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The Himalayan Brothers--Do They Exist?


Mohini M. Chatterji



"Ask and it shall be given unto you;  knock and it shall be opened,"

this is an accurate representation of the position of the earnest

inquirer as to the existence of the Mahatmas.  I know of none who took

up this inquiry in right earnest and were not rewarded for their labours

with knowledge, certainty.  In spite of all this there are plenty of

people who carp and cavil but will not take the trouble of proving the

thing for themselves. Both by Europeans and a section of our own

countrymen--the too Europeanized graduates of Universities--the

existence of the Mahatmas is looked upon with incredulity and distrust,

to give it no harder name.  The position of the Europeans is easily

intelligible, for these things are so far removed from their

intellectual horizon, and their self-sufficiency is so great, that they

are almost impervious to these new ideas.  But it is much more difficult

to conceive why the people of India, who are born and brought up in an

atmosphere redolent with the traditions of these things, should affect

such scepticism.  It would have been more natural for them, on the other

hand, to hail such proofs as those I am now laying before the public

with the same satisfaction as an astronomer feels when a new star, whose

elements he has calculated, swims within his ken.  I myself was a

thorough-going disbeliever only two years back.  In the first place I

had never witnessed any occult phenomena myself, nor did I find any one

who had done so in that small ring of our countrymen for whom only I was

taught to have any respect--the "educated classes."  It was only in the

month of October, 1882, that I really devoted any time and attention to

this matter, and the result is that I have as little doubt with respect

to the existence of the Mahatmas as of mine own.  I now know that they

exist.  But for a long time the proofs that I had received were not all

of an objective character.  Many things which are very satisfactory

proofs to me would not be so to the reader.  On the other hand, I have

no right to speak of the unimpeachable evidence I now possess.

Therefore I must do the best I can with the little I am permitted to

give.  In the present paper I have brought forward such evidence as

would be perfectly satisfactory to all capable of measuring its

probative force.


The evidence now laid before the public was collected by me during the

months of October and November, 1882, and was at the time placed before

some of the leading members of the Theosophical Society, Mr. Sinnett

among others.  The account of Bro. Ramaswamier's interview with his Guru

in Sikkhim being then ready for publication, there was no necessity, in

their opinion, for the present paper being brought to light.  But since

an attempt has been made in some quarters to minimize the effect of Mr.

Ramaswamier's evidence by calling it most absurdly "the hallucinations

of a half-frozen strolling Registrar," I think something might be gained

by the publication of perfectly independent testimony of, perhaps,

equal, if not greater, value, though of quite a different character.

With these words of explanation as to the delay in its publication, I

resign this paper to the criticism of our sceptical friends.  Let them

calmly consider and pronounce upon the evidence of the Tibetan pedlar at

Darjiling, supported and strengthened by the independent testimony of

the young Brahmachari at Dehradun.  Those who were present when the

statements of these persons were taken, all occupy very respectable

positions in life--some in fact belonging to the front ranks of Hindu

Society, and several in no way connected with the Theosophical movement,

but, on the contrary, quite unfriendly to it.  In those days I again say

I was rather sceptical myself.  It is only since I collected the

following evidence and received more than one proof of the actual

existence of my venerated master, Mahatma Koothoomi, whose presence--

quite independently of Madame Blavatsky, Colonel Olcott or any "alleged"

Chela--was made evident to me in a variety of ways, that I have given up

the folly of doubting any longer.  Now I believe no more--I KNOW;  and

knowing, I would help others to obtain the same knowledge.


During my visit to Darjiling I lived in the same house with several

Theosophists, all as ardent aspirants for the higher life, and most of

them as doubtful with regard to the Himalayan Mahatmas as I was myself

at that time.  I met at Darjiling persons who claimed to be Chelas of

the Himalayan Brothers and to have seen and lived with them for years.

They laughed at our perplexity.  One of them showed us an admirably

executed portrait of a man who appeared to be an eminently holy person,

and who, I was told, was the Mahatma Koothoomi (now my revered master),

to whom Mr. Sinnett's "Occult World" is dedicated.  A few days after my

arrival, a Tibetan pedlar of the name of Sundook accidentally came to

our house to sell his things.  Sundook was for years well-known in

Darjiling and the neighbourhood as an itinerant trader in Tibetan

knick-knacks, who visited the country every year in the exercise of his

profession.  He came to the house several times during our stay there,

and seemed to us, from his simplicity, dignity of bearing and pleasant

manners, to be one of Nature's own gentlemen.  No man could discover in

him any trait of character even remotely allied to the uncivilized

savages, as the Tibetans are held in the estimation of Europeans.  He

might very well have passed for a trained courtier, only that he was too

good to be one.  He came to the house while I was there.  On the first

occasion he was accompanied by a Goorkha youth, named Sundar Lall, an

employee in the Darjiling News office, who acted as interpreter.  But we

soon found out that the peculiar dialect of Hindi which he spoke was

intelligible to some of us without any interpreter, and so there was

none needed on subsequent occasions.  On the first day we put him some

general questions about Tibet and the Gelugpa sect, to which he said he

belonged, and his answers corroborated the statements of Bogle, Turnour

and other travelers.  On the second day we asked him if he had heard of

any persons in Tibet who possessed extraordinary powers besides the

great lamas.  He said there were such men;  that they were not regular

lamas, but far higher than they, and generally lived in the mountains

beyond Tchigatze and also near the city of Lhassa.  These men, he said,

produce many and very wonderful phenomena or "miracles," and some of

their Chelas, or Lotoos, as they are called in Tibet, cure the sick by

giving them to eat the rice which they crush out of the paddy with their

hands, &c. Then one of us had a glorious idea.  Without saying one word,

the above-mentioned portrait of the Mahatma Koothoomi was shown to him.

He looked at it for a few seconds, and then, as though suddenly

recognizing it, he made a profound reverence to the portrait, and said

it was the likeness of a Chohan (Mahatma) whom he had seen.  Then he

began rapidly to describe the Mahatma's dress and naked arms;  then

suiting the action to the word, he took off his outer cloak, and baring

his arms to the shoulder, made the nearest approach to the figure in the

portrait, in the adjustment of his dress.


He said he had seen the Mahatma in question accompanied by a numerous

body of Gylungs, about that time of the previous year (beginning of

October 1881) at a place called Giansi, two days' journey southward of

Tchigatze, whither the narrator dad gone to make purchases for his

trade.  On being asked the name of the Mahatma, he said to our unbounded

surprise, "They are called Koothum-pa."  Being cross-examined and asked

what he meant by "they," and whether he was naming one man or many, he

replied that the Koothum-pas were many, but there was only one man or

chief over them of that name;  the disciples being always called after

the names of their guru.  Hence the name of the latter being Koot-hum,

that of his disciples was "Koot-hum-pa."  Light was shed upon this

explanation by a Tibetan dictionary, where we found that the word "pa"

means "man;"  "Bod-pa" is a "man of Bod or Thibet," &c.  Similarly

Koothum-pa means man or disciple of Koothoom or Koothoomi.  At Giansi,

the pedlar said, the richest merchant of the place went to the Mahatma,

who had stopped to rest in the midst of an extensive field, and asked

him to bless him by coming to his house.  The Mahatma replied, he was

better where he was, as he had to bless the whole world, and not any

particular man.  The people, and among them our friend Sundook, took

their offerings to the Mahatma, but he ordered them to be distributed

among the poor.  Sundook was exhorted by the Mahatma to pursue his trade

in such a way as to injure no one, and warned that such was the only

right way to prosperity.  On being told that people in India refused to

believe that there were such men as the Brothers in Tibet, Sundook

offered to take any voluntary witness to that country, and convince us,

through him, as to the genuineness of their existence, and remarked that

if there were no such men in Tibet, he would like to know where they

were to be found.  It being suggested to him that some people refused to

believe that such men existed at all, he got very angry.  Tucking up the

sleeve of his coat and shirt, and disclosing a strong muscular arm, he

declared that he would fight any man who would suggest that he had said

anything but the truth.


On being shown a peculiar rosary of beads belonging to Madame Blavatsky,

the pedlar said that such things could only be got by those to whom the

Tesshu Lama presented them, as they could be got for no amount of money

elsewhere.  When the Chela who was with us put on his sleeveless coat

and asked him whether he recognized the latter's profession by his

dress, the pedlar answered that he was a Gylung and then bowing down to

him took the whole thing as a matter of course.  The witnesses in this

case were Babu Nobin Krishna Bannerji, deputy magistrate, Berhampore,

M.R. Ry. Ramaswamiyer Avergal, district registrar, Madura (Madras), the

Goorkha gentleman spoken of before, all the family of the first-named

gentleman, and the writer.


Now for the other piece of corroborative evidence.  This time it came

most accidentally into my possession.  A young Bengali Brahmachari, who

had only a short time previous to our meeting returned from Tibet and

who was residing then at Dehradun, in the North-Western Provinces of

India, at the house of my grandfather-in-law, the venerable Babu

Devendra Nath Tagore of the Brahmo Samaj, gave most unexpectedly, in the

presence of a number of respectable witnesses, the following account:--


On the 15th of the Bengali month of Asar last (1882). being the 12th day

of the waxing moon, he met some Tibetans, called the Koothoompas, and

their guru in a field near Taklakhar, a place about a day's journey from

the Lake of Manasarawara.  The guru and most of his disciples, who were

called gylungs, wore sleeveless coats over under-garments of red.  The

complexion of the guru was very fair, and his hair, which was not parted

but combed back, streamed down his shoulders.  When the Brahmachani

first saw the Mahatma he was reading in a book, which the Brahmachari

was informed by one of the gylungs was the Rig Veda.


The guru saluted him, and asked him where he was coming from.  On

finding the latter had not had anything to eat, the guru commanded that

he should be given some ground gram (Sattoo) and tea.  As the

Brahmachari could not get any fire to cook food with, the guru asked

for, and kindled a cake of dry cow-dung--the fuel used in that country

as well as in this--by simply blowing upon it, and gave it to our

Brahmachari.  The latter assured us that he had often witnessed the same

phenomenon, produced by another guru or chohan, as they are called in

Tibet, at Gauri, a place about a day's journey from the cave of Tarchin,

on the northern side of Mount Kailas.  The keeper of a flock, who was

suffering from rheumatic fever came to the guru, who gave him a few

grains of rice, crushed out of paddy, which the guru had in his hand,

and the sick man was cured then and there.


Before he parted company with the Koothumpas and their guru, the

Brahmachari found that they were going to attend a festival held on the

banks of the Lake of Manasarawara, and that thence they intended to

proceed to the Kailas mountains.


The above statement was on several occasions repeated by the Brahmachari

in the presence (among others) of Babu Dwijender Nath Tagore of

Jorasanko, Calcutta;  Babu Cally Mohan Ghose of the Trigonometrical

Surcey of India, Dehradun;  Babu Cally Cumar Chatterij of the same

place;  Babu Gopi Mohan Ghosh of Dacca; Babu Priya Nath Sastri, clerk to

Babu Devender Nath Tagore, and the writer.  Comments would here seem

almost superfluous, and the facts might very well have been left to

speak for themselves to a fair and intelligent jury.  But the averseness

of people to enlarge their field of experience and the wilful

misrepresentation of designing persons know no bounds.  The nature of

the evidence here adduced is of an unexceptional character.  Both

witnesses were met quite accidentally.  Even if it be granted, which we

certainly do not for a moment grant, that the Tibetan pedlar, Sundook,

had been interviewed by some interested person, and induced to tell an

untruth, what can be conceived to have been the motive of the

Brahmachari, one belonging to a religious body noted for their

truthfulness, and having no idea as to the interest the writer took in

such things, in inventing a romance, and how could he make it fit

exactly with the statements of the Tibetan pedlar at the other end of

the country?  Uneducated persons are no doubt liable to deceive

themselves in many matters, but these statements dealt only with such

disunited facts as fell within the range of the narrator's eyes and

ears, and had nothing to do with his judgment or opinion.  Thus, when

the pedlar's statement is coupled with that of the Dehradun Brahmachari,

there is, indeed, no room left for any doubt as to the truthfulness of

either.  It may here be mentioned that the statement of the Brahmachari

was not the result of a series of leading questions, but formed part of

the account he voluntarily gave of his travels during the year, and that

he is almost entirely ignorant of the English language, and had, to the

best of my knowledge, information and belief, never even so much as

heard of the name of Theosophy.  Now, if any one refuses to accept the

mutually corroborative but independent testimonies of the Tibetan pedlar

of Darjiling and the Brahmachari of Dehradun on the ground that they

support the genuineness of facts not ordinarily falling within the

domain of one's experience, all I can say is that it is the very miracle

of folly.  It is, on the other hand, most unshakably established upon

the evidence of several of his Chelas, that the Mahatma Koothoomi is a

living person like any of us, and that moreover he was seen by two

persons on two different occasions.  This will, it is to be hoped,

settle for ever the doubts of those who believe in the genuineness of

occult phenomena, but put them down to the agency of "spirits."  Mark

one circumstance.  It may be argued that during the pedlar's stay at

Darjiling, Madame Blavatsky was also there, and, who knows, she might

have bribed him (!!) into saying what he said.  But no such thing can be

urged in the case of the Dehradun Brahmachari.  He knew neither the

pedlar nor Madame Blavatsky, had never heard of Colonel Olcott, having

just returned from his prolonged journey, and had no idea that I was a

Fellow of the Society.  His testimony was entirely voluntary.  Some

others, who admit that Mahatmas exist, but that there is no proof of

their connection with the Theosophical Society, will be pleased to see

that there is no a priori impossibility in those great souls taking an

interest in such a benevolent Society as ours.  Consequently it is a

gratuitous insult to a number of self-sacrificing men and women to

reject their testimony without a fair hearing.


I purposely leave aside all proofs which are already before the public.

Each set of proofs is conclusive in itself, and the cumulative effect of

all is simply irresistible.


--Mohini M. Chatterji




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