Part III: Other Testimonies of Encounters with the Master Morya


 

I will now turn to other testimonies of encounters with the Master M. and see how Johnson grapples with these additional accounts. Johnson presents S. R. Ramaswamier's story of meeting the Mahatma Morya on pp. 25-30 of Initiates Of Theosophical Masters. Johnson tells us:

    "S. Ramabadra Ramaswamier was a clerk from Tirunelveli in South India, on leave after a nervous breakdown. Following HPB on her travels, on October 5 [1882] he allegedly went from Darjeeling into Sikkim and penetrated twenty miles beyond the border, where he claimed to have met the Master M...." (p. 25.)

Johnson’s narrative is a rehash of what he had previously written on pp. 246-249 of In Search Of The Masters.

I give an excerpt from Ramaswamier's October, 1882 account:

    "...I suddenly saw a solitary horseman galloping towards me from the opposite direction. From his tall stature and the expert way he managed the animal, I thought he was some military officer of the Sikkim Raja...But as he approached me, he reined the steed. I looked at and recognized him instantly. . . .I was in the. . . presence of...my own revered Guru [Morya]. . . .The very same instant saw me prostrated on the ground at his feet. I arose at his command....He wears a short black beard, and long black hair hanging down to his breast...He wore a yellow mantle lined with fur, and on his head...a yellow Tibetan felt cap...I had a long talk with him. He told me to go no further, for I would come to grief. He said I should wait patiently if I wanted to become an accepted Chela...Before he left, two more men came on horseback, his attendants I suppose, probably Chelas, for they were dressed...like himself, with long hair streaming down their backs. They followed the Mahatma, as he left, at a gentle trot...." (Quoted from Sven Eek’s Damodar And The Pioneers Of The Theosophical Movement, 1965, pp. 295-297.)

What is Johnson's estimation of Ramaswamier’s account? In his 1990 book In Search Of The Masters (p. 247), Johnson comments that:

    "The height and horsemanship are reminiscent of Ranbir Singh, one prototype for Master M. But what could he have been doing in Sikkim? [Italics added.] Not only does this tale distract the reader from the geographical circumstances [Kashmir] of the real [??] M. [Ranbir Singh], it also makes him seem someone who can wander at will and has no obligations at home."

Let us look closer at Johnson's question: "But what could he [the Maharaja of Kashmir] have been doing in Sikkim?" Where is Sikkim in relation to Kashmir? Looking at a map of India, one observes that Sikkim is located on the far northeastern side of India while Kashmir is located on the far northwestern side. IF the "real M" is Ranbir Singh, then I would agree that Ramaswamier's account is hard to accept at face value. Obviously, Ranbir Singh has obligations at home as monarch of his kingdom and cannot be wandering around on the other side of India! Therefore, it is not surprising that Johnson tries to cast doubt on Ramaswamier's testimony. I would suspect that if Ramaswamier's encounter had taken place in the vicinity of Ranbir's palace in Jammu, Johnson would have used the account to support his Ranbir Singh hypothesis. But if one is willing to accept Ramaswamier's testimony at face value (as Johnson was with Olcott’s "Ooton Liatto" account), then I contend that this Sikkim account can be considered another piece of evidence against Johnson's hypothesis.

In Initiates Of Theosophical Masters, Johnson "explains" Ramaswamier’s experience as follows:

    "Blavatsky's biographer Marion Meade interprets this as the hallucination of a madman, rather than a role played under direction of real Masters. Ramaswamier's account is indeed inherently preposterous [why??], but a closer look [by Johnson] reveals it to have been inspired by HPB and her Masters....After Ramaswamier's death in 1893, one of his sons published the letters he received from the Masters, intending them as proof that his father had been deceived by HPB. The eloquence of Ramaswamier's report [about meeting Master Morya] raises the question of how much of it HPB may have written for him. That an elaborate scheme of deception was indeed being engineered is apparent from these letters. . . ." (pp. 25 & 28.)  

In other words, Johnson believes that Ramaswamier was neither a victim of hallucination (as Marion Meade had asserted) nor a dupe of HPB's confederates (as Richard Hodgson had suggested); instead, Ramaswamier was an accomplice to H.P.B.’s frauds. He lied about meeting Morya in Sikkim; and HPB probably wrote (at least part of) his account.

Johnson contends that "Ramaswamier's account is indeed inherently preposterous." Preposterous as compared to what? Is Ramaswamier’s account any more "preposterous" than the "Ooton Liatto" account which Johnson accepts "hook, line and sinker"?

In passages not found in Johnson's 1995 book but to be found in his earlier 1990 work, Johnson adds these details:

    "...it seems clear [to Johnson at least] that HPB had found in Ramaswamier a willing accomplice. The goal of the operation was to distract attention from the Punjab and Kashmir, so as to confuse observers intent on finding the Mahatmas....It is impossible [???] to tell from these passages [in M.'s letters to Ramaswamier] whether Ramaswamier was deceived in Sikkim by a bogus Mahatma or whether he was a willing partner in the deception. The latter seems much more likely in light of the peculiar aspects of his story involving the Master's voice and coincidental meetings...." (pp. 246 & 249).

With regard to Morya’s and Koot Hoomi’s letters to Ramaswamier, the "authors" of these letters write as though Ramaswamier actually believed in the reality of the Masters and that he had encountered Master Morya in Sikkim. In one of these letters, Koot Hoomi writes to Ramaswamier:

    "You cannot go to Tibet. I am not the only master there, nor is M[orya the "Boss"]. . . ."

In a letter from Morya, Ramaswamier is told:

    "Ramaswamier. . . must travel from town to town along the line to Allahabad, and preach Theosophy and Vedantism. Every one must know he is my chela, and that he has seen me in Sikkim. . . ."

In another letter, the Master M. writes:

    "…we thank you. Return now home, and whatever trouble may seem to brood over you, remember I am with you." Italics added.

The Master M. counsels Ramaswamier in another letter:

    "Happy is he who crosses the great gulf between himself and us---unscared with doubt and free from the pollution of suspicion."

In light of the content of these letters, I would conclude that Ramaswamier believed in the existence of the Masters and also believed he had met the Master Morya in Sikkim. Does it make any sense that Ramaswamier would be receiving Mahatmic letters with such advice, etc. when (according to Johnson) Ramaswamier knew that he had himself lied about his encounter with Morya in Sikkim? (See Letters From The Masters Of The Wisdom, Second Series, Letters 48-56.) I also think it would be easier for a skeptical reader to believe that Ramaswamier "was deceived in Sikkim by a bogus Mahatma" than to accept Johnson’s new speculation that "he was a willing partner in the deception."

Regarding Johnson’s reference to "peculiar aspects" like "the Master's voice" heard by Ramaswamier, quotations could be given from Olcott’s accounts in which the Colonel testified he also heard "the Master's voice" when the Master was not physically in Olcott’s presence. Would such a "peculiar aspect" in Olcott’s testimony lead Johnson to conclude that Olcott was also an accomplice? Is Johnson willing to label Olcott as a liar and confederate of HPB's, too?

In the above excerpt, Johnson writes: "The goal of the operation was to distract attention from the Punjab and Kashmir, so as to confuse observers intent on finding the Mahatmas...." This is, of course, Johnson's own interpretation of the events in order to safeguard his hypotheses on M. and K.H. This is Johnson’s method of "explaining away" or discounting any evidence that contradicts his hypothesis about Ranbir Singh/Morya. As I said in Part I, Johnson will quote information from various sources in support of his hypothesis, but if other "facts" (even in the same document) negate his speculation, he will devalue the latter and label it as "disinformation." By this method one can "prove" almost anything.

But readers of Johnson's books may not be aware that S. Ramaswamier had testified that he had also seen the Master Morya at Bombay T.S. Headquarters the previous year. Henry Olcott was also a witness to this December, 1881 encounter and pens the following words to A.O. Hume:

    "I am glad to be able to send you the testimony of still another witness who has seen my Chohan [Morya], and under most favourable circumstances....I never saw the Brother looking more splendid than he did to-night in the bright moonlight. Mr. R[amaswamier] is a Brahman of the highest caste (his brother or cousin is, I believe, chief priest to the Maharajah of Travancore), and he is intensely interested in Occultism." Olcott's letter is dated Dec. 28, 1881. (Hints On Esoteric Theosophy, No. 1, 1882, pp. 71-72.)

Attached to this letter is an account signed by H.S. Olcott, Damodar K. Mavalankar and S. Ramaswamier testifying that they had seen:

    "a man upon the balcony...leaning against the balustrade, and with the moonlight shining full upon him. He was dressed in white, and wore a white Fehta [turban] on his head. His beard was black, and his long black hair hung to his breast. Olcott and Damodar at once recognized him as the ‘Illustrious’ [Morya]. He raised his hand and dropped a letter to us. Olcott jumped from the carriage and recovered it....It was a message to Ramaswamier, in reply to a letter (in a closed envelope) which he had written to the Brother a short time before we went out for the ride...." (p. 72)

Using Johnson’s own "disinformation" tactic, could we not suggest that Ramaswamier was HPB's accomplice in this Bombay incident, too? And were Olcott and Damodar also confederates of HPB in this event? If Johnson can accuse Ramaswamier of giving false testimony, why not implicate Olcott and Damodar (as well as Ramaswamier) in a scheme to dupe and bamboozle A.O. Hume and the readers of Hume’s Hints on Esoteric Theosophy, No. 1?

Earlier in this section I quoted the following comments by Johnson on Ramaswamier's meeting with Morya in Sikkim:

    "The height and horsemanship are reminiscent of Ranbir Singh, one prototype for Master M. But what could he have been doing in Sikkim? Not only does this tale distract the reader from the geographical circumstances of the real M., it also makes him seem someone who can wander at will and has no obligations at home."

Could not one take these "suggestive" remarks and apply them to Ramaswamier's, Olcott's and Damodar's account of Dec. 28, 1881?

"The turban and beard are reminiscent of Ranbir Singh. But what could the Maharaja of Kashmir have been doing in Bombay? Not only does this Bombay tale distract the reader from the geographical circumstances of the real M., it also makes him seem someone who can wander at will and has no obligations at home."

And such Johnsonian remarks could be applied to all of Morya's appearances to Olcott and others at Bombay. If Johnson is ready to accuse Ramaswamier (who had known HPB for only a year or so) of being a liar and HPB’s accomplice, why isn’t Johnson willing to accuse Olcott (who had known HPB for some seven years and had a vested, longtime interest in HPB's work, etc.) of being a liar and HPB’s confederate, too?

But if Olcott can be considered an accomplice to HPB's alleged shenanigans, what non-theosophical reader or scholar would be foolish enough to accept Olcott’s four accounts presented in Part I of this paper and accepted by K. Paul Johnson at face value as evidence of real adepts and masters?

Johnson has stated on Theos-l that Dr. Gregory Tillett (author of The Elder Brother: A Biography Of Charles Webster Leadbeater) and Dr. David Christopher Lane (author of The Making Of A Spiritual Movement: The Untold Story Of Paul Twitchell And Eckankar) have changed their opinions from believing HPB's Masters were entirely fictional to accepting (more or less) Johnson's thesis about M. and K.H. If Johnson’s assertion is correct, I would strongly urge Tillett and Lane to re-evaluate their new positions. In light of what I document in this paper, these two scholars may want to return to their former views.

In summary, it would appear that Johnson wants to use some of Olcott’s testimony on the Masters to buttress his own thesis, but would prefer to downplay or omit other testimony by Olcott that is not consistent with and, in fact, contradicts his conjectures. Although he accused Mr. Richard-Nafarre of "evading evidence," is Johnson not guilty himself of ignoring evidence and testimony "presumably because it conflicts with other sources he prefers"? Furthermore, Johnson is quite willing to accuse Ramaswamier of lying when the latter’s testimony of meeting Morya in Sikkim contradicts Johnson’s speculations. But Olcott’s testimony of the Master Morya coming to Bombay on numerous occasions also runs counter to Johnson’s conjectures. Is "something" wrong with Olcott’s Bombay testimony? Is Johnson willing to entertain the possibility that Olcott might also be giving false testimony? But if Olcott is lying about the Master’s appearances at Bombay, who (except Johnson??) would be foolish enough to accept Olcott’s other testimony about adepts visiting him in New York, Amritsar, and Lahore?

Let it be clearly understood, I am not suggesting that Olcott lied about any of his meetings with the Adepts. In fact, I agree with Johnson that Olcott encountered real adepts in New York, Amritsar and Lahore. But I would go further and maintain that the remaining encounters Olcott had with adepts at Bombay, Colombo and elsewhere should also be taken at face value. In other words, if one wants to be consistent in one’s thinking on the subject, why accept some of Olcott’s testimony on the Masters while rejecting or at least ignoring the rest of it? Of course, Johnson has a thesis that he is obliged to defend. He has committed himself to certain identifications of the Masters M. and K.H. Has Johnson painted himself into the proverbial "corner"?

At the very least, I would suggest that these Sikkim and Bombay accounts are simply more evidence showing the implausibility and irrationality of Johnson's hypothesis on Ranbir Singh/Morya. It is my opinion that these various testimonies refute Johnson's thesis. Johnson’s conjectures with their contorted "reasoning" do not account for the majority of the Theosophical evidence/testimony concerning Morya. His hypothesis is not a credible explanation when the bulk of evidence is carefully considered.

 


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