By Uzor Maxim Uzoatu
A lot of Nigerians read the books of one author named T. Lobsang Rampa. This Lobsang Rampa fellow started his writing career thusly: he wrote to the publishers, Secker and Warburg, that his real name was Dr Kuan-suo, and that he had authored his autobiography in which he told the true story of his life as a lama in Tibet from the age of seven. According to the self-styled Lobsang Rampa, his search for higher knowledge in Tibet led to his being operated on to open a “third eye” in his forehead. This was done by boring a hole through his forehead! The book The Third Eye by T. Lobsang Rampa was published in 1956 and quickly sold some 50,000 copies and was translated into a handful of languages before alarm bells rang fast and free about the dubiousness of the book.
The Daily Mail of London scooped that the so-called Lobsang Rampa was no Tibetan after all; he was in fact an Englishman named Cyril Henry Hoskins, the son of a plumber from Devon! He was in real life a surgical goods maker and part-time photographer. After he was exposed for the fraud he was Lobsang Rampa was traced to a hotel in Dublin where he was hiding. He made some very interesting explanations to the reporters.
He readily agreed that he was truly an Englishman but added the dimension that his body was inhabited by a Tibetan lama! Lobsang Rampa, also known as Dr Kuan-suo and Cyril Henry Hoskins, further explained that the lama took possession of his body on one inauspicious day in which he fell down from a tree while attempting to take photographs of an owl! It was while he lay on the ground that a lama in blue and saffron robes floated in the air toward him and then suddenly took possession of his body! This kind of a tall story is deserving of the ultimate prize in fiction writing. Lobsang Rampa, even as he was exposed as a hoax, went on to publish other books such as Doctor from Lhasa, The Rampa Story, Living with the Lama etc. A lot of readers were misled into trying to do “Astral Travel” as recommended by the deceitful author.
The intriguing life of Lobsang Rampa forms a part of the memoirs of his publisher Frederic Warburg entitled All Authors Are Equal. Actually, other publishers had turned down Lobsang Rampa on the grounds that his proposition was implausible but the enthusiastic Warburg gave the benefit of the doubt to the self-styled mystic whom he agreed to meet over lunch. Publisher Warburg was surprised that mystic Rampa ordered only fish and chips for lunch!
The scoop by Daily Mail on Lobsang Rampa was masterminded by another writer with links to Tibet, Heinrich Harrer, the bestselling author of Seven Years in Tibet.
*Uzoatu is commentator on contemporary issues.