An independent quarterly journal founded in 1985 London England

April 1986
Vol. 1 No. 6

S.P.R. Press Statement
H.N. Stokes and the 0. E. Library Critic
 Prof. James Santucci
Obituary: Krishnamurti
Jean Overton Fuller
S.P.R. Archives:
H.P.B. Annotations in Coulomb pamphlet
 Michael Gomes
Theosophical History Centre  
Insert: T.H.C.
Conference Programme

S.P.R. Press Statement

The Society for Psychical Research has released the following Press Statement dated 8 May 1986.


The 'exposure' of the Russian-born occultist, Madame H. P. Blavatsky, by the S.P.R. in 1885, is in serious doubt, with the publication in the S.P.R. Journal (Vol. 53 April 1986) of a forceful critique of the 1885 report.

The case has been re-examined by Dr. Vernon Harrison, past president of The Royal Photographic Society and formerly Research Manager to Thomas De La Rue, who is an expert on forgery. The 1885 report was written mostly by Richard Hodgson, an Australian pioneer of both the British and Australian S.P.R.s, who became widely known through the case.

Central to the case were two sets of disputed letters. One set, provided by two dismissed employees of The Theosophical Society at its headquarters in India, were apparently in the handwriting of Madame Blavatsky and implicated her in fraudulent psychic phenomena. The other set, were ostensibly written in support of The Theosophical Society by members of an oriental fraternity, popularly called Mahatmas. Dr. Hodgson accepted the genuineness of the first set. He argued that the Mahatma Letters were spurious productions by Madame Blavatsky and occasional confederates.

Dr. Harrison on the contrary, suggests that it is the incriminating letters that are forgeries, concocted by the ex-employees for revenge; while the bulk of the Mahatma Letters, now preserved in the British Library, are not in Madame Blavatsky's handwriting, disguised or otherwise.


Dr. Harrison concludes;

"As detailed examination of this Report proceeds, one becomes more and more aware that, whereas Hodgson was prepared to use any evidence, however trivial or questionable, to implicate H.P.B., he ignored all evidence that could be used in her favour. His report is riddled with slanted statements, conjecture advanced as fact or probable fact, uncorroborated testimony of unnamed witnesses, selection of evidence and downright falsity.
"As an investigator, Hodgson is weighed in the balances and found wanting. His case against Madame H. P. Blavatsky is not proven."

Much of Dr. Harrison's paper is an examination of the handwriting evidence presented in the 1885 report. He believes this was so weak, partisan and confused that it might just as easily show that Madame Blavatsky wrote "Huckleberry Finn" - or that President Eisenhower wrote the Mahatma Letters.

In an introductory note to the paper, the Editor of the S.P.R., Dr. John Beloff, recalls that other researchers have criticised the 1885 report, and that it had wrongly been taken as expressing an official view of the S.P.R., when in fact the S.P.R. had no corporate opinions. Noting that Dr. Harrison is not a member of The Theosophical Society, but a long-standing member of the S.P.R., Dr. Beloff says:

"Whether readers agree or disagree with his conclusions, we are pleased to offer him the hospitality of our columns and we hope that, hereafter, Theosophists, and, indeed, all who care for the reputation of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, will look upon us in a more kindly light."

Responding to the publication of Dr. Harrison's paper, Dr. Hugh Gray, General Secretary of The Theosophical Society in England, said;

"We welcome the publication of Dr. Harrison's


findings, which independently confirm what many Theosophists have pointed out in the past century. We hope that the Theosophical message in general, and Madame Blavatsky's work in particular, can now be studied without the distraction of the Hodgson allegations."

Background note

Dr. Vernon Harrison, who lives in Surrey, may be available for interviews from 6 May onwards. Please contact the S.P.R. in the first instance.

The Society for Psychical Research, as noted above, has no collective views. Thus it was not the S.P.R. which condemned Madame Blavatsky in 1885, but only an S.P.R. Committee, whose report was mostly written by Dr. Hodgson. Similarly, Dr. Harrison's paper represents only his personal views.

Cordial relations have existed between psychical researchers and Theosophists in England for sometime. In 1982, the S.P.R. chose as its centenary president, Professor Arthur Ellison of The City University, a distinguished engineer, psychical researcher and Theosophist.

Madame Blavatsky founded The Theosophical Society with others in New York in 1875, and it is art international body active in more than 60 countries with its headquarters at Adyar, Madras, India. The Society exists to promote a knowledge of Theosophy, a word of Greek origin meaning Divine Wisdom. Madame Blavatsky's main work was "The Secret Doctrine" (1888). She died in London in 1891 at the age of 59.

For further information contact;

The Society for Psychical Research
Tel. 01 937 8984

The Theosophical Society in England
50 Gloucester Place, London W1H 3HJ
Tel. 01 935 9261



By James A. Santucci*

Henry Newlin Stokes is a name familiar to none except perhaps those who are well-versed in the history of the Theosophical Society. Unfamiliarity, however, does not detract or diminish from the unique contribution that he made to the Society. He belongs to that vast, nameless group of individuals who in their own quiet and committed way contribute whatever talent and resources they possess to making their society more enlightened, humane, ethical, or materially better off than it was before their entry onto the human stage. He led a most unusual life that encompassed chemistry and occultism, agnosticism and theosophical ideals. He was a friend of the friendless and a contentious and outspoken antagonist of the powerful.

H.N. Stokes was born to a prominent Moorestown (New Jersey) family in the year 1859. Like several other family members, he pursued a career in science and. as expected, led a prominent albeit conventional life-style during the first half of his long life. His educational background included a B.S. degree at Haverford College (Pennsylvania) in 1878, a Ph.D degree at Johns Hopkins University in 1884, post-graduate work at the University of Munich in 1885- 1886 and at the Federal Polytechnic in Zurich during the years 1886-1889. Upon his return to the United States in the latter year, Stokes secured a position as chemist at the U.S. Geological Survey, where he remained until 1903. He took a hiatus, however, frown that position in 1892 and 1893, when he was invited to Join the faculty of the newly established University of Chicago as an assistant professor of inorganic chemistry. in 1903, he undertook a new assignment as associate chemist for the Bureau of Standards. Surprisingly, however, Dr. Stokes retired from chemistry only six ears later at the relatively early age of forty-nine.1

This action must have been surprising to those who knew little or nothing of his private life. Public documents reveal that he was a family man, having married a Dutch woman named Wilhelmina van den Berg in 1884. Frown the sketchy evidence that is presently available, it appears that they had four children, the most notable of which was John Hinchman Stokes, a well-known dermatologist and 'syphilologist' associated with the Mayo Clinic and the University of Pennsylvania, among other institutions.2
Similarly, a cursory examination of his career in chemistry reveals a talented individual showing considerable


ability in his chosen profession. A specialist in inorganic chemistry concentrating his research on silicon and phosphorus-nitrogen compounds as well as the chemistry of ore deposition, Dr. Stokes wrote a number of articles for the American Chemical Journal, the U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin, Science, and the Bulletin of the Bureau of Standards.3 In 1899 and 1900, he also served as President of the Chemical Society of Washington, D.C.

Dr. Stokes continued to serve the chemical profession with distinction after his appointment at the Bureau of Standards in 1903, but a new and probably unexpected turn came about in his life. Sometime around 1903 and early 1904, "personal troubles," most probably marital in nature, prompted him to search for some philosophy other than his own agnosticism to see him through the ordeal. Following a brief foray into spiritualism, he settled upon membership in the Theosophical Society (Adyar). The teachings of the Society, especially through the writings of its future President, Annie Besant, helped him to stay afloat, to paraphrase his metaphor, and to offer him hope in a future that was better than his present state of affairs. Thus by the end of 1903 he decided to join the Society.4 In 1904, he also learned of a small group that, though not associated with the Theosophical Society, was closely allied to its tenets. Founded in 1902 by the mysterious Albert Sarak (Alberto de Sarak) in his capacity as General Inspector of the Supreme Council of the Order of the Initiates of Thibet, the Oriental Esoteric Head Center of Washington (D.C.) became, so to speak, a second family to him. This was especially true after he made his acquaintance with the new leader of the Center and personal representative of Dr. Sarak, Miss Agnes E. Marsland, she having assumed her role after Sarak returned to his headquarters in Paris.5

It appears that Miss Marsland must have possessed a magnetic personality, for from the beginning of their working relationship Dr. Stokes devoted his time and resources to serving her cause, that of disseminating the teachings of esoterism. The separation from his wife in 1905 only served to strengthen their companlonship.6 One cannot but speculate that his domestic difficulties and the sympathy that he displayed toward the work of Miss Marsland and the Center illustrate a mental attitude often associated with the more committed members of new religious groups. None can deny that Dr. Stokes' commitment was not anything but total. By his own admission. he claimed to have contributed about $50,000, at first to the unincorporated O.E. Head Center, and later, to the incorporated O.E. Society, an organization that was established in 1910 after Marsland. Stokes, and others were expelled by Dr. Sarak from


the Order of the Initiates of Thibet.7 Most of his money and energy went into the establishment of what was to become the Oriental Esoteric Library, a library begun in 1905 for the primary purpose of disseminating occult literature. Thus, from 1904 to 1909 Dr. Stokes led what could be described as an incongruous life of chemist, occultist, librarian, and what might loosely be termed cultist.

This state of affairs lasted until 1909 when he retired from the Bureau of Standards, ostensibly because his work as librarian of the O.E. Library become too demanding. The true reason for his leaving the Bureau, however, was the Bureau Director's denying Stokes a promotion to the office of chief chemist due to "social grounds." Stokes was shortly to discover that these social grounds referred to rumors started by his estranged wife, rumors which charged that he left her in order to keep a mistress, Miss Marsland, in a house he provided for that purpose. The evidence suggests that the rumor was not true except for the admission by Stokes that a house was rented with Miss Marsland after she arrived from Europe in 1904. No wrongdoing was ever admitted by Dr. Stokes or Miss Marsland; indeed, he went to great lengths in refuting the accusation. But the damage was done and so had no recourse but to leave the Bureau.8

Following his retirement, he devoted all his energies to the O.E. Head Center and the Library until the early part Of 1912. when a doctrinal disagreement occurred between Dr. Stokes on the one hand and Miss Marsland and the O.E. Society on the other. The disagreement led to his "retirement* from the membership of the Society with the accompanying claim that the O.E. Library was the rightful property of the O.E. Society and not of Dr. Stokes. Since Stokes maintained that he spent some $35,000 of his own money in building up the Library, now his main means of livelihood, the Society's assertion was heatedly contested. A court case ensued with the verdict decided in Stokes' favor in early 1913.9

During the time of his difficulties with Miss Marsland and the O.E. Society, he once again turned his attentions toward the Theosophical Society (Adyar). He did so mainly because the Society allowed "a freedom and tolerance" that was lacking in the prior organization. Surprisingly, he even offered to donate his library to the American Section of the Theosophical Society if it in turn would guarantee him running expenses and a salary to allow him to continue operating it. Such a guarantee, however, was not forthcoming because of the American Section's inability to


meet the costs. Nonetheless, a working arrangement was established that recognized the O.E. Library, as an "associated organization" of the American Section.10

The O.E. Library was to remain Dr. Stokes' chief livelihood to the end of his life in 1942. In order to promote the work of the Library, he saw fit to begin a new publication called the O.E. LIBRARY CRITIC, a biweekly periodical that first appeared on August 30, 1911. Besides advertising the Library's work, it also served "as a critical review and as the editor's (Stokes'] personal means of laying his views before the public." 11 Shortly after its inception, it took on more of a theosophical flavor as his interest in the Society grew. In a letter to a Miss Grace Boughton. dated August 19, 1912, he did remark that both the Library and the CRITIC were originally intended to arouse general interest in occult teachings but were "now" employed as feeders into the T.S. In early 1913, he described the changing nature of the CRITIC's role in terms that would take considerable importance after 1917. it was, to summarize his statement, to be considered an independent theosophical periodical.12 At first, the emphasis was on the term theosophical, as already noted, for Stokes followed and supported the official policies of the Society. As a consequence, he urged membership in the Order of the Star in the East: the theosophically initiated organization centering around the coming of the World Teacher through his vehicle, Jiddu Krishnamurti. Furthermore, he supported other theosophically orientated groups as well, such as the Karma and Reincarnation League13 and gave his support to the leaders of the T.S., among whom were Mrs. Besant, Charles Webster Leadbeater, and A. P. Warrington.

From late 1917 on, however, the attitude of the CRITIC drastically changed. Stokes now asserted his independence quite vociferously by attacking the policies and leadership of the T.S. What he wrote in 1913 thus bore fruit in 1917:

From October, 1917 to the end of his life, Dr. Stokes became the most outspoken opponent of Mrs. Besant, Mr. Leadbeater, their followers, and the Liberal Catholic


Church, the organization that was to be associated with the T.S. primarily through the influence of its bishop, Mr. Leadbeater. In nearly every issue, the CRITIC would contain an article dealing with the Liberal Catholic Church's "raid" on the Theosophical Society, express horror and outrage over the sexual proclivities of James Ingall Wedgwood (the founder of the Liberal Catholic Church) or of C.W. Leadbeater, and rail against the 'idiocies' and 'lunacies' of the new, pseudo-theosophical teachings of Leadbeater and his followers. As the years went by, Dr. Stokes extended his criticisms to other theosophical and occult groups, including the Rosicrucians (AMORC), the United Lodge of Theosophists, Brother XII and his 'Aquarian Foundation', Alice Bailey and her Arcane School, the Ballards and the 'I AM' Movement, and the Silver Shirts (Christian American Patriots) of William Pelley.

At approximately the same time that the CRITIC became more of a periodical of protest, Dr. Stokes introduced the expression *Back to Blavatsky' in the November 14, 1917 (VII/7) issue of the CRITIC, a phrase at first denoting books and periodicals that contained the true theosophical teachings of Madame Blavatsky and later referring additionally to those theosophical lodges and independent theosophical groups that followed and advocated not only the writings of Blavatsky but also the Mahatma letters and, to a lesser degree, the works of William Q. Judge. Reminiscing on the origin of the Phrase some twenty years later, he wrote:


press the sale of the books of Besant and Leadbeater and to discourage the reading of the older theosophical Literature."15

It goes without saying that Dr. Stokes was, perhaps more than any other member of the Adyar Theosophical Society, responsible for reintroducing the works of Blavatsky and Judge to the general membership.

The above observations give a cogent Justification for the importance of the CRITIC to the theosophical movement. Few theosophical periodicals spoke out with such forcefulness, common sense, and intellectual acumen. None covered the movement so thoroughly. Whether it concerned the vagaries of the Adyar T.S., the efforts of the United Lodge of Theosophists to espouse the writings of Blavatsky. the significant contributions of the leader of the Theosophical Society (Point Loma), Gottfried de Purucker, in initiating and sustaining the Fraternization Movement during the 1930's, or in observing and reporting on other occult groups, the CRITIC provided a unique window on the whole theosophical movement unsurpassed in breadth and candidness. Germane to this observation is the assessment of the wife of Charles Lazenby, an early Canadian theosophist, on the periodical:

Despite this significant contribution to theosophy, there was another side to Dr. Stokes that usually is ignored or dismissed by those familiar with his work but which clearly reveals the nobility of his character. Curiously enough, he was deeply involved in penal reform, a strange interest for a former chemist publishing a theosophical periodical. Yet, a superficial examination of the CRITIC reveals that almost fifty percent of the space was devoted to some matter dealing with prisons, prison reform, and methods of aiding prisoners. From an idealistic perspective, this was his way of offering service to humanity, for "service, even more than knowledge. makes the true theosophist."17 From a doctrinal perspective, theosophy sheds considerable light on how prisoners should be treated and why. In Stokes' view, the central role of karma, the law of cause and effect, reveals that the performance of an evil deed constitutes a debt that must be


repaid by the one who committed the action. As such, there is no place for revenge—'and eye for an eye'—for the only revenger is karma; nor can there be vicarious atonement and forgiveness of sin, for karma must be fully resolved. To sit in a prison does not allow the prisoner to pay off his debt; to be discharged in the same mental condition resolves nothing.18

Stokes involved himself in this area quite by accident but, as illustrated above, he quickly saw the need for, assuming the task of advocating prison reform. Shortly after forming the O.E. Library League in January, 1914, an informal association of persons who wished to correspond with one another on various topics, Stokes soon observed that many prisoners began to write in for correspondents. Within a relatively short period of time, therefore, the League became primarily involved with prison work and prison reform.19 When it became incorporated in November, 1918, the objects of the organization gave an official stamp to this change in emphasis:

The work of the League was to call for considerable hardship and sacrifice on Stokes' part, for he received only meager financial support and transitory interest from the members and less than an enthusiastic response from prison officials. Although it is difficult to ascertain the extent of the League's influence in this area, membership at one point approached 8000 with two-thirds of the members prisoners. In keeping with the above statement, however, only 2000 members were considered active.21

A full appreciation and understanding of Dr. Stokes' views cannot be given in the scope of this paper, but certain themes are clearly evident. As a firm believer in the theosophical ideal of brotherhood, he was deeply concerned with the problem of man's inhumanity to man. He was a true friend of the friendless and of the oppressed,


asking nothing in return. The private correspondence that is still available to us reveal a man who carried on the work of "trying to clean the soiled skirts of his beloved Theosophy,"22 of maintaining an eternal vigilance over the body of truths that seemed to have been abandoned by the Society that was founded to protect and reveal those truths. Of course, those who were on the receiving end of Dr. Stokes' vituperations viewed his contributions quite differently. Without once mentioning either the CRITIC or its editor, the President of the Theosophical Society, Annie Besant, once editorialized that

One's opinion notwithstanding, celebrated or notorious, faultless and honorable in his viewpoint or simply misguided, or worse, beguiling, Dr. Stokes deserves a place in history for his unquestioned sacrifices to better the lot of prison inmates, to defend those who he perceived were unjustly accused, and for his fierce devotion to Truth. This is aptly illustrated in a remark made in the CRITIC:

This was his credo from the time he took an active interest in the affairs of the Theosophical Society (1912) and in prison reform (1914) to his dying day (September 30,1942).



*I wish to express my appreciation to the following individuals and groups for assisting me in my research and for being so generous with their time and advice:

1 Biographical Catalog of the Matriculates of Haverford College: 1833-1922, Prepared by a Committee of the Alumni Association (Philadelphia: Printed for the Alumni Association, 1922); Who's Who in America, especially from the years 1918 to 1944-45; American Men of Science, edited by Jaques Cattell, seventh edition (Lancaster, Pa.: The Science Press. 1944), p. 1717. The latter reference states that Dr. Stokes was at the University of Chicago from 1892-1894. This is confirmed by the University of Chicago according to Ms Brenda Rice of the Chemical Library of the University (letters dated March 15, 1985 and May 10, 1985).

2 Informatlon on John Hinchman Stokes appears in Who's Who in America, 1954-55. The Biographical Catalog of the Matriculates of Haverford College lists three children on page 185: John Hinchman, Harmina W., and Dorothy N. Stokes. A fourth child, Henry Newlin Stokes, Jr., most likely died in infancy. A birth certificate was found in Dr. Stokes' papers.


3 The Catalogue of Scientific Papers: Fourth Series (volume 18), compiled by the Royal Society of London (Cambridge University Press, 1923) contains a list of publications from 1884-1900 on pages 977-978. Further titles are found in volume 15 (p. 851), 17 (pp. 178, 757, 908), and volume 19 (pp. 193, 235). The National Union Catalogue (volume 570, pp. 652-653), Chemisches Centralblatt (1901, volume 72, part 1: 761 and 1217; part 2: 1318; 1902, volume 73, part 1: 279; 1906, volume 77, part 1: 1374), Chemical Abstracts (published by the American Chemical Society, 1907, volume 1, numbers 1-8: 832-833; numbers 9-17: 1955-1957 and 1672-1673; 1909, volume 3. numbers 16-22: 2544-2545), and the precursor to Chemical Abstracts, the Review of American Chemical Research (1895, volume 1:192-193; 1897, volume 3: 4-7; 1898, volume 4: 2-4; 1899, volume 5: 2-3, 74; 1901, volume 7: 33, 173: 1902, volume 8: 9- 11, 75-76; 1912, volume 12: 565) provide additional information on his published work.

4 Mr. Robert Boyd has informed me that Stokes joined the Washington, D.C. Branch of the Theosophical Society (Adyar) on June 24, 1904 (letter dated March 12, 1985). Stokes himself mentioned that he joined in 1903 in a letter to Henry Herrick Bond, dated October 31, 1912. The difference in dates is perhaps explained by the fact that the application sent to Adyar, India from the U.S. would have taken at least five months by mail. Once there, there was also the matter of processing.

5 Some of this information was published in the 0.E. LIBRARY CRITIC (vol. II, no. 3). Further information was obtained from a court case between the O.E. Center of the United States of America, et. al. (Plaintiffs) and Henry N. Stokes (Defendant), Equity No. 31,317, heard in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia (now the Superior Court).

6 An agreement between Dr. Stokes and his wife, Wilhelmina, dated January 8, 1914.

7 "The Oriental Esoteric Library" (unpublished), dated February 25, 1913; CRITIC (11/3); defendant's statement in the court case mentioned in note 5.

8 Letter to Mr. A.E.L. Leckie. dated January 16, 1910; correspondence between Miss Marsland and Dr. Stokes between 1907 and 1911.

9 Many of the facts appear in the court case. The disagreement was in part due to the association of the O.E. Center with the "Universal Brotherhood", an organization to which he disapproved. Whether this referred to the Point


Loma Theosophical Society is not certain. This Society, now headquartered in Pasadena, has no record of an affiliation with the O.E. Center.

10 Letter to Henry Herrick Bond (September 13, 1912); "The Oriental Esoteric Library" (unpublished).


12 CRITIC 11/23.

13 It is called the Karma and Reincarnation League in the CRITIC (11/3), but elsewhere it is called the K. and R. Legion ("The Oriental Esoteric Library").

14 CRITIC 11/23.

15 CRITIC XXIV/5 (October, 1936).

16 From Mrs. Lazenby's memoirs. I am grateful to Mr. Ted G. Davy for providing me with this information. 14

17 CRITIC XIII/10, P. 6.


19 He states that the O.E. Library League owed its character to the Oregon State Prison magazine LEND A HAND (CRITIC VIII/17). The first mention of this magazine was made in the March 25, 1914 Issue of the CRITIC (111/16).

20 Published in the CRITIC VIII/18. Other sections were published in numbers 22 and 26.

21 The membership numbered 7,934 as of June 13, 1917 (CRITIC VI/22). In the December 25, 1918 issue of the CRITIC (VIII/10, p. 8), he mentions "2000 or more" active members.

22 The quote is from A.E. Smythe's obituary notice of Dr. Stokes, which appeared in THE CANADIAN THEOSOPHIST, vol. XXIII, no. 10 (December, 1942), p. 320. I thank Mr. Davy for the information.

23 THE THEOSOPHIST, vol. XLIII, no. 1 (October, 1921), P. 8. I thank Mr. John Cooper for the information. The full text also appears in the CRITIC (XI/9).




Born in Madanapalle on 11 May, 1895, he was over ninety, yet as he continued to talk, with the same vigorous perspicacity, there had been a hope he might remain with us for some time yet, and so the news of his passing, on 17 February, 1986, at Ojai, was felt as a shock.

For an obituary in such a journal as this, it is not necessary to go over the chronicle of his external life, which is well known to readers, and I would like to take the occasion to voice some thoughts relative to that aspect of his story that most concerns Theosophists. When he was only fourteen, first Leadbeater and then Mrs. Besant said he was to become the World Teacher, overshadowed by Maitreya, that is, the Buddha to be. To begin with, he seemed to go along with their way of thinking, but as he matured, he began to show scepticism concerning the build up of which he was the centrepiece. Those organising it were, in his eyes, making themselves ridiculous by public proclamation of the initiations everyone had passed and self-appointment as his Apostles. He had to tell them he did not want Apostles and did not accept them. That hurt. Yet it should have been clear, long before that point was reached, that their pompous trumpetings concerning the Coming were an embarrassment to him. When he dissolved the Order of the Star which they had formed for him, it caused dismay. Could Mrs. Besant and Leadbeater, when they thought they recognised in him the World Teacher, have been mistaken?

Not necessarily. There is another view possible, which was first put to me in Paris, in a French group of students of The Secret Doctrine, Mahatma Letters and Krishnamurti writings, and subsequently by the late Professor Jones, Principle of' the Phonetics Department of University College, London and friend of Swami Oomananda and Bill, the "Boy" in The Boy




18-20 July 1986

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Thursday 17 July 6.30 pm. Persons in London for the conference are invited to attend a special meeting of Blavatsky Lodge to be addressed by Mrs. Emily Sellon (U.S.A.)


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Theosophy and the Theosophical Society

Professor James A. Santucci

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Madame Blavatsky Unveiled?

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A critical discussion of the 1885 Report, in the context of the
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and the Brothers, that Leadbeater and Mrs. Besant were right, in the first moment in which they recognised him as who he was, and wrong in practically everything they did in consequence. I still remember the verve with which, during one of our talks in his study, Professor Jones expostulated, they (Leadbeater and Besant) spent years of their lives telling everybody, "He is going to give us all a new teaching," and as soon as he began to give a teaching that was new, exclaimed in horror, "This is not what we taught him to teach."

The fact is, he has given a teaching; whether inspired by Maitreya Buddha or merely out of his own insight matters little. The teaching in there, and it is new. What he has given us is a technique for dealing with our faults, or rather, the psychological knots which prevent us from living with ourselves and with other people. He has pointed out that to say, "I am this, I should be that", for instance, "I am selfish, I should be unselfish", sets up within one a duality, such that, trying to be animated only by motives that are unselfish, one in a sense pretends to oneself that one is not what one is, lives a lie, so that any crisis that shows one the vice has not been eradicated throws one back, and there is a feeling of failure. His dictum, "See the fact, don't act on the fact; the seeing is the action, the whole action", is new. Those who have read his answers to questioners will have noticed he could be sharp with the pompous, but was extraordinarily nice with the woman who said (I risk quoting this from memory since I would have to go through all of his books again to find it), "I am petty. All my concerns are petty. What should I do about it?" His advice was, "Don't do too much about it. In the seeing of the pettiness is that which is not petty." She would do well merely to continue to note the forms the pettiness took, as they cropped up. (Had she tried to become profound, she would have become artificial.) Previous disciplines have always prescribed action upon the fact (Morya and Koot Hoomi can be exempted because they do not advise psycho-


logically); hence those "spiritual" problems that too often lengthen the path instead of shortening it, causing neuroses and falls. Krishnamurti has shown us how to deal with what is wrong without getting the back-kick. His advice, to stop short with the seeing (which takes some discipline to do, so conditioned is one to do otherwise) gives instant liquidation of the problem. That is liberation.

Jean Overton Fuller


Madame Blavatsky Unveiled?

Jean-Paul Guignette comments on this T.H.C. pamphlet.

"You quote (pp 15-16) a letter by H.P.B. from a secondhand version. But the original letter by H.P.B. has been discovered in 1981 and published one year later in The Eclectic Theosophist No. 68, March-April 1982, pp 6-9 (See also a correction in Eclectic No. 70, July- August 1982, p. 11). A comparison between the original letter and the secondhand version you quote, will show some differences (for instance : "What I suffered Master alone knew") and 'several "sic" I can also be moved out."

We are glad to mention this. The Eclectic Theosophist is issued bi-monthly by Point Loma Publications, P.O. Box 6507, San Diego, CA 92106, USA, and a six issue subscription is $5, foreign $5.50 (by air $7.50.)

It is one of the most valuable Theosophical publications.




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47 Mayfield Road



Michael Gomes

"As I was sitting in my study in Madras one sultry evening in August 1884, a card was brought to me, bearing a name that I did not remember to have heard before - 'Madame Coulomb'" (British Weekly, May 21, 1891, p. 49).

So began one of the most devastating allegiances for the early theosophical movement. As a result of this meeting Emma Coulomb turned over to the Rev. George Patterson, editor of the Madras Christian College Magazine, some "sixty or seventy" letters covering five years of Madame Blavatsky's correspondence with her. After passing this material on to the Rev. A. Alexander, a former professor of the College, acting as Secretary of the Scottish Free Church Mission in Madras, nineteen letters were selected as being definitely incriminating to Mme. Blavatsky, as they contained instructions to the Coulombs for the execution of bogus phenomena. The publication of these in the September and October issues of the College Magazine caused the immediate return to Madras of Col. Olcott and Mme. Blavatsky who were then in Europe. These letters also resulted in Richard Hodgson, of St. John's College, Cambridge, being sent out to India to investigate the Coulomb affair for the Society for Psychical Research. He met with Olcott on 22nd December, and came to stay at the 'Theosophical Headquarters at Adyar three days later. Mme. Coulomb's pamphlet appeared on December 23rd, according to the entry in Olcott's diary. Published by the Madras firm of Higginbotham and Co. (still in existence on Mount Road in Madras), Some Account of My Intercourse with Madame Blavatsky from 1872 to 1884, (114 pp.) contained an additional nine new letters, with a running commentary by Emma Coulomb


showing how the whole thing was done (Olcott believed that the Rev. Alexander was her ghost- writer in this). The question of whether H.P.B. should be allowed to sue the Coulombs for libel was put before the December 1884 T.S. Convention, which decided against such action. Hodgson, who was present at the Adyar Convention, was allowed to publicly request testimony of phenomena from the assembled members. The brief annotations in the margins of Hodgson's copy of the Coulomb's pamphlet were Mme. Blavatsky's immediate reply. But the tide of public opinion was turning against her, and like so many of her protests, memoranda, and letters written at the time, these notes were casually dismissed by Hodgson in his report and forgotten. In 1953, Walter Carrithers Jr. of Fresno, California, a member of the Society for Psychical Research, attempted to have these notes transcribed from the original in the S.P.R. Library, London; a copy of which reached him in October 1955. "These annotations by H.P.B. are more or less confined to the latter half of the Coulomb pamphlet (referred to by Hodgson in his Report, p. 282, as B. Marginal Notes) while her remarks on the forepart of the Hodgson copy were written separately on 'about 7-1/2 pp. foolscap' and were called by Hodgson 'B. Replies"' (quoted in my article, "The Coulomb Case, 1884 - 1984", The Theosophist, Feb. 1985, p. 189, fn. 99). The possibility of finding these foolscap replies and other documents relating to this case, caused Mr. Carrithers to petition the Council of the S.P.R. to search their archives. This resulted in the microfilming of the papers now being published in the pages of Theosophical History.




genuine Which shows only that I am the fool
and she is the rogue

p. 65 [The sentence in French, "Aussi il a besoin*
d'un petit desk ou table pour ecrire et d'une
glace toilette" translated as "A small desk
and looking glass are also necessary" in the
third paragraph, has been marked, and at the
bottom of the page is written:]

*"He also needs a small desk" etc - "he" being
Mr Brown. Why is it mistranslated?

p. 66 [In the margin next to the telegram "The
Mahatma has heard your mental request on
behalf of his highness. It shall be granted,
provided he protects and patronizes our cause.

A lie all round H. P. B.

p. 69 [At the bottom of the page under the Poona
letter that begins "Holkar - fiasco" H.P.B. writes:]

This letter appears genuine. I see now that
it is from this letter that she got the famous
idea of making me sign "Luna Melanconica".

p. 69 [Under the paragraph of the Poona letter that
begins "Now, dear, let us change the programme"
H.P.B. writes:]

This is an addition or an isolated traced letter
or something of the sort. Never wrote it.

p. 70 [In the margin next to the last paragraph of
the Poona letter, "If this reaches me on the
26th, even in the evening - it will still
produce a tremendous impression"]

Lie H. P. B.

p. 70 [As verification for the Poona letter, E.C.
quotes Madras Christian College Magazine for
September 1884: "We possess not only the


letter, but the cover in which it was transmitted,
bearing the following postmarks; Poona, Oct. 24th;
Madras, Oct. 26; 2nd delivery, Adyar, Oct. 26".
At the bottom of the page H.P.B. asks:]

Can not the cover have contained another letter?
Funny evidence!

[E.C.: "On her return from Poona, Madame Blavatsky
having heard that someone had hinted at the existence
of sliding panels in this massive sham door which was
at the back of the bricked up window against which the
shrine lent, decided that it would be better to remove
it and ordered that a frame should be made to fit the
place from which this door was taken out". In margin:]

Never Lie

p. 73 [E.C.: "She answered me, and then all of a sudden as
though she had forgotten something she sprang up saying:
'What o'clock is it? Let me go, I must fall down, Damodar
is to say that he saw me fall and send a telegram here.
See, dear, run and say that you saw me fall".
In the margin next to this:]

A preposterous lie! Lie

p. 73 [Mr. A.D. Ezekiel's suspicions causes the holes in
the ceiling to be covered up. At the bottom of the page:]

It was she, who, came in great indignation to tell me in
secret that Ezekiel suspected me. "How dare he, this vile Jew!"
she exclaimed "to come and try to pump us out, as though we
knew anything!"

p. 74 [E.C.: "I know of a gentleman who received through the holy
vehicle, the shrine, five hundred rupees. I do not know
whether, although Mahatmas, the good Brothers had any


right to give away the money which had been sent for other
; however this is no business of mine". In the margin:]

Whose money. What does she know of it?

p. 74 [On Mr. Cassava Pillai of Nellore who attended the Dec. 1883
Anniversary Convention in Madras, E.C.: "when Madame saw him
come towards me she told me in French that I was to pretend not
to know who he was". In the margin next to this:]


p. 75 [E.C.: "Oh heavens what misery! Every day I grew more and
more disgusted". She tells Mr. Hurrisinjee Rupsinjee that
she would like 2,000 rupees to open a boarding house in Ooty.
"After a short pause Mr. Hurrisinjee said these words: 'I will
give them to you
"'. His words are underlined and in the margin
next to it:]

He says she lies.

p. 75 [Further on this, E.C. says, "As to Madame I never would have
told her because I knew how vexed she would have been to know
that I was likely to have that which she might have got for
". Next to the underlined words:]

what an infamous slander!

p. 76 [E.C.: "At this time Madame was leaving for a far land she thought
it prudent that the hole in the wall behind the shrine should be
closed for good until her return ... The hole was stopped on the
inside of the occult room touching the shrine
". At the bottom of
the page:]

A hole made once upon a time by a nail & the corner of the cupboard passing through it can


be seen to the present day. How is it that the Colonel saw nothing,
no trace of a hole when looking behind?

P. 77 [bottom of the page:]

Now mark she says that the hole behind the side board could not
be closed & was not between my departure hence Colonel's return
from Ceylon. How is it that Olcott tells me that he actually removed
the sideboard he found so ugly when he came back & found no hole?

p. 78 [On route to Bombay the party was met at Poona by Judge Khandalavala
and Mr. Ezekiel, E.C.: "This last gentleman uttered a cry of joy when
he saw the train stop saying: 'Oh here is Madame', but when she heard his voice she told me in a loud whisper and in French 'Ne laissez pas entrer ce C ... de juif; Je ne veux pas le voir. Qu'il aille au diable! Dites lui que je dors'". In margin next to this:]

A lie. Never said such words

p. 78 [bottom of the page:]

It is true I did not want to see him & told so to Khandalavala & others. But that was because Mme C. had told me that he had behaved treacherously that he pretended to believe, & then told his friends I was a swindler H.P.B.

p. 79 [E.C.: explains how phenomena were done using a miniature metal
Cleopatra's needle, "Madame wrote a note, wrapped the silver coin in it and put the small packet inside the needle which was hollow and then set the needle again in its place". In the margin next to this:]

What an exhaustive imagination!


p. 79 [According to E.C. the needle phenomena failed to achieve the desired
result and she quotes H.P.B. as saying: "What did he want me here for? I shall go away to Bombay to-morrow. Here is a lot of money gone for nothing. I shall not have enough to go to Europe", beneath this at the bottom of the page:]

A fib. Hurrissingjee had given me the money for the expenses & more than I needed. The Takoor had also paid out travelling - but she did not know it.

P. 80 [E.C.: "at last after this storm came a calm, she breaking into one of
those charming moods which oblige one to do anything for her, said "Try my dear and speak with Mr. Unwala and tell him that you know that I have not enough money to go to Europe and ask him if he can get me one thousand rupees from His Highness". I did, as I was told, and Mr. Unwala obtained five hundred rupees". In the margin:]

Never asked it; but when the Takoor gave to the Society Rs. 500, she insisted upon having half of it, as it was she who made him give it!

P. 80 [E.C. gives in graphic detail the result of H.P.B. finding out of her
attempt to get 2,000 rupees from Mr. Hurrisinjee. At the bottom of the page:]

Mr. Hodgson, please enquire of Unwala & Hurrissingjee how the matter passed and see how she lies. Hurrissingjee swears he never promised & never told her he would give the money

p. 93 [Mon. Coulomb adds a note saying he never made the "accusations mentioned
in Colonel's and Madame's letter" from Paris. In the margin next to this:]


And the evidence of 5 persons Lane Fox Hartmann Brown, Damodar & even Olcott?

p. 97 [H.P.B. corrects the English translation of her Paris, 1st April 1884
letter. Next to the sentence "You will never lay an accusation against him!" she has crossed out the "an" and added in the margin:]

a secret [adding at the end of the sentence] before his friends

P. 99 [H.P.B. continues correcting the English translation of her Paris letter
so that the passage at the bottom of p. 99 reads:]

That if similar phenomena, and more marvellous still (letters from the Mahatma Koot Hoomi and from out Master) have happened when I was a thousand leagues away. That if Mr. Hume at Simla, Col. Strange in Kashmir Sinnett in London, Queensburg in New York and Gilbert in Australia as you say have received the same day and the same hour a circular letter in the writing of the Mahatma when all were alone in their rooms, where then were the trap-doors constructed by M. Coulomb? Find one out really, and it will reflect at most on you the principal actors and not on poor me.

[With reference to the above passage, H.P.B. drew Col. Olcott's attention to it when it was published in the October issue of the Madras Christian College Magazine: "Then the words: 'that Hume at Simla, Col. Strange in Kashmir, Gilbert in Australia, etc., have received a circular from Mahat K.H. at the same hour', etc., must be either a mistake in printing or another crafty mixing up of words. No such phenomenon has happened as reads in the translation of my French letter and I said nothing of the kind. She had written me that if the 'Brothers' could send


circular letters to Simla (Hume) and Australia and Kashmir and to New York that they could send an Astral telegram to Adyar to order Lane-Fox and Dr. Hartmann to leave them, the Coulombs, quiet. Judge saw and read her letter in which she also demands that the Mahatmas should protect her and send a letter to the B.(oard) of C(ontrol). And now if you do not demand to see the letters, those of the second lot that are genuine the long and the short one and if you do not show how perverted they are in that translation Mr. Hume and Strong and Gilbert will take me for a liar indeed - especially Strong who has never seen anything". - Blavatsky, Letter to Olcott, dated Oct. 29th (1884, London) in the Archives of the Theosophical Society, Adyar]

p. 100
[At the bottom of the page H.P.B. comments on the phrase "Decouvrez en une veritablement" from this letter which she has also underlined:

"Find out really" (a trap door) clearly shows that they could not find out one, unless they made it themselves, as they did. But then I never suspected this at the time of writing this. H.P.B.

P. 100
[H.P.B.'s Paris letter cont.: "And who then has been the fraud when (I being 1,000 leagues away) Hurrusinghee has a reply to his letter which he had put into the shrine, and Shrinavas Rao also, as they have written to me from Adyar?" In the margin next to this:]

But the hole was closed they say & the panel changed?

p. 100
[Paris letter cont. The sentence " (I commit myself) to the grace of God" has been crossed out, and in the margin next to it substituted:

Come what may


p. 101
[Paris letter cont: "Accuse me, denounce me, ruin H.P. Blavatsky who has never hated or betrayed you, who almost ruined the Society at its first appearance in Bombay in order to sustain and protect you, in opposition to all - even the Colonel - and that when she was [not] able to do it without danger to herself". In the margin next to this:]

? This [not] in parenthesis changes the sense for it means the opposite what I wanted to say; see original French

Editorial Note

In reading Mr. Gomes's valuable paper, many readers will not have access to the Coulomb pamphlet on which H.P.B. was commenting. Though the incriminating letters have been republished in various places, the pamphlet has been out of print for a century. Naturally the possibility of a T.H.C. reprint presents itself, for how can serious discussion of the case be conducted without reference to it? But consider the difficulties of a reprint. The pamphlet is about 115 pages long, often of close text. It gives currency to accusations regarded by most Theosophists as spurious - should it be reprinted without some refutation as commentary? There are also differences between the Indian and English prints of the pamphlet (The T.S. in England owns a copy of the English reprint, on to which one of their officers some years ago, copied by permission, the Blavatsky annotations on an S.P.R. copy of the Indian edition). Moreover there are differences in the texts of the letters as printed in the pamphlets and in the "Christian College Magazine" - and further differences in the letters as reproduced in the 1885 S.P.R. report! There is thus a problem like that in biblical scholarship, of establishing the original text, and interpolations. These matters have been most carefully explored by Walter A. Carrithers, some of whose findings we hope soon to publish.

L. P.



In the centre of this issue, readers will find the provisional programme of the first T.H.C. conference, which promises to be an exciting occasion. Registration forms are again enclosed with this issue. Any person may attend; for those who are unable, tapes will be available from the T.S. Information Department. There has never been a conference like this before; if you like sharing in the making of history - be there!

This issue of T.H. also carries (indeed was delayed to include) the S.P.R. press statement about H.P.B. on the occasion of Dr. Harrison's remarkable findings. There is no new T.H.C. pamphlet this quarter, but T.H.C. members are being sent an offprint of Dr. Harrison's paper. T.H.C. has arranged a supply of these; and they are obtainable from us at £1.50 post free (or $3 American). Associate membership, which confers the right to automatic free copies of T.H.C. publications, is £4 in 1986 ($8). Members of the English Section T.S. can also pay their dues through T.H.C. and become full T.H.C. members, with the additional rights of free admission to T.H.C. meetings and free receipt of T.H., which otherwise must be obtained on separate subscription.

The Dutch T.S. has asked permission to translate Professor Santucci's "Theosophy and the Theosophical Society" (T.H.C. 1985 £1.50 $3) into Dutch. This is the first translation of a T.H.C. publication. We are pleased that the next catalogue of The Theosophical Publishing House will include T.H.C. titles.


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