Chapter 9 — The Brāhman
Thus have I heard:
WHEN the final blessings had been bestowed and the last worshipper had left, the ascetic took Ruru by the hand and led him to the Brāhman priest. The latter looked searchingly at Ruru, and when the ascetic wanted to say a few words of introduction, the priest waved him aside and said: "There is no need, my friend, to introduce this young man; I knew of his coming and have been expecting him for several weeks."
Then he spoke to Ruru, calling him by name and mentioning various incidents that had happened to Ruru in the past, going back as far as the visit of the holy man so many years ago—nearly a lifetime for Ruru—and he added: "That was a very holy being indeed, a great Rishi, and there are but few men in this world who have been honoured in the same way as you. But then: yours is a very great Destiny, my son, and, if you wish, you may stay with me as my guest for a time, although it will be but one stage along your Path. You wish to be instructed, and I will give you such instruction as I can."
Ruru was astonished and delighted at this offer and the ascetic nearly jumped for sheer joy. Then the priest said: "And you, my old friend"—addressing the ascetic—"are invited too; for it has been decreed by the Bestowers of Life that you shall accompany Ruru for a while during his search for Wisdom."
This pleased both, for they had taken a liking for each other and the ascetic looked upon Ruru already as if he were a son.
The Brāhman, whose name was Sundaraka, led them both to his house, and, after taking their evening meal together, led them to their rooms, saying that on the morn he would commence his conversations with Ruru and discuss some of the sacred laws and principles.
So the next day the priest commenced his teachings, beginning with the holy Veds, and he was surprised at the knowledge Ruru showed of these and other holy books. They discussed the simple gods of the sky and sun, storm and moon, and the various altars that anyone might erect to the god of his choice; be it Indra to-day and Varuna tomorrow. But though Indra is the most powerful, there is nothing that can define the sublimity of Brahmā, who is beyond description. All that can be said about Him is that 'He Is.' He cannot be described by speech, nor understood by mind, nor seen by sight or heard by hearing. ALL is Brahmā! He is the priest at the altar and the guest in the house. He is both thought and thinker, word and speaker, deed and doer, worshipped and worshipper; the flower and the dust, the tree and the star, and also the Power that is within them and without. He is the timeless flow of all that can be apprehended by the senses and all that is without sensory perception. He is the Soul of the World, the Essence of the Universe, yet immaterial and uncreated, illimitable and eternal, the ever changing and the perpetually unchangeable. All religions, poetry, arts, philosophies, and sciences contain a small part of Him; but He alone is complete and indivisible: He that dwelleth in the Power of Secret Peace.
"Once upon a time, the legend tells, Brahmā appeared to the gods; and they did not know Him. So they sent Agni, the god of Fire, to make enquiries of Him. The unknown challenged Agni to burn a straw; but he could not do it. Then they sent the god of the Wind, and the unknown challenged him to blow away the straw; but he could not do it. The gods were facing that Power by whose permission only they can act. To discover what that Power is, the Ancient Saints went forth in quest of the Supreme Knowledge, sacred in every way, and they tried by self-discipline and many austerities to subdue their own minds and bodies, so that they might attain to the Peace which would lead them to the mysterious Truths behind the Veils of Appearance, which is not true Actuality. They prayed to be led from the unreal to the Real—which is Brahmā; from death in the dreaming dark sleep of life to Life in sublime awakening in the Light of Death—which is Brahmā; and from thence to Immortality—which is Brahmā.
"There are three worlds; the world of men, which is to be obtained by the Son only; the world of the Fathers, which may be reached by Sacrifice; and the world of the Gods, which is conquered by Knowledge. Hence to be ignorant is sin, and to acquire knowledge is virtue, which is to be praised as the one object of supreme value, the irresistible means of obtaining one's end. He who knows this gathers in the whole world."
"When was man created, and how?" asked Ruru one day.
"Man was never created," replied the Brāhman. "He has come out of the imperishable Brahmā Himself, and his real Self is wrapped in many veils. The outer veil is the body, and it is the coarsest of them all; it is a thing of no consequence though it has its uses for a short while. It is unlovely in its origin, unhappy in its history, and filled with diseases like a granary is filled with corn; and above all—it is a trap and a prison for the Higher Mind."
"What is the principal part of the body?" queried Ruru.
"Breath is the most essential and the holiest part. If all the senses of seeing, hearing, and so on were numbed, the body would still be alive as long as it could breathe; therefore the breath is the most superior part of the body, although it cannot be seen when inhaled."
"How many times must the real Self incarnate before it is fit to enter Heaven?" asked Ruru.
"The Sages of the Upanishads do not believe in reincarnation as a rule," was the reply to Ruru's surprise. "Life is a long road; it is a sacrificial Fire in which a person is both conceived and consumed. When the dead are burnt on the funeral pyre they pass from the flame into the day, from the day into the seasons, from the seasons into the world of gods, then into the lightning fire; then, if they have learnt to control their bodily senses with a firm will and are worthy, they pass into the Brahmā world from which there is no return."
"And all this in one life?" asked Ruru doubtfully.
"So it is taught, my son," replied the priest.
"And do you believe in this teaching?" asked Ruru again.
The priest remained silent, and the ascetic chuckled softly to himself, amused and gratified by Ruru's keen mind.
"But suppose," said Ruru, "that a person is not worthy to enter into the world of Brahmā: what happens then?"
"If he is imperfect," said the priest, "he goes for a time to a region behind the Moon. When he has exhausted the merit created by good works, he is sent out again into Space. After having been in Space for a time, becoming part of it, he becomes wind, then smoke, then mist. Once he has become mist he becomes a cloud; then he rains down and is born in the shape of some seed or grain. Then he must wait until someone eats him before he develops further, and even then generation must be added to digestion."
"This seems to be a very complicated business," said Ruru; "I wonder if it really happens like this."
"That you will discover in good time, my son," replied the Brāhman gravely.
"To one of my limited experience," added Ruru, "it seems that there is a great deal of imagination in such teachings and small knowledge of the true facts of life; or are they mere theories? Is the Soul itself shut within us, as if it were in a cage, like a beautiful bird, longing to fly away and regain its liberty? Is there another and greater Self than the Self within, apart from Brahmā, who is within and without everything that is and is not? Whence comes the Soul, or the Higher Mind, and whither is it tending? And what is its final Goal or Destiny? These are the questions I should like to have answered, reverend Sir."
"Bravo!" cried the ascetic, looking at the Brāhman, "such are the very problems that every thinking human being wants solved. What is your verdict, dear friend?"
The priest stroked his beard, regarding Ruru thoughtfully. "I wonder," he began, "if I should answer all these questions and solve such problems in the light of the highest Wisdom. I think it would be better if Ruru should first hear all the various theories from as many teachers as he can find in his wanderings. The real Truth is contained in the holy Veds, in the Upanishads, and in other great writings, built up painfully and constructed with much care by means of divine inspiration over many centuries by the greatest Sages. If we make the Path too easy by straight away explaining every point to the Neophyte, he does not acquire any merit, and, moreover, he would not be able to understand; no matter how many times his Teachers should patiently unravel the Laws by means of words. He who does not know error cannot appreciate Truth. And only the Mind itself can have conception of that which cannot be seen, heard, felt or spoken. But in order to obtain that wise conception there must first be a dwelling and searching in the dark of ignorance and pain: for those are the greatest teachers of all."
"That reminds me," said Ruru, turning to the ascetic; "I asked you to tell me all about the gods, but you turned away my question by speaking about the Sarungi!"
"That I did on purpose, my son," replied the ascetic, "for I can only tell you about the gods what everyone knows already—including yourself—by hearsay; and I hoped that my friend here would explain the truth of the mystery to you."
The Brāhman looked at Ruru and said: "When that same Sarungi talks to you at the appointed time, you will know the mystery of the gods, of Brahmā, the God of Gods, of Life, of the whole Universe, of the Soul, and of yourself in which all these Mysteries are manifest. Each time you are blest with a new Illumination, the Sarungi will raise its melodious voice; that is the reason why it was given to you, for—being made by a master-hand—a small part of that Master's mind is placed within it, and when you receive an Illumination of the Mind you will be on the way to Master-hood, and all the master-minds within the Universe will ring in unison with your own, and the Sarungi will vibrate with joy. Tell me, have you ever heard its divine voice?"
"Once only did I think that the Sarungi whispered to me softly," said Ruru, "and that was when I laid upon it my hands when the holy stranger gave it to me."
"That was," said the Brāhman, "because the mind of its maker recognised the possibilities in your young mind (yet how incredibly old)—still so near the source from which it had descended—and it sighed with satisfaction.
"The Supreme part of Man, the Soul, is free from evil; ageless, deathless, sorrowless, hungerless, thirstless, desireless. It is the same as the Supreme Soul of each Cosmos, which again is the same as the Supreme Soul of each Universe.
"The mind of Man should seek and find its own Soul; it should desire Union with it, and full understanding of it. Once that is achieved by a man the Heavens ring with JOY, for one of its children will have returned to his original Home after much travail, bitterness of heart, cruel agonies, and an endless subconscious longing for that divine Re-Union with the Inhabitants of the Regions of the Blest.
"It is said that Indra Himself spent one hundred and five years with a God wiser than himself, trying to find the Self—which is the Soul—by searching out the Mind and rejecting all the worlds and all desires.
"The finite self, such as we all know it more or less on earth, is only a gleam, a glimmer, a reflection of the Infinite Self, which consists of two Halves: the Eternal Higher Mind and the Eternal Soul. Once these have blended (and there are two different ways of blending, which I may not reveal to you, but which you must discover by yourself with the aid of another), then the blending is the Key which opens the portals of the whole Universe and all Eternity."
"This is a very high Teaching," said Ruru, "and much more pleasing than the ones that went before, but it is very difficult to grasp, and I am as bewildered as a moth that is wafted up to heaven by a whirlwind."
"That is a good omen," said the Brāhman, "and once that you have been blown so high that the whirlwind has lost its grip, you will float in the serene heights of Bliss, leaving that whirlwind below, a wind which is called 'Life,' by the ignorant. All pain and sorrow are then left behind, all longing and strife, all sickness and misunderstanding, and there, above these things, you will find another moth—yours from the beginning of Time—and before Time commenced; yours from all Eternity—and now yours for all Eternity, never to be separated again, risen above all whirlwinds for ever, united in the beatitude of Heavenly Joy."
Ruru nodded, and said to himself: "So that is the place where Blue-Eyes dwells; O, for a whirlwind to waft me up!"
The Brāhman regarded Ruru with sadness, reading his thoughts by means of his divine Knowledge and full of pity for that innocent wish, whose wisher could not comprehend the heavy cross for which he was praying!
Such were their conversations; elevated, and on every subject that dealt with religion, philosophy, mythology, the gods, demons, the Apsarases, folklore and superstitions. From the Brāhman Ruru learnt all the then known principles of alchemy and magic; spells and counter-spells, and many other things, such as the various systems of Yoga with all their posturings, meditations, the constitution of the mystical body, the Mudrās, and so on. He learnt that direct experience is the key to Yoga, and the mysteries of Atman (Soul), Purusha (Essence), Prāna (Energy), and Ākasha (Substance). And he realised the truth of the saying in the Bhagavad-Gīta: "Equilibrium is called Yoga." He learnt how the Rishis beheld the Vedic revelations through the inner eye; they saw the Truths and wrote them down as best they could. Thus the Mantra, the liturgical texts, hymns of prayer and praise; the Brāhmana, the formulae and precepts referring to ritual and sacrifice; and the Upanishads, the mystical or secret doctrine, esoteric philosophy, and theological teachings were first perceived and clothed with words that have a hidden meaning which only the Adept can understand. And the Rig- Yagur- and Sāma-Veds he learned from memory.
So a year flew by, and Master and pupil loved one another for the brilliancy of their minds and the goodness of their hearts. The ascetic was an avid listener, and he now performed all his religious exercises fully clothed; for he had learnt to see the errors of his previous conceptions. And both he and Ruru loved to listen to the soft, kind voice of the priest; for does it not say in 'The Ordinances of Manu' that "Teaching for good is to be effected without injury to creatures; and by one desiring his duties, also, sweet low speech must be used. He whose speech and mind are pure and ever properly guarded, verily obtains all the fruit derived from the completed Veda. Let not a man, even though pained, be sour-tempered, nor devise a deed of mischief to another; let not a man utter improper sayings, by which utterance another is made uneasy."
In the atmosphere of such teachings Ruru flourished exceedingly, and after studying with the Brāhman for six months he became his acolyte and took his proper part in the services. He was entirely happy and all evil things and thoughts flew away; repulsed by the holy aura surrounding the habitation of the Brāhman. The wicked dwarf was seen no more, and Ruru had almost forgotten his existence, as if he were a bad dream, gone with the first golden rays of the morning sun of enlightenment.
With the Brāhman priest it is a rule that no guest must abide in his house not honoured, as well as it may be, with a seat, food, bed, water, and with roots and fruit. But he should not honour, even by speech, heretics, those who do wrong acts, pretenders to virtue, the fraudulent, rationalists, and hypocrites.
Thus the seasons came and went; now under the sway of the thrice sixty Maruts, the storm gods, Sons of Rudra, Sons and Brothers of Indra, Sons of the Ocean, of Heaven and of Earth. Armed with lightnings and thunderbolts they ride on the whirlwind and direct the storm; then under the dominion of Vritra, the demon of drought, eternally at war with Indra; again when it was the time of the feasts of Spring, that wonderful period when the soft winds that blow from the Malaya mountain sway the dancing creepers and the fields are full of the hum of droning bees, and lovers roam in the gardens, full of delight; the happy time when Ganesha, the God of the Elephant Face, stretches forth his trunk and bestows protection and success.
At all times the murmuring of sacred Mantras that issue forth from hardly-moving lips and ever must be undiscerned by those whose minds still lack the holy Light . . . Illumination . . . did flow from Ruru's mouth, while he was lost in meditation.
In the mornings he gathered fuel and flowers and holy grass for the oblations; the rest of every day was passed in stern devotion when he was not conversing with the priest.
He had become completely heedless of time, love, fame and the myriad cares of the world, and his extreme strength of will and the energy of his vital essences set in tremulant motion the atmosphere; and as he became more and more submerged in the pools of learning, he felt the same delight as a swan who feeds on the succulous lotus. And with the eye of the spirit he beheld mount Shīva of the mountain-chain Himāvat, and it was garlanded with the tinted flowers of the herbs of magic, blooming beneath its peak of gleaming snow. There are to be found the miraculous powers which dispel old age, fear and death; and they may be obtained by the favour of the Lord Shīva himself. They are the birth-right of the Enlightened. That mountain's beauty transcends even the glory of the peaks of Sumeru, the mighty Hill of the Immortals.
But, though the Brāhman was delighted with the transcendental magical ability of Ruru, his beloved disciple, he knew that the time had now arrived when his dear pupil should go forth once more on his quest. And so one day he told Ruru, who was broken-hearted at the advice, but too good a son not to listen to the voice of him upon whom he looked as his spiritual Father.
"There are but few things I have to tell to you," said the Brāhman; "but always remember that the magic Sciences, set in operation by an Adept, can be overcome by some divine Power. When the Voice of the God speaks, man prevaileth not. He who wants to succeed in gaining Mastership must never forget that God must be adored with a love that is akin in character to His own; unselfish, all-including Love. By striving after Wisdom the Wise gain humility; and to behold the true Unity is to drink of the Elixir of Immortality. . .Amrita.
"Although all things and beings are in and of each other, the sum total of this great Illusion is Naught to the Mind of Man, for it is beyond his limited comprehension.
"The disciple should first tame and mount the fierce steeds of the senses. . .and you have succeeded in this. . .up to a point. What will happen when the real and great Test comes no one can foretell. One should conquer the internal foes of the body: such as love, hatred, anger, malice, avarice and delusion. In this way one prepares for subduing these same enemies in others; for how can a man who is still a prey to his own passions, and therefore helpless, lead others to the Path of Enlightenment when he himself is still within the snares of life?
"When he is master of his own faculties he may then take pupils himself. He should select them carefully and test them by means of ingenious artifices to see if they are slaves to the passions he himself has overcome, and he should test them especially with regard to fear, virtue, passion, scepticism; and he should try their manner of speaking to himself and to others, to see if they are untruthful, malicious, or filled with any sort of pride.
"But one must learn by experience," he continued, "for whatever I have told you is after all but second-hand knowledge to you, and therefore you will find that at the first real test it will crumble up into dust, and you must start all over again. Put everything you learn to the test; then you will be able to ascertain if it has any value for you: for life attacks each one in a different manner and we must all build up our own technique if we wish to combat all happenings in a masterly style.
"Man is rewarded according to the purity of his heart. Those who seek the Light will be rewarded with that holy Vision which raises them above all mundane things; objects and beings which ever bear unhappiness in their train. Those who seek the Darkness will be loaded with the sorrows of accumulated riches and responsibilities; and their every hour will be filled with anxiety and fear, lest they lose their shadowy gains.
"The first will follow the golden Path towards the Light of the Sun, and He shall release them from rebirth; the latter will stumble on the unlit road that disappears behind the darker side of the Moon; and there they must dwell amongst the shades of Night until they once again commence the weary round of earthly life—illusive and full of woe.
"I have no actual fears for you; but yet. . .who knows? May you not fail when the great Trial begins in all its awesomeness, my dear Son."
Ruru was overcome with the emotions of love and gratitude for his benign Teacher, and, sinking on his knees before him, he prayed for a final Blessing.
Next: Section Three — The Square — THE FOUNDATION.
Chapter 10 — The Wise Gnani
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