Theosophical University Press Online Edition
VOL. I., No. 6 - MARCH, 1880
Section 1 (pp. 133-147)
A Medal of Honor
Visitors from Shadow-Land
True and False Personality
Swami versus Missionary
How Best to Become a Theosophist
The Buddhist Idea about Soul
A Jewel in the Old Rubbish
The Madras Yogi Sabhapaty Swami
Section 2 (pp. 147 - 163)
The Society's Fourth Anniversary
Our "American" Pandit"
Shraddha and Pinda
A Turkish Effendi on Christendom and Islam
The Aryan Revival
The Vedant Darsana
A Land of Mystery
Puzzles for the Philologists
Which First — The Egg or the Bird?
Return to the Homepage of The Theosophist
VOL. I. BOMBAY, MARCH, 1880. No. 6
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BOMBAY, MARCH 1ST, 1880.
The Editors disclaim responsibility for opinions expressed by contributors in their articles. Great latitude is allowed to correspondents, and they alone are accountable for what they write. Rejected MSS. are not returned.
IF ANY OF OUR READERS ARE NOT INTENDING TO SAVE up their numbers of the journal for binding, we will purchase back the issues of October and November, at annas six each, either in cash or credit on next year's subscription, as may be preferred. Though more than twice as many copies of those numbers were printed as an experienced Indian journalist advised, they are out of print, while even those of later mouths are fast disappearing.
INQUIRIES ARE CONSTANTLY MADE OF OUR SOCIETY as to the possibility of importing from America hand-machines for various industrial purposes. There is no lack in America of inventive capacity to produce any hand-machine that India might need for any branch of manufacture, but the whole resources of our mechanical genius have for many years been applied to the production of machines to be worked by steam. The case of America is the exact opposite of that of India. Here, manual labor is superabundant; there, it is excessively scarce and costly. Steam machinery has, therefore, been brought to the highest pitch of perfection. The true way to procure what India needs in this direction is for some enlightened princes to offer prizes for machines that will do such or such work by hand or bullock power, and publish the same in the American journals that circulate among the inventive classes. Such are the New York Tribune and the Scientific American. The American Department of State might also, if requested by Colonel Olcott, who holds the appointment of United States Commissioner to the East Indies, cause the offer of the prize or prizes to be announced in the official circular of the Patent Office, and thus ensure it the widest publicity. Should this suggestion so far commend itself to the native princes as to be carried out, certain things must be borne in mind. First, that inventors are, as a rule, poor mechanics, employed on wages, and unable to devote time to thinking out such inventions as India wants, or invest their scanty means in the purchase of materials of construction, unless certain of a sufficient reward, if a certain stated result should be obtained. Secondly, that India is so far away from America as to practically prevent them from reaping any profit from the sale of royalties, or by sharing in the gains of any company that might undertake the introduction of the new machines. Even if Indian companies should form, and take the patent or patents on royalty, the inventor would be too far distant to enable him to watch over his interests; while if he should come here at great expense, he, being ignorant of the vernaculars, would be almost as badly off. The inference, then, is that the offer should be either of a round sum for a successful invention, with a stated yearly bonus for so many years to the discoverer, or a greater lump sum for the invention, and all the inventor's right and title to its use. Knowing what we do of American inventors and their capabilities, we feel no hesitancy in saying that any desired machine, to be worked by either hand or bullock power, may be had by India for the asking. But the asking must be done in the right way.
There are numberless ingenious machines in America, that would be wholly valueless here, because the habits and wants of the people do not call for such mechanical helps. So, too, much good intention has hitherto been wasted on foolish attempts to import European methods of agriculture, when the country is utterly unsuited to them. Common sense ought to have suggested that, rude as Indian plows, harrows and drills are, and strange as Indian systems of rotation may appear to Western eyes, the imperative demands of hunger and poverty would, ages ago, have compelled their relinquishment if they were utterly bad. The fact is that the Indian climates and soils demand one kind of agriculture, and the climates and soils of Europe quite another. If there be such a thing among Europeans as true friendliness for India, let it be shown in giving her help to improve upon her own methods, not to import foreign ones; in assisting her to manufacture her own raw products by utilising her superabundant labor, not to send them away and bring them back when worked up. If any one knows of one more good crop that can be introduced, or can tell where there is a seed-grain that will yield more faras to the bigha, let him, for mercy's sake, speak. Or if any English implement-maker can show a common Hindu blacksmith how to shape his mould-board so as to pulverize the ryot's ground better, with no more expenditure of bullock-power and no greater cost, he may earn the blessings of a wretched people by showing the fact. But to persuade either a rajah or a zemindar to import costly implements or machinery on mere guess-work, is simply cruel, for it destroys their confidence and turns them into bitter foes of progress. We have been often importuned for American catalogues, and had thousands of rupees offered us to send away for machines of any kind we might think suitable for importation. But, as this is now our people and our permanent home, we have felt obliged to decline forwarding the orders when we were not quite sure the machinery or implements were really adapted to Indian wants. There is not so much Native capital left that it should be flung away on mechanical toys, great or small.
SEVERAL MOST LUDICROUS PRINTER'S MISTAKES HAVE occurred lately within our experience. The Deccan Star, noticing a book written by the Conductor of this magazine, called it "Ices Unveiled;" in printing, last month, the Viceroy's letter to us, the compositor made Mr. Batten say he had submitted three of our members, instead of numbers, to His Excellency; and, instead of allowing one of our metaphysical contributors to write about developing the inner or spiritual Ego, compelled the unhappy man to appear anxious to develop the spiritual eggs. Finally, the sober Oriental Miscellany of Calcutta, for February, comes prating to us about the true spiritual philosopher uniting himself to the Scul of the Universe! If anything more clearly justifying compositorcide than these can be shown, let us know it by all means.
Another error, not at all ludicrous but very annoying, was the conversion of the Hon. George H. M. Batten's official title from Personal Assistant into Personal Attendant of His Excellency the Viceroy. We trust that the stupid blunder may be excused.
THAT WITTY AND EPIGRAMMATIC JOURNAL, The Bombay Review, has favored us with several friendly notices, for which it merits, and will kindly accept, our best thanks. But one remark upon our February number must not pass without rejoinder. It says "The THEOSOPHIST ghost-stories we have noted once and for ever — they make very uncanny reading." They do, if taken only in one sense; and the less one has of ghost-stories in general, judging from that point of view, the better. If they were only meant to feed the morbid fancies of sentimental novel-readers, their room might well be thought better than their company. But, since they appear in a magazine professedly devoted to a serious enquiry into questions of science and religion, it is not unreasonable to presume that the editors have a definite purpose to show their connection with one or both of these departments of research. Such, at any rate, is the fact. Before we have done with our readers, it will be made very clear that every story of ghost, goblin, and bhuta, admitted into our columns, has the value of an illustration of some one phase of that misconceived but most important science, Psychology. Our friend of the Bombay Review is hasty in jumping at the conclusion that he has had his last say about our Phantom Dogs, Ensouled Violins, and stalking shades of the departed.
The importance of the action, taken at its late meeting by the General Council of our Society, in voting the foundation of a Medal of Honor, to be annually awarded by an unbiased Jury of Native gentlemen of eminent character and learning to Native authors, will doubtless be appreciated. To recognize that Aryavarta has a grand history, and that the sons of the soil are her proper historiographers; and to stimulate a brotherly competition for a prize of real dignity, with ample guarantees for the impartiality of the awards, is to take a long step towards creating that feeling of nationality on which alone great states can rise. Let this action stand as one more pledge that the honor of India is dear to the heart of every true Theosophist. Our innermost feelings are summed up in a single sentence of a letter received by last mail from America. "When I read of those noble Buddhists and Hindus who have passed through so much to make the soul dominant master," writes the respected Dr. Ditson, "I feel as if I could kneel and kiss their feet. How grand they seem to me! Tell all such whom you may chance to meet that I am with them in deep sympathy." At another time we shall publish extracts from the letters of Theosophists in different parts of the world to show how universal is this love and reverence for India among them. Meanwhile we give the following: —
(Extract from the Minutes of the Meeting of the General Council, held at Bombay, February 5th, 1880.)
"With a view to stimulate enquiry, by the Natives of India, into the literature of ancient times, to increase their respect for their ancestors, and to thus accomplish one important object for which the Theosophical Society was formed, it is by the General Council
That there shall be founded a high prize and dignity to be known and designated as 'The Medal of Honor of the Theosophical Society,' for award under competition."
"The said medal shall be of pure silver and made from Indian coins melted down for the purpose; and shall be suitably engraved, stamped, carved or embossed with a device expressive of its high character as a Medal of Honor. It shall be annually awarded by a committee of Native scholars, designated by the President, to the Native author of the best original Essay upon any subject connected with the ancient religions, philosophies or sciences; preference being given in the Department of Science, other things being equal, to the occult, or mystical, branch of science as known and practised by the ancients."
"The following conditions to govern the award, viz. —
1. The Essay shall be of a high merit;
2. Each Essay shall bear a cipher, initial, verse or motto, but no other sign by which the authorship may be detected. The author's name, in each case, to be written in a closed envelope outside which shall be inscribed the cipher or other device which he has attached to his essay. The Manuscript to be placed by the President in the hands of the Jury, and the envelopes filed away unopened and not examined until the Jury shall have made their awards.
3. All Essays submitted to be at the disposal of the Society, whose officers may designate such as are pronounced most meritorious for publication in the THEOSOPHIST, with their authors' names attached, so that their learning may be properly appreciated by their countrymen.
4. The Society to be allowed to publish, as a separate pamphlet, the essay which shall be deemed worthy of the Medal of Honor, on condition of giving to its author the entire nett profits of the publication.
5. Essays to comprise not less than 2,500 nor more than 4,000 words — foot-notes and quotations included.
6. The Jury shall also award to the authors of the Essays which they consider second and third in degree of merit, special.diplomas, to be entitled Diplomas of Honor and authenticated by the seal of the Society.
7. The Jury may also specifically name three other Essays besides the three aforesaid, for the distinction of certificates of honorable mention, to be issued to the respective authors under the seal of the Society.
8. Essays to be submitted in English, but it is not obligatory that the author shall himself know that language.
9. All competing manuscripts to be in the President's hands by 12 o'clock noon of the 1st day of June 1880, and the Jury to announce their awards on the 1st day of September 1880.
10. Upon the receipt of the report of the Jury, the President shall at once identify the names of the successful authors, and officially publish the same throughout India and in all countries where there are branches of the Theosophical Society.
11. Full authority is given to the President to adopt whatever measures may be required to carry into effect this Resolution."
Attest: — KHARSEDJI N. SEERVAI,
Secretary, Eastern Division.
Of all the great names of ancient times — of saints and prophets — none have come down to us with less impurity attached to their memories than those of Zoroaster and Buddha. While the other great ones of the earth have hardly stood the severe scrutiny of modern sceptical criticism, these two "Lights of Asia" have never flickered for a moment, but shone on steadily with a flame whose splendour was ever visible over the din and the darkness of the storms of age succeeding age. People have begun to question the pretensions of Moses to be ranked as a prophet at all; Christ has so far lost the faith, on which the foundations of his religion were laid, of the majority of his followers, that they are beginning to ask if the existence of that prophet was not merely an ornamental myth; Mahomet's assertion that "there is no God but God and Mahomet is his prophet," is subscribed to not without a limitation, and in spite of the eloquent vindication of his claims by the learned author of the "Conflict between Religion and Science," the number of people who are willing to regard him as the One Prophet, is lessening. But Zoroaster and Buddha stand without the slightest breath of slander sullying their fair fame. However modern thinkers may quarrel with their teachings and the manner of their teaching, it has never been denied that they had a mission to accomplish — a great, a divine mission, which they accomplished remarkably well; that they were great reformers, and appeared when their presence was most needed to counteract the vices of the respective climes and times in which they flourished.
But the results of the work of these two great men — how vastly different they are when examined by the facts of the present day! It would appear that Buddhism was an evergreen plant — it is now almost as fresh as it was in the days of its princely founder. One third of the world's population own Buddha as their Lord. But how different is it with Zoroastrianism! It is a painful fact that Zoroastrianism never spread much beyond the limits of Persia, and that, as time advanced, it had fewer and fewer followers, till at this day it numbers in its fold no more than about a hundred thousand half-believing souls. How is this to be accounted for?
Neither Zoroaster nor Buddha was so much the founder of a new religion, as the reformer of the existing religion of his country. But the ways, in which each was received, were different. Buddha's career was comparatively unruffled — he had not so much to contend with his enemies as with himself and his friends. But Zoroaster had a serious opposition to encounter from the very beginning. Then, again, Buddha preached his doctrines amongst a people naturally mild and thoughtful. But Zoroaster had to shout from the housetops to a proud and haughty race of warriors, who were from their very infancy trained to speak the truth and to wield the sword, but whose thoughts and ambition scarcely winged their way beyond these. The Persians were a rough set — a kind of military oligarchy, whose dreams were of war, and whose hopes were of conquest. It is easy to imagine what kind of reception the novel teachings of Zoroaster must have met with from such people. That he eventually made an impression on them and succeeded in converting them to his tenets, is a wonderful proof of his eloquence and the power of his writings. Zoroastrianism became the religion of the state; and the religion of the monarch was the religion of the subject. But religion soon assumes a secondary importance among a people who live by blood and conquest. The words and laws of Zoroaster were, indeed, listened to and observed, but only in an apathetic spirit — the sun of faith shone on, but the heat was taken out of him. I have said that the Persians were proud — they were proud of their country, of their women, of their weapons, of their horses, and of their kings. In the same way they were proud of their religion. Their pride forbade them to seek proselytes, though Zoroaster had enjoined them expressly to do so. It was thus that Zoroastrianism spread not beyond the bounds of Persia. The final blow was given by the Mahomedans. These people were, in their turn, in the flush of victory, and did not deign to spare the religion of their foes. A very large number — I may say, almost all — of the humiliated Persians yielded up the freedom of their conscience without any serious struggle. Few, very few escaped to India, true to Zoroaster and themselves. This, I believe, accounts for the great difference in the results of Buddhism and Zoroastrianism.
There is also another reason, and more valid, which accounts for the neglect into which the writings and precepts of Zoroaster have fallen, even among his professed followers. These writings are too abstruse and philosophical for a nation of mere fighters or traders — and the ancient Persians were nothing, if not soldiers or sodagars (merchants). They had neither the learning nor the necessary elevation of thought to read between the lines, so to say; nor did they take any pains to look for the vast stores of treasure concealed under the debris of hymns and ceremonies. And the Parsees of to-day have not taken a single step in advance in the right direction. They have tacitly subscribed to anything that those modern dictators of human thought — the German savants — asked them to believe. What is Zoroastrianism, as interpreted by the latter, but a commonplace sort of religion with God and Satan as its central figures, and with angels and devils hymning and cursing forever and ever? I believe that Zoroastrianism has never been rightly comprehended, save by the initiated few, the venerable Magi, the Wise men of the East. The first step to rightly understand the merits of Zoroastrianism is to comprehend the life and character of its founder. That life was not ordinary nor common. It was not the life, as narrated in our day, of a precocious child, a miracle-working young man, a pious old sage. It was a great deal more than this. Very few persons have attained to the real conception of the personal greatness of Zoroaster. He was not only a wonder-worker, a man learned in chemistry and astrology. There live a few who imagine that when they have dubbed their prophet as the greatest sanitary officer that ever lived, they have done him the highest honour! Zoroastrianism must have fallen low, indeed, when its followers have recourse to such shifts as this!
Who and what was Zoroaster? An answer to this question will materially assist us in the right conception of the individuality of that extraordinary man. I will not appeal to traditional myths for a reply. The writings of all great men are unconsciously autobiographical, and the best answer to our question is found in the writings of Zoroaster himself. How eloquently and with what pathos the struggles of his noble life are chronicled in the ever-living pages? What glimpses have we there of a man, searching and yearning for Truth with his whole soul wrapt up in Hormazd; how he often struggles in the darkness for light, how he has to battle with temptations, how often he is lost in despair! He exclaims in the height of his god-like agony: — "To what land shall I proceed — in what direction shall I take my way? I have very few helpers. Who will plead for me when the lying people look on me with jealous eyes?"
What was Zoroaster before he appeared before the Persian people with his new system of religion? What induced him to think out a new system of religion at all? I have said before that Zoroaster was only a reformer of the old faith of Persia. The followers of this old faith were called "Porio-dakesh." They believed in one God. Zoroaster has spoken of them with respect in his writings. Other forms of faith, also, had had their day before Zoroaster appeared. But he saw that, excellent as all these faiths were, when taken superficially, there was something wanting in them. They were like so many models of sculpture — but the life was wanting. He, therefore, set about to find that which should gratify his spiritual instincts. I cannot say if he had ever come across the Vedas. He may have done so in his maturer age. But it is certain that he had not seen them in his youth. He has not mentioned anywhere in his writings that he had had the advantage of the assistance of either gurus or books. It is certain that he resolved to think for himself. He wished to have a personal communion with Hormazd. In order to do this successfully, he did what others have done before and after him. He retired to the solitude of mountains. Alone, and with no other companion save the wild grandeur of nature around him, and far from the influence of the throbbing heart of humanity, he sat lost in contemplation.
He wished to know God — not through the agency of men, but through God himself. In the Avesta, it is mentioned that the assistance of "Behman" was invoked for the furtherance of this desire. This word has been variously interpreted. It has now come to mean — "the noble mind." But I cannot help thinking that it means the "spirit." Zoroaster wished to know God, and since he had no faith in the assistance of man, he would out of his own consciousness work out that knowledge — through his own spirit he would know God. But between the wish and its accomplishment, what an eternity seems to intervene! Zoroaster despairingly exclaims: — "Oh ! Thou Truthful One, when shall I be able to see Thee and Behman?" All this appears to me very much like the position of Buddha and other Yogis. I cannot help believing that Zoroaster was a Yogi, though, perhaps, he did not know it himself. And this is the more probable from the fact that the Magi, the initiated followers of that prophet, have much in common with the Indian Yogis and are fully aware of the resemblance. And, then, the process of the enlightenment of Zoroaster — his soul-communion — his temptation — his trance — all these are the mystical symbols mentioned in the Yog-Vidya. So, in solitude, he hoped and dreamed and planned, now radiant with the expectation of the fulfilment of his wish, and now plunged in despair. At length, the fullness of knowledge burst upon his spirit. He saw God face to face, not as Moses saw through the filmy veil of a cloud, but in all the smiling glory of his real presence. He felt God in himself; he conversed familiarly with the Deity; he questioned and received answers; he learned the mystery of being; life opened all its secrets; and death opened its portals, and beyond the portals he saw — life! All this is narrated in the Avesta with a simplicity and yet a grandeur that at once fill the reader with conviction and with hope.
I have said before that Zoroaster wished to know God through "Behman." He said, or rather wrote, distinctly, that he saw Hormazd in his eye. This may mean much. What eye does he mean — the mind's eye? I have translated "Behman" as the spirit. He saw God through Behman. He had his wish — he saw the Deity through his own consciousness; throughout his own spirit — he felt God, in himself. He says: — "When I fixed Thee in my eye, I felt that Thou wast worthy of the homage of the highest around in the Universe, that Thou wast the Father of the inspiration of the noblest intellect, and that Thou wast the entrance to the World of Truth." This passage is remarkable. Zoroaster's God was not the God of his modern followers, who mingle terror with worship, ascribe to Him all kinds of material thunderbolts, and make him a huge, gigantic Man!
How is it that there exists such a close resemblance between the sacred writings of the Parsees and the Hindoos? Is it because the author of the Avesta passed through the same experiences as the author or authors of the Vedas? This much is probable, that Zoroaster had not written a word of the Zend Avesta before he had preached its doctrines orally to the people. That great work was written in the quiet of his latter days. He might have then come across the Vedas. But this is a point on which I am not competent to form any opinion. Can any members of the Theosophical Society throw any light on the subject? It must be first determined if the Avesta or the Vedas were first written. Modern opinion is extremely divided on the subject. That learned Parsee scholar, Mr. K. R. Kama, and several German philologists, would have us believe that the Avesta writings are the more ancient. But the time when Zoroaster flourished has been traced back to about eight thousand two hundred years; while the author of "Isis Unveiled" has conclusively proved, in spite of Max Muller and his school, that the Vedas must have been written ages before the Bible.
I am greatly entertained — nay I may say excited, and yet that is not quite the correct word — by the ghost stories I have read in the THEOSOPHIST. I am a believer in ghosts — I would not go into a reputedly haunted house and stay there all night for anything. Writers of ghost-stories always say — "I laughed when they told me the place was haunted." Plucky story tellers! Perhaps story-tellers, in more senses than one. However, that is neither here nor there; my object is, if you care to have them, to relate a few stories that I can vouch for.
The first was told me by a friend of mine, named P. (well known in Lucknow, and alas! now no more), which he declared true, and I believe him to have been incapable of a falsehood as he was one of the best men that ever stepped. He said that on one occasion he was on the eve of his departure for India from London, when, as he was driving down to the docks, he espied a well-known friend whom he had parted with in Bombay, walking along the pavement. He stopped his cab, and entered into conversation with his friend. Arriving in Bombay what was his surprise, his astonishment, to meet this very friend who declared to him solemnly he had never left Bombay since the other's departure. I cannot in the least account for this. It is possible my friend suffered from a diseased brain, but I hardly think so. But what the purport of such an apparition could be, goodness only knows.
A similar adventure occurred once to myself. I was walking up Broadway, New York, one day, and stopped to look in at a shop nearly opposite A. T. Stewart's retail dry-goods store, when I became conscious that some one whom I must look at was standing beside me. I might as well have looked in a mirror. I beheld my double in every respect, and you bet I stared. He did ditto, and we stood there for several minutes in mute astonishment ere we passed on our way. It was not a ghost. If it was, it was the most substantial one going; and I only mention the incident because it may afford a sort of key to my friend's adventure, by showing that the world does contain human duplicates. However, the following story is true — at least if I may believe my mother and sisters.
They were visiting some relatives who resided in Tunbridge Wells. My aunt and cousins (all save one) had gone out to spend the evening, and my mother, sisters, and cousin were seated in the drawing-room about 10 P.M., working and talking. The door was open. Suddenly they heard some one coming down-stairs. Naturally they thought it was the servant. But no; the sound of feet and a rustling dress certainly passed by the door, but no body. My mother, who knows no fear, rushed out on the landing, while the girls, poor children, huddled together from fright. My mother says she distinctly heard the foot-steps and rustle of the dress till the — whatever it was — seemed to reach the foot of the stairs, when all sounds ceased. Again, —-— my eldest sister is left-handed. Whether that affects matters or not, I am not prepared to say. All I know is, she is left-handed, and people say left handed people are always more susceptible to spiritualistic influences than others. However, she says that once, when a child, she awoke from her sleep in a great four-poster bed, and saw two figures, apparently her father and mother, at the foot of the bed. They turned round; soon after she awoke and had called to them in her childish way, but their faces were so hideous that she instantly retreated under the clothes in almost a fit. Our parents were at the time at supper down-stairs. Now, she is grown up, she thinks it must have been nightmare — but I don't know. It was told with too much solid earnestness at the time, and if I am right in my theory of nightmare it generally results in your waking up; whereas she lay wide awake and quaking under the clothes till her father and mother came to bed.
Throughout our family, a belief in supernatural appearances is strong. I remember seeing one myself at Yonkers, New York, once, when I first went out to America in 1866. The relative, with whom I was staying, (well known to New Yorkers as "Triangle B") lived a few miles out of the village, and one night as I was going along the road, and past one of his meadows, I saw a dim misty figure standing some distance on the other side of the rail fence. Some-how I had the pluck to go up to the fence and have a look at it. First of all I thought it was my shadow, but, as a rule, shadows falling on grass lie down. This stood up. Well, I had my look, and then like a brave man, I took to my heels, and never stopped till I got inside our house! I had carried my investigations as far as I considered prudent.
I believe in spirits, but I must say, I don't care about meeting them. But my grandfather was a great believer in apparitions. He too was a man who like George Washington "could not tell a lie," and he has often affirmed that, when awake in his bed, he has seen his deceased wife standing beside him, "and" he used to add "I felt no fear." It is singular his seeing my grandmother; for an uncle of mine who was in Australia at the time of her death declares (and with good show of truth) that she called him by name several times on that night.
"I was resting" said he "in my tent smoking, when I heard a voice call -----. Again and again it was repeated, and I felt convinced I recognised my dear mother's voice. Arising, I noted the day and hour, and allowing for the difference of time, I should say, she must have died in England about the same time I heard her in Australia."
AT CHICAGO, ONE OF THE BUSIEST CITIES OF AMERICA, is published one of the two most prosperous and widely circulated journals devoted to modern Spiritualism. The number of its subscribers we have seen stated at nearly 30,000, and they are scattered all over the world. It is a bold, incisive paper, and its Editor seems really anxious to expose fraud, wherever he can find it, practised by mediums upon the credulous. Recently, it has earned the thanks of the public by unmasking a gross cheat named Mrs. Stewart, who for years has been pretending to produce materialized spirit-forms, when in fact they were only herself and confederates dressed up for the occasion.
*A paper read before the British Theosophical Society, at London. Its publication has been unavoidably delayed until now. — ED. THEOS.
The title prefixed to the following observations may well have suggested a more metaphysical treatment of the subject than can be attempted on the present occasion. The doctrine of the trinity, or trichotomy of man, which distinguishes soul from spirit, comes to us with such weighty, venerable, and even sacred authority that we may well be content, for the moment, with confirmations that should be intelligible to all, forbearing the abstruser questions which have divided minds of the highest philosophical capacity. We will not now inquire whether the difference is one of states or of entities; whether the phenomenal or mind consciousness is merely the external condition of one indivisible Ego, or has its origin and nature in an altogether different principle; the Spirit, or immortal part of us being of Divine birth, while the senses and understanding, with the consciousness — Ahankara — thereto appertaining, are from an Anima Mundi, or what in the Sankhya philosophy is called Prakriti. My utmost expectations will have been exceeded if it should happen that any considerations here offered should throw even a faint suggestive light upon the bearings of this great problem. It may be that the mere irreconcilability of all that is characteristic of the temporal Ego with the conditions of the superior life — if that can be made apparent — will incline you to regard the latter rather as the Redeemer, that has indeed to be born within us for our salvation and our immortality, than as the inmost, central, and inseparable principle of our phenomenal life. It may be that by the light of such reflexions the sense of identity will present no insuperable difficulty to the conception of its contingency, or to recognition that the mere consciousness which fails to attach itself to a higher principle is no guarantee of an eternal individuality.
It is only by a survey of what individuality, regarded as the source of all our affections, thoughts, and actions, is, that we can realise its intrinsic worthlessness; and only when we have brought ourselves to a real and felt acknowledgment of that fact, can we accept with full understanding those "hard sayings" of sacred authority which bid us "die to ourselves," and which proclaim the necessity of a veritable new birth. This mystic death and birth is the keynote of all profound religious teaching; and that which distinguishes the ordinary religious mind from spiritual insight is just the tendency to interpret these expressions as merely figurative, or, indeed, to overlook them altogether.
Of all the reproaches which modern Spiritualism, with the prospect it is thought to hold out of an individual temporal immortality, has had to encounter, there is none that we can less afford to neglect than that which represents it as an ideal essentially egotistical and borne. True it is that our critics do us injustice through ignorance of the enlarged views as to the progress of the soul in which the speculations of individual Spiritualists coincide with many remarkable spirit teachings. These are, undoubtedly, a great advance upon popular theological opinions, while some of them go far to satisfy the claim of Spiritualism to be regarded as a religion. Nevertheless, that slight estimate of individuality, as we know it, which in one view too easily allies itself to materialism, is also the attitude of spiritual idealism, and is seemingly at variance with the excessive value placed by Spiritualists on the discovery of our mere psychic survival. The idealist may recognise this survival, but, whether he does so or not, he occupies a post of vantage when he tells us that it is of no ultimate importance. For he, like the Spiritualist who proclaims his "proof palpable of immortality," is thinking of the mere temporal, self-regarding consciousness — its sensibilities, desires, gratifications and affections — which are unimportant absolutely, that is to say, their importance is relative solely to the individual.
There is, indeed, no more characteristic outbirth of materialism than that which makes a teleological centre of the individual. Ideas have become mere abstractions; the only reality is the infinitely little. Thus utilitarianism can see in the State only a collection of individuals whose "greatest happiness," mutually limited by nice adjustment to the requirements of "the greatest numbers," becomes the supreme end of government and law. And it cannot, I think, be pretended that Spiritualists in general have advanced beyond this substitution of a relative for an absolute standard. Their "glad tidings of great joy" are not truly religious. They have regard to the perpetuation in time of that lower consciousness whose manifestations, delights and activity, are in time, and of time alone. Their glorious message is not essentially different from that which we can conceive as brought to us by some great alchemist, who had discovered the secret of conferring upon us and upon our friends a mundane perpetuity of youth and health. Its highest religious claim is that it enlarges the horizon of our opportunities. As such, then, let us hail it with gratitude and relief; but, on peril of our salvation, if I may not say of our immortality, let us not repose upon a prospect which is, at best, one of renewed labours and trials, and efforts to be free even of that very life whose only value is opportunity.
To estimate the value of individuality, we cannot do better than regard man in his several mundane relations, supposing that either of these might become the central, actuating focus of his being — his "ruling love," as Swedenborg would call it — displacing his mere egoism, or self-love, thrusting that more to the circumference, and identifying him, so to speak, with that circle of interests to which all his energies and affections relate. Outside this substituted ego we are to suppose that he has no conscience, no desire, no will. Just as the entirely selfish man views the whole of life, so far as it can really interest him solely in relation to his individual well-being, so our supposed man of a family, of a society, of a church, or a State, has no eye for any truth or any interest more abstract or more individual than that of which he may be rightly termed the incarnation. History shows approximations to this ideal man. Such a one, for instance, I conceive to have been Loyola; such another, possibly, is Bismarck. Now these men have ceased to be individuals in their own eyes, so far as concerns any value attaching to their own special individualities. They are devotees. A certain "conversion" has been effected, by which from mere individuals they have become "representative" men. And we — the individuals esteem them precisely in proportion to the remoteness from individualism of the spirit that actuates them. As the circle of interests to which they are "devoted" enlarges — that is to say, as the dross of individualism is pursued away — we accord them indulgence, respect, admiration and love. From self to the family, from the family to the sect or society, from the sect or society to the Church (in no denominational sense) and State, there is the ascending scale and widening circle, the successive transitions which make the worth of an individual depend on the more or less complete subversion of his individuality by a more comprehensive soul or spirit. The very modesty which suppresses, as far as possible, the personal pronoun in our addresses to others, testifies to our sense that we are hiding away some utterly insignificant and unworthy thing; a thing that has no business even to be, except in that utter privacy which is rather a sleep and a rest than living. Well, but in the above instances, even those most remote from sordid individuality, we have fallen far short of that ideal in which the very conception of the partial, the atomic, is lost in the abstraction of universal being, transfigured in the glory of a Divine personality. You are familiar with Swedenborg's distinction between discrete and continuous designs. Hitherto we have seen how man — the individual — may rise continuously by throwing himself heart and soul into the living interests of the world, and lose his own limitations by adoption of a larger mundane spirit. But still he has but ascended nearer to his own mundane sources, that soul of the world, or Prakriti to which, if I must not too literally insist on it, I may still resort as a convenient figure. To transcend it, he must advance by the discrete degree. No simple "bettering" of the ordinary self, which leaves it alive, as the focus — the French word "foyer" is the more expressive — of his thoughts and actions; not even that identification with higher interests in the world's plane just spoken of, is, or can progressively become, in the least, adequate to the realisation of his Divine ideal. This "bettering" of our present nature, it alone being recognised as essential, albeit capable of "improvement," is a commonplace and, to use a now familiar term, a "Philistine" conception. It is the substitution of the continuous for the discrete degree. It is a compromise with our dear old familiar selves. "And Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them; but everything that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly." We know how little acceptable that compromise was to the God of Israel; and no illustration can be more apt than this narrative, which we may well, as we would fain, believe to be rather typical than historical. Typical of that indiscriminate and radical sacrifice, or "vastation," of our lower nature, which is insisted upon as the one thing needful by all, or nearly all* the great religions of the world. No language could seem more purposely chosen to indicate that it is the individual nature itself, and not merely its accidental evils, that has to be abandoned and annihilated. lt is not denied that what was spared was good; there is no suggestion of an universal infection of physical or moral evil; it is simply that what is good and useful relatively to a lower state of being must perish with it if the latter is to make way for something better. And the illustration is the more suitable in that the purpose of this paper is not ethical, but points to a metaphysical conclusion, though without any attempt at metaphysical exposition. There is no question here of moral distinctions; they are neither denied nor affirmed. According to the highest moral standard, A may be a most virtuous and estimable person. According to the lowest, B may be exactly the reverse. The moral interval between the two is within what I have called, following Swedenborg, the "continuous degree." And perhaps the distinction can be still better expressed by another reference to that Book which we theosophical students do not less regard, because we are disposed to protest against all exclusive pretensions of religious systems. The good man who has, however, not yet attained his "sonship of God" is "under the law" — that moral law which is educational and preparatory, "the schoolmaster to bring us into Christ," our own Divine spirit, or higher personality. To conceive the difference between these two states is to apprehend exactly what is here meant by the false, temporal, and the true, eternal personality, and the sense in which the word personality is here intended to be understood. We do not know whether, when that great change has come over us, when that great work** of our lives has been accomplished -here or hereafter — we shall or shall not retain a sense of identity with our past, and for ever discarded selves. In philosophical parlance, the "matter" will have gone, and the very "form" will have been changed. Our transcendental identity with the A or B that now is*** must depend on that question, already disclaimed in this paper, whether the Divine spirit is our originally central essential being, or is an hypostasis. Now, being "under the law" implies that we do not act directly from our own will, but indirectly, that is, in willing obedience to another will. The will from which we should naturally act — our own will — is of course to be understood not as mere volition, but as our nature — our "ruling love," which makes such and such things agreeable to us, and others the reverse. As "under the law," this nature is kept in suspension, and because it is suspended only as to its activity and manifestation, and by no means abrogated, is the law — the substitution of a foreign will — necessary for us. Our own will or nature is still central; that which we obey by effort and resistance to ourselves is more circumferential or hypostatic. Constancy in this obedience and resistance tends to draw the circumferential will more and more to the centre, till there ensues that "explosion," as St. Martin called it, by which our natural will is for ever dispersed and annihilated by contact with the divine, and the latter henceforth becomes our very own. Thus has "the schoolmaster" brought us unto "Christ," and if by "Christ" we understand no historically divine individual, but the logos, word, or manifestation of God in us — then we have, I believe, the essential truth that was taught in the Vedanta, by Kapila, by Buddha, by Confucius, by Plato, and by Jesus. There is another presentation of possibly the same truth, for a reference to which I am indebted to our brother J. W. Farquhar. It is from Swedenborg, in the Apocalypse Explained, No. 527: — "Every man has an interior or exterior mind, and a mind superior or inferior. These two minds are altogether distinct. By the inferior mind man is in the natural world together with men there; but by the superior mind he is in the spiritual world with the angels there. These two minds are so distinct that man so long as he lives in the world does not know what is performing within himself in his superior mind; but when he becomes a spirit, which is immediately after death, he does not know what is performing in his mind." The consciousness of the "superior mind," as a result of mere separation from the earthly body, certainly does not suggest that sublime condition which implies separation from so much more than the outer garment of flesh, but otherwise the distinction between the two lives, or minds, seems to correspond with that now under consideration.
* Of the higher religious teachings of Mohammedanism I know next to nothing, and therefore cannot say if it should be excepted from the statement.
** The "great work," so often mentioned by the Hermetic philosophers; and which is exactly typified by the operation of alchemy, the conversion
of the base metals to gold — is now well understood to refer to the analogous spiritual conversion. There is also good reason to believe that the
material process was a real one.
*** "A person may have won his immortal life, and remained the same inner self he was on earth, through eternity; but this does not imply necessarily that he must either remain the Mr. Smith or Brown he was on earth, or lose his individuality." Isis Unveiled, vol.1, p. 316.
What is it that strikes us especially about this substitution of the divine-human for the human-natural personality? Is it not the loss of individualism? (Individualism, pray observe, not individuality.) There are certain sayings of Jesus, which have probably offended many in their hearts, though they may not have dared to acknowledge such a feeling to themselves: "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" and those other disclaimers of special ties and relationships which mar the perfect sympathy of our reverence. There is something awful and incomprehensible to us in this repudiation of individualism, even in its most amiable relations. But it is in the Aryan philosophies that we see this negation of all that we associate with individual life most emphatically and explicitly insisted on. It is, indeed, the impossibility of otherwise than thus negatively characterising the soul that has attained Moksha (deliverance from bonds), which has caused the Hindu consummation to be regarded as the loss of individuality and conscious existence. It is just because we cannot easily dissociate individuality from individualism that we turn from the sublime conception of primitive philosophy as from what concerns us as little as the ceaseless activity and germination in other brains of thought once thrown off and severed from the thinking source, which is the immortality promised by Mr. Frederick Harrison to the select specimens of humanity whose thoughts have any reproductive power. It is not a mere preference of nothingness, or unconscious absorption, to limitation that inspires the intense yearning of the Hindu mind for Nirvana. Even in the Upanishads there are many evidences of a contrary belief, while in the Sankhya the aphorisms of Kapila unmistakably vindicate the individuality of soul (spirit). Individual consciousness is maintained, perhaps infinitely intensified, but its "matter" is no longer personal. Only try to realise what "freedom from desire," the favourite phrase in which individualism is negated in these systems, implies! Even in that form of devotion which consists in action, the soul is warned in the Bhagavad-Gita that it must be indifferent to results.
Modern Spiritualism itself testifies to something of the same sort. Thus we are told by one of its most gifted and experienced champions: "Sometimes the evidence will come from an impersonal source, from some instructor who has passed through the plane on which individuality is demonstrable." — M. A. (Oxon), Spirit Identity, p. 7. Again: "And if he" (the investigator) "penetrates far enough, he will find himself in a region for which his present embodied state unfits him: a region in which the very individuality is merged, and the highest and subtlest truths are not locked within one breast, but emanate from representative companies whose spheres of life are interblended." — Id., p. 15. By this "interblending" is of course meant only a perfect sympathy and community of thought; and I should doubtless misrepresent the author quoted, were I to claim an entire identity of the idea he wishes to convey, and that now under consideration. Yet what, after all, is sympathy but the loosening of that hard "astringent" quality (to use Bohme's phrase) wherein individualism consists? And just as in true sympathy, the partial suppression of individualism and of what is distinctive, we experience a superior delight and intensity of being, so it may be that in parting with all that shuts us up in the spiritual penthouse of an Ego — all, without exception or reserve — we may for the first time know what true life is, and what are its ineffable privileges, Yet it is not on this ground that acceptance can be hoped for the conception of immortality here crudely and vaguely presented in contrast to that bourgeois eternity of individualism and the family affections, which is probably the great charm of Spiritualism to the majority of its proselytes. It is doubtful whether the things that "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard," have ever taken strong hold of the imagination, or reconciled it to the loss of all that is definitely associated with the joy and movement of living. Not as consummate bliss can the dweller on the lower plane presume to commend that transcendent life. At the utmost he can but echo the revelation that came to the troubled mind in Sartor Resartus: "A man may do without happiness, and instead thereof find blessedness." It is no sublimation of hope, but the necessities of thought that compel us to seek the condition of true being and immortality elsewhere than in the satisfactions of individualism. True personality can only subsist in consciousness by participation of that of which we can only say that it is the very negation of individuality in any sense in which individuality can be conceived by us, What is the content or "matter" of consciousness we cannot define, save by vaguely calling it ideal? But we can say that in that region individual interests and concerns will find no place. Nay, more, we can affirm that only then has the influx of the new life a free channel when the obstructions of individualism are already removed. Hence the necessity of the mystic death, which is as truly a death as that which restores our physical body to the elements. "Neither I am, nor is aught mine, nor do I exist.," a passage which has been which explained by a Hindu Theosophist (Peary Chand Mittra), as meaning "that when the spiritual state is arrived at, I and mine, which belong to the finite mind, cease, and the soul, living in the universum and participating in infinity with God, manifests its infinite state," I cannot refrain from quoting the following passage from the same instructive writer: —
Every human being has a soul which, while not separable from the brain or nerves, is mind, or Jevatma, or sentient soul, but when regenerated or spirtualised by yog, it is free from bondage, and manifests the divine essence. It rises above all phenomenal states — joy, sorrow, grief, fear, hope, and in fact all states resulting in pain or pleasure, and becomes blissful, realising immortality, infinitude, and felicity of wisdom within itself. The sentient soul is nervous, sensational, emotional, phenomenal, and impressional. It constitutes the natural life and is finite. The soul and the non-soul are thus the two landmarks, What is non-soul is prakrit, or created. It is not the lot of every one to know what soul is, and therefore millions live and die possessing minds cultivated in intellect and feeling, but not raised to the soul state. In proportion as one's soul is emancipate from prakrit or sensuous bondage, in that proportion his approximation to the soul state is attained; and it is this that constitutes disparities in the intellectual, moral, and religious culture of human beings, and their consequent approximation to God. — Spiritual Stray Leaves, Calcutta, 1879.
He also cites some words of Fichte, which prove that the like conclusion is reached in the philosophy of Western idealism: "The real spirit which comes to itself in human consciousness is to be regarded as an impersonal pneuma-universal reason, nay, as the spirit of God Himself; and the good of man's whole development., therefore, can be no other thin to substitute the universal for the individual consciousness "
That there may be, and are affirmed to be, intermediate stages, states, or discrete degrees, will, of course, be understood. The aim of this paper has been to call attention to the abstract condition of the immortalised consciousness; negatively it is true, but it is on this very account more suggestive of practical applications. The connection of this Society with the Spiritualist movement is so intimately sympathetic, that I hope one of those may be pointed out without offence. It is that immortality cannot be phenomenally demonstrated. What I have called psychic survival — can be, and probably is. But immortality is the attainment of a state, and that state the very negation of phenomenal existence. Another consequence refers to the direction our culture should take. We have to compose ourselves to death. Nothing less. We are each of us a, complex of desires, passions, interests, modes of thinking and feeling, opinions, prejudices, judgment of others, likings and dislikings, affections, aims, public and private. These things, and whatever else constitutes the recognisable content of our present temporal individuality, are all in derogation of our ideal of impersonal being — saving consciousness, the manifestation of being. In some minute, imperfect, relative, and almost worthless sense we may do right in many of our judgments, and amiable in many of our sympathies and affections. We cannot be sure even of this. Only people unhabituated to introspection and self-analysis are quite sure of it, These are ever those who are loudest in their censures, and most dogmatic in their opinionative utterances. In some coarse, rude fashion they are useful, it may be indispensable to the world's work, which is not ours, save in a transcendental sense and operation. We have to strip ourselves of all that, and to seek perfect passion, less tranquility. Then we may hope to die. Meditation, if it be deep, and long, and frequent enough, will teach even our practical Western mind to understand the Hindu mind in its yearning for Nirvana. One infinitesimal atom of the great conglomerate of humanity, who enjoys the temporal, sensual life, with its gratifications and excitements as much as most, will testify with unaffected sincerity that he would rather be annihilated altogether than remain for ever what he knows himself to be, or even recognisably like it. And he is a very average moral specimen. I have heard it said, "The world's life and business would come to an end, there would be an end to all its healthy activity, an end of commerce, arts, manufactures, social intercourse, government, law, and science, if we were all to devote ourselves to the practice of Yoga, which is pretty much what your ideal comes to." And the criticism is perfectly just and true. Only I believe it does not go quite far enough. Not only the activities of the world but the phenomenal world itself, which is upheld in consciousness, would disappear or take new, more interior, more living, and more significant forms, at least for humanity, if the consciousness of humanity was itself raised to a superior state. Readers of St. Martin and of that impressive book of the late James Hinton "Man and His Dwelling-place," especially if they have also by chance been students of the idealistic philosophies, will not think this suggestion extravagant. If all the world were Yogis, the world would have no need of those special activities, the ultimate end and purpose of which, by-the-by, our critic would find it not easy to define. And if only a few withdraw, the world can spare them. Enough of that.
Only let us not talk of this ideal of impersonal, universal being in individual consciousness as an unverified dream. Our sense and impatience of limitations are the guarantees that they are not final and insuperable. Whence is this power of standing outside myself, of recognising the worthlessness of the pseudo-judgments, of the prejudices with their lurid colouring of passion, of the temporal interests, of the ephemeral appetites, of all the sensibilities of egotism, to which I nevertheless surrender myself, so that they indeed seem myself? Through and above this troubled atmosphere I see a being, pure, passionless, rightly measuring the proportions and relations of things, for whom there is, properly speaking, no present, with its phantasms, falsities, and half-truths: who has nothing personal in the sense of being opposed to the whole of related personalities: who sees the truth rather than struggles logically towards it, and truth of which I can at present form no conception: whose activities are unimpeded by intellectual doubt, unperverted by moral depravity, and who is indifferent to results, because he has not to guide his conduct by calculation of them, or by any estimate of their value. I look up to him with awe, because in being passionless he sometimes seems to me to be without love. Yet I know that this is not so; only that his love is diffused by its range, and elevated in abstraction beyond my gaze and comprehension. And I see in this being my ideal, my higher, my only true, in a word, my immortal self.
OUR EUROPEAN AND PARSI READERS SHOULD KNOW the danger they incur in using the various "restorers," dyes, and washes for the hair which are very widely advertised just now. Besides being needlessly expensive, they are in most cases positively poisonous. Instances of paralysis and even death from the effects of hair lotions have come under our personal notice. The matter has been considered grave enough to engage the attrition of European and American Boards of Health; and Professor C. F. Chandler, a noted Chemist and President of the Health Board of New York City, after analyzing samples taken from bottles that were purchased in open market, denounces the nostrums and their makers and vendors in the following strong terms: —
Attention cannot too strongly be called to the dangers of the indiscriminate use of the so-called Hair dyes, Restorers, Invigorators, etc., of which there are two classes in the market: the first one usually offered as instantaneous hair dyes, come mostly in two small vials, the one containing a watery solution of gum arabic and soda, or an alcoholic solution of gallic acid (obtained from nutgalls), the other a solution of nitrate of silver, in dilate aqua ammonia, (hartshorn. These dyes, when carefully applied, may be considered harmless. Batchelor's, Briest's, Cristadoro's, Hill's, Miller's, Vessey's dyes, and Hoyt's Hiawatha Hair Restorative belong to this class. They can readily be compounded for less cost by every pharmacist.
The other class, offered with more pretentious names and claims, come in 6 to 8 ounce bottles and consist, with but few exceptions, of a mixture of water [13 fluid parts], glycerin (1fluid part), and alcohol (1 fluid part), scented with rose, lavender, or other flavors, and which contain various quantities of acetate of lead (sugar of lead) in solution, and sulphur (lac sulphur), and small quantities of carbonate and sulpitate of lead in suspension. By the chemical action of the lead upon constituents of the hair, its color is gradually darkened, but there cannot be any doubt that the continuous application of such lead solutions to the scalp acts injuriously, and gives rise to most serious consequences frequently causing obstinate and fatal sickness.
The quantity of sugar of lead varies much in the different restorers and is not uniform even in the same maker's preparation. The average quantity of acitate of lead in the following hair restoratives is, for each fluid ounce, as follows: —
Chevalier's Life for the Hair . . . . . . . . . . . . .1-1/2 grains.
Pearson's Circassian Hair Rejuvenator . . . . .2-3/4 "
Ayer's Hair Vigor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2-3/4 "
Wood's Hair Restorative . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 "
O'Brien's Restorer of America . . . . . . . . . . . 3-1/4 "
Gray's Hair Restorative . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3-1/4 "
Phalon's Vitalia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4-1/2 "
Ring's Vegetable Ambrosia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4-1/2 "
Sterling's Ambrosia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 4-3/4 "
Mrs. Allen's World's Hair Restorer . . . . . .. . 5-1/2 "
Fall's Vegetable Sicilian Hair Renewer . . . . . 7 "
Tebbet's Physiological Hair Regenerator .. . . 7-1/4 "
Martha Washington's Hair Restorative . . . . . 9-3/4 "
Singer's Hair Restorative . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16-1/4 "
The debate at Ajmere between Pundit Dayanund Saraswati Swami, and the Rev. Dr. (rather Mr.) Gray
It was only yesterday that my attention was drawn to an article with the above heading in the THEOSOPHIST for January. As the writer has fallen into not a few inaccuracies, some of which serve to put my conduct in quite a false light, I must beg to be allowed to correct the more important of them.
It is stated at the outset that of three copies of the Record of Discussion, one was taken away by me at the close of the meeting. This is not correct. I neither asked nor was offered any record of the discussion, and though I had heard of its being in circulation, I had never seen anything of it till yesterday, when your issue for January, with extracts from the Record and Munshi Samarthadan's comments thereon, was put into my hand.
The circumstances under which the discussion arose were as follows: — I attended a lecture of Pundit Dayanand Saraswati, towards the close of which he undertook to show that there were a great many errors in the Bible and the Koran. After the list of Scriptural errors had been read out, I addressed myself to the Swami to the effect that I understood no discussion was allowable on the spot during his lecture hours; but it would only be fair that he should supply me with a copy of his list of objections and fix a time and place to hear my reply. To this the Swami at once assented as quite fair and reasonable, and I left with the full understanding that the objections would be sent to me, and that there would afterwards be a public discussion. Munshi Samarthadan, therefore does the Swami injustice — quite unintentionally no doubt — in speaking as if I had to insist "that the questions should be communicated" to me in writing; and he does me no less injustice in conveying the impression that I wished to reply in writing, and to avoid an open discussion of the points in dispute. Nothing could possibly be further from my intention. A public discussion was exactly what I desired, and in requesting a list of the Swami's objections, I distinctly intimated that I would expect him to give me an opportunity of replying as publicly as he had made the attack. The list, duly sent to me, contained, as Munshi Samarthadan states, about fifty quotations from Scripture. I saw that, unless some limit were set to the discussion, the patience of the audience would become exhausted, and many of the important points would never be overtaken; but the Statement of the Munshi, that I suggested at the outset that the questions and answers, on each passage should be limited to two, is liable to be misunderstood. What I stipulated for was that after the Swami had fully stated his objections on any one passage and I had replied as fully as I thought necessary, he should be at liberty to dispose of my reply as best he might, and then, after my rejoinder to his second speech, we should go on to the next point. My only object in this was to secure that we should get over the ground of controversy, from the beginning to the end of the Bible, and not consume all the time in wrangling about a few points in Genesis.
My object was frustrated, however, by another device on which the Swami insisted, viz., that every word of the debate should be taken down in writing. I was delighted to see three reporters present, but I understood at first that they were to act as reporters in all other cases do — take down as full and correct a report as possible without interfering — with the course of debate. We had no sooner begun than I found out my mistake. The Swami dictated to the slow-going Hindi and Urdu writers his objections on the first passage he had selected. As this took up a considerable time, I replied more briefly than I had intended, and, perhaps, than I ought to have done, in order to save time. A second course of dictation on the part of the Swami was followed by a few brief sentences on my part by way of reply; and so on, till at the close of the first two hours we had only got to the third of the fifty passages. Meanwhile, the people, who had assembled with lively interest to hear the discussion, had got tired of looking on at this dictation business. Many had not been able to hear, and some had very naturally gone to sleep. The Record of Discussion had to be read over at the close of the meeting that the auditors might know what had been said. There had been no life, or lutf as one of the chief men present declared, in such a discussion. I suggested that if it was to be a matter of dictation — to which personally I entirely objected — it would be much better for the Swami to dictate his objections at his own residence, and for me to write my replies similarly, without bringing the people together every night for a month to see the writing going on. Sardar Bahadur Munshi Aminchand expressed his approval of this suggestion with the addition that there should be a meeting or meetings at the close to hear what had been written. To this the Swami refused to consent. I again urged that it ought to be a free, open discussion, in which all present could take an interest; and I put it to the meeting to indicate whether that was not the general desire. The response in favour of an oral discussion, instead of one by dictation, was all but unanimous, and I hoped some of the leading men present would succeed by next day in inducing the Swami to give up the work of dictation which had dragged so heavily. On the following day I sent a note to the Swami, asking if he would agree to a free oral discussion, unimpeded by dictation, so that the ground might all be overtaken, and the interest kept up. He declined to accede to my request, and added — "It is not necessary that all the points should be discussed at the present time, and by you personally. Let some of the points be settled now, and the remainder can be discussed in some other place and by some other Padri Saheb." This was the point upon which the Swami and I differed. He thought it was not necessary to have all the points discussed in Ajmere, while I was decidedly of opinion that as the objections had been set forth at a public meeting in Ajmere, they should all be answered in the same place with equal publicity. My chief objection to the system of dictation had been that the ground could never be overtaken in this way. The people would not have continued to come to such meetings, even if the Swami had been willing to stay for a month to discuss all the points, and the Swami never professed any intention of staying to complete the discussion. Munshi Samarthadan, indeed, says he promised, in the letter above referred to, "to stay at Ajmere to continue the discussion as long as he would be desired to do so," but this is one of the numerous inaccuracies into which he has somehow fallen. The letter, as quoted above, repeated what the Swami had said at the meeting, that there was no necessity for going over all his objections in Ajmere. It would be enough if only a few were discussed. As soon as I got his reply, I arranged to call a public meeting, where all the objections could be taken up and answered. To speak of it as a meeting of the "students" of the Mission school and some others, is an entire misrepresentation. Notices were lithographed and circulated as widely as possible, and the meeting was attended by the elite of Ajmere. Munshi Samarthadan speaks of it as having taken place "the day after the Swami had left Ajmere," but he does not mention that the notice had been issued, and it was well known that the meeting was to take place. I had taken special care to have a notice sent to the Swami, and was sorry to learn at the time of the meeting that he had left for Masudah. I throw out no insinuations after the manner of the Munshi. Perhaps the Swami's arrangements did not allow him to stay another day in Ajmere. Otherwise it would have been only becoming in him to attend the meeting and hear what was to be said in reply to his charges.
As to Munshi Samarthadan's comments on the extracts he has furnished, I do not consider it necessary to say anything either as to the truth or spirit of them. I should not think of discussing the matter with him, or with any one, but Pundit Dayanand Saraswati himself. If the Swami should see fit to bring forward in your columns in monthly instalments the objections he did not stay to hear answered, and if you would allow me equal space in them to reply, I should be very happy to continue the discussion which he broke off in Ajmere.
27th January, 1880.
A Hindi translation of the above having been sent to Swamiji, he writes, under date of Benares, 10th February: — "When the meeting was held at Ajmere by me, I asked the Padri to come forward the next day and discuss, but his answer was that he would not come. Therefore, I now reply to him that it does not suit me to carry on the discussion he now proposes. If any well-educated bishop should be ready to conduct a discussion of this kind in your journal, there need be no doubt but that I would accept a proposal similar to the one now made."
Though our columns might be occupied to better advantage than with debates upon Christianity, which is moribund in its own strongholds and never was a vital issue in India, yet, that there may be, no appearance of partiality in our management, the THEOSOPHIST will print the discussion suggested by our Brother if any bishop should be willing to expose his head to the thundering blows of a "Heathen" mace of logic. Meanwhile it might not be a bad idea for some Padri Saheb to read the following editorial from a recent issue of the New York Sun: —
WHY IS THEOLOGY SO NEGLECTED?
It is a remarkable circumstance that there has been of recent years an actual decline in the number of theological students in the divinity schools of some of our most important Protestant denominations.
The graduates from colleges are yearly more numerous, and the entering classes at our chief universities are steadily increasing in size and rendering necessary the employment of additional instructors. Harvard never had so great a body of students as now, though it has of late years very much raised its standard for admission, Yale also is fuller than ever, while Columbia is obtaining classes two or three times as large as those it instructed before the war. The throng of students at Princeton has much increased, and at Williams, Dartmouth, and other smaller colleges of the interior, the faculties and trustees are rejoicing over classes remarkable for their numbers. The law schools are crowded, the lectures at the medical colleges were never before so well attended, and the mining and scientific schools are flourishing to an unusual degree.
Yet theological seminaries, though they spend great efforts to obtain students, and frequently offer them not only free tuition, but also entire or partial support during their course, must content themselves with a few young men, and these often times not the cream of our youth, but the skimmed and even the watered milk.
In the Presbyterian denomination, one of the greatest bulwarks of orthodoxy and one of the strongest and richest of Protestant bodies, out of 5,415 churches, 926 are without pastors. The number of churches increased last year by 146, and yet there was an increase of ministers of only 37, though 38 ministers came over to the Presbyterians from other denominations. The candidates for the ministry are this year 22 fewer than last year, and 153 fewer than in 1874.
What is the meaning of this remarkable decline in the number of theological students? Though the population has been growing steadily and largely in six years, and the Presbyterians have manifested their interest in their religious doctrines by organizing hundreds of new churches, the Presbyterian young men turn with aversion from the ministry or pass it by to undertake a more congenial career. Out of all the thousands of them, a few score only, and they by no means the most promising of these youth, are turning their attention to the study of theology. Money for the education of ministers is not lacking, and there never was an abler body of divinity professors than now.
The principal churches throughout the country are anxious for pastors of eloquence and power, and are ready to pay them salaries larger than ever before. But the material out of which acceptable ministers may be made grows less in quantity, and it by no means improves in quality.
Is this decline due to the superior inducements in the way of worldly success emerged by other professions than the sacred one? That cannot be the cause, for a young minister especially adapted to his calling, and who can demonstrate his ability to preach to the satisfaction of a church, at once leaps into a place where he gets both consequence and a sure and ample living, while if his heart is in his work he has full employment for his powers. In other professions a young man must make his way upward by slow and arduous climbing.
Is it not rather because the zeal for the faith is getting so cold that young men have no spirit and enthusiasm to undertake its propagation? The ranks of the lawyers, doctors, engineers, and business men are gaining new recruits faster than they need, and yet orthodox churches cannot keep up their supply of ministers!
An English Theosophist asked in the January number for information about "that most mystic of all mystic books," The Dnyaneshvari; "can any of your correspondents," he exclaims, "give any account of this book? Who was Alundi?" He was answered briefly last month by a Bengali Babu; now he may read what this friend at Poona writes: —
Poona, January 18th, 1880.
In the December number of the THEOSOPHIST, there is a communication by a European, at the end of which he inquires about the Dnyaneshvari and Alundi. I am certain that many native subscribers of the Journal must have written to you about it; but still I take this opportunity of letting you know the following facts: — The Dnyaneshvari is a commentary on that master-piece of the author of the Mahabarata, the Bhagavadgita. It was written by Dyneshvara, an inhabitant of Alundi (Alakapuri.) He wrote it in the Saka year 1212, which shows that the work has been in the hands of the pubic of the Maharastra for nearly six centuries. This work which, owing to the degeneracy of the present age, is little known to the so-called educated natives, was the
standard work on Vedanta for the Maharastras; and with the men that were and are generally known as the Varkaris or the followers of the Vithoba at Pandharpur, it stood in the place of the Vedas. As to its merits, I think that I am not able to do justice to them, owing to my ignorance, but I may safely assert, from what little knowledge I have of the work, that it is first of its class in the whole range of Marathi literature. It is to this day the text of the Vedantis. Owing to the lapse of centuries, its language differs very much from that of the later poets, and so requires a considerable amount of study.
It has been printed and published lately in Bombay, and call be had for a few rupees. I have in my possession an old manuscript of the same, and am willing to send it to your Library, if required. As to Alundi, it is a village some ten miles from Poona, and is held sacred owing to its being the place where the great Dnyaneshvara lived. An annual fair is held there in his honor.
I beg to remain,
M. V. LELE.
Engineering College, Poona.
A FELLOW OF THE IONIAN THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY of Corfu, Greece, Count N. de Gonemys, M. D., announces his intention to publish a critical work upon the three therapeutic systems of Allopathy, Homoeopathy and Animal Magnetism, in which their respective claims and merits will be exhaustively and impartially set forth. Count de Gonemys is a gentleman of superior medical as well as general education, and, as we are informed, likely to do well what he his undertaken. The work will be in Greek with a translation into French alongside the text. It is to appear in about 60 monthly parts, at the rate of 12 parts each year, and the subscription price is fixed at 12 francs (9 shillings and 8 pence sterling) per year. The work may be ordered through the Manager of the THEOSOPHIST, who will also see to the delivery of the parts.
The London Spiritualist gives space to a full report of George Wyld, Esq., M. D., (Edin.), the newly elected President of the British Theosophical Society, a branch of our own — which we lack the room to print. Dr. Wyld's paper is marked by the force, learning and sincerity, which are his recognized personal characteristics. It teaches the true doctrine that adeptship, or the attainment of a full spiritual condition, is only possible for those who bring the bodily lusts of all kinds under the control of the higher and better nature; and, in a series of apt quotations from the four Gospels of the New Testament, he endeavours, to convince his audience that Jesus, though perhaps not the very and only Son of God, was at least the highest type of human spirituality ever vouchsafed to mankind. At the same time, Dr. Wyld affirms that every man may become a "Son of God," his rule being "So to empty our souls of self that the Father, becoming manifest in His Sons, illuminates and regenerates the world." This species of Christian adeptship our respected brother places even above the adeptship of the East, which, he says "is secret and mysterious, and hidden from all except a select few, who have passed through an ordeal so severe and dangerous that many, it is said, perish in body or in soul on making the attempt, and into which select few, so far as we know, no woman has ever been admitted."
In these utterance, so foreign to the views entertained by a large majority of Theosophists, our Oriental friends will see a practical evidence of the truly republican and cosmopolitan nature of the Theosophical society. Dr. Wyld is an enthusiastic admirer of the character of Jesus, and yet sees his way clear to the accomplishment of that personal spiritual unfolding towards which we all aspire. Indeed, as is but natural with strong thinkers, his path seems to him the best and surest one, and he lays his scheme before his Society and the world with an ardent longing for its acceptance. Brahmos will doubtless recognize the very essence of their own ideas coming from this good Theosophist's lips, and see that our journal was not wide of the mark in saying upon its first appearance that there was ample room for Brahmo and Parthana, Samajists and even liberal Christians, in our fellowship. Our London brother means every world he speaks on this theme, and his opinions are respected by us just as much as though he had avowed his faith in either of the ancient Eastern religions, which some of us think the best ever evolved by man. If he had been in India, studied the ancient philosophies, and seen the Eastern adepts and the practical proofs of their lofty science, he would beyond doubt change the views he now expounds so eloquently. And all this may come in time.
But, in thus conceding to Dr. Wyld the full right of private judgment, it must not be forgotten that like the rest of us, he speaks only for himself, and nether the Theosophical Society as a whole, nor even the British branch, as a body, is responsible. The very idea of "Brotherhood of Humanity" and "Republic of Conscience," both of which apply to the basis on which our Society is building up, covers, the principle of strict intellectual reciprocity. Any attempt to make the Society a propaganda, whether of Christianity or any other single religion, would at once strip it of the first quantity of cosmopolitanism and make it only a sect. For myself, I am free to say that there is no adequate proof to my mind either that Jesus was the Son of God, that he said or did the things ascribed to him, that either one of the four Gospels is anything better than a literary fabrication, or that Jesus ever lived. Nor do I see that the ideal character of Jesus is any nobler than that of Gautama, if so noble. At the proper times and places I have maintained these views, and hope to do so often again. So far from sharing Dr. Wyld's ideal of Christianity, I have, after nearly fifty years of practical observation and experience in Christian countries and among the teachers and professors of Christianity, been forced to conclude that it is a bad religion and fosters every sin and vice against which its ethical code inveighs. And yet this is but my individual opinion, and in expressing it, I no more compromise our Society than does Dr. Wyld, who is so strong an admirer of Jesus, by expressing his, or than Mr. Massey by his article in this number of the THEOSOPHIST, or the Swami Dayanand, or our orthodox Hindu fellows, or the high priest Sumangala, or any other adherent of any special sect or theology, by what they respectively teach. We are all individual and free as to personal beliefs, but are knitted together by the strong ties of intellectual reciprocity and universal brotherhood.
Nor is Dr. WyId warranted in his definition of the nature of Oriental adeptship, as given in the following terms. "The Oriental adept obtains magical or soul power over matter, which he uses for his own ends — and over spirits. But the Christian adept has no dealings with low or weak spirits, except to convert them or to cast them out; but his life is spent in openly transmuting his spiritual powers into good works for the good of mankind." The implication here is most unequivocal — the Eastern adept uses his acquired power for selfish ends and consorts with low and weak spirits with a less commendable object, than that of converting or casting them out; and, unlike his Christian compeer, does not "transmute his spiritual powers into good works for the good of mankind," Since I, as an individual, am commenting upon the opinions of Dr. Wyld as an individual, I am bound to say that nothing could be farther from the real state of the case, whatever the Christian adept may or may not do of beneficent deeds — and church history is not all one-sided on that question — it is most certain that the Eastern adept's first and last aspiration is to benefit mankind by making himself purer and better than they. So far from consorting with low and weak spirits, the very elementary instruction he receives is to avoid them and rid himself of their fatal influence by becoming too holy for them to approach him. Not a single "Eastern adept" comes within Dr. Wyld's hypothesis, except the problematical practitioner of Black Magic or Sorcery, who uses his knowledge of arcane natural powers to gratify carnal appetites and desires, and invariably falls victim to the evil spirits he has drawn to his aid.
It is equally incorrect to say that no woman has become an adept. Not to mention one example which will immediately recall itself to every Theosophist, I may say that I personally have encountered in India two other initiated women, and know of a number of others in the East. Some women, it must be remembered, are of that sex only in body — taking sex to mean that negative quality of individuality which Dr. Wyld evidently had in mind when thinking of them. If Jesus made adepts by breathing on men, so that they could under this afflatus do "miracles;" and if Loyola, Theresa, Savonarola, and the Cure D'Ars, possessed the power of aeathrobacy and healing, so have hundreds of "Eastern adepts" in Indian history healed their multitudes, "miraculously" fed the hungry, and raised the dead: as for air-walking, the readers of this paper need not be told that in India, even an English doctor admits, it is an exact physiological science.
My friend Dr. Wyld deplores that in Great Britain there are no examples of adeptship to refer to; to which I reply that, I could name to him at least one British Fellow of the Society, who, in modest privacy has by intelligent self-discipline already acquired very marked results in this direction; while I have, with my own eyes, seen in the streets of London one of the most eminent of Eastern adepts, who has that to look after, which is a transmutation of his powers for the good of humanity. These "adepts," "Rosicrucians" "initiates," or whatever else we may choose to call them, go about the world — as Professor Alexander Wilder so clearly told us last month — without being suspected; mingling in crowds but not affected by them and doing what is best to be done, and out of purest love for their fellow-men. These only are permitted to recognise them whom it is necessary they should reveal themselves to, for the attainment of a definite object. But this one thing is indisputable, that, whether they outwardly call themselves Buddhists, Hindus, Parsis or Christians, they are absolutely at one in spirit; and that spirit is to become spiritually great, so that great good may be done by them to the whole world.
* Translated from the February number of the THEOSOPHIST, page 122, "postscript."
Is there an everlasting and constant soul? This question occupies the thoughts of the world. The doctrine that the soul exists, though held by various sects of philosophers, does not find a place in the Buddha system, for the Buddha rejects the doctrine of the existence of the soul. Herein lies the great gulf between the Buddhistic and other systems of belief. And it behoves learned thinkers to settle this disputed point whether an eternal and undying soul exists in living beings or not. For it is of the utmost importance in the examination of modern systems of belief. According to the Jartukas (Naiyayikas) the soul is the eighth in the category of nine substances that exist in the world. This soul is of two kinds, human (or rather animal) soul and the supreme soul. The animal soul is eternal. And thus it is said in the Tarka-Sangraha: — "The soul is the repository of knowledge. It is of two kinds, the animal soul and the supreme soul. Of these the supreme soul is one only. It is almighty and omniscient and is not subject to pain and pleasure." The human soul is different in different bodies. It is all pervading and eternal and is subject to pain and pleasure. And so it is said in the "Dipika": — "The characteristic of the human (animal) soul is that it is subject to pain and pleasure." According to the Buddhas, there is no other soul (in living beings) than the five aggregates. Every living being has the five aggregates. These are the sensational, the affectional, the nominal, the impressional, the perceptional. The sensationals are the bodies, beginning with atoms upwards, subject to changes on account of their being affected by heat and cold. They are called the sensational aggregates inasmuch as they are the aggregates of sensible objects. The affectional aggregates are all the pains and pleasures, &c., that are felt or are capable of being felt. The nominal aggregates are those that give names as characterising recognition (of distinct objects). The impressional aggregates are all the impressions of the general, the beautiful, and so on. The perceptional aggregates are all those mental phenomena which lead to acts that are liked (or to the rejection of acts that are not liked).
All these aggregates are mutable and perishable. Not one of them is constant, or permanent. They are all changeable and perishable as the foam or the vapour. The Jartukas hold an atom to be eternal. This belief is entirely rejected by the Buddhas. That which knows growth and decay must be inconstant. Those who assert that there exists a constant (permanent) soul in a living being are wrong in their assertion. They see that the visible organs of sense, eyes, &c., are liable to destruction, but of the invisible mind they do not witness its destruction. Hence they conclude that the mind is eternal. By induction they identify the soul with the mind and attribute its qualities of immutability, &c, to the soul. As a bud leaves one tree for another, so does the soul leave one body to migrate in another. This is their doctrine as explained by their learned philosophers.
Now inasmuch as they hold the existence of different souls in different bodies, and one can not exist simultaneously in different places, they (souls) must be many. That which is more than one must necessarily be inconstant and mutable.
I am an humble admirer of Physical Science. While, therefore, I was turning over the pages of a big volume of ancient learning, entitled 'The Brihat Sanhita,' composed by the well-known scientist Varaha Mihira, I happened to read the chapter on Rain-Fall. The second* verse in it gives a description of what to us moderns is known as the Rain-Gauge. The author says: 'The instrument to measure rain-fall should be constructed in the following manner: Make a kundaka or circular vessel as wide as your hand. Place it in the open air where rain begins to fall. This instrument will enable you to know how much water falls from heaven. Divide it into fifty parts. Fifty palas (one pala equals four tolas) will make one Adhaka (a higher measure).' Now, Sir, I feel my patriotic feeling much gratified when I reflect upon this ingenious and original way of measuring rain-fall, which suggested itself to the inventive and keenly observant mind of the learned Vahara Mihira — for, I cannot possibly believe that he pilfered it from a Western scientific Acharya, a Thomson or a Ganot. No, Sir, Varaha Mihira, the writer of this verse, lived in the time of King Vikrama, a contemporary of our Sanscrit royal bard Kalidasa. This book (Brihat Sanhita) contains many interesting chapters, full of most valuable and original information. But alas! who is to dig out the treasure from the mines and to utilize it? The cost of it is immense. The poor cannot do it unaided, and the rich won't do it. We have however many hopes from your noble attempts at reviving our ancient learning. Well, let us see what comes out of it. I am induced to send you this short note in the hope of contributing my poor little mite towards the grand object of your Society. Put it into the THEOSOPHIST if you think fit. As time and tide shall permit, I hope to make more notes of this kind and send them to you.
The Brihat Sanhita is properly speaking a work on Astrology. But many other useful subjects are also treated in connection with it. There is a lengthy chapter (53) in it, entitled the Art of Building a House (Architecture). Similarly there is another one headed "The knowledge respecting the life and rearing of plants," ch. 55. I may call this the science of gardening. Chapter 54 treats of digging wells and finding out water, &c.
Girgaum Back Road, Kanitkar Hall,
Khetwadee, 8th Jan. 1880.
The Government of Erivan was always known for the wealth of its monuments and relics of antiquity. And now, a Russian daily paper, The Caucasus, announces recent discoveries invaluable to archaeology, in the shape of inscriptions upon solid rocks and isolated stones. They are all in cuneiform characters. The earliest of them having attracted the attention of the eminent archaeologist and Armenian scholar, Professor Norman, with the help of the photograph forwarded to him from Etchmiadzine (the oldest Armenian monastery), he first discovered the key to these characters, and has proved their historical importance. Besides this, the Professor has demonstrated by his discovery that, previous to the invention of the now existing alphabet, by Mesrob, the Armenians had cuneiform or arrow-headed characters, especially remarkable in all that have a similar form of rectangular triangles; the significance of each character, i.e., of the triangle, depending upon the mutual conjunction and position of these triangular forms.
THE RULES OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY, as recently revised at Benares, together with an address to the friends of truth from the General
Council, will shortly be issued in English, Marathi, Guzerati, Bengalee, Canarese, and Hindi. Price — As. 4.
Sabhapaty Swami was born in Madras in the year 1840. He came from one of the richest and noblest Brahman families of Dekkan, where his father was well-known for his magnificent gifts and charities.
Nature had endowed him with a precocious intellect, since at the age of eighteen he was thought to possess a very creditable knowledge of the English language, and a tolerably good acquaintance with the other branches of learning. He was educated in the Free Church Mission College.
He was gifted with a poetic and well-regulated imagination, so that, while yet a student, he acquired the approbation of his friends and superiors for his excellent Tamil poems. Some of them have become standard works in the language.
From his early age he showed great interest in religion, and all the noblest faculties of his poetic genius were often brought into play in singing hymns in praise of the Great God, the Mahadeva. His verses were well received by his countrymen and gained for him the title of "Arootpamoorti." He is a master of music also.
His great desire to learn what the religions of other people had to teach, caused him to travel to Burmah. He lived there with his father-in-law who carried on a great mercantile traffic. Here he learned from the Poongees (the Buddhistic priests) the doctrines of their renowned Teacher. He stayed there for about a year.
After his return from Burmah, he went to the temple of Nagoor Masthan in Nagapatam and gained the truths of the Moslem faith from the well-known and learned fakirs of the place. These travels took him three years. The result of his search was that none of these three religions, viz., Buddhism, Christianity and Mohammedanism, could satisfy his aspirations. He found to his great disappointment that none of them had the true knowledge and complete method of holding communion with the Infinite Spirit.
He therefore returned to his own country, easily obtained a Government employment, and applied all the strength of his body and mind to the diligent study of the Hindu Shastras. His labours were not in vain, since he became a perfect master of all the Vedas, Darshanas, &c. These studies took him seven years, and he had finished now his twenty-ninth year.
But though he had learned all the sacred books of the Aryas, he was far from obtaining the true Brahmagiyana. He had learned to be pious and religious, kind and charitable to all. But, in spite of all his piety and devotion, his mind was not at ease. He had longed for direct and face to face communion with God, and he was still unsuccessful. He found out that books could not teach him this knowledge; and God alone could reveal to him the mysteries of Godhead.
It was in the twenty-ninth year of his age, when the anxiety of his mind for Brahmagiyana was the greatest, that he had a vision of the Infinite Spirit. It said unto him, "Know, O Sabhapati, that I, the Infinite Spirit, am in all creations, and all the creations are in me. You are not separate from me, neither is any soul distinct from me. I reveal this directly unto you, because I see you to be holy and sincere. I accept you as my disciple and bid you rise and go to Agustya Ashrum where you will find me in shape of Rishees and Yogis." The words ceased, he sprang up from his bed and found himself to be full of holy and divine ecstasy that made him forget every thing. All things dropped from him as of themselves, he was totally unconscious even of his own self. In the dead of the night, (for it was one o'clock of the morning when he saw the divine vision) he left his wife and two sons, wrapped his body with only a sheet, went out of his home and travelled all the night till he reached the temple of Mahadeva, also called Vedashreni Swayambhu Sthalum. This temple is situated seven miles south of Madras. There he sat before the Mahadeva for three days and three nights, immersed in deep contemplation. On the third day he had the vision (darshanum) of Mahadeva who said: — "Consider the Lingam to be nothing more than my Universal Infinite Spiritual Circle or Brahmasaroopa itself. He, who thinks so, receives Brahmagiyana. Therefore, go, my son to the Agustya Ashram and have my blessings with thee."
This vision confirmed him more in his determination to go to Nilghirry hills, where the Agustya Ashrum is situated. Entering a thick forest, he crossed it and passed through Soorooli, Alagur, and Sathragiri hill, thence through Kootala Papanashan to Agustya Ashrum. This Ashrum is surrounded on all sides by jungles, and he suffered much in crossing these dreary and pathless forests. He was many times in the close and terrible vicinity of wild beasts, and, had it not been for the grace and protection of the Infinite Spirit, he should have long fallen a prey to these ferocious creatures. The sufferings of his way were increased by the want of proper nourishment. He had to live for days on fruits and roots, and he was not even certain whether he should not pick up some poisonous roots.
He searched these forests for the caves of the Rishees. One day as he was sitting under a tree, exhausted and disappointed from many days' unsuccessful search, he had a vision. It said that three miles from the place, where he was then sitting was a Yogi raja to whom he must go and become his disciple. He rose up, cheered by the vision and proceeded on his way. He reached the spot. It was a cave, half a mile long and cut into the solid rock. At the entrance of the cave he saw a man whom he found afterwards to be the first disciple of the Yogi. On requesting this personage to introduce him to the Guroo, he said: — "Are you the same person who had the vision of Mahadeva while in the temple of Vedshreni, for my Guroo has been lately talking to me of such a one coming to us." Our author answered in the affirmative, and the delight and elevation of his heart cannot be described when he found himself ushered into the presence of the most venerable param Guroo Yogi Rishi. He prostrated himself before the Yogi who was about two hundred years old, and whose face was benign and shining with divinity. He blessed our author and said: — "I understood in my Samadhi that Mahadeva had ordered you to come to me and learn Brahmagiyana. I accept you as my disciple and henceforth I will call you Alaitat Koonda Moorti (i. e., called out.)"
The first instructions of the Guroo were certain secret mantras, &c., which served to guard against the attack of beasts in case of danger, to which they were but too often exposed. His second instructions were to give Divine sight to our author, which facilitated his acquirement of Yoga.
Within a short time he became Brahmagiyani, and went on practising Samadhi, so that he could sit several days together without any food and enjoying full absorption. He lived in the same cave with his Guroo, and his food was roots, &c.
After nine years he took leave from his Guroo to make pilgrimage to the Ashrums of the Rishees of India. The Guroo blessed him and said: — "Go my son, and try to do good to the world by revealing the truths which thou hast learned from me. Be liberal in imparting the truth that should benefit the Grihastees. But beware lest thy vanity or the importunity of the world lead thee to perform miracles and show wonders to the profane." He bowed down and promised to his Guroo not to divulge the higher secrets of Yoga to any but the Moomookhshoo. He departed and came down to the plains.
He published in Tamil a Soorooti called Vedanta Sidhanta Samarasa Brahmagiyana Shiva Raja Yogue Kaiulia, Anubhooti, as soon as he entered the pilgrimage. He also delivered lectures in many of the great cities in India.
He has visited nearly all the holy shrines and Ashrums of India, and in some of these places he met with genuine Yogis and Rishees. He had many adventures with these depositories of ancient lore. We select one of them, it being rather singular and unique. It was after his crossing the Himalayas and on the coast of Manasarovar Lake, and while he was in his contemplation, that he felt some one approaching near him. On opening his eyes he saw three Rishees in antique Aryan dress, standing before him. He instantly rose up, inspired with awe and admiration. They sat down and beckoned him to do so. But he respectfully declined to sit before their presence, and stood all the while they talked. They asked him about his Guroo and the Agustya Ashrum, about his travels and progress in Yoga and many other questions of the same nature. To all of these he gave appropriate answers, and it seemed that they were pleased with his manners and knowledge. They then told him to ask any boon from them as they were ready to confer it: they went so far as to say that they would give him Ashtama Siddhis, if he liked. The Ashtama Siddhis are eight kinds of psychic powers, the acquisition of which enables one to perform (what is vulgarly called) miracles. Our Swami answered: — "I thank you for your kindness, O holy sages, and I think myself highly honoured by your visit. As for Siddhis I may say I do not like to have them; I have all my desires satisfied and now only wish to pass the remainder of my days on the earth in Nishkamya Brahmagiyana Yoga Tapan." They were satisfied with his answer and conferred upon him the title of Brahmagiyana Guroo Yogi, and then told him to ask any other thing which they can do for him. He expressed his desire of seeing Kailas or the celestial mountain, which, it is said, is invisible to ordinary mortals. They granted his request, and they and our Swami began to fly in air for a time towards the direction of the mountain; then they pointed him out the white peaks of the holy mountain where he had the good fortune to see Mahadeva sitting in Samadhi in a cave. On the sight of it, his heart swelled with exultation and rapture and gave vent to its overcharged emotions by extempore versification. The Rishees gave to the slokas thus uttered the name of "Shiva varnana stuti mala."
Then they descended and came back to the place where they were formerly sitting. He then prayed them to oblige him by telling their names. The first Rishee gave himself out to be Sooga, [?] the other Bhringi, but the third said "never mind about my name; we are all satisfied to find you Nishkamya Brahmagiyanee." After blessing him by "nityum apka Brahmagiana sadastoo," they vanished from the very spot. He afterwards found out that they were the same Rishees whose names we find in the Mahabharata, and that they had taken a human form to test his piety and bless him.
He now began to return to India and met with many hardships on his way, which he of course easily surmounted. On one occasion, when he and some other sadhoos were passing through the hills of Nepal, the snow began to fall heavily, and the cold was piercing. Many of his comrades were on the point of being killed when he changed their impending fate through his divinity. He caused the snow to fall on both sides, leaving them an open passage through which they passed without suffering any cold.
He visited Pancha Kedar, Pancha Bhadrie, and Pasupati Nath in Nepal, and returning from them is now staying at Lahore. Here, at the request of many, he gave two lectures on Vedanta and Yoga. This book is the substance of those lectures, though considerable additions have been made, and the second part is altogether new. If any gentleman has leisure or inclination to translate and publish this book in Bengalee or Hindustanee or any other language, with the diagram and the author's name, he has the full permission of our verierable Swami to do so.
Such is the brief and unfinished sketch of the life of one who renounced in the prime of his manhood the house of his forefathers, the society of his dear wife and children and all that is dearest and most fascinating. The life of such a man is far more deserving of our admiration, wonder, and reverence than all the histories of generals and statesmen. He, who fights with his own carnal passions and appetites and comes out victorious, is far more heroic than he who conquers nations. And that the lives of such men are valued far above those of heroes and warriors, is evident when we remember that, whilst kings have lived, died and been forgotten, the unanimous voice of mankind has consigned the memory of their greatest benefactors to immortality. Hoping, therefore, that his life will not be less interesting and instructive than those of Gautama Buddha, Christ, and Sankaracharya I need make no apology for my attempt. How far I have succeeded, it is for the public to judge; but I may say it has been a labour of love with me to write the life of one for whose kindness and instructions I feel the most sincere respect and admiration.
The following is a communication from the venerable Swamy describing how the Yogis and Rishees pass their lives in the Ashrum, which "The Admirer" had received from him when his manuscript was in print.
"The Rishees and Yogis after remaining as many hundred years as they choose (like our Guroo, who is two hundred years old, though he seems to be eighty) in the state of Jevanmuki (i. e., full absorption even while in body), change their body and bless it to become Swambhu Maha Lingam, and their spirit joins the Infinite Spirit. Thus many of the lingams (phallic stones), seen in the Ashrum, are nothing more or less than the metamorphosed bodies of the Holy Rishees. Others bless their bodies to remain uncorrupted and unputrefied, and in the same posture for centuries, while their spirits remain absorbed in the Infinite Spirit. The bodies of Yogis, in this state of Samadhi (which is Nirvikulpa Samadi) are also in our Ashrams.
"The founder of our Ashrum, viz., His Holiness the Agustiya Moonee, who died, according to the common chronology, many thousand years ago, is still living, with many other Rishees of his time. He lives in a cave on the top of the hills. The entrance of the cave is three feet high and one foot broad. The present Yogis, who live around this cave, go to have the darshanam once in fifty years. At all other times the cave is inaccessible, and if any Yogi wants to pay special reverence, for some special reason, he assumes the shape of a bird and then enters the cave. But at the appointed time (after fifty years) all the Yogis of the Ashrum go in a procession, the door is spontaneously opened, and they prostrate themselves at the feet of the Holy Rishee, who blesses them, and enjoins them to keep secret what passes in his presence and in the Ashrum.— All Shastras and Vedas and many other books, which are now supposed to be lost, are also preserved in that cave: but our Holy Agustya Moonee has not allowed us to open them and reveal their contents to mankind, as the time has not come."
In reference to the miracles performed by a Yogi of his Ashrum, the venerable Swami adds: — "About 180 years ago, a Yogi passed through Mysore during his pilgrimage, and visited the Rajah of the country, who received him with great reverence and hospitality, and requested the holy Yogi to take him to the Agustya Ashrum, where he wished to pay his reverence to the other Yogis. Meanwhile the Nabob of Arcot paid a visit to Mysore Raja, and they all went with the Yogi to the Ashrum. The Rajah paid the greatest reverence to the holy Yogis, but the Nabob, being a Mussalman, asked: — 'What powers have you that you arrogate to yourselves divine honor, and what have you, that you should call yourselves divine persons?' A Yogi answered: — 'Yes, we possess the full divine power to do all that God can do'; whereupon he took a stick, gave divine power to it, and threw it in the sky. The stick was transformed into millions of arrows and cut down the branches of the forest trees to pieces, thunder began to roar in the air, and lightning began to flash, a deep darkness spread over the land, clouds overcast the sky and rain began to fall in torrents. All the forest was ablaze, the constant peals of thunder shook the earth, and the stormy winds howled through the trees. Destruction was impending; and, in the midst of this conflict of elements, the voice of the Yogi was heard to say: — 'If I give more power, the world will be ruined.' But they (viz., the Rajah and the Nabob) were already too much frightened to wish for any prolongation of this terrible, awe-inspiring scene, and they implored the Yogi to calm this universal havoc He willed, and the tempest, and the thunder, the rain and the wind, and the fire and all, were, stopped; the sky became as serene and calm as ever. The Nabob, who was now thoroughly convinced of the divinity of the Yogis, wished to show his reverence by endowing their Ashrum with some presents and money. The Yogi told him: 'We live on roots and fruits, and require no money;' and he then took the Nabob and the Raja with him into the interior of the cave and showed them heaps of diamonds, rubies, emeralds and other precious stones, and heaps of gold and silver, and said: — 'I have created these delusions of riches even just now, to show you that we are in no need of your gifts, for we can have riches from ourselves whenever and wherever we choose, if we only like them. For our wills can produce that which it may take all your lives to accumulate.' So saying, he dismissed them, with strict injunctions of secrecy."
The foregoing narrative, which is certainly a valuable addition to our series of biographical articles upon Indian saints, has been sent us by a subscriber to our journal. It will form the Introduction in a forthcoming pamphlet at Lahore, in which the science of Yoga will be expounded by the venerable Swami, whose remarkable adventures in the pursuit of the Divine knowledge are so picturesquely described in this chapter. We print it at the request of a valued friend and in the hope of thus assisting in the circulation of a pamphlet of unique and striking character. It is presumably almost needless, in view of the paragraph on the opening page, to remind the reader that the Editors of this journal are not responsible for any views or statements contained in communicated articles; even though, as in the present instance, many of the Fellows of our Society may personally agree with the writers. — ED. THEOS.