East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

India’s Illuminati: The Nine Unknown Men


Strange – or not so strange – connections.
I was going through the Talbot Mundy catalog and, leaving Yasmini behind for a moment, I checked out The Nine Unknown, one of Mundy’s most Theosophical novels, originally published in 1923 in Adventure magazine.


And I mentioned it with my brother, who is the serious Orientalist in our home, and thus I found out that the Nine Unknown Men are not something the Theosophists or Mundy cooked up, but are actually part of the real history of India.
Turns out the Nine Unknown Men are sort of the Indian equivalent of the Bavarian Illuminati, a conspiracy set up by king Ashoka, the 3rd century BC Maurya Dynasty ruler about whom H.G. Wells wrote

“Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history, their majesties and graciousnesses and serenities and royal highnesses and the like, the name of Ashoka shines, and shines, almost alone, a star.”

Ashoka acquired power through one of the bloodiest wars in the ancient world (the Kalinga war, that caused about 200.000 deaths), and then became a pacifist, converted to Buddhism and set up his Nine Unknown Men to prevent science from harming humanity.
Quite an interesting subject, and one that deserves more research.

In the meantime, check out this neat short movie…

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

5 thoughts on “India’s Illuminati: The Nine Unknown Men

  1. One of the most interesting legend I can think of, the Nine Unknown has always fascinated me. Strange enough to me that no Hollywood’s kolossal still has been produced about it (or am I missing something? )


  2. Amazing information and super amazing video..


  3. There is a secret society called Ancient Order of Freesmiths that lays claim to Ashoka’s secrets. It is quite a rabbit hole for anyone who wants to dig for some nuggets of truth about the whole Nine Unknown story.


    • I was interested in Freesmiths when I was in college in the early 90’s. I knew a girl who was one, and her father was one. She gave me a book about Freesmiths and it seemed intriguing, but she wouldn’t show me anything else from them and told me if I really wanted to know more I should write to their address in Germany. Which I did. This was before the internet took the place of libraries, so back then I could never find out much more about them from any outside sources. I got a reply in the mail with instructions about writing them to apply to be an apprentice but it seemed like they wanted my life story and I wasn’t ready to divulge personal details to a random organization. Long story short, I applied with significant details fudged about my life and background. I got back what was basically a rejection letter. I kept that letter for a while but it’s lost now. So I can confirm that it’s very difficult to get info from them or anyone who is a member. I believe they do background checks and remember this was pre-internet. Jump ahead to 2022 and they now have a website, but again all it really tells you is to read their book and apply for more info. It’s possible to get some outside intel on them though. A book on secret societies from 1906 says the Ancient Order of Freesmiths is derived from the Holy Vehm which was a secret court system in Germany that tried witches in the middle ages. Yup that actually existed. What they are up to now I have no clue, but it’s definitely a real thing and their little book is worth reading if you think you might be interested in joining a secretive order that may or may not be in the bsuiness of hunting down warlocks in the 21st century.


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