Arrival of Theosophists
Published by The Blavatsky Archives. Online Edition copyright 2000.
[Reprinted from The Madras Mail, December 23, 1884, p. 5]
After an absence of over ten months in Europe, Madame Blavatsky, Founder and Corresponding Secretary of the Theosophical Society, returned to Madras Sunday afternoon, by the s.s. Navarino. She was accompanied by Colonel Olcott (who had gone to Ceylon to report to the Sinhalese the result of his mission for them to Europe), Dr. F. Hartmann, Mrs. Cooper Oakley (a graduate of the Cambridge University), Rev. Mr. Ledbeater (from the London Lodge) and three delegates from Ceylon. Two of the leading Theosophists went to meet the party on board the steamer, and when the boat containing the party reached the companion ladder, a band of Tanjore minstrels stationed on the pier, commenced to play, and there was a round of applause. After shaking hands and briefly conversing with a few of the gentlemen present, Madame Blavatsky was conveyed, with her party, in one of the pier carriages to the shore and of the pier. They drove to Pacheappahs Hall, where Madame Blavatsky met with an ovation. A large crowd of gentlemen and students had assembled there. Mr. C. Ramiah, Tahsildar, welcomed Madame Blavatsky and her friends on behalf of the Madras Branch. Mr. P. Streenevasa Row said that the students of all the Colleges of Madras, and of the Christian College in particular, were very desirous of presenting the Founder with an address of welcome. Her permission being granted, A. G. Krishnasawmy Iyer, a student of the Christian College, read the following address, which was received with loud applause: ---
DEAR AND REVEREND MADAME, --- In according to you this our heartiest of welcomes on your return from the intellectual campaigns which you have so successfully waged in the West, we are conscious we are giving but a feeble expression to the debt immense of endless gratitude which India lies under to you. You have dedicated your very valuable life to the eminently disinterested services of disseminating the truths of Occult Philosophy. Upon the sacred mysteries of our hoary religion and philosophies you have thrown such a flood of light by sending into the world that marvellous production of yours, the Isis Unveiled. By your exposition, has our beloved Colonel been induced to undertake that gigantic labour of love --- the vivifying on the altars of Aryavarta the dying flames of religion and spirituality. Your labours have so grandly supplemented the researches of comparative philology by establishing the community of mankind upon a commonality of religious beliefs. The very breath of life animating that colossal parent of incalculable good --- the Theosophical Society --- has been breathed into its nostrils by your much honored self. And now, you have increased a thousand fold the weight of those blessings by your recent personal exertions in Europe, whereby you have demonstrated to the West that the true tree of knowledge flourishes but in the East. You have procured for oriental metaphysics a reverential hearing and acceptation in Germany --- the nursery ground of philosophy. You have introduced the torch of eastern wisdom into the West End of London, and in the stream of its radiance shown to the pick and flower of English society, that the philosophy they were content to look upon as the crown and consummation of grandeur, should hide its diminished head in view of that of another hemisphere. Flippant France has thrown open to you her grandest saloons, and even the usually apathetic savants of Paris have been persuaded to receive at your hands the cup of oriental wisdom. While at one quarter of the globe you had been with all your heart and soul addressing yourself to the work of propagating eternal truth, your enemies on this side have been equally industrious in the shameless cause of suffocating the same. We allude to the recent scandalous events at Madras, in which an expelled domestic of yours has been made a convenient cats paw of. While looking upon such futilities with the indignant scorn which they certainly deserve, we beg to assure you that our affection and admiration, earned by the loftiness of your soul, the nobility of your aspirations and the matchless sacrifices you have made, have become too deeply rooted to be shaken off their ground by the rude blasts of spite, spleen and slander, which however, are no uncommon occurrences in the history of Theosophy. That the revered masters whose hearts are overflowing with love for humanity will continue as ever to help you and our esteemed Colonel in the discovery of truth and the dissemination of the same, is the earnest prayer of, dear and revered Madame, your affectionate servants, students of the College of Madras.
Madame Blavatsky replied that, unaccustomed as she was to public speaking, she could not make a speech like any of Colonel Olcotts. With regard to the amiable conspiracy which had been going on here during her absence, she would only say that of all the letters published, not a single one, as it stood, had been written by her. She would deny them all in toto. A man might, in an unguarded and mad moment suddenly become a thief, a forger, or any other sort of criminal; but that he should become such a fool as to send letters to others and put his signature to them, --- letters such as would convict him of fraud --- was a thing which one would find it very difficult to conceive. She would be the greatest fool in the world to commit herself so that she might be fairly accused of such vile, disgusting and stupid things. She had been a good deal accustomed to calumny, persecution and slanders, and was therefore much hardened by them. She did not care much for the opinions of Europeans or Anglo-Indians; what she really cared for was the good opinion of her Hindu brothers. And what was the greatest crime she had committed to merit all that persecution? It was her caring more for India than for any other country in the world, and more earnestly for Heathendom than for the so-called Christendom. She next referred to her accusers, the Coulombs. She stated that the Colonel [and] herself had treated them with all possible kindness, and what could she say of their going over to the enemies camp, when her back was turned, and selling her like Judas Iscariot? In conclusion, she hoped to spend every moment of her life for the benefit of India, and to deserve the confidence which they so generously reposed in her. She had not done anything against India of which she should be ashamed, and she was determined to work for India while there was health in her. (Loud applause.)
Mr. Ramiah rose once more and welcomed the delegates on behalf of the Madras Branch. Colonel Olcott, in replying on behalf of the delegates, said that Mrs. Cooper Oakley and Mr. Ledbeater came to Madras to labour on behalf of Theosophy. He felt called upon to assure the meeting that they were highly pleased with the reception, and that they hoped to become better acquainted with the Hindus. The Colonel then remarked that in Mr. Ledbeater they had a gentleman of the Christian Ministry who came to work here in the cause of Theosophy. The speaker said that there were padris in India who worked against themselves and against the Hindus; but there was one who had thrown aside his cassock and gown that he might devote his entire energies to the cause of Theosophy. The Theosophical movement, the Colonel said, had the soul of the Rishis in it, and its current, he would assure them, would spread itself over the face of the whole world. Mrs. Cooper Oakley and her sister were graduates of the Girton College, Cambridge (the celebrated College for the higher education of women,) and the former had made herself conspicuous in the agitation set on foot to extend the Franchise to females. He concluded by saying that she was going to learn the vernaculars of this country, and would bring into the families of the Hindus all the comforts which Theosophy held out. This, he hoped, would be the beginning of the real Zenana mission for India. (Loud applause) Mrs. Oakley expressed her inability to describe adequately how deeply gratified she felt at the hearty welcome given to her respected friend and sister, Madame Blavatsky. As coming from the London Lodge, she would assure them that the recent calumnies had not produced the slightest effect there; on the contrary, Madame Blavatsky was respected and loved all the more. (Applause) Garlands of flowers and bouquets were then presented to Madame Blavatsky and others, and the assembly dispersed.