standing on each hand of his idol; one on the right hand, and the other on the left . . . the first is named Pra-Magla, and the second Pra Scaribout. . . . The father of Sommona-Cadom was, according to this same Balie Book, a King of Teve Lanca, that is to say, a King of Ceylon. But the Balie Books being without date and without the author's name, have no more authority than all the traditions, whose origin is unknown."**
* We find in Galatians iv. 4, the following: "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law."
** The date has been fully established for these Pali Books in our own century; sufficiently so, at least, to show that they existed in Ceylon, 316 B.C., when Mahinda, the son of Asoka, was there (See Max Muller, "Chips, etc.," vol. i., on Buddhism).
This last argument is as ill-considered as it is naively expressed. We do not know of any book in the whole world less authenticated as to date, authors' names, or tradition, than our Christian Bible. Under these circumstances the Siamese have as much reason to believe in their miraculous Sommona-Cadom as the Christians in their miraculously-born Saviour. Moreover, they have no better right to force their religion upon the Siamese, or any other people, against their will, and in their own country, where they go unasked, than the so-called heathen "to compel France or England to accept Buddhism at the point of the sword." A Buddhist missionary, even in free-thinking America, would daily risk being mobbed, but this does not at all prevent missionaries from abusing the religion of the Brahmans, Lamas, and Bonzes, publicly to their teeth; and the latter are not always at liberty to answer them. This is termed diffusing the beneficent light of Christianity and civilization upon the darkness of heathenism!
And yet we find that these pretensions — which might appear ludicrous were they not so fatal to millions of our fellow-men, who only ask to be left alone — were fully appreciated as early as in the seventeenth century. We find the same witty Monsieur de la Loubere, under a pretext of pious sympathy, giving some truly curious instructions to the ecclesiastical authorities at home,* which embody the very soul of Jesuitism.
"From what I have said concerning the opinions of the Orientals," he remarks, "it is easy to comprehend how difficult an enterprise it is to bring them over to the Christian religion; and of what consequence it is that the missionaries, which preach the Gospel in the East, do perfectly understand the manners and belief of these people. For as the apostles and first Christians, when God supported their preaching by so many wonders, did not on a sudden discover to the heathens all the mysteries which we adore, but a long time concealed from them, and the Catechumens themselves, the knowledge of those which might scandalize them; it seems very rational to me that the missionaries, who have not
* "A New Historical Relation of the Kingdom of Siam," by M. de la Loubere, Envoy to Siam from France, 1687-8, chap. xxv., London; "Diverse Observations to be Made in Preaching the Gospel to the Orientals."
The Sieur de la Loubere's report to the king was made, as we see, in 1687-8. How thoroughly his proposition to the Jesuits, to suppress and dissemble in preaching Christianity to the Siamese, met their approval, is shown in the passage elsewhere quoted from the Thesis propounded by the Jesuits of Caen ("Thesis propugnata in regio Soc. Jes. Collegio, celeberrimae Academiae Cadoniensis," die Veneris, 30 Jan., 1693), to the following effect: ". . . neither do the Fathers of the Society of Jesus dissemble when they adopt the institute and the habit of the Talapoins of Siam." In five years the Ambassador's little lump of leaven had leavened the whole.
the gift of miracles, ought not presently to discover to the Orientals all the mysteries nor all the practices of Christianity.
"'Twould be convenient, for example, if I am not mistaken, not to preach unto them, without great caution, the worshipping of saints; and as to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, I think it would be necessary to manage it with them, if I may so say, and not to speak to them of the mystery of the Incarnation, till after having convinced them of the existence of a God Creator. For what probability is there, to begin with, of persuading the Siamese to remove Sommona-Cadom, Pra Mogla, and Pra Scaribout from the altars, to set up Jesus Christ, St. Peter, and St. Paul, in their stead? 'Twould, perhaps, be more proper not to preach unto them Jesus Christ crucified, till they have first comprehended that one may be unfortunate and innocent; and that by the rule received, even amongst them, which is, that the innocent might load himself with the crimes of the guilty, it was necessary that a god should become man, to the end that this man-God should, by a laborious life, and a shameful but voluntary death, satisfy for all the sins of men; but before all things it would be necessary to give them the true idea of a God Creator, and justly provoked against men. The Eucharist, after this, will not scandalize the Siamese, as it formerly scandalized the Pagans of Europe; forasmuch as the Siamese do not believe Sommona-Cadom could give his wife and children to the Talapoins to eat.
"On the contrary, as the Chinese are respectful toward their parents even to a scruple, I doubt not that if the Gospel should be presently put into their hands, they would be scandalized at that place, where, when some told Jesus Christ that his mother and his brethren asked after him, he answered in such a manner, that he seems so little to regard them, that he affected not to know them. They would not be less offended at those other mysterious words, which our divine Saviour spoke to the young man, who desired time to go and bury his parents: 'Let the dead,' said he, 'bury the dead.' Every one knows the trouble which the Japanese expressed to St. Francis Xavier upon the eternity of damnation, not being able to believe that their dead parents should fall into so horrible a misfortune for want of having embraced Christianity, which they had never heard of. . . . It seems necessary, therefore, to prevent and mollify this thought, by the means which that great apostle of the Indies used, in first establishing the idea of an omnipotent, all-wise, and most just God, the author of all good, to whom only everything is due, and by whose will we owe unto kings, bishops, magistrates and to our parents the respects which we owe them.
"These examples are sufficient to show with what precautions it is
necessary to prepare the minds of the Orientals to think like us, and not to be offended with most of the articles of the Christian faith."*
And what, we ask, is left to preach? With no Saviour, no atonement, no crucifixion for human sin, no Gospel, no eternal damnation to tell them of, and no miracles to display, what remained for the Jesuits to spread among the Siamese but the dust of the Pagan sanctuaries with which to blind their eyes? The sarcasm is biting indeed. The morality to which these poor heathen are made to adhere by their ancestral faith is so pure, that Christianity has to be stripped of every distinguishing mark before its priests can venture to offer it for their examination. A religion that cannot be trusted to the scrutiny of an unsophisticated people who are patterns of filial piety, of honest dealing, of deep reverence for God and an instinctive horror of profaning His majesty, must indeed be founded upon error. That it is so, our century is discovering little by little.
In the general spoliation of Buddhism to make up the new Christian religion, it was not to be expected that so peerless a character as Gautama-Buddha would be left unappropriated. It was but natural that after taking his legendary history to fill out the blanks left in the fictitious story of Jesus, after using what they could of Christna's, they should take the man Sakya-muni and put him in their calendar under an alias. This they actually did, and the Hindu Saviour in due time appeared on the list of saints as Josaphat, to keep company with those martyrs of religion, SS. Aura and Placida, Longinus and Amphibolus.
In Palermo there is even a church dedicated to Divo Josaphat. Among the vain attempts of subsequent ecclesiastical writers to fix the genealogy of this mysterious saint, the most original was the making him Joshua, the son of Nun. But these trifling difficulties being at last surmounted, we find the history of Gautama copied word for word from Buddhist sacred books, into the Golden Legend. Names of individuals
* In a discourse of Hermes with Thoth, the former says: "It is impossible for thought to rightly conceive of God. . . . One cannot describe, through material organs, that which is immaterial and eternal. . . . One is a perception of the spirit, the other a reality. That which can be perceived by our senses can be described in words; but that which is incorporeal, invisible, immaterial, and without form cannot be realized through our ordinary senses. I understand thus, O Thoth, I understand that God is ineffable."
In the Catechism of the Parsis, as translated by M. Dadabhai Naoroji, we read the following:
"Q. What is the form of our God?"
"A. Our God has neither face nor form, color nor shape, nor fixed place. There is no other like Him. He is Himself, singly such a glory that we cannot praise or describe Him; nor our mind comprehend Him."
are changed, the place of action, India, remains the same — in the Christian as in the Buddhist Legends. It can be also found in the Speculum Historiale of Vincent of Beauvais, which was written in the thirteenth century. The first discovery is due to the historian de Couto, although Professor Muller credits the first recognition of the identity of the two stories to M. Laboulaye, in 1859. Colonel Yule tells us that* these stories of Barlaam and Josaphat, are recognized by Baronius, and are to be found at p. 348, of The Roman Martyrology, set forth by command of Pope Gregory XIII., and revised by the authority of Pope Urban VIII., translated out of Latin into English by G. K. of the Society of Jesus.**
To repeat even a small portion of this ecclesiastical nonsense would be tedious and useless. Let him who doubts and who would learn the story read it as given by Colonel Yule. Some*** of the Christian and ecclesiastical speculations seem to have embarrassed even Dominie Valentyn. "There be some, who hold this Budhum for a fugitive Syrian Jew," he writes; "others who hold him for a disciple of the Apostle Thomas; but how in that case he could have been born 622 years before Christ I leave them to explain. Diego de Couto stands by the belief that he was certainly Joshua, which is still more absurd!"
"The religious romance called The History of Barlaam and Josaphat was, for several centuries, one of the most popular works in Christendom," says Col. Yule. "It was translated into all the chief European languages, including Scandinavian and Sclavonic tongues. . . . This story first appears among the works of St. John of Damascus, a theologian of the early part of the eighth century."**** Here then lies the secret of its origin, for this St. John, before he became a divine, held a high office at the court of the Khalif Abu Jafar Almansur, where he probably learned the story, and afterwards adapted it to the new orthodox necessities of the Buddha turned into a Christian saint.
Having repeated the plagiarized story, Diego de Couto, who seems to yield up with reluctance his curious notion that Gautama was Joshua, says: "To this name (Budao) the Gentiles throughout all India have dedicated great and superb pagodas. With reference to this story, we have been diligent in inquiring if the ancient Gentiles of those parts had in their writings any knowledge of St. Josaphat who was converted by Balaam, and who in his legend is represented as the son of a great king of India, and who had just the same up-bringing, with all the same particulars that we have recounted of the life of the Budao. And as I was
* "Contemporary Review," p. 588, July, 1870.
** "Book of Ser Marco Polo," vol. ii., pp. 304, 306.
travelling in the Isle of Salsette, and went to see that rare and admirable pagoda, which we call the Canara Pagoda (Kanhari Caves) made in a mountain, with many halls cut out of one solid rock, and inquiring of an old man about the work, what he thought as to who had made it, he told us that without doubt the work was made by order of the father of St. Josaphat to bring him up in seclusion, as the story tells. And as it informs us that he was the son of a great king in India, it may well be, as we have just said, that he was the Budao, of whom they relate such marvels."*
The Christian legend is taken, moreover, in most of its details, from the Ceylonese tradition. It is on this island that originated the story of young Gautama rejecting his father's throne, and the king's erecting a superb palace for him, in which he kept him half prisoner, surrounded by all the temptations of life and wealth. Marco Polo told it as he had it from the Ceylonese, and his version is now found to be a faithful repetition of what is given in the various Buddhist books. As Marco naively expresses it, Buddha led a life of such hardship and sanctity, and kept such great abstinence, "just as if he had been a Christian. Indeed," he adds, "had he but been so, he would have been a great saint of our Lord Jesus Christ, so good and pure was the life he led." To which pious apothegm his editor very pertinently remarks that "Marco is not the only eminent person who has expressed this view of Sakya-muni's life in such words." And in his turn Prof. Max Muller says: "And whatever we may think of the sanctity of saints, let those who doubt the right of Buddha to a place among them, read the story of his life as it is told in the Buddhistical canon. If he lived the life which is there described, few saints have a better claim to the title than Buddha; and no one either in the Greek or the Roman Church need be ashamed of having paid to his memory the honor that was intended for St. Josaphat, the prince, the hermit, and the saint."
The Roman Catholic Church has never had so good a chance to Christianize all China, Thibet, and Tartary, as in the thirteenth century, during the reign of Kublai-Khan. It seems strange that they did not embrace the opportunity when Kublai was hesitating at one time between the four religions of the world, and, perhaps through the eloquence of Marco Polo, favored Christianity more than either Mahometanism, Judaism, or Buddhism. Marco Polo and Ramusio, one of his interpreters, tell us why. It seems that, unfortunately for Rome, the embassy of Marco's father and uncle failed, because Clement IV. happened to die just at that very time. There was no Pope for several months to
* "Dec.," v., lib. vi., cap. 2.
receive the friendly overtures of Kublai-Khan; and thus the one hundred Christian missionaries invited by him could not be sent to Thibet and Tartary. To those who believe that there is an intelligent Deity above who takes a certain concern in the welfare of our miserable little world, this contretemps must in itself seem a pretty good proof that Buddhism should have the best of Christianity. Perhaps — who knows — Pope Clement fell sick so as to save the Buddhists from sinking into the idolatry of Roman Catholicism?
From pure Buddhism, the religion of these districts has degenerated into lamaism; but the latter, with all its blemishes — purely formalistic and impairing but little the doctrine itself — is yet far above Catholicism. The poor Abbe Huc very soon found it out for himself. As he moved on with his caravan, he writes — "every one repeated to us that, as we advanced toward the west, we should find the doctrines growing more luminous and sublime. Lha-Ssa was the great focus of light, the rays from which became weakened as they were diffused." One day he gave to a Thibetan lama "a brief summary of Christian doctrine, which appeared by no means unfamiliar to him [we do not wonder at that], and he even maintained that it [Catholicism] did not differ much from the faith of the grand lamas of Thibet. . . . These words of the Thibetan lama astonished us not a little," writes the missionary; "the unity of God, the mystery of the Incarnation, the dogma of the real presence, appeared to us in his belief. . . . The new light thrown on the religion of Buddha induced us really to believe that we should find among the lamas of Thibet a more purified system."* It is these words of praise to lamaism, with which Huc's book abounds, that caused his work to be placed on the Index at Rome, and himself to be unfrocked.
When questioned why, since he held the Christian faith to be the best of the religions protected by him, he did not attach himself to it, the answer given by Kublai-Khan is as suggestive as it is curious:
"How would you have me to become a Christian? There are four prophets worshipped and revered by all the world. The Christians say their God is Jesus Christ; the Saracens, Mahomet; the Jews, Moses; the idolaters, Sogomon Borkan (Sakya-muni Burkham, or Buddha), who was the first god among the idols; and I worship and pay respect to all four, and pray that he among them who is greatest in heaven in very truth may aid me."
We may ridicule the Khan's prudence; we cannot blame him for trustingly leaving the decision of the puzzling dilemma to Providence itself. One of his most unsurmountable objections to embrace Chris-
* "Travels in Tartary," etc., pp. 121, 122.
tianity he thus specifies to Marco: "You see that the Christians of these parts are so ignorant that they achieve nothing and can achieve nothing, whilst you see the idolaters can do anything they please, insomuch that when I sit at table, the cups from the middle of the hall come to me full of wine or other liquor, without being touched by anybody, and I drink from them. They control storms, causing them to pass in whatever direction they please, and do many other marvels; whilst, as you know, their idols speak, and give them predictions on whatever subjects they choose. But if I were to turn to the faith of Christ and become a Christian, then my barons and others who are not converted, would say: 'What has moved you to be baptized? . . . What powers or miracles have you witnessed on the part of Christ? You know the idolaters here say that their wonders are performed by the sanctity and power of their idols.' Well, I should not know what answer to make, so they would only be confirmed in their errors, and the idolaters, who are adepts in such surprising arts, would easily compass my death. But now you shall go to your Pope, and pray him on my part to send hither an hundred men skilled in your law; and if they are capable of rebuking the practices of idolaters to their faces, and of proving to them that they too know how to do such things, but will not, because they are done by the help of the Devil and other evil spirits; and if they so control the idolaters that these shall have no power to perform such things in their presence, and when we shall witness this, we will denounce the idolaters and their religion, and then I will receive baptism, and then all my barons and chiefs shall be baptized also, and thus, in the end, there will be more Christians here than exist in your part of the world."*
The proposition was fair. Why did not the Christians avail themselves of it? Moses is said to have faced such an ordeal before Pharaoh, and come off triumphant.
To our mind, the logic of this uneducated Mongol was unanswerable, his intuition faultless. He saw good results in all religions, and felt that, whether a man be Buddhist, Christian, Mahometan, or Jew, his spiritual powers might equally be developed, his faith equally lead him to the highest truth. All he asked before making choice of a creed for his people, was the evidence upon which to base faith.
To judge alone by its jugglers, India must certainly be better acquainted with alchemy, chemistry, and physics than any European academy. The psychological wonders produced by some fakirs of Southern Hindustan, and by the shaberons and hobilhans of Thibet and Mongolia, alike prove our case. The science of psychology has there reached an acme of per-
* "Book of Ser Marco Polo," vol. ii., p. 340.
fection never attained elsewhere in the annals of the marvellous. That such powers are not alone due to study, but are natural to every human being, is now proved in Europe and America by the phenomena of mesmerism and what is termed "spiritualism." If the majority of foreign travellers, and residents in British India, are disposed to regard the whole as clever jugglery, not so with a few Europeans who have had the rare luck to be admitted behind the veil in the pagodas. Surely these will not deride the rites, nor undervalue the phenomena produced in the secret lodges of India. The mahadthevassthanam of the pagodas (usually termed goparam, from the sacred pyramidal gateway by which the buildings are entered) has been known to Europeans before now, though to a mere handful in all.
We do not know whether the prolific Jacolliot* was ever admitted into one of these lodges. It is extremely doubtful, we should say, if we may judge from his many fantastic tales of the immoralities of the mystical rites among the Brahmans, the fakirs of the pagodas, and even the Buddhists (!!) at all of which he makes himself figure as a Joseph. Anyhow, it is evident that the Brahmans taught him no secrets, for speaking of the fakirs and their wonders, he remarks, "under the direction of initiated Brahmans they practice in the seclusion of the pagodas, the occult sciences. . . . And let no one be surprised at this word, which seems to open the door of the supernatural; while there are in the sciences which the Brahmans call occult, phenomena so extraordinary as to baffle all investigation, there is not one which cannot be explained, and which is not subject to natural law."
Unquestionably, any initiated Brahman could, if he would, explain every phenomenon. But he will not. Meanwhile, we have yet to see an explanation by the best of our physicists of even the most trivial occult phenomenon produced by a fakir-pupil of a pagoda.
Jacolliot says that it will be quite impracticable to give an account of the marvellous facts witnessed by himself. But adds, with entire truthfulness, "let it suffice to say, that in regard to magnetism and spiritism, Europe
* His twenty or more volumes on Oriental subjects are indeed a curious conglomerate of truth and fiction. They contain a vast deal of fact about Indian traditions, philosophy and chronology, with most just views courageously expressed. But it seems as if the philosopher were constantly being overlaid by the romancist. It is as though two men were united in their authorship — one careful, serious, erudite, scholarly, the other a sensational and sensual French romancer, who judges of facts not as they are but as he imagines them. His translations from Manu are admirable; his controversial ability marked; his views of priestly morals unfair, and in the case of the Buddhists, positively slanderous. But in all the series of volumes there is not a line of dull reading; he has the eye of the artist, the pen of the poet of nature.
has yet to stammer over the first letters of the alphabet, and that the Brahmans have reached, in these two departments of learning, results in the way of phenomena that are truly stupefying. When one sees these strange manifestations, whose power one cannot deny, without grasping the laws that the Brahmans keep so carefully concealed, the mind is overwhelmed with wonder, and one feels that he must run away and break the charm that holds him."
"The only explanation that we have been able to obtain on the subject from a learned Brahman, with whom we were on terms of the closest intimacy, was this: 'You have studied physical nature, and you have obtained, through the laws of nature, marvellous results — steam, electricity, etc.; for twenty thousand years or more, we have studied the intellectual forces, we have discovered their laws, and we obtain, by making them act alone or in concert with matter, phenomena still more astonishing than your own.' "
Jacolliot must indeed have been stupefied by wonders, for he says: "We have seen things such as one does not describe for fear of making his readers doubt his intelligence . . . but still we have seen them. And truly one comprehends how, in presence of such facts, the ancient world believed . . . in possessions of the Devil and in exorcism."*
But yet this uncompromising enemy of priestcraft, monastic orders, and the clergy of every religion and every land — including Brahmans, lamas, and fakirs — is so struck with the contrast between the fact-supported cults of India, and the empty pretences of Catholicism, that after describing the terrible self-tortures of the fakirs, in a burst of honest indignation, he thus gives vent to his feelings: "Nevertheless, these fakirs, these mendicant Brahmans, have still something grand about them: when they flagellate themselves, when during the self-inflicted martyrdom the flesh is torn out by bits, the blood pours upon the ground. But you (Catholic mendicants), what do you do to-day? You, Gray Friars, Capuchins, Franciscans, who play at fakirs, with your knotted cords, your flints, your hair shirts, and your rose-water flagellations, your bare feet and your comical mortifications — fanatics without faith, martyrs without tortures? Has not one the right to ask you, if it is to obey the law of God that you shut yourselves in behind thick walls, and thus escape the law of labor which weighs so heavily upon all other men? . . . Away, you are only beggars!"
Let them pass on — we have devoted too much space to them and their conglomerate theology, already. We have weighed both in the balance of history, of logic, of truth, and found them wanting. Their
* Les Fils de Dieu, "L'Inde Brahmanique," p. 296.
system breeds atheism, nihilism, despair, and crime; its priests and preachers are unable to prove by works their reception of divine power. If both Church and priest could but pass out of the sight of the world as easily as their names do now from the eye of our reader, it would be a happy day for humanity. New York and London might then soon become as moral as a heathen city unoccupied by Christians; Paris be cleaner than the ancient Sodom. When Catholic and Protestant would be as fully satisfied as a Buddhist or Brahman that their every crime would be punished, and every good deed rewarded, they might spend upon their own heathen what now goes to give missionaries long picnics, and to make the name of Christian hated and despised by every nation outside the boundaries of Christendom.
As occasion required, we have reinforced our argument with descriptions of a few of the innumerable phenomena witnessed by us in different parts of the world. The remaining space at our disposal will be devoted to like subjects. Having laid a foundation by elucidating the philosophy of occult phenomena, it seems opportune to illustrate the theme with facts that have occurred under our own eye, and that may be verified by any traveller. Primitive peoples have disappeared, but primitive wisdom survives, and is attainable by those who "will," "dare," and can "keep silent."