Isis unveiled, vol. I
Chapter XV –INDIA THE CRADLE OF CIVILIZATION
Pages 598- 606
The previous blog ended with a note :
In the part III of the blog, what the Teachers say about the Gobi desert and the secrets it holds of pre-historic civilizations will be covered.
In addition to it, the universal belief that there are invisible worlds in another dimension of being which are full of invisible denizens will be discussed. A testimony of Marco Polo and other trustworthy witnesses in this regard will be brought forward.
Gobi desert and its secrets : A prophecy
According to the sacred annals the secrets that Gobi desert wilderness, Tartary and Tibet hold are jealously are guarded by unseen powers. HPB says that but for the restrictions she could have given more details of explorations, adventures and discoveries of travellers. She prophesies that a time will come, sooner or later, when the sands of the Gobi would yield up its long-buried secrets which would have an effect of mortifying modern pride and vanity.
An account of Marco Polo
According to the daring traveller of 15th century, Marco Polo, in a region called Pashai, somewhere about Udyan and Kashmere (as Col. Yule, translator of Marco Polo believes), are great adepts in sorcery and diabolic art; that Udyan was the native country of Padma Sambhava, one of the chief apostles of Tibetan Buddhism, and great master of enchantments. The doctrine of Sakhya tinged with Saivitic magic in olden times thrived there, and Tibetans know the locality to be one of sorcery and witchcraft. Nothing has changed from the old times except that their magical practices have become more secretive, which increase in proportion to travellers’ curiosity.
The ancient Chinese pilgrim, Hiouen-Tshang, in his travelogues testifying to it says that the practitioners had made of it a regular business. HPB joins a rejoinder to this that if that was the case with sorcerers then, as it is to this day among the modern practitioners, it was entirely different as regards true adepts. The Buddha never allowed his disciples and followers to make an exhibition of magical powers they had developed, and, instead, enjoined on them to hide their good works and show their sins.
Colonel Yule, the biographer of Marco Polo, speaks of the accounts of travellers who were struck by the wondrous magical powers exhibited by the natives of Tartary and Tibet. One of the magical feats exhibited by sorcerers was to make the form of Lao Tse appear by means of their incantations.
Adepts of the Good Law consider all these as abominations and strongly discountenance them.
Hiouen-Thsang’s vision of the Buddha
Hiouen-Tshang was rewarded with a vision of the Buddha in a dark cavern not through any magical performance but entirely by the power prayer, faith and contemplation. He made 100 salutations but heard or saw nothing. Thinking himself sinful he cried bitterly and despaired, and just as he was about to give up all hope he perceived a feeble light on the wall and disappeared. Then he resumed his prayers, and the light flashed and disappeared. Then he took a firm vow that he would not leave the cave till he saw the face the venerable Buddha. After 200 prayers the dark cave suddenly became bathed in light and the shade of the Buddha of brilliant white colour rose majestically on the wall, displaying the image of the “mountain of Light,” and a dazzling splendour lighted up the features of the divine countenance. Hiouen-Tshang was lost in contemplation and wonder and would not turn his face away from the sublime and incomparable object. He recorded in his diary :
It is only when man prays with sincere faith, and if he has received from above a hidde impression, that he sees the shadow clearly, but he cannot enjoy the sight for any length of time.
Belief in spiritual world full of invisible beings
The notion of Western students of Oriental religion and culture in the 19th century that the people of China, upper and Central Asia were ignorant and irreligious was unfounded. The whole region abounds in mystics, religious philosophers, Buddhist saints and magicians. Belief in a spiritual world, full of invisible beings who, on occasions, appear to mortals objectively, is universal. I.J. Schmidt is quoted as saying that the interior and the encompassing atmosphere of the earth are filled with spiritual beings, which exercise an influence on organic and inorganic nature, and these influences are partly beneficent and partly malignant ; that in the deserts, especially, and other wild uninhabited tracts influences of nature are manifested on a gigantic scale, and that these places are the chief rendezvous of evil spirits. He says that from ancient times people held that the deserts of Gobi and steppes of Turan are dwelling place of malignant beings. Marcopolo speaks of these spirits in his book on Travels. He wrote that he witnessed time and again wonderful feats of magic performed by the subjects of Kublai Khan and adepts of other countries. His assertions were disbelieved in by his European countrymen. On his death bed he was urged to retract what he had said, but he refused to do so, but, on the contrary, swore to the truth of what he had said, and added that he had not told one-half of what he had really seen.
Col. Yule strongly defended Marcoplo in his writings and brought forward testimonies of many other authorities which corroborated the statements of Marco Polo.
Elemental spirits in deserts and wildernesses
Marco Polo has recorded in his travelogue that travellers on the move by night in the desert hear spirits talking, that sometimes they call the travellers by name, sometimes even during day time; that sometimes one hears the sound of a variety of musical instruments, sound of drums etc.
Chinese historian Matwanlin, corroborates the same – that one hears sometime singing, sometimes wailing, and that, sometimes, curious travellers have followed those sounds with a view out of curiosity, strayed from the course and been entirely lost. He says those are the voices of the goblins. He says that deserts are not the only haunts of the Gobi though it appears to be their favourite one. Col. Yule seemed to favour the theory that the awe and the vastness of the desert inspired such weird cries. If so, then Jesus is to be considered as deluded when he is supposed to have been tempted by spirits in the wilderness and that it must be a self-deception. Luke viii / 29 et.seq. speak of spirits of wildernesses. Pliny speaks of phantoms which appear and disappear in the deserts of Africa. Aethicus, the early Christian cosmographer, narrates stories that were told of voices of singers and revellers in the desert. Apollonius of Tyana and his companions speak of spirits appearing in various forms in the moon light in desert near the Indus. Similar stories are told by travellers in the Sahara desert.
Singing and musical sands of deserts
Strange phenomena often occur in nature which appear to be miraculous, but upon a closer examination are found to be but perfectly natural and accountable. For instance, in Southern California, sands of the sea shore, in certain places, when disturbed, produce a musical sound. It has come to be called the ‘musical sands,’ and is attributed to be an electrical phenomenon. The editor of Marco Polo speaking of it says that in certain sand hills the sand, when disturbed, produce sound of musical instruments, including sound of drums. Friar Odoric is cited by the author that the flowing sand north of Kabul also produce phenomenon of this kind. Sand of the desert of Sinai produce sound of bell, and of drums. A Chinese account of 10th century speaks of the ‘singing sands’ of the eastern border of Lop desert.
These are natural phenomena. Because they are out of the ordinary, not accounted for, because they have not been investigated thoroughly, they cannot be called miracles;’ nor reports of such accounts to be dismiss as superstitions. Phenomena which have been witnessed and attested to be genuine by trustworthy witnesses, and been related by thousands of people in all lands, is worthy of careful study.
Invisible spirits of the deserts holding conversation with travelers
Invisible beings many a time have appeared in tangible form to the passengers of the whole caravan traversing the deserts. It was suggested by some authorities that these voices are mere echoes. But such an explanation is unsatisfactory, because not only the “spirits” take on tangible form but even give intelligent answers to questions put to them.
If the phenomena of “Spiritualism” in which, through the agency of “mediums,” in séances, so-called spirits of the dead appear in tangible form to the assembled investigators and answers questions put to them, why similar occurrence in the deserts be denied ? The former occurrences have been investigated by eminent scientists (though main-stream orthodox body scientists have shied away from it, deeming it below their dignity to study which they regarded as a superstition and credulity of middle ages) and found to be genuine, the incredible theories advanced by them as explanation notwithstanding. Why not the latter phenomena of deserts witnessed by thousands of people be dismissed as superstitious? If “spirits” can do all that spiritualists claim for them, why can they not also equally to the travelers on the wildernesses and solitudes ?
In the next blog, number 4, the so-called superstitions of native peoples so unceremoniously dismissed by materialistic skeptics and agnostic science will be discussed; and it will be shown that proper investigation and understanding of these out-of-the-ordinary phenomena on the principles of ancient psychology will greatly extend the horizon of modern science.