‘There is No Religion Higher than Truth’
Views on E. L. Gardner’s criticism of C. W. Leadbeater
Compiled by Pedro Oliveira
In November 1963 E. L. Gardner, a former General Secretary of the English Section of the Theosophical Society and respected student of Madame Blavatsky’s writings, published a booklet entitled There is No Religion Higher than Truth: Developments in the Theosophical Society. In it Gardner presents a strong criticism of CWL’s perception of the Masters which is encapsulated in the following statement:
With the advantage of forty years perspective, plus the letters to Annie Besant and the events of 1920-30, it is now clear (as some have long known or suspected) that the Lord Maitreya and the Masters with whom Leadbeater was on such familiar terms were his own thought-creations.
Yet Gardner, unlike most of CWL’s critics, did not doubt his sincerity and honesty. He wrote:
Yet I feel certain that there was no intention to deceive. Bishop Leadbeater’s honesty and sincerity were undoubted. His clairvoyance was unquestioned. It was by that faculty that he discovered the boy Krishnamurti, who has at any rate turned out to be a great leader of thought, widely acknowledged all over the world. This discovery in itself was no small feat, and it was not an isolated case. And Leadbeater’s frequent references to the Masters were, from his own point of view, utterly sincere and true. Nor was it a case of a split mind. The projection was a vivid example of the phenomenon of ‘unconscious kriyāśakti’.
Gardner refers the readers to his own article on this phenomenon, ‘Kriyāśakti, Conscious and Unconscious’, published in The Theosophist (July, 1963). He adds:
The Sanskrit word Kriyāśakti is defined as the Power of Creative Thought. It is a well-known term in Occultism, and its meaning has been abundantly demonstrated during the past few decades in research work on the mysteries of the human mind. The description of the mind by Patañjali, given long ago, is still much to the point:
The mind may be compared to a lens in the form of a sphere, so constructed as to be capable of giving a three-dimensional image inside itself of every external object. (Book 1, 41 – Stephen’s translation)
After briefly examining the phenomena associated with mental automatism and visualization, he refers to the complexities to be found in the relationship between a Master and a chela (disciple). He says:
The automatism of the elemental essence of thought-forms is used, it is said, in the occult relationship of Master and chela. A mental image of the chela is made by the Master, with a ‘radio’ link between image and chela. This image is isolated in the Master’s ‘cave’ and records the chela’s progress. The reverse process, though less efficient, is also possible. By intense contemplation a devotee can imprint the picture of a Master in his mental aura. Any link that a Master might make with the Chela’s pictured thought-form depends, however, on the clarity and purity of the created form. Conscious Kriyāśakti builds the form, but unconscious Kriyāśakti may endow it with the emotional vibrations of the chela. Therein lies the extreme hazard of the venture.
Later on, Gardner defines what he meant by hazard:
A clear and finely built thought-form of a Master may, occasionally, be the skilled product of conscious Kriyāśakti by a devotee. If its rock crystal purity be undisturbed, the form may presumably provide a medium for communication. But if its elemental life is affected by the skandhá of its creator — though quite unconsciously conveyed — then absorption and enhancement by the elemental will merely mean the birth of an attractive royal edition by its creator. Thus one’s own thought-creation of a Master may provoke the dangerous illusion of being the Master himself. And mental clairvoyance assists its realistic objectivity. The results of such a mistaken identity could well be disastrous.
Based on his theory, E. L. Gardner comes to several conclusions: the ‘Coming’ of the World Teacher through Krishnamurti did not happen; the ceremonies of the Liberal Catholic Church were not approved by the Masters, and the Theosophical Society lived twenty-one fateful years between 1909, the year of the discovery of Krishnamurti by CWL, and 1930, when, according to Gardner, Annie Besant woke up to the ‘truth’ regarding the happenings during that period, termed by him ‘the disastrous error’.
In support of his view, Gardner quotes from the ‘On the Watch-Tower Notes’ by N. Sri Ram in The Theosophist (July, 1963), written before Gardner’s booklet was published, and which comment on his article published in the same issue of that magazine. It is to be noted, however, that nowhere in his previously referred article Gardner mentions CWL. Sri Ram wrote that Gardner’s article:
… throws a clear light on a phenomenon which occurs among people of all religions, namely, that of an image formed subjectively, partly out of material from the creator’s thought-environment, and partly out of ideas generated by his own personal emotions and desires, assuming an objectivity, a full-scale reality, that is completely convincing to him. Many a vision takes place in this manner and is afterwards proclaimed to others and becomes the basis of a legend. The image is really a projection from the person’s own mental make-up, to use a modern psychological term, but it gains a strength and a vitality from his sub-conscious reactions, which give it the character of an independent entity. The process involved in this phenomenon is well illustrated by what is said about ‘elementals’ in early Theosophical literature, artificial entities which are either created for a specific purpose and maintained by deliberate design and volition, or, coming into existence more naturally through repetitive or collective thought, get strengthened through interchange with the psychic condition of their unconscious progenitors and thus prolong their life for as long a period as the impulse might last.
Mr Gardner points out that while an image of some loved and reverenced person, or Teacher, if it be of rock-crystal purity, as he calls it, can be a medium for communication with him, any unconscious desire vibrations — also any established tendencies of thought – will affect the image – and it may then become a ‘talking image’ reflecting the subconscious mind of its creator. H.P.B refers in her writings to the ‘enormous mysteries’ of the human mind and of the deceptive nature of the psychic realms to which it is related.
After the pamphlet was published, in November 1963, there were naturally many reactions, both in favour of it and criticizing it. In a letter to N. Sri Ram, dated 7 December 1963, Hugh Shearman, a well-known author and a leading member of the TS in Northern Ireland, mentions that ‘If he [Gardner] had a case, he has made it badly and has tried to support it with an inaccurate rendering of past T.S. history. He has not, I think, ever understood the Liberal Catholic Church. My own experience inside it has satisfied me that the directives which C.W.L. understood himself to have received with respect to it had a fundamental authenticity.’ On the other hand, V. Wallace Slater, General Secretary of the English Section of the TS at that time, wrote to Sri Ram saying that ‘I have received very favourable comments from a number of leading members in this country, including Corona Trew, Sir Hugh Sykes, Clara Codd and others.’
In his reply to Shearman, dated 10 December 1963, Sri Ram expressed his views about Gardner’s pamphlet: ‘Doris Groves has since shown me your letters to her on the subject of Mr. Gardner’s pamphlet. I do not go along with the statements in it or even accept its main thesis concerning the question of the Coming. But as the impression obtains that I do, and in any case, considering the nature of those statements, I feel impelled to express openly, that it, in The Theosophist, my own thoughts on the matters dealt with in the pamphlet. I am enclosing a proof-copy of what I am saying, which will appear in the January 1964 issue of The Theosophist. I hope it will help many members who read the pamphlet to see things in a better perspective, and not let themselves be thrown off their balance by questions that have been raised.’ Sri Ram then adds: ‘When I had my talk at Camberley with E.L.G., I could not (I am saying this confidentially to you) engage in a free conversation because I had to speak very loudly to make myself heard. As I have indicated in my article [published in February 1964 in The Theosophist], I read E.L.G.’s manuscript rather hurriedly, and though I had misgivings, I felt he had a right to express his views, and it would be for the members to form their own views on the subject.’ In the same letter Sri Ram says he was sending a copy of what he had written to Gardner himself, Leslie Leslie-Smith and V. Wallace Slater, the last two being those who helped Gardner to publish his booklet.
After receiving a copy of Sri Ram’s views on the matter of the pamphlet, Slater and Gardner sent him the following cable: ‘Suggest you postpone your comments on Gardner pamphlet until February.’ Slater wrote to Sri Ram on 19 December 1963: ‘If I may be perfectly frank, as I know you would wish me to be, I feel you have been rather rushed into withdrawing your approval of the pamphlet. It appeared from your letter to Mr. Gardner that Doris Groves (influenced by Rukmini) and Hugh Shearman, were the two leading members who persuaded you to change your mind. I can add that Helen Zahara has also expressed to me strong objections to the pamphlet.’ He then added: ‘I think that it is up to those of us who agreed that the pamphlet should be published to make clear what Mr. Gardner had in mind, even if in some places his wording may lead to misunderstanding.’
Sri Ram’s reply to Slater’s letter was written from Varanasi, India, on 3 January 1964:
I duly received your letter of December 19. I wrote to you immediately acknowledging the cable sent by you and E.L.G. and agreeing to postpone my comments till February.
Actually I was not “rushed into withdrawing your approval of the pamphlet” by Rukmini or Doris Groves, although they both discussed it with me, feeling quite upset. The discussions and some letters from abroad made me feel that I should express my own views. I am of the opinion – unlike some others – that E.L.G. had a right to express his views which he had obviously thought over carefully. But while I agreed with him on a number of points I also had the ideas which I have expressed in my comments but unfortunately not prominently in the foreground of my mind when I talked with E.L.G.
I believe in what I have stated in those comments as to viewing all such matters free from any authority. If you remove the basis of authority what E.L.G. says is an expression of ideas to be carefully considered, not the declaration of a position to be accepted by all in the place of a position previously held. The same would apply to whatever I say.
You will note that I say in my comments that I share E.L.G.’s scepticism as regards certain things. By following up that statement with a reference to the discrepancy on God, religion, etc, I have indicated that there is reason for scepticism. The feeling of scepticism, which is essentially negative, has to be separated from any positive explanation of how the statements in question came to be made (Kriyāśakti, A.B. put aside her clairvoyance, etc.). E.L.G. has given a positive explanation, and that is all right on his part; but my attitude as regards explanations is one of openness and essentially exploratory, combined with the feeling that it may not be necessary to settle these issues connected with the past, which most of us have put aside completely and about which we do not have certain knowledge.
In his letter to Sri Ram, dated 20 December 1963, Hugh Shearman expresses his views about “occult” experiences:
A point that I try to make in discussions in members’ meetings in the T.S. is that all expressions of experience of “the occult” ought to have a certain discrepant character, since they represent different personal convergences upon something that is beyond the level of the argumentative mind. Temperamentally I find no difficulty in being at one and the same time a Liberal Catholic priest and what one might call an extreme anti-clericalist. One does not have to live only on one side of a fence. I believe that to C.W.L., also, there was no conflict between his own kind of ecclesiasticism and the attitude conveyed in the K.H. letter which is so often quoted [letter 10 of The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, third edition; letter 88 in the chronological sequence edition].
Over a year ago I had a most interesting conversation on a long train journey with a clergyman whom I discovered to be the Dean of Christ Church, Dublin. I found among other things that he had sympathetically read C.W.L. But the most memorable point in our conversation was that we found that we were in perfect agreement as to the complete compatibility of the two apparent extremes of the religion of Inner Light which utterly rejects form and institution and the religion of Sacrament which is uncompromisingly ecclesiastical.
For me this kind of insight is a true key to “the occult”, and I have some sense of disappointment when people who can say quite wise things yet seem compulsively bound to one of a pair of opposites. The real “occult” seems to be a level of understanding in which these opposites do not even have to be resolved, and the measure of success of the T.S. seems to lie in the number of people it can lead towards this experience with respect to their own place and circumstances in life.
E. L. Gardner wrote to Sri Ram on 6 January 1964:
My dear Sri Ram,
Many thanks indeed for your kind response to our suggestion and request to postpone your comments. My reason for the request is simply to avoid the opening up of all manner of questions if it be submitted that Krishnaji is the answer to Mrs Besant’s proclamation of the Coming of the World Teacher.
I have set down as briefly as possible the objections to this view – quite apart from Krishna’s own repudiations. They are ample in themselves. But I would also add that the first letter of C.W.L.’s to A.B. in 1916, introduces the ‘Lord Maitreya’ so abruptly and easily as to imply a long familiar topic between them. Looking back at all the happenings I feel certain that the source and only source of the COMING was C.W.L.’s ‘Lord Maitreya’.
In the writing of the Pamphlet I was intent on keeping all within close limits. No one is blamed, due respect and credit is given for honesty of purpose of all concerned. A mistake is explained without any reflection on character.
In Nethercot’s new book and in the many reviews – Bishop Leadbeater is described as ‘deliberately deceiving Mrs Besant’, as a ‘fraudulent charlatan’ and much else! Some of this is repeated last week in obituaries of Lady Emily Lutyens – who died a few days ago. What possible defence is there for C.W.L. other than the Pamphlet?
Of the large number of letters that have come in to Wallace [Slater] and myself, all – with three exceptions – are favourable. Most of them very warmly expressed.
Wallace found last week a Canadian Theosophist article by [Victor] Endersby (1960 I think) stating that Alice Bailey’s ‘Tibetan’ and C.W.L.’s ‘Master’ were both creations of their own – Dugpas he called them. Without proof such statements carry little weight. It is the proof that I offer that is so conclusive. We seem to be just in time with this Pamphlet.
I shall hope that you will feel able without reserve to support it and I am sure the Society will benefit greatly by knowing the truth. The Lodges too will have a most interesting and enlightening subject for study related to the Third Object. Several have it already in their syllabuses.
It may prove interesting to compare Gardner’s above statement that ‘that the first letter of C.W.L.’s to A.B. in 1916, introduces the ‘Lord Maitreya’ so abruptly and easily as to imply a long familiar topic between them. Looking back at all the happenings I feel certain that the source and only source of the COMING was C.W.L.’s ‘Lord Maitreya’, with the following passage of Mary Lutyens’ book Krishnamurti: Years of Awakening (1975). It contains an account by C.W.L. to Fabrizio Ruspoli, who was at Adyar, of an event that took place on 28 December 1911 in Benares, when Krishnaji, as the Head of the Order of the Star, was handing over certificates of membership to new members. Approximately 400 people were present, including Mrs Besant, C.W.L., Miss Francesca Arundale, J. Nityananda and a number of European members, besides many others:
All at once the hall was filled with a tremendous power, which was so evidently flowing through Krishna that the next member fell at his feet, overwhelmed by this mighty rush of force. I have never seen or felt anything in the like of it; it reminded one irresistibly of the rushing, mighty wind, and the outpouring of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost. The tension was enormous, and every one in the room was most powerfully affected. It was the kind of thing that we read about in the old scriptures, and think exaggerated; but here it was before us in the twentieth century. … At a meeting [of the Esoteric Section] the President said for the first time that, after what they had seen and felt, it was no longer possible to make even a pretence of concealing the fact that Krishna’s body had been chosen by the Bodhisattva, and was even now being attuned by Him. (p. 55)
Finally, in the February 1964 issue of The Theosophist, in his column ‘On the Watch-Tower’, N. Sri Ram, as President of the TS, addressed the controversial matter of E. L. Gardner’s booklet. Below are some extracts of what he wrote:
It is stated in the pamphlet, “Obviously there has been no Coming”. I would add to this sentence the words: “as expected”. Krishnaji is giving a teaching, message or whatever else we may call it, which is of unique value and importance. He is himself quite an extraordinary person, unlike anybody else in so many respects. May it not be that he is fulfilling the mission to which the prophecy really referred? Even after breaking from the Society and with the traditional lines of Theosophical thought, Krishnaji in 1928-1929 did claim to have reached complete identification with the Truth. He used the words, “One with the Beloved”, and explained — this explanation is printed in Mr Gardner’s pamphlet — “To me it is all, it is Sri Krishna, it is the Master K.H., it is the Lord Maitreya, it is the Buddha, and yet it is beyond all these forms. What does it matter what name you give?”
Dr. Besant started her political work in 1913, and it was then that she said she put aside the use of her clairvoyant faculties. The proclamation as to the Coming was made by her in a Convention lecture at Adyar, entitled “The Opening of the New Cycle” in December 1910, three years after she became President, and while she was still obviously in the plenitude of her powers. It is difficult to imagine that in a matter of such tremendous importance, she could have made the proclamation without any grounds of her own. She spoke with great assurance and as if she knew, and not as if she had been told by a colleague.
It is quite possible that both Dr Besant and Brother Leadbeater understood what was hoped for and expected according to their own ideas of the form it should take, but based the central idea on what they had learned through contact with the higher Sources.
There is the statement in Mr. Gardner’s pamphlet that “The Lord Maitreya and the Masters with whom C.W.L. was on such familiar terms were his own thought-creations”. This is a statement which the world at large would readily believe, but in the form in which it is made it may not coincide with the truth. Brother Leadbeater through the faculties he had probably got a great deal that is valuable and correct, yet there might be mixed with it certain of his personal ideas and the influence of his personal predilections.
I feel that no one — and not only Brother Leadbeater — should be considered infallible, and such a view is consistent with the highest respect to the person concerned, and with faith in his integrity. As H.P.B. says in The Secret Doctrine, there are “enormous mysteries connected with the mind”. Something might easily go wrong in the process of translation from a higher to a lower plane, in one’s recollections of what he had heard or knew inside himself. The only safe rule for all of us is to consider for oneself impersonally every statement, from whatever source it may come, and act according to one’s own understanding, not imagining that one’s understanding and judgment must be absolutely correct.
Today, forty-seven years after the publication of E. L. Gardner’s pamphlet, different Lodges and different Sections of the TS may gravitate towards this or that author, or authors. Partially as a result of the contribution of E. L.Gardner, V. Wallace Slater, E. Lester-Smith, Leslie Leslie-Smith, Geoffrey Farthing and others, interest in the writings of H. P. Blavatsky in the English Section remains a focal point. I. K. Taimni’s books became a success story in Latin-America and in the French-speaking world. Geoffrey Hodson’s books are much appreciated in New Zealand and in other places as well. And, not surprisingly, books by Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater continue to attract the interest of members and non-members in many places. The TS, to the disappointment of some, did not become a one-author Society but has continued to promote a diversity of views in Theosophical studies, thus honouring its motto: satyan nasti paro dharmah, ‘there is no religion higher than truth’. Mr Gardner certainly got that right.
My First Flight
The Rt. Revd. C. W. Leadbeater
(Originally published in The Australian Theosophist, August 1928.)
As our General Secretary, the Rev. Harold Morton, found it impossible to complete the northern part of his tour, and therefore postponed his visit to Queensland for a month or two, I went up to Brisbane a few weeks ago to do some of the Church and Masonic work which he would have done, and so to minimize the disappointment of our members in this district. While staying at Mr. Tweedie’s ever hospitable home, I received an invitation to go over to Toowoomba and hold a couple of meetings there; and as I found that there was a daily service by aeroplane between the two towns, it occurred to me that the quickest and easiest method of transit would be to avail myself of that route.
This was all the more interesting to me because I had never been up in an aeroplane before, though in my younger days I made many balloon ascents. But of course the whole movement and method of progression of an aeroplane is utterly different from that of a balloon, so I felt that it would be an entirely new experience for me. I also felt that it would be of interest to observe the sylphs or spirits of the upper air, so it seemed desirable to take the opportunity which offered itself.
Dick Clarke and Bishop Leadbeater
Perhaps I should premise that although I had frequently been up in the Blue Mountains to a height probably as great as an aeroplane would be likely to touch during an ordinary trip in fine weather, that is by no means the same thing for observational purposes as actually leaving the surface of the earth. One is likely to meet varieties of fairies and nature-spirits in the Mountains which are not so common on lower ground; but they are still of the kind which dwells on the earth’s surface and works with the trees and the flowers; whereas when one rises clear away from the touch of the soil, one finds oneself floating among spirits of the air which very rarely descend to the earth at all. In my earlier experiences of ballooning I had not yet acquired clairvoyance, and so though I had risen on some of those occasions to much greater heights (though not more than about 2 ½ miles) I had no physical contact with the air creatures in their own realm. Of course in astral work one constantly ascends among them, but to go there in the physical vehicle is quite a different matter.
The aeroplane proved much more comfortable than I had thought to be possible. I had expected to have to don some horrible leather headpiece, more or less of the nature of a diver’s helmet, and I also thought it probable that I should be very unpleasantly affected by the appalling noise of the engine. To my satisfaction I found that the machine awaiting us possessed a saloon, very much like the interior of a four-seated motor-car, except that the cushions were far softer than those of an automobile and that we had much more leg-room than a car usually provides. One had to climb into this saloon through a section of its roof, which opened something as does the bonnet of a motor-car, and that was a mild acrobatic feat; but the pilot told me that very shortly they would have new planes on that run with doors opening at the side just like those of an ordinary carriage. Anyhow, when once one was inside, it was exceedingly comfortable. Our machine, I may mention, was a bi-plane with a 240 horse-power engine.
Bishop Leadbeater and aeroplane
After the preliminary run on the ground which is necessary to get up speed the plane soared into the air just as a bird might have done, and I was delighted to find that in its cabin, even with the windows open, the roar of the engine was not sufficiently audible to be unpleasant, and we could converse with only a slight raising of the voice. I was much impressed by the steadiness with which it flew; it is the only kind of vehicle I have yet encountered (except a great mail-steamer) in which it is easy and comfortable to write with a pen. It sped through the air like an arrow, and for the greater part of the journey the sensation, so far as the physical nerves are concerned, was just as though it was resting on the earth. Two or three times in our seventy miles it seemed suddenly to drop about a foot with an odd little jerk, but we met with nothing in the nature of an air-pocket. Just after starting and just before alighting the plane swept round in a semicircle with a splendid swoop like an albatross, heeling over at a slight angle like a yacht in a breeze; otherwise it was as one-idea’d as an express train, holding its nose as straight as if it were pointed at a star.
The air spirits seemed to hail us with riotous joy; they clustered around us and circled at our prow just as I have often seen dolphins behave round the bows of a steamer. We were flying at a very fair speed, but these creatures circled round us with the utmost ease, as though they did not feel the air pressure at all. They gave me the impression of being extremely friendly and well-disposed, and did not in the slightest degree resent our intrusion upon their domain. Curiously enough, however, I caught sight of some other creatures higher up—much higher up—who seemed by no means so friendly. They were of immense size and looked somehow for more material than the sylphs. They were curiously sullen in appearance, and I rather wondered what sort of reception they would have given us if we had risen into their immediate neighbourhood. I did not much like the look of them; they reminded me uncomfortably of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s powerful story ‘The Horror of the Heights.’ But after all they may have been quite harmless, though sulky.
The alighting of the aeroplane at the end of the journey was a masterly achievement; we did not know when it touched the ground until we felt the comparative bumpiness of running over a field of grass. We had an equally pleasant experience when we flew back the next day, doing our seventy miles in just three-quarters of an hour. The whole thing is absolutely different from the aeronautics of my youth. The aeroplane seems to be absolutely under control, whereas in the balloon we were entirely at the mercy of the wind, our only power of voluntary motion being either to rise by throwing ballast overboard, or to sink by letting out some gas.
The balloon was wonderfully quiet and steady even in a fairly strong wind, because it moved absolutely with it, without the slightest resistance; but the descent was always something of an adventure. We endeavoured to find a reasonably smooth place for landing and then threw out a grappling hook at the end of a rope, which sometimes caught in a fence, a tree or a furrow, and sometimes declined to do so. When it did catch, the balloon swept down rather swiftly, but was always liable to rebound on touching the earth. In calm weather one could wind in the rope and throw other thinner lines to attendant yokels; but in gusty weather matters were much less certain, and the proceedings were liable to be protracted and sometimes painful. The machine heavier than air is in many ways a distinct improvement, and I shall watch its future development with great interest.
A MYSTERIOUS MANUSCRIPT
Johan van Manen
Johan van Manen was born in Holland in 1877. He joined the Theosophical Society in that country in 1895. In 1897 he acted as a translator for H. S. Olcott. During the period of 1904 and 1906 he was the Honorary Secretary of the first Convention of the Federation of European Sections of the TS. He came to Adyar in February 1909 with C. W. Leadbeater. From 1909 to 1916 he was the Assistant Director of the Adyar Library and helped to furnish it with rare manuscripts. Later on he was the General Secretary of the Royal Asiatic Society in Bengal and the editor of its Journal. He passed away in 1943. The article reproduced here was originally published in The Theosophist, January 1911. (Source: The Theosophical Year Book, 1937)
A Mysterious Manuscript (Source: The Theosophist, January 1911)
The Manuscripts in the Adyar Library
The collection of manuscripts in the Adyar Library is really unique in its Sanskrit department. It contains already over twelve thousand works – of which several indeed are duplicates of the same treatise, but of which, on the other hand, a considerable number are unique, not known to exist in any other library, and, lastly of which a great number (if not unique) are of great rarity. Besides these Sanskrit Manuscripts there are also several others, the presence of which in our collections is perhaps less known to the public. We have, for instance, a magnificent copy of the Pāli Tripitaka and a small number of other Pāli works, and further some Telugu, Tamil, Chinese, Javanese and Tibetan Manuscripts. Besides these, again, we possess a considerable number of Japanese and Chinese prints (mostly Buddhistic) both in xylography and typography, amongst which are the Tokyo edition of the Chinese Tripitaka, and also, the late King of Siam’s printed edition of the Pāli Tripitaka in Siamese characters.
Our library being a young one with very limited financial means at its disposal, some of the works in languages other than Sanskrit have not yet been adequately determined and catalogued, though it may be added that at least the Chinese Tripitaka has now been duly arranged by Mr. Spurgeon Medhurst and ourselves, and that we have also determined the character of the few bundles of Tibetan Manuscripts in our possession. The latter contain nothing of a startling nature. There is, we may say of course, a copy of the Vajracchedika or Rdo-rje-gchod-pa; then there are some minor treatises relating to Padmasambhava and similar matters, important neither in contents nor extent, nor in perfection of the writer’s art. We may perhaps add that we ourselves possess a small collection of Tibetan blockprints, comprising some 2,700 leaves, and containing amongst other matter an Açtasahasrikā Prajnāparamitā, two different editions of Milaraspa (each containing the two works), and two different Padma Thangyigs (both differing from the texts made known by Grünwedel and Schlagintweit).
A Solitary Leaf of a Tibetan Manuscript
Besides the Manuscripts mentioned above there is one other Tibetan production in our collection, a solitary leaf of what is evidently a big book. It is a splendid specimen of Tibetan calligraphy, though the leaf itself has not come to us in an altogether undamaged condition. On both outer ends it shows clear traces of being singed or burned, and on the right hand side perhaps an inch has broken off, the material having become brittle when undergoing its fire-ordeal. The text is only slightly interfered with, at the most the width of one of one or two letters having been lost in this way; and these lost letters, owing to the nature of the text written on the leaf, can be easily restored, as this text consists chiefly of a series of formulae which occur over and over again with only a slight verbal change in a single expression or group of expressions. The material of the leaf is some tough and leathery paper, colored dark blue and polished on that part of it on which the text has been written. The letters, beautifully and clearly executed, about a quarter of an inch high (pa, ba and the like), do not show any difference from the modern form and are written or painted in the well-known shiny, yellowish-golden color which lends such beauty to Tibetan writings of that class. The leaf contains eight lines on each side; it measures exactly ten inches high and in its present condition nearly 24½ inches long, but its length may have originally been 1 to 1½ inches more. Our reproduction on a scale of a little under one-third gives a clear idea of the state and appearance of the leaf on its recto side.
How the Manuscript Came to Us
The history of the arrival of the Manuscript in the Adyar Library is already romantic in itself. Dr. [Otto] Schrader, the Director, had, soon after his first arrival in India, taken care of a young Brahmana orphan to whom he intended to give a good education with a view of qualifying him for secretarial work of some kind. After having been placed in the Central Hindu College, the lad preferred, however, to lead the parivrājaka life, went north and was subsequently only occasionally heard of. He seems to have wandered through Nepal amongst other places, and in November, 1908, Dr. Schrader received the late tidings from him. This news was contained in a letter (bearing the postmark of Askote, Almora, November 17th, 1908 ), giving some particulars about his present condition and asking for a determination of the nature and contents of the Manuscript leaf, sent by the same mail per book-post under separate cover. He stated that a friend he had met possessed a collection of such leaves, of which this was one, but did not know what it was, and would be glad to be enlightened on the point. With characteristic forgetfulness he neglected to add his present address, so that no answer could be sent; and after several months Dr. Schrader, unhappily, destroyed the letter, the precise contents of which he is now no longer able to recall. How this manuscript came into the possession of the youthful brahmachārin’s friend remains thus an unsolved problem. Let its solution be as it may; the fact remains that we are in the possession of this tantalizing knowledge that somewhere up north someone possesses the remainder of this Manuscript, not knowing its unique value, which am going to demonstrate further on, perhaps not taking due care of it, whilst we are impotent to rescue it from oblivion and possible decay or disappearance.
The Unique Character of the Manuscript
When Dr. Schrader, on a mere chance occasion, during the autumn of 1909, submitted the Manuscript to me I at once recognised it as something special and remarkable. On first sight I found its orthography quite peculiar showing the ancient da-drag and the subjoined vowel, ya between the initial m and the vowels e and i in full use. Most readers will exclaim: “What are these da-drag and subjoined ya?” They represent ancient forms of Tibetan orthography, which, according to modern authorities, ceased to be employed before about the year 800 of our era. It will be seen immediately how important that single leaf at once became by this discovery. For either we have before us a modern copy artificially reproducing the obsolete orthography – and an example of such a procedure is as yet absolutely unknown – or we have a genuine old Manuscript dating from within a century or two of the introduction of writing into Tibet, which took place in about 640 A.D. It would bring us into contact with the work of the earliest translators from Sanskrit into Tibetan, and would in another way be of importance as indicating the survival at the present day of bulky specimens of the old writing, examples of which – in a very limited number – have until now only been found buried under the devastating but preservative sands of Turkestan.
What hopes for further discovery this possibility evokes it is needless to say. Let us mention only the importance such discoveries would have for the intricate history and genetic development of the Buddhist writings. Textual criticism could not hope for a better find. Little wonder, then, that I remained perplexed as to the truth of the matter, and could not easily pass over the fact that the appearance of our leaf is fresh, that it does not clearly indicate any hoary past, and does not lend force to the theory that this leaf is more than a thousand years old. And yet the cold Tibetan climate is a good preserver, better than that of tropical India with its moisture, its heat and its devouring insects.
To What Work the Leaf Belongs
In attempting to solve the above puzzle the first step to take is evidently to determine to what work this isolated leaf belongs. Unhappily there is no marginal short title on the leaf, such as is found in almost all xylographs; there is no chapter closing or beginning, no colophon or other indication which might give it a clue. The only thing is to judge the contents as such. There is however one indication of a secondary nature, and that is the page number. The leaf is marked on its recto side ga x x go-bshi or in other words Vol. III, page 94. Taking the volume number as applying to a single work – seeing that this is a Manuscript, and not a printed work, in which separate treatises are often included in a number of volumes, and accordingly marked with a volume number which has no reference to their individual length – the whole work must be of considerable bulk.
Now a perusal of the contents showed the enumeration of the various well-known series of the four (five) fruits or paths (srotāpatti, etc., including rang-byang-chhub or pratyekabuddha as the fifth), the six parāmitās, the eighteen shūnyatās, and the mention of several other series, which are, however, not singly enumerated like the former, but only mentioned collectively, as for example the four noble truths, the noble eightfold path, the four meditations, the eight escapes or emancipations, and the five powers. It is clear that the most probable hypothesis is that, with regard to length (at the least three volumes) and contents, we have here to do with one of the larger Prajnāparāmitās. And if this be so, the choice must lie between the Shatasahasrikā (the 100,000 shloka Prajnāparāmitā), the Panchavimshatishasrikā (in 25,000 shlokas) and the Actadashasrikā (in 18,000 shlokas). The two smaller recensions, the Dashasahasrikā (in 10,000 shlokas) and the Actasahasrika (in 8,000 shlokas) are scarcely probable as the original work, as both are continually printed in Tibet in a single volume, and it is not likely that our Manuscript, containing as much matter on a page as the printed editions, would expand to (at least) three volumes in writing.
Going a step further, considering all elements at my disposal, I have come finally to this conclusion that the most likely hypothesis is to assign our fragment as belonging to the 25,000 shloka recension, called by abbreviation nyi-khri in Tibetan, and consisting in reality – as that word indicates – of perhaps roughly 20,000 shlokas. I need not detail how I have finally come to this conclusion, which, it must be remembered, is after all only a hypothesis. Suffice it to add still that a rapid glance through this 25,000 shloka recension of the Chinese Tripitaka, one through the Sanskrit 8,000 shloka edition published in the Bibliotheca Indica by Rajendralāla Mitra, one through the Tibetan 100,000 shloka edition as far as published in the Bibliotheca Indica by Pratāpachandra Ghosha, have only given me several dizzy headaches, but have not led me to an identification of our passage.
Clairvoyance to the Rescue
So there the matter stood, without prospect of further development, when I bethought myself that it might be interesting to attempt an appeal to the powers of trained clairvoyance for some suggestions, or perhaps a solution to the problem. So on the evening of November 17, 1909, at 9.30 P.M., after the day’s work was over, I went to Mr. Leadbeater with the Manuscript, outlined the case to him, and asked him if he would be kind enough to go into the question either by sheer clairvoyance or by psychometry. It should be understood that I told him only the barest facts of the case: that here was a Manuscript which according to its orthographic peculiarities must be supposed to have been written before 800 A.D., that it was Tibetan, and that further than that there was nothing known about it, neither as to its ultimate provenance nor as to of what work it formed part. Unnecessary to add that Mr. Leadbeater knows no Tibetan or other Oriental languages; and though himself a Buddhist and keenly interested in its living aspects, has made no scientific studies concerning its development, nor is specially acquainted with the literature about it by any but the more popular writers amongst the western Buddhist scholars.
Readers of the Magazine are familiar with the results of clairvoyant enquiry as applied to historic researches through the series of ‘Lives of Alcyone’. Those as yet unfamiliar with this subject can do no better than read Mr. Leadbeater’s own little manual on Clairvoyance, describing the whole theory concerning the exercise of this power; and they may also advantageously compare Mr. Mead’s remarks on this subject in the introduction to his work on Did Jesus live 100 B.C.? It is here, of course, not the place to insert a petitio principii concerning the reality of clairvoyance, some knowledge of which subject is taken for granted in our readers. Psychic researchers may note down the case here related as an interesting document for study, and those interested in this problem will find a good illustration of a chance example of clairvoyance, quite casually demonstrated without any previous preparation or warning. In the regular and systematic exercise of the power in lengthy series of investigations, such as those connected with Thought-forms, Ancient Peru, Occult Chemistry, and others, the existence of some preliminary preparation might be argued, but here we have a mere chance chip thrown off from the block, and the spontaneity of its production has a special demonstrational value.
The Date of the Leaf
Mr. Leadbeater, at once, most kindly, acquiesced in my wishes. It has been my privilege – as it has been that of many others in close connection with him – to have often witnessed such little spontaneous ‘asides’ to his more regular work. Those of us who have had this experience might construct an interesting evidential chain of argument and circumstance in favor of the reality of his possession of this abnormal power in a scientific sense.
He first took the leaf in his hands, sat quietly for a few moments, half closed his eyes, and began to speak. The Manuscript was very old, he said; it had been written in Tibet, or at least somewhere among the mountains of the Himālayan chain, or those north of them. He could not at first say exactly where. Glancing over contemporary Europe to find some landmarks for the fixing of the date – a process said to be quite feasible – it was found that it was about the time of Pepin le Bref and Charlemagne. Some interesting details of personal description of the latter were given, some glimpses of scenes in his life were depicted, and some living touches of the life of the times were described in a most casual manner, and in the merest passing. A glance over contemporary England confirmed the approximate date gained, and whilst Mr. Leadbeater was wandering round amongst these pictures of ancient life, I looked up and verified such details as lent themselves to it from the cyclopedia. It has always struck me as an amusing fact that, whereas in olden times the wizard – at least traditionally – had his proper setting in picturesque and dramatic surroundings, he now-a-days uses a prosaic typewriter, and does not despise the use of dictionary and cyclopedia to check as far as possible his own results. In occult methods, too, civilization brings progress!
A direct question brought the answer that, running rapidly over the history of the Manuscript in reverse order, from the present day to its genesis, our leaf proved to be the original production and not a later copy of it. At the moment no further precision of the date fixed was attempted, as this would entail considerable difficulty; for in such a matter concrete minute points of comparison are needed, fixed points as it were, and these depend largely on the actual knowledge present in the consciousness of the seer. Within historical times, this would not be very difficult for countries whose languages the seer understands; but for nations speaking languages or using chronologies unknown to him, the process would be laborious. Some practical makeshifts are in many cases resorted to, as for instance, when in events coinciding with Roman times the contemporary name of the acting consul was looked up and then his date read up in some cyclopedia. Huge periods are commonly computed from astronomical observations.
The Author of the Leaf
Having fixed his attention on the writer of the Manuscript, Mr. Leadbeater gave a description of him and ascertained some facts connected with him. His name was unluckily not determined, though somehow in a vague way the name Sambhava was mentioned in connection with him. He was an oldish man of commanding appearance, seemingly of some Mongolian race – perhaps Tibeto-Chinese. There was an impression that he had been born somewhere on or near the Chinese frontier. He was observed writing in a sort of monastery, a great bare walled place, part of a much larger establishment. This place was, in a sort, identified in an interesting way. During the summer of 1909 Mr. Leadbeater and myself had read the proofs of Ekai Kawaguchi’s work Three Years in Tibet which was published by The Theosophist Office. Whilst clairvoyantly looking at the Tibetan writer, long since dead and gone, and at his dwelling-place, Mr. Leadbeater said that this was the same place which Kawaguchi had visited and described in his book. He stated: ‘Look up Kawaguchi; you will find there the description of the same place. It is situated to the east of the river. Nyalba (or Nyalva) is the name of a village near by.’ Upon being asked how he knew this, he answered that a habitual exercise of clairvoyance brings with it the automatic arising of pictures of the original when various subjects are spoken or read of. So, in reading a book of travel, the practised clairvoyant continually sees before him the real scenes and incidents described. In this way he recognised the old monastery as that which he had seen in connection with Kawaguchi’s book. The detail is interesting. But I have not been able to identify the place from any description in the book.
The Writing of the Book
The vision showed the beautiful Manuscript and there was ‘lots of it’. The Manuscript in the final state, of which our solitary leaf is a specimen, was not the immediate result of the translation. The translation itself was done from a palm-leaf Manuscript, written in some form of Sanskrit. The ancient translator worked at it as his great life-task, taking many years over it. His labor was a sort of secret charge. The first draft was written on some dirty-looking white-grey paper. From this the Manuscript was copied with scrupulous care and in painfully neat calligraphy on the blue paper of which we have the sample. The writing was done, it seems, with some kind of bamboo or wooden brush or pen. My notes do not record the detail, but I believe it was given at the time. The copying as well as the translation were equally sacred tasks to the Tibetan monk.
According to Csoma de Körös-Feer the Tibetan translation of the 25,000 shloka recension of the Prajnāpāramitā is unknown.
Except in the Christian Creed, where he has given pontou pilêtou as the original form of the pontiou pilatou in the Gospels, Mr. Leadbeater has to my knowledge never yet published direct readings from ancient Manuscripts, clairaudiently obtained. The more interesting is it that on this occasion he reproduced several larger and smaller snatches of sound heard from the Tibetan writer in reading his Manuscripts. It must be borne in mind that clairvoyance does not in itself enable its possessor to read ancient Manuscripts if he does not know their script, but the clairvoyant, or rather clairaudient can hear and reproduce the sounds uttered by the people of the time who read these writings aloud. The sounds heard seem to belong to three different categories. They are those of the Sanskritic original, those of the Tibetan translation, and one sentence which seems Chinese.
I will spell as well as I can phonetically with the ordinary continental values of the letters.
The monk began his readings with what seemed a set formula running somewhat as follows, though the exact order of the sounds is not guaranteed.
fo do bo zo
This looks more Chinese than Tibetan, and may represent an invocation in the monk’s mother tongue, as he was possibly a Chinaman by birth. It must be remembered that the titles of the Chinese Pāramitās abound in monosyllables having an o sound. The Chinese names for the three Chinese versions of the 25,000 shloka recension are named: Fāng-kwāng-pān- jo-po-lo-mi-ching, Mo-hö- pān-jo-po-lo-mi-ching, and Kwāng-tsān-pān-jo-po-lo-mi-ching . Pān-jo-po-lo-mi-to is the Chinese transcription for Prajnāpāramitā.
The following sentences and isolated works or expressions were dictated as Tibetan. They were of course pronounced through an untrained English larynx by one not conversant with Tibetan, nor, for the matter of that, with Sanskrit or Chinese.
1.fo khiën khab dzju lobchen thupha
2.tcha khiën sangtszu lo bat tsze gyal bor ang khor bat zug hrang po chellung phota .
An adherent to the doctrine of sub-conscious memory will probably see in ang
khor bat a reminiscence of the famous ruins in Cambodia.
6.norlab dipak denpo.
Number one may be intended to represent a name; I have a lingering remembrance that it was given as such, but I have not recorded the fact in my notes.
Number two was a sentence from the book.
Number three and five were isolated words.
Number four was a word known to Mr. Leadbeater and recognized by him, as it is used in Theosophical literature, it is of course the Tibetan equivalent for Yoga, Yogin, Yogāchārya or Yogāchāra.
Number six may be a name again.
(c) Sanskritic (Classical Sanskrit, Buddhistic Sanskrit, Pāli?)
Taken from the original Manuscript from which the Tibetan translation was made.
1. Itipisso bhagavan arahan
This is evidently the well-known Pāli formula: Iti pi so bhagavā arahan sammāsambuddho vijjā-carana-sampanno sugato lokavidū, etc. It would be strange to find Pāli in the original instead of some form of Sanskrit if our book is really one of the Prajnāpāramitās. But a similar formula was at one time known to Tibetan Buddhists in the form: “Itapi so Bhagavā(n) Samjaksambudho vidschdschatscharanasampano Sugato Lokavidjānuttaro” (as transcribed by Schiefner), given the language of Magadha.
The words were given as the beginning of a sentence.
May it be that Mr. Leadbeater heard the Pāli form in Ceylon during the course of
his lengthy residence there, and clothed the nearly similar sounds in a form reminiscent of them in some sub-conscious?
Mr. Leadbeater himself thinks this hypothesis probable. It was his opinion that in each of these cases, out of a torrent of unknown words which he heard, his mind pounced upon such as were already partly familiar to it, and even that he might easily have been deceived by apparent and superficial resemblances to words sub-consciously present in his mind.
2. Saririr pilikulenda.
3. Buddha rajanān wahanseye nama swawera.
Buddharajanānwahansé is an honorific title frequently applied in Ceylon to the Buddha. The words heard may only have resembled these.
We publish the above details in the hope that some reader or readers thoroughly conversant with spoken Tibetan and Chinese or with Buddhistic Sanskrit may shed some light on the problems they raise. As an almost unique example of what they are in the way of recovered sounds from the past heard by clairaudience in time, they cannot fail to have also a special interest for the student of such matters.
The Pre-History of the Document
What we have written up till now has a special interest mainly for the psychic researcher, the philologist and the student of Buddhist history and literature, and generally also for the Theosophist. What now follows is of special and almost exclusive interest to the latter. For the stray scholar, who may have happened to meet and read these pages, hypothesis and description cease and romance begins. But even if he should regard what follows as a mere story, it is an interesting one which will amuse him if no more. Needless to say that we ourselves regard the following to be as much a subject for serious consideration as what has gone before, and that we consider that our own faculties and expectations are by no means the measure of the possible or the true. Besides, we are able to bring forward a few corroborative arguments with regard to some points of the story.
After having come thus far in the description of the author, his place and time and book, I asked Mr. Leadbeater to go a step further and follow up the Sanskrit Manuscript from which the Tibetan translation was made. By tracing it back to some other Manuscript from which, in its turn, it might prove to have been copied, and so on, we would at last come to the original author and also probably to the title of the book.
Already, when describing the Tibetan translator, he had said hat the man looked somehow familiar though he did not finally identify him (not as to name, but as to ego). Also the Sanskrit Manuscript had a ‘curious feel’ about it, he said. And in acceding to my request he very soon said: “I believe that Master K.H. may have something to do with the book.” He then described how in ascending along the line of time, the Master’s influence became perceptible in the Manuscript, growing stronger and stronger as he moved into the earlier past, until at last he found Master K.H. himself as its author nearly two thousand years ago. First the Manuscript took him to India. It was interesting to watch the description of how the surrounding climate was softening, and at last was transformed into one of tropical heat, and how the country in which he was moving changed from icy Tibet to glaring India. After a few centuries he found himself transported – much to his surprise – to the identical monastery and library where Alcyone (in the thirtieth life) was abbot and librarian. In that library the Manuscript was one of the great treasures, and either that self-same Manuscript, or a copy made from it, was the Sanskrit book seen in the hands of the Tibetan translator. As this life of Alcyone will soon appear in The Theosophist, we need not give any particulars here, but satisfy ourselves with the statement that its time was about 650 A.D. and the place Kanyakubja.
It is well-known in Theosophical circles that it has been stated that he who is now Master K.H. was known in a former life as Pythagoras, and some centuries later in India as Nāgārjuna – a great saint and scholar in the early Buddhist world, renowned as a mighty sorcerer and great philosopher, a voluminous author, a Methusalah who lived for three centuries as a Buddhist patriarch, the focus of countless legends, stories, traditions and even fairy-tales. To him at last the investigation leads when searching for the ultimate (or rather penultimate, as we shall see) origin of our mysterious leaf. The following are the bare facts as Mr. Leadbeater told them that evening.
We are now somewhere near the time that the Christian gospels were written, about 200 A.D., or rather a little less; between 150 and 180 A.D., would be more exact. Nāgārjuna is now an old man. He wrote the original Manuscript, but this was itself not an original production, but a translation from an Atlantean Manuscript. There is already a queer and romantic story current about it. This Manuscript was a holy relic when one of the later Atlantean migrations left Poseidonis. They took it with them to India. After a long time of peaceful dwelling in the new land, the Āryan hordes begin to invade the country from the North. The older Atlantean tribe began to be harassed and to be sorely pressed. They fought like lions but without avail. They formed the kshattriya or rājan caste, and were red-colored. At last they saw their doom was sealed, and they decided to bury their sacred treasure. They did, and it remained buried in a dry sandy place for thousands of years, quite undisturbed. This Atlantean Manuscript was enclosed in an air-tight case, hermetically sealed and made out of some sort of metal. Its preservation remained perfect.
Nāgārjuna got hold of information about it and located it by some magical means, after which he dug it up. The Manuscript was written in colored hieroglyphs on what seem metal plates. It was about two feet long and twelve inches broad. There were twenty-seven lines of script, written on one side of the plates only, which numbered one hundred and fifty-three. In translation the text expanded considerably. It was translated on palm-leaves about sixteen inches long and four high, on which twelve lines were written on both sides. About three of such palm leaves went to one metal sheet. The translation seems to consist of three parts – three bundles anyhow. The work is known as Sambodhi; this is the original title and Nāgārjuna is the translator. This translation is somehow dual in its nature. There seems first to be a mere translation, corresponding exactly to the original, and then secondly, under the same title, something which seems a commentary. There ought therefore to be two books or parts, with the same name but quite different contents.
After this translation was made, and the work commenced its wandering career throughout the centuries, it began to expand. This process of expansion went on and on till the book reached Tibet. And even before it reached India from Atlantis, it had already begun increasing its initial size.
A curious phrase in or connected with the initial Manuscript is: “The great King of Glory who liveth for 124,000 years.”
This then is the story of the Manuscript in so far as it related to Nāgārjuna, and so far as briefly outlined in a short and cursory investigation lasting in all scarcely more than one hour, certainly less than two hours.
Some Corroborative Observations on the Previous Paragraph
The first interesting corroboration for our story is that, in effect, there exists a legend that Nāgārjuna did find a case with manuscripts from which he drew the materials for writing the Pāramitās, all of which tradition ascribes to him. In the popular versions this case was recovered from the nether-world or the sea, by the aid of a King of the Nāgas. It will be remembered that occult enquiry has suggested the equivalence of the name Nāga – really meaning serpent, a mystical being playing a great part in early Buddhist legend – with the name of an Atlantean tribe or race. They were so called, it is stated, because of their tribal totem, borne before them in war, was a snake. Nepālese Manuscripts of the Prajnāpāramitā record in their colophons that they had been drawn from the nether-world by Nāgārjuna. The Chinese biography of Nāgārjuna relates the story as follows:
“Nāgarāja (King of the Dragons) took pity on him [Nāgārjuna] and took him with him to his palace at the bottom of the sea, and showed him there seven precious receptacles, containing the Vaipulya books and other Sūtras of a deep and mystical meaning; Nāgārjuna read them for ninety consecutive days, and then returned to the earth with a case (Kiste).”
Waddell adds that Nāgārjuna alleged the Buddha Himself had composed the treatise.
A second corroboration is perhaps to be found in the fact that the 25,000 shloka recension is commonly given as printed in three volumes, which fact may have something to do with the ‘three original parts’ described.
The third is with regard to the name Sambodhi. In the 25,000 shloka recension of the work, the fourth of its eight chapters is called Sarvakārābhisambodha or ‘cognisance of all forms, whereby the Bodhisattva acquires a right understanding of the various phases of the mind under different circumstances’, and the sixth chapter is called Ekākshna-visambodha, or ‘knowledge of all times present, past and future’.
The fourth corroboration is with regard to the statement that there were two different books, a translation and a commentary. Rājendralāla Mitra writes in his work already quoted, p. xiv, the following:
“The second abridgment of the large work [the 100,000 shloka recension of the Prajnāpāramitā] is usually reckoned at 25,000 shlokas … but … roughly calculated it is limited to 20,045 shlokas… Though professedly a digest, the arrangement of the work is not founded on the plan of the Shatasahasrika, and the treatment of the subject is generally different. In fact the work is an independent one on the subject of Nihilism bearing on the attributes of Buddha.”
For a quite recent discovery of the existence of a separate work included in the Prajnāpāramitās see M. Haraprasāda Shāstrī in the J. & P. A. S. B. Vol. VI, No. 8, August, 1910, p. 425. This short note is quite important for our present problem and was published a year after Mr. Leadbeater’s researches. It also gives some clue to the process of expansion of the earlier versions, and states that the prose portions of the work alone are original, the verses are ‘different works’.
All the above considerations deserve further careful study, and it is highly desirable that all those competent to shed more light on these problems should not hesitate to co-operate towards this end.
Back to Atlantis
The investigation did not altogether end with the facts ascertained concerning Nāgārjuna's part in the production of our manuscript. A further endeavor was made to trace back the Atlantean plates to their origin. The inquiry was a quite summary one and disclosed only a few general data, but one of them was of special interest. It was found that ultimately the primary Manuscript was one which Master M., when, more than ten thousand years ago, a Ruler in Poseidonis, had had copied. Mr. Leadbeater stated: “Master M. has had a hand in it also. I am not surprised. For wherever you find Master K.H. there you may be sure you will somehow meet Master M. also.” It was not definitely stated at what time this took place. Anyhow the copy was, some 11,500 years ago, in the possession of a secret society then existing in the capital of Poseidonis, and having wide ramifications all through the land. It was then a period of the grossest general corruption, but at the same time this hidden league of white magicians and good, pure people was active in the very heart of the degraded civilisation.
Now in the fifteenth of the series of lives of Orion – which series will be published in course of time in the pages of The Theosophist – its hero lived in a female body in Poseidonis, from 9603-9564 B.C. She, together with another woman (Sirius) belonging to same mountain tribe as herself, was made captive in a military expedition of the Toltec army against her people, and both were carried off to the city and apportioned as slaves to a rich and highly placed official. They suffered torture and abuse to such an extent that they attempted to run away and they were ultimately successful in reaching a place of safety. Whilst hurrying through the streets of the town on their way to freedom they actually passed the house in which the meeting-place of this secret society was situated. When arriving at the point in his story, telling of the existence of this secret brotherhood, Mr. Leadbeater suddenly exclaimed in tones half of despair, half of anger: “And by Jove, they did not know, they did not know!” On being asked: “Who did not know what?” he explained the above situation, and said that if the two fugitives had only turned in there, they would have been safe and their tribulations ended. In seeing the house in which the Manuscript was guarded, and being back in the times and places of Orion’s life in that period, the other pictures connected with all concerned had also been evoked, and for the first time he realised what might have been in that life, instead of what actually was. Certainly this was the first time that I witnessed emotions manifested because of adventures of more than ten thousand years ago.
A Tangled Skein
A tangled skein, indeed, has the strange story of our mysterious Manuscript proved itself according to its occult history obtained by clairvoyance, according to its immediate history in arriving in the Adyar Library, and according to the evidence of its special orthographic character. The intermingled threads have now been unravelled, but another tissue has at the same time been woven in connection with it. We find two Masters, Alcyone, Sirius, Orion, more or less directly connected with it – further investigation would perhaps reveal more kārmic links. Involuntarily we therefore ask ourselves a question which seems to suggest itself: May the coming of this leaf to us carry some purpose as yet unknown? We do not know; perhaps the future will show.
Before ending we must once more emphasise the fact that this little investigation was undertaken quite on the spur of the moment, without any preparation whatever. The various details outlined above were not in the least all known to myself, and even of the little of what I knew about the Prajnāpāramitās and Nāgārjuna I did not tell a word to Mr. Leadbeater in outlining the case when submitting it to him. This casual investigation, besides, was only one of many similar ones which I have seen Mr. Leadbeater undertake in a like way. Let us admit, to say the least of it, that the story, taken as a mere concoction, is a clever improvisation for one not consulting a single book at the time, and without any special knowledge of Oriental languages and the more technical literature about them. Let us admit again that the instantaneous use of the imagination in the manufacture of such a consistent story, or such use of the dramatic powers of the sub-conscious self, would be – if anyone wishes to ascribe the tale to their action – of a nature remarkable enough to merit some attention and to demand some explanation.
We hope that the above narrative, quite apart from its interest to Theosophists, may serve a useful end in offering a remarkable ‘case’ for those interested in the whole problem of clairvoyance, or of the Theosophical doctrine of the ākāshic records. It is a typical little case, perhaps not rich enough in details and data to furnish sufficient materials for scientific study and analysis to reach final conclusions, yet certainly sufficient as a starting point for such study. There must be several people with the abilities of a Flournoy or an Lutoslawski, to mention widely divergent temperaments, who, in combination with Sanskrit, Tibetan and Chinese scholars, might contribute a most instructive discussion of this report. It seems to me that their labors would not be uselessly employed on it. There are great difficulties still to be explained, as for instance, the utterly Buddhistic nature of our leaf in connection with its alleged pre-Buddhistic origin, but all the more welcome would be all additional information which would enable us to understand all this – in whatever direction that explanation might eventually prove to lie.
1. The initial letter a does not occur on the leaf, so we cannot compare its form with the variety designated by L. D. Barnett in the J. R. A. S. [Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society], 1903, p. 111, as characteristic of Tibetan paleography.
2. ‘one who wanders’. [PO]
3. Though the accompanying letter was destroyed, happily the cover in which the Manuscript was sent was kept, which enables us to fix the date given.
4. For some literature on the subject see Jäschke ‘Tibetan Grammar’ (1883) § 34, and Dictionaries (1871 or 1881) s. v. da.; Csoma de Körös ‘Grammar of the Tibetan Language’ (1834), p. 11; Schmidt ‘Grammatik der Tibetischen Sprache’ (1839), p. 20, 21; Sarat Chandra Dās ‘Tibetan-English Dictionary’ (1902) s. v. da-drag; L. D. Barnett, J.R.A.S., 1903, p. 109 and p. 821; W. W. Rockhill, J.R.A.S., 1903, p. 572; L. A. Waddell, J.R.A.S., 1909, p. 923 (especially p. 942) and compare also p. 69; S. W. Bushell, J.R.A.S., 1880, p. 435 (especially plates after p. 534; the subjoined ya seems to be there, but the rubbing is very imperfect); M. A. Stein ‘Preliminary Report, etc., in Chinese Turkestan’ (1901) last plate and p. 57. From Laufer’s ‘Studien zur Sprachwissenchaft der Tibeter Zamatog’ in the Sitzungsberichte der philos.-philol. u. d. hist. Classe der k. b. Ak. d. Wissensch. zu München 1898), p. 519, we must conclude, ex omisione, that the Tibetan Grammar Zamatog, written in about 1500 A.D., no longer knows the da-drag, whereas Thonmi-sambhota’s grammar (about 625 A.D.) treats of it, according to A.H. Francke in the J.&P.A.S.B., 1910, p. 410. Whilst correcting the proofs of this article the October numbers of the J.R.A.S., for 1910, have come to hand, in which see L. A. Waddell, p. 1247 and especially p. 1250 and 1251. In this article the da-drag is proven to have been employed as late as about 840 A.D.
5.I will not enter into any technical discussion about the peculiarities of the Manuscript, if any such exist. That may be referred to more learned heads. Let me however note one point, the occurrence of the curious term rang-byang-chhub in the series srotāpatti, etc., after arhat, which term Chandra Dās in his dictionary (1166 b.) gives as the equivalent of rang-sangs-rgyas or pratyekabuddha. I may also add that the use of the da-drag does not tally with Barnett’s analysis of it in the Eudere fragments, J.R.A.S., 1903, pp. 110, 111.
6.The above according to Csoma de Körös-Leon Feer in the ‘Anales du Museé Guimet’, Vol. II, p. 199. It should be remarked that whilst these authors give the 25,000 shloka recension as contained in three volumes, both the catalogue of the R.A.S.B. (‘A nominal list of Tibetan Manuscripts and xylographs’, etc., by P. Ghosha, p. 4, 5) and of the St. Petersburg Academy (I. J. Schmidt and O. Böhtlingk ‘Verzeichniss der Tibetischen Handschriften und Holzdrucke’, etc. , Nos. 187-190) indicate only editions in four volumes.
7. It is curious that during all the twelve years that this publication has been in progress no one concerned has noticed that on the outer titles from the beginning till end stong phrag brgyad pa has been printed and on the inner and chapter titles stong phrag brgya pa. Jäschke has a clerical error in his London (1881) dictionary and gives stong phrag as ‘ten thousand’; his Gnadau (1871) dictionary is correct on this point.
8. Bunyiu Nanjio ‘Catalogue, etc., of the Chinese Buddhist Tripitaka’, Oxford, 1883, col.4.
9. kh=Greek chi; ië as in French bière.
10. dzju as in English jujube.
11. Something between thirpa (ir an in English thirst), thupha or thirpo (short o).
12. Bat or pat.
13. Hrang very guttural in its initials and the a sound very short.
14. Phota or phoda.
15. Something between chen, short chan or chin.
16. “That is the Noble One, the Saintly One, the perfectly Enlightened One, filled with Wisdom and Virtue, the Welcome One, whose look penetrates the worlds”, etc. See Bhikkhu Nānatiloka ‘Die Reden des Buddha’, Erster Band, Einer-Buch, Leipzig, [1910?], p. 57. The formula does not seem to occur in the written cannon of Ceylon, but to be in current use among the Buddhist population.
17. A Schiefner ‘Wassiljew’s Vorrede, etc, zu Tārānātha’s Geschichte des Buddhismus in Indien’, St. Petersburg, 1869, p. 29.
18. See about Nāgārjuna: Albert Grünwedel ‘Mythologie des Buddhismus in Tibet und der Mongolei’, Leipzig, 1900, p. 29; L. A. Waddell ‘The Buddhism of Tibet’, London, 1895, p. 10; W. Wassiljew ‘Der Buddhismus’, St. Petersburg, 1860, p. 232, also translated into English in ‘The Indian Antiquary’, Vol. IV, Bombay, 1875, p. 141. A list of literature on Nāgārjuna in Grünwedel’s work, note 31, p. 203.
19. J. & P. A. S. B., Vol. VI, 1910, p. 309 and 426.
20. Wassiljew ‘Der Buddhismus’ and ‘Indian Antiquary’. See note to previous paragraph. The English translation is defective.
21. ‘The Buddhism of Tibet’, p. 11.
22. Rājendralāla Mitra ‘Ashtasahasrika’ (Biblioteca Indica), Calcuta, 1888, p. xiv, xv.