Occult Science in India, by Louis Jacoilliot, , at sacred-texts.com
I have not much to add to what I have already said about the Brahmatma.
The requisite qualifications for the position were that the candidate should have been initiated, that he should have taken the vow of chastity, and that he should be a member of the Supreme Council.
That this vow was a serious matter will be readily understood when it is known that any Brahmin taking it in the commencement of his career must necessarily persevere until he arrives at the dignity of Yoguy, unless he wishes to repeat upon earth a series of transformations. Not having paid the debt of his ancestors, by the birth of a son, who can continue his genealogical line and officiate at his funeral, he would be obliged to come back after death, under a new human envelope, to accomplish that final duty.
The Yoguys, or members of the Council of Seventy, by reason of their high degree of sanctity, had no new transmigrations to undergo: it was a matter of indifference whether they had been heads of families or whether they had always maintained their chastity. But in view of the small number admitted into this sanhedrim, if we may so call it, the Brahmin who should pronounce this terrible vow, as it is termed in the book of the Pitris, at the close of his novitiate, was in danger of having to go through a succession of new lives, from the first monad, by which
the smallest particle of moss is animated, to man, who is, so far, the most perfect expression of the vital form.
While the Brahmatma could only be chosen from among those Yoguys who had taken the vow of chastity, his election was not due to any supposed degree of sanctity on his part resulting therefrom, for he had hardly been elected, when, notwithstanding his advanced age of eighty years, in order that his election might be held valid, he had to furnish evidence of his virile power in connection with one of the virgins of the Pagoda, who was given him as a bride.
If a male child sprang from this union he was placed in a wicker basket, and turned adrift upon the river to float with the current. If perchance he was washed ashore he was carried to the temple, where he was at once, and by virtue of that very fact, regarded as having been initiated into the third degree. From his earliest childhood, all the secret mentrams, or formulas of evocation, were made known to him.
If, however, the child floated down the stream with the current, he was rejected as a Pariah, and handed over to the people of that caste to be reared by them.
We never could discover the origin of this singular custom. Upon comparing other ancient usages with the manners and customs of the sacerdotal castes in Egypt, which are so similar in many respects to those of the Indian temples, we have often asked ourselves the following questions, which we now propound for the reader's consideration:
Might not Moses, the leader of the Hebraic revolution, have been a son of the Egyptian high priest, who stood at the head of the order of the initiated, and might he not have been brought to the temple, because he had been cast ashore by the Nile?
Might not his brother Aaron, on the contrary, have been cast aside as one of the servile class, because when he was
set adrift likewise upon the river he floated along with the current without being cast ashore?
May we not regard the friendship of the two brothers for each other, when informed subsequently of their common origin, as one of the causes that impelled Moses to abandon the sacerdotal caste, of which he was a member, in order to place himself at the head of the Egyptian slaves, and lead them into the desert in search of that promised land which the pariahs, helots, and outcasts of every degree have always looked forward to in their dreams as the sunny land of peace and liberty?
We suggest the question, however, we repeat, merely as a supposition. Perhaps ethnographic science, by which the second half of the present century has been so brilliantly illustrated, will show, some day, that it is something more.