C. W. Leadbeater
THE THEOSOPHICAL PUBLISHING HOUSE
ADYAR, MADRAS 20, INDIA
The Occult History of Java
Borobudur and Mendoot
Air Nature Spirits
Printed by D. V. Syamala Rau, at the Vasanta Press,
The Theosophical Society, Adyar, Madras
The Occult History Of Java
THE early history of Java appears to be wrapped in mystery. From reading most of the books written in English on the subject one would infer that the Island was entirely unknown to the rest of the world until it was visited by the Chinese pilgrim Fa Hien in the year 412 Α.D.; and even after that there are at intervals gaps of several centuries which it seems at present impossible to fill by any ordinary means. Ruins are plentiful, but scarcely any of them are more than 1200 years old, and very few records or inscriptions have been preserved. Certain traditions have been handed down among the princely Javanese families; but even those become distinctly apocryphal as we follow them back to the beginning of the Christian era, and beyond that they are mere incredible legends. Perhaps that need not surprise us, for after all we can trace the history of England no further!
By calling in the aid of clairvoyance we can of course carry our investigations back indefinitely, but for our present purpose it will suffice to try to examine the conditions existing in the country somewhere about 2000 B.C. Long before that these islands had been an Atlantean colony, but when Atlantis broke up they became a separate state, which passed through many vicissitudes as the ages rolled on. This part of the world has long been an area of vigorous volcanic activity, which has not even now entirely died out, as is witnessed by the tremendous eruption of Krakatau in 1883, which killed 35,000 people, and caused a 50-ft. tidal wave which travelled as far as Cape Horn, 7818 miles away, and even affected the level of the river Thames in London, besides throwing out so enormous a volume of dust that it rose to a height of two hundred miles and provided the whole world with phenomenally beautiful sunsets for two years thereafter.
In prehistoric times these islands were still part of the continent of Asia. At the present time the Java Sea is only 200 ft. deep, and the continuation of the channels cut by the rivers of Sumatra and Borneo may still be traced at the bottom of this comparatively shallow sheet of water. Even up to the year 915 A.D. the islands of Java and Sumatra were one, and it was an eruption of Krakatau in that year that broke them asunder and created the Straits of Sunda. Outbreaks on such a scale as this frequently devastated whole kingdoms, and had a serious influence upon the history of the country.
Black Magic from Atlantis
The colonists from Atlantis in the very early days had brought with them the dark and evil religion of their country, and as time rolled on, its hold upon the people became ever stronger and more pernicious. It was based entirely upon fear, as are all these gloomy faiths; they worshipped cruel and abominable deities, who required constant propitiation by human sacrifice, and they lived ever under the shadow of a ghastly tyranny from which no escape was possible.
They were ruled at the time to which I now refer by a dynasty of chiefs or kings, each of whom, like the Pharaoh of Egypt, was at the same time the high-priest of the religion; and among these priest-kings we find one who was specially earnest and fanatical in his awful faith. So far as can be seen in a brief examination, there seems no reason to doubt that his belief in these horrors was quite genuine; he had a kind of love for this fair land of Java, and he really thought that only by the perpetuation of his appalling scheme of daily blood sacrifices (which, however, were human only once a week, except on certain special festivals!) could his country be saved from utter destruction at the hands of the spiteful and bloodthirsty deities who were supposed to manifest their anger in frequent volcanic eruptions. Poor fellow, he was under the direct, inspiration of the Darker Powers, but of course he was quite unaware of that, and probably regarded himself as a patriot!
He was a man of great power and inflexible determination, and having worked out his terrible plan of sacrifice, he resolved to ensure as far as he could that it should be continued throughout the ages yet to come. To that end he worked a most elaborate system of magic, throwing by a tremendous and long-continued effort of his will a kind of spell upon the Island—laying it under a curse, as it were, that while his will held, the offering of the sacrifices should never fail. The result of his action may still be seen both etherically and astrally, in the shape of a vast dark cloud hovering low over the Island, just not sufficiently material to be visible to ordinary physical eyesight, but very nearly so. And this malign cloud has the curious appearance of being “pegged down” at certain definite spots, so that it may not drift away.
These spots were of course specially magnetized by him for that purpose; they are nearly always coincident with the craters of the various volcanoes, presumably because these outlets are usually inhabited by a peculiar type of nature-spirits of marvelous tenacity, looking strangely like animated bronze images—a type which is specially susceptible to the kind of influence which he was using, and capable of retaining and reinforcing it for an indefinite period. Naturally also the Darker Powers whom, however unconsciously, he was serving took care to give his scheme such support as they could and thus it comes that this cloud is still in evidence even in the present day, though with far less than its ancient power.
An Aryan Invasion
The inhabitants of Java are a very mixed race—in fact, a conglomeration of races, but all having on the whole a preponderance of Atlantean blood. They were therefore in those earlier days under the jurisdiction of the Lord Chakshusha Manu; but He, being highly dissatisfied with the conditions then existing here, arranged with the Lord Vaivasvata Manu to send down a series of waves of Aryan immigration into the country in the hope of bringing about an improvement. The earliest of these waves with which my investigations have brought me into contact was somewhere about 1200 B.C., though I think that there had been previous efforts; but neither of them nor of this inflow does any definite tradition now remain among the royal archives.
These Hindu invaders seem to have come first as peaceful traders, settling on the coast and gradually forming themselves into small independent commercial States; but in process of time their power greatly increased, and they eventually became the dominant section of the mixed community, so that they were able to impose their laws and their ideals upon the earlier inhabitants. Their religion was Hinduism, though not perhaps of the purest type; but it was at least an enormous improvement upon what had preceded it here. One would have expected those of the older faith to welcome with enthusiasm any theory that would deliver them from its horrors; but as a matter of fact they do not seem to have taken kindly to the complicated ceremonies offered to them, and though under the new regime the foul and ghastly ancient rites were strictly forbidden, they were still extensively practised in secret. The new government suspected this, but feared to make a really determined effort to enforce its unpopular decrees; so the sacrifices were by no means eliminated, though they had to be offered surreptitiously.
Superstition always dies hard, and the more cruel and loathsome it is, the more tenaciously do its votaries cling to it. Hinduism remained the official religion of the country, but more and more as the centuries rolled on did the old devil-worship reassert itself, until its votaries scarcely troubled to conceal their nefarious practices, and the actual condition of the common people was very little better than before the invasion.
This being so, the Lord Vaivasvata decided to make another effort, so He inspired the celebrated Indian ruler Ring Ranishka of Northwest India to send down an expedition to Java in the year 78 A.D. The leader of this new enterprise is known in the tradition of the country as Aji Saka, or sometimes Sakāji, and his name is still reverenced by all the well-read Javanese.
He is credited by them with the final extirpation of cannibalism, the introduction (or perhaps rather the reassertion) of Hindu law and culture, of the caste system, of vegetarianism, of the Hindu epos and the Javanese script, which seems to be derived from the Deνanāgari.
He (since he was an orthodox Hindu), or more probably some of his officers, set up schools of Buddhism in both of its forms, the Hīnayāna and the Mahāyāna. The former seems to have prevailed for some time, but under the rule of the Shailendra Kings in the eighth century the latter school came into prominence, and eventually almost entirely superseded the Hīnayāna form. Buddhism was quickly and widely adopted in the Island, but its followers and those of the Brahmanical religion seem to have lived side by side in perfect amity and tolerance.
Sakāji was well aware of the work which he had been sent to do. It is related of him in local tradition that in seven places in the country he buried certain strongly magnetized objects in order to rid Java of evil influences, endeavouring thus to counteract the “pinning down” process of the Atlantean priest-king. In the Javanese language these evil-destroying charms are called tumbal, and the fact of their existence is well known among the country folk. Though some of the feats attributed to him (such as the removal of certain mountains, etc.) partake rather of the character of the labours of Hercules, he is very far from being merely a legendary figure, and he has set his mark in many ways upon the country which he ruled so firmly. He may not have moved the mountains, but he gave them the Sanskrit names by which they are still universally known today.
A mountain in the Japara district, said to be the oldest and originally the highest elevation in the Island, was in earlier days identified with Μahāmeru but Sakāji gave it the name of Mauriapada—the footprint of Μaυrya. (1) In his time it had already beenextinct for ages, but secondary volcanic action was still in full swing. The Chinese annals of the period report especially a mud-fountain spouting heavenward to such a great height at Grobogan, south of the mountain, that sailors in the distant sea could see it and steer by it. Again, near Tuban (a word which means “welling up”) the same annals mention a well several miles from the coast with so rich an outpouring of fresh water that the sea-water for some distance was not at all salt, nor even brackish, but could be drunk with impunity.
(1) The dynasty of the Mauryas began in 322 B.C. after the death of Alexander. The Capital was Pātaliputra (now Patna). The Emperor Asoka was of Maurya dynasty.
Sakāji selected for the burial-place of the most important and the most powerful of his tumbal or talismans a certain low rounded eminence, the last of the range of hills which overlook the river Prago—a spot which, whether by design or by mere coincidence, is very near to the central point of the whole Island of Java as it is now—though of course in the time of Aji Sāka its position was very far from central, as Java and Sumatra were then joined in one. Now Theosophical students are aware that each country has its own governing Deva, who superintends its development under the direction of the great Spiritual King who in our literature is often entitled the Lord of the World. This Deva watches over and as far as possible endeavours to guide the evolution of all the kingdoms of nature in his country—not the human only, but the animal, vegetable and even the mineral as well, including the vast host of the nature-spirits. He has under him a great number of subordinate Devas, each taking charge of a district, and under them in turn are younger and less experienced spirits, who are learning how to manage still smaller tracts—a wood, a lake, a hill-side.
The Presiding Deva
All these different types and levels of Angels live in their respective provinces, whether those provinces be large or small, and indeed they identify themselves with their territories in a way which is not very easy for human beings to comprehend; each may almost be said to ensoul his region, though it is also true that he has always within that region a particular spot which may be regarded as his special residence. A Deva who finds within his district a suitably-placed mountain or hill frequently selects that as the centre of his operations, and makes it his home—so far as a pervading spirit can be said to have a home.
Now at the same time that our Lord the Manu arranged for the descent of Aji Sāka upon what are now the Netherlands Indies, He also appointed a certain Deva to the office of spiritual superintendent of this most interesting group of islands. This presiding Deva looked round his new province for a desirable residence, but found that practically all the mountains were already pre-empted by the minions of the Atlantean priest-king. How much Sakāji in his physical brain knew about this, to what extent he and the Deva consciously co-operated, I do not know; but the fact emerges that the Angel finally chose for his abode a low rounded eminence. The Aryan leader buried his strongest charm in its depths.
If we remember that that talisman had been specially magnetized for the purpose by the Manu Himself, and that the chosen Angel was one who stood high among the hosts of heaven, and had for that very reason been appointed to this particularly difficult position, we shall perhaps begin to realize what an unusual combination we have here, and what a tremendously powerful centre that low hill has become. Small wonder that when, seven hundred years later, the Shailendra dynasty of kings came into power in Mid-Java and desired to erect a really superb monument in honour of the Lord Buddha, the more sensitive of their monastic advisers recommended that hill as a suitable site, and so came into existence the wonderful structure which we now call Borobudur.
The Designer of Borobudur
Tradition gives the name of the designer of this marvellous fabric as Gunadharma, and states that he was a Hindu Buddhist from the borders of Nepal; but the huge army of workmen whom he employed were Javanese. It is difficult to be certain of dates, but I think that the stūpa was completed in 775 A.D. That date has been suggested by some of the archaeologists, and such researches as I have been able to make confirm this. During the eighth century a sect called Vrajāsana came rather suddenly into prominence in the entire Buddhistic world; it was founded in the Deccan, but its presentation of the religion spread into many countries, Java among the number, and there is some evidence that Borobudur was built under its influence.
Not for very long, however, was this splendid edifice allowed to fulfil the primary object of its builder—that it should be a place of pilgrimage and of instruction to the Buddhist nations of the world. In the year 915 A.D. there occurred another of those terrible volcanic outbursts which have sο frequently and so effectually punctuated the history of this part of the world. The great volcano of Krakatau (then called the Rahata or Cancer-volcano) broke out into an eruption so tremendous that it split the whole island into two parts—now called Java and Sumatra respectively—and brought into existence the Straits of Sunda. In the oldest records we find that the trade route from India to China was always through the Malacca channel; but soon after the earth had settled down again from this awe-inspiring convulsion we begin to hear of the adoption of the new southern passage through the Straits of Sunda. This appalling catastrophe is mentioned in the inscriptions of King Erlanggha, sometimes called Jala-langgha, which signifies “he who walks over the waters”—apparently because he escaped from the devasting floods caused by the eruption, and took refuge on the flank of the great Lawu mountain in Surakarta.
At the same time the volcano Merapi threw out an incredible amount of sand and ashes, destroying almost the whole of Erlanggha’s Mid-Java kingdom, and entirely burying (among many other buildings) Borobudur,, Mendoot, and the Prambanan temples. Naturally an immense amount of injury was done to all these monuments; the dāgοba at the top of Borobudur and a good many of the other projections were broken, but on the other hand the general shape of the edifice was preserved and the stones were held more or less in position. For many centuries the very existence of this great shrine was forgotten; if it could only have remained so until the present day, and been uncovered now by careful and reverent hands, how very much better it would have been!
Erlanggha, thus suddenly deprived at one fell swoop of his kingdom and his revenues (1), seems to have lived a private life with a few retainers for some years on the slopes of Mount Lawu, where be met some Vaishnavite Brahmans who were living in the woods there as ascetics. He learnt much from them and was deeply impressed by their doctrine, which coloured the whole of his future life. After some time, however, he came forth from his seclusion and made his way into East Java, where he had eventually the good fortune to marry the daughter of the King of Kadiri, and so in due course inherited another throne (2). He was evidently an able man, for he developed a rich and powerful kingdom there in East Java, where (1) In 1007. (2) In 1030.
the history of the island then focuses itself; but some centuries passed before it was possible to re-occupy Mid-Java. Under his auspices Sanskrit learning made great advances in the Kadiri and Janggala regions, extending up to the Brantas delta, near where Surabaya now is. Buddhism and Hinduism flourished equally under his rule, and were equally respected; in fact, to a large extent they seem to have blended. The present royal families of Bali and Lombok are descended from Erlanggha.
Some sort of tradition about Borobudur must have lingered among the Javanese royal families, for there is a story that the Crown Prince of Djokjakarta visited it in 1710; but so far as public knowledge goes, it was rediscovered, during the short English occupation of Java in Napoleonic times, by the Governor-General Sir Stamford Raffles, who took a great interest in the temples and ruins of the island. He ordered its exhumation, but it was soon found that the work would take years, and but little had been achieved when the time came to hand back the Islands to Holland. The Dutch Government had other and more immediately pressing work on hand, and antiquarian research was not seriously undertaken until the middle of last century.
Most unfortunately this peerless monument was not at first placed under Government protection, and so some of the images were removed to museums, or even presented to distinguished visitors, and the villagers of the neighbourhood used the ruins as a stone-quarry, in the barbarous way in which villagers do all over the world. At the present time the Government has fully awakened to the immense importance of the trust confided to it, and has created a special department devoted to the protection and restoration of the ruins. The restoration has been done with very great care and judgment, replacing missing stones where absolutely necessary for the support of the building, but never attempting any carving or decoration, so that the new stone is always a blank stone, and we see no art but that of the original period.
The wonderful monument called Borobudur is often described as a temple; but this is not strictly speaking correct. A temple is an edifice more or less like a Christian church or a Muhammadan mosque—a building in which people gather together for religious purposes, to offer worship or prayer to their Deity, or to listen to expositions of the doctrines of their faiths. Another type of sacred structure is theStūpa or Dāgoba, which is usually a solid bell-shaped erection, built to enshrine and to safeguard a relic of the Lord Buddha or some other great saint or teacher. Perhaps the finest specimen of this is the great Shwe Dagon or Golden Pagoda at Rangoon—a magnificent gilded spire higher than St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
Borobudur has more of the characteristics of a Stūpa than of a temple, for undoubtedly a relic was at one time preserved there; yet
it is like no other Stūpa in the world, for it may be called a great picture-gallery, the scenes of which are not painted on canvas or in fresco, but carved in bas-relief in stone, in a series of panels of wonderful precision throughout, and many of them really beautiful. There are 2141 of these, and it is calculated that if they were placed end to end they would extend for nearly three miles.
Perhaps the best way to realize Borobudur is to think of it neither as a temple nor a Stūpa, but as a low rounded hill sheathed with masonry. The original rock of the hill forms the core of the entire erection, which is simply built on to it in successive terraces. The arrangement of these will be best understood by examining first the view of Borobudur from the air (Plate I). We see from the air photograph that the whole fabric may be said to consist of three separate parts. There is first the square base on which the whole edifice stands, each side of the square measuring 620 ft.; and even that will be seen to be really double, consisting of two platforms. These platforms have their own symbolism, to which I shall refer presently.
From this base rises the second part of the edifice, consisting of four rectangular stages, each being a wide terrace or gallery between walls, but open to the sky. It is upon these walls that we find the beautiful
carvings which I have already mentioned (Plate III), rising on either hand as we walk along the galleries—usually two lines of panels one above the other. The top row of reliefs on the chief wall of the lowest gallery represents in order the story of the last life of the Lord Gautama, as it is given in the Sanskrit book called Lālitavistara, while the other scenes are understood to illustrate His teaching in the successive stages of the heaven-world. We see the third division of the building—the three circular platforms and the large central dāgoba (Plate I).
Unquestionably these seven stages are meant to represent the seven planes. The well-known Dutch archaeologist, Professor Krom, writes in his Life of Buddha::
“In accordance with the cosmic significance of the building the galleries are richly decorated, but the platforms which, in contrast to the phenomenal world below, are intended to represent the region of formlessness, have been left unadorned. The reliefs represent texts that were intended to impress lessons of wisdom on the believer’s mind as he ascended the Stūpa, and so to prepare him for the attainment of the highest insight that the Mahāyāna brings before his eyes. In this way he was also spiritually brought on to a higher plane as he approached the central Stūpa” (p. viii).
Quite apart from the carvings and their story, there are in these four galleries 432 larger statues of the Lord Buddha ranged at regular intervals along the upper part of the walls, each sitting in its own niche or recessed shrine (Plate IV). All the 108 images on each side are seated with the same Mūdra or gesture of hands (Plate V). On the North, the Mūdra is that called Abhaya—Have no fear; on the East, the Mūdra is Bhūmisparsha—Touching the earth; on the South, Dāna—Giving; on the West, Dhyāna—Meditation.
As will be seen from Plate VI, on each of the circular platforms we find a ring of statues of the Lord, 72 in all; but in these cases each statue sits inside a lattice-work dāgoba or cupola of stone. The lattice-work differs on these platforms, the holes being sometimes square and sometimes diamond-shaped, and I take them as meant to symbolize (as well as can be done in stone) the marvellous transparency and delicacy of appearance of the auras or vehicles of men on these higher levels.
The senior monks of the Buddhist Sangha used to lead their pupils and their pilgrim-visitors from stage to stage of the building, delivering a series of lectures upon the life and teaching of the Lord, and using the carvings as illustrations. But to the more advanced students they also expounded the theory of the seven planes, and yet further, of the seven principles of man, employing the three circles and the four squares as emblems, just as we today use the triangle and the square to signify the Upper Triad and the Lower Quaternary.
The whole edifice is surmounted by a larger cupola, fifty feet in diameter, crowned by a broken spire (Plate VII). This cupola originally contained a small box or jar of ashes (which have, however, long ago been stolen) and also a curious unfinished statue of a Buddha. The theory of many archeologists is that it was intended to symbolize Amitābha, and was intentionally left unfinished, to show that the Boundless Light could not be represented in human form, but could only be suggested—that, as Mr. Banner says in his Romantic Java: “Mortal skill may not presume to represent in His completeness the All-Highest”. The same author also remarks:
“The lowest of the angled terraces is decorated with carvings representative of common mundane scenes, to emphasize the moral that upon the earth rest all the higher spiritual values. But upon either wall of the four galleries there-after we find a continuous series of bas-reliefs illustrating the religious phenomena in ascending gradation. The first gallery, that is to say, displays a selection of scenes from the historical life of Buddha; the second shows us the minor deities of the Brahmanic worship adopted into the Buddhist Pantheon; the third contains the higher deities, at the plane in which the shrine rather than the deity itself is worshipped; while in the fourth we find only groups of Dhyāni-Buddhas.” (1)
(1) Op. cit., p. 126.
Whether the detail of this statement is correct I cannot say, for I am not sufficiently acquainted with the minute indications by which specialists in archaeology consider that they recognize the various types of Buddhas; but the general idea corresponds with much that I have seen.
The square double platform upon which the whole vast structure rests really makes another stage below the surface of the earth, in which there is an elaborate series of carvings representing various lokas—evidently the lower astral plane, which actually does occupy exactly that position in space. It is supposed by some that this lowest stage was originally intended to be open to the air exactly like the others; other archaeologists claim that it was always intended to be underground to typify the “hells,” but that a broad vaulted passage ran round in front of the carvings, so that they could be seen. Traces of this vaulted passage are said to exist, but when the place was discovered by Europeans it was already filled by huge blocks of stone. The theory is that the enormous weight of the super incumbent masonry caused the whole structure to begin to settle even before it was finished, and that the builders had therefore to sacrifice their lowest stage in order to save the whole. In other words, it was seen that the base would not be strong enough to support the whole, so in order to strengthen that base, a large band of masonry was built round it like a gigantic stone ring, which is now the square platform.
In the middle of each of the four sides of the square a steep stairway ascends, the gateway to each stairway being guarded by sitting lions, and spanned by ornate arches of the highest architectural perfection (Plate VII). From the square basic platform to the topmost of the circular platforms is but 118 ft. in perpendicular height, while the perimeter of the whole pyramid standing on that lower platform is 2080 ft., so that the entire complexity of galleries, with their bewildering wealth of ornamentation, makes a much-flattened half-globe, whose contour against the sky is a perfect curve. In fact, as one writer has unpoetically said, the work has been carried out so skilfully that from far away the structure looks not unlike a highly ornate dish-cover!
It is a mere mound as compared with the Shore Dagon (Rangoon), or the stupendous ruins at Angkor-Wat (Indo-China), but in its details it is far more wonderful and beautiful than either of them. Mr. Scheltema, in his book Monumental Java, describes it as “the most consummate achievement of Buddhist architecture in the whole world”; and in another place he speaks of “the supernatural beauty of Borobudur.” Professor Krom, whom I have already quoted, remarks that Borobudur is one of the most renowned documents and religious monuments of Buddhist art, and that this very beautiful architectural erection surpasses all works of art which one finds in the East. Dr. Krom himself, who is otherwise a materialist, was so affected by the beauty of Borobudur that he says that the atmosphere radiated by this monument is so extraordinary because of the divine inspiration which guided the hands that shaped it.
[Note by C. Jinarājadāsa: I first saw Borobudur in 1919. Since then I have visited the monument twice. I have been profoundly impressed by one special quality of the architect’s great conception. This monument is linked in my mind with that marvel of India, the Taj Mahal. There is in both an unusual quality of a transcendental unity, and in addition something almost supernatural. It is as if each monument were really a great thought-form—in granite at Borobudur and in marble at Agra, and that this thought-form descended to earth and clothed itself in matter. It becomes then the monument which we admire. In the cases of both Borobudur and the Taj Mahal, there is a feeling that if some magician were to wave his wand, each monument would in its entirety simply rise upwards into the heavens and vanish. I know of no other monuments which have this unusual spiritual quality. Probably the Parthenon at Athens had the same magic quality.]
A mile and a half from Borobudur is the temple of Mendoot—a building which, though very much smaller than the other and having quite a different purpose, is evidently of the same period and exhibits the same combination of felicity in design and precision in execution. This time the edifice is really a temple, containing three large statues, which practically fill it; and one may see that even at the present day the peasants of the neighbourhood still pay reverence to them, and lay before them daily offerings of flowers.
The temple was apparently originally a structure of brick, but round that some eleven or twelve hundred years ago was built a stone outer sheath, scrupulously following the older design in all its complicated details of panellings, and of horizontal and perpendicular projections. It stands in the middle of an elevated platform, and its exterior is decorated with excellent carvings such as those at Borobudur, but in this case they illustrate not the life of the Lord Buddha but certain ancient folk-tales or popular legends, of the order of Aesop’s Fables. The building has a high pyramidal roof which, I am told, shows remarkable skill in vaulting. It is supposed that there was originally some sort of dāgoba-like top or spire as a finish to the truncated pyramid, but as no traces of this now remain, the restorers have not ventured to make any attempt to reproduce it (Plate VIII).
A broad flight of steps leads up to a high and rather narrow doorway, on entering which the traveller finds himself in a lofty square room in the presence of the three great statues to which Ι have already referred, sitting with their backs to the three walls, precisely as though they were gathered round a table in conversation; but there is no table (Plate IΧ). As we enter, the image of the Lord Buddha faces us, while that shown on our right is a Bodhisattva. The statue in the middle, which by many marks is clearly intended for the Lord Buddha, is fourteen feet high in its sitting position, while the other two are only eight feet from top to toe as they sir. (1) Originally, therefore, the central statue must have towered above the others, but its enormous weight has caused its base to subside considerably, so that now they are almost on a level.
(1) As the two images to the right and to the left wear crowns, they represent Bodhisattvas. Often the crown of a Bodhisattva has a small Buddha image carved on it, as a sign that the Bodhisattva will later become a Buddha.—C. J.
Several curious things may be noted in connection with these statues. They are not in the least the traditional half-Mongolian Buddha figures; the faces are clearly Aryan, and also quite individual—indeed, they are supposed to be portraits. The Lord Buddha is seated as a European and not as an Asiatic, and the others are at least halfway between the two postures. The edge of the Lord’s robe is conventionally indicated by a line, yet it does not seem to conceal the rest of the body. Both of the other statues are much more ornately dressed, wearing necklaces, armlets, wristbands, anklets and tiaras; and it is remarkable that these ornaments are far more Brahmanical than Buddhistic in character.
There is much dispute among archeologists as to the identity of these other figures, and no reliance can be placed upon the names of Padmapāni and Manjushrī, which are often attached to them by the photographers. The curator who was in charge of Mendoot on my first visit—a very able man who was exceedingly kind and helpful—professed himself as fairly certain that the figure on the left of the Lord (but of course on our right as we look at them from the doorway) was intended for the Lord Maitreya; I myself for various reasons rather inclined to the idea that the other image, seated on the right of the Lord, may have been meant for the great Bodhisattva. The little figure hovering over the head of that statue is usually explained as a Dhyānī-Buddha overshadowing the earthly manifestation.
There is a strong belief among the Javanese noble families (who have many interesting traditions of the past) that there is an underground passage from Mendoot to Borobudur, leading into a subterranean Temple of Initiation which, they assert, exists under the latter —a passage which was intentionally closed at a later date. Dr. Brandes, an archeologist of high reputation, discovered in the course of his excavations a red-brick building under the foundations of Mendoot, but was unable to continue his investigations because they endangered the stability of the whole edifice. It is supposed that Mendoot was the central shrine (the private chapel, as it were,) of a great group of monasteries occupied by the host of monks attached to Borobudur.
A True Story of Java
THREE Initiates stood on the brink of a lonely pool. Far from all human habitation—the nearest being a small group of huts used by a few uncultured labourers working upon a vast plantation—the whole place was steeped in the marvellous pregnant silence of the tropical noon. It seemed as though all the world lay dozing in the glow of that splendid sunlight, waiting to waken to a more active life when the cool dews of evening should descend upon the expectant earth.
This tiny lake is on the shoulder of a mountain; it is surrounded and shut in by noble trees, but not far away, through a break in the forest, one can look out over miles of undulating plain with little sign of human occupation. A road passes within easy reach of this magic spot, but travellers are few, and the deep peace of the district is but rarely disturbed by the uncouth gruntings of a climbing motor.
This pool is of no great size—perhaps not much more than a hundred yards across; it is what in Scotland would be called a tarn; the peasants regard it as a sacred lake, and it lies like a lovely gem in the green setting of the forest trees. On the opposite side of it there rises, abruptly an almost perpendicular cliff, probably seven or eight hundred feet in height, just not too steep to be clothed with a perfect curtain of trees and bushes—a wonderful and most beautiful hillside. The water is absolutely still, sheltered and unruffled.
It should be—it is now—a scene of uttermost peace, a haven of calm for a troubled spirit; but at the time of the visit of the Brothers of whom I spoke, there was about it a curious feeling of unrest, of long-enduring melancholy and remorse, hoping for relief, yet hardly daring to expect it. Looking round for the source of this strange sadness, our Brethren found that it emanated from the Spirit of the Lake, who was a Devī—that is to say, a spirit with a distinctly feminine appearance. We know that in the Deva kingdom there is nothing corresponding to sex as we know it on the physical plane, but assuredly some Angels have a virile and essentially masculine aspect, while others look just as definitely feminine, and this was one of the type last-mentioned.
The Brethren felt very strongly that she was waiting for something—waiting rather hopelessly, and with a sickening sense of intense regret. Our Brothers watched her very closely for a few moments, and one said to another:
“For whom is she waiting? It cannot be for us, though I thought at first that it was.”
“No,” replied the other; “but she has done something—something that makes her very sad, and she hoped for a moment that we had come to put it right.”
They were all conscious that there was a very fine and a very kindly Deva on the summit of that steep hill-side just across the pool, and that he was watching over the Lake-Spirit’s trouble with great solicitude and tenderness. Naturally, our Brethren expressed the deepest sympathy, and asked as delicately as possible what was the matter, and whether there was anything they could do to help.
In response the Lake-Spirit thanked them rather wearily and brought before them a. succession of scenes—which, you know is a Deva’s way of telling a story, a sort of astral and mental cinematography—from which our friends acquired the outline of her tale of woe.
It seems that that country had long ago been for centuries under very evil influences connected with Atlantean black magic; later there had been an Āryan invasion which introduced great improvements in religious matters, but for a long period both forms of belief and practice existed simultaneously, and even now in the twentieth century relics of the more ancient faith are to be found in remote places, as I can personally testify.
There was a time, not so very long ago, when the land was parcelled out among a number of petty Āryan chieftains or Rājas, whose dominions were in many cases hardly larger than the more modern German Grand Duchies; but these distinctly minor kings were (softly be it spoken) just as proud and arrogant as though they had been Chakravartins—the rulers of mighty empires! There were also living in the country descendants of the old Atlantean royal race, who were still deeply venerated by the peasants, but were of course despised with truly Āryan intolerance by the scions of the conquering race.
It appears that once upon a time the son of the local Rāja had the bad taste (from his father’s point of view) to fall in love with one of these Atlantean princesses—not a bad-looking person by any means, and of very kindly and affectionate disposition. Of course the Āryan father behaved as fathers so often do under such circumstances; he would not hear of such a marriage at any price, and fell into a violent fury; so the unhappy young people ran away together in the best traditional manner, with the avenging parent hot-foot upon their trail, breathing all kinds of fire and slaughter. The lovers fled in great disorder, and just when they came into the neighbourhood of the lake the lady began to feel faint, in the inappropriate way which Victorian ladies frequently adopted at critical moments; and so the irate father overtook them, or at least was in sight and on the point of doing so.
The Devī of the Lake seems to have been at that time an inexperienced person, young at her work. She knew quite enough of Atlantean centres and methods to be aware that there were spirits in connection with other lakes and woods who made an obscene sort of livelihood by receiving sacrifices and inducing people either to drown themselves or to throw their enemies into a lake, as the case might be; and she seems to have felt a kind of envy of the power gained by these foul entities, or at any rate a strong curiosity to try an experiment and see whether black magic was really quite as dreadful as the Deva on the hilltop had always said it was.
So just when the young couple were full of despair she impressed upon their minds a very powerful suggestion that they should throw themselves into the lake, thus dying together and ending all their troubles. Under their desperate circumstances the idea commended itself to the half-crazy lovers, and in a few moments the tragedy was over, and the father was left weeping upon the bank, like Lord Ullin in the Scottish version of a very similar story:
Come back, come back, he cried in grief
Across the stormy water,
And I’ll forgive thy Highland chief,
My daughter! O my daughter!
The Spirit of the Lake shrank back in horror, realizing in a moment the awful result of her unhallowed desires; and she had been mourning about it ever since, not knowing what to do in the way of atonement. It seemed to do her some good to tell her story, or at least to exhibit it in a series of pictures; and the Brethren did their best to comfort her, explaining that the past was past and could not be recalled, and that the only thing to do now was to try to make some kind of compensation by radiating peace and goodwill upon all those who came to visit this lonely spot. They then gave her a Blessing and exchanged courteous greetings with the Deva of the hilltop, who thanked them very heartily for what they had done.
A few months later the Brethren visited the Lake again, and were delighted to find that a great change had taken place in the condition of affairs. The Deva and Devī are now in much closer friendship than before, and are therefore able to do much better work for the ruling Angel of the whole mountain, who is a very great person, and one of the principal lieutenants of the Deva-King of that country—its national Angel. So the apparently casual help given to the attendant Spirit of a small and lonely lake has had far-reaching and important results.
I have heard since that that little pool is called Telaga Warna, and I am told that Telaga means lake, and that Warna is a corruption of the Samskrit varna, which means colour or caste—because originally the different castes were distinguished by the fact that the Āryan had intermarried with various lower races, and so there was between them an actual distinction of colour. As the whole point of the story depends upon the father’s horror of an intermarriage between different castes and different religions, it seems to me that we have a kind of indirect reference to that story in this popular name.
Air Nature Spirits
C. W. LEADBEATER, describes his first aeroplane journey, from Brisbane to Toowoomba, in August 1928 [Ed. Note—edited from The Australian Theosophist Aug 1928], as follows:
“The air spirits seemed to hail us with riotous joy; they clustered around us and circled at our prow just as I have often seen dolphins behave round the bows of a steamer. We were flying at a very fair speed, but these creatures circled round us with the utmost ease, as though they did not feel the air pressure at all. They gave me the impression of being extremely friendly and well-disposed, and did not in the slightest degree resent our intrusion upon their domain. Curiously enough, however, I caught sight of some other creatures higher up—much higher up—who seemed by no means so friendly. They were of immense size and looked somehow far more material than the sylphs. They were curiously sullen in appearance, and I rather wondered what sort of reception they would have given us if we had risen into their immediate neighborhood. I did not much like the look of them; they reminded me uncomfortably of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s powerful story ‘The Horror of the Heights’. But after all they may have been quite harmless, though sulky.”
At The Dasara Festival At Mysore
[Each year at the Festival observed throughout India, called Dasara, which lasts for ten days, the Mahārājah of Mysore holds various ceremonial functions. A few invited guests can also be present. At one of them he receives all the State officials who, dressed in their State uniforms, present to him certain traditional gifts, which however he only “touches and remits”. On another day there is the pūja and blessing of all the State animals—elephants, camels, horses and bullocks—of automobiles and all the coaches and carts, of the State umbrella, and of all the equipment and articles used by the Palace household, and so on. One afternoon there is a great procession through the principal streets of the city, when the streets are lined with the subjects of the Mahārājah. (1) He rides slowly in procession, sometimes
(1) When I saw this procession there was not a single policeman about to keep the crowd in order, as was the case in British India.—C. J. carried in a sedan-chair litter, sometimes mounted on the beautiful white State horse, and at certain points the priests come forward with offerings. He stops for a moment to “receive” them, i.e., to touch them, and then passes on.
The Mahārājah of Mysore, the predecessor of the present Mahārājah, was deeply religious, and several afternoons of each week he would drive to Chāmundi Hill, where there is the temple of the patron goddess of Mysore, the Goddess Chāmundi, who is one embodiment of the Goddess Pārνatī, the consort of the God Shiva. There he would divest himself of his ordinary garb, and dressed in a dhoti as a pious Hindu would sit in meditation. The subjects of the Mahārājah had profound veneration fοr him, and whenever there was an opportunity, as at the public procession, they expressed it, in silent reverence with joined palms.
What happened in the occult world on one of these occasions in 1933 is here described by C. W. Leadbeater.—C. J.]
I ought perhaps to premise that what most especially engaged my attention was the fact that a reigning monarch took a leading part in all the ceremonies. Having studied occultism for half a century, I have learnt that there is a tremendous inner reality behind the idea of “the divinity which doth hedge a King,” and that, though probably he hardly .ever realizes it, he is just as truly set apart and consecrated for his position under the august Head of the First Ray as is an Archbishop for his quite different work on the Second Ray. Through each there flows the influence peculiar to his Ray; for each there is the same distinction, so little understood, between the power thatmay flow and the power that must flow. Let me try to explain what I mean.
I can do so best by employing an analogy, drawn in this case from Christian sources. The great majority of Christians accept the doctrine of Apostolic Succession; that is to say, they know that in order to perform certain ceremonies and to do certain work a Priest must be duly ordained. The power effectively to perform those ceremonies and to do that work is conferred upon him by a duly authorized official, and that power, once given, cannot be withdrawn. An ordained Priest may be, for sufficient reason, deprived of his position and its emoluments, if any, but he cannot be deprived of his priestly power. That this doctrine is understood and accepted by the Church may be seen by the perusal of the 26th of the Articles of Religion of the Church of England “On the Unworthiness of the Minister, which hindereth not the Effect of the Sacrament”. This may seem startling to some, but is really logical and reasonable; he who wishes for an explanation of this is referred to The Hidden Side of Things or toThe Science of the Sacraments, in both of which this matter is treated fully.
From this it follows, however strange it may seem, that a Sacrament may be effectually administered by a Priest who is far from understanding it, or is even of doubtful character; that is the power or influence that must flow through him because of his ordination. But it is obvious that along with this a great deal more may and indeed must flow through a really good and earnest Priest who is devoted to his holy work, and does it with full heart and understanding. Still more is this true of his superior officer, the Bishop or Archbishop; indeed, it is expected of the Bishop that he shall be a perpetual fount of blessing wherever he goes—a true follower and representative of the Head of the Second Ray.
What I wish to emphasize is that a precisely similar attitude is expected from a King—that he has a similar consecration (at the time of his coronation), a similar power, a similar duty; but with this very important difference, that his work lies on the line of the First Ray instead of the Second.
His function is to rule, to guide, to guard, and when necessary to restrain; the virtues on which he lays most stress are truth, justice, strength and courage, whereas those emphasized by the Second Ray are love, gentleness, and compassion. One is concerned principally with physical life and its circumstances, the other chiefly with spiritual development. Wisdom is equally necessary on both lines.
The special work of the Priest or the Bishop constantly brings him before the public in the exercise of his power to bless, so I have frequently had the opportunity of watching the mechanism of the Second Ray in action, even apart from my own work in the Church; but it is not so frequently that the chance comes in one’s way to see the royal function in operation on a large scale. Also, not every King is aware of the full scope of his power, and so he may not use it intentionally.
The “tongue of good report,” however, had universally been heard in favour of His Highness the Maharajah of Mysore; every one spoke of him as an enlightened sovereign, religious by nature and anxious to do his duty to his people; so it occurred to me that it would be of interest to observe the play of forces around him on the occasion of this great public function.
The entry of the Mahārājah into the Audience Hall was exceedingly impressive. The Mahārājah certainly had an escort—in fact he had a double escort, one visible to all, the other and much larger probably seen by few. First, a distinct aura or wave of influence preceded him. He has a very fine aura of his own, this monarch; but it is not to that that I am referring. He was attended by various Devas, and the effect produced at the time of this entry was as though these Devas had thrown an enormous extra faintly luminous aura around him like a great cloud, so that it extended far before him, and as it were pushed its way into the vast crowd waiting for him. It seemed for the moment to absorb, or perhaps better still to infiltrate, all the auras of those present—not so much changing them as vivifying, intensifying, one might almost say electrifying them, undoubtedly preparing them more readily to receive other influences more personal to himself. He could have had no personal volition in manipulating this; it was done for him by those attendant Devas, but it sent a thrill through the whole of that vast crowd although some of those present were much more strongly affected by it than others.
When he himself came in sight, it was at once observable that he and his double escort (physical and astral) were walking in the midst of a globe of light of the same nature as the aura which had preceded him, but far more brilliant. This globe moved with the party, but was entirely distinct from the individual auras of the sovereign and the Angels and men surrounding him. Those auras are of course permanent, whereas the globe gave the impression of being specially formed for the occasion. When the Mahārājah reached the foot of the throne he paused for a few moments, and then walked round it, which seemed slightly to check the flow of the force, but on the other hand produced a strong magnetic effect—a sort of preliminary cleansing.
Then he ascended to the throne, and as his gaze swept over that vast assembly, one felt that he was as it were entering into his kingdom, making a strong personal link with all who could respond to him, in an intimate way which had been rendered possible only by that preliminary action of his Devas in sending out the influence before him. One felt that thereby he held his audience within his grip, so that the active beneficence mentioned could be applied and materialized in their hearts. His Angel escort was industriously co-operating in all this, and its members contrived to keep up something of this feeling in many of his subjects all through the long ceremony which followed. Having made this link with their help, and sent a real wave of enthusiasm sweeping through the hearts of his people as they heard their National Anthem, the sovereign seated himself, and the crowd gradually settled down also.
Then the proceedings began, as described by Miss Kellett; but meantime the Deva attendants who had been floating round and above the throne brought into action a curious astral construction, the like of which I have not hitherto seen. They produced an object which I can only compare to a gigantic, sparkling, diaphanous crown, perhaps six feet or thereabouts in diameter, the base of it being the usual circular ring, but the upper parts rising apparently into a number of points resembling rather an earl’s crown than that of a King. This strange shape they held in the air some distance above the head of the ruler, so that it interpenetrated the golden canopy or roof of the throne. Into this there seemed to flow from above what I can describe only as a kind of stream of soft, liquid light, which seemed to be absorbed by—to charge as it were—the form seated on the throne. When the Mahārājah stretched out his hand to touch something, a flash of this soft light passed from him to the person or object touched, and in the case of some of the recipients it evoked a certain outpouring in reply; but this varied greatly in volume, in colour and in brilliance with different people—I imagine according to their receptivity. It was evidently this scheme which enabled him to endure the fatigue of the ceremony, and yet “to give unto the last even as unto the first”.
The Durbar on the ninth night is the only one in which European guests participate. On this occasion they are presented to His Highness and receive from him a gift of flowers—garlands for the men and bouquets for the ladies. This night is more specially than the others a mere social function—there is about it less solemnity, because the Western element is so foreign to the surroundings.
I can well understand this feeling of “less solemnity,” for there was practically no inner side to this part of the function. The sovereign was attended by his usual Deva escort—I presume that is always with him—but that strange sparkling fairy-like, floating crown was not made, and the wonderful living light of yesterday flowed very sparingly, and received scarcely any response, save in one or two cases. The Mahārājah was still every inch a king, but it was obvious that he was not their king, though quite genial and kindly disposed towards them.
The concluding procession was again a most interesting example of the whole-hearted co-operation of the Angel kingdom with the human. I do not know exactly from what point of view His Highness the Mahārājah regards that procession, but I am able to say that the Deva helpers look upon it as a grand final demonstration intended to impress permanently on the minds and hearts of the people the lessons which they have been trying to inculcate. Their efforts are always directed to the general upliftment of the masses whom they are trying to help, and they regard the affection and devotion which the people feel for their ruler as very important factors through which they can be influenced for good. Al] through the ten days of the festival they have been trying to strengthen such feelings where they already exist, and to awaken them where they do not, and they hope, through the emotion excited by the magnificence of this final procession to stamp these ideas so deeply upon their people that they will not fade out until the next great festival comes to revivify them.
In trying to understand the work of the Devas, we have always to bear in mind that selfishness is absolutely unknown among them; they regard its frequent manifestation by humanity as a kind of terrible disease which must be eliminated at all costs. Therefore they are always working to increase contentment and fraternal feeling in humanity, and it is in that direction that they have been moving through all the days of this prolonged festivity. They see readily that there is much in the hardness and the competition of the daily life of man which by its constant pressure tends to deaden these finer feelings and gradually to erase them, and so they wish to use this culmination of the feast to retain the level just gained.
Therefore the promoters of the movement call together a vast host of minor Angel friends to hover over and increase the joyousness of the procession, so that amidst a very surfeit of physical-plane attractions a shower of benediction may be poured out through it as it passes along. There is also the idea of strongly magnetizing the road which is taken, so that it may continue to influence those who use it. Once more the Mahārājah is the centre of all this influence, and it is through him that the greatest of the blessings are outpoured.
What is there that we can learn from all this? Happily most of us are not called upon to bear the heavy burden of a royal crown; yet there are many among us who are kings in a small way—employers on a more or less extensive scale, heads of departments or offices. We cannot hope to wield the widespread influence of a monarch, but we can make happier or less happy the lives of those over whom we find ourselves temporarily in control, and we know of the promise that he who is faithful in small things will presently have the opportunity to extend that faithfulness to something greater. If we find ourselves in a position of authority, it is assuredly our duty to see that the work for which we are responsible is properly done; but that can be achieved far more efficiently by kindness and persuasion than by roughness. We must learn to work not through fear but through love; so shall we deserve the angelic co-operation, and, deserving it, be sure that we shall receive it.
It was extremely interesting to me to find so marked a case of this angelic co-operation. It seems to me to show that if ever we are happy enough to reach a stage in which all the world will work together in that way along similar lines, the help of the higher evolution of the Deva Kingdom will undoubtedly be extended to us in many ways of which at present we have no conception.
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