Theosophical University Press Online Edition
[This chapter contains the main body of Damodar's writings on metaphysical and occult subjects, written between the years 1880 and 1884. Very little of his appeared in The Theosophist in the ensuing months, before his departure to Tibet in February, 1885. The chronological order of publication has been preserved except where a secondary article continues a subject already under discussion. In such cases, articles bearing on the same subject are grouped together. — EDS.]
The Swami of Akalkot
Castes in India
Vedantism and Buddhism
Kavya Dosha Vivechana
The Work of the Branches
The Work of the Branches
Oxford Mission Shots at Occultism
White and Black Magic
Contemplation - II
The Philosophy and Science of Vedantic Raja Yoga
The Metaphysical Basis of "Esoteric Buddhism"
[From The Theosophist, January, 1880.]
A book entitled "Swami Charitra" (The life of Swami) has just been published in Marathi, in two parts, by one Narayan Hari Bhagvat. It contains the life of one of the most remarkable among modern Hindus, the Swami of Akalkot, from the time he became known under the name of Digambar Bawa, in a town called Mangalvede near Akalkot. Nothing is known of this wonderful man before that time. Neither did any body dare question him about his antecedents. One named Babajipant, who was one of those who had lived with the Swami since the time his public career as an ascetic began, urged him once to give information about his name, native place, and family. Swami gave no direct answer, but simply said "Datta Nagar," and "Chief person" — "the Vata tree." No other attempt to elicit information was made. The reason that led the author to commence this biography is very astonishing. He says that one night he went to bed as usual, but could not sleep for a long time, being oppressed with various thoughts. In this frame of mind he at last fell asleep, but was startled by a most unexpected dream. He saw a Sannyasi approach his bed. This reverend man, unlike persons of his avocation, wore clothes, had kundala" [a sort of ring usually worn by the Sannyasis in the lower part of their ears] in his ears and carried with him a "dand" [a three or seven knotted bamboo of the wonder-working ascetics] and kam andalu [the gourd which Brahmacharies, Sannyasis and others use for holding water]. A man who accompanied him asked the author to get up and see the Swami. He seemed to obey and Swami then said: — "It is a well-known fact that I took Samadhi* at Akalkot. [*When a great Sadhu is dead, this phrase is usually used. Samadhi is the highest stage of Yog training, and when a Yogi is in that state he loses consciousness of this world and sees nothing but his own Divine Spirit.] Write my biography as will suit the present times, in accordance with my instructions. I now disappear." This seen, the author awoke, got up, and was at a great loss what to do, especially as he had never seen the Swami, and was consequently unable to obey the instructions conveyed to him in the dream. Neither had he ever felt any sincere desire to see the Swami during his lifetime. Unlike many, he had never regarded him as an incarnation of God. While in this state of mind he slept for the second time, and again in his dream saw the same person in the same dress and with the same marks about him, who said "get up, why are you thus puzzled? Begin writing and you will have the necessary materials." The author thereupon resolved to at least make the attempt, and wrote to all the persons who knew the Swami well, to supply as much information as they could. The facts mentioned in the book are therefore authenticated. They are moreover credible, because the author says he got many of these from persons he had never written to. Moreover it is not likely that a person like Mr. Govind Vishnu Bhide, who is well informed and experienced, would talk at random without considering well upon the matter. He says that once when he went to see the Swami in fulfilment of a vow made by him, he had also a desire that Swami should advise him in regard to spiritual matters. No sooner did he stand before the Swami than the latter turned his face towards him, and repeated the following verse in Marathi:—
No less credible is the fact mentioned by Mr. Vishnu Chintamon Bhopatkar, Sheriff of the Sessions Court at Poona. Some ten years ago, when he served as Sheristedar of the District judge, his wife suffered from a very severe attack of fever. Every day the sickness increased and the doctors pronounced her incurable. He was therefore ready to try any remedy suggested to him. He saw a friend of his who advised him to make a vow that he would take his wife to the Swami of Akalkot, if she should improve, and in the meantime to keep her under the treatment of a native doctor named Gunesh Shastri Sakurdikar. He accordingly prayed to the Swami, and promised to offer a cocoanut to his idol on his behalf. But unfortunately he forgot his promise when he went to bed. And although this fact was known to nobody, his brother-in-law saw in a dream the Swami rebuking him for having forgotten his promise to offer a cocoanut on Swami's account. As he was not aware of the promise made by Mr. Bhopatkar, he was at a loss as to what his dream meant, and consequently communicated the fact to all the family, in great astonishment. When Mr. Bhopatkar heard this, he repented having forgotten his promise, but immediately after taking a bath he offered the cocoanut on Swami's account, and made a vow that if his wife was cured he would go with her in the month of January to Akalkot to see the Swami. Then he sent for the native doctor mentioned to him by his friend, but found that he had left for his Inam village and was not in Poona. But nevertheless, to the great surprise of Mr. Bhopatkar, it happened that while he was returning home from the office he met on his way the very native doctor whom he was searching for. He then took him home and the latter gladly undertook to treat Mr. Bhopatkar's wife. The medicine administered proved a success, and she went on improving gradually. And, although she was pretty well by the month of January, Mr. Bhopatkar did not think it advisable for her to travel as she was still very weak, and consequently did not take her with him when he left Poona. But he had no sooner left Poona without her, than her sickness recurred so seriously that the next day he was telegraphed to return. Since she had been all right at the time of his departure the sudden receipt of this telegram made him suspect that all this was due to his not having fulfilled his vow to take his wife with him to Akalkot. He then invoked the Swami, asked his pardon, and promised to go with her to Akalkot in the month of July if she should recover. She at once began to mend so rapidly that by the time he reached home he found her all right. In the month of July, although she had recovered, she was in too feeble a state to face the cold of the season. He however resolved to abide by his vow this time, and accordingly went to Akalkot with his wife and the doctor under whose treatment she was. When they reached their place of destination it was raining very hard, and the place where they had put up was very damp. Her constitution however received no shock, but on the contrary she continued to improve. When they all went to the Swami he ordered a certain book to be brought him, and after finding a certain chapter gave it first to the doctor and then to Mr. Bhopatkar, thereby intimating without speaking a word, that their object in coming was gained.
There are many such facts as the above mentioned in the book, all going to confirm the Swami's claim to the knowledge of Yog Vidya. He was a practical example to show what a man can do, if he will. If anybody had taken advantage of the opportunity thus offered to him and gone to the Swami purely with the intention of studying philosophy, how much good might he not have done himself and his country! During the twenty years or more that the Swami was at Akalkot, no less than 500,000 persons must have gone to see him. But of this large number it would seem that scarcely any had within them an honest desire to study philosophy. Almost all were actuated merely by selfish worldly desires. If they had gone to him with a sincere aspiration to learn how to obtain control over bodily passions, he would have bestowed favours on them, of which no robber in the world could have deprived them. But they sought but these worldly enjoyments with which fools are satisfied. They had never given a moment's consideration to the thought of what their state would be after the death of their physical bodies. In the whole book under notice are given but two or three instances of persons who went to the Swami with a desire to obtain knowledge. The course which he adopted to fulfil the desires of such persons is very curious. One named Narsappa, an inhabitant of Mysore, had gone to Akalkot with a view to receive some instructions on spiritual matters. He was at a great loss how to explain his intentions to the Swami, as he knew neither Marathi nor Hindustani. He however would regularly go and sit silently by the Sannyasi. Once while he was sitting near a Puranik, (A person who reads any of the 18 works of Puran and explains the meaning.) Swami made him a sign to approach and upon his obeying, Swami took a blank book that was lying by him, and, after turning many of its leaves, gave him a certain page to read. He there found, to his great astonishment and joy, an injunction printed in Kanarese characters, that he should read Bhagvat Gita if he would have his desires fulfilled. He then gladly communicated the fact to a Puranik friend and asked him to read the book to him. The Puranik approached the place where the Swami was sitting, and taking the blank book which had been placed in the hands of Narsappa, looked for the page on which Narsappa said he saw Kanarese characters. He also examined all the other books, as well as all the papers lying there, but nowhere could he find Kanarese characters. This fact is an illustration to show that this singular being communicated his instructions only to those who sincerely desired them.
The book teems with facts illustrative of the power obtained by a Yogi. There are very few persons in this country, who being in search of the ancient Aryan Philosophy, have obtained control over the bodily passions which trouble ordinary men beyond measure. Fewer still who like one now living in India, whom I dare not mention, are known. Almost all who have thoroughly studied or are studying that ennobling philosophy, keep themselves out of the public view in compliance with wise and inexorable rules. It is not through selfishness, as too many imagine. Though unseen, they none the less are continually working for the good of humanity. In thousands of cases what they effect is ascribed to Providence. And whenever they find anyone who, like themselves, has an ambition above the mere pleasures of this world, and is in search of that Vidya which alone can make man wise in this as well and [as] happy in the next, they stand ready by his side, take him up in their hands as soon as he shows his worthiness, and put in his way the opportunities to learn that philosophy, the study of which has made them masters of themselves, of nature's forces, and of this world. It is apparent that the Swami of Akalkot was one of such persons. A man peculiarly oracular and sparing of speech, and eccentric to a degree, he nevertheless did a world of good, and his life was crowded with marvels. Many facts might be quoted that would tend to show the great knowledge possessed by him, but the few above related will suffice to introduce him to the reader, and to indicate his familiarity with the occult side of nature. While he was alive, very few learnt the Vidya from him; now that he is gone forever, his death is lamented, as is usually the case with the sons of India. Their eyes are at last opened to the injury they have inflicted upon themselves by neglecting a golden opportunity.
The account of his death given in the biography is pathetic, and worth repetition. On the last day of the first fortnight of the month of Chaitra [the first month of the Hindu year according to the Shalivan Era], in the year 1800 of the Shalivan Era, people suspected that the health of the Swami had begun to fail. While he was sleeping in the afternoon of that day, at the place of Tatya Saheb Subhedar he suddenly got up, and ordered a square earthen tile which was lying there to be placed on somebody's head. He then went to a tank outside the skirts of the town, followed by a large crowd, as well as by the person who had the earthen tile on his head, and seated himself on the steps of the tank. He afterwards ordered the man to place the earthen tile in water without injuring it, and asked the crowd to make a loud noise [according to the Hindu custom when anybody loses his nearest relation or one he dearly loves, he turns round the dead body and makes a loud noise by pressing his hand against his mouth; such a noise is here meant]. He then removed to the temple of Murlidhar in the evening until which time he was all right. But at about 9 in the night he had a severe attack of cold and fever. But without communicating the fact to any body he got up early in the morning and went to the burning ground where he showed two or three funeral piles to some of his followers and asked them to remember them. He then directed his footsteps towards the village of Nagannhalli which is about two miles from where he was. And although it was past noon he had taken neither his bath nor meals, but nobody dared ask him do any thing. On his way he rested in a shed reserved for cows. His followers as usual began to prepare him a bed, when he said — "Henceforward I do not require any bed. Burn it on that tree opposite to me." This startled some of his followers, but they did not even suspect that the Swami thereby meant any thing in regard to himself. The next day he returned to Akalkot and stopped under a Vata tree behind the palace of Karjalkar. And notwithstanding that he then suffered from fever, he carried on his conversation in his usual tone. Neither did he show any change in his actions. Shortly afterwards he had an attack of diarrhoea, and his appetite failed him. But he did not omit his customary bath, and if any body raised objection to his doing so, on account of his sickness, he answered, "What will your father lose if I die?" He was cured of diarrhoea by Hanmantrao Ghorpade, the doctor of the dispensary at Akalkot, but continued to suffer from fever and shortly afterwards had paroxysm of coughing. He was then placed under the treatment of a native doctor named Nana Vaidya, all of whose attempts to cure him failed. If asked not to bathe or expose himself to air, he would pay no attention. Neither could he be persuaded to take the medicine prescribed for him. Two or three days afterwards he began to breathe very hard, and he sank rapidly. But still he made no complaint and he did not permit his outward appearance to show any symptoms of what he internally suffered. When his sickness was at last too apparent to be concealed some of his respectable friends thought it advisable for him to distribute alms before his death. This he did most willingly, himself repeating all the necessary mantrams. He gave, with his hands, his own embroidered shawl to Ramacharya. As his cough increased every moment, he was advised to remove from an open place into the inner part of the house. But all the entreaties of his friends proved in vain. The same answer was repeated to them. At noon on the 13th day of the latter fortnight of the month of Chaitra, he ordered his cows and other animals to be brought before him. He then gave away all the food and clothes offered to him. Seeing that by that time his voice was almost gone, one of his good disciples asked him if he had any instructions to communicate. In reply he repeated the following verse from the Gita:—
He then turned from the left to the right side and ordered himself to be seated. No sooner was the order obeyed than he was. . . !
Now, as was above remarked, people have begun to appreciate his greatness. They have erected a sort of a temple on the spot where he breathed his last, to commemorate his memory. But if they had held him fast in their hearts while he was alive, and if they had studied the Vidya with him, then they would have raised themselves above base passions and the pursuit of pleasures, and obtained that kingdom from which the gainer is never dethroned. To such as may ask how he could have assisted them in making themselves masters of self, let the author speak. — "As all the facts mentioned in the book relate to others, it is quite plain that readers would have the author say what may have happened to himself. It would be unjust for him to shrink from relating his own experience in deference to unworthy fears. It is thirteen months since he saw the Swami in his dream, and he does not now feel the infirmities of age. All his senses are in proper order and not decayed by age. By degrees he gains possession of the secret that enables him to control practically the passions which trouble ordinary men. And whenever he cannot, with all his efforts, check any improper desire, he sees, in an inexpressible way, some event which shows that the Swami is determined upon driving all improper thoughts from the author's mind by bringing him face to face with strange events. This is the only experience which the author has had until now of Swami's greatness." — But it suffices to how that the author is in the right path.
[From The Theosophist, May, 1880.]
No man of sincerity and moral courage can read Mr. G. C. Whitworth's Profession of Faith, as reviewed in the April Theosophist, without feeling himself challenged to be worthy of the respect of one who professes such honourable sentiments. I, too, am called upon to make my statement of personal belief. It is due to my family and caste-fellows that they should know why I have deliberately abandoned my caste and other worldly considerations. If, henceforth, there is to be a chasm between them and myself, I owe it to myself to declare that this alienation is of my own choosing, and I am not cut off for bad conduct. I would be glad to take with me, if possible, into my new career, the affectionate good wishes of my kinsmen. But, if this cannot be done, I must bear their displeasure, as I may, for I am obeying a paramount conviction of duty.
I was born in the family of the Karhada Maharashtra caste of Brahmins, as my surname will indicate. My father carefully educated me in the tenets of our religion, and, in addition, gave me every facility for acquiring an English education. From the age of ten until I was about fourteen, I was very much exercised in mind upon the subject of religion and devoted myself with great ardour to our orthodox religious practices. Then my ritualistic observances were crowded aside by my scholastic studies, but until about nine months ago, my religious thoughts and aspirations were entirely unchanged. At this time, I had the inestimable good fortune to read "Isis Unveiled; a Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Religion and Science," and to join the Theosophical Society. It is no exaggeration to say that I have been a really living man only these few months; for between life as it appears to me now and life as I comprehended it before, there is an unfathomable abyss. I feel that now for the first time I have a glimpse of what man and life are — the nature and powers of the one, the possibilities, duties, and joys of the other. Before, though ardently ritualistic, I was not really enjoying happiness and peace of mind. I simply practiced my religion without understanding it. The world bore just as hard upon me as upon others, and I could get no clear view of the future. The only real thing to me seemed the day's routine; at best the horizon before me extended only to the rounding of a busy life with the burning of my body and the obsequial ceremonies rendered to me by friends. My aspirations were only for more Zamindaries, social position and the gratification of whims and appetites. But my later reading and things have shown me that all these are but the vapours of a dream and that he only is worthy of being called man, who has made caprice his slave and the perfection of his spiritual self a grand object of his efforts. As I could not enjoy these convictions and my freedom of action within my caste, I am stepping outside it.
In making this profession, let it be understood that I have taken this step, not because I am a Theosophist, but because in studying Theosophy I have learnt and heard of the ancient splendour and glory of my country — the highly esteemed land of Aryavarta. Joining the Theosophical Society does not interfere with the social, political, or religious relations of any person. All have an equal right in the Society to hold their opinions. So far from persuading me to do what I have, Mme. Blavatsky and Col. Olcott have strongly urged me to wait until some future time, when I might have had ampler time to reflect. But the glimpse I have got into the former greatness of my country makes me feel sadly for her degeneration. I feel it, therefore, my bounden duty to devote all my humble powers to her restoration. Besides, histories of various nations furnish to us many examples of young persons having given up everything for the sake of their country and having ultimately succeeded in gaining their aims. Without patriots, no country can rise. This feeling of patriotism by degrees grew so strong in me that it has now prepared my mind to stamp every personal consideration under my feet for the sake of my motherland. In this, I am neither a revolutionist nor a politician, but simply an advocate of good morals and principles as practised in ancient times. The study of Theosophy has thrown a light over me in regard to my country, my religion, my duty. I have become a better Aryan than I ever was. I have similarly heard my Parsi brothers say that they have been better Zoroastrians since they joined the Theosophical Society. I have also seen the Buddhists write often to the Society that the study of Theosophy has enabled them to appreciate their religion more. And thus this study makes every man respect his religion the more. It furnishes him a sight that can pierce through the dead letter and see clearly the spirit. He can read all his religious books between the lines. If we view all the religions in their popular sense, they appear strongly antagonistic to each other in various details. None agrees with the other. And yet the representatives of those faiths say that the study of Theosophy explains to them all that has been said in their religion and makes them feel a greater respect for it. There must, therefore, be one common ground on which all the religious systems are built. And this ground which lies at the bottom of all, is truth. There can be but one absolute truth, but different people have different perceptions of that truth. And this truth is morality. If we separate the dogmas that cling to the principles set forth in any religion, we shall find that morality is preached in every one of them. By religion I do not mean all the minor sects that prevail to an innumerable extent all over the world, but the principal ones from which have sprung up these different sects. It is, therefore, proper for every person to abide by the principles of morality. And, according to them, I consider it every man's duty to do what he can to make the world better and happier. This can proceed from a love for humanity. But how can a man love the whole of humanity if he has no love for his countrymen? Can he love the whole, who does not love a part? If I, therefore, wish to place my humble services at the disposal of the world, I must first begin by working for my country. And this I could not do by remaining in my caste. I found that instead of a love for his countrymen, the observance of caste distinction leads one to hate even his neighbour, because he happens to be of another caste. I could not bear this injustice. What fault is it of anyone that he is born in a particular caste? I respect a man for his qualities and not for his birth. That is to say, that man is superior in my eyes, whose inner man has been developed or is in the state of development. This body, wealth, friends, relations and all other worldly enjoyments that men hold near and dear to their hearts, are to pass away sooner or later. But the record of our actions is ever to remain to be handed down from generation to generation. Our actions must, therefore, be such as will make us worthy of our existence in this world, as long as we are here as well as after death. I could not do this by observing the customs of caste. It made me selfish and unmindful of the requirements of my fellow-brothers. I weighed all these circumstances in my mind, and found that I believed in caste as a religious necessity no more than in the palm-tree yielding mangoes. I saw that if it were not for this distinction, India would not have been so degraded, for this distinction engendered hatred among her sons. It made them hate and quarrel with one another. The peace of the land was disturbed. People could not unite with one another for good purposes. They waged war with one another, instead of devoting all their combined energies to the cause of ameliorating the condition of the country. The foundation of immorality was thus laid, until it has reached now so low a point that unless this mischief is stopped, the tottering pillars of India will soon give way. I do not by this mean to blame my ancestors who originally instituted this system. To me their object seems to be quite a different one. It was based in my opinion on the qualities of every person. The caste was not then hereditary as it is now. This will be seen from the various ancient sacred books which are full of instances in which Kshatriyas and even Mahars and Chambhars who are considered the lowest of all, were not only made and regarded as Brahmins, but almost worshipped as demi-gods simply for their qualities. If such is the case why should we still stick to that custom which we now find not only impracticable but injurious? I again saw that if I were to observe outwardly what I did not really believe inwardly, I was practising hypocrisy. I found that I was thus making myself a slave, by not enjoying the freedom of conscience. I was thus acting immorally. But Theosophy has taught me that to enjoy peace of mind and self-respect, I must be honest, candid, peaceful and regard all men as equally my brothers, irrespective of caste, colour, race or creed. This, I see, is an essential part of religion. I must try to put these theoretical problems into practice. These are the convictions that finally hurried me out of my caste.
I would at the same time ask my fellow countrymen who are of my opinion, to come out boldly for their country. I understand the apparent sacrifices one is required to make in adopting such a course, for I myself had to make them, but these are sacrifices only in the eyes of one who has regard for this world of matter. When a man has once extricated himself from this regard and when the sense of the duty he owes to his country and to himself reigns paramount in his heart, these are no sacrifices at all for him. Let us, therefore, leave off this distinction which separates us from one another, join in one common accord, and combine all our energies for the good of our country. Let us feel that we are Aryans, and prove ourselves worthy of our ancestors. I may be told that I am making a foolish and useless sacrifice; that I cut myself off from all social intercourse and even risk losing the decent disposal of my body by those upon whom our customs impose that duty; and that none but a visionary would imagine that he, even though chiefest among Brahmins, could restore his country's greatness and the enlightenment of a whole nation, so great as ours. But these are the arguments of selfishness and moral cowardice. Single men have saved nations before, and though my vanity does not make me even dream that so glorious a result is within my humble grasp, yet a good example is never valueless, and it can be set even by the most insignificant. Certain it is that without examples and self-sacrifices there can be no reform. The world, as I see it, imposes on me a duty, and I think the most powerful and the only permanent cause of happiness is the consciousness that I am trying to do that duty.
I wish it understood — in case what has preceded has not made this perfectly clear — that I have neither become a Materialist nor a Christian. I am an Aryan in religion as all else, follow the Ved, and believe it to be the parent of all religions among men. As Theosophy explains the secondary human religions, so does it make plain the meaning of the Ved. The teachings of the Rishis acquire a new splendour and majesty, and I revere them a hundred times more than ever before.
[From The Theosophist, September, 1883.]
[*THE VEDANTASARA in Sanskrit with the commentary of Nrishingha Saraswatee, and with English, Hindi and Bengali Translations, Price Rs. 6-4 in India, and Rs. 7 in Foreign countries. THE PANCHADASI in English embodying the Vedanta and explaining the Aryan views of Cosmos, the Soul and the Parabrahma. In monthly parts. Annual subscription Rs. 6 in India; Rs. 7 in Ceylon, Straits Settlements, China, Japan and Australia; 14 Shillings in Africa, Europe, and U. S. America. Cash to accompany orders invariably. Drafts, hundis, and postal orders to credit of H. DHOLE, 127 Musjid Bari Street, Calcutta. Discounts of stamps must be remitted also.]
This journal owes an apology to the publisher of the Vedantasara for not noticing the book earlier, although it has been lying on the office table for over four months. But a sufficient excuse will be found in the fact that as the work begins with an undue personal praise of the Founders of the Theosophical Society individually, and admittedly contains some ideas taken from the Theosophist, it was a puzzling question how to review this able and useful work in these columns, without being forthwith accused by our "well-wishers" of labouring in a "mutual admiration club." But that the silence of this magazine may not be mistaken for discourtesy, I now hasten to acknowledge receipt, by the Editor of, and to thank sincerely Babu Heeralal Dhole for the copy he has kindly sent us.
The work is in three languages and bound together in one volume. Each might be made to form a separate work, and it is to be regretted that the idea should not have struck the able Authors or the Editor, to place it thus before the public. It seems unfair to charge people acquainted with only one tongue for the other two languages they neither know, nor perhaps care to know, anything about. Had our learned colleague, Babu Dhole, issued each part separately, charging for it Rupees two, or so, for a copy in each language, no ground for complaint and dissatisfaction would have arisen in any quarter, as it has now in more than one. The views, — at any rate in its first English part, — being avowedly those expressed in the columns of our magazine, very little has to be said of this portion, except that the author has made uncommon good use of it and elaborated very cleverly the whole. One point, however, may be noticed, as it is found to be constantly contradicted and picked holes into, by the theists as well as by all the supporters of independent creation — viz., the "definition of matter."
"Kapila defines matter to be eternal and co-existent with Spirit. It was never in a state of non-being, but always in a state of constant change, it is subtle and sentient," &c., &c., (p. 2.)
This is what the Editor of this journal has all along maintained and can hardly repeat too often. The article: "What is Matter and what is Force?" in the Theosophist for September 1882 [see The Complete Works of H. P. Blavatsky, Vol. IV, pp. 82-95. See also The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett, p. 8, for authorship. — EDS.], is sufficiently lucid in reference to this question. It is at the time pleasant to find that our learned friend and brother, Mr. T. Subba Row Garu, the great Adwaitee scholar, shares entirely with all of us these views, which every intuitional scholar, who comprehends the true spirit of the Sankhya philosophy, will ever maintain. This may be proved by the perusal of a recent work on "Yoga Philosophy" by the learned Sanskritist, Dr. Rajendra Lala Mittra, the Introduction to which has just appeared, showing clearly how every genuine scholar comprehends the Sankhya in the same spirit as we do.*
*In his Introduction to the above named work, the able Orientalist shows plainly the nearly perfect identity of Kapila's Sankhya, Patanjali's Yoga, Buddhism and, by indirect inference, of the Adwaitee or Upanishad philosophy. Moreover the author corroborates in it that which we have ever maintained, even against such a learned but rather too bigoted theist as the Pundit Dayanund — namely, that Kapila recognized no personal god, no more than did Patanjali. Says Dr. Rajendra Lala Mitra, L. L. D., C. I. E., . . . "Patanjali has contented himself by tacking a theistic appendage of no direct utility to a positively atheistic model (Kapila). . . . Hence it is that the Hindus call it Ses'vara Sankhya or Sankhya cum deo (with god), as opposed to the former which is Nirisvara Sankhya, or Sankhya sine deo (without god)" (p. xxii). "And we have enough in these facts to infer that the Yoga text-book is posterior to the Sankhya text-book, and that both the text-books are later than Buddha; but that the doctrines of both are very old, and now these (Sankhya and Yoga philosophies) are the immediate ancient Hindu archetypes of the nihilist theory of Buddha, and indirectly of the Pessimism of Schopenhauer and Hartmann." (p. xxiii. Preface.)
The ONE LIFE of the Buddhists, or the Parabrahm of the Vedantins, is omnipresent and eternal. Spirit and matter are but its manifestations. As the energising force — Purush of Kapila —it is Spirit— as undifferentiated cosmic matter, it is Mulaprakriti. As differentiated cosmic matter, the basis of phenomenal evolution, it is Prakriti. In its aspect of being the field of cosmic ideation, it is Chidakasam; as the germ of cosmic ideation it is Chinmatra; while in its characteristic of perception it is Pragna. Whoever presumes to deny these points denies the main basis of Hindu Philosophy and clings but to its exoteric, weather-beaten, fast fading out shell. The main point of the work under review seems to be to indicate how in this basic doctrine, upon which the whole structure of philosophy rests, both the Aryan and the Arhat tenets meet and are identical, in all, except in forms of expression, and how again Kapila's Sankhya supports it. The author has in this respect admirably succeeded in condensing the whole spirit of the philosophy in a few short pages. And a close study of the same is sufficient to bring the intelligent reader to the same sense of perception. For a superficial reader, Dr. N. Dhole, the English translator, seems to hold that Spirit is something quite apart and distinct from Matter, and quite a different substance or no-substance, if you please. But such readers can only be referred to the following extract:--
". . . And since the recognition of this First Principle, call it Prakriti, Purush, Parabrahma, or Matter, Spirit, the Absolute, or the Unknowable, clashes not with the cherished ideas of the most inveterate Freethinker.". . .
The above passage clearly proves that like all true Adwaitees, the learned Doctor holds Spirit and Matter to be but different phases or aspects of the ONE LIFE which is every thing or NO thing, if you prefer. It would be a pertinent question to ask, how it is then that the author expresses himself a Dualist? The simple explanation will be found in the consideration that so far as the phenomenal, or the manifested world is concerned, the idea of duality is launched into the discussion to indicate the two aspects of THE ONE ETERNAL WHOLE, which together set the machinery of evolution into working order. But once turn from the manifested into the noumenal, the unmanifested LIFE and the erudite author will most probably cease to call himself a dualist, as is made very clear from the above quoted extract from his work. The article "What is Matter and what is Force?" already referred to above, will fit in here most appropriately. It is therefore inexplicable how a certain class of people presume to call the Vedantasara "a theistic book," when it is far more:— a philosophical treatise. Before, however, pronouncing a final judgment, the terms theism, atheism, pantheism, materialism, must be clearly defined, every person understanding them in his own way. Some call themselves believers in an Impersonal deity, which, no sooner are their views analyzed, seems to grow into a gigantic human being with every thing of good in him, and when still further dissected every thing bad in him. It would be interesting to know their doctrine concerning the origin of evil in a universe under the control of a perfect, conscious, omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent intelligent Creator. Whatever is illogical or unmathematical will have to be entirely rejected some day, since truth can never be opposed to logic or to mathematics — the only two exact sciences. The next question put in connection with the work under notice by its theistic reviewers in The Arya is as follows: —
"Nor do we see what analogy can there exist between Buddhism and Vedantism. We know that the great Shankarya was an implacable enemy of Buddhistic; and he, being the great propounder of Vedantic Advaitism, would not have supported the claims of Buddhism."
A Daniel come to judgment! I challenge the irresponsible writer of the above lines to point out in what respect the esoteric doctrines of Gautama Buddha and Sankaracharya differ. It is hard to explain on any other ground but theological unscrupulous cunning the origin of the current false belief that Sankaracharya was an enemy of Buddhism. This is a separate line of study for one who devotes his special attention to the historical development of occultism. This point, however, does in no way detract from the value and importance of the fact that Sankaracharya throughout his works keeps wisely silent about the esoteric doctrine taught by Gautama Buddha. He who studies and reads between the lines the Brahmasutra Bhashyam, of the former, will practically find for himself that Vedantic Adwaitism is identical with esoteric Buddhistic Arhatism. In my turn, I moreover ask the writer of the above . . .extract to show wherein lies the difference between Buddhism and Advaitism, and then it can be shown that this difference exists but in the imagination of a few wise-acres who do not care to study the subject thoroughly for themselves but depend upon the testimony of a few interested parties. Once that it is shown that there is no difference, the analogy is clearly established. The same writer promises us to prove further on that Adwaitism is the result of the distorted interpretations of the sacred VEDAS! As however the promised contribution has not yet appeared, I may just as well retort by reminding him of the fact that there are far wiser and abler persons who can prove that his interpretations will never stand the test of the "recognised Sciences of the day" as will what he calls the "distortions" of the Adwaitees. It must be remembered that these so called "distortions," antedating as they do by innumerable ages the discoveries of the "recognised Sciences of the day," cannot be said to have been copied from the latter to suit the times. We cannot however dismiss the writer without showing to our readers his ignorance of Adwaitism — a subject he so confidently presumes to criticize. Our ('Adwaitees') fourth argument, he says, (naming the so called Mahavakyams in order) rests upon the authority of the sentence Ekmevadvitiyam. He seems to be ignorant of the Atharvanaveda Mahavakya. "Ayam Atma Brahma" is the Mahavakyam in question which the writer very prudently refrains from interpreting from his own Dwaitee standpoint. The translations of our texts given in the Arya are equally absurd and extravagant. Pragnanam [Sanskrit characters] he interprets to mean "intellect"! Our readers who have studied carefully the learned articles on this subject by Mr. T. Subba Row, need no telling how grossly misunderstood and misrepresented are the Adwaitee tenets by this theistic self-called "Aryan" reviewer of the Vedanta-sara. It was necessary to answer here that Review since on the whole the philosophy of the work under notice, is in main what we consider to be Vedantic Adwaitism, which is precisely the same as Buddhistic Arhatism.
These somewhat lengthy remarks may be concluded with a hope that Babu Heera Lal Dhole will act up to the suggestion herein made to divide the work by issuing each text in a separate volume, thus making it within the easy means of all, as the present price is prohibitive for many. At the same time it is to be regretted that the learned author should have limited his researches mainly to the Theosophist. Had he searched more deeply into the lore of the ancient Aryan Literature, he would have increased immensely the value and the influence of his book and made our own case stronger too, since we could then have shown more forcibly that our doctrines are not the phantoms of our imagination, but are directly drawn from, and supported by, the ancient writings, within the reach of him who would search for them diligently and with necessary qualifications. It is needless to say again that every student of Adwaitism ought to possess himself of a copy of the work under review.
[From The Theosophist, August, 1884.]
[*Comment by "An Enquirer" on "The Vedantasara" with Damodar's Note appended. — EDS.]
In the review of the Vedantasara on page 318 of Vol. IV of the Theosophist, I find the reviewer asserting that Sankaracharya's Adwaita teaching is identical with the Buddhistic exposition of Gautama Buddha, and that Sankaracharya "throughout his works keeps wisely silent about the esoteric doctrine taught by Gautama Buddha." He further challenges the Arya to disprove his statements. I now beg to draw the attention of the reviewer to page 76 of the Arya for this month, where a translation of Sankaracharya's remarks against Buddhism is given, and would like to know how he can reconcile this with his assertions.
9th June 1884. An ENQUIRER.
Note. — The translation in the Arya is of Sankaracharya's Commentary on the Brahma Sutras of Vyasa. The Bouddhas, therefore, referred to therein, could not have been the followers of Gautama Buddha who lived only about twenty-five hundred years ago, while Vyasa, who mentions the Bouddhas in his Sutras — against whom only does Sankaracharya argue — preceded him by several thousand years. Consequently the fact that Sankaracharya remains silent throughout his works about the esoteric doctrine taught by Gautama Buddha, remains perfectly sound and unassailed. Probably the so-called "Buddhist" religion in the time of Vyasa, the writer of the Brahma Sutras, was degenerated as we find the Vedic Religion in our times. Gautama was one of the reformers, and although his followers may have been known by the same name, it does not follow that the opposition to a religion called Buddhistic necessarily means antagonism to the teachings of Gautama. If that were the case, Gautama himself might be called an opponent of Buddhism, for he went against its abuses, and thus against the degenerated system known as Buddhism before his time. We maintain that the Arhat Doctrine of which the latest public expounder was Gautama Buddha, is identical with the Adwaitee Philosophy, whose latest public exponent was Sankaracharya. Hence the latter Philosopher's silence about the former's teaching. The objections urged by "An Enquirer" were already anticipated and answered by Mr. Subba Row in his article on "Sankara's Date and Philosophy." (See Vol. IV, Theosophist, page 306.)* — D. K. M.
*[Republished in Five Years of Theosophy, pp. 278-308. See also 1st footnote in "The Metaphysical Basis of 'Esoteric Buddhism' " below. — EDS.]
[From The Theosophist, October, 1883.]
[*An exposition of faults in the Marathi poems taught in Government Schools. By Simeon Benjamin. Price seven annas. Can be had from the Author; House No. 26, Payadhooni, Bombay.]
We have to thank Mr. Simeon Benjamin, the author, for a copy of his Kavya Dosha Vivechana, an exposition of faults in the Marathi poems taught in Government Schools. By Simeon Benjamin. Price seven annas. Can be had from the Author; House No. 26, Payadhooni, Bombay. This is an essay read by him before a meeting of the Arya Samaj, and subsequently republished by him at the request of its leaders. The work before us purports to point out the faults in Marathi poems taught in Government Vernacular and Anglo-Vernacular schools. The subject being of some importance, we shall, with the author's permission, examine minutely his analysis of the poems. His main contention is that some of these verses being unfit to be taught to children, should be eliminated from the Government school text-books. It is therefore necessary to examine carefully his reason in support of the contention. The first verse he takes objection to, is in the Marathi primer, which reads: —
This he translates as meaning that if we were to laugh at the dumb, the blind and the cripple, we would ourselves become like them, &c., &c. Thereupon he argues the falsity of this teaching and shows how it frustrates the chief aim of bringing children to a correct mode of action and thought. When the children, he tells us, do actually laugh at such unfortunate creatures and find no such threatened retaliation, then they naturally lose all faith in, and regard for, such a teaching; and the principal object of giving them sound instruction is foiled. There would be a good deal of truth in this reasoning, were the verses to really mean what the above translation indicates. With every deference, however, to the profound learning and scholarship which the author seems to possess, we submit that the verse yields quite a different meaning, or, at least, another meaning might more appropriately be attached to the verse than the one given by the erudite author. May we not translate the poem in question to mean that we should assist the invalids therein mentioned, not because such an act would recoil on us by making us like them, but because we would in the end be the sufferers: and for the second consideration that, should such a misery befall us, we may find no sympathisers. Or may it not also mean that in case we should be the sufferers in that way, there would be no one to look up to, we having estranged the sympathies of good people by laughing and scoffing at the poor unfortunates when we were in good circumstances. This is not, of course, the literal translation: but neither is that of Mr. Benjamin. In our humble opinion, however, this interpretation is more warranted by the words of the poem than the other. Our first rendering would teach the doctrine of Karma, a scientific and axiomatic truth. The latter construction would be a check upon untrained minds from doing anything wrong. Where then lies the harm? The next verse to which objection is taken, is:--
This is interpreted in two different ways by the author. The first meaning, however, he sets aside. As to the second, he says, it is not fit to be taught to children, its meaning being: — "One who has no Vidya (knowledge) and is neither considerate nor moral (in the broadest sense of the term), should not be styled as Aho (you) but as Aray (thou) and reckoned among beasts." We think, however, that the word Aho is not correctly rendered. It does not refer to the man "without learning," &c., &c., since there is no such word as Aray in the verse to point the distinction as shown by the translator, and that it rather refers to the reader, or the person to whom the lines are made to refer. What the poet says is: — "Oh! You (addressing his readers)! What shall we call a man without learning, morals and consideration! Surely he ought to be classed with the brutes." The exception taken by the critic thus falls to the ground, for there is no direct insult implied in the above application. The student is not advised to insult the man by calling him "thou," but to avoid him rather, as one below the rank of average humanity. And we leave it to our readers to decide whether the advice to avoid a man without learning, morals and consideration (mark the italicized portion) is justifiable or not. The third verse, found fault with, is from the third book: —
In this poem, in talking of what is loosely termed God, the poet says:— "Thou who hast no beginning, no end, and no middle." Our author is shocked at such a conception. The word middle has upset his ideas! We would however humbly enquire if an infinite something (and it must be infinite if it has no beginning and no end), according to Geometry, is divisible? If it is indivisible, it can have no middle. We beg to suggest to our learned author that if the Marathi poems under review are not meant to be taught only in sectarian, and purely theistic schools but are used in colleges where there may be as many Vedantins as Hindus of other denominations, and the term being perfectly applicable to Parabrahm, it has nothing either disrespectful or offensive in it; hence that it is quite fit to be taught to children. We might go on in this wise, and take exception to nearly every objection of the critic of the pamphlet before us; but we regret having neither the space nor time for it. The instances, however, here given are, we believe, sufficient to prove to the impartial reader that the fault lies more with the intolerance of the teacher, than the poems under his review. Mr. Benjamin tells us that these difficulties were not only experienced by himself, while a teacher in a Government School, but that they are complained of still, by many of his colleagues. If that be really the case, we are at one with him in advocating the elimination of all such verses from Government textbooks, rather than see a false interpretation placed upon them. If no one can be found to enter into the true spirit of the poet's meaning and expound the real significance of his ethical stanzas for the instruction of the students, it is far better for all parties to be without them than to have erroneous ideas inculcated, and impressed upon young minds incapable of forming an independent judgment. The work before us has at the same time its objectionable feature in other poems left unmentioned by the critic. Some are positively indecent; such, for instance, as the description of Damayanti, a conversation between Rama and Sita when meeting alone in a forest, and going over their past days of bliss. Such descriptions of marital relations are not precisely the scenes to be impressed upon plastic and undeveloped minds. No language is too strong to condemn the disgraceful carelessness of the tutors who have permitted for years such reading to be left in the hands of their pupils without a protest. In this instance the Marathi-reading community is certainly under a grateful obligation to Mr. Benjamin for initiating this movement and laying a just complaint before the educational authorities. We also concur in his opinion that the poems relating to the struggle between Bheema and Duryodhana ought to be expunged from the school-texts, although my reasons are quite different from those advanced by the critic. Taking exception but to the dead-letter sense, he only deprecates an exhibition of cruel and brutal feelings between two cousins. Unfortunately, however, our Puranas are generally abused by "learned" critics without a proper understanding of the inner sense and the morality to be conveyed. If our readers will turn to the back pages of this Magazine, they will find the real meaning of the allegory of the war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. If the former represent the higher (or spiritual) part of man and the latter the earthly (sensual), and if Krishna (the only manifested deity, the Logos in each man's heart) is spoken of as being the adviser of the former in conquering and killing the latter, where then, we ask, is the "disgusting brutality" fathered upon that most sublime of poems, the Bhagavat Gita? We are not, however, at present concerned with metaphysics or philosophy. And, as we are agreed that the poems complained of should not be taught to children promiscuously, since on the one hand the teachers themselves are as yet unable to realize the profound significance and the philosophical spirit of some of them, and that, on the other, there are some really indecent stanzas among them, we conclude our somewhat lengthy review of Mr. Benjamin's criticism with a hope that the proper authorities will lend an ear to his just complaint. We beg at the same time our learned author's pardon for dwelling at length upon the points of disagreement between him and ourself, since the necessities of the case demanded the present action. On the whole, the book supplies a deficiency which was long being felt; and every credit is due to Mr. Benjamin for interesting himself in the welfare of a people who are not of his race. We would recommend it to every person who has a real and earnest desire to improve the educational standard of Marathi children. As a Maratha we sincerely thank the erudite author for his advocacy in behalf of our children.
[Supplement to The Theosophist, January, 1884.]
Notwithstanding the repeated protest of the Parent Theosophical Society, there does yet seem to linger in the minds of individual members and of some Branches, a tendency to look upon the whole movement as a school where Yoga Vidya and Occultism may be learnt in a much more expeditious and easy way than heretofore. This arises out of an ignorance of the laws of Occult Institutions and those governing psychological development. Since the commencement, the Theosophical Society has tried to impress the fact that the Laws of Nature are immutable; and no living being, however high and powerful, can ever alter them to suit the convenience of students. The attempt, therefore, which is now being made is not to carry on the vain and profitless task of finding a short cut to Brahma Vidya, since this is an impossibility, but to revive once more its knowledge, and thus to stimulate a true aspirant to adapt his life and thoughts to that standard which will better him and lead him gradually to such ways as run their courses to the Divine Wisdom. It will thus be seen that the Theosophical Society promises no Teachers, no Gurus, to take every member, upon joining, under their special charge. Mr. Sinnett was distinctly warned on this point when he asked for the assistance of some adept as the guiding genius of the Simla Eclectic Theo. Socy., as will be seen on reference to his Occult World. No doubt there are individual members who have been fortunate enough to be accepted as Chelas, but their acceptance was due not to the fact of their being Fellows, but because they had been living the life and have voluntarily passed through the training and tests, enjoined upon aspirants for occult knowledge of every age and nationality. In their case the Theosophical Society was only the means of giving them the conviction of their intuitive beliefs, and thus urging them to follow the promptings of their inner consciousness. For the comparatively easy mode they thus had of gaining the conviction, they have to make up by helping the building up of the Theosophical Society and putting it on a secure basis. This explanation ought to make it clear that what the Society expects from all its Branches and individual members, is cooperation and help in its grand task of uniting the East and the West, the North and the South, in a Scientific Brotherhood armed against dissension and consequent failure by the principle of mutual Toleration and mutual Intellectual Sympathy. It is an unthinkable proposition that any man with average intelligence cannot contribute his quota towards the realization of this noble scheme. If each man were but to do his duty to search, to investigate, to study, to digest, and join with his fellow-men, actuated by the same noble aspirations, in giving to mankind the benefits of their labour, the day would not be very far off when the Masters of Occultism might find the necessary conditions to enable them to once more live in the world as openly and freely as did their predecessors of times long, long gone by, and give to such a prepared people the benefits of THEIR knowledge. Until that blessed day comes, a duty is before us: we have to hasten its approach. And this cannot be done by merely joining the Theosophical Society and without preparation, training or qualifications, expecting the Adepts to place within our reach tremendous weapons of Power, FOR KNOWLEDGE IS POWER, which in the hands of the ignorant and the wicked is fraught with dangers to their holders and to Humanity at large. Enough has already been given out to bring home to any one, endowed with ordinary intelligence, fairness, and desire for knowledge — conviction of the truth of this Science and the Powers it confers upon its devotees. When once all this is clearly understood, the only question for solution is how best to promote the Cause, and thus by an unselfish effort for the good of our fellow-men and their regeneration, to fit ourselves for the higher life of a true co-worker with those who have devoted themselves to the amelioration of the moral and spiritual condition of Humanity. There are various ways of accomplishing this result, but as one man's meat is another man's poison, the Parent Theosophical Society has always endeavoured to leave the practical working of its Branches to their members, who are, or should be, the best judges of the circumstances they have to work under, and the material that can be utilized. Psychology is a vast field wherein many workers may employ themselves with advantage. The tastes of individuals must differ, but surely there can be found two or three in every Branch interested in the same subject. If a Branch divides itself into various Committees for the investigation of various subjects of Science, and communicates its results at general meetings, much good will ensue. Various articles in the Theosophist and other publications of the like nature might be taken up by different members, and the Society given the benefit of every individual exertion. Knotty questions arising out of such studies might be referred to the Head-quarters in the form of an article, or in any other shape which may be found best under the circumstances. Every legitimate demand for help and assistance has been, and will always be, granted by the Founders to their co-workers in this cause of Humanity. Several other matters of Reform might be undertaken by other Committees, without, of course, infringing upon any individual's or people's religious or social right. For those who are capable of an unselfish impulse to work for the moral and spiritual regeneration of Humanity, there is plenty to do. And it is men of this stamp that are the pillars of such a grand movement, which must necessarily depend upon their cooperation and zeal for its success.
These are the lines upon which Branches are expected to be organised and worked.
By order. DAMODAR K. MAVALANIKAR,
Joint Recording Secretary, Theosophical Society.
ADYAR (MADRAS), 15th December 1883.
[Supplement to The Theosophist, March, 1884]
My esteemed friend and brother, Pandit Parmeshri Dass, President of the Branch Theosophical Society at Bara-Banki, writes to say that he finds the memo. on the above subject in the last month's Theosophist, has been entirely misunderstood. The following passage therein has been the cause of misapprehension: —
Since the commencement, the Theosophical Society has tried to impress the fact that the Laws of Nature are immutable; and no living being, however high or powerful, can ever alter them to suit the convenience of students. . . . It will thus be seen that the Theosophical Society promises no Teachers, no Gurus, to take every member, upon joining, under their special charge. . . . No doubt there are individual members who have been fortunate enough to be accepted as Chelas, but their acceptance was due not to the fact of their being Fellows, but because they have been living the life and have voluntarily passed through the training and tests, enjoined upon aspirants for occult knowledge of every age and nationality.
Upon this it is argued:--
One's own Karma is the essence irrespectively of his connection or non-connection with the Theosophical Society — in other words, all depends upon one's living the life enjoined upon aspirants for occult knowledge. The act of joining the Society is immaterial inasmuch as the life being an essential thing, fellowship in the Society carries no weight with it. The Society thus confers no benefit as a prerequisite on its members, in addition to the result of their own Karma. This being so, a Theosophist and an outsider stand upon the same footing; hence no one should join the Society.
This strange logic passes my comprehension. "All appears yellow to the jaundiced eye," says the poet. One blinded by selfishness cannot therefore pierce through the thick veil before his eyes, and all his conceptions must therefore be narrow. My friend's reply to the above superb reasoning is: —
It is true that living the life is essential — but the life lived by a Fellow of the Theosophical Society has an advantage over that lived by an outsider. A fellow, by the act of joining, places himself in a position wherein the essential qualification can immediately and directly attract the notice of the MAHATMAS. A Theosophist has to exert less in point of attractive force than an outsider, for the latter is not so near the MAHATMAS as the former. Both of them do not therefore stand upon the same footing. All that the passage in the Memo. on the Work of the Branches meant to convey was that the Theosophical Society was not an improved sort of Miracle Club or School of Magic wherein for ten rupees (or any sum whatever) a man could become a Mahatma between the morning bath and the evening meal; but that in addition to merely joining the Society, a man should live the requisite life and wait patiently for the results which will come in due time.
The Pandit's reply is correct so far as it goes, but it is incomplete. It does not give the reasons why a Theosophist is nearer to the MASTERS than an outsider. It also omits certain other important considerations. With a view to avoid any further misunderstanding, I shall go a little fuller into the subject, being at the same time as brief and concise as possible. If the critics had read carefully the whole of the memo. and digested it thoroughly, they would probably have not been led into such curious conclusions as they now put forth. It is admitted that the Theosophical Society has been engaged in doing good, with unparalleled success, to Humanity; that, had it not been for its exertions, people would have gone in their own ways as heretofore, would have paid no attention to the writings of the ancient sages and would have remained in entire ignorance of the glorious truths contained therein, not because they could not have been found if properly searched into, but because the earnest spirit of enquiry which has now been raised could never have asserted itself. It is therefore a duty we owe to the Theosophical Society to encourage and support it by all possible means, if we have the least sense of gratitude within us. Moreover, it is within almost every one's mouth that more and more important facts of the Esoteric Philosophy are being gradually given out through the instrumentality of the Theosophical Society. Have the critics reflected to what causes this fact is due? It is because the leaders and promoters of the Association find that their labour is not being thrown entirely upon barren ground, but that their work is being more and more appreciated, as is proved by important additions to its ranks; they thus feel encouraged to continue their arduous task more and more cheerfully. But let it be once proven that the work has created no interest, and that those for whom exertions are being made prefer to stubbornly remain blind to all higher considerations, and the theosophical leaders will be compelled to drop the work in spite of themselves. Is not the fact that the moral if not the active support given by people to the Society by joining it acts as a stimulant for renewed work — is not this fact a sufficient inducement for right thinking men not to keep aloof from the movement? Again, the Theosophical Society being a Universal Brotherhood embraces all Humanity: as such it may very well be recognized as one complete organism. All its doings are its Karma. And just as the different organs derive nourishment from the joint work of the whole body; so also each member of this huge organism has a part of its nourishment from the accumulated store of the Karma of the Theosophical Society as a whole. And who will dispute the fact that that Association has been acquiring an immense amount of good Karma by its beneficent work of increasing human happiness by promoting knowledge and by uniting together different people into one bond of an Intellectual Brotherhood? Still further: it is a well-recognized principle that Union is Strength; and therefore if any Association could afford large opportunities for doing good, it is the Theosophical Society. Selfishness having sealed the eyes of the critics to the fact that they form but a part of the INTEGRAL WHOLE, they fail to perceive that the good of their Fellowmen is their own good. The cloud of self-benefit darkens their mental horizon, through which their sight cannot pierce to have a glance at the future results of their attitude. They see no superior advantage within the narrow range of their vision, and therefore they conclude no such advantage exists. They cannot understand that of all the Associations now existing in the world, the Theosophical Society is the only one that can be employed to the best advantage for promoting human happiness by bringing people to realize the common foundation of all Religions. And that the Illuminated have therefore adopted it as the channel of communication between themselves and the outer world. As such, it forms the centre of light, and he who steps into its sphere from the outer darkness, comes within the radius of vision of the BLESSED ONES. To advance further depends upon his active goodness and work. By joining he has got his reward of giving an expression to his sympathy and thus affording moral support — and that reward is that he puts himself in a prominent position whence he can be more easily perceived than those who prefer to remain in the outer darkness.
DAMODAR K. MAVALANKAR,
Joint Recording Secretary, Theosophical Society.
ADYAR (MADRAS), 3rd February 1884.
[Supplement to The Theosophist, January, 1884.]
Out of the clear sky of a correspondent's remarks on the comparative merits of Buddha and Christ, the thunderbolt has been hurled against Occultism by the Indra of the Epiphany. The startled Theosophist but meekly enquires how his humble self could be suspected of intrusion in such sublime regions as the arena of discussion of our contemporary's correspondent — "A. B. C." In the meantime, however, as Great Indra threatens to bring his Meghastra into play, it is necessary to avert the impending downpour by pointing out its unseasonableness. It is but proper that the misconceptions, so unmistakably glaring, should be, if possible, removed. The Epiphany thus begins what is meant to be a reply to its correspondent's remarks: —
"I never grumble when Theosophists tell me that in order to experience the power of the invisible worlds vouchsafed to them I must first practice Yogi [the learned Editor of the Epiphany probably means Yoga. Yogi is the person who practises Yoga]. It is quite clear to me that there is a power working in them, to be attained only by certain processes. The only questions with me are (1) is the power of a kind worth attaining? (2) what is the nature and source of the power? (3) what is the trustworthiness of its result? To these questions I answer something as follows. 1. The power of supreme wisdom or of working what men call miracles is to my mind worthless compared with the power of love. I must learn to love, to labour for others, to desire their good more than my own, before I can be fit to be trusted with occult powers, which at present would only tempt ME to pride, and be ill-used. . . ."
The erudite critic is manifestly unaware of the fact that the true Yogi does not study Occultism for the purpose of acquiring powers. In his onward spiritual progress toward deliverance from the shackles of Maya, the Siddhis come to him of themselves. There can be no psychological perfection so long as the Ego is in the least affected by the trammels of Avidya, and these Siddhis, however high they may be, are yet within the domain of illusion. Every student, even a tyro, of occultism knows that the acquisition of Brahma-Vidya is dependent entirely upon the development of a feeling of universal love in the mind of the aspirant. For his final goal, the attainment of Mukti is the very identification of the Jivatma with Paramatma, the Universal Spirit, which manifests itself in ALL — which can never be accomplished except by one's putting one's-self en rapport with Nature through a cultivation of the feeling of unselfish Philanthropy. It will thus become apparent to a mind free from preconception that the Yoga Siddhis are only the accessories of Brahmavidya, i. e., Esoteric Theosophy, the acquisition of which is guided only by unselfish philanthropy and universal love. The misconception in the above extract is evidently due to the Reverend writer's confounding the path, pursued by a real Yogi, with that of ordinary jugglers and sorcerers. While the powers of the former are psychological, those of the latter are physical, pure and simple. If the writer had carefully studied the important articles in the Theosophist on this subject and various other publications on Rosicrucianism and Esoteric Theosophy, before hastily penning his remarks, the present controversy would have been saved. He says that he must "labour for others and desire their good" more than his own. The true Yogi replies: — "We postulate that the good of others is our own, since we are a part of the integral whole, and therefore it is not logical or wise to think of mere relative good to others." When the student has once realised this important fact — and until he has, he is not a fit student — where then is there room left for "pride" from which the Reverend writer shrinks with such pious horror? Self-conquest is the first step on the ladder of Brahmavidya leading to Nirvana or Mukti. If it is thoroughly comprehended that Avidya in every shape is to be got rid of, and if the way to achieve that object is found to be as stated in the preceding remarks, the basis on which the Reverend gentleman has raised a structure of fears concerning Yoga is necessarily removed, and the whole edifice thus must tumble down. One or two more points may also be noticed, with advantage. He says: —
"The trance consciousness in me may be the gateway to imperfect and distorted visions, the creations of brain in an unnatural tension, and not free from its own preconceptions."
Precisely so: this is just what the occultist guards himself against by first passing through the process of unlearning before beginning to learn. He rests neither upon the deductive nor the inductive method solely, but employs both before accepting any fact. More than this: he practically and experimentally demonstrates to himself the truth of the conclusion he arrives at, before taking them as final. Human will is merely the manifestation of the Divine Will or rather Paramatma. But its action or expression depends upon its associations and the medium through which it has to act. It is all these disturbances or the veils of Maya, that the occultist guards himself against in his studies, and it will be admitted that this mode of procedure is a purer source of knowledge than any other where the counteracting influences are allowed their full sway. In conclusion, the Reverend gentleman adds: —
". . . . His (Buddha's) noblest merit is that he never claimed to be God. If Christ did so claim to be without being so in reality, He must have been one of the world's least souls, its most deluded Prophets. Do you believe this?"
Before answering this query, it is essential to enquire whether Christ's Divinity is to be assumed on blind faith, or is the reason of the reader appealed to above? In the former case, silence is gold, but in the latter, the question becomes serious. In the first place, we defy the Christians to point out to us one sentence, one word, in the Four Gospels proving in plain and unambiguous language that Christ ever claimed or declared himself to be God. On the contrary — "Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God" (Matt. XIX 6) — is a rebuke showing plainly that Christ, far from considering himself God, looked upon any attempt to attribute Divinity to him as blasphemy; no amount of ecclesiastical sophistry can successfully distort the meaning. "I and my Father are one," is entirely weakened by "I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." Moreover, the present writer very much doubts whether Christ, even if he did claim to be God, could ever have claimed divinity, as generally understood, if he was, as he is represented. What was there more, indeed, in Christ, not possessed by Buddha? Nay, the impartial student, whether Occidental or Oriental, must admit that in moral grandeur and unselfish philanthropy, Buddha is unequalled, at all events not inferior to Jesus. The whole question of divinity must, therefore, rest either upon their personal claims and powers, or those of their later followers, namely their respective clergy. Pride is inconsistent with genuine greatness, and humility is the essential qualification of a true philosopher. In this respect too, Buddha shows his superiority in not claiming divinity which might more appropriately be attributed to him by his unphilosophical followers than to the Galilean Prophet by his. As regards their respective powers, or (so-called) "supernatural" gifts, the question can very well be decided by those possessed by their respective followers at the present day. The readers of Esoteric Buddhism and the Occult World need, of course, no further dilation on this point.
Before concluding, an instance of the wonderful argumentative powers of the learned writer in the Epipheny may as well be noticed. While admitting the philosophical force of the defence of Vedic Pantheism and Idolatry by Babu Ishan Chandra Ghose, he remarks: —
"It may be very true that a mind capable of grasping only one million out of thirty-three millions of idle personifications would have a very complex idea of God. But we would ask for an honest and candid answer as to whether the uneducated masses do not rather worship one or a few of these personifications. The Rishis made the analysis: what idol-worshipper, except an educated one like yourself, ever makes the corresponding synthesis?"
The fallacy of this argument is self-evident and needs no comment. The Babu may well retort by asking in his turn how many Christians, even of education and culture, understand the teachings of their religion in that high sense, put upon them by the philosophical few? The perversions and misconceptions that a religion suffers at the hands of its ignorant followers are no argument against the religion itself. The vices and superstitions of the lower order of the Hindus do not injure their philosophical faith any more than the following incident degrades the high moral worth of the teachings of Christ. Only the other day the papers published the account of an English husband having sold his wife for a quart of beer!! And the parties to the contract, witnesses and all, were so strong in a sense of their innocence, that each and every one acknowledged the fact freely in open court. The excellence of a religion depends upon its intrinsic philosophical value and its moral influence upon its followers. It is only Statistics and History that can show which Faith has acquitted itself most honorably of its task.
[Supplement to The Theosophist, March, 1884.]
[*Rejoinder to an Editorial in the Epiphany which discusses Damodar's "Oxford Mission Shots at Occultism." This Editorial was republished in the Supplement to The Theosophist, March, 1884, page 49, under the title "Theosophy and Love." — EDS.]
I shall briefly reply to the remarks of the Epiphany. I am sorry I failed to gather from the words, "the power of Supreme wisdom or of working what men call miracles," even in the light of the parallel phrase "the power of the invisible worlds," that by "what men call miracles," was not meant "simply physical marvels, but marvels both physical and psychical," as, otherwise some waste of words would have been prevented.
We maintain that the highest ideal of love is to be found only in Brahmavidya or Esoteric Theosophy; our ideal of love being a perfect union with the ALL by an utter abnegation of the self and by ardent sleepless endeavours for the good of all sentient beings — even the brute creation, whose sufferings, and wholesale slaughter, are made entirely subservient to the pleasure of Christians and Mahomedans. If the ideal of the Christians is different, — they are welcome to it; only let them not place it higher than ours, unless they are prepared to support their action by the force of arguments. I am glad to find an attempt has been made in this direction by my friendly critic, and proceed to examine it with the attention it deserves.
"It is in no spirit of pride" says the Epiphany, "that we state it as a part of our Creed that, however unloving nominal Christians may be, perfect love is only attainable by man through union with Christ, nay, the very gateway to love for the mass of men must be in Christ's love for us. Such a theory has nothing to do with any estimate of persons, but is a necessary corollary of our belief that God became incarnate for love of us. For, if that be a true doctrine, the recognition of the fact of such tremendous love must be the natural preliminary to being intoxicated and transformed by it, the first step in the true Yoga."
The great incentive to love among Christians is, we are told, the realisation of the fact that Christ, or, in other words, the perfect God, incarnated himself, moved by love, for the redemption of man. Without stopping to question the necessity of such a step in one who, if God, might have avoided it by suppressing the original act of injustice — namely, the "apple incident," — we may here say that there are other doctrines in the Christian faith, and regarded as equally true, which are calculated to weaken if not to completely neutralize the force of this argument. How can we say the Christian "God is love," when he delivers up helpless Humanity, brought into existence without its consent, to the mangling tooth of sin and suffering for a small transgression of its first parents? Even human justice does not hold a son liable for the debts of his father beyond the extent of that father's assets. And how is it that not even the blood of Jesus could restore man to the "blissful seat" from which he had fallen? It may here be urged that the all-Merciful Father has ordained evil but for the ultimate good of man. But the other side may with equal justice contend that an Omnipotent cruel Ahriman has created all apparent good for the ultimate destruction of his creatures, not unlike the Satan of the Middle Ages, granting a short festive season to his servants as a prelude to the eternal damnation of their souls. The real fact is, that our inner self perceives, although the perception in very many cases is clouded by preconceived notions, that love and charity are but the law of our being, and that the violation of the law is always attended with suffering. It is no argument against this proposition that the general mind is not conscious of such being the case, any more than it is necessary for the miser to be aware of the true worth of riches when counting his unsunned hoards with a greedy eye.
Our friendly critic then charges me with a petitio principii: --
If you then require "unselfish philanthropy" as a "guide to the acquisition of Brahmavidya," you are from the point of view of the positive experience of millions, indulging in a petitio principii.
Nothing of the kind. It is enough if I am supported by the "positive experience" of one man — and such a man is always to be found in the person of the Great Beggar Prince of Kapilavastu. The only logical misdemeanour committed in the present transaction is that of hasty generalisation chargeable on the critic himself, in deriving a general proposition from a particular one, however extensive that particular proposition may absolutely be.
The subordination of love to power, attributed to Theosophy, is due to the learned critic's misconception of what is said in the Elixir of Life, [an article by G..... M..... F.T.S. (Godolphin Mitford), in The Theosophist, March and April, 1882; republished in Five Years of Theosophy, pp. 1-32; he was an English occult student] which has never been claimed as a complete exposition of the subject. The objections now raised clearly show that the article on "Morality and Pantheism" in the Theosophist for November last [by Mohini M. Chatterji; republished in Five Years of Theosophy, pp. 212-220], has not been properly considered. There it is distinctly said: —
Inactivity of the physical body (Sthula sarira) does not indicate a condition of inactivity either on the astral or physical plane of action. The human spirit is in its highest state of activity in Samadhi, and not, as is generally supposed, in a dormant quiescent condition. And, moreover, it will be seen by any one who examines the nature of Occult dynamics, that a given amount of energy expended on the spiritual or astral plane is productive of far greater results than the same amount expended on the physical objective plane of existence. When an adept has placed himself en rapport with the Universal Mind, he becomes a real power in nature. Even on the objective plane of existence, the difference between brain and muscular energy, in their capacity of producing wide-spread and far reaching results, can be very easily perceived. The amount of physical energy expended by the discoverer of the steam engine might not have been more than that expended by a hardworking day-labourer. But the practical results of the cooly's work can never be compared with the results achieved by the discovery of the steam engine. Similarly, the ultimate effects of spiritual energy are infinitely greater than those of intellectual energy.
To pass to the concluding remarks of the Epiphany. My arguments with reference to Hindu idolatry have been misunderstood by the critic. What I mean is this: — That, as no idolatry is sanctioned by the Hindu Scriptures, it is quite unjust to condemn the symbols of Hindu Religion, which are not without a certain similarity in principles to the Christian Eucharist, simply on the ground that the ignorant masses cannot always perceive the underlying spiritual truth. It would be as reasonable to charge the grotesque eccentricities of the Salvation Army on the purity of the Christian faith. — D. K. M.