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                            HALF-HOURS WITH FAMOUS

                               MAHATMAS.  No. 1


YOGI MAHATMA SRI AGAMYA PARAMAHAMSA GURU SWAMIJI is a certain Punjabi lala,
who, on account of his tremendous voice and ferocious temper, has well earned
for himself the name of The Tiger Mahatma.
   My first acquaintance with His Holiness was in November 1906, when he paid
his second visit to England.  I had seen his name in the daily press, but
before calling upon him, I had read up what I could about him in his book:
"Sri Brahma Dhara," in the preface of which he is praised as follows:
   "He seeks to do good, he accepts money from no one, and lives a very
simple, pure life ... I ... was much impressed by his great breadth of mind,
his sweet charity, and his loving kindness for every living thing. ... These
teachings ... breath love and kindness, and dwell upon the joys of pure clean
living."
   Forewarned is to be forearmed, and I had read the same type of "puff" on
many a patent pill box!
   On entering 70, Margaret Street I was shown upstairs and ushered into the
den of Tiger Sri Agamya.  Besides himself, there were three people in the
room, two men and {284} a woman, and as I entered one of the men, an American,
was saying:
   "O Mahatma!  I haven't the faith, I can't get it!"
   To which His Holiness roared out:
   "You sheep are! ... I no want sheep! ... tigers I make ... tigers tear up
sheep, go away! ... no good, get intellect ... get English! ... no more!!"
   The three then departed, and I was left alone with the Blessed One.
Neither of us spoke for about ten minutes, then at length, after a go or two
at his snuff-box, he gave a loud grunt, to which I replied in a solemn voice:
   "O Mahatma, what is Truth?"
   "No Truth!  All illusion," he answered, "I am that Master, you become my
disciple; I show you all things; I lead you to the ultimate reality ... the
supreme stage of the highest ... the infinite Ultimatum ... the unlimited
omniscience of eternal Wisdom --- All this I give you if you have faith in
me."
   As faith is exceedingly cheap in this country, I offered him unlimited
oceans of it; and at this he seemed very please, and laughed:
   "Ha! ha!  You make good tiger cub ... you tear sheep up ... all is
illusion!"  Then after a pause: "De vouman," pointing to the door, "is no
good!"  And the, without further hesitation, he entered upon a veritable Don
Juan description of his earthly adventures.  This I thought strange of so
sober-minded a saint, and so put to him several questions concerning the
Vedanta Philosophy, and its most noted exponents, to see what he really did
know.
   "Do you know Swami Vivekananda?" I asked. {285}
   Ha, he replied, "he no good, he my disciple, I am the master!"
   "And Swami Dayanand Sarasvati?"  I continued.  The same answer was vouched
to me, although this latter teacher had died at the age of seventy, forty yeas
ago.  Thinking it about time to change the conversation, I said:
   "O Thou Shower from the Highest!  Tell thy grovelling disciple what then "is"
a
'lie'?"
   "Ha!" he replied, "it is illusion, this truth that has been diverged from
its real point ... an illusive spring in the primo-genial fermentation of
'fee-no-me-non,' in this typo-cosmy apparent to the sense which you call 'de
Vurld'!!!"
   With this, and promises of oceans of blissful reality from the highest
eternality of ultimate ecstasy, he bade me sit in a chair and blow alternately
through my nostrils; and, if I had faith, so he assured me, I should in six
months' time arrive at the supreme stage of the Highest in the infinite
Ultimatum, and should burst as a chance illusively fermented bubble in the
purest atmosphere of the highest reality.
   The next occasion on which I saw the Mahatma was at a business meeting of
his disciples held at 60, South Audley Street.  His Holiness called them
tiger-cubs, nevertheless seldom have I seen such a pen full of sheep.  A man
from Ilfracombe proposed this, and a man from Liverpool second that; at last a
London plumber arose, and with great solemnity declared: Gintlemen, hi taik
hit 'is 'oliness his really 'oly, hin fact gintlemen hi taik hit 'e his Gawd;
... hand so hi proposes the very least we can do for 'im his to subscribe
yearly towards 'im folve shillins!" ("'ear, 'ear" from a comrade in the
corner).  However, the sheep wouldn't have it, and the {286} little man sat
down to ruminate over lead piping, and solder at twopence a stick.
   During the summer of '07 I had little time to waste at number 60, and had
almost forgotten about the Mahatma, who, so I had been told, had let England
for America, when I received a card announcing his return, and asking me to be
present at a general meeting.
   This I did, and as usual was more than bored.  After business was over the
Mahatma entered the room, all his sheep locking round him to seek the turnips
of his wisdom.  On these occasions he would ask questions and select subjects
upon which his disciples were supposed to write essays.  One of these, I can
still remember, was: "How to help the helpless hands"; another was: "What is
dis-satisfaction, and what is true satisfaction?"  And the answer was: "Love
fixed on mortal things, without the knowledge of its source, increases
vibration and creates dissatisfaction ('mortal things' is good!)."
   In his book, "Sri Brahma Dhara,"  which contains some of the most
astonishing balderdash ever put in print, may be found his philosophy.  This
is a stewed-up hash of Yoga, Vedanta, and outrageous verbosity.  "Love," he
writes, "is the force of the magician Maya, and is the cause of all disorder"
(it seems to be so even in his exalted position).  "This force of love --- in
the state of circumgyration in the extended world --- is the cause of all
mental movements towards the feeling of easiness or uneasiness: but the mind
enjoys eternal beatitude with perfect calmness, when the force of love is
concentrated over the unlimited extension of silence" ('silence' is really
choice!).    {287}
   "Virtue," he defines as: "the bent of mind towards self-command" (and
evidently practises it).  His morals are good; but his scientific conceptions
really "take the cake!"  "there are three kinds of animate creations in the
world," he writes: "They are the creations from (1) the womb; (2) Eggs; (3)
Perspiration. ..."  Another gem: "how is it that some of the bodies are male
and some are female?"  Answer: "If the male seed preponderates, a male body is
produced; and if female, a female.  While, when both are equally proportioned,
an eunuch is born"(!)
   At one of his male meetings --- there were also female ones; but mixed
bathing in the ocean of infinite bliss was not allowed --- he related to us
his pet story, of how he had "flumoxed" the chief engineer and the captain of
the liner which had brought him back from America.
   He informed them that coal and steam were absurd; what you want, he said,
is to have two large holes made in the sides of you ship, then the air will
blow into them and turn the wheels, and make the ship go.  When the captain
pointed out to him, that if a storm were to arise the water might possibly
flow into the ship and sink it, he roared out, "No! no! ... get English! ...
get intellect! see! see! de vind vill fill de ship and blow it out of de vater
and take it across over de vaves!" --- Since this now becomes public property
there probably will be a slump in turbines!

   It was towards the close of last October, when I received from a friend of
mine --- also a so-called disciple --- a letter in which he wrote: "There was
a devil of a row at 60 last night.  M: pressed me to come to his weekly
entertainments; so I {288} came.  He urged me to speak; so I spoke.  He then
revealed his divine self in an exceptionally able manner; I refrained from
revealing mine.  His divine self reminded one rather of a 'Navvy's Saturday
Night, by Battersea Burns.'"  He further urged me to go and see the Mahatma
himself on the following Sunday; and this I did.
   I arrived at 60, South Audley Street at seven o'clock.  There were already
about twenty sheepish-looking tigers present, and when the Mahatma entered the
room, I sat down next to him; for, knowing, in case a scrimmage should occur,
that a Hindoo cannot stomach a blow in the spleen, I thought it wisest to be
within striking distance of him.
   The Mahatma opened the evening's discussion by saying: "Humph ... I am
Agnostic, you are believers.  I say 'I don't know,' you contradict me."  And
during the next hour and a half more Bunkum was talked in that room that I
should say in Exeter Hall during the whole course of the last century.  At
last it ended, and though I had made various attempts to draw His Holiness
into argument, I had as yet failed to unveil his divinity.  He now started
dictating his precious philosophy, and in such execrable English, that it was
quite impossible to follow him, and I once or twice asked him to repeat what
he had said, and as I did so I noticed that several of the faithful shivered
and turned pale.  At length came the word "expectation" or "separation," and
as I could not catch which, I exclaimed "what?"
   "You pig-faced man!" shouted His Holiness, "you dirty fellow, you come here
to take away my disciples ... vat you vant vith this: vat! vat! vat! vat! ...
You do no exercise, else you understand vat I say, dirty man!"  And then
turning to {289} his three head bell-wethers who were sitting at a separate
table he sneered:
  "X----" (my friend present at the previous revelation of his divinity) "Send
this pig-one ... eh?"
   "I don't know why ..." I began.
   "Grutch, butch!" he roared, "you speak to me, you co-eater! ... get
intellect," he yealled, "get English," he bellowed, and up he sprang from the
table.
   As I did not wish to be murdered, for he had now become a dangerous maniac,
I rose, keeping my eyes on him, and taking up my hat and stick, which I had
purposely placed just behind me, I quietly passed round the large table at
which his terror-stricken fold sat gaping, and moved towards the door.
   The whole assembly seemed petrified with fear.  At first the Bless‚d One
appeared not to realize what had happened, so taken aback was he by any one
having the audacity to leave the room without his permission: then he
recovered himself, and at the top of his tiger-roar poured out his curses in
choicest Hindustani.
   On reaching the door I opened it, and then facing him I exclaimed in a loud
voice in his native tongue:

               "Chup raho! tum suar ke bachcha ho!"

   With gleaming eyes, and foaming lips, and arms flung wildly into the air,
--- there stood the Indian God, the 666th incarnation of Haram Zada, stung to
the very marrow of his bones by this bitterest insult.  Beside himself with
fury he sprang up, murder written on every line of his face; tried to leap
across the table --- and fell in an epileptic fit.  As he did so, I shut the
door in his face.
                            Aum.                    SAM HARDY.    {290}