Occult Science in India, by Louis Jacoilliot, , at sacred-texts.com
Regarding the ten Pradjapatis, or lords of creatures, who are MarîtchiAtriAugirasPoulastyaPoulahaCratouPratchetasVasichtaBrighouNarada, they have no beginning, nor end, nor time, nor space, for they proceed, from the sole essence of the one spirit, at a single breath. This is a fatal secret, close thy mouth in order that no part of it may be revealed to the rabble, and compress thy brain so that none of it may get abroad. (Agrouchada-Parikchai, "The Book of the Pitris.")
In order that there may be no misunderstanding as to our meaning, we will now define the different attributes of those who had been admitted to the various degrees of initiation.
It appears from what we have already ascertained:
First, that those who had been admitted into the first degree of initiation were subjected to a course of treatment, which was designed to subdue their will and enslave their intellect, and by fasting, mortifications, privations of every kind, and violent exercises in the same circuit, to change, so to speak, the direction of their physiological faculties. The outward manifestation of occult power was the utmost limit of the attainments of this class of Brahmins.
Second, that those who had been initiated into the second degree went but one step further in the line of evocations and external phenomena, and, while they exhibited
the highest expression of manifested power, they never arrived at the degree of philosophical initiation.
Third, that those who were initiated into the third degree (the Sanyassis-Nirvanys and Yoguys) alone were admitted to a knowledge of the formulas behind which the highest metaphysical speculations were hidden.
The principal duty of persons of that class, was to arrive at a complete forgetfulness of all worldly matters.
The sages of India compared the passions to those heavy clouds which sometimes shut out the view of the sun entirely, or obscure the brilliancy of its light; to a violent wind, which agitates the surface of the water so that it cannot reflect the splendor of the vault above; to the envelope of the chrysalis, which deprives it of liberty; to the shell of certain fruits, which prevent their fragrance from diffusing itself abroad.
Yet, say they, the chrysalis gnaws through its envelope, makes itself a passage, and wings its way into space, thus conquering air, light, and liberty.
"So it is with the soul," says the Agrouchada. "Its prison in the body in which earthly troubles and tumultuous passions keep it confined, is not eternal. After a long series of successive births, the spark of wisdom which is in it being rekindled, it will finally succeed, by the long-continued practice of penitence and contemplation, in breaking all the ties that bind it to the earth, and will increase in virtue until it has reached so high a degree of wisdom and spirituality, that it becomes identified with the divinity. Then leaving the body, which holds it captive, its soars freely aloft, where it unites forever with the first principle, from which it originally emanated."
Having reached the third degree of initiation, it is the duty of the Brahmin to improve, to spiritualize himself by contemplation; he was supposed to pass through the four following states:
Salokiam signifies the only tie. In this state the soul seeks to lift itself in thought to the celestial mansion, and to take its place in the presence of divinity itself; it holds converse with the Pitris who have gone before into the regions of everlasting life, and makes use of the body as an unconscious instrument to transcribe, under the permanent form of writing, the sublime teachings it may have received from the shades of its ancestors.
Samipiam signifies proximity. By the exercise of contemplation and the disregard of all earthly objects, the knowledge and idea of God become more familiar to it. The soul seems to draw nearer to him. It becomes far-seeing and begins to witness marvels, which are not of this world.
Souaroupiam signifies resemblance. In the third state the soul gradually acquires a perfect resemblance to the divinity, and participates in all its attributes. It reads the future, and the universe has no secrets for it.
Sayodjyam signifies identity. The soul finally becomes closely united to the great soul. This last transformation takes place only through death, that is to say, the entire disruption of all material ties.
The work which we are now analyzing explains the passage of the soul through these four states by the following comparison
"When we wish to extract the gold from a compound mass, we shall never succeed if we subject it to the process of fusion only once. It is only by melting the alloy in the crucible several times, that we are finally able to separate the heterogeneous particles of which it is composed, and release the gold in all its purity."
The two modes of contemplation most in use, are called Sabda-Brahma and Sabda-Vischnou, or intercourse with Brahma and Vischnou.
It is by fasting and prayer in the forest and jungles, among the wild beasts, whom they rule by the power of the pure agasa fluid, and upon the desert banks of torrents, that the Nirvanys (naked) and the Yoguys (contemplative) prepare themselves for these lofty meditations.
There have been critical periods in the history of India, when the members of the sacerdotal caste were called upon to strike a decisive blow, in order to bring the people back to their duty and reduce them to submission. At such times they came flocking in from their habitations in the deserts, or their sombre haunts in the interiors of the temples, to preach to the masses the duty of obedience and self-renunciation.
They were accompanied by tigers and panthers, which were as gentle and submissive as so many lambs, and they performed the most extraordinary phenomena, causing rivers to overflow their banks, the light of the sun to pale, or words denouncing the Rajahs who persecuted the Brahmins to appear upon the walls of their palaces, through some unknown power.
The study of philosophic truth does not relieve them from the necessity of the tapassas, or bodily mortifications. On the contrary, it would seem that they carry them to the greatest extremes.
Once a week some sit naked in the centre of a circle formed by four blazing fires which are constantly fed by neophytes.
Others cause themselves to be buried up to their necks in the hot sand, leaving their bare skulls exposed to the blazing sun.
Others still stand upon one foot until the leg is swollen and covered with ulcers.
Everything that affects or consumes the body, everything that tends to its annihilation, without actually destroying it, is thought to be meritorious.
Every evening, the Nirvanys and Yoguys lay aside their
exercises and studies at sunset, and go into the country to meditate.
Several centuries previous to the present era, however, these bodily mortifications had assumed a character of unusual severity.
To the contemplative dreamers of the earliest ages in India, who devoted the whole of their time to meditation, and never engaged in practices involving physical suffering oftener than once a week, had succeeded a class of bigoted fanatics, who placed no limit to their religious enthusiasm, and inflicted upon themselves the most terrible tortures.
A spiritual reaction, however, occurred, and those who had been initiated into the higher degrees took that opportunity to abandon the practice of the tapassas, or corporal mortification. They sought rather to impress the imagination of the people by excessive severity in opposition to the laws of nature. A profound humility, an ardent desire to live unknown by the world, and to have the divinity as the only witness to the purity of their morals, took possession of them, and though they continued the practice of excessive abstemiousness, they did so perhaps more that they might not seem to be in conflict with the formal teachings of the sacred scriptures.
That kind of austerity is the only one now enjoined upon all classes of initiates.
The Fakirs appear to have gradually monopolized all the old modes of inflicting pain, and have carried them to the greatest extremes. They display the most unbounded fanaticism in their self-inflicted tortures upon all great public festivals.
Ever since the temporal power of the Brahmins was overthrown, the higher class of initiates have been, in short, nothing more than cenobites, or hermits, who, either in the desert or in the subterranean crypts of the temples, spend their lives in contemplation, prayer, sacrifice, the
study of the most elevated philosophical problems, and the evocation of spirits, whom they regard as intermediate beings between God and man.
The spirits with whom they communicate are the shades of holy personages, who have quit the world after leading a life of privation, good works, and virtuous example: they are the objects of a regular worship, and are invoked as the spiritual directors of their brethren, who are still bound by the ties of their earthly existence.
The earliest Christians with their apparitions, their apostles who received the gift of tongues, their thaumaturgists, and their exorcists, only continued a tradition which has existed from the earliest times without interruption. There is no difference between the disciples of Peter and Paul and the initiates of India, between the saints of the Christianity of the Catacombs and the Pitris of the Brahmins.
Subsequently, the chiefs, in the interest of their temporal and religious domination, discouraged both the belief and practice, and, by slow degrees, the old system of ancient worship assumed the more modern form with which we are familiar.
It was not until they had passed through the first three of the contemplative states to which we have alluded that the Nirvanys and Yoguys were admitted to a knowledge of the higher philosophical studies, and they were thus made acquainted with the secrets of human destiny, both present and future.
When he who had been initiated into the third degree had passed the age of eighty, and was not a member of the Supreme Council, who all remained in active life until their death, he was supposed to have abandoned his pagoda, or the hermitage that he occupied, to have renounced all pious practices, ceremonies, sacrifices, and evocations, and to have retired to some lonely and uninhabited spot, there to await the coming of death. Be no longer received
food or nourishment, except by chance, and passed away in the contemplation of the infinite.
"Having abandoned all his duties," says Manu, "and 'relinquished the direction of the sacrifices and the performance of the five ablutions, having wiped away all his faults by the prescribed purifications, having curbed all his organs and mastered the vedas to their fullest extent, he should refer all ceremonies and the offering of the funeral repast to his son for performance."
Having thus abandoned every religious observance, every act of austere devotion, applying his mind solely to the contemplation of the great first cause, exempt from every evil desire, his soul already stands at the threshold of swarga, although his mortal envelope still palpitates and flutters like the last flames of an expiring lamp.