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Rebazar Tarzs - Founder of the Brotherhood |
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Rebazar Tarzs -
Founder of the Brotherhood of Light
The origins of this site began many years ago when its author read Paul
Twitchell's spiritual travelogue in a book describing his inner journey through
non-material worlds to encounter the divinity. The book's
The Tiger's Fang. At one point while reading the book, the author asked
the question, "Why don't I have these experiences?" An inner voice
responded, "Do you want to have these experiences?"
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.
The Temples of Golden Wisdom are spoken of fairly often in
Twitchell's writings although the details about how these temples are
structured and run are sparse. However these temples seem to be
ignored or forgotten by the
current leadership. It seems that they have largely lost touch with them.
The brotherhood is however in touch with some members and communicates
mostly in dreams with these individuals.
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 Mughal period in the first part of
the 17th 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 or dacoits on the roads.
Rebazar passed by monasteries and wandering sadhus and dervishes, and
always wanted to know more about them.
But his father said,
These are lazy people unwilling to work who live off the charity of others.
They are like dogs. You should have nothing to do with 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.
Rebazar continues with his account of his life:
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 South Asian 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. The yogis who resided permanently
in these inner
currents of sound 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.
At death, both body and soul disintegrate, separating into pieces. The
sins from the past turn into a mass of obstacles that prevents the soul
from traveling on. The soul must have yogic concentration to overcome
those obstacles. They may appear as beautiful or frightening, alluring
women or hideous monsters, anything which brings forth the passions. They
may also be responsibilities, successes almost reached, or sorrows shared
with others. All of these block the soul's movement.
Twitchell's Development of
If the soul is strong and dedicated, it will overcome these obstacles. But
if these obstacles are powerful and hidden, they are more difficult to deal
with. The more hidden they have been, the more hypnotic they will be. If
all are confronted and their claims resolved, the soul can pass through
these obstacles. For a modern metaphor, they are like a belt of meteors and
planetary fragments that a rocket ship must pass through to get deeper into
space. Some strong souls can pass through; others are dragged down by the
power of these obstacles. They must then reincarnate to resolve the
passions brought to the surface.
With respect to the original lodge group, most of them made it from this
world to the next. They had years of meditative practice, dissolving the
passions and helping others to overcome sin from destructive acts. For
those who did not make it the first time, we left spaces for future
attempts. People with serious sins did not stay in our community but
returned to the world of flesh and war.
One of the bridges to our community is a slide that takes the soul to the
silver gates at its entrance. The path is opened by the mantra YA which is
energized (and followed) by the mantra HU. It takes the soul up mountains
and down waterfalls in dizzying leaps with dramatic rising and falling.
There are bridges over chasms which are invisible until the projected
spiritual light illuminates them.
Eventually, almost all the original group came here. Over time, so did many
the Rebazar Tarzs Persona
This is a speculative commentary on why Twitchell decided to
embellish and change the nature of the Brotherhood and its
founders to fit into previous occult systems and categories. These older ideas
were popularized in
England and America about 70 years prior to Twitchell's writings.
Twitchell created a Theosophical "Tibetan ascended master" persona for
Rebazar. He presented
him as one of a long line of 972 such teachers that stretched back into the
distant past. As in Theosophy, these Eckankar masters were believed to understand the "ancient wisdom" that was the source of all
the world's religions. Twitchell had studied how successful Theosophical writers
were in England in the late 1800's, and apparently used a
similar marketing approach focusing on ascended masters to help popularize
Eckankar. The approach taken by Twitchell (a novelist, science fiction, and adventure writer)
required a "good story" and Twitchell chose to tell the story
themes from Theosophy.
Though Rebazar was said to have a physical body, he appears almost
exclusively to Twitchell in his subtle body. There is an exception to this
where Rebazar is described as
riding in a car with Twitchell though how he might have traveled physically from his home in the Hindu Kush
to the United States is never explained.
The general idea seems to be that these teachers can
appear anywhere at any time (in physical form or otherwise) which
with Rebazar's role as a highly evolved ascended master. Twitchell was once
interested in the Kriya Yoga of Paramhansa Yogananda. Yogananda
describes an ascended
master named Babji who seems quite similar to Rebazar Tarzs having
many of the the
same magical qualities such as a life span of hundreds of years and the
ability to transport himself anywhere physically or
This ascended master mythology is dubious based on the current biography
but one thing
about his story may be true. Twitchell said Rebazar was 500 years old and
retained his physical body all that time. Based on the timeline presented
above, Rebazar was an estimated 500 years old because he retained his
memories and the personality of his earthly existence after his death. He therefore has had
the same identity from the time of his birth in the 1600's to the
present. He is in this sense about 500 years old even though his physical
body lasted only the time of a normal human lifespan.
In general, joining a religious group that claims to be headed by
beings (i.e., ageless masters of an ancient mystical order) who are believed to order and run the universe is more
desirable that joining a relatively small group of volunteers who wish to
help and guide reincarnating souls. The idea that the evolution
of the human race is being guided by set of
superior spiritual beings towards some
ideal spiritual future is a very optimistic and attractive one to
many spiritual seekers.
Twitchell was also perhaps
appealing to the vanity of Eckankar followers by presenting the group
as being special and superior to other religions and philosophies.
But every religion claims to be the true religion although Twitchell's
claims like those of the Theosophists
were perhaps more grandiose than the claims of many
His success in attracting people to Eckankar speaks
for itself. Whether these followers would have been better off
spiritually if they had never heard of Eckankar remains an open question.
Eckankar followers sometimes seek to reconcile the value of the core
tradition (which closely resembles the
traditional Indian Sant Mat or Radha Soami system)
with the many false mythological claims of its founder.
But as with many new religions created and promoted by charismatic leaders, the true is bound up with the false in a single package, and it is a challenge to separate
One approach to dealing with false claims which serve to publicize and
spread a religious system is to view them as a delivery system which
carries new and valuable ideas to an audience of religious seekers.
This is like the hull of a seed which
inner fertile portion of the seed to safely spread. The hull has done its
when the inner part of the seed is exposed to soil and begins
to grow. The hull is then cast off.
The false outer mythology attached
to a religious system
is like the hull of a
seed which is discarded once the seed reaches
the fertile ground of sincere religious seekers and takes root.
Death, Reincarnation, and Karma |
Traveling Spiritually |
Reincarnation Counseling |
Rebazar Tarzs - Founder of the Brotherhood |
The Brotherhood and Defense |
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