The voice was that of Rebazar Tarzs, Paul Twitchell's teacher and guide
during the inner travels described in the book. This interaction began a
decades long dialogue with this teacher and other members of the
Brotherhood. Rebazar Tarzs was described by Twitchell as an Eck Master,
and one of the principal gurus in the Eckankar lineage of teachers.
In this essay, we are going to describe Rebazar's life, and the process of
the development of the Brotherhood of Light and the Temples of
The history of the Brotherhood of Light can be traced to its origins in
North India during the early years of the Mughal period in the first part of
the 16th century. One of its primary
founders was a man whose title was Rebazar, a name that can be traced to
his family's merchant background. It was a title of honor given to
respected and successful merchant families and traders. Rai Bazaar meant
king of the merchants, the wisest and shrewdest person in the bazaar or
There has been much speculation on the origin of the name Rebazar Tarzs.
Because Rebazar had a Muslim family name, Twitchell preferred to address him by this title fearing
a Muslim sounding name might alienate Eckankar followers. But a second name was required to fully identify a person.
So Twitchell searched for a last name that might be acceptable to people.
background in Science Fiction and adventure writing made him sensitive to
the importance of choosing a good name when embellishing a story.
Rebazar was recounting his travels during his life in the
physical world to Twitchell, he mentioned that
he had visited Tarsus in modern day Turkey, the place in the Bible where
the evangelist Saint Paul was born.
Paul Twitchell thought that connecting himself with the biblical Saint Paul
and connecting the name Tarsus with his guru might create a subconscious
association that would appeal to people and enhance both their
Twitchell decided that Rebazar
given the shortened, single syllable name "Tarzs" instead of Tarsus to keep the association but
vary the name enough so the subtle connection would be maintained. The new
name had the advantage of
rhyming and adding
the "z" before the "s" put the "z" in both names. Both changes made the
full name sound more mysterious, and made it difficult to trace to any culture,
language, or existing religious tradition.
As he describes his life, Rebazar Tarzs came from an area of mountains and
deserts, a largely colorless land with occasional oases and groves. His
father led caravans which carried textiles - mostly cotton and wool. Silk
was not available there. Rebazar rode with his father and soldiers on his
own horse from the time that he was a child. All trade at that time
required soldiers since there were many bandits on the roads.
Rebazar passed by monasteries and wandering sadhus and dervishes, and
always wanted to know more about them.
Rebazar went out trading for many years and made his father proud in his
old age because of his success. But when his father died, he transferred
his portion of the business to his mother and brothers. He chose to help
struggling artists, merchants, and musicians with his portion of the
inheritance, and eventually decided to leave the family. He had not
married and had no children, and was therefore free of any family
Rebazar went out on the pilgrim trails visiting temples and monasteries.
His family followed the laws of Muhammad, but like the Sufis of the time,
he wanted mystical experience and to experience God directly without
relying solely on holy books and rituals.
He kept enough money to have food for his journeys and walked or rode on
old horses. He dressed in white like a Sufi and went to many of their
meetings and festivals. They seemed to fit his ideals best and he wished to
be like them.
I was also a singer and I sang as I traveled through the desert. I went
through many desolate valleys which created strange echoes as I sang. In
one place, my voice circled all around me, and the sounds created a pathway
to the worlds of djinns and angels. This was my first experience of the
In answer to the question of whether the people in the group went to live
at the visualized lodge after they died, and what skills were required to
enter the lodge after death, Rebazar answered in the following way:
As I roamed, I met other groups of pilgrims, some of whom did meditation on
sound. Some were musicians who earned their living through playing flutes,
drums, and stringed instruments. These travelers started out playing for
beauty and ended up playing for spiritual transcendence.
Our group did not have a spiritual teacher as leader, so we made our vows
directly to God. Our path would be the teaching of spiritual music to
others and the group would do this both in life and after death. We would
help those that wandered mad, or took wrong paths in their religious search
as best we could.
We created our own khanqah or religious community, and this later became
the origin of the Brotherhood of Light. The community dwelling we created
was out in the desert. This was the earthly lodge which preceded the
supernatural one. The lodge was built of white marble, for some of its
members came from wealthy families, who knew that they would gain merit from
the donation. They gave time, land, and materials to make the monastery a
beautiful one. It was located in a rocky desert, so workers had to travel
a long way transporting stone, metal, and wood. There was water nearby for
drinking and bathing, and food was brought once a week, first by relatives
and later by devotees.
The group decided to try a settled life instead of wandering. Most of the
day was spent in contemplation, except for the time for eating and work.
There was cooking and cleaning, and some of the people knew how to make
musical instruments. That became one way we supported ourselves. We did
not beg or act like dogs, as my father had described sadhus and their
begging for alms.
Our group did meditation on both instrumental and vocal music. The prayer
room had white marble floors, and it had rugs that were given to us by
householders. Some were for our own use, but others were prayer rugs to be
used for a year only. People believed that a rug used by a saint for a
year would sanctify the rug and then they could use it back in their own
homes to gain blessings.
At this point, the community's meditations were still somewhat
unstructured. But over time, traveling sages and saints came to visit the
community. The group gave them hospitality and the visitors gave them
teachings. At this point one of the other founders of the brotherhood came
to visit and ended up staying. He had been an administrator in his worldly
life and had become a wanderer when he left it. He had become part of the
sound current or Shabda Yoga meditation tradition, a path which seemed both
new and familiar to the group. He had learned from other teachers and
wanted to take the organizational and administrative skills he had learned
and use them to create an ideal monastic setting.
He divided us into different groups: counselors for visitors with
problems, artists and creative people, maintainers of the physical setting,
and later experts, specialists, and consultants. But we would pray before
God as equals and we accepted all names of God.
So the earthly lodge preceded the heavenly one, and eventually the range of
visitors expanded from human visitors to include disembodied spiritual
visitors. We lived apart from the world and word spread bringing people to
us. We offered prayers for the sick and the mad, and while our prayer room
was marble, we lived simply. We fasted each week and ate lightly
otherwise. We kept up the daily prayers and followed purity rules, but we
avoided the endless wars of the local Muslim rulers.
Our group was based on Sufi Islam but we understood that the 99 names of
God included Hindu, Buddhist, and other forms of the deity. God was beyond
all form but could show himself in many forms. And God was a singer who
created songs of infinity, and the currents of sound that traveled through
the oceans of time and space.
We learned from all who came to visit us. Some had special relationships
with ghosts and spirits, and we learned about their worlds too. It was a
good and meaningful life. When orphans of war came to us, we gave them
shelter and some stayed with us. We were not able to allow women - it
would have scandalized the pious people around us. But I believe that we
should have found a way - there are many women who are both wise and
However, in contrast to our earthly lodge, our supernatural lodge is
not limited to men and has
women as counselors and in other positions of authority. For this reason,
term brotherhood may be considered less descriptive than in the past and
needs to be interpreted more broadly as the brotherhood of all mankind (which includes
As we grew older, we wondered if it was possible to have a group like ours
continue after death. This was a difficult question. Many sages believed
that people had no choice in their afterlife, for God determined
everything. Others were open to the idea but had no idea how to go about
it. Death was a veil that blinded us.
However we had some magicians come to us who had been trained in creating
worlds by organizing sacred letters and numbers. They called their god El. They
could create ladders and nets that went through non-physical worlds, and
they could create smaller worlds as their god had created the universe. We
gave them hospitality and talked long into the night. The next day they
spoke among themselves and agreed to exchange mystical teachings with us.
So they stayed for weeks and then months and we came to see how our
currents of sound were like their structures of letters and numbers of
light. We realized that intersections of our knowledge could be created and
used. So we got together and created a great plan. We would build an
institution like our lodge in the next world. It would be below the heavens
so that we could help travelers who passed through the gates of death. Our
visitors could act as visualizers and create great beauty, and we could be
counselors for the needy.
Each night, they built the non-physical lodge brick by brick. Having
wandered in our barren land, they wanted to build a place of mountains and
rivers and forests. We all helped with visualizing the lodge, but they
were the experts. We located a plane that was not claimed by any religion,
and was far from any danger. This would be the location of our
So in the later years, we served visitors in our desert monastery and spent
our afternoons and evenings working on the lodge. One of our members had
been an architect early in his life and he gave us designs for buildings
and grounds. We had to design the landscape first before we could start on
the buildings. There would be special areas for visitors, for living
quarters, for shrines and libraries and public spaces which later became
courts and classrooms. We created lakes and gardens and rocky cliffs.
It was enjoyable to imagine and create a perfect world.
It is difficult to train the imagination. It tends to go off into flights
of fantasy, and be influenced by moods and emotions. But to visualize
correctly, these tendencies must be controlled, and all powers of the mind
totally focused. With one lapse of concentration, an entire edifice can
fall. It is like acrobats who perform by building a human pyramid - when
one person leaves or even sneezes, the whole pyramid of people can
So we contributed to the work. Because our expert group of visualizers did
not follow Islam, we decided that we would not emphasize a single religion.
We would be followers of God however he showed himself.
One of our founding members changed his name to begin with El instead of Al
to show his respect for the tradition of our visualizers. He went from
al-Morayya to El Moriah, and he has kept his new name ever since.
Different members chose to emphasize different areas. Some focused on the
healing center and developed niches as doorways to other worlds for
destructive spirits. Others emphasized areas for teaching and
contemplation. I wanted an area for meditation and negotiation, important
skills that are forgotten in times of war and antagonism.
We practiced going to the inner temple in our dreams. Some people have
undisciplined dreams and imagine what they desire and what they fear. Our
dreams were controlled to teach our members how to enter the lodge at
death. We also created pathways for good souls to follow to the lodge.
This was not easy, and the mental training necessary takes years. Even
controlled entrance into dream states takes years for those without natural
So slowly over the years we built the inner hills and valleys and rocks and
trees. When they were stable enough, we worked on the buildings. It was
exciting to think we could build a paradise.
We did not have many enemies. We were outwardly poor, so bandits were
uninterested in us. Our only real valuable thing was the monastery itself,
and it is hard for bandits to carry away walls and floors.
Besides we prayed for everyone, and tried to heal whoever came to us. We
cared for neglected and abused children, and sometimes parents became red
and embarrassed to ask for their children back. We left the decision up to
the children. We did not want to force them back into situations of abuse
and cruelty. Not all parents are good people.
We also fed the poor on Friday with food we cooked the day before.
Travelers and pilgrims would come on that day and we would pray for them.
Our noon prayers and meditations were public, but others were private.
In order to research decoration of the lodge, I decided to travel for a
year. The other monks were fine with this. There were many wandering
Sufis, dervishes, and fakirs. So I would not stand out.
I saw many wise men and saints but they were more useful for determining
our beliefs than for decorating our rooms. I went to temples, masjids, and
churches and saw underground cells for monks and rooms in palaces for
visitors and entertainers which were spacious and open to sun and wind.
They had beautiful gardens which I would duplicate at the lodge in the
future. I saw many types of cloth which we could use and many ways to
store knowledge as scrolls, as letters incised in gems, as books, as
letters in bark and wood and flesh. Our lodge would have a place to gather
And I saw artwork from different lands. While Islam limits the arts, other
traditions revel in them. On this I would wish to be as open as possible.
The lodge would be full of beauty.
I traveled through many lands and sometimes took the role of a ragged fakir
- exactly what my father would have despised. But it is the safest role in
lands of war, bandits, and poverty. In safer regions, I appeared as a
merchant. I had money and jewels sewn into the sides of my shoes. If
necessary, I could act as a fortune-teller, an astrologer and a reader of
I got many ideas for how the lodge should be made. I did go to the cold
Himalayan mountains where the only warmth is in monasteries and hostels. I
met Buddhist monks in my travels and we taught each other meditation
techniques. I also met yogis whose paths were made of spiritual sound.
I traveled with Shabda Yogis in both the physical world and the spiritual
worlds. They gave suggestions for sound worlds to visit, and I told them of
our project of building the lodge. They thought it was a good idea - a
place they could send the confused and unworthy souls who had somehow made
it to their realms and needed help. It was a good option for them.
But sound yoga was only one of our meditation techniques. We had
visualization and ways to build bridges between planes and ways to shed
bodies as we traveled and then take them on again when returning. Thus
souls could leave bodies and return to them, putting them on like robes
taken off for bathing.
When I returned to our group from travel, I had many ideas for landscapes
and gardens and buildings. Meanwhile, El Moriah had been organizing
members by skills, and inviting new people he found worthy. I found them a
fine team to work with.
We spent many years designing and visualizing. Our lodge would be worthy of
our dreams. In building the place, the visualizers made roads of sound to
get there. The mantras YA and HU would generate waves and tunnels that
could take souls there.
From the Persians, we took trees made of sound, whose leaves and flowers
chimed. From the North Indian Sufis, we took the idea of sacred dance to
honor God. From painters, we took the colors of the lodge's landscape -
bright blue and gold for the sky, turquoise for the lakes, violet and mauve
for the mountains. We took design ideas from many places.
Our shrine room in the dome was made to be circular, with murals of the
spiritual growth of the soul and the symbols of many spiritual paths. By
this time there were many people building the lodge, especially at night in
their dreams. The land grew with rocks and trees, and the lakes had fish.
It did not take years. It took centuries. But here time has no limits.