The article by T. Subba Row Garu in the July Theosophist will be read with great interest by all Theosophists, not only because it is from his pen, but also because of the article previously written on the same subject by Col. Olcott, and called "Indian Sybilline Books." The difference between the two is, that Col. Olcott gave some extremely interesting details of a particular seance he had with a certain holder of nadigranthams. It is not stated whether the latter was the same person with whom Mr. Subba Row made his investigations in Black Town, Madras. [I have found the name of the visitor who was with our celebrated brother by the aid of a certain kind of nadi I myself possess.]* The matters gone into in the July paper only relate to the investigation, and while they are clearly given, and seem to show conclusively that the Black Town gentleman is imposing on his public, yet they dispose only of that particular set of Nadis. It is by no means proved that no nadi is trustworthy and that at no time could they be relied on. I insist that the only conclusion to be drawn from Brother Subba Row's paper is that the Mint Street Operator has been effectually disposed of.
*I give here, not to be printed, the name of his friend. It was -------- The Editor will say if I am correct at foot of this note. (J.) [Our correspondent has given the name correctly. -- EDITOR, The Theosophist.]
Now if we have any confidence in Col. Olcott, as certainly we have, then we know that in the instance given by him in The "Sybilline Books" he got hold of a genuine nadi. But even if he had in fact been imposed upon by one who previous to the appointment procured all needed facts, even that does not go any further than that particular instance. It still remains to be proved that the thing which the man in Black Town pretended to do could never be done.
Can, then, books or leaves be made or procured which may be used in the way pretended? I say that they can, and that there are two or more modes of doing it.
In the first place when Col. Olcott saw his man, if the latter had the faculty of prevision or the proper amount of clairvoyance, he could have given all the details related quite easily with the aid of a few figures, letters, or verses.
But, far better still, it is possible to cast up certain astrological figures to be used in certain days and hours, and for certain classes of questions from which a large number of replies and predictions can be given, that would startle the average hearer, and be true not only to the past but also to the future. And it is not an art that is so very difficult that it would take a man a very long time to learn it in order to be able to answer questions.
A large number of leaves could be prepared which would enable one to make replies to any kind of questions at once. Of course by saying at once, I mean at that particular sitting when the question was asked. They might be made ready for one week, or a month, or a year, or even a series of years; and it is very easy to understand why after say five years they must be changed, and also why after a whole precession of the equinoxes they would require further change -- or become altogether useless.
The mode of preparing them, even if I could speak authoritatively upon it, is altogether too long to be gone into here, further than to say that it would be in accordance with certain astrological methods. Certain "houses of the heavens" must be arranged and filled in the proper way, and any one who has studied astrology will know that at the end of a solar year another set of prepared leaves would have to be used. It would be merely the using of well-known astrological rules, and instead of waiting for each question to be asked, to have ready set the houses of the heavens for a great number of hours in the day. If I had fixed upon the hour of 5 a.m. for rising, and knew my breakfast hour and the hour on which I commenced to hear questions, it would be easy enough to have ready all the astrological figures needed.
That by means of these figures predictions can be made there is no doubt. I can prove it by hundreds of instances. I will take two of a recent date.
When I was in Adyar in 1884, the question arose whether Mr. Damodar would go away at a certain time stated. Some thought he would and others that he would not. A figure for this question was erected and showed that he would not go at the time supposed, and for a certain reason. As for the reason we must leave that to him. But the fact was, that he did not go away for months after the time which had been fixed by some for his departure.
The other instance was in Paris in 1884, when a figure upon similar rules was set up regarding some letters just received from the now notorious Coulomb family. Plainly the figure said that there was a conspiracy going on in that charming circle; that it would all be suddenly discovered, and that it would come to nothing. Everything came out as predicted, notwithstanding that several Theosophists will differ from me on the latter point.
In the use of nadigranthams each sitting begins at a certain moment in time and continues a certain number of hours. Were I the reader, or nadigrantham maker, I should make say one set for the year 1885 to be used only at particular hours. Of course, then, I would never give an audience except near those hours. But if I thought it likely that I would want a greater quantity, or if I wished to be ready more quickly, then I would prepare sets fit to be used every fifteen minutes. Or, in other words, I would have ready set for use the horary astrological figures for every change of the celestial houses.
If in addition to this I knew certain mantrams, those could also be used, and thus I should have a complete and fairly reliable set of nadis.
Now then, and further, I maintain that anciently Indian astrologers had a vast quantity of astrological books and charts, and could predict the future and detail the past much better than we can. Why is it so strange that they might have devoted some time to the preparation of sets of nadigranthams on a far more elaborate and scientific plan than has been outlined?
In this utilitarian age the question is always asked, "what is the use" of anything that does not increase our wealth or add to the material comfort of the race? But considerations such as these do not, and never should, deter a philosopher from using no matter how much time in the pursuit of what seems to be a portion of truth. The ancient Indians did not hesitate because the preparation of elaborate systems apparently was not of much use or consumed much time. And I maintain, believing there are many who will support me, that the astrologers of those times knew far more than we do about these subjects, and could predict the events of a certain day or number of days with certainty. If this could be done for one day, there exists no reason why it should not be done for days to come in periods of time centuries in the future.
As to the use of the nadigranthams prepared by such astrologers only in and for certain definite districts, there can be found a perfect consonance with rules. It is well settled that parallels of latitude are subject each to different influences, and a nadigrantham set up for the city of Calcutta would not do for the city of Madras. In that case therefore there is nothing superstitious in the statement that such and such nadis must only be used in certain districts and in no others.
I cannot find in all this any strain upon faith or reason, and I maintain that real nadigranthams exist in India, and perhaps in other parts of the world. Quite likely some spurious ones are used by charlatans, who trust to luck and knowledge of human nature to enable them to earn their fees. But who has the custody of the real ones?
WILLIAM Q. JUDGE
[From The Theosophist, Vol. VII, October, 1885, pp. 50-53]