OLD DIARY LEAVES, First Series (1874-78)
by Henry Steel Olcott
DEFINITION OF TERMS
THEN how are we to regard the authorship of Isis Unveiled, and how H. P. B.? As to the former, it is unquestionably a collaborated work, the production of several distinct writers and not that of H. P. B. alone. My personal observations upon this point are fully borne out by what she herself admits in her explanatory letters to her family, as quoted by Mr. Sinnett, for she says that all the portions which deal with subjects previously unfamiliar to her were either dictated to her by some master or written by her higher self through the brain and hand of her physical body. The question is highly complex, and the exact truth will never be known as to the share which each of the participants had in it. The personality of H. P. B. was the mould in which all the matter was cast, and which, therefore, controlled its form, colouring, and expression, so to say, by its own idiosyncracies, mental as well as physical. For, just as the
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successive occupiers of the H. P. B. body only modified its habitual handwriting, but did not write their own,1 so in using the H. P. B. brain, they were forced to allow it to colour their thoughts and arrange their words after a fixed personal fashion peculiar to it. Like as the daylight passing through cathedral windows becomes coloured to the tints of the stained glass, so the thoughts transmitted by them through H. P. B.’s peculiar brain would have to be modified into the literary style and habits of expression to which it had been by her developed. And even common sense teaches us that the closer the natural identity between the possessing intelligence and the
1 A very curious fact is to be noticed in this connection, viz., that the “Mahâtmâ M.’s” handwriting, which was so carefully scrutinised by the S.P.R., their experts and agents, and said to resemble that of H. P. B., was a coarse, rough script, something like a collection of chopped roots and brush-wood, while the handwriting of the same personage in the Isis MS. and in the notes he wrote me was totally different. It was a small, fine script, such as a lady might have written, and while generally resembling H. P. B.’s own handwriting, yet differing from it so as to present an appearance of distinct individuality, which enabled me to recognise it as that personage’s MS. whenever I saw it. I do not pretend to account for this fact, I only state it as something which must be recorded. It should be considered hereafter by whatever psychological experimentalist may be studying the general phenomenon of psychic writing through mediums, or intermediaries of a similar kind, whether by precipitation, control of the hand, or occupancy of the body. I think that such an inquiry will result in proving that such writing, when as closely analysed as were the alleged Mahâtmâ’s writings by the S.P.R., always resembles that of the intermediary to a greater or lesser extent, and without carrying the implication of bad faith on his or her part. Ignorance, or wilful disregard of this fact, caused the S.P.R.’s indictment against H. P. B. to lose almost all its point. The late W. Stainton Moses, M.A. (Oxon.), quotes in his work on Psychography, p. 125,
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intellectual and moral personality controlled, the easier should be the control, the more fluent the composition, the less involved the style. In point of fact what I noticed was this, that at times when the physical H.P.B. was in a state of supreme irascibility, the body was rarely occupied save by the Master whose own pupil and spiritual ward she was, and whose iron will was even stronger than her own; the gentler philosophers keeping aloof. Naturally, I asked why a permanent control was not put upon her fiery temper, and why she should not always be modified into the quiet, self-centred sage that she became under certain obsessions. The answer was that
from a letter to him from Mr. W. H. Harrison, formerly editor of The Spiritualist, and a very experienced observer of psychical phenomena, the following remarks about the messages through Dr. Slade: “I noticed that they were nearly always in the handwriting of the medium; and this, which, to an ignorant person, would have been indicative of imposture, was in favour of the genuineness of the phenomena to an expert. On leaving the room after the séance, I had a short talk with Mr. Simmons, and without telling him what I knew, but merely to test his integrity, I asked whether the handwriting on the slates bore any resemblance to that of Dr. Slade. Without hesitation, he replied that there was usually a strong resemblance. This shows the truthfulness and absence of exaggeration incidental to the statements of Mr. Simmons.” Mr. Harrison adds that “before Dr. Slade came to London, years of observation at numerous séances had proved to me that the materialised hands common at séances were most frequently the duplicates of those of the medium, and produced nearly the same handwriting.” And yet, in the presence of Slade, and another psychic, named Watkins, alleged “spirit messages” were written in some twenty different languages, none of which were known to the mediums nor written by them in the usual way of writing, but all either by precipitation or the manipulation of a crumb of pencil or crayon laid on a slate, which their hands did not touch.
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such a course would inevitably lead to her death from apoplexy; the body was vitalised by a fiery and imperious spirit, one which had from childhood brooked no restraint, and if vent were not allowed for the excessive corporeal energy, the result must be fatal. I was told to look into the history of her kinsfolk, the Russian Dolgoroukis, and I would understand what was meant. I did so and found that this princely and warlike family, tracing back to Rurik (ninth century A.D.), had been always distinguished by extreme courage, a daring equal to every emergency, a passionate love of personal independence, and a fearlessness of consequences in the carrying out of its wishes. Prince Yakob, a Senator of Peter the Great, was a type of the family character. Disliking an imperial ukase, he tore it to pieces in full council of the Senate, and when the Tsar threatened to kill him, he replied: “You have but to imitate Alexander, and you will find a Clitus in me.” (Am. Encyc., VI, 551.) This was H. P. B.’s own character to the life, and she more than once told me that she would not be controlled by any power on earth or out of it. The only persons she actually reverenced were the Masters, yet even towards them, she was occasionally so combative that, as above said, in certain of her moods the gentler ones could not, or did not approach her. To get herself into the frame of mind when she could have open intercourse with them had—as she had pathetically assured me—cost her years of the most desperate self-restraint. I doubt if any person
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had ever entered the Path against greater obstacles or with more self-suppression.
Of course, a brain so liable to disturbance was not the best adapted to the supremely delicate business of the mission she had taken upon herself; but the Masters told me it was far and away the best now available, and they must get all they could out of it. She was to them loyalty and devotion personified, and ready to dare and suffer all for the sake of the Cause. Gifted beyond all other persons of her generation with innate psychical powers, and fired with an enthusiasm that ran into fanaticism, she supplied the element of fixity of purpose, which, conjoined with a phenomenal degree of bodily endurance, made her a most powerful, if not a very docile and equable agent. With less turbulence of spirit she would, probably, have turned out less faulty literary work, but instead of lasting seventeen years under the strain, she would, doubtless, have faded out of the body ten years earlier and her later writings have been lost to the world.
The fact that the psychic’s personality distinctly modifies the extraneous writing that is done through her agency or intermediation, gives us, it seems to me, a test by which to judge of the genuineness of any communications alleged to have come from Mahâtmâs “M.” or “K. H.” since H. P. B.’s death. While she was alive, their communications always, wherever received or by whomsoever apparently written, resembled her own handwriting to some extent. This is as true of the
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letters which I phenomenally received on a steamer on the high seas and in railway carriages, as of those which dropped out of space, or otherwise phenomenally reached the hands of Mr. Sinnett, Mr. Hume, and other favoured correspondents of our Eastern teachers. For, wherever she might be, she was the vortex-ring through which they had to work with us in the evolution of our galaxy out of the nebula of modern thought. It did not matter at all whether she were with them in Tibet, or with me in New York, or with Mr. Sinnett at Simla: their co-operative affinity was psychical, hence as unaffected as thought itself, by questions of time and space. We have seen in the phenomenon of letters which were arrested in postal transit, written in, and made to reach me at Philadelphia instead of New York, a striking illustration of this principle in psycho-dynamics (Cf. Chapter II). Bearing this in mind, the important de-duction follows that the probabilities are as an hundred to one that any written communication alleged to be from either of the Masters and received since H.P.B.’s death is open to suspicion if the handwriting is the same as it used to be before that event. 1 Grant the premise, and the conclusion is inevitable. If all Mahâtmâ MSS. In her time had to, and did, resemble in some degree her
1This Chapter was originally published in July, 1893. My deduction has been objected to by some for whose judgment I have great respect. It may be that I am wrong, but at least I can say that I have seen no proofs to the contrary, even up to the present time (August, 1895). The specimens of Mahatma writing that have come to my notice since 1891 are, I fear, fraudulent imitations.
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own handwriting because they were transmitted through her psychical agency, then, of course, none coming to us since May, 1891, should resemble it or would be at all likely to, her agency having ceased and her modifying action upon it having been destroyed. Such writings should now resemble the manuscript of the new agent or agents. Of course, I pre-suppose that the evidence for the genuineness of the writing is satisfactory, as it was in the case of H. P. B., whose transmitted communications were often done by precipitation in one’s presence, or made to come inside sealed covers, which she had not handled, or dropped out of space before one’s eyes, or were otherwise phenomenally produced. The precipitated writings of Slade, Watkins, and various other mediums come under the same category. Neither a resemblance of a Master’s handwriting, nor the fact that there was more or less likeness to that of the supposed intermediary, would be the least evidence, primâ facie, of genuineness; quite the contrary. Unless every reasonable suspicion of bad faith had been eliminated, the mystical message would not be worth the paper it was written upon, nor the time required to read it. Even when the genuineness is beyond doubt, psychical messages are often commonplace and absolutely valueless, save as psychical facts. I, for one, can say that since 1853, when I first knew of these phenomena, I never attached the least importance to any psychical teaching on account of its reputed authorship, its only value being its subject-matter. I strongly advise all my readers
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to follow the same rule if they would be on the safe side: better far an enlightened scepticism than the most lauded credulity. For remember that probably no one has ever received a line in English from a Master in his own normal handwriting and written by him in the usual way, unless possibly we except the note which K. H. formed in my own hand when he visited me in his physical body, one night in my tent at Lahore, in 1883. I should not care to dogmatise even about that, as I did not see him write it, and he may have created the letter then and there through the H. P. B. aura that went everywhere with me. Besides K. H. and the old Platonist above mentioned, none of the Masters had learnt to write English, and when they did write it, they had to resort to the same abnormal method as that used by H. P. B. at Benares to write the Hindî note, in Devanâgari characters, to Swami Dayânand Saraswati, above alluded to. In this connection the two completely dissimilar handwritings of Mahâtmâ M. in the Isis MSS. of 1875-7 and the Indian letters to sundry persons after 1879, must be kept in mind. When H. P. B. wrote to the Masters, or they to her, on business that was not to be communicated to third parties, it was in an archaic language, said to be “Senzar,” which resembles Tibetan, and which she wrote as fluently as she did Russian, French, or English. In fact, I have preserved a note I received from one of the Masters while in New York, along the top of which is written, in pure Tibetan characters in a sort of gold ink, the word “Sems dpah.” I had
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shown it to no one all these years, until quite recently at Calcutta, when Pandit Sarat Chandra Das, C.I.E., the Tibetan explorer and scholar, translated it for me as meaning “Of powerful heart”—an honorific title given in Tibet to a Bodhisattva.
There,was another and supreme reason why the Masters dare not control and compel H.P.B.’s innate character to be softened and refined into the higher ideal of a benevolent and gentle Sage independently of her own volition. To do so would have been an unlawful interference with her personal Karma—as I may now express it. Like every other human being, she represented, as she then was, a certain personal equation, the fruit of a certain evolutionary progress of her entity. It was its Karma to have been born this time in just such a tumultuous female body and to have the chances thus offered to gain spiritual progress by a life-long combat against its hereditary passions. To have interfered with that by benumbing the violent temper and suppressing the other personal defects of character, would have been a grievous wrong to her without hastening her evolution one whit: it would have been something like the keeping of a hypnotic sensitive perpetually under the hypnotiser’s will, or an invalid permanently stupefied by a narcotic. There were intervals when her body was not occupied by the writing Mahâtmâs, nor her mind absorbed in taking down what was dictated to her: at least I assume it to be so, although I have sometimes been even tempted to suspect that none of us, her colleagues, ever knew the
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normal H. P. B. at all, but that we just dealt with an artificial animated body, a sort of perpetual psychical mystery, from which the proper jiva was killed out at the battle of Mentana, when she received those five wounds and was picked out of a ditch for dead. There is nothing intrinsically impossible in this theory; since we have the historical fact that the normal personality of the girl Mary Reynolds was thrust aside or obliterated for the space of forty-two years, while her body was occupied, energised and controlled by another personality, which had no knowledge of the eighteen years’ experiences and reminiscences of the normal self prior to this replacement. As regards H. P. B., I do not assert but only theorise, for I dare not say positively who this marvel of a woman, or, as M.deBuffon would have classified her, this homo duplex, was. She was such a bundle of contradictions, so utterly incapable of being classified like any of us common folk, that as a conscientious man I shrink from anything like dogmatic assertion. Whatever she may have said to myself or anybody else, counts with me for very, very little, for having lived and travelled with her so long, and been present at so very many of her interviews with third parties, I have heard her tell the most conflicting stories about herself. To have been open and communicative would have been to betray the residences and personalities of her Teachers to that multitude of self-seekers whose egotistic importunities have ever driven the would-be Yogi to the seclusion of the cave or forest. She chose as the easiest way out of
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the difficulty to contradict herself and throw the minds of her friends into confusion. How easy it would have been for her, for example, to have told Mr. Sinnett that, when trying to enter Tibet in 1854, via Bhutan or Nepâl, she was turned back by Capt. (now Maj-Genl.) Murray, the military commandant of that part of the frontier, and kept in his house in his wife’s company a whole month. Yet she never did, nor did any of her friends ever hear of the circumstance until Mr. Edge and I got the story from Major-General Murray himself, on the 3rd March last, in the train between Nalhati and Calcutta, and I had printed it. So as to her age, she told all sorts of stories, making herself twenty, forty, even sixty and seventy years older than she really was. We have in our scrap-books certain of these tales, reported by successive interviewers and correspondents to their journals, after personal interviews with her, and on sundry occasions when I was present myself. 1 She said to me in excuse that the Somebodies inside her body at these various times were of these various ages, and hence no real falsehood was told, although the auditor saw only the H.P.B. shell and thought what was said referred only to that!
1Cf. an interviewer’s report in the Hartford Daily Times, December 2, 1878. She had been making herself out a sort of Methusaleh, and the correspondent writes: “Very, very old? Impossible. And yet she declares it is so; sometimes indignantly, sometimes with a certain pride, sometimes with indifference or impatience. ‘I came of a very long-lived race. All my people grow to be very old. . . . You doubt my age? I can show you my passports, my documents, my letters for years back. I can prove it by a thousand things.’ ” It
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I have used the word “obsession” above, but am well aware of its wretched insufficiency in this case. Both “obsession” and “possession” have been made to signify the troubling of a living person by evil spirits or demons: an obsessed person is one vexed or besieged, a possessed person one who is possessed, controlled, over-shadowed, or occupied by them. Yet what other term is available in English? Why did not the early Fathers invent a more decent word to signify the possession, control, occupancy, or overshadowing of a person by good spirits than that of “filling,” or even let obession and possession stand for that also? “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with our tongues, as the spirit gave them utterance.” But this will not help us unless we ignore the circumstance that H. P. B.’s body became, at times, occupied by other entities—how far let the following anecdote suggest. She and I were in our literary workroom in New York one summer day after dinner. It was early twilight, and the gas had not been lighted. She sat over by the South front window, I stood on the rung before the mantle-piece, thinking. I heard her say
was a large way she had of knocking the numerals about! Like that of the Sikh Akali (vide Mr. Maclagan’s Punjab Census Report of 1891) who “dreams of armies and thinks in lakhs;”—(a lakh is 100,000). “If he wishes to imply that five Akalis are present, he will say that five lakhs are before you.”
The Phrenological Journal for March, 1878, contains her portrait and character-sketch. The writer says: “In the course of her long life--for she is upward of eighty years old—etc.” I myself heard her tell this yarn to the writer of the article.
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“Look and learn”; and glancing that way, saw a mist rising from her head and shoulders. Presently it defined itself into the likeness of one of the Mahâtmâs, the one who, latter, gave me the historical turban, but the astral double of which he now wore on his mist-born head. Absorbed in watching the phenomenon, I stood silent and motionless. The shadowy shape only formed for itself the upper half of the torso, and then faded away and was gone; whether re-absorbed into H. P. B.’s body or not, I do not know. She sat statue-like for two or three minutes, after which she sighed, came to herself, and asked me if I had seen anything. When I asked her to explain the phenomenon she refused, saying that it was for me to develop my intuition so as to understand the phenomena of the world I lived in. All she could do was to help in showing me things and let me make what I could of them.
Numerous witnesses can testify to another phenomenon which may or may not go towards proving that other entities were sometimes occupying the H. P. B. body. On five different occasions—once to please Miss Emily Kislingbury, and once my sister, Mrs. Mitchell, I remember—she gathered up a lock of her fine, wavy auburn hair, and either pulled it out by the roots or cut it off with scissors, and gave it to one of us. But the lock would be coarse, jet black, straight and without the least curliness or waviness in it; in other words, Hindu or other Asiatic human hair, and not in the least like her own flossy, baby-like, light-brown locks. My Diary for
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1878 shows that other two occasions were on July 9th, when she did the thing for Hon. J.L. O’Sullivan, ex-U.S. Minister to Portugal, and on November 19th, when she did it for Miss Rosa Bates in the presence of six other witnesses besides Miss Bates and H.P.B. and myself. The enemy may suggest that this was but a trick of simple “palming,” but that is met by the statement that in the case of the lock given to Miss Kislingbury or my sister—I forget which—the recipient was allowed to take the scissors and cut out the lock herself. I have two locks taken from her head, both black as jet and far coarser than hers, but one distinctly coarser than the other. The former is Egyptian, and the latter Hindu hair.
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What better explanation of this phenomenon is there than that of supposing that the men to whom these black locks had belonged were actually occupying the mâyâvic H. P. B. body when they were removed from the head? But to return to our philological difficulty.
The word epistasis will not do for us; for that means “inspection, superintendence, command, management,” which does not cover the case. Epiphany is not much better, epiphaneia being a shining upon, manifestation, etc., etc. We have no word; yet one is greatly needed at this stage of our psychical research, and for it we must go to the East.
This occupancy by living persons of another living person’s body, though so outside our Western experience that we have no word for it is, like all else in psychological science, known and defined in India. Âvesa (pronounced Ahveysha) is the act of possessing, i.e., entering and controlling, a human body belonging to a living being (jîva). It is of two kinds: when the Adept’s own amsa (sûkshma sarîra), or astral body, is withdrawn from his own physical body and introduced into the other person’s body, it is then called svarûpâvesa; but when by his mere sankalpa (will-power) he influences, broods over, or controls that other person’s (jîva) body to do that which would otherwise be beyond its power, e.g., to speak an unlearnt foreign tongue, to understand unfamiliar branches of knowledge, to instantly disappear from the sight of bystanders, to transform itself into a terrifying shape, as of a serpent or a ferocious animal,
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etc., then the thing is called saktyâvesa. This gives us all we need, and so, as we took “Epiphany” from the Greek, why should we not all agree to adopt the easy word Âvesa from the Sanskrit, since it is ready to our hand and means the very thing that we, toddling babes in the nursery of adeptship, must have to get on with in our studies? It applies only to the psychical commerce between two living persons or to the overshadowing and inspiration of a living person by a superior spiritual entity, and must not be degraded to signify the occupancy of a medium’s body or its control for the production of phenomena, by a dead man’s soul. That is called grâhana, and the elementary (dead man’s soul) grâham (pronounced grah-hum). The same word is used to express the occupancy of a living body by an elemental, or Nature-spirit. Such occupancy may be (a) spontaneous, i.e., effected by the attraction of the elemental towards a psychic; or (b) compulsory, i.e., compelled by the will of a sorcerer or magician who has learnt the formulas for subjecting an elemental or elementary to his control. I got in Japan a photograph of a bronze group representing Ko-bo-dai-shi, the alleged Adept founder of the Shingon sect, with two little elementals crouched at his feet and awaiting his pleasure. A monk of the Yama-busi sect—that of the wonder-workers of Japan—gave me a scroll wall-painting of the Founder of his sect with attendant elemental servants. This picture now hangs in H.P.B.’s old room in London. She, herself, had also such servants obedient to her.
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There is an old and amusing Indian story of how King Vikramâdity conquered the obstinacy of the Princess Pçsâmadandç who had made a vow to keep silent and marry noboby who could not compel her to answer his questions. The mighty king magician got astride his favourite elementary—not elemental—the Brahmarâkshâs Bhetâla, and made him transport him into the very chamber of the lady. Finding that she would not answer him in the natural way, he made Bhetla obsess all her ladies-in-waiting and set them to praising him, telling him a story, and reproaching their mistress for her silence. Thereupon she sent them out of the room. The Princess then drew a curtain between herself and the king, but the spirit was made to enter the curtain and set it talking. The Princess pushed the curtain aside; whereupon her petticoat took up the conversation, and she cast that aside. Then the robe was made to speak, then the undergarment, then the for-legs of her charpai or lounge; but the stubborn damsel held her tongue. Finally Bhetâla was made to show (materialise) himself as a parrot, was caught by the Princess’s order and given to her, and it straightway went on to tell a story about the Princess being obsessed by Sani, the god of ill Luck. This was too much for her; she flung herself at Vikram’s feet, confessed herself vanquished, and as he did not want her for wife, was given by him in marriage to a suitable Prince. The story is given in Pçsâmadandç Kathai, a Tamil story book.
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The weighty subject of Âvesa is treated of in the Laghu Sabdârtha Sarvasva of Mahâmahopâdhyâya Paravastu Vencatarungâchârya, Vol. I, p. 316, art. Avatâra. All intelligent Western readers of theosophical literature have heard of the Hindu theory of Avatârs—the Avatârs of Vishnu, the visible manifestations of the protecting care of God over erring mankind, the proofs of his desire to keep them walking in the path of religious aspiration. Avatâras are of two kinds: Prâdurbhâva and Âvesa. The act of assuming a body which is not presided over, or rather animated by, a jîva, is called Prâdurbhâva, of which Râma and Krishna are cited as examples. What Âvesa is, has been shown above. We find in Pâncharâtra Pâdmasamhitâ Charyâpada, Chapter XXIV, verses 131-140, full instructions for performing the Âvesa:
“I now tell thee, O Lotus-born, the method by which to enter another’s body (Pindam). . . . The corpse to be occupied should be fresh, pure, of middle age, endued with all good qualities and free from the awful diseases resulting from sin (viz., syphilis, leprosy, etc.) The body should be that of a Brahmin or even of a Kshatriya. It should be laid out in some secluded place (where there is no risk of interruption during the ceremonial process), with its face turned towards the sky and its legs straightened out. Beside its legs, shouldst thou seat thyself in Yogâsana (a posture of yoga), but previously, O four-faced one, shouldst thou with fixed and mental concentration, have long exercised this yoga
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power. The jîva is located in the nâbhichakra (solar plexus), is of itself radiant as the sun and of the form of hamsa (a bird) 1 and it moves along the Idâ and Pingala nâdis (two alleged channels of psychic circulation). Having been concentrated as hamsa (by yoga), it will pass out through the nostrils, and, like a bird, dart through space. Thou shouldst accustom thyself to this exercise, sending out the Prâna to the height of a palm-tree, and causing it to travel a mile, or five miles or more, and then re-attracting it into thy body, which it must re-enter as it left it, through the nostrils, and restore it to its natural centre in the nâbhichakra. This must be practised daily until perfection be reached.”
Then, having acquired the requisite skill, the Yogi may attempt the experiment of psychical transfer and, seated as above described, he will be able to withdraw his Prâna-jiva from his own body, and introduce it into the chosen corpse, by the path of the nostrils, until it reaches the empty solar-plexus, there establishes its residence, reanimates the deceased person, and causes him to be seen as though “risen from the dead.”
1Hamsa is “Soham” inverted, which means “That I am,” referring to Parabrahm. Thus Parabrahm= Jîvâtma=Soham=Hamsa. But at the same time Hamsa being also the name of a divine bird supposed to possess the power of separating milk from water, it is made to esoterically represent Âtmâ. This is what is meant by the text “of the form of the bird Hamsa.” Hamsa is that “silvery spark in the brain,” that starry spark which is “not the soul, but the halo around the soul,” so vividly described by Bulwer Lytton in the XXXI chapter of A Strange Story.
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The story of the resuscitation of the body of the deceased Rajah Amaraka of Amritapura by the Sage Sankarâchârya, given by Mâdhava, one of his biographers, has been very widely read. A résumé of it will be found in the article “Life of Sankarâchârya, etc.,” contributed by Mr. (later Justice) K. T. Telang, on page 89 of the number of the Theosophist for January, 1880. The Sage had pledged himself, if granted one month’s respite, to answer questions propounded to him by the wife of Sage Mandana Misra upon the science of Love, with which he, a celibate from childhood, was totally unacquainted. Journeying with his disciples, he reached the vicinity of Amritapura ard saw the Rajah’s corpse lying at the foot of a tree, surrounded by mourners. This was his chance to acquire the desired knowledge practically, so leaving his body to the care of his disciples, he withdrew from it his prâna-jîva, entered the body of the King, and amid the tumultuous joy of his sub-jects over the supposed resuscitation, went to the capital and for some time lived the usual Zenana life of a sovereign ruler, and finally answered the questions about love. 1 The details need not be given here, my object being merely to use the incident in connection with the problem of H. P. B., as an illustration of the recognised power of Âvesa possessed by a Yogi. Mâdhavâchârya’s Sankaravijaya thus describes it:
“Withdrawing the (Prâna) Vâyu from the extremities of the toes and emerging through the brahmarândhra, the
1Vide “Kâma Sutra.”
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knower of Yoga (Sankara) entered, and, by slow degrees, occupied the whole body of the dead (King) down to its very feet.”
By an interesting coincidence, I had just read this passage when a certain circumstance flashed into my memory, and I turned over my old New York files of letters and memoranda until I had found the following. It occurs in some notes I made at the time, of a conversation between myself and one of the Mahâtmâs, a Hungarian by birth, who, on that evening, occupied H. P. B’s body:
“He shades his eyes and turns down the gas in the standing burner on the table. Ask him why. Says that light is a physical force, and entering the eye of an unoccupied body, encounters—i.e., strikes against, the astral soul of the temporary occupant, gives it a shock and such a push that the occupant might be pushed out. Paralysis of the occupied body is even possible. Extreme caution must be used in entering a body, and one cannot thoroughly fit oneself to it throughout until the automatic movements of the circulation, breathing, etc., adjust themselves to the automatism of the occupier’s own body—with which, however far distant, his projected astral body is most intimately related. I then lit a burner of the chandelier overhead, but the occupier at once held a newspaper so as to shade the crown of the head from the light. Surprised, I asked for an explanation, and was told that it was even more dangerous to have a strong top light strike upon the crown of the head than to have light shine into the eyes.”
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I knew nothing then about the six vital centres (shat chakrams) of the body; nor was I aware that the most important of them, the brahmarândhra, was under the parietal bones; nor that it is the custom in India to, break the skull of the burning corpse at that place to facilitate the withdrawal of the astral body of the deceased: moreover, I had not then read the story of Sankarâchârya’s leaving his own body and entering that of the deceased Rajah by that path of the soul. I simply saw what the Mahâtmâ did, and wondered over his explanation; but now, in the fulness of time, the mystery is cleared up and the cases of New York and Amritapura are mutually related. By the light of the latter and the teachings of Aryan occult science, one can more readily comprehend the mystery of the former. Whereas before all was dark, and we had not even a name at our disposal to explain the fact, we can now see that it is possible for anyone versed in Yoga to occupy the body of another living person, when the astral body of its owner has been withdrawn and the empty house is placed at the disposal of visiting friends. The bearing which this matter has upon the problem of H. P. B. is most evident; as I shall try to show in the next chapter.