INTRODUCTORY NOTE TO “RAHATSHIP”
[The Theosophist, Vol. I, No. 11, August, 1880, p. 289]
[A series of extracts on Rahatship, gleaned from various Buddhist Scriptures, is introduced by H. P. B. with the following remarks:]
It highly gratified our Delegates to Ceylon to find that not only every educated priest and layman, but the uneducated people of that Island also, knew the possibility of man’s acquiring the exalted psychical powers of adeptship, and the fact that they had often been acquired. At Bentota we were taken to a temple where a community of 500 of these Rahats, or adepts, had formerly resided. Nay, we even met those who had quite recently encountered such holy men; and a certain eminent priest, who joined our Society, was shortly after permitted to see and exchange some of our signs of recognition with one. It is true that, as in India and Egypt, there is a prevalent idea that the term for the manifestation of the highest grades of rahatship (Rahat or Arahat is the Pali equivalent of the Sanskrit Rishi—one who has developed his psychical powers to their fullest extent) has expired, but this comes from a mistaken notion that Buddha himself had limited the period of such development to one millennium after his death. To set this matter at rest we here give a translation by Mr. Frederic Dias, Pandit of the Galle Theosophical Society, of passages which may be regarded as absolutely authoritative. They were kindly collected for us by the chief assistant priest of the Paramananda Vihara, at Galle.