[Psycho-physiological Powers Not Dependent on Creed or Race]
Theosophist, February, 1880
Article “A Mussulman Abdal (Yogi)”, by Syed Mahmood | Note by H.P.B.
The original of the following narrative will be found among the anecdotes in Chapter III of the “Bostan,” one of the most celebrated poems in Persian, by the world-renowned Sadi of Shiraz, who is regarded by Musalmans not only as a great poet, but also as a very pious and hold man. . . . I am afraid the translation is not a very good one, but I have attempted to make it literal. The narrative runs thus:
It so happened, once, that myself and an old man from Faryab arrived at a river in the West. I had a diram (silver coin) which the boatmen took from me and allowed me to enter the boat, but they left the Dervesh behind. The blacks (i.e., the boatment) rowed the boat—it glided like smoke. The head boatman was not a God-fearing man. I felt sore at the heart at parting from my companion; but he laughed at my sorrow and said “Be not sorry for me my good friend—me He will take across who lets the boat float.” Therefore he spread his Sajjada (i.e. a small carpet used by Mahomedans while repeating their prayers) on the face of the water.—It appeared to be an imagination or a dream. I slept not the whole of that night, thinking of the wonderful occurrence. On the morrow he looked at me and said: “You were struck with wonder my good friend; but the boat brought you over, and God me.”
Why do the opponents not believe that abdals1 can go into water or fire? For an infant that does not know the effect of fire is looked after by his loving mother. Similarly those who are lost in contemplation (of the Deity) are day and night under the immediate care of the Deity. He it is who preserved Khadil 2 from fire, and Moses from the water of the Nile. Even a little child supported on the hands of a swimmer does not care how swollen the Tigris is. But how can you walk on water with a manly heart, when even on the dry land you are full of sin?
Editor’s Note: This anecdote, kindly furnished by the accomplished Mr. Mahmood, has a real interest and value; in that it reminds the student of psychological science that a certain range of psycho-physiological powers may be developed, irrespective of creed or race, by whoever will undergo a certain system of training, or, as Mr. Mahmood expresses it in his note to his translation, who lead holy lives and so overcome the ordinary, that is, the more familiar, laws of matter. Mohammedan literature teems with authentic accounts of psychical phenomena performed by devotees and ascetics of that faith, and it is to be hoped that a portion, at least, may find their way into these columns through the friendly aid of Persian and Arabic scholars.
1. Persons who by leading holy lives overcome the ordinary laws of matter.
2. The Mahommedan name for Abraham, to whom the miracle of being saved from fire when thrown into it is attributed.