At first sight, it might seem strange in the extreme that the architects of the Third Reich would be interested in a region that many consider to be the spiritual centre of the world; until, that is, we remember that, according to Thulean mythology, this centre was once the Aryan homeland in the Arctic, and was displaced with the fall of Atlantis around 10,800 BC.
Since then, the spiritual centre, while remaining hidden from the vast majority of humanity who are unworthy of its secrets, has nevertheless been the primary force controlling the destiny of the planet. (1) The two hidden realms of Agartha and Shambhala constitute the double source of supernatural power emanating from Tibet, and have come to occupy an important place in twentieth-century occultism and fringe science.
Before we address the Third Reich’s alleged interest in Agartha and Shambhala, it is essential that we pause for a (necessarily brief) examination of the role of Shambhala in Tibetan mysticism.
In this way, we may chart the course of its warping and degradation as it was fitted into the Nazi scheme of crypto-history.
The Land of the Immortals
The writer Andrew Tomas spent many years studying the myths and legends of the Far East, and his book Shambhala: Oasis of Light is an eloquent argument in favor of the realm’s actual existence. In the book, Tomas cites the ancient writings of China, which refer to Nu and Kua, the ‘Asiatic prototypes of Adam and Eve’ and their birthplace in the Kun Lun Mountains of Central Asia.
It is something of a mystery-why such a desolate, forbidding place should serve as the Chinese Garden of Eden rather than more hospitable regions such as the Yangtse Valley or the province of Shantung, and Tomas speculates that the Gobi Desert may at one time have been an inland sea with accompanying fertile land. (2)
As we shall see later in this chapter, the Gobi is a prime candidate as a site for one of the ancient and unknown civilizing cultures whose wisdom has been passed down through the ages.
The Kun Lun Mountains hold a very important place in Chinese mythology, since it is in this range that the Immortals are believed to live, ruled by Hsi Wang Mu, the Queen Mother of the West. Hsi Wang Mu, who is also called Kuan Yin, the goddess of mercy, is said to live in a nine-storeyed palace of jade. Surrounding this palace is a vast garden in which grows the Peach Tree of Immortality. Only the most wise and virtuous of human beings are permitted to visit the garden and eat the fruit, which appears only once every 6,000 years. (3)
The Immortals who aid Hsi Wang Mu in her attempts to guide humanity towards wisdom and compassion possess perfect, ageless bodies, and are said to be able to travel anywhere in the Universe, and to live on the planets of other star systems. As Tomas notes, whether the ancient Chinese believed that the Immortals could travel in space in their physical bodies or by projecting their minds, this is still a remarkable concept to entertain, since it is based on an acceptance of the plurality of inhabited worlds in the Cosmos.
Ancient Chinese texts are replete with legends regarding the attempts of many people to cross the Gobi Desert to the Kun Lun Mountains. The most famous of these searchers is surely the great philosopher Lao Tzu (c. 6th century BC), author of the book of Taoist teaching Tao Te Ching, who is said to have made the journey across the Gobi towards the end of his life.
The Vatican archives also contain many reports made by Catholic missionaries concerning deputations from the emperors of China to the spiritual beings living in the mountains. These beings possess bodies that are visible, but which are not made of flesh and blood: they are the ‘mind-born’ gods whose bodies are composed of elementary atomic matter, which allow them to live anywhere in the Universe, even at the centers of stars.
The people of India also believe in a place of wisdom and spiritual perfection; they call it Kalapa or Katapa, and it is said to lie in a region north of the Himalayas, in Tibet. According to Indian tradition, the Gobi Desert is the floor of what was once a great sea, which contained an island called Sweta-Dvipa (White Island). The great Yogis who once lived there are believed to live still in the high mountains and deep valleys that once formed the island of Sweta-Dvipa.
This island has been identified by Orientalists with the Isle of Shambhala of Puranic literature, which is said to stand at the centre of a lake of nectar.
In the seventeenth century, two Jesuit missionaries, Stephen Cacella and John Cabral, recorded the existence of Chang Shambhala, as described to them by the lamas of Shigatse, where Cacella lived for 23 years until his death in 1650. (Chang Shambhala means Northern Shambhala, which differentiates the abode of the spiritual adepts from the town called Shamballa, north of Benares, India.) (4)
Nearly 200 years later, a Hungarian philologist named Csoma de Koros, who lived for four years from 1827-30 in a Buddhist monastery in Tibet, claimed that Chang Shambhala lay between 45° and 50° north latitude, beyond the river Syr Daria. (5)
Legends of a hidden spiritual centre, a sacred zone whose inhabitants secretly guide the evolution of life on Earth, are widespread in the ancient cultures of the East.
The writer Victoria Le Page describes this wondrous realm thus:
… [S]omewhere beyond Tibet, among the icy peaks and secluded valleys of Central Asia, there lies an inaccessible paradise, a place of universal wisdom and ineffable peace called Shambhala … It is inhabited by adepts from every race and culture who form an inner circle of humanity secretly guiding its evolution.
In that place, so the legends say, sages have existed since the beginning of human history in a valley of supreme beatitude that is sheltered from the icy arctic winds and where the climate is always warm and temperate, the sun always shines, the gentle airs are always beneficient and nature flowers luxuriantly. (6)
Only the purest of heart are allowed to find this place (others, less idealistically motivated, who search for it risk an icy grave) where want, evil, violence and injustice do not exist.
The inhabitants possess both supernatural powers and a highly advanced technology; their bodies are perfect, and they devote their time to the study of the arts and sciences. The concept of the hidden spiritual centre of the world is to be found in Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, shamanism and other ancient traditions. In the Bon religion of pre-Buddhist Tibet, Shambhala is also called ‘Olmolungring’ and ‘Dejong’.
In Tibetan Buddhism, the Shambhalic tradition is enshrined within the Kalachakra texts, which are said to have been taught to the King of Shambhala by the Buddha before being returned to India. (7)
As might be expected with such a marvelous, legend-haunted place, there has been a great deal of speculation as to the exact whereabouts of Shambhala. (It is unlikely to be found at Koros’s map coordinates.) While some esotericists believe that Shambhala is a real place with a concrete, physical presence in a secret location on Earth, others prefer to see it as existing on a higher spiritual plane, what might be called another dimension of space-time coterminous with our own. Alternatively, Shambhala might be considered as a state of mind, comparable to the terms in which some consider the Holy Grail.
As with the Grail, Shambhala maybe a state within ourselves, in which we may gain an insight into the higher spirituality inherent in the Universe, as distinct from the mundane world of base matter in which we normally exist.
Having said this, it should be noted that there are certain cases on record in which Westerners have experienced visions of a place bearing a striking resemblance to the fabled Shambhala. Victoria Le Page cites a particularly intriguing case in her book Shambhala: The Fascinating Truth Behind the Myth of Shangri-la. The case was investigated by a Dr Raynor Johnson who, in the 1960s, gathered together several hundred first-hand accounts of mystical experiences. It involved a young Australian woman who claimed to have psychic abilities, and who was referred to simply as L.C.W.
L.C.W. wrote that at the age of 21 she began to attend a place she came to know as ‘Night-School’.
At night she would fly in her sleep to this place, the location of which she had no idea. Once there she would join other people in dance exercises which she later recognized as being similar to the dervish exercises taught by George Gurdjieff. After several years, she graduated to a different class, where she was taught spiritual lessons from a great book of wisdom. It was only years later, when L.C.W. began to take an interest in mystical literature, that she realized the true location of Night-School must have been Shambhala.
L.C.W. had other visions in which she saw what appeared to be a gigantic mast or antenna, extending from Earth deep into interstellar space.
The base of this antenna was in the Pamirs or Tien Shan Mountains, regions which are traditionally associated with Shambhala. She was taken towards this antenna by an invisible guide, and saw that it was a pillar of energy whose branches were actually paths leading to other worlds, marked by geometrical figures such as circles, triangles and squares.
According to L.C.W., this ‘antenna’ was nothing less than a gateway to other times, other dimensions and other regions of this Universe.
In addition to the antenna serving as a gateway for souls from Earth to travel to other times and places,
‘she believed souls from other systems in space could enter the earth sphere by the same route, carrying their own spiritual influences with them’. (8)
L.C.W. also maintained that the antenna could be controlled directly by the mind of the voyager, and would extend a branch or ‘pseudopod’ in response to a single thought. This branch then became a ‘trajectory of light’ along which the soul would travel; in her case, she found herself in China 30 years in the future. The spiritual being who was guiding her explained that the earth was in the process of being purified, and that a ‘great rebirth’ was about to occur.
She also witnessed the apparent falling of a cluster of ‘stars’ that represented the arrival of ‘high souls [that] were now coming down to help in the special event’. (9)
Our knowledge of the Shambhalic tradition in the West has come mainly from Orientalist scholars such as,
Since we have already spent some time with Madame Blavatsky, we may turn our attention to the work of the others, notably Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947), poet, artist, mystic and humanist, and perhaps the most famous and respected of the esotericists who brought news of this fabulous realm to Westerners.
Born in St Petersburg, Russia in 1874, Nicholas Roerich came from a distinguished family whose ability to trace its origins to the Vikings of the tenth century inspired his early interest in archaeology.
This interest led in turn to a lifelong fascination with art, through which, in the words of K. P. Tampy, who wrote a monograph on Roerich in 1935, he became ‘possessed of a burning desire to get at the beautiful and make use of it for his brethren’. (10)
After attending the St Petersburg Academy of Fine Art, Roerich went to Paris to continue his studies. In 1906, he won a prize for his design of a new church, and was also rewarded with the position of Director of the Academy for the Encouragement of Fine Arts in Russia. However, the Russian Revolution occurred while he was on a visit to America, and he found himself unable to return to his motherland. Roerich’s profound interest in Buddhist mysticism led to his proposing an expedition in 1923 that would explore India, Mongolia and Tibet.
The Roerich Expedition of 1923-26 was made across the Gobi Desert to the Altai Mountains. It was during this expedition that Roerich’s party had a most unusual experience – one of the many experiences that seem to offer strange and puzzling connections between apparently disparate elements of the paranormal and that make it such a complex and fascinating field of human enquiry.
In the summer of 1926, Roerich had set up camp with his son, Dr George Roerich, and several Mongolian guides in the Shara-gol valley near the Humboldt Mountains between Mongolia and Tibet.
Roerich had just built a white stupa (or shrine), dedicated to Shambhala. The shrine was consecrated in August, with the ceremony witnessed by a number of invited lamas.
Two days later, the party watched as a large black bird wheeled through the sky above them. This, however, was not what astonished them, for far beyond the black bird, high up in the cloudless sky, they clearly saw a golden spheroidal object moving from the Altai Mountains to the north at tremendous speed. Veering sharply to the south-west, the golden sphere disappeared rapidly beyond the Humboldt Mountains.
As the Mongolian guides shouted to one another in the utmost excitement, one of the lamas turned to Roerich and informed him that the fabulous golden orb was the sign of Shambhala, meaning that the lords of that realm approved of his mission of exploration. Later, Roerich was asked by another lama if there had been a perfume on the air. When Roerich replied that there had been, the lama told him that he was guarded by the King of Shambhala, Rigden Jye-Po, that the black vulture was his enemy, but that he was protected by a ‘Radiant form of Matter’.
The lama added that anyone who saw the radiant sphere should follow the direction in which it flew, for in that direction lay Shambhala. The exact purpose of this expedition (aside from exploration) was never made entirely clear by Roerich, but many writers on esoteric subjects have claimed that he was on a mission to return a certain sacred object to the King’s Tower at the centre of Shambhala.
According to Andrew Tomas, the sacred object was a fragment of the Chintamani stone, the great mass of which lies in the Tower. Astonishingly, the stone is said to have been brought to Earth originally by an extraterrestrial being.
According to tradition, a chest fell from the sky in AD 331; the chest contained four sacred objects, including the Chintamani stone. Many years after the casket was discovered, five strangers visited King Tho-tho-ri Nyan-tsan to explain the use of the sacred objects.
The Chintamani stone is said to come from one of the star systems in the constellation of Orion, probably Sirius.
The main body of the stone is always kept in the Tower of Shambhala, although small pieces are sometimes transferred to other parts of the world during times of great change.
It is rumored that the fragment of Chintamani which Roerich was returning to the Tower had been in the possession of the League of Nations, of which Roerich was a highly respected member.
The Caves Beneath the Himalayas
The concept of a subterranean realm is common throughout the world’s religions and mythologies.
With regard to the present study, we can identify a powerful antecedent to the legends and rumors still extant today in the mythology of Tibet. In his 1930 book Shambhala, Roerich describes his attempts to understand the origins of underworld legends ‘to discover what memories were being cherished in the folk-memory’. (11)
In commenting on the ubiquity of subterranean legends, he notes that the more one examines them, the greater the conviction that they are all ‘but chapters from the one story’. (12) An examination of the folklores of ‘Tibet, Mongolia, China, Turkestan, Kashmir, Persia, Altai, Siberia, the Ural, Caucasia, the Russian steppes, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Germany, France’ (13) will yield tales of dwellers beneath the earth. In many places, the local people can even guide the curious traveler to cave entrances in isolated places, which are said to lead to the hidden world of the subterraneans.
Central Asia is home to legends of an underground race called the Agharti; the Altai Mountains are the dwelling place of the Chud. In Shambhala, Roerich states that the name ‘Chud’ in Russian has the same origin as the word ‘wonder’. His guide through the Altai Mountains told him that the Chud were originally a powerful but peaceful tribe who flourished in the area in the distant past.
However, they fell prey to marauding bands of warriors, and could only escape by leaving their fertile valley and departing into the earth to continue their civilization in subterranean realms.
Roerich’s guide continued that at certain times the Chud could be heard singing in their underground temples. Elsewhere in the Altai Mountains, on the way to Khotan, Roerich reports that the hoofs of their horses sounded hollow upon the ground, as though they were riding over immense caves.
Other members of the caravan called to Roerich:
‘Do you hear what hollow subterranean passages we are crossing? Through these passages, people who are familiar with them can reach far-off countries.’ (14)
(The significance of this claim will become more apparent in Chapter Seven.)
The caravaneers continued:
‘Long ago people lived there; now they have gone inside; they have found a subterranean passage to the subterranean kingdom. Only rarely do some of them appear again on earth. At our bazaar such people come with strange, very ancient money, but nobody could even remember a time when such money was in usage here.’
When Roerich asked if he, too, could see such people, his companions replied:
‘Yes, if your thoughts are similarly high and in contact with these holy people, because only sinners are upon earth and the pure and courageous people pass on to something more beautiful.’ (15)
In the region of Nijni Novgorod there is a legend of a subterranean city called Kerjenetz that sank into a lake.
In Roerich’s time, local people still held processions through the area, during which they would listen for the bells of invisible churches. Roerich’s party went on to discover four more groups of menhirs, and several tombs, taking the form of a square outlined by large stones.
To the people of the Himalayas, those who built these monuments, although now departed, are not to be found anywhere on the Earth’s surface:
‘all which has disappeared, has departed underground’. (16)
Dr Ferdinand Ossendowski, whom we shall meet again in a little while, was told by lamas in Mongolia of fabulous civilizations existing before recorded history.
To Ossendowski’s astonishment, the lamas claimed that when the homelands of these civilizations in the Atlantic and Pacific were destroyed by natural cataclysms some of their inhabitants survived in previously prepared subterranean shelters, illuminated by artificial light. Andrew Tomas speculates that the Celtic legend of ‘the Lordly Ones in the hollow hills’ is a folk memory of the survivors of the destruction of the Atlantic continent. (17)
In India, legends tell of a race of beings called the Nagas. Serpent-like and extremely intelligent, the Nagas live in vast caverns illuminated by precious stones.
Although reptilian, the Nagas have human faces and are incredibly beautiful. Able to fly, they intermarried with kings and queens from the surface world, although they remain shy of surface dwellers and keep well away from all but the most spiritually advanced. Their capital city is called Bhogawati, and is said to be covered with rubies, emeralds and diamonds. (18)
Tomas writes that many Hindus and Tibetans have entered the caves of the Nagas, which stretch for hundreds of miles inside the mountains. The inhabitants of this region speak of large lotus flowers floating on the surface of the Manasarawar Lake in the western part of the Tsang Po Valley.
Radiant figures have also been seen near this extremely cold fresh-water lake.
The Realm of Agartha
Despite its inclusion in many popular books on Eastern mysticism, the name ‘Agartha’ is unknown in Asiatic mythology.
In fact, one of the many variations on the name, ‘Asgaard’, was first used by the French writer Ernest Renan in the 1870s. Although clearly inspired by Nordic mythology, Renan placed his Asgaard in Central Asia, while another French writer, Louis Jacolliot (1837-1890), was writing at the same time about a city of Asgartha. (19)
A magistrate in Chandernagor, India, Jacolliot wrote a number of books on the relationship between Indian mythology and Christianity. He was allegedly told the legend of Asgartha by a group of local Brahmins, who allowed him to consult various sacred texts, such as the Book of Historical Zodiacs. According to Jacolliot, Asgartha was a prehistoric ‘City of the Sun’, home of the Brahmatma, the visible manifestation of God on Earth. (20)
Asgartha existed in India in 13,300 BC, where the Brahmatma lived in an immense palace; he was invisible, and only appeared to his subjects once a year. Interestingly, Jacolliot stated that this high prehistoric culture existed long before the Aryans, who conquered Asgartha around 10,000 BC. The priests of Asgartha then managed to form an alliance with the victorious Aryan Brahmins, which resulted in the formation of the warrior caste of Kshatriyas.
About 5,000 years later, Asgartha was destroyed by the brothers Ioda and Skandah, who came from the Himalayas. Eventually driven out by the Brahmins, the brothers travelled north – and later gave their names to ‘Odin’ and ‘Scandinavia’. (21)
Ferdinand Ossendowski (1876-1945) was another early writer on the legend of Agartha. Although born in Vitebsk, Poland, he spent most of his early life in Russia, attending the University of St Petersburg. For much of the 1890s, he travelled extensively in Mongolia and Siberia, developing his interest in and knowledge of Buddhist mysticism.
He returned to Europe in 1900 and gained a doctorate in Paris in 1903, before returning to Russia and working as a chemist for the Russian Army during the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. He then became president of the ‘Revolutionary Government of the Russian Far East’, before being taken prisoner by the Russian Government for his anti-Tsarist activities. (22)
After two years’ imprisonment in Siberia, he taught physics and chemistry in the Siberian town of Omsk, until the Bolshevik Revolution forced him to flee Russia with a small group of fellow White Russians. Together they travelled across Siberia and into Mongolia, and he wrote of their adventures in his best-selling book Beasts, Men and Gods (1923).
While in Mongolia, Ossendowski made the acquaintance of a fellow Russian, a priest named Tushegoun Lama who claimed to be a friend of the Dalai Lama. Tushegoun Lama told Ossendowski of the subterranean kingdom of Agartha, home of the King of the World.
Intrigued by this reference, Ossendowski asked his friend for further information on this mysterious personage.
‘Only one man knows his holy name. Only one man now living was ever in [Agartha]. That is I. This is the reason why the Most Holy Dalai Lama has honored me and why the Living Buddha in Urga fears me. But in vain, for I shall never sit on the Holy Throne of the highest priest in Lhasa nor reach that which has come down from Jenghis Khan to the Head of our Yellow Faith. I am no monk. I am a warrior and avenger.’ (23)
Several months later, while continuing across Mongolia with some guides left behind by Tushegoun Lama (who had since gone his own way), Ossendowski was startled when his companions suddenly halted and dismounted from their camels, which immediately lay down.
The Mongols began to pray, chanting:
‘Om! Mani padme Hung!’
Ossendowski waited until they had finished praying before asking them what was happening. One of the Mongol guides replied thus:
‘Did you not see how our camels moved their ears in fear? How the herd of horses on the plain stood fixed in attention and how the herds of sheep and cattle lay crouched close to the ground? Did you notice that the birds did not fly, the marmots did not run and the dogs did not bark? The air trembled softly and bore from afar the music of a song which penetrated to the hearts of men, animals and birds alike.
Earth and sky ceased breathing. The wind did not blow and the sun did not move. At such a moment the wolf that is stealing up on the sheep arrests his stealthy crawl; the frightened herd of antelopes suddenly checks its wild course; the knife of the shepherd cutting the sheep’s throat falls from his hand; the rapacious ermine ceases to stalk the unsuspecting saiga.
All living beings in fear are involuntarily thrown into prayer and waiting for their fate. So it was just now. Thus it has always been whenever the “King of the World” in his subterranean palace prays and searches out the destiny of all peoples on the earth.’ (24)
Later, Ossendowski met an old Tibetan, Prince Chultun Beyli, living in exile in Mongolia, who furnished him with more details of the subterranean realm of Agartha and the King of the World.
Agartha, he said, extends throughout all the subterranean passageways of the world. The inhabitants owe allegiance to the ‘King of the World’.
They can cultivate crops due to a strange light that pervades the underground realm. Some of the inhabitants of these regions are extremely strange: one race has two tongues, enabling them to speak in two languages at the same time. There are also many fantastic animals, including tortoises with sixteen feet and one eye.
At this point, Ossendowski was approaching the Chinese border. It was his intention to take a train to Peking, from which he might find passage to the West. In the town of Urga he met an old lama, who provided him with yet more information on the King of the World.
The King’s influence on the activities of the world’s apparent leaders was profound. If their plans were pleasing before God, then the King of the World would help them to realize them; but if they displeased God, then the King would surely destroy them.
His power came from the ‘mysterious science of “Om”’, which is the name of an ancient Holyman who lived more than 300,000 years ago, the first man to know God. When Ossendowski asked him if anyone had ever seen the King of the World, the old lama replied that during the solemn holidays of the ancient Buddhism in Siam and India the King appeared five times in a ‘splendid car drawn by white elephants’. (25)
He wore a white robe and a red tiara with strings of diamonds that hid his face. When he blessed the people with a golden apple surmounted by the figure of a lamb, the,
‘blind received their sight, the dumb spoke, the deaf heard, the crippled freely moved and the dead arose, wherever the eyes of the “King of the World” rested’. (26)
Ossendowski then asked the lama how many people had been to Agartha.
He replied that very many had, but that they never spoke about what they had seen there. He continued that, when the Olets destroyed Lhasa, one of their detachments found its way into the outskirts of Agartha, where they learned some of the lesser mysterious sciences. This is the reason for the magical skills of the Olets and Kalmucks.
Another of Ossendowski’s informants, a lama named Turgut, told him that the capital of Agartha is surrounded by the towns of the high priests and scientists, somewhat in the way that the Potala palace of the Dalai Lama in Lhasa is surrounded by monasteries and temples.
The throne on which the King of the World sits is itself surrounded by millions of incarnated gods, the Holy Panditas. The King’s palace is surrounded by the palaces of the Goro, who possess fantastic power, and who would easily be able to incinerate the entire surface of the Earth, should humankind be unwise enough to declare war on them.
(As we shall see in Chapter Seven, the legend of the King of the World would serve as the inspiration for one of the most enduring technological myths of the twentieth century.)
The legend of Agartha was discussed at length by another writer, the self-educated Christian Hermeticist Saint-Yves d’Alveydre (1842-1909), whose marriage into money enabled him to indulge his yearning for mystical understanding. In 1885 he began to take lessons in Sanskrit from one Haji Sharif (1838-?), about whom very little is known save that he left India at the time of the Sepoy Revolt of 1857 and worked as a bird-seller at Le Havre. (27)
The manuscripts of d’Alveydre’s lessons are preserved in the library of the Sorbonne in Paris. In them, Sharif refers to the ‘Great Agarthian School’ and the ‘Holy Land of Agarttha’ (one of the many alternative spellings of the name). Sharif claimed that the original language of humanity, called Vattan or Vattanian, derived from a 22-letter alphabet.
Although he was unable physically to visit Agartha, d’Alveydre found an ingenious alternative:
through disengaging his astral body, he was able to visit the fabulous realm in spirit form (see pages 108-110).
His astral adventures resulted in a series of books (Mission des Souverains, Mission des Ouvriers, Mission des Juifs and Mission de l’Inde), which he published at his own expense.
Interestingly, he destroyed the entire edition of the last work, Mission de I’lnde, for fear that he had revealed too many secrets of Agartha and might be made to pay for his transgression with his life.
Only two copies survived: one that he kept himself and one that was hidden by the printer. (28)
He might well have been concerned, for Mission de I’lnde contains a detailed account of Agartha, which lies beneath the surface of the Earth somewhere in the East and is ruled over by an Ethiopian ‘Sovereign Pontiff’ called the Brahmatma. The realm of Agartha was transferred underground at the beginning of the Kali-Yuga, about 3200 BC. The Agarthians possess technology that was impressive in d’Alveydre’s day, including railways and air travel.
They know everything about the surface-dwellers, and occasionally send emissaries. Agartha contains many libraries in which all the knowledge of Earth is recorded on stone tablets in Vattanian characters, including the means by which the living may communicate with the souls of the dead.
D’Alveydre states that, although many millions of students have tried to possess the secrets of Agartha, very few have ever succeeded in getting further than the outer circles of the realm.
Like Bulwer-Lytton, who wrote of the Vril-ya in his fictional work The Coming Race (discussed in the previous chapter), d’Alveydre speaks of the Agartthians as being superior to humanity in every respect, the true rulers of the world. A certain amount of controversy arose when Ossendowski published his Beasts, Men and Gods: it displayed such similarities to d’Alveydre’s work that he was accused by some of plagiarism only imperfectly masked by an alteration in the spelling of Agartha.
Ossendowski denied the charge vehemently, and claimed never to have heard of d’Alveydre before 1924. Rene Guenon defended Ossendowski, and claimed that there were many tales of subterranean realms told throughout Central Asia.
In fact, Guenon’s work would later be heavily criticized by his translator Marco Pallis, who called his book Le Roi du Monde (The King of the World) ‘disastrous’ in conversation with Joscelyn Godwin, on the grounds that Ossendowski’s sources were unreliable, and Guenon had allowed himself to enter the realms of the sensational. (29)
The Nazis and Tibetan Mysticism
The legends surrounding the realms of Agartha and Shambhala are confusing to say the least, and their frequently contradictory nature does nothing to help in an understanding of their possible influence on the hideous philosophy of the Third Reich.
As we have seen, some writers claim that Agartha and Shambhala are physical places, cities lying miles underground with houses, palaces, streets and millions of inhabitants.
Others maintain that they are altogether more rarefied places, existing on some other level of reality but apparently coterminous with our physical world.
With regard to their exact location, Childress offers a short summary of their many possible locations:
‘Shambhala is sometimes said to be north of Lhasa, possibly in the Gobi Desert, and other times it is said to be somewhere in Mongolia, or else in northern Tibet, possibly in the Changtang Highlands.
Agharta is said to be south of Lhasa, perhaps near the Shigatse Monastery, or even in Northeast Nepal beneath Mount Kanchenjunga. Occasionally it is said to be in Sri Lanka. Both have been located inside the hollow earth.’ (30)
Adding to this confusion is the frequently made assertion that the two power centers are opposed to each other, with Agartha seen as following the right-hand path of goodness and light, and Shambhala following the left-hand path of evil and darkness (a dichotomy also expressed as spirituality versus materialism).
There is, needless to say, an opposing view that holds that Agartha is a place of evil and Shambhala the abode of goodness. There have been a number of rumors concerning practitioners of black magic operating in Tibet and referring to themselves as the Shambhala or the Agarthi. (31)
Although apparently outlawed by Tibetan Buddhists, they are said to continue their activities in secret. One writer who claimed to have encountered them was a German named Theodore Illion who spent the mid-1930s travelling through Tibet.
In his book Darkness Over Tibet (1937), he describes how he discovered a deep shaft in the countryside. Wishing to gauge its depth, he dropped several stones into it and waited for them to strike the bottom; he was rewarded only with silence. He was told by an initiate that the shaft was ‘immeasurably deep’ and that only the highest initiates knew where it ended.
His companion added:
‘Anyone who would find out where it leads to and what it is used for would have to die.’ (32)
Illion claimed to have gained access to a subterranean city inhabited by monks, whom he later found to be ‘black yogis’ planning to control the world through telepathy and astral projection.
When he discovered that the food he was being given contained human flesh, he decided to make a break for it and fled across Tibet with several of the monks after him. After several weeks on the run, he managed to escape from Tibet and returned to the West with his bizarre and frightening tale. (33)
There have also been persistent rumors that the Nazi interest in Tibet (itself a documented historical fact) was actually inspired by a desire to contact the black adepts of Shambhala and/or Agartha and to enlist their aid in the conquest of the world (see Chapter Three). One of the most vocal proponents of this idea was the British occult writer Trevor Ravenscroft, whose claims we shall examine in greater detail in the next chapter.
The schism between Shambhala and Agartha is described by Rene Guenon, who relates in Le Roi du Monde how the ancient civilization in the Gobi Desert was all but destroyed by a natural cataclysm, and the ‘Sons of Intelligences of Beyond’ retreated to the caverns beneath the Himalayas and re-established their civilization.
There followed the formation of two groups:
the Agarthi, who followed the way of spirituality
the Shambhalists, who followed the way of violence and materialism
Guenon claimed (as would Illion several years later) that the denizens of the subterranean world sought to influence the lives and actions of the surface dwellers through various occult means, including telepathic hypnosis and mediumship.
Childress finds it intriguing that Hitler sent expeditions to Tibet in the late 1930s, soon after the publication of Illion’s book Darkness Over Tibet, and suggests that their true objective was to make contact with the occult groups. (34)
This crypto-historical scenario continues with Hitler making the acquaintance of a mysterious Tibetan monk who told him that Germany could conquer the world by forging an alliance with the ‘Lords of Creation’.
While the victorious Russians were picking their way through the ruins of Berlin (and, according to some, discovering the bodies of several Tibetan monks, as we saw in Chapter Three), it is claimed by the crypto-historians that Hitler was flying out of the city’s Tempelhof Airfield to a rendezvous with the U-boat (possibly U-977) that would take him either to Argentina or Antarctica.
There is, however, a variation on this theme that has the Fuhrer escaping to Tibet to be hidden by those whose alliance he had sought.
According to an article in the May 1950 issue of the pro-Nazi Tempo Der Welt, that magazine’s publisher, Karl Heinz Kaerner, claimed to have met with Martin Bormann in Morocco the previous year. If the story is to be believed (which would be extremely unwise), Bormann informed Kaerner that Hitler was alive in a Tibetan monastery, and that one day he would be back in power in Germany!
In addressing the question of whether such black magicians really lived (or still live) in Tibet, Childress reminds us that in her book Initiations and Initiates in Tibet, the French writer, explorer and authority on Tibetan mysticism Alexandra David-Neel (1868-1969) describes an encounter with a man who could hypnotize and kill from a distance.
Nicholas Roerich also mentions the occultists of the ancient Bon religion, who were at war with the Buddhists of Tibet.
As Childress notes:
Shambhala draws strong similarities to the Land of the Immortals (Hsi Wang Mu) in that it is said to be a wonderful, lush valley in the high mountains with a tall, ornate solid jade tower from which a brilliant light shines.
Like in the Kun Lun Mountains, Agharta and Shambhala have a cache of fantastic inventions and artifacts from distant civilizations in the past.
In contrast to the Valley of the Immortals in the Kun Lun Mountains, the cave communities with their incredible sights were part illusion, say Illion and Ravenscroft.
At the Valley of the Immortals, perhaps there really were ancient artifacts of a time gone by watched over by Ancient Masters. Yet, it is unlikely that any person not chosen specifically by those who are the caretakers of this repository would be allowed inside. Nor would those who had entered (such as possibly Nicholas Roerich) ever reveal the location or what they had seen there. (35)
While certainly intriguing, the claims of crypto-historians regarding Nazi involvement with the black magicians of Tibet suffer from a paucity of hard evidence in the form of documentation and testimony from surviving witnesses. (We have already noted that the much-quoted Hermann Rauschning is considered by some serious historians, such as Ian Kershaw, to be extremely unreliable.)
As is so often the case in the field of occultism, the way is left open to those who are quite content to rely on spurious sources and hearsay in their creation of a tantalizing but incredible vision of history.
One of the most famous of these crypto-historians is Trevor Ravenscroft, and it is to his claims that we now must turn.