The Path – December 1886



When Apollonius asked about the wise men whom Alexander the Great was said to have conquered and then held converse with, Phraotes said that they were the Oxydraks, a war-like people who claimed Wisdom though they knew nothing of consequence; the truly wise men dwelt between the Hyphasis and Ganges. Had Alexander gone thither he could not have conquered them, even with ten thousand Achilles and thirty thousand Ajaxes. "For they fight not in battle against advancing enemies, but being holy men, beloved by God, they repulse them through aerial apparitions and lightning flashes."

When Apollonius took his departure Phraotes gave him the following significant letter to the Brahmins:

"The King Phraotes greets his teacher Iarchas and the Wise men with him. Apollonius, the wisest of men, regards you as wiser than himself, and comes to learn from you. Let him not depart without knowledge of all which you yourselves know. For thus nothing of your wisdom will be lost; since no one speaks better than he, or has a truer memory. Let him also behold the throne whereon I sat when them, Father Iarchas, gavest me my kingdom. His attendants also deserve praise for their attachment to such a man. Be thou happy. Be happy all of you."

When they came near the hill where the wise men dwelt their guide was filled with fear, for the Indians stood more in awe of these men than of their own King, and the King who ruled the land where they lived was accustomed to consult them about everything he said or did.

When near a village not a stadium from the hill, a youth approached them, blacker than any Indian, with a gleaming, moon-shaped mark between his eyebrows. He bore a golden anchor, which in India took the place of the Herald's staff. He addressed Apollonius in Greek, which did not astonish him, since all the dwellers in the village [a lamasary?] spoke that tongue but it did astonish the others to hear their master called by name; Apollonius, however, it filled with confidence as he remembered the purpose of his journey. "We have come to men truly wise," he said to Damis "for they have a fore-knowledge of things." Asking the youth what was to be done, he was told: "Those with you remain here; thou, however, shall come just as thou art, for so They command. In this They Apollonius recognized Pythagorean language and he followed with joy.

In one of his conversations with the Egyptian Gymnosophists, years afterwards, Apollonius thus characterized the wise men of India: "I saw the Indian Brahmins who dwell upon the earth and not upon the earth; in a strong fortress though unfortified; and, without possessions, possessing everything." The deep, interior significance of this is evident to a Theosophist. Damis, in the matter-of-fact way often customary with him, also gives these words a literal interpretation, saying that they had their bed upon the earth and strewed the ground with herbs selected by themselves; he himself had seen them floating in the air two ells above the earth; not for hocus pocus — for they despised vain striving — but in order, by thus floating with the sun, to be near and pleasing unto the god. This was what was meant by "upon the earth and not upon the earth." The strong fortress, unfortified, meant the air in which they dwelt, for although they appeared to live under the open heaven, they spread a shadow over themselves, were not wet by the rain, and were in the sunshine whenever they wished. And since they obtained everything the moment they wished it, Apollonius rightly said that they possessed what they did not possess. "They wear their hair long, they bind a white mitra around their heads, their feet are bare. The form of their clothing resembles that of a sleeveless under-garment; the material is a wool produced by the earth of itself, white like the Pamphylian, but softer, and so fat that oil flows from it. Of this they make their sacred garments, and when another than these men seeks to gather this wool the earth will not release it. By the power of the ring and the staff which they bear even thing can be done, but both are kept as a secret." This personal description by Damis corresponds in certain particulars with what we are told of the Masters to-day. The account of the wool leads some commentators to believe that asbestos is meant.

Iarchas welcomed Apollonius in Greek and asked him for the letter from Phraotes; when Apollonius wondered at his gift of prescience he remarked that a delta was lacking in the letter, left out by mistake, and so it proved. After reading the letter Iarchas asked: "What dost thou think of us?"

And Apollonius replied: "As no other person in the land whence I came, as my journey hither shows."

"What makest thou think that we know more than thou dost?"

"I believe," answered Apollonius, "that your knowledge is deeper and much more divine."

Iarchas hereupon said: "Others are accustomed to ask the new comer whence he comes and for what purpose; the first sign of our wisdom shall be this: that the stranger is not unknown to us. So then, test this:"

Hereupon he told Apollonius his history from father and mother down, what he had done in Aega?, how Damis had come to him, what tidings of importance had happened on the way, etc. As Apollonius asked in surprise whence came that knowledge. Iarchas answered: "Thou also earnest gifted with this wisdom, but not yet with all of it."

"And wilt thou teach me all thy wisdom?" asked Apollonius.

"By all means, and in ungrudging abundance, for this is wiser than miserly to conceal that which is worthy of knowing. Besides, Apollonius, I see thou hast been richly gifted by Mnemosyne, and she is the one among the gods whom we most love.

"Dost thou also behold," asked Apollonius, "of what manner my nature is?"

"We see all peculiarities of the soul, for we know them by thousandfold indications," replied Iarchas.

When mid-day came they rose in the air and did homage to the sun. The youth who bore the anchor was then told to go and provide for the companions of Apollonius. Swifter than the swiftest of birds he went and returned, saying: "I have provided for them." He was then commanded to bring the throne of Phraotes, and when Apollonius had seated himself thereon they continued their conversation. Iarchas told him to ask what he wished, for he had come to men who knew all things. Apollonius asked if they knew themselves, for he believed that they, like the Greeks, held knowledge of self to be difficult. But Iarchus answered with an unexpected turning: "We know all things, because first of all we know ourselves; for no one of us can approach this wisdom without first attaining knowledge of self."

Apollonius asked further, what they held themselves to be?

"Gods," answered Iarchas.

"And wherefore?"

"Because we are good men."

Apollonius found so much wisdom in this saying that he made use of it in his speech of defence before the Emperor Domitian.

They talked about the soul and reincarnation, and Iarchas told him that the truth was "as Pythagoras taught you, and as we taught the Egyptians." They spoke about the previous incarnation of Apollonius as steersman of an Egyptian ship, in which capacity he had refrained from following the inducements held out by pirates to let his vessel come into their hands.

Concerning this Iarchas said that refraining from unrighteousness did not constitute righteousness.

The King came to visit the Brahmins and a wonderful feast was prepared for him; everything came of itself: Pythian tripods, and automatic attendants of black bronze, the earth spread out herbs softer than beds to recline on, delicate viands appeared in orderly succession, etc. The accounts of these phenomena occasioned great remark during the subsequent career of Apollonius, and people would persist in mixing them up with the teachings of the master just as today they inextricably confound Madame Blavatsky's famous cup and saucer with Theosophy. But we are told that Apollonius did not concern himself with phenomena; when he saw these wonderful things he did not ask how they were done, nor to be taught to do them, but he contented himself with admiring them. And we are also told that the marvelous things he did were not accomplished through ceremonial magic, but through the perfection of his wisdom.

Damis was subsequently allowed to come to the Brahmins and when he asked about the composition of the world and the four elements they replied that there were five — the fifth being ether, which was to be regarded as the primal source of the gods.

"For everything that breathes the air is mortal; that which drinks the ether is immortal and divine," said Iarchas. He also said that the world was to be regarded as a living being of both sexes, having a more ardent love for itself than that of one person to another, being united and bound to itself." Damis learnt much from his intercourse with the Brahmins, but he wrote that at the secret discourses Apollonius was alone with Iarchas, and from there originated the four books written by the former Iarchas, said Damis, gave Apollonius seven rings bearing the names of the seven planets, and Apollonius wore them one after the other according to the name of the day of the week.

The foregoing is an incomplete account of the remarkable journey and experience of Apollonius, as is necessitated by the limits of a brief article.

Many passages of deep wisdom have had to be passed over, and many remarkable things are told, hard to understand, but which, there is reason to believe, have an occult significance.

The Path