What is Aghartha? (Other than an awesome live Miles Davis dark funk album)
Aghartha is a mythical hidden city somewhere under the Earth, usually somewhere in Asia. It’s often confused or even merged with Shambhala, another hidden city in Buddist lore. It’s quite the fixture in a great deal of New Agey and far out conspiracy thought, and like most staples in alternative spirituality has its roots in the Victorian Age.
Aghartha began as a rip of Shambhala, but instead of being centered around Asiatic mythology was instead constructed along Western Nordic mythology of which Wagner’s The Ring Cycle was a huge influence.
During the 1860s and 70s a writer named Louis Jacolliot, a French official living in Chandernagore, India wrote and published a number of books in which he combined his endless fascination in Western Occultism with bits and pieces of Hindu and Buddist myths. His claims were wild and imaginative but not accurate in any way towards Hindu, Buddist or Eastern thought. In fact his main activity was to use tidbits of whatever he picked up in the East to weave into a pastiche of ideas mostly dominated by western esotericism. He is quoted by Blavatsy and both his ideas on Aghartha as well as the Ascended Masters were brought into the Theosophical fold. Like everything else in Theosophy they wound up in New Age thought.
So, in 1871 Jacolliot published The Son of God in which he goes through the 15,000 year history of India as told to him by a wise Brahman. Except this “history” has nothing whatsoever to do with actual Indian or Hindu history or myths and everything to do with the Nordic myths that were all the rage in Europe thanks to Wagner and his epic Ring Cycle. “Agartta” is merely Asgard, with an ‘a’ added at the end to make it sound like a Sanskrit word.
A few years later, in 1886 Aghartha was picked up again and expanded upon by French occultist Alexandre Saint-Yves d’Alveydre who we will call Saint-Yves. He had been exposed to Jacolliot’s book through an Indian parrot shop owner who taught him some Sanskrit and stuff from Jacolliot’s book.
Saint-Yves published The Mission of India in Europe in which he recounts his many adventures visiting the hidden city of Agartta by astral travel. Deep underground the Himalayas Agartta teams with life, populated by millions of humans more technologically and spiritually advanced than their above earth counterparts. They are ruled by a Sovereign Pontiff, posses lots of incredible mystical powers and are waiting to share their knowledge with us once we advance and “Christianity lives up to the commandments which were once drafted by Moses and Jesus.” “When the Anarchy which exists in our world is replaced by the Synarchy.”
Saint-Yves’ pet political philosophy was Synarchy, that is: “social differentiation and hierarchy with collaboration between social classes, transcending conflict between social and economic groups: synarchy, as opposed to anarchy. Specifically, Saint-Yves envisioned a Federal Europe (as well as all the states it has integrated) with a corporatist government composed of three councils, one for academia, one for the judiciary, and one for commerce. Just in case you were wondering.
Still with me? Good. We now say goodbye to Saint-Yves as he bows off the world stage and say hello to Polish adventurer Ferdinand Ossendowski. Ferdinand Ossendowski is an absolutely fascinating man and it is unfortunate that we do not have time to delve into him too deeply today, but suffice to say he was in and out of Russia during the Russian Revolution, engaged in various anti-Revolutionary activities despite the fact that had a rocky history with the Imperialist government.
Regardless, when the Communists finally won Ossendowski and a group of Poles and White Russians escaped through SIberia into Mongola, Tibet and finally into Chinese controlled Mongolia where they were finally halted by Chinese Mongolia’s takeover by a mystic named Baron Roman Ungern von Sternberg (aka The Bloody Baron) who considered himself to be a reincarnation of the god of war. Ossendowski joined the baron’s army as a commanding officer of one of the self-defense troops and also briefly became The Baron’s political advisor and chief of intelligence.
What on earth does this have to do with anything? Well AFTER all this he returned to Poland and in 1922 wrote a book called Beasts, Gods and Men. In it he talks about all of his many adventures wandering the Asiatic landscape. In the first three chapters however, he lifts almost verbatum portions of Saint Yves’ ramblings on Agartta. He called it Agarti and with his book an international bestseller it stamped Aghartha onto the popular landscape indelibly.
In the 1940s editor Raymand Palmer at Amazing Stories published a myriad of fantastic tales involving Aghartha and when the New Age movement came around in the 70s and 80s, they went hog wild with it and have never let go. An example for instance would be this.
And there you have it. A wondrous hidden city, a fantastic, age old meme, borrowed from the Tibetans and reworked by some creative minds to embody the fanciful imaginations if not occasionally credulous belief systems of a century of westerners.