Back of the Book
In search of the Mahatmas of Tibet is the amazing story of three separate journeys undertaken by the American author, E.G. Schary. But who are the Mahatmas of Tibet, and why did our adventurer seek to discover them? Set in the early part of the twentieth century, this book is a travelogue of exceptional endeavor, courage and dogged determination. Always seemingly down to his last rupee, the author works, scrapes and begs his way across continents and the remote Tibetan plateau.
E.G. Schary is an enigmatic character, he seems to have an insatiable calling for the Mahatmas but he does not really know who they are, or what drives him. To some extent his journeys are truly unique; his is a passion for almost insane adventures. He defies the British Government, evades the high Lamas of Tibet and is refused entry to Nepal. That he survives is a miracle, and yet he is a little melancholy and sad.
This story is a gripping tale. Discover for yourself the hidden mystique of Ladakh and Tibet in this search for the Mahatmas.
PREFACE TO THE NEW EDITION
This is the remarkable tale of adventure, personal discovery and endeavour. In seeking the Mahatmas of Tibet, the author has complete disregard for his personal safety, authority and the natural difficulties encountered in crossing Tibet in the early nineteen hundreds. E.G. Schary is a scholar in Hindu and Buddhist Philosophy and this early calling guides and directs his cravings to find the Mahatmas and the adventurous life involved in the search.
"Whether it was the surroundings of my early youth that wove the spell of romance and adventure into my life, or the fact that I was born with an intense imagination and the power to crystallize into facts those imaginative pictures, I know not."
How many similarly minded adventures and explorers might lament the above statement? How many other travelers, perhaps seeking more than mere routine existence, can relate to this verse?
Over twelve frantic, action-packed years, Schary travels on three separate occasions to India and Kashmir. His first trip ends in naivety on the high plateau of Tibet. His ambitious intentions far exceeded his abilities and his physical capabilities. His second adventure is far more successful. He has learnt much and puts his undoubted intelligence and cunning to bear. He manages to outfox all the obstructive elements along the way; Indian and British officialdom, local overlords and Lamas. He lives among the nomads and pilgrims traveling to Mount Kailash, the most holy mountain of Hindus and Buddhists.
In Gyangtse he finally meets the British trade resident and is nursed back to some sort of health, necessary for his evacuation out of Tibet to Darjeeling and Calcutta. The book has two introductory prefaces, by Cannon Tynsdale-Biscoe, a missionary teacher, and by David MacDonald, the British Trade Agent. Mr. MacDonald is the author of a masterfully interesting book about Tibet in the first twenty five years of the twentieth century and his comments both in this book and his own are serious reading for anyone intrigued by Tibet and its independent days.
His third journey is a virtual failure before it commences, and temporary arrest and imprisonment are part of the price. But for all of his successes, which he himself does not readily recognize, is his mission to find the holy Mahatmas or Sanyasis accomplished?
Does Schary find what he is seeking? Written in a down-to-earth way, this story of discovery is a remarkable tale. Whether the author is seeking more than just his stated goal, his determined stubbornness is outstanding. Perhaps we too can find our own stubborn streaks, surprising ambitions and innate callings. By ignoring the often sensible or rational path ahead, we may also glimpse that which leads each of us to search out his won path to the meaning of his life.
By the Rev. Canon C.E. Tyndale-Biscoe, Principal of the C.M.S. School, Srinagar, Kashmir; author of Kashmir in Sunlight & Shade, etc.
I feel it an honour to have been asked to write a Foreword to Mr. E.G. Schary's book describing the experiences he went through in his attempt to discover the Mahatmas of Tibet. His pluck and determination in the face of overwhelming difficulties and suffering fill one with admiration, and what enhances our admiration for his courage and fortitude, is the kindness of heart he displays when dealing with Indian coolies and those who are so often despised on account of their low caste or calling. For when strength and kindness are combined, you have a man.
I had an opportunity of seeing Mr. Schary when he was down and out and yet his heart was sound. I once found him on a pouring wet day lying in a small Hindu temple on a rough bed, stricken with fever. He told me that he had taken on the job of headmaster of a school run by Brahmans, and that the founder of the school (who was leader of the Brahman Orthodox party) had requested him to add to his work by giving private tuition to his son, who were about to enter for the Punjab University Matriculation examination. But although he had given of his best at both jobs, he was unable to obtain any of the pay promised to him, and hence he had thrown up his headmastership and tutorship.
It happened that the Punjab University had asked me to take over the superintendence of the native examination, which was to commence that week, so I asked Mr. Schary if he would care to help me as one of my assistants. The examination lasts ten days, the pay being three rupees (Rs. 3s.) a day. I hoped that by the end of ten days he would be given a permanent job by Mr Avery, an American, who had big works on hand. Mr. Schary jumped at my offer, for he said that these former pupils of his had been telling him of the various dodges they were going to employ in the exam. In order to score off the superintendents of the exam. and the examiners. And therefore he would be delighted to catch these young Brahmans out when practicing their arts and crafts in the examination hall. You can imagine the feelings of those smart Brahmans cribbers when they had taken their seats, and looking round the hall studying their ground, saw their former tutor to whom they had confided their secrets, standing among the gods on the dais.
Later, Mr. Avery, who is himself a tiger for work, speaking of Schary, said that he was a super hard worker, and did splendid work for him.
The last time I saw Mr. Schary he was in gaol, and although he was confined in the ordinary Indian prison, he behaved as if he was in his own palace, speaking kindly of those in charge of him and bearing no malice; he felt the justice of his position and made the best of it.
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