Mohini Mohun Chatterjee was a Master Kuthumi's disciple in probation, and was also one of the most prominent Hindu members of the early Theosophical Society.
(Note: you can know more about Mohini's life and his work as a disciple: here) later I'll put it.
In 1882, he wrote an article telling the story he heard by a Tibetan merchant and later by a young Hindu priest, who claimed to have seen Master Kuthumi in person.
And the Mohini's article was published in 1883 in the Theosophist (which is the official magazine of the Theosophical Society in Adyar) with the title:
THE HIMALAYAN BROTHERS—DO THEY EXIST?
« "Ask and it shall be given unto you; knock and it shall be opened," — this is an accurate representation of the position of the earnest inquirer as to the existence of the Mahatmas. I know of none who took up this inquiry in right earnest and were not rewarded for their labors with knowledge, certainty.
In spite of all this there are plenty of people who carp and cavil but will not take the trouble of proving the thing for themselves.
Both by Europeans and a section of our own countrymen (the too Europeanized graduates of Universities) the existence of the Mahatmas is looked upon with incredulity and distrust, to give it no harder name.
The position of the Europeans is easily intelligible, for these things are so far removed from their intellectual horizon, and their self-sufficiency is so great, that they are almost impervious to these new ideas.
But it is much more difficult to conceive why the people of India, who are born and brought up in an atmosphere redolent with the traditions of these things, should affect such scepticism.
It would have been more natural for them, on the other hand, to hail such proofs as those I am now laying before the public with the same satisfaction as an astronomer feels when a new star, whose elements he has calculated, swims within his ken.
I myself was a thorough-going disbeliever only two years back. In the first place I had never witnessed any occult phenomena myself, nor did I find any one who had done so in that small ring of our countrymen for whom only I was taught to have any respect — the “educated classes.”
It was only in the month of October, 1882, that I really devoted any time and attention to this matter, and the result is that I have as little doubt with respect to the existence of the Mahatmas as of mine own.
I now know that they exist. But for a long time the proofs that I had received were not all of an objective character. Many things which are very satisfactory proofs to me would not be so to the reader. On the other hand, I have no right to speak of the unimpeachable evidence I now possess. Therefore I must do the best I can with the little I am permitted to give.
~ * ~
In the present paper I have brought forward such evidence as would be perfectly satisfactory to all capable of measuring its probative force. The evidence now laid before the public was collected by me during the months of October and November, 1882, and was at the time placed before some of the leading members of the Theosophical Society, Mr. Sinnett among others.
The account of Brother Ramaswamier's interview with his Master in Sikkhim being then ready for publication (see link), there was no necessity, in their opinion, for the present paper being brought to light.
But since an attempt has been made in some quarters to minimize the effect of Mr. Ramaswamier's evidence by calling it most absurdly "the hallucinations of a half-frozen strolling Registrar,"
I think something might be gained by the publication of perfectly independent testimony of, perhaps, equal, if not greater, value, though of quite a different character.
With these words of explanation as to the delay in its publication, I resign this paper to the criticism of our sceptical friends. Let them calmly consider and pronounce upon the evidence of the Tibetan pedlar at Darjeeling, supported and strengthened by the independent testimony of the young Brahmachari [a Hindu priest] at Dehradun.
Those who were present when the statements of these persons were taken, all occupy very respectable positions in life — some in fact belonging to the front ranks of Hindu Society, and several in no way connected with the Theosophical movement, but, on the contrary, quite unfriendly to it.
In those days I again say I was rather sceptical myself. It is only since I collected the following evidence and received more than one proof of the actual existence of my venerated master, Mahatma Kuthumi, whose presence (quite independently of Madame Blavatsky, Colonel Olcott or any “alleged” Chela) was made evident to me in a variety of ways, that I have given up the folly of doubting any longer.
Now I believe no more — I KNOW; and knowing, I would help others to obtain the same knowledge.
TESTIMONY OF A TIBETAN MERCHANT
During my visit to Darjeeling I lived in the same house with several Theosophists, all as ardent aspirants for the higher life, and most of them as doubtful with regard to the Himalayan Mahatmas as I was myself at that time.
I met at Darjeeling persons who claimed to be Chelas of the Himalayan Brothers and to have seen and lived with them for years. They laughed at our perplexity.
One of them showed us an admirably executed portrait of a man who appeared to be an eminently holy person, and who, I was told, was the Mahatma Kuthumi (now my revered master), to whom Mr. Sinnett's “Occult World” is dedicated.
A few days after my arrival, a Tibetan pedlar of the name of Sundook accidentally came to our house to sell his things. Sundook was for years well-known in Darjeeling and the neighborhood as an itinerant trader in Tibetan knick-knacks, who visited the country every year in the exercise of his profession.
He came to the house several times during our stay there, and seemed to us, from his simplicity, dignity of bearing and pleasant manners, to be one of Nature's own gentlemen.
No man could discover in him any trait of character even remotely allied to the uncivilized savages, as the Tibetans are held in the estimation of Europeans. He might very well have passed for a trained courtier, only that he was too good to be one.
He came to the house while I was there. On the first occasion he was accompanied by a Goorkha youth, named Sundar Lall, an employee in the Darjeeling News office, who acted as interpreter. But we soon found out that the peculiar dialect of Hindi which he spoke was intelligible to some of us without any interpreter, and so there was none needed on subsequent occasions.
On the first day we put him some general questions about Tibet and the Gelugpa sect, to which he said he belonged, and his answers corroborated the statements of Bogle, Turnour and other travelers.
On the second day we asked him if he had heard of any persons in Tibet who possessed extraordinary powers besides the great lamas. He said there were such men; that they were not regular lamas, but far higher than they, and generally lived in the mountains beyond Tchigatze and also near the city of Lhasa.
These men, he said, produce many and very wonderful phenomena or “miracles,” and some of their Chelas, or Lotoos, as they are called in Tibet, cure the sick by giving them to eat the rice which they crush out of the paddy with their hands, etc.
Then one of us had a glorious idea. Without saying one word, the above-mentioned portrait of the Mahatma Kuthumi was shown to him.
He looked at it for a few seconds, and then, as though suddenly recognizing it, he made a profound reverence to the portrait, and said it was the likeness of a Chohan (Mahatma) whom he had seen.
Then he began rapidly to describe the Mahatma's dress and naked arms; then suiting the action to the word, he took off his outer cloak, and baring his arms to the shoulder, made the nearest approach to the figure in the portrait, in the adjustment of his dress.
He said he had seen the Mahatma in question accompanied by a numerous body of Gylungs, about that time of the previous year (beginning of October 1881) at a place called Giansi, two days' journey southward of Tchigatze, whither the narrator dad gone to make purchases for his trade.
On being asked the name of the Mahatma, he said to our unbounded surprise:
- "They are called Koothum-pa."
Being cross-examined and asked what he meant by “they,” and whether he was naming one man or many, he replied that the Koothum-pas were many, but there was only one man or chief over them of that name; the disciples being always called after the names of their guru. Hence the name of the latter being Koot-hum, that of his disciples was “Koot-hum-pa.”
Light was shed upon this explanation by a Tibetan dictionary, where we found that the word “pa” means “man;” “Bod-pa” is a “man of Bod or Thibet,” etc. Similarly Koothum-pa means man or disciple of Koothoom or Koothoomi [Kuthumi].
At Giansi, the pedlar said, the richest merchant of the place went to the Mahatma, who had stopped to rest in the midst of an extensive field, and asked him to bless him by coming to his house. But the Mahatma replied, he was better where he was, as he had to bless the whole world, and not any particular man.
The people, and among them our friend Sundook, took their offerings to the Mahatma, but he ordered them to be distributed among the poor. Sundook was exhorted by the Mahatma to pursue his trade in such a way as to injure no one, and warned that such was the only right way to prosperity.
On being told that people in India refused to believe that there were such men as the Brothers in Tibet, Sundook offered to take any voluntary witness to that country, and convince us, through him, as to the genuineness of their existence, and remarked that if there were no such men in Tibet, he would like to know where they were to be found.
It being suggested to him that some people refused to believe that such men existed at all, he got very angry. Tucking up the sleeve of his coat and shirt, and disclosing a strong muscular arm, he declared that he would fight any man who would suggest that he had said anything but the truth.
On being shown a peculiar rosary of beads belonging to Madame Blavatsky, the pedlar said that such things could only be got by those to whom the Tesshu Lama presented them, as they could be got for no amount of money elsewhere.
When the Chela who was with us put on his sleeveless coat and asked him whether he recognized the latter's profession by his dress, the pedlar answered that he was a Gylung and then bowing down to him took the whole thing as a matter of course.
The witnesses in this case were Babu Nobin Krishna Bannerji, deputy magistrate, Berhampore, M.R. Ry. Ramaswamiyer Avergal, district registrar, Madura (Madras), the Goorkha gentleman spoken of before, all the family of the first-named gentleman, and the writer.
TESTIMONY OF A YOUNG BRAHMACHARI
Now for the other piece of corroborative evidence. This time it came most accidentally into my possession. A young Bengali Brahmachari, who had only a short time previous to our meeting returned from Tibet and who was residing then at Dehradun, in the North-Western Provinces of India, at the house of my grandfather-in-law, the venerable Babu Devendra Nath Tagore of the Brahmo Samaj.
Devendra Nath Tagore was
a famous Hindu philosopher and religious reformer
In the conversation, the young Brahmachari gave most unexpectedly, in the presence of a number of respectable witnesses, the following account:
On the 15th of the Bengali month of Asar last (1882). being the 12th day of the waxing moon, he met some Tibetans, called the Koothoompas, and their guru in a field near Taklakhar, a place about a day's journey from the Lake of Manasarawara.
The Master and most of his disciples, who were called gylungs, wore sleeveless coats over under-garments of red. The complexion of the Master was very fair, and his hair, which was not parted but combed back, streamed down his shoulders.
When the Brahmachari first saw the Mahatma he was reading in a book, which the Brahmachari was informed by one of the gylungs was the Rig Veda.
The Master saluted him, and asked him where he was coming from. On finding the latter had not had anything to eat, the Master commanded that he should be given some ground gram (Sattoo) and tea.
As the Brahmachari could not get any fire to cook food with, the guru asked for, and kindled a cake of dry cow-dung (the fuel used in that country as well as in this) by simply blowing upon it, and gave it to our Brahmachari.
The latter assured us that he had often witnessed the same phenomenon, produced by another guru or chohan, as they are called in Tibet, at Gauri, a place about a day's journey from the cave of Tarchin, on the northern side of Mount Kailas.
(And this feat of being able to ignite something by simply blowing on it, humans can do it when they learn to control the spirits of the elements, and in particular the salamanders that are the spirits that handle fire.)
The keeper of a flock, who was suffering from rheumatic fever, came to the guru, who gave him a few grains of rice, crushed out of paddy, which the guru had in his hand, and the sick man was cured then and there.
Before he parted company with the Koothumpas and their guru, the Brahmachari found that they were going to attend a festival held on the banks of the Lake of Manasarovar, and that thence they intended to proceed to the Kailas Mountains.
The above statement was on several occasions repeated by the Brahmachari in the presence (among others) of Babu Dwijender Nath Tagore of Jorasanko, Calcutta; Babu Cally Mohan Ghose of the Trigonometrical Surcey of India, Dehradun; Babu Cally Cumar Chatterij of the same place; Babu Gopi Mohan Ghosh of Dacca; Babu Priya Nath Sastri, clerk to Babu Devender Nath Tagore, and the writer.
Here is the map with the different cities and regions that the two testimonies mentioned so that you can have a clearer vision of the events.
Lake Manasarovar and Mount Kailash
Comments would here seem almost superfluous, and the facts might very well have been left to speak for themselves to a fair and intelligent jury. But the averseness of people to enlarge their field of experience and the willful misrepresentation of designing persons know no bounds.
The nature of the evidence here adduced is of an unexceptional character. Both witnesses were met quite accidentally.
Even if it be granted, which we certainly do not for a moment grant, that the Tibetan pedlar, Sundook, had been interviewed by some interested person, and induced to tell an untruth, what can be conceived to have been the motive of the Brahmachari, one belonging to a religious body noted for their truthfulness, and having no idea as to the interest the writer took in such things, in inventing a romance, and how could he make it fit exactly with the statements of the Tibetan pedlar at the other end of the country?
Uneducated persons are no doubt liable to deceive themselves in many matters, but these statements dealt only with such disunited facts as fell within the range of the narrator's eyes and ears, and had nothing to do with his judgment or opinion.
Thus, when the pedlar's statement is coupled with that of the Dehradun Brahmachari, there is, indeed, no room left for any doubt as to the truthfulness of either.
It may here be mentioned that the statement of the Brahmachari was not the result of a series of leading questions, but formed part of the account he voluntarily gave of his travels during the year, and that he is almost entirely ignorant of the English language, and had, to the best of my knowledge, information and belief, never even so much as heard of the name of Theosophy.
Now, if any one refuses to accept the mutually corroborative but independent testimonies of the Tibetan pedlar of Darjeeling and the Brahmachari of Dehradun on the ground that they support the genuineness of facts not ordinarily falling within the domain of one's experience, all I can say is that it is the very miracle of folly.
It is, on the other hand, most unshakably established upon the evidence of several of his Chelas, that the Mahatma Kuthumi is a living person like any of us, and that moreover he was seen by two persons on two different occasions.
This will, it is to be hoped, settle for ever the doubts of those who believe in the genuineness of occult phenomena, but put them down to the agency of "spirits." Mark one circumstance.
It may be argued that during the pedlar's stay at Darjeeling, Madame Blavatsky was also there, and, who knows, she might have bribed him (!!) into saying what he said. But no such thing can be urged in the case of the Dehradun Brahmachari.
He knew neither the pedlar nor Madame Blavatsky, had never heard of Colonel Olcott, having just returned from his prolonged journey, and had no idea that I was a Fellow of the Society.
His testimony was entirely voluntary. Some others, who admit that Mahatmas exist, but that there is no proof of their connection with the Theosophical Society, will be pleased to see that there is no a priori impossibility in those great souls taking an interest in such a benevolent Society as ours.
Consequently it is a gratuitous insult to a number of self-sacrificing men and women to reject their testimony without a fair hearing.
I purposely leave aside all proofs which are already before the public. Each set of proofs is conclusive in itself, and the cumulative effect of all is simply irresistible. »
(Theosophist, December, 1883, Vol. V, p.83-85)
As happened with the other disciples, Mohini M. Chatterjee received also letters from his Master, and several of them were later compiled and published in a book entitled: “Letters of the Masters of Wisdom”, 2nd series, Ed.TPH, 1926.
And it is interesting to note that in one of these letters, Master Kuthumi wrote him the following:
« I want you, my dear boy, to write an account for the Theosophist of what the pedlar said, and the Dehra Brahmacharia. Make it as strong as you can, and have all the witnesses at Darjeeling and Dehradun. But the name is written Kuthoompa (disciples of Kut-hoomi) tho' pronounced Kethoomba. »
This letter is dated on November 1882, and we can see that it was Master Kuthumi who asked his disciple to elaborate that article to spread more evidence to people about his existence.
And that is because for hidden reasons, when humans reach a certain initiation, although they continue to live on Earth, they can no longer live with the other people, and have to separate themselves from the rest of humanity and they can no longer be publicly shown to others.
And this is the reason why the Trans-Himalayan Masters can no longer be shown publicly to prove their existence, and the exception to this rule are the Messiahs (as was Jesus, Buddha, etc.) who cyclically show themselves to the public to relight the spiritual flame in the world (when it starts to fade too much).
Now, some will ask:
How did Master Kuthumi know what his disciple Mohini had heard?
And the answer is because the Masters have their faculties very developed and they can read the brain of the people and know everything about that person: what he has lived, what he has felt, thought and experienced.
And there are several people who have witnessed this phenomenon in their communication with the Masters.
For example, the Russian writer Vsevolod Solovioff mentions that a letter from Master Kuthumi materialized within a book he held in his hand and when he was away from any person, and in that letter the Master gave him very clear and precise answers to the questions he had previously asked.
Another example is the researcher Franz Hartmann, who pointed out that he received a letter from Master Morya advising him on a very personal matter that Mr. Hartmann had in San Francisco and which he had not mentioned to anyone.
And there are more testimonies similar to these.
For the reasons explained by Mohini, his article was published a year later, and in between, a Hindu also heard the Bramachari tell that story and wrote to the Theosophical Society to ask if its leaders knew anything about it.
And the letter of this Hindu was also published in the same edition in which the article by Mohini was published, with the title:
EXISTENCE OF THE HIMALAYAN MAHATMAS
by Preo Nath Bannerjee
« Bareilly, 15th November, 1883. Vakil, High Court.
In May or June last, a young Bengali Brahmachari happened to pass through this station on his way to Almora. During his stay here he put up in the house of an up-country gentleman where I met him to hear his discourses on Vedantic Philosophy and Hinduism in general.
He kindly called on me and then at our request narrated certain incidents of his travels to Mânasa-sarovara and back. One of them was very remarkable. He said that on his way back from Kailas he met a party of Sadhus. They were resting in a small tent which they had pitched for their accommodation. He went amongst them to beg for some food, as he had taken none since two or three days excepting leaves of trees and grass.
He saw an elderly Sadhu engaged in reading the Vedas whom he took to be the chief. On enquiring the name of this Sadhu he was told by some that his name was Kauthumpa, and by others as Kauthumi.
He waited till this gentleman had finished his reading and after the exchange of the customary greetings the sadhu ordered his chelas to give some foot to our Brahmachari.
A chela brought a piece of dried cow-dung and placed it before his guru who breathed on it and it was lighted.
The Brahmachari waited there for an hour or two and during this interval he saw one or two persons suffering from some disease or other coming there for treatment. The chief gave them some rice after breathing upon it; they ate of it and walked away cured.
I forgot to tell you that the Brahmachari had been to Mânasa-sarovara in 1882.
Are we to understand that the Kauthumi or Kauthumpa whom this Brahmachari saw somewhere near Kailas is the same personage who is now known as Koothumi, one of the Himalayan Brothers?
If this be so, then we have the testimony of an uninterested person who saw him in his living body!
I may mention to you that this Brahmachari told us he never heard of Theosophy or of the Himalayan Brothers till he returned to the plains. He is a young man about 24 years old and knows English but imperfectly.
He is a Chela of the Almora Swami with whom he is now studying Sanskrit and we saw him again at Almora at the end of October last.
He is not a Theosophist and in fact his views and those of his guru who are pronounced Vedantists do not agree with those of the Theosophists. So, in all respects, he is an uninterested witness.
He is publishing an account of his travels in a Bengali Magazine called the Bharati published at Calcutta and edited by Babu Dijendra Nath Tagore. I believe he will give details of his interview with this Sadhu, whom he heard called as Kauthumpa, in that Magazine.
He told us that he saw several persons at, and near Mânasa-sarovara (there being a great gathering there that year on account of the Kumbhuk Mela) who could light fuel by breathing upon it.
At Mânasa-sarovara he met a Chohan Lama but there were several of this name. Your Note on the above is kindly solicited. »
(Theosophist, Vol. V, December, 1883, p.98-99)
And Blavatsky put below this letter, an editorial note where she clarified this matter:
« EDITOR’S NOTE. —This new and unexpected testimony comes this moment, as we are correcting the proofs of Brother Mohini M. Chatterjee’s evidence about the same Brahmachari.
We had it from him 14 months ago, but, at the advice of Mr. Sinnett, withheld it from publication at the time. Evidently our Bareilly Brothers have not heard, as we have, of this first account now published by us on pages 83 et seq.
If this is not an independent and strong testimony in our favor, then we do not know that any more proofs can be given. Whether the “elderly” looking “Kauthumpa” as the Brahmachari calls the sadhu seen by him is our Mahatma Koothumi or not (we doubt this, for he is not “elderly” looking) it is shown at any rate that there are men known by the name of Kauthumpa (or the disciples, lit. men, of Koothumi) in Tibet, whose master’s name must, therefore, be Koothumi, and that we have not invented the name.
Our Mahatma does not look “elderly” whatever his age may be, and most probably the person seen by the Brahmachari was Ten-dub Ughien (the lama next to our Mahatma and the chief and guide of his chelas on their travels). He is an elderly man and a great book-worm.
The polemics that have taken place on these pages some months back between the venerable Almora Swami and our Brother T. Subba Row during which the Swami came down in his wrath upon the innocent editor—are a good warrant that neither the respected Sadhu of the Almora Hills nor his pupil would be likely to corroborate us, unless they could not help it. Still, the Brahmachari may have seen quite a different person.
There are in Tibet many spiritual groups, and one of these is the group of the Kah-dâm-pa — a name bearing a close resemblance to that of Kauthumpa. There are among the former many learned lamas and adepts, but they are not our Mahatmas, who belong to no sect. »
(Theosophist, Vol. V, December, 1883, p.98-99)
However the letter that Mohini received from Master Kuthumi and that I mentioned above, makes me suppose that it is most likely that it was the group of disciples of Kuthumi with whom the young Brahmachari met.
And already to end this investigation, later the Brahmachari upon discovering that his story had been published in the Theosophist magazine, he sent a letter to the Theosophical Society where he personally described that experience that he had had, and that story was published in the edition of August 1884, which you can read here.