|Mouni Sadhu revealed. His writings, origins, life, teachers by Rafal T. Prinke
First published in LOT 10, "The Lamp of Thoth" [Leeds, UK] Vol. II, 1983, No 5.
Reproduced with the kind permission of Mr Chris Bray, publisher, The Lamp of Thoth' (email@example.com,) and the generous permission of Rafal T. Prinke
Rafal T. Prinke: Mouni Sadhu Revealed
The books written by an author calling himself Mouni Sadhu are well known to occultists and, as far as I can tell, appreciated by most of them. Every reader of those books, while reading them, must have wondered whether "Mouni Sadhu" is an Indian and sage or an European. When one considers a few autobiographical remarks, which are to be found here and there throughout Mouni Sadhu's books, it becomes clear that he is not an Indian. So who is he? This intriguing question will be answered below, revealing the identity of Mouni Sadhu for the first time. Before doing that, however, I must explain my motifs.
As the readers of the L.O.T. May have noticed, in my articles I try to present some aspects of Polish occultism, which is generally unknown to the British occult community. In doing that it would be unwise not to deal with those Polish Occultists, who are already known abroad and therefore may serve as a means for drawing the readers' attention to other aspects of the subject. As Mouni Sadhu is Polish by birth and is well known through his books, I decided to write something about him. Here an objection may be raised against my revealing of his identity, stating that if an occultist chooses to be anonymous, no one should violate his will. I can only say that I believe Crowley was right in maintaining that in the present Aeon all occult and esoteric knowledge should no longer be kept secret. Crowley revealed many facts about the G.D. people as well as its rituals, for which both occultists and historians of the occult should be grateful to him. Besides, to know something about the life of an occult author often helps to evaluate his teachings.
Most of the facts I am going to unveil here were given to me by people who know Mouni Sadhu before the war when he lived in Poland, and therefore I know more about the first part of his life. His true surname was SUDOWSKI (I am using past tense, as I believe he is no longer on this earthly plane of existence) and he used three Christian names on various occasions, namely Mieczyslaw, Demetriusz and Dymitr. The exact year of his birth is not known to me, but it must have been around 1900. Sudowski was born in Russia, his father being Polish and his mother of German descent (her family name was von Ingelstroem). Educated in Russia, he was an officer cadet in the White Army during the Civil War. Soon, however, he escaped to Poland, where he was made lieutenant of the Polish Army and probably took part in the Polish-Soviet war of 1920-21.
From the mid-twenties until the beginning of the World War II Sudowski worked at the post office in Warsaw. The people who knew him at that time say that he was very intelligent, nice, friendly, witty, and well acquainted with the occult and esoteric matters. He did not drink alcohol, smoke nor eat meat. A few less positive things I learned about him at that phase included killing a colleague in a duel (however it must be said that he had been provoked), persuading a friend to commit a suicide, and changing wives with a great frequency (they fled from him).
The occult career of Sudowski began in the Polish Theosophical Society, at that time led by a distinguished Polish theosophist and scholar, Wanda Dynowska. However, he soon became dissatisfied with the T.S. and left it together with a number of other members, for whom he organized a separate initiatory group (this was the "occult lodge" mentioned later in his The Tarot). The group studied the teachings of both the Western and Eastern traditions and seems to have been quite successful, though the membership was limited to a small number of people. In 1928 Sudowski wrote two series of articles, one of which was on the Major Arcana of the Tarot, and the other was entitled The Bright Path. They appear in an occult-spiritualist monthly Odrodzenie (Revival), which had been in publication since 1921. However, they were not finished because the publication of Odrodzenie was suspended (the Tarot series stopped at Arcanum VII).
In September 1930, when the police discovered what they called "a satanistic sect" (see my article in the L.O.T. 6) and which was in reality an offshoot of the Martinist Order, Sudowski was suspected of satanistic practices. The accusation was not founded on truth, as he had never been connected with Martinists. He visited Czeslaw Czynski, the key figure in Polish Martinism, on one occasion at least (that visit is described in The Tarot pp. 128-9 (Wilshire 1974 ed.)), but at that time Czynski had already left the Order. Sudowski even sued the press for libel and won.
Now we come to the period in the life of Mieczyslaw Sudowski which is the most surprising and difficult to understand, namely the years of World War II. The case is similar to that of Crowley in World War I, that is Sudowski is said to have collaborated with Germans and approved of their actions. It must be stressed, however, that he did not cause harm to his Polish friends, about whom he knew that they belonged to the resistance movement. When the war was over, Sudowski escaped to Germany and then to Brazil where he lived for several years. There he wrote his first book, which was published in Portuguese. Unfortunately, I do not know its title nor whether it was one of those later published in English.
After some time Sudowski moved again, this time to India, where he became a disciple of Sri Ramana Maharishi and also was in contact with Wanda Dynowska, former president of the Polish Theosophical Society and then Professor of Slavonic Literature at the University of Madrea (she did a really great work translating into Polish and publishing many masterpieces of the Indian spiritual literature). It was at that time that Sudowski assumed the name of Mouni Sadhu and obtained the knowledge and experience which later made it possible for him to write his trilogy In Days Of Great Peace, Concentration and Samadhi.
After the death of Sri Ramana Maharishi, Sudowski - now Mouni Sadhu - went to live in Australia, where he wrote all of his English books. I am not sure whether he is still alive, but my attempts at contacting him did not prove successful.
I do not feel qualified to assess the work of Mouni Sadhu, especially as I do not know all the books written by him. However, I think that the truth should revealed concerning one of them entitled The Tarot - A Contemporary Course of The Quintessence of Hermetic Occultism. The author says (on pp. 12-13 (Wilshire 1974 ed.)), that the basis of it was a work by Prof. Gregory Ossipovitch Mebes, the leading figure in Russian hermetic occultism before the Revolution (for more information about him see my article in the L.O.T. Vol. 2 no. 1), which is true but is not the whole truth. In fact the book by Mouni Sadhu is almost a verbatim translation of that by Mebes, with a few additions of his own, dealing chiefly with the Eastern spiritual teachings. Moreover, he consciously misinformed the reader, stating that the work of Mebes "was never for sale on the open market as a book and only a few initiated circles of students were lucky enough to get a copy." Actually, the book entitled An Encyclopedic Course of Occultism, was published in St. Petersburg in 1912 in two volumes and was easily available at that time. It was later republished in Shanghai in the 1930's and there was a Polish translation published in 1921 also in two volumes, which Mouni Sadhu must have known, as it had a large edition and was very popular in Poland, and especially as it was translated and issued by Jozef Chobot, the editor of the monthly Odrodzenie in which Sadowski's articles appeared. He also stated that he had bought his copy of the book by Mebes from a Russian refugee, which is false too, as I happen to know how and when he obtained it (in fact borrowed and never returned).
In spite of all this, Mouni Sadhu must be appreciated for enabling English-speaking occultists to get acquainted with the valuable work of G.O. Mebes, as well as for his other books, which are written in clear and simple language and yet adequately present sophisticated concepts and practices of both the Eastern and the Western paths. Perhaps it is the fate of eminent occult teachers to become controversial figures and escape the clear-cut good-or-bad evaluations.