THE NINE UNKNOWN MEN
From _The Morning Of The Magicians_
By Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier
Published by Avon Books. 1968. pp 67 - 71.
This [legend] goes back to the time of the Emperor Asoka, who
reigned in India from 273 B.C. He was the grandson of
Chandragupta who was the first to unify India. Ambitious like his
ancestor whose achievements he was anxious to complete, he
conquered the region of Kalinga which lay between what is now
Calcutta and Madras. The Kalingans resisted and lost 100,000 men
in the battle.
At the sight of this massacre Asoka was overcome. Forever after
he experienced a horror of war. He renounced the idea of trying
to integrate the rebellious people, declaring that the only true
conquest was to win men's hearts by observance of the laws of duty
and piety, because the Sacred Majesty desired that all living
creatures should enjoy security, peace and happiness and be free
to live as they pleased.
A convert to Buddhism, Asoka, by his own virtuous example, spread
this religion throughout India and his entire empire which
included Malaya, Ceylon and Indonesia. Later Buddhism penetrated
to Nepal, Tibet, China and Mongolia. Asoka nevertheless respected
all religious sects. He preached vegetarianism, abolished alcohol
and the slaughter of animals. H.G. Wells, in his abridged version
of his _Outline Of World History_ wrote: "Among the tens of
thousands of names of monarchs accumulated in the files of
history, the name of Asoka shines almost alone, like a star."
It is said that the Emperor Asoka, aware of the horrors of war,
wished to forbid men ever to put their intelligence to evil uses.
During his reign natural science, past and present, was vowed to
secrecy. Henceforward, and for the next 2,000 years, all
researches, ranging from the structure of matter to the techniques
employed in collective psychology, were to be hidden behind the
mystical mask of a people commonly believed to be exclusively
concerned with ectasy and supernatural phenomena. Asoka founded
the most powerful secret society on earth: that of the Nine
It is still thought that the great men responsible fro the destiny
of modern India, and scientists like Bose and Ram believe in the
existence of the Nine, and even receive advice and messages from
One can imagine the extraordinary importance of secret knowledge
in the hands of nine men benefiting directly from experiments,
studies and documents accumulated over a period of more than
2,000 years. What can have been the aim of these men? Not to
allow methods of destruction to fall into the hands of unqualified
persons and to pursue knowledge which would benefit mankind.
Their numbers would be renewed by co-option, so as to preserve the
secrecy of techniques handed down from ancient times.
Examples of the Nine Unknown Men making contact with the outer
world are rare. There was, however, the extraordinary case of one
of the most mysterious figures in Western history: the Pope
Sylvester II, known also by the name of Gerbert d'Aurillac. Born
in the Auvergne in 920 (d. 1003) Gerbert was a Benedictine monk,
professor at the University of Rheims, Archbishop of Ravenna and
Pope by the grace of Ortho III. He is supposed to have spent some
time in Spain, after which a mysterious voyage brought him to
India where he is reputed to have aquired various kinds of skills
which stupified his entourage. For example, he possessed in his
palace a bronze head which answered YES or NO to questions put to
it on politics or the general position of Christianity. According
to Sylvester II this was a perfectly simple operation
corresponding to a two-figure calculation, and was performed by an
automaton similar to our modern binary machines. This "magic"
head was destroyed when Sylvester died, and all the information it
imparted carefully concealed. No doubt an authorized research
worker would come across some interesting things in the Vatican
In the cybernetics journal, _Computers and Automation_ of October
1954, the following comment appeared: "We must suppose that he
(Sylvester) was possessed of extraordinary knowledge and the most
remarkable mechanical skill and inventiveness. This speaking head
must have been fashioned 'under a certain conjunction of stars
occring at the exact moment when all the planets were starting on
their courses.' Neither the past, nor the present nor the future
entered into it, since this invention apparently far exceeded in
its scope its rival, the perverse 'mirror on the wall' of the
Queen, the precursor of our modern electronic brain. Naturally it
was widely asserted that Gerbert was only able to produce such a
machine head because he was in league with the Devil and had sworn
eternal allegiance to him."
Had other Europeans any contact with the society of the Nine
Unknown Men? It was not until the nineteenth century that this
mystery was referred to again in the works of the French writer
Jacolliot was French Consul at Calcutta under the Second Empire.
He wrote some quite important prophetic works, comparable, if not
superior to those of Jules Verne. He also left several books
dealing with the great secrets of the human race. A great many
occult writers, prophets and miracle-workers have borrowed from
his writings which, completely neglected in France, are well known
Jacolliot states catagorically that the Soceity of Nine did
actually exist. And, to make it all the more intriguing, he
refers in the this connection to certain techniques, unimaginable
in 1860, such as, for example, the liberation of energy,
sterilization by radiation and psychological warfare.
Yersin, one of Pasteur and de Roux's closest collaborators, was
entrusted, it seems, with certain biological secrets when he
visited Madras in 1890, and following the instructions he received
was able to prepare a serum against cholera and the plague.
The story of the Nine Unknown Men was popularized for the first
time in 1927 in a book by Talbot Mundy who for twenty-five years
was a member of the British police force in India. His book is
half-fiction, half scientific inquiry. The Nine apparently
employed a synthetic language, and each of them was in possession
of a book that was constantly being rewritten and containing a
detailed account of some science.
The first of these books is said to have been devoted to the
technique of propaganda and psychological warfare. "The most
dangerous of all sciences," wrote Mundy, "is that of moulding mass
opinion, because it would enable anyone to govern the whole
It must be remembered that Korjybski's _General Semantics_ did not
appear until 1937 and that it was not until the West had the
experience of the last World War that the techniques of psychology
of language, i.e., propaganda, could be formulated. The first
American college of semantics only came into being in 1950. In
France almost the only book that at all well known is Serge
Tchocotine's _Le Viol des Foules_ which has had a considerable
influence in intellectual polical circles, although it deals only
superficially with the subject.
The second book was on physiology. It explained, among other
things, how it is possible to kill a man by touching him, death
being caused by a reversal of the nerve-impulse. It is said that
Judo is a result of "leakages" from this book.
The third volume was a study on microbiology, and dealt especially
with protective colloids.
The fourth was concerned with the transmutation of metals. There
is a legend that in times of drought temples and religious relief
organizations received large quanities of fine gold from a secret
The fifth volume contains a study of all means of communication,
terrestial and extra-terrestial.
The sixth expounds the secrets of gravitation.
The seventh contains the most exhaustive cosmogony known to
The eighth deals with light.
The ninth volume, on sociology, gives the rules for the evolution
of societies, and means of foretelling their decline.
Connected with the Nine Unknown Men is the mystery of the waters
of the Ganges. Multitudes of pilgrims, suffering from the most
appalling diseases, bathe in them without harming the healthy
ones. The sacred waters purify everything. Their strange
properties have been attributed to the fact that they contain
bacteriophages. But why should these not be formed in the
Bramaputra, the Amazon or the Seine? Jacolliot in his book
advances the theory of sterilization by radiation, a hundred years
before such a thing was thought to be possible. These radiations,
he says, probably come from a secret temple hollowed out in the
bed of the Ganges.
Avoiding all forms of religious, social or political agitations,
deliberately and perfectly concealed from the public eye, the Nine
were the incarnation of the ideal man of science, serenely aloof,
but conscious of his moral obligations. Having the power to mold
the destiny of the human race, but refraining from its exercise,
this secret society is the finest tribute imaginable to freedom of
the most exalted kind. Looking down from the watch-tower of their
hidden glory, these Nine Unknown Men watched civilizations being
born, destroyed and re-born again, tolerant rather than
indifferent, and ready to come to the rescue -- but always
observing that rule of silence that is the mark of human
Myth or reality? A magnificent myth, in any case, and one that
has issued from the depths of time -- a harbinger, maybe, of the