In Search of Morya

In Search of Morya is excerpted from “Strain at a Gnat, Swallow a Camel,” published in 1997 in The Neural Surfer, on online journal edited by David Christopher Lane. Below is a 2023 reformatted condensation of the section on Ranbir Singh, Maharaja of Kashmir. (In recognition of editorial and authorial integrity, I have not gone back and revised anything excerpted from published works, just share relevant passages verbatim from the 1997 text.)

Caves and Jungles of Hindustan portrays an adept called “Gulab-Singh” as the chief sponsor and companion of the TS Founders in their Indian travels; he is the Rajput ruler of a small native state, called a Thakur in most references but a raja and prince in others.  In a letter to Prince Dondukov-Korsakov, HPB identifies Gulab-Singh as Morya.  Her tales of meeting him in London in her youth, which appear in Caves and Jungles and HPB Speaks, are variations on similar stories about Morya appearing elsewhere.  Ranbir Singh was the most important Rajput ruler who sponsored and supported the TS Founders in their travels and activities; his father was named Gulab Singh. In Old Diary Leaves Olcott describes Caves and Jungles as heavily fictionalized, but also describes Gulab-Singh as a real adept known to him and HPB.  He gives no indication that Gulab-Singh and Morya are the same person, unlike the HPB letter cited above. 

According to Isis Unveiled, HPB visited Ranbir Singh’s kingdom in her youthful travels, passing from Kashmir to Leh, Ladakh (part of his domain).  She calls Ladakh “central Tibet” which suggests that as of 1877 her familiarity with Tibet was quite limited.

In an entry in Olcott’s diary, HPB noted that Edward Wimbridge had brought her a copy of the London Illustrated News which contained “Holkar’s and Some One’s portrait, among others.”  The volume containing a portrait of Maharaja Holkar of Indore, a TS sponsor, also contains a portrait of Maharaja Ranbir Singh of Kashmir, among those of other native rulers. Ranbir Singh is the only one with major ties to the TS, which suggests that he was “Some One.”  HPB’s reverence and evasiveness indicate that she is referring to some important Master figure that she is reluctant to name in the diary.

HPB’s least-known book The Durbar in Lahore gives a lengthy, detailed description of Ranbir Singh and his entourage.  It portrays the main objective of her and Olcott’s trip to Lahore as meeting Ranbir and some Punjabi Sikhs including Maharaja Bikram Singh of Faridkot.

In the preface to Isis Unveiled HPB refers to “influential correspondents” in Kashmir and other places, indicating that there was some connection with important persons in that kingdom prior to her departure from New York for India.

In a letter from K.H. to Sinnett, Ranbir Singh is called “the prince first on the programme” for support of the Phoenix newspaper venture that was to be edited by Sinnett under the Masters’ guidance.

In May 1883, a supplement in The Theosophist described a visit to Jammu by supporters of the Indian Patriotic Association, who had an audience with Ranbir Singh and his sons.  Among them was “D. Nath Bawaji,” the alleged chela with multiple aliases; Ranbir Singh treated him with special hospitality and warmth.  After the death of Ranbir Singh, Bawaji (usually spelled Babaji) rebelled against HPB and disappeared from Theosophical history.

In a letter to Sinnett, HPB says that Ranbir Singh “sent for” Olcott to visit him in the Fall of 1883, and that K.H. ordered him to go to a certain pass.  Thus Olcott’s travel plans were being guided jointly by the orders of Ranbir Singh and K.H., according to HPB.

In his Old Diary Leaves description of his stay in Jammu, Olcott describes Ranbir in extremely favorable terms, as a “thoughtful Vedantin, well acquainted with philosophical systems” who “fully believed in the existence of living Mahatmas.”

Damodar Mavalankar, who had vanished from Ranbir Singh’s guest house and was gone for three days, returned reporting that he had left there with K.H. to go to an ashram of the Masters. He later identified this ashram as being “within His Highness’ Dominion.”

In an article written later, Damodar said that Ranbir Singh “not only believed in the existence of the HIMALAYAN MAHATMAS, but seemed sure of the fact from personal knowledge.”

Ranbir Singh was a chief financial sponsor of the Punjab University, which was deeply influenced by the Singh Sabha, an organization with ties to the TS Founders.  Thakar Singh Sandhanwalia, my nominee for K.H.’s primary prototype, was the founding President of the Singh Sabha.

Ranbir Singh was a profoundly religious ruler, a Hindu who was very supportive of scholarship in Buddhist and Islamic texts as well as those of his own faith, and a social reformer with ideals similar to those of Swami Dayananda Sarasvati’s Arya Samaj, with which the TS leaders were loosely allied at the time of the Lahore durbar.

 A summary paragraph in The Masters Revealed explains the crucial elements of the evidence presented thus far:

     There were two points in the history of the TS at which the Masters Morya and Koot Hoomi appeared as solid historical personages rather than elusive semi-ethereal beings.  At both of these points, the same triangular configuration is apparent:  the Founders of the TS, the Maharaja Ranbir Singh, and an Amritsar Sikh Sirdar are found working in collusion.  In October and November 1880, the Founders’ trip to the Punjab to meet these figures coincided with the beginning of the Mahatma correspondence.  In November 1883, Olcott’s trip to Lahore and Jammu again involved Punjabi Sikh Sirdars and the Maharaja of Kashmir.