We may ridicule the Khan's prudence; we cannot blame him for trustingly leaving the decision of the puzzling dilemma to Providence itself. One of his most unsurmountable objections to embrace Christianity he thus specifies to Marco: "You see that the Christians of these parts are so ignorant that they achieve nothing and can achieve nothing, whilst you see the idolaters can do anything they please, insomuch that when I sit at table, the cups from the middle of the hall come to me full of wine or other liquor, without being touched by anybody, and I drink from them. They control storms, causing them to pass in whatever direction they please, and do many other marvels; whilst, as you know, their idols speak, and give them predictions on whatever subjects they choose. But if I were to turn to the faith of Christ and become a Christian, then my barons and others who are not converted, would say: 'What has moved you to be baptized? . . . What powers or miracles have you witnessed on the part of Christ? You know the idolaters here say that their wonders are performed by the sanctity and power of their idols.' Well, I should not know what answer to make, so they would only be confirmed in their errors, and the idolaters, who are adepts in such surprising arts, would easily compass my death. But now you shall go to your Pope, and pray him on my part to send hither an hundred men skilled in your law; and if they are capable of rebuking the
* "Travels in Tartary," etc., pp. 121, 122.
practices of idolaters to their faces, and of proving to them that they too know how to do such things, but will not, because they are done by the help of the Devil and other evil spirits; and if they so control the idolaters that these shall have no power to perform such things in their presence, and when we shall witness this, we will denounce the idolaters and their religion, and then I will receive baptism, and then all my barons and chiefs shall be baptized also, and thus, in the end, there will be more Christians here than exist in your part of the world."*
The proposition was fair. Why did not the Christians avail themselves of it? Moses is said to have faced such an ordeal before Pharaoh, and come off triumphant.
To our mind, the logic of this uneducated Mongol was unanswerable, his intuition faultless. He saw good results in all religions, and felt that, whether a man be Buddhist, Christian, Mahometan, or Jew, his spiritual powers might equally be developed, his faith equally lead him to the highest truth. All he asked before making choice of a creed for his people, was the evidence upon which to base faith.
To judge alone by its jugglers, India must certainly be better acquainted with alchemy, chemistry, and physics than any European academy. The psychological wonders produced by some fakirs of Southern Hindustan, and by the shaberons and hobilhans of Thibet and Mongolia, alike prove our case. The science of psychology has there reached an
* "Book of Ser Marco Polo," vol. ii., p. 340.
acme of perfection never attained elsewhere in the annals of the marvellous. That such powers are not alone due to study, but are natural to every human being, is now proved in Europe and America by the phenomena of mesmerism and what is termed "spiritualism." If the majority of foreign travellers, and residents in British India, are disposed to regard the whole as clever jugglery, not so with a few Europeans who have had the rare luck to be admitted behind the veil in the pagodas. Surely these will not deride the rites, nor undervalue the phenomena produced in the secret lodges of India. The mahadthevassthanam of the pagodas (usually termed goparam, from the sacred pyramidal gateway by which the buildings are entered) has been known to Europeans before now, though to a mere handful in all.
We do not know whether the prolific Jacolliott was ever admitted into one of these lodges. It is extremely doubtful, we should say, if we may judge from his many fantastic tales of f His twenty or more volumes on Oriental subjects are indeed a curious conglomerate of truth and fiction. They contain a vast deal of fact about Indian traditions, philosophy and chronology, with most just views courageously expressed. But it seems as if the philosopher were constantly being overlaid by the romancist. It is as though two men were united in their authorship — one careful, serious, erudite, scholarly, the other a sensational and sensual French romancer, who judges of facts not as they are but as he imagines them. His translations from Manu are admirable; his controversial ability marked; his views of priestly morals unfair, and in the case of the Buddhists, positively slanderous. But in all the series of volumes there is not a line of dull reading; he has the eye of the artist, the pen of the poet of nature.
the immoralities of the mystical rites among the Brahmans, the fakirs of the pagodas, and even the Buddhists (!!) at all of which he makes himself figure as a Joseph. Anyhow, it is evident that the Brahmans taught him no secrets, for speaking of the fakirs and their wonders, he remarks, "under the direction of initiated Brahmans they practice in the seclusion of the pagodas, the occult sciences. . . . And let no one be surprised at this word, which seems to open the door of the supernatural; while there are in the sciences which the Brahmans call occult, phenomena so extraordinary as to baffle all investigation, there is not one which cannot be explained, and which is not subject to natural law."
Unquestionably, any initiated Brahman could, if he would, explain every phenomenon. But he will not. Meanwhile, we have yet to see an explanation by the best of our physicists of even the most trivial occult phenomenon produced by a fakir-pupil of a pagoda.
Jacolliot says that it will be quite impracticable to give an account of the marvellous facts witnessed by himself. But adds, with entire truthfulness, "let it suffice to say, that in regard to magnetism and spiritism, Europe has yet to stammer over the first letters of the alphabet, and that the Brahmans have reached, in these two departments of learning, results in the way of phenomena that are truly stupefying. When one sees these strange manifestations, whose power one cannot deny, without grasping the laws that the Brahmans keep so carefully concealed, the mind is overwhelmed with wonder, and one feels that he must run away and break the charm that holds him."
"The only explanation that we have been able to obtain on the subject from a learned Brahman, with whom we were on terms of the closest intimacy, was this: 'You have studied physical nature, and you have obtained, through the laws of nature, marvellous results — steam, electricity, etc.; for twenty thousand years or more, we have studied the intellectual forces, we have discovered their laws, and we obtain, by making them act alone or in concert with matter, phenomena still more astonishing than your own.'"
Jacolliot must indeed have been stupefied by wonders, for he says: "We have seen things such as one does not describe for fear of making his readers doubt his intelligence . . . but still we have seen them. And truly one comprehends how, in presence of such facts, the ancient world believed . . . in possessions of the Devil and in exorcism."*
But yet this uncompromising enemy of priestcraft, monastic orders, and the clergy of every religion and every land — including Brahmans, lamas, and fakirs — is so struck with the contrast between the fact-supported cults of India, and the empty pretences of Catholicism, that after describing the terrible self-tortures of the fakirs, in a burst of honest indignation, he thus gives vent to his feelings: "Nevertheless, these fakirs, these mendicant Brahmans, have still something grand about them: when they flagellate themselves, when during the self-inflicted martyrdom the flesh is torn out by
* Les Fils de Dieu, "L'Inde Brahmanique," p. 296.
bits, the blood pours upon the ground. But you (Catholic mendicants), what do you do to-day? You, Gray Friars, Capuchins, Franciscans, who play at fakirs, with your knotted cords, your flints, your hair shirts, and your rose-water flagellations, your bare feet and your comical mortifications — fanatics without faith, martyrs without tortures? Has not one the right to ask you, if it is to obey the law of God that you shut yourselves in behind thick walls, and thus escape the law of labor which weighs so heavily upon all other men? . . . Away, you are only beggars! "
Let them pass on — we have devoted too much space to them and their conglomerate theology, already. We have weighed both in the balance of history, of logic, of truth, and found them wanting. Their system breeds atheism, nihilism, despair, and crime; its priests and preachers are unable to prove by works their reception of divine power. If both Church and priest could but pass out of the sight of the world as easily as their names do now from the eye of our reader, it would be a happy day for humanity. New York and London might then soon become as moral as a heathen city unoccupied by Christians; Paris be cleaner than the ancient Sodom. When Catholic and Protestant would be as fully satisfied as a Buddhist or Brahman that their every crime would be punished, and every good deed rewarded, they might spend upon their own heathen what now goes to give missionaries long picnics, and to make the name of Christian hated and despised by every nation outside the boundaries of Christendom.
As occasion required, we have reinforced our argument with descriptions of a few of the innumerable phenomena witnessed by us in different parts of the world. The remaining space at our disposal will be devoted to like subjects. Having laid a foundation by elucidating the philosophy of occult phenomena, it seems opportune to illustrate the theme with facts that have occurred under our own eye, and that may be verified by any traveller. Primitive peoples have disappeared, but primitive wisdom survives, and is attainable by those who "will," "dare," and can "keep silent."
"My vast and noble capital, my Daitu, my splendidly-adorned;
And thou, my cool and delicious summer-seat, my Shangtu-Keibung.
Alas, for my illustrious name as the Sovereign of the World!
Alas, for my Daitu, seat of sanctity, glorious work of the immortal Kublai! All, all is rent from me!"
Col. Yule, in Marco Polo
"As for what thou hearest others say, who persuade the many that the soul, when once freed from the body, neither suffers . . . evil nor is conscious, I know that thou art better grounded in the doctrines received by us from our ancestors, and in the sacred orgies of Dionysus, than to believe them; for the mystic symbols are well known to us who belong to the 'Brotherhood.'"
"The problem of life is man. MAGIC, or rather Wisdom, is the evolved knowledge of the potencies of man's interior being; which forces are Divine emanations, as intuition is the perception of their origin, and initiation our induction into that knowledge. . . . We begin with instinct; the end is Omniscience." A. Wilder
"Power belongs to him Who Knows."
IT would argue small discernment on our part were we to suppose that we had been followed thus far through this work by any but metaphysicians, or mystics of some sort. Were it otherwise, we should certainly advise such to spare themselves the trouble of reading this chapter; for, although nothing is said that is not strictly true, they would not fail to regard the least wonderful of the narratives as absolutely false, however substantiated.
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