“Most secret societies are collegiate or adult… They are like fraternities, only they don’t have houses or public identities. We don’t actually know what they do. Because they’re secret.”
E. Lockhart, American fiction writer
Undetected to the western world for two centuries and even before the legends of the world famous “Priory of Sion”, “Opus Dei” and the “Illuminati” would start, there existed a secret society in India, today known as “The Secret Society of Nine Unknown Men”. This clandestine organization, as the name suggests, was a secret and elite group of nine great and powerful people, and is said to be established by one of the most significant emperors of India, Ashoka the Great.
This society remained unknown until 1923, when Talbot Mundy, wrote a novel named “Nine Unknown Men” concerning the same society, claiming that it was founded by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, around 270 B.C. to protect an advanced knowledge that would be a danger for humanity if it fell into the wrong hands. The nine unknown men were entrusted with guarding nine books of secret knowledge. As Talbot says on, ‘The Nine Books’ were of the following subjects: –
- Propaganda: The first book contained the techniques of propaganda and psychological warfare. This was an important aspect because if one could mould public opinion, one could rule the world.
- Physiology: The second book focused on physiology and explained how to kill a person simply by touching him. It involved the reversal of a nerve impulse.
- Microbiology: The third book discussed microbiology and biotechnology. They had apparently developed a “divine nectar” and are thus immortal and have lived down these 2000 years.
- Alchemy: The fourth book dealt with alchemy i.e. transmutation of metals. Mundy supported this theory of his by claiming that in times of severe drought, temples and relief organizations received large quantities of gold from ‘a secret source.’
- Communication: The fifth book contained the study of all means of communication, both terrestrial as well as extra-terrestrial, which means that the Nine Unknown Men were aware of the latter.
- Gravity: The sixth book explored the secrets of gravitation and contained instructions on how to build an anti-gravity, flying machine known as a “vimana”.
- Cosmology: The seventh book dealt with cosmology and all matters related to the universe.
- Light: The eighth book discussed the properties of light, such as the speed of light and how to change its speed to use it as a weapon.
- Sociology: The ninth book was about sociology. It included rules for the evolution of human societies and a means of foretelling their eventual decline. Thus, it contained ways to create, nurture and destroy a whole culture or civilization.
According to him, the story was real and all the information he had gathered was from India when he served as an officer of British Police there. So, first, let us take a look into this claim for a moment. He worked in India for just 5 years (from 1899-1904), and he could find out one of the best-kept secrets in the world, which has been guarded for almost 2000 years, that too by being an outsider to the country. This all seems pretty unrealistic. But what was revealed next, after 37 years, in the 1960 Novel ‘The Morning of the Magicians’ by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier, formed a solid base to support the existence of the society. They claimed that Pope Silvester II had met the society and also that the 19th-century French administrator and writer Louis Jacolliot confirmed their existence. On his return from India, the Pope had brought many strange ‘gadget-type’ things like a bronze head that was like a computer and was capable of interacting via speech and answering yes and no questions, which was a considerably advanced technology for that time period. Later, when he tried to display it to the public in a church, he mysteriously fell ill and died. There are many conspiracies that suggest that this organisation murdered people to stop them from revealing their powerful secret knowledge to the less intelligent common masses. As the belief in the existence of this organization deepened, more historians and novelists became fascinated by it. Though it did not gain as much fame as other secret societies like “Illuminati” or “Priory of Sion”, if someday, it could be proved to really have existed, then it could well be the oldest secret organization in the human history.
The number ‘9’ has always had a special place throughout the Indian history. There are ‘9 celestial influencers’ according to Indian astrology, ‘9 universal elements’ according to Hindu philosophy and also, most rulers have had a group of 9 intellectual men in their courts, be it Chandragupta, Vikramaditya, Akbar, Krishna Chandra or Raja Krishna Dev Rai. Internationally, the number ‘9’ finds special significance in many cultures and rituals. For the Hebrews, nine is a symbol of truth. For the Christians, the Ninth Hour is the Hour of Prayer. Also, the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians about “nine” fruits of the Spirit. In China, the number nine is an auspicious number because when it is pronounced, it sounds like the word for “long lasting”. Nine is strongly associated with the Chinese dragon, a symbol of magic and power as there are believed to be nine forms of the dragon, each described in terms of nine attributes and has nine children. In Buddhism too, important rituals usually involve nine monks.
Perhaps some powerful men have always existed throughout Indian history who have been in possession of some greater science to protect India. Worth to be noted is that Takshashila University and Nalanda University, the centres of learning for the whole world at that time, used to have huge libraries. So, the knowledge and other scientific discoveries of that time were keenly recorded by scholars. It can also be possible that this society existed even before Ashoka and according to some conspiracy theorists, when Ashoka was the ruler of the largest empire of that time, he must have come in contact of the members of this ‘secret society’. Then he must have seen a chance to save humanity from another carnage like the Kalinga battle by depriving the common people of the “modern advancements of the science of that time, which, if in good hands, could do wonders, but, if it fell into the wrong hands could destroy humanity”. Thus, he must have instructed each of the nine members to note down every knowledge they all possess in the form of a book and protect it with their lives. In a perfect way to cover-up their tracks, Ashoka sent them to various countries, disguised as Buddhist Monks to spread the message of peace and non-violence, so that the power of knowledge could not be concentrated at one place alone. They were also directed to continue the research. This goes fairly well with the fact that immediately after Ashoka’s demise, the pace of scientific and sociological advancement and stability in India dipped drastically.
Believers of this society may argue that whenever the time was right and people of India were progressive and ready to accept changes, the ‘Nine Unknown Men’ have provided the knowledge which could have benefitted the outside world. This is the reason why there were huge scientific strides whenever we had stable empires like the ‘Gupta Dynasty’ or the ‘Vijayanagar Kingdom’. Really, it is hard to believe that without the necessary equipments, Indian geniuses could calculate many modern constants accurately, like the value of Pi or the distance between Earth and Sun. Even physicians like Sushruta and Charaka had performed Plastic and Cataract surgeries. These all were impossible without the knowledge and long-span research of some highly erudite people, probably the “Nine Unknown Men”. They even point that after independence, when ISRO and DRDO scientists were denied the technology for GPS and Cryogenic satellites from USSR and Russia, it were these ‘Nine Unknown Men’ who helped them develop these indigenously.
But on the contrary, the accountability of the society can be questioned as they remained mere spectators when Indians were plundered by invaders like the Mughals or the British? Why didn’t they help independent India achieve greater heights in prosperity and scientific advancements? Or where are they now, when India is facing a large number of terror attacks, political turmoil and social deterioration? When people will try to find answers to these questions with an unbiased approach, they can easily figure out that India, Indians, their resources, their cultures and their knowledge is so vast, that they can’t be controlled by a single group of nine people.
It is very probable that a powerful society could have existed in the past. There is no concrete evidence to abolish this society as a myth, neither can it be proven concretely. Also, the secret society could have lost its influence over the Indian administration as time went on and faded into the pages of historians and novelists. There is a chance that the first writer, Talbot Mundy, had misinterpreted the facts about the ‘Navratnas’ to be a secret society of nine men. Also, Pope Sylvester could have co-incidentally fell ill due to his age. It could be that Ashoka had formed a council of Nine Men but only to spread the message of peace and non-violence. Great scientific strides by Indians during some reigns could be because of the support and patronage that they got from the rulers. The success of the Indian scientists in obtaining the Cryogenic and GPS technologies could be the sheer brilliance and determination of the scientists themselves. Today’s world has become a global and digital village. The ideas of freedom, transparency, liberalisation and socialisation have spread. If anything controversial happens, people are intelligent enough to figure out the reasons. But linking everything to some secret plans of some secret societies seems quite absurd. Such stories seem fascinating in novels and stories only, not in real life.
– Rohan Nishant