Rama Prasad was an Indian Theosophist and Sanskrit scholar. He had a Master of Arts degree and was a pleader (attorney) from Meerut, in the state of Uttar Pradesh. He was President of the Meerut Theosophical Society and was listed as a member of the Advisory Council to the Theosophical Congress held at the World's Parliament of Religions in 1893.
Colonel Olcott mentioned visiting Rama Prasad in 1883: "From Delhi the programme took me to Meerut, the home of that gifted young Hindu lawyer, Rama Prasad, whose work on Nature's Finer Forces made him known, some years later, to the whole Theosophical reading public, the world over."
"Nature's Finer Forces"
Rama Prasad is best known for a series of articles published in nine parts in the The Theosophist under the name "Nature's Finer Forces" in 1887-1889, and for the book The Science of Breath & the Philosophy of the Tatwas that was based on those articles. His translation of an ancient Sanskrit text gives a very detailed view of the nature of breathing and the tattvas (elements of reality, in classical Samkhya Hinduism). The author emphasized the scientific nature of traditional Indian religious thought. These writings were quoted extensively in other works, and became highly influential.
After the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society was officially formed on October 9, 1888, Madame Blavatsky wrote about the practice of concentration and its inherent dangers. While she valued Rama Prasad's translation, she indicated that he was a Sanskrit scholar rather than an occultist and that practices described in his work could only be applied with great caution:
In the Book of Rules I advice students to get certain works, as I shall have to refer to and quote from them repeatedly. I reiterate the advice and ask them to turn to The Theosophist [Vol. IX] of November, 1887. On page 98 they will find the beginning of an excellent article by Mr. Rama Prasad on "Nature's Finer Forces."* The value of this work is not so much in its literary merit, though it gained its author the gold medal of The Theosophist - as in its exposition of tenets hitherto concealed in a rare and ancient Sanskrit work on Occultism. But Mr. Rama Prasad is not an Occultist, only an excellent Sanskrit scholar, a university graduate and a man of remarkable intelligence. His Essays are almost entirely based on Tantra works, which, if read indiscriminately by a tyro in Occultism, will lead to the practice of most unmitigated Black Magic. Now, since the difference of primary importance between Black and White Magic is simply the object with which it is practiced, and that of secondary importance, the nature of the agents and ingredients used for the production of phenomenal results, the line of demarcation between the two is very, very thin. The danger is lessened only by the fact that every occult book, so called, is occult only in a certain sense; that is, the text is occult merely by reason of its blinds. The symbolism has to be thoroughly understood before the reader can get at the correct sense of the teaching. Moreover, it is never complete, its several portions each being under a different title and each containing a portion of some other work; so that without a key to these no such work divulges the whole truth. Even the famous Saivagama, on which "Nature's Finer Forces" is based, "is nowhere to be found in complete form," as the author tells us. Thus, like all others, it treats of only five Tattvas instead of the seven in esoteric teachings...
Footnote: The reference to "Nature's Finer Forces" which follow have respect to the eight articles which appeared in the pages of The Theosophist [Vol. IX, November, 1887; February, May, June, August, 1888; Vol. X, October, November 1888; March 1889], and not to the fifteen essays and the translation of a chapter of the Saivagama, which are contained in the book called Nature's Finer Forces. The Saivagama in its details is purely Tantric, and nothing but harm can result from any practical following of its precepts. I would most strongly dissuade a member of the E.S. from attempting any of these Hatha-Yoga practices, for he will either ruin himself entirely, or throw himself so far back that it will be almost impossible to regain the lost ground in this incarnation. The translation referred to has been considerably expurgated, and even now is hardly fit for publication. It recommends Black Magic of the worst kind, and is the very antipodes of spiritual Raja-Yoga. Beware, I say.
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn also incorporated elements of Rama Prasad's work in their teachings. "Several members of the Golden Dawn back in the early days of the Order were also members of the Theosophical Society... The base knowledge of the Tattwas was primarily derived from the Theosophists who derived their knowledge of the Tattwas primarily from Rama Prasad. This Indian guru is the author of the acclaimed work titled "Nature’s Finer Forces," a book on the subject of the Tattwas which was written as a result of much interest of his previous essays published in The Theosophist.
Rama Prasad's work may have also influenced the three anonymous writers of The Kybalion, "if for no other reason that The Kybalion’s author choosing to mention the use of the term "Nature’s Finer Forces" when talking of seven sub-planes of the Plane of Energy.
In yet another instance, Hamilton Gay Howard wrote in the Metaphysical Magazine excerpting from a newspaper, the Pittsburgh Dispatch "an English translation of a very old tantric work from the original Sanscrit, by the Hindu pandit, Rama Prasad." He went on to describe enthusiastically Rama Prasad's writings on "such things as the interstellar ether; its general properties and subdivisions; the laws of vibration; the circulation of the blood and of the nervous fluid; the nervous centres and the general anatomy of the body; the rationale of psychometry and of occult phenomena, and a good many other things of which modern science as yet knows little or nothing."
The Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals lists 77 articles by or about the name Rama Prasad. He wrote mostly for The Theosophist and Lucifer, but some articles were reprinted in Le Lotus Bleu and The American Theosophist. He seems to have been actively writing from 1884-1908. Serialized writings include:
- "Nature's Finer Forces" in 9 parts, The Theosophist, 1887-1889.
- "The Prophecy of the Bhagavata as to the Future Rulers of India" in 2 parts, The Theosophist, 1890.
- "Karma and Reincarnation as Applied to Man" in 5 parts, Lucifer, 1891-1892.
- "Astrology" in 5 parts, The Theosophist, 1891.
- "Wisdom of the Upanishads" in 7 parts, The Theosophist, 1893.
- "The Sankhya Yoga" in 3 parts, The Theosophist, 1894.
- "Thoughts on the Bhagavad Gita" in 4 parts, The Theosophist, 1895-1900.
- "The Problems of Vedanta" in 2 parts, The Theosophist, 1899.
- "Self-Culture of the Yoga of Patanjali" in 15 parts, The Theosophist, 1906-1907.
- "The Date of the Bhagavad Gita" in 3 parts, The Theosophist, 1908.
His first book was a recasting of the "Nature's Finer Forces" series. These are all the known books:
- The Science of Breath & the Philosophy of the Tatwas. London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1890. This was a compilation and expansion of "Nature's Finer Forces" and other writings. The Preface signed by the author is dated November 5, 1889, in Meerut, India. Available at RainbowBody.com, HolyBooks.com, and Scribd.com. Another edition, revised by G. R. S. Mead, was published in 1894 and is available at Hermetics.org. A 1907 reprint is a University of Alberta and Internet Archive.A third edition was released in 1933 by Theosophical Publishing House, and other editions, including French and German, have followed.
- True Hinduism, First Steps in the Yoga of Action Vasanta Press, 1909. This work is not widely available. It was mentioned in a footnote of The Moral And Political Thought Of Mahatma Gandhi by Raghavan N.Iyer, Oxford University Press, Madras, 1979, and the British Library has a copy.
- Patanjali's Yoga Sutras,with the Commentary of Vyâsa and the Gloss of Vâchaspati Misra. Allahabad, Pub. by Sudhîndranâtha Vasu, from the Pânini office, 1910.
- Dharmasiksa-Patri.. India: Srisitaramamudranalaye, 1930. 64 pages. Note: This might be a different Rama Prasad.
- Self-Culture, or, The Yoga of Patanjali. Adyar, India: Theosophist Office, 1907. 224 pages.
- Rasendrapurana: Bhasatikasahita. With Gangavisnu Srikrsnadasa. Mumbai: Kalyana, 1926, 1983. Written in Sanskrit.
- Rama Prasad, "Nature's Finer Forces", The Theosophist 9.2 (Feburary, 1888), 275.
- The Theosophical Congress Held by the Theosophical Society at the Parliament of Religions, World's Fair of 1893, at Chicago, Ill., September 15, 16, 17: Report of Proceedings and Documents. (Madras, India: Theosophical Society, 1893), 11. Available at Google Books.
- Henry Steel Olcott, Old Diary Leaves, Third Series (1883-87), Chapter III, page 34. Available at Theosophical Society in The Philippines web page.
- "Is the Practice of Concentration Beneficent" Collected Writings XII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 603-604. Available at KatinkaHesselink.net.
- "Introduction to the Tattwas" at GoldenDawnPedia.com.
- "History of the Kybalion" blog post, October 7, 2009 in The Occult Library.
- The Occult Revival in America