I am glad that you have such a faith in the Great Workers who are behind us. They ARE behind us, to my personal knowledge, and not behind me only, but behind all sincere workers. I know that their desire is that each should listen to the voice of his inner self and not depend too much on outside people, whether they be Masters, Eastern disciples or what not. By a dependence of that kind you become at last thoroughly independent, and then the unseen helpers are able to help all the more.
-- W.Q. Judge, LETTERS THAT HAVE HELPED ME, pages 112-13.
By B.P. Wadia
[From LIVING THE LIFE, pages 65-68.]
Love thyself last. The Vastnesses above thee Are filled with Spirit-Forces; strong and pure And fervently these faithful friends shall love thee: Keep thou thy watch o'er others and endure.
In the Righteous War, which every Chela has to wage and win, the probationer must not err by measuring only the strength of the enemy -- his personal nature. He should recognize the strength of his own godlike nature and the powerful allies of his own Divine Ego. Not only is his own Eternal Self by his side, but also as a Divine Ego, he is helped by the hosts of Friends of the Eternal Self.
The first lesson in practical Occultism that the neophyte has to learn is that he is indissolubly linked with the whole of nature, that he is the Microcosmos, an exact replica of the Macrocosmos. His Eternal Self is the Supreme Spirit of the universe, and every power of that Supreme is possessed by him. His human Soul, the Higher Mind, is an aspect of the Divine Mind-Soul, Mahat or Maha Buddhi. Further, the constituents of his personality are derived from the Spiritual Forces acting in Matter. This lesson of the Occult Philosophy has to be learned and assimilated by the neophyte. The first task is that of extricating his Manas from Kama and establishing the Antahkaranic Center, looking towards or inwards towards its parent and watcher, Manas, the Divine Ego.
The second lesson is to perceive that the powers in great Nature are his helpers; Sages or Rishis, Gods or Devas, and Nature Spirits or Devatas are ready to help. By knowledge and awakened will, that Antahkaranic Being is able to command the Nature Spirits or Elementals. The Esoteric Philosophy teaches that there are four types of Elementals related to the four great elements -- earth, water, air, and fire; next, that the Gods or Devas presiding over these great elements are among the builders of man -- the sevenfold being. By acquiring knowledge of the science of Occultism under the guidance of its Professors and Doctors, the neophyte learns how to conjure them and to invoke their help for winning the war in which he is engaged.
Then there are the Sages and the Seers, the Mahatmas and the Nirmanakayas, the Silent Directors of the probationer's Divine and Eternal Self. These Living Mahatmas are Siddha-Purushas, Perfected Beings who hold the powers of Life in Their own strong hands. Their Philosophy-Science contains all the necessary knowledge for living the life of the Warrior-Soul, the fortune's favored soldier.
Even theoretical knowledge of the major principles of the Esoteric Philosophy purifies the lower man. As he ponders the great teachings, assimilation takes place. This elevates him and thus enables him to see the light of his Divine Ego and to hear the voice of that Silent Speaker. However indirect and short-lived this experience of seeing and hearing, it confirms the neophyte in the firm position he has taken with the end in view of being a helper of Nature on her path of Life and Light.
The neophyte must learn the truth that the army on his side is made up of pure Intelligences of Sages, Gods, and Elementals; further, that in the army on the other side (his lower nature), there are also some pure forces, which are there captured by the lower and dark aspect of Nature -- and that they help the neophyte in their own peculiar manner. Thus in the Gita allegory, Bhishma and Drona and Karna contributed each his own share to the great victory of Arjuna. This aspect of the war -- the help to the true Warrior-Soul from both the light and the dark sides of Nature -- is difficult to comprehend. But it is well for the neophyte to know of it at least in theory, and to strengthen his soul with the truth that in a real sense the WHOLE of Nature is on his side as he wages the war against human darkness and evil.
The Sun, the Moon, the Stars; air, fire, water, earth; gold and silver; flowers and fruits; birds and beasts; slum-dwellers and geniuses; saints and sages -- all befriend the Warrior-Soul, all become his educators. As he transmutes his lower nature, he brightens up the sub-human universe, becoming more and more a channel of the super-human Intelligences and of the Most High. In transmuting his personality, he has become a Personage, a Man who has realized the truth that he is one with the indivisible Macrocosmos.
Unity is the Law; Rhythm, the Motion of Life. Man, in his ignorance, does not recognize this fact. Man is a Spirit-being, a Mind-being, a Body-being. He does not know this. But Theosophy gives him this knowledge. In his illusion and delusion, man fights man. Theosophical wisdom alone gives a complete and satisfying exposition of the injunction of the Oracle at Delphi -- "Man, know thyself."
Says LIGHT ON THE PATH, pages 12-13:
Having obtained the use of the inner senses, having conquered the desires of the outer senses, haying conquered the desires of the individual soul, and having obtained knowledge, prepare now, Oh disciple, to enter upon the way in reality. The path is found; make yourself ready to tread it.
Inquire of the earth, the air, and the water, of the secrets they hold for you. The development of your inner senses will enable you to do this.
Inquire of the holy ones of the earth of the secrets they hold for you. The conquering of the desires of the outer senses will give you the right to do this.
Inquire of the inmost, the one, of its final secret that it holds for you through the ages.
The great and difficult victory, the conquering of the desires of the individual soul, is a work of ages; therefore expect not to obtain its reward until ages of experience have been accumulated.
By Henry Travers Edge
[From THE PATH, May 1894, pages 33-35.]
In cooperative work, as in every other problem before students of occultism, there are two extremes to be avoided and one right course to be maintained; two evils opposed to one good; a pair of opposites reconciled by a unity. In cooperative work, as in other problems, many make the mistake of avoiding the more obviously wrong extreme merely to fall into the other extreme that is less obviously wrong. A body of workers should neither repel one another nor lean on one another.
The former maxim is so obvious that no one fails to recognize its truth and to strive to act in accordance with it; but many do so and rush to the opposite pole of weak reliance on others. Workers should cling to the cause, not to each other; for if they cling to each other, the failure of an individual will be disastrous for the whole; while, if each one clings to the cause, each one must be torn away separately ere the whole fabric can be destroyed.
The pillars of a temple do not lean up against one another, neither do they counteract each other; each stands firmly on its own base and is independent of the support of the others, yet all unite in the common object of supporting the dome. We must be as the pillars of a temple, helping one another, yet independent and each on his own base. The destruction of one or two does not seriously impair the building, for the others still stand firm.
In unity is strength, and though we must be united in a common object, yet we must not lose the advantage arising from our individual unity. A body of workers all mutually dependent constitutes a single united center of force; but if, while maintaining their unity of purpose, they retained their independence of individual action, they would be more powerful, for they would constitute a number of separate centers synthesized by one great center -- a number of unities forming one cardinal unity.
When many members of a body are self-reliant, their self-reliance synthesizes itself into a great power and stability, and the total force is much greater than it would be if they all leaned up against one another. It is a law of nature that a number of Logoi or individualities should constitute collectively a single superior Logos or individuality. Our Egos, though each one acts independently, all emanate from a single central Logos, of which they are only parts, but whose quality of egoism each reflects. Our bodily organs, though each has a separate function, all unite to form the whole man. They do not thwart each other, nor absorb one another's functions, nor combine to do the work of one.
We should be like the rays of the sun, which shoot in all directions and yet are but fulfilling the separate details of a single organized plan. It is upon this very diversity of course that depends the successful carrying out of that plan. Were all the rays to shoot in the same direction, the sun as a luminary would be a failure. This illustration also serves to show us how two people pursuing opposite courses can yet subserve a common end; for to every ray there is another that shoots in the precisely opposite direction.
Why should we try to persuade our friends over to our own views, or grieve because they differ from us in details? Would we have all workers do the same work, all climbers ascend the same path, all occultists follow the same ray of truth? Light has many hues and the sun has many planets; and though there is a maxim to the effect that those not yet qualified to be suns may remain for the present humble planets, no reason is given why we should all be the same planet.
A general, in conducting a campaign, assigns to each division of his army a particular portion of the work he wishes carried out; a master-printer assigns to each operative his due share of the work in hand, one setting the type, another reading the proofs, and so on. Each subdivision does its own work without interfering with the work of others. Through this simultaneous carrying out of many dissimilar details, the whole plan, for which all alike cooperate, is successfully accomplished.
Though most of us recognize this principle in matters of external work, there are many who fail to carry its application into more interior departments of our work; it applies equally well to methods of thought and ways of looking at the questions that affect our moral life. One student may, through the exigencies of his own nature, be impressed most strongly by the value of fiery energy, while another may pin his faith to the principle of "power through repose": if these two should try to convert one another, they would be merely wasting time and labor, and the work of both would be hindered.
Each should do what is best for him, and leave the other to follow what is best for him. We are all necessarily impressed with different aspects of the great problem, and must therefore all work on different tacks, but, while recognizing our own method as the best so far as we ourselves are concerned, we must frankly acknowledge the equal importance (to the general body) of our brother's plan.
Many are the paradoxes that present themselves to the student of occultism, and among them this is not the least important -- to work in perfect harmony with our colleagues, and at the same time to work as if upon our own individual effort depended the whole enterprise. To realize this we must be united yet independent.
By Charles E. Benham
[From LUCIFER, December 15, 1888, pages 280-85.]
As he spoke, a heavy book that was lying on the table rose without any apparent cause, turned itself about, stood on end, leaped into the air, glided along backwards and forwards, and after further mysterious evolutions proceeded, as if lifted by an invisible hand, from the table to my lap, where it lay tranquilly.
All this time, the Professor sat almost motionless -- merely exhibiting a slight twitching of the right hand and a convulsive, strained expression of countenance as he watched the movements of the volume. His calmness astounded me, for I never for a moment attributed the uncanny manifestations to him, and expected them to strike him with the same cold horror as I was experiencing.
For my own part, the unutterable sensation of dread that seized me is beyond all words to express. Now that the absurd feeling has passed away, I cannot recall my sensations, but I know that my hair stood on end with fear, and I shook and trembled from head to foot. My head whirled, and I fancied it must be all a dream. Gradually, a dawning conviction came over me that the Professor was responsible for this eerie piece of business and that this was the secret with which he was going to entrust me.
"Good heavens," I cried. "What on earth is this uncanny power? Is this a trick to frighten me, or have you been studying witchcraft?"
The Professor was calm and unmoved.
"You can believe or disbelieve," he said. "You have seen with your own eyes. If you believe, we will go further; if you disbelieve, it would be no use to do so, and there must be an end of it."
As he spoke, a fearful sensation of horror was creeping over me. It is impossible, I feel sure, for the reader of this narrative to enter into the feelings that take possession of one when in a moment all one's ideas of the "Is-ness of things" are uprooted. I fancied -- it was the only solution, however terrible -- that I must have gone from my mind and that all around me was imagination or fantasy. Yet surely not so -- there sat the Professor, unmistakably real, and there lay the book motionless in my lap.
"In the name of all that is good and true," I began, but I could say no more. My head swam, my eyes closed. I felt myself falling to the ground in a swoon. I remember no more until I came once more to consciousness, and found the Professor standing over me looking anxious and concerned. Gradually, as I "came to myself," the recollection of what had happened unfolded itself.
"It is only as I feared," said the Professor, after I had become restored.
"The sudden disclosing to the mind of laws that subvert our previous notions of the operations of force, as manifested in the environment, is a terrible shock, and is the secret of the terror that inspires children and the vulgar at the apparition, whether real or imaginary, of bogeys and phantoms. The eyes of the intellect are dazzled, the brain is overpowered, and the senses are intoxicated. You must rest your thinking faculties as far as possible for a week or two, and you will then find yourself able to return to our experiments, not only without discomfort or without fright, but also even with keen interest; and now I will leave you to follow out my advice in this respect. Goodnight, old fellow. Go straight to bed, and think no more about what has happened until I come and see you again."
With these words, he shook hands and said farewell. I was still too overcome to reply, and could not even see him to the door. I merely muttered a confused farewell, and crept off to bed with a sick and despondent heart.
The next day, my miserable frame of mind had by no means left me. To dismiss the events of the previous evening from my thoughts, as the Professor had advised, was an utter impossibility. On the contrary, these recollections dismissed all other ideas, and I found myself unable to give attention to the ordinary affairs of life. Everything seemed unreal; my surroundings appeared to be a mere phantasmagoria, a projection of fantasies on my brain as unsubstantial as the images projected by a magic lantern on a screen to amuse children.
A horrid suspicion haunted me that I was going from my mind. I felt no confidence, no reliance in any one of my senses. I think that no one who has not been through a similar state can have any idea how implicit, and how constant, is the trust that we all of us place in the infallibility of natural effects that experience has tested and never found to fail. When I walked, I ceased to retain any faith in my muscles or organs, or in the earth as a support. If I laid anything on the table, I felt constrained to watch it for some seconds to make sure it would not bound off to the ceiling or glide away to the ground.
As for the Professor, I felt towards him one passion only -- that of inveterate hatred. Or was it fear? At any rate, it was an indescribable antipathy. I would not go near him at any price; I even took the precaution to keep the latch of my front door fastened so that it could not be opened from the outside, for he was in the habit of walking in unannounced. Even with this precaution, I was far from feeling safe, for who could tell whether he could not, with his hateful witchcraft of fourth dimensions and spiritual hands, stand on the doorstep and calmly undo the door on the inside.
So things went on for a week, when at length I found relief. It was exactly as the Professor had said. My brain had been overpowered and my senses dazed. Gradually my mind regained its normal strength, and within a fortnight, I was able to think with pleasure and even to theorize upon the singular phenomenon that had caused me so much horror and wretchedness. I became deeply interested in it, and so far from disliking the Professor, I began to long for another visit and further experiments.
At my own request, he called. I told him all that had happened, of my dejection, my uncanny feelings, and the revival of the sway of reason in me. He seemed much pleased, and was especially delighted when I went further and gave him the crude theories that I had formed.
"I imagine," I said, "that we have a magnetic power that we only lack the faculty to exercise. You appear to have discovered and developed that faculty. Is not that so?"
"Hardly, I think," he replied. "I will first show you an experiment, and will then as far as possible explain to you the modus operandi, though you must bear in mind that I do not claim to fully understand the matter myself, as I am new to it. However, I will tell you all I can. Fetch down that case with the stuffed bird up there on the wall."
It was a pet canary that had died a year before. I had had it stuffed, for it was a favorite of mine, and I kept it over the mantelshelf, perched on a twig just as it used to perch and sing in its cage.
"I am going to take this bird out," said the Professor.
"All right," I said, not very pleased. "Do so if you wish, though I have been at some pains to make the case thoroughly air tight, so as to keep out insects."
The Professor smiled, and as he did so, to my intense astonishment, I saw the bird in the case, which he was holding in his hand, vibrate. And then the front of the bird disappeared as far as the legs, leaving the remainder standing as though it had been cut straight down with a keen knife.
"Watch it closely," said the Professor.
I did so. I looked at it as nearly as I could front ways, and could see that it was not cut through, for the front appeared yellow as though covered with feathers and not showing the cork with which it was stuffed.
"Watch it still," said the Professor. As he spoke, the disappearance progressed. In a second, all the body had gone, and gradually the vanishing spread to the very tip of the tail. The bird was gone.
The next thing I saw was that it was in the Professor's hand. The case remained sealed, intact. My astonishment, as may be supposed, knew no bounds. In another minute, the Professor had replaced the bird on its perch, its reappearance being the exact converse of its disappearance. First of all came the tail, and at the same moment the tail vanished from the bird in the Professor's hand, and the same process extended gradually along the body. When only the head remained outside the case, a sudden thought inspired me. In a moment, I grasped the head and endeavored to snatch it away, in order to make perfectly certain that no trick was being practiced.
It seemed to be riveted in the air. I pulled at it in vain. The Professor tried to restrain me, but I was too quick for him. A smart tug, and the headpiece of my poor canary was in my hand and the resistance ceased. At the same moment, the body portion inside the case fell from its perch. The two were severed.
I was intensely annoyed when I saw what had happened, for the damage was beyond repair.
"Your own fault," said the Professor calmly.
I was bound to admit it was, and looked very foolish as I tried to hide my concern by assuring him it was of no consequence.
"Well, now let me proceed to explain," he said. "Suppose you had a plane surface bounded on all four sides by barriers. To a person who did not know of a third dimension, who knew of length and breadth, but could not imagine thickness because it did not enter into his experience, to such a person, I say (of course a merely hypothetical and impossible individual), it would seem that it would not be in any way possible to remove that plane surface without taking away the barriers, and yet you know well enough it could be at once done by lifting the plane surface or by lowering it. To any one gifted with a sense of the fourth dimension, thickness itself is but as it were superficial. There is an aperture still open to that closed case. It is what I call the fourth dimension, or the spiritual aperture. The only reason why you could not put your hand into that aperture is because you cannot see it, and your senses do not direct you. Were the requisite sense unveiled, as it is with me, you would be able easily to do what I have done. Therefore it was that your clumsy effort wrenched the head off the bird."
I understood very little of his explanation, though now the meaning is slightly clearer, and I seem to have a dim conception of the matter.
"But," I said, "Why do you not show this extraordinary power to everyone? Why make such a secret of it?"
"Your memory is very defective," he replied. "What was your own answer last time we met, when I asked you what you thought an ordinary businessman would think about a fourth dimension?"
"Oh yes, I know," said I, "but that's quite a different matter. People would ridicule the theory, but the facts they could not deny."
"You are very, very wrong, if you really think that," said the Professor. "Recollect the parable of Dives. Moses and the Prophets give the theory; the resurrection is the fact. If they will not hear the one, they will not believe the other."
"I cannot see how scientific men can deny facts that are brought before them," said I.
"No more can I," said the Professor, "and yet they do. But I will tell you what I will do, to set your mind at rest on the point. I am going up to London tomorrow, and shall probably stay a few weeks. I will get introductions to two or three of the most eminent physicians and scientific men (which I can easily manage through my friend, John Rook, the publisher), and you shall just hear the result for yourself."
"Very good," I said. "And now let us have some further experiments."
"No," he said firmly. "We have had enough for you to digest until my return. Too much food for the body gives gastric fever; too much for the brain gives brain fever. On my return, I hope to show you some still more astounding experiments, also to make you acquainted with the rather unpleasant operation that I performed on myself in order to lay open the spiritual faculty, and perhaps, if you wish it, to do the same for you. And, as a final idea for you to consider, let me tell you that only human force -- that is, mental and spiritual activity -- operates in the spiritual dimension, and that that aperture is only open or accessible to man. Dust cannot get into your bird-case, but I can force dust in. This is because gravitation is of no account in the spiritual dimension, where spiritual -- that is human -- force alone operates."
Leaving me this idea to work out, he said farewell until the time he should come back from town and perform further experiments for my edification.
A week after the Professor left for London, I went for a short holiday, choosing the Scotch lakes for my tour. If there is one thing I dislike when away on a holiday, it is to be worried with a number of letters forwarded on to me on business and everyday matters, which take all the pleasure from a trip away from home. I therefore took the imprudent course of instructing my housekeeper to forward me nothing that came by post, but to place all letters on my study table that I might attend to them when I returned. It was a delightful holiday to me. I forgot all cares amid the mountain scenery of the highlands, and never gave a thought to the Professor or to the fourth dimension as I reveled in solitude by the lakes and streams of old Scotland.
On my return, I took up the little pile of letters that lay on the table. After dismissing to the waste-paper basket several circulars relating to gold mine and other schemes for drawing money from sanguine investors, I took up an envelope on which I at once recognized the handwriting of my friend, the Professor.
I tore open the seal hastily, and not without a feeling of regret that this one communication had not been sent on to me, especially as it was marked "immediate and important," on the outside. But what was my dismay when I read its contents: "Come at once to Engleford Asylum, where your unfortunate friend is to be at once confined. I was fool enough to try the experiments, as you suggested, before two scientific men. The result is a certificate of my lunacy. Lose no time, or I shall verify the certificate and 'twill be too late."
Within three hours, I was at Engleford and flying to the asylum. It is a massive building of white brick, within a minute's walk from the railway station. At the gate is a bell-handle. I tugged it with remarkable energy, and a great bell clanged as though it would wake the dead. The porter came. I asked to see the superintendent on urgent business.
I was shown into a small office. The superintendent entered, and suddenly it flashed upon me that after all I hardly knew what I had come for. From the postmark, I judged the Professor had been in the asylum about ten days.
"I have come," I said, rather bluntly, as the superintendent motioned me to a chair, "to see you with regard to a rather curious case," and giving him the Professor's name, I asked whether it could be true that he had been sent to the asylum.
"Yes, poor fellow," said the superintendent. "His was a sad case, a very sad case. He seemed almost like a sane man when he entered, but his symptoms developed with remarkable rapidity, and in three days had taken a very pitiable form of monomania, under which he is, I fear, likely to remain all his days. He has a fancy that he is a canary, and that someone has beheaded him."
I sank back in my chair. It was then too late. The shock had been too much, and had unhinged his mind. I felt I could ask no more. I could not wish to see him in his pitiable plight. I merely expressed my thanks to the superintendent for the information, told him how dear a friend of mine the Professor had been and how shocked I was.
It was too late. The Professor was mad.
By Henry S. Olcott
[From OLD DIARY LEAVES, II, pages 373-80.]
An incident occurred on August 29, at China Garden, a quarter of Galle, which has become in Ceylon historic. After my lecture, the subscription paper was laid out on a table and the people came up in turn to subscribe. A man named Cornelis Appu was introduced to me by Mr. Jayasakere, the Branch President, and he subscribed the sum of half a rupee, apologizing for the pettiness of the amount because of his having been totally paralyzed in one arm and partially in one leg for eight years, and therefore unable to earn his livelihood by his trade.
Now at Colombo, on my arrival from Bombay, the High Priest had told me that the Roman Catholics had made their arrangements to convert the house-well of a Catholic, near Kelanie, into a healing-shrine, after the fashion of Lourdes. One man was reported to have been miraculously cured already, but on investigation, it proved a humbug. I told the High Priest that this was a serious matter and he should attend to it. If the hypnotic suggestion once got started, there would soon be real cures and there might be a rush of ignorant Buddhists into Catholicism.
"What can I do," he said.
"Well, you must set to work, you or some other well-known monk, and cure people in the name of Lord Buddha."
"But we can't do it; we know nothing about those things," he replied.
"Nevertheless it must be done," I said.
When this half-paralyzed man of Galle was speaking of his ailment, something seemed to say to me, "Here's your chance for the holy well!"
I had known all about Mesmerism and Mesmeric Healing for thirty years, though I had never practiced them, save to make a few necessary experiments at the beginning. Now moved by a feeling of sympathy (without which the healer has no healing power to radically cure), I made some passes over his arm, and said I hoped he might feel the better for it. He then left.
That evening, I was chatting with my Galle colleagues at my quarters on the seashore, when the paralytic hobbled in and excused his interruption by saying that he felt so much better that he had come to thank me. This unexpected good news encouraged me to go farther, so I treated his arm for a quarter of an hour and bade him return in the morning. I should mention here that nobody in Ceylon knew that I possessed or had ever exercised the power of healing the sick, nor, I fancy, that anybody had it, so the theory of hypnotic suggestion, or collective hallucination, will scarcely hold in this case -- certainly not at this stage of it.
He came in the morning, eager to worship me as something superhuman, so much better did he feel. I treated him again, and the next day and the next; reaching the point on the fourth day where he could whirl his bad arm around his head, open and shut his hand, and clutch and handle objects as well as ever.
Within the next four days, he was able to sign his name with the cured hand, to a statement of his case, for publication. This was the first time in nine years that he had held a pen. I had also been treating his side and leg, and in a day or two more he could jump with both feet, hop on the paralyzed one, kick equally high against the wall with both, and run freely.
Like a match to loose straw, the news spread throughout the town and district. Cornelis brought a paralyzed friend, whom I cured; then others came, by twos and threes first, then by dozens, and within a week or so my house was besieged by sick persons from dawn until late at night, all clamoring for the laying on of my hands. They grew so importunate at last that I was at my wits' end how to dispose of them. Of course, with the rapid growth of confidence in myself, my magnetic power multiplied itself enormously, and what I had needed days to accomplish with a patient, at the commencement, could now be done within a half hour.
A most disagreeable feature of the business was the selfish inconsiderateness of the crowd. They would besiege me in my bedroom before I was dressed, dog my every step, give me no time for meals, and keep pressing me, no matter how tired and exhausted I might be. I have worked at them steadily four or five hours, until I felt I had nothing more in me. Then I left them for a half hour while I bathed in the salt water of the harbor, just back of the house where I felt currents of fresh vitality entering and re-enforcing my body. Then I went back and resumed the healing, until, by the middle of the afternoon, I had had enough of it, and then had actually to drive the crowd out of the house.
My rooms were on the upper storey -- one flight up -- and most of the bad cases had to be carried up by friends and laid at my feet. I have had them completely paralyzed, with their arms and legs contracted so that the man or woman was more like the gnarled root of a tree than anything else; and it happened sometimes that, after one or two treatments of a half hour each, I made those people straighten out their limbs and walk about.
One side of the broad verandah that ran around the whole house, I christened "the cripples' race-course," for I used to mate two or three of those whose cases had been worst, and compel them to run against each other the length of that side. They and the crowd of onlookers used to laugh at this joke, and wonder at the same time, but I had a purpose in it, which was to impart to them the same unflinching confidence in the effectiveness of the remedy that I felt, so that their cures might be radical.
Quite recently, while in Ceylon, on my way to London, I met one of my bad patients of those days, whom I had cured of complete paralysis, and asked him to tell those present what I had done for him. He said that he had been confined to his bed for months in a perfectly helpless state with his arms and legs paralyzed and useless. He had been carried upstairs to me. I had treated him a half hour the first day, and fifteen or twenty minutes the next. I had cured him so effectually that in the intervening fourteen years he had had no return of his malady. Fancy the pleasure it must have been to me to have relieved so much suffering, and in many cases to have restored the invalids to all the enjoyments of good health and all the activities of life.
I see that the first patient that Cornelis brought me, after he was cured, had the thumb and fingers of his right hand clenched with paralysis so that they were as stiff as wood. They had been so for two and a half years. Within five minutes, the hand was restored to its flexibility. The next day he returned with his hand all right, but the toes of his right foot constricted. I took him into my room and made him as good as new within a quarter of an hour.
This sort of thing went on even at the country villages on my routes through the Southern Province. I would reach my stopping-place in my traveling-cart, and find patients waiting for me on the verandahs, the lawn, and in all sorts of conveyances -- carts, spring-wagons, handcarts, palanquins, and chairs carried on bamboo poles. An old woman afflicted (how much, indeed!) with a paralyzed tongue was cured; the bent elbow, wrist, and fingers of a little boy were freed; a woman deformed by inflammatory rheumatism was made whole. At Sandravela, a beggar woman with a bent back, of eight years' standing, gave me a quarter-rupee for the Fund. When I knew what she suffered from, I cured her spine and made her walk erect.
Baddegama is a noted center of Missionary activity and -- so far as I was concerned, and Buddhism generally -- of malevolence. It was the view of this lovely landscape -- so it is said -- that suggested to Bishop Heber the opening verse of his immortal Missionary Hymn. There had been threats that the Missionaries were going to attack me at my lecture there, and the Buddhists naturally thronged to hear me. Several of our members came out from Galle. Whom should I see there but Cornelis Appu, who HAD WALKED THE WHOLE TWELVE MILES! There was no doubt, then, as to his having been cured! The gentle Missionaries were conspicuous by their absence, and I had the huge audience all to myself.
I was amused by a case that came under my hands at the little hamlet of Agaliya. An old, wrinkled native woman of seventy-two years of age had been kicked by a buffalo cow while milking, some years before, had to walk with a staff, and could not stand erect. She was a comical old creature, and laughed heartily when I told her that I should soon make her dance. But after only ten minutes of passes down her spine and limbs, she was almost as good as new, and I seized her hand, threw away her staff, and made her run with me over the lawn.
My next patient was a boy of seven years, whose hands could not be closed, because of a constriction of the tendons of the backs. I cured him in five minutes, and he went straight away to where the breakfast was ready for the family, and fell to eating rice with his right hand, now quite restored.
In due time, I got back to the Galle Headquarters, where a second siege by the sick had to be undergone. I have noted down an incident that shows the uncharitable and selfish spirit that actuates some of the medical profession -- happily, not all -- with regard to the curing of patients by unpaid outsiders; for, remember, I never took a farthing for all these cures.
A number of former patients of the Galle General Hospital, who had been discharged as incurable, came to me and recovered their health; and, naturally, went to shouting the news on the housetops, so to say. The medical profession could not very well remain blind or indifferent to such a thing, and one day my doings with my patients were overlooked by one of the civil surgeons of the district.
On that day, one hundred patients presented themselves and I treated twenty-three; making, as I see it noted, some wonderful cures. Dr. K. recognizing one of the men, brought him to me with the remark that he had been pronounced incurable after every treatment had failed, and he would like to see what I could make of him. What I made was to enable the sick man to walk about without a stick, for the first time in ten years.
The Doctor frankly and generously admitted the efficacy of the mesmeric treatment and remained by me all day, helping me to diagnose; and doing the duties of a hospital assistant. We were mutually pleased with each other. At parting, it was agreed that he should come the next day after breakfast, and help me in whatever way he could. He, himself, was suffering from a stiff ankle or something about his foot, I forget just what, which I relieved. The next day, he neither came nor sent any word.
The mystery was explained by a note he wrote to the mutual friend who had introduced him to me. It seems that on leaving me, full of enthusiasm about what he had seen -- as any open-minded, unspoilt young man would naturally be -- he went straight to the Chief Medical Officer and reported. His superior coldly listened, and, when he had finished, delivered himself of the sentence of major and minor excommunication on me. I was a charlatan, this pretended healing was a swindle, the patients had been paid to lie, and the young doctor was forbidden to have anything more to do with me or my money-tricks.
To clench the argument, he warned the other that, if he persisted in disregarding his orders, he would run the risk of losing his commission. And if he could find that I took any fee, he should have me prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license! So my quondam assistant and admirer, forgetful of his duty to perfect himself in the healing art, of the paramount claims of Truth to his loyalty, and of science to his professional devotion, of all he had seen me do and its promise of what he could, in time, himself do, not even remembering his relieved foot, nor the claims of politeness upon those who make appointments and are prevented from keeping them, did not come the next day nor even send me one line of apology.
I felt sorry for him. All his future prospects in Government service were at stake. At the same time, I am afraid I did not respect him as much as I should if he had resolutely stood out against this pitiful and revolting professional slavery; this moral obliquity, which would rather that the whole of humanity should go unhealed unless they were cured by orthodox doctors, in an atmosphere of medical holiness and infallibility. The acquisition of the power to relieve physical suffering by mesmeric processes is so easy that, in ninety-nine cases out of the hundred, it would be one's own fault if it were not developed.
[From THE ARYAN PATH, April 1937, pages 145-50.]
Are Gods, Saviors, Heroes, and other divine and semi-divine beings no more than creatures of man's imagination? Are they, if they actually exist, what those who believe in them have pictured these supernal characters? Have they no being, no world, no field of action other than as men?
Certainly all these classes and instances of supernatural visitors have no standing in history, if by history we mean those carefully preserved museum relics exhibited in the encyclopedias, whose measurements correspond in all essentials to the dimensions we ourselves possess. But Nature constantly exercises her easements regardless of all our measures and bounds of what is credible and what incredible. Even the authorities, theological and scientific, which act as surveyors-general and regard as trespass any overstepping of their maps and termini -- even these very authorities are, or should be, subject to their own law of estoppel.
The theologian rests his claims and sanctions in the last resort upon the very sources in some far past, which now he would throw out of court as without sufficient merit to justify a hearing. And our science is in no more stable case. Not one of its advances but has been a venture from the known into the unknown -- and more. It ever trespasses not only upon the thus-far-and-no-farther of theology, of popular opinion, of the accredited facts and hearsay truths of history, but also against its own deeds and dicta of yesterday and this morning.
History, we might recall to our profit, originally meant an inquiry and investigation into fact and alleged facts, truth and alleged truths -- not a mere obituary record of what once was but now no longer exists. On such a basis as this latter, history is the grossest of fictions, dealing with the greatest of imaginable illusions. What have the living to do with the "dead and done for?" Or with tomorrow? The life of sense and sensation has naught of concern with past or future. There is neither religion nor science among the kingdoms below man -- no yesterday, no morrow to their consciousness. Are their inhabitants any the less making history, repeating history, because "they know not what they do?"
The past means something, the future portends something to all men, however little we may be able to record the one in our memory or read the other in our imagination. There is, there must be, a better way, a wiser way, therefore a truer way, of employing the powers we call memory, imagination, and thought than in the mere shuffling and reshuffling of their so far acquired products, as a miser his hoard, or in devoting them merely to enlarging the sphere of animal existence.
Whatever we may conceive of Self and its limits of duration and capacity, there occurs every day from earliest childhood to the hour of death an unbroken sequence of the unexpected. All this is in "the womb of Time," and we are able to read as little of it as the fetus hidden within the womb of its earthly mother can read of the larger life in which that mother shares. Surely, no one has title to define the limits of the probable and improbable of Self and its powers, whose whole use of his mind is contingent upon the sanction of his physical senses, and whose whole conception of Self is contingent upon the possession of an earthly body.
When the immense historical categories of theology and materialism, miscalled religion and science, are surveyed for their own foundations and dimensions, a child can see their fatuity as compared and contrasted with the views and conduct of the divine Incarnations, or with the innate powers of man himself. Whatever our religion or our science, they are but developments, successive creations by the mind of man. Shall we worship the watch, the mere timepiece, or consider the watchmaker, the Being who conceives of endless Time itself, even while tenant in and identified with a body of temporary duration whose only existence to him lies in his senses or in his mind?
So observed, no one can avoid perceiving that even in the most fantastic creations of an exuberant subjectivism there is ever and always an element of the objective and real. It is to these elements themselves that we should give attention, if we would learn to recognize the features of Truth in the midst of the habiliments in which she has been decked by time and tradition. The imagination of the masses, disorderly and ill-regulated as it may be and may have been, could never have conceived and fabricated ex nihilo so many monstrous figures, such a wealth of extraordinary tales, had it -- that mass-imagination -- not had to serve it as a central nucleus those floating reminiscences, obscure and vague, which unite the broken links of the chain of time to form with them the mysterious dream foundation of our collective consciousness -- that psychological hybrid named "human nature."
This body was once a gelatinous, and before that a nebulous mass, a whirl of atoms -- the creation out of surrounding material by a single cell, fecundated by the impact of, to it, two alien and unknown bodies of which that compound cell was nevertheless, but the moment before, an integral part. So our earth, so our solar system, so the Universe. Carrying the same analogy -- the same HISTORY -- into the world metaphysical, the genesis of mental existence begins with fecundation of the child consciousness by the impact of the idea of Self, thence, the same process of division, segmentation multiplication out of the enveloping mass of psychological material until we have the normal race-mind.
Is all this, whether in the world of matter or the world of mind, miracle or chance or the "fortuitous concurrence of atoms" as Lucretius with Socratic irony suggested in his DE RERUM NATURA? What, then, if Avatars and Heroes represent one pole in great Nature -- the successive steps of CONSCIOUS descent from the world of Spirit to that of Matter as we know it? What if the corresponding and opposite pole were represented in the UNCONSCIOUS successive steps of ascent from the world of inchoate Matter to organized objective bodies? What if the electric circuit were "closed" by the fusion of the two in Man himself, the "connecting link" between them?
Is this cosmic process of union, of fecundation, of genesis, antenatal and postnatal existence, any more mysterious, any more irreligious or unscientific, any more incredible, than the process by which the inorganic becomes the organic, the protoplasmic cell the six-foot man? That process too, by which we have become what we now are to both mind and sense -- that process is as mysterious still as it ever was, as much a matter of opinion and speculation, not knowledge in any vital meaning. And so with death and disintegration, cosmically as well as organically. Everywhere is manifest the tendency, not merely to "run down," but to be born, to be re-assembled in the womb of Nature, "with the process of the suns." THIS is transmigration, metempsychosis, reincarnation.
"Communication between the living and the dead?"
It goes on all the time, before our eyes of sense objectively, before the mind's eye subjectively. Is there no warrant, then, that the same process of continuity and change goes on before the eye of Soul or Self CONSCIOUSLY -- as well as unconsciously and dream-consciously? What if the human Incarnation of Saviors and Heroes, of Gods and Demigods, were deliberate, volitional, knowing efforts to impregnate the mind of man with the divine seed of CONSCIOUS immortality? That we die, the most of us, life after life, with only a "dream foundation" for postmortem existence, requires no evidence, for the majority of men are their own witnesses to the fact. That we go through this existence unfertilized by the heavenly pollen also requires no demonstration. That we were not born viable as to our own antecedent state and condition is equally of common negative certainty.
All this is paralleled physiologically. But that germination and gestation do occur, despite the wastage of vital essence, is likewise certain -- or there would be no organic world. Apply the same parallelism psychologically, and, however little we know, all that we do know leads straight to the provisional inference that Demigods and Heroes are those who have received the divine influx and have not been barren to it.
Such a CONCEPTION as this is possible to any man who has not already debased himself utterly, and but comparatively few do that in any given generation of men. Heroes are nearer to the Gods, but closer to us than those Gods themselves. Herein History joins her voice to that of Tradition and Inspiration and all three speak in unison to the hunger of the heart, the yearning of spiritual aspiration that is innate in every normal man, the Element of the divine in all Humanity. He who holds to this conception in his heart, as the mother holds the earthly seed in the adytum of organic existence -- shall he not feel the quickening of the Spirit within, "in the course of time?" Who that studies History, who that observes Life, can fail to see what one upon this path of discovery once happily called "the Uplift of Heroes?"
The accessible records pertaining to the divine Incarnations are, in the theological sense, to be found in the great Scriptures that, so to say, form the title deeds under which authority is claimed by creed and sect. Internal evidence in the texts of each shows that the Scriptures accepted as canonical in the various religions are, in fact, not original writings, nor original impartations. Each contains its own evidences of compilation, of repetition from earlier sources. Back of all the great Scriptures must lie some common fountainhead, some Wisdom-Religion, some higher Order of Being, from which all these are derived.
In the same way, all that we know of Heroes comes to us in the great Epics. Each of these evidences internally that it is but a re-assemblage from still more ancient sources. The great bards have drawn from their unknown predecessors, as these latter from widespread and incredibly old material in the form of myths and legends, embodying either race-mind memories or imaginations. The modern critics, even the friendly-disposed, see in all these Epics what other critics see in the great Scriptures -- more or less authentic recitals of the "lispings of infant humanity," as Max Muller characterized the ancient Vedic records. The same origins, then, are ascribed by the schools of scientific investigators to both Scriptures and Epics -- the imagination of aboriginal peoples.
Confronting these authorities, now as always so far as known, is the simple and incontrovertible fact that all primitive tribes are singularly devoid of creative imagination, but from generation to generation most tenacious of their inherited customs, habits, modes of thought and conduct. All this spells unmistakably, not imagination, but MEMORY. Turning to the theological authorities in every great religion, one finds the same tenacity of received and inherited points of view. The purely theological mind is utterly unimaginative, unquestioning, bound to the past. This also is MEMORY.
Between the opposing schools of authoritative interpretation, the world has profited little. Some other light has to be sought by him who entertains the possibility that the great Scriptures and the great Epics are not all shell and no kernel, that they are not sterile as the sacred wheat in the mummy's hands, desiccated or desecrated by the materialist and the theologian. In all this great fund of literature, revealed and revealing, is constant evidence of symbolic speech, as carefully planned as the poetic measures of the great songs themselves.
This mental and moral as well as spiritual picture-language has never yet been caught by any but the common people, the mystics and the seers among them -- and these have as inevitably misread the facts of other worlds as they do of this, not in their sophistication but in their unwisdom. Equally with the evidences of origins other than the attributed ones, are the evidences in all the great classical writers as well as in Scriptures and Epics alike, of the continuous existence of the Mystery Schools. Therein were taught, scientifically and demonstrably, the great truths concerning other worlds, other states of being, the processes of ascent and descent governing the different orders of Souls in their migrations and transmigrations.
The existence of these Mystery Schools has never been denied, but what has been uniformly flouted by theologian and materialist alike has been the idea that the teachers and disciples in these Schools possessed any keys to Nature, past, present or future, inaccessible to themselves. Thus, on the one hand, we find every great Savior speaking undisguisedly of the Mysteries, and unmistakably refusing to impart any other information regarding them than by allegory, parable, and ethical injunction that the most ordinary man could in part understand and in part apply. As unmistakably, we find these great Messengers opposed by the authorities of the times as would beyond doubt be the case today. For the Way of the Cross is no Appian highroad along which conquering legions march in ordered tread to fresh fields of exploitation.
All that is known of these Schools in any real sense is precisely -- nothing. Their "secrecy and silence" have never yet been violated either from within or from without the sanctuary. Yet not alone the great Messengers have spoken of them. Many of the bards, many of the philosophers and historians of the West as of the East, have been Initiates of these Schools. Countless imitations have existed, in remote times as in the present, and more often than not these have been mistaken for the genuine by the learned as well as by the untutored. The genuine in anything, if of value, inevitably excites imitation more than it excites emulation -- and mankind at large, now as always, makes a readier market for the vendor's wares. Far more are ready to listen to a pope than to a Christ, to a politician than to a patriot.
Even the noblest of the purely human pursuits of ideals, that of the Law, -- even jurisprudence -- recognizes this note in human nature, and countenances it, as the jeweler countenances the emerald -- despite the flaws. Thus it is an accepted maxim of our Courts of Justice that "the Law, it would seem for the purpose of sharpening men's wits, tolerates a certain amount of lying in trade." That countenance is extended by human nature even into Religion and Science -- where what are at best but the speculations of the authorities are, by the public, taken as unquestionable expositions. On all this, one of the Initiates of a still existing School has written:
Human nature in general is the same now as it was a million of years ago: prejudice based upon selfishness; a general unwillingness to give up an established order of things for new modes of life and thought; pride and stubborn resistance to Truth if it but upsets their previous notions of things -- such are the characteristics of your age. The world's prejudices have to be conquered step by step, not at a rush. The door is always opened to the right man who knocks.
In all Scriptures and Epics, and in all the mythical genealogies as veiled in symbol and allegory, is the unvarying testimony personifying antenatal and postnatal cosmic as well as human life and processes. One and all, they portray the "War in Heaven" that ended in two opposed conditions of the hitherto divine and semi-divine Entities -- the "Fallen Angels" and those "Sons of God" who did not fall but descended consciously into this "whirlpool of Souls," the Kabalistic gilgoolem. This is the same as the chyuta and achyuta of the ancient Aryan texts. This is that vast "Cycle of Incarnation" in which are concerned Gods, Demigods, and the Souls called men.
All the theologies "begin at the beginning," but have lost the connecting links between Spirit and Matter. All the modern sciences have begun at the bottom and traced the unconnected evolution of the Kingdoms in matter from the inorganic to the organic, from dust to plant, from plant to animal, from animal to man. They too have missed the winding key that supplies the invisible impulse that bridges the gaps between these Kingdoms. Those missing links above and below are the secret of the sanctuary -- in Nature as in the Mystery Schools. Something shuts US off from antenatal as from postmortem perception -- from Past and Future. The great lesson, the still unlearned lesson, taught by myth as by avatar, by poet and philosopher as by seer and Initiate -- is that these horizons are not impassable, from below upwards as from above downwards, in full consciousness.
By Ramananda Chatterjee
[From THE ARYAN PATH, October 1935, pages 629-34.]
The cult of the serpent is common to all religions. It takes many forms -- worship of a single serpent or of a species, of a serpent embodying a spirit or a deity, of a real or an imaginary serpent as represented in an image, of a serpent associated with a divinity (a principal god or one of many gods), or of a purely mythical snake.
There is a distinction between the worship of the animal itself and its worship as the embodiment of a god or a spirit. Sometimes a god shows himself as a serpent, or the reptile is the symbol or attendant of a god and is often seen as the guardian of a shrine or a temple.
While the cult of the serpent is to be found in some age or other in all parts of the world, it is of special importance in India. It is not more widely distributed or developed in so many varied and interesting forms elsewhere. India is the only country in the world where all the known species of living snakes exist. Their abundant distribution and the serious loss of life caused by them every year afford an adequate explanation of the fear with which they are regarded and the respect and worship paid to them.
In Bengal, the worship of the goddess Manasa or Vishabari ("remover of venom") is very prominent. If it is neglected by any family, some member is sure to die of snakebite. While Manasa may be worshipped every day, the special day reserved in Bengal for her worship is the last of Sraban, which came this year on August 17 according to Bengali Almanac. Usually she is worshipped by placing an earthen pot marked with vermilion under a tree, with clay images or snakes arranged round it and a trisula (or trident) driven into the ground. Sometimes a kind of cactus named after her is taken as her emblem. Sometimes she is believed to dwell in a pipal tree. In places where snakes abound, a special shrine or a separate room is dedicated to the goddess. On the day set apart, her image of clay is worshipped -- principally by the Bagdis of Central and Western Bengal, as by the Bauris and Mals of the same regions.
According to the statement of the Bagdis, Manasa is their favorite deity. Her image is represented with four arms, with a cobra in each hand, and crowned by a tiara of snakes. After the worship, her image is taken in procession and finally consigned to a river or a tank. In my native town Bankura, Western Bengal during boyhood, my playmates and I enjoyed the songs about the snake-goddess sung by her devotee. This occasion is enlivened by tableaux vivant or by clay figures caricaturing or seriously representing events of the year and persons connected with them, carried on the shoulders of men or on bullock carts through the streets.
In Bengal, the principal myth of the snake-goddess centers round Behula, its heroine. There are many poetic versions of the story. More than two dozen have been printed. As in other countries of the world and in other parts of India, so in Bengal there have been rivalries and conflicts of cults. The Manasa myth is reminiscent of such a conflict between the cult of the great god Shiva and that of the snake-goddess Manasa. The following story tells how a friendly understanding was arrived at between the two.
Manasa, the Snake-goddess, wished to enjoy the devotion and worship of humanity. But the great god Shiva ordained that until Chand, the richest merchant of Champaknagar, worshipped her, she would never receive the recognition of humanity.
Now Chand was a devotee of Shiva and had no reverence to spare for anyone else. He was prosperous and powerful, had a devoted wife, Sanaka by name, and a large family.
Sanaka observed that some of her neighbors had attained great prosperity by worshipping Manasa, so she too arranged for a similar worship, but dared not take her husband into her confidence. Chand happened to hear of it, was enraged, and used his stout stick of hintal on the image of the goddess, scattering the offerings. The cry of the terrified Sanaka filled the house, but Chand paid no attention.
The rage of the goddess knew no bounds. She determined to avenge the insult and to break the pride of the insolent merchant.
She called forth her evil messengers, the venomous snakes, and dispatched them to destroy the sons of Chand. But Chand defeated her purpose repeatedly. He and his friend Dhanvantari knew a charm for bringing back the dead to life; no sooner did his six sons die of snakebite, than they were brought back to life.
Manasa took away Chand's power of reviving the dead by a clever ruse and then killed Dhanvantari. Chand was helpless. One by one, his six sons were killed. The bereaved mother and the young widows implored the merchant to acknowledge the power of the irate goddess and make peace with her. But Chand only struck the earth with his stout hintal stick and vowed that he would never offer worship to the one-eyed one. (Manasa had only one eye; the other was blind.) He performed worship of Shiva on a magnificent scale, to show his contempt for Manasa and her vengeful persecutions.
But the lamentations of his wife and his widowed daughters became too much for him. He planned a voyage with his merchant vessels. He filled thirteen ships with rich merchandise and set sail for distant countries. He sailed many rivers and seas and touched at many ports. He amassed a large fortune before beginning his return voyage. The machination of Manasa produced a furious storm and the thirteen vessels went down with all their crew and cargo. Only Chand was left alive floating and drifting. Finding him in such an extremity, the vengeful Manasa made a large flowering lotus plant, sacred to her, float on the sea before his eyes. Chand was tempted to clutch at it, but remembering that the lotus was sacred to her, shrank back in abhorrence. Still Manasa would not allow him to die. If he died before worshipping her, she would not be recognized by men as a goddess, for thus Shiva had ordained. After a desperate struggle, he came to land. He was entirely destitute. On foot, he wandered, tattered and disheveled, and finally reached home.
Another son had been born to him in the meantime, a very beautiful boy, Lakhindar. As he grew older, his bright face was a little solace to Sanaka's ravaged heart that still palpitated with fear. Chand had not made peace with the angry goddess and her ire might be directed against this boy the sole stay of her declining years. She implored her husband to propitiate the goddess but she met only stern refusals.
Lakhindar was not only handsome but his manners charmed all. The time came when Sanaka desired a beautiful daughter-in-law. But Chand was afraid. Might not festivities rouse again the vengeance of the goddess?
Unable to bear the importunity of his wife, Chand consulted an astrologer. His heart turned cold at what he heard. Lakhindar was destined to die of snakebite on the wedding night.
Chand kept the dread secret to himself. He had not the heart to shatter poor Sanaka's dream of happiness. But he planned frustration of the coming revenge. Fate there was but there was also human prowess and sometimes it proved the stronger. He would so arrange that the wicked agents of Manasa should be unable to work her fell design. Thus determined, he sent his family priest Janardan to look for a bride.
Janardan saw many girls, and finally chose Behula, the daughter of Sai, a rich merchant of Nichhaninagar. Behula had fine character and exquisite beauty. People took her for a celestial nymph. She was highly accomplished. Especially was she famous as a dancer.
On hearing from Janardan, Chand started for Nichhaninagar carrying rich presents for the future bride.
He was cordially received by Sai. He saw Behula and was amazed at her beauty. He tested her and found her to be a girl far above the ordinary. The match was settled, the wedding day fixed, and Chand returned to Champaknagar.
Sanaka's joy knew no bounds. She began her preparations. Chand had his own to make. He ordered a house of iron to be built on the top of a hill. There should not be a single hole in the walls. Chand intended it for the newly married pair on the wedding night. Thus, he would cheat Manasa.
The goddess began to feel anxious. It would never do to be defeated by the proud and insolent merchant. Unless Chand was brought to his knees, Manasa would never be revered as a goddess by humanity. So, now through threats and then promises of favor, she prevailed upon the builder to leave a very small hole in a wall, but to fill it with charcoal dust. The man first refused but eventually yielded through fear.
The marriage of Lakhindar and Behula was solemnized with great pomp. They loved each other from the first, and it was a deep and immortal love.
After the ceremony, Chand told Behula's father of the terrible secret. With tears in their eyes and a great fear in their hearts, the parents of Behula bade her farewell, as she started for her husband's home.
The pair was led into the iron house. All doors were closed. Peacocks and mongooses were let loose on all sides, medicinal herbs were strewn all around, and snake charmers and exorcists were present in large numbers to watch the snakes. Chand himself kept guard with his staff of hintal.
Manasa held a council of war in her celestial abode. She urged the snakes to kill Lakhindar, but they were afraid to face the dangers that lay on the way to the iron house. At last, Banka Raj, a venomous snake, volunteered.
Behula was keeping watch by the side of her sleeping husband. She knew that fate had ordained her widowhood on this very night. But she was determined to fight against this great calamity with all the powers of her soul.
The hours passed. Suddenly Behula started. A sense of impending calamity descended on her. She looked around. A snake entered the room. She was terror-stricken but did not give way. With a pair of gold pincers, she made Banka Raj her captive.
Thrice did Manasa send her messengers of death, only to be thrice foiled by the watchful bride. Dawn was fast approaching. The bridegroom must be killed before sunrise. So Manasa worked a spell on poor Behula and the bride was overpowered by sleep. Then Kali, the deadly asp, entered the bridal chamber and stung Lakhindar on his little toe.
He cried out, "I am stung, I am stung. Rise Behula, and see. I am dying. "
Behula rose to find fate's decree fulfilled. Her husband was dying. His body was blue with the deadly venom. She clasped him in her arms and called him, again and yet again. After a few minutes, he expired. Behula wept and moaned but no sound could penetrate through the iron walls of the chamber. She remained alone with her beloved, a widow on her wedding night.
Chand rushed up to the chamber with the first streak of dawn. A sound of moaning pierced his ears. He entered with trembling heart to find his son dead on his marriage bed.
Chand disappeared. No one knew where.
People who die of snakebite are not cremated. They are put into a river. As the relatives of Chand were preparing to take the body to the riverside, Behula requested them to build a raft and place the body on it, dressed in its wedding robes. They did.
As they lowered the raft to the river, Behula mounted it, sitting with her dead husband's head on her lap. Nobody had ever seen the like before. Nobody had ever heard of the living accompanying the dead on the great journey. Everyone implored her to desist. Death was universal. Human beings had to submit. What use fighting against fate? Even Sanaka came to the water's edge and implored Behula to return. But the young wife was adamant. She and Lakhindar had become one through life and death; she must follow him. If the merciful gods granted her the life of her husband, then only would she return amongst them.
The raft floated slowly downstream. People crowded both banks to see a living wife following her dead husband. The raft reached Nichhaninagar, her father's home. Her aged parents weeping ran to see her and to dissuade her from this mad venture. It was all in vain. She and Lakhindar must remain together in death or life.
The raft left all familiar places and traveled to unknown coasts. Many dangers befell, many temptations assailed, but her courage and faith remained unshaken. The body began to decompose; only the bones were left; but to her, it was the same. Wherever she saw shrines of Manasa, she prayed for her dead husband's life. The gods rendered her help. Even Manasa began to relent.
The river broadened. The raft reached the ocean. At last, it touched a strange shore. Behula had passed earth's boundary and come to the land of the gods. Here she saw a woman washing clothes. This was Neta, the washerwoman of the gods. She had a little child with her, who gave her much trouble. She killed the child in the presence of the horrified Behula and went on calmly with her work. In the evening, she sprinkled water over the child's body and it came to life.
Behula knew her quest to be at an end. She had found one who could bring the dead to life again. She watched and waited for Neta the next day and fell at her feet. She implored her with tears in her eyes to restore her husband to life.
Neta was a friend of Manasa. She knew Behula's story. She took pity on the poor girl, and led her to the court of Indra.
Behula stood before the assembled gods and told her sad tale. The gods listened to her story, but instead of answering her prayers, they requested her to dance before them. What a strange request to make of a sorrow-stricken widow! What else could she do but carry out their behest? So Behula danced. It was wonderful to behold. Even the gods had not witnessed anything more pure or more exquisite. They wept. They asked Manasa to give back to Lakhindar his life.
Manasa also told her tale. If Chand agreed to worship her, she was ready to give back everything.
Behula promised that she would plead with her father-in-law. Not only Lakhindar but all his brothers also would come to life again. They returned to Champaknagar full of hope.
Chand was finally persuaded to worship Manasa, partly by the importunities of his wife, sons, and daughters-in-law and partly through the behest of Shiva, who ordered him to cast off his pride and submit to the will of the gods.
Thus, peace was made between the mortal and divine combatants. Behula's name rang through the country as the chaste and devoted wife of the race of mortals.
Rabindranath Tagore has called the story of Behula "the village epic of Bengal, which has sprung from the heart of our people and has lived in oral traditions and folklore, sung and performed by the local operatic troupes of this province." Some fifty-seven years ago, I witnessed as a boy a performance of the story of Behula in Balarampur, my maternal uncle's village in Bankura. It was held after nightfall by torchlight under the spreading branches of a banyan tree. I was so charmed with the music and by the dancing of the boy dressed as Behula that next day I went to make friends with him! Everyone who has read this village epic in all its details or seen it performed will agree with the poet, "It gives us the picture of the ideal wife, her heroic sacrifice and continues the atmosphere of home life in its humble majesty, touching simple hearts with the beauty and depth of its sentiments."
By Leoline L. Wright
From REINCARNATION: A LOST CHORD IN MODERN THOUGHT, pages 29-35
One of the commonest mistakes made by inquirers is the belief that reincarnation means that a man can be reborn in the body of an animal. Some Oriental religions teach that such animal incarnation is a punishment for certain sins. This doctrine is a distortion, which came about in the course of centuries, of an original teaching to be explained later. Theosophy denies this doctrine emphatically; all its teachings are a refutation of this idea. "Once a man, always a man" is one of the great axioms of the Archaic Science. This statement is based on the fact, already referred to, that the Universe is a living organism. We are a part of that great organism and the laws therefore that govern our life spring from the nature of that organism. Thus by understanding what happens in the physical world we can get an idea of the corresponding processes in all other spheres or planes within the boundaries of our own Universe.
Looking at man from this standpoint, we see that as the circulations of the human being, arterial and nervous, make growth possible, so do the universal circulations, vital and spiritual, make evolution possible. In man, the life forces flow along definite channels called veins, arteries, and nerves. In the Universe, the evolutionary pulsations also pass along definite channels and are called in Theosophy the Circulations of the Cosmos. The relation of this fact to the permanence of the Ego as a human being has been well expressed:
MANAS the Thinker ... does not return to baser forms; first, because he does not wish to, and second, because he cannot. For just as the blood in the body is prevented by valves from rushing back and engorging the heart, so in this greater system of universal circulation the door is shut behind the Thinker and prevents his retrocession. Reincarnation as a doctrine applying to the real man does not teach transmigration into the kingdoms of nature below the human.
-- W.Q. Judge, THE OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY
This distortion of the law of Reincarnation referred to as "the transmigration of the soul" is a misapplication of a fact anciently known and now again brought forward by Theosophy -- the transmigration of the life atoms. In our literature, it has been often explained, as in the following passage:
In the application of this word to the life atoms ... it means, briefly, that the life atoms that in their aggregate compose man's lower principles, at and following the change that men call death, migrate or transmigrate or pass into other bodies to which these life atoms are psycho magnetically attracted, be these attractions high or low -- and they are usually low, because their own evolutionary development is as a rule far from being advanced.
-- G. de Purucker, THE ESOTERIC TRADITION, 598
If a man has led a grossly animal existence, the life atoms of which the cells of his body are composed will automatically through attraction pass into those bodies or substances that will afford the appropriate outlet for the kind of energy that has been built into them. If the life of another has been high and fine, the vibrations impressed upon the atoms will cause them to be attracted only to clean, wholesome, finely organized substances or organisms. When the period of rebirth comes again, and the life atoms return by the action of psycho magnetic attraction to the reincarnating entity to which they belong, they bring with them a reinforcement -- through their transmigrations -- of the bad or good influences educated into them during the last life. Thus, it is easy to see how this teaching of the transmigrations of the life atoms has, like so many of the occult doctrines, been degraded by ignorance of priestcraft from its original and true significance.
A good many object to reincarnation because they do not like the idea of coming back to this earth. They feel that they have had enough of the sorrows and difficulties of human life and do not wish to return to it. And such an objection is just as natural and understandable as a child's objection to being kept in school. But not for nothing has the term 'Mother Nature' been a universal one in all ages, for it springs from man's instinctive knowledge that we are her children, that she is greater and wiser than we are, and will hold us to her laws of evolution and discipline whether we will or no. No man by merely taking thought can add one cubit to his stature or change any of the processes of life or death. It may be said that the truth of reincarnation cannot be proved. But it is so grounded in probabilities as founded on all the ways of Nature -- day and night, life and death, sleeping and waking, summer and winter, the phases of all planetary motion, and the very cycles of the sun itself; it is so natural and instinctive a human belief, being at the present time the conviction of a large majority of the human race, and in olden times always universally accepted; it makes such a strong appeal to man's heart and logic that thousands upon hearing it for the first time have accepted it at once as an inevitable conclusion from the facts of life. Moreover, it is at the present time spreading rapidly among all classes of thinking men; and it is seen to have such power to reform and satisfy and inspire human nature, that it must, once encountered, become a theory that can at least never again be forgotten or ignored.
These things are but a part of the overwhelming 'presumptive evidence' for reincarnation. To deny it, to say, "I do not want to come back to earth," is hardly enough. There is a general tendency in human nature to adopt the easiest way, to think that because we find a certain course unpleasant and another one more agreeable we must be allowed to please ourselves. And this in spite of the fact that the very sorrows and difficulties we are so tired of are there to convince us to the contrary. Man must somewhere meet the consequences of his thoughts and actions, his failures and moral victories. Why not here -- here on this earth, where he can reap the harvest on the spot where the seed was sown?
Let us remember, however, that these teachings of Theosophy have nothing to do with what is called fatalism. We are indeed held in the grip of our present circumstances, because having intertwined ourselves by former actions into these circumstances we cannot escape them until by a reverse course of action we effect our own liberation. But at any moment that anyone can see and admit that he has this power, and then sets about using his will, he begins to be a master of those circumstances and can use them to bring about exactly contrary results to what they would have produced if he had tamely submitted to them. Thus man, using knowledge and free will, becomes increasingly master of himself and therefore of his destiny. Theosophy is foremost among all systems of thought in arousing us to this knowledge and realization of our power, and so leading us into creative progress and freedom.
Again, people sometimes say, "But if we are all reborn into different bodies how shall I know my friends?" Theosophy answers that no act of recognition is necessary. We and our present family and friends are knitted together by love, by mutual experience, and by congeniality. We shall not have to seek each other out. Families will be reborn together in continuation of the bonds they are united by now. We and our friends can no more help being attracted and brought together than a magnet can help selecting iron filings from surrounding soil. We cannot escape our friends, or -- it must also be emphasized -- our enemies!
And there are not a few who object to the idea of being reborn as an infant and having to learn all over again the merely physical side of existence, as well as repeating in each life elementary education and brain development. But as has been pointed out before, this repetition of even physical experience is a habit of Nature that has been essential to evolution.
We are assured that eventually, in the long course of evolution, as the spiritual development of man proceeds, he will grow out of the need for this form of repetition.
The whole point for us lies of course in the influence of SPIRITUAL development. We are burdened by conditions of physical weakness because in the past we have bound ourselves into slavery to them, by living, thinking, and longing nearly altogether for material and personal satisfactions. These, being self centered or centripetal in action, create bonds that hinder the spiritual progress of the Reincarnating Ego. So the need is to so spiritualize and impersonalize ourselves that all limitations and weaknesses will gradually dissolve away. The Ego will then be free to control and develop its vehicles of self expression in harmony with its own divine nature and purposes.
Objections to reincarnation spring as a rule from unfamiliarity with the teaching and its innumerable close applications to the problems and situations arising in life. And there are, naturally, some who will not accept it because they do not wish to believe it. But the great majority who encounter this doctrine are almost sure, sooner or later, to join that growing multitude of all kinds and classes of people -- not by any means all of whom profess Theosophy -- to whom reincarnation is the very foundation of human justice, happiness, and spiritual growth.
By William Q. Judge
[From LETTERS THAT HAVE HELPED ME, pages 40-43.]
There are so many questioners who ask about Chelaship that your letter comes quite apropos to experiences of my own. You say that these applicants must have some answer, and in that, I agree with you. And whether they are ready or unready, we must be able to tell them something. But generally, they are not ready, nor, indeed, are they willing to take the first simple step that is demanded. I will talk the matter over with you for your future guidance in replying to such questions, perhaps also to clear up my own mind.
The first question a man should ask himself (and by "man" we mean postulants of either sex) is "When and how did I get a desire to know about Chelaship and to become a Chela?" and secondly, "What is a Chela, and what Chelaship?"
There are many sorts of Chelas. There are lay Chelas and probationary ones; accepted Chelas and those who are trying to fit themselves to be even lay Chelas. Any person can constitute himself a lay Chela, feeling sure that in this life he may never hear from his guide consciously. Then as to probationary Chelas, there is an INVARIABLE rule that they go upon seven years' trial. These "trials" do not refer to fixed and stated tests, but to all the events of life and the bearing of the probationer in them. There is no PLACE to which applicants can be referred where their request could be made, because these matters do not relate to places and to officials: this is an affair of the inner nature. We BECOME Chelas; we obtain that position in reality because our inner nature is to that extent opened that it can and will take knowledge: we receive the guerdon at the hands of the Law.
In a certain sense, every sincere member of the Theosophical Society is in the way of becoming a Chela, because the Masters do some of Their work with and for humanity through this Society, selected by Them as Their agent. And as ALL Their work and aspiration are to the end of helping the race, no one of Their Chelas can hope to remain (or become) such, if any selfish desire for personal possessions of spiritual wealth constitutes the motive for trying to be a Chela. Such a motive, in the case of one already a Chela, acts instantly to throw him out of the ranks, whether he is aware of his loss or not, and in the case of one trying to become a Chela, it acts as a BAR. Nor does a real Chela spread the fact that he is such. For this Lodge is not like exoteric societies that depend upon favor or mere outward appearances. It is a real thing with living Spirit-men at its head, governed by laws that contain within themselves their own executioners, and that do not require a tribunal, accusations, verdicts, or any notice whatever.
As a general thing, a person of European or American birth has extreme difficulty with which to contend. He has no heredity of psychical development to call upon; no known assembly of Masters or Their Chelas within reach. His racial difficulties prevent him from easily seeing within himself; he is not introspective by nature. But even he can do much if he purifies his motive, and either naturally possesses or cultivates an ardent and unshakeable faith and devotion -- a faith that keeps him a firm believer in the existence of Masters even through years of non-intercourse. They are generous and honest debtors and always repay. How They repay, and when, is not for us to ask. Men may say this requires as blind devotion as was ever asked by any Church. It DOES, but it is a blind devotion to Masters who are Truth itself; to Humanity and to you, to your own intuitions and ideals. This devotion to an ideal is also founded upon another thing, which is that a man is hardly ready to be a Chela unless he is able to stand ALONE, uninfluenced by other men or events. For HE MUST STAND ALONE, and he might as well know this at the beginning as at the end.
There are also certain qualifications that he must possess. These are to be found in MAN: FRAGMENTS OF FORGOTTEN HISTORY, towards the close of the book, so we will not dwell upon them here.
The question of the general fitness of applicants being disposed of, we come to the still more serious point of the relations of Guru and Chela, or Master and Disciple. We want to know what it really is to be a pupil of such a Teacher.
The relation of Guru and Chela is nothing if it is not a spiritual one. Whatever is merely outward, or formal, as the relation established by mere asking and acceptance, is not spiritual, but formal, and is that which arises between TEACHER and PUPIL. Yet even this latter is not in any way despicable, because the teacher stands to his pupil, insofar as the relation permits, in the same way as the Guru to his Chela. It is a difference of degree; but this difference of degree is what constitutes the distinction between the spiritual and the material, for, passing along the different shadings from the grossest materiality to as far as we can go, we find at last that matter merges into spirit.
We now speak, of course, about what is commonly called MATTER, while we well know that in truth the thing thus designated is not really matter, but an enormous illusion that in itself has no existence. The real matter, called Mulaprakriti by the Hindus, is an invisible thing or substance of which our matter is a representation. The real matter is what the Hermetists called PRIMORDIAL earth; for us, it is an intangible phase of matter. We can easily come to believe that what is usually called MATTER is not really such, inasmuch as we find clairvoyants and nervous people seeing through thick walls and closed doors. Were this MATTER, then they could not see through it. But when an ordinary clairvoyant comes face to face with PRIMORDIAL MATTER, he or she cannot see beyond it, instead being met by a dead wall, denser than any wall ever built by human hands.
So from earliest times, among all but modern western people, the teacher was given great reverence by the pupil, and the latter was taught from youth to look upon his preceptor as second only to his father and mother in dignity. It was among these people a great sin, harmful to his moral being, to be disrespectful to his teacher even in thought. The reason for this lay then, and no less today does also lie, in the fact that a long chain of influence extends from the highest spiritual guide who may belong to any man, down through vast numbers of spiritual chiefs, ending at last in the mere teacher of our youth. Or, to restate it in modern reversion of thought, a chain extends up from our teacher or preceptors to the highest spiritual chief in whose ray or descending line one may happen to be. And it makes no difference whatever, in this occult relation, which neither pupil nor final guide may be aware or admit that this is the case.
Thus it happens that the child who holds his teacher in reverence, and diligently applies himself accordingly with faith, does no violence to this intangible but mighty chain, and is benefited accordingly, whether he knows it or not. Nor again does it matter that a child has a teacher who evidently gives him a bad system. This is his Karma, and by his reverent and diligent attitude, he works it out, and transcends that erstwhile teacher.
This chain of influence is called the Guruparampara chain.
The Guru is the GUIDE or READJUSTER, and may not always combine the function of teacher with it.
By G. de Purucker
[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 232-35.]
The main thing to remember about Time is this: that it exists, but IS NOT in the absolute sense. That which IS in the absolute sense is Duration. What is the distinction between Time and Duration? Time like all things in manifestation is relative and is divisible. Time has past, has present, has future, and these three are distinct each from the other twain. Duration has no divisibility. It has no past, it has no future, and consequently there is no distinctive time present. But there is what we in our feeble language call an Eternal Now. Oh, how difficult it is to describe this, and yet it is so simple to catch the thought.
For instance, the Romans lived, suffered, enjoyed, died, and strutted their little ways upon the stage of life in their time, as Shakespeare said. But they are now gone. That is ended. Yet in Duration, those Romans are just as much alive now as they were then, for all exists in an Eternal Now. Similarly with us of the present; and we look to the future as something that is coming. Time in our consciousness has an effect of distance, which it has because our minds are relative. But in Duration, that future is here now.
For instance, if my mind, if my thought, if my consciousness were now at the present instant functioning in Duration, I would not see things, such as the Romans of the past, dead, gone forever -- then ourselves here now, and something unknown to come in the future. But functioning in Duration, all things would be present in my consciousness with me now. What we call Past, what we call the Future, and what we call the Present would be with me now, and not only those things, but all the Now of infinite Space, and endless, frontierless Duration.
Time exists most emphatically, it is an illusion, a Maya, which merely means we find it very difficult to understand it and do not understand it exactly as it should be understood; but that is not time's fault, that is our fault. Our understanding is too weak to grasp it as it is, as it exists. Therefore, we call it a Maya to us. In English, we say an illusion. Yes, but illusion does not mean something that does not exist. If it did not exist, obviously it would not be an illusion. It means something that deludes our understanding -- an illusion or a delusion to us.
Now you know Newton, as they now try to point out, had an idea that Time was an absolute entity, like Space, and Matter; and that Time as an absolute entity was in actual movement, flowing was the word, flowing out from the past into the present into the future. The scientific philosophers of today have rejected that idea. They say it is all very well to look upon past, present, and future, as easy, convenient ways of doing our daily tasks, of understanding the life around us; but it is an unreal thing.
Time is not an absolute entity. You ask then, what is the absolute entity? They will say it is the space-time continuum -- about which there is a lot of truth, for they have at last welded together in one thing, Space and what we call Time; and both of these are what we call Duration. Duration is Space, and all its manifestations are Time -- in Time, of Time.
Many illustrations come readily to mind to show us how Time is illusory to our understanding. When you are happy, time passes quickly. When you are a child, time passes very quickly, or terribly slowly, depending upon the mood of the child. As you grow older, time just flows by, or drags, depending upon your mood. Therefore, what is Time itself? Time is the functioning of consciousness, in the present case our human consciousness, and our human consciousness is an attribute of what we call the space-time continuum of Cosmic Infinitude.
Now I wonder if you are much wiser after all this philosophical discussion! I can tell you this though. There is a way of becoming conscious of Duration per se -- when the consciousness seems to be taken right out of Time. It is something you cannot describe. You have to be it for the time being to understand it. Y wonder how many of you have not had that experience, perhaps at the instant between dreaming and waking, just before falling asleep, or during a fainting-fit. You find that all the attributes of Time suddenly have vanished, and you are conscious only of utter immensity, utter reality, and timelessness, and everything has vanished that is comprehensible to the brain-mind; very understandable, however, by the intuition.
This raised to the nth degree, i.e., into the pure unadulterated consciousness of the spirit within, where all wisdom and knowledge and vision are, is what the Hindu yogis mean when they talk about Sambuddhi Samadhi, or simply Samadhi sometimes. And when the consciousness is fixed in the state that I have just touched, the Buddhists call it Nirvana. Do you want to know why? Nirvana means 'blown out.' Do you know why? Because of just what I have described. All the lower attributes of the personal ego have sunken into latency, have gone, or have been surmounted. Your consciousness is for the time co-extensive with the Universe. Therein there is no consciousness of the movements and changes of things combined with the psychological interplay of attributes, with these together producing division or sense of time; the procession of events has passed out of the picture, for the consciousness has risen above these events of manifestation, and you are now in timeless Duration.
Consider a mere illustration of how illusory time is. Please remember that such an illusion does not mean that it is non-existent, for if it were non-existent, there would be no argument about it. Consider how curiously time and its phenomena seem to change in your dreams. It is a well-known fact of psychology that in dreams, or even under the influence of some drug, the events of a lifetime seem to be condensed within a few moments; or contrariwise, what would in waking, feeling life take but a few moments, can in these sub- or super-normal states be so stretched out as to cover years. It is the same consciousness that experiences these extraordinary visions, and thus 'Time' in any of these states or in the normal Jagrat or waking-state seems to the experiencing consciousness just as 'real' as any other of its experiences in and with Time.
These facts lead the reflective mind almost instantly to see that it is the experiencing consciousness that really is the time-maker, weaving this making out of the stuff of timeless Duration, which in a true sense is identical with the essence of Consciousness itself. Many a drowning but later resuscitated man has had all the events of his lifetime pass in a rapid panoramic vision before his consciousness. The whole procession of events that originally took years to experience now flashes before the mind's eye in a few moments of clock-time, and yet the experiencing consciousness is cognizant of no incongruity or unconsciousness about all this.
Time, therefore, when compared with Duration, is something like extension when compared with Space. Time is a phenomenon of Duration, just as extension is a phenomenon of Space, and in both cases, Duration and Space are realities or noumena, and Time and extensions are the phenomena or illusions, in other words, the Maya in each case.
Remember also that there are collective Mayas, such as we human beings ordinarily experience as when all human beings on earth have the same time-consciousness of day or night, or a group of men and women will have the same consciousness of an hour for instance passed in a theater, or on a picnic, or in a train, or a week at sea.