Published by Blavatsky Study Center


The Testimony of Emma Coulomb & Richard Hodgson
Concerning the Appearances of the Mahatmas

The Testimony of Emma Coulomb

Testimony of Richard Hodgson

For background information and an overall assessment of the charges
made by Coulomb and Hodgson, see the following three articles
and the books recommended in those three articles:

Paranormal Features of Some of the Appearances of the Mahatmas

H. P. Blavatsky and The Society for Psychical Research by Grace F. Knoche

The Coulomb Conspiracy Against Theosophy by Charles J. Ryan


The Testimony of Emma Coulomb

On the 5th of April [1880] Colonel Olcott came into my room and asked me if I would undertake to direct the domestic affairs [at Theosophical Society headquarters, Bombay, India], as the lady who looked after them did not wish to do so anymore.  I accepted with great pleasure this charge, as it gave me the chance of making myself useful.   We had already been initiated and had joined the [Theosophical] Society. 

Madame Blavatsky, seeing our earnest desire to please her in everything, one evening, taking hold of my arm and walking up and down in the library compound, all of a sudden said:  "Look here, run and tell the Colonel that you have seen a figure in the garden."  "Where is the figure?" I asked.  "Never mind," she said, "run and tell him so; we shall have some fun."    Thinking this to be a joke, I ran to him and told him.  As the Colonel came up Madame began to laugh, saying "See, she has been afraid of an apparition," and so they both went on laughing , and going up to the other bungalow, related the story to the rest of the people who were there.  I must conscientiously say that I did not know what they meant by this joke.

[Later] in one of [her good] moods [Madame Blavatsky] called me up and told me:   "See if you can make a head of human size and place it on that divan," pointing to a sofa in her room, " and merely put a sheet round it; it would have a magic effect by moonlight."  What can this mean?  I wondered.  But knowing how disagreeable she could make herself if she was stroked on the wrong side, I complied with her wish.  She cut a paper pattern of the face I was to make, which I still have; on this I cut the precious lineaments of the beloved Master, but, to my shame, I must say that, after all my trouble of cutting, sewing, and stuffing, Madame said that it looked like an old Jew---I suppose she meant Shylock.  Madame, with a graceful touch  here and there of her painting brush, gave it a little better appearance.   But this was only a head, without bust, and could not very well be used, so I made a jacket, which I doubled, and between the two cloths I placed stuffing, to form the shoulders and chest; the arms were only to the elbow, because, when the thing was tried on, we found the long arm would be in the way of him who had to carry it.  This beauty finished, made Madame quite another person.  

Let us see for what purpose the doll was made.  This was to give a convincing and material proof of the existence of the brothers [the Mahatmas], as their (said) invisible presence did not fully satisfy the truthseekers.

Among the many apparitions to which this doll has been instrumental, I will choose one seen by Mr. Ramaswamier, in December, 1881.  The Mahatma he saw in his astral body on the balcony at the head-quarters of the Theosophical Society in Bombay, on the memorable night of December, 1881, was no one else than Monsieur Coulomb, with the doll's head on his own.

The doll plays the greatest part in these apparitions, and, as I have already explained, it is carried on somebody's head; but at times it is placed on the top of a long bamboo, and raised to show that it is an astral body; but when the doll has not been at hand, even a white cloth wrapped round the person who was to perform the Mahatma was at times used, and answered the purpose.

I shall speak of the apparition which Mr. Sinnett saw on the terrace of Colonel Olcott's bungalow [at Theosophical Society headquarters, Adyar, Madras, India in March 1883]; and for precision's sake it behooves me to give here a short description of what took place on the arrival of Mr. Sinnett at head-quarters.

Madame told me:  "What are we to do now? Mr. Sinnett wants to go and sleep in Colonel's bungalow."  To this I answered that I was very sorry, because I knew that Colonel did not like anyone to occupy his rooms; but Madame said, "He wants to go there because he expects a visit from the Mahatma."  I shrugged my shoulders.    A little later in the day she asked me to go upstairs.  I went.    "Come here," she said.  "See, Mr. Sinnett would go into the Colonel's bungalow to sleep, because, as I told you, he expects a visit from the Mahatma.   Do you think it would be possible for Mr. Coulomb  to go quietly in the night, and through the window close to his bed pass a letter and go away, or even show himself at a distance.  Mr. Sinnett would never dare to move if I tell him not."  I answered that I would ask my husband, but that I was sure he would not do it, because Mr. Sinnett was not a simpleton:  he might go after the apparition and find out what is was, and then what would become of her?  I told my husband, and he refused point-blank, saying that he would not do it.  Whether anyone else did it instead, or not, this I could not say; but what I can affirm is, that Mr. Sinnett did not stay very long in the bungalow, and I heard him say that it was no use staying any longer.  

A few days after this, Madame asked to have Koot-Hoomi shown on Colonel's bungalow.    Baboula, Madame's servant, took the Christofolo [the nickname for the "doll"], all wrapped up in a shawl, and with Mr. Coulomb went all along the compound on the side of the swimming-bath to the end of the pasture, returning in a straight line back to Colonel's bungalow up to the terrace, where it was lifted up and lowered down to give it a vapoury appearance.  I went up to Madame to say that all was ready, and found her at the window, in company with Mr. and Mrs. Sinnett, looking through an opera-glass; I was very much annoyed that she should be so imprudent, but this is her nature. 

Another day, she asked that the Mahatma should be taken to the island in the middle of the [Adyar] river opposite the main bungalow.  It was impossible to oblige her at this time, because the tide was high and the moonlight as bright as day, so that the servant, who had to carry the bundle, could not cross the river; consequently the apparition did not take place, to Madame's great annoyance, because she had already invited Mr. and Mrs. Sinnett to go up and see.

[Note:  The above extracts have been transcribed from the original source but some text has been silently deleted. Explanatory words added by the editor are enclosed within brackets.]

Source:  Coulomb, Emma.  Some Account of My Association with Madame Blavatsky from 1872 to 1884, Lawrence Asylum Press, Madras, India, 1884, pp. 8, 31, 34, 36, 52-3.


Testimony of Richard Hodgson

In November [1884] I proceeded to India for the purpose of investigating on the spot the evidence of the phenomena connected with the Theosophical Society. [Monsieur] and Madame Coulomb, who had been attached to the Theosophical Society for several years in positions of trust, had charged Madame Blavatsky with fraud, and had adduced in support of their charge various letters and other documents alleged by them to have been written by Madame Blavatsky.

From these Blavatsky-Coulomb documents it appears that Mahatma letters were prepared and sent by Madame Blavatsky; that Koot Hoomi is a fictitious personage; that supposed "astral forms" of the Mahatmas were confederates of Madame Blavatsky in disguise --- generally the Coulombs; that alleged [occult] phenomena --- some of them in connection with the so-called Shrine at Adyar --- were ingenious trickeries, carried out by Madame Blavatsky, with the assistance chiefly of the Coulombs.

I was left without any doubt that the appearances [of the Mahatmas] might have been well produced by [Monsieur] Coulomb in disguise.  I have seen [Monsieur] Coulomb disguised as a Mahatma, and can understand that the figure may have been very impressive.   A dummy head (with shoulders), like that of a Hindu, with beard, &c. and fehta [turban], is worn on the top of the head of the person disguised.   A long flowing muslin garment falls down in front, and by holding the folds very slightly apart, the wearer is enabled to see, and to speak also, if necessary.  I do not think it in the least degree likely that any of the witnesses would have penetrated this disguise had the figure been even much nearer than it was, and the light much better.

I cannot regard Colonel Olcott's testimony as of any scientific value.  In particular, his testimony to the alleged "astral" appearance [of the Mahatma Morya] in New York proves, in my opinion, no more than that he saw someone in his room, who may have been an ordinary Hindu, or some other person, disguised, as a Mahatma for the purpose, and acting for Madame Blavatsky.  And the same may be said of all his testimony to apparitions of Mahatmas.

I need not here say much on the other alleged appearances of Mahatmas, in either their ordinary physical or their "astral" bodies.  A confederate in disguise is generally an easy and sufficient explanation of them.  There is no real difficulty in applying this explanation even to the case of Mr. Ramaswamier, whose account of his experience has made so much impression on Mr. Sinnett.

The resources of Madame Blavatsky are great; and by the means of forged letters, fraudulent statements of Chelas, and other false evidence, she may yet do much in the future for the benefit of human credulity.  But acting in accordance with the principles upon which our Society [for Psychical Research] has proceeded, I must express my unqualified opinion that no genuine psychical phenomena whatever will be found among the pseudo-mysteries of the Russian lady alias Koot Hoomi Lal Sing alias Mahatma Morya alias Madame Blavatsky.

[Note:  The above extracts have been transcribed from the original source but some text has been silently deleted. Explanatory words added by the editor are enclosed within brackets.]

Source: "The Report of the Committee Appointed to Investigate the Phenomena connected with the Theosophical Society," Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 1885, Vol. 3, No. IX, pp. 207, 209, 241, 239, 245-6, 317.


For background information and an overall assessment of the charges
made by Coulomb and Hodgson, see the following three articles
and the books recommended in those three articles:

Paranormal Features of Some of the Appearances of the Mahatmas

H. P. Blavatsky and The Society for Psychical Research by Grace F. Knoche

The Coulomb Conspiracy Against Theosophy by Charles J. Ryan

Published by Blavatsky Study Center