OLD DIARY LEAVES, Fourth Series (1887-92)
by Henry Steel Olcott
SCIENTIFIC AND OTHERWISE
WE cross a threshold of time and enter the Society's thirteenth year, which will be found as full of incidents as either of its predecessors. For we have made history rapidly. Not with a blare of trumpets or waving of banners have we moved on, but impelled by a divine force for the arousing of thought and the moulding of opinions, a force as silent as irresistible.
In the January Theosophist of the year 1888 appeared a notable report on certain meteorological observations made in Baroda State according to the system laid down by the ancient Rishis, as found in that classic of Astrology, the Brihat Samhita, which was very important. It was made by that excellent gentleman and staunch Theosophist, Mr. Janardhan Sakharam Gadgil, F.T.S., a graduate of Bombay University, and a Justice of the Baroda High Court, and Rao Sahib Bhogilal Pravalabhadas, Director of Vernacular Education of that State, with the help of Joshi Uttamram Dullabharam and his pupils. Judge Gadgil's object was to test the ancient system of weather forecasts in
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comparison with those made from day to day by the Government Weather Bureau, using the most improved instruments and the accessory of the electric telegraph to gather in the daily minutes of many scattered observers. The results were, on the whole, highly gratifying, and may be tabulated thus:
Rain predictions, exactly fulfilled on the day . . . . . . . . 30
Ditto, but with a shifting of dates . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Days on which rain fell but was not predicted . . . . . . . . 11
Rainfalls when the dates were not accurately determined,
owing to Mr. Gadgil's absence from home . . . . . . . . 7
To understand this, it must be remembered that the Hindu almanac-makers issue their predictions in the previous autumn, and derive them from patient observations of astronomical positions at that time, the results of which stellar aspects are calculated with great accuracy according to a theory quite unknown, I believe, to our Western astronomers and meteorologists. The ancient theory is that clouds are positive and negative, male and female; that the latter become fecundated by conjunction with the former, and that they will shed rain six and a half months later (vide Brihat Samhita, chap. xxi, shloka 7). It is there quaintly affirmed that "if pregnant clouds appear when the moon is in a certain Asterism, the delivery of rain will Occur 195 days after, when the moon will be in the same Asterism”. By close observation, therefore, of the number and places of clouds on the days beginning from the first of the bright half of the lunar month
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Margasirsha (November-December), the Indian almanac-makers safely predict the days and quantities of rain-fall during the next monsoon season, a half-year later. Judge Gadgil printed tables of dates and measured rainfalls which go to support the claim of the Rishi rules to be regarded as strictly scientific. The late Professor Kero Laxman Chhatre, the great Poona astronomer, wrote that the predictions were wonderful in his sight. The facts accumulated prove, in Judge Gadgil's opinion, that "although the sun is the chief cause of the evaporation of water, the moon is the potent factor in causing watery vapor to assume the form of pregnant clouds which, at their maturity, are to fall in the form of rain, and to fructify the earth". 1 He specifies several other points of importance which
1This idea will, of course, be rejected by the average meteorologist without a second thought, yet that does not decide the matter, since the observations of Hindu weather students during: many generations are far more weighty than any crude negations of modern people who are ignorant alike of their theory and their data. At the moment of writing there appears in a Ceylon paper (copied into the Indian Mirror of December 5, 1899) the report of an interview with two German scientists, Dr. Benedict Friedlander, Professor of Biology, and Dr. A. Ewers. Dr. Friedlander had just spent two years in scientific researches in the South Sea Islands, and, among other wonders of Nature, had settled the long-mooted point as to the origin of the palolo worm. He found that these curious creatures rise, headless, to the surface of the water on two days in every year, viz., those of the third quarters of the moon in October and November at 4 a.m., and disappear shortly after sunrise. On no other day can one be seen. He told the reporter that he was endeavoring to find out "if there is any similar phenomenon here"—that is, the influence which the positions of the moon have upon organic life. Modern science rejects the theory as a rule, but the palolo worm is a fact, recognised by a great number of observers, and also by one of my adversaries, who had to own that I was right and he wrong. There is no explanation of the fact, except as an hypothesis. But men of
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are also supported by his results, and the reader wilt do well to consult the number of the Theosophist indicated. I have recalled these researches by our fellow-members in 1888 as being most timely in the present year of drought and famine (1899), and as an indication of the wide field of scientific research which opens out before the educated man who applies himself to study the palm-leaf MSS. in our Adyar Library. The nett result of two years' comparison of the almanac prognostics with those of the Government Weather Bureau showed them to be of equal accuracy, while, as regards the cost of statistical collection, the comparison is, of course, very greatly in favor of the Indian system. Let us hope that this field may soon be properly explored.
I note that on 5th January I sent Professor Charcot, of La Salpétriére, a copy of the Tamil translation of that libidinous work Kama Shastra, that he might observe what it says about the effect upon the procreative function of pressure upon certain points in the limbs. In vol. lx of the International Scientific Series I had
science have found out by a method of statistics that the moon does have an influence on certain phenomena, and there is little doubt that the moon has an influence on some things which science is not yet fully aware of. Another of my purposes is to find out the popular belief of the Eastern people in connection with the influence of the moon. Of course I shall not accept popular beliefs as matter of fact, but as starting-points for further research. This is all that Judge Gadgil or any other enlightened Hindu would ask; and since this eminent German biologist has made so bold a step in advance, we may hope that some painstaking meteorologist of his country will take the hint offered in the present notice of the Baroda statistics, and win renown for himself by making them "the starting-point for further research".
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read what the authors of the book (Animal Magnetism, by MM. Binet and Fêrê) say about this very thing, which is credited to Dr. Chambard, of France, as a new discovery.1 I wanted Charcot and his pupils to know that the fact had been familiar to Indian physiologists for ages. Almost by return post Dr Charcot thanked me warmly for bringing the fact to his notice, and said I had made une vraie trouvaille—a genuine find. I wish I could impress on the minds of all students of mesmerism, hypnotism, and spiritualism the gravity of the danger they run in making any experiments upon subjects of the other sex without the presence of responsible witnesses. While the French doctors say that the physiological excitement in question is aroused by pressure on the "erogenic" zones only when the subject is in the state of full somnambulism, the Hindu love-manual makes no such assertion, but lets us understand that it can be caused when the
1 "We must here remind our readers that in the case of some hysterical subjects there are regions in certain parts of the body, termed by Chambard erogenic zones (Chambard, Ètudes sur le Somnambulisme provoquê), which have some analogy with the hysterogenic zones, and simple contact with these, when the subject is in a state of somnambulism, produces genital sensations of such intensity as to cause an . . . These phenomena have often been displayed unknown to the observer, who might be liable to the gravest imputations, unless he had taken the precaution, indispensable in such cases, of never being alone with his subject. When we add to this fact the possibility of suggesting to the somnambulist the hallucination that some given person is present, it is easy to see what culpable mystification might occur . . . The excitement of the erogenic zone has no effect unless it is made by a person of the opposite sex; if the pressure is made by another woman, or with an inert object, it merely produces an unpleasant sensation." (Animal Magnetism, by Binet and Fêrê, Int. Nat. Sci. Series, vol. lx, pp. 152, 153.)
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subject is fully awake. How many unhappy victims have there not been who were perfectly innocent of wrongdoing, but who have unwittingly pressed upon the spot in the arm whose nerves react so as to throw the neuropathic subject into a frenzy of desire!
Things were growing more and more unpleasant at Adyar on account of the friction between' H. P. B. and T. Subba Row and certain of his Anglo-Indian backers. They even went so far as to threaten withdrawal from the Society and the publication of a rival magazine if H. P. B. did not treat them better. In fact, Subba Row and one of his friends did resign that year, but I gave myself no uneasiness about the projected magazine, for the basis of success—persevering effort and unselfish zeal for Theosophy—were not among the strong points of their characters.
The Governor's Annual Levee, to which I was invited, was a gorgeous spectacle, the vivid coloring and sparkling glitter of the robes and turbans of the Oriental magnates and of the uniforms of British officers producing a strong effect upon the eye in the Banqueting Hall of Government House, with its milk-white walls and lofty columns in polished white stucco that rival Parian marble in beauty.
I note that one of our Council members received from Meerut about that time a copy of his horoscope, as found in the Nadi Granthams of a great astrologer of that place. This was the second case of the kind which tame under my notice, and it is certainly enough to stagger anybody's faith to be told that a stranger
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can walk into the Brahmin astrologer's house, give him no proper clue to his identity, and within the next few minutes have one of those mysterious old books placed in his own hands, opened at a page where he may read for himself the particulars of his present birth, the name, caste, and quality of his father, and the chief incidents of his own life. Yet this is alleged to be true, and, if I may believe friends whose social and official positions entitle them to credence, they have had this very experience with the Meerut astrologer. I saw him personally once at that station and saw his collection of books, but he could find nothing in any of them about me, nor about Mrs. Besant (I think it was) who was with me. I then learned a thing not previously known to the public, viz., that the Grantham contains only the horoscopes of persons born in India, and within that portion of it known as Bhârata Varsha, i.e., between the Himâlayas and the Vindya Range. I should have been glad to have had it otherwise, as it would have been a pleasure to have reported to my Western scientific friends the fact that the outline sketch of my life had been found recorded in an ancient work written centuries before the date of my birth. Others have had that experience, so I leave to them the duty of bearing testimony. Meanwhile, if the reader will refer to the Theosophist for December, 1887, and the article on "Bhrigu Sanhita," he will see a very instructive narrative of Babu Kedar Nath Chatterjee's experience with the Meerut astrologer above mentioned. It is worth
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while giving place to some extracts. From a relative of his, die author had learnt of his having got from the Meerut man a copy of his horoscope, taken from the ancient work in question, in which were given so many minute details of his past life as to amaze them both. Babu Kedar Nath accordingly determined to see whether he would have a like good fortune, and with this object went to Meerut and hunted up the astrologer. On his way he collected from seventeen friends their "Janma Lugnas" and "Rasi Chakras," together with a brief account of their lives written in English (of which the astrologer is ignorant), on separate pieces of paper. The Janma Lugnas and Rasi Chakras were, however, written in Devanagari characters, which he could read, but which would give him no clue to the identity of the parties concerned, since they were but the statements of the stars and constellations under which certain individuals were born, and would only serve to guide him as to the book in which to hunt up the horoscopes under corresponding astronomical signs. With this preface we will now allow Babu Kedar Nath to describe what happened to him, after he had handed the Devanagari memoranda of his seventeen friends to the astrologer, one by one, and been shown that each person's horoscope was actually recorded in the pages of his mysterious book:
"I had," he says, "lost my own horoscope, prepared by my parents at my birth; and consequently I did not know the date and time of my birth. One morning I simply asked him: ‘Who am I?’ He
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ascertained the correct time of the day with the help of my watch, drew a Rasi Chakra appertaining to the time of my query, and, according to certain rules of astrology, drew a Rasi Chakra of the time of my birth, Then, without reference to the Sanhita, he told me, from his personal knowledge of the science, some of the incidents of my past life. Some of his conjectures turned out to be correct, others were wrong. He then retired to his library, and after about fifteen or twenty minutes he brought out a book as usual, and I myself found my horoscope in it after a search of about ten minutes. I allowed the Pandit to read the whole of it, and it took him about three hours to finish it. I cannot now describe my feeling at that time; I thought indeed that I was in a state of dream. The horoscope proceeded, reminding me of the past events of my life from year to year; some of them I had nearly forgotten, and I sometimes had to task my memory to recall them to mind. I cannot imagine a greater wonder than going to a stranger, who, when you ask him who you are, gives you a book which contains minute details of your life from your birth to death. I assert that there is nothing in my horoscope which is not an actual fact, or which has not happened with reference to that portion of the horoscope which deals with my past life, . . .
"I shall now give a brief account of the contents of my horoscope, and make quotations here and there from it for a better elucidation, though by so doing I
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shall have to make my private life known to the public. My horoscope, like numerous others that I then saw and have since then seen, is divided into three parts, and is a dialogue between Sukracharya, the disciple, and Bhrigu Deva, the preceptor.
"The first part consists of (1) some of the chief events of my present life, (2) the chief characteristic of my body and mind, (3) a brief account of the members of my family, (4) the lines on the palm of my right hand, with their effects.
"The second part consists of (1) a brief account of the previous birth, (2) some of the principal acts done in the previous life which have produced some of the grand results in the present life.
"The third part consists of (1) a detailed account of my life from birth to death, (2) a brief account of the lives of my parents from year to year during my infancy, (3) a brief account of the other members of my family, (4) the diseases, dangers, and misfortunes that I shall be subjected to from year to year, (5) recipes to cure those diseases, and advice about warding off the dangers and misfortunes, (6) various Prayaschittas or atonements for removing some of the principal events of the present life which are the results of some of the misdeeds done in the previous life, (7) elaborate description of the manner in which these Prayaschittas should be performed and the various Mantras, (8) how I shall be born in the next life to come. Besides the above there are many other things in the third part.
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"My horoscope, of course in manuscript, consists of 77 pages of bigger size than royal octavo. I have all along been speaking only of the twelve parts of my entire horoscope. This part which: I have in my possession is called the Tainibhavan—or that part relating to the body alone. There are other parts or Bhavans, called the Dhanabhavan (relating to wealth), the Dharmabhavan (relating to religion), the Pitribhavan (relating to a father), and so forth. These different Bhavans give a detailed account of the subjects of which they treat. But it is a matter of regret that the Pandit has got a few only of the other Bhavans. He has not even got the entire number of the Tainibhavan parts of all the horoscopes, and he had in several cases to refuse to give copies, for he had not the originals."
The long tour of 1887 left same effects of a very disagreeable nature an me, which showed themselves in an impoverishment of the blood and, an outbreak of boils, of which one took on a carbuncular character and laid me up for a while. But our kind friends, General and Mrs. Morgan, hospitably urged me to visit them at Oatacamund, which I did, and in that magical mountain air my health was soon re-established. I gratefully recall the kind attentions shown me by many European friends, even of mere acquaintances, up to that time, and am sorry that I am not at liberty to record their names in this narrative in token of my remembrance. Telegrams were sent me from all aver India, and sympathetic paragraphs appeared in the
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Hindu papers. To add to my pleasure, I had an attack of gouty rheumatism in one foot, and this puzzled me more than a little, for my paternal ancestral stack passed on to me no such taint of blood. But eight years later, at Paris, the mystery was solved for me by Madame Mangruel, the well-known somnambule or clairvoyant, who advised me to abstain from meat eating, as that was the cause of my misery. I followed her prescription, and all gouty symptoms have disappeared. The disease was, then, not hereditary, but induced by the meat diet, and disappeared on my changing to a non-flesh dietary. The hint should not be lost by any reader who has not tried this remedy.
Portents of a coming storm in our European groups, stirred up or intensified by; H. P. B., begin to show themselves, and Judge complains of our neglecting him. Just then Dr. Coues was working hard for the notoriety he craved, and Judge was opposing him. In view of the very important bearing it has on the ethics of the secession move of June 1895, the text of same of Judge's letters may as well be given:
"(New York) June 8, 1888, certain matters are occurring here which need attention and action . . . His (Coues') policy is to place himself at the head of some wonderful unknown thing through which (save the mark!) communications are alleged to come from the Masters. He also in a large sense wishes to pull the T. S. away from your jurisdiction and make himself the Grand Mogul of it in this country . . . I know that .'. policy is to retain complete control in you, and my
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desire is to keep the American Section as a dependency of the General Council in India; hence you are the President. It was never my intention to dissever, but to bind, and the form of our Constitution clearly shows that. That's why no President is elected or permitted here. . . So I would recommend that you call the Council and consider our Constitution, which ought long ago to have been done—and decide that we are in affiliation and subordination to India, and that we are recognised as part of the General Council, with power to have a Secretary as an (official) channel, but not to have a yearly President, but only a chairman at each Convention. I cannot work this thing here properly without your co-operation."
"I am always striving to keep your name at the top, for until your death you must be at the head." (Letter of May, 21, 1888.)
"Until you two die it is folly for others to whistle against the wind. Masters and Federation!" (Letter of June 15, 1888.)
Alas! for the shortsightedness of men who leave behind them documentary proofs like the above, when setting themselves to the building up of a new structure of falsehood, fraud, and treachery in which to house new idols. No wonder the Secessionists adopted the policy of boycotting my name and falsifying history. To have mentioned me at all would have provoked too much inquiry. Alas! poor Judge.
In March the Burmese edition of the Buddhist Catechism appeared at Rangoon, making the seventh
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language in which it had thus far been published, viz., English, French, German, Sinhalese, Japanese, Arabic, and Burmese. In April a Japanese friend wrote me from Kyoto that my Golden Rules of Buddhism had been translated into their language and published.
At a garden-party at Government House on the 21st of April, the Gaekwar of Baroda introduced me to the Maharajah of Mysore, who asked me to his garden-party of the next week. Thus began our friendly acquaintance, which lasted until his death. On 6th May, by his special invitation, I privately lectured to the above two Princes and their staffs at the Mysore Maharajah's house, on the subject given me of "The Effect of Hindu Religion on Hindus". For a full hour after the lecture I answered questions put me by the Princes, the Gaekwar chiefly playing the part of spokesman, as the Mysore ruler had an impediment in his speech. This experience was not quite equal to that of Talma, who "played to a pitful of kings," but it was a rather unusual incident for me, and a very pleasant one, for the discussion was animated, and the questions and answers were followed with the closest attention by the intelligent, and in some cases eminent, men composing the two suites.
The Anglo-Indian community were so kind during my illness that I gladly consented to lecture for their special benefit at the Breeks School, under very influential patronage. The subject given me was "The Noble Army of Ghosts and Their Mansions": in short, a discourse upon other World Order in which
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the Summerland theory of the Spiritualists was compared with the Eastern idea of Kamaloka. There was a large audience, and the proceeds went to a local charity. A second lecture followed.
During this visit to Ootacamund, I bought, on Mrs. Morgan's advice, the piece of land on which I built, as a hot-weather retreat for H. P. B., myself, and other European workers at Adyar, the cottage since known as "Gulistan"—the Rose Garden. She, poor friend! never had the chance to use it, but I have and others, and a more delightful sanatorium it would be hard to find.
An instructive experiment was made by Mr. Archer, R. A., at my request, which is worth reporting. We discussed the theory of "visualising," in connection with the real or pretended method ascribed to William 'Blake, the Irish painter-mystic, who, it is alleged, would paint a portrait after a single sitting; he having the faculty of visualising his sitter in the pose desired, and thus being able to paint from the astral phantom as if it were the living flesh. Mr. Archer had never tried it, but said he would if I would pose for fifteen minutes. I took my place and he steadfastly looked at me, now and again closing his eyes to fix the image the better upon his sensorium, after which I was dismissed and asked to return after three days. When I went again to his studio he had sketched in my portrait, and we were both greatly interested to see how he had retained parts of the face and lost others. As an experiment, it was valuable in its suggestiveness.
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Mr. Archer finished the portrait, and it is now at our London Headquarters.
At appointed interviews with the Baroda and Mysore Princes, the maintenance of the Adyar Oriental Library and the holding of an Inter-State Sanskrit Convention, for the purpose of putting the movement for a revival of Sanskrit literature on a broad and sensible basis, were discussed. His Highness the Gaekwar asked me to draft a plan for a Technological College at Baroda, for the endowment of which he was ready to set aside ten lakhs of rupees, and I did so. The Mysore Maharajah has since established a Sanskrit Department in his own State, the Gaekwar has introduced Sanskrit and Technological instruction into his, and the Inter-State Sanskrit Convention has been held at Hardwar, and is known as the Bhârata Mahâ Mandala. So seeds are dropped, and some fall on stony ground, but others strike root in fertile soil and bring forth their special harvests.
My health having been, entirely restored; I left Ootacamund on 31st May, and after a short tour to Coimbatore, Pollachi, Udamalpet, and Palghat, where lectures were given and two new Branches were formed, returned to Adyar and plunged into routine work, literary and official.
The last week in June brought me a vexatious letter from H. P. B., indicative of a storm of trouble that was raging in and about her, the consideration of which had better be deferred until our next chapter.