FOOTNOTES TO “THE SWAMI OF ALMORA TO HIS OPPONENTS”
[The Theosophist, Vol. IV, No. 10, July, 1883, pp. 246-48]
[This is the article which H. P. B. refers to in the beginning of her own article “The Swami of Almora” which is published above. She appends a number of footnotes to various statements by the Swami. The Swami writes; “In some of the former
numbers of The Theosophist the word laya was explained by you as merging, and in this number you give another meaning to it.” H. P. B. replies:]
No “merging” or absorption can take place without dissolution, and an absolute annihilation of the previous form. The lump of sugar thrown into a cup of liquid must be dissolved and its form annihilated before it can be said to have been absorbed by, and in, the liquid. It is a correlation like any other in chemistry. Yet indestructible matter can as in the case of sugar, or any other chemical element, be recalled to life and even to its previous form. The molecule that cannot be divided by any physical means is divided by the universal solvent and resolved into something else. Hence—it is, for the time being, at least, annihilated in its form. This is simply a war on words.
[“It is odd that our phrase ‘present developed form’ has cost you more than a column to comment on it.” The comment, however, was from the pen of T. Subba Row. To this H. P. B. replies:]
It is still odder that a few footnotes should have cost the venerable Paramahansa over 15 columns of ill disguised abuse, out of which number three or four columns are given. That which was suppressed may be judged by what remains.
[“But, perhaps, nominal yogis, who are disturbed in head and heart, and cannot tranquilize and compose themselves for Nirvikalpa ecstasy, will not be able to comprehend us, nor also those who confound Prakriti with Purusha, or matter with spirit.”]
Surely our respected correspondent cannot mean to convey the idea that in penning this answer he had “composed” himself into the state of Nirvikalpa; unless we take Monier Williams’ definition of the term and bear in mind that it is a state “destitute of all reflection” (See Indian Wisdom, p. 122, footnote2).
To this kind thrust we answer that we have never confounded Prakriti with Purusha any more than we have confused the North with the South Pole. As both Poles belong to the same and one earth, so spirit and matter,
MAHATMA “M…………………….......” (MORYA)
From a Drawing presented to my father.
The original bears the following:— “To Rama B. Yogi, my faithful~~~~~ (word undecipherable) in commemoration of the event of 5th, 6th, and 7th October, 1882, in the jungles of Sikkim.”
S. Râmaswamier, a Probationary Chela of Master M., went to Sikkim in October, 1882, and met the Master who gave him the likeness reproduced herewith. It is taken from a pamphlet by K. R. Sitaraman, Râmaswamier’s son, entitled Isis FURTHER Unveiled, Madras, 1894. We include the caption as it appears in the pamphlet. It is not known what has become of the original drawing, or the way it was actually produced.
Consult the Appendix for biographical data about S. Râmaswamier.
DE ROBIGNE MORTIMER BENNETT
(Consult Appendix for comprehensive biographical sketch.)
or Purusha and Prakriti are the two ends that lose themselves in the eternity of unmanifested and the cycles of manifested matter. But like some of our distinguished Western metaphysicians, our opponent seems to regard matter and energy as two distinct things, whereas the Esoteric doctrine recognizes but one substratum for everything visible as in visible—“Purush-Prakriti” and vice versa. Moreover, we may remind the good Swami, that one need not be a yogi to be a good occultist, nor are there many yogis in India who know anything of real occult sciences.
[“Now according to our knowledge the inner man means the double, i.e., the Taijasa, Prajña being the original or first, and the Annamaya or the Viśva, the third.”]
In such case, our respected critic ought to criticize and correct Professor Monier Williams and other Sanskritists, who regard Anna-Maya as the “covering supported by food, i.e., the corporeal form or gross body” calling it the fourth, while we name it as the first sheath or Kośa. (See page 123 of Indian Wisdom.)
[“To this third, we applied the term treble, and we are justified in doing so, in the same way as you apply double to the Taijasa—and we do not see any harm in taking the gross one as third; but those who are fond of absurdities will not understand our ideas.”]
We leave it to our readers to judge which is the most absurd—to consider our physical body as the first, or to call it, as the Swami does the treble or the third; though of course there is “no harm” in either.
[“Why, because their own absurdity will be exposed. We beg your pardon for this outspokenness.”]
We willingly forgive the impolite remark under its garb of “outspokenness.” We beg our respected correspondent to bear in mind though that it is one thing to be “outspoken,” and quite another one to be rude.
[“How can you, being a practical theosophist, say carelessly that, a mortal wound may be inflicted upon the inner man, etc., etc., when in reality the outer one was the victim. You evade our question in an offhand manner by saying that the
question is not whether the double murdered the double or treble.* Now we particularly begged you to remove our doubts by establishing this fact scientifically.”]
It is precisely because we claim to know something of “practical” Occultism in addition to being a Theosophist that we answer without in the least “evading the question” that a mortal wound may be inflicted “not only upon, but also by one” inner man upon another. This is the A.B.C. of esoteric mesmerism. The wound is inflicted by neither a real dagger nor a hand of flesh, bones, and blood, but simply by—WILL. It is the intense will of the “Gospoja” that guided the astral or inner body, the Mayavi-rupa of Frozya. It is the passively obedient action of the latter’s “double” that scanning space and material obstacles, followed the “trail” of, and found, the real murderers. It is again that WILL shaped by the incessant thought of the revenger, that inflicted the internal wounds which though unable to kill or even to hurt the inner man, yet by reaction of the interior physical body proved mortal to the latter. If the fluid of the mesmerizer can cure, it can also kill. And now we have “established the fact as scientifically”—as science, which generally disbelieves in and rejects such mesmeric phenomena, will permit. For those who believe in, and know something of, mesmerism, this will be plain. As to those who deny it the explanation will appear to them as absurd as any other psychological claim: as much so as the claims of Yogism with its beatitudes of Samadhi and other states, for the matter of that.
[“Is spirit and matter the same thing? . . . Unless Prakriti be the same with spirit, how can the former be eternal, since two eternals cannot exist at the same time, and the belief in two eternals is against the fundamental truths of the Advaita Philosophy . . . Matter has attributes . . . the spirit has none. Matter
* [This statement, and some of H. P. B.’s remarks following it, have reference to H. P. B.’s story entitled “Can the ‘Double’ Murder?” which was republished in The Theosophist, Vol. IV, January, 1883, pp. 99-101. Its original place of publication, however, was The Sun, New York, December 26, 1875, and it may be found in Vol. I, pp. 163 ff. of the present Series.—Compiler.]
is dead (jad), spirit is living (chaitanya); matter is temporary and subject to change, and spirit is eternal; matter is partial, and spirit is universal.”]
This is precisely the question we have been asking; and also the reason why, knowing that matter is indestructible, as also spirit or rather energy—we say with all the esoteric Advaitees that matter and spirit are ONE. While we mean cosmic indestructible matter, the Swami speaks of objective and differentiated matter.
[“Why do you not call a piece of wood or stone spirit?”]
Because it is not usual to call them by such a name. Nevertheless, we maintain that there is in a piece of wood or a stone as much of latent spirit or life as there is in a week-old human foetus.
[“If matter is merely a manifestation of spirit, why call it by the false name of matter instead of its own name spirit?”]
For the same good reason that we call a chair by its “false” name of chair instead of calling it by that of the “oak” or any other wood of which it was made.
[“The esteemed Editor of The Theosophist seems to follow the doctrine of Madhyamika, i.e., middle class Buddhists . . .”]
The “esteemed Editor” follows but the doctrines of Esoteric Buddhism, which are nearly identical with those of the esoteric Advaitees—the true followers of Sankaracharya.
[“The Buddhas believe that pure Nirvana alone exists. Nirvana is a transcendental condition. It is infinitude. It is not subject to being acted upon . . . Besides the Nirvana, karma or activity is also eternal.”]
And if “activity is also eternal,” how, then, can our philosophical antagonist maintain that matter is not so? Can activity (in the usual sense of the word), whether physical or mental, manifest itself or exist without, or outside of, matter, or to be plainer—outside of any one of the seven states? And how about his contradicting himself? “Activity also eternal.” Then there are after all two eternals; how? And he has just said that “two eternals cannot exist at the same time.”
[“Aided by ignorance, activity produces five elements and develops worldliness . . . virtue and contemplation destroy the power of ignorance. Activity thus becomes impotent and Nirvana is next attained to.”]
We beg to draw our correspondent’s attention to the fact that he is again contradicting himself. Or is it the “Buddhas”? But a few lines above he declares “activity . . . eternal,” and now he makes it “impotent”—in other words, kills and annihilates that which is eternal!
[“Purusha, according to Upanishads, is Śvayam-Prakaśa, i.e., self-manifesting; therefore cannot be dependent on Prakriti only, for its manifestation. No Advaitee will take Brahman with Prakriti or gun or duality Their Brahman is Purusha beyond the Prakriti, or in other words, Akshara. Latent spirit is never referred to as Maha-Iśvara. Please read the verse quoted below, which distinctly states that Maha-Iśvara is the spirit beyond Prakriti when the latter is laya-ed.”]
We beg to be explained the hidden meaning of this really incomprehensible sentence. “Latent spirit is never referred to as Maha-Iśvara” (a term we, at any rate, never used), while the Sanskrit verse “states that Maha-Iśvara is the spirit beyond Prakriti, when the latter is laya-ed.” Now does the learned Swami mean to say that the spirit beyond differentiated matter is active? It cannot mean anything else, for otherwise the two assumptions would contradict each other most absurdly and would be suicidal; and if he does mean that which he says, viz., that Maha-Iśvara (if the latter is identified here with Parabrahm), the spirit beyond Prakriti becomes active since it is called Maha-Iśvara, which it would not be were it latent—then, we are sorry to say to the learned Paramahansa that he does not know what he is talking about. He is no Esoteric Advaitee and—we close the discussion as becoming quite useless.
[“As the subject is very serious and important, we entreat you to discuss the point calmly and dispassionately; without this mood of mind, one cannot penetrate into the esoteric philosophy of India. Your present opinions are not esoteric, they are rather esoteric.”]
Editor’s Note.—We sincerely regret that such should be the opinion of the Swami of Almora. But since we know
neither himself, nor the religion or school of philosophy he belongs to, we may perhaps repeat with him: “It does not, however, matter much” whether he agrees with us or not for practical (esoteric and initiated) Vedantists have found our opinions correct and in perfect harmony with their own. There are nearly as many interpretations of the esoteric meaning of certain words we have to use as there are yogis and sannyasis of various sects in India. A Viśishtadvaita yogi will contend the correctness of the meaning as given by an Advaitee-ascetic, and a devotee of Chaitanya or a Bhakti-yogi will never accept the interpretation of the Vedas or Bhagavadgita made by a Brahmo or an Arya. Thus truth is everywhere and may be said to be nowhere. For us it is absolutely and solely in the Arhat esoteric doctrines; and—we remain firm in our conviction, all our opponents being quite as free as ourselves to adhere by their own views. We have met in the N. W. P. with an erudite Pundit, a renowned Sanskritist, the most learned authority with, and at the head of the Vaishnavas, and recognized as such by many others; and he wanted us to believe that the culmination of “Raj-yoga” was the practical and absolute powers it conferred upon the Raj-yogi over all the female sex in creation!! Shall we believe every exponent of the Vedas, the Sastri of every sect, only because he may be an authority to those who belong to the same denomination with him, or shall we make a judicious selection, following but the dictates of our reason, which tells us that he is most right and nearer to truth, who diverges the less from logic and—Science? The occult philosophy we study uses precisely that method of investigation which is termed by Spinoza the “scientific method.” It starts from, and proceeds only on “principles clearly defined and accurately known,” and is therefore “the only one” which can lead to true knowledge. Therefore, by this philosophy, and no other shall we abide. And now we must leave the venerable Swami and his views to the dissecting knife of Mr. T. Subba Row.