Image: Emperor Ashoka on his Chariot (source: Wikipedia)
Think about the greatest emperor Indian sub-continent ever had, the name that comes first in my mind is of Emperor Ashoka, the 3rd ruler of the Maurya dynasty and the grandson of Emperor Chandragupt Maurya.
When Chandragupt Maurya established his empire in 322 BC, he would have never thought that one day his grandson is going to take over and expand the Maurya empire beyond the horizons. Legends say that Ashoka's empire was the greatest of all the emperors in terms of land, army, finance, education, trade, and quality of living.
Ashoka was also famous for converting to and promoting Buddhism. Only during his 8th regnal year (that's really crazy), he fought his last war; The Kalinga War. Seeing the aftermath of the war, which he even won, he was in a state of horror, shock, and depression. It was then he decided to convert to Buddhism. He made efforts to spread Buddhism throughout India, Malaya or Malaysia, Ceylon or Sri Lanka, and Indonesia. It was his efforts that Buddhism later rose in China, Nepal, Tibet, and Mongolia.
He also realized that the true power is in the knowledge. He started this mission to sought to prevent the people and his fellow men from putting their intelligence towards evil, particularly the evil involved with the warfare. He thought that the task of collecting, preserving, and containing all knowledge was too great for one emperor or a man to do alone. So he summoned nine of the most brilliant minds in India at that time. The identity of those 9 men was kept a secret for their own security. Ashoka asked these genius 9 men to form a secret society. This secret society came to be known as The Nine Unknown Men.
This secret society set up accumulating all of the scientific knowledge they could. Be it natural science, psychology, the composition of matter, physics, chemistry, astrology, astronomy, etc. Ashoka feared that if ordinary men were given this scientific knowledge, they would use it for destruction, so only those nine men were allowed to study and develop scientific theories and technology. And, to preserve and to better accomplish this, each of the nine men were given the task of writing, updating, revise a book. When any one of the nine could no longer carry on the task, whether death, fading health, wish to retire, the duty was passed on to a successor who was very carefully chosen. The point was, the number of members in the society was always to be nine. This society of The Nine Unknown Men has lived on for over 2000 years.
Talbot Mundy, an English writer, influenced by this story, published a book entitled The Nine Unknown Men in 1923. He did a lot of research before writing the book. The most helpful part of his research was the transcripts that were written by the great Emperor Ashoka himself. From those transcripts, he concluded and prepared a list of nine books that were allegedly written by the nine men. This list has been accepted generally. Those 9 books are:
Propaganda: The first book, which deals with the techniques of propaganda and psychological warfare.
Physiology: This book discussed physiology and explains how to kill a person simply by touching him or her, known as "The Touch of Death", simply by the reversal of a nerve impulse. It is also said that the martial art of Judo is a result of a leakage from this book.
Microbiology: This book focused on microbiology and biotechnology.
Alchemy: This book focused on dealing with alchemy and the transmutation of metals.
Communication: The 5th book contained a study of means of communication. Be is terrestrial and extraterrestrial. This alleges that the Nine Unknown were aware of the presence of aliens and the outer world.
Gravity: The 6th book contained the secrets of gravity and actual instructions on how to make the Vedic Vimana or simply an aircraft.
Cosmogony: This book contained the study of the matters of the universe.
Light: The 8th book dealt with light including its speed and how to use it as a weapon.
Sociology: The ninth and the last book contains the study of sociology. It included rules for the evolution of societies and the means of foretelling their decline.
All this information is just fine, exciting to read, and tell stories. But were The Nine Unknown Men real? Ashoka did very well asked the nine men of unknown identity to gain and secure all this knowledge. We can find this out in the transcripts that Ashoka wrote. But, an ancient group living in secrecy for over 2000 years is hard to believe. For many, this legend is most likely just a legend.
Did you know that according to a myth, Pope Sylvester II, Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstien, and Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam were all the members of The Nine Unknown Men?