Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Family of Gautama Buddha
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 10/15/19

The Buddha was born into a noble family of the kshatriya varna(Hinduism) in Kapilvastu district of Lumbini zone, Nepal in 563 BCE.. He was called Siddhartha Gautama in his childhood.[source: ] His father was king Suddhodana, leader of the Shakya clan in what was the growing state of Kosala, and his mother was queen Maya Devi. According to Buddhist legend, the baby exhibited the marks of a great man. A prophecy indicated that if the child stayed at home he was destined to become a world ruler. If the child left home, however, he would become a universal spiritual leader. To make sure the boy would be a great king and world ruler, his father isolated him in his palace and he was raised by his mother's younger sister, Maha Pajapati, after his mother died just seven days after childbirth.

Separated from the world, he later married Yashodhara (Yaśodhara was the daughter of King Suppabuddha and Amita), and together they had one child, a son, Rāhula. Both Yashodhara and Rāhula later became disciples of Buddha.


Main article: Śuddhodana

King Sudhodana and his court

The sculpture depicts a scene where three soothsayers are interpreting to King Suddhodana the dream of Queen Maya. Nagarjunakonda, 2nd-century

Much of the information on Suddhodana comes from Buddhist legend and scripture. He is believed to be a leader of the Shakya clan, who lived within the state of Kosala, on the northern border of Ancient India which lies in today Nepal. Although in Buddhist literature he is said to be a hereditary monarch, he is now believed to have been an elected head of a tribal confederacy. Suddhodana's father was Sinahana.

Suddhodana was said to be greatly troubled by the departure of his son and is reported in Buddhist scriptures to have sent 10,000 messengers to plead with Gautama to return.

At the age of 29, Siddhartha left his palace to meet his subjects. Despite his father's efforts to hide from him the sick, aged and suffering, Siddhartha was said to have seen an old man. When his charioteer Channa explained to him that all people grew old, the prince went on further trips beyond the palace. On these he encountered a diseased man, a decaying corpse, and an ascetic. These depressed him, and he initially strove to overcome ageing, sickness, and death by living the life of an ascetic.

Accompanied by Channa and riding his horse Kanthaka, Gautama quit his palace for the life of a mendicant. It's said that "the horse's hooves were muffled by the gods" to prevent guards from knowing of his departure.

Gautama initially went to Rajagaha and began his ascetic life by begging for alms in the street. After King Bimbisara's men recognised Siddhartha and the king learned of his quest, Bimbisara offered Siddhartha the throne. Siddhartha rejected the offer but promised to visit his kingdom of Magadha first, upon attaining enlightenment.

-- Gautama Buddha, by Wikipedia

After the Buddha preached the dharma to the messengers, they were all ordained into the sangha. Later a friend of Suddhodana named Kaludayi invited the Buddha to return, at the request of Suddhodana. The Buddha also preached the dharma to him and Kaludayi was later ordained as a monk.

After this request from his father Gautama Buddha returned to his father's kingdom where he preached dharma to him. Gautama later returned again to his father's kingdom to see his father's death. Suddhodana became an arahant.[1]


Main article: Maya (mother of the Buddha)

Queen Māyā's white elephant dream, and the conception of the Buddha. Gandhara, 2-3rd century CE.

Maya was the mother of the Buddha and was from the Koliyan clan. Maya was born in Devadaha, in ancient Nepal. She was married to her cousin King Suddhodana, who ruled in the kingdom of Kapilavastu.

In Buddhist texts, a white elephant was said to have entered her side during a dream. When she awoke she found that she was pregnant. As it was traditional to give birth in the homeland of the father, Queen Maya journeyed to Devadaha. However, she was forced to give birth en route, in the Lumbini grove. It is said that the Devas presided over the birth and that two streams, one cool and one hot, flowed down from the heavens.

Maya died seven days after the birth of her son, whom she had named Siddhartha or "he who achieves his aim." She is said, in Buddhist scriptures, to have been reborn in Tusita, where her son later visited her, paid respects and taught the dharma to her.[2]


Main article: Ānanda

Ānanda was the primary attendant of the Buddha and one of his ten principal disciples.[3] Among the Buddha's many disciples, Ānanda stood out for having the best memory.[4] Most of the texts of the early Buddhist Sutta-Piṭaka (Pāli; Sanskrit: Sūtra-Piṭaka) are attributed to his recollection of the Buddha's teachings during the First Buddhist Council.[5] For that reason, he is known as the "Treasurer of the Dhamma", with Dhamma (Sanskrit: Dharma) referring to the Buddha's teaching.[6] In Early Buddhist Texts, Ānanda is the first cousin of the Buddha.[5] Although the texts do not agree on most things about Ānanda's early life, they do agree that Ānanda is ordained as a monk and that Puṇṇa Mantāniputta (Sanskrit: Pūrṇa Maitrāyaṇīputra) becomes his teacher.[7] Twenty years in the Buddha's ministry, Ānanda becomes the attendant of the Buddha, when the Buddha selects him for this job.[8] Ānanda performs his duties with great devotion and care, and acts as an intermediary between the Buddha and the laypeople, as well as the Saṅgha (monastic community).[9][10] He accompanies the Buddha for the rest of his life, acting not only as an assistant, but also a secretary and a mouthpiece.[11]

Scholars are skeptical about the historicity of many events in Ānanda's life, especially the First Council, and consensus about this has yet to be established.[12][13] A traditional account can be drawn from early texts, commentaries, and post-canonical chronicles. Ānanda has an important role in establishing the order of bhikkhunis, when he requests the Buddha on behalf of the latter's foster-mother Mahāpajāpati Gotamī (Sanskrit: Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī) to allow her to be ordained.[14] Ānanda also accompanies the Buddha in the last year of his life, and therefore is witness to many tenets and principles that the Buddha conveys and establishes before his death, including the well-known principle that the Buddhist community should take his teaching and discipline as their refuge, and that the Buddha will not appoint a new leader.[15][16] The final period of the Buddha's life also shows that Ānanda is still very much attached to the Buddha's person, and he witnesses the Buddha's passing with great sorrow.[17]

Shortly after the Buddha's death, the First Council is convened, and Ānanda manages to attain enlightenment just before the council starts, which is a requirement.[18] He has a historical role during the council as the living memory of the Buddha, reciting many of the Buddha's discourses and checking them for accuracy.[19] During the same council, however, he is chastised by Mahākassapa (Sanskrit: Mahākāśyapa) and the rest of the Saṅgha for allowing women to be ordained and failing to understand or respect the Buddha at several crucial moments.[20] Ānanda continues to teach until the end of his life, passing on his spiritual heritage to his pupils Sāṇavāsī (Sanskrit: Śāṇakavāsī) and Majjhantika (Sanskrit: Madhyāntika),[21] among others, who later assume a leading role in the Second[22] and Third Councils.[23] Ānanda dies in 463 BCE, and stūpas (monuments) are erected at the river where he dies.[24]

Ānanda is one of the most loved figures in Buddhism. Ānanda is known for his memory, erudition and compassion, and is often praised by the Buddha for these matters.[25][6] He functions as a foil to the Buddha, however, in that he still has worldly attachments and is not yet enlightened, as opposed to the Buddha.[26] In the Sanskrit textual traditions, Ānanda is widely considered the patriarch of the Dhamma, who stands in a spiritual lineage, receiving the teaching from Mahākassapa and passing them on to his own pupils.[27] Ānanda has been honored by bhikkhunis since early medieval times for his merits in establishing the nun's order.[28] In recent times, the composer Richard Wagner wrote a draft for a libretto about Ānanda, which was made into the opera Wagner Dream by Jonathan Harvey in 2007.[29]


Main article: Devadatta

Devadatta was the maternal first cousin (or in some accounts paternal first cousin) of the Buddha. He was ordained into the sangha along with his brothers and friends and their barber, Upāli, when the Buddha preached to the Shakyas in Kapilavastu.

For a time, Devadatta was highly respected among the sangha. Shariputra is said to have sung the praises of Devadatta in Rajagaha. After some time, Devadatta developed siddhis and his intention is said to have been corrupted. After gaining these siddhis, Devadatta attempted to kill the Buddha on several occasions, commonly thought to be motivated by jealousy of the Buddha's power. He is reported to have rolled a boulder toward the Buddha, piercing his flesh, and to have incited an elephant to charge at the Buddha.

Devadatta then attempted to split the sangha into two, with one faction led by himself and the other by the Buddha. However, this attempt failed as all of his converts returned to the Buddha's sangha.

Devadatta was reputedly remorseful toward the Buddha late in life. He is reported to have walked to the monastery where the Buddha was staying to apologize to him but, as a result of bad karma, he was swallowed up into the earth and reborn in Avici before he could ask for forgiveness.[30][31]


Main article: Nanda (half-brother of Buddha)

Nanda was a half-brother of the Buddha; the son of King Suddhodana and Maha Prajapati Gautami. Nanda was to be married to a princess named Janapadakalyani but abandoned her to join the sangha. Nanda persevered and became an arhat.[32]

Maha Pajapati Gotami

Main article: Mahapajapati Gotami

Maha Pajapati Gotami (Sanskrit: Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī) was the youngest daughter of King Suppabuddha and Queen Amita. She was married to King Suddhodana with her elder sister Mahamaya (or Mayadevi). When her sister died after the birth of Siddartha Gautama she took Siddartha into her care. She also gave birth to a son, Nanda, to King Suddodhana.

After the death of King Suddhodana, Maha Prajapati journeyed to find the Buddha. When she found him, she petitioned the Buddha, through Ananda, to allow women to enter the sangha as bhikkhuni. After many refusals, the Buddha finally agreed to allow women to enter the sangha as long as they accepted eight additional vinaya. These were:

• A bhikkhuni must always pay respect to bhikkhus
• A bhikkhuni must spend the varsa retreat in a retreat where bhikkhus are staying
• Bhikkhunis must ask bhikkhus to give them official teachings twice a month
• Bhikkhunis must perform the end of varsa ceremony in front of bhikkhunis and bhikkhus
• Serious breaches of the vinaya must be dealt with by bhikkhus and bhikkhunis
• Once a trainee has completed her training, she must ask both the bhikkhus and bhikkhunis for ordination
• Bhikkhunis are not to abuse bhikkhus
• Bhikkhus may criticize bhikkhunis (regarding disciplinary matters), but bhikkhunis may not criticize bhikkhus.

Maha Pajapati is said to have given the Buddha a robe made of fine cloth. The Buddha refused it, saying it was too elaborate and would cause the sangha to degenerate. Later Maha Pajapati became an arahant.[33]


Main article: Rāhula

Rāhula (Pāli and Sanskrit) was the only son of Siddhārtha Gautama, and his wife and princess Yaśodharā. He is mentioned in numerous Buddhist texts, from the early period onward.[34] Accounts about Rāhula indicate a mutual impact between Prince Siddhārtha's life and those of his family members.[35] According to the Pāli tradition, Rāhula is born on the day of Prince Siddhārta's renunciation, and is therefore named Rāhula, meaning a fetter on the path to enlightenment.[36][37] According to the Mūlasarvāstivāda tradition, and numerous other later sources, however, Rāhula is only conceived on the day of Prince Siddhārtha, and is born six years later, when Prince Siddhārtha becomes enlightened as the Buddha.[38] This long gestation period is explained by bad karma from previous lives of both Yaśodharā and of Rāhula himself, although more naturalistic reasons are also given.[39] As a result of the late birth, Yaśodharā needs to prove that Rāhula is really Prince Siddhārtha's son, which she eventually does successfully by an act of truth.[40] Historian Wolfgang Schumann [de] has argued that Prince Siddhārtha conceived Rāhula and waited for his birth, to be able to leave the palace with the king and queen's permission,[41] but Orientalist Noël Péri considered it more likely that Rāhula was born after Prince Siddhārtha left his palace.[42]

Between seven[37] and fifteen[43] years after Rāhula is born, the Buddha returns to Kapilavastu, where Yaśodharā has Rāhula ask the Buddha for the throne of the Śākya clan. The Buddha responds by having Rāhula ordain as the first Buddhist novice monk.[36] He teaches the young novice about truth, self-reflection,[37] and not-self,[44] eventually leading to Rāhula's enlightenment.[45][46] Although early accounts state that Rāhula dies before the Buddha does,[36] later tradition has it that Rāhula is one of the disciples that outlives the Buddha, guarding the Buddha's Dispensation until the rising of the next Buddha.[47] Rāhula is known in Buddhist texts for his eagerness for learning,[48] and was honored by novice monks and nuns throughout Buddhist history.[49] His accounts have led to a perspective in Buddhism of seeing children as hindrances to the spiritual life on the one hand, and as people with potential for enlightenment on the other hand.[50]

See also

• Yaśodharā (wife and later disciple)
• Rohini (Gautama Buddha's cousin and disciple)


1. "The Life of Buddha: Part One: 1. King Suddhodana And Queen Maya". Retrieved 2012-05-26.
2. Andrew Mossberg. "Who were the Buddhas?". Archived from the original on 2012-01-17. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
3. Nishijima, Gudo Wafu; Cross, Shodo (2008). Shōbōgenzō : The True Dharma-Eye Treasury (PDF). Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research. p. 32 n.119. ISBN 978-1-886439-38-2.
4. Mun-keat, Choong (2000). The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism: A Comparative Study Based on the Sūtrāṅga Portion of the Pāli Saṃyutta-Nikāya and the Chinese Saṃyuktāgama (PDF). Harrassowitz. p. 142. ISBN 3-447-04232-X.
5. Powers, John (2013). "Ānanda". A Concise Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Oneworld Publications. ISBN 978-1-78074-476-6.
6. Sarao, K. T. S. (2004). "Ananda". In Jestice, Phyllis G. (ed.). Holy People of the World: A Cross-cultural Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 49. ISBN 1-85109-649-3.
7. Witanachchi 1965, p. 530.
8. Keown 2004, p. 12.
9. Malalasekera, G.P. (1960). Dictionary of Pāli Proper Names. 1. Pali Text Society. OCLC 793535195.
10. Buswell & Lopez 2013, Ānanda.
11. Findly, Ellison Banks (2003). Dāna: Giving and Getting in Pāli Buddhism. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. p. 377. ISBN 9788120819566.
12. Prebish, Charles S. (2005) [1974]. "Review of Scholarship on Buddhist Councils" (PDF). In Williams, Paul (ed.). Buddhism: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies, 1: Early History in South and Southeast Asia. Routledge. pp. 226, 231. ISBN 0-415-33227-3. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |encyclopedia=(help)
13. Mukherjee, B. (1994). "The Riddle of the First Buddhist Council – A Retrospection". Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal. 7: 457.
14. Ohnuma, Reiko (December 2006). "Debt to the Mother: A Neglected Aspect of the Founding of the Buddhist Nuns' Order". Journal of the American Academy of Religion. 74 (4): 862, 872. doi:10.1093/jaarel/lfl026.
15. Buswell & Lopez 2013, Mahāparinibbānasuttanta.
16. Obeyesekere, Gananath (2017). "The Death of the Buddha: A Restorative Interpretation". The Buddha in Sri Lanka: Histories and Stories. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-351-59225-3.
17. Strong, John S. (1977). ""Gandhakuṭī": The Perfumed Chamber of the Buddha". History of Religions. 16 (4): 398–9. doi:10.2307/1062638. JSTOR 1062638.
18. Buswell & Lopez 2013, Ānanda; Īryāpatha.
19. Keown 2004, p. 164.
20. Hinüber, O. von (5 November 2007). "The Advent of the First Nuns in Early Buddhism"(PDF). Indogaku Chibettogaku Kenkyū [Journal of Indian and Tibetan Studies]. Association for the Study of Indian Philosophy: 235–6. ISSN 1342-7377.
21. Witanachchi 1965, pp. 534–5.
22. Hirakawa, Akira (1993). A History of Indian Buddhism: From Śākyamuni to Early Mahāyāna (PDF). Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. ISBN 9788120809550.
23. Bechert, Heinz (2005) [1982]. "The Date of the Buddha Reconsidered" (PDF). In Williams, Paul (ed.). Buddhism: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies, 1: Early History in South and Southeast Asia. Routledge. p. 69. ISBN 0-415-33227-3. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |encyclopedia= (help)
24. Lamotte, Etienne (1988) [1958]. Histoire du Bouddhisme Indien, des origines a l'ere Saka [History of Indian Buddhism: From the Origins to the Śaka Era] (PDF) (in French). Université catholique de Louvain, Institut orientaliste. pp. 93, 210. ISBN 90-683-1-100-X.
25. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Rhys Davids, Thomas William (1911). "Ānanda". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 913.
26. Shaw, Sarah (2006). Buddhist Meditation: An Anthology of Texts from the Pāli Canon(PDF). Routledge. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-415-35918-4.
27. Buswell & Lopez 2013, Damoduoluo chan jing; Madhyāntika.
28. Ambros, Barbara R (27 June 2016). "A Rite of Their Own: Japanese Buddhist Nuns and the Anan kōshiki". Japanese Journal of Religious Studies. 43 (1): 209–12, 214, 216–8, 245–6. doi:10.18874/jjrs.43.1.2016.207-250.
29. App, Urs (2011). Richard Wagner and Buddhism. UniversityMedia. pp. 42–3. ISBN 978-3-906000-00-8.
30. "Devadatta". Archived from the original on 2014-04-15. Retrieved 2012-05-26.
31. "Devadatta". Archived from the originalon 2008-04-09. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
32. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-07-04. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
33. "Maha Prajapati Gautami". Archived from the original on 2008-05-15. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
34. Meeks 2016, p. 139.
35. Strong 1997, pp. 122–4.
36. Buswell & Lopez 2013, Rāhula.
37. Saddhasena 2003, p. 481.
38. Strong 1997, p. 119.
39. Meeks 2016, pp. 139–40.
40. Strong 1997, p. 120.
41. Schumann 2004, p. 46.
42. Péri 1918, pp. 34–5.
43. Crosby 2013, p. 110.
44. Crosby 2013, p. 115.
45. Saddhasena 2003, pp. 482–3.
46. Crosby 2013, p. 116.
47. Strong 1997, p. 121.
48. Malalasekera 1960, Rāhula.
49. Meeks 2016, passim..
50. Nakagawa 2005, p. 41.


• Buswell, Robert E. Jr.; Lopez, Donald S. Jr. (2013), Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. (PDF), Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-15786-3
• Crosby, Kate (2013), "The Inheritance of Rāhula: Abandoned Child, Boy Monk, Ideal Son and Trainee", in Sasson, Vanessa R. (ed.), Little Buddhas: Children and Childhoods in Buddhist Texts and Traditions, Oxford University Press, pp. 97–123, ISBN 978-0-19-994561-0
• Keown, Damien (2004), A Dictionary of Buddhism, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-157917-2
• Malalasekera, G.P. (1960), Dictionary of Pāli Proper Names, Pali Text Society, OCLC 793535195
• Meeks, Lori (27 June 2016), "Imagining Rāhula in Medieval Japan" (PDF), Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, 43 (1): 131–51, doi:10.18874/jjrs.43.1.2016.131-151
• Nakagawa, Yoshiharu (2005), "The Child as Compassionate Bodhisattva and as Human Sufferer/Spiritual Seeker: Intertwined Buddhist Images", in Yust, Karen-Marie; Johnson, Aostre N.; Sasso, Sandy Eisenberg; Roehlkepartain, Eugene C. (eds.), Nurturing Child and Adolescent Spirituality: Perspectives from the World's Religious Traditions, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, pp. 33–42, ISBN 978-1-4616-6590-8
• Péri, Nöel (1918), "Les femmes de Çākya-Muni" [The Wives of Śākyamunī], Bulletin de l'Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient (in French), 18 (1): 1–37, doi:10.3406/befeo.1918.5886
• Saddhasena, D. (2003), "Rāhula", in Malalasekera, G. P.; Weeraratne, W. G. (eds.), Encyclopaedia of Buddhism, 7, Government of Sri Lanka, OCLC 2863845613
• Strong, John S. (1997), "A Family Quest: The Buddha, Yaśodharā, and Rāhula in the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya", in Schober, Juliane (ed.), Sacred Biography in the Buddhist Traditions of South and Southeast Asia, pp. 113–28
• Witanachchi, C. (1965), "Ānanda", in Malalasekera, G. P.; Weeraratne, W. G. (eds.), Encyclopaedia of Buddhism, 1, Government of Sri Lanka, OCLC 2863845613
• Schumann, H.W. (2004) [1982], Der Historische Buddha [The historical Buddha: the times, life, and teachings of the founder of Buddhism] (in German), translated by Walshe, M. O' C., Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-1817-2
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Oct 16, 2019 6:14 am

India Office
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 10/15/19

The western or park end of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's building in 1866. It was then occupied by the Foreign and India Offices, while the Home and Colonial Offices occupied the Whitehall end.

The India Office was a British government department established in London in 1858 to oversee the administration, through a Viceroy and other officials, of the Provinces of British India. These territories comprised most of the modern-day nations of Bangladesh, Burma, India, and Pakistan, as well as Aden and other territories around the Indian Ocean. The department was headed by the Secretary of State for India, a member of the British cabinet, who was formally advised by the Council of India.[1]

Upon the partition of British India in 1947 into the two new independent dominions of India and Pakistan, the India Office was closed down. Responsibility for the United Kingdom's relations with the two new countries was transferred to the Commonwealth Relations Office (formerly the Dominions Office).

Origins of the India Office (1600–1858)

The East India Company was established in 1600 as a joint-stock company of English merchants who received, by a series of charters, exclusive rights to English trade with the "Indies", defined as the lands lying between the Cape of Good Hope and the Straits of Magellan; the term "India" had been derived from the name of the Indus River, long important to commerce and civilisation in the region. The Company soon established a network of "factories" throughout the south and east Indies in Asia. Over a period of 250 years the Company underwent several substantial changes in its basic character and functions.

A period of rivalry between the Old and New Companies after 1698 resulted in the formation in 1709 of the United Company of Merchants Trading to the East Indies. This 'new' East India Company was transformed during the second half of the 18th century from a mainly commercial body with scattered Asian trading interests into a major territorial power in South Asia with its headquarters in Bengal, present day state of West Bengal of India and Bangladesh. The political implications of this development eventually caused the British government in 1784 to institute standing Commissioners (the Board of Control) in London to exercise supervision over the Company's Indian policies.

This change in the Company's status, along with other factors, led to the Acts of Parliament of 1813 and 1833, which opened British trade with the East Indies to all shipping and resulted in the Company's complete withdrawal from its commercial functions. The Company continued to exercise responsibility, under the supervision of the Board, for the government of British India until the re-organisation of 1858.

Throughout most of these changes the basic structure of Company organisation in East India House in the City of London remained largely unaltered, comprising a large body of proprietors or shareholders and an elected Court of Directors, headed by a chairman and deputy chairman who, aided by permanent officials, were responsible for the daily conduct of Company business. The Board of Control maintained its separate office close to the Government buildings in Westminster.

With the Government of India Act 1858, the Company and the Board of Control of the East India Companies were replaced by a single new department of state in London, the India Office, which functioned, under the Secretary of State for India, as an executive office of United Kingdom government alongside the Foreign Office, Colonial Office, Home Office and War Office.

Description and functions

The Secretary of State for India was assisted by a statutory body of advisers, the Council of India, and headed a staff of civil servants organised into a system of departments largely taken over from the East India Company and Board of Control establishments, and housed in a new India Office building in Whitehall. The Secretary of State for India inherited all the executive functions previously carried out by the Company, and all the powers of 'superintendence, direction and control' over the British provincial administrations in South Asia previously exercised by the Board of Control. Improved communications with South Asia – the overland and submarine telegraph cables (1868–70), and the opening of the Suez Canal (1869) – rendered this control, exercised through the Viceroy and provincial Governors covering large areas in the regions of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, more effective in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. It was only with the constitutional reforms initiated during the First World War, and carried forward by the India Acts of 1919 and 1935, that there came about a significant relaxation of India Office supervision over the Government of British India, and with it, in South Asia, a gradual devolution of authority to legislative bodies and local governments. The same administrative reforms also led in 1937 to the separation of Burma from rest of South Asia and the creation in London of the Burma Office, separate from the India Office though sharing the same Secretary of State and located in the same building. With the gradual events and establishments of sovereign independent nations and the final grant of independence to present-day India and Pakistan in 1947, and to present-day Myanmar in 1948, both the India Office and the Burma Office were officially dissolved.

As a result of the widespread involvement in the external relations and defence policy of pre-1947 African, Asian and Middle Eastern countries, the India Office was also responsible for particular neighbouring or connected areas at different times. Among the most significant of these are:

Bengal (1616–1857);
Sri Lanka then called Ceylon (c. 1750–1802);
St Helena (to 1834);
Cape of Good Hope (to 1836);
Zanzibar, Somalia and Ethiopia (mainly nineteenth century);
Red Sea, Arabian Peninsula, Persian Gulf states, Iraq and Iran (c. 1600–1947);
Afghanistan, Russian and Chinese Central Asia, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim (late eighteenth century to 1947);
Malaya and South-East Asia (to c. 1867);
Indonesia (to c. 1825);
China (early seventeenth century to 1947); and
Japan (seventeenth century).

Other groups of involvement have also resulted from India Office interest in the status of Indian emigrants to the West Indies, south and east Africa, and Fiji.

The India Office had its offices in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Main Building in Whitehall.


1600 – Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading with the East Indies. established in London
1709 – British East India Company emerges as union of England and Scotland is born.
1757 – East India Company begins conquering Indian territory after the Battle of Plassey.
1765 – Mughal Emperor grants the right to collect land revenue to the East India Company.
1773 – Warren Hastings appointed as first Governor of Bengal.
1784 – British Government establishes Board of Control for India in London.
1813 – End of East India Company's monopoly rights over trade with British India with the Charter Act of 1813
1833 – End of East India Company's monopoly rights over trade with China
1857 – Indian Rebellion of 1857 changes local opinion of the British.
1858 – East India Company and Board of Control replaced by India Office and Council of India in the Government of India Act 1858.
1937 – Separation of Burma from British India and establishment of Burma Office.
1947 – Dominion of India and Dominion of Pakistan. Dominion Status granted to both countries. India wishes to stay in the commonwealth. Abolition of India Office.
1948 – Independence of Burma and abolition of Burma Office
1971 - Separation of East Bengal from Pakistan creating present-day Bangladesh.

India Office Records

Main article: India Office Records

The India Office Records are the repository of the archives of the East India Company (1600–1858), the Board of Control or Board of Commissioners for the Affairs of British India (1784–1858), the India Office (1858–1947), the Burma Office (1937–1948), and a number of related British agencies overseas which were officially linked with one or other of the four main bodies. The focus of the India Office Records is in the territories mainly that today include Central Asia, the Middle East, regions of Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia and their administration before 1947. The official archives of the India Office Records are complemented by over 300 collections and over 3,000 smaller deposits of Private Papers relating to the British experience in India.

The India Office Records, previously housed in the India Office Library, are now administered as part of the Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections of the British Library, London as part of the Public Records of the United Kingdom, and are open for public consultation. They comprise 14 kilometres of shelves of volumes, files and boxes of papers, together with 70,000 volumes of official publications and 105,000 manuscript and printed maps.

See also

• Secretary of State for India
• Under-Secretary of State for India
• Governor-General of India
• History of India
• History of West Bengal


1. Kaminsky, 1986.

Further reading

• Datta, Rajeshwari. "The India Office Library: Its History, Resources, and Functions," Library Quarterly, (April 1966) 36#2 pp. 99–148,
• Arnold P. Kaminsky (1986). The India Office, 1880–1910. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-313-24909-9. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
• Khan, M. S. "The India Office Library: Who Owns It?" The Eastern Librarian, vol. I No. 1, 1966, pp. 1–10
• Moir, Martin. A General Guide to the India Office Records (1988) 331 pages
• Seton, M. C. C. & Stewart, S. F. . The India Office (1926) 299 pages
• Williams, Donovan. The India Office, 1858–1869 (1983) 589 pages
• Catalogue of the Library of the India Office: Supplement 2: 1895–1909, 1909 (1888)

External links

• India Office Records hub British Library site
• Search the India Office Records at Access 2 Archives National Archives site
• Bibliography
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Alexandra David-Néel
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 10/16/19



1933, Preus museum
Photograph identified in Wikipedia as "Alexandra David-Néel in Tibet, 1933" [The date is likely erroneous -- see Librarian's Comment below.]

[Librarian's Comment: David-Neel's tall tales of a Tibetan wonderland populated by magical yogis mark themselves as fantasies by her complete failure to mention that Tibet's official policy of excluding foreigners from Tibet in general, and Lhasa in particular, was so fierce that either the utmost skill in deception, or military might, were required for a traveler to reach the Forbidden City. Kawaguchi and Harrer's accounts show how mountaineering spies could manage the trek, while Younghusband shot his way into Lhasa, and Charles Bell, the diplomat, was backed by Younghusband's guns. Kawaguchi made no bones about fearing for his life if his disguise as a Chinese monk were discovered, and often remarks that Tibetans who wittingly or unwittingly aided his deception were implicated in crimes for which punishment by blinding, amputation of limbs, and execution might be levied by the Tibetan authorities on slight pretext. Indeed, several Tibetans who aided Kawaguchi's fellow-explorer and Tibet scholar, Surat Chandra-Das, suffered just such draconian punishments.

Another feature of all books on Tibet and the Himalayan regions is their detailed description of the astonishing terrain, that everyone uniformly describes as visually dazzling, from Lama Govinda's Way of the White Clouds to Peter Matthiessen's The Snow Leopard. These books are all, in one way or another, trekking epics, with all the local specifics and technical detail that comes from people who know they survived their encounters with fierce natural forces because of their own hardihood, skill, and the assistance of local guides.

The excellent physical conditioning required to make the high-altitude journey over arduous terrain, while evading hostile patrols, makes it quite unlikely that David-Neel made the trek. Harrer escaped a British prison camp in Northern India with two other prisoners, but one, an Italian general, turned back to give himself up to British authorities rather than continue the insanely hardy trek. The idea that David-Neel, a Parisian woman in her fifties, could have replicated this feat, would be dismissed out of hand had not past authors venerated her credibility because, as one apologist admits, they'd rather believe the tales of their youth.

Another great, unmentioned obstacle would have been the virulent misogyny of the monasteries and the lamas who ran the society. Women were simply not allowed into monasteries, and if she had made the journey to Lhasa, her adventures would be filled with tales of exclusion from events and places due to her sex.

Don't expect to find these red flags discussed in the "scholarly literature" about David-Neel, because there is none worthy of the name. David-Neel should be classed with the discredited "Lobsang Rampa," who peddled supernatural fantasies under a pseudo-Tibetan pseudonym. Instead, David-Neel has been given a pass because the belief in her credibility, absurd as it is, remains an important pillar in the illusion of Shangri La. When it comes to David-Neel, propaganda masequerades as scholarship to give factual substance to the fantasies of a woman who claimed to have gone where no European woman had before, but provided an account that could have been composed in a Parisian parlor. Her books are virtually devoid of dates, places, maps, and the other particulars that lend veracity to an account. Few if any of the articles purporting to study David-Neel have considered these badges of fraud, that indicate David-Neel invented her Tibetan adventures while comfortably residing in some other location, composing a pastiche of vignettes featuring "mystics and magicians" who conformed to European projections of a land where miracles were the stuff of commonplace.

The Wikipedia photograph above, labeled as "David-Neel in Tibet, 1933," is indicative of the level of scholarship lacking in the David-Neel field. First, this photograph was obviously shot in the studio of a professional photographer using a continuous field photographic backdrop made of painted canvas that descends from the ceiling, and the photographic subject stands on it. While photographic backdrops are old hat for professional photographers, there were no such people in Lhasa in 1933, and if there had been, don't you think David-Neel would have dragged him out to take the shot in front of the Potala, or the Jokang, or some other Lhasa landmark, to provide indisputable proof of her visit? Further, David-Need claimed she was in Tibet in the twenties.]

Born: Louise Eugénie Alexandrine Marie David, 24 October 1868, Saint-Mandé, French Empire
Died: 8 September 1969 (aged 100), Digne, France
Nationality: Belgian and French
Known for Writing on Tibet

Alexandra David-Néel (born Louise Eugénie Alexandrine Marie David; 24 October 1868 – 8 September 1969) was a Belgian–French explorer, spiritualist, Buddhist, anarchist and writer.[a][b][c] She is most known for her 1924 visit to Lhasa, Tibet, when it was forbidden to foreigners. David-Néel wrote over 30 books about Eastern religion, philosophy, and her travels, including Magic and Mystery in Tibet which was published in 1929. Her teachings influenced the beat writers Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, the populariser of Eastern philosophy Alan Watts, and the esotericist Benjamin Creme.


Early life and background

Alexandra David-Néel as a teenager, 1886

She was born in Saint-Mandé, Val-de-Marne, only daughter of her father, Louis David, a Huguenot Freemason, teacher (who was a Republican activist during the revolution of 1848, and friend of the geographer/anarchist Elisée Reclus), and she had a Belgian Roman Catholic mother. Louis and Alexandrine had met in Belgium, where the school teacher and publisher of a republican journal was exiled when Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte became emperor. Between the penniless husband and the wife who would not come into her inheritance until after her father would die, the reasons for disagreements grew with the birth of Alexandra.

In 1871, appalled by the execution of the last Communards in front of the Communards' Wall at the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris, Louis David took his daughter of two years, Eugénie, future Alexandra, there to see and never forget, by this early encounter of the face of death, the ferocity of humans. Two years later, the Davids emigrated to Belgium.[4]

Since before the age of 15, she had been exercising a good number of extravagant austerities: fasting, corporal torments, recipes drawn from biographies of ascetic saints found in the library of one of her female relatives, to which she refers to in Sous des nuées d'orage, published in 1940.[5]

At the age of 15, spending her holidays with her parents at Ostende, she ran for and reached the port of Vlissingen in the Netherlands to try and embark for England. Lack of money forced her to give up.[6]

At the age of 18, she had already visited England, Switzerland and Spain on her own, and she was studying in Madame Blavatsky's Theosophical Society. "She joined various secret societies – she would reach the thirtieth degree in the mixed Scottish Rite of Freemasonry – while feminist and anarchist groups greeted her with enthusiasm... Throughout her childhood and adolescence, she was associated with the French geographer and anarchist Elisée Reclus (1820–1905). This led her to become interested in the anarchistic ideas of the time and in feminism, that inspired her to the publication of Pour la vie (For Life) in 1898. In 1899, she composed an anarchist treatise with a preface by Elisée Reclus.
Publishers did not dare to publish the book, though her friend Jean Haustont printed copies himself and it was eventually translated into five languages."[7]

According to Raymond Brodeur, she converted to Buddhism in 1889, which she noted in her diary that was published under the title La Lampe de sagesse (The Lamp of Wisdom) in 1986. She was 21 years old. That same year, to refine her English, an indispensable language for an orientalist's career, she went to London where she frequented the library of the British Museum and, moreover, made the acquaintance of several members of the Theosophical Society. The following year, back in Paris, she initiated herself to Sanskrit and Tibetan and followed different instructions at the Collège de France and at the Ecole pratique des hautes Etudes (practical school of advanced studies) without ever passing an exam there.[8] According to Jean Chalon, her vocation to be an orientalist and Buddhist originated at the Guimet Museum.[9]

1895–1904: Opera singer

At the suggestion of her father, David-Néel attended the Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles (Royal Conservatory of Brussels), where she studied piano and singing.[10] To help her parents who were experiencing setbacks, David-Néel, who had obtained a first prize for singing, took the position of first singer at the Hanoi Opera House (Indochina) during the seasons 1895–1896 and 1896–1897 under the name Alexandra Myrial.[d]

She interpreted the role of the Violetta in La Traviata (by Verdi), then she sang in Les Noces de Jeannette (by Victor Massé), in Faust and in Mireille (by Gounod), Lakmé (by Léo Delibes), Carmen (by Bizet), and Thaïs (by Massenet). She maintained a pen friendship with Frédéric Mistral and Jules Massenet at that time.[12]

From 1897 to 1900, she was living together with the pianist Jean Haustont in Paris, writing Lidia with him, a lyric tragedy in one act, for which Haustont composed the music and David-Néel the libretto. She left to sing at the opera of Athens from November 1899 to January 1900. Then, in July of the same year, she went to the opera of Tunis. Soon after her arrival in the city, she met a distant cousin, Philippe Néel, chief engineer of the Tunisian railways and her future husband. During a stay of Jean Haustont in Tunis in the Summer of 1902, she gave up her singing career and assumed artistic direction of the casino of Tunis for a few months, while also continuing her intellectual work.[12]

1904–1911: Marriage

On 4 August 1904, at age 36, she married Philippe Neél de Saint-Sauveur,[13] whose lover she had been since 15 September 1900. Their life together was sometimes turbulent but characterized by mutual respect. It was, however, interrupted by her departure, alone, for her third trip to India (1911–1925) (the second one was carried out for a singing tour) on 9 August 1911. She did not want children, aware that the charges of motherhood were incompatible with her need of independence and her inclination for education.[5] She promised to Philippe to get back to the conjugal domicile in nineteen months: but only fourteen years later, in May 1925, did the two spouses meet again, separating after some days, David-Néel having come back with her exploration partner, the young Lama Aphur Yongden, whom she would make her adopted son in 1929.[14][5]

However, both spouses started an extensive correspondence after their separation, which only ended with the death of Philippe Néel in February 1941. From these exchanges, many letters by David-Néel remain, and some letters written by her husband, many having been burnt or lost on the occasion of David-Néel's tribulations during the Chinese Civil War, in the middle of the 1940s.

Legend has it that her husband was also her patron; the truth is probably quite different. She had, at her marriage, a personal fortune[15] and in 1911, three departments helped her to finance an educational trip. Through the embassies, she sent her husband proxies in order for him to manage her fortune.

1911–1925: The Indo-Tibetan tour

Arrival in Sikkim (1912)

Alexandra David-Néel traveled for the second time to India to further her study of Buddhism. In 1912, she arrived at the royal monastery of Sikkim, where she befriended Maharaj Kumar (crown prince) Sidkeong Tulku Namgyal, the eldest son of the sovereign (Chogyal) of this kingdom (which would become a state of India), and traveled in many Buddhist monasteries to make her knowledge of Buddhism more perfect. In 1914, she met young Aphur Yongden in one of these monasteries, 15 years old, whom she would later adopt as her son. Both decided to retire in a hermitage cavern at more than 4000 meters above sea level in northern Sikkim.

Sidkeong, then the spiritual leader of Sikkim, was sent to the meeting with Alexandra David-Néel by his father, the Maharaja of Sikkim, having been told about her arrival in April 1912 by the British resident at Gangtok. On the occasion of this first encounter, their mutual understanding is immediate: Sidkeong, eager for reformation, was listening to Alexandra David-Néel's advice, and before returning to his occupations, he left behind the Lama Kazi Dawa Samdup as a guide, interpreter and professor of Tibetan.
After that, Sidkeong confided in Alexandra David-Néel that his father wished for him to renounce the throne in favor of his half-brother.[16][17]

Meeting with the 13th Dalai Lama in Kalimpong (1912)

Alexandra David-Neel and her adopted son Aphur Yongden, pose with another equally famous explorer, the Japanese monk Kawaguchi Ekai who also travelled to Tibet. David-Néel first met Kawaguchi in Kalimpong, northern India in the waiting room of the 13th Dalai Lama who lived there for three years. She met Kawaguchi once again while visiting Japan in 1917.

Lama Kazi Dawa Samdup accompanied Alexandra David-Néel to Kalimpong, where she returned to meet with the 13th Dalai Lama in exile. She received an audience on 15 April 1912, and met Ekai Kawaguchi in his waiting room, whom she would meet again in Japan. The Dalai Lama welcomed her, accompanied by the inevitable interpreter, and he strongly advised her to learn Tibetan, an advice she followed. She received his blessing, then the Dalai Lama engaged the dialogue, asking her how she had become a Buddhist. David-Néel amused him by claiming to be the only Buddhist in Paris, and surprised him by telling him that the Gyatcher Rolpa, a sacred Tibetan book, had been translated by Phillippe-Édouard Foucaux, a professor at the Collège de France. She asked for many additional explanations that the Dalai Lama tried to provide, promising to answer all her questions in writing.[18]

Stay at Lachen (1912–1916)

In late May, she went to Lachen, where she met Lachen Gomchen Rinpoche, the superior (gomchen) of the town's monastery, with the improvised interpreter M. Owen (E. H. Owen), a reverend who replaced the absent Kazi Dawa Samdup.[19] In Lachen, she lived for several years close to one of the greatest gomchens of whom she had the privilege to be taught, and above all, she was very close to the Tibetan border, which she crossed twice against all odds.

Lachen village in 1938

Lachen is a town in North Sikkim district in the Indian state of Sikkim. It is located at an elevation of 2,750 metres [9,000 ft.]. The name Lachen means "big pass". The town is being promoted as a tourist destination by the Sikkimese government. The town forms the base to the Chopta Valley and Gurudongmar Lake. An annual yak race, the Thangu is held here in summer.

Buddhist Holy Lake -Gurudongmar Lake

Gurudongmar Lake is one of the highest lakes in the world and in India, located at an altitude of 5,183 m (17,000 ft),[1] in the Indian state of Sikkim.[2] It is considered sacred by Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus.[1] The lake is named after Guru Padmasambhava—also known as Guru Rinpoche—founder of Tibetan Buddhism, who visited in the 8th century.[2]

-- Gurudongmar Lake, by Wikipedia

Unlike other places in India, Lachen has its unique form of local self governance called the “Dzumsa”. Every household is a member of this traditional administrative system, this institution is in charge of governing and organizing activities within the village.

-- Lachen, Sikkim, by Wikipedia

In her anchorite cave, she exercised the methods of Tibetan yogis. She was sometimes in tsam, that is to retreat for several days without seeing anyone, and she learned the technique of tummo, which mobilized her internal energy to produce heat. As a result of this apprenticeship, her master, the Gomchen of Lachen, gave her the religious name of Yeshe Tome, "Lamp of Sagesse", which proved valuable to her because she was then known by Buddhist authorities everywhere she went in Asia.[20]

While she was in company of Lachen Gomchen Rinpoche, Alexandra David-Néel encountered Sidkeong again on an inspection tour in Lachen on 29 May 1912. These three personalities of Buddhism thus reunited reflected and worked together to reform and spread out Buddhism, as the Gomchen would declare.[21] For David-Néel, Sidkeong organized an expedition of one week into the high areas of Sikkim, at 5,000 meters of altitude, which started on 1 July.[22]

There is an epistolary correspondence between Sidkeong and Alexandra David-Néel. Thus, in a letter by Sidkeong written at Gangtok on 8 October 1912, he thanked her for the meditation method she had sent him. On 9 October, he accompanied her to Darjeeling, where they visited a monastery together, while she prepared to return to Calcutta.[23] In another letter, Sidkeong informed Alexandra David-Néel that, in March 1913, he was able to enter the Freemasonry at Calcutta, where he had been admitted as a member, provided with a letter of introduction by the governor of Bengal, a further link between them. He told him of his pleasure of having been allowed to become a member of this society.[24]

While his father was about to die, Sidkeong called Alexandra David-Néel for help, and asked her for advice in bringing about the reform of Buddhism that he wished to implement at Sikkim once he would arrive at power.[25] Returning to Gangtok via Darjeeling and Siliguri, David-Néel was received like an official figure, with guard of honor, by Sidkeong on 3 December 1913.[26]

On 4 January 1914, he gave her, as a gift for the new year, a lamani's (female lama) dress sanctified according to the Buddhist rites. David-Néel had her picture taken dressed this way, with a yellow hat completing the ensemble.[27][28]

On 10 February 1914, the Maharaja died, and Sidkeong succeeded him. The campaign of religious reform could begin, Kali Koumar, a monk of the southern Buddhism was called to participate in it, as well as Silacara (an Englishman) who was then living in Burma. Ma Lat (Hteiktin Ma Lat) came from that same country, Alexandra David-Néel was in correspondence with her, and Sidkeong had to marry her, Alexandra David-Néel becoming in fact the Maharaja's marriage counselor.[29]

While she was at the monastery of Phodong, the abbot of which was Sidkeong, Alexandra David-Néel declared to hear a voice announcing to her that the reforms would fail.[30]

On 11 November 1914, leaving the cavern of Sikkim where she had gone to meet the gomchen, David-Néel was received at Lachen Monastery by Sidkeong.[31] One month later, she learned about Sidkeong's sudden death, news that affected her and made her think of poisoning.[32]

First trip to Tibet and meeting with the Panchen Lama (1916)

On 13 July 1916, without asking anyone for permission, Alexandra David-Néel left for Tibet, accompanied by Yongden and a monk. She planned to visit two great religious centers close to her Sikkim retreat: the monastery of Chorten Nyima and Tashilhunpo Monastery, close to Shigatse, one of the biggest cities of southern Tibet. At the monastery of Tashilhunpo, where she arrived on 16 July, she was allowed to consult the Buddhist scriptures and visit various temples. On the 19th, she met with the Panchen Lama, by whom she received blessings and a charming welcome: he introduced her to his entourage's persons of rank, to his professors, and to his mother (with whom David-Néel tied bonds of friendship and who suggested to her to reside in a convent). The Panchen Lama bade and proposed her to stay at Shigatse as his guest, what she declined, leaving the town on 26 July, not without having received the honorary titles of a Lama and a doctor in Tibetan Buddhism and having experienced hours of great bliss.[e] She pursued her escapade at Tibet by visiting the printing works of Nartan (snar-thang) before paying a visit to an anchorite which had invited her close to the lake Mo-te-tong. On 15 August, she was welcomed by a Lama at Tranglung.[citation needed]

Upon her return to Sikkim, the colonial British authorities, pushed by missionaries exasperated by the welcome afforded David-Néel by the Panchen Lama and annoyed by her having ignored their ban of entering Tibet, thrust a notification of expulsion upon her.[f][34]

Trip to Japan, Korea, China, Mongolia, and Tibet

As it was impossible to return to Europe during World War I, Alexandra David-Néel and Yongden left Sikkim for India and then Japan. There she met the philosopher Ekai Kawaguchi who had managed to stay for eighteen months in Lhasa as a Chinese monk in disguise a few years earlier. David-Néel and Yongden subsequently left for Korea and then Beijing, China. From there, they chose to cross China from east to west, accompanied by a colourful Tibetan Lama. Their journey took several years through the Gobi, Mongolia, before a break of three years (1918–1921) at Kumbum Monastery in Tibet, where David-Néel, helped by Yongden, translated the famous Prajnaparamita.[5]

Incognito stay in Lhasa (1924)

In Lhasa in 1924.

Disguised as a beggar and a monk, respectively, and carrying a backpack as discreet as possible, Alexandra David-Néel and Yongden then left for the Forbidden City. In order not to betray her status as a foreigner, David-Néel did not dare to take a camera and survey equipment, she hid, however, under her rags a compass, a pistol, and a purse with money for a possible ransom. Finally, they reached Lhasa in 1924, merged with a crowd of pilgrims coming to celebrate the Monlam Prayer Festival.[35] They stayed in Lhasa for two months visiting the holy city and the large surrounding monasteries: Drepung, Sera, Ganden, Samye, and met Swami Asuri Kapila (Cesar Della Rosa Bendio). Foster Stockwell pointed out that neither the Dalai Lama nor his assistants welcomed David-Néel, that she was neither shown the treasures of lamasery nor awarded a diploma.[33] Jacques Brosse states more precisely that she knew the Dalai Lama well, but he didn't know that she was in Lhasa and she could not reveal her identity. She found "nothing very special" in Potala, of which she remarked that the interior design was "entirely Chinese-style".[g][37][38] Despite her face smeared with soot, her yak wool mats, and her traditional fur hat,[33] she was finally unmasked (due to too much cleanliness – she went to wash herself every morning at the river) and denounced to Tsarong Shape, the Governor of Lhasa. By the time the latter took action, David-Néel and Yongden had already left Lhasa for Gyantse. They were only told about the story later, by letters of Ludlow and David Macdonald (the British sales representative in Gyantse).[h]

Yongden (left) and Alexandra David-Neel (center) in front of de Potala in 1924.

In May 1924, the explorer, exhausted, "without money and in rags", was accommodated together with her companion at the Macdonald home for a fortnight. She managed to reach Northern India through Sikkim partly thanks to the 500 rupees she borrowed from Macdonald and to the necessary papers that he and his son-in-law, captain Perry, obtained for her.[40][41][39] In Calcutta, dressed in the new Tibetan outfit Macdonald had bought for her, she got herself photographed in a studio.[i]

After her return, starting at her arrival at Havre on Mai 10, 1925, she was able to assess the remarkable fame her audacity had earned her. She hit the headlines of the newspapers and her portrait spread in the magazines.[35] The account of her adventure would become the subject of a book, My Journey to Lhasa, which was published in Paris, London and New York in 1927,[42] but met with disbelief of critics who had a hard time accepting the stories about such practices as levitation and tummo (the increase of body temperature to withstand cold).[43]

In 1972, Jeanne Denys, who was at one time working as a librarian for David-Néel, would publish Alexandra David-Néel au Tibet: une supercherie dévoilée (approximately: Alexandra David-Neel in Tibet: trickery uncovered), a book which caused rather little sensation by claiming to demonstrate that David-Néel had not entered Lhasa.[43][44] Jeanne Denys maintained that the photograph of David-Néel and Aphur sitting in the area before the Potala, taken by Tibetan friends, was a montage.[45] She pretended that David-Néel's parents were modest Jewish storekeepers who spoke Yiddish at home. She went as far as to accuse David-Néel of having invented the accounts of her voyages and of her studies.[j]

1925–1937: The European interlude

Back in France, Alexandra David-Néel rented a small house in the hills of Toulon and was looking for a home in the sun and without too many neighbors. An agency from Marseille suggested a small house in Digne-les-Bains (Provence) to her in 1928. She, who was looking for the sun, visited the house during a rainstorm, but she liked the place and she bought it. Four years later, she began to enlarge the house, called Samten-Dzong or "fortress of meditation", the first hermitage and Lamaist shrine in France according to Raymond Brodeur.[5] There she wrote several books describing her various trips. In 1929, she published her most famous and beloved work, Mystiques et Magiciens du Tibet (Magicians and Mystics in Tibet).

1937–1946: Chinese journey and Tibetan retreat

In 1937, aged sixty-nine, Alexandra David-Néel decided to leave for China with Yongden via Brussels, Moscow and the Trans-Siberian Railway. Her aim was to study ancient Taoism. She found herself in the middle of the Second Sino-Japanese War and attended the horrors of war, famine and epidemics. Fleeing the combat, she wandered through China, by means of fortune. The Chinese journey took course during one and a half years between Beijing, Mount Wutai, Hankou and Chengdu. On 4 June 1938, she went back to the Tibetan town of Tachienlu for a retreat of five years. She was deeply touched by the announcement of the death of her husband in 1941.[k]

One minor mystery relating to Alexandra David-Néel has a solution. In Forbidden Journey, p. 284, the authors wonder how Mme. David-Néel's secretary, Violet Sydney, made her way back to the West in 1939 after Sous des nuées d'orage (Storm Clouds) was completed in Tachienlu. Peter Goullart's Land of the Lamas (not in Forbidden Journey's bibliography), on pp. 110–113 gives an account of his accompanying Ms. Sydney partway back, then putting her under the care of Lolo bandits to continue the journey to Chengdu. While in Eastern Tibet David-Néel and Yongden completed circumambulation of the holy mountain Amnye Machen.[48] In 1945, Alexandra David-Néel went back to India thanks to Christian Fouchet, French Consul at Calcutta, who became a friend; they stayed in touch until David-Néel's death. She finally left Asia with Aphur Yongden by airplane, departing from Calcutta in June 1946. On 1 July, they arrived at Paris, where they stayed until October, when they went back to Digne-les-Bains.[49]

1946–1969: the Lady of Digne

At 78, Alexandra David-Néel returned to France to arrange the estate of her husband, then she started writing from her home in Digne.

Between 1947 and 1950, Alexandra David-Néel came across Paul Adam – Venerable Aryadeva, she commended him because he took her place on short notice, at a conference held at the Theosophical Society in Paris.[50]

In 1952, she published the Textes tibétains inédits ("unpublished Tibetan writings"), an anthology of Tibetan literature including, among other things, the erotic poems attributed to the 6th Dalai Lama. In 1953, a work of actuality followed, Le vieux Tibet face à la Chine nouvelle, in which she gave "a certain and documented opinion" on the tense situation in the regions once visited by her.[38]

She went through the pain of suddenly losing Yongden on 7 October 1955.[4] According to Jacques Brosse, Yongden, seized by a strong fever and sickness, which David-Néel attributed to a simple indigestion, fell into a coma during the night[l] and died carried off by kidney failure according to the doctor's diagnosis.[51] Just having turned 87, David-Néel found herself alone. Yongden's ashes were kept safe in the Tibetan oratory of Samten Dzong, awaiting to be thrown into the Ganges, together with those of David-Néel after her death.[38]

With age, David-Néel suffered more and more from articular rheumatism that forced her to walk with crutches. "I walk on my arms", she used to say.[38] Her work rhythm slowed down: she didn't publish anything in 1955 and 1956, and, in 1957, only the third edition of the Initiations lamaïques.[4]

In April 1957, she left Samten Dzong in order to live at Monaco with a friend who had always been typing her manuscripts, then she decided to live alone in a hotel, going from one establishment to the next, till June 1959, when she was introduced to a young woman, Marie-Madeleine Peyronnet, who she took as her personal secretary.[38] She would stay with the old lady until the end,[4] "watching over her like a daughter over her mother – and sometimes like a mother over her unbearable child – but also like a disciple at the service of her guru", according to the words of Jacques Brosse.[38] Alexandra David-Neel nicknamed her "Turtle".

At a hundred years and a half, she applied for renewal of her passport to the prefect of Basses-Alpes.

Alexandra David-Néel died on 8 September 1969, almost 101 years old. In 1973, her ashes were brought to Varanasi by Marie-Madeleine Peyronnet to be dispersed with those of her adopted son into the Ganges.


In 1925, she won the Award Monique Berlioux of the Académie des sports. Although she was not a sportswoman in a strict sense, she is part of the list of the 287 Gloires du sport français (English: Glories of French sport).[52]

The series Once Upon a Time... The Explorers by Albert Barillé (dedicating twenty-two episodes to twenty-two important persons who have greatly contributed to exploration) honored her by dedicating an episode to her. She is the only woman who appears as a (leading) explorer in the entire series.

In 1991, American composer Meredith Monk's opera in three acts Atlas (opera) premiered in Houston. The story is very loosely based on the life and writings of Alexandra David-Néel and is told primarily through wordless vocal sounds with brief interjections of spoken text in Mandarin Chinese and English. An full-length recording of the opera, Atlas: An Opera in Three Parts, was released in 1993 by ECM Records.

In 1992, a documentary entitled Alexandra David-Néel: du Sikkim au Tibet interdit was released; it was directed by Antoine de Maximy and Jeanne Mascolo de Filippis. It follows the journey that Marie-Madeleine Peyronnet undertook in order to return a sacred statue to Phodong Monastery that had been given as a loan to Alexandra David-Néel until her death. In it, the explorer's life and strong personality are recounted, especially thanks to testimonials of people who had known her and anecdotes of Marie-Madeleine Peyronnet.

In 1995, the tea house Mariage Frères honored Alexandra David-Néel by creating a tea named after her in cooperation with the foundation Alexandra David-Néel.

In 2003, Pierrette Dupoyet created a show called Alexandra David-Néel, pour la vie... (for life...) at the Avignon Festival, where she outlined Alexandra's entire life.

In 2006, Priscilla Telmon paid tribute to Alexandra David-Néel through an expedition on foot and alone across the Himalaya. She recounted her predecessor's journey from Vietnam to Calcutta via Lhasa. A movie, Au Tibet Interdit (English: Banned in Tibet), was shot on that expedition.[53]

In January 2010, the play Alexandra David-Néel, mon Tibet (My Tibet) by Michel Lengliney was on view, with Hélène Vincent in the role of the explorer and that of her colleague played by Émilie Dequenne.

In 2012, the movie Alexandra David-Néel, j'irai au pays des neiges (I will go to the land of snow), directed by Joél Farges, with Dominique Blanc in the role of David-Néel, was presented in preview at the Rencontres Cinématographiques de Digne-les-Bains.

A literary award carrying the name of the Tibet explorer and her adopted son, the prix Alexandra-David-Néel/Lama-Yongden, has been created.

A secondary school carries her name, the lycée polyvalent Alexandra-David-Néel of Digne-les-Bains.

The class of 2001 of the conservateurs du patrimoine (heritage curators) of the Institut national du patrimoine (National Heritage Institute) carries her name.

The class of 2011 of the institut diplomatique et consulaire (IDC, diplomatic and consular institute) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development (France) carries her name.

An extension station of the Île-de-France tramway Line 3, located in the 12th arrondissement of Paris and close to Saint-Mandé, carries her name.


• 1898 Pour la vie
• 1911 Le modernisme bouddhiste et le bouddhisme du Bouddha
• 1927 Voyage d'une Parisienne à Lhassa (1927, My Journey to Lhasa)
• 1929 Mystiques et Magiciens du Tibet (1929, Magic and Mystery in Tibet)
• 1930 Initiations Lamaïques (Initiations and Initiates in Tibet)
• 1931 La vie Surhumaine de Guésar de Ling le Héros Thibétain (The Superhuman Life of Gesar of Ling)
• 1933 Grand Tibet; Au pays des brigands-gentilshommes
• 1935 Le lama au cinq sagesses
• 1938 Magie d'amour et magic noire; Scènes du Tibet inconnu (Tibetan Tale of Love and Magic)
• 1939 Buddhism: Its Doctrines and Its Methods
• 1940 Sous des nuées d'orage; Récit de voyage
• 1949 Au coeur des Himalayas; Le Népal
• 1951 Ashtavakra Gita; Discours sur le Vedanta Advaita
• 1951 Les Enseignements Secrets des Bouddhistes Tibétains (The Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects)
• 1951 L'Inde hier, aujourd'hui, demain
• 1952 Textes tibétains inédits
• 1953 Le vieux Tibet face à la Chine nouvelle
• 1954 La puissance de néant, by Lama Yongden (The Power of Nothingness)
• Grammaire de la langue tibétaine parlée
• 1958 Avadhuta Gita
• 1958 La connaissance transcendente
• 1961 Immortalité et réincarnation: Doctrines et pratiques en Chine, au Tibet, dans l'Inde
• L'Inde où j'ai vecu; Avant et après l'indépendence
• 1964 Quarante siècles d'expansion chinoise
• 1970 En Chine: L'amour universel et l'individualisme intégral: les maîtres Mo Tsé et Yang Tchou
• 1972 Le sortilège du mystère; Faits étranges et gens bizarres rencontrés au long de mes routes d'orient et d'occident
• 1975 Vivre au Tibet; Cuisine, traditions et images
• 1975 Journal de voyage; Lettres à son Mari, 11 août 1904 – 27 décembre 1917. Vol. 1. Ed. Marie-Madeleine Peyronnet
• 1976 Journal de voyage; Lettres à son Mari, 14 janvier 1918 – 31 décembre 1940. Vol. 2. Ed. Marie-Madeleine Peyronnet
• 1979 Le Tibet d'Alexandra David-Néel
• 1981 Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects
• 1986 La lampe de sagesse

Many of Alexandra David-Neel's books were published more or less simultaneously both in French and English.

See also

• Atlas, a 1991 opera loosely based on David-Néel's life and writings
• Buddhism in France
• Tulpa

Further reading

• Rice, Earl (2004). Alexandra David-Neel: Explorer at the Roof of the World.
• Middleton, Ruth (1989). Alexandra David-Neel. Boston, Shambhala. ISBN 1-57062-600-6.
Norwick, Braham. (1976). "Alexandra David-Neel's Adventures in Tibet: Fact or Fiction?". The Tibet Journal. Vol. 1, Nos. 3 & 4. Autumn 1976, pp. 70–74.


1. "At the same time, she joined various secret societies – she would reach the thirtieth degree in the mixed Scottish Rite of Freemasonry – while feminist and anarchist groups greeted her with enthusiasm...In 1899, she wrote an anarchist treatise prefaced by the anarchist geographer Elisée Reclus. Frightened publishers refused, however, to publish this book written by a woman so proud she could not accept any abuses by the State, army, Church or high finance."[1]
2. "Mystic, anarchist, occultist and traveller, Louise Eugenie Alexandrine Marie David was born in Paris on the 24th of October 1868...In 1899, Alexandra composed an anarchist treatise with a preface by the French geographer and anarchist Elisée Reclus (1820–1905). Publishers were, however, too terrified to publish the book, though her friend Jean Haustont printed copies himself and it was eventually translated into five languages."[2]
3. "ALEXANDRA DAVID-NEEL, Daily Bleed Saint 2001–2008 First woman explorer of Tibet and its mysteries. Successively & simultaneously anarchist, singer, feminist, explorer, writer, lecturer, photographer, buddhist, architect, mail artist, sanskrit grammarian & Centenarian."[3]
4. "At last, in the autumn of 1895, Alexandra landed a ... 31 She spent the next two years touring French Indochina, now Vietnam, appearing in Hanoi, Haiphong, and elsewhere, while performing lead roles in such operas as La Traviata and Carmen"[11]
5. "In 1916 she again went into Tibet, this time at the invitation of the Panchen Lama [...]. He gave her access to Tashilhunpo's immense libraries of Buddhists scriptures and made every corner of the various temples accessible to her. She was lavishly entertained by both the Panchen Lama and his mother, with whom she remained a longtime friend. 'The special psychic atmosphere of the place enchanted me,' she later wrote. 'I have seldom enjoyed such blissful hours.'"[33]
6. "Alexandra David-Neel then returned to Sikkim with honorary lama's robes and the equivalent of a Doctor of Philosophy in Tibetan Buddhism. There she found herself slapped with a deportation notice by the British colonial authorities. They objected to her having ignored their no-entry edict in going across the border into Tibet."[33]
7. "Le palais du dalaï-lama dont la décoration intérieure, très riche en certains endroits, est entièrement de style chinois, n'a rien de très particulier."[36]
8. "Cependant, Alexandra commet à Lhasa même une imprudence qui faillit lui coûter cher, celle de se rendre chaque matin à la rivière pour faire un brin de toilette en cette période hivernale. Ce fait inhabituel intrigue une de ses voisines à un point tel qu'elle le signale au Tsarong Shapé (le gouverneur de Lhasa). Celui-ci, absorbé par des préoccupations plus importantes, allait, quelque temps plus tard, envoyer un de ses hommes pour procéder à une enquête lorsque la rumeur lui apprend qu'Alexandra et Yongden viennent d'arriver à Gyantsé. Le gouverneur en a aussitôt déduit que la dame se lavant tous les matins ne pouvait être qu'Alexandra. Cette histoire, Alexandra et Yongden ne l'ont connue que quelques mois après, par des lettres de messieurs Ludlow et David Macdonald, l'agent commercial britannique qui, à Gyantsé, a stoppé leur avance."[39]
9. "La famille Macdonald prête des vêtements et achète une nouvelle tenue tibétaine à Alexandra. C'est dans cette robe neuve qu'elle se fera photographier en studio, quelques mois plus tard à Calcutta."[40]
10. "The motives of this ill-tempered, anti-Semitic tract were made obvious by the author's insistence that Alexandra's parents had been modest shopkeepers and that they were Jewish and spoke yiddish at home" ... "Denys called her subject an actress and alleged that she was an impostor who invented the stories of her travel and studies."[46]
11. "Alexandra ne part plus à la découverte d'une philosophie ou d'un monde inconnus. Voulant conserver et affermir la place qu'elle a durement acquise, elle se rend à Pékin pour élargir le champ de ses connaissances sur l'ancien « taoïsme ». le séjour est envisagé pour plusieurs années, mais elle ignore encore combien. Les événements vont bouleverser le programme qu'elle avait établi et la précipiter sur les routes chinoises... / Le périple lui-même s'est déroulé sur une durée d'un an et demi, entrecoupé par des séjours prolongés à Pékin, au Wutai Shan, à Hankéou, et à Chengtu, avant de s'achever par cinq années de retraite forcée dans les marches tibétaines à Tatsienlou."[47]
12. "Dans la soirée, Yongden, pris d'un malaise, s'était retiré dans sa chambre. Au cours de la nuit, il avait été saisi d'une forte fièvre, accompagnée de vomissements. Ayant cru qu'il s'agissait d'une simple indigestion, Alexandra ne s'était guère inquiétée, mais Yongden était tombé dans le coma et on l'avait retrouvé, au matin, mort dans son lit. Le médecin accouru, diagnostiqua que Yongden avait succombé à une foudroyante crise d'urémie".[38]


1. Biography of Alexandra David-Néel at Archived 5 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine
2. "A Mystic in Tibet – Alexandra David-Neel" by Brian Haughton.
3. "1868 – France: Alexandra David-Neel lives, Paris." Archived 18 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine
4. Foster & Foster (1998), pp. vii–ix ('Chronology')
5. Brodeur (2001), p. 180
6. Reverzy (2001), p. 273
7. Brian Haughton, "A Mystic in Tibet – Alexandra David-Neel",; accessed 19 January 2018.
8. Brodeur (2001), pp. 180–82
9. Chalon (1985), pp. 63–64
10. Kuhlman (2002)
11. Alexandra David-Neel: Explorer at the Roof of the World – Page 24 Earle Rice – 2004.
12. Chalon (1985)
13. Désiré-Marchand (2009)
14. (fr) Biographie officielle d'Alexandra David-Néel (5e partie), on the site
15. (fr) Nico P., Alexandra David-Néel, exploratrice, féministe, anarchiste, Alternative libertaire, no 187, septembre 2009.
16. Chalon (1985), p. 199
17. Lama Kazi Dawa Samdup
18. Chalon (1985), pp. 196–197
19. Chalon (1985), pp. 195–201
20. Brodeur (2001), pp. 184, 187
21. Chalon (1985), p. 201
22. Chalon (1985), p. 202
23. Chalon (1985), pp. 205–206
24. Chalon (1985), pp. 224–225
25. Chalon (1985), p. 225
26. Chalon (1985), p. 228
27. Chalon (1985), p. 229
28. Désiré-Marchand (2009), pp. 198–199
29. Chalon (1985), pp. 230–31
30. Chalon (1985), p. 235
31. Chalon (1985), p. 242
32. Chalon (1985), p. 243
33. Stockwell (2003), p. 121
34. Chalon (1985), p. 249
35. Hélène Duccini, « La « gloire médiatique » d'Alexandra David-Néel », Le Temps des médias, 1/2007 (no 8), p. 130–141.
36. Alexandra David-Néel, Voyage d'une Parisienne à Lhasa.
37. Chalon (1985), p. 307
38. Jacques Brosse, Alexandra David-Neel, p. 195.
39. Biographie officielle d'Alexandra David-Néel (6e partie), sur le site
40. Désiré-Marchand (2009), p. 445
41. Chalon (1985), p. 310
42. Brodeur (2001), p. 182
43. Sara Mills, Discourses of Difference: An Analysis of Women's Travel Writing and Colonialism, Routledge, 2003, 240 p., en part. p. 123–150.
44. Brigitte Marrec, MCF Civilisation américaine, Université de Paris-X, Nanterre, Groupe F.A.A.A.M., 4 mai 2007, Présentation de l'ouvrage de Sara Mills: Discourses of Difference: an Analysis of Women's Travel Writing and Colonialism, p. 24.
45. Peter Hopkirk, Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Secret Exploration of Tibet, Kodansha Globe, 1995, p. 226.
46. Foster & Foster (1998)
47. Désiré-Marchand (2009), quatrième partie, « Des monastères chinois du Wutai Shan aux marches tibétaines : le voyage de 1937 à 1946 »
48. The Anye Machin peaks are considered to be the abode of the protector god Machin Pomri Archived 8 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine
49. Chalon (1985), pp. 418–419
50. Archives : Société théosophique de France – 4, square Rapp à Paris, 7e Arrondissement.
51. Chalon (1985), pp. 435–436
52. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 June 2015. Retrieved 10 April2016.[1][permanent dead link]
53. [2]


• Brodeur, Raymond (2001). Femme, mystique et missionnaire : Marie Guyart de l'Incarnation : Tours, 1599-Québec, 1672 : actes du colloque organisé par le Centre d'études Marie-de-l'Incarnation sous les auspices du Centre interuniversitaire d'études québécoises qui s'est tenu à Loretteville, Québec, du 22 au 25 septembre 1999. Presses Université Laval. ISBN 978-2-7637-7813-6.
• Chalon, Jean (1985). Le Lumineux Destin d'Alexandra David-Néel. Librairie académique Perrin. ISBN 2-262-00353-X.
• Désiré-Marchand, Joëlle (2009). Alexandra David-Néel, Vie et voyages: Itinéraires géographiques et spirituels. Arthaud. ISBN 9782081273870.
• Foster, Barbara; Foster, Michael (1998). The Secret Lives of Alexandra David-Neel: A Biography of the Explorer of Tibet and Its Forbidden Practices. New York, NY: Overlook Press. ISBN 1-58567-329-3. This book is based on extensive interviews with David Neel's secretary at Digne and reading her letters to her husband, now published as "Journal de voyage: lettres a son mari."
• Kuhlman, Erika A. (2002). A to Z of Women in World History. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 9780816043347.
• Reverzy, Catherine (2001). Femmes d'aventure : du rêve à la réalisation de soi. Odile Jacob. ISBN 9782738112163.
• Stockwell, Foster (2003). Westerners in China: A History of Exploration and Trade, Ancient Times Through the Present. McFarland. ISBN 9780786414048.

External links

• Official web site
• Works by or about Alexandra David-Néel in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
• A Mystic in Tibet – Alexandra David-Neel


Alexandra David-Néel
by Theosophy Wiki
Accessed: 10/16/19

Alexandra David-Néel (1868-1969) was a French explorer and writer, known particularly for her writings about Tibetan Buddhism. In 1892 she became a member of the Theosophical Society.

Early years

Louise Eugénie Alexandrine Marie David was born in Saint-Mandé, a suburb of Paris, on October 24, 1868.

Theosophical Society connections

In her early twenties she was introduced to Madame Blavatsky, whose esoteric ideas had a significant influence on Alexandra.[1] She formed a close allegiance with Annie Besant and joined the European Section of the Theosophical Society in London on June 7, 1892.[2] In 1893 she went to Adyar and spent much of the year there studying Sanskrit.[3]

In a 1941 letter to Theosophical Society President George S. Arundale, David-Neel sent "Greetings from Tibet":


When, in 1893, after having joined the T.S. I stayed at Avenue Road, London, I often heard my friends there say that to become a member of the T.S. is to bind oneself with a tie that is never broken. I think there is some truth in this opinion. Since then, events have brought me again and again in close relation with the T.S. I have made long stays in Adyar and in Benares and keep the best remembrance of my pleasant rooms in Blavatsky Gardens (Adyar), and in the European Quarters (Benares), and the happy days I spent there. Then when re-turning to France from Lhasa, I have had two books published by the “Edition Adyar” in Paris, and lectured several times at Square Rapp.

Now I am again in Eastern Tibet (Kham Province, under Chinese control). There, after having fully experienced in China, the horrors of the war, I think of the many members of the T.S. who are suffering on account of the European war, and I would like to send them, at the beginning of this year, my best wishes for their safety and welfare.

I would feel much obliged: if you would kindly convey these good wishes to those members of the T.S. with whom you are in touch and accept the same for yourself.

Yours sincerely,
12 January 1941[4]


Mme. David-Neel wrote at least 30 books, many published in both French and English simultaneously.

• The Lama of the Five-Fold Wisdom.
• Magic and Mystery in Tibet. 1929. Available from Theosophy World Resource Centre.

Online resources

• Occult - A Mystic in Tibet - Alexandra David-Neel at
• David-Neel, Alexandra (1868-1969) at Theosophy Forward
• Natal Chart of Alexandra David-Néel at Astro Databank
• "Alexandra David-Neél" biography at Project Gutenberg, sourced from World Heritage Encyclopedia.

Additional reading

• Earle Rice, Jr., Alexandra David-Neel: Explorer at the Roof of the World, (USA: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004)


1. Occult - A Mystic in Tibet - Alexandra David-Neel at
2. David-Neel, Alexandra (1868-1969) at Theosophy Forward
3. David-Néel, Alexandra at Astro Databank
4. Alexandra David-Neel, "Greetings from Tibet," The Theosophist 62.4 (April, 1941), 14.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Oct 16, 2019 8:32 am

Kazi Dawa Samdup
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 10/16/19



Kazi Dawa Samdup
Kazi Dawa Samdup and Walter Evans-Wentz photographed circa 1919.
Born: 17 June 1868, Sikkim
Died: 22 March 1922 (aged 53), Calcutta
Residence: Sikkim
Other names: Kazi Zla-ba-bsam-'grub་
Education: Bhutia Boarding School, Darjeeling
Known for: author, Translator, teacher
Notable work: A History of Sikkim, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Tibet's Great Yogi Milarepa

"Lama" Kazi Dawa Samdup (17 June 1868 – 22 March 1922) is now best known as one of the first translators of important works of Tibetan Buddhism into the English language and a pioneer central to the transmission of Buddhism in the West. From 1910 he also played a significant role in relations between British India and Tibet.


Kazi Dawa Samdup was born in Sikkim on 17 June 1868. His father was Shalngo Nyima Paljor of the Guru Tashi clan. On the death of his mother, his father remarried and had three more sons and two daughters from his second wife.[1] Kazi Dawa Samdup's education began at the age of four learning the Tibetan script from his grandfather. In 1874 he joined the Bhutia Boarding School in Darjeeling where he impressed the headmaster Rai Bahadur Sarat Chandra Das. His Tibetan teacher was Ugyen Gyatso, a lama from the Pemayangtse monastery in West Sikkim.

After finishing school, he joined the service of British India as Chief Interpreter to the Commissioner of Raj Shahi Division and was posted to Buxaduar which was then part of Bhutan.
During his stay in Bhutan, he became a pupil of a learned and ascetic lama, Lopen Tshampa Norbu (Slob dpon Mtshams pa Nor bu) d. 1916 of Punakha from whom he received initiation and instruction. Although he was interested in taking up a monastic life, at the request of his father, he married and later had two sons and a daughter.

When his father died he also became responsible for looking after his stepmother, and younger siblings. (Of the three younger half-brothers he took care of, the first would later become a lecturer of Calcutta University, the second would be the prime minister of the king, and the third, "Sikkim Mahinda", joined the Buddhist priesthood in Ceylon.[2] and was an important figure in the Sri Lankan independence movement, and a well-known Sinhala poet and author.)

The Chogyal of Sikkim at Darjeeling, 1911.

At that time the Chogyal of Sikkim, Sir Thutob Namgyal, was looking for a headmaster, who could teach both Tibetan and English, for the state Bhutia Boarding School for boys at Gangtok and Kazi Dawa Samdup was proposed for this post by the Crown Prince Sidkeong Tulku. He also undertook the compilation and translation of the Sikkim Gazette for the Maharaja.

In 1905, he accompanied the Maharaja of Sikkim to Calcutta for the visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

In 1910, he acted as interpreter to Sir Charles Bell and the 13th Dalai Lama during the later's visit to India.

In 1911 he accompanied the Maharaja of Sikkim to Delhi for the coronation Durbar of King George V.

In 1912 Sidkeong Tulku Namgyal entrusted his "confidante and spiritual sister" Alexandra David-Néel to Kazi Dawa Samdup to be her a guide, interpreter and teacher of Tibetan. He accompanied her to Kalimpong where she went to meet the 13th Dalai Lama on 15 April 1912. At that time they also met, in the waiting room, Ekai Kawaguchi from Japan.[3]

In 1914, he again acted as an interpreter and translator for Sir Charles Bell during the historic Simla Convention on the Indo-Tibet Border signed between India, Tibet and China.

In 1920, he was appointed teacher in Tibetan at the University of Calcutta.

Kazi Dawa Samdup died in Calcutta on 22 March 1922.

Work with W. Y. Evans-Wentz

Kazi Dawa Samdup is probably best known for his path-breaking translations of Tibetan texts which were later edited and published by W. Y. Evans-Wentz.

Partial bibliography

• A Tibetan Funeral Prayer. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, n.s. vol. 12 (1916), pp. 147–159. – Includes Tibetan text.
• An English-Tibetan Dictionary: Containing a Vocabulary of Approximately Twenty Thousand Words with their Tibetan Equivalents. Calcutta, The Baptist Mission Press, 1919.
— This dictionary is significant because it contains some Sikkimese and Dzongkha words as well as Tibetan.

With W.Y. Evans Wentz (editor):

• The Tibetan Book of the Dead[4]
— According to Matthew Kapstein, this is "without doubt the Tibetan work best known in the West and in the three-quarters of a century since its initial translation it has won a secure place for itself in the Religious Studies canon."
• Tibet's Great Yogi Milarepa [5]
• Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines[6]

With Sir John Woodroffe:

• Shrîchakrasambhâra Tantra: A Buddhist Tantra (Dem-chog Tantra). First published in 1918–1919. The title is misleading since it not in fact a translation of the Cakrasamvara Tantra – but is a translation of a Tibetan sadhana of Chakrasambhâra.

Unpublished Works:


• Alexandra David Neel (2004). Magic And Mystery in Tibet, 1932. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4179-7754-3.
• Samdup, Dasho P. "A Brief Biography of Kazi Dawa Samdup" in Bulletin of Tibetology
• Lama Kazi Dawa Samdup – at Rangjung Yeshe Wiki
• Taylor, Kathleen . "Sir John Woodroffe, Tantra And Bengal: An Indian Soul In A European Body?". Routledge, 2001, ISBN 0-7007-1345-X.
• Cuevas, Bryan J. "Hidden History of the Tibetan Book of the Dead". Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN 019530652X


1. Samdup, Dasho P. W. (2008). "A Brief Biography of Kazi Dawa Samdup (1868–1922)" (PDF). Bulletin of Tibetology. Gangtok, Sikkim: Namgyal Institute of Tibetology. 44 (1–2): 155–158. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
2. Ariyaratne, Sunil (1989). පූජිත ජීවිත (in Sinhala). Ministry of Culture, Education and News of Sri Lanka. pp. 155–160.
3. Middleton, Ruth (1989). Alexandra David-Neel. Boston, Shambhala. ISBN 1-57062-600-6.
4. Evans-Wentz, W. Y.; Samdup, Kazi Dawa. The Tibetan Book of the Dead (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press.
5. Evans-Wentz, W. Y.; Samdup, Kazi Dawa. Tibet's great yogi, Milarepa : a biography from the Tibetan: being the "Jetsun-Kahbum" or biographical history of Jetsun-Mi la repa, according to the late Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup's English rendering edited with introduction and annotations by W.Y.Evans-Wentz (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press.
6. Evans-Wentz, W. Y.; Samdup, Kazi Dawa. Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines: or seven books of wisdom of the great path according to the Late Làma Kazi Dawa-Samdup's English rendering (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Oct 16, 2019 8:45 am

Part 1 of 2

Ekai Kawaguchi
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 10/16/19



[O]n the 19th of July, I took passage on an English steamer, the Lightning, which, after calling at Penang, brought me to Calcutta on the 25th of the month. Placing myself under the care of the Mahābodhi Society of Calcutta, I spent several days in that city, in the course of which I learned from Mr. Chandra Bose, a Secretary of the Society, that I could not do better for my purpose than to go to Darjeeling, and make myself a pupil of Rai Bahadur Sarat Chandra Das, who, as I was told, had some time before spent several months in Tibet, and was then compiling a Tibetan-English dictionary at his country house in Darjeeling. Mr. Chanḍra Bose was good enough to write a letter of introduction to the scholar at Darjeeling in my favor, and, with it and also with kind parting wishes of my countrymen in the city and others, I left Calcutta on August 2nd, by rail.... By 3 p.m., the train had made a climb of fifty miles and then landed us at Darjeeling, which place is 380 miles distant from Calcutta. At the station I hired a ḍanlee, which is a sort of mountaineering palanquin, and, borne in it, I soon afterward arrived at Rai Sarat’s retreat, Lhasa Villa, which I found to be a magnificent mansion....

I was received there with a whole-hearted welcome. An evening’s talk was sufficient, however, to make my intentions clear to my kind host, and, as my time was precious, Rai Sarat took me out, the very next day after my arrival, to a temple called Ghoompahl, where I was introduced to an aged Mongolian priest, who lived there and was renowned for his scholarly attainments and also as a teacher of the Tibetan language. The priest was then seventy-eight years of age, and his name, which was Serab Gyamtso (Ocean of Knowledge), happened by a curious coincidence to mean in the Tibetan tongue the same thing as my own name Ekai meant.... Our talk naturally devolved upon Buddhism, but the conversation proved to be a rather awkward affair, for though Rai Sarat kindly acted the part of an interpreter for us, it had to be carried on, on my part, in very rudimentary English. As it was, the first day of my tutelage ended in my making the acquaintance of the Tibetan alphabet, and from that time onward, I became a regular attendant at the temple, daily walking three miles from and back to the Sarat mansion. One day, about a month after this, Rai Sarat had me in his room and spoke to me thus: “Well, Mr. Kawaguchi, I would advise you to give[12] up your intention of going to Tibet. It is a very risky undertaking, which it would be worth risking if there were any chance of accomplishing it; but chances are almost entirely against you. You can acquire all the knowledge of the Tibetan language you want, here, and you can go back to Japan, where you will be respected as a Tibetan scholar.” I told my host that my purpose was not only to learn the Tibetan language, but that it was to complete my studies in Buddhism. “That may be,” said my host, “and a very important thing it no doubt is with you; but what is the use of attempting a thing when there is no hope of accomplishing it? If you go into Tibet, the only thing you can count upon is that you will be killed!” I retorted: “Have you not been there yourself? I do not see why I cannot do the same thing.” Rai Sarat’s rejoinder was: “Ah! That is just where you are mistaken; you must know that the times are different, Mr. Kawaguchi. The ‘closed door’ policy is in full operation, and is being carried out with the most jealous strictness in Tibet to-day, and I know that I will never be able again to undertake another trip into that country. Besides, when I made my trip, I had with me an excellent pass, which I was fortunate to secure through certain means, but there is no means, nor even hope, any longer of procuring such a pass. Under the circumstances I should think it is to your own interest to go home from here, after you have completed the study of the Tibetan language.”... I asked Rai Sarat to kindly devise for me some way, by which I might acquire[13] the vernacular Tibetan language. Finding me resolute in my purpose, Rai Sarat, with his unswerving kindness, cheerfully agreed to my request, and arranged for me that I should have a new private teacher, besides a regular schooling. It was in this way. Just below Rai Sarat’s mansion was a residence which consisted of two small but pretty buildings. The residence belonged to a Lama called Shabdung, who just then happened not to live there, but in a house in the business quarters of Darjeeling. Rai Sarat sent for this Lama and asked him to teach the “Japan Lama” the Tibetan language, the Lama returning to his residence just mentioned with his entire household. Lama Shabdung was only too pleased to do as was requested, and I was forthwith installed a member of his household, that I might have ample opportunity of learning the popular Tibetan language. On the other hand, I at the same time matriculated into the Government School of Darjeeling, and was there given systematic lessons in the same language by Prof. Tumi Onden, the Head Teacher of the language department of Tibetans in that School. I should not forget to mention here that, while I paid out of my own pocket all the tuition fees and school expenses, as it was quite proper that I should, I was made a beneficiary of my friend Rai Sarat so far as my board was concerned.... Indeed, I had only three hundred yen with me when I arrived at Darjeeling; but, as it was, that amount supported me for the seventeen months of my stay there. Had I had to pay my own board, I would have had to cut down my stay there to half the length of time....

To give one of Lama Shabdung’s favourite recitals about Tibet: my host, while there, studied Buddhism under a high Lama of great virtues and the most profound learning, called Sengchen Dorjechan (Great-Lion Diamond-Treasury), who had been the tutor of the Secondary or Deputy Pope, so to say, of Tibet. No man in Tibet was held in higher esteem and deeper reverence than this holy man. It was this holy man himself who taught my friend and benefactor Rai Sarat, when he was in Tibet. Though Rai Sarat’s pupilage under the high Lama lasted only for a short time, it had the most tragical consequences. For, after his return to India, the Tibetan Government discovered to its own mortification that Rai Sarat was an emissary of the British Government, and the parties who had become in any way connected with his visit, more particularly the man who had secretly furnished him with a pass, another in whose house he had lodged and boarded, and the high Lama, were all thrown into prison, the last named having afterward had to pay with his life for his innocent crime.

Many are the reminiscences of this holy Lama, which show that he was indeed a person very firm and enlightened in the Buddhist faith, and to that degree was the most lovable and adorable of men. But more especially affecting, even sublimely beautiful, are the episodes immediately preceding and surrounding his death, for the truth of which I depend not on the narrative of Lama Shabdung alone, but largely also upon what I was able to learn from persons of unquestionable reliability, during my disguised stay in the capital of[16] Tibet. To mention a few of these: when an unpleasant rumor had just begun to be circulated, soon after Rai Sarat’s departure from Tibet, about his secret mission, the high Lama Sengchen knew at once that death was at his door, but was not afraid. For, when it was hinted at by his friends that he would become involved in a serious predicament, owing to his acquaintance with Rai Sarat, he replied that he had always considered it his heaven-ordained work to try to propagate and to perpetuate Buddhism, not among his own countrymen only, but among the whole human race; that whether or not Saraṭ Chanḍra Das was a man who had entered Tibet with the object of “stealing away Buddhism,” or to play the part of a spy, was not his concern—the question had in any case never occurred to him—and that if he were to suffer death for having done what he had regarded it as his duty to do, he could not help it. That this holy Lama was an advocate of active propagandism may be gathered from the fact that, besides sending various Buddhistic images and ritualistic utensils to India, he had caused several persons to go out there as missionaries, my teacher, the Manchurian Lama Serab Gyamtso, in the Ghoompahl Temple of Darjeeling, being one of these. Unfortunately, this undertaking did not prove a success, but none the less it shows the lofty aspirations which actuated the high Lama, who, as I was told, had deeply lamented the decadence, or rather the almost entire disappearance, of Buddhism in the land of its origin, and was sincerely anxious to revive it there. It is nothing uncommon in Japan to meet with Buddhist priests interested in the work or idea of foreign propagandism; but a person so minded is an extreme rarity in that hermit-country Tibet, and that Lama Sengchen was such a one indicates the greatness of his character, and that he was a man above sectarian differences and inter[17]national prejudices, solely given to the noble idea of universal brotherhood under Buddhism. Being the man he was, he had many enemies among the high officials of the hierarchical Government, who were in constant watch for an opportunity to bring about his downfall. To these, his enemies, the rumor about Prof. Sarat was a welcome one, which they lost no time in turning to account. In all haste they despatched men to Darjeeling, and ascertained that, in truth, Rai Sarat had smuggled himself into and out of Tibet, and that, as the fact was, he had done so at the request of the British Government of India. Then followed the incarceration, already mentioned, of all those who had had anything to do with Rai Sarat, the final upshot of which was sentence of death upon the high Lama Sengchen Dorjechan, on the ground that the latter had harbored in his temple, and divulged national secrets to, a foreign emissary....

I spent the twelve months following in closely devoting myself to the study, and in efforts at the practical mastery, of the Tibetan tongue, with the result that, toward the close of the year, I had become fairly confident of my own proficiency in the use of the language both in its literary and vernacular forms; and I made up my mind to start for my destination with the coming of the year 1899. Then, it became a momentous question for me to decide upon the route to take in entering Tibet....

It appeared to me, further, that the route most advantageous to me would be by way of Nepāl; for Bhūṭan had never been visited by the Buddha, and there was there little to learn for me in that connexion, though that country had at one time or another been travelled over by Tibetan priests of great renown; but the latter fact had nothing of importance for me. I had been told, however, that Nepāl abounded in the Buddha’s footsteps, and that there was in existence there complete sets of the Buddhist Texts in Samskrt. These were inducements which I could turn to account, in the case of failure to enter Tibet. Moreover, no Japanese had ever been in Nepāl before me, though it had been visited by some Europeans and Americans. So I decided on a route viâ Nepāl.

The decision made, it would have been all I could wish for, if it were possible for me to journey to Nepāl direct from Darjeeling; there was on the way grand and picturesque scenery incidentally to enjoy, besides places sacred to Buddhist pilgrims. But to do so was not possible for me, or at least implied serious dangers. For most of the Tibetans living in Darjeeling—and there were quite a number of them there—knew that I was learning their language with the intention of some day visiting their country; and it was perfectly manifest that the moment I left that town with my face towards Tibet, they, or some of them at the least, would come after me as far as some point where they might make short work of me, or follow me into Tibet and there betray me to the authorities, for they would be richly rewarded for so doing. To meet the necessity of the case, I gave it out that, owing to an unexpected occurrence, I was obliged to go home at once, and I left Darjeeling for Calcutta, which place I reached on the 5th of January, 1899. I, of course, let Rai Sarat into my secret, and he alone knew that the day I left Darjeeling I started on my Tibetan journey in real earnest, though back to Calcutta I took fare in sooth. On leaving Darjeeling, my good host Rai Sarat Chanḍra earnestly wished me complete success in my travels to Tibet, and gave vent to his hearty and sincere pleasure in finding in me one, who, as bold and adventurous as himself, was starting on a perilous but interesting expedition to that hitherto unknown country.


About a fortnight after my arrival in Malba I received a letter from Rai Sarat Chandra Das, through a trader of Tukje, with whom I had become acquainted while in Tsarang, and to whom I had entrusted a letter to my friend at Darjeeling, as well as others to my folks at home, on the occasion of his going down to Calcutta on business. Along with his letter Sarat Chandra Das sent me a number of the Mahabodhi Society’s journal, which contained an account of an unsuccessful attempt by a Buddhist of my nationality to enter Tibet, and a well-meant note of his in pencil to the effect that I must not lose my life by exposing myself to too much danger. So far so good; but next something which was not so good happened. The Tukje man, my whilom messenger, had[66] apparently formed an opinion of his own about my personality, and set the quiet village of Malba astir with rumors about myself. Chandra Das was an official of the English Government, with a salary of 600 rupees a month, and, as such, a very rare personage among Bengālīs; and it was with this person that I corresponded; ergo, the Chinese Lama (myself) must be a British agent in disguise, with some secret mission to execute. So went the rumor, and the public opinion of Malba had almost come to the conclusion that it was undesirable to permit such a suspicious stranger in the village, when Adam Naring, who by that time had come home, sought to speak to me in secret, with indescribable fear written on his face. Poor honest soul! What he said to me, when by ourselves, was of course to the effect that if there were any truth in the rumor, he and his folks would be visited with what punishment heaven only knew. I had expected this for some time past, and had made up my mind how to act as soon as Naring approached me on the subject. I turned round and, looking him squarely in the face, said: “If you promise me, under oath, that you will not divulge for three full years to come what I may tell you, I will let you into my secret; but if you do not care to do so, we can only let the rumor take care of itself, and wait for the Nepāl Government to take any steps it may deem fit to take.” I knew Adam Naring was a man of conscience, who could be trusted with a secret: he signified his willingness to take an oath, and I placed before him a copy of the sacred Scripture and obtained from him the needed promise.

Producing next my passport, given me by the Foreign Office in Japan, which had on it an English as well as other translations of the Japanese text, I showed it to my host, who understood just enough English to follow out the spelling of some words in that language, and[67] explained to him the real object of my journey into Tibet. I did more. I said to him that now that he possessed my secret, he was welcome to make of it what use he liked; but that I believed him to be a true and devoted Buddhist, and that it behoved him well to assist me in my enterprise by keeping silence, for by so acting he would be promoting the cause of his own religion. In all this, I told my host nothing but truth, and truth triumphed; for he believed every word I said and approved of my adventure. Then we talked over the route I was to take, and it was arranged at the same time that I should restart on my journey in June or July.


Gya-karko is a trading port for people coming from the north-west plains of Tibet on the one hand and the Hindūs inhabiting the Indian Himālayas on the other, who are allowed by the Tibetan Government to come as far as this place.

Here I saw many merchants from the towns and villages of the Himālayas. Among them was one from Milum, who spoke English. This man invited me to dinner on the quiet, so to say. I accepted his invitation, but the moment I had entered his tent I at once saw that he took me for an English emissary. When left to ourselves he immediately addressed me thus: “As I live under the government of your country, I shall never make myself inconvenient to you. In return I wish you would do what you can to help my business when you go back to India.” I thought that these were very strange words to speak to me. On interrogating him, I found out that he had conjectured that I was engaged in exploring Tibet at the behest of the British Government. When I told him that I was a Chinaman, he said: “If you are Chinese, you can no doubt speak Chinese?” I answered him boldly in the affirmative. Then he brought in a man who claimed to understand Chinese. I was not a little embarrassed at this turn of affairs, but as I had had a similar experience with Gya Lama in Nepāl it took me no time to recover sufficient equanimity to answer him, and I felt much re-assured when I found that he could not speak Chinese so well as I had anticipated. Then I wrote a number of Chinese characters and wanted him to say if he knew them. The man looked at me and seemed to say: “There you have me.” Finally he broke into laughter and said: “I give up; let us talk in Tibetan.” Then my host was greatly astonished and said: “Then you are indeed a Chinaman! What can be better? China is a vast country.[154] My father, who is now living in my native country, was once in China. If there is any business to be done with China I wish you would kindly put me on the track;” and he gave me his address written in English. His manner showed that he was in earnest, and that he was a man to be trusted. So seeing that this man was going back to India, I thought it would be a good idea to ask him to take with him my letters and deliver them for me in India. It would have been imprudent for me to write things in detail, but I scribbled just a few lines to my friend and teacher, Rai Sarat Chandra Das, informing him that I had penetrated the interior of Tibet as far as Gya-karko, besides asking him to post some letters for Japan which I enclosed, addressed to Mr. Hige Tokujuso and Ito Ichiso of Sakai. A few coins put into the hand of the Milum man secured a ready response to my request. The man proved the honest fellow I took him for; for after my return to Japan I found that my letters had been duly received by both Mr. Hige and Mr. Ito.


The usual lessons in the Tibetan grammar and Buddhism over, the suspicious monk, who posed for a learned scholar, suddenly addressed me, saying that having been in India, I must have seen Sarat Chandra Das, who explored Tibet. I replied that I did not know him, even by name. There were three hundred millions of people in India, and however famous a man might be, he must always be unknown to some. There was a great difference between India and[224] Tibet, and I asked to hear something about the man the monk referred to. The monk then narrated how Sarat Chandra Das, twenty-three years ago, had cheated the Tibetan authorities with a passport; how he had robbed Tibet of her Buddhism, with which he had returned to India; how on the discovery of the affair, the greatest scholar and sage in Tibet, Sengchen Dorjechan, had been executed, not to mention many other priests and laymen who were put to death and many others whose property was confiscated.

After this the monk added that as Sarat Chandra Das was a renowned personage in India, it was impossible for me not to be acquainted with him. Probably I pretended not to know him. These words were spoken in a most unpleasant manner, but I put him off with a smile, saying that I had never seen the face of the Queen of England, who was so renowned, and that such a big country as India made such investigations hopeless. The stories about Sarat Chandra Das are quite well known in Tibet, even children being familiar with them; but there are few who know him by his real name, for he goes by the appellation of the ‘school bābū’ (school-master). The story of the Tibetans who smuggled a foreigner into Tibet and were killed, and of those who concealed the fact from the Government and forfeited their property, are tales that Tibetan parents everywhere tell to their children.

Owing to the discovery of the adventures of Sarat Chandra Das, all the Tibetans have become as suspicious as detectives, and exercise the greatest vigilance towards foreigners. I was fully acquainted with these facts, so that I too exercised great caution even in dropping a single word, however innocent and empty that word might be. But the Tibetans were very cunning questioners; and the monk was one of the most cunning. When I tried to laugh away his questions, he put other queries on every imaginable point. Other Tibetans who were[225] equally suspicious joined him in harassing me. I felt for the moment just as though I were besieged by an overwhelming force of the enemy.


At dawn I climbed up the mountain in deep snow, and looked down upon the surface of the lake. I could see among the shadows of the mountains the crescent moon beautifully reflected dimly and faintly on the water. The bright day was soon coming, the moon began already to lose its dim light, and the morning star twinkled on the surface of the water. Amid the charms of nature I lost all my fatigue and weariness, and I stood quite entranced. Soon the water-fowl were heard on the sands along the lake, and some mandarin ducks were amusing themselves in the water, while cranes were wildly flying about[278] with noisy cries. What a contrast it was with the scene of the day before! No pleasure on a journey can be greater than travelling in this way at dawn. I still went on for about twelve miles along the lake and came to a little stream in the mountains at about nine o’clock. It is here that travellers make tea, and bake their wheat for eating. The lake is full of water, but it is poisonous.

A strange story is told about how it turned poisonous. About twenty years ago, as the Tibetans tell, the famous Sarat Chandra Das, an Indian by birth, who passed for an Englishman, came from India and pronounced a spell upon the lake; the water at once turned as red as blood. A lama, they say, came along and turned the water back to its original color, but it still remained poisonous. One cannot believe anything that the Tibetans say, but the water seems to have really turned red. Sarat Chandra Das cannot have done that, but, unfortunately for him, it was just after his return from Tibet that the water thus changed. Sarat Chandra Das, as every one knows, is an Indian, but Tibetans, with few exceptions, think him to be an Englishman. Any way the water of the lake must have been poisonous for a long time, for the water is stagnant, there being no current, and there are divers poisonous elements near the lake.


As my object was to be a student priest I bought a hat, a pair of shoes, and a rosary, according to the regulations of the monastery. I did not buy a priest’s robe, as I could in time use the one which had been given to me. So I went to Je Ta-tsang, chief professor of the department which I was to enter, for him to question me before I was admitted as a probationary student; but I found that no examinations were to be given. I called on the professor with a present of the best tea to be procured in Tibet. His first question was: “Where are you from? You look like a Mongolian; are you not one?” Being answered in the negative, he asked me several geographical questions, for he was well acquainted with the geography of the country. But I answered well, as I had travelled through the provinces on my own feet. It was thus settled that I might be admitted on probation....

On the following day I found a teacher to help me in my preparation. Finding however that one teacher was not sufficient for the many subjects I had to study, I engaged a second, and I was thus soon busy preparing myself. There was a Lama living in the dormitory opposite to mine, a stout priest who seemed to be very learned. One day I was called to his room to see him, and among other questions I was asked if I had not come with a caravan of Ruto from Jangthang to the Sakya temple. I was told that among the disciples of the Lama there was one Tobten, a nice gentle Tibetan, and this person happened to be the one who had treated me very kindly during my journey with the caravan. It was this man who had asked me if I would take meat, and whom I had told that I did not take it. I had hitherto been supposed to have come from Jangthang, but now I was entirely unmasked.

“Then you are not from Jangthang,” said the Lama, and then he told me that he had heard I was a Chinaman and good at writing Chinese characters. On my confessing that I was not a Tibetan he was grieved, because he feared that my deceit might bring trouble upon the dormitory, for a Chinaman must go to Pate Khamtsan. He then asked me why I had violated the regulations of the place, and I replied that I had been robbed, as he might have heard from his disciple, at Jangthang, and that I had not money[296] enough to enter into the Pate Khamtsan as a Chinaman. Besides, I said, I should have to pay something for service every year, if I went to the Chinese house. Having told him all these secrets, I then asked him to help me to stay with him, as I could not go to the other house. The Lama said that his disciple had told him of the robbery, and that he was very sorry for me, adding that he would leave the matter till objection should be made. So I was left there without further trouble, and I passed for a man from Jangthang.


In the capital I got more definite information about the Boxer trouble. Perhaps some merchants who had returned from China, or some who had came from Nepāl or some who had been to India, might have brought the news; but it was all very laughable and unreliable. Some would say the Emperor of China had bequeathed his throne to the Crown Prince and absconded, while others told me that the Emperor was defeated and was then in Sin-an. The trouble was brought about, some said, by a wicked minister, who married an English lady to the Emperor, while others asserted that there was a country called Japan, which was so strong that her troops took possession of Peking. Another said that a famine prevailed in China and people were all famished; indeed, every sort of rumor was abroad in the Tibetan capital.

I was especially pleased to hear something about Japan, even the very name of which had not yet been heard in Tibet, and some merchants told me that Japan was so powerful and so chivalrous that even when her army had taken possession of Peking, she had sent shiploads of rice, wheat and clothing to the Chinese capital to relieve tens of thousands of natives who were suffering from famine. But others would say against Japan that she could not be such a friendly country, but must have done what she had done merely out of her crafty “land-grabbing diplomacy,” as the British nation did. Rumor after rumor was making its way through Tibet, and I did not know what to believe. Only I was pretty sure that a war had broken out between China and[300] other Powers. In the meantime the Palpo merchant with whom I was staying was going to Nepāl. I utilised the occasion and through his kindness sent two letters, one to Rai Sarat Chandra Das in India, and the other to Mr. I. Hige of my native province. I was glad to find afterwards that they reached their destination, but it was very difficult to send a letter in that way; one must first see that the man by whom it is to be sent is honest and not likely to betray one’s secret, and one cannot easily trust a Tibetan. But my Tibetan had more than once been shown to be true to his trust.


The last exploration I would mention here is that undertaken in 1881 and 1882 by Sarat Chanḍra Das, my own teacher, of whom mention has been made several times already. This Hinḍū had obtained in a very ingenious way a pass from the Tibetan Government, and, armed with it, he first proceeded as far as Shigatze, where he remained for two months; after awhile he returned to India. That was in 1881. The result of his exploration was reported to the British Government, and he was for a second time asked to undertake another trip into Tibet in the following year, having secured as before a Tibetan passport. On his second visit he first reached Shigatze and afterward entered Lhasa. As I heard from a Tibetan, he conducted his mission with extreme caution, seldom venturing abroad in the daytime, and when obliged to do so he took every care to avoid attracting the attention of the natives. He spent most of his time in a room of a temple, and there secretly carried[403] out his investigations. In this way he stayed in Lhasa for twenty days; then he went back to his sphere of work in other parts of Tibet and at last returned to Darjeeling after an absence of less than a year.

I have mentioned, in a preceding chapter that when the real nature of the mission of Sarat Chandra Das had become known to the Tibetan Government, it caused extraordinary disturbance, involving all the officials who had been on duty at the barrier-gates through which the Hinḍū had passed, as well as all the persons who had extended any sort of hospitality to him during his stay in the country. All these persons were thrown into prison and their property was confiscated. A number of those whose complicity, unwitting though it was, was judged more serious than that of the others were condemned to death and executed. After this memorable occurrence, Tibet resolved more than ever to enforce strictly the policy of exclusion against all foreigners....

Besides the attempts at Tibetan exploration already referred to, there have from time to time been a number of missionaries or spies despatched by either Russia or England, who have frequently appeared at Tibetan frontier stations only to arouse the suspicions of the Grand Lama’s Government, until the latter has become irrevocably committed to the policy of absolute seclusion. To do justice to the Tibetans, they were originally a people highly hospitable to strangers. This sentiment was superseded[405] by one of fear and even of antipathy, as the result of an insidious piece of advice which, probably prompted by some policy of its own, the Government of China gave to Tibet; it was to the effect that if the latter allowed the free entrance of foreigners into her territories, they would destroy her Buddhism, and replace it with Christianity. The simple-minded Tibetan became dreadfully alarmed at this warning; but even then he did not all at once put the policy of exclusion into full force. The absolute exclusion dates from the discovery of Sarat Chanḍra Das’ mission. Since then, the enforcement of the exclusion policy has become so strict that it now seems as though Tibet has been converted into a nation of detectives and constables.


I shall begin with an interesting incident that occurred to me in November, 1901, when I was enabled to send home letters for the first time after my arrival in the country. That was on the 18th of the month, and through the agency of Tsa Rong-ba, a Tibetan trader with whom I had become acquainted at Darjeeling. This man started for Calcutta on Government business to buy iron, and as I knew him to be trustworthy I entrusted him with a letter addressed to Sarat Chandra Das, in which were enclosed several others addressed to my friends and relatives in Japan.

The iron which he was commissioned to procure was for the purpose of manufacturing small arms at an arsenal situated at Dib near Che-Cho-ling, on the bank of the river Kichu, which flows to the south of Lhasa.

This industry was an innovation in Tibet, and in fact had begun only about eight years before that time. It was introduced by a Tibetan named Lha Tse-ring who had lived for a long time at Darjeeling and, at the request of his Government, brought back with him about ten gunsmiths, mostly Hindu and Cashmere Mohamedans. Only two of these smiths remained in Tibet at the time I reached Lhasa, the rest having returned home or died; but as several of the Tibetan smiths had acquired the art from them, no inconvenience was experienced in continuing the industry. This was a great improvement on the old state of affairs, for Tibet had formerly possessed only flint-lock muskets, and even these could not easily be[448] introduced from India. The manufacture of improved firearms was therefore a great boon to the country, and the Government did not spare expense and trouble to encourage the development of the art. Hence it came about that my acquaintance was authorised by the Government to proceed to Calcutta and procure a supply of iron.


The Choen Joe, who was keenly gazing at me, suddenly cried out: “You are very strange,” to which I did not reply a word. Then he continued: “At first I thought you were a Mongolian, but I found my judgment mistaken. Nor are you to be taken for a Chinaman. Of course, you are not a European. Of what nationality in the world are you then?” I was about to reply to this impertinent question, when I was interrupted by Tsa Rong-ba who spoke in a knowing way: “This gentleman is a Japanese.” Just a few words, and all was over. It was the first time my nationality had been mentioned in Lhasa. A very annoying truth had been uttered, but I could not deny the impeachment, so continued silently looking into the chief’s face, and wondering what would be the next word I should hear from him. Then with a look as if relieved from some uneasiness he turned to the host and said:[571] “I see, I see, I thought he must be a Japanese, but then I thought it was impossible for a Japanese to penetrate into this country, and I hesitated to say so. Now that I hear you say so, I doubt it not, for I have seen many Japanese at Peking.”

The sentence was given by these judges before the defendant could speak a word, and thus the secret which had been kept for so long was brought to light in a moment. The Choen Joe now turned to me and said:

“This is very good news for me. I once thought that if I went to Japan and brought strange goods to Lhasa I could make a great deal of money. But I have heard that the Chinese language, which is the only foreign language I can speak, is not used in Japan except among a few Chinamen at the seaport towns. Besides, I know that foreign travellers are liable to be deceived by bad people, who abound everywhere, and Japan, I suppose, is not an exception. So I have abandoned my intention. But I am glad to find here such a good Japanese as you. I have heard of the fame of the Serai Amchi (doctor of Sera) and am very satisfied to find the noted doctor in this house. As you are so good a man will you not take me with you to Japan?”

The prospect was not so bad as I had expected. I told him that as I intended to go back to Japan once more, I would take him, and spoke many things about Japan. The caravan chief talked of his hard experiences in China, of the recovery of his goods by the favor of the general, and of the superiority of the Japanese soldiers in valor to those of the West. He spoke very highly of Japan, but did not seem to mean to flatter me; it was most likely that the words came from his real heart. Then I said:

“You and Tsa Rong-ba are the only men that know that I am a Japanese, but if you tell it to anyone else, I am afraid it may cause you both some trouble. So you must be very careful about it.”


CHAPTER XCII. My Tibetan Friends in Trouble.

I learned that a month had hardly passed after my escape from Lhasa, when many of my acquaintances were arrested and imprisoned. According to this information, the ex-Minister of the Treasury with whom I lived, the old nun living in his house, and one of his favorite servants, were arrested and taken to prison; the new Treasury-minister was set free, as he had not had much relation with me; the Sera Seminary was closed, Tsa Rong-ba and his wife and Takbo Tunbai Choen Joe were taken to jail and examined with terrible tortures; every house which I had frequented was closely observed by the detectives, and the people in them were expecting every moment to be arrested; therefore everybody who had had any connexion whatever with me was endeavoring to conceal it, and consequently bribery was prevalent in Lhasa. Such were the stories I heard from the caravan, but the Tibetans are great story-tellers in general, and are very fond of surprising people by lies. So I thought they might be productions of their imagination, derived from the rumor that I escaped from Lhasa, and I did not give them much credit, and told them they were absurd stories; but still I had some doubts.

Some story of this kind reached the ear of the Magistrate of Darjeeling. One day he called me to his private house and asked me several questions as to the number of the priests, and the educational system, and the regulations of the Sera Monastery, and whether there was any law by which a school could be closed for such occurrences as had happened and whether I believed the stories. To this last question I answered negatively, because not only the Tibetans, but even the Chinese in Tibet, are very often fond of exaggerating truths and circulating rumors at Darjeeling; for instance, they say Russians have been seen striding along the streets of Lhasa in broad daylight, while in fact there are none, but only a Mongolian employed by the Government of Russia.

The local English officers of these districts are very desirous of knowing anything about Tibet, and they would write down any tidings brought thence, not distinguishing whether they are true or not.
At Ghoom there is an officer whose special business it is to enquire into anything occurring in Tibet. If there is anyone newly arrived from that country, he would see him, ask various questions, and if he found any important news he would take the man to the Governor’s to enquire more minutely about the matter in his presence. The present Governor of Darjeeling can speak the Tibetan language to some extent, but not with much ease; so interpreters are hired in most cases. But the British Indian Government greatly encourages these Governors of the districts adjoining Tibet to study the Tibetan language, and they can take an examination if they are able to speak colloquial Tibetan and explain easy composition; and if they pass the examination they can obtain a prize of a thousand rupees. Therefore most of them study Tibetan. From these facts the reader may infer with what caution the British Government is trying to get insight into the Forbidden Land.

As I knew well that the Tibetans were liars, I did not much mind their talk, but when another caravan which came two weeks later brought similar rumors my uneasiness was greatly increased. Some days after a merchant of my acquaintance came to Darjeeling, so I went to see him and asked him whether these rumored stories were true.

“Not exactly,” said he, “things are not so bad as that. It is true that the ex-Minister of the Treasury was once arrested, but he was set free without being taken to prison. However they say he will be again arrested in the near future. When I started from Lhasa he dwelt in his residence, not in prison; but I cannot tell what may have happened since. Among those who are sure victims are your tutor and your security at the Sera Seminary, Tsa Rong-ba and his wife, Takbo Tunbai Choen Joe. Their torture is terrible indeed; they are to be flogged every day, receiving three hundred blows daily with a willow stick. We wished to pay them a visit, and do something for them, but could not do so; for if we did, it would only arouse the suspicion of the detectives, who were hunting after anything they could get hold of.”

When I heard him I wondered what necessity there was for such cruelty if it got out that I was a simple Japanese priest, and asked the merchant whether he knew the cause of the persecution. Then he said that they took me for an English spy and not for a Japanese.

“But then,” said I, “did any one tell them that I was an Englishman?”

“Yes, some one did,” said he. “In an official report Chyi Kyab, the chief Guard of Nyatong, has stated to the Pope that the Lama who was rumored to be a Japanese was in truth an Englishman and brother to a high official of the British Indian Government, by whose request he entered Tibet in the disguise of a Japanese or Chinese. He also stated that the disguised English spy had, while in Tibet, several communications from Darjeeling through Tsa Rong-ba and Takbo. Furthermore, the report says you are by no means an ordinary man and can work miracles. It says you did not come through the barrier on the highway, and that even the bye-ways were watched with equal care, so that you could not have passed through. It is said that you must have flown to this side of the mountains when you came to the neighborhood of the barriers. Since the report was read by the Pope, the persecution of the prisoners is said to have been severe.”

“By the way” he continued, “how did you come over from Nyatong? Did you not fly?”

“As I am no bird, how could I do such a thing?”

“But they say you can do such a thing,” said he, “and I am one of those who believe it, because for one who can revive the dead, it must be an easy miracle to fly in the air. In Tibet they all believe what Chyi Kyab has reported to the Pope.”

“Then,” said I, “I will show you one thing that tells more than my speech; it is the passport given by the order of Chyi Kyab himself.”

The merchant seemed not to believe me yet, for by this time even in Darjeeling the story that I could work miracles became current and he had heard of it. I think that this was caused by the fraudulent report of Chyi Kyab, who was afraid of the punishment which was likely to befall him if he made a true one. Sometime later when the merchant came to my place, I showed him the passport and he seemed to believe it. But a new suspicion arose that I must have enchanted Chyi Kyab by magic and stolen the passport. Ignorant people very often take a truth for a miracle; and many Tibetans are no exception.

I could not be calm now that I had heard such terrors were raging in Tibet. In the first place, the ex-Treasury-minister’s fate caused me much uneasiness. His acute and strong character made him many enemies among his mean fellow-countrymen, who might now find an opportunity of revenging themselves upon him. Tsa Rong-ba and his wife, my tutor at the Sera Seminary and my security there, all of whom had shown me much favor and kindness, were now suffering in chains; how could I sleep in peace? How I wished I had been able to fly as they said I could, and go to Lhasa to their rescue! Many considerations came to my mind as to the way of delivering them; but only two of them seemed to be practicable. The one was to go to Peking and to secure an order from the Chinese Government to the Tibetan to suspend the hideous cruelty, and the other was to go to Nepal and ask the help of the Nepalese Government. It took me a long while to decide which method I should choose, but at last I determined to try the latter.

First, it was doubtful whether the Chinese Government would admit any application, either from myself or through the influence of the Japanese Government. In the second place, China herself has ceased to have credit in Tibet. In Tibet it is believed, even among the Government officers, that the present Chinese Emperor has been married to an English lady, and that since then, as she is on good terms with England, the country is always disturbed. Besides they know that China has become so helpless that they can disobey her without being chastised. Lastly, the Tibetan Government does not like any diplomatic interference from China, because China is a country that proclaims herself as friendly with all foreign countries. On the other hand, Nepal is much feared by the Tibetans, for the people of Nepal are very strong, and their soldiers, disciplined in the English style, prove themselves very brave in time of war. So the Tibetans are trying not to offend her, and her advice is heard with more attention than that of China. What made me think of the greater probability of success through applying to the Nepalese Government was the fact that that country puts so much trust in Japan that she sends many students to Japan for study. Thus I was determined to go to Nepal.

To do this, however, some money was needed, of which I had none at that time; indeed, I had even some small debts. Thanks to heaven, help came in my need; my acquaintances at my native town were so kind as to collect and send me three hundred yen, and with this money I was ready to start. But there was one thing that held me back; it was the compilation of a Tibetan grammar, which I had sometime ago begun at the request of my teacher Sarat Chandra Das, who needed a complete grammar of the Tibetan language to append to his Tibetan-English dictionary. I began at once, and wrote some twenty pages, but the complete study of the grammar of a foreign language is not to be compared to writing compositions for papers or magazines; books must be referred to and the opinions of others must be consulted. And thus three months were spent, but the completion of the grammar proceeded at a very sluggish pace and I felt that it would take a year or more to finish it. But the present prison affair in Lhasa required my immediate exertion, otherwise all hope might be gone. So I told my teacher that I had to suspend the work, and towards the end of November I left Darjeeling and came to Calcutta.

-- Three Years in Tibet, with the original Japanese illustrations, by Shramana Ekai Kawaguchi, Late Rector of Gohyakurakan Monastery, Japan
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Part 2 of 2

Kawaguchi in 1899, by Zaida Ben-Yusuf

Ekai Kawaguchi just before leaving Japan c. 1891

Kawaguchi as Tibetan lama, Darjeeling.

In commemoration of Kawaguchi's visit to Nepal (Bodnath, Kathmandu)

Kawaguchi performing Tibetan ceremonies.

Ekai Kawaguchi (河口慧海 Kawaguchi Ekai) (February 26, 1866 – February 24, 1945) was a Japanese Buddhist monk, famed for his four journeys to Nepal (in 1899, 1903, 1905 and 1913), and two to Tibet (July 4, 1900–June 15, 1902, 1913–1915), being the first recorded Japanese citizen to travel in either country.[1][2]

Life and early journey

From an early age Kawaguchi, whose birth name was Sadajiro, was passionate about becoming a monk. In fact, his passion was unusual in a country that was quickly modernizing; he gave serious attention to the monastic vows of vegetarianism, chastity, and temperance even as other monks were happily abandoning them. As a result, he became disgusted with the worldliness and political corruption of the Japanese Buddhist world.[3] Until March, 1891, he worked as the Rector of the Zen Gohyaku rakan Monastery (五百羅漢寺 Gohyaku-rakan-ji) in Tokyo (a large temple which contains 500 rakan icons). He then spent about 3 years as a hermit in Kyoto studying Chinese Buddhist texts and learning Pali, to no use; he ran into political squabbles even as a hermit. Finding Japanese Buddhism too corrupt, he decided to go to Tibet instead, despite the fact that the region was officially off limits to all foreigners. In fact, unbeknownst to Kawaguchi, Japanese religious scholars had spent most of the 1890s trying to enter Tibet to find rare Buddhist sutras, with the backing of large institutions and scholarships, but had inevitably failed.[4]

He left Japan for India in June, 1897, without a guide or map, simply buying his way onto a cargo boat. He had a smattering of English but did not know a word of Hindi or Tibetan. Also, he had no money, having refused the donations of his friends; instead, he made several fishmonger and butcher friends pledge to give up their professions forever and become vegetarian, claiming that the good karma would ensure his success.[5] Success appeared far from guaranteed, but arriving in India with very little money, he somehow entered the good graces of Sarat Chandra Das, an Indian British agent and Tibetan scholar, and was given passage to northern India. Kawaguchi would later be accused of spying for Das, but there is no evidence for this, and a close reading of his diary makes it seem quite unlikely.[6]

Table of Contents:

• LIV. Tibetan Weddings and Wedded Life.
• LV. Wedding Ceremonies.
• LVI. Tibetan Punishments.
• LVII. A grim Funeral and grimmer Medicine.
• LVIII. Foreign Explorers and the Policy of Seclusion.
• LIX. A Metropolis of Filth.
• LX. Lamaism.
• LXI. The Tibetan Hierarchy.
• LXII. The Government.
• LXIII. Education and Castes.
• LXIV. Tibetan Trade and Industry.
• LXV. Currency and Printing-blocks.

• LXVI. The Festival of Lights.
• LXVII. Tibetan Women.
• LXVIII. Tibetan Boys and Girls.
• LXIX. The Care of the Sick.
• LXX. Outdoor Amusements.
• LXXI. Russia’s Tibetan Policy.
• LXXII. Tibet and British India.
• LXXIII. China, Nepāl and Tibet.
• LXXIV. The Future of Tibetan Diplomacy.
• LXXV. The “Monlam” Festival.
• LXXVI. The Tibetan Soldiery.
• LXXVII. Tibetan Finance.
• LXXVIII. Future of the Tibetan Religions.

On leaving Darjeeling, my good host Rai Sarat Chanḍra earnestly wished me complete success in my travels to Tibet, and gave vent to his hearty and sincere pleasure in finding in me one, who, as bold and adventurous as himself, was starting on a perilous but interesting expedition to that hitherto unknown country....

About a fortnight after my arrival in Malba I received a letter from Rai Sarat Chandra Das, through a trader of Tukje, with whom I had become acquainted while in Tsarang, and to whom I had entrusted a letter to my friend at Darjeeling, as well as others to my folks at home, on the occasion of his going down to Calcutta on business. Along with his letter Sarat Chandra Das sent me a number of the Mahabodhi Society’s journal, which contained an account of an unsuccessful attempt by a Buddhist of my nationality to enter Tibet, and a well-meant note of his in pencil to the effect that I must not lose my life by exposing myself to too much danger.....

So seeing that this man was going back to India, I thought it would be a good idea to ask him to take with him my letters and deliver them for me in India. It would have been imprudent for me to write things in detail, but I scribbled just a few lines to my friend and teacher, Rai Sarat Chandra Das, informing him that I had penetrated the interior of Tibet as far as Gya-karko, besides asking him to post some letters for Japan which I enclosed, addressed to Mr. Hige Tokujuso and Ito Ichiso of Sakai....

In the meantime the Palpo merchant with whom I was staying was going to Nepāl. I utilised the occasion and through his kindness sent two letters, one to Rai Sarat Chandra Das in India, and the other to Mr. I. Hige of my native province....

In November, 1901, when I was enabled to send home letters for the first time after my arrival in the country. That was on the 18th of the month, and through the agency of Tsa Rong-ba, a Tibetan trader with whom I had become acquainted at Darjeeling. This man started for Calcutta on Government business to buy iron, and as I knew him to be trustworthy I entrusted him with a letter addressed to Sarat Chandra Das, in which were enclosed several others addressed to my friends and relatives in Japan.....

There are many cheap inns and hotels in Lhasa, but as I had been informed that they were not respectable, I desired to stay with a friend, a son of the premier of Tibet. While at Darjeeling I had become acquainted with[289] this young noble, and he had offered me a lodging during my stay in Lhasa. I liked him, and did many things for him, and now, though I did not mean to demand a return for what I had done for him, I had no alternative but to go to him. So I called at his house. It was known as Bandesha—a magnificent mansion on a plot of about three hundred and sixty feet square. I entered the house and asked if he was in, but heard that my friend had become a lunatic. They told me that he had gone out of his mind two years before, and that he went mad at regular periods. I learned that he was staying at his brother’s villa at Namsailing, and was obliged to go there for him, but there also I could not find him, and was told the same thing. I waited there for over two hours, as I was told he might come, and then I reflected that it would be of no use for me to see a madman, on whom I could not depend, so I made up my mind to direct my steps to the Sera monastery, for I thought it would be better for me to be temporarily admitted in the college, and then to pass the regular entrance examinations.....

Once while standing at the door of the druggist’s, I saw a man apparently of quality come towards me with his servant. The store stands at the corner where the streets leading to Panang-sho and Kache-hakhang meet, and this man came along Ani-sakan street toward Panang-sho.[331] He passed a few steps by me, when he turned and looked at me. Then I heard his servant say that I must be the man. Walking to me the nobleman said “Is it you?” I looked at him and found him, though much thinner than before, to be the son of Para the Premier, whom I had met at Darjeeling. He did not look like a man out of his senses, as I had been told. He said that he was much pleased that I had come to his country. He was on some important business, but went with me into the house of the druggist. The wife of the druggist, who knew him, gave him a chair, and the young noble seemed to be desirous to talk with me. I hinted that it was not good for us to let it be known that we had seen each other at Darjeeling, and began our talk by saying that it was about half a year since we had met each other at Gyangtze. He also was aware that his staying at Darjeeling should be kept a secret, and carefully avoided talking about our having met in that town.

From what he said and did there, I could not find anything in him that showed him to be an idiot; on the contrary, he was evidently a man of much sense. Among other things he told me that three months before, one of his servants committed theft and, when reproved severely, had pierced him through the side with a sword with the result that a part of his intestines could be seen. This, he added, made him so haggard. When, after a long talk, he went on his way, the wife of the druggist told me that the young man had hoodwinked me about the wounds, which really were given him for wrong-doing on his side. She told me that everything concerning his family was known to her, for she had before been wife to his brother, who, not being allowed to live long with her, simply because she was of birth too humble for his family, divorced her and was now adopted at Namsailing. The young man, she told me, was very prodigal, and deeply in debt, on account of[332] which he was wounded. To my question whether he was then beside himself, she answered that he was mad or otherwise as it suited him, and not a man to be easily trusted, for he was very good at taking money from others.....

I have spoken before of the prodigal son of the house of Para. One day this man sent his servant to me with a letter and asked for a loan of money, rather a large sum for Tibet. Of course he had no idea of repaying me, and his loan was really blackmail. I sent back the servant with half of what he had asked, together with a letter. I was told that he was highly enraged at what I had done, exclaiming that I had insulted him, and that he had not asked for the sum for charity, and so on. At any rate he sent back the money to me, probably expecting that I would then send him the whole sum asked for. But I did not oblige him as he had expected, and took no notice of his threat. A few days after another letter reached me from that young man, again asking for the sum as at first. I decided to save myself from further annoyance and so I sent the sum. Like master, like servant; the latter, having heard most probably from his spendthrift master that I was a Japanese, came to me for a loan or blackmail of fifty yen. I gave that sum too, for I knew that they could not annoy me repeatedly with impunity....

[b][size=110]Some while later on during the same day I had another startling story told me by the wife of the apothecary. She[573] began with: “Say, Kusho-la (your lordship). Don’t you think the most awful thing in the world is a madman?”

I asked her reason, and she said: “Why, that mad son of Para has been telling a strange story. It is a story told by a madman, so of course I think it cannot be depended upon; but he said that though it was a great secret, he knew of a horrible affair that was to take place in this country. When I asked what it was, he whispered to me: ‘There is a priest from Japan in this town. He calls himself a priest, but he is surely a great officer of the Japanese Government, who has been sent for the investigation of the country. It is no less a personage than the Serai Amchi. I met and talked with him once when I went to Darjeeling, and I found him a great man.’ This is what he tells me. Is it not strange? Nobody knows he has ever been to Darjeeling, but what do you think about it?”

I thought the madman was not mad if he had spoken that way, but answered her: “The story of a madman must be only taken as such.”

The lady continued, “Anyhow my husband and many others seem to believe it. I have told this to you as I heard it, and hope you will not mind.”

-- Three Years in Tibet, with the original Japanese illustrations, by Shramana Ekai Kawaguchi, Late Rector of Gohyakurakan Monastery, Japan

Kawaguchi stayed in Darjeeling for several months living with a Tibetan family by Das' arrangement. He became fluent in the Tibetan language, which was at that time neither systematically taught to foreigners nor compiled, by talking to children and women on the street.[7][/size][/b]

The Bhutia Boarding School in Darjeeling is a school founded in 1874. Its first director was Sarat Chandra Das [SPY] and Professor of Tibetan Ugyen Gyatso [SPY], a monk of Tibeto-Sikkimese origin. It was opened by order of the Lieutenant Governor of British Bengal, Sir George Campbell. Its purpose was to provide education to young Tibetans and Sikkimese boys resident in Sikkim or the Darjeeling area. However, according to Derek Wallers, it aimed to train interpreters, geographers and explorers [who] may be useful in the event of an opening of Tibet to the English.[1] Students learnt English, Tibetan and topography. In 1879, Sarat Chandra Das, sometimes disguised as a Tibetan lama, sometimes as a merchant from Nepal and Ugyen Gyatso made several trips to Tibet as secret agents of British India services in order to establish and collect cards.[2]...

[Former Students of] Darjeeling High School

• Ekai Kawaguchi

[Former Students of] Bhutia Boarding School

• Kazi Dawa Samdup
• David Macdonald, (1870-1962) [SPY]

-- Bhutia Boarding School, Darjeeling [Bhotia Boarding School], by Wikipedia

Crossing over the Himalayas on an unpatrolled dirt road with an untrustworthy guide, Kawaguchi soon found himself alone and lost on the Tibetan plateau. He had the good fortune to befriend every wanderer he met in the countryside, including monks, shepherds, and even bandits, but he still took almost four years to reach Lhasa after stopovers at a number of monasteries and a pilgrimage round sacred Mount Kailash in western Tibet. He posed as a Chinese monk and gained a reputation as an excellent doctor which led to him having an audience with the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso (1876 to 1933).[8] He spent some time living in Sera Monastery.[9]

Kawaguchi devoted his entire time in Tibet to Buddhist pilgrimage and study. Although he mastered the difficult terminology of the classical Tibetan language and was able to pass for a Tibetan, he was surprisingly intolerant of Tibetans' minor violations of monastic laws, and of the eating of meat in a country with very little arable farmland. As a result, he did not fit in well in monastic circles, instead finding work as a doctor of Chinese and Western medicine. His services were soon in high demand.[10]

Kawaguchi spent his time in Lhasa in disguise and, following a tip that his cover had been blown, had to flee the country hurriedly. He almost petitioned the government to let him stay as an honest and apolitical monk, but the intimations of high-ranking friends convinced him not to. Even so, several of the people who had sheltered him were horribly tortured and mutilated.[11] Kawaguchi was deeply concerned for his friends, and despite his ill health and lack of funds, after leaving the country he used all his connections to petition the Nepalese Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher Rana for help. On the Prime Minister's recommendation, the Tibetan Government released Kawaguchi's loyal Tibetan friends from jail.[1]

Reporting in Japan

When Kawaguchi finally returned to Japan he caused a sensation and an instant surge of interest in distant Tibet. His travelogue, quickly published based on talks he gave, shows his shock at the lack of hygiene amongst Tibetans, the filth of Tibetan cities, and by many Tibetan customs, including sexual practices, monastic immoderation, corruption and superstitious beliefs. On the other hand, he had great admiration for many Tibetans ranging from great religious and political leaders to common people and made many friends while he was in Tibet.[12] Ironically given Kawaguchi's faithful background, newspapers criticized his lectures to the public about Tibetan hygiene and sexual practices as being a hodge-podge of lowbrow humor and dirty stories unbecoming of a monk.[13]

Narita Yasuteru, a Japanese spy secretly dispatched to Tibet in the late 1890s, anonymously accused Kawaguchi of having never been there; this accusation was quickly debunked by the Japanese newspapers.[14] In fact, internal documents show that Narita himself had never reached Tibet on his expensive spy mission, making Kawaguchi the first person to have actually arrived there.[15]

Further travels

Partly as a result of hearing about the discovery of an Ashoka Pillar in 1896 identifying Lumbini as the birthplace of Gautama Buddha, he visited Lumbini with other Japanese pilgrims in 1912. He then returned to Tibet a final time in 1913. While his more mature narrative of this trip is mainly occupied with Japanese poems about the beauty of the land, he could not resist some final criticisms of the monks' lax attitude towards monastic rules.[16] He brought back to Japan a large collection of Tibetan scriptures, but had a lengthy and public dispute with the other pilgrims about who the Dalai Lama had intended to give them to, causing him to lose some face in the Buddhist world.[17] He did assist the German Theravada monk Nyanatiloka in the 1920s.

After this Kawaguchi became an independent monk, living with his brother's family for the rest of his life, and earning an income from scholarly publications. He refused to assist the military police when they sought intelligence on Tibet, and died in 1945.[18]

He was a friend of Mrs. Annie Besant, President of the Theosophical Society, who encouraged him to publish the English text of his book, Three Years in Tibet.[19] The Government of Nepal issued a postage stamp in 2003 commemorating Kawaguchi's visits to that country. He is also said to have planted two saplings of Himalayan Cicada trees (also called: Riang Riang; Ploiarium alternifolium), which he had brought back with him, near the gate of the Obaku-san Manpukuji Zen Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Kyoto, where he had studied as a young man.[20]

Buddhist Doctrinal Reformer

Kawaguchi was disturbed by the confusing messages of the main objects of veneration based on a pantheon of deities, spirits, historical and mythological figures. Instead he called for a return to veneration of Shakyamuni and lay-centered practice.[21]


1. "The First Recorded Japanese Visitor: Ekai Kawaguchi" - pdf file from the Japanese Embassy in Nepal. [1]
2. Hyer, Paul (1979). "Narita Yasuteru: First Japanese to Enter Tibet". Tibet Journal Vol. IV, No. 2, Autumn 1979, p. 12.
3. Berry 1989, p. 11-12
4. Okuyama 2008, pp. 215-7.
5. Berry 1989, p. 14
6. Hopkirk, Peter (1997): Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Secret Exploration of Tibet, pp. 150-151; 157. Kodansha Globe (Pbk). ISBN 978-1-56836-050-8.
7. Berry 1989, p. 26-7
8. Kawaguchi 1909, pp. 309-322
9. Kawaguchi 1909, pp. 323-328.
10. Berry 1989, pp. 169-200
11. Hopkirk, Peter (1997): Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Secret Exploration of Tibet, pp. 149, 154. Kodansha Globe (Pbk). ISBN 978-1-56836-050-8.
12. Berry (2005), pp. 37-45, 57.
13. Okuyama 2008, p. 208.
14. Berry 1989, pp. 250-251
15. Kimura 1981
16. Berry 1989, p. 292
17. Okuyama 2008, p. 222.
18. Berry 1989, p. 299
19. Kawaguchi, Ekai (1909): Three Years in Tibet, page vii. Reprint: Book Faith India (1995), Delhi. ISBN 81-7303-036-7
20. These are now grown into tall trees. From the Japanese embassy in Nepal [2]
21. Auerback, Micah L. (2016). A Storied Sage: Canon and Creation in the Making of a Japanese Buddha. University of Chicago Press. p. 4. ISBN 9780226286389. Kawaguchi recounted these details to illustrate the absurdity and disorder resulting from the lack of any single, unifying focus of devotion in Japanese Buddhism. His enumeration begins with deities inherited from India: transcendent, "cosmic" buddhas, and bodhisattvas, "wisdom-beings" who serve as compassionate saviors. The "Great Masters" whom he mentions each stand as the font of a different Buddhist denomination; in each case, the extraordinary life and works of the founder earned him a place as an object of devotion in his own right. The remaining "extreme cases" include a celebrated warrior of medieval Japan, along with lowly trickster animals, among a legion of Indian deities brought to Japan as part of the broader Buddhist pantheon.


• Berry, Scott: A Stranger in Tibet: The Adventures of a Wandering Zen Monk. Kodansha International, Tokyo, 1989. Also published as A Stranger in Tibet: Adventures of a Zen Monk by HarperCollins (1990) ISBN 978-0-00-215337-9.
• Berry, Scott. (2005). The Rising Sun in the Land of Snows: Japanese Involvement in Tibet in the Early 20th Century. Ardash Books, New Delhi. ISBN 81-87138-97-1.
• Hopkirk, Peter (1997): Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Secret Exploration of Tibet. Kodansha Globe (Pbk). ISBN 978-1-56836-050-8.
• Kawaguchi, Ekai (1909): Three Years in Tibet. The Theosophical Office, Adyar, Madras, 1909.
• Kimura, Hisao (1981). "Yasuteru Narita's Secret Mission to Tibet: His Failure to Enter East Tibet as Revealed in Diplomatic Documents". Journal of the Institute for Asian Studies.
• Okuyama Naoji (2008). "The Tibet Fever among Japanese Buddhists of the Meiji Era". In Esposito, Monica (ed.). Images of Tibet in the 19th and 20th centuries. Paris: Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient. ISBN 2855396581.
• Subedi, Abhi: Ekai Kawaguchi:The Trespassing Insider. Mandala Book Point. Kathmandu, 1999.

External links

• Brief description and photo of the Obakusan Manpuku-ji Temple
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Charles Henry Allan Bennett
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 10/17/19



Charles Henry Allan Bennett (8 December 1872 – 9 March 1923) was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. He was a close associate of author and occultist Aleister Crowley.

Bennett received the name Bhikkhu Ananda Metteyya at his ordination as a Buddhist monk and spent years studying and practicing Buddhism in the East. He was the second Englishman to be ordained as a Buddhist monk (Bhikkhu) of the Theravada tradition [1] and was instrumental in introducing Buddhism in England. He established the first Buddhist Mission in the United Kingdom.

Early life

Allan Bennett was born in London on 8 December 1872. His father, a civil engineer, died when he was still a boy. He was raised as a strict Roman Catholic by his mother; a faith which he had rejected whilst in his teens. There is reference to his having at least one sister. He was educated at Hollesley College and later at Bath, England. Upon leaving school, he trained as an analytical chemist and achieved some success in that field for he was invited to participate in an expedition to Africa by Dr. Bernard Dyer, chemist to the Corn Trade; however, he did not go in the end. His electrical knowledge was profound while still in his early twenties; this and his talent for experimental science, mathematics and physics would stay with him throughout his life.

Golden Dawn

Bennett was, along with George Cecil Jones, Crowley’s primary teacher during his days in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Bennett was educated at Hollesly College, and scraped by as an analytical chemist. Bennett was initiated into the G.D. in 1894, taking the motto "Iehi Aour" ("let there be light"). He was always very poor and tormented by illness, but still made a strong impression on other occultists of the time.

Bennett was one of the most brilliant minds in the order, and favored mysticism and white magic; he was almost wholly concerned with enlightenment rather than siddhis (magical powers). Bennett had high regard for Golden Dawn leader S. L. Mathers, and with him began working on a book of Hermetic Qabalah correspondences that Crowley would later expand upon as Liber 777.

Soon after meeting, Crowley invited Bennett to come stay with him, as Bennett was living in a dilapidated shared apartment. In return, Bennett trained Crowley in the basics of magic and tried to instill a devotion to white magic. Bennett was generally ascetic and sexually chaste, a marked contrast to Crowley’s libertine attitude. Nevertheless, he was an enthusiastic user of mind changing drugs (with which he treated recurrent asthma) and introduced Crowley to this aspect of his occult researches.[2] Crowley once remarked concerning Bennett’s powers: Bennett had constructed a magical wand out of glass, which he carried with him. Crowley himself stated it to look similar in appearance to a chandelier. As it so happened, Crowley and Bennett were walking along one day and came across a group of theosophists who were ridiculing the use of wands. "Allan promptly produced his and blasted one of them. It took fourteen hours to restore the incredulous individual to the use of his mind and his muscles."

Travel to Southeast Asia

At some time between 1889 and 1900, in his late twenties, Bennett traveled to Asia[3][4] to relieve his asthma, and to dedicate himself to Buddhism. First he traveled to Ceylon where he studied Hatha Yoga under the yogi Shri Parananda. He joined the Sangha and took the name Swami Maitrananda.[5] Later, in Burma, Bennett took the vows of a Buddhist monk, and assumed the name Ananda Metteyya, "Bliss of loving kindness." In 1902 Crowley came to visit him there and was instructed in Hatha Yoga. At this time both men were agreed as to the validity of Buddhist practices. In 1903 he founded the Buddhasasana Samagama or the International Buddhist Society in London, UK (not to be confused with the International Buddhist Society in British Columbia, Canada). Bennett later began a periodical called Buddhism: An Illustrated Review.

Periodical: Buddhism. Published for the International Buddhist Society, v. 1-2, no. 1. Rangoon, Burma, 1903-05. 8th. * OLWF

-- Bulletin of the New York Public Library, Volume 20


Some sources say that Bennett intended to travel to California due to health reasons. But with the outbreak of World War I and the denial of an immigration visa by the US, he found himself stranded, and forced to live in poverty and illness. He died on his native English soil at the age of 51, on 9 March 1923, buried at Morden cemetery. His lifelong friend and Buddhist writer, Dr Cassius Pereira, wrote: "And now the worker has, for this life, laid aside his burdens. One feels more glad than otherwise, for he was tired; his broken body could no longer keep pace with his soaring mind. The work he began, that of introducing Buddhism to the West, he pushed with enthusiastic vigour in pamphlet, journal and lecture, all masterly, all stimulating thought, all in his own inimitably graceful style. And the results are not disappointing to those who know."[6]


Allan Bennett was a pioneer, and without him, Buddhism would not have entered the Western world as it did. He wrote two books: The Wisdom of the Aryas (1923)(based in part on a series of discourses in Clifford Bax's studio in 1919 and 1920[7]) and The Religion of Burma (1911, reprinted in 1929 by Theosophical Publishing House as The Religion of Burma and Other Papers). Some of his addresses and papers are still intact and used today.


1. Batchelor, Stephen The Awakening of the West, p. 40.
2. Symonds p18
3. Humphries C, Ananda Metteyya: With Some Observations on the English Sangha, The Middle Way Nov 1972:133-136.
4. Crow J (University of Amsterdam), The Bhikku and the Magus, Conference 2008
5. Golden Dawn Biographies, Allan Bennett Archived 11 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine
6. D r Elizabeth J Harris, Ananda Metteya, the First British Emissary of Buddhism, The Wheel Publication No.420/422 1998 ISBN 955-24-0179-8. (She is citing The Buddhist, 28 April 1923, p.6.)
7. See page 290(Sec XX) of Inland Far, by Clifford Bax, 1925


• Brunton, Paul A Pioneer Western Buddhist.
• Crow, John L. The Bhikkhu and the Magus, Exploring Bennett’s Influence on Crowley.
• Crowley, Aleister. Confessions of Aleister Crowley, Chapters 27–33.
• Fernando, Tilak S. World Buddhist Foundation in London Celebrates the United Kingdom Buddhist Day.
• Free Encyclopedia of Thelema. Allan Bennett. Retrieved 5 March 2005.
• Harris, Elizabeth J. Ananda Metteya: The First British Emissary of Buddhism.
• Symonds, John. The Great Beast, London, 1951

External links

• Xristos, Fra. Petros(7=4) Allan Bennett (1872-1923).
• Order of the Golden Dawn Allan Bennett 1872 - 1923.


Allan Bennett
Accessed: 10/17/19





Alan Bennett (8th December 1872 – 9th March 1923)

Charles Henry – Allan Bennett was born in London on the 8th December 1872. His father, who was an engineer passed when he was still a young boy and was raised by his mother as a strict Roman Catholic. Like Crowley, Bennett suffered from severe asthma and would use a wide variety of drugs to combat it but it would haunt him his entire life which was unfortunately cut short when he died at the age of 51 due to a bowel obstruction.

In 1893 Bennett joined the Theosophical Society which he was a member of until 1895. In 1894 he also took initiation in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, taking the motto Frater Iehi Aour which means “let there be light.” He left a profound impression upon his superiors in the Order and within a year’s time would enter the Golden Dawn’s Second Order. Shortly thereafter (in 1898) Crowley joined the Golden Dawn and it is here that the two first met.

At the time Bennett struggled financially and lived in sub-par conditions. So Crowley invited Bennett, who he was very much drawn too – to live with him. Bennett would agree and hence began there long and fruitful friendship.

A couple of years later Bennett would travel to Southeast Asia, primarily in the hope that it would improve his health but also to study Buddhism. He moved to Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka) to study Yoga under the Yogi Shri Parananda. Crowley visited him several times during this period and Bennett would introduce Crowley to a number of practices.


It was during one of these visits that the two went for an extended retreat to practice Yoga together and Bennett came to the conclusion that Buddhism was indeed his calling. In December Bennett relocated to Burma in order to become a novice within Theravada Buddhism and by February of 1902 Bennett took his Bhikkhu ordination which made him the second Englishman ever to become a Theravada monk. At his Ordination he assumed the name Ananda Maitreya (meaning “Bliss of loving kindness”) but would later change it to the Pali version, Ananda Metteyya. (Matteya being a future incarnation of Buddha).


Just after his ordination Crowley would again visit and the two discussed how they could bring Buddhism to the west. Crowley fondly recollects this visit in his “Confessions”. These visits and Bennett’s instructions would serve as a catalyst in Crowley’s spiritual development


Bennett then went on to establish the International Buddhist Society, the Buddhasasana Samagama, in 1903. He began to publish pamphlets and a quarterly journal in English speaking countries with the goal of establish a Buddhist Sangha in England. In April of 1908 he returned to England to do just this and helped establish the Buddhists Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Bennett would eventually publish two books The Religion of Burma (1911) and The Wisdom of the Aryas (1923).


Though not officially a member of A∴A∴ as we know it Bennett would significantly influence Crowley’s thinking not just in regard to Buddhism but also in regard to Yoga, Pranayama and several other meditative practices whose techniques Crowley continued to utilize and teach throughout his life. Notably, Crowley’s teachings in regard to the Magical Memory stem from what Bennett taught Crowley during this period.

Crowley also included one of Bennett’s essays, “The Training of the Mind” in the Equinox Vol 1 no. 5 and would expand upon Bennett’s Qabalistic dictionary Sepher Sephiroth which is now listed as an official publication of the A∴A∴ given in Class B.


In his essay “The Training the Mind” Bennett describes how meditation can cultivate Right Concentration. However, what few people know is that Bennett did not write this essay for inclusion in the Equinox – Instead it was originally published in as a pamphlet for Bennett’s organization, the International Buddhist Society in 1908 and was entitled “On the Culture of Mind” which Crowley simply renamed and published in the Equinox, clearly demonstrating that Crowley still highly regarded these teachings.

For further reading on Allan Bennett, please visit our Library.


Allan Bennett
by George Knowles
© George Knowles September 9, 2016



The name of Charles Henry Allan Bennett is little known today, but during his time he was an accomplished highly regarded British occultist. He was an early member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and a one time friend, teacher and mentor to the infamous Aleister Crowley. Allan Bennett later abandoned Western occult traditions in favour of Eastern mystery traditions. In the early 1900’s he travelled to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) then on to Burma (now Myanmar) where he became ordained a Buddhist Monk. He founded the International Buddhist Society in 1903, and did much to introduce and promote Buddhism to the West, particularly here in the United Kingdom.

Allan Bennett was born in London in on 08th December 1872. His father, a civil and electrical engineer, passed away while he was still young and so he and a sister were raised by his mother, a strict Roman Catholic. From a very early age Bennett suffered frequently with acute asthma, an affliction that would leave him debilitated for weeks on end, during those periods while his mother worked and struggled to support the family, his sister would stand in for her taking care for him. His sister later emigrated and went to live in California, USA.

Bennett’s early educated began at the Colonial College in Hollesley Bay, Suffolk, then later continued in Bath, Somerset, where he showed a marked propensity for scientific research, particularly in the fields of electricity and chemistry. After leaving school he first trained as a chemical analyst and later in 1894 was employed briefly by Dr. Bernard Dyer, an International Analyst and Consulting Chemist based in London who worked as an official analyst to the London Corn Trade. That same year Bennett was invited to participate in a scientific expedition to Africa, but this he declined do, due mainly to his continuing ill health.

The chronic asthma that plagued him throughout his life also prevented him from holding down a permanent job, as half of the time he was heavily doped up on a rotation of prescribed drugs, such as: opium, cocaine, morphine and chloroform, courses of which often left him debilitated recovering in bed. While he was also an accomplished research electrician and conducted experiments on a variety of his own electronic inventions, none of these proved successful enough to provide an adequate living. This meant that for most of his early adult life he lived close to poverty living in London’s cheap and dingy slum districts of Southwark and Lambeth.

During his youth and into his teens Bennett was raised a devout Roman Catholic, but at the age of 16 as his keen scientific mind and quest for new research expanded, so to did he seek to expand his growing sense of spirituality. He therefore rejected Catholicism as incompatible with science in favour of the more arcane philosophies and theologies of the Western occult traditions and Eastern mystical religions of Hinduism and Buddhism. He also studied Spiritualism and other esoteric practices.

To quote from Aleister Crowley his later friend and student, at the age of 18 Bennett read Edwin Arnold’s poem “The Light of Asia” (published 1897, an early translation of a Buddhist text), which had a profound influence on his later life, for at that time Buddhism was little known in the West. He had also made a study of Hinduism, and once while practising a yogic form of breath control and trance meditation, he gained “Shivadarshana”, which Crowley describes as: “.... an extraordinarily high state of yogic attainment.” During the trance he is said to have experienced a blissful communion with Shiva, the Hindu god of Yoga, and resolved to dedicate the rest of his life to recapturing similar states of communion.

Aleister Crowley

As he continued to explore alternative religions and spiritualities, Bennett joined two of the UK’s leading occult organisations. On the 24th March 1893, he joined the “Theosophical Society”, co-founded by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Colonel Henry Steel Olcott in 1875, an occult philosophical society based on Eastern religious mysticism and theology. Through the Society he attended courses and lectures on yoga, mediation, consciousness and reincarnation, while at the same time studying Blavatsky’s “The Secret Doctrine”. The Society also had a strong connection to Buddhism, as both the co-founders had declared themselves Lay-Buddhists in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1880.

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

Colonel Henry Steel Olcott

The second important organisation he joined was the “Hermetic Order of Golden Dawn”, founded in 1888 and based on Western esoteric teachings such as the Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism - spelt variously as Cabbala or Qabalah), Astrology, Alchemical symbolism, Geomancy and the Tarot. When Bennett joined in February 1894 he was initiated into the first/outer Order as a Neophyte, taking the motto: “Voco” (Latin for “I call”). Just a year later on the 22nd of March 1895 he was raised to Adeptus Minor in the higher second/inner Order taking the motto: “Iehi Aour” (Hebrew for “Let there be light”). There he joined S.L. MacGregor Mathers and Dr. William Wynn Westcott, two of the original three ruling Chiefs and co-founders of the Order. The third Dr. William Woodman had passed away on the 25th February 1892.

S.L. MacGregor Mathers

Dr. William Wynn Westcott

Dr. William Woodman

Bennett quickly gained a reputation as a powerful Magus and Cabalist matching the magical abilities of S.L. MacGregor Mathers, who had created most of the Order’s teachings and rituals. Crowley tells a story of how Bennett had a special wand (called a blasting rod):

“He used to carry a ‘lustre’ - a long glass prism with a neck and a pointed knob such as adorned old-fashioned chandeliers. He used this as a wand. One day, a party of theosophists were chatting sceptically about the power of the ‘blasting rod’. Allan promptly produced his and blasted one of them. It took fourteen hours to restore the incredulous individual to the use of his mind and his muscles”.

When not doped up on medications (see use of drugs above) Bennett had one of the most brilliant magical minds in the Order, but he favoured mysticism rather than magical powers and was mostly concerned with enlightenment. However, Bennett had a high regard for the Order’s main magical Chief - S.L. MacGregor Mathers, and being mostly out of work due to ill health, began working with Mathers collating and editing material for the Order’s curriculum, including much of the Hermetic Cabbala correspondences that Aleister Crowley later expand upon in his book “Liber 777.”

Crowley first met Bennett in February 1899 after he (Crowley) had joined the Order on the 18th November 1898, and states his first impression of Bennett was that he possessed: “.... a tremendous spiritual and magical force.” Soon after their first meeting, Crowley learned that Bennett was living in a dilapidated shared apartment, and so invited him to stay at his luxury flat at 67/69 Chancery Lane. They’re Bennett began to teach Crowley the basics of ritual magick and yoga. Crowley goes on to describe Bennett as:

“Allan Bennett was tall, but his sickness had already produced a stoop. His head, crowned with a shock of wild, black hair, was intensely noble; the brows, both wide and lofty, overhung indomitable piercing eyes. The face would have been handsome had it not been for the haggardness and pallor due to his almost continuous suffering.

Despite his ill health, he was a tremendous worker. His knowledge of science, especially electricity, was vast, accurate and profound. In addition he had studied the Hindu and Buddhist scriptures, not only as a scholar but also with the insight that comes from inborn sympathetic understanding.

I did not fully realise the colossal stature of that sacred spirit; but I was instantly aware that this man could teach me more in a month than anyone else in five years.”

Lehi Aour came to stay with me and under his tuition I made rapid progress. He showed me where to get knowledge, how to criticize it and how to apply it. We also worked together at ceremonial Magick; evoking spirits, consecrating talismans, and so on.

Toward the end of 1899 Bennett’s health became so bad that many of his friends feared for his life and recommended he leave England for a warmer climate to convalesce and recuperate. Crowley who had ample funds would have been more than happy to pay for such a move, but was restrained believing that Bennett would have declined such an offer and take offence. While the magical community deemed sharing his flat and hospitality acceptable, for Bennett to accept monetary funding for such a move, might be seen as accepting payment for magical knowledge, and that was unacceptable. Instead Crowley persuaded a wealthy ex-mistress outside of the magical community to donate £100 to fund his move when he was ready.

By this time Bennett was leaning more and more toward Buddhism and the practice of yoga, but was becoming increasingly disillusioned by Mathers’ apparent antagonism toward “Orientalism”. The Golden Dawn was also in a shambles with membership declining as schisms over leadership threatened to break it apart. So with all that going on and now having funding in place for him to make a move, Bennett decided to go and dedicate the rest of his life to Buddhism. Early in 1900 he boarded ship and set sail for Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

After his arrival in Ceylon Bennett spent his first six months in Kamburugamuwa, Matara, recuperating while studying Pali (the sacred language of Buddhism) under the Ven. Weragampita Revata, an elderly Sinhalese monk. As his health improved, so he was also able to give up most of the drugs he had been using in England, but then needing work to support himself, he moved to Kandy where he became a tutor to the son of the Hon. Ponnambalam Ramanathan, the Solicitor-General of Ceylon. There Ramanathan, who was also a well known yogi by the name of Sri. Parananda began to instruct him in the techniques of Hatha Yoga, such things as the Asanas (physical postures) and Pranayama (breathing techniques for meditation).

In July 1901, Bennett presented his first lecture on Buddhism entitled “The Four Noble Truths” to the Hope Lodge of the Theosophical Society in Colombo. It was here that he first met Dr. Cassius Pereira (later the Ven. Kassapa Thera) who was so impressed by his lecture; he became a life-long friend and supporter.

During World War I, in 1915 commercial-ethnic rivalry erupted into a riot in Colombo against the Muslims, with Christians participating as much as Buddhists. Fearing an uprising the inexperienced British colonial Governor of Ceylon Sir Robert Chalmers declared Martial Law on 2 June 1915 and on the advice of Inspector General of Police Herbert Dowbiggin began a brutal suppression of the Sinhala community by giving orders to the Police and the Army to shoot any one who they deemed a rioter without a trial, it is said the numbers of Sinhalese killed this way were thousands. Many local leaders, that included D. S. Senanayake, D. R. Wijewardena, Arthur V. Dias, Dr. Cassius Pereira, Dr. W. A. de Silva, F.R. Dias Bandaranaike, H. M. Amarasuriya, A.H. Molamure were imprisoned and Captain D.E.Henry Pedris, a militia commander, was shot for mutiny.

A memorandum was drafted at a secret meeting held at the residence of E. W. Perera, initiated by Sir James Peiris and presided over by Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan. Before presenting it to his majesties government, the support of the British members of parliament and the press in England had to be obtained. Sea voyage was dangerous due to the presence of German submarines, which attacked ships and destroyed them. Abandoning a promising career at the Bar, E. W. Perera undertook the task of going over to England by obtaining permission saying he was going to do some research in the British museum. To his advantage, the British treated him as a scholarly Christian Barrister rather than a national patriot. He was accompanied by George E. de Silva. In England, he was joined by Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan and later by Sir D.B Jayatilaka and they presented the memorandum to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, pleading for the repeal of martial law and describing the atrocities committed by the Police led by Dowbiggin. The mission was a success. The British government ordered the release of the leaders who were in detention. Several high officials were transferred. A new Governor, Sir John Anderson was sent to replace Sir Robert Chalmers with instructions to inquire and report to His Majesty's Government. E. W. Perera's effort was greatly appreciated and he was thereafter referred to as the Lion of Kotte.

-- E.W. Perera, by Wikipedia

A shortly time later while on a trip to Ceylon, Aleister Crowley paid him a visit and they shared a house together in Kandy called ‘Marlborough’. There Bennett taught him more advanced techniques of yoga and meditation in preparation for Ritual Magic. By this time his own yogic attainments were impressive and he was able to meditate for days at a time in Padmasana, the so-called “lotus posture,” which according to Crowley is extremely difficult to master. Crowley records one incident that happened in Kandy:

“When Allan was meditating, it was my duty to bring his food very quietly (from time to time) into the room adjoining that where he was working. One day he missed two successive meals and I thought I ought to look into his room to see if all was well. I must explain that I have known only two European women and three European men who could sit in the attitude called Padmasana, which is that usually seen in seated images of Buddha. Of these men, Allan was one. He could knot his legs so well that, putting his hands on the ground, he could swing his body to and fro in the air between them. When I looked into his room I found him, not seated on his meditation mat, which was in the centre of the room at the end farthest from the window, but in a distant corner ten or twelve feet off, still in his knotted position, resting on his head and right shoulder, exactly like an image overturned. I set him right way up and he came out of his trance. He was quite unconscious that anything unusual has happened. But he had evidently been thrown there by the mysterious forces generated by Pranayama.”

Crowley also notes that Bennett fed leeches every morning with his own blood, and could control their ability to penetrate his skin by controlling his breathing, or vital prana (“life force” or “life energy”)

By the end of 1901 Bennett determined to become a Buddhist monk and join a Sangha (a Buddhist monk community), but felt that Ceylon was not the right place for him to do so. Instead he traveled to Akyab (now Sittwe), located on the west coast of Burma (now Myanmar), and on the 12th December 1901 gave up all his personal possessions and joined the Theravada tradition of monks at the Buddhist monastery of Lamma Sayadaw Kyoung. There he received ordination as a sramanera (a novice) Bhikkhu (a male monastic monk) from Dr. Moung Tha Nu, taking the name Ananda Maitreya, later he changed his last name to Metteyya (a Pali meaning for “bliss of loving kindness”).

Crowley again visited Bennett in February 1902 and refers to him dressed in robes as: “.... seeming to be of gigantic height compared to the diminutive Burmese.” He also commented on the return of his troubling asthmatic affliction, and how his health had once again deteriorated due to a lack of proper medical attention and the damp cold air of his pre-dawn alms rounds. Bennett was determination to carry out the strict rules of the monastery, and as a new monk would not break any of the daily routines and accepted practices despite his increasing ill health.

Just six months later on the 21st May 1902 Bennett received upasampada (higher ordination as a full Bhikkhu) from the Ven. Sheve Bya Sayadaw, making him just the second person from the United Kingdom ever to be fully ordained as a Buddhist monk. He was now known as the “Venerable” (Ven.) Ananda Metteyya. The first person was an Irish-born Japanese Buddhist called Charles Pfoundes, born Charles James William Pounds to Irish Anglican parents in the South East of Ireland in 1840. In 1889 Pfoundes, led a Buddhist mission to London as a representative of the Japanese “Buddhist Propagation Society” founded in 1887, and after spending three years there promoting Buddhism, returned to Kobe, Japan in 1892, never again to return to Europe. He died there in 1907.

Charles Pfoundes

Following his higher ordination as a full Bhikkhu, Bennett (now the Ven. Ananda Metteyya) gave a speech to the assembled monks outlining his future goals and his mission to spread knowledge about Buddhism in the West. More particularly he wanted to create a Sangha in his home country England, UK. Bennett was later promoted to syadaw (a Pali word for a senior monk or abbot of a monastery) thus receiving the veneration of many devout Buddhists and acquiring a reputation as a distinguished holy man. Later he moved to another monastery in Rangoon (now Yangon in Myanmar), located about two miles from the city centre from where he began to plan his mission.

This is possibly (though not confirmed) where he moved to, the Shwezedi Monastery, a famous Theravada Buddhist monastery and one of the oldest in the world, which includes a gilded stupa known as the Great Dagon Pagoda.

In 1903 Bennett founded the “Buddhasasana Samagama” or “International Buddhist Society” with the aim of consolidating Buddhists all around the world. At the first meeting of the Society held on the 15th March 1903, the constitution and rules were implemented and officers elected. Bennett as Ven. Ananda Metteyya appears in the printed prospectus as the General Secretary, with Dr. E. R. Rost, a Westerner and member of the Indian Medical Service, as the Hon. Secretary. Later he produced a periodical called: Buddhism - An Illustrated Quarterly Review, edited by Bhikkhu Ananda Metteyya, the first volume of which was published on the 15th September 1903. While initially intended as a quarterly publication, only six issues of the Review were published between 1903 and 1908, this due mainly to his continuing health problems and apologies for delays appear in almost every issue.

Image Image
The first issue of Buddhism - An Illustrated Quarterly Review dated 15th September 1903

Thanks to donations from local Burmese people, issues of the Buddhism Review were sent out free to between 500 and 600 libraries across Europe and quickly established an intellectual readership. Through this Bennett was able to set-up a network of international contacts and scholars from all around the world who not only contributed to the Review, but also kept him up-to-date on latest developments in science, scholarship and politics effecting Buddhists in other countries. The International Buddhist Society also made ground with official representatives in Austria, Burma (Myanmar), Ceylon (Sri Lanka), China, Germany, Italy and America.

On the 03rd November 1907 a group of lay-Buddhists in England, UK, founded the “Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland”, and at it’s first meeting on the 26th November elected a Pali scholar T.W. Rhys-Davids as it’s President. This paved the way for Bennett to return to England on a visit and launch his mission to spread word about Buddhism in the West from his home country. Bennett arrived in England for a six-month visit on 23rd April 1908 accompanied with a number of supporters, then returned to Burma on the 02nd October, which was all the time allotted for his Mission.

During his visit and despite his frequent bouts of asthmatic incapacity, Bennett did much to grow membership in the Society by giving a considerable number of talks, lectures and presentations about Buddhism around the country, including one on the 10th June to the Blavatsky Lodge of the Theosophical Society. Many of his lectures were later reprinted as pamphlets, promoting Buddhism far and wide. One such entitled “The Training of the Mind” was also re-published in The Equinox, Aleister Crowley’s main magazine and the vehicle for his own religious teachings ‘Thelema’.

During his visit, Crowley had tried to rekindle his friendship with Bennett, which had dwindled as each travelled along separate spiritual paths. Since their last meeting in Burma in 1905, and while travelling across the China/Burma border, Crowley had experienced a powerful samadhi (a state of intense concentration achieved through meditation, which in yoga is regarded as the final stage at which union with the divine is reached). This had proved a catalyst to Crowley’s further spiritual work, and he had moved on rejecting Buddhism in favour of his own Hermetic Tradition called Thelema. Bennett however would have nothing to do with it, and is quoted as saying: “No Buddhist would consider it worthwhile to pass from the crystalline clearness of his own religion to this involved obscurity”. What caused their initial falling out is not known, but it is clear through his own autobiography that Crowley maintained a deep respect for his early teacher and mentor.

After Bennett returned to Burma where the climate was better than that of England, the régime of his monastic lifestyle continued to cause him difficulty. First, tradition dictated he could only eat before noon each day, which generally kept him physically weak. Secondly, he routinely ventured out into the cold damp air at 06am each morning to collect alms, which only exasperated his continuing asthmatic condition. Despite these difficulties he was adamant in maintaining the strict rules imposed by the monastery and continued to write and promote Buddhism worldwide.

In Burma for instance aided with the support of others, he was successful in getting Buddhism taught in schools as a main-line religion equal to Catholicism, and in 1911 published his first book on Buddhism called The Religion of Burma (1911, reprinted in 1929 by the Theosophical Publishing House as The Religion of Burma and Other Papers). He also, whenever he could, he would travel to give talks, presentations and lectures wherever he was invited. In May 1912 he travelled back to Sri Lanka where his long-time friend and supporter Dr. Cassius Pereira (later known as Ven. Kassapa Thera) was opening a new Hall dedicated to the teachings of Buddha, and which he named Maitriya Hall in Bennett’s honour. At the inauguration of the Hall, Pereira records that Bennett gave “several inspiring addresses.”

Dr. Cassius Pereir

Maitriya Hall

Bennett had hoped to return to England within two and half years and continue his mission to set up his own Sangha, but this was not to happen. Indeed his health had continued to deteriorate. To further complicate matters, in December 1913, Dr. E. R. Rost performed two operations on him to remove gallstones, although the operations were successful, they did little to improve his general health. As a result his doctors advised him to change his régime or leave Burma for a more suitable climate. After talking things through with his sister in the United States, it was decided then that he should leave the Sangha at the monastery and travel to sunny California where she could better take care of him.

Arrangements were made for him to meet his sister in the following year in England while she was there visiting with friends, and then travel back with her to California. So in May 1914 Bennett, who had just been awarded the appellation of Thera (a Pali word for Elder), disrobed and returned to England to meet up with his sister. Their plan then was to board a ship in Liverpool on the 12th September and travel on to California. However when they arrived, the ships Doctor refused to allow him on board, stating his health was so bad the American authorities would not allow him a landing permit on health grounds. His sister therefore travelled on without him.

Bennett, now an ex-Buddhist, was left stranded, sick and with no place to live or stay, he therefore had to call on the charitable help of the Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland, the same he had previously helped to promote on his last visit to England. Fortunately one member of the Liverpool Branch of the Society, a doctor, was able to take him in and for the next two years accommodated him and provided what medical care he needed.

By this time WW1 was escalating across Europe and as England continue to send troops into the conflict, austerity measures to support them deepened. As a result, the doctor in Liverpool could no longer afford to keep Bennett and so he returned to his old cheap accommodations in the slum areas of Southwark and Lambeth in London.

There he lived on supported by charity and donations received from friends in the British Buddhist Society, and other Buddhist overseas, particularly those in Burma and Sri Lanka who had heard about his plight.

Although at one stage his asthma attacks were occurring almost on a daily bases, by the winter of 1917 he was sufficiently improved as to give a series of six lecture presentations on Buddhism to a private selected audience gathered in the studio of Clifford Bax (a well known socially connected London writer, journalist, editor, playwright, poet and lyricist). Perhaps inspired by the lecture series, which were well received, when not incapacitated by his affliction, for Bennett they marked a return to his mission work, that of spreading and promoting Buddhism throughout the West and particularly in England.

Clifford Bax circa 1916

In 1918 he once again began to contribute to the Buddhist Review, which after his last visit to the UK in 1908, and being unable to manage his original Buddhism Review, the Society of Great Britain and Ireland had taken it over, renamed it slightly and continued to produce it as the main voice and vehicle of Buddhism worldwide. Later in 1920 he reassumed his role as the main editor of the Review, began speaking at meetings organised by the Society, and also became actively involved in their future plans.

But time was beginning to run out for Bennett as his health again deteriorated. The January 1922 edition of the Buddhist Review was to be the last that he edited, indeed it was also the last that was published. His final act was to see the publication of his new book containing the six lectures he had given during the winter of 1917/18. These he had extended with an additional large introduction to Buddhism, and an essay on Transmigration, thought to be one of the most difficult of Buddhist teachings to make clear to the Western mind. The new book called The Wisdom of the Aryas, was published just two months before he died.

Allan Bennett died of an intestinal blockage at around 05.00pm on the 09th March 1923, he was just 51 years of age. At the time of his death he is reported to have been living in poverty in a single rented room in a multi occupied property at 90 Eccles Road, Clapham Junction. With no money of his own to afford a proper burial, and to save him from a pauper’s grave, a donation was received from Sri Lanka (most likely from Dr. Cassius Pereira) to purchase a plot in Morden Cemetery, South London. Members of the Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland held a funeral service, which was officiated and prepared by Francis Payne, a convert from his earlier 1908 mission in England. After the service, flowers and incense were placed on the grave by a large gathering of other assembled members. Sadly however, no gravestone was ever erected in memorandum, so it remains today an unmarked grave.

90 Eccles Road, Clapham Junction

Morden Cemetery, South London (views today)

While no doubt the Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland who had looked out for Bennett’s well-being through his final years and organised his funeral service, would have received many tributes and condolences about the sad passing of their leader. One such that stands out and best sums-up their loss was written by his long-time friend and supporter in Sri Lanka, Dr Cassius Pereira, who wrote:

“And now the worker has, for this life, laid aside his burdens. One feels more glad than otherwise, for he was tired; his broken body could no longer keep pace with his soaring mind. The work he began, that of introducing Buddhism to the West, he pushed with enthusiastic vigour in pamphlet, journal and lecture, all masterly, all stimulating thought, all in his own inimitably graceful style. And the results are not disappointing to those who know.”

May he rest in peace.


The Confessions of Aleister Crowley - edited by John Symonds & Kenneth Grant 1969 (my edition Bantam Books 1971). ... ry/18.html ... allan.html ... an_Bennett ... irca-1903/

Plus so many others, way too many to mention.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2019 8:50 am

George Cecil Jones
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 10/18/19




George Cecil Jones, Jr. (10 January 1873 – 30 October 1960),[1]) was a British chemist, occultist, one time member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and co-founder of the magical order A∴A∴. According to author and occultist Aleister Crowley,[2] Jones lived for some time in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England, working at a metallurgy there.

Association with Aleister Crowley

Born in Croydon, Jones was educated at City of London School, Central Technical College and Birmingham University. He was the son of George Cecil Jones, Sr.[1] He studied analytical chemistry at Central Technical College in South Kensington and Birmingham University and became employed in the profession upon graduation. On 12 July 1895 he became a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. He is perhaps best known for the pivotal role he played in the life of British Aleister Crowley, stoking Crowley's youthful enthusiasm for magick. Jones introduced Crowley to the Golden Dawn, which Jones was a member of, going by the Latin magical motto Volo Noscere. On 25 January 1905, he married Ethel Melinda Baker at Balham. She was the sister of Golden Dawn member Julian Levett Baker, who had introduced Crowley to Jones. In 1906 Jones and Crowley would found the A∴A∴, taking some of the lessons from their experiences with the Golden Dawn as well as the teachings of Crowley's The Book of the Law, and incorporating them into their new order, which Crowley would head.

Jones would also contribute to Crowley's book of essays on and references for Qabalah, 777 and other Qabalistic writings. In 1911 he unsuccessfully sued a newspaper, the Looking Glass, for libellously associating him with Crowley.[3]

Little is known about his life except for his roles in the history of the Golden Dawn and as a friend and associate of Crowley. He retired as a chemist in 1939. In the 1950s Jones and his wife were living at 14 Elphinstone Road, Hastings. His wife died on 4 January 1952 at Hastings. He died on 30 October 1960 at St. Helens Hospital in Hastings. They had at least two children: Eileen Cecil Jones (b. 1906) and George Alan Jones (b. 1910).[4][5]


1. Who's Who in Science, 1913
2. Crowley, Aleister: The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, pg. 172
3. 'King's Bench Division. The Equinox. Jones v. The Looking Glass Publishing Company (Limited) and Others', The Times, 27 April 1911.
4. Van-Asten, Barry (20 March 2014). "George Cecil Jones". The Voice of Fire, Vol. I. No. 4. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
5. Davis, Sally (16 September 2014). "George Cecil Jones". Retrieved 7 February 2015.


• Aleister Crowley: His Contribution to the Western Mysteries
• Aleister Crowley in the Desert
• Crowley, Aleister: The Confessions of Aleister Crowley. Penguin, ch. 19, 20, 67, 76
• Sutin, Lawrence: Do What Thou Wilt. St. Martin's Press, 2000
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2019 8:59 am

Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 10/18/19



Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
Rose Cross of the Golden Dawn.
Successor: Alpha et Omega; Stella Matutina; Isis-Urania Temple; A∴A∴
Formation: 1887
Extinction: 1903
Type: Magical organization
Headquarters: London
Location: United Kingdom
Chiefs of the Second Order: William Wynn Westcott (1888-1897); Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers(1897-1903)

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (Latin: Ordo Hermeticus Aurorae Aureae; or, more commonly, the Golden Dawn (Aurora Aurea)) was a secret society devoted to the study and practice of the occult, metaphysics, and paranormal activities during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Known as a magical order, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was active in Great Britain and focused its practices on theurgy and spiritual development. Many present-day concepts of ritual and magic that are at the centre of contemporary traditions, such as Wicca[1][2] and Thelema, were inspired by the Golden Dawn, which became one of the largest single influences on 20th-century Western occultism.[3][4]

The three founders, William Robert Woodman, William Wynn Westcott and Samuel Liddell Mathers, were Freemasons. Westcott appears to have been the initial driving force behind the establishment of the Golden Dawn.

The Golden Dawn system was based on hierarchy and initiation like the Masonic lodges; however women were admitted on an equal basis with men. The "Golden Dawn" was the first of three Orders, although all three are often collectively referred to as the "Golden Dawn".
The First Order taught esoteric philosophy based on the Hermetic Qabalah and personal development through study and awareness of the four Classical Elements as well as the basics of astrology, tarot divination, and geomancy. The Second or "Inner" Order, the Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis (the Ruby Rose and Cross of Gold), taught magic, including scrying, astral travel, and alchemy. The Third Order was that of the "Secret Chiefs", who were said to be highly skilled; they supposedly directed the activities of the lower two orders by spirit communication with the Chiefs of the Second Order.


Cipher Manuscripts

Main article: Cipher Manuscripts

Folio 13 of the Cipher Manuscripts

The foundational documents of the original Order of the Golden Dawn, known as the Cipher Manuscripts, are written in English using the Trithemius cipher. The manuscripts give the specific outlines of the Grade Rituals of the Order and prescribe a curriculum of graduated teachings that encompass the Hermetic Qabalah, astrology, occult tarot, geomancy, and alchemy.

According to the records of the Order, the manuscripts passed from Kenneth R. H. Mackenzie, a Masonic scholar, to the Rev. A. F. A. Woodford, whom British occult writer Francis King describes as the fourth founder[5] (although Woodford died shortly after the Order was founded).[6] The documents did not excite Woodford, and in February 1886 he passed them on to Freemason William Wynn Westcott, who managed to decode them in 1887.[5] Westcott, pleased with his discovery, called on fellow Freemason Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers for a second opinion. Westcott asked for Mathers' help to turn the manuscripts into a coherent system for lodge work. Mathers in turn asked fellow Freemason William Robert Woodman to assist the two, and he accepted.[5] Mathers and Westcott have been credited with developing the ritual outlines in the Cipher Manuscripts into a workable format.[7] Mathers, however, is generally credited with the design of the curriculum and rituals of the Second Order, which he called the Rosae Rubae et Aureae Crucis ("Ruby Rose and Golden Cross" or the RR et AC).[8]

Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers in Egyptian setup performing a ritual in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

Founding of first temple

In October 1887, Westcott claimed to have written to a German countess and prominent Rosicrucian named Anna Sprengel, whose address was said to have been found in the decoded Cipher Manuscripts. According to Westcott, Sprengel claimed the ability to contact certain supernatural entities, known as the Secret Chiefs, that were considered the authorities over any magical order or esoteric organization. Westcott purportedly received a reply from Sprengel granting permission to establish a Golden Dawn temple and conferring honorary grades of Adeptus Exemptus on Westcott, Mathers, and Woodman. The temple was to consist of the five grades outlined in the manuscripts.[9][10]

In 1888, the Isis-Urania Temple was founded in London.[9] In contrast to the S.R.I.A. and Masonry,[10] women were allowed and welcome to participate in the Order in "perfect equality" with men. The Order was more of a philosophical and metaphysical teaching order in its early years. Other than certain rituals and meditations found in the Cipher manuscripts and developed further,[11] "magical practices" were generally not taught at the first temple.

For the first four years, the Golden Dawn was one cohesive group later known as "the Outer Order" or "First Order." An "Inner Order" was established and became active in 1892. The Inner Order consisted of members known as "adepts," who had completed the entire course of study for the Outer Order. This group of adepts eventually became known as the Second Order.[citation needed]

Eventually, the Osiris temple in Weston-super-Mare, the Horus temple in Bradford (both in 1888), and the Amen-Ra temple in Edinburgh (1893) were founded. In 1893 Mathers founded the Ahathoor temple in Paris.[9]

Secret Chiefs

Main article: Secret Chiefs

In 1891, Westcott's alleged correspondence with Anna Sprengel suddenly ceased. He claimed to have received word from Germany that she was either dead or that her companions did not approve of the founding of the Order and no further contact was to be made. If the founders were to contact the Secret Chiefs, apparently, it had to be done on their own.[9] In 1892, Mathers professed that a link to the Secret Chiefs had been established. Subsequently, he supplied rituals for the Second Order, calling them the Red Rose and Cross of Gold.[9] The rituals were based on the tradition of the tomb of Christian Rosenkreuz, and a Vault of Adepts became the controlling force behind the Outer Order.[12] Later in 1916, Westcott claimed that Mathers also constructed these rituals from materials he received from Frater Lux ex Tenebris, a purported Continental Adept.[13]

Some followers of the Golden Dawn tradition believe that the Secret Chiefs were not human or supernatural beings but, rather, symbolic representations of actual or legendary sources of spiritual esotericism. The term came to stand for a great leader or teacher of a spiritual path or practice that found its way into the teachings of the Order.[14]

Golden Age

By the mid-1890s, the Golden Dawn was well established in Great Britain, with over one hundred members from every class of Victorian society.[6] Many celebrities belonged to the Golden Dawn, such as the actress Florence Farr, the Irish revolutionary Maud Gonne, the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, the Welsh author Arthur Machen, and the English authors Evelyn Underhill and Aleister Crowley.

In 1896 or 1897, Westcott broke all ties to the Golden Dawn, leaving Mathers in control. It has been speculated that his departure was due to his having lost a number of occult-related papers in a hansom cab. Apparently, when the papers were found, Westcott's connection to the Golden Dawn was discovered and brought to the attention of his employers. He may have been told to either resign from the Order or to give up his occupation as coroner.[15] After Westcott's departure, Mathers appointed Florence Farr to be Chief Adept in Anglia. Dr. Henry B. Pullen Burry succeeded Westcott as Cancellarius—one of the three Chiefs of the Order.

Mathers was the only active founding member after Westcott's departure. Due to personality clashes with other members and frequent absences from the center of Lodge activity in Great Britain, however, challenges to Mathers's authority as leader developed among the members of the Second Order.[16]


Toward the end of 1899, the Adepts of the Isis-Urania and Amen-Ra temples had become dissatisfied with Mathers' leadership, as well as his growing friendship with Aleister Crowley. They had also become anxious to make contact with the Secret Chiefs themselves, instead of relying on Mathers as an intermediary.[17] Within the Isis-Urania temple, disputes were arising between Farr's The Sphere, a secret society within the Isis-Urania, and the rest of the Adepti Minores.[17]

Crowley was refused initiation into the Adeptus Minor grade by the London officials. Mathers overrode their decision and quickly initiated him at the Ahathoor temple in Paris on January 16, 1900.[18] Upon his return to the London temple, Crowley requested from Miss Cracknell, the acting secretary, the papers acknowledging his grade, to which he was now entitled. To the London Adepts, this was the final straw. Farr, already of the opinion that the London temple should be closed, wrote to Mathers expressing her wish to resign as his representative, although she was willing to carry on until a successor was found.[18] Mathers believed Westcott was behind this turn of events and replied on February 16. On March 3, a committee of seven Adepts was elected in London, and requested a full investigation of the matter. Mathers sent an immediate reply, declining to provide proof, refusing to acknowledge the London temple, and dismissing Farr as his representative on March 23.[19] In response, a general meeting was called on March 29 in London to remove Mathers as chief and expel him from the Order.[20]


In 1901, W. B. Yeats privately published a pamphlet titled Is the Order of R. R. & A. C. to Remain a Magical Order?[21] After the Isis-Urania temple claimed its independence, there were even more disputes, leading to Yeats resigning.[22] A committee of three was to temporarily govern, which included P.W. Bullock, M.W. Blackden and J. W. Brodie-Innes. After a short time, Bullock resigned, and Dr. Robert Felkin took his place.[23]

In 1903, A. E. Waite and Blackden joined forces to retain the name Isis-Urania, while Felkin and other London members formed the Stella Matutina. Yeats remained in the Stella Matutina until 1921, while Brodie-Innes continued his Amen-Ra membership in Edinburgh.[24]


Once Mathers realised that reconciliation was impossible, he made efforts to reestablish himself in London. The Bradford and Weston-super-Mare temples remained loyal to him, but their numbers were few.[25] He then appointed Edward Berridge as his representative.[26] According to Francis King, historical evidence shows that there were "twenty three members of a flourishing Second Order under Berridge-Mathers in 1913."[26]

J.W. Brodie-Innes continued leading the Amen-Ra temple, deciding that the revolt was unjustified. By 1908, Mathers and Brodie-Innes were in complete accord.[27] According to sources that differ regarding the actual date, sometime between 1901 and 1913 Mathers renamed the branch of the Golden Dawn remaining loyal to his leadership to Alpha et Omega.[28][29][30][31] Brodie-Innes assumed command of the English and Scottish temples, while Mathers concentrated on building up his Ahathoor temple and extending his American connections.[29] According to occultist Israel Regardie, the Golden Dawn had spread to the United States of America before 1900 and a Thoth-Hermes temple had been founded in Chicago.[27][29] By the beginning of the First World War in 1914, Mathers had established two to three American temples.

Most temples of the Alpha et Omega and Stella Matutina closed or went into abeyance by the end of the 1930s, with the exceptions of two Stella Matutina temples: Hermes Temple in Bristol, which operated sporadically until 1970, and the Smaragdum Thallasses Temple (commonly referred to as Whare Ra) in Havelock North, New Zealand, which operated regularly until its closure in 1978.[32][33]

Structure and grades

Much of the hierarchical structure for the Golden Dawn came from the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, which was itself derived from the Order of the Golden and Rosy Cross.[34]

First Order

• Introduction—Neophyte 0=0
• Zelator 1=10
• Theoricus 2=9
• Practicus 3=8
• Philosophus 4=7
• Intermediate—Portal Grade

Second Order

• Adeptus Minor 5=6
• Adeptus Major 6=5
• Adeptus Exemptus 7=4

Third Order

• Magister Templi 8=3
• Magus 9=2
• Ipsissimus 10=1

The paired numbers attached to the Grades relate to positions on the Tree of Life. The Neophyte Grade of "0=0" indicates no position on the Tree. In the other pairs, the first numeral is the number of steps up from the bottom (Malkuth), and the second numeral is the number of steps down from the top (Kether).

The First Order Grades were related to the four elements of Earth, Air, Water, and Fire, respectively. The Aspirant to a Grade received instruction on the metaphysical meaning of each of these Elements and had to pass a written examination and demonstrate certain skills to receive admission to that Grade.

The Portal Grade was an "Invisible" or in-between grade separating the First Order from the Second Order.[35]

Known or alleged members

• Sara Allgood (1879–1950), Irish stage actress and later film actress in America
• Charles Henry Allan Bennett (1872–1923), best known for introducing Buddhism to the West
• Arnold Bennett (1867–1931), British novelist[36]
• Arthur Edward Waite (2 October 1857 – 19 May 1942) Mystic
• Edward W. Berridge (ca. 1843–1923), British homeopathic physician[1]:148–149
• Algernon Blackwood (1869–1951), English writer and radio broadcaster of supernatural stories[37]
• Anna de Brémont, American-born singer and writer.[38]
• Dario Carpaneda (1856 - 1916) Italian occultist and esotericism professor at the University of Lausanne.
• Paul Foster Case was not an original member of the Golden Dawn, but was a member of the successor organization, Alpha et Omega. He was an American occultist
• Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), author of Sherlock Holmes, doctor, scientist, and spiritualist.[39]
• Aleister Crowley (1875–1947), occultist, writer and mountaineer, founder of his own magical society.
• Florence Farr (1860–1917), London stage actress and musician[37]
• Robert Felkin (1853–1925), medical missionary, explorer and anthropologist in Central Africa, author
• Dion Fortune was not an original member of the Golden Dawn, rather a member of the offshoot Golden Dawn order the Stella Matutina. Dion Fortune Founded the Society of Inner Light.
• Frederick Leigh Gardner (1857–1930), British stock broker and occultist; published three-volume bibliography Catalogue Raisonné of Works on the Occult Sciences (1912)[40]
• Maud Gonne (1866–1953), Irish revolutionary, actress.
• Annie Horniman (1860–1937), British repertory theatre producer and pioneer; member of the wealthy Horniman family of tea-traders[37]
• Arthur Machen (1863–1947), leading London writer of the 1890s, author of acclaimed works of imaginative and occult fiction, such as "The Great God Pan", "The White People" and "The Hill of Dreams". Welsh by birth and upbringing.
• Gustav Meyrink (1868–1932), Austrian author, storyteller, dramatist, translator, banker, and Buddhist
• E. Nesbit (1858–1924), real name Edith Bland; English author and political activist
• Israel Regardie was not a member of the original Golden Dawn, but rather of the Stella Matutina, which he claimed was as close to the original order as could be found in the early 1930s (when he was initiated). Regardie wrote many respected and acclaimed books about magic and the Golden Dawn Order, including The Golden Dawn, The Tree Of Life, Middle Pillar, and A Garden of Pomegranates.
• Sax Rohmer, novelist, creator of the Fu Manchu character
• Charles Rosher (1885–1974), British cinematographer
• William Sharp (1855–1905), poet and author; alias Fiona MacLeod
• Pamela Colman Smith (1878–1951), British-American artist and co-creator of the Rider-Waite Tarot deck
• Bram Stoker[41][42] (1847–1912), Irish writer best-known today for his 1897 horror novel Dracula
• John Todhunter (1839–1916), Aktis Heliou Irish poet and playwright who wrote seven volumes of poetry, and several plays
• Violet Tweedale (1862–1936), author.
• Evelyn Underhill (1875–1941), British Christian mystic, author of Mysticism: A Study in Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness
• Charles Williams (1886–1945), British poet, novelist, theologian, and literary critic
• W. B. Yeats (1865–1939), Irish poet, dramatist and writer.

Contemporary Golden Dawn orders

While no temples in the original chartered lineage of the Golden Dawn survived past the 1970s,[32][33] several organizations have since revived its teachings and rituals. Among these, the following are notable:

• The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Inc.
• The Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn
• The Fellowship of the Golden Dawn
• Golden Dawn Collegium Spiritu Sancti
• Golden Dawn Universum
• Golden Dawn Ancient Mystery School
• The Ordo Stella Matutina
• Sodalitas Rosae+Crucis et Solis Alati
• Orden Hermética de la Aurora Dorada
• Ordem Esotérica da Aurora Dourada no Brasil
• Hermetic Society of the Golden Dawn
• August Order of the Mystic Rose
• Order of the Golden Dawn in the Outer

See also

• A∴A∴
• Hermeticism
• Tattva
• Tattva vision


1. Colquhoun, Ithell (1975) The Sword of Wisdom: MacGregor Mathers & the Golden Dawn. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.
2. Phillips, Julia (1991) History of Wicca in England: 1939 - present day. Lecture at the Wiccan Conference in Canberra, 1991.
3. Jenkins, Phillip (2000) Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History, pg. 74. "Also in the 1880s, the tradition of ritual magic was revived in London by a group of Masonic adepts, who formed the Order of the Golden Dawn, which would prove an incalculable influence on the whole subsequent history of occultism." USA: Oxford University Press.
4. Smoley, Richard (1999) Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions, ppg 102-103. "Founded in 1888, the Golden Dawn lasted a mere twelve years before it was shattered by personal conflicts. At its height it probably had no more than a hundred members. Yet its influence on magic and esoteric thought in the English-speaking world would be hard to overestimate." USA: Quest Books.
5. King, 1989, page 42-43
6. King, 1989, page 47
7. Golden Dawn researcher R. A. Gilbert has found evidence which suggests that Westcott was instrumental in developing the Order's rituals from the Cipher Manuscripts. See Gilbert's article, From Cipher to Enigma: The Role of William Wynn Westcott in the Creation of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, from Carroll Runyon's book Secrets of the Golden Dawn Cypher Manuscripts.
8. Regardie, 1993, page 92
9. King, 1989, page 43
10. Regardie, 1993, page 11.
11. King, 1997, page 35
12. King, 1989, page 44
13. King, 1989, page 46
14. Penczak, Christopher. Spirit Allies, p. 27. Red Wheel/Weiser Books. ISBN 1-57863-214-5
15. King, 1989, page 48
16. Raine, Kathleen (1976) [1972]. Liam Miller (ed.). Yeats, the Tarot and the Golden Dawn. New Yeats Papers. II (second ed.). Dublin: Dolmen Press. p. 6.
17. King, 1989, page 66
18. King, 1989, page 67
19. King, 1989, page 68-69
20. King, 1989, page 69
21. Melton, J. Gordon, editor, Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, v. 2 p. 1327, Gale Group, 2001 ISBN 0-8103-9489-8
22. King, 1989, page 78
23. King, 1989, page 94
24. King, 1989, pages 95-96
25. King, 1989, page 109
26. King, 1989, page 110
27. Regardie, 1993, page 33
28. King, 1971, p. 110-111
29. King, 1989, page 111
30. "The Golden Dawn ceased to exist by that name after October, 1901, replaced by Mathers' Alpha et Omega and the London group’s Order of the Morgan Rothe. No longer associated with the SRIA after 1902, Mathers continued to oversee a few temples until his death, when his wife, Moina, assumed supervision." Samuel Liddel MacGregor Mathers biography, Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon, February 26, 2001
31. Golden Dawn Time Line, Chic Cicero and Sandra Tabatha Cicero, Llewellyn Encyclopedia
32. Gilbert, R. A. Golden Dawn Companion. Aquarian Press, 1986. ISBN 0-85030-436-9
33. Llewellyn Encyclopedia: "Golden Dawn Time Line"
34. The masonic career of A.E. Waite by Bro. R. A. Gilbert
35. Golden Dawn Research Center - What is the Golden Dawn?
36. Regardie, 1982, page 16
37. Regardie, 1982, foreword - page ix
38. Moyle, Franny (2011). Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs Oscar Wilde. Hachette UK. p. 118. ISBN 9781848544611.
39. ... iritualism
40. "Frederick Leigh Gardner", Biographies: Fringe freemasons, Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon (Freemasons) web site. Retrieved November 2008.
41. Ravenscroft, Trevor (1982). The occult power behind the spear which pierced the side of Christ. Red Wheel. p. 165. ISBN 0-87728-547-0.
42. Picknett, Lynn (2004). The Templar Revelation: Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ. Simon and Schuster. p. 201. ISBN 0-7432-7325-7.


• Fra. A.o.C. (2002). A Short Treatise on the History, Culture and Practices of The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Retrieved August 3, 2007.
• Armstrong, Allan & R. A. Gilbert, eds. (1997). Golden Dawn: The Proceedings of the Golden Dawn Conference, London - 1997. Hermetic Research Trust.
• Cicero, Chic and Tabatha Cicero (1991). The New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications. ISBN 0-87542-139-3
• Colquhoun, Ithell (1975). Sword of Wisdom: Macgregor Mathers and the Golden Dawn. Neville Spearman. ISBN 0-85435-092-6.
• Denisof, Dennis. "The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn." BRANCH: Britain, Representation and Nineteenth-Century History. 2013. ... -1888-1901.
• Greer, Mary K. (1994). Women of the Golden Dawn. Park Street. ISBN 0-89281-516-7.
• Greer, Mary K. & Darcy Kuntz (1999) The Chronology of the Golden Dawn. Holmes Publishing Group. ISBN 1-55818-354-X
• Gilbert, Robert A. (1983). The Golden Dawn: Twilight of the Magicians. The Aquarian Press. ISBN 0-85030-278-1
• Gilbert, Robert A. (1986). The Golden Dawn Companion. Weiser Books. ISBN 0-85030-436-9
• Gilbert, Robert A. Golden Dawn Scrapbook - The Rise and Fall of a Magical Order. Weiser Books (1998) ISBN 1-57863-037-1
• Howe, Ellic (1978). The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: A Documentary History of a Magical Order 1887-1923. Samuel Weiser. ISBN 0-87728-369-9.
• Jenkins, Phillip (2000) Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-512744-7
• King, Francis (1971). The Rites of Modern Occult Magic. New York: Macmillan Company. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 76-158-933
• King, Francis (1989). Modern Ritual Magic: The Rise of Western Occultism. ISBN 1-85327-032-6
• King, Francis, ed. (1997). Ritual Magic of the Golden Dawn: Works by S. L. MacGregor Mathers and Others. Destiny Books. ISBN 0-89281-617-1
• Kuntz, Darcy, ed. (1996). The Complete Golden Dawn Manuscript. Introduction by R.A. Gilbert. Deciphered, Translated and Preface by Darcy Kuntz. (Golden Dawn Studies No 1.) Holmes Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1558183254
• Regardie, Israel, et al., eds. (1982). The Golden Dawn. Llewellyn Publications. ISBN 0-87542-664-6
• Israel Regardie|Regardie, Israel, et al., eds. (1989). The Golden Dawn: A Complete Course in Practical Ceremonial Magic. Llewellyn. ISBN 0-87542-663-8
• Regardie, Israel (1993). What You Should Know About the Golden Dawn (6th ed.). ISBN 1-56184-064-5
• Runyon, Carroll (1997). Secrets of the Golden Dawn Cipher Manuscripts. C.H.S. ISBN 0-9654881-2-8
• Smoley, Richard (1999). Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions. Quest Books. ISBN 978-0-8356-0844-2
• Suster, Gerald (1990). Crowley's Apprentice: The Life and Ideas of Israel Regardie. Weiser Books. ISBN 0-87728-700-7
• Wasserman, James (2005). The Mystery Traditions: Secret Symbols and Sacred Art. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books. ISBN 1-59477-088-3

External links

• The Golden Dawn FAQ (original from 1990s Usenet groups)
• The Golden Dawn Library Project
• Golden Dawn entries in Llewellyn Encyclopedia
• Golden Dawn Tradition, by co-founder Dr. W. Wynn Westcott
• Photocopies and the translation of the original Cipher Manuscripts
• Lots of GD material on display in Yeats exhibition including Ritual Notebooks.
• The Golden Dawn Roll Call
• Golden Dawn at Curlie
• Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn: Biographies of Members
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 10/18/19



Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers
Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, in Egyptian costume, performs a ritual of Isis in the rites of the Golden Dawn
Born: Samuel Liddell Mathers, 8 or 11 January 1854, Hackney, London, England
Died: 5 or 20 November 1918 (aged 64), Paris[1]
Residence: Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk
Nationality: British
Alma mater: Bedford School
Occupation: Occultist, Known for Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
Spouse(s): Moina Mathers
Parent(s): William M. Mathers

Samuel Liddell (or Liddel) MacGregor Mathers (8 or 11 January 1854 – 5 or 20 November 1918), born Samuel Liddell Mathers, was a British occultist. He is primarily known as one of the founders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a ceremonial magic order of which offshoots still exist today.

Early life

Mathers was born on 8 or 11 January 1854 in Hackney, London, England. His father, William M. Mathers, died while he was still a boy. His mother, whose maiden name was Collins, died in 1885. He attended Bedford School, subsequently working in Bournemouth, Dorset, as a clerk, before moving to London following the death of his mother.

His wife was Moina Mathers (née Mina Bergson), sister of the philosopher Henri Bergson.


Mathers added the "MacGregor" surname as a claim to Highland Scottish heritage, although there is little evidence of such in his family background. He was a practising vegetarian, or (according to some accounts) vegan, an outspoken anti-vivisectionist, and a non-smoker. It is known that his main interests were magic and the theory of war, his first book being a translation of a French military manual.[2] He became more and more of an eccentric towards his later years, as was noted by W. B. Yeats.[3]


Mathers was introduced to Freemasonry by a neighbour, alchemist Frederick Holland, and was initiated into Hengist Lodge No.195 on 4 October 1877. He was raised as a Master Mason on 30 January 1878. In 1882 he was admitted to the Metropolitan College of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia as well as a number of fringe Masonic degrees. Working hard both for and in the SRIA he was awarded an honorary 8th Degree in 1886, and in the same year he lectured on the Kabbalah to the Theosophical Society. He became Celebrant of Metropolitan College in 1891 and was appointed as Junior Substitute Magus of the SRIA in 1892, in which capacity he served until 1900. He left the order in 1903, having failed to repay money which he had borrowed.[4]

Upon the death of William Robert Woodman in 1891, Mathers assumed leadership of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. He moved with his wife to Paris on 21 May 1892.[3] After his expulsion from the Golden Dawn in April 1900, Mathers formed a group in Paris in 1903 called Alpha et Omega (its headquarters, the Ahathoor Temple).[5] Mathers choosing the title "Archon Basileus".[6]


Mathers was a polyglot; among the languages he had studied were English, French, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Gaelic and Coptic, though he had a greater command of some languages than of others. His translations of such books as The Book of Abramelin (14thC.), Christian Knorr von Rosenroth's The Kabbalah Unveiled (1684), Key of Solomon (anonymous 14thC.), The Lesser Key of Solomon (anonymous 17thC.), and the Grimoire of Armadel (17thC.), while probably justly criticised with respect to quality, were responsible for making what had been obscure and inaccessible material widely available to the non-academic English speaking world. They have had considerable influence on the development of occult and esoteric thought since their publication, as has his consolidation of the Enochian magical system of John Dee and Edward Kelley.


In addition to many supporters, he had many enemies and critics. One of his most notable enemies was one-time friend and pupil Aleister Crowley, who portrayed Mathers as a villain named S.R.M.D. in his 1917 novel Moonchild.

At the Turk's entrance he rose clumsily, then fell back into his chair. He was more than half intoxicated.

Akbar took the chair opposite to him. "We couldn't get it," he said; in a whisper, though there was nobody within earshot. "Oh, Dr. Balloch, Dr. Balloch! do try to understand! It was impossible. We tried all sorts of ways."

The doctor's voice had a soft suavity. Though a licensed physician, he had long since abandoned legitimate practice, and under the guise of homeopathy pursued various courses which would have been but ill-regarded by more regular practitioners.

His reply was horrible, uttered as it was in feline falseness, like a caress. "You foul ass!" he said. "I have to take this up with S.R.M.D., you know! What will he say and do?"

"I tell you I couldn't. There was an old man there who spoilt everything, in my idea."

"An old man?" Dr. Balloch almost dropped his hypocritical bedside voice in his rage. "Oh curse, oh curse it all!" He leant over to the Turk, caught his beard, and deliberately pulled it. There is no grosser insult that you can offer to a Mussulman, but Akbar accepted it without resentment. Yet so savage was the assault that a sharp cry of pain escaped him.

You dog! you Turkish swine!" hissed Balloch. "Do you know what has happened? S.R.M.D. sent a Watcher -- a bit of himself, do you understand what that means, you piece of dirt? -- and it hasn't returned. It must have been killed, but we can't find out how, and S.R.M.D. is lying half dead in his house. You pig! Why didn't you come with your storry at once? I know now what is wrong."

"You know I don't know your address," said the Turk humbly. "Please, oh please, leave go of my beard!"

Balloch contemptuously released his victim -- who was a brave enough man in an ordinary way, and would have had the blood of his own Sultan, though he knew that the guards would cut him to pieces within the next ten seconds, for the least of such words as had been addressed to him. But Balloch was his Superior in the Black Lodge, which rules by terror and by torture; its first principle was to enslave its members. The bully Balloch became a whimpering cur at the slightest glance of the dreaded S.R.M.D.....

The mystery of S.R.M.D.'s personality and abode were shrouded in the blackest secrecy. Akbar had but the vaguest ideas of the man; he was a formless ideal of terrific power and knowledge, a sort of incarnated Satan, the epitome of successful iniquity. The episode of the "Watcher" had not diminished the chief's prestige in his eyes; it was evidently an "accident"; S.R.M.D. had sent out a patrol and it had been ambushed by a whole division, as it were. So trivial a "regrettable incident" was negligibly normal.

Akbar had no thought but of S.R.M.D. as a Being infinitely great in himself; he had no conception of the price paid by the members of the Black Lodge. The truth is, that as its intimates advance, their power and knowledge becomes enormously greater; but such progress is not a mark of general growth, as it is in the case of the White Brotherhood; it is like a cancer, which indeed grows apace, but at the expense of the man on whom it feeds, and will destroy both him and itself in the long run. The process may be slow; it may extend over a series of incarnations; but it is sure enough. The analogy of the cancer is a close one; for the man knows his doom, suffers continual torture; but to this is added the horrible delusion that if only the disease can be induced to advance far enough, all is saved. Thus he hugs the fearful growth, cherishes it as his one dearest possession, stimulates it by every means in his power. Yet all the time he nurses in his heart an agonizing certainty that this is the way of death.

Balloch knew S.R.M.D. well; had known him for years. He hoped to supplant him, and while he feared him with hideous and unmanly fear, hated him with most hellish hatred. He was under no delusion as to the nature of the Path of the Black Lodge. Akbar Pasha, a mere outsider, without a crime on his hands as yet, was a rich and honoured officer in the service of the Sultan; he, Balloch, was an ill-reputed doctor, living on the fears of old maids, on doubtful and even criminal services to foolish people from the supply of morphia to the suppression of the evidence of scandal, and on the harvest of half-disguised blackmail that goes with such pursuits. But he was respectability itself compared to S.R.M.D.

This man, who called himself the Count Macgregor of Glenlyon, was in reality a Hampshire man, of lowland Scottish extraction, of the name of Douglas. He had been well educated, became a good scholar, and developed an astounding taste and capacity for magic. For some time he had kept straight; then he had fallen, chosen the wrong road. His powers had increased at a bound; but they were solely used for base ends. He had established the Black Lodge far more firmly than ever before, jockeyed his seniors out of office by superior villainy, and proceeded to forge the whole weapon to his own liking. He had had one terrible set-back.

Cyril Grey, when only twenty years of age, a free-lance magician, had entered the Lodge; for it worked to attract innocent people under a false pretence of wisdom and of virtue. Cyril, discovering the trick, had not withdrawn; he had played the game of the Lodge, and made himself Douglas's right-hand man. This being achieved, he had suddenly put a match to the arsenal.

The Lodge was always seething with hate; Theosophists themselves might have taken lessons from this exponent; and the result of Cyril's intervention had been to disintegrate the entire structure. Douglas found his prestige gone, and his income with it. Addiction to drink, which had accompanied his magical fall, now became an all-absorbing vice. He was never able to rebuild his Lodge on its former lines; but those who thirsted for knowledge and power and these he still possessed in ever increasing abundance as he himself decayed -- clung to him, hating and envying him, as a young ruffian of the streets will envy the fame of some robber or murderer who happens to fill the public eye.

It was with this clot of perverse feelings that Balloch approached the Rue Quincampoix, one of the lowest streets in Paris, and turned in at the den where Douglas lodged.

S.R.M.D. was lying on a torn soiled sofa, his face white as death; a mottled and empurpled nose, still showing trace of its original aggressive and haughty model, alone made for colour. For his eyes were even paler than the doctor's. In his hand was a bottle half full of raw whisky, with which he was seeking to restore his vitality.

"I brought you some whisky," said Balloch, who knew the way to favour.

"Put it down, over there. You've got some money."

Balloch did not dare to lie. S.R.M.D. had spotted the fact without a word.

Only a cheque. You shall have half to-morrow when I've cashed it."

"Come here at noon.

Despite the obvious degradation of his whole being, S.R.M.D. was still somebody. He was a wreck, but he was the wreck of something indubitably big. He had not only the habit of command, but the tone of fine manners. In his palmy days he had associated with some very highly placed people. It was said that the Third Section of the Russian Police Bureau had once found a use for him.

-- Moonchild, by Aleister Crowley

According to Crowley's memoirs, The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, Mathers was in the habit of ostensibly playing chess matches against various pagan gods. Mathers would set up the chessboard and seat himself behind the white pieces, with an empty chair opposite him. After making a move for himself, Mathers would then shade his eyes and peer towards the empty chair, waiting for his opponent to signal a move. Mathers would then move a black piece accordingly, then make his next move as white, and so forth. Crowley did not record who won.

Earlier, Crowley wrote in his Confessions that: "As far as I was concerned, Mathers was my only link with the Secret Chiefs to whom I was pledged. I wrote to him offering to place myself and my fortune unreservedly at his disposal; if that meant giving up the Abra-Melin Operation for the present, all right."[7]

The Book of Abramelin tells the story of an Egyptian mage named Abraham (pronunciation: (ɛ́jbrəham)), or Abra-Melin, who taught a system of magic to Abraham of Worms, a Jew in Worms, Germany, presumed to have lived from c.1362–c.1458. The system of magic from this book regained popularity in the 19th and 20th centuries partly due to Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers' translation, The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage; and partly to its importance within the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and later within the mystical system of Thelema (created in 1904 by Aleister Crowley).

Due to trust issues, Mathers used the least-reliable manuscript copy as the basis for his translation, and it contains many errors and omissions. The later English translation by Georg Dehn and Steven Guth, based on the earliest and most complete sources, is more scholarly and comprehensive. Dehn attributed authorship of The Book of Abramelin to Rabbi Yaakov Moelin (Hebrew יעקב בן משה מולין; ca. 1365–1427), a German Jewish Talmudist. This identification has since been disputed.

-- The Book of Abramelin, by Wikipedia


Mathers died on 5 or 20 November 1918 in Paris. The manner of his death is unknown; his death certificate lists no cause of death. Violet Firth claimed his death was the result of the Spanish influenza of 1918. While this seems likely, few facts are known about Mathers's private life and thus verification of such claims is difficult.

See also

• The Book of Abramelin
• Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
• List of occultists
• Mathers table
• William Robert Woodman


1. Nevill Drury, The Dictionary of the Esoteric, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 2004, p. 208.
2. S. L. MacGregor Mathers, Practical Instruction in Infantry Campaigning Exercise, Translated from the French ( London: City of London Publishing Co., 1884); cited in Christopher McIntosh, The Rosicrucians: The History, Mythology and Rituals of an Occult Order, page 111 (second revised edition, Crucible, 1987). ISBN 978-1852740252
3. William Butler Yeats, The Collected Works of W.B. Yeats, Volume III: Autobiographies, pages 452–453 (edited by William O'Donnell and Douglas N. Archibald, New York: Scribner, 1999 edition). ISBN 0-684-80728-9
4. History of the SRIA, T M Greenshill, MBE, published 2003
5. "Samuel Liddel MacGregor-Mathers", accessed 17 February 2007.
6. John Michael Greer, The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies and Hidden History, page 28 (HarperElement, 2006). ISBN 978-0-00-722068-7
7. Crowley, Aleister. The Confessions of Aleister Crowley. p. 194.

External links

• Biography from
• Biography from the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn
• Biography from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Inc.
• The Truth about S.L. MacGregor Mathers

Works at the Internet Sacred Text Archive

• The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage
• The Kabbalah Unveiled
• The Key of Solomon The King
• The Lesser Key of Solomon
• The Tarot

Published Works

• 2018 — The Tarot — Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers Edition by Eduardo Filipe Freitas ISBN 1986104028
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