[Review: The Book of Life]
Lucifer, September, 1887
The Book of Life, by Siddhartha (also) Vonisa; his discoveries from “6215 to 6240, Anno Mundi.”
A cross between an octavo and duodecimo.
This volume, we see, is highly appreciated by the clergy, by whom, at this gloomy day of infidelity, even small favours seem to be thankfully received. The author (profane name unknown) hints, when he does not state plainly, that he is a reincarnation of Gautama Buddha, or Siddhartha, as also of a few other no meaner historical personages. The work is a clever steering between the sand-banks of science and theology. Enough is given in careful agreement with the former to make it ignore the more abundant concessions to the gods of the latter—e.g., Biblical chronology. The age of the world is allowed 6240 years from Adam, “seven hundred years after the brown and black races had been created” (p. 53, “Chronology”); the date of the earth’s incrustation and globe being left to the imagination of the reader. A chronological table of the principal historical events of the world is published on pages 53-56. Among them the birth of Moses is placed 1572 B.C. The Vedas are shown compiled in India, and the poems of Homer in Greece, “about 1200 B.C.” Siddhartha or Gautama established Buddhism in India “from 808 to 726,” B.C., we are told. Last, but not least, of the world epochs and divine signs of the time, comes the forever memorable event of March 31st, 1885—namely, “The Book of Life, Vonisa, was completely written,” and it closes the list. The reader is notified, moreover, at the line beginning with A.M. 6240, that the year 1884 C.E. (Christian Era) is the “beginning of Messianic age and close of Christian age,” which might account for the appearance and publication in the year following of the original volume under review.
The new Messiah declares that “although much of the work consists of discoveries which are original with the author, yet the reader will find in the Analytic Index a few hundred out of the many references which might be given to eminent authorities which were consulted in its preparation.” Among these, it seems, one has to include some theosophical writings, as it is stated in The Book of Life that—
(a.) “Seven great forces were concerned in these vast movements of early creation.”
(b.) “Seven Ages of the Earth.”
(c.) “Vayomer Elohim” translated “according to the laws of the Hebrew language,” means “seven forces were used as three-fold factors,” and
(d.) “That the first human beings were incarnated spirits” (pp. 26-27).
The above four declarations have the approval of theosophy. Whether the sentence that follows, namely, that “the work of incarnation (of the spirits) took place according to law,” and is “the clearest hypothesis which science has to offer concerning the origin of man,” will meet with the same approval from Messrs. Huxley, Haeckel, and Fiske, of the “Atomo-mechanical Theory,” is very doubtful.
Nor is it so sure that the Ethnological department in the Anglo-Indian Bureau of Statistics is quite prepared to alter its census returns in accordance with Siddhartha’s declaration, on page 29, that—
“One branch of the brown race was the Dravidian which still holds its place in Northern India.” (?!)