The Path – May 1893

RISHEES, MASTERS, AND MAHATMAS (1) — Lakshman

Dear Brother: — I am a Hindu, and though in essence — in my inner man — the same as your fellow workers in the West, it happens through the subtle action of karma I now have a body born of the Hindus, with Hindu blood and all the history of the Hindus behind me. I do not regard this as any more than an "accident of birth", as they say, but of course due to law and order, as we never admit any accidents in reality, and look on that word as one which designates for the time something which we cannot just for the moment explain. But being as I am it is easy for me to look at life, at man, at nature from quite another point of view than that which I see is often taken by the Western mind. And that other point of view will surely add something to the stock of general experience and knowledge.

From my stand and station it has seemed strange to me that in your West so many people have doubts of the existence of the personages who have been called by many appellations but all meaning the same. We call them Rishees, sometimes Mahatmas, sometimes Gurus, at other times Guru devas, and again Sadhus. But what of all these names: they all point to the same thing, the same end, the same law, and the same result. Looking over the old numbers of the Theosophist in our library here, I find now and then seeming protests from fellow-countrymen of mine against the use of the names of the Mahatmas, but never any protest contrary to declaring the existence of such beings. I remember one when the very wise and wonderful H. P. B. was at Adyar, in which the writer of it takes her severely to task for letting out any names, but all through it you can read if you wish, and as I can see plainly, the attempt to once more declare for the existence of those beings. We think it very queer the West should doubt the existence of men who must in the order of nature be facts or nature is a lie, and we sometimes wonder why you all have so many doubts. No doubts are in our minds. Perhaps some of us may now and then doubt if such and such a Rishee or Mahatma was the Guru of so-and-so, but the general fact of their existence we do not question; they must be, and if they be, then there must be a place for them on the earth. Now I know myself of some, and have conversed in private with some of my friends who have given up the world and are what you call yogis and bramacharis, who have told me of seeing and meeting others of the same class and all telling the same story and declaring the existence of their order. So many proofs of that sort exist for any sincere observer, we have no hesitation in our belief.

Once I thought the Westerns never had any record of such beings among themselves, and I excused them, as their karma seemed hard to have crowded out such noble men and women, or rather such noble souls. But after my Guru-deva told me to read certain works and records of the Western people, I discovered you had almost as much testimony as ourselves, allowing for the awful materiality of your civilization and the paralyzing power of priestcraft. You have a Paracelsus, the Rosicrucians, Boehme, Cagliostro, St. Germain, Apollonius, Plato, Socrates, and hosts of others. Here is a vast mass of testimony to the fact of the existence of a school or schools and of persons sent out by them to work in the world of the West. Looking further I hit on the Rosicrucians, an order now extinct evidently, and imitated by those who now carry on so-called orders that might be called in fact bazaars or shops. But the real order once existed, and I am sure some one or two or more of the old companions are on the earth. They were taught by our older Masters, and carried the knowledge home from the old eastern journies of the Crusaders. If you look you will find no trace of the order before that time. It is then another testimony to the Adepts, the Rishees, those known as Mahatmas. So karma did not leave the West without the evidence.

I have also with sorrow seen writings by men in literature who should never be guilty of the crime of falsification, wherein it was said in derision that the Mahatma is not known in India, that the word is not known, and that the name given out of one is not even Indian. All this is mere lie. The word Mahatma is well known, as well as Rishee; even the name attributed to one of the Masters of H. P. B. is known in India. I took the trouble to look it up in European sources at a time one of these scholars uttered the lie, so as to have the proof that the West had the information, and I found in an old and much used book, a dictionary of our Indian names, the name of the Mahatma. Such lies are unpardonable, and beyond doubt karma will give these men many lies to obstruct their progress in another life, for what you give you get back.

Some of us have objected to the giving out of the names of the Masters because we have a very great feeling of the sacredness of the name of such a person and do not wish to give it out to the ordinary man, just as a good man who has a good wife does not like to have her name thrown about and used by a lot of wicked or beastly men. But we never objected to the fact of the existence of the Rishees being discussed, for under that belief lies the other of the possibility of all men reaching to the same condition.

Lastly, it appears to me that the reason the West so much lays stress on the fact that the Masters do not come out to help them is, that the West is proud and personal, and thinks that any man who will not come forth and ask for their judgment and approval must by that mere fact be proven a myth or a useless and small person. But we know to the contrary, and any man can prove for himself that our humble fakirs and yogis do not want the approval of the West and will not go to it to procure any certificate. When one does go there, it is because his powers are on the wane and he has but little good to live for.

I hope your friends will not doubt the great fact under the existence of the Masters, but will feel it and put it into action for the good of the race.

FOOTNOTE:

1. This letter is published as a contribution on the question of the existence of the "Masters" so often spoken of in the literature of the T. S. and especially by H. P. B. The writer is a reader of this magazine and doubtless also of all the others throughout the Society. — Ed. (return to text)


The Path

THEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE