The Nine Unknown Men

To some the Nine Unknown Men is a myth (internet driven) derived from a pulp fiction novel titled “The Nine Unknown” by author Talbot Mundy. They believe the story, written in 1923 and originally serialized in Adventure a popular and critically acclaimed American pulp magazine, [1] has seemingly along the way, made a leap from fiction into an apocryphal reality.

Others, ascribing to an opposing view, believe the Nine Unknown Men to be real, [2] a super secret society founded by Ashoka, one of India's greatest emperors, who following a bloody war with the neighboring state of Kalinga, circa 260 BCE, had a spiritual awakening and embraced Buddhism. [3] Following his epiphany he decided that knowledge, some dangerous to humanity, would be preserved, developed and contained by nine men, each charged with guarding a single book each book a repository covering a specific subject.

Subjects covered by the books:

Propaganda and psychological warfare

Allegedly the Nine Unknown Mentheir numbers renewed by co-option to preserve secrecyare still with us dispensing knowledge, gathered over the centuries, to a select few. Pope Sylvester ll is said to have been a recipient of said knowledge while French microbiologist Louis Pasteur and Indian scientists Jagadish (Jagdish) Chandra Bose the inventor of wireless telecommunications and Vikram Sarabhai the scientist responsible for India's budding space program are purported to have been either believers or members.

[1] Along with Mundy Adventure carried the works of other notable writers such as, Rafael Sabatini (Scaramouche), Rider Haggard (King Solomon's Mines), Damon Runyon (The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown), Hugh Pendexter (Kings of the Missouri) and W.C. Tuttle (Vanishing Brands).

[2] Authors Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier in their book Morning of the Magicians proclaimed the Nine Unknown Men to be real, exposing them to the world and the world to the “I told you so's” of conspiracy theorists.

[3] Ashoka, the third Mauryan Emperor, ruled over most of the Indian subcontinent from 273 BCE to 232 BCE. His early years were of near-constant conflict, untill in the aftermath of a particularly horrific, destructive and bloody war with Kalinga, a neighboring state, he underwent a conversion, the death and destruction causing him to renounce violence and devote himself to the Buddhist faith, his transformation proof that change for the good is possible. The end result was over 40 years of peace, harmony and prosperity, making the emperor one of the most successful, famous and idealized monarchs in India's history: H.G. Wells in his book The Outline of History wrote the following "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."
* Even keeping in mind that secret societies should, by definition, be secret there appears to be no valid historical support for a link between Ashoka and the Nine Unknown Men.

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