S. Ramaswamier

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S. Ramaswamier

S. Ramaswamier (a.k.a. S. Ramaswami Iyer) of Tinnevelly was a devoted member of the Theosophical Society and chela of Master M. Ramaswami was his ordinary name, Iyer being the Brahminical caste ending. He had a secret name given to him at his "thread ceremony" which was Rama Bhadra. From his signature in the "Protest" letter of 1882, in is evident that he had earned a B.A. degree.[1] Ramaswamier worked for the Government as District Registrar of Assurances.

According to Readers Guide to The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett:

Ramaswamier, S. (Ramabadra), a prominent South Indian who joined the TS in 1881 and became a chela of M. He died in 1893. Best known in TS literature for his account of his trip to Sikkim on October 5-7, 1882, to visit M and KH in person, which was a very special occasion for a chela of such short training. He wrote to DKM about the trip (D, p. 289). ML, p. 437; BTT, p. 405; OW, 221; HPB VI: 21.[2]

Encountering Mahatma M.

On December 28, 1881,[3] he received his first letter from his Master, and on October 6, 1882, he met him on his physical body.

By the end of September 1882, Ramaswamier was in Darjeeling, India, with Mme. Blavatsky. This was not far from the borders of Sikkim, beyond which was Tibet. Early in October he "determined, come what might, to cross the frontier, which is about a dozen miles from here, and find the Mahatmas, or — DIE". After walking for one day and resting through the night, he resumed his journey, on the morning of October 6:

It was, I think, between eight and nine am, and I was following the road to the town of Sikkim, whence, I was assured by the people I met on the road, I could cross over to Tibet easily in my pilgrim's garb when I suddenly saw a solitary horseman galloping towards me from the opposite direction. From his tall stature and the expert way he managed the animal, I thought he was some military officer of the Sikkim Raja. Now, I thought, am I caught. But as he approached me, he reined the steed. I looked at and recognized him instantly. I was in the presence of my own revered Guru. The very same instant saw me prostrated on the ground at his feet. I arose at his command and, leisurely looking into his face, I forgot myself entirely. I knew not what to say: joy and reverence tied my tongue. I was at last face to face with "the Mahatma of the Himavat" and he was no myth. It was no night dream; it is between nine and ten o'clock of the forenoon. There is the sun shining and silently witnessing the scene from above.

He speaks to me in accents of kindness and gentleness. Nor was it until a few moments later that I was drawn to utter a few words, encouraged by his gentle tone and speech. Never have I seen a countenance so handsome, a stature so tall and so majestic. He wears a short black beard, and long black hair hanging down to his breast. He wore a yellow mantle lined with fur, and, on his head a yellow Tibetan felt cap.

When the first moments of rapture and surprise were over and I calmly comprehended the situation, I had a long talk with him. He told me to go no further, for I would come to grief. He said I should wait patiently if I wanted to become an accepted Chela.

The Mahatma, I found, speaks very little English—or at least it so seemed to me—and spoke to me in my mother-tongue—Tamil. I asked the blessed Mahatma whether I could tell what I saw and heard to others. He replied in the affirmative. He was pleased to say when I offered my farewell namaskarams (prostration) that he approached the British Territory to see [HPB].

Before he left me, two more men came on horseback, his attendants I suppose, probably Chelas, for they were dressed like himself, with long hair streaming down their backs. They followed the Mahatma, as he left, at a gentle trot.[4]

Receiving letters from Mahatmas

Ramaswamier received at least nine letters from Mahatmas Morya and Koot Hoomi. They were published in 1894 by Ramaswamier's son in a book titled Isis Further Unveiled. Curuppumullage Jinarājadāsa used that text to publish them in Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, Second Series. The originals of these letters are no longer available, except for letter 54.

Letter 48 – M. greeted him as an accepted chela.

Letter 49 – K. H. and M. instructed him not to go to Tibet until he had prepared for two or three years.

Letter 50 – M. instructed to take on the garb and manner of a Vedantin ascetic, and to convince the world of the existence of the Brotherhood of Adepts. He was also asked to convey a message to Colonel Olcott.

Letter 51 – M. provided instructions in the nature of chelaship and referred him to Colonel Olcott for further instruction.

Letter 52 – M. provided reassurance.

Letter 53 – M. instructed to take an enclosed letter to T. Subba Row.

Letter 54 – M. gave words of guidance.

Letter 55 – M. encouraged him to Try.

Letter 56 – M. added a note of encouragement to a letter written by Damodar K. Mavalankar.

Letter delivered phenomenally

On November 24, 1883, he experienced a phenomenon at Adyar, in the presence of Mme. Blavatsky and a small group of natives (several of them chelas) consisting of Ramaswamier, Ananda, Mohini, Babaji, Balai Chand Mullick, and V. Coopooswamy Iyer. The latter wrote:

About half an hour after conversation began, while S. R. was talking about certain important matters concerning himself and the others were listening, a slight rustle of the oil cloth, hanging in the back of the middle compartment of the wall shelf, was observed by the four gentlemen seated opposite the same. From it, immediately after, was extruded a large hand more brown in complexion than white, dressed in a close fitting white sleeve, holding an envelope between the thumb and the forefinger. The hand came just opposite my face and over the back of S. R.’s head, a distance of about two yards from the wall, and at a jerk dropped the letter which fell close by my side. All, except S. R., saw the phantom hand drop the letter. It was visible for a few seconds, and then vanished into air right before our eyes. I picked up the envelope which was made of Chinese paper evidently, and inscribed with some characters which I was told were Tibetan. I had seen the like before with S. R. Finding the envelope was addressed in English to "Ramaswamy Iyer", I handed it over to him. He opened the envelope and drew out a letter. Of the contents thereof I am not permitted to say more than that they had immediate reference to what S. R. was speaking to us rather warmly about, and that it was intended by his Guru as a check on his vehemence in the matter. As regards the handwriting of the letter, it was shown to me, and I readily recognized it as the same that I had seen in other letters shown me long before by S. R. as having been received from his Guru (also Mad. B.’s master). I need hardly add that immediately after I witnessed the above phenomenon, I examined the shelf wall, plank, boards and all inside and outside with the help of a light, and was thoroughly satisfied that there was nothing in any of them to suggest the possibility of the existence of any wire, spring, or any other mechanical contrivance by means of which the phenomenon could have been produced.[5]

Additional resources


  1. S. Ramaswamier et al, "A Protest" The Theosophist 3 no. 36 (September, 1882): 326.
  2. George E. Linton and Virginia Hanson, eds., Readers Guide to The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett (Adyar, Chennai, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972), 242.
  3. C. Jinarajadasa, Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom. 1925. Page 86. The September date given on page 106 is incorrect.
  4. A Casebook of Encounters with the Theosophical Mahatmas Case 28, compiled and edited by Daniel H. Caldwell
  5. See "Phenomenal" by V. Coopooswamy Iyer at http://www.blavatskyarchives.com/iyerphenomenal.htm