“Tharana,” or Mesmerism
Theosophist, August, 1882
Letter by N. Chidambaram Iyer | Reply by H.P.B.
In the June number of The Theosophist, Babu Purno Chandra Mukerjee enumerates certain processes resorted to by persons practicing Tharana, in their treatment of sick patients. I adopt a certain method of curing persons suffering from sprain, and I wish to know whether the cure thus effected can be regarded as effected by mesmerism.
I cause the patient to be seated at some distance before me, and on learning what part of his body is affected, I simply rub with my hand the corresponding part of my own body, pronouncing a mantram at the same time. This rubbing I continue for less than five minutes. The patient finds himself perfectly cured in less than six hours after he leaves me. It is now four years since l learned the mantram and, if I may trust my memory, I think I have successfully treated about twenty cases, having failed in only one instance, in which I have had reasons to suspect that there had been some serious injury to the part affected. Some of the cases treated by me have been rather acute ones, and, in some, the patients had suffered for over a fortnight before they came to me. In only two cases, have I had to treat the patients for two or three consecutive days.
If any credit is due to me for possessing any innate knowledge of mesmerism, the following will show that I never for a moment sat down to practice the art to become successful in it:
Four years ago, a Brahman offered to teach me the mantram if I would teach him in return a mantram for the cure of scorpion bite, in which I was considered an adept. I agreed to do so; but when the Brahman said that I should not expect to achieve anything like success if I did not, as a preliminary measure, repeat the mantram a hundred thousand times, I told him that I should like to learn it only if he would kindly make over to me the effect of a hundred thousand of his own repetitions. This he did by pouring into my hand a quantity of water—a process by which, according to the Hindus, gifts are effected. From this time forth I have been successful in curing persons suffering from sprains without touching or even approaching them.
Now two questions will naturally occur to the reader: firstly, whether I may be considered to have acquired any knowledge of mesmerism in the case stated above; and secondly, whether the effect or the power which one acquires by practicing mantram is really transferable.
All that I have stated is perfectly correct, and I make no secret of the affair, but am perfectly willing to teach the mantram to anyone wishing to learn it.
In one place you say that, when a cure is effected by a mantram, what really effects the cure is what you call the “will power.” I wish to know whether, in the described case, I exercise any “will power” unknown to me, and whether I can at all be considered to exercise such power, when it has not been acquired, but only transferred to me by another person. Will you kindly consider the subject and render some explanation as to what has taken place.
Before pronouncing an off-hand denunciation against the possibility, or conceivability, of a connection between cause and effect in cases like the above, sceptics will do well to give the matter a trial themselves by learning some mantram and observing its effect on patients.
Editor’s Note.—It is extremely difficult to say, after hearing, for the first time, and so superficially, a case like the one in hand, whether it is, or is not, “mesmerism,” and “will power.” It is a well-ascertained fact that, by means of the former, hundreds of thousands have been cured, and by using the latter, people, given up for years by physicians as incurable, have gone on living, despite professional prognostications. As to the recitation of mantrams producing an immediate relief, this is quite a different thing. We cannot call their effect “mesmerism”—since the curative agency in that is an animal aura, force, or fluid in one person, by means of which a peculiar action is set up in the physical system of another—whether without or with direct contact. We confess, we do not see, how anything of that kind—we mean a nervous fluid or force—can be said to reside in a mantram, even as a potentiality, since a mantram is simply a recitation of certain verses held sacred among the Hindus. Yet, if repeated loudly and after a certain rule of phonetics, i.e., chanted in a peculiar way, we do not know why the resultant sound could not possess as curative a power in itself as a mesmeric “force.” The latter is neither more ponderable, nor more visible, than the former, and is certainly not audible, which sound is. If the dulcet tones of a flute have been known to soothe, and in many instances to arrest for a considerable time the throbbings of the nerves in fits of sciatica—why not the rhythmic sounds of a Sanskrit mantram? The forefathers of many Brahmans—if not the latter the themselves—must have certainly known more of the mystery of sound than Professor Tyndall, even though that learned gentleman has succeeded in drawing musical sounds from fire and imponderable gases. It is the God Sabda Brahman called also Kala Brahmam Gouri—one of the mystic names for AKASA, which gives rise to occult sound—the initiates say. And the ancient Greek mystics, equally with the Western occultists and the adept Brahmans, all agreed in teaching that sound emanated from the Astral Light, or Akasa, in its purest essence. The Hindu occultist, or devotee, while practising Raja Yoga, hears the occult sounds as emanating from his own Moola Adharam—the first of the series of six centres of force in the human body (fed at the inexhaustible source of the seventh or the UNITY, as the sum total of all) and knows that it emanates from there, and from nowhere else. But, before our correspondent can realize fully our meaning, he will have to learn the important difference between Astral Fire and Astral Light. Does he know it? Has he assured himself personally of this difference? It is not sufficient to know a thing theoretically, as it will be only leading to eternal confusion, even “by learning some mantram, and trying its effects on patients,” unless one knows the philosophy—so to say, the rationale of the cure. Even success is no proof that it may not turn out very injurious some day. Therefore, before one becomes a practitioner, he ought to become a student.
And now arises the question: Did the Brahman—who transferred the gift of curing by a certain mantram to our correspondent—know himself anything of the power he was so transferring, or did he simply do that mechanically?
If he was an initiate—well and good; but, in such case, how happened it that he asked one, who was not an adept, to teach him in return? Such are not the ways of initiates. An adept, acquainted with one CENTRE, knows them all—since there is but one centre, of Occult Force in nature. He knows that in the centre of the Astral Fire must he search in nature for the origin of every sound—and it is sound—the Vach—that is the curative agent in a mantram. Such a man knows that it is from this centre alone, never from the circumference of the SHATKONA CHAKRAM,1 that the sounds transmitted (even by the external currents of Astral Light or Ether) proceed, while the six diverging points (which represent the radiations of this central point) but convey and echo them from within without, and vice versa, in every occult process of nature. It is within and from a given point in space (which must always be central, where-soever it is placed) that the force which is at the basis of any phenomena, in whatsoever element, proceeds; for this centre is the “seat” of the unmanifested deity—says the esoteric Brahmanical doctrine—of the “Avyaktabrahm,” and stands for the seventh principle within the six points of the chakram. All the forces in nature, whether great or small, are trinities completed by quaternaries; all—except the ONE, the CROWN of the Astral Light. If we say that nature has in reality seven, not five or even four, elements, some of our readers may laugh at our ignorance, but an initiate would never do so, since he knows very well what we mean. He knows that, in the case in point (the power of a mantram), it is through occult sounds that the adept commands the elemental forces of nature. SABDABAHMAM’S vehicle is called Shadjam, and the latter is the basic tone in the Hindu musical scale. It is only after reaching the stage called Tribeni and passing through the study of preliminary sounds, that a Yogi begins to see Kala Brahmam, i.e., perceives things in the Astral Light. When our correspondent will have mastered the nadis and niddhis of the Raj-Yog, and reached at least the above-named stage, then will he comprehend what we mean in saying that a gradual development of the mental and physical occult faculties is the method used by the true adept in studying the Raj-Yog. The practice of blindly “transferring” and “receiving”—is that of sorcerers, whether they are so consciously or unconsciously. Moreover, the ignorant practice of Hatha-Yoga leads one invariably into that undesirable acquisition. The Hatha-Yogi either becomes a sorcerer, or learns practically nothing; or more frequently yet, kills himself by such an injudicious practice. The mantram ignorantly employed may, and often has, proved a treacherous weapon, whose mystical power has caused it to turn and stab the user.
1. The hexagonal wheel, or six-pointed star—the wheel of Vishnu with the Hindus; Solomon’s seal—with the Western Kabalists. It is, in this ease, the representation of the Astral Fire, the seventh being represented by the central point. In this connection, one would do well to study the article on the five and six-pointed star in the 26th number of The Theosophist, November, 1881