Theosophical University Press Online Edition
VOL. I., No. 5 - FEBRUARY, 1880
An Indian Aethrobat
The Nature and Office of Buddha's Religion
A Case of Genuine Hindu Mediumship
A Great Light under a Bushel
A Musalman Abdal (Yogi.)
The Mystic Syllable Onkara: its Meaning, Antiquity, and Universal Application
[Miscellaneous Short Items]
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In the November issue of this journal, I read an interesting article on Yoga Vidya, [dots Master] by F. T. S., based upon the Siddhis of Bhagwan Sri Krishna. It is of course well known to Hindu readers that although the Yoga philosophy was first taught by Patanjali in times immemorial, yet the subject was not more fully discussed elsewhere than in the theologistic discourses between Sri Krishna and his friend Arjuna ('Geeta,' chapter VIII.) Indeed it is true that in the course of time this Yoga Vidya has been entirely lost to us, and in the present sceptical age of Materialism it is almost impossible to have even a conception of that philosophy. But if we are to believe the sacred writings of Hindu sages, it is quite clear that the Siddhis Anima and Mahima pertain to the conditions of even the physical body as was manifest in Virat Rupa darshana ('Geeta,' chap. xi.); and here I differ from the contributor F. T. S., though I follow him in other respects.
As to the other Siddhi, Laghima, which that writer says, pertains to the physical as well as to the astral body, I can bear my personal testimony to the phenomenon. About 30 years ago, whilst I was a little boy of ten at Benares, I saw an old relative of mine, Amarchand Maitreya, who was widely known throughout Benares, practising Yoga Dharana. This venerable old gentleman could raise his body in the air about a foot and a half from the ground, and remain so suspended for more than a quarter of an hour. Myself and his two grandsons who were of about the same age with me, out of curiosity and childish inquisitiveness sometimes asked him the secret of this phenomenon, and I have a distinct recollection that he said that by Kumbhak Yoga (suspension of breath) the human body becomes lighter than the surrounding air and thus it floats upon it. To our small minds this explanation seemed quite satisfactory, for it was not only reasonable but scientific too, that according to the laws of Dynamics the atmospheric pressure on the body being ascertained to be 132 lbs. upon every square inch, any process of complete inhalation and exhalation of air would produce an effect of gravitation and levitation which the Hindu philosophers call Garima and Laghima respectively.
I have not come across the proper theory of Anima and Mahima, but if the other two Siddhis were possible to the conditions of the physical body, I do not see any reason to disbelieve the other two as mentioned in the Bhagvata-gita above quoted. Bhagwan Sri Krishna, however, says to Arjuna that he (Arjun) will not be able to behold him in this Rupa (Mahima) with these eyes, and therefore ("Geeta," chap. ix., verse 8), and here by the words I understand or "knowledge." It is therefore quite clear that with the knowledge of the Yoga Vidya, Arjun really saw the Bhagavan in his "thousand heads, thousand eyes, thousand feet, &c., &c, &c."
Your sceptic readers may not readily believe in the power of suspension of breath for a considerable time, but for their benefit I shall mention a case which really occurred some 33 years ago in the metropolis of Calcutta. The discoverer was a Christian and an Englishman by birth, and the story as narrated to me goes on to say that a Mr. Jones, who was an iron manufacturer at Howrah, one day with a party of workmen, went to the jungles of Sunderbans (the Delta of the Ganges) to cut fuel. Having entered the forests he discovered from a distance three men seated in a posture of devotional meditation. Upon hearing them, two of the devotees disappeared in the midst of a sudden dust-cloud; but the third did not and could not leave his position, as his thighs were entwined with the roots of a banian tree under which he had taken his seat. Our Christian adventurer went nearer and nearer, and found the Yogi in a state of coma, his eyes shut, his right hand fastened with the Brahmanical sacred thread
made of skin, and the great finger of his left hand indicating the or the ordinal number of. The babnian roots wore dissevered and the Yogi was brought into the metropolis as though a statue. In Mr. Jones' compound he was kept for 13 days, and many thousand men, women and children went thither to see him. But no change was found in him, Ultimately the Raja of Bhu Kailas, on whose property the Yogi was found, brought him to his house, and many attempts were made to bring him to his senses. He was thrown in the tide of the Ganges with a rope fastened to his body, and there submerged four days and nights. Afterwards the services of Dr. O'Shaughnessy were called for, who administered carbonate of salt (sic) in its crude state, which made the Yogi open his eyes. On seeing around him the scene, his eyes flooded with tears and he exclaimed "I have not molested any man, why did you molest me."
Shortly after, he opened his mouth as a sign of hunger, and a good deal of meat and drink was put into his mouth, which he mechanically swallowed. In the course of two months from the date of his return to the land of the living, he was dead, the immediate cause of death being diarrhoea produced by an immense quantity of unaccustomed meat and ardent spirits, taken into an empty stomach. Your readers, who may be very curious to have a more authentic account of this Yogi, rnay with advantage rummage through the old files of the 'Friend of India' of that time, or enquire from Dr. Rajendra Lala Mittra, still living in Calcutta. And as regards Amarchand Moytreya, I can refer you, amongst hundreds of others, to the partners of the house of James Proudie & Co. of Allahabad, whose almost next door neighbour the said Moytreya was.
Allahabad, 27th December 1879.
Editor's Note: — Babu Krishna is wrong. It is impossible to so inflate the extremities of the human body with simple air as to cause it to float in air. A body floats in water because it displaces an equal bulk with its own of that denser elements. If he will but figure to himself a vessel of any material as dense as human flesh and bone, filled ever so compactly with common air and left lying on the ground, he will see that his theory of aethrobacy is untenable; for, just as the vessel in question would lie on the ground, where placed, an indefinite time without showing the slightest tendency to rise, so would the ascetic's body, though pumped full of air from crown to toes. No, there is another cause for this aethrobacy and it is the one described by F. T. S. [Master's sign] as "altered polarity." The system of inhalations and exhalations practised in Yoga effect this polaric change by alterations produced, of both a physiological and psychogical character.
The Babu is also mistaken in supposing that this body of flesh can be separated into atoms and made to fill the whole void of space, or compressed into one infinitesimal atomic point like a diamond-grain. Let him reflect but one instant upon the nature of bioplastic matter and he will see the fact as it is. It is the inner self which, by virtue of its ethereal nature and its relationship to the all-pervading 'Anima Mundi' or World-Soul, is capable of exhibiting the properties of Anima and Mahima. Anything in Aryan literature, seeming to convey a contrary idea, may be at once taken as figurtive language intended to be understood only by the wise. The sages who wrote these books were adepts in psychological science, and we must not take them to have been ignorant of its plainest laws.
Since the above was in type, a letter has been received from Dr. Rajendralala Mittra, LL. D., of Calcutta, in which he gives his recollections of the poor Yogi who was the victim of the above described inexcusable brutality. Dr. Rajendralala says: "I was at school then — it was 45 years ago, but I remember going to see the ascetic. To the best of my memory he appeared a man of middle age, in excellent health, dark complexioned, and of average stature. He was seated in calm repose with his eyes closed and his limbs stiffened in catalepsy, Smelling-salts applied to his nostrils produced no perceptible effect on him. He was brought, I do not know how, from the Sunderban jungles where he was found by some wood-cutters. When I saw him I was told that he had eaten nothing since he had been brought, but his appearance was that of a well-fed person, tending to fatness. I heard afterwards that he had been roused from his Samadhi and made to eat and drink (wine) freely. He died of dysentery brought on by his intemperance. But of this, however, I have no personal knowledge. I saw him for about a quarter of an hour. I had run away from school, without the knowledge of my parents, to satisfy my curiosity."
A writer in "Reimaun's Farber Zeitung" points out that tartar-emetic, as used in cotton dyeing serves not to fix the aniline colors themselves, but merely to fasten the tannin, thus playing the part of an indirect mordant. Water, in which cotton yarns dyed with aniline colors on a mordant of tannin and tartar-emetic had been steeped, or, especially, boiled, gave distinct indications of antimony when tested in the ordinary manners, but the quantity of the metallic compound fixed upon the fibre seems far too small to have any injurious effect upon human life.
Indra* is the name of one of these Hindu deities that were worshipped more especially in the Vedic period of the Aryan religion, but enjoyed a great legendary popularity also in the Epic and Puranic periods. In that class of Rigveda hymns, which there is reason to look upon as the oldest portion of Vedic poetry, the character of Indra is that of a mighty ruler of the bright firmament, and his principal feat is that of conquering the demon Vitra, a symbolical personification of the cloud which obstructs the clearness of the sky, and withholds the fructifying rain from the earth. In his battles with Vitra, he is therefore described as 'opening the receptacles of the waters,' as 'cleaving the cloud' with his 'far-whirling thunderbolt,' as 'casting the waters down to earth,' and 'restoring the sun to the sky.' He is, in consequence, 'the upholder of heaven, earth, and firmament,' and the god 'who has engendered the sun and the dawn.' And since the atmospherical phenomena personified in this conception are ever and ever recurring, he is 'undecaying' and 'ever youthful.' All the wonderful deeds of Indra, however, are performed by him merely for the benefit of the good, which in the language of the Veda means the pious men who worship him in their songs, and invigorate him with the offerings of the juice of the soma plant. He is therefore the 'lord of the virtuous,' and the 'discomfiter of those who neglect religious rites.' Many other epithets, which we have not space to enumerate, illustrate the same conception. It is on account of the paramount influence which the deeds of Indra exercise on the material interests of man, that this deity occupies a foremost rank in the Vedic worship, and that a greater number of invocations are addressed to him than to any other of the gods. But to understand the gradual expansion of his mythical character, and his ultimate degradation to an inferior position in the Hindu pantheon of a later period, it is necessary to bear in mind that, however much the Vedic poets call Indra the protector of the pious and virtuous, he is in their songs essentially a warlike god, and gradually endowed, by imagination, not only with the qualities of a mighty, but also of a self-willed king. The legends which represent him in this light seem, it is true, to belong to a later class of the Rigveda hymns, but they show that the original conception of Indra excluded from his nature those ethical considerations which in time changed the pantheon of elementary gods into one of a different stamp. Whether the idea of an incarnation of the deity, which, at the Epic and Puranic periods, played so important a part in the history of Vishnu, did not exercise its influence as early as the composition of some of the Vedic hymns in honour of Indra, may at least be matter of doubt. He is, for instance, frequently involved as the destroyer of cities — of seven, of ninety-nine, even of a hundred cities — and he is not only repeatedly called the slayer of the hostile tribes which surrounded the Aryan Hindus, but some of the chiefs slain by him are enumerated by name. The commentators, of course, turn those 'robbers' and their 'chiefs' into demons, and their cities into celestial abodes; but as it is improbable that all these names should be nothing but personifications of clouds destroyed by the thunderbolt of Indra, it is, to say the least, questionable whether events in the early history of India may not have been associated with the deeds of Indra himself; in like manner as, at the Epic period, mortal heroes cycle looked upon as incarnations of Vishnu, and mortal deeds transformed into exploits of this god.**
* Derived front the Sanskrit Id, which probably meant 'to see, to discover,' hence literally 'he who sees or discovers,' scil, the doings of the world.
** The attentive reader of the Christian Bible is constantly impressed with its strong resemblance to the Aryan sacred writings, and since the Hebrews are a far younger nation than the Aryas, it is a fair inference that if their literature was not copied from, it was at least inspired by the primitive sublime model. Compare the Vedic conception of Indra, for instance, as alike the protector of his worshippers and the destroyer of cities, with these passages from the Palms of David: --
The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever. They shall be ashamed in the evil time; and in the days of famine they shall not be satisfied . . . for such as be blessed of him shall inherit the Earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off. Ps. xxxviii.
The Lord also thundered in the heavens and the Highest gave his voice; hail, stones and coals (sic) of fire. Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them . . . He delivered me from my strong enemy, etc. Ps. xvii.
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory thundereth: the Lord is upon many waters . . . The Lord sitteth upon the flood; yea, the Lord sitteth King for ever. Ps. xxix.
And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind. Ps. xviii.
Sing unto God, sing praises to his name, extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him. Ps. lxviii.
He (the Hebrew God) cast out the heathen also before them (the Hebrews) and divided them an inheritance by line, etc. Ps. lxxviii.
God is greatly to he feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him. Ps. lxxxix.
A great king above all gods, xcv. He is to be feared above all gods. xcvi.
Who smote great nations, and slew mighty Kings; Sihon, King of the Amorites, and 0g, king of Bashan, and all the Kingdoms of Canaan. cxxv.
Scores of similar passages might be quoted to show that for thunder-hurling, the martial tutelar deity of the Hebrews, JAH or JAHVE, who was adopted by the Christians as the chief permanent of their Trinity and made the punitive father of their second personage, Jesus, was almost if not quite a reminiscence of the Aryau Indra. (Ed. Theos.)
The purely regal character of Indra assumes its shape in the 'Aitareya Bramana' where his installation as lord of the inferior gods is described with much mystical detail; and from that time he continues to be the supreme lord of the minor gods, and the type of a mortal king. During the Epic and Puranic periods, where ethical conceptions of the divine powers prevail over ideas based on elementary impressions, Indra ceases to enjoy the worship he had acquired at the Vedic time, and his existence is chiefly upheld by the poets, who, in their turn, however, work it out in the most fantastical detail. Of the eight guardians of the world, he is then the one who presides over the East, and he is still the god who sends rain and wields the thunderbolt; but poetry is more engrossed by the beauty of his paradise, Swarga, the happy abode of the inferior gods, and of those pious men who attain it after death in consequence of having, during life, properly discharged their religious duties; by the charms of his heavenly nymphs, the Apsaras, who now and then descend to earth, to disturb the equanimity of austere penitents; by the musical performances of his choristers, the Gandharvas; by the fabulous beauty of his garden, Nandana Kanana, &c. A remarkable trait in this legendary life of Indra is the series of his conflicts with Krisna, an incarnation of Vishnu, which end, however, in his becoming reconciled with the more important god. As the god who is emphatically called the god of the hundred sacrifices (Satakratu), Indra is jealous of every mortal who may have the presumption to aim at the performance of that number of sacrifices, for the accomplishment of such an intention would raise the sacrificer to a rank equal to that which he occupies. He is therefore ever at hand to disturb sacrificial acts which may expose him to the danger of having his power shared by another Indra. According to the Puranas, the reign of this god Indra, who is frequently also called Sakra or the Mighty, does not last longer than the first Manwantara, or mundane epoch. After each successive destruction of the objective world, a new Indra was created, together with other gods, saints, and mortal beings. Thus, the Indra of the second Manwantara is Vilpas'chit; of the third, Susanti; of the fourth Sivi; of the fifth, Vibhu; of the sixth, Manojava; and the Indra of the present age is Purandara. When represented in works of art, Indra is generally seen riding on his elephant; and where he is painted, he is covered with eyes. The name of the wife of this Hindu deity is Indrani or Sachi.
The Saturday evening lectures at the Library on Mesmerism are becoming very interesting. Several excellent sensitives have been found among the Fellows, while nearly all the rest show unmistakeable signs of a magnetic sensibility which can readily be increased.
How does man become pure or holy? How can he be freed from his many sufferings or sorrows?
Man has to destroy his evils by his good actions — by practising a morally virtuous life. Our Lord, Omniscient Buddha, has opened to us a supreme path (ariyo magga) for sanctification; and, it consists of eight parts or members, described in detail in many Sutras of His Dharma (Code of Laws.)
I quote here a portion from one of those Sutras; and, let it be a citation from that which is denominated the Satipatthana Suttam.
Katamamca Bhikkhave dukkha-nirodha-gamini-patipada-ariya-saccam; Ayameva ariyo atthamgiko maggo, seyyathidam; samma-ditthi, samma-samkappo, samma-vaca, samma-kammanto, samma-ajivo, samma-vayamo, samma-sati, samma-samadhi.
O Bhikkus! what is the holy path which ought to be walked over, in order to destroy sorrows?
It is the ariya path consisting of eight member-items or component particulars. And, they are, (1) right Seeing or correct Belief. (samma ditthi), (2) right Thinking (Samma samkappo), (3) right Words (s. vaca), (4) right Actions (s. kammanto), (5) right Living (s. ajivo), (6) right Exertions (s. vayamo), (7) right Recollecting (s. sati), and (8) right Composing of the mind — the practice of Yoga.
"Sacchnam caturo pada,"
"Virago settho dhammanam"
Of all the Paths, the eight-membered (one) is the supremest; of the Truths, the four-fold truth is the highest; of the dharmas (knowledge) Nirvana is the most excellent; and, of the bipeds, Buddha is the highest and most supremely exalted and enlightened (Being).
I. "The right Seeing," above-mentioned as being a component part or an aspect of the supreme magga, is thus explained at length: — All (Buddha's) dharmas are divided into four parts; and they are, (1) sorrows (dukkam), (2) origin of sorrows (dukkha-samudayo), (3) destruction of sorrows (dukkha-nirodho), and (4) "ways and means" used for the destruction of sorrows (dukkhanirodha-gamnini-patipada).
The right and full comprehension of these four (facts) is what is understood by "the right Seeing" or "correct Belief." And, this "right Seeing" or correct Belief is, further, viewed under two aspects — worldly, one way, and over-worldly, another way. Good or bad deeds done by one's self, and producing happiness or sorrow, as their respective effects reflecting on the doer or doers, together with a belief that the said doings brought about the said effects and a knowledge of them conformable to "the four verities," is "the worldly right Seeing." The good knowledge of the excellent conduct of sentient beings, who have not destroyed their lusts, &c., is "the worldly right Seeing" understood by the term "laukikca-sammyak-drishti." And, the other, "lokottara-sammyak-drishti" (over-worldly right seeing) is obtained by destroying our lusts, passions, anger, &c., and rightly comprehending what are known as "cattar ariya saccani," "the four supreme Verities."
II. The right thinking (samma samkappo) comprehends pondering on (nekkhamma-samkappo), the abandoning of all worldly happiness, all bad desires, lusts, &c., and the cherishing of thoughts to live separate from them all; (2) Avvya-pada-samkappo, the loathing to take away the life of any one; (3) Avihimsa-Samkappo, the not-thinking of hurting a sentient being. It is the continued thinking or the repeated exercise of the mental powers that is signified by the term samkappo.
III. The third item of the eight-fold path is samma vaca (right words or good speech). It embraces lying, slandering, uttering rough (vulgar) words, and vain babbling or empty talk.
IV. Sanctifying the actions of the body by refraining from killing, stealing, enjoying unlawful connubial pleasures, &c., is called samma kammanto.
V. Not obtaining one's livelihood by "evil ways and means," but supporting one's self, being worthily employed, is the sine qua non of a "right living."
VI. "Right exertion" denotes labouring willingly and earnestly to prevent evil thoughts from rising in the mind, nipping even the buds of any such thoughts already sprung, and cherishing and nourishing good thoughts and exerting to create morally virtuous ideas when the heart and mind is vacant and empty of them.
VII. The seventh member of the supreme Path is the aforementioned four sati-patthanas.
VIII. And, the last is the four dhyanas, elsewhere known (as we suppose) as the four systems of Yogas.
A separate contribution setting forth, at some length, a description of the dhyanas (Yoga) will be sent for publication in a future number of your exceedingly interesting and very valuable journal, the THEOSOPHIST.
Colombo, Ceylon, 15th December 1879.
(To be continued.)
About 41 years ago, at a certain village in the suburbs of Calcutta, one morning, about 8 A. M., our family — then consisting of my grandfather, my grandmother, their five sons, the youngest of whom was my father, five daughters-in-law, their children and relatives — were suddenly surprised by the strange demeanour of my second aunt. As she was not liked in the family, various hints were thrown out, and at last they subjected her to rough treatment accusing her of feigning the ghost. The result was that the next morning she was found to be all right.
Before, however, a week had hardly passed, my fourth aunt one evening betrayed similar signs. As she was in age the youngest in the family, and a very ignorant village girl, she had all along been considered incapable of practising any deception. This fact made the other members of the family take the matter into serious consideration. At last my grandmother, who liked her much for her simplicity, undertook to fathom the secret.
After various other devices, she questioned the girl, saying that if he — meaning the ghost obsessing her, for my aunt had dressed herself like a man — was any departed spirit, he would do better to reveal himself and his wants, which, if reasonable, would be complied with. Upon this my aunt (or rather the spirit who had taken possession of her person for the time being) replied that he would talk to my grandfather on the subject. My grandmother then surmised that he (the ghost) must be some near relative. Now in Hindu society, as a rule, daughters-in-law do not appear before their fathers-in-law or brothers-in-law older than their husbands, much less do they ever converse with them. The very request, therefore, was unprecedented and shocking. Then a consultation was held at which it was decided that the daughter-in-law should for the moment be lost sight of and the ghost possessing her only kept in view. This settled, my grandfather, accompanied by other children and my grandmother, approached her and repeated the question. My aunt was rejoiced at this — as she expressed it — and spoke to the following effect. That he (the spirit) was none other than R. M. — a neighbour who had died a few months before. That he was reduced to the condition of an earth-bound soul, because of his having died in a locked room, uncared for by his son, who had gone to witness a musical performance that night. That, feeling sure that he (my grandfather) was the only person who would perform a pilgrimage to Gaya and offer the Pinda (cake or balls) for his (the spirit's) sake, he had been for sometime endeavouring to approach my grandfather.
He further said that a few days ago he had taken possession of my second aunt, but as the circumstances led to her ill-treatment, he had to give her up. At last, finding an opportunity, he took possession of my fourth aunt's person. That he would do no mischief to any one, but intended to stay in the family until the Pinda was offered at Gaya. That he was at the head of 63 other spirits in the same predicament, whose names he would reveal in due time. That the party lived in a guava tree, close to the house where he would come every morning and evening to perform his regular poojah and annicks (timely worship and prayer) for which preparations should be made. Thus reassuring the family, the spirit left my aunt for the night. She fell down at once and swooned away. When she came to her senses, she was found unhurt, did not recollect anything of what had occurred, and looked amazed.
Then commenced daily visits, morning and evening, for the poojah, on which occasions my aunt acted exactly in the same manner as the spirit, while living was wont to act. In the beginning, she became enhanced. Shortly after she would recover and dress like a man — exactly after the manner of the deceased when living — walk out and take her seat at the place prepared, imitating the man even in the very posture of sitting, in his voice, and even to the minutest details.
Although a simple ignorant country girl unacquainted even with the alphabet, she would during the poojah recite Bireshur's (a name of Mahadev) prayer aloud, the very one which the man when living, used to recite — and exactly after his manner, She even used to peruse (patkura) aloud the very punthus (longitudinal religious manuscript books) supplied to her at her call; and even corrected it (as it was that of my second uncle) in some places where she said there were errors, which proved to be the case on enquiry.
The above seances, especially the morning ones, took place in the presence of large audiences, who were drawn to the house by the circumstance becoming the topic of conversation at the time in the neighbourhood. Even the son of the deceased, who is a Government pensioner at present, and who was then a youth of about 16, used to be present.
This state of things lasted for about four months, during which period innumerable strange incidents happened. I note a few of them only.
In the adjoining house, occupied by another branch of our family, another aunt got possessed by a ghost. This spirit would not reveal himself. At the next visit, my grandmother questioned him (my aunt) about the affair, whereupon he disclosed the ghost as being one T, another neighbour who had died some six months before and who formed one of a band of 61. On this occasion he directed my grandmother to enjoin on all the ladies of the house not to give themselves up to finery or use scents, for many spirits were in and about the house, and telling her that all the members of the party of bhuts were not equally good tempered, and that those of the lower order were rather what we call sensual in their propensities, and ready for mischief. He also said that their present condition was far from being happy, and that it would be a great favour done to them if the pilgrimage to Gaya promised by my grandfather for their emancipation were accomplished soon.
On another occasion, as he was ill-treating his "medium," R. M., the first spirit, came. Complaint was at once made to him and he repaired to the other house immediately, upbraided him for his misconduct, gave him a box on the ear, and sternly observed that if he did not mend his ways he would be excommunicated! At this T. quailed, and suppliantly, with folded hands, begged to be excused, and immediately after left his medium for the day.
T., unlike R. M., was a mischievous and troublesome spirit, and his misdeeds were many. Before taking possession of the medium, he had for some days been throwing sculls, night dirt, legs and hands of corpses, &c., into his own house (i.e., the house of his own father in our neighbourhood). On one occasion he stole our sanctified rupee. (In Hindu households an old silver or gold coin, rubbed all over with vermillion, is preserved in the throne of the family idol, or some sanctified receptacle, with much care, and is, along with rice, cowries, or shells, &c., worshipped as a symbol of Lakshmi, the goddess of plenty, at certain periods of the year). When found missing and R. M. was questioned at his next visit, he angrily ordered T. to replace it at once. T., it seems, had carried it off and kept it in the next house with the rupee of the house. On being ordered as above, he in his hurry replaced the wrong coin. It was detected immediately. R. M. was ready to have the mistake rectified, but my grandfather said that there was no necessity for it; the value of both the coins being the same the now one might be allowed to remain as a token of spirit deeds in the family.
One evening my mother, while playing with her sisters-in-law (my other aunts), in attempting to cast away a little frog (of which she was very much afraid) thrown upon her by one of my aunts for fun, happened to strike one of my aunts upon the neck, and tore away her satnor (a sort of golden necklace of small cut balls, loosely worn, having seven lines). The little balls fell on the floor, but could be found nowhere although search for them was made with a light. R. M. was awaited, and, when interrogated by my grandmother about the lost balls a little while after his coming, he to the surprise of all replied that his little daughter R. had appropriated them for a nose-ring, and that therefore all search would be vain. It may be mentioned here that R. M, had a little daughter who died shortly after him by drowning. She was one of the band of sixty-four.
Sometimes my grandfather, to satisfy some new guest, would ask for a token, such as some fruit not to be had within some miles, or out of season, when it would drop immediately before them. This occurred several times.
At last the time for the departure of my grandfather on his pilgrimage to Gaya arrived. My father was to accompany him, A few days prior to starting, my grandfather asked R. for a list of the names of his comrades, which was furnished. In this list appeared the name of a near relative who had committed a theft and being ashamed to appear in the family had disappeared, and was not heard of for about four years. His wife was then living in our house. The circumstance raised .great curiosity and all were anxious to learn the facts. The family up to that time knew nothing of the theft; and therefore did not know the reason of his disappearance. All the circumstances were then related, beginning from the theft down to how he came by his death at a distance and in a foreign land.
It was then thought advisable to consult pandits as to whether or not, G's. (the name of the relative) wife was to behave thenceforth as Hindu widows do. The pandits declared that there was no such provision in the Shastras. That she must await 12 years from the date of her husband's disappearance, and then, if no news of his being still alive was received, she should burn (cemati) on a funeral pile a Kusu puttra (an effigy made of Kusha grass and certain other leaves) and then act as a widow. I need hardly say that this was actually performed, in time, in my presence, though in practice my aunt abstained from all animal food and other pleasures, denied to Hindu widows, from the time of the above revelation by the spirit.
Now to our narrative. There were no railways then, nor was a journey to distant parts so safe, especially for travellers who had any money with them and happened to be men of consequence. My grandfather therefore consulted R. on the subject, who promised to depute two of the sixty-four spirits with the party as an escort. The escort was to change every evening, two new ones bringing news from the house, while the returners would carry home the news from the travellers. He also undertook to protect the persons and property of the travellers, as well as the members of the family who remained at home, up to the time of the offering of Pinda; after which event, (which was to be notified to the family, at the very moment, by the breaking of the branch of the guava tree, the abode of the spirits) neither he nor his comrades would have any more communication whatever with any one.
This contract was acted upon to the letter by R. and his gang. The following are some of the instances told to me by my father who had accompanied the pilgrims.
One day, while halting for breakfast at a serai (or chutter, as they are called in Behar) a servant was drawing water from an indvia (big well) when the lota (water pot) dropped into the well, as he had tied the noose of the rope rather loose around the pot. Lightly equipped as the travellers were, this loss was of great concern to them. After thinking a while, my grandfather said that R. had promised them every assistance on the journey. "I am sure," he said, "his promised escort is with us. Let us drop the rope with the noose into the water and see if his spirits will not find us the lota." We did accordingly, and a number of persons who were then drawing water from the same well took him for a madman when they saw him drop a rope in a well with no lota on it. Suddenly my grandfather felt the rope heavy, and when he pulled it out, up came the very lota, firmly tied and full of water. The by-standers at once changed their minds, and thought the old man was a Jadugar (Magician) or endowed with superhuman powers. The news spread like wildfire all over the serai, and large crowds gathered at the door of the shop in which the travellers had put up. The party now thought that it was not expedient to stop at the place any longer, and therefore taking their meal as fast as they could, they left the place speedily and quietly.
In another serai one of their guitries (clothes, &. tied in a bundle by another piece of cloth) was somehow or other stolen by some one. At some of the sarais in India, dogs are trained for purposes of theft. And so R. was again invoked; and, shortly after, a dog with the gutrie in its mouth approached as if being dragged by the ear, dropped the gutrie before my grandfather, and then producing a sound, as if it had received a slap, it ran away with all speed.
One evening while seated at the door of a serai, some voice spoke to the party from over their heads, informing them that the night before, a thief had committed a robbery in their house. The inmates were all fast asleep. The spirits however made certain sounds which awoke them, and the thief with his accomplices made away as fast as he could. The fact was noted down and communicated to the family, who in reply confirmed it.
On the noon of the day on which the pilgrims offered the Pinda, my aunt became suddenly entranced at home (it should be remembered that it was not the usual hour), then became conscious, rose up, dressed like a man as usual, walked to the yard, called my grandmother and the rest of the family near her, and talked to the effect that he and his party would always remember with gratitude the trouble which my grandfather and the family had taken for their sake; that the time for their emancipation had at last arrived; that the pilgrims had already entered the temple; that the Pinda was in their hand, then there — there — there. My aunt fell flat on the ground, and simultaneously the branch of the guava tree came down with a crash . . .; young boys and maidens ran away in a fright, believing the sixty-four ghosts were about to perpetrate some serious mischief.
The jaws of my aunt, which were locked at first, were now released, and when she returned to consciousness, feeling shocked at seeing so many spectators present on the occasion, she repaired at once to the inner apartments like a true Hindu zenana, modest lady.
From that time to her death, in October 1878, she remained the same ignorant Hindu lady as she had been before the event. She could neither read nor write, nor recite any more a word of the Bireshwar's prayer which she had been in the habit of doing every morning and evening for about four months.
One particular event I have omitted to mention here. R. had on the occasion of his son's rnarriage, privately borrowed Rs. sixteen from my second uncle. Before my grandfather's departure for Gaya, one morning while his son was present among others, he beseeched my grandfather to release him from the debt as it was preying on his mind. My grandfather therefore remarked that he and his son (my second uncle) had no recollection of the transaction. To this he replied that he had signed the khat for the money and it was still in existence. After this he turned to his son (K.) and asked him if he had a mind to repay the debt, who replied in the affirmative. R., however, was not satisfied but remarked that, as my grandfather was about to incur so much expense for their sake, it would be a favor and no great loss to him if the debt was paid. My uncle thereupon took out a bundle of khats, and threw it before (my aunt). R. picked out his bond and gave it to my uncle, who then remarked to the audience present "I hereby absolve him from his debt," and tore up the bond. The spirit then uttered hurried thanks and departed, leaving my aunt in a swoon.
In connection with the narrative I may mention that my father died in December 1860, my first uncle in 1862, my third uncle in 1863, and my fourth uncle in 1867. My mother is still alive, so are also several neighbours who were eye-witnesses of the above events. I have tried to give in the narrative as brief an account as I could, omitting all minor and insignificant details as mach as possible. Before committing the above to paper, I interrogated some of the living eye-witnesses about the incidents. The circumstance is widely known in the neighbourhood, and as the son of the spirit is now a pensioner, it would be perhaps as well to suppress the names rather than wound his feelings.
Moorshedabad, 11th January, 1880.
If, according to the ironical definition of a French writer, language were not given to man "that he might the better dissimulate his thought," at some future day, in a catechism of sciences, we might hope to see the following answer under the heading of Physiology.
Ques. — What is Physiology?
Ans. — The art of denying all that its specialists have not yet come to know, and, of unconsciously disfiguring that which they do know.
The relevancy of this answer posterity will fully recognize and appreciate; especially when mesmerism, or animal magnetism shall have become a recognized science, and generations of stubborn physicians shall have been publicly accused, by history, of having sacrificed generations of their contemporary suffering millions to their ferocious conceit and obstinacy.
For those of our readers — who may know but little of this most ancient science, practised since prehistoric times in India, Egypt and Chaldea and who have never heard that it was the basis of the wonderful "magic art" of the Phrygian Dactyls and of the initiated priests of Memphis — we will briefly sketch its history, and show what — as now confessed by the greatest men of modern science — it is able to perform.
"ANIMAL MAGNETISM, called also mesmerism, is a force or fluid by means of which a peculiar and mysterious influence may be exerted on the animal system" says the 'American Cyclopedia.' Since the destruction of the pagan temples and after an interval of several centuries, it was practised and taught by Paracelsus, the great mystic and one of the sect of the "fire philosophers." Among these this force was known under the various names of "living fire," the "Spirit of Light," etc.; the Pythaoreans called it the "Soul of the world," (anima mundi) and the Alchemists, "magnes," and the "Celestial Virgin." About the middle of the l8th century, Max Hell, Professor of Astronomy at Vienna, and a friend of Dr. F. Anthony Mesmer, advised him to try whether, like another Paracelsus and Kircher, he could not cure diseases with the magnet. Mesmer improved upon the idea and ended in performing the most miraculous cures — no more by mineral, but, as he claimed, by animal magnetism. In 1778 Mesmer went to Paris; caused in this city the greatest excitement; and from the first, firmly mastered public opinion. He would not however, give his secret to the government, but instead of that formed a class, and nearly 4,000 persons studied under his directions at various times, Lafayette, the Marquis de Puysegur, and the famous Dr. D'Eslon being his pupils. His methods were not those of the present day, but he treated his patients by placing magnets on various parts of their bodies, or by having them sit round a covered tub from the cover of which an iron rod went out to each person, the whole party thus being connected by touching hands. He also made passes with his hands over their bodies. While Mesmer, provoking in the body and limbs of the sick persons a cold prickling sensation, nervous twitchings, drowsiness, sleep, and procuring thereby an alleviation and often a total cure, did not go further than to cure nervous diseases, it was the Marquis de Puysegur, his pupil, who discovered somnabulism — the most important result of animal magnetism. And it was Deleuze, the famous naturalist of the Jardian des Plantes, a man greatly respected for his probity and as an author, who published in 1813 a 'Critical History of Animal Magnetisin.' At this time, notwithstanding its evident success and benefit, mesmerism had nearly lost ground. In 1784, the French Government had ordered the Medical Faculty of Paris to make an enquiry into Mesmer's practices and theory, and report. A commission was appointed of such men as the American Philosopher Franklin, Lavoisior, Bailli, and others. But, as Mesmer refused to deliver his secret and make it public, the result was that having carefully investigated the mode of treatment, the report admitted that a great influeuce was wrought upon the subjects, but this influence was ascribed by them chiefly to imagination! The impression left thereby on the public mind was that Mesmer was a charlatan, and his pupils — dupes.
Notwithstanding the general prejudice, magnetism throve and got known over the whole world. It had made an invasion upon the grounds of medical routine and fought its way step by step. It appealed from the stubborn hostility of the Academy and the old traditions of its members to the judgment, of the multitude, promising to abide by the decree of the majority, "It was in vain that its friends were treated as charlatans by the medical faculty and the majority of the learned," writes Deleuze; "the man, who had witnessed mesmeric experiments among his friends, would believe despite all the authority which could be brought to bear upon him." At last, in 1825, owing to the efforts of Dr. Foissac, a youug physician of note and an enthusiastic admirer of Mesmer, the Royal Academy of Medicine in Paris appointed another learned commission and had a serious investigation made. Would any one believe it? Owing to numerous intregues, the opinion of the learned investigators was withheld for over five years; and it was only in 1831, that the report was rendered, and then found to the great discomfiture of the old academical and mouldy brains to contain a unanimous decision to the following effect: —
It was reported that —
(1) Mesmerism is a force capable of exercising a powerful influence on the human system; (2) that this influence does not depend upon imagination; (3) that it does not act with equal force on all persons, and upon some is entirely powerless; (4) that it produces somnambulic sleep; (5) that in this sleep injury to the nerves of sensation does not cause the slightest sense of pain; (6) that the sleeper can hear no sound save the voice of the magnetizer; (7) that the sleeper's nerves of touch and smell carry no sensation to the brain, unless excited by the magnetizer; (8) that some sleepers can see with their eyes closed, can foretell accurately, even months in advance (as was amply proved), various events, and especially the time of the return of epileptic fits, their cure, and discover the diseases of persons with whom they are placed in magnetic connection; and that persons suffering with weakness, pains, epilepsy, and paralysis, were partially or entirely cured by magnetic treatment.
The report created the greatest sensation. Mesmerism extended all over the world. Students of the new science became more numerous than ever, the ablest writers kept track of its progress and high among all others as a mesmerizer and a writer stood Baron J. D. du Potet.* About the year 1840, Baron Karl von Reichenbach, an eminent German chemist, and the discoverer of creosote discovered a new force, fluid, or principle, — which we regard rather as one of the correlations of the Anima Mundi — which he called od or odyle. This agent, according to his theory, "is not confined to the animal kingdom, but pervades the universe, is perceived in various ways by sensitives, has the greatest influence upon life and health, and like electricity and galvanism, has two opposite poles, and may be accumulated in, or conducted away from, animal bodies." Then came the discovery of Dr. Braid of Manchester, who found that he could produce sleep in patients by ordering them to look steadily at some small and brilliant object, about a foot from their eyes and above their level. He called the process hypnotism and gave to his theory the graceful name of neurypnology setting it down as a mesmeric antidote.
* Besides many modern and very able periodicals such as the Chaine Magnetique, conducted under the patronage of the venerable Baron du Potet,
Honorary Fellow, of our Society at Paris, and the Revue Magnetique by Donato, among the best works upon magnetism are those of H. G..Atkinson,
Dr. Elliotson, and Professor William Gregory, of Edinburgh.
Such is, in brief, the history of this wonderful principle in nature; a principle, as little understood as were electricity and galvanism in days of old. And yet while the latter, as soon as demonstrated, were unanimously accepted and even greeted, the former, however great its claims for alleviating the pains of suffering humanity, however much demonstrated, is to-day as bitterly denied and decried as it was in the days of Mesmer. Shall we say why? Because, while electricity and galvanism in their practical application by, and meaning in, science are the gross manifestations of the universal Proteus, the great Anima Mundi — Magnetism, in its broadest and most mysterious sense, discovers beyond mere physical results horizons so mysterious and vast, that the matter of fact and sceptical scientists stagger and repulse its spiritual possibilities with all the might of their narrow-minded materialism. Once that they admit its existence and give it rights of citizenship, the whole of their schools will have to be remodelled. On the other hand, the clergy are as bitter against it, for its results, in their beneficent effects, upset every necessity for believing in divine "miracles," or fearing the diabolical, and give the lie direct to their old slanders.
We will now show the progress of magnetism under its various modern names of mesmerism, magnetism, hypnotism and other issms, among the men of science, and mesmerizers who explain it, each in his own way.
As we propose to deal with that dangerous bug-bear of physical science — mesmerism — we will have to examine these apples of discord freshly plucked by us in the garden of the scientists, with due caution and respect. We mean to cut off every possible retreat from the enemy, and will, therefore, strictly hold but to the personal experiments and explanations of some of the recognized leaders of medicine.
One such is M. Naquet, deputy for Vaucluse, Professor of the Faculty of Medicine at Paris, and author of 'Ancient and Modern Revelations.'* This gentleman, who is a hard-shelled materialist, to whom the mere idea of soul in man is as unwelcome as the smell of incense used to be to the traditional devil, is just now giving a series of scientific lectures in Paris, the main object of which seems to be to admit the phenomena of mesmerism (at last!) and — fight against the theory of the human soul having anything to do with them. Having successfully pulled out the props from under the ancient revelation, i, e., the bible — and demonstrated the absurdity of belief in the modern Catholic "miracles" of Lourdes and Salette — against which position we will not protest — he tries his hand at Spiritualism and Mesmerism. Unfortunately for the able lecturer he seems to labour under the impression that the votaries of both spirit intercourse and Mesmer must necessarily believe in Supernaturalism — hence miracles. Of course, he makes a mess of it. We quote, translating portions of his lecture verbatim. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
* Revelation antique et Revelation Moderne.
"Hand in hand with these persons (the spiritualists) who bring forward such weak arguments we find moving, nevertheless, a few others (mesmorizers) whose ideas deserve to be taken into consideration and discussed. These pretend (?) to produce at will in some human beings a peculiar kind of sleep, called the magnetic. They affirm their ability to communicate to certain subjects the faculty of seeing through opaque bodies, and they maintain that such facts remain inexplainable unless we admit the existence of a soul in man."
"To begin with: are the facts from which these men draw their conclusions at all certain?* Admitting that they are, cannot they be explained upon any other hypothesis than the existence of this Soul?"
* At the time of this lecture the eminent physician believed but little in the mesmeric phenomena. Since then, experiments of animal magnetism by Professor Charcot, he doubts no longer; nay, — he believes, and yet, while finding it impossible to doubt, he tries to explain the whole upon his own materialistic hypothesis. — Ed. Theos.
"The facts under consideration are affirmed by enlightened and honorable men; thus, in this case, they do not offer that startling character of imbecility and imposture which constitutes the fundamental feature of Spiritualism.* Therefore, I will not immediately pronounce upon the unreality of all they tell us of magnetism; but, at the same time, I propose to show that these facts, however real, do not in the least prove any necessity for the intervention of a soul to account for them."
* More than one spiritualist might return the compliment to materialism and with usury.
"Magnetic sleep can be explained quite naturally. The phenomena of electric attraction daily produced before our very eyes, and which no one ever attempted to attribute to a supernatural cause, are at least as extraordinary as the mesmeric influence of one man upon another man. For the last several years, sleep, followed by complete insensibility and identical in all points with the magnetic sleep, is produced by purely mechanical means. To obtain it, one has but to approach a light to the patient's nose. The fixing of his eyes upon the luminous point produces a cerebral fatigue which results in sleep. At this day, it is no longer to be doubted that magnetism belongs to a phenomenon of the same kind, light being replaced by other agents and expedients which bring on the same cerebral fatigue, and finally sleep."
"Lucidity seems more doubtful than simple rnagnetic sleep, and it becomes still more difficult to give it credence. Admitting it to be demonstrated, however, we could again explain it without meddling with the spirit."
"We will know that light and heat are but vibratory motions; that light and heat differ but in the length of their undulations; that these undulations, which are perceptible to our eye, are of various lengths, producing in us the sensation of various colours; that moreover among the undulatory motions, which we recognize as heat, there are waves of different lengths; that there exists, in short, such a thing as a real calorific spectrum. On the other hand, as, beyond the red ray, there are motions which remain unperceivable by the eye, but which become sensible to the touch as heat, so there are others beyond the violet ray, which develop in us neither impressions of heat nor those of luminosity, but which we can make manifest by the chemical influence which they exercise upon certain substances. Finally, experiment shows to us that there are bodies perfectly permeable to heat, yet perfectly impermeable to light, and vice versa."
"Thus, we can admit the production of vibrations of waves of various lengths and infinitely variable. But of all such possible motions there is but a certain number only, within very restricted limits, that are perceived by us as light, heat or chemical rays. All greater and smaller motions escape our senses, as would the luminous motions, had we no organ of sight. They escape us simply because we have no organs fit to perceive them."
"Let us now suppose," he says "that, owing to a nervous sur-excitement, our organs may become impressionable to the extra-calorific or extra-lumious rays. THE FACTS OF MAGNETIC LUCIDITY WOULD BE PERFECTLY EXPLAINED."
We thank modern Science for teaching us such truths and explaining such a profoundly involved problem. But we can hardly refrain from reminding the erudite lecturer that he but repeats that which was explained by nearly every ancient philosopher and repeated by many a modern writer, who has treated upon clairvoyance.
The Neo-Platonists explained clairvoyance on the same principle; Baptist von Helmont in his 'Opera Omnia,' A. D. 1632, (p. 720) treats this second sight in the realm of the occult universe most elaborately. The Hindu Yogi reaches clairvoyance by purely physiological processes, which does not prevent him from often discerning things real, not imaginary.
"Light, heat and chemical rays," our wise lecturer goes on to say, "are propagated by means of vibrations, and according to the same law; thus, must it be for thee rays which remain imperceptible to our senses. Let only our eyes become fit for perceiving them, and the 'double sight' has nothing in it to surprise us . . . The day when these facts (of mesmerism) shall be sufficiently proved, our hypothesis will become more acceptable than that of the soul. It will allow of every explanation, without trespassing beyond the laws which govern the universe."
We make haste to deny and emphatically protest against the imputation of believing in the supernatural. The hypothesis of M. Naquet, the physiologist, if ever accepted beyond the small minority of his colleagues, will never prove "acceptable." As to accusing, as he does, the vast body of Spiritualists, Spiritists, and Mesmerists of trespassing in their explanation beyond the laws which govern the universe, it is as false as it is ridiculous. Once more it shows how apt are our opponents, and especially physiologists, to disfigure facts whenever these clash with their ideas. Their arguments were unique. If, said they, artificial sleep can be produced by purely mechanical means (hypnotism) what use is there in calling spirit and soul to our help to explain this phenomenon? No use whatever, indeed. But neither did we ever pretend to explain this preliminary stage to clairvoyance-sleep whether natural, hypnotic, or mesmeric, by any soul or spirit theory. This imputation lies only in the case of uneducated Spiritualists, who attribute all such phenomena to "disembodied spirits." But can they themselves — these high. priests of intellect — the agency of the Spiritual ego being put aside — any more rationally explain the phenomenon of somnambulism, clairvoyance (which some of them as we see are forced to admit) or even sleep and simple dreams, than we, not "scientifically trained" mortals? Even ordinary sleep with its infinite modifications is as good as unknown to physiology. Admitting even that the will of man is not the direct cause of magnetic effects, it yet, as M. Donato, the celebrated magnetizer of Paris, remarks, "plays upon and guides many a mysterious force in nature, the mere existence of which is totally unknown to science."
Meanwhile science fishes in the same water with the mesmerizers and for the same fish — only inventing for it, when caught, a new, and as it thinks, a more scientific name. The above accusation is easily demonstrated. As a proof, we may cite the case of Dr. Charcot. It is the same great Parisian professor who, having proved to his own satisfaction that no mesmeric effects can be obtained with a subject unless this subject be naturally hysterical, mesmerized a rooster and thus became the original discoverer of the "Hysterical Cock." (See Revue Magnetique, for February, 1879, edited by Donato at Paris.) Professor Charcot is an authority upon all manner of nervous diseases, a high rival of Broca, Vulpian, Luys, etc., and besides being the celebrated physician of the hospitals of Paris, is a member of the Academy of Medicine. Like the less scientific but equally famous Dr. W. A. Hammond, of New York, he believes in the efficacy of the metalic discs of Dr. Burck for curing more than one incurable disease, but unlike that neurologist, does not attribute any of either the cures or other phenomena to imagination; for catalepsy can be practised upon animals, according to his own experiments. He also gives credit in his own way to the genuineness of somnambulism and the freaks of catalepsy, attributing to the latter all mediumistic phenomena. On the authority of a correspondent of M. Ragazzi, the Editor of the Journal du Magnetisme of Geneva, he proceeds in the following fashion: —
Dr. Charcot first introduces to his audience at the hospital of La Salpetriere (Paris) a sick girl in a state of perfect insensibility. Pins and needles are stuck in her head and body without the least effect. An application of a collar of zinc discs for five minutes returns life into the regions of the throats. Then the two poles of a horse-shoe magnet are applied to her left arm and that spot exhibits sensibility, while the rest of the body remains in its previous state. The same magnet, placed in contact with the leg, instead of bringing the limb back to life, produces a violent contraction of the foot, drawing the toes to the heel; it ceases but upon an application of electricity.
"These experiments of metallotherapia and mineral magnetism remind one of the gropings of Mesmer in 1774, and of his applications of magnetized pieces in the case of nervous diseases" says M. Pony, the medical student, in his letter to the Journal de Magnetisme, and an eye-witness.
Another subject is brought. She is hysterical like the first one, and appears in a state of complete anesthesia. A strong ray of electric light is directed on her, and the patient is instantaneously cataleptized. She is made to assume the most unnatural positions, and, according to the attitude commanded, have her countenance "by suggestion," says Dr. Charcot, "express that which her gestures imply. Thus her hands, crossed on her bosom, are followed by an expression of ecstacy on her face; her arms, stretched forward, produce in her features an air of supplication . . ."
If, while the subject is in this state, the luminous ray is abruptly withdrawn, the patient collapses and falls again into somnambulism — a word which shocks Professor Charcot beyond description. At the command of the physician, and while he proves her utter insensibility by sticking pins in every portion of her body, the patient is made to obey the doctor at every word of command. He forces her to rise, to walk, to write, etc.
In a letter from M. Aksakof, which is published further on, it will be seen that Donato, the professional magnetizer, produces by will power all that is produced by the sceptical savant by electricity and mechanical means. Does the later experiment prove that mesmerism is but a name? Can we not, rather, see in both a mutual corroboration; a proof, moreover, of the presence in man's system of all those subtle powers of nature, the grosser manifestations of which are only knows to us as electricity and magnetism, and the finer escaping entirely the scrutiny of physical science?
But one of the most curious features of the phenomenon, brought on by Dr. Charcot's experiments, is to be found in the effect produced on his patients by vibrations like those felt on a railway train. Upon perceiving it, the illustrious professor had a huge diapason, 40 centemetres high, placed upon a large chest. As soon as this instrument is made to vibrate, the patients at once fall into catalepsy, and whenever the vibrations are abruptly stopped, the patients sink into complete somnambulism.
It would seem, then, that Dr. Charcot, in order to produce the above described effects, uses but two agents — sound and light. Thus, this assurance may become of an immense importance to all the Aryan students of Theosophy, especially to those who study the Sanskrit, and who, thanks to Swami Dayanund, are now enabled to learn the real and spiritual meaning of certain disputed words. Those of our Fellows who have mastered the occult significance of the words Vach and Hyrannya garbha* in their application to "sound" and " light" will have in the above an additional proof of the great wisdom of their forefathers, and the profound and spiritual knowledge contained in the Vedas, and even in other sacred Brahamanical books, when properly interpreted.
* Translated by Professor Max Muller as "gold," whereas it really means "divine light," in the exact sense understood by the medieval alchemists. In his Sanskrit work, Sahitya Grantha, the learned philologist, on the ground that the word "gold", Hirannya, is found in the Mantra Agnihi Poorvebhihi, takes the opportunity of going against the antiquity (of the Vedas, and to prove that they are not as old as commonly thought, since the exploration of gold-mines is of comparatively modern date. In his turn, Swami Dayand Saraswati shows in his Rig vedadi Bhashya Boomika, Book iv., p. 76, that the Professor is entirely wrong. The word Hirannaya does not mean "gold" but the golden light of divine knowledge, the first principle in whose womb is contained the light of the eternal truth which illuminates the liberated soul when it has reached its highest abode. It is, in short, the "Philosopher's Stone" of the alchemist, and the Eternal Light of the Fire Philosopher. — Ed. Theos.
In considering the phenomena produced by Dr. Charcot, the cold materialist and man of science, it is highly interesting to read a letter on his own personal experiences in magnetism, with the famous magnetizer, M. Donato, of Paris, by M. Alexandre Aksakof, F.T.S., Russian Imperial Councillor, which was recently addressed by him to a French journal. The results obtained are all the more worthy of notice from the fact that M. Donato had not previously attempted the so-called "transmission of thought" from one person to another by the mere will of the magnetizer and felt and expressed considerable doubt as to the success of his efforts in that direction.
Two French papers, the Rappel and the Voltaire have borne flattering testimony to the character and attainments of M. Donato, and he is generally known as one of those men who have dared to quit the ruts traced by habit and tradition, and investigate, to quote his own words, "the occult motor which animates us, the mysterious forces which create life, the bonds that unite us to one another, our mutual affinities, and our connection with the supreme powers, the eternal lever of the world."
So much for M. Donato. As to M. Aksakof, he is a highly intelligent and truthful gentleman; reputed to be, in his earnest researches in the domain of magnetism and psychology, not only a cautious investigator, but rather of a too distrustful nature. We here give the verbatim translation of his article published by him in La Revue Magnetique, of February, 1879.
Having had the pleasure of making, at Paris, the acquaintance of M. Donato and of his amiable and excellent pupil, I did not wish to lose the opportunity of attempting an experiment, under my own direction, to ascertain the possibility of transmitting thought from one human being to another by the vehicle of the will alone. It is known that one of the most ordinary aphorisms of modern psychology is 'Psychological activity cannot go beyond the periphery of the nerves.' If then it can be proved that human thought is not limited to the domain of the body, but that it can act at a distance upon another human body, transmit itself to another brain without visible and recognised communication, and be reproduced by word, movement, or any other means, we obtain an immense fact before which material physiology should bow down, and which should be seized by psychology and philosophy to give a new support and a new development to their metaphysical speculations. This fact has in many ways and under many forms been proved by animal magnetism; but in the experiments which I planned, I wished to see it presented in a form at once convincing and easy to reproduce by any person acquainted with magnetism.
When I asked M. Donato if he would accord me a private interview for certain experiments which I had in view, he consented willingly and promised to hold himself at my service for the day and hour I should indicate. So, having announced myself by a telegram, I went to his house on the 17th of November at two o'clock, and, after a few minutes' conversation, we began our work.
First experiment. — I begged M. Donato to commence by putting to sleep, his subject, Mlle. Lucile, and he at once placed an arm-chair between the two windows of the room and a few paces from the wall; in it Mlle. Lucile seated herself, and slept (magnetically) in a few moments. We took our places at the other end of the room, opposite the sleeper, and I then drew from my pocket a card-case from which I took a card and handed it to M. Donato, begging him, simply by looking at Mlle. Lucile, to induce her to make the movement indicated on the card. On it was written 'Extend the left arm.' M. Donato rose, remained motionless near me, and looked at Mlle. Lucile; after an instant her left arm began to move, slowly extended itself, and remained in that position until M. Donato replaced it by her side.
Second experiment. — I passed to M. Donato a white handkerchief which I had brought with me, and begged him to cover with it the face and head of Mlle. Lucile. This being done, and the edges of the handkerchief falling on her shoulders, we took our places again, and in silence I gave to M. Donato a second card on which was written, 'Raise the right arm vertical.' M. Donato fixed his eyes on the motionless body of Mlle. Lucile and soon her right arm, obedient to the thought which directed it, executed the movement indicated — slowly, gently, stopping always when M. Donato turned his head to look at me. I felicitated him on his success and begged him that all danger of over-fatigue might be avoided, to remove the handkerchief and awake Mlle. Lucile.
Third experiment. — After ten minutes of conversation, Mlle. Lucile is again asleep, and her head covered by the handkerchief; we resume our places, and I pass to M. Donato a third card bearing the words, 'Put both hands upon your head,' and I ask M. Donato to stand this time behind Mlle. Lucile. He expresses some doubt as to the possibility of success in this position, but makes the attempt and fails; a fact which did not surprise me, as the polaric connection between the operator and his subject was reversed. At this moment I approached M. Donato and a remarkable phenomenon was produced. As I wished to ask the magnetizer to concentrate his will on the occupant of the sleeper, my hand made an involuntary movement towards her back to indicate the place named, and while it was still some inches distant, Mlle. Lucile moved suddenly forward. Thus I obtained in an unexpected and conclusive manner the confirmation of the phenomenon of polarity, or of attraction and repulsion, which I had already observed at the public representations, and which proves very clearly that the sleep of Mlle. Lucile was neither natural nor feigned. 'If you will allow me to use my hands' said M. Donato ' I am sure to succeed.' 'Use them,' I said, and, still behind Mlle. Lucile, he made a few passes from the shoulders to the elbows, when the hands of the subject rising slowly placed themselves upon her head.
Fourth experiment. — Mlle. Lucile still remaining asleep with her head under the handkerchief, I give to M. Donato a card on which was writtern, 'Join the hands as if praying,' and I place myself on a sofa to the left of Mlle. Lucile, the better to observe the movements of M. Donato. He remains motionless at five or six paces from her and looks at her fixedly; her hands take the desired position and retain it until M. Donato removes the handkerchief and awakes her.
Fifth experiment. — After ten minutes' rest, Mlle. Lucile goes back to the arm-chair and is again put to sleep. The fifth card orders her to make a knot with the handkerchief, and M. Donato, placing himself behind Mlle. Lucile, extends his hand over her head without touching her. She rises and he directs her by his thought towards the table on which the handkerchief has, unknown to her, been placed. Obeying the attraction of the hand, she reaches the table, M. Donato still keeping the same position behind her, and I standing near him. With growing interest we watch her movements, and see her hand seize the handkerchief, draw out one of its ends, and tie the knot. M. Donato himself was astonished, for this time it was no longer a simple exercise of will, but a thought transmitted and executed!
Sixth and last experiment. — It was almost useless to continue, but as M. Donato insisted, I handed him another card with the following inscription, 'Touch your left ear with your right hand.' Mlle. Lucile still asleep was already back in her arm-chair; M. Donato stood in front of her, and I occupied my former place on the sofa. Motionless and silent, the magnetizer looked at his subject, whose right arm soon executed the order given, by three successive movements, the hand approaching the breast, and then the ear, which it finally touched.
These experiments were for me perfectly conclusive; Mlle. Lucile executed the movements desired without the least hesitation. The thoughts that Mr. Donato was to transmit to her were indicated to him by me only by cards prepared in advance, and in most cases he acted on her from a distance which rendered any conventional sign or signal difficult, even if her face had not been covered with a handkerchief, which I had ascertained was thick enough to hide from her any slight sign given by the hands or face of M. Donato; besides which it would have required a very complicated system of minute telegraphy to indicate the movements required.
I asked M. Donato if he had ever attempted to produce anything of the kind in public, and he answered that these experiments exacted very harmonious conditions, difficult to obtain in large assemblies, and that he did not like to risk a failure. I think if M. Donato would exercise his pupil oftener in this direction, he would finish by producing a series of public phenomena of this kind with the same ease with which he produces the others. It would be well worth the trouble, for none can deny that these experiments illustrate especially the phenomena of lucidity and clairvoyance, and present them in their simplest and clearest form.
As I left Paris the day after our interview, I could only express my satisfaction to M. Donato by a little note which was printed in No. 16 of La Revue. It is with great pleasure that I now fulfil my promise to publish all the details of our experiments, and I profit by this opportunity to signify publicly to M. Donato my high appreciation of the zeal, knowledge, and loyalty with which he devotes himself to the defence and promulgation of the most interesting science of human magnatism.
15th, January, 1879.
ST. PETERSBURG, Nevsky Prospect, No. 6.
* Russian translator of the Megnetatherapie of the Count, Szapary, Petersburg, 1860; editor of the German Review, Psychische Studien.
The 'Philosophic Inquirer,' of Madras, an able, and fearless Free-thought organ, would find many readers at the West if its merits were only known.
Possibly many clairvoyants are in the habit of claiming an amount of credit for lucid prescience to which they are by no means entitled, but that the soul set free, for the time being by mesmerism, no longer bound down by the weight of physical passions and infirmities, finds its powers of perception and induction infinitely increased, cannot be denied without at the same time rejecting the fruit of much conscientious and patient research. It is even certain that under mesmeric influence the mind becomes capable of receiving impressions otherwise than by the recognised channel of the senses; but whether the veil that shrouds the future can be drawn aside, or the difficulties of time and space overcome, is still an open question. Certainly if all the marvels claimed by mesmerists were possible, the world would be revolutionized, a corps of trained magnetisers and their subjects would supersede the electric telegraph, pen and ink would no longer be required to give us news of absent friends, no crime could remain a mystery, no secret hidden. As things are, neither the stock-broker nor the detective are in the habit of appealing for aid to magnetism, and the criminal pursues his dark path undeterred by the fear of mesmeric revelations.
In another field mesmerism has achieved greater results. The cures performed by Mesmer and his disciples, by the Baron du Potet, the Zouave Jacob, Newton, of New York, and many another practised magnetiser, prove that this science, sometimes overrated and so often maligned, has a wide field of her own, and rules a domain full of interest and usefulness. At her feet suffering humanity will yet bow down, and medicine be compelled to hail her as a sister and valuable aid. Her essence can penetrate where the Surgeon's scalpel dare not venture, and clairvoyant skill can reveal the cause and cure of many a mysterious malady. Gifted with more or less power to help others, the clairvoyant appears to be endowed with special lucidity when the secrets of his own physical frame and the dangers and misfortunes that threaten it are involved, and if true magnetic prescience exists, it will probably be most frequently met with in this department of the science. The incident I am about to relate came under my own observation, and at first sight would appear to offer a strong proof of lucid presciences. Whether, however, it can be explained away on the supposition of increased powers of perception and induction aroused in the patient by her magnetic sleep and the strong personal interest of the subject that engaged her attention; whether an abnormal clearness of vision may have enabled her to foresee an accident that was rendered imminent by some already existing organic lesion or attenuation of the tissues, — I leave my readers to determine.
Some years ago, when residing in Paris, I became acquainted with a widow lady named Mme. de B. and her very charming daughter Mlle. Irma. They lived in the quartier St. Germain, and many a pleasant — and unpleasant — day have I crossed the Pont des Arts, lingered over the old print and book sellers stalls on the quai, and then followed the narrow crooked rue de Seine on my way to their little entresol. Mme. de B. had long suffered from a mortal disease, but she bore the mingled evils of pain and poverty, with a graceful cheerfulness and absence of mauvaise honte that won all hearts. Her own and her daughter's toilettes were severely economical and the simply furnished rooms they occupied, were kept in order by a female servant who also performed the offices of cook and general factotum. I must give Celestine a word of introduction, for she is the principal personage of my story. She was celestial in name only; a short broad woman of fifty, large of limb and feature,
with thick messes of coarse iron gray hair, a brown healthy face, and a pair of most peculiar eyes. They were very dark and very wide open, at once stony, dreamy, and penetrating. Celestine professed entire devotion to her mistresses, and words of coaxing flattery came readily to her lips; but I do not think she was at all unmindful of her own interests, or disposed to sacrifice herself beyond measure; and she certainly never told the truth when she imagined that convenience or expediency demanded a falsehood. She possessed a natural and uncultivated taste for romance, pretended to occult powers in the way of telling fortunes by cards or teacups, was not without a certain ready wit, too strongly flavored to be agreeable to all tastes, and was in short a thorough femme du peuple. Now it so chanced that Mme. de B. finding little benefit from the prescriptions of her doctor, was induced to give magnetism a trial, and M. Henri Le Roy, a moderately strong magnetiser, visited her every day, without
however affording her much relief. One afternoon, when I happened to be there, and M. Le Roy had been magnetising Mme. de B. for some time, Irma had occasion to enter the kitchen, and found Celestine in a sleep from which it seemed impossible to rouse her. The news appeared in no way to surprise M. Le Roy; he expressed his conviction that the sleep was magnetic, and caused by him, and proposed that we should adjourn to the kitchen. This was immediately done, and while we seated ourselves on stools and woodboxes, M. Le Roy began to examine his subject. She was leaning back in the only chair in the room, a half peeled potato had apparently fallen from her hand, and a kitchen knife lay on her knee. An inspection of her eyes showed that the balls were turned upward, and nothing we could do seemed to make her aware of our presence. With M. Le Roy it was quite otherwise; after a few downward passes, he spoke to her, and she answered him lucidly and with alacrity. First he endeavoured to put Celestine en
rapport with Mme. de. B. and obtain from her some facts that might be of use in the treatment of Mme. de B.'s illness, but the clairvoyant evidently was entirely lacking in discretion, and her first words — "Oh the poor woman, she is lost! lost!" — caused so much distress and alarm to all present, that the magnetiser hastily ordered his subject to turn her attention to her own state of health, which was generally believed to be particularly good. "Take your time," he said, "look well." Slowly the placid expression of the woman's face changed for a look of distress, horror, and fear, her features worked convulsively, and her hands clutched her garments. "Calm yourself," said M. Le Roy, "and tell me what troubles you." The answer came hoarsely in broken whispers. "I see it — I see an accident, the beds — the white wall, it is La Charite.* Surgeons, knives, blood — Oh, God save me!" It was impossible to make her say more, and M. Le Roy found it necessary to use
all his power to calm her convulsions, and awaken her. Of course on awakening, she retained no recollection of what had passed, and we mutually agreed not even to tell her she had spoken; it was safer and kinder to leave her in ignorance of the entire transaction; but her words had produced a most unpleasant effect on us all, and Mme. de B. was visibly cast down by them. "After all Mama," said Irma, "Celestine never tells the truth when she is awake; so I do not see why we should attach any importance to what she has just uttered in her sleep." It would not do, we could none of us shake off a certain dread that had seized us; and M. Le Roy acknowledged to me, as we descended the stairs together, his fears that Mme. de B. was really lost and that some terrible misfortune would overtake Celestine. "Enfin, qui verra verra," he added, as we parted at the corner of the street, and took our separate ways through the misty November twilight.
* The name of an hospital at Paris.
Six or seven weeks passed almost without incident. M. Le Roy had discontinued his visits, but Mme. de B. was no worse, Celestine robust as ever, and nothing apparently remained of her property but the few notes I had written down in my pocket-book. Some time in January I went to England, and though the ladies had promised to write to me during my absence, I returned to Paris a month later without having heard from them. Of course my first visit was to their house, and my foot was already on the stairs that led to their apartment when the concierge called me back. "No one there," she said; Mme. de B. had resolved to try the effects of a milder climate, and she and her daughter were staying with relatives in the South of France. "Had Celestine gone with them?" I asked. "Ah non, la pauvre! She had been at La Charite these ten days." "La Charite!" I exclaimed. "Yes" she continued, "soon after Madame left, Celestine had lifted Madam's bed, which was a very heavy one, to place a roller under it; she had done the same thing a dozen times before, but this time she had felt a new and painful sensation, as if some internal organ had given way, she had grown worse and worse, and was now at the hospital, and her life despaired of." It was impossible to obtain a permit to visit the patient that night, but the next day I obtained admission to the hospital and found poor Celestine in a pitiable plight indeed. A difficult and dangerous operation had been performed, and she was at the last degree of prostration. Not a glimmer of recognition crossed her face when I spoke to her, and both doctors and sisters of charity assured me that recovery from the critical operation performed on her was extremely rare. She did recover however, thanks to an extraordinary amount of vitality, but it was three months before she was able to sit up, and during that time I made the acquaintance of every inmate of the ward, and knew by heart every dark spot on the white wall by the side of Celestine's bed. Poor creature! how that wall must have glared down on her during all the weary hours she passed near it. She left La Charite at last, weak and tottering, but friends cared for her during her long convalescence, and afterwards provided her with a fish stall at Belleville. The last time I saw her, the ruddy colors had come back to her cheeks, her rolled-up sleeves disclosed a pair of brawny arms, her hands rested on her substantial hips, her ready tongue bandied compliments with the neighbouring butcher, and it would have been hard to find in all Paris a heartier and healthier woman of her age than Celestine Duhamel.
Mme. de B. returned to Paris only to die. They buried her in Pere la Chaise, and Mlle. Irma returned to her relatives in the South.
The original of the following narrative will be found among the anecdotes in Chapter III. of the 'Bostan,' one of the most celebrated poems in Persian, by the world-renowned Sadi of Shiraz, who is regarded by Musalmans not only as a great poet, but also as a very pious and holy man. The original anecdote in Persian is found at page 213 of the Edition of Ch. H. Graf, and was printed at Vienna in 1858. I am afraid the translation is not a very good one, but I have attempted to make it literal. The narrative runs thus: —
It so happened, once, that myself and an old man from Faryab arrived at a river in the West. I had a diram (silver coin) which the boatman took from me and allowed me to enter the boat, but they left the Dervesh behind. The blacks (i. e., the boatmen) rowed the boat — it glided like smoke. The head boatman was not a God-fearing man. I felt sore at heart at parting from my companion; but he laughed at my sorrow and said "Be not sorry for me my good friend — me He will take across who lets the boat float." Therefore he spread his Sajjada (i. e. a small carpet used by Mahomedans while repeating their prayers) on the face of the water. — It appeared to be an imagination or a dream. I slept not the whole of that night, thinking of the wonderful occurrence. On the morrow he looked at me and said: "You were struck with wonder my good friend; but the boat brought you over; and God me."
Why do the opponents not believe that abdals* can go into water or fire? For an infant, that does not know the effect of fire, is looked after by his loving mother. Similarly those who are lost in contemplation (of the Deity) are day and night under the immediate care of the Deity. He it is who preserved Khalil** from fire, and Moses from the water of the Nile. Even a little child, supported on the hands of a swimmer, does not care how swollen the Tigris is. But how can you walk on water with a manly heart, when even on the dry land you are full of sin?
* Persons who by leading holy lives overcome the ordinary laws of matter.
** The Mahommedan name for Abraham, to whom the miracle of being saved from fire, when thrown into it, is attributed.
Editor's Note: — This anecdote, kindly furnished by the accomplished Mr. Mahmood, has a real interest and value, in that it reminds the student of psychological science that a certain range of psycho-physiological powers may be developed, irrespective of creed or race, by whoever will undergo a certain system of training, or, as Mr. Mahmood expresses it in his note to his translation, who lead holy lives and so overcome the ordinary, that is, the more familiar, laws of matter. Mahomnedan literature teems with authentic accounts of psychical phenomena performed by devotees and ascetics of that faith; and it is to be hoped that a portion, at least, may find their way into these columns through the friendly aid of Persian and Arabic scholars.
Senator of the Bombay University, Author of 'the Marathi Grammar,' of 'A Hindus Thoughts on Swedenborg,' &c.
It will, I imagine, have appeared to all the Hindu readers of the THEOSOPHIST, as it has appeared to me, a felicitous choice, or taste even if it be so called, on the part of the editor of that journal, to have displayed so prominently and beautifully the most holy Vedic syllable Om on its title-page. It is held in such a degree of veneration among the Aryas that they have distinguished it by the peculiar and appropriate appellation of Prannawa, and by their mandate that no Shudra is permitted to pollute it by his utterance. With it the Brahmans began and end the recital of their holy mantras and their daily prayers, and with it the gods address the MOST HOLY ONE. In the Upanishads, it being not unfrequently identified with the Brahma itself, its adoration and meditation are found here and there peremptorily enjoined by their sacred authors, as the means of obtaining divine knowledge. The Chhandogya Upanishad opens with its commendation and eulogium under its other kindred donomination — the Udgitha, the most holy song of the Sama Veda with which it is there identified. (1) In the enumeration of the essences, beginning with the earth as the essence of the elements, water of the earth, shrubs of the water, and so forth, the Udgitha is represented as the essence of the Sama Veda. (2) Nay, it is declared to be the quintessence of all; it is the Supreme, the most adorable, (3) with whom the Udgitha is here identified.
The Syllable Om is composed of three letters, — a, u, and m, each of which is said to typify one of the three gods Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva, respectively. It is also said to typify the three great regions or spheres of the world, the three sacred fires, the three steps of Vishnu in his avatara of Trivikrama. (4)
Numerous long and short treatises are extant in separate bodies, and also found largely interspersed in the Vedic and Purannic literature of the Aryas, commending in strong terms the efficacy of the mystic syllable Om. Shankaracharya in his Sharir Bhashya has dwelt largely on it, and the Vayu Purana has devoted one whole chapter to its elucidation. Now a question might naturally occur to a reflecting mind, why a body of the learned saints and sages of the old Aryavarta should labour in a mental task which to all appearances is so much gibberish and devoid of any sound and deep sense. What mysticism could there exist in the utterance and recitation of a mere word or syllable that could lead, as is averred, to the obtainment of the knowledge of the Supreme Brahma, and consequently of eternal bliss?
Let us now seek for some reasonable answer to the above question by philosophising on the subject. Its rationale appears to lie too deep below the surface to buoy up at once to the gaze of the vulgar. In the Chhandogya or some other Upanishad — I now forget which — I well recollect that this Om is compared to an arrow in the hands of a skilful archer, aiming and throwing it at a mark; and the mark fixed in the present instance is the knowledge of the Brahma. Well may we compare the head of this arrow, or rather its sharp point to the first letter a, the reed or intermediate part to u, and the barb to m, as the component of letters of the Om as shown above. A Yogi in the act of meditation (dhyana) may be said or imagined to pierce or rend with this shaft the thick mental veil which hides his knowledge of Brahma; — thick in the spiritual sense of the word. The human mind, spiritually considered, is the thickest of all substances we can conceive of, if encumbered wholly with worldly ideas and worldly pleasures, which unmistakeably have the effect of rendering it quite impenetrable to sublime thoughts and conceptions concerning God and the destiny of man; and therefore a candidate for divine knowledge is, in the first place, strictly enjoined to wash his mind clean of all such grossness; or else his attempts in that direction are sure to prove wholly ineffectual and fruitless. Thus equipped, a Yogi with his concentrated mind may be said to be well prepared now with this arrow to penetrate deeper and deeper into the very nature and origin of his knowledge of sound, which ultimately leads him inevitably to see and identify it with the very essence of Godhead.
The following extract from a treatise by Raja Rammohun Roy, as quoted by Babu Rajendralal Mitra in his valuable translation of the Chhandogya Upanished, may also serve further to elucidate and corroborate the view taken above: — "Om, when considered as one letter uttered by the help of one articulation, is the symbol of the supreme Spirit. 'One letter (Om) is the emblem of the Most High,' Manu II. 83. 'This one letter, Om, is the emblem of the Supreme Being,' Bhagavadgita. * * * But when considered as a triliteral word consisting of (a), (u), (m), Om implies the three Vedas, the three states of human nature, the three divisions of the universe, and the three deities — Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, agents in the creation, preservation, and destruction of this world; or, property speaking, the three principal attributes of the Supreme Being, personified as Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. In this sense it implies in fact the universe controlled by the Supreme Spirit" — RAMMOHUN ROY.
I hope I may be allowed here to prolong this idea of the whole universe being evolved from and included in the one word OM, to which the Raja, has thus briefly alluded, with my own observation or rather theory on this important and interesting point. My long ratiocination on the analysis of this mystic word as given by the sages of India, has led me to the discovery of a rationale, which may, I trust, be considered as calculated to account with some satisfaction for the very high sacred importance attached to it. It is a well-known and established fact that the vowel (a) takes the precedence of all the letters of the known alphabets of the world; at least I can affirm this as far as my knowledge goes; and why so, because it is the very foundation, the first germ, as if it were, of the Nadabrahma (divine resonance) or the Nadasrishti (the whole resonant system supposed to be innermostly pervading the universe), all other letters or varieties of sounds being considered to be no more than modulations of the same sound generated in the organs of utterance, or in the vibrations produced by musical instruments. The sound represented by the second letter (u) may be well conceived to be the modification which the same sound undergoes in its passage outward through a slight pressure given to it from above and below; and the sound of the last letter (m) is what is produced by its ultimate stoppage altogether between two outward pressures. Now the utterance or rather the proceeding of these three sounds inherent in the symbolic syllable OM from the Maha Purusha or the Great Universal Spirit or Being may be well imagined to typify the production of the whole microcosm, its sustenance, and its stoppage or destruction at the Maha Pralaya, in all its grand and minute operations. I have not met with this explanation in any of the Upanishads or other books that I have come across; but I should not wonder at all if such rationale or something approaching it were found in some other books or in the large body of the Tantrika literature of the Aryas.
It is a matter of the most wonderful coincidence, if coincidence it be called at all, that the experience of St. John, the great evangelist, should have driven him to the same conclusion at which the ancient authors of the Vedas long before him had arrived, as appears evident from his solemn and profound opening of the first chapter of his gospel, in which the logos or Word is so clearly and unmistakeably expounded and identified with the second personage in the Godhead, — nay God himself, when the evangelist declares that the 'Word was God.' Now that the Om of the Vedas, which is said to be the essence from which proceeded the Vach or speech, may be conceived to be the same and identical ideal with that of the logos in the original conception of the evangelist, there appears to me not the shadow of a doubt.
Nor does this Vedic OM appear to me to stop here. It assimilates itself, to our equally great wonder, also into the very sound of a word of nearly the same sacred import, and performing the same sacred office in the rituals and prayers of the Bauddhas, the Jains, the Jews, the Christians, and the Musalmans — in fact in all the principal religions of the world, as it does in that of the Vedas; I mean the word Amen. Such are the meaning, antiquity, and the universal diffusion and application of the mystic syllable which appears on the title-page of the THEOSOPHIST -- Om tat sat, Amen.
A collection of the quaint weapons of war and the chase, for the manufacture of which the Province of Cutch has ever been noted, is now on free exhibition at the Library of the Theosophical Society. They were kindly sent for the purpose by Rao Bahadur Mannibhai Jesbhai, Dewan of Cutch-Bhuj, to the Bombay Agent of the State, Mr. Javerilal Umiashankar, and by that gentleman turned over to our Society. In all there are sixty lots, comprising battle-axes, spears, swords, daggers and hunting-knives. Most of the shapes are highly artistic and in any Western centre of taste would be eagerly purchased as trophies wherewith to adorn libraries, halls and dining rooms, the more so as the prices at which they are invoiced to pass through the Custom House are exceedingly moderate. How, for instance, would an American cutler fancy making steel spear-heads of four cutting edges and with sockets arabesqued, for less than two dollars; or double-bladed daggers, with tempered blades blued and emblazoned with gilt stars, and arabesqued hilts, for less than four dollars? Besides the arms there are articles of jewellery in gold and silver. Here are at least two arts not yet quite destroyed by foreign competition.
The Indian Spectator (Bombay), which took occasion to send kind words to our Society while we were still in America, and has ever since manifested an appreciative interest in Theosophy, has recently passed into the hands of a Parsi gentleman whose abilities as a prose writer and poet have been long and widely appreciated. The paper ought to enjoy a great prosperity under its new management.
Several very interesting articles intended for the present number have been crowded out, and must lie over until next month. Among these is one, in Pali, from Ceylon. Is there any scholar among our friends in this part of India, who would be so obliging as to translate occasional articles from Pali into English or one of the Vernaculars for us? It is next to impossible to have it done in Ceylon, there being, it appears, but one Buddhist priest in that island whose knowledge of English is intimate enough to qualify him for this work. But for this, a number of valuable contributions from learned priests of that sublime faith would have enriched these pages.
The eminent orthodox pandits attached to Benares College, having heard our President's public exposition of Theosophy in that city, called a special meeting of their Literary Society, the Brahamarit Varshini Sabha — and paid that gentleman the great honor of electing him an Honorary Member of the Society. The speeches were in Sanskrit, Hindi and English. A strong effort is being made by these learned gentleman to revive an interest in Sanskrit literature, and a bi-weekly Magazine — Piyueha Shikar — is to be started at the very moderate rate of Rs. 7 per annum. By next month we hope to be able to give further particulars.
If Mr. Wall, the Magistrate at Benares, has rescinded his singularly unwise order that Swamiji Dayanund Saraswati shall not be permitted to deliver any lectures upon the Aryan religion in that city until further advised by him, the fact has not yet been reported to us by the party most interested. The Swami's most recent letter to us states, on the contrary, that the Magistrate had not even noticed his letter of protest and inquiry. Unless the Government of the North-West Provinces is willing to have it understood that free-speech is denied to all except those who interpret the Vedas in a certain way, we may reasonably expect this affair to be settled in a very peremptory fashion before long. We may say this since there is no question of politics but only free speech involved. The visit of our party to Benares was memorable in many ways. While it resulted in binding still closer the ties of friendship between the Swami and ourselves, it also gained for us the good will of a number of very important orthodox laymen, among them His Highness the Maharajah of Benares who, being absent from home at the time, has just sent us a cordial invitation to revisit the sacred city, and partake of the princely hospitality for which he is noted.