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Letter XXXIV[1]

In the morning everything was done according to the Thakur’s programme. At dawn, that is, half an hour before sunrise, since dawn is not supposed to be in India, we went to some village in the full light of the stars, and got out of the landau at the very minute when, like gas burners turned off by a theater attendant, the stars all at once went out, and from the horizon flashed at us, breathing with fire and flame, the sun, the star of day and the scourge of tourists in India.

It was six o'clock, and before nine we had another fifteen miles [24.14 km] to travel to Mathura, the holy land of the Hindus of all sects except the Shaivites. Only those determined to commit suicide can travel around Rajputan in the spring after nine in the morning. As a result, we got out of our gilded landau only in order to get into the covered char-à-banc of the times of the Portuguese reign, and perhaps of that of Alexander the Great himself, into which, like on an elephant, we had to climb a ladder. I sat with Narayan and the Babu on one bench, and the colonel sat between Ananda Swami and Mulji on another one.

The allocation of seats mattered. The “Silent General” was an ardent admirer of the mystical methods of hatha yogis and sympathized with Colonel O*** in his fakir aspirations; and I rebelled against them, while the Babu simply laughed at the “Europeans in love with dirty bairagis.”

The mysterious shaligram, despite its miraculous properties, must have caused the colonel some awkwardness in his movements. It was about the size of a large orange. Having fixed it with ribbons around the waist, the happy owner of it could neither hide its presence on his body, nor prevent it from moving around the waist from one place to another with every push of our antediluvian carriage. The shaligram protruded on one side, then stuck out under a thin canvas coat on the other. O*** was constantly readjusting it, getting up from his seat and generally, as they say, was shifting from foot to foot, which made me nervous...

Perhaps Narayan's midnight conversation with the young “Brother of the Grove” influenced and reassured him. The poor rejected candidate seemed, if not quite comforted, then at least resigned to his fate. While the trio of mystics was solemnly discussing the miraculous power of the sacred cow dung ashes, I and the Babu were trying to have breakfast getting food from a basket of provisions, without gouging our eyes or harming others. We were often thrown from one end of the char-à-banc to the other in the most dishonourable way, and I almost grumbled at the Thakur for such a carriage.

For the sake of historical justice, however, I hasten to explain: using the word trio, I put it incorrectly. Only the “general” and the colonel were talking about the miraculous power of the ashes with which the sectarians of Shiva dirty themselves, and Ananda Swami was correcting their numerous mistakes and wrong views. Narayan was listening and learning.

The road soon turned sandy. Finally, putting the food instead of the nose and eyes into the mouth, where it should have been immediately put, if not for pits and bumps, I and the Babu finally nourished ourselves and calmed down. The colonel, having ceased to pretend to be a rubber man on a string, at last found out the information he needed and the conversation soon became general and highly edifying.

What the heart thinks the tongue speaks.

“It’s not our fault, Colonel, that we were both married,” mused sad Mulji. “You may have married of your own free will, but I was enslaved when I was only six years old ... What could I do? Should I kill my wife in order to be a raja yogi? It would not have helped, but would have only serve, as an even greater obstacle. Now what is to choose? One is refused to be a raja yogi and kept out of hatha yoga. Of course, this is a very dangerous system in practice; but what shall we do, Swami, when we have no other choice? It’s better hatha than nothing. Having reached a certain age, one cannot do without religion ... It’s impossible!”

“You can study philosophy without running to extremes,” Ananda Swami remarked calmly.

“It's easy for you to say. You were not married by force and without asking, and all the roads to the secret sciences are open to you,” Mulji got angry.

“However, in this science I am interested not so much in religion as in the achievement of the transcendental secrets of yogism, and I must achieve my goal one way or another. I have to learn not only pranayama, but also everything that contributes to the development of psychic powers,” O*** was seething.

“I hope that first of all you will learn how to wear your shaligram. You almost broke my elbow with it,” I yelled, rubbing my hand with another push.

“Sorry and be lenient towards your comrades. After all, I didn’t do this deliberately... Attach the bruise spot to the talisman and I am sure that all the pain will go away! Wouldn’t you like to? Well, you know best. Just do not forget that this shaligram is a gift from our blessed Thakur, and that he probably sent it not without reason.”

“Of course not without reason, but as a trial, and not for you alone, as I am now learning to my grief!”

“In order for shaligram, rudraksha and other such holy things to have an effect, one must first of all believe in them,” remarked Narayan with a reproach in his voice, “and in order for them to benefit their owners, they must be treated every morning and evening according to prescribed shastra rules, otherwise they soon lose their qualities, and then only harm the one who wears them...”

“The rules that you are talking about, my dear Narayan, are equal to puja?.. Do you advise it to the colonel?” I attacked on him with indignation...

“Is it really so?” asked O***, a little agitated by what was said, but not figuring out what exactly, whether it was new information from Narayan or my explanation. “Is it true?” asked he, referring to Ananda Swami.

The ascetic bent his head quietly, but said nothing. There was a silence.

From the moment he appeared among us, this young man greatly aroused my curiosity. I positively could not come to any definite conclusion about him and only watched him from afar. The recommendation of the Thakur was so important in my eyes that, of course, I didn’t try to find out if he was a good person or a charlatan, such as there are many of the self-styled ascetics and yogis in India. On this side, Ananda Swami was completely insured against suspicion. But I longed to know how developed those amazing psychic powers were, to which we all bowed in the face of the Thakur. Does he have the same ability to read in the mind of others as in a book open before him? Can he not only read, but also control the mind of others, producing at least some of those amazing phenomena that seem to be so easily performed by the Thakur? “Why did he send him? What for did he do this?” – I was thinking. I knew that the colonel hoped in vain to reach, albeit to a small degree, not only the heights of raja yoga, but get even those strange, inexplicable psychophysiological abilities to produce the so-called “miracles” for which some hatha yogis are justly famous.[2] For raja yogis, as shown, training and purely mental, unswerving efforts in this direction from a very young age are required; deep study, and most importantly understanding the secret meaning of the teachings of Patanjali, and not the dead letter of his system, and initiation into the mysteries, which the initiated Brahmins will not do to anyone and at any price. And in order to become a hatha yogi, one needs to make superhuman, supernatural efforts for years suffering physical torture. More over, one must be born with such physiological idiopathy[3], otherwise nothing will come of it, and only the fakir's disgusting appearance and pure charlatanism will remain. Against the latter, the Thakur fulminates publicly, and he is unable to give the former to the colonel. So what is this vain comedy for? Why allow our honest, trusting president to be fooled in the eyes of the Hindus as well as in his own eyes? Should I ask Ananda? Keep track of him while he reveals his mission in some way? Only it doesn’t seem that he is capable of speaking out!.. I didn’t take my eyes off him the whole evening the night before, I have not been taking them off even now since five o’clock in the morning, and yet I have caught not a shadow of a smile, not even any specific expression on this youthful face. It is motionless, positively impenetrable under the guise of deathly, complete tranquility. His voice is soft and gentle, reminiscent of monotonous reciting in an undertone; not the slightest intonation, although the flowers of oriental eloquence are sometimes just pouring; thoughts are strongly and truly expressed, there is also a lack of expression in the eyes, sometimes even that of thoughts. Huge pupils sometimes shrink, then expand, shine, go out, as if there is a periodic movement of a watch device in them.

When his radiant, calm eyes met my curious gaze it made my flesh crawl. But even then these eyes did not tell me anything. No doubt he is even more self-controlled than the Thakur.

Meanwhile, the colonel did not cease to worry.

“But I'm not familiar with the rituals!” complained he. “What am I to do? And what should I do with the shaligram?”

“Take it off and keep it in a box,” I advised.

“Will you teach me the necessary formulas when we arrive in Muttra, dear Guru,” O*** continued to beg the young sphinx, not paying any attention to my advice.”

“Unfortunately, I must deny you this. Only Vaishnava Brahmins (Vishnu sect) initiated into archana (ritual)[4] of shankha[5], padma[6], tulsia[7] and shaligram, may in their turn initiate others. I have no such right.”

“Well, maybe you will have time to persuade one of these Brahmins. Will you do it, please?”

“I will try, but only success is very doubtful,” Ananda replied, looking at everyone and at no one. “This shaligram has strong properties without unnecessary japam (ceremonies), and I even have to warn you...” replied Ananda.

“What are they? Could you tell me? I beg you...”

“This stone represents Gopala-Krishna[8]. Anyone who wears it should avoid meeting cows. Otherwise, the cows, the entire herd, will run with joyful mooing after the owner of such a shaligram. It attracts them with an irrepressible magnetic force...”

I looked at Ananda Swami in surprise. Is he laughing at us? But his face was, as always, serious and impassive.

The colonel almost winced.

“That's right,” Mulji put in the word. “My grandfather had such a shaligram, and the cows of the Thakur of Vrindavan, for whom he served as a dewan (minister), almost gored him to death once, caressing him.”

“But Muttra is full of cows, colonel, and the sacred ones!” I threatened, barely holding back from laughter.

“And there are even more "sacred monkeys"!” the Babu got a word in.

“Well, this is in order not to take unnecessary photographs from you, Babu,” the pious Mulji said sarcastically. “The ma’am-sahib can do without your help. She is not obliged to respect our beliefs, and you are a Hindu.”

“We are obliged, as Theosophists, to respect all beliefs,” the president said with a maxim. “But that’s not the point; the question is how I can use the shaligram with benefit? However, I will consult the Thakur about this,” he added, somehow calming down at once. “What kind of bamboo do you have, Ananda Swami?” asked he suddenly, taking up a new object and with curiosity examining the rod hanging on the ascetic's hand.

“This is hanumantha bira[9]... the magic wand of all Madras ascetics,” the Babu forestalled Ananda.

“Is it so?” asked the colonel doubting in the knowledge of the Babu. “May I ask you, Ananda Swami, to give me some details on this?.. I read about such a rod in the works of Jacolliot. Does he describe it correctly?”

“No, it is not; because he collected his information from those who themselves did not know anything about the danda (the name of the rod) and sinfully deceived him.”

“Well, can you give us the history of this bamboo of yours and tell us why it is considered magical and is called "hanumanian"?”

“Yes, I can. You are the Theosophists and you are entitled to our trust. I'm at your disposal. Ask.”

“So why, for example, rejecting the gods as fairy tales, meanwhile you wear items dedicated to Shiva and Hanuman? What is this secret?”

“There is not the slightest secret in this. The point is that in our mythology there is no fable that is not based on truth. I wear rudrakshas and dandas not because the Brahmins decided to obscure the truth of one or another fable, but because the tree and the fruit from which they are made have properties in themselves that are useful for a certain purpose of mine.”

“However, this is a rather risky business for you. Those to whom you do not explain the essence of the matter and the reason for such an action will not see any difference between you and the hatha yogis.”

“Having renounced the world, we see no reason to worry about one or another of its opinions about us. People can think whatever they want about us.”

“You have just spoken about the properties of the tree and fruit of the danda and rudraksha useful for your purpose. Can you tell us something about these properties?..”

“I can tell you only the dead letter of the legend and the rituals based on it. The real meaning is revealed to us only after the third initiation.”

Two deep breaths were heard simultaneously in the char-à-banc. But Ananda's face remained impassive, even though he glanced briefly at Narayan.

Hanumantha bira (Hanuman tree) grows only on the Udayagiri hills,[10] about a hundred miles away from Nellor, in the Madras Presidency,” Ananda began with his quiet, monotonous voice. “Hanumantha bira is a favourite tree of the Hanuman kind of monkeys, and therefore it became sacred and named after him. Only ignorant materialists are able to see in Hanuman a real monkey, and in it – a god. In our mythology, Hanuman is called the vahana of Rama, that is, the seat or physical prototype of the one who personifies the qualities of the sun.[11] Hanuman is the progenitor of the Dravidians, a race in everything different from the Brahmins of the north, and is called the vahana of Rama because our ancestors were children of the sun, suryavansa, allies of the sun of the south and the tropics, as well as allies of the great “Sun-King” in a metaphorical sense. Hanuman, in short, if you look at him in a symbolic sense, is a collectively taken representation of the southern peoples, even in the West, historically he is Bhimasena, the son of Kunti, Krishna's aunt, from the paternal side, and mythologically he is the son of Vayu, the god of the air, a guardian and boatman by the Virajaya-river, the Hindu Styx, which every mortal has to cross in the world of shadows and which no one can cross without the help of Hanuman. The meaning of this is that before a person reaches, in other and more perfect worlds, the point of progress when he no longer needs the gross-objective image, he must start from the starting point of humanity, under the guise of an ape-like man, with all his animal passions and instincts. In order to become a deva, one must first be born as a man. He needs to conquer every step, every degree leading to the highest progress through personal efforts and merit. It is not difficult to understand why the Brahmins teach that this Virajaya-river, which, according to their teachings, has such a great symbolic significance in our spiritual evolution, is guarded by Hanuman, and then why the monkey god himself is in such high esteem.[12] Bathing, each Brahmin is obliged, at sunrise, closing the nostrils, ears, eyes and mouth with the fingers of both hands and concentrating all his attention on the sacred mantra “Viraja,” pronounce it three times and in a loud voice. This daily ritual is especially obligatory for the Brahmacharya Brahmins.”

“Is it because in the Ramayana Hanuman is also called a “bramacharya,” a “virgin ascetic,” who deeply studied logic and nava vyākaraṇa, or all nine grammar systems,” the Bengali asked innocently.

“Don't interrupt, Babu! It's impolite, and you prevent us from listening,” Mulji exclaimed angrily.

“Yes, the “virgin ascetic” and “brahmachariya” are epithets rightfully belonging to Hanuman,” calmly and as if not noticing a deliberate hint, the Madras brahmachariya confirmed. “Hanuman is even referred to as the originator of Sanskrit grammar; as a result, no poet or author will hesitate to devote to him, along with Sarasvati, the goddess of secret wisdom, a hymn of praise on the first page of his work.”

“But when will we hear about the "magic wand"”, the colonel asked plaintively.

“Now I'm at your disposal again,” the French Brahmin bowed slightly to us. “On the day of Hanumantha jayanti[13] worshipers of the warrior monkey fast all day and perform puja. Then, exactly at the “happy” hour appointed by the initiated astrologers, they go to the Udayagiri hills, where, after completing all the prescribed ceremonies, they cut rods from the sacred trees of Hanumantha beri and carry them home.”

“Is it the same as your rod?”

“They look exactly like that. But since there are very few learned Brahmins who manage to complete the preparation of the rod, because it takes more than a year of daily cares about it until the rod turns into a “magic wand,” they are extremely rare.”

“And what are the properties of the “rod” when it is prepared according to all the rules?”

“It depends on its owner, as well as in relation to rudraksha, tulsi and other similar items. The properties imparted to it are varied. If you ask a sectarian Brahmin about them, he will answer you that through his danda he can call forth the “spirits” under his control and make the pisachas leave the human body they possess; that the danda helps to acquire and develop clairvoyance; protects the wearer from jinn (evil spirits), diseases and the evil eye; cures from all ailments; in a word, its properties are the same as those of the great “monkey-god,” and so on.”

“But you are telling us only what a sectarian would probably answer our question. And you don't belong to this class, do you? So we would like to know what you can answer.”

“I will answer that a rod without a hand, giving it the strength to perform this or that feat, is useless; that in the hand of a raja yogi, whose mind and will act quite consciously, the rod becomes a conductor of this will, like a telegraph wire, conducting the thoughts of the one who sends a message, but remaining in the absence of such an agent as a piece of common metal. In the hand of a hatha yogi, its actions are often amazing, but since the mind of the force handling it acts unconsciously, the properties of the danda are changeable and do not always agree with reason and strict morality.”

“But does the hatha yogi act unconsciously, like our mediums?”

“No, not really. In principle, his own desires and even thinking are at work; therefore he does not act unconsciously. But, believing in his non-existent gods and their help, he is not aware of his full consciousness, does not recognize his personal control. Separating action from causality, that is, from his conscious will, because most of such miraculous sannyasi are not philosophers, but simply fanatics, he himself considers the phenomena produced by him to be the work of Hanuman and misleads others, sowing only superstition instead of knowledge and good, and often a great evil.”

“Well, therefore, my shaligram will not act without my will, won’t it? But how can I adapt it to will?.. Can you teach me, for the sake of truth and in the name of humanity? Can I, for example, heal by it making mesmeric passes?..”

“If you have a strong will, the desire to help and love for humanity are unshakable, then, probably, you will, over time, have a strong effect on it. But, I repeat, your shaligram also has its own inherent qualities. It is also a kind of magnet with which you can do different experiments, diversifying them to infinity, but the specific properties of which will always remain with it.”

“Gare aux vaches, mon colonel,”[14] – I laughed.

“Oh, can you stop that, please? Do not interfere!” the president being very interested waved his hands. “Well, and here are your rudrakshas on the neck, tulsi and these tutti quanti[15] of ascetics? What about them? Are they the same as the danda? After all, they are all holy things of Shiva and Vishnu, various rudras and devatas, in which you do not believe, but whose emblems you still wear as if there are no other items in the world with the same properties that are useful to you?” the colonel winked at the ascetic, who did not even move a muscle.

“You are wrong. I just do not believe in the essence and personality of such gods. I reject the shadow, not the being itself. I believe in these world forces, clothed with folk fantasies in the forms of a preserver and destroyer; and knowing something of the intimate relationships of such forces with the forces of nature and its material products, I cannot but believe in them. Otherwise, individuals like the Thakur and even I myself would not have given themselves completely and wholly to their service.”

“But can you tell why, in that case,” I asked, addressing him directly for the first time, “it is “such” as the Thakur, who allow sacrificing the truth and spirit to the form?.. Here is our Mulji soiled his forehead with white ash in honour of Muttra, no doubt. What is this soiling for?”

“This is not "soiling," ma’am-sahib,” answered a little offended "general", “but respect for age-old customs...”

“But you are not a shaiva,[16] why do you follow the custom of these sectarians?..”

“Because it is generally accepted.”

“But what is the philosophy of this generally accepted custom? What is it based on?”

“On a fairy tale,” the Babu intervened in again. “Shiva, you see, was also a brahmacharya, a “virgin ascetic,” like Hanuman; the shmashana[17] was his favorite abode; there, all soiled in the ashes of the dead, with a human skull instead of a bowl for water and all hung, instead of garlands of flowers, with a thousand and eight snakes, with a kodi-shesha[18] on his head, he had such a terrible appearance that he earned the name Ugra[19]. But then, when his colleagues, other gods, for the sake of pacifying his too fierce disposition, married him to Parvati (Kali), Ugra became Sant – a saint.[20] So, in memory of his ascetic deeds, the shaivas rub their body and face with white ash. The double morality of the fable: do not become a brahmacharya and an ascetic until you are sure of your temperament; and then, marry, if you wish to become a holy martyr...”

“I wish you weren't such a blabbermouth... In anything you can find something to ridicule...”

“No, I can not, my dear Mulji. I am helping ma’am-sahib collect information; I prove to her all the logic and benefits of rubbing ash into the body...”

“This rubbing is based on hygiene,” Ananda explained. “Shaivas-ascetics avoid many epidemic diseases in this way. After all, this is not the ashes of the bodies of burnt ones, but of one medicinal root mixed with cow dung.”

“But why don't raja yogis rub their bodies ... with this pleasant ... remedy?”

“They have other and better ones.”

“That's why they don't age; at least outwardly,” I thought, looking at Ananda.

O*** continued to glance at his guru's danda and necklace and again launched an attack.

“All this is so, and you perfectly explain to us why you do not do this or that. But until now I cannot get why raja yogis, both initiates and candidates for initiation, still make something of what hatha yogis practice? What is the difference, for example, in the use of danda and rudraksha by a raja yogi and a hatha yogi?..”

“This can only be explained to someone who has the correct view of the difference between these two kinds of yogism and the natural properties of these objects. Hatha yoga is the latest and in comparison with raja yoga a modern compromise of mysticism; it is the result of centuries of careless treatment of philosophy, the victory of external form and ritual over the spirit of teaching; and then the gradual degeneration of brahma-vidya, divine wisdom. Having lost, due to personal ambition and earthly passions, the ability to unite with Brahma, that is, with absolute nature, most of the Brahmins, alienated from the final supreme initiation, the difficulties of which they could not overcome, replaced raja yoga with hatha yoga. Believers in the reality of the latter are convinced that Shiva-Mahatmiam himself sits in every grain of the rudraksha, and that is why they attribute any phenomenon that occurs with the help of, for example, the rudraksha, as clairvoyance or healing of a disease, not to their strength and will, but to direct action and participation of Shiva. The raja yogi, on the other hand, rejects both such interference and the personality of Shiva in principle. For him there are no anthropomorphic gods, there is only an absolute, double-edged force of creation and destruction, primal matter, universal and single, an integral part of which is he himself; although having the deceptive consciousness of earthly sensations he seems to be a transitory individual. Having tested its properties over the years of methodical experiments and realizing this power in himself, he endows it with the given object, that is, concentrates it in it, be it the object of rudraksha, shaligram or danda; and then, on occasion, gives one or another direction to this force, the dual quality of which is attraction and repulsion, doing this at his own will and discretion. Shiva has nothing to do with it. In the same way, he turns the “danda” rod into a vahana, filling it with his strength and spirit and transferring his own properties to it for a while. In the West, you have a magnetizer, impregnating paper or some other item for the sick with his life fluid, does the same thing, only in incomparably smaller scope.”

“Excuse me however ... You are talking about strength, spirit, properties and power, as if it all comes down to life force, to a “magnetic” current. I understand that a magnetizer can saturate an inanimate object with an excess of his vitality in the form of healing, and I did this myself; but how can I understand your statement about the same transfer to this object of will, thinking, conscious actions, etc., that is, immaterial, purely mental qualities and properties? Is this possible?”

“For someone who knows absolutely nothing or knows very little about raja yogis and real brahmavidya, for someone who is not familiar with the psychology of the East, substance is the fruit of his own views, the conclusions of Western science and its hypotheses, that is, the fruit of certainly relative concepts. For him, every substance, from the fluid of the vital force to the mineral, is matter. He does not know the transitional degrees from conditional and limited substance to primitive and unconditional substance, that is, to primordial matter – mulaprakriti: therefore, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to explain to him the essence of the actions of a raja yogi and transfer to an inanimate object the essence of his creative power. For the Western scientist, whose concepts of matter are based on the relationships of his organism with the external world and are limited by this frame alone, everything that is not matter is either “nothing” or a purely incorporeal quality. He either does not believe in the spirit, or if he does, he is unable to get a clear idea of the “spirit-sat” and “spirit-power.” In his opinion, the spirit is something not material, therefore, inseparable and not transmittable. And he does not know the properties and all the conditions of power. The theurgy of the ancient Westerners, however, gives us in their chronicles countless examples of inanimate objects, endowed with temporary movement and, as it were, consciousness and even will. The religious beliefs of modern Westerners bear witness to the same. But what is ultimately known to the learned Westerner about the world substance, about its essence and modifications? Everything that you know about a substance and its properties, about physical and spiritual feelings, all this is only relative knowledge, conditioned by the properties of your own earthly organism, your own personal experiences and conclusions of science, and is based on external feelings, and not on actual qualities of substances. Therefore, if I tell you that the time is not far off when, starting with canned food and an extract from beef, milk and other animal products, your chemists will finally get the extracts of the life principle, which has been partly produced for a long time by homeopaths and such unconscious alchemists, as a certain professor Yeager, then you will begin to laugh ... Despite such disbelief, I will allow myself to offer you this information in the form of a prophecy.”

“But how can they be compared? Is it possible to cork the spirit in a bottle! After all, we only read about this in the fairy tale of The Fisherman and the Jinni, when a Genie was put in a vessel under the seal of King Solomon ... in Arabian Nights...”

“And why have you chosen this particular seal as a motto of your society?”

“Because this is the figure of Sri-antara... the chakra or “Vishnu disk,” the most ancient symbol of India...”

“The “seal of Solomon,” found among us, like among the Chaldeans, among the primitive peoples of Europe, as well as among the natives of both Americas, in Africa, as well as in Asia, proves only one thing: the tale of The Fisherman and the Jinni is based on fact. The genie, that is, an evil and at the same time a kind, helpful spirit, is the personified symbol of that force in nature that I told you about: the force that creates and destructs, attracts and repels. Solomon in folk legends is the very same “magician” and adept. He is the patron of the Jewish as well as of the European kabbalists, as Hermes is the patron of the Egyptian magicians. This force, concentrated on any subject, by whether Solomon, Hermes, or the raja yogi of India, that is, an adept initiated into the secret sciences, is nothing more than nonqualitative spirit and qualitative matter. It was this force that created man, the vahana of Parabrahma and Mulaprakriti. In turn, a person who is aware of this double force in himself can transfer the excess thereof to other vahanas. But in order to generate and develop such an excess in himself he must, first of all, renounce his own personality, devote himself completely to the service of humanity, forget his personal self, become first worthy to be a collaborator of nature, and then – an adept.”

“But how and in which way exactly does he help humanity or even its progress with dandas and rudrakshas? I understand the desire to become an adept, to study the mysteries of nature for a personal, so to speak, egoistic purpose, first of all, and then help others with this knowledge; but I do not see any relationship between the rudrakshas and the adept from the point of view of the benefactor of humanity!”

“I'm sorry; but I will not undertake to explain this to you at your present, spiritual blindness. I repeat: in order to become a raja yogi, one must first of all renounce one's own personality unconditionally, not have an egoistic purpose, because such purpose only hatha yogis have, who, as a result, have injured the significance of the secret sciences in the eyes of the profanes.”

“But can't you,” the colonel, somewhat embarrassed by the direct lesson, insisted, “make it comprehensible for me with a simple example why exactly raja yogis, like hatha yogis despised by them, wear, for example, rods, these dandas?..”

“So that the essence of two-quality force does not develop under the pressure of external conditions of everyday life, but would be, so to speak, in a reservoir, be always ready for use in possible events...

“Which ones... for example?”

“Imagine that you are walking down the street with a raja yogi and are talking about matters that are quite common, but for some reason interesting to him. In his hand he is holding his danda, which never leaves him. Like this one, – Ananda pointed to his seven-piece rod. – A mad dog rushes at you from around the corner. The danger is close, and the question of your salvation depends on the speed of action, measured not in minutes, but in seconds, moments. Although thought acts with the speed of electricity, it may take half a second longer than the time it would take for a dog to bite you to tidy up the mind which has just been occupied with other objects and extract the will impulses from the cognitive apparatus necessary to reflect the dog. Without his danda the raja yogi, perhaps, would not have had time to help you. But the danda imbued with the essence of the raja yogi’s force, acts with the speed of lightning: directed against an animal, it instantly paralyzes its impulse to rush at us; by repetition of the movement the raja yogi could kill the animal in mid-flight even without touching it, if it turned out to be necessary. This is what the danda can do in everyday occurrence. But it is therefore wrong to call it a magic wand, since neither “wand” nor rudraksha can be isolated from our conscious will and thinking, or act independently of us. To endow them with such a quality means to recognize in them the presence of a cognitive apparatus as in a person, and equals the unauthorized spread of superstition and gross worship of matter.”

“You have just said that the danda never leaves the hands of a raja yogi? I have never seen, however, such a rod in the hands of the Thakur.”

“The active force is not in the external form of the vahana, and not the danda alone is chosen as the vehicle or seat of the "force",” – we received an evasive answer.

At that moment, the char-à-banc, banging, jumping up and down and puffing with a linen top, creaking wheels and generally making the most incredible sounds, was rumbling on the pavement of Muttra, the Promised Land of pious vaishnavas (worshipers of Vishnu).

“Sri Muttra!” Mulji exclaimed, throwing himself face down on the char-à-banc floor.

“Sri Muttra!” Narayan repeated after him, thoughtfully peering into the distance, as if waiting for someone. Ananda alone did not even turn his head. While we all huddled, pushing and falling on top of each other to look from behind the linen at a row of pink, monkey-studded temples, he did not blink an eye, even when I almost treaded on his bare foot. At my apology, he only looked in me (not at me) with his eyes as of a meek doe, as if wishing to read in me exactly what I was apologizing for...

I felt terrified with this look. I forgot Muttra and indulged in the memories of the soulless “automaton” in the tale of some American Hoffmann[21].



  1. Russian Herald, March 1886, vol 182, pp. 318-335.
  2. Anyone can devote himself to the teachings of Hatha Yoga according to the dead letter of the Patanjali system. To do this, you do not need to be a philosopher, or even be able to read or write, but you just need to have an iron will, the endurance of the Hindus, their indifference to physical suffering, blind fanaticism and faith in the chosen god. Real hatha yogis are perhaps the very same mediums, with the addition of sanity and will, which are absent in the Western medium. They produce their phenomena ad libitum [freely (Lat.)] making the phenomena to depend on their own will and controlling the jinn, while the spiritualists themselves are controlled by the jinn (spirits), personifying this still undiscovered force. And hatha yogis reach this point with terrible self-torture, which in the end they do not feel like convulsionnaires de St.-Medard and some Catholic saints. But the method of raja yogis is completely different. Their motto is Mens sana in corpore sano [A healthy mind in a healthy body (Lat.). – Tr.].
  3. Idiopathy is a disease arising from internal dysfunctions of unknown cause, independent of other illnesses, unlike symptomatic or sympathetic diseases. – Ed.
  4. Archana is a magic formula.
  5. Shankha is a shell.
  6. Padma is a sacred lotus.
  7. Tulsia is a plant; all these items are dedicated to Vishnu.
  8. Gopala-Krishna is the cowherd-Krishna. There are shaligrams representing Sampatta-Krishna, the “waster of the gods,” Santana-Krishna, the “giver of children,” etc. for all kinds of needs and specialties. If the cows he meets are not running after the one who is wearing Gopala-Krishna, then the stone is said to be a fake.
  9. Globular-flowered neem, Cipadessa baccifera (Roth). – Tr.
  10. Udayagiri [consist of] two words: udaya – sunrise and giri – hills. They are located east of the Coromandel (real pronunciation Kuru-manal, “black sands”) Coast; and Astagiri (western mountains) on the Malabar Coast. Both chains are connected in the south by the Nilgiri or “blue” hills.
  11. Rama, as a king and a hero, is quite a historical person, which has already been proven by many orientalists; he is the representative of the Sun, un dieu solaire [the sun god (Fr.)]. Vahana, on the other hand, is simply “the vehicle of something, the recipient, the objective form in which something incorporeal is contained and through which is demonstrated – the essence of substance. Thus the body is the vahana of the soul, which in the philosophy of the Brahmins and in the Sanskrit language, like any other incorporeal entity manifested by matter, is called the “rider” of the vahana.
  12. Hanuman is the personified symbol of the “earthly man” who, in spite of his animal nature, develops the spiritual nature in himself by personal efforts and, defeating the former, emerges as an intellectual conqueror of everything earthly, finally becoming a god-like person, worthy to go hand in hand with Rama, the embodiment of a supreme Deity.
  13. Hanuman's birthday is in the month of April.
  14. Watch out for cows, colonel (Fr.). – Tr.
  15. All like them (Ital.). – Tr.
  16. Shaiva is a worshiper of Shiva and a vishnava is that of Vishnu. Rudra is the title of both gods, which means “lord.”
  17. Shmashana is the place where the corpses of the Brahmins are burned.
  18. King cobra. Many of the fakirs of the Shaiva sect wear this snake alive on their heads instead of a turban.
  19. Ugra means fierce.
  20. Sant means holy. A play on words: “from the ugra he became the sant” means – from the fierce one he turned into a saint.
  21. This refers to a certain American storyteller, similar in creativity to the famous German writer E. T. A. Hoffmann (1776-1822). – Ed.