Theosophical University Press Online Edition
VOL. I., No. 3 - DECEMBER, 1879
Section 1 (pp. 57-70)
Christmas Then and Christmas Now
The Popular Idea of Soul-survival
Lieutenant-Colonel St. Antony
Ancient Opinions upon Psychic Bodies
A Chapter on Jainism
The Society's Bulletin
The Autobiography of Dayanand Saraswati Swami
Hindu Ideas about Communion with the Dead
The Veda, the Origin and History of Religion
Section 2 (pp. 70-81)
Soundings in the Ocean of Aryan Literature
Sankaracharaya, Philosopher and Mystic
The Phantom Dog
East Indian Materia Medica
A Strange Revery
An Old Book and a New One
Book and Pamphlets received.
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VOL. I. BOMBAY, DECEMBER, 1879. No. 3.
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BOMBAY, DECEMBER 1ST, 1879.
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Though large editions of the first and second numbers of this journal were printed, the supply of copies is nearly exhausted. It would be prudent, therefore, for persons who may be contemplating subscription to remit their money and thus secure the enrollment of their names at once, provided that they care to have a complete file of our first volume. Delays are dangerous where the demand of any desired thing is likely to exceed the supply.
Our revered brother, the Swami Dayanund Saraswati, continues in this number his autobiographical narrative, which the whole Indian press has declared the most interesting portion of our journal. We hope the lesson of his self-sacrificing quest after divine knowledge — that true wisdom which teaches man the nature of his inner Self, its source and destiny — will not be thrown away upon the youth of his country. Happy, indeed, would we feel if we could see the bright young men who are flocking into his Arya Samajes, emulating his conduct as well as reverencing his person. No Western reader need be at a loss to understand the interest that attends every movement in his preaching pilgrimage throughout India. And, object as our pandits may to his constructions of Vedic texts, not even the most Orthodox can fail in respect for one who joins to a profound knowledge of Sanskrit literature an absolute purity of motive and of life, and a fervid sense of duty never surpassed by reformers. For Theosophists of every nationality the account of his adventures among adepts of the secret (and sacred) science will have a peculiar charm.
Dr. Pandurang Gopal, G.G.M.C., a well-known surgeon-occulist and botanist, of Bombay, gives in the present number of our journal the first of a proposed series of articles upon the Indian Materia Medica. As little, or, indeed, we may say less, is known by western science of this highly important subject than of other questions relating to the motherland of our race. With them all researches practically begin with the period of Greek learning; if we except the very recent data which the Egyptologists and Assyriologists have supplied from their excavations. Though common sense would teach them that men fell sick and were cured before the times of the Asclepiadae, the Pythagoreans, or the Galenites, the absence of translations from the Sanskrit, has compelled modern medical writers to say, with the learned author of the article on "Medicine," in Appleton's New American Cyclopaedia: "In what consisted the medicine of the Egyptians, the Hindus, &c., is a matter of conjecture only." To remove this necessity for blind guess-work, and show modern science what the Aryas knew of the infirmities to which mankind are liable, is the aim of our contributor and fellow Theosophist, Dr. Pandurang.
From many correspondents we have received letters expressing deep regret that the majority of Hindus outside the Civil Service are prevented from reading the THEOSOPHIST because of its being published in English. The only remedy that occurs to us is the issue of an edition of the journal in one of the vernacular languages. But this is to undertake the management of two publications instead of one, a greater task than most societies would care for. Still, as the success of our present venture is now an assured fact, if it can be shown us that a vernacular paper would support itself, we might consent, for the sake of India and of our brothers, the Hindus. We invite a general expression of opinion upon the subject. And the only convincing shape that such an expression can assume, is for our friends to say how many copies of the vernacular edition they and their friends will subscribe for, at Rs. 6 each, per annum, cash in advance; writing the names and addresses plainly, and stating in what language they will be satisfied to have it. If we find that 300 persons will subscribe on these terms, and, after notifying them that their offers are accepted, should receive the subscription money of that number, we will then at once issue such an edition of the THEOSOPHIST, commencing with the first number, taking the risks of publication upon ourselves. But we could not consent to allow present subscribers to the English edition to transfer their names to the vernacular edition's list, should such an edition be undertaken. They and we are mutually bound by our present contract: if they wish a vernacular THEOSOPHIST, they must subscribe for it. We are subsidized by no government, prince, or patron, and therefore must see to it that for every rupee of expenditure there are 16 annas of assets forthcoming.
A recent number of the London Spiritualist contains one of the most important articles — from the stand-point of physical science — ever printed on the subject of the mediumistic phenomena. It is a detailed report, by Mr. W. H. Harrison, of an experiment with a self-registering apparatus to verify the weight of a medium while a "materialised spirit," so called, or, more properly, visible psychic form, is being seen, felt, and conversed with by the observers present. Perfect test conditions are supplied by the machinery; and this experiment has at once suggested that the substance of the psychic form is taken from the bulk of the medium, the automatic register showing that his weight is reduced the moment the form steps off the floor of the suspended box in which he sits, and recovers itself the moment it steps back again. Mr. Harrison's report is illustrated with a number of large and small drawings which — if the resources of Bombay do not prove utterly inadequate — we hope to reproduce, together with the report itself, in the January number of our journal. This experiment is but the beginning of a series which cannot fail to prove, in the most striking and irrefutable manner, the truth of the Aryan hypothesis of psychology. It would be premature to enter into the reflections naturally suggested by this subject before laying the report before our readers, so we refrain. But we may say, at least, that the idea instantly occurred to us that the experimenters had omitted one most important detail — the weighing of the psychic form itself while the automatic balance was recording the altered weight of the medium. Nothing is easier. It needs only to place an ordinary American 'platform-scale' at a short distance from the suspended cabinet, and have the psychic form stand upon it long enough to be weighed by one of the Committee, who could adjust the counterpoise, and read the markings, by the light of an ordinary phosphorus-lamp. If it should be found that the weight of the form tallied with the sum abstracted from the weight of the medium, here would be presumptive physical proof that the former was exuded from the latter. And then — but perhaps our friends, the Spiritualists, will prefer to fill out the sentence for themselves!
A WELL PLACED PIETY. — The Charivari, deploring the growing infidelity of the day, gives as an instance of mediaeval piety the following letter, from the collection of autographs of Baron Girardot, which was recently advertised to be sold at auction. The mother of Cardinal Richelieu writes to a young married lady: —
"For years I was fervently praying God to send to my son a mistress like you; one that has all the desired qualities. I now find that God Almighty was pleased to accept my humble prayer, since you have allowed my dear son to be your humble servant."
Charming picture, forsooth, of mother, son, priest, church, and God!
We are reaching the time of the year when the whole Christian world is preparing to celebrate the most noted of its solemnities — the birth of the Founder of their religion. When this paper reaches its Western subscribers, there will be festivity and rejoicing in every house. In North Western Europe and in America the holly and ivy will decorate each home, and the churches bedecked with evergreens; a custom derived from the ancient practices of the pagan Druids "that sylvan spirits might flock to the evergreens, and remain unnipped by frost till a milder season." In Roman Catholic countries large crowds flock during the whole evening and night of 'Christmas-eve' to the churches, to salute waxen images of the divine Infant, and his Virgin mother, in her garb of "Queen of Heaven." To an analytical mind, this bravery of rich gold and lace, pearl-broidered satin and velvet, and the bejewelled cradle do seem rather paradoxical. When one thinks of the poor, worm-eaten, dirty manger of the Jewish country-inn, in which, if we must credit the Gospel, the future "Redeemer" was placed at his birth for lack of a better shelter, we cannot help suspecting that before the dazzled eyes of the unsophisticated devotee the Bethlehem stable vanishes altogether. To put it in the mildest terms, this gaudy display tallies ill with the democratic feelings and the truly divine contempt for riches of the "Son of Man," who had "not where to lay his head." It makes it all the harder for the average Christian to regard the explicit statement that — "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven," as anything more than a rhetorical threat. The Roman Church acted wisely in severely forbidding her parishioners to either read or interpret the Gospels for themselves, and leaving the Book, as long as it was possible, to proclaim its truths in Latin — "the voice of one crying in the wilderness." In that, she but followed the wisdom of the ages — the wisdom of the old Aryans, which is also "justified of her children;" for, as neither the modern Hindu devotee understands a word of the Sanskrit, nor the modern Parsi one syllable of the Zend, so for the average Roman Catholic the Latin is no better than Hieroglyphics. The result is that all the three — Brahmanical High Priest, Zoroastrian Mobed, and Roman Catholic Pontiff, are allowed unlimited opportunities for evolving new religious dogmas out of the depths of their own fancy, for the benefit of their respective churches.
To usher in this great day, the bells are set merrily ringing at midnight, throughout England and the Continent. In France and Italy, after the celebration of the mass in churches magnificently decorated, "it is usual for the revellers to partake of a collation (reveillon) that they may be better able to sustain the fatigues of the night," saith a book treating upon Popish church ceremonials. This night of Christian fasting reminds one of the Sivaratree of the followers of the god Siva, — the great day of gloom and fasting, in the 11th month of the Hindu year. Only, with the latter, the night's long vigil is preceded and followed by a strict and rigid fasting. No reveillons or compromises for them. True, they are but wicked "heathens," and therefore their way to salvation must be tenfold harder.
Though now universally observed by Christian nations as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, the 25th of December was not originally so accepted. The most movable of the Christian feast days, during the early centuries, Christmas was often confounded with the Epiphany, and celebrated in the months of April and May. As there never was any authentic record, or proof of its identification, whether in secular or ecclesiastical history, the selection of that day long remained optional; and it was only during the 4th century that, urged by Cyril of Jerusalem, the Pope (Julius I.) ordered the bishops to make an investigation and come finally to some agreement as to the presumable date of the nativity of Christ. Their choice fell upon the 25th day of December, — and a most unfortunate choice date of the 25th day it has since proved! It was Dupuis, followed by Volney who aimed the first shots at this natal anniversary. They proved that for incalculable periods before our era, upon very clear astronomical data, nearly all the ancient peoples had celebrated the births of their sun-gods on that very day. "Dupuis shows that the celestial sign of the VIRGIN AND CHILD was in existence several thousand years before Christ" — remarks Higgins in his Anacalypsis. As Dupuis, Volney, and Higgins have all been passed over to posterity as infidels, and enemies of Christianity, it may be as well to quote, in this relation, the confessions of the Christian Bishop of Ratisbone, "the most learned man that the middleages produced" — the Dominican, Albertus Magnus. "The sign of the celestial Virgin rises above the horizon at the moment in which we fix the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ," he says, in the Becherches historiques sur Falaise, par Langevin pretre. So Adonis, Bacchus, Osiris, Apollo, etc., were all born on the 25th of December. Christmas comes just at the time of the winter solstice; the days then are shortest, and Darkness is more upon the face of the earth than ever. All the sun Gods were believed to be annually born at that epoch; for from this time its Light dispels more and more darkness with each succeeding day, and the power of the Sun begins to increase.
However it may be, the Christmas festivities, that were held by the Christians for nearly fifteen centuries, were of a particularly pagan character. Nay, we are afraid that even the present ceremonies of the church can hardly escape the reproach of being almost literally copied from the mysteries of Egypt and Greece, held in honour of Osiris and Horns, Apollo and Bacchus. Both Isis and Ceres were called "Holy Virgins," and a DIVINE BABE may be found in every "heathen" religion. We will now draw two pictures of the Merrie Christmas; one portraying the "good old times," and the other the present state of Christian worship. From the first days of its establishment as Christmas, the day was regarded in the double light of a holy commemoration and a most cheerful festivity: it was equally given up to devotion and insane merriment. "Among the revels of the Christmas season were the so-called feasts of fools and of asses, grotesque saturnalia, which were termed 'December liberties,' in which everything serious was burlesqued, the order of society reversed, and its decencies ridiculed" — says one compiler of old chronicles. "During the Middle Ages, it was celebrated by the gay fantastic spectacle of dramatic mysteries, performed by personages in grotesque masks and singular costumes. The show usually represented an infant in a cradle, surrounded by the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, by bull's heads, cherubs, Eastern Magi, (the Mobeds of old) and manifold ornaments." The custom of singing canticles at Christmas, called Carols, was to recall the songs of the shepherds at the Nativity. "The bishops and the clergy often joined with the populace in carolling, and the songs were enlivened by dances, and by the music of tambours, guitars, violins and organs. . ." We may add that down to the present times, during the days preceding Christmas, such mysteries are being enacted, with marionettes and dolls, in Southern Russia, Poland, and Galicia; and known as the Kalidowki. In Italy, Calabrian Minstrels descend from their mountains to Naples and Rome, and crowd the shrines of the Virgin Mother, cheering her with their wild Music.
In England, the revels used to begin on Christmas eve, and continue often till Candlemas (Feb. 2), every day being a holiday till Twelfth-night (Jan. 6). In the houses of great nobles a "lord of misrule," or "abbot of unreason" was appointed, whose duty it was to play the part of a buffoon. "The larder was filled with capons, hens, turkeys, geese, ducks, beef, mutton, pork, pies, puddings, nuts, plums, sugar and honey" . . . . . . "A glowing fire, made of great logs, the principal of which was termed the 'Yule log,' or Christmas block, which might be burnt till Candlemas eve, kept out the cold; and the abundance was shared by the lord's tenants amid music, conjuring, riddles, hot-cockles, fool-plough, snap-dragon, jokes, laughter, repartees, forfeits, and dances."
In our modern times, the bishops and the clergy join no more with the populace in open carolling and dancing; and feasts of "fools and of asses" are enacted more in sacred privacy than under the eyes of the dangerous argus-eyed reporter. Yet the eating and drinking festivities are preserved throughout the Christian world; and, more sudden deaths are doubtless caused by gluttony and intemperance during the Christmas and Easter holidays, than at any other time of the year. Yet, Christian worship becomes every year more and more a false pretence. The heartlessness of this lip-service has been denounced innumerable times, but never, we think, with a more affecting touch of realism than in a charming dream-tale, which appeared in the New York Herald about last Christmas. An aged man, presiding at a public meeting, said he would avail himself of the opportunity to relate a vision he had witnessed on the previous night. "He thought he was standing in the pulpit of the most gorgeous and magnificent cathedral he had ever seen. Before him was the priest or pastor of the church, and beside him stood an angel with a tablet and pencil in hand, whose mission it was to make record of every act of worship or prayer that transpired in his presence and ascended as an acceptable offering to the throne of God. Every pew was filled with richly-attired worshippers of either sex. The most sublime music that ever fell on his enraptured ear filled the air with melody. All the beautiful ritualistic church services, including a surpassingly eloquent sermon from the gifted minister, had in turn transpired, and yet the recording angel made no entry in his tablet! The congregation were at length dismissed by the pastor with a lengthy and beautifully-worded prayer, followed by a benediction, and yet the angel made no sign!"
"Attended still by the angel, the speaker left the door of the church in rear of the richly-attired congregation. A poor, tattered castaway stood in the gutter beside the curbstone, with her pale, famished hand extended, silently pleading for alms. As the richly-attired worshippers from the church passed by, they shrank from the poor Magdalen, the ladies withdrawing aside their silken, jewel bedecked robes, lest they should be polluted by her touch."
"Just then an intoxicated sailor came reeling down the sidewalk on the other side. When he got opposite the poor forsaken girl, he staggered across the street to where she stood, and, taking a few pennies from his pocket, he thrust them into her hand, accompanied with the adjuration, 'Here, you poor forsaken cuss, take this!' A celestial radiance now lighted up the face of the recording angel, who instantly entered the sailor's act of sympathy and charity in his tablet, and departed with it as a sweet sacrifice to God."
A concretion, one might say, of the Biblical story of the judgment upon the woman taken in adultery. Be it so; yet it portrays with a master hand the state of our Christian society.
According to tradition, on Christmas-eve, the oxen may always be found on their knees, as though in prayer and devotion; and, "there was a famous hawthorn in the churh-yard of Glastonbury Abbey, which always budded on the 24th, and blossomed on the 25th of December;" which, considering that the day was chosen by the Fathers of the church at random, and that the calendar has been changed from the old to the new style, shows a remarkable perspicacity in both the animal and the vegetable! There is also a tradition of the church, preserved to us by Olaus, archbishop of Upsal, that, at the festival of Christmas, "the men, living in the cold Northern parts, are suddenly and strangely metamorphosed into wolves; and that a huge multitude of them meet together at an appointed place and rage so fiercely against mankind, that it suffers more from their attacks than ever they do from the natural wolves." Metaphorically viewed, this would seem to be more than ever the case with men, and particularly with Christian nations, now. There seems no need to wait for Christmas-eve to see whole nations changed into "wild beasts" — especially in time of war.
BEING POOR. — An American wag says — There is no disgrace in being poor. The thing is to keep it quiet, and not let your neighbours know anything about it.
At what epoch the dawning intellect of man first accepted the idea of future life, none can tell. But we know that, from the very first, its roots struck so deeply, so entwined about human instincts, that the belief has endured through all generations, and is imbedded in the consciousness of every nation and tribe, civilized, semi-civilized or savage. The greatest minds have speculated upon it; and the rudest savages, though having no name for the Deity, have yet believed in the existence of spirits and worshipped them. If, in Christian Russia, Wallachia, Bulgaria and Greece, the Oriental Church enjoins that upon All-Saints day offerings of rice and drink shall be placed upon the graves; and in "heathen" India, the same propitiatory gifts of rice are made to the departed; so, likewise, the poor savage of New Caledonia makes his sacrifice of food to the skulls of his beloved dead.
According to Herbert Spencer, the worship of souls and relics is to be attributed to "the primitive idea that any property characterizing an aggregate, inheres in all parts of it. . . . . .The soul, present in the body of the dead man preserved entire, is also present in the preserved parts of his body. Hence, the faith in relics." This definition, though in logic equally applicable to the gold-enshrined and bejewelled relic of the cultured Roman Catholic devotee, and to the dusty, time-worn skull of the fetish worshipper, might yet be excepted to by the former. Since he would say that he does not believe the soul to be present in either the whole cadaver, skeleton, or part, nor does he, strictly speaking, worship it. He but honours the relic as something which, having belonged to one whom he deems saintly, has by the contact acquired a sort of miraculous virtue. Mr. Spencer's definition, therefore, does not seem to cover the whole ground. So also Professor Max Muller, in his Science of Religion, after having shown to us, by citing numerous instances, that the human mind had, from the beginning, a "vague hope of a future life," explains no more than Herbert Spencer whence or how came originally such a hope. But merely points to an inherent faculty in uncultivated nations of changing the forces of nature into gods and demons. He closes his lecture upon the Turanian legends and the universality of this belief in ghosts and spirits, by simply remarking that the worship of the spirits of the departed is the most widely spread form of superstition all over the world.
Thus, whichever way we turn for a philosophical solution of the mystery; whether we expect an answer from theology which is itself bound to believe in miracles, and teach supernaturalism; or ask it from the now dominant schools of modern thought — the greatest opponents of the miraculous in nature; or, again, turn for an explanation to that philosophy of extreme positivism which, from the days of Epicurus down to the modern school of James Mill, adopting for its device the glaring sciolism "nihil in intellectu, quod non ante fuerit in sensu " makes intellect subservient to matter — we receive a satisfactory reply from none!
If this article were intended merely for a simple collation of facts, authenticated by travellers on the spot, and concerning but "superstitions" born in the mind of the primitive man, and now lingering only among the savage tribes of humanity, then the combined works of such philosophers as Herbert Spencer might solve our difficulties. We might remain content with his explanation that in the absence of hypothesis "foreign to thought in its earliest stage. . .primitive ideas, arising out of various experiences, derived from the inorganic world" — such as the actions of wind, the echo, and man's own shadow — proving to the uneducated mind that there was "an invisible form of existence which manifests power," were all sufficient to have created a like "inevitable belief" (see Spencer's Genesis of Superstition.) But we are now concerned with something nearer to us, and higher than the primitive man of the stone age; the man who, totally ignored "those conceptions of physical causation which have arisen only as experiences, and have been slowly organized during civilization." We are now dealing with the beliefs of twenty millions of modern Spiritualists; our own fellow men, living in the full blaze of the enlightened 19th century. These men ignore none of the discoveries of modern science; nay, many among them are themselves ranked high among the highest of such scientific discoverers. Not withstanding all this, are they any the less addicted to the same, "form of superstition," if superstition it be, than the primitive man? At least their interpretations of the physical phenomena, whenever accompanied by those coincidences which carry to their minds the conviction of an intelligence behind the physical Force — are often precisely the same as those which presented themselves to the apprehension of the man of the early and undeveloped ages.
What is a shadow? asks Herbert Spencer. By a child and a savage "a shadow is thought of as an entity." Bastian says of the Benin negroes, that "they regard men's shadows as their souls" . . . thinking "that they . . . watch all their actions, and bear witness against them." According to Crantz, among the Greenlanders a man's shadow "is one of his two souls — the one which goes away from his body at night." By the Feejeeans, the shadow is called "the dark spirit, as distinguished from another which each man possesses." And the celebrated author of the "Principles of Psychology" explains that "the community of meaning, hereafter to be noted more fully, which various unallied languages betray between shade and spirit, show us the same thing."
What all this shows us the most clearly however, is that, wrong and contradicting as the conclusions may be, yet the premises on which they are based are no fictions. A thing must be, before the human mind can think or conceive of it. The very capacity to imagine the existence of something usually invisible and intangible, is itself evidence that it must have manifested itself at some time. Sketching in his usual artistic way the gradual development of the soul-idea, and pointing out at the same time how "mythology not only pervades the sphere of religion . . . but, infects more or less the whole realm of thought," Professor Muller in his turn tells us that, when men wished for the first time to express "a distinction between the body, and something else within him distinct from the body. . . the name that suggested itself was breath, chosen to express at first the principle of life as distinguished from the decaying body, afterwards the incorporeal. . .immortal part of man — his soul, his mind, his self . . . when a person dies, we, too, say that he has given up the ghost, and ghost, too, meant originally spirit, and spirit meant breath." As instances of this, narratives by various missionaries and travellers are quoted. Questioned by Father F. de Bobadilla, soon after the Spanish conquest, as to their ideas concerning death, the Indians of Nicaragua told him that "when men die, there comes forth from their mouth something which resembles a person and is called Julio (in Aztec yuli 'to live' — explains M. Muller.) This being is like a person, but does not die and the corpse remains here. . . "In one of his numerous works, Andrew Jackson Davis, whilom considered the greatest American clairvoyant and known as the "Poughkeepsie Seer," gives us what is a perfect illustration of the belief of the Nicaragua Indians. This book (Death and the After Life) contains an engraved frontispiece, representing the deathbed of an old woman. It is called the "Formation of the Spiritual Body." Out of the head of the defunct, there issues a luminous appearance — her own rejuvenated form.*
* "Suppose a person is dying," says the Poughkeepsie Seer: "The clairvoyant sees right over the head what may be called a magnetic halo — an ethereal emanation, in appearance golden, and throbbing as though conscious . . . . . . The person has ceased to breathe, the pulse is still, and the emanation is elongated and fashioned in the outline of the human form! Beneath it, is connected the brain . . . . . . owing to the brain's momentum. I have seen a dying person, even at the last feeble pulse-beat, rouse impulsively and rise up in bed to converse, but the next instant he was gone — his brain being the last to yield up the life-principles. The golden emanation . . . . . . is connected with the brain by a very fine life-thread. When it ascends, there appears something white and shining like a human head; next, a faint outline of the face divine; then the fair neck and beautiful shoulders; then, in rapid succession come all parts of the new body, down to the feet — a bright shining image, a little smaller than the physical body, but a perfect prototype . . . in all except its disfigurements. The fine life-thread continues attached to the old brain. The next thing is the withdrawal of the electric principle. When this thread snaps, the spiritual body is free (!) and prepared to accompany its guardian to the Summer Land."
Among some Hindus the spirit is supposed to remain for ten days seated on the eaves of the house where it parted from the body. That it may bathe and drink, two plantain leaf-cups are placed on the eaves, one full of milk and the other of water. "On the first day the dead is supposed to get his head; on the second day his ears, eyes, and nose; on the third, his hands, breast, and neck; on the fourth, his middle parts; on the fifth, his legs and feet; on the sixth, his vitals; on the seventh, his bones, marrow, veins and arteries; on the eighth, his nails, hair, and teeth; on the ninth, all the remaining limbs, organs, and manly strength; and, on the tenth, hunger and thirst for the renewed body." (The Patane Prabhus, by Krishnanath Raghunathji; in the Government Bombay Gazetteer, 1879.)
Mr. Davis's theory is accepted by all the Spiritualists, and it is on this model that the clairvoyants now describe the separation of the "incorruptible from the corruptible." But here, Spiritualists and the Aztecs branch off into two paths; for, while the former maintain that the soul is in every case immortal and preserves its individuality throughout eternity, the Aztecs say that "when the deceased has lived well, the julio goes up on high with our gods; but when he has lived ill, the julio perishes with the body, and there is an end of it."
Some persons might perchance find the "primitive" Aztecs more consistent in their logic than our modern Spiritualists. The Laponians and Finns also maintain that while the body decays, a new one is given to the dead, which the Shaman can alone see.
"Though breath, or spirit, or ghost," says further on Professor Muller, "are the most common names. . .we yet speak of the shades of the departed, which meant originally their shadows. . . . . . Those who first introduced this expression — and we find it in the most distant parts of the world — evidently took the shadow as the nearest approach to what they wished to express; something that should be incorporeal, yet closely connected with the body. The Greek eidolon, too, is not much more than the shadow . . . . .but the curious part is this . . . . . . that people who speak of the life or soul as the shadow of the body, have brought themselves to believe that a dead body casts no shadow, because the shadow has departed from it; that it becomes, in fact, a kind of Peter Schlemihl." ("The Science of Religion").
Do the Amazulu and other tribes of South Africa only thus believe? By no means; it is a popular idea among Slavonian Christians. A corpse which is noticed to cast a shadow in the sun is deemed a sinful soul rejected by heaven itself. It is doomed henceforth to expiate its sins as an earth-bound spirit, till the Day of the Resurrection.
Both Lander and Catlin describe the savage Mandans as placing the skulls of their dead in a circle. Each wife knows the skull of her former husband or child, and there seldom passes a day that she does not visit it, with a dish of the best cooked food. . . . . . There is scarcely an hour in a pleasant day but more or less of these women may be seen sitting or lying by the skulls of their children or husbands — talking to them in the most endearing language that they can use (as they were wont to do in former days) "and seemingly getting an answer back." (Quoted by Herbert Spencer in Fetish-worship.)
What these poor, savage Mandan mothers and wives do, is performed daily by millions of civilized Spiritualists, and but the more proves the universality of the conviction that our dead hear and can answer us. From a theosophical, magnetic, — hence in a certain sense a scientific — standpoint, the former have, moreover, far better reasons to offer than the latter. The skull of the departed person, so interrogated has surely closer magnetical affinities and relations to the defunct, than a table through the tippings of which the dead ones answer the living; a table, in most cases, which the spirit while embodied had never seen nor touched. But the Spiritualists are not the only ones to vie with the Mandans. In every part of Russia, whether mourning over the yet fresh corpse or accompanying it to the burying ground, or during the six weeks following the death, the peasant women as well as those of the rich mercantile classes, go on the grave to shout, or in Biblical phraseology to "lift up their voices." Once there, they wail in rhythm, addressing the defunct by name, asking of him questions, pausing as if for an answer.
Not only the ancient and idolatrous Egyptian and Peruvian had the curious notion that the ghost or soul of the dead man was either present in the mummy, or that the corpse was itself conscious, but there is a similar belief now among the orthodox Christians of the Greek and the Roman churches. We reproach the Egyptians with placing their embalmed dead at the table; and the heathen Peruvians with having carried around the fields the dried-up corpse of a parent, that it might see and judge of the state of the crops. But what of the Christian Mexican of to-day, who under the guidance of his priest, dresses up his corpses in finery; bedecks them with flowers, and in case of the defunct happening to be a female — even paints its cheeks with rouge. Then seating the body in a chair placed on a large table, from which the ghastly carrion presides, as it were, over the mourners seated around the table, who eat and drink the whole night and play various games of cards and dice, consult the defunct as to their chances. On the other hand, in Russia, it is a universal custom to crown the deceased person's brow with a long slip of gilt and ornamented paper, called Ventchik (the crown), upon which a prayer is printed in gaudy letters. This prayer is a kind of a letter of introduction with which the parish priest furnishes the corpse to his patron Saint, recommending the defunct to the Saint's protection.* The Roman Catholic Basques write letters to their deceased friends and relatives, addressing them to either Paradise, Purgatory or — Hell, according to the instructions given by the Father confessor of the late addressees — and, placing them in the coffins of the newly departed, ask the latter to safely deliver them in the other world, promising as a fee to the messenger, more or less masses for the repose of his soul.
* It runs in this wise: "St. Nichols, (or St. Mary So-and-so) holy patron of —— (follow defunct's full name and title) receive the soul of God's servant, and intercede for remission of his (or her) sins."
At a recent seance, held by a well known medium in America, — (see Banner of Light, Boston, June 14th, 1879.)
"Mercedes, late Queen of Spain, announced herself, and came forth in full bridal array — a magnificent profusion of lace and jewels, and spoke in several different tongues with a linguist present. Her sister, the Princess Christina, came also just after in much plainer costume, and with a timid school-girl air."
Thus, we see that not only can the dead people deliver letters, but, even returning from their celestial homes, bring back with them their "lace and jewels." As the ancient pagan Greek peopled his Olympian heaven with feasting and flirting deities; and the American red Indian has his happy hunting-grounds where the spirits of brave chiefs bestride their ghostly steeds, and chase their phantom game; and the Hindu his many superior lokas, where their numerous gods live in golden palaces, surrounded with all manner of sensual delights; and the Christian his New Jerusalem with streets of "pure gold, as it were transparent glass," and the foundations of the wall of the city "garnished . . . with precious stones;" where bodiless chirping cherubs and the elect, with golden harps, sing praises to Jehovah; so the modern Spiritualist has his "Summer Land Zone within the milky way,"* though somewhat higher than the celestial territories of other people.** There, amid cities and villages abounding in palaces, museums, villas, colleges and temples, an eternity is passed. The young are nurtured and taught, the undeveloped of the earth matured, the old rejuvenated, and every individual taste and desire gratified; spirits flirt, get married, and have families of children.***
* See "Stellar key to the Summer Land" by Andrew Jackson Davis.
** In the same author's work — "The Spiritual Congress," Galen says through the clairvoyant seer: "Between the Spirit, Home and the earth, there are, strewn along the intervening distance. . . . . . more than four hundred thousand planets, and fifteen thousand solar bodies of lesser magnitude."
*** The latest intelligence from America is that of the marriage of a spirit daughter of Colonel Eaton, of Leavenworth, Kansas, a prominent member of the National Democratic Committee. This daughter, who died at the age of three weeks, grew in some twenty-odd years in the Summer Land, to be a fine young lady and now is wedded to the spirit son of Franklin Pierce, late President of the U. S. The wedding, witnessed by a famous clairvoyant of New-York, was gorgeous. The "spirit bride" was "arrayed in a dress of mild green." A wedding supper was spread by the spirit's order, with lights and boquets, and plates placed for the happy couple. The guests assembled, and the wedded ghosts fully 'materialized' themselves and sat at table with them. (New-York Times, June 29th, 1879.)
Verily, verily we can exclaim with Paul, "O death where is thy sting; O grave, where is thy victory!" Belief in the survival of the ancestors is the oldest and most time honoured of all beliefs.
Travellers tell us that all the Mongolian, Tartar, Finnish, and Tungusic tribes, besides the spirits of nature, deify also their ancestral spirits. The Chinese historians, treating of the Turanians, the Huns and the Tukui — the forefathers of the modern Turks — show them as worshiping "the spirits of the sky, of the earth, and the spirits of the departed." Medhurst enumerates the various classes of the Chinese spirits thus: The principal are the celestial spirits (tien shin); the terrestrial (ti-ki); and the ancestral or wandering spirits (jin kwei.) Among these, the spirits of the late Emperors, great philosophers, and sages, are revered the most. They are the public property of the whole nation, and are a part of the state religion, "while each family has, besides this, its own manes, which are treated with great regard; incense is burned before their relics, and many superstitious rites performed."
But if all nations equally believe in, and many worship, their dead, their views as to the desirability of a direct intercourse with these late citizens differ widely. In fact, among the educated, only the modern Spiritualists seek to communicate constantly with them. We will take a few instances from the most widely separated peoples. The Hindus, as a rule, hold that no pure spirit, of a man who died reconciled to his fate, will ever come back bodily to trouble mortals. They maintain that it is only the bhutas — the souls of those who depart this life, unsatisfied, and having their terrestrial desires unquenched, in short, bad, sinful men and women — who become "earth-bound," unable to ascend at once to Moksha, they have to linger upon earth until either their next transmigration or complete annihilation; and thus take every opportunity to obsess people, especially weak women. So undesirable is to them the return or apparition of such ghosts, that they use every means to prevent it. Even in the case of the most holy feeling — the mother's love for her infant — they adopt measures to prevent her return to it. There is a belief among some of them that whenever a woman dies in child-birth, she will return to see and watch over her child. Therefore, on their way back from the ghaut, after the burning of the body, — the mourners thickly strew mustard seeds all along the road leading from the funeral pile to the defunct's home. For some unconceivable reasons they think that the ghost will feel obliged to pick up, on its way back, every one of these seeds. And, as the labor is slow and tedious, the poor mother can never reach her home before the cock crows, when she is obliged — in accordance with the ghostly laws — to vanish, till the following night, dropping back all her harvest. Among the Tchuvashes, a tribe inhabiting Russian domains, (Castren's "Finaische Mythologie," p. 122) a son, whenever offering sacrifice to the spirit of his father, uses the following exorcism: "We honour thee with a feast; look, here is bread for thee, and various kinds of food; thou hast all thou canst desire: but do not trouble us, do not come back near us." Among the Lapps and Finns, those departed spirits, which make their presence visible and tangible, are supposed to be very mischievous and "the most mischievous are the spirits of the priests." Everything is done to keep them away from the living. The agreement we find between this blind popular instinct and the wise conclusions of some of the greatest philosophers, and even modern specialists, is very remarkable. "Respect the spirits and — keep them at a distance" — said Confucius, six centuries B.C. Nine centuries later, Porphyry, the famous anti-theurgist, writing upon the nature of various spirits, expressed his opinion upon the spirits of the departed by saying that he knew of no evil which these pestilent demons would not be ready to do. And, in our own century, a kabalist, the greatest magnetizer living, Baron Dupotet, in his "Magie Devoilee," warns the spiritists not to trouble the rest of the dead. For "the evoked shadow can fasten itself upon, follow, and for ever afterwards influence you; and we can appease it but through a pact which will bind us to it — till death!"
But all this is a matter of individual opinion; what we are concerned with now is merely to learn how the basic fact of belief in soul-survival could have so engrafted itself upon every succeeding age, — despite the extravagances woven into it — if it be but a shadowy and unreal intellectual conception originating with "primitive man." Of all modern men of science, although he does his best in the body of the work to present the belief alluded to as a mere "superstition" — the only satisfactory answers given by Prof. Max Muller, in his "Introduction to the Science of Religion." And by his solution we have to abide for want of a better one. He can only do it, however, by overstepping the boundaries of comparative philology, and boldly invading the domain of pure metaphysics; by following, in short, a path forbidden by exact science. At one blow he cuts the Gordian knot which Herbert Spencer and his school have tied under the chariot of the "Unknowable." He shows us that: "there is a philosophical discipline which examines into the conditions of sensuous or intuitional knowledge," and "another philosophical discipline which examines into the conditions of rational or conceptual knowledge;" and then defines for us a third faculty. . ."The faculty of apprehending the Infinite, not only in religion but in all things; a power independent of sense and reason, a power in a certain sense contradicted by sense and reason, but yet a very real power, which has held its own from the beginning of the world, neither sense nor reason being able to overcome it, while it alone is able to overcome both reason and sense."
The faculty of Intuition — that which lies entirely beyond the scope of our modern biologists — could hardly be better defined. And yet, when closing his lecture upon the superstitious rites of the Chinese, and their temples devoted to the worship of the departed ancestors, our great philologist remarks: "All this takes place by slow degrees; it begins with placing a flower on the tomb; it ends — with worshiping the Spirits . . . . . . ."
In 1808 Juan VI., then prince-Regent of Portugal, fearing Napoleon I., made his escape to Brazil; and in 1815, was crowned monarch of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and Algarve. Recalled to his country by the Cortes of Portugal, he sailed back to Lisbon in 1821. And now, a very interesting document, containing neither more nor less than the appointment of long-dead St. Antony to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Portuguese army, by this Prince, is just published in the Lisbon paper "Revista Militar." The following is a verbatim translation from the Portuguese of this unique proclamation: "Don Juan, by the will of God, Prince-Regent of Portugal and both Algarve, of the two seas on both sides of Africa, Ruler of Guinea, and master of navigation and commerce in Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia and India, etc., etc., etc. By the present we declare to all whom it may concern that, in consideration of our special devotion to the very glorious St. Antony, who, moreover is constantly addressed in all their needs and in full faith by the inhabitants of this capital, and likewise for the reason that the belligerent powers of our armies are evidently under the protection and enjoying the blessing of God, and that thus the peace of Portugal is ensured — a propitious result which, we are firmly persuaded, is solely due to the powerful intercession of the said Saint; — we have resolved: to confer upon him the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, and an adequate salary, which will be received by him in the shape of our royal decorations and orders (forma das minhas reaes ordens), through the office of Field-marshal Xaviers Cabra da Cunha, who, in his capacity of General-Adjutant, is now temporarily holding the office of Commader-in-Chief of our armies. So be it. The said salary to be entered in the official books, and to be paid regularly at each term. In assurance of the authenticity of the present we herewith sign it with our name, and stamp it with the large seal bearing our arms. Given in the city of Rio-di Janeiro, August 31st, A.D. 1814."
We may add that this is not the first time that deceased saints have been appointed to high military positions. Saint Yago, in his capacity of Captain-General, received for years his salary from the Spanish Treasury, it being turned over by him (?) to the Church bearing his name.
By C. C. Massey, Esq., President of the British Branch Theosophical Society.
It must be confessed that modern Spiritualism falls very short of the ideas formerly suggested by the sublime designation which it has assumed. Chiefly intent upon recognising and putting forward the phenomenal proofs of a future existence, it concerns itself little with speculations on the distinction between matter and spirit, and rather prides itself on having demolished Materialism without the aid of metaphysics. Perhaps a Platonist might say that the recognition of a future existence is consistent with a very practical and even dogmatic materialism, but it is rather to be feared that such a materialism as this would not greatly disturb the spiritual or intellectual repose of our modern phenomenalists.* Given the consciousness with its sensibilities safely housed in the psychic body which demonstratively survives the physical carcass, and we are like men saved from shipwreck, who are for the moment thankful and content, not giving thought whether they are landed on a hospitable shore, or upon a barren rock, or on an island of cannibals. It is not of course intended that this "hand to mouth" immortality is sufficient for the many thoughtful minds whose activity gives life and progress to the movement, but that it affords the relief which most people feel when in an age of doubt they make the discovery that they are undoubtedly to live again. To the question "how are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come?" modern Spiritualism, with its empirical methods, is not adequate to reply. Yet long before Paul suggested it, it had attention of the most celebrated schools of philosophy, whose speculations on the subject, however little they may seem to be verified, ought not to be without interest to us, who, after all, are still in the infancy of a spiritualist revival.
* "I am afraid," says Thomas Taylor in his Introduction to the Phaedo, "there are scarcely any at the present day, who know that it is one thing for the soul to be separated from the body, and another for the body to be separated from the soul, and that the former is by no means a necessary consequence of the latter."
It would not be necessary to premise, but for the frequency with which the phrase occurs, that "the spiritual body" is a contradiction in terms. The office of body is to relate spirit to an objective world. By Platonic writers it is usually termed okhema — 'vehicle.' It is the medium of action, and also of sensibility. In this philosophy the conception of Soul was not simply, as with us, the immaterial subject of consciousness. How warily the interpreter has to tread here, every one knows who has dipped, even superficially, into the controversies among Platonists themselves. All admit the distinction between the rational and the irrational part or principle, the latter including, first, the sensibility, and secondly, the Plastic, or that power which in obedience to its sympathies enables the soul to attach itself to, and to organise into a suitable body those substances of the universe to which it is most congruous. It is more difficult to determine whether Plato, or his principal followers, recognised in the rational soul or nous a distinct and separable entity, — that which is sometimes discriminated as "the Spirit." Dr. Henry More, no mean authority, repudiates this interpretation. "There can be nothing more monstrous," he says, "than to make two souls in man, the one sensitive, the other rational, really distinct from one another, and to give the name of Astral spirit to the former; when there is in man no Astral spirit beside the Plastic of the soul itself, which is always inseparable from that which is rational. Nor upon any other account can it be called astral, but as it is liable to that corporeal temperament which proceeds from the stars, or rather from any material causes in general, as not being yet sufficiently united with the divine body — that vehicle of divine virtue or power." So he maintains that the Kabalistic three souls — Nephesh, Ruach, Neschamah, originate in a misunderstanding of the true Platonic doctrine, which is that of a three-fold "vital congruity." These correspond to the three degrees of bodily existence, or to the three "vehicles," the terrestrial, the aerial, and the etherial. The latter is the augoeides — the luciform vehicle of the purified soul whose irrational part has been brought under complete subjection to the rational. The aerial is that in which the great majority of mankind find themselves at the dissolution of the terrestrial body, and in which the incomplete process of purification has to be undergone during long ages of preparation for the soul's return to its primitive, etherial state. For it must be remembered that the pre-existence of souls is a distinguishing tenet of this philosophy as of the Kabala. The soul has "sunk into matter." From its highest original state the revolt of its irrational nature has awakened and developed successively its "vital congruities" with the regions below, passing, by means of its "Plastic," first into the aerial and afterwards into the terrestrial condition. Each of these regions teems also with an appropriate population which never passes, like the human soul, from one to the other — "gods," "demons," and animals. [The allusion here is to those beings of the several kingdoms of the elements which we, Theosophists, following after the Kabalists, have called the "Elementals." They never become men. — Ed. Theos.] As to duration "the shortest of all is that of the terrestrial vehicle. In the aerial, the soul may inhabit, as they define, many ages, and in the etherial, for ever." Speaking of the second body, Henry More says "the soul's astral vehicle is of that tenuity that itself can as easily pass the smallest pores of the body as the light does glass, or the lightning the scabbard of a sword without tearing or scorching of it." And again "I shall make bold to assert that the soul may live in an aerial vehicle as well as in the etherial, and that there are very few that arrive to that high happiness as to acquire a celestial vehicle immediately upon their quitting the terrestrial one; that heavenly chariot necessarily carrying us in triumph to the greatest happiness the soul of man is capable of, which would arrive to all men indifferently, good or bad, if the parting with this earthly body would suddenly mount us into the heavenly. When by a just Nemesis the souls of men that are not heroically virtuous will find themselves restrained within the compass of this caliginous air, as both Reason itself suggests, and the Platonists have unanimously determined." Thus also the most thorough-going, and probably the most deeply versed in the doctrines of the master among modern Platonists, Thomas Taylor (Introduction, Phaedo). "After this our divine philosopher informs that the pure soul will after death return to pure and eternal natures; but that the impure soul, in consequence of being imbued with terrene affections, will be drawn down to a kindred nature, and be invested with a gross vehicle capable of being seen by the corporeal eye. [This is the Hindu theory of nearly every one of the Aryan philosophies. — Ed.] For, while a propensity to body remains in the soul, it causes her to attract a certain vehicle to herself, either of an aerial nature, or composed from the spirit and vapours of her terrestrial body, or which is recently collected from surrounding air; for according to the arcana of the Platonic philosophy, between an etherial body, which is simple and immaterial and is the eternal connate, vehicle of the soul, and a terrene body, which is material and composite, and of short duration, there is an aerial body, which is material indeed, but simple and of a more extended duration; and in this body the unpurified soul dwells for a long time after its exit from hence, till this pneumatic vehicle being dissolved, it is again invested with a composite body; while on the contrary the purified soul immediately ascends into the celestial regions with its etherial vehicle alone." Always it is the disposition of the soul that determines the quality of its body. "However the soul be in itself affected," says Porphyry, (translated by Cudworth) "so does it always find a body suitable and agreeable to its present disposition, and therefore to the purged soul does naturally accrue a body that comes next to immateriality, that is, an etherial one." And the same author, "The soul is never quite naked of all body, but hath always some body or other joined with it, suitable and agreeable to its present disposition: (either a purer or impurer one). But that at its first quitting this gross earthly body, the sprituous body which accompanieth it (as its vehicle) must needs go away fouled and incrassated with the vapours and steams thereof, till the soul afterwards by degrees purging itself, this becometh at length a dry splendour, which hath no misty obscurity nor casteth any shadow." Here it will be seen, we lose sight of the specific difference of the two future vehicles — the etherial is regarded as a sublimation of the aerial. This, however, is opposed to the general consensus of Plato's commentators. Sometimes the etherial body, or augoeides, is appropriated to the rational soul, or spirit, which must then be considered as a distinct entity, separable from the lower soul. Philoponus, a Christian writer, says "that the Rational Soul, as to its energie, is separable from all body, but the irrational part of life thereof is separable only from this gross body, and not from all body whatsoever, but hath after death a spirituous or airy body, in which it acteth — this I say is a true opinion which shall afterwards be proved by us. . . . . . . The irrational life of the soul hath not all its being in this gross earthly body, but remaineth after the soul's departure out of it, having for its vehicle and subject the spirituous body, which itself is also compounded out of the four elements, but receiveth its denomination from the predominant part, to wit, Air, as this gross body of ours is called earthy from what is most predominant therein." Cudworth, Intell. Syst. From the same source we extract the following: "Wherefore these ancients say that impure souls after their departure out of this body wander here up and down for a certain space in their spirituous, vaporous and airy body, appearing about sepulchres and haunting their former habitation. For which cause there is great reason that we should take care of living well, as also of abstaining from a fouler and grosser diet; these Ancients telling us likewise that this spirituous body of ours being fouled and incrassated by evil diet, is apt to render the soul in this life also more obnoxious to the disturbances of passions. They further add that there is something of the Plantal or Plastic life, also exercised by the soul, in those spirituous or airy bodies after death; they being nourished too, though not after the same manner, as those gross earthy bodies of ours are here, but by vapours, and that not by parts or organs, but throughout the whole of them, (as sponges) they imbibing every where those vapours. For which cause they who are wise will in this life also take care of using a thinner and dryer diet, that so that spirituous body (which we have also at this present time within our proper body) may not be clogged and incrassed, but attenuated. Over and above which, those Ancients made use of catharms, or purgations to the same end and purpose also. For as this earthy body is washed by water so is that spirituous body cleansed by cathartic vapours — some of these vapours being nutritive, others purgative. Moreover, these Ancients further declared concerning this spirituous body that it was not organized, but did the whole of it in every part throughout exercise all functions of sense, the soul hearing, seeing and perceiving all sensibles by it every where. For which cause Aristotle himself affirmeth in his Metaphysics that there is properly but one Sense and one Sensory. He by this one sensory meaneth the spirit, or subtle airy body, in which the sensitive power doth all of it through the whole immediately apprehend all variety of sensibles. And if it be demanded how it comes to pass that this spirit becomes organised in sepulchres, and most commonly of human form, but sometimes in the forms of other animals, to this those Ancients replied that their appearing so frequently in human form, proceeded from their being incrassated with evil diet, and then, as it were, stamped upon with the form of this exterior ambient body in which they are, as crystal is formed and coloured like to those things which it is fastened in, or reflects the image of them. And that their having sometimes other different forms proceedeth from the phantastic power of the soul itself, which can at pleasure transform the spirituous body into any shape. For being airy, when it is condensed and fixed, it becometh visible, and again invisible and vanishing out of sight when it is expanded and rarified." Proem in Arist. de Anima. And Cudworth says "Though spirits or ghosts had certain supple bodies which they could so far condense as to make them sometimes visible to men, yet is it reasonable enough to think that they could not constipate or fix them into such a firmness, grossness and solidity as that of flesh and bone is to continue therein, or at least not without such difficulty and pain as would hinder them from attempting the same. Notwithstanding which it is not denied that they may possibly sometimes make use of other solid bodies, moving and acting them, as in that famous story of Phlegons when the body vanished not as other ghosts use to do, but was left a dead carcase behind."
In all these speculations the Anima Mundi plays a conspicuous part. It is the source and principle of all animal souls, including the irrational soul of man. But in man, who would otherwise be merely analogous to other terrestrial animals — this soul participates in a higher principle, which tends to raise and convert it to itself. To comprehend the nature of this union or hypostasis it would be necessary to have mastered the whole of Plato's philosophy as comprised in the Parmenides and the Timaeus; and he would dogmatise rashly, who without this arduous preparation should claim Plato as the champion of an unconditional immortality. Certainly in the Phaedo the dialogue popularly supposed to contain all Plato's teaching on the subject — the immortality allotted to the impure soul is of a very questionable character, and we should rather infer from the account there given that the human personality, at all events, is lost by successive immersions into "matter." The following passage from Plutarch, (quoted by Madame Blavatsky, "Isis Unveiled," Vol. 2, p. 284) will at least demonstrate the antiquity of notions which have recently been mistaken for fanciful novelties. "Every soul hath some portion of nous, reason, a man cannot be a man without it; but as much of each soul as is mixed with flesh and appetite is changed, and through pain and pleasure becomes irrational. Every soul doth not mix herself after one sort; some plunge themselves into the body, and so in this life their whole frame is corrupted by appetite and passion; others are mixed as to some part, but the purer part still remains without the body. It is not drawn down into the body, but it swims above, and touches the extremest part of the man's head; it is like a cord to hold up and direct the subsiding part of the soul, as long as it proves obedient and is not overcome by the appetites of the flesh. The part that is plunged into the body is called soul. But the incorruptible part is called the nous, and the vulgar think it is within them, as they likewise imagine the image reflected from a glass to be in that glass. But the more intelligent, who know it to be without, call it a Daemon." And in the same learned work ("Isis Unveiled"), we have two Christian authorities, Irenaeus and Origin, cited for like distinction between spirit and soul in such a manner as to show that the former must necessarily be regarded as separable from the latter. In the distinction itself there is of course no novelty for the most moderately well-informed. It is insisted upon in many modern works, among which may be mentioned Heard's "Trichotomy of Man" and Green's Spiritual Philosophy; the latter being an exposition of Coleridge's opinion on this and cognate subjects. But the difficulty of regarding the two principles as separable in fact as well as in logic arises from the sense, if it is not the illusion of personal identity. That we are partible, and that one part only is immortal, the non-metaphysical mind rejects with the indignation which is always encountered by a proposition that is at once distasteful and unintelligible. Yet perhaps it is not a greater difficulty (if, indeed, it is not the very same) than that hard saying which troubled Nicodemus, and which yet has been the key-note of the mystical religious consciousness ever since. This, however, is too extensive and deep a question to be treated in this article, which has for its object chiefly to call attention to the distinctions introduced by ancient thought into the conception of body as the instrument or "vehicle" of soul. That there is a correspondence between the spiritual condition of man and the medium of his objective activity every spiritualist will admit to be probable, and it may well be that some light is thrown on future states by the possibility or the manner of spirit communication with this one.
A copy of the following certificate, found among the papers of the late Vinayak Gungadher Shastree, Esq., the eminent Indian Astronomer, has been kindly placed at our disposal by his son, Mr. B. V. Shastree, after due comparison with the original by Rao Bahadur S. P. Pandit: —
Baroda, 20th February 1841.
This is to certify that a Jadugar (juggler) by name Lalla Bhadang, an inhabitant of Kuppudwun, in Guzerat, has been at this place during the last week, and that he exhibited the most extraordinary feats, or, I should rather say, he wrought miracles, in the presence of a large concourse of curious spectators, among whom I was one. He produced certain things, flowers, koonkoo, betelnuts, sugarcandy, a cocoanut, a scorpion, a piece of bone, &c., though we could not discover, nor conceive any possibility of his having previously concealed them with him. He converted certain things into certain others merely by once holding them in his fist, in spite of the most vigilant attention we paid, in the hope of being able to discover the mystery. However, he could not produce or exhibit any such article as (apparently not at hand) had not, he pretended, been previously sanctioned by his Patron Goddess, called Becharajee. We so far put him to test that he was stript of his clothes and left almost naked, when, to our great surprise, he pinched out some betelnuts from my body, and drew out a few pieces of sugarcandy apparantly from the cloth of my jacket. He took out my gold chain and instantly struck my thigh with it, when it disappeared. In a minute he made it reappear in a pillow two feet behind him. Our gold seals and rings apparently vanished, no sooner were they put into his hand, and were reproduced merely by pinching over the flame of a lamp, or at the point of a trident, which he always bears for his sceptre. In fact, none of us could perceive the least sleight, or dexterity, of hand, if it might be possible for him to exercise it, during any of these very wonderful, I may say, supernatural exhibitions.
(Signed.) NANU NARAYAN.
Not far from the town of Torneo (Uleaborg, Finland), the mountain called Aavasux, becomes every year, on St. John's day, a place of rendezvous for many tourists. During that whole night the sun never sets at all, and hundreds gather to witness the magnificent spectacle. This year, according to the Uleaborg gazettes, there were about 300 people, among them three Englishmen, two Frenchmen, several Russians, Germans, Danes and Swedes; the rest, Finns. The sun shone with marvellous brightness the whole night. An hotel is being built on the mount for the convenience of future travellers.
By Babu Ram Das Sen, Ordinary Member of the Oriental Academy of Florence.
The Jain religion never spread beyond the limits of India. Being thus much less widely known, it has never stood high, like Buddhism, in the estimation of foreigners. Even in India itself, after flashing like a meteor across the religious sky for a short time, it long since grew comparatively dim. As a matter of course, it has failed to command any considerable degree of notice from beyond.
Arhata was the founder of the Jain religion, and was a king of the Benkata hills in the South Carnatic. Early retiring from the world, he went about exhorting the people to follow the example of Rishabha Deva, whose character he held up as a model to imitate.
The Degambar and Switambara sects of the Jains diverged and came into notice long afterwards.
Rishabha Deva is mentioned in the fifth book of Srimat Bhagavata. He is, according to the Hindus, a part-incarnation of Vishnu. The Jains acknowledge him as the first Arhata, and he is styled Arhata, because, following in the wake of Resava, he attempted to effect a religious reformation. According to the Puranas, Rishabha was father of Bharata, and flourished in very early times. The Jains do not deny the existence of God; but they hold the Arhata themselves to be that God. It is said in Vitara gastati, a Jain work, that "there is only one Creator of the world, and no other, who is eternal and omnipresent; and besides him, everything else here is a source of evil, and unsubstantial even as a dream. O Arbata! There is nothing in this world, which thou hast not created." The attributes of the Jain God are different from those of the Vaidantic God. With them God is omniscient, conqueror of anger, envy, and of every evil passion; revered in the three worlds and the speaker of truth; Arhata only is the true God.
In their opinion virtue is the only avenue to salvation. Virtue absolves man from the bonds of action and thereby restores him to his original purity of nature.
Salvation is in its very nature ever up-lifting. The Jains have it thus: There is a limit beyond which even the sun, moon, and the planets cannot rise; and, when they reach their point of climax, they come down again. But the souls that have once attained to perfection, never come down again. The very tendency of the soul is ever to rise high. It grovels below, only because of its mortal tenement that holds it in; or, because it is weighted down with its clayey environment. As soon as this mortal coil is shuffled off, it resumes its original nature. Infinite is space. Infinite so is the progress of the soul; or infinite is the improvement the soul is capable of. A pumpkin, for instance, though in itself light enough, would, if enveloped in clay, or weighed heavily otherwise, sink to the bottom of the sea; but, if it could disburthen itself there, it would steadily work its way up to the surface again. Even so is the nature of the soul.
The Jain moralists say: —
Wisdom is an attribute of man. Wisdom only can lead to salvation, or enable man to sail safely over the solemn main of life. Wisdom only can dispel the gloom of false knowledge, like mists after sun-rise. Wisdom only can absolve man from the consequences of action. Wisdom is Supreme; and no action can equal wisdom. Wisdom is joy. Wisdom is summum bonum. Wisdom is Brahma himself.
Further on, in the ethical part of the Jain religion, it is said; —
"A man should dwell only where virtue, truth, purity and good name are prized, and where one may obtain the light of true wisdom.
Man should not dwell where the sovereign is a boy, a woman, or an ignoramus; or, where there are two kings.
A man should go nowhere without an object in view.
A man should not travel alone; nor sleep alone in a house or on an elevated place; nor enter any man's house suddenly.
A good man should not wear torn or dirty clothes; nor put on his body a red flower, except it be a red lily.
A wise man should never deceive gods or old men; and neither should be a prosecutor or a witness.
When you come back from a walk, you should take a little rest, then put off your clothes, and wash your hands and feet.
A grinding mill, a cutting instrument, a cooking utensil, a water jar, and a water pot, are the five things that bring men to sin; which, again, in its turn, causes them to deviate from the paths of virtue. For these are the sources of envy. Take what care you will, they are sure to give rise to envy.
The ancients prescribed several virtues to enable man to escape from this sin. Hence men should always practise virtuous actions.
Kindness, charity, perfect control over the passions, worshipping the gods, reverence to the Guru, forgiveness, truth, purity, devotion, and honesty: — these are the virtues that every house-holder should possess.
Virtue is too extensive. Its most prominent feature, however, is doing good to mankind.
There are two kinds of virtues — that which atones for our sins, and that which secures or brings about salvation. The first-mentioned virtue embodies the redemption of the fallen, benevolence, humility, perfect control over the passions, and mildness. These virtues destroy sin.
Priests, gurus, guests, and distressed persons, when they come to our house, should first be welcomed, and then fed to the best of our means.
We should relieve and soothe as much as we can the sick, the hungry, the thirsty, and the frightened.
Being so fortunate as to have been born men, we should always be engaged in something useful either to ourselves or to others."
There is very little difference between the Hindu and the Jain systems of morality. This is owing to the Hindus and Jains living together and in the same country, and to the fact that most of the ethics of the Jains were derived from the Aryan code of morality.
Two persons of influence connected with the Viceregal Government have recently joined the Society. The tide turns, evidently.
Our Fellows will be glad, our adversaries sorry, to learn that our journal has, within sixty days after its first appearance, two-and-a-half times as many subscribers as it began with. Not one day has passed, since October 1st, without some names having been added to our list. This unexpected good fortune must be taken as proof of the wide interest felt by the Indian reading public in this attempt to recall the golden memories of ancient Aryan achievement. But most precious of all to us, have been the letters of blessing and encouragement that we have received from natives living in all parts of this Peninsula. We have marked upon a map of India, in colored chalk, the localities of our subscribers, and find that our paper already goes, each month, to nearly every important city, from the Himalaya to Comorin. If we should continue to receive contributions from such erudite Indians as these whose articles grace our present issue, the THEOSOPHIST will certainly have a brilliant and useful career.
The General Council thanks the Fellows who have presented books to the Library, and has ordered each volume to be inscribed with the donor's name. A particular request is made that Fellows will send to the Librarian all useful books, magazines and journals that have been read by them and are not especially wanted for reference. Works upon any branch of Occult Science will have a peculiar value, as it is the desire of the General Council to make our Library, in time, one of the richest in the world in this respect. Acknowledgment is also due to Professor Sakharam Arjun and Dr. Pandurang Gopal for magazines loaned to the Library.
[Continued from the October Number.]
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF DAYANUND SARASWATI, SWAMI.
Written by him expressly for the THEOSOPHIST.
After passing a certain time in solitude, on the Rusheekesh, a Brahmachari and two mountain ascetics joined me, and we all three went to Tidee. The place was full of ascetics and Raj (Royal) Pandits — so called on account of their great learning. One of them invited me to come and have dinner with him at his house. At the appointed hour he sent a man to conduct me safely to his place, and both the Brahmachari and myself followed the messenger. But what was our dismay upon entering the house, to first see a Brahmin preparing and cutting meat, and then, proceeding further into the interior apartments, to find a large company of pandits seated with a pyramid of flesh, rumpsteaks, and dressed-up heads of animals before them! The master of the house cordially invited me in; but, with a few brief words — begging them to proceed with their good work and not to disturb themselves on my account, I left the house and returned to my own quarters. A few minutes later, the beef-eating Pandit was at my side, praying me to return, and trying to excuse himself by saying that it was on my account that the sumptuous viands had been prepared! I then firmly declared to him that it was all useless. They were carnivorous, flesh-eating men, and myself a strict vegetarian, who felt sickened at the very sight of meat. If he would insist upon providing me with food, he might do so by sending me a few provisions of grain and vegetables which my Brahmachari would prepare for me. This he promised to do, and then, very much confused, retired.
Staying at Tidee for some time, I inquired of the same Pandit about some books and learned treatises I wanted to get for my instruction; what books and manuscripts could be procured at that place, and where. He mentioned some works on Sanskrit grammar, classics, lexicographics, books on astrology, and the Tantras — or ritualistics. Finding that the latter were the only ones unknown to me, I asked him to procure the same for me. Thereupon the learned man brought to me several works upon this subject. But no sooner had I opened them, than my eye fell upon such an amount of incredible obscenities, mistranslations, misinterpretations of text and absurdity, that I felt perfectly horrified. In this Ritual I found that incest was permitted with mothers, daughter, and sisters (of the Shoemaker's caste), as well as among the Pariahs or the outcastes, — and worship was performed in a perfectly nude state*.................
* For reasons which will be appreciated we prefer giving the text in Hindi: —
Spirituous liquors, fish, and all kind of animal food, and Moodra (l) (exhibition of indecent images) . . . . . . were allowed, from Brahmin down to Mang. And it was explicitly stated that all those five things of which the name commences with the nasal (2), m, as for instance, Madya (intoxicating liquor); Meen (fish); Maons (flesh); Moodra; . . . . . . and Maithoon . . . . . . were so many means for reaching Muktee (salvation)! By actually reading the whole contents of the Tantras I fully assured myself of the craft and viciousness of the authors of this disgusting literature which is regarded as RELIGIOUS! I left the place and went to Shreenagar. . . .
(1.) The word Moodra has been variously understood and interpreted. It means the signet of a royal as well as of a religious personage; a ring seal with initials engraved upon it. But it is also understood in another sense — the pristine and esoteric. Bhoochurri, Chachurri, Khechari, Churachari, and Agochuri — these five were the Moodras practised by the Aryas to qualify themselves for Yog. They are the initiative stages to the difficult system of RAJ-YOG, and the preliminaries of Dhotipoti, the early discipline of HAT-YOG. The Moodra is a quite distinct and independent course of Yoga training, the completion of which helps the candidate to attain Anima, Laghima and Garima. (For the meaning of these Siddhis, see article on Yog-Vidya in the Nov. number of THEOSOPHIST). The sense of this holy word once perverted, the ignorant Brahmins debased it to imply the pictorial representation of the emblems of their deities, and to signify the marks of those sexual emblems daubed upon their bodies with Gopichand made of the whitish clay of rivers held sacred. The Vaishnavas debase the mark and the word less than the Shaivas; but the Shaktas by applying it to the obscene gestures and the indecent exposures of their filthy Ritual, have entirely degraded its Aryan meaning. — Ed.
(2) The following are the five nasals in Sanskrit;
Taking up my quarters at a temple, on Kedar ghat, I used these Tantras as weapons against the local pandits, whenever there was an opportunity for discussion. While there, I became acquainted with a Sadhoo, named Ganga Giri, who by day never left his mountain where he resided in a jungle. Our acquaintance resulted in friendship as I soon learned how entirely worthy he was of respect. While together, we discussed Yoga and other sacred subjects, and through close questioning and answering became fully and mutually satisfied that we were fit for each other. So attractive was his society for me, that I stayed over two months with him. It was only at the expiration of this time, and when autumn was setting in, that I with my companions, the Brahmachari and the two ascetics, left Kedar Ghat for other places. We visited Rudra Prayag and other cities, until we reached the shrine of Agasta Munee. . . . . . . . . Further to the North, there is a mountain peak known as the Shivpooree (town of
Shiva) where I spent the four months of the cold season; when, finally parting from the Brahmachari and the two ascetics, I proceeded back to Kedar, this time alone and unimpeded in my intentions, and reached Gupta Kashee (3) (the secret
Benares) . . . . . . . . . .
(3) Gupta Kashee — Gupta, secret, hidden; Kashee, the ancient name of Bernares — is a holy place enshrouded in mystery. It is about 50 miles from Badrinath. 0utwardly there is seen only a temple with columns; but a firm belief prevails among pilgrims to the effect that this shrine only serves as a landmark to indicate the locality of the sacred hidden Benares — a whole city, in fact, underground. This holy place, they believe, will be revealed at the proper time, to the world. The Mahatmas alone can now reach it, and some inhabit it. A learned Swami friend, and a native, of Badrinath, highly respected at Bombay, has just told us that there is a prophecy that in 25 years from this time Benares will begin to decline in every other respect as it has long done in holiness, and, owing to the wickedness of men, will finally fall. Then the mystery of Gupta Kashee will be disclosed and the truth begin to dawn upon men. Swami P---- solemnly avers that, having often visited this very shrine, he has several times observed, with his own eyes, as it were, shadowy forms disappearing at the entrance — as though half visible men, or the wraiths of men were entering. — Ed.
I stayed but few days there, and went thence to the Triyugee (Three Yugs, or the three Epochs) Narayan shrine, visiting on my way Gowree Koond tank, and the cave of Bheemgoopha. Returning in a few days to Kedar, my favorite place of residence, I there finally rested, a number of ascetic Brahmin worshipers — called Pandas and the devotees of the Temple of Kedar, of the Jangam sect, — keeping me company until my previous companions, the Brahmachar, with his two ascetics, returned. I closely watched their ceremonies and doings, and observed all that was going on with a determined object of learning all that was to be known about these sects. But once that my object was fulfilled I felt a strong desire to visit the surrounding mountains, with their eternal ice and glaciers, in quest of those true ascetics I have heard of but as yet had never met — the Mahatmas (1) — I was determined, come what might, to ascertain whether some of them did or did not live there as rumoured. But the tremendous difficulties of this mountainous journey and the excessive cold forced me, unhappily, to first make inqiries among the hill-tribes and learn what they knew of such men. Everywhere I encountered either a profound ignorance upon the subject or a ridiculous superstition. Having wandered in vain for about twenty days, disheartened, I retraced my steps, as lonely as before, my companions, who had at first accompanied me, having left me, two days after we had started, through dread of the great cold. I then ascended the Tunganath Peak.(2) There, I found a temple full of idols and officiating priests, and hastened to descend the peak on the same day. Before me were two paths, one leading West and the other South-west. I chose at random that which led towards the jungle, and ascended it. Soon after, the path led me into a dense jungle, with rugged rocks and dried-up, waterless brook. The path stopped abruptly there. Seeing myself thus arrested, I had to make my choice to either climb up still higher, or descend. Reflecting what height there was to the summit, the tremendous difficulties of climbing that rough and steep hill, and that the night would come before I could ascend it, I concluded that to reach the summit that night was an impossibility. With much difficulty, however, catching at the grass and the bushes, I succeeded in attaining the higher bank of the Nala (the dry brook), and standing on a rock surveyed the environs. I saw nothing but tormented hillocks, high land, and a dense pathless jungle covering the whole, where no man could pass. Meanwhile the sun was rapidly descending towards the horizon. Darkness would soon set in and then — without water or any means for kindling a fire, what would be my position in the dreary solitude of that jungle!
(1) The Mahatmas, or literally great souls, from two words — Maha, great, and atma, soul — are those mysterious adepts whom the popular fancy views as "magicians," and of whom every child knows in India, but who are met with so rarely, especially in this age of degeneration. With the exception of some Swamis and ascetics of a perfectly holy life there are few who know positively that they do exist, and are no myths created by superstitious fancy. It will be given, perhaps, to Swami Dayanund, the great and holy man, to disabuse the sceptical minds of his degenerating countrymen; especially of this young decorated generation, the Jeunesse Doree of India, the LL.B., and M.A. aristocracy — who, fed upon Western materialism, and inspired by the cold negation of the age, despise the traditions, as well as the religion of their forefathers, calling all that was held sacred by the latter a "rotten superstition." Alas! they hardly remark themselves that from idolatry they have fallen into fetishism. They have but changed their idols for poorer ones, and remain the same.
(2) At Badrinath (Northern India), on the right bank of the Bishenganga, where the celebrated temple of Vishnu, with hot mineral springs in it, annually attracts numerous pilgrims, there is a strange tradition among the inhabitants. They believe that holy Mahatmas (anchorites) have lived the inaccessible mountain peaks, in caves of the greatest beauty for several thousand years. Their residence is approachable only through a cavern perpetually choked with snow, which forbids the approach of the curious and the sceptical. The Badrimith peaks in this neighbourhood are above 22,000 feet high. —
Since the above was written one of our most respected and learned Fellows has informed us that his Guru (Preceptor) told him that while stopping at the temple of Narayan, on the Himalayas, where he had passed some months, he saw therein a copper plate bearing date, with an inscription, said to have been made by Shankaracharya, that that temple was the extreme limit where one should go in ascending the Himalayas. The Guru also said that farther up the heights, and beyond apparently unsurmountable walls of snow and ice, he several times saw men of a most venerable appearance, such as the Aryan Rishis are represented, wearing hair so long as to hang below their waist. There is reason to know that he saw correctly, and that the current belief is not without foundation that the place is inhabited by adepts and no one who is not an adept will ever succeed in getting an entrance. — (Ed.)
By dint of tremendous exertion, though, and after an acute suffering from thorns, which tore my clothes to shreds, wounded my whole body, and lamed my feet, I managed to cross the jungle, and at last reached the foot of the hill and found myself on the high-way. All was darkness around and over me, and I had to pick my way at random, trying only to keep to the road. Finally I reached a cluster of huts and learning from the people that that road led to Okhee Math, I directed my steps towards that place, and passed the night there. In the morning, feeling sufficiently rested I returned to the Gupta Kashee (the Secret Benares), from whence I had started on my Northward journey. But that journey attracted me, and soon again I repaired to Okhee Math, under the pretext of examining that hermitage and observing the way of living of its inmates. There I had time to examine at leisure, the ado of that famous and rich monastery, so full of pious pretences and a show of asceticism. The high priest (or Chief Hermit), called Mahant, tried hard to induce me to remain and live there with him, becoming his disciple. He even held before me the prospect, which he thought quite dazzling, of inheriting some day his lacs of rupees, his splendour and power and finally succeeding him in his Mahantship, or supreme rank. I frankly answered him that had I ever craved any such riches or glory, I would not have secretly left the house of my father, which was not less sumptuous or attractive than his monastery, with all its riches. "The object, which induced me to do away with all these worldly blessings," I added, "I find you neither strive for, nor possess the knowledge of." He then enquired what was that object for which I so strived. "That object," I answered "is the secret knowledge, the Vidya, or true erudition of a genuine Yogi; the Mooktee, which is reached only by the purity of one's soul, and certain attainments unattainable without it. Meanwhile, the performance of all the duties of man towards his fellowmen, and the elevation of humanity thereby."
The Mahant remarked that it was very good, and asked me to remain with him for some time at least. But I kept silent and returned no reply: I had not yet found what I sought. Rising on the following morning very early, I left this rich dwelling and went to Joshee Math. There, in the company of Dakshanee, or Maharashtra Shastrees and Sannyasis, the true ascetics of the 4th Order — I rested for a while.
(To be continued.)
By Rao Bahadur Janardan Sakharam Gadgil, LL.B., F. T. S.
Now that a medium of regular communication, in the shape of the Theosophist, has been established between the East and the West, for exchanging ideas on matters of philosophy and occultism, it may be useful to state in general terms what Hindu philosophy and psychology have to say about Spiritualism. This is the more important inasmuch as Europe and America are at the present day startled and bewildered by those remarkable manifestations of so-called spirits, which have rivetted the attention of the learned, and are said to have drawn away more than twenty millions of people there from the materialistic tendencies of the present age.
Viewed from the standpoint of Hindu philosophy, nay, that of any philosophy worthy of the name, the spiritualistic movement in America and Europe is to be hailed as a demonstrative condemnation of that gross materialism, subversive of all religion and true science, which preaches that nothing of man survives the corporeal dissolution called death. Amongst Hindus, this was the belief and the creed of the Charvaks, whom our philosophers have regarded, on that account, as so despicable that no writer of distinction among Hindus considers it worth his while to take the trouble of noticing their creed or refuting it. These Charvaks are put down as pamars, that is, creatures who are so deficient in philosophical capacity that they are not fit to be argued with, and must be left to themselves till by experience or even meditation they got the capacity of perceiving that something survives the bodily dissolution. The spiritualists of America and Europe have this truth phenomenally demonstrated to them and so far Eastern philosophy welcomes the movement. But beyond this it can not go; for it finds little reason to congratulate the spiritualists upon the new ideas and aspirations they put forth. That death is the mere separation of the corporeal frame from the Jiva, or soul that animates it, is a truth admitted in all schools of Oriental philosophy. The Bhagvat Gita says that the Jiva, which is a part and parcel of myself, that is, Brahm, leaves the corporeal body at the time of death, and it draws in and takes with it, the mind and the senses; just as the breeze of air that touches and leaves a flower bears off its perfume. So far Oriental philosophy and Western Spiritualism are at one. But it appears that Western spiritualists are drifting into the belief that every human soul, after its severance from the corporeal body, which it animated on this earth, remains for ever without another corporeal body; that all human souls can, and some do make themselves manifest to living human beings, either through the bodies of mediums or by assuming temporarily objective forms themselves; that this state of existence is better than the earthly one; and that in that incorporeal existence they will develop and attain to the degree of final perfection. Now, Hindu philosophy and religion teach differently on every one of these points. Though they admit that some human souls may continue for a long time without another corporeal body, after their severance from the human bodies which they animated, still this is the lot of comparatively a few, — of those only who, during their existence on this earth, led a life of sensual appetites, and who died prematurely with the intensity of those carnal desires unabated and surviving their separation from their gross bodies. It is such souls only that are considered to stick to the earth, and become what are called Pishachas,* or what the Western spiritualists miscall 'spirits'! But even these are not considered to continue in this state of existence for ever, nor is this state considered as in any way desirable. With regard to the majority of human souls, it is held that according to their holy or unholy deeds and desires in this life, they go either to higher and better worlds, ending with Brahma loka, by the archiradi marga, or to the nether worlds, by the yama marga.** The former are considered to be temporary elevations to better existences, the latter to worse existences than on this world in human shape. But the stage of existence known as Pishacha yoni, is regarded in the Hindu system of philosophy and religion as the most horrible and pitiful that the human soul can enter. The reason of it is that it is the state that comes over the human soul as the result of the baser desires having preponderance at the time of separation from the corporeal body; it is the state in which the capacities for the enjoyment of sensual pleasures are in a developed state, but the soul lacks the means of physical enjoyment; viz, a corporeal body; it is the state in which the soul can never make progress and develop into better existence. It is considered that, in this state, the soul being deprived of the means of enjoyment through its own physical body, is perpetually tormented by hunger, appetite and other bodily desires, and can have only vicarious enjoyment by entering into the living physical bodies of others, or by absorbing the subtlest essences of libations and oblations offered for their own sake. Not all pishachas can enter the living human body of another, and none can enter the body of a holy man, that is, an ascetic or adept in occultism.
* Pishachas: this word call hardly be rendered accurately in English, though the author of "Isis Unveiled" gives a good equivalent in the term "Elementaries." They are gross, depraved human souls which, after the death of the body, are earth-bound as the result of their utter lack of spirituality and the predominance of their baser natures. These are the only disembodied human beings with whom the living can, according to Hindu belief, commune; and, needless to say, the idea of this intercourse is abhorrent. Men of mere intellectual endowments, who lack spiritual intuitions may become Pishachas equally with the vicious. In short "Pishacha" is a returning soul, a daemon.
** Hindus mostly believe that the purification and progression of the human soul after death are effected by its return to this earth from the several other worlds whither it goes and its reincarnation, or transmigration; each new reincarnation is governed by its deeds in the previous birth, those souls which have been good reappearing under higher reincarnations, those which were bad under lower ones. But the true Yogi so purifies his inner self as to go at death immediately to Brahma loka, whence he never returns, but where he remains until the next Pralaya, or dissolution of the visible universe, completes his emancipation from all earthly taint, and transfers him into Moksha, or the eternal bliss.
Very few spirits are considered to possess the power of making themselves manifest by assuming physical appearances for even a short time. These are regarded as having greater strength than the others, and it is believed that these get this power over those who, in the stage of their corporeal existence on earth, were given up to the worship of, and association with demons (Pishachas), or to the contemplation and practice of mantras that control them, or who were the victims of some overbearing passion. But this state of being is deemed the most miserable and awful that any one could have entered upon, and it is only the comparatively good souls that after long suffering and purification are able to extricate themselves.
The whole series of prescribed Hindu funeral ceremonies, from the 1st to the 11th day after a man's death, is nothing more than the mode inculcated by that religion to prevent the human soul from becoming a Pishacha. The ceremonies performed and oblations offered by the relatives of the deceased, are considered efficacious for this purpose, and hence Hindu religion enjoins it as the most affectionate duty of a son or other relative to save his departed ones from this direful fate. In the Shastras, the king, as the heir of the heirless, is enjoined by the sacred books to perform or get performed these sacred rites for those that have no relatives to perform them in their behalf; for it is considered of paramount importance that the post-mortem condition of Pishacha Yoni should be avoided by all possible means. Even after this calamity overtakes a human soul, and it begins to manifest itself as a Pishach, there are ceremonies enjoined, called Pishacha mochani, intended to emancipate it from this state and put it in the way of assuming a corporeal body according to its deserts. Even the transmigration of a human soul into a lower existence, such as that of a beast, reptile, insect, &c., is considered preferable to the state of Pishacha-Yoni; for, in the first place, there is in that state a corporeal body for enjoyment, and secondly, it is comparatively a very short existence, at the end of which the soul has the possibility of rising up to a better state of existence. The human form of existence is regarded as the highest goal to be aspired to in this series of transmigrations, for in that alone, the soul has the capability of knowing the ultimate secret of its nature, and thereby attaining the highest beatitude. Existence in worlds even better than the earth, is deprecated, for, although the capacities and powers of outward enjoyment in those worlds are greater than on earth, yet no other world besides the earth, the Brahma loka excepted, is considered to give to a soul such development as it is capable of receiving when clothed in the human body, — a development which enables him to acquire knowledge of our own essence, and thereby attain final emancipation.
It will be seen from the above that the Hindus are not spiritualists in the sense that they foster mediumship or hold willing communion with their dead. The obsessed person the Hindus regard as unfortunate, and if by an unhappy chance, the house is visited by a dead relative, the occurrence is considered a disaster, and the returning one a subject for pity and prayers. But the Yoga philosophy, with the Yogi's evolution of his psychical powers, is a very different thing. By it he can separate his kama-rupa or astral soul from his physical body, can enter and temporarily direct another man's body, can become omniscient, can commune with the high spirits of other worlds, and can attain to powers which to ordinary persons appear miraculous, but which to a philosopher and true scientist, prove only the intimate connection of the microcosm and the macrocosm, and the incomparable power of the human soul over the material universe.
[Continued from the November Number]
By Rao Bahadur Shankar Pandurang Pandit, M. A.
The bare, innocent, naked, unsophisticated Truth is there, viz., that the idea of many gods is the most natural to human thinking, and that the idea of one Supreme God is the result of much thinking, speculating and generalizing. Thus we have the genesis of the many gods out of the great phenomena of nature, such of them, that is to say, as strike the imagination of simple but speculative minds. Indra, the god of rain, storm, and light, that sends showers of refreshing and fructilizing rain to the earth, strikes with his thunderbolt — the lightning accompanied by thunder — the supposed demon that withholds the rain and prevents the light of the heavens from reaching the earth. Varuna was conceived as the great power that enveloped the earth with the blind pall of night, punished the wicked and rewarded the just, without their being aware of who it was that punished or rewarded them. Agni was a necessary creation to account for all the phenomena connected with light and heat — the light and heat that extends from earth below to heaven above. The sun, that fruitful source of much religion in all ages and countries, did not fail to be viewed from many varied poetical standpoints. The sun became Savita, i.e., the daily progenitor of the world, as he made the world daily rise into visible existence from the death of darkness in which it lay enveloped during the previous night. The sun became Pusha, the nourisher, because it was through his light that nourishing food was grown. The sun, as befriending all life by his life inspiring light and preventing the world from being always plunged in darkness, came to be considered as the universal "Friend" — Mitra who became finally personified, deified and exalted in hymns under that name. The sun could not fail to be spoken of as the 'great traveller' that goes swiftly round the earth as none else could go; as the "Heavenly Bird of excellent wings" flying through heavenly space with indescribable rapidity — and thus to be hymned as Suparna Garutman. The morning dawn, so refreshing and brilliant, so fair and beautiful, and ever young, daily shining forth into manifestation and yet daily vanishing away without tarrying long, was necessarily personified, and was deified into Ushas. All these and similar beings seemed to awake daily in the early morning (Usharbudhas) and to rise into daily existence from the womb of that vast unlimited space, that infinity of brilliant heavenly space, which could not but be personified, deified and hymned by them as Aditi. It required no great stretch of imagination to speak of the principal gods, who seemed to be born in the morning in the far east in the womb of heaven's unlimited brilliant space Aditi, as Adityas or sons of Aditi.
But speculation did not fail to be regulated by reason, and reason led to gradual generalization. The Vedic seers began to perceive that their seniors had after all been speaking of one and the same "One Being" under different names. 'Not knowing I ask here those that know, for the sake of knowing, I that am ignorant: He that upholds these six worlds in their respective places, there is, is there not, something in the nature of that Unborn One, that is one?. *** 'They call [him] Indra, Mitra, Varuna [and] Agni. Also he [is the same as] the Heavenly Bird of excellent wings. The sages name the One Being in various ways. They call [him] Agni, Yama, [and] Matarisva,'* says one of the Rishes, Dirghatamas, certainly one of the oldest Vedic poets.
Rig. 1. 164 46. 18:
Another, speculating on the creation of the universe, the gods, and other beings, says of the time before the creation: 'There was then no non-entity nor entity, there was no world, nor the heaven that is aloft. What enveloped [the world? Where and for whose benefit [was it]? Where was water, the deep abyss? There was then no death, nor immortality, no distinction of night and day. That one breathe quietly, through its own power. For besides that there was nothing else. In the beginning there was darkness enveloped in darkness. All this was undistinguishable nothing. That one which had been enveloped everywhere in undistinguishable nothingness was developed through the force of fervor. Desire arose in it in the beginning, which was the first germ of the mind. Sages searching with their intellect have found that to be the connection between the entity and the non-entity. The ray of these [non-entity, desire and germ], was it across, below, or above? There then arose those that could impregnate, and there arose those that were mighty objects. There was self-supporting principle below and power above. Who knows truly, who can here declare, whence, whence this creation arose? The gods are posterior to the creation of the universe. This being so, who knows whence this universe sprang? Whence this universe arose, whether it has been created or whether it has not been created at all, — He who is its Ruler in this highest heaven, He alone knows; and if he does not, then no one knows.'*
Rigveda X. 129.
The highest flight of speculation, the most laborious discovery or even the boldest assertion of allowable dogmatism of modern days have not, we think, gone much beyond this philosophy of religion of the Vedic Rishi.
This is about creation. The other attributes of the Deity, — viz., Wisdom, Infinity, Mercy, Immutability, Immortality, Justice, Universal care, the quality of being the shelter of the helpless, the poor, the oppressed — these and all others which go to form the God of all nations not only find a prominent place in the Veda, but we have therein a reliable history as to how man — the Aryan man at least — originally came to conceive of them, how he developed them and how he matured them to a point beyond which no religion or philosophy has progressed to the present day — and all this, be it remembered, unaided, unassisted, uninspired by direct divine revelation — at least so far as the Vedic poets and authors themselves are concerned.*
* Swami Dayanand Saraswati — the newest Reformer — likewise rejects direct divine revelation as an impossibility but claims inspiration, for his primitive four Rishis (Ed.)
Other religious systems — granting them an origin independent of the venerable Veda — do indeed reach the same attributes of the Divinity, but they do not any of them allow us to see through them, to see beyond them, to see behind them. Christianity, for instance, finds it necessary to stand upon revelation for the basis of what it teaches, though we have no hesitation whatever in saying that though it teaches many good things it teaches nothing that the Veda had not taught before.
Revelation is an unsatisfactory method of accounting for your possession. The acquisition requires a more natural, more intelligible, and more acceptable explanation. This explanation is furnished in abundance by the Veda, and it is chiefly for this reason that we call the Veda the origin and history of all religion.
But not only have we in the Veda what we may call the virtues of religion, and the history of their origin and development, but also the vices thereof and the history of their origin and development. Like all things human, religion — which we regard in its development as human and value it to that extent only that it is human — has had its mistakes and evil consequences. It has also done — or more correctly something else has done in its name — great harm since it began to get any votaries together under its standard. Religion has had its mythology, its miracles. It has paralysed the free exercise of the best part of man, reason; it has taught us to believe that God is partial to certain men and inimical to certain others; it has taught us to believe in imaginary horrors of worlds unseen, and to kill those people who do not believe in what we believe. These and other blemishes which attach to religion are in the Veda, and as in the case of the virtues of religion we have a clear and well-connected history of the rise and development of the blemishes also.
It is in this view again of the Veda that we regard it as the origin of religion. And looked at from this point of view, — the point of view, that is to say, from which you see in it all the true principles of universal religion and the chief blemishes thereof, and also see through those principles and blemishes to their earliest germ and follow them through all the phases under gone by them until you come to a stage which induces people to say that the good principles were revealed by God and the blemishes were imparted by God's enemy, the Devil — looked at from this standpoint, the whole of the Veda is the most valuable book in the world. It is the oldest contemporary history, the oldest biography of man, the oldest song that man ever sang to a higher Power or Powers. When we remember this we cease to reject the hymns as crude and uncultivated and take the Upanishads, or to take the hymns and reject the Brahmanas. To the biographer the infancy, the childhood, the school days, the youth as well as the old age of his subject are all equally important. Look at the the Veda as a historical record to be read and interpreted historically, and it is a treasure of perfect gems, unequalled in lustre or size. Look at it from the point of view which is generally adopted by theologians of whatever sect who wish to find in it either nothing but divine knowledge or nothing but human cravings, and it at once becomes a perfect chaos. To the historian, the scientific scholar, the student of human inhuman institutions, the followers of universal religion and above all to the Theosophist, the Veda will always continue to be the most important book.
Vol 1, No 3, Sec 2