It will have been seen ... how much my mind was exercised about the evident probability of a new sect springing up around the memory of HPB and her literature. From week to week things seemed to be going from bad to worse: some of my most fanatical colleagues would go about with an air 'of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit; as who should say I AM SIR ORACLE, AND, WHEN I OPEN MY LIPS, LET NO DOG BARK!" One would have thought that HPB had laid upon their shoulders the burden of the whole Himalayan Mysteries; and when one ventured to challenge the reasonableness of something which they were quoting, they would answer with a sort of restraint of the breath: "But, you know, she said so" -- as if that closed the debate. Of course they meant no harm, and, perhaps, to a certain extent, were really expressing their awe of the departed teacher; but al the same it was a most pernicious tendency, and, if unchecked, was calculated to drag us into a sectarian pitfall.
-- Henry S. Olcott, OLD DIARY LEAVES, IV, page 438.
By G. de Purucker
[From WIND OF THE SPIRIT, pages 25,28]
Human nature is so prone, when hearing about Altruism or reading about it, to imagine that it is something foreign to us, lugged into human life as a most desirable thing to follow, but after all highly impractical and therefore impracticable -- that it is not inherent in the characteristics of human beings to be altruistic naturally. In other words, they are all fascinated with the idea of isolated self-interest. Is not this virtually universal supposition of men utterly unfounded in Nature herself?
Wherever we look, whatever we consider or study, we find that the individual working alone for itself is helpless; wherever we look in all the great kingdoms of the Universe, it is union of effort, cooperation in living combines -- to use the slang of the street -- which is not only what Nature herself is working to bring about and therefore which we find everywhere; but that anything that runs counter and contrary to this fundamental law of the Universe, which is unity in action, produces disharmony, strife, and what in our own bodies we call disease. Health is that condition of bodily structure where all parts work to a common end in what we may call friendship, in what we may call union.
Consider the stones: are they not combines, are they not unions of individuals composing, making, and producing a thing? No single atom of any of the chemical elements of which any stone is composed is the stone itself. How about the lovely flower? How about the bodies in which we live? How about a single man? Could he produce the great works that men have bent their genius to achieve, alone? What is civilization but the combined efforts of human beings to produce great and noble effects in human life -- increasing comfort, dispelling danger, bringing about the productions of genius from the greater men that redound to our own comfort and use? Show me a single instance where pure self-interest has produced anything. We find naught, if we consult Nature in all her kingdoms, but unity of workings brought about by multitudes of individuals cooperating to a common end. And what is that but Altruism?
Altruism is the word we give to this fact when we see its ethical significance, and this significance is in no way, great nor small, different from what we see in the world physical. Altruism means the one working for the all -- Nature's fundamental law in all her grand structures -- and the all standing as the guard and shield and field of effort of the one. Think of the deep moral lesson, the deduction, to be drawn from this greatest of the universe's -- not mysteries but verities; so common around us that usually we pass it by unseeing, with unseeing eye. Show me anything that can endure sole and alone for a single instant of time.
Two or more atoms uniting make a molecule; two or more molecules a larger production; and it is the countless multitudes of such unions that produce the universe. Any single entity essaying to follow the ignoble path of isolated self-interest sets its or his puny will against the force that keeps the stars in their courses, gives health to our bodies, brings about civilizations among men, and produces all the wonders that are around us.
There is a point of teaching in this connection that it is very important to introduce into the world today, and that is Hope. You know the old story, the Greek story, about a certain very curious and inquisitive person who opened a box and all the evils in the world fled out, and there remained therein only Hope? Now I think this contains a great deal of truth that has a practical bearing on life's problems. As long as a man has hope, he does not despair. Weak or strong, it matters not; if he has hope, something to look forward to, if his inner spirit, the spiritual being within him, teaches him something of hope, he not only will never despair, but he will also become a builder, a constructor, a worker WITH THE UNIVERSE, because he will move forwards. And this is Altruism.
We are all children -- to use the vernacular of the half-philosophical schools of the day -- of the Universe, of its physical side and of its spiritual and divine side. This being so, there is in every human breast an undying font not only of inspiration, but likewise of growth, of hope, of wisdom, and of love. So that the world today, although apparently in a parlous condition, in a desperate state, still contains men and women enough in it to carry the evolutionary wave of progress over its present turmoil and strife; for the majority of mankind are essentially right in their instincts, especially the higher instincts.
Therefore, I do not see anything horribly hopeless about the world's condition today. I believe not only that there is ground for hope, but also that the undying spark of spirituality, of wisdom and love of altruism, always living in the human heart, will carry the human race not only out of its present series of impasses, of difficulties, but into brighter days, which will be brighter because wiser and gentler. It is not the crises, when things crash or seem to crash: it is not the horrific noise of the thunder or the crash of its bolt, which govern the great functions of life, human and cosmic; but those slow, to us men, always quiet, unending silent processes that build: build when we wake, build when we sleep, build all the time; and even in the human race carry it through folly after folly after folly into the future.
There is the ground of our hope; and it seems to me that all good men and true should rally to the defense of these primal, simple verities that every human heart can understand, adult or child. I believe it is about time that men and women began to look on the bright side of things, to see hope around us, to forget themselves and their petty worries, and to live in the Infinite and in the Eternal. It is easy -- infinitely easier than making ourselves continuously sick with frets and worries! Within each one of us, there is something divine to which we can cling, and that will carry us through!
Don't talk to me about Altruism being something foreign or exotic to us, unusual, impractical, and therefore impracticable; for it is the only thing that perpetually lives, the only thing that endures for aye. When any single element or part in a human body begins to run 'on its own,' we have disease. When any single element or part in any structural combine that helps to compose the world around us begins to run 'on its own,' i.e., what we call self-interest, there we see degeneration and decay.
Deduction and question: Which of the twain should we follow? -- the pathway of the Cosmic Intelligence bringing us health inner and outer, peace inner and outer, strength internal and external, by union inner and outer? Or the teaching of a tawdry and isolated self-interest that seeks its own to the prejudice of all?
Is it not high time that we as Theosophists should give to the world a few of the simple inner teachings of the God-Wisdom of the ancients? And will you show me one more sublime, more appealing to human intellect and to the dictates of human conscience, than that of Altruism, which puts us in intimate union with the throbbing of the Cosmic Heart, and which idea, if we can pass it over into the minds of men, will more than justify all the work that the Great Masters of Wisdom have been doing for mankind since time immemorial? Ethics above all!
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, July 1958, pages 229-33]
Theosophists have no dogmas, exact no blind faith. Theosophists are ever ready to abandon every idea that is proved erroneous upon strictly logical deductions ... Dogmas are the toys that amuse, and can satisfy but unreasoning children. They are the offspring of human speculation and prejudiced fancy.
Realizing, as they do, the boundlessness of the absolute truth, Theosophists repudiate all claim to infallibility. The most cherished preconceptions, the most "pious hope," the strongest "master passion," they sweep aside like dust from their path, when their error is pointed out. Their highest hope is to approximate to the truth; that they have succeeded in going a few steps beyond the Spiritualists, they think proved in their conviction that they know nothing in comparison with what is to be learned; in their sacrifice of every pet theory and prompting of emotionalism at the shrine of fact; and in their absolute and unqualified repudiation of everything that smacks of "dogma."
-- H.P. BLAVATSKY, "A Society Without A Dogma," THE SPIRITUALIST, February 8, 1878.
Students of the history of the Theosophical Movement are struck with the strange and rapid "failures," after the death of H.P. Blavatsky and W.Q. Judge, of many of those who were close to them, prominent in the work of organizing, writing, speaking. So long as the teachers were alive and guided these friends and the Movement, all went well. The new kind of test, absence of the teacher, threw these persons, apparently unprepared, upon their own resources; and they looked for guidance OUTSIDE, instead of within the teachings and their own hearts. Their "failures" in turn dragged many of those who looked up to and trusted them to failure. The ultimate abandonment of the original Theosophical program, the original objects and methods, resulted in the failure of the Theosophical Society.
A strong inner center of trust in, and sympathy with, the Original Program of the Lodge of Adepts, who are responsible for the Theosophical Movement, had apparently only been created by one, Robert Crosbie, to whom we owe the ULT with its impersonal and unifying declaration and program, wholly in line with the Original Program. He alone survived the strain of solitude. He was "calm," "held fast," and "went slow." The permanent faith in the Original Program of the Masters that he had established in mind and heart enabled Robert Crosbie to formulate the principles and declaration of the ULT, to make possible a reincarnation of the original work, so that the bridging of the cycle from 1875 to 1975 might be accomplished.
Can we, the students and aspirants of the present generation, shape for ourselves such mantras of memory, such reminders at all times of what we ought to think and feel and do, so that we shall continue his work regardless of the "new faces" that ancient trials present? Recorded in the writings of HPB and WQJ are more than sufficient of these. Much reading and little thought will not make them clear to us. We must search and cherish those gems -- not for ourselves but for our brothers -- if the Movement is to survive. HPB writes in the closing section of THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY:
If the present attempt, in the form of our Society, succeeds better than its predecessors have done, then it will be in existence as an organized, living and healthy body when the time comes for the effort of the Twentieth Century. The general condition of men's minds and hearts will have been improved and purified by the spread of its teachings, and, as I have said, their prejudices and dogmatic illusions will have been, to some extent at least, removed. Not only so, but besides a large and accessible literature ready to men's hands, the next impulse will find a numerous and UNITED body of people ready to welcome the new torch-bearer of Truth. He will find the minds of men prepared for his message, a language ready for him in which to clothe the new truths he brings, an organization awaiting his arrival, which will remove the merely mechanical, material obstacles and difficulties from his path. Think how much one, to whom such an opportunity is given, could accomplish.
Two articles written by Mr. Judge for the information of inquirers and the organization of the work of students and Branches, point to the original lines and the original methods of Theosophical work, which all of us must embody if the prophecy of HPB is to be made a living fact and her incarnation not turned into a failure. We have this trust and this responsibility in our charge.
Mr. Judge indicates that the Theosophical Movement of our era "sows the seed, leaving it to germinate in the fullness of time, for the benefit of future generations." Many persons, knowing of the cyclic attempts made by the Adepts to bring to the world's attention the great universal truths taught by all the great world-religions in their pristine purity, may come forward around 1975 with claims.
Students may be confused and led astray unless their intuition and judgment have been developed. Hence the necessity, here and now, for discipline, study, and the following of the lines laid down. Unless that is done, the next great Messenger from the Lodge of Adepts may come, do his work, and leave, and such students as have not yet developed the means to know him will lose their chance to benefit by his Mission and will hinder their own and others' progress through their failure. If we fully realized the extent to which our successes and failures affected our brothers, known and unknown, near and far, we would be far more careful.
[Well-wishers of the Movement, students and devotees, either individually or collectively, should] appeal for support and encouragement to all who truly love their fellow-men and desire the eradication of the evils caused by the barriers raised by race, creed, or color, which have so long impeded human progress; to all scholars, to all sincere lovers of TRUTH, WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND, and to all philosophers, alike in the East and in the West; and lastly, to all who aspire to higher and better things than the mere pleasures and interests of a worldly life, and are prepared to make the sacrifices by which alone a knowledge of them can be attained.
Foreseeing cyclic vicissitudes and trials, Mr. Judge issued warnings that are applicable to all those who, now, in these present years, have assumed self-determined responsibility for the Will and Trust of HPB and the conduct of the work of the Movement. The taint of selfishness, however subtle, vitiates the Occult and turns it into Black Magic.
Those who desire to advance upon the Path to the Masters are forewarned against spurious teachings and self-styled gurus. It can be anticipated, as the cycle of 1975 approaches, that there will be increasing opportunities for inner progress through more strenuous trials. The opportunity for the attainment of that balance that no storm can disturb, the opportunity for self-knowledge and self-improvement, if seized now, will bring about right action, true discrimination, and judgment. Mr. Judge wrote in 1890:
In consequence of the success of the T.S. movement, a number of so-called occult societies have sprung into existence, all of them bad copies of the original, and our members should be warned against them ... There could be no objection to promulgation of good ideas, even without any acknowledgment, provided they are correctly given. But there is a distinct objection to the presentation of a mangled and distorted portion of the information merely to back up some wild theories of their own, as many have done ...
There has always been one fixed and unchanging law with regard to spiritual teaching: that it cannot be bought or sold. Hence if any member hears of a society or a person giving occult instruction for MONEY first to be paid, let him be sure that it is "of the earth, earthy." He will not be aided by it in the long run, but only led astray; and he will form Karmic bonds to it that it may take years for him to sever.
To charge a fee for occult instruction indicates a selfish interest. There are other methods of "payment," more subtle, more difficult to detect: the payment in flattery, in praise, in false regard. These are generally indulged in by either the clever who desire some private benefit, or the blind who do not think for themselves. He who gives way to self-gratulation and regards his position as unique may contrive ways and means of securing attention, regard, obedience, and eventually blind execution of his decrees and desires in matters he declares to be "spiritual." This is not Theosophy. This is the death of Theosophy. "Be humble, if thou would'st attain to Wisdom. Be humbler still, when Wisdom thou hast mastered," teaches THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE. Every student has to be on guard against a false attitude.
Karmic debts will have to be discharged. Precipitations will be rapid in this closing cycle. The protection of the true student lies in the knowledge given, which permits him to deal with these precipitations from the inner point of view. The goal is shown. Similarity of aim, purpose, and teaching is the bond that binds fellow students and that makes for the strength of the Movement, creating on the plane of outer relationships unity, solidarity, and tolerance. Mr. Judge in his articles makes clear to us what he considers are the usual ways that lead to the failure of all movements such as ours. What is to be avoided is indicated. He writes, first, of the danger of DOGMATISM, of claims to personal authority, and of personal assertion. "For any member to lay down the law to any other member, or to any person, as to what he should or should not accept" is not in line with the Spirit of Theosophy.
The second danger, Mr. Judge says, springs from the first and consists in the giving up of one's Self-reliance. Relying on another or on others eventually leads to the establishment of PRIESTHOOD, which takes advantage of the trust, the confidence, and the passivity of people. It is our duty not to be passive, but who can say that he is so vigilant that he never makes errors? These words should be dwelt upon:
So strongly is superstition grounded in the natures of the present race of men (although freer than their forefathers), and so weak is our race-character, that unless constantly freed from these tendencies and reminded of the necessity of leaning on our own Higher Selves for spiritual guidance, the danger of priest craft is always present.
The third danger is MATERIALISM in one form or another, mechanical Theosophy, narrowness. These dangers spring from lack of study and of an understanding of the broad, interlinking principles of the Philosophy.
[This results in] forgetfulness, on the part of the members, of their Spiritual Selves ... We too easily tend to be drawn away from a study of the causes of things -- the spiritual side of Nature -- to mere examination of their effects. And one risks losing much of his true perceptive power, and perhaps more than he imagines, unless ever on the alert to avoid crystallization, or falling into ruts or grooves. That is a reason why the study of the ancient occult teaching is recommended.
Intolerance and the absence of the virtue of adaptability result in the very opposite of Universal Brotherhood, which is the prime object of the Movement. Mr. Judge calls it NON-COSMOPOLITANISM, which is still another danger to be guarded against.
[What the Theosophical Movement] hopes and means to achieve is, the bringing together of a large body of the most reasonable and best educated persons of all extant races and religious groups, all of whom shall accept and put into practice the theory that, by mutual help and a generous tolerance of each other's preconceptions, mankind may be benefited and the chances for discovering hidden truth greatly improved.
What of the ULT? What of the coming cycle? Indications are that it will not fail in spite of troubles present and to come. It is the only really vital Theosophical organization in the field at present, adhering as closely as possible to the Original Impulse, the Original Teaching, the Original Program. It shows a steady, slow, and regular growth down the years. Its impersonal principles will prevail, although here and there individuals fail, overcome by the glamour of haste and by the impatience of the lower nature that desires "quick results" and "quick Karmic retribution." The vital contribution that we can make to the furtherance of the work of the ULT is self-reform through self-induced and self-devised methods. Each student must infuse himself, independently and self-reliantly, with the true guiding Spirit of the Movement.
[Like a great mother, it] constantly keeps watch over the members, her children, permitting them to take what they can from every source of learning -- spiritual or otherwise -- silently instructing them in the best methods by which to help their fellowmen, but ever watchful lest they should go too far along some of the innumerable side-paths that lead off from that most dangerous and difficult of roads, the road of the Study of the Self.
All sincere and assiduous students should by now be convinced of the INFALLIBILITY OF THE TEACHINGS. We have to apply, gain true faith through study and understanding, and constitute ourselves humble servants. If the "converging lines" of our Karma have drawn all of us together, it is our responsibility here and now to learn to perform our whole duty. Isolation is not the way of the Masters. Tolerance, courage, discrimination, and devotion through unity, study, and work are to be our watchwords for the coming cycle. May we all achieve!
By F.J. North
[From THE ARYAN PATH, March 1959, pages 116-21.]
Many countries have their legends of lands that have sunk beneath the sea and of lakes that cover once prosperous cities, and although they vary greatly in detail, many of the legends have enough in common to suggest that they are related. This makes it interesting to speculate on the extent to which they are of common origin or have intermingled during their growth.
But comparative studies can be confusing and even misleading unless the circumstances in which the legends originated and acquired their present forms are taken into account. In doing this, it is better in the first instance to consider the origins and relationships of legends of a limited region, and as the result of one such approach -- to the legends associated with the Welsh coast and lakes -- it transpired that, as now told, the stories are largely the invention of romantic writers of comparatively recent times. (See SUNKEN CITIES: SOME LEGENDS OF THE COAST AND LAKES OF WALES by F.J. North.)
When the literary embellishments are recognized for what they are and are removed -- as the ivy that makes an old building picturesque is removed in order the better to study the architecture and the stones -- there still remains a nucleus common to them all, a simple statement relating to an inundation. The statement is of ancient origin and may well have originated in physical happenings that so impressed some of our remote ancestors as to become vital parts of the traditions that were passed orally from generation to generation until at last they were committed to writing, to be preserved unchanged until scholars interested in the dawn of literature brought them again into circulation and commenced an era of elaboration.
Wales lends itself to inquiry of this kind because it is well-provided with legends and is a well-defined geographical entity of which the physical history of past ages -- the geographical history -- is well known. What follows is a brief summary of the relevant facts and the inferences they suggest, presented in the hope that others may be inspired to apply similar methods to the study of other regions.
There are two principal legends associated with the Welsh coast. One relates to Cardigan Bay in the west and the other to Conway Bay in the north. As now told, the former concerns Cantre'r Gwaelod (in English, the Lowland Hundred), the kingdom of Gwyddno Garanhir, which was once a fertile land that lies beneath the waters of the bay. (See WELSH FOLKLORE AND FOLK CUSTOMS by T. Gwyn Jones, page 97.) It had sixteen fair cities, and was protected by embankments that prevented the sea from overwhelming it at high tide and sluices that permitted land-water to drain away at low tide. The guardian of the embankment was one Seithennin, but he was a drunkard, and one night he failed to close the sluices with the result that the sea rushed in, overwhelming the land and its inhabitants.
Nowadays, when the water is clear enough, the submerged buildings and roads are clearly to be seen, and the attentive listener can hear the sound of the church bells as they are wafted to and fro by the waves. That is the gist of the story, and it appears in several variously elaborated versions, in one of which Seithennin is made to destroy the embankments deliberately, the revengeful act of a disappointed lover.
The story associated with the coast of North Wales also relates to a King, Helig ap Glannawg, whose realm was overwhelmed by the sea. (WELSH FOLKLORE AND FOLK CUSTOMS, pages 94-95.) Like that which drowned Cantre'r Gwaelod, the inundation was sudden, but some people escaped by rushing to a high hill. A patch of seaweed-covered stones to be seen when the sea is calm at times of low equinoctial tides is pointed out as the ruins of the Royal Palace, Llys Helig.
In some versions of the story the inundation was a punishment for the sins of Helig's ancestors. It had been foretold long previously, and night after night, a wailing voice was heard to cry, "Vengeance will come." Other versions make the catastrophe occur on the night of a great feast and tell of a servant who went to the cellar to fetch wine, and finding it full of water, had time to warn only the old harper, so that these two alone were able to escape, and all else were overwhelmed.
Yet other versions speak of the catastrophe as retribution for a murder committed by a young man who wished to marry Helig's daughter. In order to obtain a golden torque, for want of which she would not marry him, he killed a nobleman and stole one, and it was when he was digging the grave that the voice began to cry "Vengeance will come." In these versions, the catastrophe took place long after the death of Helig -- when his descendants were enjoying a convivial banquet.
When dates are given, both inundations are usually assigned to the middle of the sixth century, though other dates from the fourth to the ninth are also mentioned. Many writers have regarded the legends as history and maps have been drawn to show the distribution of towns and roads in both submerged regions. (SUNKEN CITIES, pages 42, 50, 58, and 74.) The site of Helig's palace has been surveyed and delineated on at least three occasions, though the plans produced differ considerably from one another because the surveyors were trying to see, in an irregular assemblage of stones, a rectilinear pattern that does not exist.
An examination of the cartographical and geological evidence shows, however, that no inundations of the magnitude required could have occurred in either of the regions during any of the periods to which the legends are supposed to relate. It shows that what the Cantre'r Gwaelod story cites as embankments erected, to keep out the sea are pebble ridges of natural origin, so disposed that even had they been artificially erected, they could not have acted as protective barriers. It also shows that the stones called Llys Helig are not the ruins of a palace but rather a spread of boulders brought thither by glaciers that converged upon the region during the Ice Age. They had been left behind when the clay with which they were associated had been washed away by the sea.
An examination of the literary evidence is equally iconoclastic, and it transpired that all the "eye witness" details were added by over-credulous antiquaries and romantic writers during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries. It is possible to see from their chronology when most of the details were added and what inspired them. Those relating to Helig's fertile kingdom and to the grief and terror of its inhabitants as they surveyed the scene of destruction were added about 1607, inspired by pamphlets describing floods that devastated lands adjoining the estuary of the River Severn in South Wales, and the embankments in the Cantre'r Gwaelod story were introduced in the middle of the seventeenth century, inspired by accounts reaching Britain of the measures being taken in Holland to prevent the sea from extending its bounds.
To those who elaborated it, the ultimate origin of the story of Llys Helig consisted of no more than items in thirteenth-century genealogies that cite Helig as one whose territory the sea overwhelmed, and although the earliest reference to Cantre'r Gwaelod contains more than the bare reference to an inundation, it has none of the details that make up what is now regarded as the legend of the Lowland Hundred. It occurs in a poem in THE BLACK BOOK OF CARMARTHEN, one of the earliest of surviving Welsh manuscripts, generally regarded as dating from the middle of the thirteenth century. In this poem, Seithennin is told to stand forth and see the destruction that the sea has wrought to the land. There were no fair cities, no embankments, and no dramatic escapes from the disaster, but the flood was attributed to a maiden who let loose the waters of a well.
The reference to a well is reminiscent of many legends that are associated with lakes that are said to cover the sites of palaces or towns, and although the well never again appears in the story of Cantre'r Gwaelod, in their later developments, the details of the stories told about lakes and submerged coastal regions show signs of much commingling. This relationship in itself provides a fascinating field for study.
The geological evidence from Cardigan Bay also shows that an inundation of the magnitude required -- it would have involved a sudden and permanent lowering of the land or a rise in the level of the sea to the extent of about sixty feet -- could not have occurred during any of the periods associated with the legend. It does, however, show that a large part of the tract that is now the Bay was dry land or at least swampy forest in prehistoric times and that due to the general but slow rise in sea-level at the end of the glacial period, the sea encroached gradually over it. The present general relation between land and sea in these western regions was established at about the beginning of the Roman era in Britain.
That land has indeed been submerged is shown by the occurrence of the boles of trees standing erect and rooted in the clay that is exposed at low tide on the foreshore in several widely scattered parts of the coast. The stumps are in their position of growth and the clay in which they stand represents the soil in which the trees were growing. Associated beds of peat indicate long periods of forest growth. The tree stumps are in some places very numerous, and as far back as the twelfth century, Giraldus Cambrensis, to the record of whose journey in Wales we owe much of our knowledge of contemporary conditions, noted that at Newgale in Pembrokeshire they looked "like a grove cut down." (THE ITINERARY OF ARCHBISHOP BALDWIN THROUGH WALES, pages 91-92.)
Apart from the evidence of geological chronology, there are indications -- in artifacts of bronze and bone that have been found in the peat or the clay -- that man was living in the regions whilst the inundations were in progress. One dramatic example was noted at Lydstep in Pembrokeshire, where the skeleton of a pig, crushed beneath the prostrate trunk of a tree, was discovered in peat laid bare during very low tides in 1917 but normally covered by more than twenty feet of water. There were, between the trunk and the bones of the pig's neck, two flint arrowheads suggesting that early man hunted in a forest that had become so waterlogged that trees were apt to fall, leaving their trunks to be buried in sodden vegetation that was subsequently to become peat. (SUNKEN CITIES, page 188)
It would seem, then, that whilst critical examination may take away some of the glamour of the nineteenth-century versions of the legends, it shows that the nuclei about which the stories have been built can have originated in actual happenings of which early man was a witness, and may perhaps embody the earliest records of human experience in Wales -- and that of course may apply in any of the regions to which stories are attached.
It may well be objected that such a long tradition of folk memory is unlikely, but one has to remember that the encroachment of the sea was not a sudden catastrophe but rather a slow and long continuing process that affected the lives of many generations of observers. A tradition long in development is likely to be long in survival.
The genealogical references to Helig as one whose land was overwhelmed by the sea do not indicate where the land was -- the location was part of the later elaboration -- but the poem introducing Gwyddno Garanhir associates his land with Cardigan Bay, and after an examination of the documentary evidence, the present writer suggested that in the modern version of the "Legend of Llys Helig," a story that originated in happenings that affected Cardigan Bay, had been adapted to the geography of Conway Bay. This conclusion was confirmed when in 1946 Professor Thomas Jones drew attention to and published an allusion to Helig in a thirteenth-century manuscript in the library at Exeter Cathedral. ("Cronica de Wallia ... from Exeter Cathedral Library," BULLETIN BOARD CELTIC STUDIES, XII, 1946, pages 27-44.) It was a note that appears to have been appended to an earlier copy and incorporated into the main text when the Exeter copy was made, and that earlier copy must be the earliest reference to Helig that has yet been brought to light.
In speaking of three Kingdoms that have been submerged, it stated that one of them was ruled over by Helig, son of Glannawg, and that it lay between Cardigan and Bardsey Island, i.e., that it was the territory assigned to Gwyddno Garanhir in THE BLACK BOOK OF CARMARTHEN poem and was not situated in the region to which it was assigned in the "Legend of Llys Helig." When that legend began to take shape, Cardigan Bay had for centuries been associated with the story of Gwyddno Garanhir, and what more natural than that a writer in North Wales (where the elaboration began), unaware of the allusion in the Exeter manuscript, should give the story of Helig a "local habitation and a name" by associating it with the submerged stones in Conway Bay and making them the ruins of Helig's palace?
It is not possible in a brief article to consider more than a few facets of even one line of enquiry, much less to consider the legends in relation to those associated with other regions. The matter, of considerable interest and importance, is dealt with in the essay SUNKEN CITIES, but enough has been written here to show that the study of ancient legends has much in common with the cleaning of an old picture.
The removal of the cracks and age-stained varnish often reveals traces of retouching and perhaps of alteration and addition by hands other than those of the original artist, and calls for the careful removal of all the added paint. This done, another picture reveals itself, better perhaps, or more important than the one by which it had been concealed. Removing the superimposed coats of literary varnish, so to speak -- the details added during long continued retelling -- does not destroy old legends or prevent the enjoyment, as literary efforts, of the tales into which they have grown. On the contrary, it adds to their interest by showing how they acquired their present forms and reveals them in their origins as records of early human experience.
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, July 1958, pages 281-83]
The world's real Revelators have been few, and its pseudo-saviors legion.
-- Mahatma KH, Letter 59, THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT
In this month of the Summer Solstice, all Associates of the United Lodge of Theosophists will be thinking of Robert Crosbie, the Founder of their organism. Each Lodge, each Study Group, and each individual Associate should review the efforts of the past year, resolve on ULT Day to serve the Cause better, and plan for fresh work in the future.
It has been said that the world knows nothing of its greatest men; in our Theosophical Movement there have been hearts "pregnant with Celestial Fire," minds full of loving friendship, and hands "that the rod of empire might have swayed" but which swayed in humble and often unseen service of many human souls. Such an one was Robert Crosbie, Chela, true and faithful, of William Q. Judge, whose example, as a disciple of HPB, he copied. He learnt and lived the Discipline that Mr. Judge designated as belonging to the era of Western Occultism, which really means that Occult Way of Living that is suitable to the modern mind.
One of the results of the activities of our grand Theosophical Movement was the unifying of East and West -- the Aryanizing of the West and the Westernizing of the East. It is true that the process has not been fully successful, inasmuch as each group osmosed from the other the wrong with the right. The noble philosophy of the Aryans has been assimilated by comparatively few in the Occident; students of Theosophy themselves are partly responsible for this meager assimilation.
After the passing of HPB and WQJ, some leading propagandists of Theosophy in Europe and America did not osmose the good, the true, and the beautiful in Eastern Wisdom. On the other hand, influential propagandists in India did not adhere, in faith and loyalty, to the Teachings of HPB and her Masters as recorded by her in her writings. They compromised with religious superstition and orthodoxy and passed off pseudo-occultism as Theosophy. All the same, the leading minds of the race, in Orient and Occident alike, have identical points of view in the political and social spheres and also in reference to spiritual idealism and religious preferences.
For the Theosophical propagandist of the present day, who has to continue the task of bringing together in closer and more real contact souls in Oriental or Occidental bodies, there is no better program than that embodied by Robert Crosbie in the Declaration of the United Lodge of Theosophists and the spreading broadcast of the Teachings of Divine Wisdom as recorded in the writings of H.P. Blavatsky and W.Q. Judge.
Not only did Mr. Crosbie emphasize the principles and methods necessary for the service of Theosophy in this cycle, but also he appealed with sweet reasonableness to those who heard him, and his printed words appeal to us who are now laboring for the Cause. He said:
If we find ourselves in existence in a dark age, in a time of physical and psychological epidemics, it means that we are related to it. We should begin to see the cause in the effect, and if the effect is wrong, come out from among that kind of effects to a true basis in thought and action, while remaining with our brother pilgrims, and going through with them. Thus the Masters have done.
In other words, learning the lessons that the Esoteric Philosophy imparts, we must make our applications; the Three Fundamental Propositions of THE SECRET DOCTRINE tell us what Deity we should contemplate upon, what Law we should respect and obey, and what particular self-induced and self-devised ways and means we should adopt to further our evolution. To abandon the false ideas of science and religion and to adopt true ones is our solemn task, our duty.
Then, further, Mr. Crosbie said:
The laws and principles of existence -- the true rationale of life -- are presented by Theosophy; hence, each man's contact with it is alike an opportunity and a responsibility, to which he has been brought under Karma. He can make the most of it, or he may neglect it so as to fail to obtain or extend benefit. His refusal to take advantage of it now will make him less determined in some other life to carry out the purpose of his nature, which is defeated presently if he neglects, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES OR PRESSURE, that which he sees to be leading him in the right direction. But always there are those who will test Theosophy out in their own lives, and learn what it is, and will carry on the work to the last end. They in their good time must come to be the leaders and pioneers of humanity, which must learn, even though the learning takes centuries of suffering. If the light of pure Theosophy is kept burning clear, it will be the saving light of the whole world. That must be. But the question is, who will be the light-bearers?
Ours the solemn duty, once again, is to be light-bearers. The dispelling of the darkness of ignorance is not really done by organized religions or searching sciences. The darkness of false beliefs and false knowledge has deepened, and the principles of Universal Brotherhood are remote from modern civilized life. Distance lends enchantment to the hills, verdant and beautiful; they pulsate with the message of peace and grace, and inspire people to practice brotherliness, but the call of the market place strengthens their fear of loving and of trusting all their fellow men. It is the Knowledge of Theosophy that, proclaimed and reiterated, will increase the number of men and women who will perceive the practical value of and ways to rise above all distinctions, and will acquire the habit of looking at the world as a single country and all mankind as united.
These ideas should make vibrant our ULT Day in 1958 -- Wednesday, the 25th of June -- if we hold them during the week, to preach them by lip and by life on that day.
By Katherine Tingley
[From THE GODS AWAIT, pages 3-15]
Men have their unselfish moods; even their great purposes are fickle and changing; their aspirations are here today and gone tomorrow. How then could such a one as Helena Petrovna Blavatsky have been understood by her time?
The slanders of her enemies are a tribute to her greatness: she will always be a mystery to a world that does not look towards the sources of light.
Except to those who have discovered that the worldly life is not the delightful thing it claims to be: who have come to the limit of it and found ambition and selfishness delusions: she will remain forever a mystery.
Those who understood her must have had that experience. Before they left their bodies in some previous life, they must have awakened to the unreality and impermanence of the things men mostly set their hearts on; and then they must have awakened to the Reality beyond, which demands of us the will to grow and the will to serve; and it was this will, this desire, that drew them to be her pupils.
She knew when she came that many would be waiting for her; and her Teacher would have told her, and she would have known it for herself -- what he told her would have been confirmation of her own knowledge -- that of the many who would profess faith and friendship, few would stand the tests.
Every Teacher has hours of loneliness. With all their knowledge of and love for humanity, and their hopes for the future, there must come to them a sadness and a loneliness at times: because the links in the disciples' hearts with the Teacher are not always strongly forged, and the grand truths are brushed aside for the falsities; and because insincerity and hypocrisy and selfishness and vice are the powerful agents of today and rule our present civilization; -- but most of all, the loneliness comes when the disciples fail, turn, and would destroy the work that has helped and sought to save them.
With her disciples that often happened, as we know; and she did her utmost always to avert their disaster; and knew in each instance that of her duty to them she had left no whit undone.
To us, while she remains a mystery in some senses, there is about her a certain grandeur that impels us towards search for the inner meaning of things and an effort to awaken the deepest part of our nature where all truth abides for us to discover.
We have not identified ourselves with her work for our own salvation's sake; our aim is at a mark more unusual. It is, To make mankind happy glimpsing the wonderful hope we cherish, glimpsing the wonderful truths; to unfold in our lives a divine influence to take out into the world and to give to humanity, that the great heart of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky may be understood; and that the doors of the temple of peace and brotherhood may be opened wider and wider, that we may look out beyond and see other and other portals of other and other temples opening and opening to the utmost heights; and that many may see and come forward who now fall back and die, and must, until the light so shines through their lives that without speech or writing, it will make itself known.
This was the light she brought into the world; it was for these ends she came, and was heroic, and suffered.
And therefore if we would pay right tribute to her, we must weigh well every word we utter and protest against the entry into our minds of any single worthless or personal thought.
For she offered her life on the altar of truth, and had little to support her but the power of the great doctrines she brought with her; for the whole world was against her in the beginning. Through every phase and action of her career, that superb courage shone that manifests in the world but here and there, in those whom we call the heroes; and then only occasionally, for the most part, and once or twice in a lifetime, -- when their highest motives are dominant in their minds, and some lofty emergency calls into play that which is greater than the normal self. For this kind of courage is spiritual: it is inherent in the Spiritual Will, the noble ruler of the mind; it is a quality that marks the Divine Soul of Man.
Science goes on accepting one after another many of the great ideas she promulgated but ignores or vilifies their source; while the more she opposed materialism and labored to bring the supreme religious truth of human brotherhood to the knowledge of mankind, the more she was hunted down by the professed followers of religion.
She saw how humanity had been drifting through the ages unaware of its birthright and unconscious of its dignity; how the indefiniteness of modern ideas had confused the minds of the people and engendered everywhere uncertainty and helpless doubt; how the essential truths of religion had been honeycombed with falsehood by the tortuous forces that retard the progress of mankind: and she left for posterity a body of teachings with power in them to change the whole world, and as it were raise from the dead the Immortal Part of man.
This great Theosophical Teacher was the herald and champion of the Soul, the living God in Man, as against dead dogma and conventional opinion, every phase of stultifying unreality, and every evil that would destroy mankind.
The philosophy of life accepted by the majority has constantly led men away from their noblest possibilities. We eat and sleep and suffer and die in our brain-minds and the lower and unreal portion of ourselves, and keep the chambers of the Soul with doors locked against our own entrance.
Look at the faces in the street, the general aspect of humanity in public places: they are already beginning to fear death; the thought of death is with them always; fear is in our blood, and it will be in the blood of our descendants.
Our young men grow old before they have been young, and our women are bowed down and joyless; we are limited in our intellect and heart-life and physically, and where many should be giants, they are apologies for men: and all because down through the centuries, we have been presented with half-truths only. The great and universal truths about life have been hidden away under forms and ceremonies and reasoning and argument and expectancy and faith till now we no longer know where we are.
Most men and women do not really think at all. They imagine they do, but they do not: and this is one of the great troubles of the day.
They borrow their opinions from outside sources, and ignore the divinity sleeping within themselves. Appearances pass for truth; the letter is preferred to the spirit; and while we take the thoughts of this one and that, and seek to follow them, the grander and more helpful thoughts are within ourselves, unawakened, and awaiting recognition.
We hunger and thirst for the surface of things, and will never rest long enough in the chambers of the Immortal Man: often taking no step forward in things spiritual because our minds are so immersed in books; often burdened with a kind of scholarship that tears out the heart of humanity and explains the universe and all that therein is from the standpoint of matter and the brain-mind alone.
Though we read and studied millions of books and had the greatest of teachers to instruct us, we should find no truth until we believed in our own inner selves, and that, being human, we are more than human -- greater than the world imagines or dogmas and creeds allow: because there is within us that which is capable of absolute knowledge, and may not stop, without self-degradation, at faith.
Many who desire truth are yet unwilling to give up for its sake any of their mental encumbrances that bear no relation to truth: preconceived notions lingering in the halls of their memory; opinions born of their own whims or the psychological influence of their neighbors' mind, or the books they read or their environment; the conventional views they absorbed through their education, when they were taught to accept cant phrases as substitutes for vital realities.
Consider the injunction that we should LOVE OUR NEIGHBORS AS OURSELVES. We read it glibly in our churches on Sundays, and repeat it with a certain vanity in the repetition; but what have we of it in our daily life? -- Conventional phrases expressive of politeness and a conventional attitude of good-will; lip-worn platitudes, in respect to which whoever violates normal usage is accounted rude and unfriendly; -- and it never or rarely occurs to us that talking about loving our neighbor as ourselves, unless real feeling capable of dominating our lives and actions lies behind the words, is all a vain repetition -- lip-service, cant, and even hypocrisy.
We are our brothers' keepers: how shall we do our duty by any one of them while the contents of our minds are not thought nor truth, but catchwords, trite phrases, and conventional terms? What place in the Scheme of Things can we adequately fill while we let the thought-tides serve as the substance of our mental activity? We must think away from our puny selves and narrow environments and the fleshpots of Egypt and the little gods we have set up in our hearts and homes as though time and the Higher Law would wait for any man. We must think away from the superficiality that runs through all modern life.
Many who desire to be and seem to be sincere are among its victims. Here you have a lawyer, a typical man of the world. He goes to his office daily, and stands before society a very eminent representative of the law. At home, amidst his family that he loves, he attends church with regularity, and gives handsomely to the offertory. He gives his banquets; he is a high official of the State; he caters to the whims of this one and that one; is of this or that political party; -- and since the way of the world is towards self-advancement, the world calls him a splendid man. It seeks his society and visits at his home and is anxious to have him as its friend; and he is flattered by the attentions and adulation of the world, and feels that he has won his place in life and has no will nor desire to grow.
And then his body dies, and he receives great honors and a public funeral, and the newspapers are full of his greatness; -- and it is all nonsense: there is nothing in it: nothing real, nothing to endure. Under all that stress of ambition and show and publicity, nothing was growing. It was just a certain aspect of the man that was active -- the material side of him; and he never knew how to fall back on the real and deep resources of his nature, which are in the Soul; and at the last he went out blind and having learned nothing.
No man can walk in the light until he has freed himself from this superficiality. The human mind must achieve its independence: stepping out and standing for greater things than mere society shibboleths. What is the use of being content with less than truth? As long as we are confused, and our thinking is all awry with the ideas of the old religious systems, so long will it be impossible for us to understand the real nature of man: because the essentials for such an understanding lie all within man's divine Higher Self, in the inmost sanctuary of life.
We know that these two beings exist in every man: The lower nature that loves to follow its own inclinations and the Immortal imprisoned in the flesh, which is only to be made manifest by nobility of character.
If there is anything in your life that is undoing you, so that you are losing faith in yourself and your fellows -- study the duality of human nature! If you have anyone in your family who is disappointing you, and your heart is aching to see a change -- study the duality of human nature!
In the one part, the treasures of indulgence and conceit are held to and hoarded; from the one is that snarling grumbling selfishness that steals into life like a snake: from the other come all our golden moments filled with sacred meaning; the joy of service, of giving the best one has and can, which is all that there is of value in life -- the precious treasure that money cannot buy nor time lay waste; Imagination, the artist within, which coming forth like an angel of light from the chambers of the Soul, fashions the life to perfect beauty. To live successfully, we must learn infallibly to discriminate between these two. We must learn to overcome by knowledge, or we shall be taught by suffering to overcome; and how can a man learn if his mental vision is so untrained that he cannot distinguish between convention and fact -- between living truth and dead dogma?
In such teachings as these, H.P. Blavatsky brought a spiritual antidote for ignorance and intolerance and pessimism and vice and the fear of death. Her endeavor was to remove some of the heaviest weights we of the human race are carrying: the obstructions that have been imposed on us during the centuries: the intolerable burden of dogmas and creeds.
One of the greatest of all the stumbling-blocks in the path of humanity today is the ease with which error intermingles with truth; or we should not have the world full of conflicting thought-systems we have. It is absurd for the human mind, being finite, to proclaim the finality of any creed. He who builds on blind faith builds his house upon the sands. Had the spirit of truth informed and sanctified the churches, there would be none of these deep divisions among men; for we are in reality all part of the Universal Scheme -- brothers in respect of whatever is real in our being.
The Kingdom of Heaven is within us; it is not far away. Deity pervades the whole Universe: it is impersonal and unknowable, no matter how near we may draw to the light of it. It is the Absolute, the Goal that we climb towards and never reach to; that we climb towards forever, forever learning and growing in the will and power to serve; forever acquiring new and grander ideals of That towards which we climb.
By William Q. Judge
[From LETTERS THAT HAVE HELPED ME, pages 235-39, originally written June 1889 under the penname Bryan Kinnavan.]
Although the gallery of pictures about which I now write has long ago been abandoned, and never since its keepers left the spot where it was has it been seen there, similar galleries are still to be found in places that one cannot get into until guided to them. They are now secreted in distant and inaccessible spots -- in the Himalaya Mountains; beyond them, in Tibet; in underground India; and such mysterious localities. The need for reports by spies or for confessions by transgressors is not felt by secret fraternities that possess such strange recorders of the doings, thoughts, and condition of those whom they portray.
In the brotherhoods of the Roman Catholic Church or in Freemasonry, no failure to abide by rules could ever be dealt with unless someone reported the delinquent or he himself made a confession. Every day mason after mason breaks both letter and spirit of the vows he made, but no one knowing or making charges, he remains a mason in good standing. The soldier in camp or field oversteps the strictest rules of discipline, yet if done out of sight of those who could divulge or punish, he remains untouched. And in the various religious bodies, the members continually break, either in act or in thought, all the commandments, unknown to their fellows and the heads of the Church, with no loss of standing. But neither the great Roman Church, the Freemasons, nor any religious sect possess such a gallery as that of which I will try to tell you, one in which is registered every smallest deed and thought.
I do not mean the great Astral Light that retains faithful pictures of all we do, whether we be Theosophists or Scoffers, Catholics or Freemasons, but rather a veritable collection of simulacra deliberately constructed so as to specialize one of the many functions of the Astral Light.
It was during one of my talks with the old man who turned into a wandering eye that I first heard of this wonderful gallery, and after his death I was shown the place itself. It was kept on the Sacred Island where of old many weird and magical things existed and events occurred. You may ask why these are not now found there, but you might as well request that I explain why Atlantis sank beneath the wave or why the great Assyrian Empire has disappeared. They have had their day, just as our present boasted civilization will come to its end and be extinguished. Cyclic law cannot be held from its operation, and just as sure as tides change on the globe and blood flows in the body, so sure is it that great doings reach their conclusion and powerful nations disappear.
It was only a few months previous to the old man's death, when approaching dissolution or superior orders, I know not which, caused him to reveal many things and let slip hints as to others.
Regretting his numerous errors one day, he turned to me said, "And have you never seen the gallery where your actual spiritual state records itself?"
Not knowing what he meant, I replied, "I did not know they had one here."
"Oh, yes; it is in the old temple over by the mountain, and the diamond gives more light there than anywhere else."
Fearing to reveal my dense ignorance, not only of what he meant but also of the nature of this gallery, I continued the conversation in a way to elicit more information, and he, supposing I had known of others, began to describe this one. But in the very important part of the description, he turned the subject as quickly as he had introduced it, so that I remained a prey to curiosity. And until the day of his death, he did not again refer to it. The extraordinary manner of his decease, followed by the weird wandering eye, drove the thought of the pictures out of my head.
But it would seem that the effect of this floating, lonely, intelligent eye upon my character was a shadow or foretoken of my introduction to the gallery. His casual question, in connection with his own short-comings and the lesson impressed on me by the intensification and concentration of all his nature into one eye that ever wandered about the Island, made me turn my thoughts inward so as to discover and destroy the seeds of evil in myself. Meanwhile, all duties in the temple where I lived were assiduously performed.
One night after attaining to some humility of spirit, I fell quietly asleep with the white moonlight falling over the floor, and dreamed that I met the old man again as when alive, and that he asked me if I had yet seen the picture gallery. "No," said I in the dream, "I had forgotten it," awakening then at sound of my own voice. Looking up, I saw standing in the moonlight a figure of one I had not seen in any of the temples. This being gazed at me with clear, cold eyes, and afar off sounded what I supposed its voice,
"Come with me."
Rising from the bed, I went out into the night, following this laconic guide. The moon was full, high in her course, and the entire place was full of her radiance. In the distance, the walls of the temple nearest the diamond mountain appeared self-luminous. To that the guide walked, and we reached the door now standing wide open. As I came to the threshold, suddenly the lonely, grey, wandering eye of my old dead friend and co-disciple floated past looking deep into my own, and I read its expression as if it would say, "The picture gallery is here."
We entered, and, although some priests were there, no one seemed to notice me. Through a court, across a hall, down a long corridor we went, and then into a wide and high roofless place with but one door. Only the stars in heaven adorned the space above, while streams of more than moonlight poured into it from the diamond, so that there were no shadows or any need for lights. As the noiseless door swung softly to behind us, sad music floated down the place and ceased; just then, a sudden shadow seemed to grow in one spot, but was quickly swallowed in the light.
"Examine with care, but touch not and fear nothing," said my taciturn cicerone. With these words, he turned and left me alone.
But how could I say I was alone? The place was full of faces. They were ranged up and down the long hall; near the floor, above it; higher, on the walls; in the air; everywhere except in one aisle; but not a single one moved from its place, yet each was seemingly alive. And at intervals, strange watchful creatures of the elemental world moved about from place to place. Were they watching me or the faces? Now I felt they had me in view, for sudden glances out of the corners of their eyes shot my way; but in a moment, something happened showing they guarded or watched the faces.
I was standing looking at the face of an old friend about my own age who had been sent to another part of the island, and it filled me with sadness unaccountably. One of the curious elemental creatures moved silently up near it. In amazement I strained my eyes, for the picture of my friend was apparently discoloring. Its expression altered every moment. It turned from white to grey and yellow, and back to grey, and then suddenly it grew all black as if with rapid decomposition. Then again that same sad music I had heard on entering floated past me, while the blackness of the face seemed to cast a shadow, but not long. The elemental pounced upon the blackened face, now soulless: tore it in pieces, and by some process known to itself dissipated the atoms and restored the brightness of the spot. But alas! My old friend's picture was gone, and I felt within me a heavy, almost unendurable gloom as of despair.
As I grew accustomed to the surroundings, my senses perceived every now and then sweet but low musical sounds that appeared to emanate from or around these faces. So, selecting one, I stood in front of it and watched. It was bright and pure. Its eyes looked into mine with the half-intelligence of a dream. Yes, it grew now and then a little brighter, and as that happened, I heard the gentle music. This convinced me that the changes in expression were connected with the music.
But fearing I would be called away, I began to carefully scan the collection, and found that all my co-disciples were represented there as well as hundreds whom I had never seen and every priest high or low whom I had observed about the island. Yet the same saddening music every now and then reminded me of the scene of the blackening of my friend's picture. I knew it meant others, blackened and being destroyed by the watchful elementals that I could vaguely perceive, were pouncing upon something whenever those notes sounded. They were like the wails of angels when they see another mortal going to moral suicide.
Dimly after a while, there grew upon me an explanation of this gallery. Here were the living pictures of every student or priest of the order founded by the Adepts of the Diamond Mountain. These vitalized pictures were connected by invisible cords with the character of those they represented, and like a telegraph instrument, they instantly recorded the exact state of the disciple's mind; when he made a complete failure, they grew black and were destroyed; when he progressed in spiritual life, their degrees of brightness or beauty showed his exact standing.
As these conclusions were reached, louder and stronger musical tones filled the hall. Directly before me was a beautiful, peaceful face; its brilliance outshone the light around, and I knew that some unseen brother -- how far or near was unknown to me -- had reached some height of advancement that corresponded to such tones. Just then my guide reentered; I found I was near the door; it was open; and together we passed out, retracing the same course by which we had entered. Outside again, the setting of the moon showed how long I had been in the gallery. The silence of my guide prevented speech, and he returned with me to the room I had left. There he stood looking at me, and once more I heard as it were from afar his voice in, inquiry, as if he said but, "Well?"
Into my mind came the question, "How are those faces made?"
From all about him, but not from his lips, came the answer, "You cannot understand. They are not the persons, and yet they are made from their minds and bodies."
"Was I right in the idea that they were connected with those they pictured by invisible cords along which the person's condition was carried?"
"Yes, perfectly. And they never err. From day to day, they change for better or for worse. Once the disciple has entered this path, his picture forms there; and we need no spies, no officious fellow disciples to prefer charges, no reports, no machinery. Everything registers itself. We have but to inspect the images to know just how the disciple gets on or goes back."
"And those curious elementals," thought I, "do they feed on the blackened images?"
"They are our scavengers. They gather up and dissipate the decomposed and deleterious atoms that formed the image before it grew black -- no longer fit for such good company."
"And the music -- did it come from the images?"
"Ah, boy, you have much to learn. It came from them, but it belongs also to every other soul. It is the vibration of the disciple's thoughts and spiritual life; it is the music of his good deeds and his brotherly love."
Then there came to me a dreadful thought, "How can one -- if at all -- restore his image once it has blackened in the gallery?"
But my guide was no longer there. A faint rustling sound was all -- and three deep far notes as if upon a large bronze bell!
[From THE ARYAN PATH, January 1959, pages 4-7]
Most religion and mysticism is fundamentally of Eastern origin, and it is interesting to note how a similar basic conception of truth runs through faiths and philosophies widely separated by time and national idiom. Remembering this, anyone even superficially acquainted with Gnostic thought is little surprised to find traces of the same teaching in the maxims of the ancient Celtic Druids.
When Julius Caesar landed in Britain, he invaded more than a mere temporal kingdom, for his arrival signalized the eventual downfall of the religious system of the Druids.
Britain was the center and stronghold of this mysterious philosophy of whose origin even less is known than of its practice. It was a cult that at that time dominated Western Europe, and it is believed that the wandering Megalithic peoples carried it with them on their varied journeys, and imposed it on the Celtic tribes whenever the two races came in contact.
Of the Megalithic tribes, too, little is known, but it is possible that they originated in Northern Africa, and it is significant that wherever their monoliths and cromlechs are found scattered over Western Europe, there, in the past, Druidism flourished, and such monuments are rightly identified with Druidic worship.
The first school of Druidism, it is said, came into being beneath the oaks of Mamre, soon after the death of Abraham, and it is likely that the Bardic philosophy was fundamentally an offshoot of early Hebraic teaching. Oak trees were always held in great reverence by the Druids, and to the Hebrews, they seemed to have a similar significance, according to the books of the Old Testament.
Abraham set up his tents under the oak trees on the plain of Mamre, and the early Hebrews obviously attached importance to the tree as a religious and social symbol.
It is recorded that Abraham built a tabernacle beneath an oak tree, and there performed sacerdotal rites; he also planted an oak grove in Beer-Sheba, and raised another altar beneath the oaks of Moreh. Jacob, later in history, hid the renounced gods of his household and the earrings of his family beneath the oaks of Shechem.
Unfortunately, for interest's sake, the Bardic traditions were taught orally, in the Greek tongue, which the Druids had learnt from an early settlement of Greeks in these islands. (According to Julius Caesar, the Druids' instruction was entirely oral, but they had a written language for other matters, for which the Greek characters were used. -- Editors of THE ARYAN PATH.) The Bards committed nothing to writing in their schools, thus surrounding their teaching with an impressive aura of power and mystery. Yet, in spite of the difficult nature of their instruction, fragments of their thought persisted in Wales, where the Bardic Order had more of it continuous existence than in any other part of the country.
Towards the end of the sixteenth century, a Welsh scholar in Glamorgan, Llewellyn Sion, compiled two volumes of Bardic philosophy from knowledge in his possession.
These books, called "Barddas," are full of interesting material, and although some historians have regarded them with scorn, they cannot be lightly dismissed as of no authentic value, and their account of Druidical philosophy may, indeed, be reasonably correct.
In many ways, the Bardic concepts are similar to those of the Gymnosophists and Brahmins of India, the Magi of Persia, and the Chaldeans of Assyria.
The Bards believed in an all-powerful Trinity. Their God, Achari, created the world under the administration of three perfect beings: (1) Bramba -- Penetration, (2) Breschen -- existing motive force, and (3) Mahaddin -- the great Lord, destructive power.
They believed in a doctrine of a succession of worlds, and recognized two primary existences: God -- the force of creative energy -- and the principle of destruction, or spiritual death and dissolution. According to their teaching, in the beginning, there were two planes of being, God and Annwn, the latter being identified with Chaos, or the great Void.
Organized life came into being when God pronounced the mysterious Word, and then Manred was created, consisting of indivisible particles of matter with the spirit of God contained in each. The Druidic design of existence was illustrated by three concentric circles.
The inner circle was "Abred," the stage of evolution and effort; the second circle typified "Gwynfyd," or Purity, in which life triumphs over the forces of evil and dissolution; the third circle was called "Ceugant," or Infinity; this circle was represented by no visual circle but rather by rays like those of the sun, which was considered to be the abiding place of God alone.
A form of Catechism used by the Druids in the examinations for Bardic degrees has many interesting points in comparison with similar teaching in other religious philosophies. The Catechism is in the usual style and seems to stress the theme of recurrent life:
Q. Whence didst thou proceed?
A. I came from the Great World, having my beginning in Annwn.
Q. Where art thou now, and how camest thou to what thou art?
A. I am in the Little World, whither I came having traversed the circle of Abred, and now I am a Man, at its termination and extreme limits.
Q. What wert thou before thou didst become a man, in the circle of Abred?
A. I was in Annwn the least possible that was capable of life and the nearest possible to absolute death; and I came in every form and through every form capable of a body and life to the state of man along the circle of Abred, where my condition was severe and grievous during the age of ages, ever since I was parted in Annwn from the dead, by the gift of God, His great generosity, and His unlimited and endless love.
Q. Through how many different forms didst thou come, and what happened unto thee?
A: Through every form capable of life, in water, in earth, and in air. And there happened unto me every severity, every hardship, every evil, and every suffering, and but little was the goodness or Gwynfyd before I became a man ... Gwynfyd cannot be obtained without seeing and knowing everything, but it is not possible to see or to know everything without suffering everything ... And there can be no full and perfect love that does not produce those things that are necessary to lead to the knowledge that causes Gwynfyd.
The Maxims of the Druids are startling in their blending of savagery and flashes of real insight into the profundities of truth. A belief in ritual human sacrifice and in the possibility of the transmigration of souls was mutable in the faith, but the firm conviction of a joyous immortality was the greatest characteristic of the Druidic religion. So strong was this belief in a continuing after-life that the classical writers recorded with astonishment that the Celt would lend money on the promise of repayment in the next world -- and for this reason also his courage in battle was phenomenal.
In so far as one can judge from the slight evidences remaining to us of Druidic teaching, it would seem to hold much to give cause for thought and for the assumption that it originally contained valuable gems of wisdom of a high and inspiring order -- although it suffered contamination with the passage of time and was eventually lost in that same obscurity that so successfully protected its original precepts from a fierce and widespread laity!
By Phillip A. Malpas
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, January 1925, pages 73-83.]
THE LAW COMES WEST
"Thus have I heard ..."
Our Blessed Lord, the Enlightened One, the Buddha, was living at Rajagriha, on the Eagle's Peak, with his disciples.
Ajatasattu, the King of Magadha, vowed a vow against the kingdom of the Vajjians. "I will tear up the mighty and powerful tribe of the Vajjians by the roots; I will destroy the Vajjians; I will bring the Vajjians to utter ruin, and their name shall be no more remembered among men!"
Now Ajatasattu was a wise king even in his anger. Before going to war, he sent for his proud and haughty Prime Minister, the Brahmana Vassakara. "Brahmana," he said, "thou shalt go to the Blessed One and in my name bow down in adoration at his feet. Ask if he is well and if he has all that he needs. Then tell him that King Ajatasattu of Magadha has said in his royal resolve, 'I will tear up the mighty and powerful tribe of the Vajjians by the roots; I will destroy the Vajjians; I will bring the Vajjians to utter ruin, and their name shall be no more remembered among men!' Then remember what the Blessed One shall prophesy, and tell it to me when thou come again. For the Buddhas never speak but what is true!"
"Be it so," said the Prime Minister, the Brahmana Vassakara. He called for the carriages of state with their royal horses and retinue, a princely cavalcade, and drove towards the Eagle's Peak as far as the horses could go. Then he left the carriage and his gorgeous retinue and walked to the hill where the Blessed One dwelt. He saluted the Blessed One and spoke the words that the King had commanded.
Now the Venerable Ananda, the disciple whom Our Lord loved, stood behind him fanning him, for the sun was hot.
The Buddha asked his beloved disciple a question: "Have you heard, Ananda, that the Vajjians hold full and frequent assemblies to consult on the welfare of their kingdom?"
"Lord, I have heard that it is so," replied Ananda.
And the Lord answered him: "So long, Ananda, as the Vajjians hold these full and frequent assemblies for orderly government, so long may they be expected to prosper and not decay."
And Our Lord continued to question Ananda in the same way, while the Brahmana Vassakara listened, that he might tell the King the words of the Buddha.
And these are the things that the Buddha said: "So long, Ananda, as the Vajjians meet together in harmony and work in harmony and live in harmony; so long as they change not their good laws, and make no new ones, but ever live in full accord with the laws of the Vajjians of the olden time; so long as they hearken to the words of their elders and reverence them; so long as they honor their wives, not stealing them from other tribes nor holding them unwillingly; so long as they maintain the shrines and religious rites of old; so long as they shall honor and defend and protect the holy men whom they call Arahats so that these men may be free to live among them, and Arahats from other parts may be free to come into their kingdom -- so long, Ananda, may the Vajjians be expected not to decay but to prosper."
Then the Buddha turned towards the Brahmana Vassakara and said: "When I was once dwelling among the Vajjians, 0 Brahmana, I taught them these things; and so long as they observe these conditions, so long may we expect them to prosper and flourish."
The Prime Minister reflected on the words of Siddhartha, the Prince of the Gautama family, whom they also call the Buddha.
"We may then expect," he said, "that if the Vajjians observe one of these rules, they will prosper. How much more then must they prosper and be fortunate if they observe all seven rules, as Ananda says they do. Therefore, Gautama, the Vajjians cannot be overcome in battle by the King of Magadha, unless he can first destroy their harmony and brotherhood or by some other trick. And now, Gautama, we must depart, for there is much at all times for a Prime Minister to do; he has many duties."
"Do as it seems best to you, 0 Brahmana," replied the Blessed One, dismissing him.
And the Prime Minister, the Brahmana Vassakara, pleased with the words of Our Lord, rose and went to tell the King what the Blessed One had said.
Now the Buddhas are very wise or they would not be called Buddhas. The lesson was too valuable to be lost. Therefore Our Lord told the Venerable Ananda, the disciple whom he loved, to assemble the disciples and brethren in the great hall on the Mount; and he preached there to them the "Sermon on the Mount," which taught the lessons he had given to the King by the mouth of Vassakara the Brahmana, together with many other rules for the conduct of life.
THE FAIRY BUILDERS
Thus the King of Magadha knew that he could not conquer the Vajjians. But what if the Vajjians tried to conquer him? He would build a fortress to keep them out, in case they attacked him. Now Pataliputra is situated near the great Ganges River as it flows eastward to the sea. Therefore it was an excellent town to fortify. Not a big town, perhaps, but a village of fair size; and it must be defended.
So the Prime Minister, Vassakara the Brahmana, and another minister, Sunidha, built the fortress at Pataliputra. And there were thousands and thousands of fairies that hovered over the land around where the fortress was in building.
These were the city-fairies, the builders. They cannot themselves build in brick and stone, but they live for thousands of years in places where great cities, long forgotten, used to be, so that they are often found where no city is, but only plowed fields. They know that there was once a city there, and they are ever longing to see it built again, greater and more beautiful than ever before. So they haunt the place and try to persuade people to build there.
Now there are two kinds of people, the builders and the destroyers. But the fairies can do little good while the destroying people are about; THEY see no fairies! And then one day, after thousands of years, the building men come and they sometimes see the building fairies, because they are in sympathy with them. Or if they cannot see the fairies, they feel them unconsciously; they don't know why, but they feel that they must be ever building, building, until the city-fairies are satisfied.
Sometimes where there has been a great and powerful city, there are great and powerful fairies; these are the ones who move the secret heart of powerful kings to build glorious stately cities; other less powerful fairies influence the desires of kings less powerful and not so great.
So it is that cities are often built invisibly and in the silence long before one brick is laid upon another. All that remains to be done is for a builder among men to come and make the fairy city one of brick and stone that all may see.
Our Lord, the Blessed One, had great and clear vision surpassing that of ordinary men. He could see what was happening in the remotest star or what was passing in the mind of the ant; he could see what happened five thousand years ago, just as if it were in a mirror, and he could see what will happen in the future as clearly as a man looking out of a window sees what is passing in the street; he could see the fairies everywhere and understand what they were doing.
So very, very early one morning, he looked out of the window and saw thousands and thousands of the city-fairies hovering in and about the town and in the fields and by the riverside and everywhere.
"Ananda, Ananda," he called to his favorite disciple whom he loved, "who is building a fortress at Pataliputra?"
And Ananda, waking from sleep, answered: "It is Vassakara the Brahmana and Sunidha, the Ministers of Magadha, who are building a fortress there to hold back the Vajjians."
Then Our Lord the Buddha told Ananda what he had seen, and told him about the building fairies he could see everywhere, and he made a wonderful prophecy, because he KNEW, and that is why he is called a Buddha, 'he who knows.'
"And, Ananda, among famous cities and the busy places where men live, this will be the greatest, the city of Pataliputra. It will be a great market where men shall come from every country in India to trade. But three dangers will hang over Pataliputra, one from fire, one from water, and another from quarreling and lack of harmony."
Now this is the wonderful prophecy made by Our Lord about the city of Pataliputra that was fulfilled in the days of Chandragupta-Ashoka, the glorious warrior King who became a Saint, over two hundred years later.
And Our Lord prepared to depart from the city of Pataliputra. First he was invited to dine with the ministers Vassakara and Sunidha, and He graciously accepted. The ministers sat each on a low seat at his side.
When he went out, they followed him and said: " The gate that Gautama goes out by today shall be called Gautama's Gate, and the ferry by which he crosses the river shall be called Gautama's Ferry." And they called the gate by His name.
But when they came to the ferry, the river was wide and overflowing, and some prepared to make rafts to cross over; others went to find boats; some made baskets that they waterproofed and used as boats to go over the river. But Our Lord needed no boat; he could walk on the water. In an instant, while you might be pronouncing a single syllable, He vanished from the bank of the great river and appeared on the other bank.
That was his way to make men remember his teaching. While he watched their efforts to make rafts and boats to cross the river, he sang a little song:
Wise is the man, his soul he saves Who builds a solid road through ocean waves. The vain world ties its basket boats And sinks or swims, or helpless floats.
What He meant was that all men must cross the great Ocean of Desire in order to attain their own divinity; they who are wise build the Noble Path of Right Action to cross the pools and shallows of ignorance and sin and delusion and desire while the world of simple men are building useless little rafts of ceremonies and rites and beliefs and think that they can be saved from the World of Desire by priests and gods. These things are their little basket-boats by which they hope to attain Perfection.
That is the simple way in which Gautama taught his disciples in parables the doctrine of the Kingdom of Heaven and that they themselves and all of us are divine if we only will it so.
As it was quoted four or five centuries later in another land: "Ye are Gods, and have the spirit of God dwelling in you."
THE ADEPT KINGS OF MAGADHA
There is a story about Sir Walter Raleigh in the Tower of London. He had spent much time and labor over writing his history of the world. Then one day, in the intervals between chapters, he glanced out of the barred window of his cell and saw a quarrel take place in the courtyard below. One of the contestants killed the other with his sword.
Shortly afterwards, an attendant brought Sir Walter Raleigh's dinner, and the great hero spoke of the incident. The servitor assured him that nothing of the sort had taken place, and that he was self-illusioned.
"Well, if my own eyes deceive me in that way in what I HAVE seen, how can any historian ever write truly what he has never seen," declared the old knight.
And he burnt his books.
There are people of high intelligence who think that the world would not be the loser if more than half our history-books were burnt with those of the grand old Elizabethan maker and writer of history.
Let that be as it may, we can rest assured that the Greek and Latin histories of the 'Conquest of India by Alexander the Great,' ought most emphatically take their place among the first to be cremated.
Think how they were written! The chief offender is Flavius Arrianus, or 'Arrian,' who lived about the time that Vespasian was destroying Jerusalem, say nearly four hundred years after Alexander's fairy-tale conquest. Arrian took his history from the pages of Aristobulus and Ptolemy. These histories are lost to the world.
But what of that? Well, these good book wrights wrote their histories in turn on the evidence given in the history of Megasthenes. This was a Greek who visited India some years after the 'glorious conquest' of that country by Alexander (which never happened!).
Now here is the point. These second-hand Greek authorities never once set eyes on a single word written by Megasthenes! As for the third-hand Arrian!
Could any history ever be a more illegitimate grandchild than Arrian's history? It is a book written by a man who took it from two other men who never saw a word of the history from which they took it in their turn!
The Greeks certainly 'fancied themselves' at that date when Alexander invaded Afghanistan and Beluchisthan -- say between 325 and 330 BC. And really their civilization was something of which to be proud. Less than a hundred years ago, we English were content to base all our art and sculpture on Greece, and our polished men could never speak more glossily than when quoting Greek tags -- in short, we were content to recognize that Greece was greater than ourselves.
But that does not in the least interfere with the fact that Indian civilization was then far superior to that of Greece in almost everything except boastfulness. Greek civilization was the infant grandchild of an India hoary with age -- and that is why today artists and theologians and folklorists find Indian art and literature always showing GREEK INFLUENCE. It is wonderful how heredity tells. But even so, our most learned authorities refrain from speaking of the 'influence' grand-babies have on their grandparents; they do not rhapsodize over the squalling infant and declare that "his grandfather takes after him wonderfully!"
We are afflicted with sadness to think that our veracious tale shall not agree in all respects with official history, but let it suffice that we shall do our best to yield a few points, while rejoicing that ours is merely 'fiction.' And Oxford and Cambridge can sleep peacefully in their beds while we burn the midnight 'veritas' in pursuit of the evasive muse of history.
Like all bazaars, the bazaars of Patna -- where the rice comes from -- are the editorial office of the spoken newspaper called gossip. And there is a deal of genuine news in the bazaars that never gets into the printed papers at all, even in 1925 AD.
It was just the same in Pataliputra -- which is Patna -- in 327 BC with the difference that there were then no printed papers in India, and the bazaars held a monopoly of all the news.
In the time of Our Lord the Buddha -- 570 BC and thereabouts -- Pataliputra was a mere village by the side of the Ganges. It had been a wonderful thing when the ministers Vassakara and Sunidha had held consultation with the building fairies, as Our Lord had remarked in pleasant fancy. At any rate, the little builders had somehow managed to get their message to the great statesmen, and the grand fort was built to keep out the Vajjians or other enemies, since Our Lord had shown that it was no use attacking them as long as they obeyed the Great Law of Harmony among themselves.
In two hundred and fifty years, the village had become a great city, the capital of the powerful state of Magadha. The bazaars were the central news agency for all the world, a big place in those days. India did not stop at the Indus, but included Afghanistan and Beluchisthan and took in quite a large slice of what we call Persia today. Those distant countries formed a sort of barrier and bulwark for the real India against the Western nations, the Babylonians and Persians and Assyrians and Greeks -- they used to call the Greeks, Yavanas, which means 'foreigners.' Admirable barriers these countries formed with their burning deserts and lofty mountains, which none but the most determined traveler cared to face.
Kalanda was never happier than when listening in the bazaar to the strange and gorgeous tales that came from distant lands. He was not a big boy for his age, and nobody minded in the least when he squatted inconspicuously in the circle of bearded merchants while they told their news. Mind you, Kalanda was no sudra, no mere servant or outcast; he was of the proud Kshatriya caste, a soldier to the twelve-year-old fingertips, as his father had been before him. Some day he was going to be a real soldier, an officer, and ride with princes. Meanwhile he delighted to hear of the lands where the soldier's life would take him, to pick up strange phrases of foreign tongues such as soldiers use, and dream in the Indian sun of marches over the snowcapped Caucasus, the Hindu Kush, of terrific combats against the desert tribes, of conquests in the West, and loot beyond the dreams of kings.
It was comic to see the proud little warrior drilling his army of boys in play, to watch the imperious toss of the head when giving the words of command, to see the wooden sword flashing in the Indian sun -- "Halt!" "Right turn!" "Form fours!" "March!" And off the boys would go with heads held high and turbans squared as if the whole world depended on their bearing.
But when the real soldiers passed! It was then a proud moment for the lads as they saluted and were gravely saluted in their turn. Once a Royal Prince on his way to the great North-West had smiled and saluted their little company. It was a memorable day for Kalanda and his companions.
Sometimes Kalanda would stand at the door of his mother's house and forget that it was school-time, lost in the wonder and glitter of passing soldiers.
"Thou Kalanda, get thee to thy schooling," she would say, laughing. "These is plenty of time yet to think of soldiers. Thou art too small to run away if an enemy came after thee!"
"Nay, my mother," said Kalanda, taking the jest quite seriously, as was his way. "I shall not need to run away, and I will see to it that my enemy will not need to run away either!"
"To thy books! To thy books!" replied his mother impatiently. For in those days all could read who were not of the very lowest class. And was not Kalanda a Kshatriya, a soldier, as his father had been before him?
So he would go to his teacher. With the strange power of some Oriental minds, he learnt his lessons fast enough, and his teacher could not complain.
But one thing alone upset his equilibrium and drove all thoughts of concentration on his books far from his mind. And that one thing was an elephant. Especially Hari. If an elephant passed in the street, there was no more work for Kalanda that day. Not to speak of, that is. And if Lala, the King's elephant-keeper, permitted, Kalanda was in the seventh heaven of delight among the royal war-elephants in the fortress-enclosure. Somehow Hari, the big white tusker who always led the other elephants in ceremonial procession and at the royal hunts, had taken a great fancy to the boy Kalanda, and Kalanda could do anything with him. If Kalanda could secure some special dainty from his friends in the bazaar, it usually found its way into the expectant trunk of Hari, and Hari appreciated the compliment in such a way that he would do things for Kalanda that he would do for nobody else.
But just at this time, there were strange rumors and wild tales floating about the bazaars. The stop-press columns of the spoken news were working overtime.
An Afghan merchant was talking of events in the far North-West: "The Maharaja of Persia has been conquered by the Yavana Raja" -- he meant the Greek King -- "named by the Arabs Al Iksander, or El Iksander. The Yavana Raja is a young man of thirty, and they say he is a great warrior before whom none can stand. Because he has taken the Persian Kingdom, he rules from the west of the world to the Indus, but for all that, he must come and conquer the land before the Kings of the West between us and Persia will submit. So he comes and conquers.
He has taken a mountain of treasures that no man can count from the great city of the Gate of God, which they call Bab-el, gold and silver and diamonds and rubies and emeralds and precious stones beyond the power of a man to count. With this treasure and his great army, he will conquer the world unless he is stopped. But our Raja is the Lord of India from the East to the Indus, and he will not permit El Iksander to cross the great river."
"Will there be war," asked a merchant of the town.
"There will be war," replied the Afghan. "But the Yavanas, the Greeks with their Alexander, will not conquer."
"Why not," asked one of the listeners.
"Because the sand and the sun fight for us," said the Afghan. "The foreign Yavanas will die by thousands and they will be swallowed up in the sands of the deserts that the gods have placed to defend India."
"But have they any right to come to the Indus," asked an interested soldier of Pataliputra.
"They say they have. It is thus. The Raja of Taxila in the north and all those to the west of him have paid rent for some of their lands to Darius the King of Persia. Now he is dead, El Iksander claims the land as his own and demands the tribute as overlord."
"That is just," said the soldier.
"Truly it seems so. But many years ago, the Persians took the land from the Rajas of Taxila and demanded rent from them for holding it. Now that is changed. The Raja of Taxila holds the land at a rent from our own Maharaja Chandragupta. And El Iksander, the Raja of the Yavanas from the West, must fight for it if he will have it."
A small boy inconspicuously listening on the outskirts of the group heard every word with intense interest. The word 'war ' made his eyes glitter and his brain to whirl. His Kshatriya blood would not be denied. He would be a soldier, sometime, somehow, and the sooner the better.
"Mother," he said when he had gone home, "I am big enough now to be a soldier. How can I join the army?"
Fondly, and not ill-pleased with the boy's spirit, his mother answered him. "Nay, my son, not yet, not yet. But in a few years time, who knows? Meanwhile, remember that thy books will help thee to be a soldier, too. Even a book can sometimes win a battle."
"How so, Mother? I understand thee not well."
"Little thickhead," she answered tenderly, laughing at him. "If thou canst learn the speech of other lands, thou canst be of the greatest use to the general. That is what a soldier fears most -- ignorance of the country in which he fights."
She too had learnt her lessons. Had not her husband died an honorable death in war, lost in a strange country where knowledge of the language might have allowed him to escape with information of vital importance to victory?
The days passed and Alexander the Macedonian, the all-conquering, came nearer and nearer to India. There was at that time in Pataliputra a very wise minister, Kautilya, whom they also call Chanakya. He had vision to see ahead, and he had counseled the king to send strong reinforcements to the border provinces and kingdoms of the Indus.
So the streets of the town of Pataliputra echoed with the tramp of soldiers. The legions were marching against the possible invasion of the Greeks and Persians. It was a tremendous affair, but there was a great trunk road all the way, built through the foresight of Kautilya, and the obstacles were few. War in those days was slow, and an army had to be complete in itself as far as possible. Not only had there to be stores and provisions, but thousands of men to supply them and keep the communications. The supernumeraries swelled the total enormously, and an army might occasionally reach the total of half a million men.
Kalanda's teacher was a wise old Brahmana. His beard was white, and I suppose his hair was too. But you could not see that, because he wore a great white turban that covered it up completely. His face was very dark and wrinkled as if the Indian sun had burnt it almost black; but his bright eyes shone with a rare wisdom. One day, he told Kalanda that he must learn his lessons well, because he could not expect to go to school for ever and would someday lose the opportunities that a school gives to all.
"How is that, master? It will be years before I am a man."
"That is true, boy. But someday you might want to go to war, as a soldier should."
"It would be glorious," said the boy enthusiastically. "But if I could only go to this one against the Persians and Yavanas and cut off the head of El Iksander!"
"Even that is not impossible, though I hope you will not want to cut off people's heads too much. But you may help to drive them away from India."
A strange idea was slowly dawning on Kalanda's intuitive brain. Was his teacher hinting that he should go to the war against Alexander? It seemed incredible, but beautiful, a vision too good to be true.
"Shall I go to THIS war?" he asked.
"If thou keep silence, thou shalt go," was the astonishing reply.
Pataliputra was a busy town in these days. Soldiers came and soldiers went. Princes and chiefs and armies passed through the town, all going north-west to the Indus and the Panjab. Not one of them had a thought for Kalanda. But what he knew, he knew. His teacher had said he should go, and go he would when the time came. Then came the turn of Pataliputra, and all the available soldiers went away behind the rest. Last of all, there followed the King's elephants.
Kalanda said a sad farewell to old Hari, the chief of the elephants, and at last, they marched majestically out of the town. Kalanda was left. But the faith of an oriental in his teacher is something that cannot be comprehended by a Westerner. Kalanda knew that he was to go, though the heavens fell, if he only kept silence. And that he had done.
Suddenly the chance came like lightning out of a clear sky. Excited messengers came riding back and told a curious tale of Lala and the elephants. Hari had gone three miles along the road like a lamb, and then he had stopped and all the efforts of Lala, and the elephant men had failed to move him an inch more.
Finally Lala declared that he knew what the matter was. With unerring instinct, Hari suspected that he was going away from home and would not go without his favorite friend, Kalanda. The officer in charge of the elephants acted with a soldier's rapidity. The solution of the difficulty was simple enough. The elephant must go. It had been commanded. The elephant would not go without Kalanda. Therefore Kalanda also must go. Send for him and make him a sergeant of elephants or whatever rank best suited the case. Do anything except to delay the elephants.
Kalanda's mother gave her consent with smiling face. She was proud of her boy -- he was a soldier as his father had been before him. But she let none see the tears that flowed fast as soon as she had turned into the house when they had gone. A soldier's wife must suffer grief unseen.
And thus it was that Kalanda went out into the wide world to meet the Greeks with the great El Iksander at their head. The world shone in a wonderful glory of romance for him that memorable day. Next time he came to Pataliputra, it would be as the teller of news in the bazaar, not as the unconsidered listener. And he would come back riding on Hari with El Iksander's head on his spear!