Theosophical University Press Online Edition
VOL. I., No. 1 - OCTOBER, 1879
What is Theosophy?
What are the Theosophists?
The Drift of Western Spiritualism
Antiquity of the Vedas
Autobiography of Dayanund Saraswati Swami
The Learning among Indian Ladies
Brahma, Iswara and Maya
Pandit Bala Sastri's Views
The Inner God
Persian Zoroastianism and Russian Vandalism
The Light of Asia
The Works of Hindu Religion and Philosophy mentioned in the Brahma Yojna
"A Great Man"
A World Without a Woman.
The Magnetic Chain
Magnetism in Ancient China
Spiritualism at Simla
Food for the Starving
Our Buddhist Brothers
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BOMBAY, OCTOBER 1ST, 1879.
For the convenience of future reference, it may as well be stated here that the committee, sent to India by the Theosophical Society, sailed from New York December 17th, 1878, and landed at Bombay, February 16th, 1879; having passed two weeks in London on the way.
Under the title of "Spiritual Stray Leaves," Babu Peary Chand Mittra, of Calcutta — a learned Hindu scholar, psychologist and antiquarian, and a highly esteemed Fellow of the Theosophical Society — has just put forth a collection of thirteen essays which have appeared in the forms of pamphlets and newspaper articles from time to time. Some of these have been widely and favorably noticed by the Western press. They evince a ripe scholarship, and a reverence for Aryan literature and history which commands respect. The author writes of psychological things in the tone of one to whom the realities of spirit are not altogether unknown. This little work is published by Messrs. Thacker Spink & Co. of Calcutta and Bombay.
Though the contributions to this number of the journal are not in all cases signed, we may state for the information of Western readers that their authors are among the best native scholars of India. We can more than make good the promise of our Prospectus in this respect. Already we have the certainty of being able to offer in each month of the coming year, a number as interesting and instructive as the present. Several highly important contributions have been laid by for November on account of want of space; though we have given thirty, instead of the promised twenty pages of reading matter. The Theosophical Society makes no idle boasts, nor assumes any obligations it does not mean to fulfil.
Notice is given to the Fellows of the Theosophical Society that commodious premises at Girgaum, adjoining the Head-quarters of the Theosophical Society, have been taken for the Library and Industrial Department, which are decided upon. The nucleus of a unique collection of books upon Oriental and Western philosophy, science, art, religion, history, archaeology, folk-lore, magic, spiritualism, crystallomancy, astrology, mesmerism, and other branches of knowledge, together with cyclopaedias and dictionaries for reference, is already in the possession of the Society, and will be immediately available. Scientific and other magazines and journals will be placed upon the tables. There will be a course of Saturday evening lectures by Col. Olcott upon the occult sciences in general, with experimental demonstrations in the branches of mesmerism, psychometry, crystallomancy, and, possibly, spiritualism. Other illustrated lectureas upon botany, optics, the imponderable forces (electricity, magnotisin, odyle, &C.), archeology, and other interesting topics, have been promised by eminent native scholars. Later — provided the necessary facilities can be obtained — Mr. E. Wimbridge, Graduate of the Royal Institute of British Architects, will lecture upon the best means of developing the useful arts in India; and, with models, drawings, or the actual exhibition to the audience of work being done by skilled workmen, demonstrate the principles laid down in his lectures. Due notice of the opening of the Library and Reading Room, and of the date of Col. Olcott's first lecture, will be sent. Fellows only are entitled to admission, except upon extraordinary occasions, when special cards will be issued to invited guests.
The foundation of this journal is due to causes which, having been enumerated in the Prospectus, need only be glanced at in this connection. They are — the rapid expansion of the Theosophical Society from America to various European and Asiatic countries; the increasing difficulty and expense in maintaining correspondence by letter with members so widely scattered; the necessity for an organ through which the native scholars of the East could communicate their learning to the Western world, and, especially, through which the sublimity of Aryan, Buddhistic, Parsi, and other religions might be expounded by their own priests or pandits, the only competent interpreters; and finally, to the need of a repository for the facts — especially such as relate to Occultism — gathered by the Society's Fellows among different nations. Elsewhere we have clearly explained the nature of Theosophy, and the platform of the Society; it remains for us to say a few words as to the policy of our paper.
It has been shown that the individual members of our Society have their own private opinions upon all matters of a religious, as of every other, nature. They are protected in the enjoyment and expression of the same; and, as individuals, have an equal right to state them in the THEOSOPHIST, over their own signatures. Some of us prefer to be known as Arya Samajists, some as Buddhists, some as idolators, some as something else. What each is, will appear from his or her signed communications. But neither Aryan, Buddhist, nor any other representative of a particular religion, whether an editor or a contributor, can, under the Society's rules, be allowed to use these editorial columns exclusively in the interest of the same, or unreservedly commit the paper to its propaganda. It is designed that a strict impartiality shall be observed in the editorial utterances; the paper representing the whole Theosophical Society, or Universal Brotherhood; and not any single section. The Society being neither a church nor a sect in any sense, we mean to give the same cordial welcome to communications from one class of religionists as to those from another; insisting only, that courtesy of language shall be used towards opponents. And the policy of the Society is also a full pledge and guarantee that there will be no suppression, of fact nor tampering with writings, to serve the ends of any established or dissenting church, of any country.
Articles and correspondence upon either of the topics included in the plan of the THEOSOPHIST are invited; and while, of course, we prefer them to be in the English language, yet if sent in Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, or Gujrati, or in French, Italian, Spanish or Russian, they will be carefully translated and edited for publication. Where it is necessary to print names and words in Hebrew, Greek, and other characters (except Sanskrit and the Indian vernaculars) unlike the Roman, authors will kindly write also their phonetic equivalents in English, as the resources of our printer's office do not appear great in this direction. Manuscripts must be written legibly, upon one side of the sheet only, and authors should always keep copies at home as we will not be responsible for their loss, nor can we obligate ourselves to return rejected articles. Statements of fact will not be accepted from unknown parties without due authentication.
It is desired that our journal shall be read with as much interest by those who are not deep philosophers as by those who are. Some will delight to follow the pandits through the mazes of metaphysical subtleties and the translations of ancient manuscripts, others to be instructed through the medium of legends and tales of mystical import. Our pages will be like the many viands at a feast, where each appetite may be satisfied and none are sent away hungry. The practical wants of life are to many readers more urgent than the spiritual, and that it is not our purpose to neglect them our pages will simply show.
One more word at the threshold before we bid our guests to enter. The first number of the THEOSOPHIST has been brought out under mechanical difficulties which would not have been encountered either at New York or London, and which we hope to escape in future issues. For instance: We first tried to have Mr. Edward Wimbridge's excellent design for the cover engraved on wood, but there was no wood to be had of the right sizes to compose the block, nor any clamps to fasten them together; nor was there an engraver competent to do justice to the subject. In lithography we fared no better; there was not a pressman who could be trusted to print artistic work in colors, and the proprietor of one of the best job offices in India advised us to send the order to London. As a last resort we determined to print the design in relief, and then scoured the metal markets of Bombay and Calcutta for rolled metal plate. Having finally secured an old piece, the artist was forced to invent an entirely novel process to etch on it, and to execute the work himself. We mention these facts in the hope that our unemployed young Indian brothers may recall the old adage, 'where there is a will, there is a way,' and apply the lesson to their own case. And now, friends and enemies, all — Namastae!
This question has been so often asked, and misconception so widely prevails, that the editors of a journal devoted to an exposition of the world's Theosophy would be remiss were its first number issued without coming to a full understanding with their readers. But our heading involves two further queries: What is the Theosophical Society; and what are the Theosophists? To each an answer will be given.
According to lexicographers, the term theosophia is composed of two Greek words — theos, "god," and sophos, "wise." So far, correct. But the explanations that follow are far from giving a clear idea of Theosophy. Webster defines it most originally as "a supposed intercourse with God and superior spirits, and consequent attainment of superhuman knowledge, by physical processes, as by the theurgic operations of some ancient Platonists, or by the chemical processes of the German fire-philosophers."
This, to say the least, is a poor and flippant explanation. To attribute such ideas to men like Ammonius Saccas, Plotinus, Jamblichus, Porphyry, Proclus — shows either intentional misrepresentation, or Mr. Webster's ignorance of the philosophy and motives of the greatest geniuses of the later Alexandrian School. To impute to those whom their contemporaries as well as posterity styled "theodidaktoi," god-taught — a purpose to develope their psychological, spiritual perceptions by "physical processes," is to describe them as materialists. As to the concluding fling at the fire-philosophers, it rebounds from them to fall home among our most eminent modern men of science; those, in whose mouths the Revd. James Martineau places the following boast: "matter is all we want; give us atoms alone, and we will explain the universe."
Vaughan offers a far better, more philosophical definition. "A Theosophist," he says — "is one who gives you a theory of God or the works of God, which has not revelation, but an inspiration of his own for its basis." In this view every great thinker and philosopher, especially every founder of a new religion, school of philosophy, or sect, is necessarily a Theosophist. Hence, Theosophy and Theosophists have existed ever since the first glimmering of nascent thought made man seek instinctively for the means of expressing his own independent opinions.
There were Theosophists before the Christian era, notwithstanding that the Christian writers ascribe the development of the Eclectic theosophical system, to the early part of the third century of their Era. Diogenes Laertius traces Theosophy to an epoch antedating the dynasty of the Ptolemies; and names as its founder an Egyptian Hierophant called Pot-Amun, the name being Coptic and signifying a priest consecrated to Amun, the god of Wisdom. But history shows it revived by Ammonius Saccas, the founder of the Neo-Platonic School. He and his disciples called themselves "Philalethians" — lovers of the truth; while others termed them the "Analogists," on account of their method of interpreting all sacred legends, symbolical myths and mysteries, by a rule of analogy or correspondence, so that events which had occurred in the external world were regarded as expressing operations and experiences of the human soul. It was the aim and purpose of Ammonius to reconcile all sects, peoples and nations under one common faith — a belief in one Supreme Eternal, Unknown, and Unnamed Power, governing the Universe by immutable and eternal laws. His object was to prove a primitive system of Theosophy, which at the beginning was essentially alike in all countries; to induce all men to lay aside their strifes and quarrels, and unite in purpose and thought as the children of one common mother; to purify the ancient religions, by degrees corrupted and obscured, from all dross of human element, by uniting and expounding them upon pure philosophical principles. Hence, the Buddhistic, Vedantic and Magian, or Zoroastrian, systems were taught in the Eclectic Theosophical School along with all the philosophies of Greece. Hence also, that pre-eminently Buddhistic and Indian feature among the ancient Theosophists of Alexandria, of due reverence for parents and aged persons; a fraternal affection for the whole human race; and a compassionate feeling for even the dumb animals. While seeking to establish a system of moral discipline which enforced upon people the duty to live according to the laws of their respective countries; to exalt their minds by the research and contemplation of the one Absolute Truth; his chief object in order, as he believed, to achieve all others, was to extract from the various religious teachings, as from a many-chorded instrument, one full and harmonious melody, which would find response in every truth-loving heart.
Theosophy is, then, the archaic Wisdom-Religion, the esoteric doctrine once known in every ancient country having claims to civilization. This "Wisdom" all the old writings show us as an emanation of the divine Principle; and the clear comprehension of it is typified in such names as the Indian Buddh, the Babylonian Nebo, the Thoth of Memphis, the Hermes of Greece; in the appellations, also of some goddesses — Metis, Neitha, Athena, the Gnostic Sophia, and finally — the Vedas, from the word "to know." Under this designation, all the ancient philosophers of the East and West, the Hierophants of old Egypt, the Rishis of Aryavart, the Theodidaktoi of Greece, included all knowledge of things occult and essentially divine. The Mercavah of the Hebrew Rabbis, the secular and popular series, were thus designated as only the vehicle, the outward shell which contained the higher esoteric knowledges. The Magi of Zoroaster received instruction and were initiated in the caves and secret lodges of Bactria; the Egyptian and Grecian hierophants had their apporrheta, or secret discourses, during which the Mysta became an Epopta -- a Seer.
The central idea of the Eclectic Theosophy was that of a single Supreme Essence, Unknown and Unknowable — for — "How could one know the knower?" as enquires Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. Their system was characterized by three distinct features: the theory of the above-named Essence; the doctrine of the human soul — an emanation from the latter, hence of the same nature; and its theurgy. It is this last science which has led the Neo-Platonists to be so misrepresented in our era of materialistic science. Theurgy being essentially the art of applying the divine powers of man to the subordination of the blind forces of nature, its votaries were first termed magicians — a corruption of the word "Magh," signifying a wise, or learned man, and — derided. Skeptics of a century ago would have been as wide of the mark if they had laughed at the idea of a phonograph or telegraph. The ridiculed and the "infidels" of one generation generally become the wise men and saints of the next.
As regards the Divine essence and the nature of the soul and spirit, modern Theosophy believes now as ancient Theosophy did. The popular Diu of the Aryan nations was identical with the Iao of the Chaldeans, and even with the Jupiter of the less learned and philosophical among the Romans; and it was just as identical with the Jahve of the Samaritans, the Tiu or "Tiusco" of the Northmen, the Duw of the Britains, and the Zeus of the Thracians. As to the Absolute Essence, the One and all — whether we accept the Greek Pythagorean, the Chaldean Kabalistic, or the Aryan philosophy in regard to it, it will all lead to one and the same result. The Primeval Monad of the Pythagorean system, which retires into darkness and is itself Darkness (for human intellect) was made the basis of all things; and we can find the idea in all its integrity in the philosophical systems of Leibnitz and Spinoza. Therefore, whether a Theosophist agrees with the Kabala which, speaking of En-Soph propounds the query: "Who, then, can comprehend It, since It is formless, and Non-existent" — or, remembering that magnificent hymn from the Rig-Veda (Hymn 129th, Book 10th) — enquire:
"Who knows from whence this great creation sprang?
Whether his will created or was mute.
He knows it — or perchance even He knows not."
Or, again, accepts the Vedantic conception of Brahma, who in the Upanishads is represented as "without life, without mind, pure," unconscious, for — Brahma is "Absolute Consciousness." Or, even finally, siding with the Svabhavikas of Nepaul, maintains that nothing exists but "Svabhavat" (substance or nature) which exists by itself without any creator — any one of the above conceptions can lead but to pure and absolute Theosophy. That Theosophy which prompted such men as Hegel, Fichte and Spinoza to take up the labors of the old Grecian philosophers and speculate upon the One Substance — the Deity, the Divine All proceeding from the Divine Wisdom — incomprehensible, unknown and unnamed — by any ancient or modern religious philosophy, with the exception of Christianity and Mahommedanism. Every Theosophist, then, holding to a theory of the Deity "which has not revelation, but an inspiration of his own for its basis," may accept any of the above definitions or belong to any of these religions, and yet remain strictly within the boundaries of Theosophy. For the latter is belief in the Deity as the ALL, the source of all existence, the infinite that cannot be either comprehended or known, the universe alone revealing It, or, as some prefer it, Him, thus giving a sex to that, to anthropomorphize which is blasphemy. True, Theosophy shrinks from brutal materialization; it prefers believing that, from eternity retired within itself, the Spirit of the Deity neither wills nor creates; but that, from the infinite effulgency everywhere going forth from the Great Centre, that which produces all visible and invisible things, is but a Ray containing in itself the generative and conceptive power, which, in its turn, produces that which the Greeks called Macrocosm, the Kabalists Tikkun or Adam Kadmon — the archetypal man, and the Aryans Purusha, the manifested Brahm, or the Divine Male. Theosophy believes also in the Anastasis or continued existence, and in transmigration (evolution) or a series or changes in the soul* which can be defended and explained on strict philosophical principles; and only by making a distinction between Paramatma (trancendental, supreme soul) and Jiveatma (animal, or conscious soul) of the Vedantins.
*In a series of articles entitled "The World's Great Theosophists," we intend showing that from Pythagoras, who got his wisdom in India, down to our best known modern philosophers and theosophists — David Hume, and Shelley, the English poet — the Spiritists of France included — many believed and yet believe in metempsychosis or reincarnation of the soul; however unelaborated the system of the Spiritists may fairly be regarded.
To fully define Theosophy, we must consider it under all its aspects. The interior world has not been hidden from all by impenetrable darkness. By that higher intuition acquired by Theosophia — or God-knowledge, which carried the mind from the world of form into that of formless spirit, man has been sometimes enabled in every age and every country to perceive things in the interior or invisible world. Hence, the "Samadhi," or Dyan Yog Samadhi, of the Hindu ascetics; the "Daimonlon-photi," or spiritual illumination of the Neo-Platonists; the "Sidereal confabulation of soul," of the Rosicrucians or Fire-philosophers; and, even the ecstatic trance of mystics and of the modern mesmerists and spiritualists, are identical in nature, though various as to manifestation. The search after man's diviner "self," so often and so erroneously interpreted as individual communion with a personal God, was the object of every mystic, and belief in its possibility seems to have been coeval with the genesis of humanity, — each people giving it another name. Thus Plato and Plotinus call "Noetic work" that which the Yogas and the Shrotriya term Vidya. "By reflection, self-knowledge and intellectual discipline, the soul can be raised to the vision of eternal truth, goodness, and beauty — that is, to the Vision of God — this is the epopteia," said the Greeks. "To unite one's soul to the Universal Soul," says Porphyry, "requires but a perfectly pure mind. Through self-contemplation, perfect chastity, and purity of body, we may approach nearer to It, and receive, in that state, true knowledge and wonderful insight." And Swami Saraswati, who has read neither Porphyry nor other Greek authors, but who is a thorough Vedic scholar, says in his Veda Bhashya (opasna prakaru ank. 9) — "To obtain Diksh (highest initiations) and Yog, one has to practise according to the rules . . . The soul in human body can perform the greatest wonders by knowing the Universal Spirit (or God) and acquainting itself with the properties and qualities (occult) of all the things in the universe. A human being (a Dikshit or initiate) can thus acquire a power of seeing and hearing at great distances." Finally, Alfred R. Wallace, F. R. S., a spiritualist and yet a confessedly great naturalist, says, with brave candour: "It is 'spirit' that alone feels, and perceives, and thinks — that acquires knowledge, and reasons and aspires . . . there not unfrequently occur individuals so constituted that the spirit can perceive independently of the corporeal organs of sense, or can perhaps, wholly or partially, quit the body for a time and return to it again . . . the spirit . . . communicates with spirit easier than with matter." We can now see how, after thousands of years have intervened between the age of the Gymnosophists* and our own highly civilized era, notwithstanding, or, perhaps, just because of such an enlightenment which pours its radiant light upon the psychological as well as upon the physical realms of nature, over twenty millions of people today believe, under a different form, in those same spiritual powers that were believed in by the Yogins and the Pythagoreans, nearly 3,000 years ago. Thus, while the Aryan mystic claimed for himself the power of solving all the problems of life and death, when he had once obtained the power of acting independently of his body, through the Atman -- "self," or "soul;" and the old Greeks went in search of Atmu — the Hidden one, or the God-Soul of man, with the symbolical mirror of the the Thesmophorian mysteries; — so the spiritualists of to-day believe in the faculty of the spirits, or the souls of the disembodied persons, to communicate visibly and tangibly with those they loved on earth. And all these, Aryan Yogis, Greek philosophers, and modern spiritualists, affirm that possibility on the ground that the embodied soul and its never embodied spirits — the real self, — are not separated from either the Universal Soul or other spirits by space, but merely by the differentiation of their qualities; as in the boundless expanse of the universe there can be no limitation. And that when this difference is once removed — according to the Greeks and Aryans by abstract contemplation, producing the temporary liberation of the imprisoned Soul; and according to spiritualists, through mediumship — such an union between embodied and disembodied spirits becomes possible. Thus was it that Patanjali's Yogis and, following in their steps, Plotinus, Porphyry and other Neo-Platonists, maintained that in their hours of ecstacy, they had been united to, or rather become as one with, God, several times during the course of their lives. This idea, erroneous as it may seem in its application to the Universal Spirit, was, and is, claimed by too many great philosophers to be put aside as entirely chimerical. In the case of the Theodidaktoi, the only controvertible point, the dark spot on this philosophy of extreme mysticism, was its claim to include that which is simply ecstatic illumination, under the head of sensuous perception. In the case of the Yogins, who maintained their ability to see Iswara "face to face," this claim was successfully overthrown by the stern logic of Kapila. As to the similar assumption made for their Greek followers, for a long array of Christian ecstatics, and, finally, for the last two claimants to "God-seeing" within these last hundred years — Jacob Bohme and Swedenborg — this pretension would and should have been philosophically and logically questioned, if a few of our great men of science who are spiritualists had had more interest in the philosophy than in the mere phenomenalism of spiritualism.
*The reality of the Yog-power was affirmed by many Greek and Roman writers, who call the Yogins Indian Gymnosophists; by Strabo, Lucan, Plutarch, Cicero (Tusculum), Pliny (vii, 2), etc.
The Alexandrian Theosophists were divided into neophytes, initiates, and masters, or hierophants; and their rules were copied from the ancient Mysteries of Orpheus, who, according to Herodotus, brought them from India. Ammonius obligated his disciples by oath not to divulge his higher doctrines, except to those who were proved thoroughly worthy and initiated, and who had learned to regard the gods, the angels, and the demons of other peoples, according to the esoteric hyponia, or under-meaning. "The gods exist, but they are not what the oi polloi, the uneducated multitude, suppose them to be," says Epicurus." He is not an atheist who denies the existence of the gods whom the multitude worship, but he is such who fastens on these gods the opinions of the multitude." In his turn, Aristotle declares that of the "Divine Essence pervading the whole world of nature, what are styled the gods are simply the first principles."
Plotinus, the pupil of the "God-taught" Ammonius, tells us, that the secret gnosis or the knowledge of Theosophy, has three degrees — opinion, science, and illumination. "The means or instrument of the first is sense, or perception; of the second, dialectics; of the third, intuition. To the last, reason is subordinate; it is absolute knowledge, founded on the identification of the mind with the object known." Theosophy is the exact science of psychology, so to say; it stands in relation to natural, uncultivated mediumship, as the knowledge of a Tyndall stands to that of a school-boy in physics. It develops in man a direct beholding; that which Schelling denominates "a realization of the identity of subject and object in the individual;" so that under the influence and knowledge of hyponia man thinks divine thoughts, views all thing as they really are, and, finally, "becomes recipient of the Soul of the World," to use one of the finest expressions of Emerson. "I, the imperfect, adore my own perfect" — he says in his superb Essay on the Oversoul. Besides this psychological, or soul-state, Theosophy cultivated every branch of sciences and arts. It was thoroughly familiar with what is now commonly known as mesmerism. Practical theurgy or "ceremonial magic," so often resorted to in their exorcisms by the Roman Catholic clergy — was discarded by the theosophists. It is but Jamblichus alone who, transcending the other Eclectics, added to Theosophy the doctrine of Theurgy. When ignorant of the true meaning of the esoteric divine symbols of nature, man is apt to miscalculate the powers of his soul, and, instead of communing spiritually and mentally with the higher, celestial beings, the good spirits (the gods of the theurgists of the Platonic school), he will unconsciously call forth the evil, dark powers which lurk around humanity — the undying, grim creations of human crimes and vices — and thus fall from theurgia (white magic) into goetia (or black magic, sorcery.) Yet, neither white, nor black magic are what popular superstition understands by the terms. The possibility of "raising spirit" according to the key of Solomon, is the height of superstition and ignorance. Purity of deed and thought can alone raise us to an intercourse "with the gods" and attain for us the goal we desire. Alchemy, believed by so many to have been a spiritual philosophy as well as a physical science, belonged to the teachings of the theosophical school.
It is a noticeable fact that neither Zoroaster, Buddha, Orpheus, Pythagoras, Confucius, Socrates, nor Ammonius Saccas, committed anything to writing. The reason for it is obvious. Theosophy is a double-edged weapon and unfit for the ignorant or the selfish. Like every ancient philosophy it has its votaries among the moderns; but, until late in our own days, its disciples were few in numbers, and of the most various sects and opinions. "Entirely speculative, and founding no schools, they have still exercised a silent influence upon philosophy; and no doubt, when the time arrives, many ideas thus silently propounded may yet give new directions to human thought" — remarks Mr. Kenneth R. H. Mackenzie IX degree . . . himself a mystic and a Theosophist, in his large and valuable work, The Royal Masonic Cyclopoedia (articles Theosophical Society of New York and Theosophy, p. 731).* Since the days of the fire-philosophers, they had never formed themselves into societies, for, tracked like wild beasts by the Christian clergy, to be known as a Theosophist often amounted, hardly a century ago, to a death-warrant. The statistics show that, during a period of 150 years, no less than 90,000 men and women were burned in Europe for alleged witchcraft. In Great Britain only, from A. D. 1640 to 1660, but twenty years, 3,000 persons were put to death for compact with the "Devil." It was but late in the present century — in 1875 — that some progressed mystics and spiritualists, unsatisfied with the theories and explanations of Spiritualism, started by its votaries, and finding that they were far from covering the whole ground of the wide range of phenomena, formed at New York, America, an association which is now widely known as the Theosophical Society. And now, having explained what is Theosophy, we will, in a separate article, explain what is the nature of our Society, which is also called the "Universal Brotherhood of Humanity."
* The Royal Masonic Cyclopoedia of History, Rites, Symbolism, and Biography. Edited by Kenneth R. H. Mackenzie IX degree (Cryptonymus) Hon. Member of the Canongate Kilwinning Lodge, No. 2, Scotland. New York, J. W. Boutun, 706, Broadway, 1877.
Are they what they claim to be — students of natural law, of ancient and modern philosophy, and even of exact science? Are they Deists, Atheists, Socialists, Materialists, or Idealists; or are they but a schism of modern Spiritualism, — mere visionaries? Are they entitled to any consideration, as capable of discussing philosophy and promoting real science; or should they be treated with the compassionate toleration which one gives to "harmless enthusiasts?" The Theosophical Society has been variously charged with a belief in "miracles," and "miracle-working;" with a secret political object — like the Carbonari; with being spies of an autocratic Czar; with preaching socialistic and nihilistic doctrines; and, mirabile dictu, with having a covert understanding with the French Jesuits, to disrupt modern Spiritualism for a pecuniary consideration! With equal violence they have been denounced as dreamers, by the American Positivists; as fetish-worshippers, by some of the New York press; as revivalists of "mouldy superstitions," by the Spiritualists; as infidel emissaries of Satan, by the Christian Church; as the very types of "gobe-mouche," by Professor W. B. Carpenter, F. R. S.; and, finally, and most absurdly, some Hindu opponents, with a view to lessening their influence, have flatly charged them with the employment of demons to perform certain phenomena. Out of all this pother of opinions, one fact stands conspicuous — the Society, its members, and their views, are deemed of enough importance to be discussed and denounced: Men slander only those whom they hate — or fear.
But, if the Society has had its enemies and traducers, it has also had its friends and advocates. For every word of censure, there has been a word of praise. Beginning with a party of about a dozen earnest men and women, a mouth later its numbers had so increased as to necessitate the hiring of a public hall for its meetings; within two years, it had working branches in European countries. Still later, it found itself in alliance with the Indian Arya Samaj, headed by the learned Pandit Dayanund Saraswati Swami, and the Ceylonese Buddhists, under the erudite H. Sumangala, High Priest of Adam's Peak and President of the Widyodaya College, Colombo.
He who would seriously attempt to fathom the psychological sciences, must come to the sacred land of ancient Aryavarta. None is older than she in esoteric wisdom and civilization, however fallen may be her poor shadow — modern India. Holding this country, as we do, for the fruitful hot-bed whence proceeded all subsequent philosophical systems, to this source of all psychology and philosophy a portion of our Society has come to learn its ancient wisdom and ask for the impartation of its weird secrets. Philology has made too much progress to require at this late day a demonstration of this fact of the primogenitive nationality of Aryavart. The unproved and prejudiced hypothesis of modern Chronology is not worthy of a moment's thought, and it will vanish in time like so many other unproved hypotheses. The line of philosophical heredity, from Kapila through Epicurus to James Mill; from Patanjali through Plotinus to Jacob Bohme, can be traced like the course of a river through a landscape. One of the objects of the Society's organization was to examine the too transcendent views of the Spiritualists in regard to the powers of disembodied spirits; and, having told them what, in our opinion at least, a portion of their phenomena are not, it will become incumbent upon us now to show what they are. So apparent is it that it is in the East, and especially in India, that the key to the alleged "supernatural" phenomena of the Spiritualists must be sought, that it has recently been conceded in the Allahabad Pioneer (Aug. 11th, 1879), an Anglo-Indian daily journal which has not the reputation of saying what it does not mean. Blaming the men of science who "intent upon physical discovery, for some generations have been too prone to neglect super-physical investigation," it mentions "the new wave of doubt" (spiritualism) which has "latterly disturbed this conviction." To a large number of persons, including many of high culture and intelligence, it adds, "the supernatural has again asserted itself as a fit subject of inquiry and research. And there are plausible hypotheses in favour of the idea that among the 'sages' of the East . . . there may be found in a higher degree than among the more modernised inhabitants of the West traces of those personal peculiarities, whatever they may be, which are required as a condition precedent to the occurrence of supernatural phenomena." And then, unaware that the cause be pleads is one of the chief aims and objects of our Society, the editorial writer remarks that it is "the only direction in which, it seems to us, the efforts of the Theosophists in India might possibly be useful. The leading members of the Theosophical Society in India are known to be very advanced students of occult phenomena, already, and we cannot but hope that their professions of interest in Oriental philosophy . . . may cover a reserved intention of carrying out explorations of the kind we indicate."
While, as observed, one of our objects, it yet is but one of many; the most important of which is to revive the work of Ammonius Saccas, and make various nations remember that they are the children "of one mother." As to the transcendental side of the ancient Theosophy, it is also high time that the Theosophical Society should explain. With how much, then, of this nature-searching, God-seeking science of the ancient Aryan and Greek mystics, and of the powers of modern spiritual mediumship, does the Society agree? Our answer is: — with it all. But if asked what it believes in, the reply will be: — "as a body — Nothing." The Society, as a body, has no creed, as creeds are but the shells around spiritual knowledge; and Theosophy in its fruition is spiritual knowledge itself — the very essence of philosophical and theistic enquiry. Visible representative of Universal Theosophy, it can be no more sectarian than a Geographical Society, which represents universal geographical exploration without caring whether the explorers be of one creed or another. The religion of the Society is an algebraical equation, in which so long as the sign = of equality is not omitted, each member is allowed to substitute quantities of his own, which better accord with climatic and other exigencies of his native land, with the idiosyncracies of his people, or even with his own. Having no accepted creed, our Society is very ready to give and take, to learn and teach, by practical experimentation, as opposed to mere passive and credulous acceptance of enforced dogma. It is willing to accept every result claimed by any of the foregoing schools or systems, that can be logically and experimentally demonstrated. Conversely, it can take nothing on mere faith, no matter by whom the demand may be made.
But, when we come to consider ourselves individually, it is quite another thing. The Society's members represent the most varied nationalities and races, and were born and educated in the most dissimilar creeds and social conditions. Some of them believe in one thing, others in another. Some incline towards the ancient magic, or secret wisdom that was taught in the sanctuaries, which was the very opposite of supernaturalism or diabolism; others in modern spiritualism, or intercourse with the spirits of the dead; still others in mesmerism or animal magnetism, or only an occult dynamic force in nature. A certain number have scarcely yet acquired any definite belief, but are in a state of attentive expectancy; and there are even those who call themselves materialists, in a certain sense. Of atheists and bigoted sectarians of any religion, there are none in the Society; for the very fact of a man's joining it proves that he is in search of the final truth as to the ultimate essence of things. If there be such a thing as a speculative atheist, which philosophers may deny, he would have to reject both cause and effect, whether in this world of matter, or in that of spirit. There may be members who, like the poet Shelley, have let their imagination soar from cause to prior cause ad infinitum, as each in its turn became logically transformed into a result necessitating a prior cause, until they have thinned the Eternal into a mere mist. But even they are not atheist in the speculative sense, whether they identify the material forces of the universe with the functions with which the theists endow their God, or otherwise; for once that they cannot free themselves from the conception of the abstract ideal of power, cause, necessity, and effect, they can be considered as atheists only in respect to a personal God, and not to the Universal Soul of the Pantheist. On the other hand the bigoted sectarian, fenced in, as he is, with a creed upon every paling of which is written the warning "No Thoroughfare," can neither come out of his enclosure to join the Theosophical Society, nor, if he could, has it room for one whose very religion forbids examination. The very root idea of the Society is free and fearless investigation.
As a body, the Theosophical Society holds that all original thinkers and investigators of the hidden side of nature whether materialists — those who find matter "the promise and potency of all terrestrial life," or spiritualists — that is, those who discover in spirit the source of all energy and of matter as well, were and are, properly, Theosophists. For to be one, one need not necessarily recognize the existence of any special God or a deity. One need but worship the spirit of living nature, and try to identify oneself with it. To revere that Presence the invisible Cause, which is yet ever manifesting itself in its incessant results; the intangible, omnipotent, and omnipresent Proteus: indivisible in its Essence, and eluding form, yet appearing under all and every form; who is here and there, and everywhere and nowhere; is ALL, and NOTHING; ubiquitous yet one; the Essence filling, binding, bounding, containing everything; contained in all. It will, we think, be seen now, that whether classed as Theists, Pantheists or Atheists, such men are near kinsmen to the rest. Be what he may, once that a student abandons the old and trodden highway of routine, and enters upon the solitary path of independent thought — Godward — he is a Theosophist; an original thinker, a seeker after the eternal truth with "an inspiration of his own" to solve the universal problems.
With every man that is earnestly searching in his own way after a knowledge of the Divine Principle, of man's relations to it, and nature's manifestations of it, Theosophy is allied. It is likewise the ally of honest science, as distinguished from much that passes for exact, physical science, so long as the latter does not poach on the domains of psychology and metaphysics.
And it is also the ally of every honest religion, — to wit: a religion willing to be judged by the same tests as it applies to the others. Those books, which contain the most self-evident truth, are to it inspired (not revealed). But all books it regards, on account of the human element contained in them, as inferior to the Book of Nature; to read which and comprehend it correctly, the innate powers of the soul must be highly developed. Ideal laws can be perceived by the intuitive faculty alone; they are beyond the domain of argument and dialectics, and no one can understand or rightly appreciate them through the explanations of another mind, though even this mind be claiming a direct revelation. And, as this Society which allows the widest sweep in the realms of the pure ideal, is no less firm in the sphere of facts, its deference to modern science and its just representatives is sincere. Despite all their lack of a higher spiritual intuition, the world's debt to the representatives of modern physical science is immense; hence, the Society endorses heartily the noble and indignant protest, of that gifted and eloquent preacher, the Rev. O. B. Frothingham, against those who try to undervalue the services of our great naturalists. "Talk of Science as being irreligious, atheistic," he exclaimed in a recent lecture, delivered at New York, "Science is creating a new idea of God. It is due to Science that we have any conception at all of a living God. If we do not become atheists one of these days under the maddening effect of Protestantism, it will be due to Science, because it is disabusing us of hideous illusions that tease and embarrass us, and putting us in the way of knowing how to reason about the things we see. . . ."
And it is also due to the unremitting labors of such Orientalists as Sir W. Jones, Max Muller, Burnouf, Colebrooke, Haug, St. Hilaire, and so many others, that the society, as a body, feels equal respect and veneration for Vedic, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, and other old religions of the world; and, a like brotherly feeling toward its Hindu, Sinhalese, Parsi, Jain, Hebrew, and Christian members as individual students of "self," of nature, and of the divine in nature.
Born in the United States of America, the Society was constituted on the model of its Mother Land. The latter, omitting the name of God from its constitution lest it should afford a pretext one day to make a state religion, gives absolute equality to all religions in its laws. All support and each is in turn protected by the State. The Society, modelled upon this constitution, may fairly be termed a "Republic of Conscience."
We have now, we think, made clear why our members, as individuals, are free to stay outside or inside any creed they please, provided they do not pretend that none but themselves shall enjoy the privilege of conscience, and try to force their opinions upon the others. In this respect the Rules of the Society are very strict. It tries to act upon the wisdom of the old Buddhistic axiom, "Honour thine own faith, and do not slander that of others;" echoed back in our present century, in the "Declaration of Principles" of the Brahmo Samaj, which so nobly states that: "no sect shall be vilified, ridiculed, or hated." In Section VI. of the Revised Rules of the Theosophical Society, recently adopted in General Council, at Bombay, is this mandate: "It is not lawful for any officer of the Parent Society to express, by word or act, any hostility to, or preference for, any one section (sectarian division, or group within the Society) more than another. All must be regarded and treated as equally the objects of the Society's solicitude and exertions. All have an equal right to have the essential features of their religious belief laid before the tribunal of an impartial world." In their individual capacity, members may, when attacked, occasionally break this Rule, but, nevertheless, as officers they are restrained, and the Rule is strictly enforced during the meetings. For, above all human sects stands Theosophy in its abstract sense; Theosophy which is too wide for any of them to contain but which easily contains them.
In conclusion, we may state that, broader and far more universal in its views than any existing mere scientific Society, it has plus science its belief in every possibility, and determined will to penetrate into those unknown spiritual regions which exact science pretends that its votaries have no business to explore. And, it has one quality more than any religion in that it makes no difference between Gentile, Jew, or Christian. It is in this spirit that the Society has been established upon the footing of a Universal Brotherhood.
Unconcerned about politics; hostile to the insane dreams of Socialism and of Communism, which it abhors — as both are but disguised conspiracies of brutal force and sluggishness against honest labour; the Society cares but little about the outward human management of the material world. The whole of its aspirations are directed towards the occult truths of the visible and invisible worlds. Whether the physical man be under the rule of an empire or a republic, concerns only the man of matter. His body may be enslaved; as to his Soul, he has the right to give to his rulers the proud answer of Socrates to his Judges. They have no sway over the inner man.
Such is, then, the Theosophical Society, and such its principles, its multifarious aims, and its objects. Need we wonder at the past misconceptions of the general public, and the easy hold the enemy has been able to find to lower it in the public estimation. The true student has ever been a recluse, a man of silence and meditation. With the busy world his habits and tastes are so little in common that, while he is studying, his enemies and slanderers have undisturbed opportunities. But time cures all and lies are but ephemera. Truth alone is eternal.
About a few of the Fellows of the Society who have made great scientific discoveries, and some others to whom the psychologist and the biologist are indebted for the new light thrown upon the darker problems of the inner man, we will speak later on. Our object now was but to prove to the reader that Theosophy is neither "a new fangled doctrine," a political cabal, nor one of those societies of enthusiasts which are born to-day but to die to-morrow. That not all of its members can think alike, is proved by the Society having organized into two great Divisions, — the Eastern and the Western — and the latter being divided into numerous sections, according to races and religious views. One man's thought, infinitely various as are its manifestations, is not all-embracing. Denied ubiquity, it must necessarily speculate but in one direction; and once transcending the boundaries of exact human knowledge, it has to err and wander, for the ramifications of the one Central and absolute Truth are infinite. Hence, we occasionally find even the greater philosophers losing themselves in the labyrinths of speculations, thereby provoking the criticism of posterity. But as all work for one and the same object, namely, the disenthralment of human thought, the elimination of superstitions, and the discovery of truth, all are equally welcome. The attainment of these objects, all agree, can best be secured by convincing the reason and warming the enthusiasm of the generation of fresh young minds, that are just ripening into maturity, and making ready to take the place of their prejudiced and conservative fathers. And, as each, — the great ones as well as small, — have trodden the royal road to knowledge, we listen to all, and take both small and great into our fellowship. For no honest searcher comes back empty-handed, and even he who has enjoyed the least share of popular favor can lay at least his mite upon the one altar of Truth.
Late advices from various parts of the world seem to indicate that, while there is an increasing interest in the phenomena of spiritualism, especially among eminent men of science, there is also a growing desire to learn the views of the Theosophists. The first impulse of hostility has nearly spent itself, and the moment approaches when a patient hearing will be given to our arguments. This was foreseen by us from the beginning. The founders of our Society were mainly veteran Spiritualists, who had outgrown their first amazement at the strange phenomena, and felt the necessity to investigate the laws of mediumship to the very bottom. Their reading of mediaeval and ancient works upon the occult sciences had shown them that our modern phenomena were but repetitions of what had been seen, studied, and comprehended in former epochs. In the biographies of ascetics, mystics, theurgists, prophets, ecstatics; of astrologers, 'diviners,' 'magicians,' 'sorcerers,' and other students, subjects, or practitioners of the Occult Power in its many branches, they found ample evidence that Western Spiritualism could only be comprehended by the creation of a science of Comparative Psychology. By a like synthetic method of the philologists, under the lead of Eugene Burnouf, had unlocked the secrets of religious and philological heredity, and exploded Western theological theories and dogmas until then deemed impregnable.
Proceeding in this spirit, the Theosophists thought they discovered some reasons to doubt the correctness of the spiritualistic theory that all the phenomena of the circles must of necessity be attributed solely to the action of spirits of our deceased friends. The ancients knew and classified other supercorporeal entities that are capable of moving objects, floating the bodies of mediums through the air, giving apparent tests of the identity of dead persons, and controlling sensitives to write and speak strange languages, paint pictures, and play upon unfamiliar musical instruments. And not only knew them, but showed how these invisible powers might be controlled by man, and made to work these wonders at his bidding. They found, moreover, that there were two sides of Occultism — a good and an evil side; and that it was a dangerous and fearful thing for the inexperienced to meddle with the latter, — dangerous to our moral as to our physical nature. The conviction forced itself upon their minds, then, that while the weird wonders of Spiritualism were among the most important of all that could be studied, mediumship, without the most careful attention to every condition, was fraught with peril.
Thus thinking, and impressed with the great importance of a thorough knowledge of mesmerism and all other branches of Occultism, these founders established the Theososophical Society, to read, to enquire, and compare, study, experiment and expound, the mysteries of Psychology. This range of enquiry, of course, included an investigation of Vedic, Brahmanical and other ancient Oriental literature; for in that — especially, the former, the grandest repository of wisdom ever accessible to humanity — lay the entire mystery of nature and of man. To comprehend modern mediumship it is, in short, indispensable to familiarize oneself with the Yoga Philosophy; and the aphorisms of Patanjali are even more essential than the "Divine Revelations" of Andrew Jackson Davis. We can never know how much of the mediumistic phenomena we must attribute to the disembodied, until it is settled how much can be done by the embodied, human soul, and the blind but active powers at work within those regions which are yet unexplored by science. Not even proof of an existence beyond the grave, if it must come to us in a phenomenal shape. This will be conceded without qualification, we think, provided that the records of history be admitted as corroborating the statements we have made.
The reader will observe that the primary issue between the theosophical and spiritualistic theories of mediumistic phenomena is that the Theosophists say the phenomena may be produced by more agencies than one, and the latter that but one agency can be conceded, namely — the disembodied souls. There are other differences — as, for instance, that there can be such a thing as the obliteration of the human individuality as the result of very evil environment; that good spirits seldom, if ever, cause physical 'manifestations'; etc. But the first point to settle is the one here first stated; and we have shown how and in what directions the Theosophists maintain that the investigations should be pushed.
Our East Indian readers, unlike those of Western countries who may see these lines, do not know how warmly and stoutly these issues have been debated, these past three or four years. Suffice it to say that, a point having been reached where argument seemed no longer profitable, the controversy ceased; and that the present visit of the New York Theosophists, and their establishment of the Bombay Head-quarters, with the library, lectures, and this journal, are its tangible results. That this step must have a very great influence upon Western psychological science is apparent. Whether our Committee are themselves fully competent to observe and properly expound Eastern Psychology or not, no one will deny that Western Science must inevitably be enriched by the contributions of the Indian, Sinhalese, and other mystics who will now find in the THEOSOPHIST a channel by which to reach European and American students of Occultism, such as was never imagined, not to say seen, before. It is our earnest hope and belief that after the broad principles of our Society, its earnestness, and exceptional facilities for gathering Oriental wisdom are well understood, it will be better thought of than now by Spiritualists, and attract into its fellowship many more of their brightest and best intellects.
Theosophy can be styled the enemy of Spiritualism with no more propriety than of Mesmerism, or any other branch of Psychology. In this wondrous outburst of phenomena that the Western world has been seeing since 1848, is presented such an opportunity to investigate the hidden mysteries of being as the world has scarcely known before. Theosophists only urge that these phenomena shall be studied so thoroughly that our epoch shall not pass away with the mighty problem unsolved. Whatever obstructs this — whether the narrowness of sciolism, the dogmatism of theology, or the prejudice of any other class, should be swept aside as something hostile to the public interest. Theosophy, with its design to search back into historic record for proof, may be regarded as the natural outcome of phenomenalistic Spiritualism, or as a touchstone to show the value of its pure gold. One must know both to comprehend what is Man.
A Journal interested like the THEOSOPHIST in the explorations of archaeology and archaic religions, as well as the study of the occult in nature, has to be doubly prudent and discreet. To bring the two conflicting elements — exact science and metaphysics — into direct contact, might create as great a disturbance as to throw a piece of potassium into a basin of water. The very fact that we are predestined and pledged to prove that some of the wisest of Western scholars have been misled by the dead letter of appearances and that they are unable to discover the hidden spirit in the relics of old, places us under the ban from the start. With those sciolists who are neither broad enough, nor sufficiently modest to allow their decisions to be reviewed, we are necessarily in antagonism. Therefore, it is essential that our position in relation to certain scientific hypotheses, perhaps tentative and only sanctioned for want of better ones — should be clearly defined at the outset.
An infinitude of study has been bestowed by the archaeologists and the orientalists upon the question of chronology — especially in regard to Comparative Theology. So far, their affirmations as to the relative antiquity of the great religions of the pre-Christian era are little more than plausible hypotheses. How far back the national and religious Vedic period, so called, extends — "it is impossible to tell," confesses Prof. Max Muller; nevertheless, he traces it "to a period anterior to 1000 B. C.," and brings us "to 1100 or 1200 B. C., as the earliest time when we may suppose the collection of the Vedic hymns to have been finished." Nor do any other of our leading scholars claim to have finally settled the vexed question, especially delicate as it is in its bearing upon the chronology of the book of Genesis. Christianity, the direct outflow of Judaism and in most cases the State religion of their respective countries, has unfortunately stood in their way. Hence, scarcely two scholars agree; and each assigns a different date to the Vedas and the Mosaic books, taking care in every case to give the latter the benefit of the doubt. Even that leader of the leaders in philological and chronological questions, — Professor Muller, hardly twenty years ago, allowed himself a prudent margin by starting that it will be difficult to settle "whether the Veda is the 'oldest of books,' and whether some of the portions of the old Testament may not be traced back to the same or even an earlier date than the oldest hymns of the Veda." The THEOSOPHIST is, therefore, quite warranted in either adopting or rejecting as it pleases the so-called authoritative chronology of science. Do we err then, in confessing that we rather incline to accept the chronology of that renowned Vedic scholar, Swami Dayanund Saraswati, who unquestionably knows what he is talking about, has the four Vedas by heart, is perfectly familiar with all Sanskrit literature, has no such scruples as the Western Orientalists in regard to public feelings, nor desire to humour the superstitious notions of the majority, nor has any object to gain in suppressing facts? We are only too conscious of the risk in withholding our adulation from scientific authorities. Yet, with the common temerity of the heterodox we must take our course, even though, like the Tarpeia of old, we be smothered under a heap of shields — a shower of learned quotations from these "authorities."
We are far from feeling ready to adopt the absurd chronology of a Berosus or even Syncellus — though in truth they appear "absurd" only in the light of our preconceptions. But, between the extreme claims of the Brahmins and the ridiculously short periods conceded by our Orientalists for the development and full growth of that gigantic literature of the ante-Mahabharatan period, there ought to be a just mean. While Swami Dayanund Saraswati asserts that "The Vedas have now ceased to be objects of study for nearly 5,000 years," and places the first appearance of the four Vedas at an immense antiquity; Professor Muller, assigning for the composition of even the earliest among the Brahmanas, the years from about 1,000 to 800 B. C., hardly dares, as we have seen, to place the collection and the original composition of the Sanhita, of Rig-Veda hymns, earlier than 1,200 to 1,500 before our era! [Lecture on the Vedas] Whom ought we to believe; and which of the two, is the better informed? Cannot this gap of several thousand years be closed, or would it be equally difficult for either of the two cited authorities to give data which would be regarded by science as thoroughly convincing?
It is as easy to reach a false conclusion by the modern inductive method as to assume false premises from which to make deductions, Doubtless Professor Max Muller has good reasons for arriving at his chronological conclusions. But so has Dayanund Saraswati Pandit. The gradual modifications, development and growth of the Sanskrit language are sure guides enough for an expert philologist. But, that there is a possibility of his having been led into error would seem to suggest itself upon considering a certain argument brought forward by Swami Dayanund. Our respected friend and teacher maintains that both Professor Muller and Dr. Wilson have been solely guided in their researches and conclusion by the inaccurate and untrustworthy commentaries of Sayana, Mahidar, and Uvata; commentaries which differ diametrically from those of a far earlier period as used by himself in connection with his great work the Veda Bhashya. A cry was raised at the outset of this publication that Swami's commentary is calculated to refute Sayana and the English interpreters. "For this," very justly remarks Pandit Dayanund, "I cannot be blamed; if Sayana has erred, and English interpreters have chosen to take him for their guide, the delusion cannot be long maintained. Truth alone can stand, and Falsehood before growing civilization must fall."* And if, as he claims, his Veda Bhashya is entirely founded on the old commentaries of the ante-Mahabaratan period to which the Western scholars have had no access, then, since his were the surest guides of the two classes, we cannot hesitate to follow him, rather than the best of our European Orientalists.
* Answer to the Objections to the Veda-Bashya.
But, apart from such prima facie evidence, we would respectfully request Professor Max Muller to solve us a riddle. Propounded by himself, it has puzzled us for over twenty years and pertains as much to simple logic as to the chronology in question. Clear and undeviating, like the Rhone through the Geneva lake, the idea runs through the course of his lectures, from the first volume of "Chips" down to his last discourse. We will try to explain.
All who have followed his lectures as attentively as ourselves will remember that Professor Max Muller attributes the wealth of myths, symbols and religious allegories in the Vedic hymns, as in Grecian mythology, to the early worship of nature by man. "In the hymns of the Vedas," to quote his words, "we see man left to himself to solve the riddle of this world. He is awakened from darkness and slumber by the light of the sun." . . . . . and he calls it — "his life, his truth, his brilliant Lord and Protector." He gives names to all the powers of nature, and after he has called the fire 'Agni,' the sun-light 'Indra,' the storms 'Maruts,' and the dawn 'Usha,' they all seem to grow naturally into beings like himself, nay greater than himself. [Chips from a German Workshop, Vol. I, p. 68] This definition of the mental state of primitive man, in the days of the very infancy of humanity, and when hardly out of its cradle — is perfect. The period to which he attributes those effusions of an infantile mind, is the Vedic period, and the time which separates us from it is, as claimed above, 3,000 years. So much impressed seems the great philologist with this idea of the mental feebleness of mankind at the time when these hymns were composed by the four venerable Rishis, that in his introduction to the Science of Religion (p. 278) we find the Professor saying : "Do you still wonder at polytheism or at mythology? Why, they are inevitable. They are, if you like, a parler enfantin of religion. But the world has its childhood, and when it was a child it spake as a child, (nota bene, 3,000 years ago), it understood as a child, it thought as a child . . . The fault rests with us if we insist on taking the language of children for the language of men. . . . The language of antiquity is the language of childhood . . . the parler enfantin in religion is not extinct . . . as, for instance, the religion of India."
Having read thus far, we pause and think. At the very close of this able explanation, we meet with a tremendous difficulty, the idea of which must have never occurred to the able advocate of the ancient faiths. To one familiar with the writings and ideas of this Oriental scholar, it would seem the height of absurdity to suspect him of accepting the Biblical chronology of 6,000 years since the appearance of the first man upon earth as the basis of his calculations. And yet the recognition of such chronology is inevitable if we have to accept Professor Muller's reasons at all; for here we ran against a purely arithmetical and mathematical obstacle, a gigantic miscalculation of proportion. . .
No one can deny that the growth and development of mankind — mental as well as physical — must be analogically measured by the growth and development of man. An anthropologist, if he cares to go beyond the simple consideration of the relations of man to other members of the animal kingdom, has to be in a certain way a physiologist as well as an anatomist; for, as much as ethnology it is a progressive science which can be well treated but by those who are able to follow up retrospectively the regular unfolding of human faculties and powers, assigning to each a certain period of life. Thus, no one would regard a skull in which the wisdom-tooth, so called, would be apparent, the skull of an infant. Now, according to geology, recent researches "give good reasons to believe that under low and base grades the existence of man can be traced back into the tertiary times." In the old glacial drift of Scotland — says Professor W. Draper, — "the relics of man are found along with those of the fossil elephant;" and the best calculations so far assign a period of two-hundred-and-forty thousand years since the beginning of the last glacial period. Making a proportion between 240,000 years — the least age we can accord to the human race, — and 24 years of a man's life, we find that three thousand years ago, or the period of the composition of Vedic hymns, mankind would be just twenty-one — the legal age of majority, and certainly a period at which man ceases using, if he ever will, the parler enfantin or childish lisping. But, according to the views of the Lecturer, it follows that man was, three thousand years ago, at twenty-one, a foolish and undeveloped — though a very promising — infant, and at twenty-four, has become the brilliant, acute, learned, highly analytical and philosophical man of the nineteenth century. Or, still keeping our equation in view, in other words, the Professor might as well say, that an individual who was a nursing baby at 12 M. on a certain day, would at 12:20 P. M., on the same day, have become an adult speaking high wisdom instead of his parler enfantin!
It really seems the duty of the eminent Sanskritist and Lecturer on Comparative Theology to get out of this dilemma. Either the Rig-Veda hymns were composed but 3,000 years ago, and, therefore, cannot be expressed in the "language of childhood" — man having lived in the glacial period — but the generation which composed them must have been composed of adults, presumably as philosophical and scientific in the knowledge of their day, as we are in our own; or, we have to ascribe to them an immense antiquity in order to carry them back to the days of human mental infancy. And, in this latter case, Professor Max Muller will have to withdraw a previous remark, expressing the doubt "whether some of the portions of the Old Testament may not be traced back to the same or even an earlier date than the oldest hymns of the Vedas."
[Written by him expressly for the THEOSOPHIST.]
It was in a Brahmin family of the Oudichya caste, in a town belonging to the Rajah of Morwee, in the province of Kattiawar, that in the year of Samvat, 1881, I, now known as Dayanund Saraswati, was born. If I have from the first refrained from giving the names of my father and of the town in which my family resides, it is because I have been prevented from doing so by my duty. Had any of my relatives heard again of me, they would have sought me out. And then, once more face to face with them, it would have become incumbent upon me to follow them. I would have to touch money again,* serve them, and attend to their wants. And thus the holy work of the Reform, to which I have wedded my whole life, would have irretrievably suffered through my forced withdrawal from it.
* No Swami or Sannyasi can touch money, or personally transact any monetary business. — [ED. THEOS.]
I was hardly five years of age when I began to study the Devanagari characters, and my parents and all the elders commenced training me in the ways and practices of my caste and family; making me learn by rote the long series of religious hymns, mantras, stanzas and commentaries. And I was but eight when I was invested with the sacred Brahmanical cord (triple thread), and taught Gayatri Sandhya with its practices, and Yajur Veda Sanhita preceded by the study of the Rudradhayya.* As my family belonged to the Siva sect, their greatest aim was to get me initiated into its religious mysteries; and thus I was early taught to worship the uncouth piece of clay representing Siva's emblem, known as the Parthiwa Lingam. But, as there is a good deal of fasting and various hardships connected with this worship, and I had the habit of taking early meals, my mother, fearing for my health, opposed my daily practising it. But my father sternly insisted upon its necessity, and this question finally became a source of everlasting quarrels between them. Meanwhile, I studied the Sanskrit grammar, learned the Vedas by heart, and, accompanied my father to the shrines, temples, and places of Siva worship. His conversation ran invariably upon one topic: the highest devotion and reverence must be paid to Siva, his worship being the most divine of all religions. It went on thus till I had reached my fourteenth year, when, having learned by heart the whole of the Yajur Veda Sanhita, parts of the other Vedas, of the Shabda Rupavali and the grammar, my studies were completed.
* Rudradhyaya is a chapter about Rudra (a name of Siva) (Ibid).
As my father's was a banking house and held, moreover, the office — hereditary in my family — of a Jamadar [The office of "Jamadar" answers to that of a town Revenue Collector, combining that of a Magistrate, at the same time], we were far from being poor, and things, so far, had gone very pleasantly. Wherever there was a Siva Puran to be read and explained, there my father was sure to take me along with him; and finally, unmindful of my mother's remonstrances, he imperatively demanded that I should begin practising Parthiwa Puja. [Parthiwa Puja is the ceremony connected with the worship of a lingham of clay — the emblem of Siva] When the great day of gloom and fasting — called Sivaratree — had arrived [the Vishnuvites, or worshippers of Vishnu — the greatest enemies of the Sivaites or worshippers of Siva — hold on this day a festival, in derision of their religious opponents [Ib.]], this day following on the 13th of Vadya of Magh [the eleventh month of the Hindu year] my father, regardless of the protest that my strength might fail, commanded me to fast, adding that I had to be initiated on that night into the sacred legend, and participate in that night's long vigil in the temple of Siva. Accordingly, I followed him, along with other young men, who accompanied their parents. This vigil is divided into four parts called praharas, consisting of three hours each. Having completed my task, namely, having sat up for the first two praharas, till the hour of midnight, I remarked that the Pujaris, or temple desservants, and some of the laymen devotees, after having left the inner temple, had fallen asleep outside. Having been taught for years that by sleeping on that particular night, the worshipper lost all the good effect of his devotion, I tried to refrain from drowsiness by bathing my eyes, now and then, with cold water. But my father was less fortunate. Unable to resist fatigue, he was the first to fall asleep, leaving me to watch alone. . .
Thoughts upon thoughts crowded upon me, and one question arose after the other in my disturbed mind. Is it possible — I asked myself, — that this semblance of man, the idol of a personal God, that I see bestriding his bull before me, and who, according to all religion accounts, walks about, eats, sleeps, and drinks; who can hold a trident in his hand, beat upon his dumroo (drum) and pronounce curses upon men, — is it possible that he can be the Mahadeva, the great Deity? The same who is invoked as the Lord of Kailasa [a mountain peak of the Himalayas, — where Siva's heaven is believed to be situated (Ib.)], the Supreme Being and the divine hero of all the stories we read of him in the Puranas (Scriptures)? Unable to resist such thought any longer, I awoke my father, abruptly asking him to enlighten me; to tell me whether this hideous emblem of Siva in the temple was identical with the Mahadeva (great god) of the Scriptures, or something else. "Why do you ask?" said my father. "Because," I answered, "I feel it impossible to reconcile the idea of an Omnipotent, living God, with this idol, which allows the mice to run over his body and thus suffers his image to be polluted without the slightest protest." Then my father tried to explain to me that this stone representation of the Mahadeva of Kailasa, having been consecrated by the holy Brahmans, became, in consequence, the god himself; and is worshipped and regarded as such; adding that as Siva cannot be perceived personally in this Kali Yug — the age of mental darkness, — hence we have the idol in which the Mahadev of Kailasa is imagined by his votaries; this kind of worship pleasing the great Deity as much as if, instead of the emblem, he were there himself. But the explanation fell short of satisfying me. I could not, young as I was, help suspecting misinterpretation and sophistry in all this. Feeling faint with hunger and fatigue, I begged to be allowed to go home. My father consented to it, and sent me away with a sepoy, only reiterating once more his command that I should not eat. But when, once home, I had told my mother of my hunger, she fed me with sweetmeats, and I fell into a profound sleep.
In the morning, when my father had returned and learned that I had broken my fast, he felt very angry. He tried to impress me with the enormity of my sin; but do what he could, I could not bring myself to believe that that idol and Mahadev were one and the same god, and, therefore, could not comprehend why I should be made to fast for, and worship the former. I had, however, to conceal my lack of faith, and bring forward as an excuse for abstaining from regular worship, my ordinary study, which really left me little or rather no time for any thing else. In this I was strongly supported by mother, and even my uncle, who pleaded my cause so well that my father had to yield at last and allow me to devote my whole attention to my studies. In consequence of this, I extended them to "Nighanta;" [a medical work. There is a treatise entitled Nighanta in the Vedas [Ib.]] "Nirukta,"[another Vedic treatise] "Purvamimansa,"[First mimansa] and other Shastras, as well as to "Karmakand" or the Ritual.
There were besides myself in the family two younger sisters and two brothers, the youngest of whom was born when I was already sixteen. On one memorable night, as we were attending a nautch [singing and dancing by professional women [Ib.]] festival at the house of a friend, a servant was despatched after us from home with the terrible news that my sister, a girl of fourteen, had been just taken sick with a mortal disease. Notwithstanding every medical assistance, my poor sister expired within four ghatkas [about half an hour [Ib.]], after we had returned. It was my first bereavement, and the shock my heart received was great. While friends and relatives were sobbing and lamenting around me, I stood like one petrified, and plunged into a profound revery. It resulted in a series of long and sad meditations upon the instability of human life. 'Not one of the beings that ever lived in this world could escape the cold hand of death' — I thought; 'I, too, may be snatched away at any time, and die.' Whither, then, shall I turn for an expedient to alleviate this human misery, connected with our death-bed; where shall I find the assurance of, and means of attaining Muktee [the final bliss of a liberated soul; absorption into Brahma], the final bliss. . . . . . It was there and then, that I came to the determination that I would find it, cost whatever it might, and thus save myself from the untold miseries of the dying moments of an unbeliever. The ultimate result of such meditations was to make me violently break, and for ever, with mummeries of external mortification and penances, and the more to appreciate the inward efforts of the soul. But I kept my determination secret, and allowed no one to fathom my innermost thoughts. I was just eighteen then. Soon after, an uncle, a very learned man and full of divine qualities, — one who had shown for me the greatest tenderness, and whose favorite I had been from my birth, expired also; his death leaving me in a state of utter dejection, and with a still profounder conviction settled in my mind that there was nothing stable in this world, nothing worth living for, or caring for, in a worldly life.
Although I had never allowed my parents to perceive what was the real state of my mind, I yet had been imprudent enough to confess to some friends how repulsive seemed to me the bare idea of a married life. This was reported to my parents, and they immediately determined that I should be betrothed at once, and the marriage solemnity performed as soon as I should be twenty.
Having discovered this intention, I did my utmost to thwart their plans. I caused my friends to intercede on my behalf, and pleaded my cause so earnestly with my father, that he promised to postpone my betrothal till the end of that year. I then began entreating him to send me to Benares, where I might complete my knowledge of the Sanskrit grammar, and study astronomy and physics until I had attained a full proficiency in these difficult sciences. [Astronomy includes Astrology in India, and it is in Benares that the subtlest of metaphysics and so-called occult sciences are taught.] But this once, it was my mother who opposed herself violently to my desire. She declared that I should not go to Benares, as whatever I might feel inclined to study, could be learned at home, as well as abroad; that I knew enough as it was, and had to be married anyhow before the coming year, as young people through an excess of learning were apt to become too liberal and free sometimes in their ideas. I had no better success in that matter with my father. On the contrary; for no sooner had I reiterated the favour I begged of him, and asked that my betrothal should be postponed until I had returned from Benares, a scholar, proficient in arts and sciences, than my mother declared that in such a case she would not consent even to wait till the end of the year, but would see that my marriage was celebrated immediately. Perceiving at least that my persistence only made things worse, I desisted, and declared myself satisfied with being allowed to pursue my studies at home, provided I was allowed to go to an old friend, a learned pandit who resided about six miles from our town in a village belonging to our Jamadaree. Thither then, with my parent's sanction, I proceeded, and placing myself under his tuition, continued for some time quietly with my study. But while there, I was again forced into a confession of the insurmountable aversion I had for marriage. This went home again. I was summoned back at once, and found upon returning that everything had been prepared for my marriage ceremony. I had entered upon my twenty-first year and had no more excuses to offer. I fully realized now, that I would neither be allowed to pursue any longer my studies, nor would my parents ever make themselves consenting parties to my celibacy. It was then, driven to the last extremity, that I resolved to place an eternal barrier between myself and marriage.
On an evening of the year Samvat 1903, without letting any one this time into my confidence, I secretly left my home, as I hoped for ever. Passing that first night in the vicinity of a village about eight miles from my home, I arose three hours before dawn, and before night had again set in I had walked over thirty miles; carefully avoiding the public thoroughfare, villages, and localities in which I might have been recognized. These precautions proved useful to me, as on the third day after I had absconded, I learned from a Government officer that a large party of men, including many horsemen, were diligently roving about in search of a young man from the town of —-— who had fled from his home. I hastened further on, to meet with other adventures. A party of begging Brahmans had kindly relieved me of all the money I had on me, and made me part even with my gold and silver ornaments, rings, bracelets and other jewels, on the plea that the more I gave away in charities, the more my self-denial would benefit me in the after life. Thus, having parted with all I had, I hastened on to the place of residence of a learned scholar, a man named Lala Bhagat, of whom I had much heard on my way, from wandering Sanyasis and Bairagees (religious mendicants). He lived in the town of Sayale, where I met with a Brahmachari who advised me to join at once their holy order, which I did. . .
After initiating me into his order and conferring upon me the name of Shuddha Chaitanya, he made me exchange my clothes for the dress worn by them — a reddish-yellow garment. From thence, and in this new attire, I proceeded to the small principality of Kouthagangad, situated near Ahmedabad, where, to my misfortune, I met with a Bairagi, the resident of a village in the vicinity of my native town, and well acquainted with my family. His astonishment was as great as my perplexity. Having naturally enquired how I came to be there, and in such an attire, and learned of my desire to travel and see the world, he ridiculed my dress and blamed me for leaving my home for such an object. In my embarrassment he succeeded in getting himself informed of my future intentions. I told him of my desire to join in the Mella [Mella is a religious gathering, numbering at times hundreds of thousands of pilgrims] of Kartik, held that year at Siddhpore, and that I was on my way to it. Having parted with him, I proceeded immediately to that place, and taking my abode in the temple of Mahadev at Neelkantha, where Daradi Swami and other Brahmacharis already resided. For a time, I enjoyed their society unmolested, visiting a number of learned scholars and professors of divinity who had come to the Mella, and associating with a number of holy men.
Meanwhile, the Bairagi, whom I had met at Kouthagangad had proved treacherous. He had despatched a letter to my family, informing them of my intentions and pointing to my whereabouts. In consequence of this, my father had come down to Siddhpore with his sepoys, traced me step by step in the Mella, learning something of me wherever I had sat among the learned pandits, and finally, one fine morning appeared suddenly before me. His wrath was terrible to behold. He reproached me violently, accusing me of bringing an eternal disgrace upon my family. No sooner had I met his glance though, than knowing well that there would be no use in trying to resist him, I suddenly made up my mind how to act. Falling at his feet with joined hands, and supplicating tones, I entreated him to appease his anger. I had left home through bad advice, I said; I felt miserable, and was just on the point of returning home, when he had providentially arrived; and now I was willing to follow him home again. Notwithstanding such humility, in a fit of rage he tore my yellow robe into shreds, snatched at my tumba [a vessel to hold water, made of a dried gourd], and wresting it violently from my hand flung it far away; pouring upon my head at the same time a volley of bitter reproaches, and going so far as to call me a matricide. Regardless of my promises to follow him, he gave me in the charge of his sepoys, commanding them to watch me night and day, and never leave me out of their sight for a moment. . .
But my determination was as firm as his own, I was bent on my purpose and closely watched for my opportunity of escaping. I found it on the same night. It was three in the morning, and the sepoy whose turn it was to watch me, believing me asleep, fell asleep in his turn. All was still; and so softly rising and taking along with me a tumba full of water, I crept out, and must have run over a mile before my absence was noticed. On my way, I espied a large tree, whose branches were overhanging the roof of the pagoda; on it I eagerly climbed, and hiding myself among its thick foliage upon the dome, awaited what fate had in store for me. About four in the morning, I heard and saw through the apertures of the dome, the sepoys enquiring after me, and making a diligent search for me inside as well as outside the temple. I held my breath and remained motionless, until finally, believing they were on the wrong track, my pursuers reluctantly retired. Fearing a new encounter, I remained concealed on the dome the whole day, and it was not till darkness had again set in that, alighting, I fled in an opposite direction. More than ever I avoided the public thoroughfares, asking my way of people as rarely as I could, until I had again reached Ahmedabad, from whence I at once proceeded to Baroda. There I settled for some time; and, at Chetan Math (temple) I held several discourses with Bramhanand and a number of Brahmacharis and Sanyasis upon the Vedanta philosophy. It was Bramhanand and other holy men who established to my entire satisfaction that Brahma, the deity, was no other than my own Self — my Ego, I am Brahma, a portion of Brahma; Jiva (Soul) and Brahma, the deity, being one.* Formerly, while studying Vedanta, I had come to this opinion to a certain extent, but now the important problem was solved, and I have gained the certainty that I am Brahma. . . .
This passage is of such importance that the original is here appended for the consideration of the learned. [ED. THEOS.]
At Baroda hearing from a Benares woman that a meeting comprised of the most learned scholars was to be held at a certain locality, I repaired thither at once; visiting a personage known as Satchidanand Paramahansa, with whom I was permitted to discuss upon various scientific and metaphysical subjects. From him I learned also that there were a number of great Sanyasis and Brahmacharis who resided at Chanoda, Kanyali. In consequence of this I repaired to that place of sanctity, on the banks of Nurbuda, and there at last met for the first time with real Diksheets, or initiated Yogis, and such Sanyasis as Chidashrama and several other Brahmacheris. After some discussion, I was placed under the tuition of one Parmanand Paramhansa, and for several months studied "Vedantasar," "Arya Harimide Totak," "Vedant Paribhasha," and other philosophical treatises. During this time, as a Brahmachari I had to prepare my own meals, which proved a great impediment to my studies. To get rid of it, I therefore concluded to enter, if possible, into the 4th Order of the Sanyasis.* Fearing, moreover, to be known under my own name, on account of my family's pride, and well aware that once received in this order I was safe, I begged of a Dekkani pandit, a friend of mine, to intercede on my behalf with a Diksheet — the most learned among them, that I might be initiated into that order at once. He refused, however, point-blank to initiate me, urging my extreme youth. But I did not despair. Several months later, two holy men, a Swami and a Brahmachari came from the Dekkan, and took up their abode in a solitary, ruined building, in the midst of a jungle, near Chanoda, and about two miles distant from us. Profoundly versed in the Vedanta philosophy, my friend, the Dekkani Pandit, went to visit them, taking me along with him. A metaphysical discussion following, brought them to recognise in each other Diksheets of a vast learning. They informed us that they had arrived from "Shrungiree Math," the principal convent of Shankaracharya, in the South, and were on their way to Dwarka. To one of them Purnanand Saraswati — I got my Dekkani friend to recommend me particularly, and state at the same time the object I was so desirous to attain and my difficulties. He told him that I was a young Brahmacheri, who was very desirous to pursue his study in metaphysics unimpeded; that I was quite free from any vice or hard habits, for which fact he vouchsafed; and that, therefore, he believed me worthy of being accepted in this highest probationary degree, and initiated into the 4th Order of the Sanyasis; adding that thus I might be materially helped to free myself from all worldly obligations, and proceed untrammelled in the course of my metaphysical studies. But this Swami also declined at first. I was too young he said. Besides, he was himself a Maharashtra, and so he advised me to appeal to a Gujardthi Swami. It was only when fervently urged on by my friend, who reminded him that Dekkani Sanyasis can initiate even Gowdas, and that there could exist no such objection in my case, as I had been already accepted, and was one of the five Dravids that he consented. And, on the third day following, he consecrated me into the Order, delivering unto me a Dand, [the three and seven knotted bamboo of Sanyadis given to them as a sign of power, after their initiation], and naming me Dayanund Saraswati. By the order of my initiator though, and my proper desire, I had to lay aside the emblematical bamboo — the Dand, renouncing it for a while, as the ceremonial performances connected with it would only interfere with and impede the progress of my studies. . . . . . . . . . .
* Sanyas. There are different conditions and orders prescribed in the Shastras. (1) Brahmachari — one who leads simply a life of celibacy,
maintaining himself by begging while prosecuting his duties; (2) Grahasthashrama — who leads a married but a holy life; (3) Vanaprasta —who lives the life of a hermit; (4) Sanyas or Chaturthashrama. This is the highest of the four; in which the members of either of the other three may enter, the necessary conditions for it being the renunciation of all worldly considerations. Following are the four different successive stages of this life: (A) Kuteechaka — Living in a hut, or in a desolate place and wearing a red-ochre coloured garment, carrying a three knotted bamboo rod, and wearing the hair in the centre of the crown of the head, having the sacred. thread and devoting oneself to the contemplation of Parabrama; (B) Bahudaka — one who lives quite apart from his family and the world, maintains himself on alms collected at seven houses, and wears the same kind of reddish garment; (C) Hansa — the same as in the preceding case except the carrying of only a one knotted bamboo; (D) Paramahansa — the same as the others; but the ascetic wears the sacred thread, and his hair and beard are quite long. This is the highest of all these orders. A Paramahansa who shows himself worthy is on the very threshold of becoming a Diksheet.
After the ceremony of initiation was over, they left us and proceeded to Dwarka. For some time, I lived at Chanoda Kanyali as a simple Sanyasi. But, upon hearing that at Vyashram there lived a Swami whom they called Yoganund, a man thoroughly versed in Yog,* to him I addressed myself as an humble student, and began learning from him the theory as well as some of the practical modes of the science of Yog (or Yoga Vidya). When my preliminary tuition was completed, I proceeded to Chhinour, as on the outskirts of this town lived Krishna Shastree, under whose guidance I perfected myself in the Sanskrit grammar, and again returned to Chhinoda, where I remained for some time longer. Meeting there two Yogis — Jwalanand Pooree and Shiwanand Giree, I practised Yog with them, also, and we all three held together many a dissertation upon the exalted Science of Yoga; until finally, by their advice, a month after their departure, I went to meet them in the temple of Doodheshwar, near Ahmedabad, at which place, they had promised to impart to me the final secrets and modes of attaining Yoga Vidya. They kept their promise, and it is to them that I am indebted for the acquirement of the practical portion of that great science. Still later, it was divulged to me that there were many far higher and more learned Yogis than those I had hiftherto met — yet still not the highest — who resided on the peaks of the mountain of Aboo, in Rajputana. Thither, then, I travelled again, to visit such noted places of sanctity as the Arvada Bhawanee and others encountering at last, those whom I so eagerly sought for, on the peak of Bhawanee Giree, and learning from them various other systems and modes of Yoga. It was in the year of Samvat 1911, that I first joined in the Kumbha Mella at Hardwar, where so many sages and divine philosophers meet, often unperceived, together. So long as the Mella congregation of pilgrims lasted, I kept practising that science in the solitude of the jungle of Chandee; and after the pilgrims had separated, I transferred myself to Rhusheekesh where sometimes in the company of good and pure Yogis [one may be a Yogi, and yet not a Diksheet, i. e., not have received his final initiation into the mysteries of Yoga Vidya] and Sanyasis, oftener alone, I continued in the study and practice of Yoga.
*A religions "magician", practically. One who can embrace the past and the feature in one present; a man who has reached the most perfect state of clairvoyance, and has a thorough knowledge of what is now known as memerism, and the occult properties of nature, which sciences help the student to perform the greatest phenomena; such phenomena must not be confounded with miracles, which are an absurdity.
DAYANUND SARASWATI SWAMI.
(To be continued).
[Written for the THEOSOPHIST by a Native Pandit.]
Much has been said about a certain Brahman lady named Ramabai, and much surprise has been expressed that in such a society as that of the natives of this country, a learned lady like this should have lived for so many years without attracting any attention. Not only the erudition of the lady, but her great talents, her parentage, and her social position have all astonished foreigners, in and out of the country. The way in which the newspapers announced her appearance in Calcutta, as if they had made a wonderful discovery, is only one among numerous examples that one may almost daily observe of what may be called a chief characteristic of Anglo-Indian society in India — much wisdom and teaching without knowledge, regarding social matters and reform thereof among the natives. With their ancient prejudices against the social system of the Hindus, Europeans do not often show much readiness to learn what accomplishments and virtues native ladies assiduously cultivate, and whether there is really much ground for that universal belief that Hindu ladies are held in a state of thraldom. Exhibition, publicity and shining out are things which our native ladies generally do not care for, and have no need to care for. Foreigners have an idea that Hindu ladies, with whose very name they can but associate the notions of satee, of co-wives, of tyrannical husbands, of want of literary acquirements and fascinating refinements, cannot be the mistresses of their households in anything like the sense in which that phrase is understood in Europe. These and similar notions are no doubt the result of the wide distance which natives and Europeans keep from each other in all but strictly official and business matters. But there is, in fact, a great deal in Hindu ladies that Europeans would admire if they but knew how to sympathize with good things that are not their own. There is in a Hindu lady a devotion, to begin with, to her husband and children, of which foreigners can have but little idea. This, joined to the contentment which proverbially reigns supreme in a Hindu household, makes the Hindu wife of a Hindu man a source of continual happiness to all around without any of those hankerings after new pleasures, new fashions, and new friends, which we see are the cause of much unhappiness in European families of moderate incomes. The devotion and contentedness of a Hindu wife enable her to rule easily over a family comprising not merely husband and a few children, but also of relations of her husband and her own. Thus a Hindu household is an admirable school where the great virtues of this life — unselfishness, and living for others — are very highly cultivated. Hindu ladies may not organize female charitable societies for attendance on the sick and the dying in war-hospitals, and may not be preparing and manufacturing articles for fancy bazaars, the proceeds of which are applied towards the maintenance of orphans. But they do practise a good deal of charity in their own way — quiet, private, unobserved and not intended to be observed and remarked upon. The lame, the dumb, the infirm, and all others deserving of charitable support, are the care of the Hindu woman. It is through her care that the poor of the country are fed, and fed without any organized relief societies for the poor, or any poor-law made by modern legislatures.
Nor is it correct to say that Hindu ladies are uneducated or unenlightened. It is true they do not generally attend schools as yet, kept by European ladies who teach modern languages and impart a knowledge of modern sciences and arts. It is true they do not cultivate the art of letter-writing so useful to Western young ladies in quest of husbands. It is true that they do not read novels, a kind of literature which goes to teach lighter sentiment, studied love, delicate forms of address, and a liking for romance, among other things. But Hindu ladies are — a great many of them, learned in a sense; certainly educated. Many can read and explain the Purans, the great repository of legendary lore and moral precepts; and most have read to them the great epics, the Purans and the Hindu mythology in general, in whatever shape existing. All mythology is poetry grown old; and after it has ceased to be recognised as poetry, it is but used to inculcate a code of morals which is always ill taught by means of lectures. The love of Hindu ladies for religious instruction is ancient, and Sanskrit literature is acquainted with many names of Hindu lady-scholars. The readers of Hindu philosophical works know very well the names of Maitreyi, Gargi, Vachaknavi, Gautatmi, Angirasi, Atreyi, Pratitheyi, Sulabha, Satyavati, and a host of others. Of ladies taking part in Puranic teachings as interlocutors and teachers, the number is legion. And to this day Hindu matrons, discussing philosophical and religious matters with the fervour of theologians, are by no means rare. Many know Sanskrit, but a larger number are well versed in Marathi religious and moral literature, which they may often be found propounding to little religious gatherings, in a quiet and unpretentious but not the less impressive manner. Ladies, knowing Sanskrit enough to be able to read the great epics of India in the original, are not few either. We have heard of families of learned Sanskrit Brahmans, of which every grown-up member, whether male or female, can speak Sanskrit. To this class belongs Ramabai, the subject of this notice. This young lady is of a Dekkani Brahman family, settled in the Madras Presidency. We have not yet had the pleasure of seeing her. But she is known to be a very good Sanskrit scholar, an extempore poetess, and one who knows many thousands of Sanskrit verses by heart and is, in fact, a repository of ancient Sanskrit poetry. The extent to which Hindu boys cultivate their memory is truly wonderful. There are thousands of young Brahmans living at this day in India, who have in the course of some ten or more years learned, and retained, and made thoroughly their own, the text of one or two, or even three Vedas, and can repeat it all at the age of twenty-five from end to end without a single mistake in the quantity of the vowels or in the position or the proper stress of the accents: — and all that in a language of which they do not understand a word! In this very way, apparently, has Ramabai learned by rote all the Bhagavata Purana; and what is more, she can explain it, and can hold a sustained conversation in Sanskrit with learned scholars of the land, even native. Though Ramabais are not to be found in every household, they are not such rare beings as Western and Eastern foreigners may be inclined to imagine. But what is rare is their appearance in public. We have but a few days since heard of another Brahman lady who has appeared at Nasik, and who also expounds the Bhagavata. Doubtless Ramabai and her sisters, whatever their number, are monuments of their country, and all honour be to them. But we would earnestly ask whether the English, who rule the destinies of this vast continent, can conscientiously say that they have hitherto given, or even shown any inclination to give, in future, that encouragement to the cause of female education among the natives that it deserves? Have individual European gentlemen and ladies exercised their vast personal influence with a view to encourage the education and improvement of native females? It is but too true that the reply here, as to many questions regarding the welfare of India, is that individual Englishmen and English women in India cannot take any really genuine interest in such matters, because one and all feel that they are here as mere sojourners, enjoying even their short holidays in Europe, and eagerly looking forward to the day when they shall retire to their English homes with their pensions. And as regards the natives themselves, those that blame them for not promoting female education — of the modern type of course — have to bear in mind that, situated as the natives are, they have not much power to effect any great reforms. Many of the motive forces necessary for the purpose are wanting in them, and for ages to come natives will have to remain satisfied with such results of the cultivation of the faculty of memory, as Ramabai, the Maratha Brahman lady, so well exemplifies.
Vol 1:1, Section 2