There was a time when the geocentric theory was
universally accepted by Christian nations, and if you and I had then been
carrying on our little philological and psychological controversy, I should
have bowed in humility to the dictum of an authority so particularly at
home in "the Mysticism of the Orient." But despite all modifications
of our astronomical system, I am no heliolater, though I do subscribe for The Sun as well as The World. I feel no more
bound to "cajole" or conciliate the one than to suffer my feeble
taper to be extinguished by the draught made by the other in its diurnal
rush through journalistic space.
As near as I can judge from your writing there is this difference between
us, that I write from personal experience, and you upon information and
belief. My authorities are my eyes and ears; yours, obsolete works of reference
and the pernicious advice of a spontaneously generated Lampsakano, who
learned his Mysticism from the detached head of one Dummkopf. (See The
Sun of March 25th.) My assertions may be corroborated by any traveller,
as they have been by the first authorities. Elphinstones Kingdom
of Kabul was published sixty-two years ago (1815), his History of
India thirty-six years ago. If the latter is the "standard text-book"
for British civil servants, it certainly is not so for native Hindûs,
who perhaps know as much of their Philosophy and Religion as he. In fact,
a pretty wide reading of European "authorities" has given me a
very poor opinion of them, since no two agree. Sir William Jones himself,
whose shoe-strings few Orientalists are worthy to untie, made very grave
mistakes, which are now being corrected by Max Müller and others. He
knew nothing of the Vedas (see Max Müllers Chips, vol.
i. p. 183), and even expressed his belief that Buddha was the same as the
Teutonic deity Woden or Odin, and Shâkya another name of Buddha the
same as Shishak, a king of Egypt! Why, therefore, could not Elphinstone
make a mess of such subtle religious distinctions as the innumerable sects
of Hindû Mystics existing at present?
I am charged with such ignorance that I imagine the Fakirs to be "holy
mendicants of the religion of Brahma," while you say they are not of
the religion of Brahma at all, but Mohammedans.
Does this precious piece of information also come from Elphinstone? Then
I give you a Roland for your Oliver. I refer you to James Mills History
of British India, vol. i. p. 283 (London: 1858). You say:
Those seeking ready-made information can find our statements corroborated
in any encyclopædia.
Perhaps you refer to Appletons? Very well. In the article on James
Mill (vol. ii. p. 501), you will find it saying that his India
Was the first complete work on the subject. It has without a rival as
a source of information, and the justice of its views appeared in the subsequent
measures for the government of that country.
Now, Mill says that the
Fakirs are a sect of Brâhmanism; and that their penances are prescribed
by the Laws of Manu.
Will your Lamp-sickener, or whatever the English of that Greek may be,
say that Manu was a Mohammedan? And yet this would be no worse than your
clothing the Fakirs, who belong, as a rule, to the Brahman pagodas, in yellow the
colour exclusively worn by Buddhist lamas and breeches which form
part of the costume of the Mohammedan dervishes. Perhaps it is a natural
mistake for your Lampsakanoi, who rely upon Elphinstone for their facts
and have not visited India, to confound the Persian dervishes with the Hindu
Fakirs. But "while the lamp holds out to burn" read Louis Jacolliots Bible in India, just out, and learn from a man who has passed twenty
years in India, that your correspondent is neither a fool nor a liar.
You charge me with saying that a Fakir is a "worshipper of God."
I say I did not, as the expression I used, "Fakir is a loose word,"
well proves. It was a natural mistake of the reporter, who did not employ
stenography at our interview. I said, "A Svamî is one
who devotes himself entirely to the service of God."
All Svamîs of the Nir-Narrain sects are Fakirs, but all Fakirs
are not necessarily Svamis. I refer you to Colemans Mythology of
the Hindûs (p. 244), and to The Asiatic Journal.Coleman says precisely what Louis Jacolliot says, and both corroborate
me. You very obligingly give me a lesson in Hindûstânî
and Devanâgarî, and teach me the etymology of "Guru,"
"Fakir," "Gossain," etc. For answer I refer you to John
Shakespears large Hindûstânî-English Dictionary. I may know less English than your Lampsakanoi, but I do know of Hindûstânî
and Sanskrit more than can be learned on Park Row.
As I have said in another communication, I did not invite the visits
of reporters, nor seek the notoriety which has suddenly been thrust upon
me. If I reply to your criticisms rhetorically brilliant, but wholly
unwarranted by the facts it is because I value your good opinion (without
caring to cajole you), and at the same time cannot sit quiet and be made
to appear alike devoid of experience, knowledge and truthfulness.
Respectfully, but still rebelliously, yours,
H. P. BLAVATSKY
Monday, April 2nd, 1877
[From the New York World, April 6th, 1877.
H. P. Blavatsky