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Blavatsky Net - Theosophy

This site focuses on Madame Blavatsky and her teaching - Theosophy. It features an introduction to Theosophy, study aids, research tools, original text, supporting evidence, membership, and visitor interaction.


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THE AHKOOND OF SWAT

THE FOUNDER OF MANY MYSTICAL SOCIETIES.


 

[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 Teheran—heretics though the Persians are—without 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 Maharajah—Puttiala—who 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 father’s 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 Moslems—thyself—will be simultaneously crushed under the heel of death. Then, the first hour will strike of the downfall of those twin foes of truth—Christianity 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 other’s faith. See, thy followers are powerless, and I might kill thee now, but thou art in the hands of Destiny, and that knows its own hour."

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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List of Articles
1888
1890!
African Magic
Ahkoond of Swat
An Astral Prophet
An Unsolved Mystery
Ancient Doctrines Vindicated
Ancient Magic in Modern Science
Animated Statues
Answers to Queries
Antiquity of the Vedas
Apollonius Tyaneus and Simon Magus
Are Chelas "Mediums"?
Are Dreams but Idle Visions?
Arya Samaj
The Babel of Modern Thought
Black Magic in Science
Blessings of Publicity
Bright Spot of Light
Buddhism, Christianity and Phallicism
Buddhism in America
Can the Double Murder?
Can the Mahatmas Be Selfish?
Case of Obsession
Chelas
Chelas and Lay Chelas
Chinese Spirits
Christmas Then and Christmas Now
Civilization, the Death of Art and Beauty
Claims of Occultism
Classification of "Principles"
Count St. Germain
Cross and Fire
Cycle Moveth
Denials and the Mistakes of the Nineteenth Century
Devil's Own-Thoughts on Ormuzd and Ahriman
Diagnoses and Palliatives
Dialogue on the Mysteries of the After Life
Dialogues between the Two Editors
Do the Rishis Exist?
Does Vaccination Prevent Smallpox?
Dr. Beard Criticized
Dreamland and Somnambulism
Drift of Western Spiritualism
Dual Aspect of Wisdomhe
Echoes from India. What is Hindu Spiritualism?
Eddy Manifestations
Editorial Comment
Editorial Appendix
Eighth Wonder
Electric and Magnetic Affinities between Man and Nature
Elementals
Elementaries
Esoteric Axioms and Spiritual Speculations
"Esoteric Buddhism" and its Critic
"Esoteric Buddhism" and the "Secret Doctrine"
Esoteric Character of the Gospels
Fakirs and Tables
Fall of Ideals
Fate of the Occultist
Few Thoughts on Some Wise Words from a Wise Man
Force of Prejudice
Fragments
French View of Women's Rights
Genius
Grand Inquisitor
"H. M." and the Todas
H. P. Blavatsky on Precipitation and Other Matters
H. P. Blavatsky's Masonic Patent
Have Animals Souls?
Hindu Widow-Marriage
History of a "Book"
History of a Planet
Holmes Controversy
Holmes Controversy(continued)
Huxley and Slade
Hypnotism
Hypnotism, and Its Relations to Other Modes of Fascination
Imperfections of Science
Indian Metaphysics
Intro-Version of Mental Vision
Is Creation Possible for Man?
Is Denunciation a Duty?
Is Foeticide a Crime?
"Is it Idle to Argue Further?"
Is Suicide a Crime?
Is the Desire to "Live" Selfish?
Is Theosophy a Religion?
"Isis Unveiled" and the "Theosophist" on Reincarnation
Isis Unveiled and the Vishishtadwaita
"It's the Cat!"
Jews in Russia
Kabalah and the Kabalists
Kabalistic Views of "Spirits"
Karmic Visions
Knout, The. As Wielded by the Great Russian Theosophist
Kosmic Mind
Lack of Unity among Spiritualists
Lamas and Druses
Land of Mystery
Last Song of the Swan
Le Phare de L'Inconnu
Leaven of Theosophy
Leo Tolstoi and His Unecclesiastical Christianity
"Let Every Man Prove His Own Work"
Life and Death
Life Principle
Literary Jottings on Criticism, Authorities, and Other Matters
Lodges of Magic
Logic versus Peripatetic
Madame Blavatsky on "The Himalayan Brothers"
Magic
Mahatmas and Chelas
Memory in the Dying
Mind in Nature
Missing Link
Missionaries Militant
Mistaken Notions on "The Secret Doctrine"
Modern Apostles and Pseudo-Messiahs
Mote and the Beam
Mr. A. Lillie's Delusions
My Books
Mysterious Race
Nature's Human Magnets
Negations of Science
New Cycle
(New) York against Lankester. A new War of the Roses
"Not a Christian"!
Note on Eliphas Levi
Note on "Memory"
Notes on some Aryan-Arhat Esoteric Tenets
Notice to Mediums
Number Seven
Number Seven and Our Society
Occult or Exact Science?
Occult Phenomena
Occultism or Magic
Occultism versus the Occult Arts
Old Hindu Ships
Old Philosophers and Modern Critics
On Pseudo-Theosophy
On The New Year's Morrow
"Oppressed Widowhood" in America
Organisation of the Theosophical Society
Origin of Evil
Our Cycle and the Next
Our Three Objects
Paradoxical World
Parting Words
Persian Zoroastrianism and Russian Vandalism
Pertinent Queries
Pertinent Questions
Philosophers and Philosophicules
Popular Idea of Soul-Survival
Posthumous Publication
Practical Occultism
Pralaya of Modern Science
"Precipitation"
Premature and Phenomenal Growths
Progress and Culture
Protest
Psychic and Noetic Action
Psychic Warning
Psychology - The Science of the Soul
Puzzle from Adyar
Puzzle in "Esoteric Buddhism"
Queries and Answers
Questions Answered about Yoga Vidya
Re-Classification of Principles
Rebuke
Recent Progress in Theosophy
Reincarnations in Tibet
Reply to Our Critics, A.
Republican Citizen
Retort Courteous
Roots of Ritualism in Church and Masonry
Russian Atrocities
Sacred Tree of Kum Bum
Science of Life
Science of Magic
"Scrutator Again"
Search after Occultism
Seeming "Discrepancies"
Seventeen-Rayed Sun-Disc
She Being Dead Yet Speaketh
Signal of Danger
Signs of the Times
Six-Pointed and Five-Pointed Stars
Society Without a Dogma
Some Scientific Questions Answered
Spiritual Progress
Spiritualism and Occult Truth
Spiritualism and Spiritualists
Spiritualism in Russia
Spiritualistic Tricksters
Star-Angel-Worship in the Roman Catholic Church
Stars and Numbers
Stray Thoughts on Death and Satan
Substantial Nature of Magnetism
Tetragrammaton
Theories about Reincarnation and Spirits
Theory of Cycles
"Theosophical Mahatmas"
Theosophical Society: Its Mission and Its Future
Theosophists and their Opponents
Theosophy and Spiritualism
Theosophy or Jesuitism?
Thoughts of the Dead
Thoughts on the Elementals
Tibetan Teachings
Tidal Wave
"To the Readers of 'Lucifer'"
Todas
Transmigration of the Life Atoms
Trickery or Magic?
Universe in a Nut-Shell
Views of the Theosophists
War in Olympus
Warning to Mediums
Was Cagliostro a "Charlatan"?
Washing the Disciples' Feet
What Are the Theosophists?
What is Occultism?
What is Theosophy?
"What Is Truth?"
What of Phenomena?
What Shall We Do for Our Fellow-Men?
What's in a Name? - Why the Magazine is called "Lucifer"
Which First - the Egg or the Bird?
Why Do Animals Suffer?
Why I Do Not Return to India
Why the "Vahan"?
"Word with Our Friends"
World-Improvement or World-Deliverance
Year is Dead, Long Live the Year
Year of Theosophy
Yoga Philosophy
 
Acknowledgement