Theosophical University Press Online Edition
Vol. I., No. 2 - NOVEMBER, 1879
Section 1 (pp. 33 - 44)
A Thunder Cloud with Silver Lining
Cross and Fire
The Man-show at Moscow
The Society's Bulletin
War in Olympus
The Ruin of India
The Nature and Office of Buddha's Religion
The Law of the Lord Sakkya Muni
Section 2 (pp. 44 - 56)
Arya Prakash: Yoga Vidya
Hints to the Student of Yoga Vidya
The Veda, the Origin and History of Religion
The Brahmachari Bawa
The Indian Forest Question.
Gary's Magnetic Motor
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Before our journal was published, some natives — perhaps not over-friendly — expressed their incredulity that the promise of the Prospectus would be kept at the appointed time. When it actually appeared, promptly on the day fixed, they hinted that many such journals had been hitherto started only to fail before the year was out, and leave their subscribers to mourn their flitting rupees. For the comfort of such doubters let us now say that the THEOSOPHIST will punctually greet its friends on or about the first of every month of the year of subscription. It was started for a purpose, and the honor of our Society is pledged for its accomplishment. Before even the Prospectus was printed, the entire cost of the undertaking was provided for, irrespective of all considerations of patronage. But it may surprise, as doubtless it will also gratify, editorial friends who forewarned us to wait two years for the paper to meet its own expenses, to learn that they were false prophets.
As regards our "bold innovation" of introducing the American and English system of "cash payment in advance," it would seem as if its superior merits have already struck even the Indian public. In fact it is no more agreeable, and even less honorable, for a man to be dunned month after month for his petty arrears to his publisher than for his greater ones to his landlord. "Short payments make long friends." The debtor is always the slave of the creditor, and in the natural order of things comes to hate him, as soon as the latter's necessities make him importunate.
We feel honored in being able to lay before Western thinkers, preliminary contributions from two of the most eminent priests of the religion of Buddha, now living. They are H. Sumangala, High Priest of Adam's Peak, Ceylon, the most venerated of Buddhistic monasteries; and Mohottiwatte Gunamanda, superior of the Vihare Dipadattama, at Colombo, Ceylon. The former is recognized by European philologists as the most learned of all the representatives of his faith; in fact, Dr. Muir of Edinburgh recently called him a polyglot, so extensive and accurate is his knowledge of languages and philosophies. His eminence as an instructor is also shown in his occupancy of the position of President of the Elu, Pali, and Sanskrit, College Vidyodaya. As a preacher and expositor of doctrine he is no less distinguished, while his personal character is so pure and winsome that even the bigotted enemies of his religion vie with each other in praising him. In the year 1867 a synod of the Buddhist clergy, called to fix the text of the Sutras and Pitakas, was presided over by him. When it was decided to reorganize the Theosophical Society upon the basis of a Universal Brotherhood of humanity, uniting men of all creeds in an effort to spread throughout the world the basic principles of a true religion, he cheerfully gave his adhesion to the movement, and accepted a place in the General Council; thus dignifying the Society and securing it the good-will of Buddhists, the world over. Far from asking that it should be given a sectarian character and made a propaganda of Buddhism, he sent his "respectful and fraternal salutation to our brethren in Bombay" in his letter of acceptance, and has shown from first to last the disposition to assist unreservedly and cordially our labours.
Who our other contributor is, the Christian world, or at any rate that portion of it with which the Missionaries in Ceylon have relations, very well know. For years he has been the bravest, subtlest, wisest, and most renowned champion of Buddha's Doctrine, in Ceylon. Six, or more times he has met the chosen debaters of the Missionaries before vast assemblages of natives, to discuss the respective merits of the two religions, and was never yet worsted. In fact, it is only too evident in the admissions of Christian papers that he silenced his adversaries by his searching analysis of Bible history and doctrines, and his exposition of the Law of Buddha. A pamphlet edition of the report of one of these great debates was published at London and Boston, two years ago, under the title "Buddhism and Christianity Face to Face," which should be read by all for whom the subject has an interest. We are promised a translation of another similar debate from the careful report made at the time in the Sinhalese language. In all, Priest Mohottiwatte — or, as he is popularly termed in Ceylon, Megittuwatte — has preached over 5,00 discourses upon the Buddhistic religion, and devoted the whole strength of his noble heart to his sacred mission. His interest in our Society is as sincere as Sumangala's, and his ardor in promoting its influences characteristic of all he does. He has no reluctance whatever to co-operate with our Aryan, Brahmanic, Parsi, Jain, and Hebrew members in carrying on our work. "We feet happier than can be described," he writes, "to learn about the cordial receptions given you by the brothers in London and by the natives of India. I am sorry that, without putting my congregation and myself to great inconvenience, I cannot be present in person at the meeting with Swami Dayanand. But I enclose a letter signed by the Rev. Sumangala, the High Priest, and myself, recording our unqualified approbation of your kind suggestion to place us as representatives of our faith in your Oriental Council." In another letter to Col. Olcott, he says, "We are rejoiced to know that such a learned, good and influential gentleman as Dayanand Saraswati Swami, is every way favorably disposed towards you." Such men as these two worthily exemplify the divine doctrines of Sakkya Muni.
In the whole experience of the officers of the Theosophical Society, no incident has been more cheering and delightful, than the friendliness with which their advances have been met by the Buddhists. If we had been brothers long separated, our greeting could not have been warmer. Says the venerable Chief Priest Sumana Tissa, of the Paramananda Vihare, near Point de Galle — now in his sixty-sixth year: "To use an Oriental simile, I and my many disciples anxiously wait your arrival, as a swarm of peacocks joyously long for the downpour of a shower." We trust that our duties will permit us before long to meet all our Sinhalese brothers in person, and exchange congratulations over the encouraging prospects of our peaceful humanitarian mission.
"All comes in good time to him who knows to wait," says the proverb. The small party of New York Theosophists, who arrived at Bombay eight months ago, had scarcely enjoyed the friendly greeting of the natives when they received the most unmerited and bitter insult of an accusation of political intrigue, followed by a shower of abuse and slander! We had come with the best and purest of intentions — however utopian, exaggerated, and even ill-timed, they may have seemed to the indifferent. But lo! who hath "believed our report?" Like Israel, the allegorical man of sorrow of Isaiah, we saw ourselves for no fault of ours "numbered with the transgressors," and "bruised for the iniquities" of one for whose race we had come to offer our mite of work, and were ready to devote our time and our very lives. This one, whose name must never pollute the columns of this journal, showed us his gratitude by warning the police that we were come with some dark political purpose, and accusing us of being spies — that is to say, the vile of the vile — the mangs of the social system. But now, as the last thunder-clap of the monsoon is dying away, our horizon too is cleared of its dark clouds. Thanks to the noble and unselfish editions of an English friend at Simla, the matter has been brought before His Excellency, the Viceroy. The sequel is told in the Allahabad Pioneer, of October 11th, as follows:
"It will be remembered that in the beginning of this year, their feelings were deeply hurt on the occasion of a trip they made up-country by an insulting espionage set on foot against them by the police. It appears that some groundless calamity had preceded them to this country, and that the police put a very clumsy construction upon certain orders they received from Government respecting the new arrivals. However, since then the subject has been brought especially to the Viceroy's notice, and, satisfied that the Theosophists were misrepresented in the first instance, he has given formal orders, through the Political Department, to the effect that they are not to be any longer subject to interference."
From the bottom of our hearts we thank his Lordship for having with one single word rubbed the vile stain off our reputations. We thank Lord Lytton rather than the Viceroy, the gentleman who hastened to redress a wrong that the Viceroy might have overlooked. The high official has but done an act of justice, and would not have been wholly blameable if, under the temporary pressure of political work of the highest importance, he had put it off to the Greek kalends. We love to feel that we owe this debt of gratitude to the son of one whose memory will ever be clear and sacred to the heart of every true theosophist; to the son of the author of "Zanoni," "A Strange Story," "The Coming Race," and, the "House, and the Brain;" one who ranked higher than any other in the small number of genuine mystical writers, for he knew what he was talking about, which is more than can be said of other writers in this department of literature. Once more we thank Lord Lytton for having prompted the Viceroy.
And now, for the last time in these columns, as we hope, we will say a few words more in reference to this sad page in the history of our Society. We first wish to thank those many outside friends, as well as Fellows of the Theosophical Society, who, regardless of the danger of associating with strangers so much ostracized, kept true to us throughout the long trial, scorning to abandon us even at the risk of loss of employment, or of personal disgrace. Honour to them; most gladly would we, were it permitted, write their names for the information of our Western Fellows. But we can never forget, on the other hand, the two or three instances of shameful, cowardly desertion, that have occurred. They were among those who had talked the most, who had most loudly protested their changeless and eternal devotion to us; who called us "brothers" near and dear to their hearts; had offered us their houses, their carriages, and the contents of their purses — if we would only accept them — which we did not. At the first apprehension that idle rumour might become a reality, these were the swiftest to desert us. One, especially, whose name we will refrain from mentioning, though we would have a perfect right to do so, acted towards us in the most disgraceful way. At the first hint from an official superior, cowering like a whipped hound before a danger more imaginary than real, he hastened to repudiate not only his "brothers," but even to pointedly disclaim the remotest connection with the Theosophical Society, and conspicuously published this repudiation in an Anglo-Vernacular paper!
To him, we have no word to say, but as a lesson for such others as in the future may feel like imitating him, we will quote these words of an English gentleman (not the lowest among Govt. officials) who has since joined our Society, who writes us in reference to this personage:
"If I were you, I would bless my stars that such a sneak left our Society of his own accord before he put us to the trouble of expelling him. Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus. A Fellow who, after pledging his word of honour* to protect the interest of his society, 'also the honour of a Brother Fellow,' even 'at the peril of his life,' (Rules, Art II.) breaks it and turns traitor without any other cause than his own shameful cowardice, offers but a poor guarantee for his loyalty even to the Government that he has sworn allegiance to . . . . . . . . . . ."
In all their search after strong words to fling at it, our enemies never once thought of charging the Theosophical Society with harboring and honoring poltroons.
*The Theosophical Society requires no oaths, as it deems no pledge more binding than the word of honour. — Ed.
Perhaps the most widespread and universal among the symbols in the old astronomical systems, which have passed down the stream of time to our century, and have left traces everywhere in the Christian religion as elsewhere, — are the Cross and the Fire — the latter, the emblem of the Sun. The ancient Aryans had them both as the symbols of Agni. Whenever the ancient Hindu devotee desired to worship Agni — says E. Burnouf (Science des Religions, c. 10) — he arranged two pieces of wood in the form of a cross, and, by a peculiar whirling and friction obtained fire for his sacrifice. As a symbol, it is called Swastica, and, as an instrument manufactured out of a sacred tree and in possession of every Brahmin, it is known as Arani.
The Scandinavians had the same sign and called it Thor's Hammer, as bearing a mysterious magneto-electric relation to Thor, the god of thunder, who, like Jupiter armed with his thunderbolts, holds likewise in his hand this ensign of power, over not only mortals but also the mischievous spirits of the elements, over which he presides. In Masonry it appears in the form of the grand master's mallet; at Allahabad it may be seen on the Fort as the Jaina Cross, or the Talisman of the Jaina Kings; and the gavel of the modern judge is no more than this crux dissamulata — as de Rossi, the archaeologist calls it; for the gravel is the sign of power and strength, as the hammer represented the might of Thor, who, in the Norse legends splits a rock with it, and kills Medgar. Dr. Schliemann found it in terra cotta disks, on the site, as he believes, of ancient Troy, in the lowest strata of his excavations; which indicated, according to Dr. Lundy, "an Aryan civilization long anterior to the Greek -— say from two to three thousand years B. C." Burnouf calls it the oldest form of the cross known, and affirms that it is found personified in the ancient religion of the Greeks under the figure of Prometheus 'the fire-bearer,' crucified on mount Caucasus, while the celestial bird — the Cyena of the Vedic hymns, — daily devours his entrails. Boldetti, (Osservazioni I., 15, p. 60) gives a copy from the painting in the cemetery of St. Sebastian, representing a Christian convert and grave-digger, named Diogenes, who wears on both his legs and right arm the signs of the Swastica. The Mexicans and the Peruvians had it, and it is found as the sacred Tau in the oldest tombs of Egypt.
It is, to say the least, a strange coincidence, remarked even by some Christian clergymen, that Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God, should have the symbols, identical with the Hindu God Agni. While Agnus Dei expiates and takes away the sins of the world, in one religion, the God Agni, in the other, likewise expiates sins against the gods, man, the manes, the soul, and repeated sins; as shown in the six prayers accompanied by six ablations. (Colebrooke — Essays, Vol. I, p. 190.)
If, then, we find these two — the Cross and the Fire — so closely associated in the esoteric symbolism of nearly every nation, it is because on the combined powers of the two rests the whole plan of the universal laws. In astronomy, physics, chemistry, in the whole range of natural philosophy, in short, they always come out as the invisible cause and the visible result; and only metaphysics and alchemy — or shall we say Metachemistry, since we prefer coining a new word to shocking sceptical ears? — can fully and conclusively solve the mysterious meaning. An instance or two will suffice for those who are willing to think over hints.
The Central Point, or the great central sun of the Kosmos, as the Kabalists call it, is the Deity. It is the point of intersection between the two great conflicting powers — the centripetal and centrifugal forces, which drive the planets into their elliptical orbits, that make them trace a cross in their paths through the Zodiac. These two terrible, though as yet hypothetical and imaginary powers, preserve harmony and keep the Universe in steady, unceasing motion; and the four bent points of the Swastica typify the revolution of the Earth upon its axis. Plato calls the Universe a "blessed god" which was made in a circle and decussated in the form of the letter X.
So much for astronomy. In Masonry the Royal Arch degree retains the cross as the triple Egyptian Tau. It is the mundane circle with the astronomical cross upon it rapidly revolving; the perfect square of the Pythagorean mathematics in the scale of numbers, as its occult meaning is interpreted by Cornelius Agrippa. Fire is heat, — the central point; the perpendicular ray represents the male element or spirit; and the horizontal one the female element — or matter. Spirit vivifies and fructifies the matter, and everything proceeds from the central point, the focus of Life, and Light, and Heat, represented by the terrestrial fire. So much, again, for physics and chemistry, for the field of analogies is boundless, and Universal Laws are immutable and identical in their outward and inward applications. Without intending to be disrespectful to any one, or to wander far away from truth, we think we may say that there are strong reasons to believe that in their original sense the Christian Cross — as the cause, and Eternal torment by Hell Fire — as the direct effect of negation of the former — have more to do with these two ancient symbols than our Western theologians are prepared to admit. If Fire is the Deity with some heathens, so in the Bible, God is likewise the Life and the Light of the World; if the Holy Ghost and Fire cleanse and purify the Christian, on the other hand Lucifer is also Light, and called the "Son of the morning star."
Turn wherever we will, we are sure to find those conjoint relics of ancient worship with almost every nation and people. From the Aryans, the Chaldeans, the Zoroastrians, Peruvians, Mexicans, Scandinavians, Celts, and ancient Greeks and Latins, it has descended in its completeness to the modern Parsi. The Phoencian Cabiri and the Greek Dioscuri are partially revived in every temple, cathedral, and village church; while, as will now be shown, the Christian Bulgarians have even preserved the sun worship in full.
It is more than a thousand years since this people, who, emerging from obscurity, suddenly became famous through the late Russo-Turkish war, were converted to Christianity. And yet they appear none the less pagans than they were before, for this is how they meet Christmas and the New Year's day. To this time they call this festival Sourjvaki, as it falls in with the festival in honour of the ancient Slavonian god Sourja. In the Slavonian mythology this deity — Sourja or Sourva, — evidently identical with the Aryan Surya . . . sun . . . is the god of heat, fertility, and abundance. The celebration of this festival is of an immense antiquity, as, far before the days of Christianity, the Bulgarians worshipped Sourva, and consecrated New Year's day to this god, praying him to bless their fields with fertility, and send them happiness and prosperity. This custom has remained among them in all its primitive heathenism, and though it varies according to localities, yet the rites and ceremonies are essentially the same.
On the eve of New Year's day the Bulgarians do no work and are obliged to fast. Young betrothed maidens are busy preparing a large platiy (cake) in which they place roots and young shoots of various forms, to each of which a name is given according to the shape of the root. Thus, one means the "house," another represents the "garden;" others again, the mill, the vineyard, the horse, a cat, a hen, and so on, according to the landed property and worldly possessions of the family. Even articles of value such as jewellery and bags of money are represented in this emblem of the horn of abundance. Besides all these, a large and ancient silver coin is placed inside the cake; it is called babka and is tied two ways with a red thread, which forms a cross. This coin is regarded as the symbol of fortune.
After sunset, and other ceremonies, including prayers addressed in the direction of the departing luminary, the whole family assemble about a large round table called paralya, on which are placed the above-mentioned cake, dry vegetables, corn, wax taper, and, finally, a large censer containing incense of the best quality to perfume the god. The head of the household, usually the oldest in the family — either the grandfather, or the father himself — taking up the censer with the greatest veneration, in one hand, and the wax taper in the other, begins walking about the premises, incensing the four corners, beginning and ending with the East; and reads various invocations, which close with the Christian "Our Father who art in Heaven," addressed to Sourja. The taper is then laid away to be preserved throughout the whole year, till the next festival. It is thought to have acquired marvelous healing properties, and is lighted only upon occasions of family sickness, in which case it is expected to cure the patient.
After this ceremony, the old man takes his knife and cuts the cake into as many slices as there are members of the household present. Each person, upon receiving his or her share, makes haste to open and search the piece. The happiest of the lot, for the ensuing year, is he or she who gets the part containing the old coin crossed with the scarlet thread; he is considered the elect of Sourja, and every one envies the fortunate possessor. Then in order of importance come the emblems of the house, the vineyard, and so on; and according to his finding, the finder reads his horoscope for the coming year. Most unlucky he who gets the cat; he turns pale and trembles. Woe to him and misery, for he is surrounded by enemies, and has to prepare for great trials.
At the same, time, a large log which represents a flaming altar, is set up in the chimney-place, and fire is applied to it. This log burns in honour of Sourja and is intended as an oracle for the whole house. If it burns the whole night through till morning without the flame dying out, it is a good sign; otherwise, the family prepares to see death that year, and deep lamentations end the festival.
Neither the momtzee, (young bachelor), nor the mommee (the maiden), sleep that night. At midnight begins a series of sooth-saying magic, and various rites, in which the burning log plays the part of the oracle. A young bud thrown into the fire and bursting with a loud snap, is a sign of happiness and speedy marriage, and vice versa. Long after midnight, the young couples leave their respective houses, and begin visiting their acquaintances, from house to house, offering and receiving congratulations, and rendering thanks to the deity. These deputy couples are called the Souryakari and each male carries a large branch ornamented with red ribbons, old coins, and the image of Sourja, and as they wend along sing in chorus. Their chant is as original as it is peculiar and merits translation, though of course, it must lose in being rendered into a foreign language. The following stanzas are addressed by them to those they visit: —
Sourva, Sourva, Lord of the Season,
Happy New Year mayest thou send;
Health and fortune on this household,
Success and blessings till next year.
With good crops and full ears,
With gold and silk, and grapes and fruits;
With barrels full of wine, and stomachs full,
You and your house be blessed by the God . . .
His blessing on you all. — Amen! Amen! Amen!
The singing Souryakari, recompensed for their good wishes with a present at every house, go home at early dawn . . . And this is how the symbolical exoteric Cross and Fire worship of old Aryavart go hand in hand in Christian Bulgaria. . . . . . . . . . .
Half Asiatic, white walled Moscow, the time-honoured capital-metropolis of our "Sainted Russia," is just now having the best of her fashionable modern rival — St. Petersburg, and even of the other capitals of Europe. If we mistake not, her present Anthropological Exhibition is the first of the kind ever held, as it is also the most unique of all expositions. The design was to present at one view, with the help of the geologist, palaeontologist and ethnogropher, all that is known or suspected as to the origin of man and his history upon the planet; more particularly to show the physical condition, the dress, manners, and customs of the diverse races and tribes of the world, especially those, so little known and studied yet, that acknowledge the sway of H. I. M. — our Czar.
So problematical seemed the issue of this scientific enterprise, that the eminent Russian naturalists who were its projectors kept their purpose very quiet for a time. They had even decided, for fear of a failure, to make no display of their invitations to various men of science, but, as soon as the main preparations had been thoroughly achieved, to privately send cards to a limited number of their colleagues throughout Europe. Museums were ransacked, and private collections put under contribution, and the government itself helped by sending specialists to various parts of the Empire to collect information. And now the exhibition has proved a thorough success.
The most interesting specimens in the palaeological department are the implements and arms of the stone age — the best being the private collections of Messieurs Anoutchine, d'Assy, and Martillier. A magnificent specimen of a well preserved skull of the man of the stone age, found by Count Ouvarovat Mouromsk (government of Vladimir), and a few of the bones of the skeletons attract general attention as being the first perfect specimens of that age ever found. The interest is divided between these and the admirable models of dolmens, the ancient tombs of the second neolitic period of the stone age. The specimens of the fossils of the cave man, bear, boor, bull and deer, from the caves of Swabia, sent by the Leipzic Anthropologico-Ethnographical Museum (Museum fur Volkerkunde), are very fine also. Next to these in interest, but on an ascending scale, as it touches directly the philanthropist as well as the ethnographer, and may serve as a key to unriddle the mystery of many distinct and strange characteristics of the peoples of the world, are the models of the cradles and infant head-dresses of nearly all the nations and tribes — civilized as well as savage. The full details of the ways of nursing a baby from its birth, are given here. Cradles of most various forms — Russian, Georgian, Tartar, Persian, Red Indian of America, Asiatic, Australian and African — most of them contrived so as to give a certain form to the head of the growing infant; and the curious tight-fitting head-dresses, crowd a whole compartment. Beginning with the narrow aperture of the Georgian Caucasian cradle, which compresses the head so as to prevent its growing in breadth, but forces its growth upwards that the papaha (fur cap) might fit it the better, and down to the bourrelet of the Bordelese of Southern France, which made a famous French anthropologist, who has just delivered a lecture upon the effects of these various modes, affirm that this custom, while throwing a mass of good singers and artists upon the world from Bordeaux, had prevented their raising one good scholar in that part of his own country — all the fashions are represented here; little manikins lying in the cradles, and manikin mothers attending on them.
The whole interior of the vast Exhibition Hall is made to resemble a gigantic grotto, divided by two hillocks, representing in miniature the various strata of our earth's formation; while each of a series of immense squares, presents a scene of some geological period — fancy and hypothesis having, as a matter of course, had a large share in the arrangement. The glory of this charming plan belongs to M. Karneief, our celebrated architect. And now, thanks to his ingenious idea, in one square, the public can stare at cleverly executed manikins of the men of the bronze age, with their implements; in the next, at the presumable inhabitant of the glacial period, crouched near his den, in dangerous proximity to the fossil elephant and cave-bear. At the foot of one of the hillocks is a pond, fed by the waters of a small cascade which falls from the top of the adjoining rocks, and in it sports a huge plesiosaurus, in company with other antediluvian monsters. All these are most cleverly executed automata. Over the slimy surface of artificial banks, creep, crawl and wriggle strange organic forms of the Devonian time; the motion being given to them by a clever mechanism of wires, wheels and springs. The idea suggested by these varieties, including the gigantic mastodon, the walking fish, and rude reptilian birds, is that the main concern of all was, on the one hand, to devour, and on the other, to escape from being devoured, by their neighbours. The "survival of the fittest" is, in short, the 'lay sermon' they preach.
The living types of Turanian tribes and races — inhabitants of Siberia and other far-away provinces of Asiatic Russia — are also creating a regular furore. Every people and nation is represented here — either by living specimens or dressed figures — so true to life in every particular that this has led to the most ludicrous mistakes in the public. An artificial woolly-headed Kaffir glistening like a freshly blackend boot, glares at a living Zulu who threatens him with his assegai; and, close by, a living wiry Afghan, follows with a sort of dreamy gaze the ever moving stream of ladies and gentlemen, belonging to a civilization which he neither appreciates nor admires.
Curious specimens of the aborigenes of Siberia attract the general attention. Here we see the Samoyedes of the North-Western parts of the land of exile; and the Ostiaks of the river Yenisei; the Barbarous Bashkir, the mild Yakoot, and the Kirgheez from the dreary steppes of Irtish and Ishim; the Calmucks, clean and shining in their gold-cloth coalats, caps, and long queues of hair; the tribes of Sagai, Beltires, Beruisses and Katchines; the mongolian Bouriats of lake Baikal, and the Tunguses from the frontiers of China. Great hunters and the most civilized among all these tribes, these Siberian Nimrods are now exhibited together — with the fire-arms of their own manufacture. Next come the pastoral, horse and cattle breeding nomads — the Tartar-looking Tunguses; and the Esquimaux Tchookchis, with their neighbours, the Coriaks. All these are distributed in several large compartments, living in their respective tents and dwellings, and surrounded by a scenery familiar to each, and even by the animals they have been accustomed to. For, living and stuffed specimens of the reindeer, the roebuck, the elk, of the wild sheep, and the arctic or stone fox; of sables, ermines, martens, marmots and squirrels, are brought, together with the white bear, the wolf, and the lynx. Even the patient camel has found room in a corner, where he shares his food with the strange looking spotted little white horse of Siberia.
As, of all the nations of the world, the tribes of Northern Siberia are the least known, I may as well describe some of the most curious of their strange ways, customs, and religious beliefs. The information was all derived from the catalogues of the Exhibition, and the official Reports of the men of science purposely sent to these far-away countries, and eye-witnesses. Let us begin with
THE INTRACTABLE SAMOYEDES
who will not be converted to Christianity, do what the missionaries may. Their multicolored tchoum (tent), the number of small bells decorating the dresses of their children, and their own parti-coloured queer garments, provoke the admiration of the Moskvitch. A funny anecdote is told of himself by Professor Zograf, who travelled last year among these people for the purpose of collecting his data. While on the peninsula of Kaninsk, desirous to ascertain the average height of this people, he began by measuring an old Samoyede. Seeing this, his friends took into their heads that his operation had something to do with recruiting soldiers, and raised an outcry; pouring upon the man of science a shower of choice half-Russian and half-vernacular abuse, which was followed up with a volley of stones. They confiscated his reindeer and luggage; and would have killed him but for his presence of mind. Taking out a revolver he showed them that it could kill five men at once. Then they got their revenge out of his collection of insects and reptiles. Every drop of the spirits-of-wine in which the specimens were kept having been drunk, they became very caressing, tenderly stroked the Professor's beard, and then, as he narrates himself, began dancing around him, repeating in chorus: "Pig, pig. . .Russian pig!. . .Black beard!. . . Pig!. . .Dog, good old dog!. . ." until finally they fell around him in promiscuous heaps, dead drunk. One old Sameyede lay there insensible, with an empty bottle in his hand and the remains of a magnificent "collection of insects" strewn over his mouth and breast . . . Before his departure from the turbulent tribe, Mr. Zograf had another adventure. The old hostess of the tchoum he was allowed to inhabit for the consideration of a barrel of whiskey, saw him once washing his face with a piece of rose-coloured glycerine soap. Imagining it to be a universal panacea against every mortal ailing, she begged of him and received a piece. At this moment her husband, happening to enter the tchoun, snatched the soap from his wife's hand, sniffed it, and remarking that it "stank good," swallowed it as if it had been a piece of pork !
Let us move on further, to the far, far North, toward the river Lemi, where live scattered about in solitary groups, the Yakoots. A piteous tribe, that, and
A DREARY, NEVER-THAWING, ICY LAND!
In its Southern portion there is a semblance of Summer sometimes; but in its Northern regions the sun, though it never sets during a period of fifty-two days, can barely call forth with its oblique rays a few rneagre bushes, and here and there some blades of grass, on those fields covered with perpetual ice, and frozen so hard that to the depth of a yard the ground never thaws. In July, appear clouds of mosquitoes, which literally darken daylight. These mosquitoes are the plague of man and cattle; in the former they produce a cutaneous fever, the latter they torture to death.
With the first days of November begin the fearful Siberean frosts, and the sun sets, to reappear only after thirty-eight days. This polar night is terrific. Darkness is moderated but by the reflection of the white snow, and occasionally dispersed by the flaming splendors of the aurora borealis. It is next to an impossibility for your Hindus, at least, the inhabitants of Central or Southern India, to conceive of such a cold, and yet, at that time, the cold reaches 86 degrees Fah. below zero; and even the enduring, patient reindeer hide themselves in the thickets, and stand motionless, closely huddled together to keep from freezing. Clear days are rare even in the so-called Summer, for the wind chases the vapours, the sun is darkened, and all the sky is covered with mirages. During such colds, a spoonful of soup taken directly out of the pot boiling on the fire, freezes before one has time to carry it to the month.
The surroundings of a Yakout are disgusting: the stench and dirt are beyond expression; for men and cattle live together. There is neither time, nor need, nor yet possibility to wash, as the water is constantly frozen; consequently the Yakout never washes. But he has few prejudices. He will drink water from the dirtiest pool, in which his beast had just rolled itself. When there is food, he eats much; but he is very enduring and can go without any food for a long while. The Yakouts are hospitable, obliging, respectful, and submissive to the authorities; little addicted to cheating, they have no experience of courts of justice, but at the same time they are lazy and careless. Thanks to this latter fault, they often die of accidents, but regard death with perfect indifference. "Their life is no life," says a correspondent of Novae Vryemea; "it is a half-sleepy vegetation amidst ices. Their numbers diminish with every year, and notwithstanding the care of the Russian Government to help this race while studying it, the ethnographer feels that he is writing its obituary. Far more poetical, and consoling from a moral stand-point, appear
THE NOMADIC TUNGUSE.
The ethnologists paint quite an ideal picture of them. The Tunguses are described by them as, "gentle, brave, obedient to their chiefs, and serviceable; no quarrels or strifes are ever heard of among them, They have not the slightest idea of a law-suit, and malice, envy, hatred and obstinacy are feelings quite unknown to them." During the last half-century the only cases that ever came before the magistrates, were a few manslaughters committed by the Tunguses when drunk. In every instance, the poor culprits come forward voluntarily to surrender themselves to the authorities, and then submit to their sentence without one word of complaint. In vivid contrast to the Tunguse stands the passionate,
THE FEROCIOUS AND VINDICTIVE, TCHOOKTCHA,
who never forgives an offence. When insulted, he seeks to kill his enemy on the sly. If revenge fails during his own life-time, he will bequeath it to his son, and thus it passes from one generation to another until the opportunity arrives; for revenge can be satisfied but with the death of the offender. A Tchooktcha who prepares for murder does it with a great solemnity: he dons a new garment, all covered with bits of wolf's fur, a similar fur cap, and provides himself with three knives; the largest he conceals behind his back (near the neck) under the upper garment, the two smaller he hides in his sleeves. He arms himself, moreover, with a spear, and goes about armed and prepared in this wise till the desired catastrophe happens. In the bosom of his family, a Tchooktcha is no less a tyrant; — enraged against his wife, he will often chop off her ears or the left arm as far as the shoulder. At the same time, he willingly lends his wife to friends and acquaintances; but deliberate unfaithfulness on her part, is punished with death.
THE FEMALE TCHOOKTCHI
are far from handsome, though they have even a more passionate love of personal adornment than our European ladies. For instance, they embroider their hands and faces, employing for the purpose threads made of animal tendons and veins — thus presenting a most original style of decoration of a deep blue color in high-relief upon their bronzed countenances. From the pattern one can recognize a married woman from a girl. The former has her nose embroidered in two rows, while the virgin is denied the beauty of such delicate adornment. At the exhibition, there are some women whose noses look like a mass of varicose veins! . . .
THEIR MARRIAGE CEREMONIES
are simplified to the uttermost. A young man on the lookout for a wife goes to the family of the bride, and says: "I want your girl." — "Go and feed the flock" is the patriarchal answer. Jacob-like, he goes and tends the cattle for three, sometimes four years, living at the same time with the girl as though she were his wife. In case a mutual liking springs up between them, she becomes his wife bonefide; if otherwise, the bridegroom is asked to decamp, and the bride waits for another pretender.
During this tentative wedlock, the attentions and little presents bestowed by the young man, who courts his beloved, are very original. They consist neither of flowers nor jewellery, for nothing of the sort is known in those regions. But they have instead their reindeer, which afford them vermin enough for a whole zoological garden. Towards Spring, a large, white, fat and exceedingly succulent worm makes its appearance in the fur and under the skin of the reindeer. It is these worms that the Tchooktcha gallant squeezes out and brings to his beloved. De gustibus non est disputandum. None the less original, and still gloomier is the picture given of
THE HOUR OF DEATH
of these eccentric, gloomy, vindictive savages. Strange to say, a Tchooktcha dreads above everything to die a natural death; for it amounts with him to allowing the devil to devour him! Old people who feel tired of life and reluctant to become a burden upon their families; or young ones who are either sickly, or who simply desire to join their deceased relatives or see their departed friends as soon as they can, — voluntarily put an end to their earthly peregrinations. The nearest of kin, or in his absence, a friend, or a simple acquaintance, obligingly takes upon himself the good office of dispatching the volunteer to a better world. Having arrayed himself in his best clothes, the candidate falls into the best of humours, becomes radiant with joy, and cracks jokes while bidding good-bye to his family acquaintances. The latter in their turn overload him with messages and compliments for their friends in the "other world." The day of the killing of a Tchooktcha is a day of rejoicing and a general festival; as for the self-doomed man, he keeps his tent from early morning, and awaits death with impatience; while all around the tent the hubbub of many voices is heard, the wife and children of the departing one going about in the crowd, with the utmost indifference. And now comes the last moment. The hum of the spectators hushes, and they solemnly prepare. The victim bares both his sides, and seating himself on his bed, behind tent-wall of skin, braces his right side against the log of wood which serves him for bed-pillow. Then the chosen executioner, piercing through the fur tent-wall with his spear, directs its sharp point towards the dying man, who, placing it carefully over the region of the heart, shouts to him
"KILL QUICKLY! PUSH!!"
The executioner then strikes a blow with his palm on the head of the spear-handle, and the sharp blade passing through the man's heart, emerges from the back covered with gore, and nails him to the log; a feeble groan, sometimes a piercing shriek, is all that the crowd hears from within the tent; the weapon is pulled out and the corpse rolls to the ground; the wife and children, exiled from the tent during the ceremony, re-enter their abode and coolly examine the dead man. After that, a kind of general "wake" commences, with joyous songs and drinking.
The subsequent disposal of the deceased varies: he is either cremated, or cemented within a heap of stones, in company with four sacrificed reindeer, and the grave is left to the wild beasts. His tomb is soon forgotten, even by his family, and but for occasional passersby, who throw a few tobacco leaves upon the cairn as a memorial to the brave suicide, no one would distinguish the monument from an ordinary heap of stones.
We might search the whole world in vain for the parallel to this Tchooktcha contempt for life and death.
An additional interest and value is given to the present number of the THEOSOPHIST by the able essay upon Indian Music, contributed by the Gayan Samaj, or Musical Reform Society, of Poona, through their respected Secretary, Mr. Bulvant. Though much has, we believe, been done in Bengal by an eminent native musical amateur, to make the merits of Aryan music known to our generation, and he has been decorated by the kings of Portugal and Siam, we, being strangers here as yet, are not informed that his essays have had vogue in the English language. But, whether our present paper is or is not the first formal challenge from a Hindu to the West to recognize the claim of India to the maternity of musical science, the challenge is here made; and it will be our duty and pleasure, alike, to see that it comes to the notice of some of the best critics of Europe and America.
Last month, Mr. Dinanath Atmaram, M. A., LL.B., that great contemporary Hindu mathematical genius, who — according to no less an authority than Mr. J. B. Peile, Director of Public Instruction, Bombay Presidency — "proved his point that Sir Isaac Newton's Rule for imaginary roots is not universally true, but that it is perfectly easy to form Equations having imaginary roots, the existence of which would not be made manifest by the application of Newton's Rule" — showed us that an Aryan geometer, and not the Greek Hipparchus — as hitherto commonly believed — was the author of Trigonometry. And now we see the most conclusive evidence that Music, the "Heavenly Maid" was begotten neither by Greek nor Roman, nor Egyptian inspiration, but sprang, a melodious infant, out of the Aryan cradle. The fact of the Aryans and Chinese having had a system of musical notation, is conceded by the Christians; but that it far antedated the epoch of the fabulous Jabal, "the father of all such as handle the harp and the organ," of the Bible, is not admitted by them, or, at all events, has not been until recently, if such be the fact even now. The peculiar poetical character of the ancient Hindu showed itself in the question "What is the music?" as part of the question, "What is Nature?" remarks Mr. Rice, treating upon Hindu music.* The THEOSOPHIST representing Eastern and not Western views and interests in all that concerns Oriental history, it is our ardent wish to be helped in bringing out all the truth about the Aryan priority in philosophy, science, and art, by every man who can give us the facts. We fear neither the frown of modern science, nor the wry faces and abuse of the theologists.
* What is Music? a charming monograph by Isaac L. Rice, Author, of "Analysis and Practice of the Scales." (New York, D. Appleton & co., 549, Broadway.) "How differently the Chinese and Hindus accounted for the emotive power of music!" exclaims this author. "On the one hand, the gloomy mysteries of the numbers and the elements; on the other, the bright fantastic gorgeous heaven of sunshine, marriages and pleasures! And yet who knows but that the Hindu philosophers, who established such a flowery system, were thinkers fully as deep as the Chinese sages — that their original conception and hidden meaning were not as spiritual as those of modern days?". . . It is our especial task to dispel such fatal errors about India as the above passage (underscored by us) contains. To underrate the spirituality of the old Hindu philosophers but proves that we do not know them. And if knowing them, we were to allow them no more than the spirituality existing in our "modern days" — that would be to insult them and truth. — ED. THEOS.
Mr. Herbert Spencer, true to his materialistic instincts, attributes the primitive development of music to a correlation of mental and muscular excitements; "the muscles that move the chest, larynx and vocal chords, contracting like other muscles in proportion to the intensity of the feelings," and song being but an exaggeration of the natural language of the emotions. (Illustrations of Universal Progress, chapter on 'The Origin and Function of Music'). But one of the best of our modern musical critics, the above mentioned Mr. Rice, shows narrowness of this conception. He properly says that "music is not a human invention, it is a part and parcel of Nature. The laws of vibration are . . . as immutable as those of gravity. . . . There is the human throat with its remarkable arrangement for the purpose of song alone. A far inferior construction would have served the purposes of language, or for the production of sound incidental to muscular excitement." Our Hindu contributor shows us how the Aryans caught and classified the sounds of nature; and so, too, Mr. Rice sententiously asks, "Did not singing-birds exist before the time of men? Did they evolve their singing from speech; or did they develope it from muscular excitement: or did they sing because it was natural for them to sing? No, music is not a human invention. The progress in music is of the same nature as the progress in science, it is based on discovery. The other arts are imitative of things in nature, but music is a very part of Nature itself."
While but few Western composers can ever enjoy the opportunity of coming to India to study the beginnings of their ennobling art, yet they may at least avail of the patriotic assistance of the Poona Gayan Samaj, to procure proper musical instruments, and to explore the ancient Sanskrit literature, in which the germs of musical science have been preserved, like flies in amber, to surprise and instruct us. The sympathy of every lover of the truth and of India should be unstintingly given to Mr. Bulwant and his honorable colleagues.
Some interesting results on the hereditary transmission of artificial injuries have been obtained by Dr. Brown-Sequard. He concludes that the young of parents, abnormally constituted, inherit external lesions, but not the central anomaly which determines such lesions.
Me. G. PONCHET states that Averroes is the first writer who gives an approximately true account of the sensation caused by the touch of electrical fishes. He compares it to magnetism, while Galen and others had considered it analogous to cold.
The first money in the British Isles was coined by the Romans at Camalodumum (Colchester) 55 B. C.
The increasing duties of the several members of the Theosophical Mission, compel the strict enforcement of the rule that on week-days no social visits can be received until after 6 P.M. except by special appointment. On Sundays, from 2 to 5, and after 6 P. M.
Of the last edition of Col. Olcott's Address at Framji Cowasji Hall, on "The Theosophical Society and its Aims," — to which are appended the Rules, as revised in General Council at Bombay — the few copies remaining may be had, upon application to the Librarian, at the rate of annas 4 per copy, free of postage. The President's address at Meerut, N. W. P., upon "The Joint Labors of the Theosophical Society and the Arya Samaj," can be procured of Babu Sheo Narain, Depot Godown Gumashta, Meerut, at the same price.
It is never too late to do an act of justice, and therefore in referring to Col. Olcott's Bombay address, the Council wishes to publicly acknowledge the Society's obligations to Mr. Jagmohundass Samuldass and his associates in the management of the Hindu Dnyan Vurdhak Library, for organizing the splendid meeting of welcome at Framji Cowasji Institute, on the 23rd of March last. It was intended that this should be said in the Preface to the Address, but as the proof were read, and the preface written while Col. Olcott was absent from Bombay, the matter was inadvertently omitted.
By H. P. Blavatsky.
Dark clouds are gathering over the hitherto cold and serene horizon of exact science, which forebode a squall. Already two camps are forming among the votaries of scientific research. One wages war on the other, and hard words are occasionally exchanged. The apple of discord in this case is — Spiritualism. Fresh and illustrious victims are yearly decoyed away from the impregnable strongholds of materialistic negation, and ensnared into examining and testing the alleged spiritual phenomena. And we all know that when a true scientist examines them without prejudice. . . . . . well, he generally ends like Professor Hare, Mr. William Crookes, F. R. S., the great Alfred Russell Wallace, another F. R. S., and so many other eminent men of science — he passes over to the, enemy.
We are really curious to know what will be the new theory advanced in the present crisis by the sceptics, and how they will account for such an apostasy of several of their luminaries, as has just occurred. The venerable accusations of non compos mentis, and "dotage" will not bear another refurbishing: the eminent perverts are increasing numerically so fast, that if mental incapacity is charged upon all of them who experimentally satisfy themselves that tables can talk sense, and mediums float through the air, it might augur ill for science; there might soon be none but weakened brains in the learned societies. They may, possibly, for a time find some consolation in accounting for the lodgment of the extraordinary "delusion" in very scholarly heads, upon the theory of atavism — the mysterious law of latent transmission, so much favoured by the modern schools of Darwinian evolutionism — especially in Germany, as represented by that thorough-going apostle of "modern struggle for culture," Ernst Haeckel, professor at Jena. They may attribute the belief of their colleagues in the phenomena, to certain molecular movements of the cell in the ganglia of their once powerful brains, hereditarily transmitted to them by their ignorant mediaeval ancestors. Or, again, they may split their ranks, and establishing an imperium in imperio "divide and conquer" still. All this is possible; but time alone will show which of the parties will come off best.
We have been led to these reflections by a row now going on between German and Russian professors — all eminent and illustrious savants. The Teutons and Slavs, in the case under observation, are not fighting according to their nationality but conformably to their respective beliefs and unbeliefs. Having concluded, for the occasion, an offensive as well as a defensive alliance, regardless of race — they have broken up in two camps, one representing the spiritualists, and the other the sceptics. And now war to the knife is declared. Leading one party, are Professors Zollner, Ulrizzi, and Fichte, Butlerof and Wagner, of the Liepzig, Halle and St. Petersburg Universities; the other follows Professors Wundt, Mendeleyef, and a host of other German and Russian celebrities. Hardly has Zollner — a most renowned astronomer and physicist — printed his confession of faith in Dr. Slade's mediumistic phenomena and set his learned colleagues aghast when Professor Ulrizzi of the Halle University arouses the wrath of the Olympus of science by publishing a pamphlet entitled "The so-called Spiritualism a Scientific Question," intended as a complete refutation of the arguments of Professor Wundt, of the Leipzig University, against the modern belief, and contained in another pamphlet called by its author "spiritualism — the so-called scientific question." And now steps in another active combatant, Mr. Butlerof, Professor of Chemistry and Natural Sciences, of St. Petersburg, who narrates his experiments in London, with the medium Williams, and thus rouses up a most ferocious polemic. The humoristical illustrated paper Kladderadatch executes a war-dance, and shouts with joy, while the more serious conservative papers are indignant. Pressed behind their last entrenchments by the cool and uncontrovertible assertions of a most distinguished naturalist, the critics led forward by the St. Petersburg star, Mr. Bourenine, seem desperate, and evidently short of ammunition, since they are reduced to the expedient of trying to rout the enemy with the most remarkable paradoxes. The pro and con of the dispute are too interesting, and our posterity might complain, were the incidents suffered to be left beyond the reach of English and American readers interested in Spiritualism, by remaining confined to the German and Russian newspapers. So, Homer-like, we will follow the combatants and condense this modern Iliad for the benefit of our friends.
After several years of diligent research and investigation of the phenomena, Messrs. Wagner and Butlerof, both distinguished savants and professors in St Petersburg University, became thoroughly convinced of the reality of the weird manifestations. As a result, both wrote numerous and strong articles in the leading periodicals in defence of the "mischievous epidemic" — in his moments of "unconscious cerebration" and "prepossession" in favour of his own hobby, Dr. Carpenter calls spiritualism. Both of the above eminent gentlemen, are endowed with those precious qualities, which are the more to be respected as they are so seldom met with among our men of science. These qualities, admitted by their critic himself, Mr. Bourenine, are: (1) a serious and profound conviction that what they defend is true; (2) an unwavering courage in stating at every hazard, before a prejudiced and inimical public that such is their conviction; (3) clearness and consecutiveness in their statements; (4) the serene calmness and impartiality with which they treat the opinions of their opponents; (5) a full and profound acquintance with the subject under discussion. The combination of the qualities enumerated, adds their critic, "leads us to regard the recent article by Professor Butlerof, Empiricism and Dogmatism in the Domain of Mediumship, as one of those essays whose commending significance cannot be denied and which are sure to strongly impress the readers. Such articles are positively rare in our periodicals; rare because of the originality of the author's conclusions; and because of the clear, precise, and serious presentation of facts. . . . . .
The article so euologized may be summed up in a few words. We will not stop to enumerate the marvels of spiritual phenomena witnessed by Professor Zollner with Dr. Slade and defended by Prof. Butlerof, since they are no more marvellous than the latter gentleman's personal experience in this direction with Mr. Williams, a medium of London, in 1876. The seances took place in a London hotel in the room occupied by the Honorable Alexandre Aksakof, Russian Imperial Councillor, in which, with the exception of this gentleman, there were but two other persons, — Prof. Butlerof and the medium. Confederacy was thus utterly impossible. And now, what took place under these conditions, which so impressed one of the first scientists of Russia? Simply this: Mr. Williams, the medium, was made to sit with his hands, feet, and even his person tightly bound with cords to his chair, which was placed in a dead-wall corner of the room, behind Mr. Butlerof's plaid hung across so as to form a screen. Williams soon fell into a kind of lethargic stupor, known, among spiritualists as the trance condition, and "spirits" began to appear before the eyes of the investigators. Various voices were heard, and loud sentences, pronounced by the "invisibles," from every part of the room; things — toilet appurtenances and so forth, began flying in every direction through the air; and finally "John King" — a sort of king of the spooks, who has been famous for years — made his appearance bodily. But we must allow Prof. Butlerof to tell his phenomenal story himself. "We first saw moving" — he writes — "several bright lights in the air, and immediately after that appeared the full figure of 'John King.' His apparition is generally preceded by a greenish phosphoric light which, gradually becoming brighter, illuminates, more and more, the whole bust of John King. Then it is that those present perceive that the light emanates from some kind of a luminous object held by the 'spirit.' The face of a man with a thick black beard becomes clearly distinguishable; the head is enveloped in a white turban. The figure appears outside the cabinet (that is to say, the screened corner where the medium sat), and finally approaches us. We saw it each time for a few seconds; then rapidly waning, the light was extinguished and the figure became invisible to reappear again in a moment or two; then from the surrounding darkness, 'John's' voice is heard proceeding from the spot on which he had appeared mostly, though not always, when he had already disappeared. 'John' asked us 'what can I do for you?' and Mr. Aksakof requested him to rise up to the ceiling and from there speak to us. In accordance with the wish expressed, the figure suddenly appeared above the table and towered majestically above our heads to the ceiling which became all illuminated with the luminous object held in the spirit's hand, when 'John' was quite under the ceiling he shouted down to us: 'Will that do?'
During another seance M. Butlerof asked 'John' to approach him quite near, which the "spirit" did, and so gave him the opportunity of seeing clearly "the sparkling, clear eyes of John." Another spirit, "Peter," though he never put in a visible appearance during the seances, yet conversed with Messrs. Butlerof and Aksakof, wrote for them on paper furnished by them, and so forth.
Though the learned professor minutely enumerates all the precautions he had taken against possible fraud, the critic is not yet satisfied, and asks, pertinently enough: "Why did not the respectable savant catch 'John' in his arms, when the spirit was but at a foot's distance from him? Again, why did not both Messrs. Aksakof and Butlerof try to get hold of 'John's' legs, when he was mounting to the ceiling? Indeed they ought to have done all this, if they are really so anxious to learn the truth for their own sake, as for that of science, when they struggle to lead on toward the domains of the 'other world.' And, had they complied with such a simple and, at the same time, very little scientific test, there would be no more need for them, perhaps, to . . . further explain the scientific importance of the spiritual manifestations."
That this importance is not exaggerated, and has as much significance for the world of science, as for that of religious thought, is proved by so many philosophical minds speculating upon the modern "delusion." This is what Fichte, the learned German savant, says of it. "Modern spiritualism chiefly proves the existence of that which, in common parlance, is very vaguely and inaptly termed 'apparition of spirits.' If we concede the reality of such apparitions, then they become an undeniable, practical proof of the continuation of our personal, conscious existence (beyond the portals of death). And such a tangible, fully demonstrated fact cannot be otherwise but beneficent in this epoch, which, having fallen into a dreary denial of immortality, thinks, in the proud self-sufficiency of its vast intellect, that it has already happily left behind it every superstition of the kind." If such a tangible evidence could be really found, and demonstrated to us, beyond any doubt or cavil, reasons Fichte further on, — "if the reality of the continuation of our lives after death were furnished us upon positive proof, in strict accordance with the logical elements of experimental natural sciences , then it would be, indeed, a result with which, owing to its nature and peculiar signification for humanity, no other result to be met with in all the history of civilization could be compared. The old problem about man's destination upon earth would be dissolved, and consciousness in humanity would be elevated one step. That which, hitherto, could be revealed to man but in the domain of blind faith, presentiment, and passionate hope, would become to him — positive knowledge; he would have acquired the certainty that he was a member of an eternal, a spiritual world, in which he would continue living, and that his temporary existence upon this earth forms but a fractional portion of a future eternal life, and that it is only there that he would be enabled to perceive, and fully comprehend his real destination. Having acquired this profound conviction, mankind would be thoroughly impressed with a new and animating comprehension of life, and its intellectual perceptions opened to an idealism strong with incontrovertible facts. This would prove tantamount to a complete reconstruction of man in relation to his existence as an entity and mission upon earth; it would be, so to say, a 'new birth.' Whoever has lost all inner convictions as to his eternal destination, his faith in eternal life, whether the case be that of an isolated individuality, a whole nation, or the representative of a certain epoch, he or it may be regarded as having had uprooted, and to the very core, all sense of that invigorating force which alone lends itself to self-devotion and to progress. Such a man becomes what was inevitable — an egotistical, selfish, sensual being, concerned wholly for his self-preservation, his culture, his enlightenment, and civilization, can serve him but as a help and ornamentation toward that life of sensualism, or, at best, to guard him from all that can harm it."
Such is the enormous importance attributed by Professor Fichte and Professor Butlerof of Germany and Russia to the spiritual phenomena; and we may say the feeling is more than sincerely echoed in England by Mr. A. R. Wallace, F. R. S. (See his "Miracles and Modern Spiritualism.")
An influential American scientific journal uses an equally strong language when speaking of the value that a scientific demonstration of the survival of the human soul would have for the world. If spiritualism prove true, it says, "it will become the one grand event of the world's history; it will give an imperishable lustre of glory to the Nineteenth Century. Its discoverer will have no rival in renown, and his name will be written high above any other. * * * If the pretensions of Spiritualism have a rational foundation, no more important work has been offered to men of science than their verification." (Scientific American, 1874, as quoted in Olcott's "People from the Other World," p. V. Pref.)
And now we will see what the stubborn Russian critic (who seems to be but the mouth-piece of European materialistic science) has to say in response to the unanswerable arguments and logic of Messrs. Fichte and Butlerof. If scepticism has no stronger arguments to oppose to spiritualism but the following original paradox, then we will have to declare it worsted in the dispute. Instead of the beneficial results foretold by Fichte in the case of the final triumph of spiritualism, the critic forecasts quite a different state of things.
"As soon," he says, "as such scientific methods shall have demonstrated, beyond doubt or cavil, to the general satisfaction, that our world is crammed with souls of men who have preceded us, and whom we will all join in turn; as soon as it shall be proven that these 'souls of the deceased' can communicate with mortals, all the earthly physical science of the eminent scholars will vanish like a soap-bubble, and will have lost all its interest for us living men. Why should people care for their proportionately short life upon earth, once that they have the positive assurance and conviction of another life to come after the bodily death; a death which does not in the least preclude conscious relations with the world of the living, or even their post-mortem participation in all its interests? Once, that with the help of science, based on mediumistic experiments and the discoveries of spiritualism, such relations shall have been firmly established, they will naturally become with every day more and more intimate; an extraordinary friendship will ensue between this and the 'other' worlds; that other world will begin divulging to this one the most occult mysteries of life and death, and the hitherto most inaccessible laws of the universe — those which now exact the greatest efforts of man's mental powers. Finally, nothing will remain for us in this temporary world to either do or desire, but to pass away as soon as possible into the world of eternity. No inventions, no observations, no sciences will be any more needed!! Why should people exercise their brains, for instance, in perfecting the telegraphs, when nothing else will be required but to be on good terms with spirits in order to avail of their services for the, instantaneous transmission of thoughts and objects, not only from Europe to America, but even to the moon, if so desired? The following are a few of the results which a communion de facto between this world and the 'other,' that certain men of science are hoping to establish by the help of spiritualism, will inevitably lead us to: to the complete extinction of all science, and even of the human race, which will be ever rushing onward to a better life. The learned and scholarly phantasists who are so anxious to promote the science of spiritualism, i.e., of a close communication between the two worlds, ought to bear the above in mind."
To which, the "scholarly phantasists" would be quite warranted in answering that one would have to bring his own mind to the exact measure of microscopic capacity required to elaborate such a theory as this, before he could take it into consideration at all. Is the above meant to be offered as an objection for serious consideration? Strange logic! We are asked to believe that, because these men of science, who now believe in naught but matter, and thus try to fit every phenomenon — even of a mental, and spiritual character, — within the Procrustean bed of their own preconceived hobbies, would find themselves, by the mere strength of circumstances forced, in their turn, to fit these cherished hobbies to truth, however unwelcome, and to facts wherever found — that because of that, science will lose all its charm for humanity. Nay — life itself will become a burden! There are millions upon millions of people who, without believing in spiritualism at all, yet have faith in another and a better world. And were that blind faith to become positive knowledge indeed, it could but better humanity.
Before closing his scathing criticism upon the "credulous men of science," our reviewer sends one more bomb in their direction, which unfortunately like many other explosive shells misses the culprits and wounds the whole group of their learned colleagues. We translate the missile verbatim, this time for the benefit of all the European and American academicians.
"The eminent professor," he adds, speaking of Butlerof, and his article, "among other things, makes the most of the strange fact that spiritualism gains with every day more and more converts within the corporation of our great scientists. He enumerates a long list of English and German names among illustrious men of science, who have more or less confessed themselves in favor of the spiritual doctrines. Among these names we find such as are quite authoritative, those of the greatest luminaries of science. Such a fact is, to say the least, very striking, and, in any case, lends a great weight to spiritualism. But we have only to ponder coolly over it, to come very easily to the conclusion that it is just among such great men of science that spiritualism is most likely to spread and find ready converts. With all their powerful intellects and gigantic knowledge, our great scholars are firstly, men of sedentary habits, and, secondly, they are, with scarcely an exception, men with diseased and shattered nerves, inclined toward an abnormal development of an overstrained brain. Such sedentary men are the easiest to hoodwink; a clever charlatan will make an easier prey of, and bamboozle with far more facility a scholar than an unlearned but practical man. Hallucination will far sooner get hold of persons inclined to nervous receptivity, especially if they once concentrate themselves upon some peculiar ideas, or a favourite hobby. This, I believe, will explain the fact that we see so many men of science enrolling themselves in the army of spiritualists."
We need not stop to enquire how Messrs. Tyndall, Huxley, Darwin, Herbert Spencer, Lewes, and other eminent scientific and philosophical sceptics, will like such a prospect of rickety ganglionic centres, collective softening of the brain, and the resulting "hallucinations." The argument is not only an impertinent naivete, but a literary monstrosity.
We are far from agreeing entirely with the views of Professor Butlerof, or even Mr. Wallace, as to the agencies at work behind the modern phenomena; yet between the extemes of spiritual negation and affirmation, there ought to be a middle ground; only pure philosophy can establish truth upon firm principles; and no philosophy can be complete unless it embraces both physics and metaphysics. Mr. Tyndall, who declares ("Science and Man") that "Metaphysics will be welcomed when it abandons its pretensions to scientific discovery, and consents to be ranked as a kind of poetry," opens himself to the criticism of posterity. Meanwhile, he must not regard it as an impertinence if his spiritualistic opponents retort with the answer that "physics will always be welcomed, when it abandons its pretension to psychological discovery." The physicists will have to consent to be regarded in a near future as no more than supervisors and analysts of physical results, who have to leave the spiritual causes to those who believe in them. Whatever the issue of the present quarrel, we fear, though, that spiritualism has made its appearance a century too late. Our age is pre-eminently one of extremes. The earnest philosophical, yet reverent doubters are few, and the name for those who rush to the opposite extreme is — Legion. We are the children of our century. Thanks to that same law of atavism, it seems to have inherited from its parent — the XVIIIth — the century of both Voltaire and Jonathan Edwards — all its extreme scepticism, and, at the same time, religious credulity and bigoted intolerance. Spiritualism is an abnormal and premature outgrowth, standing between the two; and, though it stands right on the high-way to truth, its ill-defined beliefs make it wander on through by-paths which lead to anything but philosophy. Its future depends wholly upon the timely help it can receive from honest science — that science which scorns no truth. It was, perhaps, when thinking of the opponents of the latter, that Alfred de Musset wrote the following magnificient apostrophe: —
"Sleep'st thou content, Voltaire;
And thy dread smile hovers it still above
Thy fleshless bones .............................?
Thine age they call too young to understand thee
This one should suit thee better —
Thy men are born!
And the huge edifice that, day and night, thy great hands undermined,
Is fallen upon us...................."
While every patriot Hindu bewails the decadence of his country, few realize the real cause. It is neither in foreign rule, excessive taxation, nor crude and exhaustive husbandry, so much as in the destruction of its forests. The stripping of the hills and drainage-slopes of their vegetation is a positive crime against the nation, and will decimate the population more effectually than could the sword of any foreign conqueror. This question of forest conservancy has been thoroughly studied in Western countries under the lash of a dire necessity. In spite of the opposition of ignorant and selfish obstructionists, nation after nation has taken the first steps towards restoring the woods and jungles which had been ruthlessly extirpated, before meteorology and chemistry became developed, and political economy was raised to the dignity of a science. In America, where our observations have been chiefly made, the wanton destruction of forests has been appalling. Whole districts have been denuded of large timber, through the agency of fire, merely to obtain cleared land for tillage. The 90,000 miles of railway and 80,000 of telegraph lines have caused the denudation of vast tracts, to procure their supplies of ties and poles. Not a moment's thought was given to the ulterior consequences until, recently, the advancement of statistical science rudely awoke American publicists from their careless apathy.
We need only glance at the pages of history to see that the ruin and ultimate extinction of national power follow the extirpation of forests as surely as night follows day. Nature has provided the means for human development; and her laws can never be violated without disaster. A great native patriot wrote us, some months ago, "this poor nation is slowly dying for lack of food-grains." This is, alas! too true; and he who would learn one great secret why food-grains fail, poverty increases, watercourses dry up, and famine and disease ravage the land in many parts, should read the communication of "Forester," in this number, to give place to which we gladly laid by other matter already in type. Our love for our adopted country moves us to give this subject of forest-conservancy much consideration in these columns from time to time. Our trip Northward last April, through 2,000 miles of scorched fields, through whose quivering air the dazzled eye was only refreshed here and there with the sight of a green tree, was a most painful experience. It required no poet's fancy, but only the trained forecast of the statistician, to see in this treeless sun-parched waste the presage of doom, unless the necessary steps were at once taken to aid lavish Nature to re-clothe the mountain tops with vegetation.
By the Rt. Rev. H. Sumangala, High Priest of Adam's Peak, and President of Widyodaya College; Senior Buddhist Member of the General Council of the Theosophical Society.
What must a religion chiefly reveal? A religion as such, must for the most part propound what is not generally seen and felt in the nature of sentient beings. It must also proclaim "the ways and means" by which the good of the world is attained. These teachings are essential to a religion or it would, at best, become only a system of philosophy or science of nature. We find these two essentials fully treated in the religion of Buddha.
Buddha says —
"Tanhaya uddito loko"
"Jaraya pari varito"
"Maccuna pihito loko"
Dukkhe loko patitthito"
The world has mounted on the passions and is suspended therefrom (the thoughts of men are hanging down from the lusts and other evils). The whole world is encompassed by decay: and, Death overwhelms us all. (Consumption and decay ever slowly but steadily creep in and eat into each and every thing in existence, and it is here likened to something like land encircled by sea). Nature has subjected us to birth, decay, and death, and the deeds of our past lives are covered by the terrors of death from our view, although the time of their action is not far removed from our present state of existence. Hence it is that we do not view the scenes of our past births. Human life before it arrives at its final destiny, is ever inseparable from Jati, Jara, Marna, etc. (birth, infirmities, death, &c.) As we are at present, we are in sorrow, pain, &c., and we have not yet obtained the highest object of our being.* It behoves us therefore that we exert ourselves every time and by all means to attain to our summum ultimum, and we have to use and practise "the ways and means" revealed in religion, in earnestness and integrity. And what are they as set forth in Buddhism?
"Sabbada sila sampanno"
Araddha viriyo pahitatto"
Ogham tarati duttaram."
(The man who is ever fully in the observance of the precepts of morality, who sees and understands things well and truly, who has perfect and serene command over his thoughts, who has his ever continuing exertions already in operation, and who has his mind fixed well in proper contemplation, I say that such a man alone will safely pass over the dreadful torrent of metempsychosis which is hard to be gone over safely and without meeting with great obstacles and difficulties.)
* This is the explanation we place before believers of a creator, who ask why a man cannot remember the actions of any of his former births.
And, again, here is another description of attaining to the proper object of man's life. "Ekayaho ayam bhikkave maggo sattanam visuddhrya sokkapariddavam samatekkamaya dukkhad omanassanam atthagamaya, nayassa adhigamaya, nibbanassa sachchikiriyaya yadidam cattaro satipatthana."
Satipatthana is the one and only way to holiness of being, to destruction of sorrows, pain and sufferings; to the path to Nirvana, and to its attainment.
Herein are embodied "the four satipatthana's" (starting of memory) on body, on sensation, on mind, and on the true doctrines largely discoursed upon by our Lord, the omniscient Gautama Buddha,
Kammam vijja dhammoca"
Silam jivita muttamam"
Etena macca sujjhanti"
[Men are sanctified by (their) deeds, their learning, their religious behaviour, their morals, and by leading a holy life: they do not become holy by race or by wealth.]
(To be continued.)
Colombo, Ceylon, 20th September 1879.
[Translated from the Sinhalese for the THEOSOPHIST]
By the Rev. Mohottivatte Gunanande, Chief Priest of Dipaduttama Vihare, Colombo, Ceylon; Member of the General Council of the Theosophical Society.
Understanding that even Oriental folk-lore will find a place in your new magazine, THE THEOSOPHIST, I purpose to send you for publication from time to time "Extracts from the Pali Buddhistical Scriptures of Ceylon," propounding the popular Buddhism of my countrymen the Sinhalese, the Natives proper of Sri Lanka. My first selections are from the "Saddhamma Samgaho." It is a book very generally read in Ceylon, but it has never been translated into any European language. The book treats in detail, and in regular order, on Thirty Theses of Buddhism, each of which is a grand division in the exoteric creed of the land: and, the denominations of the three and thirty several subjects are embodied in the following gathas —
"Lokuppatti katha ceva,
"Atho satta katha pica,
"Savakanam katha puna,
"Katha vinaya dhammeca,
"Acchariya katha catha,
"Brahma-loka katha puna,
"Tanhakkhaya katha capi,
"Kathhtha ditthiya katha,
"Gahattha vinayam tatha,
"Dana sila kathapica,
"Muninda sununo tatha,
"Dayassa dipana katha,
"Timsatettha bhave kama."
(1) The Discourse on the birth (coming into being)of the World, (2) on Creatures, (3) on Bodhisatva (Buddha prior to his attaining to Buddhahood), (4) on Buddha's attaining to Buddhahood, (5) on the Preaching of his Wheel of Dharma or Law, (6) on his Disciples, (7) on Vinaya or Ceremonial Law, (8) on the Sublimity of the Three Gems,(9) on the Celestial Worlds,(10) on Abhidhamma or the Transcendental Doctrines, (11) on the peculiar Dogmas of Buddhism, (12) on False Creeds, (13) on the taking of Refuge, (14) on Lay-Vinaya or Precepts regulating the conduct of Laymen, (15) on the Destiny of men, (16) on Alms, (17) on Religious Life, (l8) on Heaven, (19) on Hell, (20) on Passions, &c., (21) on Meditation, (22) on Brahma-Worlds, (23) on Nirvana, (24) on Pari-Nirvana, (25) on Relics, (26) on Collation and Recitation of Dhamma or Buddha's Teachings, (27) on the Importation of the Religion into Ceylon, (28) on the Promulgation of the Dispensation, (29) on Maittri Buddha, and (30) on the Miscellaneous Discourses.
It is necessary, I believe, to set forth, in limine, the authority for the statements contained in the book I have chosen, from which to extract selections. Relative to the genuineness and orthodoxy of the doctrines explained in "the Saddhamma Samgaho," the author says: —
Uddharitwa tato tato,
Pali Attha kathadisu,
Saddhamma Samgaha' mdani,
Karisama yatha balam
Saddhamma Samgahe 'masmim,
Susamma samgaham gata
"And for the good of the world, having carefully selected (sadhukam uddharitva) the important (saram) teachings found scattered 'up and down' in (tato tato) in the [voluminous] Pali Attakathas, &c., we now [shall] compile the 'Saddhamma Samgaho,' — O good men! Ye, therefore, who strive to be good (hitesino sujana) learn these Thirty Dissertations, beginning with the account of 'The coming into being of the World, &c' They are well contained in this 'Saddhamma Samgaho.'
The above declares that the author of the Dhamma Treatise has taken the accounts contained in his Work from the Pali Attahakathas; and, notwithstanding aught said to the contrary by Missionaries and other biassed opinionatists of these times, these Attahakathas (commentaries) have ever been held as most sacred by, at least, the generality of Buddhists of Ceylon, Burma and Siam. They are received as equally infallible as the Tripitaka Volumes; and, holy inspiration is ungrudgingly attributed to their rahat authors.
There is no doubt that exoteric Buddhism has them all as "gospel truth," and the generally prevailing religion in Ceylon is all made up of their teachings as well as of the Pitaka volumes.
Vol 1, No 2, Section 2