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The Existence of the Mahatmas
by Mohini M. Chatterji (1)
Since an attempt is now being made by the opponents of the Theosophical Society to discredit the whole movement by circulating the report that the "Mahatmas," or Eastern Adepts, are but "crafty arrangements of muslin and bladders," I ask permission to say a word. I have sacrificed all my worldly prospects, as is well known in my native city of Calcutta, to devote myself to the propagation of the esoteric philosophy of my race, in connection with the Society so unjustly slandered. Needless to say I should not have taken this step, with many others of my countrymen, if the Theosophical Society were but a sham, and the Mahatmas vulgar "concoctions of muslin and bladders."
To a Brahman, like myself, it is repugnant to speak of the sacredly confidential relationship existing between a spiritual teacher and his pupil yet duty compels me in this instance to say that I have personal and absolute knowledge of the existence of the Mahatma who has corresponded with Mr. Sinnett, and is known to the Western world as "Koot-Hoomi." I had knowledge of the Mahatma in question before I knew Madame Blavatsky, and I met him in person when he passed through the Madras Presidency to China last year (1883).
I have also seen apparitions of Mahatmas on several occasions --- five or six, I should think.
It was in the month of December, 1882 at Bombay, that I saw the apparition of one of the Mahatmas for the first time. I do not remember the precise date, but it can be easily ascertained. It was a few days after the anniversary of the Theosophical Society was celebrated in that year.
One evening, eight or 10 of us were sitting on the balcony at the headquarters of the Society. I was leaning over the railings, when at a distance I caught a glimpse of some shining substance, which after a short time took the form of a human being. This human form several times passed and re-passed the place where we were. I should think the apparition was visible for four or five minutes at a distance from me of about 20 or 30 yards.
It appeared at a place where there was a declivity in the hill, the house being at the top of the hill. There was also a bend at the spot, so that if an ordinary human being had been walking there it would have been impossible for him to have been seen. I saw the whole figure, however, so that it must have been floating in mid-air.
Other persons besides me also saw the figure. One was Novin Grishna Bannerji, who is deputy collector at Berhampore, Moorshedabad, Bengal. Another was S. Ramaswamier, who is district registrar at Madura, Madras. A third was Pundit Chandra Sikir, who lives at Bareilly, N.W.P.
It was first observed by Ramaswamier and myself. It seemed to us to be the apparition of the original of the portrait in Colonel Olcott's room, and which is associated with one of the Mahatmas. This occurred about half-past nine or 10 o'clock on a bright moonlight night. The figure walked up and down and then disappeared. It seemed to melt away.
The second time I saw an astral appearance was two or three days after that. We were sitting on the ground --- on the rock, outside the house in Bombay, when a figure appeared a short distance away. It was not the same figure as on the first occasion. This astral figure was the same shining colour as before. It seemed to float. There was no sound accompanying it. It seemed like phosphorus in the dark. The hair was dark, and could be distinguished from the face.
Colonel Olcott was present on the first occasion, and, as I have already stated, the apparition that appeared was that of his Master Morya.
The third instance which I will describe was the last that occurred in early 1884 just before my leaving India for Europe. We were sitting in the drawing-room on the first-floor of the house at the T.S. Headquarters, Adyar, Madras. It was about 11 o'clock at night. The window looks over a terrace or balcony.
In one corner of the room there appeared a thin vapoury substance of a shining white colour. Gradually it took shape, and a few dark spots became visible, and after a short time it was the fully-formed body of a man, apparently as solid as an ordinary human body. This figure passed and re-passed us several times, approaching to within a distance of a yard or two from where we were standing near the window. It approached so near that I think that if I had put out my hand I might have touched it. This figure was Mr. Sinnett's correspondent, Koot Hoomi.
After a while I said to Master Koot Hoomi that as I should not see him for a long time, on account of my going to Europe, I begged he would leave some tangible mark of his visit. The figure then raised his hands and seemed to throw something at us. The next moment we found a shower of roses falling over us in the room --- roses of a kind that could not have been procured on the premises.
We requested the figure to disappear from that side of the balcony where there was no exit. There was a tree on the other side, and it was in order to prevent all suspicion that it might be something that had got down the tree, or anything of that kind, that we requested him to disappear from the side where there was no exit. The figure went over to that spot and then disappeared. It passed us slowly until it came to the edge of the balcony, and then it was not to be seen any more. The disappearance was sudden.
The height of the balcony was 15 or 20 feet, and moreover, there were people downstairs and all over the house, so that it would have been impossible for a person to have jumped down without being noticed. Just below the balcony there is an open lawn. There were several persons looking at the moment, and my own idea is that it would have been perfectly impossible for a person to have jumped down. There is a small flight of steps just below the balcony, and if a man had jumped from the balcony he must have fallen upon the steps and broken his legs.
When the figure passed and re-passed us we heard nothing of any footsteps. Besides myself, Damodar and Madame Blavatsky were in the room at the time.
On the balcony there was the moonlight, and the figure came to within so short a distance that the light, which was streaming out of the window, fell upon it.
(1) This document has been collated from two sources: "The Theosophical Mahatmas," by Mohini M. Chatterji, The Pall Mall Gazette (London), October 2, 1884, p. 2; and First Report of the Committee of the Society for Psychical Research, Appointed to Investigate the Evidence for Marvellous Phenomena offered by Certain Members of the Theosophical Society (1884), Appendix II: Testimony of Mohini M. Chatterji. These can be found online under Chatterji's last name in The Blavatsky Archives.
The extracts given above have been transcribed from the original articles but some material has been silently deleted. The text has also been somewhat edited with some explanatory words, phrases and sentences added from time to time to the original text to make the overall narrative more easily read. The additions have not been placed in brackets.
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