Tag Archives: Mahendranath

The Life of Dadaji

The Life of Dadaji

This is about a man called Lawrence Amos Miles written by an anonymous author – not me! Miles had, to say the least, an interesting life.  You can also find a Word version here.

Rice Bags and Singhalese Celibates: Part Two

This is the second part of an article first printed in Values magazine in the mid 1970s.  The first part is here. You can find more details of the colourful Mahendranath, here. ♦

All this leaves one bewildered but the Vinaya Pitaka is Theravada’s greatest imposture. It is not easy to understand how Buddhists who claim loyalty to Gautama the Buddha can pervert his memory by putting into his mouth such a vast collection of petty and meaningless rules [There are 227 rules of conduct – Editor (John Spiers)]. Would Gautama have wasted so much time in such useless activity? The Theravadins overlook the fact that it is only bad, delinquent and perverted rascals, parading in the yellow robes of Buddhist monks, who require so many rules to be made.  Why was the Buddhist monk communty so corrupt that so many rules were required? For more than 5,000 years of known history Indian sadhus and sannyasins of many sects have lived entirely without rules and regulations.  Why were Buddhist bhikkus unable to do so and cannot do so, even today?  It can only mean that Hindus renounced the world with a deep sincerity to live a certain life and attain something, yet Buddhists must have lacked the sincerity and so the Vinaya had to be introduced.
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If the Buddha was really an enlightened or realised soul, he would have known what rules were necessary without the Theravadins inventing them and putting them into his mouth in the meanest way. Some of the rules in the Vinaya were due to naughty bhikkhus doing naughty things. Apparently one of the prime occupations of Buddhist monks was to spend their time spying on each other. When they detected something which they thought ought not to be done, they wheedled their way into the presence of Gautama and made a secret report. Then the Buddha had to make yet another rule. One could imagine that the Buddha would have reminded the spies that their duty as bhikkus was to watch their own conduct and strive for the goal instead of watching other monks. But the Theravadins needed rules and this is how they claim to have obtained them.

The Vinaya of the Theravadins also makes it clear that although Gautama attained the highest state of enlightenment, he seems to have also had the highest record for collecting perverts in his following.  The Indian public always gave freely to sadhus of all sects, but among Gautama’s boys there were a few wags who wanted bed with their breakfast. They preyed on the simple housewives by telling them that giving sexual intercourse to bhikkhus obtained the highest merit and good karma. It is quite evident from the Vinaya that some bhikkhus preferred bedrooms to meditation rooms.  Then bang, into the Vinaya goes a number of rules to abate the nuisance. Do rules ever stop misdeeds?  The Theravadins do not credit the Buddha with much intelligence to suggest he imagined that bad monks and backsliders could be made good by making laws and rules.

The Vinaya Pataka does not make pretty reading and some day the Theravada monks will wake up and burn this epitome of entanglements and meaningless ideas. A sincere person, striving towards a spiritual goal, does not need it.  If it has any need, it can only be among those people who should never take to the life or pose as renunciates. But few in Theravada today can see the difference between polished head piety and the real goal.

To suggest that poor old Gautama really had any relationship with the Theravada mob can only be an act of disrespect and a slander against one of the world’s outstanding do-gooders. If he were alive today, he would see very little relationship between the horde of yellow-robed indolents playing hide and seek all day in their myriad temples, and the ideals he tried to teach. Ceylon, Burma and Thailand would either break his heart or cause him to roll on the ground with uncontrollable laughter.  Truth does not wear a mask of piety and real renunciation does not wear a robe.

Theravada tradition tells us that the Buddha renounced his home and family and wandered naked for about six years. At the end of this period and resulting from the sincerity of his modesy life, he attained enlightenment.  If tradition believes this was true of the Buddha, why do not the Theravadins try the same thing, at least for the same period? What meaning can their theories have if they are never put into practice? Today, Gautama and the Buddhist religion of Theravada stand poles apart. To accept one requires us to reject the other.

Although Theravada thinks it has moved so far away and beyond its Hindu origins, there is nothing taught in these teachings which have real meaning, which will not be found in Hindu scriptures also. The Theravadins tell us that Moksha is Hindu but Nirvana is Buddhist. But Krishna, in the Bhagavad Gita, uses the world Nirvana in Ch. vi.15 as being the goal of yoga. Theravada tells us that when the Buddha was asked about the Absolute, he refused to answer. The Upanishads and other texts do exactly the same thing. Nowhere will we find an attempt to define or describe the Supreme Reality. The Buddha believed in ghosts, devatas and spirits. He abhorred magic display of psychic powers. The two great contemporaries of the Buddha, and often themselves known as Buddas, were the Jain leader Mahavira and Gosala who founded the Ajivika sect. Both were completely naked and so were their sadhu disciples. The Buddha Gautama was most likely naked also for it was a day and age where those who renounced the world renounced the services of tailors also. It was a period of naked saints and little respect could be expected from the public by one who posed as a renunciate and wore clothes. Surely it is only a fool who would want to wear clothes when it was publically accepted and did not deny any convention to enjoy the freedom of nakedness.

Centuries of Theravada Buddhism have never produced a realized soul or an Arahat. In Burma, every family claims to have produced a living Buddhist saint of various degrees. A Burmense gentleman, in Rangood, spoke up frankly about this.

“Mahatma,” he said, “do not believe all these false claims which families are making about their having great saints now alive. I can assure these claims are entirely false.”  He moved his face closer to mind and then said in a half whisper, “But as it happens we do have an Arahat in our family.”

Like Old Mother Hubbard, a peep in the Theravada larder will not even find an old bone which would make an authentic holy relic. Gautama was much of a pagan while Theravada compares mostly more with Christian puritanism.  If Gautama was a typical guru of his age we can be sure he would encourage men to search within and not to take his word as the final authority.  He would have been the last to suggest that his way was the only and most perfect way. We can be quite certain that a chaste or celibate life crept into Theravada from sources other than that of Gautama.  If Gautama stressed the importance of meditation we must remember that all other gurus did so too. The word buddha comes from intelligence and means an awakened one.  In itself it does not mean or imply complete enlightenment. But as a courtesy title many gurus and saints of India were known as Bauddhas or Buddhas in those days, and probably as common as modern sannyasins display their doctor degrees.

Generally speaking, waggish Westerners are welcome in most Theravada countries and generally encouraged to “have a go”.  Only be careful and don’t take the whole thing too seriously.  You can do a great many things so long as you do it in secret and not in the view of temple supporters.  If you meditate too much you will be asked to leave and the welcome mat quickly rolled up. Monks will tell you, you are setting a bad example to the public, who start hinting that they should do the same.  But how can they? They have school to attend, examinations to prepare for, degrees to obtain, and relatives to visit. How can a bhikku allow meditation to interfere with such important duties?  The goal of Nirvana is no longer the real goal of Theravada.

Discussions generally bring forward an emphatic denial that they believe in God or a god.  A few minutes later you will be told that the Buddha is himself God and rules in the Buddha Heaven.  This explains why bhikkus accept a teaching whereby Gautama entered his final Nirvana, and had no further existence either material or spiritual.  Since they deny that anybody, including Gautama, has a soul, this would not be existing either.  This only leads to a final conclusion that nothing which was Gautama existed after his death.  But those who affirm this annihilation on all levels, will tell you he is the Great God living in the Highest Heaven.  So they pray to the Compassion Buddha for all things, but not, of course, for Nirvana.  But not all bhikkhus go to heaven.

Most modern people have now grown out of the threadbare delusion that all religions teach the same truth or that all goals and gods are the same.  Yet there are more comparisons to be made with Christianity and Theravada Buddhism than any other two religions.  They are both soul and happiness abnegating. Both hold as a virtue the unnatural perversion of chastity and abstention from sexual pleasures.  One can jump from Christianity into Buddhism with the greatest of ease and vice versa.

Both are prepared to bury and stifle you under an enormous pile of rules, regulations and restrictions.  Both are relative and dualistic from start to finish.  Smiling, pleasure and happiness is tolerated but never encouraged.  A Buddhist monk is forbidden to sing or dance and both seem to be designated as evil. They do ignore the rule about not handling money but they do abide by the rule against joy and rhythm.

If Theravada has been unable to produce a single Buddha in centuries, it is time they began to re-estimate their whole system.  When any religion or pattern of priestcraft has outlived its purpose, it is time to pull the chain.  The Absolute will do this in good time and perhaps free the Lion Race from their miserable existence, no better than a tribe of monkeys.  If left-wing poltics have made big inroads into Ceylon’s political life, it is the Theravada priestcraft which has mostly helped the process.

Though Buddhism developed great and brilliant intellects in the Mahayana patterns, Theravadins degenerated only into ricebags and not a single new intellectual concept has been permitted to appear since it first took root in Ceylon.  The brilliant awakening of Ch’an and Zen has gone completely unnoticed except when an opportunity avails itself to revile it.  Can Theravada ever hope to boast of the vast parade of Patriarchs and Masters which China and Japan have seen, and what, in a thousand years, have they added to the world’s store of wisdom?

Some more memories and reflections of dear Kenneth Grant

AROGOGO arogogo ru abrio.  I wrote the words, Bob Ponton composed the tune, and Janice Ayers, Kenneth Grant and myself supplied the rubric to Scarlet Woman – a record with Crowley stuff  on the back which never delivered any royalties to anyone but the publisher. And other liggers. Steffi Grant did the artwork for the front, Jan Bailey did the artwork for the back. Nice sleeve!

Memories get telescoped and morph into each other, so I had better put down some thoughts about dear Kenneth Grant before I forget them and enter my senile years.

It was forty years ago – that is a long time.

Kenneth, as I have written previously on these pages, was up for me going to India and meeting Shri Shri Gurudev Mahendranath (Dadaji). So much so that he bestowed the VII degree of his OTO on him. Lawrence Miles did not feel the same fraternal good wishes from his lair in India. I sent Dadaji my copy of the Magical Revival – a fine KG book as I thought. Over the next year, Dadaji sent me all sorts of bits and pieces wrapped up in a Magical Revival that he’d taken apart and used in fine Indian manner to send delicate stuff around the world. Not newspapers, the book was cut up.

When I visited Dadaji in 1978 he was slightly more than scathing about Kenneth Grant and John Symonds – Miles claimed he had met Crowley during one of the infamous Crowley libel trials and often visited him at 93 Jermyn Street. I mentioned this to Kenneth. Kenneth, having a huge collection of Crowley diaries via, I think, Gerald Yorke, scanned the pages and failed to find the young Lawrence Miles recorded. Not that that matters that much to the magi.

There is a huge gap missing in the sedimentary record of the 1950s – both in terms of Kenneth Grant and also Lawrence Miles.  According to Dadaji’s own account, he tipped up in India in 1953 or so, and was immediately recognised by Lokanath as a man that should have been a Nath. Yet, according to Dadaji’s own words, registered in the now defunct magazine Values, he went to all sorts of places in Asia. He was in Australia for quite a while, as an agitprop. Dadaji – having fought in the International Brigade – had nothing but contempt for the British Army.

Strangely, Mr Grant wasn’t that hot on the British Army either. Having been conscripted into the war, Kenneth was forced to inhale lots of gas in a dark tunnel – he contracted asthma, and, I think, an interest in the dark tunnels of the mind that in his own words were the obverse of the bright and shining paths of the so-called Tree of Life.  Kenneth told me, as a young creature, it was one of the most frightening things that had happened in his life.

Mr Miles, having fought in the International Brigade, had nothing but contempt for the British Army – the Ministry of Defence had contacted him in 1938 when the mandarins realised something was afoot Hitler-wise and tried to award him a commission. Instead, as a physiotherapist, Miles fomented a riot on a troop ship to Cairo. He was, in his own words, arrested for mutiny, but turned it round and the captain of the ship got his come uppance.

Dadaji had little time for Kenneth Grant – perhaps he was suffering from an attack of the jellybags.  He did seem to know a lot of the same people Kenneth Grant did, including that strange woman in one of KG’s early trilogies who perished on a boat to Australasia.

The two were like chalk and cheese, but Miles spent a lot of his time in India and, like Ben Gunn in Treasure Island, all he wanted was a little bit of cheese.  Michael Staley visited Dadaji in India, and so did Mogg Morgan. I’d be quite interested to hear their recollections. [No such luck, Ed.]

My friends, the naths, attempted to find any record of Mahendranath, a white guru in Memhadabad. They couldn’t find any record. But then – who keeps these records? Mr Akasha?

Kenneth Grant: Aossic Aiwass, memories are made of this

I have very fond memories of Kenneth Grant – very fond memories indeed. Unlike quite a few of my friends, I never got expelled from his Typhonian OTO, I resigned and he was gracious enough to allow me to exit, gracefully. I was a member of his Sovereign Sanctuary.

It all came about because of this. I wasn’t interested in Indian traditions at all, until 1974 or so, when a vivid dream woke me up to stuff.  Kenneth, actually, was very knowledgeable about tha tantrik traditions. Apart from spending a great deal of time in India in the 1950s, he also contributed many articles about Hinduism to Man, Myth and Magic.

He was very sympathetic to me when in 1978  threw up a good job to visit Mahendranath (Dadaji) in Old Mehmadabad. I had corresponded with Dadaji for well over a year – I sought tantrik initiation.

In a very sympathetic conversation I had with Aossic Aiwass,  the then OHO of the Typhonian OTO, I had spelled out my vivid dream to him, and I asked him for tantrik initiation. He said he had never had tantrik initiation. Shortly after this, I got a letter from Dadaji – he had had articles published in John Spiers’ magazine Values, and John Spiers and I had exchanged adverts with each other – me in my first magazine Azoth. Dadaji asked me to send him copies of Azoth and latterly SOTHiS magazine – Jan Bailey,  David Hall and myself had just started this organ.

I felt I had to go to India and seek initiation into a tradition that suddenly appeared to be in my mind and in my heart and in my body.  Kenneth conferred a VII degree honorary initiation on Mahendranath, never to my knowledge rescinded.

I continue to have the utmost regard for Kenneth Grant – his knowledge was deep, practical and full of wisdom. He knew Dylan Thomas in the early 1950s – his books of poetry show that Sarasvati sat on his tongue. He told me, when he was writing his first Typhonian Trilogy, that these books were also informed by poetry. He said that it was important, after you had digested wisdom, that you published it and made it available. He said that when you died, and began to get back to the Light, you would read stuff in books and it would remind you who you were before.

Digestion, he said, involved excretion too, and these were books. If you failed to write what you had learned, or felt, it was the equivalent of mental constipation.

He was devoted to the goddess in all of her guises.


This picture is of Kenneth and me in 1978 in our flat in Golders Green, just round the corner from where he lived. I am missing him. He was a master of wisdom.  I venerate his memory.

Garden & Cosmos: The Natha Sampradaya revisited

THE BRITISH MUSEUM has a whole season of exhibitions and events about India – it calls this its “Indian Summer” – an expression that in English usually applies to unseasonally nice weather rather later in the year, like “fall” or Autumn as we Brits call it.

I visited the British Museum today to see its “Garden & Cosmos” exhibition – sponsored by HSBC and subtitled “The Royal Paintings of Jodhpur”.

There is little about gardens in the wonderful exhibition but there are some beautiful paintings related to an “obscure religious cult” called the Nath Sampradaya.

The Nathas, reckon scholars – and what would they know – started kicking in around the 13th century and many of the paintings in the exhibition reflect the support of the rajas of Jodhpur, in Rajasthan and form part of the collection of the Mehrangarh Museum Trust.  Very many of the highly detailed paintings in the exhibition relate to these “nathas”, in particular there are some paintings from the Nath Purana.

The exhibition was very well attended – it’s had quite a lot of publicity. The leaflet doled out to you when you arrive says: “Man Singh’s artists proclaimed Nath greatness and teaching in hundreds of paintings and monumental manuscripts. Nath yogis, recognised by their grey ash smeared skin and pointed hats, are depicted proclaiming their new ideas. Their guru is shown superior to the traditional Hindu gods”.

Man Singh lost his kingship in 1843 when the British arrested two senior Nathas for allegedly kidnapping a Brahmin. The Indian Mutiny – or the First War of Independence – as India describes it, occurred just a few years later and many authors have suggested that sadhus, holy men, helped foment the insurrection against the missionaries’ position.

A rather sad cartouche, next to one of the glorious paintings in this exhibition, suggested that after Man Singh was ousted, the “temples” of the Natha Sampradaya fell into desuetude and the sampradaya (tradition) lost its force.

I dunno who wrote that cartouche. In Rajasthan there are still very many ashramas of the Natha Sampradaya. I’ve visited many of them myself, thanks to the great kindness of one of the abbots. The paintings often show the padukam of the gurus of the Natha sampradaya – one very nice one shows everything flowing from those feet. I tried to count the Nathas – if there’s 108 of them, I would not be at all surprised.

108 is a sacred number in the tantrik and Natha traditions. The rosaries the sadhus wear are often rudrakhas and number 108 beads. A human being is supposed to breathe 21,600 times in a day of 24 hours – half of these are ascribed to the sun, the other half to the moon.

shri shri 108 matsyendranath jiI listened to many visitors closely inspecting the wonderful paintings in the exhibition. Clearly, very few of them had ever heard of the Natha Sampradaya – didn’t know that Gorakhnath and his guru Matstyendranath more or less created hatha yoga – and were clearly puzzled by these strange sadhus who on the one hand renounced the world and on the other hand promoted the common welfare of the people that supported them.

Matsyendranath, pictured above – and the picture is courtesy of a Natha mahant (abbot) in Rajasthan – was swallowed by a fish, a little like Jonah.

It is rather fantastic that the paintings are in the British Museum, though, despite the lack of supporting information to help assist the wanderers in the place. The exhibition lasts until the 23rd of August and it’s £8 to enter. Or free if you’re a British Museum “member” which costs £40 a year.

Almost finally, Thames & Hudson has produced a rather fantastic book which contains many of the paintings in this exhibition. The paperback costs £30 and the hardback edition £36 so there’s some kind of stock control unit (SKU) marketing nonsense going on there. Its ISBN number is 978-0-500-51443-6. The authors are Debra Diamond, Catherine Glynn and Kami Singh Jasoi.

Samadhi of Shri Shri 108 Mannath Ji

Samadhi of Shri Shri 108 Mannath Ji

There’s a bibliography but I can’t find any mention of the English translation of  Kaulajnananirnaya ascribed to Matsyendrath in 1986.

Almost finally, because on my way out of the exhibition, people seemed to be singing a Baul song, and three lasses were dancing rather effectively. The sound is non existent – sorry about that. Perhaps I should have used my Crackberry.

This exhibition is well worth a visit. If you know nothing about the Natha Sampradaya you will be very puzzled. If you know anything at all about this very ancient tradition of yogis and yoginis, you’ll be very pleased indeed.

Mannath is the founding guru of one of the panths of the current Natha Sampradaya – there are  12 confederated into the Baro Panth.

Quite a lot of the paintings in the exhibition are related to the Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati. Disclaimer: I own www.shivashakti.com. You can read some Natha texts in this PDF book, here. There’s obviously money in India.