Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.

Madame Blavatsky and Her Slanderers.

by N.D. Khandalavala

[Reprinted from The Theosophist,
(Adyar, Madras, India), November 1884, pp. 48-49.]

The Christian College Magazine, after finding itself in a pretty mess of its own creation, thus tries to hood-wink the Theosophists: - "It is neither with Theosophy nor with the Theosophists that we have any quarrel even now. We fully recognize the right of the Theosophical Society to cultivate its chosen field. We recognize that something like what it proposes with regard to the ancient literature and religions of India is an absolute necessity at the present time ... In bringing forward, as we have done, proofs that Madame Blavatsky’s Mahatmas are a myth and her phenomena but feats of jugglery, we claim to be doing a greater service to earnest and thoughtful Theosophists than to any one else." Whence this sudden love for us (stubborn Heathens), ye reverend Preachers of an infallible Gospel? Why waste your energy, and your silver, for us, who never invited your opinion?

Let us examine the Christian evidence consisting of 15 letters (1) supposed to have been written by Madame Blavatsky to the Coulombs.

A perusal of the first letter shows that Madame Blavatsky is speaking of genuine phenomena. Writing from Upper India she says that "she saw the cigarette at 3 in the morning" on the Prince of Wales’ statue at Bombay. How did she see except by her clairvoyant power? She says that she would drop again a cigarette at Bombay - from a distance, of course, of several hundred miles. To make this letter look suspicious, a note on a fly leaf and some words on a separate slip of paper, are brought forward by the Coulombs, and the missionaries say the writing on the slip is "undoubtedly in Madame Blavatsky’s hand." It seems as if the missionaries themselves had doubt regarding this handwriting which is made to fit in with the letter in a clumsy manner.

The second letter is made to show that Mr. Padsha and Mr. Damodar, two ardent Theosophists, who cared very little for phenomena, whose devotion to the cause, and whose friendship for, and adherence to, Madame Blavatsky had been proved beyond doubt under trying circumstances, were subsequently deceived by Madame Blavatsky from Upper India. Mr. Padshah, in a long letter to the Pioneer, has sufficiently well exposed the Coulombs, and asserted that the genuine communications, that he got in the unmistakable handwriting of one of the Mahatmas, were received by him under circumstances which point out the spuriousness of the alleged letter.

The third alleged communication is said to form the fag-end of a long letter written by Madame Blavatsky from Poona. Two-thirds of the letter is said to be in French. Then comes a long English para. which ends in the following words: "Many things to say, but no time or room." All at once, after this, come the following words of a new and highly suspicious para.: -

"Now, dear, let us change the program." What need of writing about any "programme" or change of programmes when it was a well understood thing between the confederates that tricks of various sorts were to be resorted to as occasion arose? Mark, again, that Madame Blavatsky is made to dictate a telegram, with instructions to send it in the name of "Ramlinga Deb," and yet she is made to write as follows: - "Will you go up to the Shrine, and ask K. H. (or Christofolo) to send me a telegram . . . worded thus:" If K. H. was well known to the confederates to be a myth, why should Madame Blavatsky write to the woman Coulomb to go to the Shrine to ask K. H. and explain that name by putting a parenthesis with the word "Christofolo" in it.  Here there is an attempt to prove too much, and that attempt fails ridiculously. The facts regarding the telegram are again quite against the purport of the letter, which is conveniently placed at the extreme end of a long letter, different in style and purport from the spurious para.

The fourth letter is a little scrip written in French with four suspicious words in English inserted in the middle.

In the fifth Madame Blavatsky is made to speak of the Maharaja of Lahore, a person who does not exist, and the woman Coulomb is given instructions to hide H. P. B.’s hair in the old tower of Sion or in some place in Bombay. The letter is so highly ridiculous, that only a mind, brimful of blind prejudice, could suppose it genuine. It is again a fact to be noted that Madame Blavatsky never showed any phenomena with respect to her hair.

The sixth letter is made to look suspicious by a long missionary commentary, but contains next to nothing.

Neither the 2nd, 4th, 5th or 6th letters bear the name of a place or date or even the day of the week, and the same is the case with the 7th, which is also undeniably a forgery. Mr. Srenivasa Rao, to whom it refers, knows the facts regarding his phenomena so well, that he clearly showed his friends how this letter could never have been written by Madame Blavatsky.

The 8th and 9th letters are made to refer to Mr. Raghunath Rao. They do not bear any date or the day of the week. Here again the circumstances completely upset the letters and show that the Coulombs stole the Sanskrit letter of the Mahatma. The Missionaries and the Coulombs foolishly attempt in this case to make the public believe that Madame Blavatsky wrote a letter in Sanskrit, of which language she knows not a word.

In the 10th letter again Col. Olcott is represented as a dupe, and shown as not having been allowed to examine the Shrine, when it is a well known fact that he examined the Shrine several times. The 10th letter is a puerile attempt to abuse the Theosophists residing at Head-quarters.

The 11th letter, with reference to General Morgan, has not only been pronounced a forgery by that gentleman and three others who inspected the original, but there is the woman Coulomb’s own letter at Adyar written by her to Madame Blavatsky at Ootacamund, on the very day the saucer phenomenon occurred, which she has minutely described as genuine.

The 12th letter does not at all refer to any trick:  it is a most ungentlemanly and mean attempt on the part of the missionaries to mention the names of two high officials with regard to a private conversation with Madame Blavatsky, so as to set the former against the latter. The letter, even if genuine, cannot prove the other letters genuine, as the gullible padres try to show.

The 13th letter speaks of Christofolo as having been killed by the woman Coulomb, who says that Christofolo was an arrangement of mask, bladders and muslin. This letter bears no date, so we don’t know when the poor woman killed her own fancy.

The 14th and 15th letters are very vague and refer to Christofolo in a haze of mist which made the woman sick, and induced her to go to the padres for holy consolation and help.

Such is the missionary fable, in support of which the reverend gentleman have, in their October number, published a second batch of letters that cut the ground from under their own feet. Like Mr. Funky, the junior counsel in Pickwick’s case, they have adduced evidence which goes to help the case of their opponent rather than their own. Madame Blavatsky, when she heard from the Madras Theosophists regarding the strange behaviour of the Coulombs, wrote to them from Paris a long letter on the 1st of April last. Let us quote a few sentences from this letter, which the missionaries, unfortunately for themselves, have given to the public: -

"Is it then because I have really said and repeated to you before Olcott and the others, that you both, being Theosophists and friends, had a right to spend the money of the Society for your dress and necessary expenses that you are saying to them (Hartmann and others) that M. Coulomb has constructed secret trap-doors, &c. . . How can I believe that Madame Coulomb will so dishonor her husband and herself. .... You (M. Coulomb) are too honest a man, too proud to do such a thing...You (Mme. Coulomb) are truly sick. You must be so to do so foolishly as you are doing. Understand then that you cannot at this hour of day injure any one. That it is too late. That similar phenomena, and more marvellous still (letters from Mahatma Koot Hoomi and from our Master) have happened when I was a thousand leagues away. That Mr. Hume at Simla, Colonel Strange in Cashmir, Sinnett in London, Queensbury in New York, and Gilbert in Australia, 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 on poor me. People who have seen the Mahatma before them in Australia and London as at the Adyar, who have received from him letters in his handwriting in reply to their letters written two hours before, will not believe you. Nor could they believe you ... I will spend myself for that cause which you hate so much. And who then has been the fraud when (I being 1,000 leagues away) Harreesingji has a reply to his letter which he had put into the Shrine, and Shrinivas Rao also, as they have written to me from Adyar. Is it you who have written in the hand-writing of the Mahatma, and you also have taken advantage of a trap-door? All the evil proved will be that you have never wished to believe that there were true Mahatmas behind the curtain. That you do not believe the phenomena real, and that is why you see tricks in every thing. If you compromise me before Lane-Fox or Hartmann and others - ah well, I shall not return to the Adyar but will remain here or in London, where I will prove by phenomena more marvellous still that they are true and that our Mahatmas exist, for there is one here at Paris and there will be also in London. And when I shall have proved this, where will the trap-doors be then? Who will make them?"

Is this language of the trickster and impostor that the missionaries, in their simplicity, want to make out Madame Blavatsky to be? This lady, when for the first time she heard good many things regarding the vile behaviour of the Coulombs, thought that the woman Coulomb - weak, hysterical and mediumistic as she is - had gone wrong in her head, and therefore wrote to her and her husband a long letter so as to bring her to her senses. The pacific tone of this letter is a sin in the eyes of the obtuse, and that fact is made much of. But such thoughtless persons forget that in this letter Madame Blavatsky distinctly asserts that the Mahatmas (of whose existence she is represented - in one of the spurious letters - as making a joke) exist, and she could prove their existence, that she could show marvellous phenomena even in strange lands, and that she challenges the dastardly pair to find out a real trap-door.

The missionaries have unwittingly proved the innocence of Madame Blavatsky.

As long as the real character of the Coulombs had not been found out, some charitable Theosophists were willing to give them handsome sums to help them. When, however, their hostility to the Society was exposed at Head-quarters, the offers were withdrawn; the dastardly pair then said they could show how Madame Blavatsky played tricks, and M. Coulomb pointed to the half-finished slides placed by him in three or four places, but when he was asked to work them he could scarcely do so, and, above all, completely failed to show what connection these slides had with the Shrine. The pair were asked to give some further proof of Madame Blavatsky’s deceit, but they had not the letters ready then and therefore could bring forward nothing.

In proof of the genuineness of the alleged letters, the missionaries say that the Coulombs gave them the letters once for all, and that when they were asked to give illustrative documents of the Simla cup phenomenon, the Coulombs said they had none, that, had these people been forgers, they would have produced other letters as well. The Coulombs, it seems, had more sense than the missionaries, who wanted them to produce letters regarding phenomena in which the Coulombs in Bombay could not by the remotest probability be expected by any one to take a part. Plausible facts in a few instances within their knowledge were perverted by them; and the handwriting of Madame Blavatsky was imitated it seems by a process about which a criminal, sentenced not very long ago by the Bombay High Court, could enlighten the missionaries. A few letters were got up and taken from place to place. No one would buy them till at last the Christian College Magazine people were induced to take them up for the sum of Rs. 150. That was a paltry sum for the Coulombs, but as there was no better market for their wares they had to accept that pittance. Why should they bother themselves more with a stingy pay-master. Regarding the Simla cup they had given a hint in connection with the Adyar saucer, and that ought to satisfy a not over-generous missionary.

The "discoveries" of the missionaries, far from being able to prove that the Mahatmas are a myth and Madame Blavatsky’s phenomena mere jugglery, have, on the contrary, shown that the Mahatmas exist, and that Madame Blavatsky is able to show most wondrous phenomena. Several Theosophists have seen phenomena during Madame Blavatsky’s absence and have had the most convincing proofs of the existence of the Mahatmas.

Poona, October 1884.                                                              N. D. K.... F. T. S.


(1)  Published in the September number of the Madras Christian College Magazine.