[From the New York Echo, 1878.]
OF the many remarkable characters
of this century, Ghafur was one of the most conspicuous.
If there be truth in the Eastern doctrine that souls, powerful whether
for good or bad, who had not time in one existence to work out their plans,
are reïncarnated, the fierceness of their yearnings to continue on
earth thrusting them back into the current of their attractions, then
Ghafur was a rebirth of that Felice Peretti, who is known in history as
Pope Sixtus V., of crafty and odious memory. Both were born in the lowest
class of society, being ignorant peasant boys and beginning life as herdsmen.
Both reached the apex of power through craft and stealth and by imposing
upon the superstitions of the masses. Sixtus, author of mystical books
and himself a practitioner of the forbidden sciences to satisfy his lust
for power and ensure impunity, became Inquisitor-General. Made Pope, he
hurled his anathemas alike against Elizabeth of England, the King of Navarre,
and other important personages. Abdul Ghafur, endowed with an iron will,
had educated himself without colleges or professors except through association
with the "wise men" of Khuttuk. He was as well versed in the
Arabic and Persian literature of alchemy and astronomy as Sixtus was in
Aristotle, and like him knew how to fabricate mesmerized talismans and
amulets containing either life or death for those to whom they were presented.
Each held millions of devotees under the subjection of their psychological
influence, though both were more dreaded than beloved.
Ghafur had been a warrior and an ambitious leader of fanatics, but becoming
a dervish and finally a pope, so to say, his blessing or curse made him
as effectually the master of the Ameers and other Mussulmans as Sixtus
was of the Catholic potentates of Europe.
Only the salient features of his career are known to Christendom. Watched,
as he may have been, his private life, ambitions, aspirations for temporal
as well as religious power, are almost a sealed book. But the one certain
thing is, that he was the founder and chief of nearly every secret society
worth speaking of among Mussulmans, and the dominant
spirit in all the rest. His apparent antagonism to the Wahabees was but
a mask, and the murderous hand that struck Lord Mayo was certainly guided
by the old Abdul. The Biktashee Dervishes* and the
howling, dancing, and other Moslem religious mendicants recognize his
supremacy as far above that of the Sheik-ul-Islam of the faithful. Hardly
a political order of any importance issued from Constantinople or Teheranheretics
though the Persians arewithout his having a finger in the pie directly
or indirectly. As fanatical as Sixtus, but more cunning yet, if possible,
instead of giving direct orders for the extermination of the Huguenots
of Islam, the Wahabees, he directed his curses and pointed his finger
only at those among them whom he found in his way, keeping on the best,
though secret, terms with the rest.
The title of Nasr-ed-Din (defender of the faith) he impartially applied
to both the Sultan and the Shah, though one is a Sunnite and the other
a Shiah. He sweetened the stronger religious intolerance of the Osman
dynasty by adding to the old title of Nasr-ed-Din those of Saif-ed-Din
(scimitar of faith) and Emir-el-Mumminiah (prince of the faithful). Every
Emir-el-Sourey, or leader of the sacred caravan of pilgrims to Mekka,
brought or sent messages to, and received advice and instructions from,
Abdul, the latter in the shape of mysterious oracles, for which was left
the full equivalent in money, presents and other offerings, as the Catholic
pilgrims have recently done at Rome.
In 1847-8 the Prince Mirza, uncle of the young Shah and ex-governor of
a great province in Persia, appeared in Tiflis, seeking Russian protection
at the hands of Prince Woronzof, Viceroy of the Caucasus. Having helped
himself to the crown jewels and ready money in the treasury, he had run
away from the jurisdiction of his loving nephew, who was anxious to put
out his eyes. Popular rumour asserted that his reason for what he had
done was that the great dervish, Ahkoond, had thrice appeared to him in
dreams, prompting him to take what he had and share his booty with the
protectors of the faith of his principal wife (he brought twelve with
him to Tiflis), a native of Cabul. The secret, though, perhaps, indirect
influence he exercised on the Begum of Bhopal, during the Sepoy rebellion
of 1857 was a mystery only to the English, whom the old schemer knew so
well how to hoodwink. During his long career of Macchiavellism, friendly
with the British, and yet striking them constantly in secret; venerated
as a new prophet by millions of orthodox, as well as heretic Mussulmans;
managing to preserve his influence over friend and foe, the old "Teacher"
had one enemy whom he feared, for he knew that no amount of craft would
ever win it over to his side. This enemy was the once mighty nation of
the Sikhs, ex-sovereign rulers of the Punjab and masters of the Peshawur
Valley. Reduced from their high estate, this warrior people are now under
the rule of a single MaharajahPuttialawho is himself the helpless
vassal of the British. From the beginning the Ahkoond had continually
encountered the Sikhs in his path. Scarce would he feel himself conqueror
over one obstacle, before his hereditary enemy would appear between him
and the realization of his hopes. If the Sikhs remained faithful to the
British in 1857, it was not through hearty loyalty or political convictions,
so much as through sheer opposition to the Mohammedans, whom they knew
to be secretly prompted by the Ahkoond.
Since the days of the great Nanak, of the Kshattriya caste, founder of
the Sikh Brotherhood in the second half of the fifteenth century, these
brave and warlike tribes have ever been the thorn in the side of the Mogul
dynasty, the terror of the Moslems of India. Originating, as we may say,
in a religious Brotherhood, whose object was to make away alike with Islamism,
Brâhmanism, and other isms, including later Christianity, this sect
evolved a pure monotheism in the abstract idea of an ever unknown Principle,
and elaborated it into the doctrine of the "Brotherhood of Man."
In their view, we have but one Father-Mother Principle, with "neither
form, shape, nor colour," and we ought all to be, if we are not,
brothers irrespective of distinctions of race or colour. The sacerdotal
Brâhman, fanatical in his observance of dead-letter forms, thus
became in the opinion of the Sikh as much the enemy of truth as the Mussulman
wallowing in a sensual heaven with his houris, the joss-worshipping Buddhist
grinding out prayers at his wheel, or yet the Roman Catholic adoring his
jewelled Madonnas, whose complexion the priests change from white to brown
and black to suit climates and prejudices. Later on, Arjuna, son of Ramdas,
the fourth in the succession after Nanak, gathering together the doctrines
of the founder and his son Angad, brought out a sacred volume, called Adi-garunth, and largely supplemented it with selections from forty-five
Sûtras of the Jains. While adopting equally the religious figures
of the Vedas and Koran, after sifting them and explaining
their symbolism, the Âdi-garunth yet presents a greater similarity
of ideas respecting the most elaborate metaphysical conceptions with those
of the Jain school of Gurus. The notions of Astrology, or the influence
of the starry spheres upon ourselves, were evidently
adopted from that most prominent school of antiquity. This will be readily
ascertained by comparing the commentaries of Abhayadeva Surî upon
the original forty-five Sûtras in the Magadhi or Balabasha language with the Âdi-garunth. An old Jain Guru, who is said
to have drawn the horoscope of Runjeet Singh, at the time of his greatest
power, had foretold the downfall of the kingdom of Lahore. It was the
learned Arjuna who retired into Amritsir, changed the sect into a politico-religious
community, and instituted within the same another and more esoteric body
of Gurus, scholars and metaphysicians, of which he became sole chief.
He died in prison, under torture, by the order of Aurungzebe, into whose
hands he had fallen, at the beginning of the seventeenth century. His
son Govinda, a Guru (religious teacher) of great renown, vowed revenge
against the race of his fathers murderers, and after various changes
of fortune the Afghans were finally driven from the Punjab by the Sikhs
in 1764. This triumph only made their hatred more bitter still, and from
that moment until the death of Runjeet Singh, in 1839, we find them constantly
aiming their blows at the Moslems. Mahâ Singh, the father of Runjeet,
had set off the Sikhs into twelve mizals or divisions, each having its
own chief (Sirdar), whose secret Council of State consisted of learned
Gurus. Among these were Masters in spiritual Science, and they might,
if they had had a mind, have exhibited as astonishing "miracles"
and divine legerdemain as the old Mussulman Ahkoond. He knew it well,
and for this reason dreaded them even more than he hated them for his
defeat and that of his Ameer by Runjeet Singh.
One highly dramatic incident in the life of the "Pope of Sydoo"
is the following well-authenticated case, which was much commented upon
in his part of India about twenty years ago. One day, in 1858, when the
Ahkoond, squatting on his carpet, was distributing amulets, blessings
and prophecies among his pious congregation of pilgrims, a tall Hindû,
who had silently approached and mingled in the crowd without having been
noticed, suddenly addressed him thus: "Tell me, prophet, thou who
prophesiest so well for others, whether thou knowest what will be thine
own fate, and that of the Defender of the Faith, thy Sultan
of Stamboul, twenty years hence?"
The old Ghafur, overcome with violent surprise, stared at his interlocutor,
but no answer came. In recognizing the Sikh he seemed to have lost all
power of speech, and the crowd was under a spell.
"If not," continued the intruder, "then I will tell thee.
Twenty years more and your Prince of the Faithful will fall
by the hand of an assassin of his own house. Two old men, one the Dalai
Lama of the Christians, the other the great prophet of the Moslemsthyselfwill
be simultaneously crushed under the heel of death. Then, the first hour
will strike of the downfall of those twin foes of truthChristianity
and Islam. The first, as the more powerful, will survive the second, but
both will soon crumble into fragmentary sects, which will mutually exterminate
each others faith. See, thy followers are powerless, and I might
kill thee now, but thou art in the hands of Destiny, and that knows its
Before a hand could be lifted the speaker had disappeared. This incident
of itself sufficiently proves that the Sikhs might have assassinated Abdul
Ghafur at any time had they chosen so to do. And it may be that The
Mayfair Gazette, which in June, 1877, prophetically observed that
the rival pontiffs of Rome and Swat might die simultaneously, had heard
from some "old Indian" this story, which the writer also heard
from an informant at Lahore.
H. P. BLAVATSKY.
To this day, no Biktashee would be recognized as such unless he could
claim possession of a certain medal with the seal of this " high-pontiff"
of all the Dervishes, whether they belong to one sect or the other.
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This valuable work is now being republished by Ookerdhabhoy Shewgee,
and has been received by the Theosophical Society from the Editor through
the President of the Bombay branch. When finished it will be the first
edition of the Jain Bible, Sûtra-Sangraha or Vihiva Punnuttî Sûtra, in existence, as all their sacred books are
kept in secret by the Jains.
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