Blavatsky Study Center
Back to Table of Contents
The Theosophical Movement 1875-1925
--- 293Chapter XIX
The Crisis in the SocietyAt the time of H.P.B.'s death Mr. Judge was in New York, Mrs. Besant in mid-ocean on her homeward voyage from her visit as H.P.B's messenger to the Convention of the American Section, Col. Olcott in Australia, whither he had gone partly on business for the Society, and partly on account of his health, which was greatly impaired. On receipt of the news of H.P.B.'s death Mr. Judge cabled to London that he would come on the first boat and to keep her things intact till his arrival. Cables were also exchanged between Mr. Judge and Col. Olcott, and the latter, who was on the point of departing for New Zealand, advised both London and New York that he would go at once to England.
The death of H.P.B. necessarily aroused great uncertainties and speculations as to what might befall the Society, its Esoteric Section, and the solidarity of its unwieldy and poorly amalgamated elements. Her presence being removed, her pervading influence no longer being directly exercised, her commanding voice no longer possible to be heard, what was going to be done by her lieutenants and by the rank and file of her followers? Although she had never held any but a purely nominal official position during the entire life of the Society, H.P.B. had none the less been not only the inspiring genius of its foundation but its guiding star.
It will be remembered that the membership, the proceedings, the meetings, and the instructions of the Esoteric Section were all under the seal of secrecy, (1) every member making the most solemn pledge in that as in other respects. Neither Col. Olcott nor Mr. Sinnett were members of the Esoteric Section; Dr. Coues had
(1) See Chapter IX.
been declined admission; Miss Mabel Collins had been admitted and dismissed for flagrant violation of her pledges, as had Mr. Michael Angelo Lane. There were very few members of the E.S. in India and the Orient generally, few on the Continent of Europe, the larger membership being from the beginning in the United States and, next to that, in England. As no one was received who was not also a member in good standing of the T.S.; as the bulk of the financial and other support of the T.S. came from England and the United States, and nearly all the literature of Theosophy and most of the periodicals devoted to it were printed in the English language, the formation and rise of the Esoteric Section afforded ample occasion for speculations, doubts, and fears on the part of Col. Olcott, Mr. Sinnett, and others who were prominent in the Society and well pleased with its conduct and progress on lines satisfactory to themselves. They saw in the Esoteric Section a standing menace, because it was a secret body pledged, not to the Society but to the Theosophical Movement; looking, not to the Organization and its Officers for direction, but to H.P.B. and Mr. Judge; concerned not at all with the "neutrality" of the Society on all matters of philosophy, religion, and science, but pledged to study, promulgate, and practice Theosophy.
Mrs. Annie Besant had become a convert to Theosophy early in 1889, very shortly after the defection of Miss Mabel Collins and Dr. Coues. She had ceased her connection with Mr. Charles Bradlaugh and with atheistic and socialistic activities, joined the "household" of H.P.B., been admitted to the Esoteric Section, had become President of the Blavatsky Lodge, was made by H.P.B. Co-Editor of Lucifer, and within a few months her reputation, her ardor, and her intellectual abilities made her the right hand of H.P.B. In the eyes of the world and of most members of the Society, she was the foremost light in the Theosophical firmament after H.P.B., and destined after H.P.B.'s death to become the central luminary in the Theosophical heavens. She had been the prime supporter of the movement among
European and English Theosophists to use Alexandrian methods to cut the Gordian knot of Col. Olcott's incessant intermeddling through his Presidential ukases in the active conduct of the work in the West, which resulted in the taking over by H.P.B., at the almost unanimous request of the membership, of the Presidential powers and authority for the whole of Europe - an action which Col. Olcott accepted with what grace he could. As will be remembered, a British Section modeled on the same democratic lines as the original American Section, had been formed near the close of 1888. After H.P.B. had assumed the Presidency of the European Societies and the European "unattached" Fellows, in the summer of 1890, she had planned to organize them, together with the Branches and Lodges in Great Britain, into a single autonomous Section, nominally and in aim an integral portion of the Theosophical Society, recognizing and supporting Col. Olcott as titular President-Founder of all the Societies the world over, but actually and practically entirely independent of any jurisdiction outside of or other than the democratic decisions of its own Branches and Fellows, in delegate Convention assembled.
The situation Mr. Judge had to meet was thus one of great and peculiar difficulty. On the one hand was the jealousy felt by Col. Olcott, Mr. Sinnett, and others, over the influence of the Esoteric Section on the fortunes of the exoteric Society. On the other hand was the problem of Mrs. Besant, as placed before him by H.P.B. in her letter to him of March 27, 1891, shortly before her death. Although of great ability, strong will, and intense devotion, Mrs. Besant was, as stated in that letter, "not psychic or spiritual in the least - all intellect." From being a confirmed materialist for many years, she had been a Probationer of the Esoteric Section but two years, while accepted chelaship in Masters' Lodge requires a minimum of seven years' probation under the most favorable circumstances. Her ordeals of chelaship were yet to come; nevertheless she was the most prominent member, both of the Society and the
Esoteric Section, and it was certain the English and European members would follow her course, whatever it might be.
So soon as Mr. Judge reached London he called together as Vice-President a Consultative Emergency Council, consisting of the European Advisory Council, as named by H.P.B., and the members of the General Council of the British Section. A meeting was held on May 23 and it was resolved to summon a convention of the European and British Sections to meet at the London Headquarters on July 9, 1891. Also, as the representative of H.P.B. in the Esoteric Section, he called a conference of its Advisory Council which was held on May 27, 1891. There were present Mr. Judge, Mrs. Besant, Miss Alice Leighton Cleather, Miss Isabel Cooper-Oakley, Miss Laura M. Cooper, Messrs. H.A.W. Coryn, Archibald Keightley, William Kingsland, Miss Emily Kislingbury, Messrs. G.R.S. Mead, W.R. Old, E.T. Sturdy, Constance Wachtmeister, Messrs. W. Wynn Westcott and Claude F. Wright. Aside from Mr. Judge all those named were then residents of England, were actively connected with the Society and its work, were all members of the E.S. formally admitted by H.P.B. under pledge during the preceding two and a half years, and all were Councillors E.S.T. - an advisory body appointed by H.P.B. to assist her in the multitudinous details of the Esoteric Section, whose name had meantime - in 1889 - been changed to that of the "Eastern School of Theosophy." A general discussion took place, participated in by all those present. The important matters of the meeting (with one exception (2)); and the decisions reached were embodied in a circular letter dated the day of the meeting, and signed by all those in attendance, Mr. Judge signing "for the entire American Council E.S.T., and individually," and each of the others signing as "Councillor E.S.T." A copy of this circular, which was headed "Strictly private and confidential," was sent to each member of the E.S.T. Although signed by all, the actual wording of the cir-
(2) See Chapter XXVI.
cular was the work of Mrs. Besant, with some changes and corrections suggested by Mr. Judge and concurred in by those present at the meeting. As a portion of the circular there was included an address to the members of the E.S.T., signed by Mrs. Besant and Mr. Judge. That portion of the circular signed by all who attended the conference recites:
"The American Councillors were represented by Bro. William Q. Judge, with full power, and Bro. Judge attended as the representative of H.P.B. under a general power as given below."
This "general power" is the document by H.P.B. dated December 14, 1888, which will be given in full later on. (3)
Additional decisions reached by the full Council at the meeting are set forth in these extracts:
"In virtue of our appointment by H.P.B. we declare:
"That in full accord with the known wishes of H.P.B. the visible Head of the School, we primarily record and declare that the work of the School ought and shall be continued and carried on along the lines laid down by her, and with the matter left in writing or dictated by her before her departure...
"That her words to Bro. Judge in a recent letter were read stating that this Section (now School) is the "throbbing heart of the Theosophical Society."
"That it was resolved and recorded that the highest officials in the School for the present are Annie Besant and William Q. Judge....
"That having read the address drawn up by Annie Besant and William Q. Judge, we put on record our full accord with it.
"That this Council records its decision that its appointment was solely for the purpose of as-
(3) See Chapter XXXI.
sisting H.P.B. in a consultative way, and that as she had full power and authority to relieve us from duty at any time, our office and that of each of us ends with the above resolution passed in order as far as possible in our power to place the future conduct of the School on the basis directed and intended by her; therefore we collectively and individually declare that our office as Councillors ceases at this date, and that from henceforth with Annie Besant and William Q. Judge rest the full charge and management of this School."
The address to the members of the E.S.T., signed by Mr. Judge and Mrs. Besant, and incorporated in the circular, was in fact partly written by each, though signed by both. Their joint and several remarks are characteristic in more ways than one. In that portion actually written by Mrs. Besant she says:
"... it is our duty, as the two selected by H.P.B. as her agents and representatives after her departure, to specially speak to each one of you respecting the duty laid on the School by her retirement from the visible control of its affairs. The future of this body depends on the way in which this test of steadfastness and loyalty is endured by the members collectively and individually.... it will ill become her pupils if they desert the great Cause to which her life was given, and invite the terrible Karma that must fall on those who break the solemn pledge that each of us has made. The School is the heart of the Society; if the heart ceases to throb, the Society must die, as a living power, and slowly decay while passing into a mere sect. ...It is not that the Masters will not help the School if we are supine; it is that they cannot, for they are bound by law, not by law of man's creation but by the immutable Law of na-
ture which always works through agents appropriate to the end in view."
This is followed without a break by that portion of the address which was written by Mr. Judge:
"Consider the position of the School: we are no longer a band of students taught by a visible Teacher; we are a band of students mutually interdependent, forced to rely on each other for our usefulness and our progress, until our very brotherliness in mutual help shall draw a visible Teacher back among us. H.P.B. remains one of our Heads though H.P. Blavatsky is 'dead,' and the Heads of the School have not withdrawn Their guidance in withdrawing the presence chosen to represent Them for a time on which we have rejoiced to lean.
"Especially important is it that at the present juncture we should bear in mind the words of H.P.B., written at the conclusion of the Key to Theosophy. In laying stress on the knowledge and wisdom that will be required by those on whom it falls to carry on the work of the Society after her departure, she explains that those qualities only can save the Theosophical Society from ending in failure. All previous attempts have thus failed (in accomplishing their mission in full) because they have degenerated into sects, and we have her word for it that unless we be freed from bias, 'or at least taught to recognize it instantly and so avoid being led away by it, the result can only be that the Society will drift off to some sandbank of thought or another, and there remain a stranded carcass to moulder and decay.'...
"There, then, is our next pressing work, our most mighty responsibility. For if we of this School, Brothers and Sisters, cannot accomplish this task, the Theosophical Society is doomed.
Not in vain will come to you these tones of her living voice, speaking across 'the change that men call death,' for we know that she lives and is watching with grave, strong interest how they acquit themselves whose pledge can in no wise be altered by her departure into the invisible. That pledge was not given to the personality, it was given to Masters' Lodge and given also to the Higher Self invoked to witness it. It can therefore never be recalled, however much it may be denied.
"We who write to you claim over you no authority save such as she delegated to us. We are your fellow students, chosen by her - the Messenger of the Masters of Wisdom - as Their channels to the measure of our ability, during this period of darkness....
"We believe in H.P.B. and in the Masters, and it is enough to us that they say, 'Go and carry on our work along the lines on which you have been instructed.... '"
For the use of all of us, there are written teachings left by H.P.B. in our hands that will give food for study and thought for many a year to come, and though the main duty of the Esotericist is service to others, and not personal advancement in knowledge, it is characteristic of her thought for us that behind her she left intellectual and spiritual food for the earnest student, as well as the charge to complete her unfinished work."
The circular as signed by all the Councillors recorded that H.P.B.'s "last words in reference to the School and its work were: 'Keep the Link Unbroken! Do Not Let My Last Incarnation be a Failure.'" The reference by Mr. Judge in the joint address of Mrs. Besant and himself, to the "Key to Theosophy" was to the concluding section entitled "The Future of the The-
osophical Society," and to be found at p. 304 of the original edition of that work.
Thus was the crisis in the School occasioned by the death of H.P.B. met and resolved by the determination that its conduct should henceforth be "on the lines laid down by her, and with the matter left in writing or dictated by her before her departure," and by the decision to leave its future "charge and management" with Mrs. Besant and Mr. Judge.
--- 302Chapter XX
Attempts to Supersede H.P.B.'s InfluenceColonel Olcott arrived in England at the end of June, Mr. Judge remaining in London to meet him and to participate in the Convention of the European Section called for July 9, 1891. Colonel Olcott was made acquainted in a general way with what action had been taken in connection with the affairs of the Esoteric Section. The common feeling of loss, the general sense of uncertainty as to the future, the pressing necessity for concord, the hopeful augury provided by the circular of May 27 to the E.S., and the awakened sense of individual responsibility for the success of the Movement, now that its great Messenger was no more among them, all combined to allay frictions, dispel rivalries, and arouse the spirit of real fraternity. There being then present in London the best known and most respected leaders of the Society from Asia, America, and England, the Convention of the European Section, in the circumstances recited, became the first real convocation and assembly of the whole Society since its foundation.
Colonel Olcott, as President-Founder of the whole Society, presided at the sessions, Mr. Judge attended as Vice-President of the Society, as General Secretary of the American Section, and as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the American Section. Mrs. Besant was present as President of the Blavatsky Lodge of London, at the time the largest of the Societies in Great Britain. The various British and Continental Lodges were represented by delegates or proxies. In addition there were numerous visiting Fellows from the United States, from India, and from Australia, all of whom bore the cordial, if unofficial, greetings from the scattered members and Branches.
The London Lodge was not represented in person by its president, Mr. Sinnett, nor by any delegate. From the beginning of his leadership of the London Lodge Mr. Sinnett's influence had held it aloof from the general activities of the Society at large, though nominally a Branch of the Society. When the Blavatsky Lodge was formed at London shortly after H.P.B. had taken up her permanent residence in England, its original membership was entirely composed of former members of the London Lodge. Mr. Sinnett had been equally opposed, both to its formation and to the policy of active public propaganda for membership regardless of class distinctions. The formation of the Blavatsky Lodge, the publication of the "Secret Doctrine," with its corrections of his presentation of the teachings of Theosophy in his book "Esoteric Buddhism," and other matters which he could not approve, had all served to alienate his sympathies. His London Lodge discontinued all but closed meetings for its members only and formed a quasi-exclusive body. The active efforts of Col. Olcott, with whom he had always remained on terms of friendship, the olive branch tendered by Mrs. Besant and others, and the consideration shown him by Mr. Judge, so far prevailed as to ameliorate the somewhat strained situation, and the London Lodge sent a letter to the Convention.
This letter, signed by the Secretary, Mr. C.W. Leadbeater, is distinctly formal, not to say reserved, in its tone. It recites the history of the London Lodge, gives a chronological account of its activities, and concludes with the following paragraph:
"On the formation of the 'British Section' in 1889, the London Lodge asserted the principle of complete autonomy as that on which it preferred to proceed; and with the concurrence of the President of the Parent Society, Col. Olcott, it remained an independent Branch of the Society outside that organization. Later on, when Madame Blavatsky formed the European Sec
tion under her own Presidentship, on principles which provided merely for a consultative council to assist her in discharging the functions of that office, the London Lodge cordially consented to be included in that arrangement. Clinging with great tenacity, however, to the principle of autonomy, it will now revert to its former status, and while heartily in sympathy with all bodies recognized as parts of the world-wide Theosophical Society, which Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott founded, it will not take any share in the administration or control of any other branches, and will continue responsible alone to the original authority from which it sprang in reference to the conduct of its own affairs."
This letter was read to the Convention by Mr. G.R.S. Mead, General Secretary of the European Section, and was received without comment or objection. The full text of the letter of the London Lodge will be found in the Official Report of the Convention. The Convention itself is denominated on the cover and text page, not as a convention of the European Section, T.S., but as The Theosophical Society in Europe, the name adopted by H.P.B.
The proceedings of the Convention were opened by Mrs. Besant with a brief address of welcome to Col. Olcott.
Mr. Judge warmly seconded Mrs. Besant's remarks, and in taking the chair Col. Olcott spoke with great feeling.
Mr. Judge offered Resolutions for the creation of an H.P.B. Memorial Fund, to be devoted to such publications "as will tend to promote that intimate union between the life and thought of the Orient and the Occident to the bringing about of which her life was devoted." In seconding these resolutions Mrs. Besant said:
"... will the Convention permit me to add that it certainly has the approval of all those who
were closely connected with her during the latter years of her life; that her leaving us is in no manner a change in her position in this Society, nor a change in the lines along which her work will be directed... May I say for those who lived most closely with her that what she was with us in her visible presence she is to us still: friend and guide, teacher and master. We know no change because she has passed from the visible into the invisible, and in asking you to found this memorial we ask you to found it, not to a dead teacher, but to a living energy, an energy as real now as it was real when clothed in the body of H.P. Blavatsky; a memorial indeed of our love to her, but of a love of a living presence whom we recognise amongst us still."
A letter of greeting, signed by Mr. Judge as General Secretary, was read from the American Section:
It is with great pleasure that I convey to you the brotherly and affectionate greetings of the American Section of our beloved Society, knowing that had I the time to call that Section together it would, without a dissenting voice, thank you for the work you have done, and encourage you to go on to still better work for the future. It would also, I am sure, give you full assurance of the value of organizing yourselves into a single body, for experience has shown us that only thus can good and wide work be done, and in no other way can you carry to a successful issue the task left by our beloved friend and co-worker, H.P.B. Unity is strength; division leads to weakness, decay and final dissolution. Hence the American Section views with pleasure the prospect of all the European Branches being closely massed together with a common object, a single organization. May your deliberations lead not only to greater energy in your own field but also
to an added interest, sympathy and strength throughout the whole area of International Theosophical work."
When the Convention had concluded its work, the President-Founder made some parting remarks, from which we quote:
"Our task is done. We have met together in this friendly Conference; we have discussed the method of laying the basis for the future work of the Society; we have come to a fraternal agreement to make all parts of the Society work together in harmony; we have linked hands across the Atlantic and across the Southern seas, and pledged ourselves to each other to carry on this mission which was undertaken by H.P.B., and which we have been sharers in. The outside world are looking with curiosity to see what effect the death of H.P.B. will have upon us. The answer is to be obtained in the proceedings of this Convention.... In her death H.P.B. speaks more potently to us even than she did in her life. The tattered veil of the personality has been drawn aside, and the individuality which we knew only as a light shining from afar, is now before us to guide us on our way.... Whatever strength we have to the outside world depends upon the purity of our principles, the unselfishness of our behaviour, and our loyalty to the eclectic platform of our constitution.... No greater shock could possibly have come to us than the death of Mme. Blavatsky, and if the movement has survived it, then take my assurance that nothing whatever can affect us so long as we keep in view the principles upon which our movement is based and go fearlessly on to what lies to our hand to do.... Let us determine that at all costs this Society shall be kept impartial, calm, fraternal, benevolent, tol-
erant, as regards all groups of the family of mankind. If we do this, if we place a guard upon any disposition on our part to be narrow, or prejudiced, or sectarian, we shall have earned the gratitude of our generation, and be remembered by posterity as those who sought to do good to their fellow men; but if, on the contrary, we allow ourselves to be influenced by these petty considerations of social position, or of race, or differences of creed, we will die out and be remembered only as an unworthy Association that lifted a banner which it was not fit to carry...."
Lucifer for June, July, and August, 1891, contains a great number of articles on H.P.B. by leading members of the Society. These articles were reprinted in a volume entitled "H.P.B., In Memoriam by Some of Her Pupils." Like the proceedings of the Council of the Esoteric Section and those of the European Convention, these articles breathe the best and purest spirit, for they betoken the renaissance for the time of the gratitude, the loyalty, the reverence felt for H.P.B. Jealousies, ambitions, vanities, misunderstandings of all kinds were for the moment dormant. It was as if, for the time being, her freed spirit enveloped them all, putting all lesser feelings aside and lending to each and all some measure of the inspiration which for so many years had burned in her with an unwavering flame.
The quoted matter will make clear and convincing the fact that in the period immediately following the death of H.P.B., all elements in the Society felt deeply the impulse of that Brotherhood which it was H.P.B.'s mission and the work of the Society to teach and practice. Certainly no one can read the Minutes of the E.S. Conference, the Report of the European Convention, and the memorial articles on H.P.B. without being struck by the unanimous recognition of the mission of H.P.B. and by the solemn declarations and pledges made to carry on the work of the Society on the lines laid down by her, with the material left by her, and with her
example ever before them as that of a still living and guiding Teacher.
After the Convention, then, the workers scattered, each to his own field of labor. Mrs. Besant took entire charge of the conduct of Lucifer, with Mr. G.R.S. Mead associated with her as Sub-Editor. She herself plunged into incessant activities, writing, lecturing, encouraging and inspiring all those who surrounded her to an energy and devotion second only to her own. This as to the public work of the exoteric Society. Within the ranks of the Esoteric Section she was not less earnest and untiring. As Co-Head of the Section with Mr. Judge, practically the entire interests of the School in Britain, on the Continent, and in the Orient were in her care. Her reputation, gained before her entrance into the Theosophical world, made of her a constant subject of newspaper comment, and her presence at any meeting was enough to attract a large audience. Theosophical activities and growth doubled and tripled in England under her influence and example, and its secondary benefit throughout the world was felt by every worker in every land. Wherever her name was mentioned, Theosophy was equally the subject of discussion. Wherever Theosophy was spoken of, Annie Besant was naturally looked upon as its unequaled exponent and she was hailed by members and outsiders alike as the great and worthy successor of H.P.B.
Mr. Judge returned to America and resumed the active conduct of his magazine, The Path. The work of the American Section, of which he was continuously from its organization the General Secretary, made heavy inroads upon his time and energies. The active American membership in the T.S. was at that time larger than in all the rest of the world, and growing rapidly. The American membership in the Esoteric Section comprised two-thirds of the entire body and called for unceasing and difficult attention. Next to H.P.B., Mr. Judge's personal correspondence with members throughout the world was by far the heaviest. His health had been undermined by the drain of recent years and by the re
lentless and sustained attacks and antagonisms without and within the Society with himself as their object along with H.P.B. The good-will and good feeling reached during the London conferences, the apparent healing of all distempers within the Society, the fresh alliance of all the forces in the common object of carrying on the work on the lines established by H.P.B. - all these gave him new vigor and a strength sufficient for his increased burdens.
Colonel Olcott, now past sixty, patriarchal in appearance, cordial by nature, looked upon with the utmost respect and reverence by the rank and file of the membership as being the President-Founder of the Society, the earliest as the lifelong colleague of H.P.B., and the one chosen by the Masters as Head of the Society, might be said to have had his cup of glory full at this epoch. His journey had restored his physical health; the reception accorded him at London had reassured him as to the solid place he held in the affections of the membership in the Occident as in the Orient; the pledges of devotion by all the Western leaders in the Society to H.P.B., to the Cause, to his beloved Society, and to him personally, had brought out all that was generous, genial, and optimistic in his nature. He could see everywhere the work to which he had given his all through long years of hardship, often of ignominy, now sustained by able and devoted lieutenants, respected where it had once been despised, spoken of in flattering terms where once both it and himself had been received with contumely. Wherever he went he was the Chief. He determined to return to India by America, and his journey was broken from city to city by meetings at which he was the commanding figure. His entire journey during the months of his absence from Adyar was a kind of triumphal progress, strewn with testimonials of the love and gratitude of his colleagues and of the world-wide membership of the Society. Returned to India, his arrival was signalized by the Indian members in a manner not less warmly appreciative of his services.
In December, 1890, while H.P.B. lay between life and
death, Mrs. Besant had published on her own motion, and without the knowledge of H.P.B., a ringing article in Lucifer entitled "The Theosophical Society and H.P.B." The occasion for this article was the private propaganda that was diligently being promoted in derogation of H.P.B. by adherents of Col. Olcott and Mr. Sinnett for her action in taking over the Headship of the newly formed Theosophical Society in Europe. In this article Mrs. Besant wrote with great force and conviction in support of the following numbered propositions which she italicized in her article:
"Now touching the position of H.P.B. to and in the Theosophical Society, the following is a brief exposition of it, as it appears to many of us:
"(1) Either she is a messenger from the Masters, or else she is a fraud.
"(2) In either case the Theosophical Society would have had no existence without her.
"(3) If she is a fraud, she is a woman of wonderful ability and learning, giving all the credit of these to some persons who do not exist.
"(4) If H.P.B. is a true messenger, opposition to her is opposition to Masters, she being their only channel to the Western World.
"(5) If there are no Masters, the Theosophical Society is an absurdity, and there is no use in keeping it up. But if there are Masters, and H.P.B. is their messenger, and the Theosophical Society their foundation, the Theosophical Society and H.P.B. cannot be separated before the world."
Having thus advanced her theorems and worked them out to a satisfactory Q.E.D., Mrs. Besant's article closed with the inevitable corollary from her demonstration:
"... If the members care at all for the future of the Society, if they wish to know that the Twentieth Century will see it standing high
above the strife of parties, a beacon-light in the darkness for the guiding of men, if they believe in the Teacher who founded it for human service, let them now arouse themselves from slothful indifference, sternly silence all dissensions over petty follies in their ranks, and march shoulder to shoulder for the achievement of the heavy task laid upon their strength and courage. If Theosophy is worth anything, it is worth living for and worth dying for. If it is worth nothing let it go at once and for all. It is not a thing to play with, it is not a thing to trifle with... let each Theosophist, and above all, let each Occultist, calmly review his position, carefully make his choice, and if that choice be for Theosophy, let him sternly determine that neither open foe nor treacherous friends shall shake his loyalty for all time to come to his great Cause and Leader, which twain are one."
Such a proclamation as this, coming from one who was, in the eyes of the world, even more than in the Society, the foremost power in the movement next to H.P.B. herself, could but align the ranks and silence, for the time being, all covert as well as open belittling of H.P.B.
After the death of H.P.B., as the no less clear proclamation in the E.S. circular became common knowledge throughout the Society, the determination of the Council, of Mr. Judge and Mrs. Besant, to follow strictly the aims and lines and teachings of H.P.B., produced such a revival of activity, such an exhibition of common Brotherhood and loyalty to the First Object and, no less, to H.P.B. as the Teacher, as had never been witnessed during her lifetime. Followed the Convention of the British and European Sections with their renewed asseverations, and the many articles breathing the most profound respect and devotion to H.P.B. and her mission from the lips of every well-known Theosophist.
On August 30, 1891, Mrs. Besant bade farewell to the
Secularists with whom, in collaboration with Mr. Charles Bradlaugh, she had labored for so many years. Her address was entitled "1875 to 1891: A Fragment of Autobiography." This memorable speech was circulated far and wide. After recounting her fifteen years of battle and achievement, her hard-won steps of progress to her conversion to Theosophy through her reviewing the "Secret Doctrine," her meeting with H.P.B., her examination of the famous S.P.R. Report with its charges of fraud against H.P.B., Mrs. Besant astounded the meeting, the world, and the members of the Theosophical Society with this bold and categorical statement:
"You have known me in this hall for sixteen and a half years. You have never known me to lie to you. My worst public enemy, through the whole of my life, never cast a slur upon my integrity. Everything else they have sullied, but my truth never; and I tell you that since Madame Blavatsky left, I have had letters in the same writing and from the same person [as the writer of the disputed "Mahatma" letters alleged in the S.P.R. Report to have been written by H.P.B.]. Unless you think that dead persons write - and I do not think so - that is rather a curious fact against the whole challenge of fraud. I do not ask you to believe me, but I tell you this on the faith of a record that has never yet been sullied by a conscious lie. Those who knew her, knew that she could not very well commit fraud, if she tried. She was the frankest of human beings. It maybe said, 'What evidence have you beside hers?' My own knowledge. For some time, all the evidence I had of the existence of her Teachers and the existence of those so-called 'abnormal powers' was second-hand, gained through her. It is not so now; and it has not been so for many months; unless every sense can be at the same time deceived, unless a person can be, at the same moment, sane
and insane, I have exactly the same certainty for the truth of those statements as I have for the fact that you are here. Of course you may be all delusions invented by myself and manufactured by my own brain. I refuse - merely because ignorant people shout fraud and trickery - to be false to all the knowledge of my intellect, the perceptions of my senses, and my reasoning faculties as well."
Lucifer for October, 1891, contained another unequivocal declaration by Mrs. Besant in its leading article, "Theosophy and Christianity." She says:
"... Theosophy is a body of knowledge, clearly and distinctly formulated in part and proclaimed to the world. Members of the Society may or may not be students of this knowledge, but none the less is it the sure foundation on which the Masters have built the Society, and on which its central teaching of the Brotherhood of Man is based. Without Theosophy Universal Brotherhood may be proclaimed as an Ideal, but it cannot be demonstrated as a Fact....
"Now by Theosophy I mean the 'Wisdom Religion,' or the 'Secret Doctrine,' and our only knowledge of the Wisdom Religion at the present time comes to us from the Messenger of its Custodians, H.P. Blavatsky. Knowing what she taught, we can recognise fragments of the same teachings in other writings, but her message remains for us the test of Theosophy everywhere.... Only, none of us has any right to put forward his own views as 'Theosophy' in conflict with hers, for all that we know of Theosophy comes from her. When she says 'The Secret Doctrine teaches,' none can say her nay; we may disagree with the teaching, but it remains 'the Secret Doctrine,' or Theosophy;
she always encouraged independent thought and criticism, and never resented differences of opinion, but she never wavered in the distinct proclamation 'The Secret Doctrine is' so-and-so...
"Theosophists have it in charge not to whittle away the Secret Doctrine.... Steadily, calmly, without anger but also without fear, they must stand by the Secret Doctrine as she gave it, who carried unflinchingly through the storms of well-nigh seventeen years the torch of the Eastern Wisdom. The condition of success is perfect loyalty..."
It must be evident to any student that these several proclamations referred alike to those within and without the Society, of high and low degree, who found it to their interest to belittle or calumniate H.P.B. In the months following the death of H.P.B. the natural impulse of gratitude on the part of the rank ,and file of the membership toward H.P.B. received an accession, a countenance, and a support from Mrs. Besant's affirmations of the status of H.P.B. and bold defiance of "treacherous friends" within the Society, that effectually put in prudent silence those who before had belittled publicly and privately the authoritative character of H.P.B. as the Messenger of the Masters.
But after Col. Olcott's tour and return to India it is clear that the testimonials he had received of the respect accorded to him and his position of President-Founder gave him a reinforced feeling of security and strength. Likewise, from his past conduct, it is evident he had expected that with the death of H.P.B. she would no longer remain a living power in the Society. That part of his nature which so often had risen in rebellion against H.P.B. living, as the dominant factor in the Society of which he felt himself the true and competent Head, once more became restive, alarmed, and decisive of his action. What the inner councils of his thoughts and what the outcome are clearly discernible
in his Address to the "Seventeenth Convention and Anniversary of the Theosophical Society, at the Headquarters, Adyar, Madras," India, at the end of December, 1891. The Address is contained in full in the Report of the Convention; also issued as a "Supplement" to The Theosophist for January, 1892. We quote the germane remarks:
"As the Co-Founder of the Society, as one who has had constant opportunities for knowing the chosen policy and wishes of the Masters, as one who has, under them and with their assent, borne our flag through sixteen years of battle, I protest against the first giving way to the temptation to elevate either them, their agents, or any other living or dead personage, to the divine status, or their teachings to that of infallible doctrine....
"If she had lived, she would have undoubtedly left her protest against her friends making a saint of her or a bible out of her magnificent, though not infallible writings. I helped to compile her "Isis Unveiled" while Mr. Keightley and several others did the same by "The Secret Doctrine." Surely we know how far from infallible are our portions of the books, to say nothing about hers. She did not discover, nor invent Theosophy, nor was she the first or the ablest agent, scribe or messenger of the Hidden Teachers of the Snowy Mountains. The various scriptures of the ancient nations contain every idea now put forth, and in some cases possess far greater beauties and merits than any of her or our books. We need not fall into idolatry to signify our lasting reverence and love for her, the contemporary teacher, nor offend the literary world by pretending that she wrote with the pen of inspiration. Nobody living was a more staunch and loyal friend of hers than I, nobody will cherish her memory more lovingly. I was
true to her to the end of her life, and now I shall continue to be true to her memory. But I never worshiped her, never blinded my eyes to her faults, never dreamt that she was as perfect a channel for the transmission of occult teaching as some others in history have been, or as the Masters would have been glad to have found. As her tried friend, then, as one who worked most intimately with her, and is most anxious that she may be taken by posterity at her true high value; as her co-worker; as one long ago accepted, though humble, agent of the Masters; and finally, as the official head of the Society and guardian of the personal rights of its Fellows, I place on record my protest against all attempts to create an H.P.B. school, sect or cult, or to take her utterances as in the least degree above criticism. The importance of the subject must be my excuse for thus dwelling upon it at some length. I single out no individuals, mean to hurt nobody's feelings. I am not sure of being alive very many years longer, and what duty demands I must say while I can."
To complete the picture as limned in the preceding extracts and comments, one may turn to the published statements of Mr. Judge during the same period. In The Path, for June, 1891, he sounded the following note of mingled confidence, caution, and advice:
"The death of H.P. Blavatsky should have the effect on the Society of making the work go on with increased vigor free from all personalities. The movement was not started for the glory of any person, but for the elevation of Mankind. The organization is not affected as such by her death for her official positions were those of Corresponding Secretary and President of the European Section. The Constitution has long provided that after her death the office of Corre-
sponding Secretary should not be filled. The vacancy in the European Section will be filled by election in that Section, as that is matter with which only the European Branches have to deal. She held no position in the esoteric American Section, and had no jurisdiction over it in any way. Hence there is no vacancy to fill and no disturbance to be felt in the purely corporate part of the American work. The work here is going on as it always has done, under the efforts of its members who now will draw their inspiration from the books and works of H.P.B. and from the purity of their own motive.
"All that the Society needs now to make it the great power it was intended to be is first, solidarity, and second, Theosophical education. These are wholly in the hands of its members. The first gives that resistless strength which is found only in Union, the second gives that judgment and wisdom needed to properly direct energy and zeal.
"Read these words from H.P. Blavatsky's Key to Theosophy."
Then follow the quotations before referred to in the circular of the Esoteric Section from which we have quoted. In The Path for August, 1891, the leading article begins with this quotation:
"'Ingratitude is not one of our faults.' We always help those who help us. Tact, discretion, and zeal are more than ever needed. The humblest worker is seen and helped..."
The text immediately following runs thus:
"To a student theosophist, serving whenever and however he could, there came very recently - since the departure from this plane of H.P. Blavatsky - these words of highest cheer from
that Master of whom H.P.B. was the reverent pupil. Attested by His real signature and seal, they are given here for the encouragement and support of all those who serve the Theosophical Society - and through it, humanity - as best they can; given in the belief that it was not intended that the recipient should sequestrate or absorb them silently, but rather that he should understand them to be his only in the sense that he might share them with his comrades, that his was permitted to be the happy hand to pass them on as the common right, the universal benediction of one and all."
The article is signed "Jasper Niemand." This pen name had by that time become known and loved throughout the Theosophical world as the recipient of the famous "Letters That Have Helped Me" from "Z.L.Z., the Greatest of the Exiles," originally published in The Path during the lifetime of H.P.B., and by many Theosophists then supposed to have been written by H.P.B. herself. Not till some years later was it made known that "Z.L.Z." was Mr. Judge, and "Jasper Niemand" Mrs. Archibald Keightley (Julia Campbell-Ver Planck). The article from which we have been quoting was written and published during the absence of Mr. Judge in England following H.P.B.'s death, and without his knowledge, as Mrs. Keightley was in editorial conduct of The Path during Mr. Judge's absence. The article, the message from the Masters with which it began, and the claim that the message had been received subsequent to the death of H.P.B., stirred Col. Olcott to the depths. He wrote to Mr. Judge about it in strong terms, as he saw in it nothing but an attempt to attract attention to H.P.B., Masters and Mr. Judge himself. Mr. Judge replied at length to Col. Olcott, and this letter was later published in Lucifer. As we shall have occasion later to refer to this correspondence, (1) no comment is necessary at this stage of our study.
(1) See Chapter XXVI.
Succeeding articles and notes in The Path gave attention to Col. Olcott's place in the T.S. with respect and loyalty; noted Mrs. Besant's claim to the receipt of messages subsequent to H.P.B.'s death; and in January, 1892, had for its leading article "Dogmatism in Theosophy." This article was written partly to make clear the real position to be assumed by all Theosophists, partly to moderate the intemperate zeal of some enthusiasts who were wont to quote H.P.B. to "put a quietus" on their opponents whose views of H.P.B. or her teachings were not the same as their own; partly as an open declaration of Mr. Judge's own attitude, in response to Col. Olcott's criticisms and public statements. We quote from "Dogmatism in Theosophy":
"The Theosophical Society was founded to destroy dogmatism. This is one of the meanings of its first object, - Universal Brotherhood...
"In the Key to Theosophy, in the 'Conclusion,' H.P.B. again refers to this subject and expresses the hope that the Society might not, after her death, become dogmatic or crystallize on some phase of thought or philosophy, but that it might remain free and open, with its members wise and unselfish. And in all her writings and remarks, privately or publicly, she constantly reiterated this idea....
"If our effort is to succeed, we must avoid dogmatism in theosophy as much as in anything else, for the moment we dogmatise and insist on our construction of theosophy, that moment we lose sight of Universal Brotherhood and sow the seeds of future trouble.
"... Even though nine-tenths of the members believe in Reincarnation, Karma, the seven-fold constitution, and all the rest, and even though its prominent ones are engaged in promulgating these doctrines as well as others, the ranks of the Society must always be kept open, and no one should be told that he is not orthodox or not
a good Theosophist because he does not believe in these doctrines....
"But at the same time it is obvious that to enter the Society and then, under our plea of tolerance, assert that theosophy shall not be studied,... shall not be investigated, is untheosophical, unpractical, and absurd, for it were to nullify the very object of our organization....
"And as the great body of philosophy, science, and ethics offered by H.P. Blavatsky and her teachers has upon it the seal of research, of reasonableness, of antiquity, and of wisdom, it demands our first and best consideration....
"So, then, a member of the Society, no matter how high or how low his or her position in its ranks, has the right to promulgate all the philosophical and ethical ideas found in our literature to the best ability possessed, and no one else has the right to object, provided such promulgation is accompanied by a clear statement that it is not authorized or made orthodox by any declaration from the body corporate of the T.S...."
Growing Divergences - Olcott Resigns as PresidentThus the real issue - the Theosophical Movement versus the Theosophical Society - once more became the wager of battle within less than a year after the death of H.P. Blavatsky. Doubtless this view will come as a shock to very many Theosophical students who have been educated to the belief that some particular organization is the Theosophical Society and who have therefore taken Theosophy, the Theosophical Movement, and their particular Society to be essentially one and the same thing. They do not see that this is the very pitfall into which the different Christian sects have fallen, and has come about in the same way - through biased and partisan guidance on the part of those whom they have trusted as teachers and leaders, and through their own failure to make diligent, open-minded investigation and comparison of the opposing and contradictory teachings and testimony.
Altruism was the self-imposed standard of action for all Fellows of the Theosophical Society, altruism and spiritual knowledge the self-pledged criterion of every Probationer of the Esoteric Section. Every Fellow of the T.S. must therefore be studied in his conduct, not by the sins of omission or of commission of his fellows, but in the light of his own devotion to the great First Object of the Society. Every Probationer of the Esoteric Section must be weighed in the balance, not of his rank, standing, or reputation in the world or in the Society, but in the light of his solemn declaration: "I Pledge myself to endeavour to make Theosophy a living power in my life." The formulation of the Objects of the Society was so definite and inclusive that no man can err as to what those Objects mean.
When The Theosophist for January, 1892, with its report of the Adyar Convention just held, reached America Mr. Judge published in his magazine The Path for March, 1892, three articles of momentous import. The importance which the world-wide membership must necessarily attach to Col. Olcott's proclamation, because of his position as President of the whole Society; because of his known long-continued and intimate relations with H.P.B., and because of the reverence and respect in which he was held as President-Founder, compelled consideration. The first article is entitled "The Future and the Theosophical Society," and begins abruptly:
"In 1888 H. P. Blavatsky wrote:
"Night before last I was shown a bird's-eye view of the theosophical societies. I saw a few earnest reliable theosophists in a death struggle with the world in general and with other - nominal and ambitious - theosophists. The former are greater in number than you may think, and they prevailed - as you in America will prevail, if you only remain staunch to the Master's programme and true to yourselves. And last night I saw.... The defending forces have to be judiciously - so scanty are they - distributed over the globe wherever theosophy is struggling with the powers of darkness."
The article follows this with another quotation from the "Key to Theosophy," the section entitled "The Future of the Theosophical Society," to which we have before referred, and continues:
"Every member of the Society should be, and many are, deeply interested in the above words. The outlook, the difficulties, the dangers, the necessities are the same now as then, and as they were in the beginning in 1875. For, as she has often said, this is not the first nor will it be the last effort to spread the truth and to undertake
the same mission... to lead men to look for the one truth that underlies all religions and which alone can guide science in the direction of ideal progress. In every century such attempts are made, and many of them have been actually named 'theosophical.' Each time they have to be adapted to the era in which they appear. And this is the era... of freedom for thought and for investigation.
"In the first quotation there is a prophecy that those few reliable theosophists who are engaged in a struggle with the opposition of the world and that coming from weak or ambitious members will prevail, but it has annexed to it a condition that is of importance. There must be an adherence to the program of the Masters. That can only be ascertained by consulting her and the letters given out by her as from those to whom she refers. It excludes the idea that the Society was founded or is intended as 'a School for Occultism!' (1)
"Referring to a letter received (1884) from the same source we find: 'Let the Society flourish on its moral worth, and not by phenomena made so often degrading.' The need of the west for such doctrines as Karma and Reincarnation and the actual Unity of the whole human family is dwelt upon at length in another ...
"This is the great tone running through all the words from these sources. It is a call to work - for the race and not for self, a request to bring the west and the east the doctrines that have most effect on human conduct, on the relations of man to man, and hence the greatest possibility of forming at last a true universal brotherhood. We must follow this program and supply the world with a system of philosophy which gives a sure and logical basis for ethics, and that can only be gotten from those to whom I have ad-
(1) The italics in this quotation are our own.
verted; there is no basis for morals in phenomena, because a man might learn to do the most wonderful things by the aid of occult forces and yet at the same time be the very worst of men.
"A subsidiary condition, but quite as important as the other, is laid down by H.P.B. in her words that we must 'remain true to ourselves.' This means true to our better selves and the dictates of conscience. We cannot promulgate the doctrines and the rules of life found in theosophy and at the same time ourselves not live up to them as far as possible. We must practice what we preach, and make as far as we can a small brotherhood within the Theosophical Society."
Mr. Judge goes on to say that these things must be done, not only as an example to the world, but because as an Occult and scientific fact unity of action gives a ten-fold power. He calls attention to what has already been achieved in modifying the thought of the day, by bringing Theosophy to the front of thought and notice, despite all oppositions without and within, but warns the members against the futility of hoping to enlist the co-operation of the churches in the attempt to destroy priestcraft and dogmatism. The article concludes:
"Our destiny is to continue the wide work of the past in affecting literature and thought throughout the world, while our ranks see many changing quantities but always holding those who remain true to the program and refuse to become dogmatic or to give up commonsense in theosophy. Thus will we wait for the new messenger, striving to keep the organization alive that he may use it and have the great opportunity H.P.B. outlines when she says, 'Think how much one to whom such an opportunity is given could accomplish.'"
The second of the articles referred to is a review of the Proceedings of the Adyar Convention. Kindly consideration is given to Col. Olcott and his labors, and occasion is taken to speak with generous warmth of Mrs. Besant and her potentialities for good in the Society. Attention is paid to the Colonel's remarks on H.P.B. in his Presidential Address. Mr. Judge's comments follow:
"[Col. Olcott] indulges in some remarks as to the grave error he and H.P.B. made, as he thinks, in being intolerant towards Christianity. Those who have carefully read her writings and have known her as well as Col. Olcott know that there has been very little intolerance from our side, but that there has been, as there always will be, a constant irritation on the part of dogmatists who perceive that the pure light of theosophy makes dogmatism see its death-warrant very visibly before its eyes. Neither H.P.B. nor Col. Olcott, nor any one else in the Society who has understood its mission, can suppose there has been any intolerance of true Christianity, as that is confined in any city to a small number of persons.
"Col. Olcott also said that he did not believe H.P.B. thought she was going to die, and that in his opinion her death was a surprise to her. With this we cannot agree in the least. He had not been with her for some time and did not know of the many warnings she had been lately giving to all her immediate friends, including the Editor of this magazine, of her approaching demise. In some cases the notice she gave was very detailed, in others it was by question, by symbolical language, and by hint, but for the year or more before her death she let those who were close to her know that she was soon to go, and in one case, when a certain event happened, she said, "That means my death." We have
great respect for Col. Olcott, but cannot agree with him in this matter....
"... Further, in speaking of a tendency he saw on the part of some to dogmatise on H.P.B., Col. Olcott paid her a tribute and at the same time said there ought to be no idolatry; but while he was right in that, yet at the same time the very Masters of whom he spoke, and from whom he heard through H.P.B., said in a letter that has long been published that H.P.B. had everything to do with the occult department of the work of the members of the Society. This must not be forgotten."
The third of the articles mentioned came with the shock of a complete surprise to all but a handful. Its consequences were so far-reaching, exoterically and esoterically, that we give it in full herewith, as it is probable that few, if any, Theosophists of the present day know even the bald facts as publicly disclosed. The article is entitled "Resignation of Presidency T.S. by Col. Olcott," and its text is as follows:
"The following correspondence sufficiently explains itself. It is inserted here in order that American members generally may be in possession of the information. It will be remembered that Col. Olcott determined to resign some time ago, but was induced to alter his decision and to take a vacation in order to restore his health, but although the rest did him good we were all sorry to see, even so lately as when he visited America in 1891, that traces of old trouble remained, and at the 16th Annual Convention, [the one just held] he again said that he could not do the work he used to do. So, feeling that the Society is firmly established, he now resigns official position. He will continue to reside in India and do literary work for the Society's benefit, and no doubt will aid his successor very
much in placing the Adyar Oriental Library on a better footing than ever. At the April Convention [of the American Section] in Chicago resolutions will probably be passed upon the matter, and will include the expression of our high appreciation of his long services. By some it is proposed to suggest at that meeting that the American Section desires him to have at Adyar a free life-residence. This would be fitting."
This is followed by the text of the two letters mentioned - the first from Col. Olcott as President to Mr. Judge as Vice-President, and dated at Adyar, January 21,1892. In his letter Col. Olcott gives as his reason for the present, as for the two former occasions when he had expressed the wish to retire, the state of his health, and adds that he has now "obtained permission to carry out the wish." The two former occasions were his expressions at the Adyar Convention at the close of 1885 (not 1886, as he gives it in his letter), and again in 1890. While the statements made of his impaired health were true in all three cases, in none of them was it the real underlying reason. The first time was because of the strong reaction in India against the treatment accorded H.P.B. during the Coulomb troubles and afterward. Although all had shared in the timid and disloyal course adopted, the resentment shown against Col. Olcott by those who had before been his advisers and supporters, was unjust in that it was an attempt to make him the scapegoat of atonement for the common sin. It was due to the privately exercised influence of H.P.B. and Mr. Judge and their loyal friends that the Convention refused to accept Col. Olcott's resignation and reiterated its gratitude and loyalty to him in his onerous position of President of the whole Society. And again, in 1890, his desire to resign was due in fact to the rebellion in England and Europe which culminated in a revolution - H.P.B. taking over, at the almost unanimous request and insistence of the various Lodges and unattached Fel-
lows, the Presidency of the Theosophical Society in Europe. Seeing Europe lost to his authority, and America emancipated from his "exercise of Presidential powers," with all the more important and devoted Western Fellows members of the Esoteric Section pledged to follow the instructions of H.P.B. in all Theosophical relations, Col. Olcott had experienced all that bitterness of heart which must come to those who, having exercised plenary powers, now find themselves reduced to the position of a figurehead. Justly feeling that he had given his all to the Society and that during his long years of "paternal authority" he had done his best for the children dear to his heart, Col. Olcott, like all zealous-hearted but proud and sensitive soldiers, was moved to resign rather than to resignation. On this second occasion, as on the first, H.P.B. and Mr. Judge, had shown the kind of loyalty which animated them. Loyalty to the Cause had compelled them to hold true to the lines laid down from the beginning, at whatever cost of misunderstanding or risk of rupture to external machinery or relations; loyalty to Col. Olcott, the struggling probationer who had earned help in his hour of need by his devoted efforts and sacrifices, whose heart was still true, whatever his mental and psychic errancies and personal flux of feelings in regard to themselves - this principle of true Occultism had caused them to make every effort to soothe the President-Founder's ruffled vanity, to sweeten the bitter pill of his acceptance of the changes enforced by the necessities of the occasion. And they had succeeded, for Col. Olcott accepted the new status of affairs with the best grace he could muster and went on with his part of the work - a part which they knew he had performed and could still perform, better than any man living.
But if Col. Olcott had suffered on the two former occasions, the iron which had now entered his heart and driven him once more to "resign" was a thousand times more poignant, it was a veritable crucifixion of his personal nature, coupled with a sense of injustice which was unendurable; hence his "resignation."
The hidden facts behind this resignation have never to this day been disclosed. The only direct public references to the real cause of Col. Olcott's resignation are to be found in a letter addressed by Mr. Herbert Burrows to the editor of The English Theosophist, and published in that magazine for November, 1895; in the editorial article in the same magazine for December, 1895, entitled "The Resignation Mystery, 1892," and in the extremely reticent and guarded statement by Mr. Judge in the pamphlet issued in April, 1895. None of these references does more than to indicate that other reasons than ill health lay at the bottom of the President-Founder's sudden determination to "resign."
While Col. Olcott was at London in the summer of 1891, following H.P.B.'s death, he was a guest in the house of Miss F. Henrietta Muller. This lady, well-to-do, well-educated, moving in the best classes of society, was an "eccentric" at a time when things now commonplaces of everyday life were accounted marked if not reprehensible "eccentricities." She advocated the "equality of the sexes"; she was an ardent "suffragist"; she proclaimed her views on any and all subjects with entire freedom of expression; she lived according to her own ideas of propriety and decorum. In other words she was, according to her lights, an independent and honest woman. No breath or taint of scandal attached to her name. She had become a member of the Theosophical Society and was as active and ardent an exponent of her views in this relation as on all others.
Colonel Olcott, of a personal nature not dissimilar to her own, enjoyed her hospitality and her companionship. Moreover, his heart, heavy over the perception of all that was involved in the death of H.P.B., had been lightened by the reception accorded him by his associates, by the new harmony and unity arrived at during the Period of the first Convention of the European Section. His physical health rebounded to the changed environment and his mental and moral health no less. He conducted himself toward all with that frankness, that bonhomie and naivete, that mixture of child and man of the
world, which was his enduring personal charm. He traveled Britain, visited Sweden, and returned to India via America, Japan, and Ceylon, receiving everywhere a heartfelt reception and attention. Once in India, his long-time hold upon the affections of the members was manifested by a thousand spontaneous incidents. He must have felt himself, as he had never felt during the lifetime of H.P.B., the chief figure in the Society and in the confidence of its world-wide membership. Then came the Adyar Convention and the reassertion of his old self-confident, self-complacent nature in his condescending and corrective remarks on the "worship" of H.P.B. and his delineation of her nature and place in the work while living.
What, then, was the shock which followed, each student must imagine for himself, but its intensity can be briefly indicated by the recital of the dramatic elements supplied by the fact as follows. Colonel Olcott had visioned in Mrs. Besant a worthy "successor" to H.P.B., a successor with whom he could work in full harmony and mutuality of understanding, as he had never been able to do with H.P.B. herself. He had besought her to come to India, and Mr. Bertram Keightley, then in India and acting as General Secretary of the Indian Section and as Col. Olcott's chief aid, had formally seconded this desire on the part of the Indian Section and opened a subscription to pay the expenses of the hoped-for tour. Yielding to these solicitations Mrs. Besant had agreed to visit India and deliver a number of lectures. Just prior to the time of her expected departure announcement was made that Mrs. Besant was suffering from the exhaustion due to a prolonged period of overwork, was threatened with a collapse, and that her physician had ordered a sea voyage and a brief period of complete relaxation to restore her. This also was all true enough, but in fact Mrs. Besant took her "sea voyage" to New York and return, and delivered a number of lectures in the United States, in place of Adyar and India. No one seems to have questioned the sudden change of plans, or the incongruity between the prescribed relaxation and
the strenuous activities of her brief stay in America. What had happened was this: Charges of "grave immorality" - to quote Mr. Herbert Burrows' words - had been made to Mrs. Besant in England against Col. Olcott for his conduct while in London. Mrs. Besant had listened to these accusations, had investigated them according to her own ideas of what constitutes an investigation, until she also became convinced that the charges were true. She had cabled Mr. Judge demanding immediate action on his part as Vice-President of the whole Society for its purification and protection. Mr. Judge replied suggesting it would be well for Mrs. Besant to come to America with the evidence. Accordingly Mrs. Besant sailed for New York, reaching there November 27, 1891, and departing December 9, giving four public lectures, two in New York, one in Philadelphia, and one in Fort Wayne, Indiana, besides an address to the members of the Aryan Society and a talk to a private meeting of members of the E.S. She recounted to Mr. Judge circumstantially and in detail the charge and the evidence to which she and Miss Muller were parties and demanded of Mr. Judge as Vice-President of the Society and her Co-Head in the Esoteric Section that he forthwith require of Col. Olcott his resignation.
Mr. Judge cross-questioned her as to the facts and her knowledge of them. Then he called in Mr. E. August Neresheimer to whom he had Mrs. Besant repeat the charge and her statements of the evidence. He did the same with another friend and associate whose name it is not necessary to mention. To both of these Mrs. Besant repeated in detail and with particularity the facts of which she claimed to be possessed. To both of these Mrs. Besant repeated and reaffirmed her demand for instant action. Mr. Judge thereupon wrote a letter to Col. Olcott, not as Vice-President, but as an old friend, and in this letter advised Col. Olcott of the charge made and the evidence alleged to substantiate it, and suggested to him whether, if the charge were true, he had not better resign. This letter Mr. Judge gave to Mrs. Besant, who said that she had already arranged that a "London mem-
ber, a man of means, would go to India as special messenger so as to avoid all risks from spies at Adyar." Miss Muller had already gone to India from London. The special messenger went to India, delivered Mr. Judge's letter; Col. Olcott denied the charge, but put in his resignation of the Presidency, as we have seen. Why did Col. Olcott thus resign if innocent? Yet resign he did, without explanation and without protest, as without consideration of the effect upon the Society of his resignation, both in the loss of his services and in the infinitely greater loss that would accrue if his resignation "under fire" should in any way become public knowledge. But a rational explanation must exist for every action, however irrational. The ample explanation is to be found in the understanding of the personal characteristics of Col. Olcott and a knowledge of his earlier life. Capable and energetic, very honest and very vain, he had achieved what in the world is called an honorable career; he had been a successful student, soldier, writer, lawyer. Exceedingly credulous he was, and as is the case with all credulous people of ability and honesty, also exceedingly suspicious when his sensitiveness to ridicule was in any way pricked by the fear that he might have been duped. In his middle life he had been a "man of clubs, drinking parties, mistresses," as he had himself publicly stated in his letter to Mr. Hume printed in "Hints on Esoteric Theosophy," published in 1882. He knew that he had many enemies, both as a man and as President of the Theosophical Society, and he had never been able to overcome his jealousy of H.P.B. and Mr. Judge, both of whom he fancied were envious of his superior position in the Society and desirous of supplanting him. He knew that if he refused to retire under fire and demanded an investigation of the charge made against him, the accusation would become public, and he, like many another even less open to calumny than himself, would be made the victim of ceaseless repetitions of the charge. Galling as it was to resign and retire, it was less galling than to endure the stings of the vermin of the press and to see or fancy that he saw, wherever
he might go, the whisper and the knowing nod of those whose feast is scandal.
Colonel Olcott's letter of resignation as published in The Path was immediately followed by the text of Mr. Judge's letter of acknowledgment, dated February 22, 1892. Mr. Judge's letter formally acknowledged, paragraph by paragraph, the several statements contained in the President-Founder's epistle, and, in closing, contained the following expression of recognition and appreciation:
"... the Sections of the Society will, however rejoice when they read that you, in tendering your resignation of your official position, and in declaring continued loyalty to the movement - which indeed none could doubt; assure us that the Society shall have as long as you live the benefit of your counsel when asked. Of this we shall as a body most surely avail ourselves, for otherwise we would be shown incapable of valuing history, as well as ungrateful to one who so long has carried the banner of Theosophy in the thickest of the fight.
"With assurance of universal sympathy from the American Section, I am, my dear colleague, your friend and brother,
William Q. Judge"
Conventions of 1892 - Olcott Withdraws His ResignationThe Sixth Annual Convention of the American Section was held at Chicago on April 24 and 25, 1892. It was attended by delegates or proxies from all of the 60 active Lodges in the United States, as well as by many Fellows individually. The great growth of the Movement and of the Society is indicated by the comparative figures of former years. In 1886, eleven years after the formation of the Society, and the year in which The Path was founded, the entire number of Branches was 8; in 1887 there were 12; in 1888, 19; in 1889, 26; in 1890, 45; in 1891, 57; and by the end of 1892 the total had risen to 69. This enormous relative and actual increase can be ascribed to no adventitious circumstances, to no lavish outlay of money and the proselyting spirit, nor to the presence and work of persons of international reputation and prestige. It was wholly due to impersonal and consistent presentation of the fundamental ideas and principles of Theosophy, to an undeviating active adherence to the spirit which animated H.P. Blavatsky. Attention to the Second and Third Objects was at all times strictly subordinated to the great First Object.
Although lacking the presence of both H.P.B. and Col. Olcott; although a large portion of its dues and contributions was regularly remitted to India for the support of Col. Olcott's work there as well as of the Headquarters proper (for the Indian Section was never at any time self-sustaining in any sense); and although the American Section had been the very centre of the most violent eruptions within the Society, the work had so prospered within a period of five years that at the time of the Sixth Sectional Convention the active membership, both in the Society and in the Esoteric Section,
was, in the United States, greater than in all the rest of the world. Mr. Judge, holding like H.P.B. a merely nominal official position in the Society, but, like her, indefatigable in the propagation of ideas and their practical application, wedded to a Cause, not to an administration and an organization, was the living, human focus from which radiated the energy of which that Cause and its Messenger were the inspiration.
Two letters were read from Col. Olcott, the first through pandit S.E. Gopalacharlu, Recording Secretary of the T.S. at Headquarters. It contained the following reference to Col. Olcott's retirement:
"The President Founder requests you to enter the text of his resignation and explanatory letter in the Official Report of your Convention, and to kindly say to his American brothers that the withdrawal from office is merely the relinquishment of an official position which, for reasons public and private, he felt he had no longer the moral right to retain. His love of the Society is so profound as to have taken possession of his whole being, and nothing but the sense of paramount loyalty to its highest interest would have impelled him to retire."
This letter was dated March 16, 1892. The other letter to which reference is made is Col. Olcott's Circular to all the Fellows of the Society. It is dated January 27, 1892. It reiterates the publicly ascribed reason of ill-health as the occasion of his retirement and states that his remarks are "intended to remove from your minds all misconceptions," as to the cause of his resignation. He continues:
"It may seem strange that I should announce this decision so soon after the Convention [at Adyar]; but I feel that this is the most suitable time, as the Conventions of the American and European Sections will be held in three or four months' time, so that any measures which
my retirement renders necessary may be fully discussed at their Sessions....
"Thus the three Sections of the Society are in thoroughly good hands, and my personal direction is no longer indispensable....
"I have no intention of leaving India nor any desire to live elsewhere. This is my home, and I wish to die among my own heart-brothers, the Asiatics. I shall always be ready to give all needed help to my successor, and to place at the disposal of his Staff my best counsel, based upon an experience of some forty years of public life and seventeen years as President-Founder of the Society....
"In bidding you an official farewell, I have but to express my gratitude for a thousand evidences of your loving trust, and to pray you to judge compassionately of my shortcomings."
The Report of Mr. Judge to the Convention, as General Secretary of the American Section, is filled with matter of enduring importance historically and of timeless value to the student of the principles and modulus of action of true Occultism. He begins with a retrospect of the important events and the important lessons of the past year, enforcing them by quotations from the first Letter of H.P.B. to the American Convention of 1888. In his view the two most important events of the past year were the death of H.P.B. and the work undertaken by Mrs. Besant, both of which events he treats from the standpoint of the Second Section:
"Duty kept her [H.P.B.] in London until she had finished the Secret Doctrine, the book that led Annie Besant into the Society from the negations of materialism, and then all-grasping death claimed the body of H.P. Blavatsky. From my intimate acquaintance with H.P.B. for these many years and from her constant letters, I know that she remained in England
and this world much longer than her desires would keep her, in order that a telling blow could be struck at the great monster of disbelief. And that blow was delivered in the country which still greatly influences the thought of America, by the conversion of a lifelong champion of those who believe in no religion to theosophy, the most spiritual of all sciences and religions. I do not say this as praise for Annie Besant, nor merely as rejoicing that we acquired another noble heart and eloquent advocate, but to point out that many thousands of minds must have been shaken from their confident assertions of disbelief when they saw that their old-time champion went over to theosophy; and at the same time members of the dogmatic sects perceived by the same event that, even if one gives up the negations of materialism, it does not follow that he must fall back again into the arms of any church or sect. Hence, then, by the acquisition without effort, but naturally, of one who was so long and so publicly known to all English-speaking peoples as the champion of negation in belief and altruism in endeavor, a telling, wide-vibrating blow was given to disbelief. And then H.P.B. - friend and fellow student - left us, on what other high mission bent we know not."
It is interesting to compare the foregoing viewpoint and expression with the attitude and remarks of Col. Olcott on the same subjects as expressed in his Presidential Address in December, 1891, (2) from which we have quoted. Mr. Judge continues:
"The news of our loss in May, so soon after our successful Convention, created comment throughout the world; many members of the Society would have easily joined in a sudden re-
(2) See Chapter XX.
treat from the field; and newspapers, together with croaking enemies of the Society, prophesied its fall, supposing that our movement was built on a personal worship of one woman. But scarce a moment elapsed ere a new resolve sprang up in the hearts of all, and actual correspondence has proved that through the world our members determined to be true to the cause and the objects outlined in that letter of 1888 I quoted to you. The structure of sixteen years' growth did not tremble in the least.
"Considering that the circumstances demanded it, and after advising with near friends, I sailed on May 13th, 1891, for London to consult our Fellows there to the end that a general unity of policy and action might be decided on. The event proved the propriety of the journey. As Vice-President of the entire Society, I had the great pleasure of presiding over the preliminary meetings in London to draft the necessary Constitution; and afterwards took part in July in their Convention, the president of which was Col. Olcott and where was adopted a form of constitution the same as that commended by our beloved H.P.B. in the extracts I have read you from her letters. That was the first theosophical convention of the European Branches, and must be regarded as the beginning of a new cycle for that Section as ours of 1888 was for us. It was most interesting and important in every respect."
He speaks of the disposition of H.P.B.'s ashes, one portion of which was sent to India and the other divided between the London and American headquarters. He tells of the acquisition by the Aryan Society of New York of a building designed for the permanent headquarters of the American Section. He then takes up the resignation of Col. Olcott, submits the official letters exchanged, advises as to the course of action necessary in the
premises to provide for the succession to the Presidency of the whole Society, urges the adoption of a recommendation from the American Section that Col. Olcott be offered a life-residency at Adyar, and suggests that a subscription be opened to provide for the Colonel's pecuniary needs, "as a testimonial, however inadequate, of the gratitude of this Section for his long and devoted services." During the Convention the following resolutions were introduced and unanimously adopted:
"Whereas, Col. Henry S. Olcott, President-Founder of the Theosophical Society, has tendered his resignation of the office of President to take effect May 1st proximo, and has requested that a successor be elected to the office of President of the Theosophical Society, and,
"Whereas, The General Secretary and Vice-President has taken the votes of all the Branches of this Section on the question of who shall be successor to the said office of President of the Theosophical Society, the said votes being unanimously in favor of William Q. Judge, and they being now duly reported to and before this Convention;
"Resolved, That the American Section in Convention assembled hereby tenders to Col. H.S. Olcott the expression of its profound gratitude and sincere appreciation for his unselfish devotion and long and faithful services for the Society which he helped to found and which is so largely indebted to him for its beneficent work and the recognition it has won in every quarter of the globe.
"Resolved, That in our estimation the position of Col. Olcott as 'President-Founder' of the Society is, and must forever remain, unique. Another may succeed him in the office of President and assume the duties of the office, but can never be 'President-Founder.'
"Resolved, That this Convention confirms and
ratifies the votes of said Branches, and as such Convention declares its choice for President to succeed Col. H.S. Olcott to be said William Q. Judge. But it is further
"Resolved, That the American Section in Convention hereby requests Col. Olcott to revoke his said resignation and remain President of the Society, deeming that it is not yet time for him to retire from said office, and it being possible for him to remain in said official position although his health may demand that the amount of his work be reduced to a minimum so far as traveling and speaking are concerned; and the General Secretary and Vice-President is hereby directed to at once notify Col. Olcott by telegraph and letter of this request, forwarding copies thereof, to the end that all further proceedings relative to said retirement be suspended until such time as the sense of the European and Indian Sections on this point be obtained that in the meantime it is the opinion and desire of this Section that the said resignation be not yet accepted but laid over for further consideration; and that, when the sense of the said European and Indian Sections shall have been obtained, the General Secretary and Executive Committee of this Section shall call a special meeting of the Council of the Section to consider the question upon the report to be made thereupon by the General Secretary and Vice-President, and
"Resolved, That this Section now declares its vote to be that when said office of President shall become vacant the successor to said Col. Olcott shall be said William Q. Judge, who shall hold said office for life unless removed for cause, and that he have power to nominate his successor as now provided in the General Constitution in respect to Col. Olcott; and that the General
Constitution be amended so as to provide in accordance with the foregoing, and that when the office of Vice-President shall become vacant, the choice of this Section for said office of Vice-President is Brother Bertram Keightley.
"Resolved, That this Section requests that Col. Olcott, when he shall have retired, if ever, be offered a life residence at Adyar Headquarters.
"Resolved, That the European and Indian Sections of the Society be and they are hereby requested to co-operate with this Section in endeavoring to carry out the letter and the spirit of these resolutions, and that the General Secretary of this Section immediately forward to said Sections an official copy of the same.
"Resolved, Therefore, that this Section hereby re-elects to the office of General Secretary of this Section its present Secretary, William Q. Judge."
In accordance with the Convention's instruction to telegraph Col. Olcott of the American Section's request for the withdrawal of his resignation, Mr. Judge cabled the substance of the resolution adopted and, at the final session of the Convention, read the assembled delegates Col. Olcott's telegraphic reply:
"Am willing to do anything that is just and fair; I must stop here [Adyar] until I hear definitely from you [by mail]."
During the Convention Mr. Judge introduced the following resolution, which also was unanimously adopted, as an offset to the charges of "dogmatism" in the T.S. and the "worship" of H.P.B.:
"Whereas, It is frequently asserted by those ignorant of the facts of the case and of the literature of the Society that the T.S. or its leaders seek to enforce certain beliefs or in-
terpretations upon its members, or to establish a creedal interpretation of any of its philosophical propositions; therefore
"Resolved, That the T.S. as such, has no creed, no formulated beliefs that could or should be enforced on any one inside or outside its ranks; that no doctrine can be declared as orthodox, and that no Theosophical Popery can exist without annulling the very basis of ethics and the foundations of truth upon which the whole Theosophical teachings rest; and in support of this resolution appeal is made to the entire literature of the Society, and the oft-repeated statements published wide-spread by H.P.B., Col. Olcott, Mr. Judge, and every other prominent writer and speaker upon the subject since the foundation of the Theosophical Society."
The full proceedings of the Convention were published in the Official Report. Copies of the various resolutions in relation to Col. Olcott's tendered resignation were sent to the General Secretaries of the European and Indian Sections, their substance printed in The Path and Lucifer, and a large publicity secured in the secular press. Mr. Judge wrote Col. Olcott both officially and privately, and in the latter capacity sent him a message received from one of the Masters. It is this message and a communication received direct by himself that Col. Olcott refers to in his final Official Letter on the subject of his resignation. Meantime, under date of April 27, immediately after receipt of Mr. Judge's cabled news of the action of the American Convention, Col. Olcott issued "Executive Orders" in relation to the difficulties in the way of his immediate retirement, and paves the way for the withdrawal of his resignation in these words:
"Notice is therefore given that, without again vainly trying to fix an actual date for my vacating office, I shall do my utmost to hasten the completion of all legal business, so that I may
hand over everything to Mr. Judge, my old friend, colleague and chosen successor."
The latter part of this statement refers to the provision of the General Constitution adopted by the Indian Council and confirmed by the "Adyar Parliament" some years before, empowering Col. Olcott to nominate his successor in office; and, while the American Section had expressed its choice of Mr. Judge as that successor, the European and Indian Sections had not yet had the opportunity to express their wishes, whether on the question of accepting Col. Olcott's resignation or the choice of his successor.
This "Executive Notice" was followed on May 25 by another "rescript" from Col. Olcott, reading:
"I have just received a digest of the Resolutions passed by the American Convention relative to my retirement and Mr. Judge's re-election as General Secretary of the Section. As my resignation was not thoughtlessly offered nor without sufficient reasons, I shall not cancel it -save as I have been forced to do temporarily in the financial interest of the Society - until a long enough time has been given me to see what effect the invigorating air of these lovely mountains [Col. Olcott's Notice was issued from Ootacamund in the Nilgherry Hills, India] will have upon my health, and I become satisfied that a return to executive work is essential to the welfare of our movement. Besides the meeting of the European Convention in July I am expecting other important events to happen and I shall give no answer until then. Meanwhile, however, my heart is touched by the universal tokens of personal regard and official approval which have reached me from all parts of the world.
This Note was published in Lucifer for July 15, 1892, just prior to the meeting of the European Convention. It was not perceived by the English and Continental Theosophists to be an intimation from Col. Olcott that he was, in fact, waiting to receive from them a request and re-affirmation similar to the action taken by the American Convention under the influence of Mr. Judge's strong stand for the retention of the old "war-horse" of the Society.
Lucifer for May, 1892, refers to the action taken by the American Convention, as reported by Mr. Mead who had attended the Convention as a delegate from the English Theosophists. The substance of the various resolutions adopted is given and Mrs. Besant comments:
"... these resolutions, of course, do not bind the Society and no definite arrangement can be come to until the European Section has added its voice to those of the other Sections. With a Society extending all over the world, it takes a long time to reach a decision, but it is pleasant to see the good feeling which is manifested on all sides, and the strong wish to recognize good service in the past as giving claim to the utmost consideration. It is clear that Bro. Judge will be the next President, whether now or at some future date, but whether he will take office at once or not will remain doubtful for some months. Meanwhile, as no practical difficulty is caused by the delay, we can all possess our souls in patience, and rejoice, at the brotherly feeling shown in the American Section, alike in the wish to delay parting with the President-Founder as long as possible, and in the unanimous choice of a successor."
The Convention of the European Section met at London on July 14, 1892. Mr. Judge, who was present, was, on Mrs. Besant's motion, unanimously elected Chairman. Mrs. Besant's report of the Convention in the August
Lucifer, recites that "the Chairman delivered an earnest opening address, recalling the memory of H.P.B., and speaking of the work done by Col. Olcott, the President-Founder, "work that no one else had done" and to be ever held in grateful remembrance in the Society. He also read a telegram from Col. Olcott, wishing success to the Convention, and a letter of greeting from the American Section...."
In this letter of greeting, which was signed by Mr. Judge as General Secretary, for the Executive Committee of the American Section, he speaks on the subject of Col. Olcott's resignation as follows:
"At our Convention in April last we asked you to unite with us in a request to Colonel Olcott to revoke his resignation. This we did in candour and friendship, leaving it to you to decide your course. We recollected what was so often and so truly said by H.P. Blavatsky, that this organization, unique in this century, partook of the life of its parents. One of them was Col. Olcott. It would be disloyal to our ideals to hurry in accepting his resignation, even though we knew that we might get on without his presence at the head. And if he should hold to his determination our loving request would fill his remaining years with pleasing remembrances of his brothers without a trace of bitterness...."
The Convention began its regular business - so runs the account in Lucifer - "by receiving the votes of the Section as to the election of President, the General Secretary [G.R.S. Mead] moving:
"Whereas, the President-Founder T.S., Colonel H.S. Olcott, owing to ill-health, has placed his resignation in the hands of the Vice-President, William Q. Judge; and
"Whereas, the votes of the European Section T.S., having been duly taken by the General
Secretary, and the result declared that the choice of the European Section of a President to succeed Col. Olcott is William Q. Judge:
"Resolved: that this Convention unanimously and enthusiastically confirms this vote, and chooses William Q. Judge as the succeeding President of the T.S.
"Brother Jose Xifre [Delegate from Spain] seconded the resolution - continues Lucifer - and it was endorsed by a delegate from each country and carried with much applause. And so was taken an important step in the history of the T.S., and there remains only the Indian Section to speak its choice in unison, we may hope, with the American and the European, so that the first choice of a President may be unanimous."
A second resolution offered by Mrs. Besant provided for the opening of a fund as a testimonial to Col. Olcott. The Convention ordered a telegram of greeting to be sent to Col. Olcott. Another resolution was proposed and carried unanimously, as follows:
"Whereas, this Convention has taken into due consideration the resolutions of our American brethren at their last Convention touching the resignation of the President-Founder; and
"Whereas, we have heard the answer of the President-Founder himself to these resolutions. "Resolved: that while agreeing most cordially with the fraternal spirit of good-will that has animated the resolutions of our Brethren, and desiring always to co-operate with them in this liberal and commendable spirit, we consider that the answer of the President-Founder renders any further action impossible."
Another resolution unanimously passed declared the neutrality of the T.S. in matters of religious and philo-
sophical opinion, and re-affirmed the freedom of the Society from any creed, dogma, or formulated belief other than its three proclaimed Objects.
The action taken by the European Section with reference to his tendered resignation filled Col. Olcott with disappointment and placed him in a most cruel dilemma. Encouraged by the American Convention in its resolutions, restored to confidence in a way out of the predicament in which he had placed himself, braced by private letters of Mr. Judge and the Message transmitted to him as from the Masters, Col. Olcott, to whom his position and title were as the breath of life and to whose fulfillment he had given that life, evidently had expected no other outcome to the European Convention than the passage by it of resolutions of the same tenor as the American Convention's, urging him to withdraw his proffered resignation. That he took stock of his paramount longing is apparent from the "Supplement" to The Theosophist for September, 1892.
"21st August, 1892.
"The President's Retirement
"In January last, confined to my room by sickness, lame in both feet, unable to move about, save on crutches, and yearning for rest after many years of incessant work, I carried out a purpose long entertained and sent the Vice-President my resignation of the Presidentship. I should have exercised my constitutional right and named him as my successor if I had not been told that the American and European Sections would not consent to having the office filled during my lifetime, this being, they thought, the truest compliment that could be paid me. Immediately I began building the cottage at
Ootacamund on land bought in 1888, as a retreat for H.P.B. and myself in our old age.
"On the 11th February, however, the familiar voice of my Guru chided me for attempting to retire before my time, asserted the unbroken relation between Himself, H.P.B. and myself, and bade me to receive further and more specific orders by messenger, but without naming the time or place.
"The Indian Section had, as early as February last, unanimously agreed to recommend that, if I were really compelled to retire, the Presidential office should not be filled during my lifetime, but my duties performed by the Vice-President, acting as P.T.S. Nearly all the Indian branches and most influential members, as well as the Branches and chief members in Australasia and Ceylon, and many in Europe and America wrote to express their hope that I might yet see my way to retaining an office in which I had given satisfaction.
"Under date of April 20th, Mr. Judge cabled from New York that he was not then able to relinquish the Secretaryship of the American Section and wrote me, enclosing a transcript of a message he had also received for me from a Master that 'it is not time, nor right, nor just, nor wise, nor the real wish of the .'. that you should go out, either corporeally or officially."
"The Chicago Convention of the American Section, held in the same month, unanimously adopted Resolutions declaring their choice of Mr. Judge as my constitutional successor, but asking me not to retire.
"The London Convention of the European Section, held in July, also unanimously declared its choice of Mr. Judge as my successor and adopted complimentary Resolutions about myself, but abstained from passing upon the question of my remaining in office under the misapprehension
- how caused I know not - that I had definitely and finally refused to revoke my January letter of resignation. The fact being that the terms of my May note upon the subject... left the question open and dependent upon the contingencies of my health and the proof that my return to office would be for the best interest of the Society.
"A long rest in the mountains has restored my health and renewed my mental and physical vigor, and therefore, since further suspense would injure the Society, I hereby give notice that I revoke my letter of resignation and resume active duties and responsibilities of office and I declare William Q. Judge, Vice-President, my constitutional successor, and eligible for duty as such upon his relinquishment of any other office in the Society which he may hold at the time of my death.
H.S. Olcott, P.T.S."
The Path for October, 1892, contains the following under the title "Col. Olcott's Revocation" -
"To the Members and Branches of T.S. in U.S.:
"On the 30th of August, 1892, I received the following telegram from Col. H.S. Olcott:
"'To Judge, New York: Col. H.S. Olcott remains president" (of the Theosophical Society).'
"Notice of this revocation of his resignation of the office of President was immediately given by me through the newspaper press of the country. His official letter arrived September 24th and is given hereunder with the accompanying circular. They are now printed for general information, and will go to the Secretaries of Branches as soon as possible.
"The election of successor to the presidency
having been held in all the Sections, and the choice having been unanimous, there will be no new election for the office, but the General Council, consisting of the President and General Secretaries, will make the needed Constitutional alterations. The well-working machinery of the Sections will go on with no change of officials, and the President-Founder will remain at the head of the organization till the very last, thus fulfilling the promise given in his resignation of never ceasing to devote himself to the Cause of the Society which he has so long worked for in season and out of season, in every land and in many climates.
William Q. Judge,
Gen. Sec'y Am. Sec."
This was followed by the text of Col. Olcott's official notification and the text of the "Executive Circular" which we have given.
H.P.B. 's "Successors" - The Publication of "Old Diary Leraves"The Adyar parliament following the withdrawal by Col. Olcott of his resignation was held at the close of 1892, and is notable for several matters. The Presidential Address of Col. Olcott illustrates the workings of his mind over recent events. On the subject of his late resignation he reiterates that it was prompted by ill health, and in discussing his resumption of duties as President he calls it a "sacrifice demanded by the best interests of the Society." On the action taken by the various Sections he says:
"The Indian Section expressed its desire that I should hold office for life, even without performing the duties; the American Section begged me to reconsider and cancel my resignation; and the European Section, misled by ignorance of the exact phraseology of an Executive Order which I had published, into supposing that I had absolutely refused to resume the Presidentship, simply elected Mr. Judge as my successor."
The student may compare these statements with the facts as set forth in the two preceding chapters. It is important that this should be done, as this matter of his resignation and the two bogies of "dogmatism in the T.S., and the "worship of H.P.B." continued to haunt the mind of Col. Olcott. The Presidential Address of 1892 also contains the admission by Col. Olcott that the so-called Adyar Conventions were neither official nor unofficially representative of the whole Society; it marks
also the recrudescence of the effort made in 1888-9 to focus the attention of the members upon the Society, upon Adyar, upon the official authority of the President-Founder, as detailed in Chapters XV and XVI. Col. Olcott said on these subjects:
"The loose federal organization of the Society in autonomous Sections, provides a very efficient means of local management, but is apt to give rise to a powerful disintegrating tendency, leading individual Sections to lose sight of the unity of the Society, in an all-absorbing interest in their own special work.
"Under the present Rules, no General Convention of the whole T.S. is now held; and the federal unity of the whole body finds expression only in my Annual Report, which is sent to every Branch of the Society throughout the world.
"My Annual Report, therefore, assumes a special historic value and great importance, as it is the only means by which the members and Branches of the Society have brought before them a complete view of the Society's work as a whole.... For it must be remembered that the gathering I am now addressing is a purely personal one, and in no sense a Representative Convention of the whole T.S.... it is simply, a gathering of Theosophists to whom I am reading my Annual Report before despatching it to all parts of the world...
"It is only by viewing our work from the standpoint of the Federal Centre, the real axis of our revolving wheel, that the net loss or gain of the year's activity can be estimated. Thus, for instance, intense action is the feature within the American Section, while a marked lassitude has of late been noted in the Indian work. Europe, manifesting a maximum of activity in London, a lesser yet most creditable degree at Paris, Barcelona, The Hague, in Sweden and
elsewhere, shows seven new Branches to India's eight and America's thirteen. Thus while the outlook is not exhilarating in one part of the world, it is highly encouraging, taking the field as a whole."
An instructive contrast is offered by considering the state of the Society and the Movement in India and the Orient generally. The "marked lassitude" of which Col. Olcott speaks is made very plain by turning to the Report of Bertram Keightley, General Secretary of the Indian Section, included in the Report of the Proceedings of the Adyar Convention at the end of 1892. His report shows 145 Branches on the roll of the Indian Section, and he speaks in detail of their condition. He summarizes as follows:
"It is foolish for us to console ourselves for the many deficiencies of our Indian Section, by pointing to our long list of Branches and gazing with placid satisfaction at the numerous shields on these walls, when we know in our inmost hearts, that there are, as my report shows, only five Branches that are really doing satisfactory work."
When the student remembers that the Indian Section and the Orient generally, had been, since 1885, exclusively under the unquestioned control and inspiration of the President-Founder, supported at all times by the loyal co-operation of H.P.B. and W.Q.J., supported also in great part by dues and voluntary contributions from America and England, and by numerous volunteer workers who went in a steady succession from the West to the East, but two conclusions can be drawn - First, that Col. Olcott's ideas as to the proper basis for work were erroneous; second, that the spirit of the First Object and the teachings of Theosophy made no practical appeal either to the Hindus or to himself. They, like himself, were interested primarily in the Second and
Third Objects and in the Society as a forum for their discussion - not in Brotherhood and "the vital principles which underlie the philosophical systems of old."
Turning now from the public phases of events and their discussion in the Sectional Conventions, in the various Reports, and in the three leading magazines, The Theosophist, Lucifer, and The Path, it is informative to review the trend of the Esoteric Section or School during the same period and in relation to the same issues. The re-organization of the School and the re-affirmation of principles and policies as contained in the Circular of May 27, 1891, have already been described. (1) Under the clear and logical lines thus established the work of the School proceeded apace, free from dissensions or disharmonies. The public writings of H.P.B. and of others recommended by her, the private Instructions issued by H.P.B., and the various papers with "Suggestions and Aids" supplied by Mr. Judge and Mrs. Besant as joint Heads of the School, afforded abundant and consistent material for study and application in daily life. The Rules of the School itself, the incentive provided by its teachings and purposes and the example of Mr. Judge and Mrs. Besant were ample to make the members active and energetic in the public promulgation of Theosophy and in the support of the T.S., while the very freedom from any taint of authority, external supervision or prescribed regulations but caused the members to be voluntarily more self-sacrificing in time, money, and work to make the esoteric Society a real and true success in the line of its proclaimed Objects. It should be clearly borne in mind that the Instructions of H.P.B. to the E.S.T. were in no sense orders, but simply more definite and specific statements of Teaching than are contained in her esoteric writings. The Rules of the School were, in the same way, not regulations to be enforced by any outside pressure of superior authorities, but those statements of discipline and conduct which each member voluntarily gave his "most solemn and sacred word of honor" to enforce
(1) See Chapter XIX.
upon himself in his own thoughts and actions. And it should be remembered that while thousands of members of the T.S. were not members of the E.S., no one could enter or remain in the E.S. who was not also a member of the T.S. In a word: the exoteric Theosophical Society had three defined Objects and was committed to no religion, no philosophy, no science, no system of thought; the Esoteric School had the same Three Objects, but in addition its members were voluntarily pledged to do their utmost to make those Objects effective in their own lives through the study and practice of Theosophy, exoteric and esoteric. As, outside of Col. Olcott and Mr. Sinnett, nearly all of those most active in the Society were pledged probationers of the Esoteric School, there was necessarily room for speculation, question, doubt, and suspicion among members of the exoteric Society not members of the E.S. as to that body. As has been Noted, (2) these fears possessed Col. Olcott long before the formation of the E.S., and continued till long afterwards. H.P.B. had done her utmost to allay them during
her lifetime. It was not long after her death before the stand taken in regard to her and her work by the reorganized E.S. became a matter of more or less common knowledge in the esoteric Society, and it was this which in fact stirred Col. Olcott to renewed apprehension lest there arise an "H.P.B. cult," "worship" of H.P.B., "dogmatism in the T.S." and a "breach of the neutrality of the T.S." in matters of opinion and belief, and led to his public remarks in his Presidential Address at the Adyar Convention at the close of 1891. How these apprehensions and misapprehensions were met publicly by Mrs. Besant and Mr. Judge has already been shown. (3) Within the School itself a circular, "strictly private and only for E.S. members" as usual, was sent out on March 29, 1892. It began with an "Important Notice" in italics, reading as follows:
"The E.S.T. has no official connection with the Theosophical Society.
(2) See Chapters X and XI.
(3) See Chapter XX.
"When first organized it was known as a section of the T.S. but it being seen that the perfect freedom and public character of the Society might be interfered with, H.P.B., some time before her departure, gave notice that all official connection between the two should end, and then changed the name to the present one. "This leaves all T.S. officials who are in the E.S.T. perfectly free in their official capacity, and also permits members if asked to say with truth that the School has no official connection with the T.S. and is not a part o f it.
"Members will please bear this in mind.
William Q. Judge"
The body of the circular contained an added reference to the subject under the caption, "The T.S. and The School":
"Members must carefully remember that the School has no official connection with the Society [T.S.], although none are admitted who are not F.T.S. [Fellows of the T.S.] Hence the T.S. must not be compromised by members of the School. We must all recollect that the T.S. is a free open body. So if one of the Heads is also an official in the T.S., his or her words or requests as such T.S. official must not under any circumstances be colored or construed on the basis of the work of this School.
"This caution is necessary because some members have said to the General Secretary of the U.S. Sect. T.S. [Mr. Judge] that they regarded his words as such official to be an order. This is improper and may lead to trouble if members cannot see their plain ethical duty under the pledge. They are, surely, to work for the T.S., but must also use their common-sense and never let the T.S. become dogmatic."
Although this circular was signed by both Mrs. Besant and Mr. Judge, it was in fact written by Mr. Judge, and its occasion is an illustration of the difficulties under which he, like H.P.B. before him, labored in trying to secure continuity of policy in line with proclaimed principles on the part of associates. The occasion was as follows: Following the public news of the resignation of Col. Olcott, Mrs. Besant, then full of faith in Mr. Judge and of zeal to influence others to adopt her own particular ideas, had sent out on March 10, 1892, a circular letter to all members of the School urging the election of Mr. Judge to the office of President of the T.S. This circular of Mrs. Besant's was sent out without Mr. Judge's knowledge. So soon as he learned of it he prepared the circular of March 29, from which we have been quoting, to offset as far as possible the mischief it might lead to, and to restate the true position without chagrin for Mrs. Besant.
The aftermath of Mrs. Besant's circular is equally interesting and instructive. As Mr. Judge had anticipated, some members of the E.S. took Mrs. Besant's circular as an "order," and others resented it as an interference; still others saw in it an attempt of the E.S. to control the T.S. and make a breach in the neutrality of the esoteric Society. And when the July, 1892, Convention of the European Section ignored the request of the American Section to join with it in asking Col. Olcott to revoke his resignation, and instead accepted the resignation as a fait accompli, its action was ascribed by many to the E.S. influence exerted by Mrs. Besant's circular. And since Mr. Judge seemed in their eyes to have been the beneficiary, as he was chosen President in place of Col. Olcott, it was easy for the jealous and auspicious minded to conclude that the whole proceeding had been, if not actually engineered by him, at least carried through with his tacit approval. And this was actually one of the charges against him in the affairs of 1894-5. It is now time that the actual facts and real actors should be known and the circular to the E.S. of March 29, 1892, three months before the European Convention of that
year, shows Mr. Judge's entire innocence and good faith. More, when the suspicions spoken of were voiced, as they were, immediately following the European Section Convention in July, 1892, by partisans and friends of Col. Olcott and by others envious of the sudden rise to prominence and power of Mrs. Besant, Mr. Judge joined with Mrs. Besant in signing the circular sent out by her from London, dated August 1, 1892, explaining and defending her action. This circular, written by Mrs. Besant, and sent to all E.S. members, is really a key to the workings of her consciousness when her actions, good or bad, were questioned by anyone. She says:
"You will see that Annie Besant, as one of the two to whom Masters committed the charge of the E.S.T., was discharging an obvious duty when she called on members of the School to show strength, quietness, and absence of prejudice, and to try and infuse similar qualities into the branches of the Society at such an important time as the first Presidential Election. The direction to act as pacificators and to make harmony their object, is in exact accord with the word of our Teacher, H.P.B....
"There remains the statement, not made as one of the Outer Heads, that Annie Besant hoped that the choice of the Society would fall upon William Q. Judge, as President, and it was suggested... that this would be taken as a direction to Esotericists to vote for him, although they were told, in so many words, that as no direction had come each must use his own best judgment. But had a far stronger form of advice been used, would the liberty of members have been unfairly infringed? Once more a glance at the past may help us. The first form of pledge in the School bound the disciple 'to obey, without cavil or delay, the orders of the Head of the E.S. in all that concerns my relation with the Theosophical Movement.' On be-
coming an Esotericist he voluntarily abdicated his liberty as regarded the Exoteric Society, and bound himself to carry out in the Exoteric Society the orders he received from the head of the E.S.
"It is true that this simple frank pledge was altered by H.P.B. in consequence of the criticism of some, who feared lest obedience against conscience should be claimed by her; but, as she herself said, the remodeled clause was a farce. She changed it, not because the new form was good, but because Western students were, many of them, not ready to pass under Occult training. They do not understand the privilege of obedience, when rendered to such as are the Masters....
Obedience is forced on none:... Meanwhile let all feel assured that neither of us two will make any attempt to give orders to the School, except in its societies and ordinary work, and that you are free to accept or reject our advice as you will."
Certain exceptions must be taken to the foregoing as to matters of fact: (1) the original "pledge" was not, in fact, in the wording given in quotation by Mrs. Besant; (2) no member was ever asked, attempted to be influenced, or permitted to "abdicate his liberty" in the exoteric Society, or "bind himself to carry out in the exoteric Society the orders he received from the Head of the E.S.," either by H.P.B. or Mr. Judge or in any messages received through them from the Masters; these are Mrs. Besant's own interpretations and conclusions; (3) "obedience to the Masters," is one thing, obedience to the "Outer Head of the E.S.," quite another thing, whether that "Outer Head" were H.P.B., Mr. Judge, Mrs. Besant, or anyone else; (4) the pledge, Rules, and Instructions of the E.S.T. were for the help and guidance of the members in their relation of pupils to a teacher in a School, not for the regulation and govern-
ment of an organization by its authorities, and were uniformly so stated to be and so construed by both H.P.B. and W.Q.J.
It may be asked, Why did not Mr. Judge himself take exceptions to this circular of Mrs. Besant's which he signed with her? The answer is obvious to any mind which can grasp the spirit of the Movement and the related facts. Mr. Judge did take exceptions in advance, by stating the true position in the circular of March 29, 1892, - the same position that both H.P.B. and himself had repeatedly taken previously, both in the School and in the public Society. (4) When Mrs. Besant asked him to sign with her this defensive circular of August 1, 1892, he was placed in the same position as H.P.B. so often was in relation with Col. Olcott: Having stated the true position on his own account, he went to the utmost limits to shelter and support a colleague who had erred, and left to the discrimination of the students themselves to make their own application. To have done other than as he did would have been himself to violate the spirit of the School, to infringe on the freedom of the members, to expose the mistakes of a co-worker and to invite a rupture. All the members of the School had the pledge, the various E.S. communications of H.P.B., and her Preliminary Memoranda and Instructions; it was for the members to apply them to the case in hand, uncoached and uninterfered with. To have interfered, except in a drastic emergency where the course was not clear upon reflection, was to retard or subvert the very purposes of the School as set forth in one of the most important of the Rules:
"It is required of a member that when a question arises it shall be deeply thought over from all its aspects, to the end that he may find the answer himself; and in no case shall questions be asked... until the person has exhausted every ordinary means of solving the doubt or of acquiring himself the information sought. Otherwise
(4) See Chapter XVI.
his intuition will never be developed; he will not learn self-reliance; and two of the main objects of the School will be defeated."
In other words, the very object of the mission and message of H.P.B., esoteric and esoteric, was to destroy that authority which human nature alternately seeks to impose or to lean upon. Another episode, equally illustrative of this human tendency to substitute some authority for self-knowledge, as of its other pole, the ambition to pose "as one having authority" before the ignorant, the credulous, and the self-seeking, is to be found in the question of "successorship" which was raised immediately after the death of H.P.B.
In human jurisprudence succession relates to the transmission of property, rights, privileges, power, authority, obligations, and responsibility. Ecclesiastically, the doctrine generally denominated apostolic succession is as old as popular religion and is integral with the idea of a priesthood. "The King never dies," and "the King can do no wrong," are two ancient phrases which convey the conception of the "divine right of kings" and the transmission of the kingly office from predecessor to successor. In religious history both myth and tradition, as well as accredited records, show that in all times, among all peoples, in all religions, there has been a deeply imbedded corresponding notion that spiritual knowledge and its concomitants can be conveyed by some sort of gift or endowment. This proceeds from the assumption that the Founder can convey His nature to His Disciples, they - to their disciples, and so on in an unbroken line of transmission, the same as a physical object can be passed on from hand to hand. Inseparably bound up with this Popular dogma are the ideas that some particular tribe, or caste or association, made up of the individuals thus endowed and their followers and believers, are the chosen vehicle of this apostolic succession, which is conveyed by birth, by baptism, by laying on of hands, by election, by ordination, by other rites and ceremonies; and that a peculiar and sacred authority attaches by virtue thereof
to the particular individuals and associations, who are thus able to bind or loose, to save or damn the common herd of mankind. The whole claim of the Brahmin caste in India, of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy, of the Greek Catholic Church, of the Anglican Communion, to consideration rests upon this popular superstition and upon the vast edifice of theological subtleties erected by endless generations of false prophets and priests. It is the basis of Judaism and Mohammedanism, and the various Protestant Christian sects equally depend on this dogma.
The prime mission of H.P. Blavatsky, as of every other religious Founder and Reformer, was to destroy this monstrous parasite on human faith in the Divine in Nature and in Man, in the only way it can ever be destroyed: By pointing out its fundamental inequity and injustice on the one hand, and, on the other, by spreading far and wide true basic concepts of Deity, of Law, and of Man, - ideas so unassailably just, so logically sequential, so scientifically buttressed, so philosophically sound, so self-evidently manifest in every department of nature, that none but the fool and the false could fail to grasp them. "Isis Unveiled," from beginning to end, was written with this very object in view, as were all her other writings; the Theosophical Society and its Esoteric Section had the same great objective: The Theosophical Movement exists for no other purpose than to supplant this monstrous heresy on true religion, pure and undefiled, by giving mankind Knowledge in place of belief; Teachers in place of priestly authority. To quote all that H.P.B. has written upon this subject and its cognates is to quote all that she ever wrote. But two citations from "Isis Unveiled" will serve to give her views; for her reasons, arguments, and evidences, the student must study the work itself. Thus, near the close of Volume 2 (p. 544), she says:
"The present volumes have been written to small purpose if they have not shown... that... apostolic succession is a gross and palpable fraud."
And again, page 635 of the same volume:
"The world needs no sectarian church, whether of Buddha, Jesus, Mahomet, Swedenborg, Calvin, or any other. There being but ONE Truth, man requires but one church - the Temple of God within us, walled in by matter but penetrable by any one who can find the way; the pure in heart see God."
When H.P.B. died the first question in the minds of many of the members, as in public curiosity, was, Who will be her successor? At once the newspapers responded to this gullibility and desire for sensation. Within a week from the death of H.P.B. the Paris press announced that Madame Marie Caithness, Duchess of Pomar, had been "chosen" by H.P.B. as her successor. The Duchess had been a long-time friend of H.P.B., who had been her guest during the stay in Paris in 1884; she was "psychic"; she was greatly interested in the "Occult"; she was socially prominent. It was enough! She was promptly accepted by many French "spiritists" with Theosophical leanings as the new wearer of the mantle of the prophet. The fire promptly spread to England; Mrs. Besant was "written up" as the successor. She was brilliant; she was famous; she had been the right hand of H.P.B. for two years; she was an Occultist; she was head and shoulders above any Theosophist before the public; ergo, she was the successor. In America the same curiosity and interest existed and Mr. Judge was considered the foreordained successor. But when the versatile reporters sought to interview him, he received them in a body and made to them the succinct statement: "Madame Blavatsky was sui generis. She has, and can have, no 'successor.'"
Nevertheless, the appetite existed and public curiosity did not lack for nourishment. A score of mediums and Psychics in as many different cities announced for themselves, on the strength of real or pretended messages from their several guides and controls that they were,
each of them, the successor of Madame Blavatsky. Not a month passed but a new successor was heralded by some trustful believer in his claims, or claimed for himself by some less modest aspirant. In nearly every large center of the Society there was to be found some Occultist who was not averse to letting it be known that he was "in communication with the Masters," and each of these had his believers and his imitators. Late in 1891, Mr. Henry B. Foulke of Philadelphia, Pa., claimed to be Madame Blavatsky's successor. Mr. Foulke had been a member of the Esoteric Section, and had corresponded with H.P.B. His claim was that H.P.B. had "appointed" him during her life and that since her death he had received communications from her confirming the appointment, bidding him demand recognition and take over the direction of the Society and the guidance of the School. He therefore wrote to Col. Olcott, Mrs. Besant, and Mr. Judge, offering to submit his "proofs," and, upon their refusal to pay any attention to him or his claims of successorship, made his claims public through the newspapers. Mrs. Besant and Mr. Judge promptly suspended him from his membership in the Esoteric Section; whereupon he resigned from the E.S. and from the Society. Mr. Foulke and his claims were taken up by a number of papers, notably the Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Times. Mr. Judge wrote two letters on the subject to the Times, and these were reprinted by Mrs. Besant in Lucifer for March, 1892. For their present as well as their historical value, we give here the text of the germane portions of these two letters by Mr. Judge, as published in Lucifer, accompanied by Mrs. Besant's comment: "As non-theosophists... were to some extent misled by the preposterous fiction, W.Q. Judge sent the following letters to the paper in which the statement first appeared":
"Will you permit me to correct the statement ... that Madame Blavatsky appointed as her 'successor' Mr. Henry B. Foulke, and 'guar-
anteed' to him the 'allegiance' of the 'higher spiritual intelligences and forces.' As one of Madame Blavatsky's oldest and most intimate friends, connected with her most closely in the foundation and work of the Theosophical Society, and familiar with her teachings, purposes, ideas, forecasts, I am in a position to assure... the public that there is not an atom of foundation for the statement quoted.
"Madame Blavatsky has no 'successor,' could have none, never contemplated, selected, or notified one. Her work and status were unique. Whether or not her genuineness as a spiritual teacher be admitted matters not: she believed it to be so, and all who enjoyed her confidence will unite with me in the assertion that she never even hinted at 'succession,' 'allegiance,' or 'guarantee.' Even if a successor was possible, Mr. Foulke could not be he. He is not a member of the Theosophical Society, does not accept its and her teachings, had a very slight and brief acquaintance with her, and pretends to no interest in her views, life or mission. Of her actual estimate of him I have ample knowledge.
But anyhow, no 'guaranteeing of allegiance of spiritual forces' is practicable by anyone. Knowledge of and control over the higher potencies in Nature comes only by individual attainment through long discipline and conquest. It can no more be transferred than can a knowledge of Greek, of chemistry, psychology, or of medicine. If a person moves on a lofty level, it is because he worked his way there. This is true in spiritual things as in mental. When Mr. Foulke produces a work like Isis Unveiled or The Secret Doctrine, he may be cited as H.P.B.'s intellectual peer; when he imparts such impulsion as does The Voice of the Silence, he may be recognized as her spiritual equal; when he adds to these an utter consecra-
tion to the work of the T.S. as his lifelong mission, he may participate in such 'succession' as the case admits. But it will not be through alleged precipitated pictures and imagined astral shapes. The effect of these on Theosophy... may be stated in one word - nothing.
William Q. Judge
Gen. Sec'y American Sec."
"Will you allow me a word - my last - respecting the Foulke claim to succeed Mme. Blavatsky.
"First. If Mr. Foulke... has precipitated pictures of Mme. Blavatsky produced since her demise... Precipitations are not uncommon, but are no evidence of anything whatever save the power to precipitate and the fact of precipitation. Spiritualists have always asserted that their mediums could procure these things. Chemists also can precipitate substances out of the air. So this point is wide of the Society and its work.
"Second. As I said in my previous letter, when Mr. Foulke, or any one, indeed, proves by his work and attainments that he is as great as Mme. Blavatsky, every one will at once recognize that fact. But irresponsible mediumship, or what we call astral intoxication, will not prove these attainments nor constitute that work.
"Third. Mme. Blavatsky was Corresponding Secretary of the Theosophical Society, and its Constitution years ago provided that office, out of compliment to her, should become extinct upon her death.... The Society will hardly hurry to revive it for the sake of one who is not a member of the body and who has never thrown any particular glory upon it. Scarcely either because he is a medium - and not even a good one - who prates of receiving messages from be-
yond the grave assumed to be from Mme. Blavatsky. He may assert that he has baskets full of letters from Mme. Blavatsky written before her death, and we are not interested either to deny the assertion or to desire to see the documents.
"Fourth. The Theosophical Society is a body governed by Rules embodied in its Constitution. Its officers are elected by votes, and not by the production of precipitated letters or pictures of any sort. It generally elects those who do its work, and not outsiders who masquerade as recipients of directions from the abode of departed souls. It is not likely to request proposed officers to produce documents... brought forth at mediumistic seances before the wondering eyes of untrained witnesses...
"Fifth. Mr. Foulke's possession of any number of letters written by Mme. Blavatsky prior to her demise, offering him 'leadership' or 'succession,' might please and interest himself, but can have no other effect on the corporate body of the Society. Let him preserve them or otherwise as he may see fit; they are utterly without bearing or even authority, and if in existence would only serve to show that she in her lifetime may have given him a chance to do earnest sincere work for a Society she had at heart and that he neglected the opportunity, passing his time in idle, fantastic day-dreams. Yours truly,
William Q. Judge
Gen. Sec'y American Sec."
In the "Supplement" to The Theosophist for April, 1892, Col. Olcott paid his compliments to the "successorship" idea in the following paragraph, printed under the title, "H.P.B.'s Ghost":
"A rubbishing report is circulating to the effect that H.P.B. chose Mr. Foulke of Philadel-
phia, as her "Successor," and ratified her act by appearing in a spiritualistic circle and painting for him her portrait. As to the picture having been painted I say nothing save that it is no more improbable than other portrait paintings in mediumistic circles: but this does not imply that she painted it. And to offset that theory one has but to refer back to an old volume of The Theosophist to find that she and I, anticipating some such nonsense, published our joint declaration that under no circumstances should we visit after death a medium or a circle, and authorizing our friends to declare false any story to the contrary. As for her naming a 'Successor,' Beethoven or Edison, Magliabeechi or Milton might just as well declare A, B or C the heirs of their genius. Blavatsky nascitur, non fit.
Mrs. Besant in the "Watch-Tower" of Lucifer, for May, 1892, follows up this and her reprint a couple of months before of the two letters by Mr. Judge, with the following:
"There is a wonderful amount of masquerading under the name of H.P. Blavatsky in the postmortem realms, but the various mummers do not agree in their presentations.... Each new mumming spook claims to be the real and only one, and the latest of them claims to be the first real appearance, all the others being humbugs. With this spook I heartily agree on all points save one - that I include itself with the rest."
In The Path for July, 1892, Mr. Judge has an opening editorial article on the subject for the edification of his readers. The article is entitled, "How She Must Laugh." We quote:
"Since the demise of H.P. Blavatsky's body, a little over a year ago, mediums in various parts
of the world have reported her 'spirit' as giving communications...
"Those who communicate these extraordinary reports from H.P.B. are not accused by us of malice or any improper motive. The first 'message' came privately from one who had known her in life but whose views were always quite in line with the message. The others represent the different private opinions of the medium or clairvoyant reporting them. Such is nearly always the case with these 'spirit messages.' They do, indeed, come from psychic planes, and are not strictly the product of the medium's normal brain. But they are the result of obscure thoughts of the medium which color the astral atmosphere, and thus do no more than copy the living. In one case, and this was the hugest joke of all, the medium made a claim to at once step into H.P.B.'s shoes and be acknowledged the leader of the Society.
"How she must laugh! Unless mere death may change a sage into an idiot, she is enjoying these jokes, for she had a keen sense of humor, and as it is perfectly certain that Theosophists are not at all disturbed by these 'communications,' her enjoyment of the fun is not embittered by the idea that staunch old-time Theosophists are being troubled. But what a fantastical world it is with its Materialists, Spiritualists, Christians, Jews, and other barbarians as well as the obscure Theosophists."
"Although H.P.B.'s position in regard to "succession" was made known in the very beginning of her mission, and although Mrs. Besant and Col. Olcott, following Mr. Judge, put their views on record in full accord, as shown by the foregoing quotations, we shall find that the ghost of "apostolic succession" was raised again within less than three years. It, together with the other events we have been recounting, and Col. Olcott's "Old
Diary Leaves," supplied the necessary groundwork and material on and out of which was fabricated the "Judge case." Until all these connected and connecting events are co-ordinated in the mind of the student like the features of a map he will be unable to trace intelligently the divergent courses soon to be taken by the various "pilgrims"; unable to understand the debacle which befell the Society; unable to solve the mystery of the confusions and contradictions in the Theosophical world of today; unable to find and follow the "straight and narrow path" of the true Theosophical Movement; unable to do his part in restoring the work of the Movement to its pristine unity and purity.
"Old Diary Leaves" was begun by Col. Olcott in The Theosophist for March, 1892. Its commencement was, therefore, coincident in time and occasion with the issue of the "worship" of H.P.B., with the issue of "dogmatism in the T.S." and "the neutrality of the T.S.," with the issue of the relation of the Esoteric School to the T.S., and with Col. Olcott's resignation as President of the Society. This prolonged series of personal reminiscences was continued from month to month in The Theosophist, with occasional brief interruptions, until the death of Col. Olcott in 1907. Thus during fifteen years a steady stream of autobiographical articles flowed through the pages of the oldest and most widely circulated of the Theosophical magazines and the only official organ of the Society; articles written by the man who had from the beginning been the President of the Society and who, after the death of Mr. Judge in 1896, was the sole survivor of the original three Founders. "Old Diary Leaves" is written in an easy, lucid, and interesting style; it abounds in personal recollections of H.P.B.; it overflows with stories of marvelous and mysterious phenomena; it deals graphically with the human and anecdotal side of the various actors in the Society's life - a side purposely ignored in all the writings of H.P.B. and W.Q. Judge. No one who has studied the life and writings of Col. Olcott can doubt his honesty, his frankness, his sincerity-the admirable
qualities, in short, which make up the charm of human nature. And certainly no genuine chela, or even Probationer of the Second Section, can ever fail to sympathize with him in his struggles with those elements of human nature which are the real foes of every aspirant in Occultism. That he failed in the supreme trials of the neophyte does not dishonor nor militate against his real virtues, nor render less the debt which every Theosophist must gladly acknowledge to him for his great sacrifices and services. The final test of character, however, is not in the strength, but in the weaknesses of the candidate, and history is filled with the record of those whose defects became the axis for the overthrow of all that they labored mightily to achieve.
For nearly twenty-five years "Old Diary Leaves" has been read by Theosophists and others of the present generation. Its statements have been accepted without question by most students, and their views in respect to Madame H.P. Blavatsky, Mr. W.Q. Judge, and many others have been colored and formed by the opinions of Col. Olcott and those whose interest it was to support them. Few indeed have taken thought or trouble to submit the different actors and exponents in Theosophical history to any critical examination. Yet the criteria of correct judgment are not difficult to ascertain or to apply. Most judgments are formed upon hearsay, and that testimony is almost always accepted with least question which is most conformable to the interest or the nature of the would-be judge. Seldom is any witness subjected to the test of the comparison of his different statements on the same subjects, let alone their comparison with the statements of others; still more rarely are the motive and animus of a witness subjected to scrutiny. Yet the whole course of human jurisprudence has shown that unless these and other precautions are rigidly observed the judgment is certain to be misled and a false verdict reached. Just as a biased attitude may, and but too often does, exist in the would-be judge unconsciously to himself, so it may and often does exist in a witness otherwise candid and sincere, and this is
pre-eminently the case with Col. Olcott; so pre-eminently that it requires but casual comparison of his various statements to see that Col. Olcott is anything but a dependable witness; the more untrustworthy because his very honesty and frankness tend to lead the reader astray as the Colonel was himself led.
When he began the writing of "Old Diary Leaves," he was more than sixty years of age, broken in health, deeply wounded in his feelings over the charges which caused him to offer his resignation; over the apparent ingratitude with which his lifelong services had been rewarded; over the loss of an official pre-eminence and prerogative dear to his heart; over the seeming unconcern with which his resignation was received by Theosophists at large; and dejected in spirit by the prospect of being speedily forgotten and replaced in the esteem of the members by younger colleagues who had hardly received a wound while he was rejected for the very scars he had suffered in their service. He could but too easily vision H.P.B. placed on a pedestal and himself neglected in his old age, destined to an equally neglected memory. He could but too easily see Mr. Judge elected his successor - Judge who was but a boy while he was bearing the brunt of battle - and receiving the acclaim and honors made possible by his own sacrifices. His memory, never dependable, as he himself often declared, became a quicksand as the years progressed and the storms broke upon his beloved Society. He was in his seventy-fifth year when the last instalment of "Old Diary Leaves" was written - and the last ten years of his life were doubly embittered; embittered by the private contumely and neglect of those who had used him as their tool; embittered by the perception too late of his colossal blunders, which yet he had not the strength and stamina publicly to acknowledge, though he did so in private to the one of the early years most loved by him, and
most loyal to him through all his divagations. (5) These
(5) See The Word for October, 1915, article "Colonel Olcott: a Reminiscence." The anonymous writer was in fact Mrs. Laura Langford (L.C. Holloway) one of the two authors of "Man: Fragment of Forgotten History."
things being recognized, justice can be done to his colleagues and to the "true history of the Theosophical Society" without doing injustice to Henry S. Olcott. Until even justice is done to all, how can the work of the Theosophical Movement be restored? And how can that justice be done except in the spirit of the Preface of "Isis Unveiled"? The investigator must proceed "in all sincerity; he must do even justice, and speak the truth alike without malice or prejudice; he must show neither mercy for enthroned error, nor reverence for usurped authority. He must demand for a spoliated past, that credit for its achievements which has been too long withheld. He must call for a restitution of borrowed robes, and the vindication of glorious but calumniated reputations."
"Old Diary Leaves," after serial publication in The Theosophist during three years, were issued in book form in 1895. This first volume contains a "Foreword" especially written by Col. Olcott. His real motives in writing his reminiscences are there for the first time publicly acknowledged - motives entirely unknown and unsuspected by Theosophical students during their magazine publication. He says:
"The controlling impulse to prepare these papers was a desire to combat a growing tendency within the Society to deify Mme. Blavatsky, and to give her commonest literary productions a quasi-inspirational character. Her transparent faults were being blindly ignored, and the pinchbeck screen of pretended authority drawn between her actions and legitimate criticism. Those who had least of her actual confidence, and hence knew least of her private character, were the greatest offenders in this direction. It was but too evident that unless I spoke out what I alone knew, the true history of our movement could never be written, nor the actual merit of my wonderful colleague become known. In these pages I have, therefore, told the truth about her
and about the beginnings of the Society - truth which nobody can gainsay.... I have pursued my present task to its completion, despite the fact that some of my most influential colleagues have, from what I consider mistaken loyalty to 'H.P.B.,' secretly tried to destroy my influence, ruin my reputation, reduce the circulation of my magazine, and prevent the publication of my book...
"... Karma forbid that I should do her a featherweight of injustice, but if there ever existed a person in history who was a greater conglomeration of good and bad, light and shadow, wisdom and indiscretion, spiritual insight and lack of common sense, I cannot recall the name, the circumstances or the epoch."
For contrast one has but to turn to the Henry S. Olcott of the summer of 1891, immediately after the death of H.P.B. Lucifer for August 15 of that year contains a long memorial article by Col. Olcott, entitled "H.P.B.'s Departure." We quote:
"... There is no one to replace Helena Petrovna, nor can she ever be forgotten. Others have certain of her gifts, none has them all.... Her life, as I have known it these past seventeen years, as friend, colleague and collaborator, has been a tragedy, the tragedy of a martyr-philanthropist. Burning with zeal for the spiritual welfare and intellectual enfranchisement of humanity, moved by no selfish inspiration, giving herself freely and without price to her altruistic work, she has been hounded to her death-day, by the slanderer, the bigot and the Pharisee.... In temperament and abilities as dissimilar as any two persons could well be, and often disagreeing radically in details, we have yet been of one mind and heart as regards the work in hand and in our reverent allegiance
to our Teachers and Masters, its planners and overlookers. We both knew them personally, she a hundred times more intimately than I.... She was pre-eminently a double-selfed personality, one of them very antipathetic to me and some others.... One seeing us together would have said I had her fullest confidence, yet the fact is that, despite seventeen years of intimacy in daily work, she was an enigma to me to the end. Often I would think I knew her perfectly, and presently discover that there were deeper depths in her selfhood I had not sounded. I could never find out who she was, not as Helena Petrovna,... but as 'H.P.B.,' the mysterious individuality which wrote, and worked wonders....
"We had each our department of work - hers the mystical, mine the practical. In her line, she infinitely excelled me and every other of her colleagues. I have no claim at all to the title of metaphysician, nor to anything save a block of very humble knowledge....
"... She knew the bitterness and gloom of physical life well enough, often saying to me that her true existence only began when nightly she had put her body to sleep and went out of it to the Masters. I can believe that, from often sitting and watching her from across the table, when she was away from the body, and then when she returned from her soul-flight and resumed occupancy, as one might call it. When she was away the body was like a darkened house, when she was there it was as though the windows were brilliant with lights within. One who had not seen this change, cannot understand why the mystic calls his physical body, a 'shadow.'"
Here are two violently contradictory opinions of H.P.B. - both of them from the pen of Col. Olcott. It
is certain that H.P.B. had not changed from 1891 to 1895; what caused the change in Col. Olcott, and which of his opposed utterances is the more nearly accurate, the more expressive of the highest and best in him? The one view is the view expressed by the Master Himself in the letter written Col. Olcott in the early fall of 1888, the view consistently held by Mr. Judge, and consistently supported by the best evidence of all - the evidence furnished by the life and teachings of H.P. Blavatsky. The other view is the view of the S.P.R., of Mrs. Cables, of Mr. Hume, of Prof. Coues, of Miss Mabel Collins, of Mr. A.P. Sinnett. Colonel Olcott, like many another, had every opportunity to know the "real H.P.B.," and the world and the students took it for granted that he did know.
"It is curious, and at this point of related value, to turn to two quotations from "Old Diary Leaves." They may afford the intuitional student a hint on some of the mysteries and methods of true Occultism, and serve at the same time to show how little able Col. Olcott was to avail himself of the rare opportunities his services brought him. Chapter XVI of the first volume of "Old Diary Leaves" discusses the mystery of H.P.B. and, amidst a mass of Col. Olcott's speculations interspersed with the alleged facts recited, makes certain highly significant statements. But first it should be noted that Chapter XIV propounds seven distinct hypotheses to try to "explain" H.P.B., and it and the following chapter are devoted to trying to make the facts fit one or another of these theories of the Colonel's. The mere fact that he submits seven theories should show anyone that however fertile Col. Olcott's imagination in trying to resolve the mystery, it was a mystery, and one he was unable to solve. Finally, in Chapter XVI he gives the two incidents spoken of. He says that one summer evening just after dinner in New York days and while it was still early twilight, he was standing by the mantel while H.P.B. sat by one of the front windows. Then:
"I heard her say 'Look and learn'; and glancing that way, saw a mist rising from her head and shoulders. Presently it defined itself into the likeness of one of the Mahatmas.... Absorbed in watching the phenomenon, I stood silent and motionless. The shadowy shape only formed for itself the upper half of the torso, and then faded away and was gone; whether re-absorbed into H.P.B.'s body or not, I do not know.... When I asked her to explain the phenomenon she refused, saying that it was for me to develop my intuition so as to understand the phenomena of the world I lived in. All she could do was to help in showing me things and let me make of them what I could."
This incident is recited by Col. Olcott to suggest "that H.P.B.'s body became, at times, occupied by other entities." It seems not to have occurred to him at all that perhaps he was being afforded a glimpse of the "real H.P.B.," nor was he, who asked her for an explanation, able to relate the experience with which he was favored to the true rationale of its exhibition, given in the twelfth chapter of the second volume of "Isis Unveiled" in one of the numbered paragraphs. All he saw was a very wonderful phenomenon, and all he was able to make of it was a new speculation. So absolutely engrossed was be at all times in gratifying his thirst for phenomena and in speculations on their nature that he never had time or inclination to try to see if her explanations of their nature and rationale might not afford the very solution he was so desirous of gaining.
In Chapter XVII, he follows with an incident of a year or two later and sees no connection! He is telling of some of the communications he received from the Masters. He says:
"One quite long letter that I received in 1879 [from one of the Masters], most strangely alters
her sex, speaks of her in the male gender, and confounds her with the Mahatma "M"... It says - about a first draft of the letter itself which had been written but not sent me: 'Owing to certain expressions therein, the letter was stopped on its way by order of our Brother H.P.B. As you are not under my direct guidance but his (hers), we have naught to say, either of us'; etc. And again: 'Our Brother H.P.B. rightly remarked... ' etc."
One may compare the foregoing with the remark of the Master "K.H." in his letter of 1888 to Col. Olcott: "The personality known as H.P.B. to the world (but otherwise to us)."
Still another most interesting sidelight on the "mystery of H.P.B." and of Occultism in general, may be found in Lucifer for October 15, 1888 (the month of the public announcement of the Esoteric Section). There a correspondent makes some "Pertinent Queries" in regard to statements in Mr. Sinnett's "Esoteric Buddhism." In the "Editor's Answer" to these pertinent queries H.P.B. takes occasion to make some remarks regarding the Masters. She says (italics ours)
"... among the group of Initiates to which his [Mr. Sinnett's] own mystical correspondent ["K.H."] is allied, are two of European race,
and that one who is that Teacher's superior [the Master "M"] is also of that origin, being half a Slavonian in his 'present incarnation,' as he himself wrote to Colonel Olcott in New York."
Just why H.P.B. should put the phrase "present incarnation" in quotes is worth some intuitional effort, as is also the fact that "H.P.B." was herself precisely and exactly "half a Slavonian" in her then "present incarnation."
One word more: Col. Olcott's "faith" in H.P.B., in Masters, in Theosophy, rested upon exactly the same
basis as his "faith" in Spiritualism during the preceding twenty years. That basis was phenomena - not philosophy, logic, ethics, altruism. "Old Diary Leaves" shows this on nearly every page. His memorial article above quoted from so states specifically. When this is recognized his vagaries can be understood, his failures overlooked, his misjudgments forgiven, his misconceptions allowed for, and the solid value of his services to the Society and to Buddhism given generous tribute.
Controversy over H.P.B.'s Status as Agent of the MastersBy the spring of 1893 the internal situation of the Society was fast approaching a climax paralleling that of 1888, and, as in the earlier case, it occurred contemporaneously with a flood-tide of external interest and prosperity. "Old Diary Leaves" was steadily undermining the reverence and respect of the members for H.P.B. as a Teacher, by representing her as a mere thaumaturgist. The theories and speculations to account for her phenomena, the vagaries of character and habits attributed to her, could only lead to the inference that, however gifted in some ways, she was but an irresponsible medium, not a Messenger direct from the great Lodge of Masters. This constant stream of belittlement by the President-Founder of the Society who was generally considered as her most intimate friend and associate was not less injurious to her Occult status than that of the Psychical Research Society in its celebrated Report. The Letter of the Master, "K.H.," phenomenally delivered to Col. Olcott on shipboard in the early autumn of 1888, at a time when he was harboring and expressing the same feelings and views, was forgotten or lost sight of, and H.P.B. was more and more coming to be regarded by many members as at best an uncertain channel between the Masters and the world; a channel to be utilized under reserve, if not to be scrutinized with actual doubt and suspicion. Now that she was dead, even that questionable link was severed and the members, left to themselves, were peculiarly open to suggestion and direction. To whom should they look if not to the President-Founder? And when they were offered his views, clothed with official authority, expressed with
the utmost candor, sincerity and good faith, what more natural than the deductions that the Society was of far more importance than a Philosophy derived through a questionable source; phenomena more valuable than study; propaganda more necessary than altruism? What more natural than the inference that the living President-Founder was now, and always had been, the real mainstay of the Movement and of the Society?
What was Mr. Judge to do in these circumstances? If he held his peace, the Society and the membership were certain to be irremediably led astray from the prime Objects proclaimed insistently by the Masters, by H.P.B. and himself. Should he permit the lines of Teaching, of policy and of practice laid down by H.P.B. to be swept aside and himself join in building up a great organization with purely utilitarian and exoteric aims? Or should he do as she had done in 1888 - hold to the "lines laid down" regardless of all else that might befall? For now, even more than in 1888, the whole tendency in the Society was to achieve a great public success, while in the Esoteric School an increasing percentage of the members were avid to convert it into a "hall of Occultism," and were pursuing the "Third Object" to the exclusion of all else. Was H.P.B. to become a mere memory, the Masters an empty and far-off inaccessible abstraction, Theosophy secondary to the Theosophical Society, and that Theosophy to be twisted, perverted, corrupted, by the interpretations of students, the "fresh revelations" of the horde of psychics and "occultists" who were already proclaiming their "successorship" to H.P.B. and delivering "messages from the Masters of H.P.B." in contradiction to what she had taught and exemplified?
The great issues at stake must have given him pause, and he must have realized that in entering the lists in defense of the Teachings and Mission of H.P.B. he was inviting a far more unequal combat than any she had ever brought upon her devoted head. For H.P.B. had had the prestige of a pioneer, the philosophy she had recorded was her standing witness; her phenomena,
however misrepresented, were none the less irrevocably attested by the very ones who now sought to usurp her robes; and she had had at all times devoted defenders - Judge foremost of all. But Mr. Judge was now alone; he had been purposely kept in obscurity during the first ten-year cycle of the Society's life; he was little known to the membership at large outside the United States; he was without literary or oratorical or official reputation; he had at all times sustained and defended the President-Founder as strongly in his place as he had H.P.B. in hers. He was of necessity a thorn in the side of all those who sought to profit the Society and themselves by ignoring or minimizing the unique status of H.P.B. - who were equally ready to treat her as an asset or a liability, as might best serve their purposes. What was Mr. Judge to do?
Under date of March, 1893, he issued to the American members of the E.S. a circular entitled "We Have Not Been Deserted." He wrote:
"It is very proper to answer the question which has come to many, expressed or unexpressed, whether since the death of H.P.B.'s body the E.S.T. has been in communication with the Masters who ordered her to start the E.S.T.? ...
"We have not been deserted at all, and the Masters have all along been watching and aiding. They have communicated with several of those who by nature are fit; those who have made themselves fit; and with those who are, by peculiar Karma, in the line of such communication. None of these messages go by favor or by the desire of some to have them....
"There are in the School certain persons known to me who have been in communication with the Masters for some time, but they do not know each other, and have never by word or sign given out the fact.... In America the line of communication is not ruptured. It is true that it is
not as strong as it was when H.P.B. was here, but we cannot expect always to have the same amount of force working, for there is a law, based on cycles, which requires such line of force to be stopped or weakened now and then. The stoppage however is never total, but at certain periods it is confined to the few. We have the misfortune to know that at one time many of the Masters were publicly at work here in our early years and that the opportunity for us was missed by reason of the materialistic and naturalistic tendencies of the day and of our education. Our missing it did not, however, prevent the doing by those personages of the work in hand. A more narrow confinement of these lines of action and communication will come at a later day, strictly in accord with the laws I have referred to. But we have only to do our duty and to work for the future so as to be able to return to the work at a better time in some other life. Within the last nine months some communications have been received from the Masters bearing on the general work, for they have ceased (as by rule) to deal much in personal concerns, but They do not fail to help in the real and right way the efforts of all members who sincerely work for others. Those who are at work for their own benefit will meet with the exact result of such a line of action, that is, they will not go far and will lose much at death which is sure to come to us all. But unselfish work makes the effect sink down into each one's own nature and therefore preserves it all.
"Furthermore, some years ago the Masters said that in the course of time I should see that certain facts had to come out. Some of these I now give, and shall give them in The Path publicly. First, the Masters both certified in writing, about 1884, that the Secret Doctrine was dictated by them to H.P.B., she only using
discretion as to certain connecting paragraphs and subsidiary arguments. That book is, therefore, for those of [us] who say we believe in the Masters, the very work of those personages. What we cannot understand we can lay aside for the future. Second, They sent me copies, as also to others, of the certificate. Third, They certified that not since the batch of letters used by Mr. Sinnett for his book had They sent such teachings to anyone and bade us note the fact. This of course does not include H.P.B., as she and They in respect to the teaching are the same. But she and They left many things in writing for future use. Fourth, They directed that about the present time these matters might come out. In respect to one point you will find published something about the sevenfold system of planets of the highest value, and going to upset the old materialistic notions thereupon."
This communication to the E.S.T. was followed, in The Path for April, with a leading article entitled, "Authorship of the 'Secret Doctrine.'" The article is signed, "One of the Staff," - it being the practice of Mr. Judge to use pseudonyms when he desired to present statements for consideration on their merits apart from any question of personalities or authority. The article says:
"A good deal has been said about the writing of Isis Unveiled, and later of the Secret Doctrine, both by H.P. Blavatsky.... In the early days she did not say precisely to the public that she was in fact helped... by the Masters... The Secret Doctrine, however, makes no disguise of the real help, and she asserts, as also many of us believe, that the Masters had a hand in that great production. The letters sent to Mr. Sinnett formed the ground for Esoteric Buddhism, as was intended, but
as time went on it was seen that some more of the veil had to be lifted and certain misconceptions cleared up; hence the Secret Doctrine was written, and mostly by the Masters themselves, except that she did the arranging of it.
"For some time it was too much the custom of those who had received at the hands of H.P.B. words and letters from her Masters to please themselves with the imagination that she was no more in touch with the original fount, and that, forsooth, these people could decide for themselves what was from her brain and what from the Masters. But it is now time to give out a certificate signed by the Masters given when the Secret Doctrine was being written, a certificate signed by the Masters who have given out all that is new in our theosophical books. It was sent to one who then had a few doubts, and at the same time copies were given from the same source to others for use in the future, which is now. The first certificate runs thus:
"'I wonder if this note of mine is worthy of occupying a select spot with the documents reproduced, and which of the 'Blavatskian' style of writing it will be found to most resemble? The present is simply to satisfy the Doctor that "the more proof given the less believed." Let him take my advice and not make these two documents public. It is for his own satisfaction the undersigned is happy to assure him that the Secret Doctrine, when ready, will be the triple production of (here are the names of one of the Masters and of H.P.B.) and - most humble servant (signed by the other).'
"On the back of this was the following, signed by the Master who is mentioned in the above:
"'If this can be of any help to -- , though I doubt it, I, the humble undersigned Faquir, certify that the Secret Doctrine is dictated to (name of H.P.B.), partly by myself and partly by my brother -- .'
"A year after this certain doubts having arisen in the minds of individuals, another letter from one of the signers of the foregoing was sent and reads as follows. As the prophecy in it has come true, it is now the time to publish it for the benefit of those who know something of how to take and understand such letters. For the outside it will all be so much nonsense."
"'The certificate given last year saying that the Secret Doctrine would be when finished the triple production of (H.P.B.'s name), and myself was and is correct, although some have doubted not only the facts given in it but also the authenticity of the message in which it was contained. Copy this and also keep the copy of the aforesaid certificate. You will find them both of use on the day when you shall, as will happen without your asking, receive from the hands of the very person to whom the certificate was given, the original for the purpose of allowing you to copy it; and you can then verify the correctness of this presently forwarded copy... All this and more will be found necessary as time goes on, but for which you are well qualified to wait.'"
The first two certificates reproduced in the above article were originally sent to Dr. Hubbe-Schleiden, a well-known German savant, who had been intensely interested in the phenomena and teachings of H.P.B. but who, like so many others, found it difficult to understand or accept her explanations of them and their source;
and who consequently wavered between the theories of mediumship and chicanery to account for them. His own statement in regard to the facts and his expression of opinion in regard to them will be found in a communication over his own signature embodied in the Countess Wachtmeister's "Reminiscences of H.P. Blavatsky and the 'Secret Doctrine,'" the original edition of which was issued at London, late in 1893, six months after the publication in The Path from which we have been quoting.
The same number of The Path which contained the article on the authorship of the "Secret Doctrine" - April, 1893 - also contained the third of a series of articles on the "Earth-Chain of Globes," to which attention was directed in the E.S.T. Circular quoted from. The articles, and others on related subjects, were signed "William Brehon," another of the pen names used by Mr. Judge. These articles were written because of the fact that Mr. Sinnett and others sharing his views were once more actively promulgating the theories of planetary and human evolution originally presented by him in "Esoteric Buddhism" - theories and interpretations to the correction of which H.P.B. had devoted many pages in the "Secret Doctrine." Mr. Sinnett, without recanting or seeking to reconcile his views with those expounded by H.P.B., had, nevertheless, after a somewhat ironical communication to Lucifer (1) remained quiescent until after her death. Encouraged, perhaps, by the note struck in "Old Diary Leaves," his London Lodge had resumed its public activities and Mr. Sinnett had been privately expressing the opinion that H.P.B. had, in her later years, been "under other influences than those of the Masters." In particular, a "Transaction of the London Lodge, No. 17," had just been issued, giving a paper by Mr. W. Scott Elliott on "The Evolution of Humanity." This "Transaction" not only continued the grossly materialistic conception of the "planetary
(1) Mr. Sinnett's communication, and H.P.B.'s notes thereon, will be found in Lucifer for November, 1888, p. 247 et. seq., under the caption, "'Esoteric Buddhism' and the 'Secret Doctrine.'" We know of nothing more illustrative of the contrasted spirit of H.P.B. and her critics.
chains" promulgated by "Esoteric Buddhism," but went still farther in that it announced, in terms which could not be otherwise interpreted than as claiming to be "on the authority of the Masters," the specific "facts" that Mars was the last planet inhabited by our humanity, Mercury is to be the next, and Europe will be destroyed by fire in "about 18,000 years." These "facts" are accompanied by the statement that much of the contents of the "Transaction" are "given out to the world for the first time." The confusions thus inaugurated were added to by the fact that The Path for June, 1893, contained an enthusiastic commendation of this "Transaction" in a review signed with the initials "A.F." This was the signature of Alexander Fullerton, formerly an Episcopalian clergyman, who had become greatly interested in Theosophy, had relinquished his clerical profession and had volunteered his services to the American Section. As he was highly educated, an excellent writer and speaker, his services had been gladly availed of. He acted as Secretary for Mr. Judge, edited the Forum, a Sectional publication devoted to questions and answers on Theosophy, lectured frequently before the Aryan Lodge in New York City, contributed many signed articles to The Path, attended to much of the heavy volume of correspondence coming to The Path office and the Sectional headquarters, and was generally regarded throughout the American Section as Mr. Judge's "right hand man." Mr. Fullerton had been in India, was very fond of Col. Olcott, and had conceived an enormous admiration for Mrs. Besant and Mr. Sinnett. He had been the pastor of "Jasper Niemand" through whom he had become interested in Theosophy and through whom he became connected with the work. He retained many of the characteristics of the typical minister, and was very sensitive, not to say jealous, of his own importance. His review of the London Lodge Transaction, then, coming as it did in connection with the other matters mentioned, caused great rejoicing in some quarters, and in others raised the presumption that Mr. Judge had receded from
the consistent position hitherto maintained by him in regard to H.P.B.'s teachings. The situation contained, therefore, all the necessary ingredients for a comedy or a tragedy. Mr. Judge met it by publishing over his own signature a leading editorial in The Path for July, 1893, to correct all misconceptions. He wrote:
"In the June Path there was printed a review of a pamphlet issued by the London Lodge T.S., and this magazine may perhaps be construed as committed to an approval of everything contained in the pamphlet; although the private initials of the reviewer were annexed to the remarks. The pamphlet referred to brings up an old dispute which we had thought was settled by what is found in The Secret Doctrine... H.P.B., the only person in actual and constant communication with the Masters, corrected the mistake made by Mr. Sinnett.... Her correction of the misconception was made upon the written authority of the same Masters who sent through her the letters on which Esoteric Buddhism was written.
On the ground of authority in respect to this question, about which none of the Theosophical writers have any information independent of what the Masters have written, we must conclude that the statement in The Secret Doctrine is final. If no other point were involved, there would be no necessity for going further with the matter, but as the consistency of the entire philosophy is involved, it is necessary to advert again to this subject."
Mr. Judge then proceeds to take up this question of a consistent philosophy and argues in line with the "Secret Doctrine" that to assume that Mars and Mercury constitute a portion of the "Earth-Chain of Globes" is to destroy the consistency of the philosophy. In the course of his article he uses the significant expression:
"We do not understand that Mr. Sinnett has said that H.P.B. was not reporting the Masters... or that the Masters have denied that they hold the above views."
This article by Mr. Judge placed squarely before the members the direct contradiction between the exposition of the sevenfold scheme of the universe as presented by Mr. Sinnett in "Esoteric Buddhism" and as set forth by H.P. Blavatsky in the "Secret Doctrine." As both presentations ostensibly came from the same source - the Masters of Wisdom - it followed that either Mr. Sinnett or H.P.B. was in error. And as the subject was one on which the generality of members could not be assumed to possess any direct knowledge of their own, they either must fall into the logical absurdity of accepting two mutually destructive hypotheses, or must choose between them. He therefore pointed out that on the basis of authenticity and authority, H.P.B. must be the safer guide and reinforced this point by calling attention (1) to the direct messages from the Masters to Dr. Hubbe-Schleiden while the "Secret Doctrine" was being written; (2) to the direct message from the Master "K.H." to Col. Olcott after the "Secret Doctrine" was completed - in both cases the messages being to recipients who doubted the standing of H.P.B. with the Masters. Moreover, in the message to Col. Olcott, under circumstances which have already been set out, (2) the Master took occasion to say:
"Since 1885, I have not written, nor caused to be written, save through her agency, direct or remote, a letter or a line to anybody in Europe or America, nor communicated orally with, or through, any third party. Theosophists should learn it. You will understand later the significance of this declaration, so keep it in mind."
This letter of the Master's contained a reference to existing conditions at the time it was sent - August,
(2) See Chapter IX.
1888 - ; to the precedent situation of which they were the recrudescence - the Fall of 1884 - ; and, no less, to the then future. Let the reader now turn to Letter IV in the book, "Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom." It was sent to Miss Francesca Arundale at the same time and place - Elberfeld, Germany, late in 1884 - as the two certificates mentioned, and forms part of the same mise en scene. Except for privately circulated copies, the letter to Miss Arundale never became accessible to Theosophical students until May, 1910, when it was published in The Theosophist, under the title, "Advice from a Master." It was copied in The Theosophic Messenger for July, 1910, and republished in The Theosophist for October, 1917, in the "Reminiscences" of the recipient. It was also printed in the Vahan for February, 1912, and apparently up to that time Mr. Sinnett did not know of its having become public property. The letter begins abruptly: "The day of the separation is close at hand," and contains the most solemn of warnings to the London Lodge, its officers and members, for their departure from the lines laid down by the Masters. When Mr. Sinnett learned of the publication of the letter he wrote to the Vahan a communication which shows how he regarded it. He says:
"I regret its reappearance at this period for two reasons. Firstly, it is calculated to give rise to misconceptions on the part of those who may imagine it to have had a more recent origin, and secondly because letters of that kind may excite painful impressions among some of their readers, who may suppose them to be the actual composition throughout of the Masters whose initials may be appended to them.... In reference to the letter just published I wish emphatically to declare that I do not regard it as embodying the ipsissima verba of the Master, ... though very likely conveying... some message which, in substance, he wished to send. Some of its 'advice' would already have been
out of date twenty years ago. It is all the more inapplicable to the present time."
The reader should remember that the letter to Miss Arundale was written to her as an officer of the London Lodge; that it was sent just after the Coulomb explosion and when Messrs. Sinnett, Olcott, Massey, and many others were full of doubts and suspicions in regard to H.P.B.; and, finally at a time when the London Lodge, under Mr. Sinnett's charge, was about to enter upon a prolonged period of exclusiveness as regards the public, and devotion to psychical experimentation as regards its leading members. (3)
From the date of that letter till her death in 1891, H.P.B. never had anything to do with the London Lodge; on the contrary, on her return to England in 1887, the Blavatsky Lodge was formed out of members of the London Lodge who had remained true to her teachings, and the formation of the Blavatsky Lodge was bitterly opposed, both by Mr. Sinnett and Col. Olcott. More; from the time of that letter to Miss Arundale, Mr. Sinnett believed H.P.B. to be a deliverer of bogus messages from the Masters - as we shall show over his own signature in its appropriate relation. (4) After the next year - 1885 - Sinnett and those under his influence tried, through mediums, psychics, and sensitives among their own number, to obtain "communications from the Masters of H.P.B.!" They got "communications," as any seance will yield up communications; hence the warning to Olcott in the letter of 1888, for the Master knew that Mr. Sinnett's spurious messages would one day be cited in opposition and contradiction to the authoritative statements of H.P.B. (5)
(3) Many additional messages from the Masters, on the same subjects and sent during the same period, are now available to students in "The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett," compiled by A. Trevor Barker. They fully confirm the teachings of H.P.B. and the position taken by Mr. Judge in regard to them.
(4) See Chapter XXXIII.
(5) All this is made amply clear to present-day students by the posthumous publication of Mr. Sinnett's "Early Days of Theosophy in Europe."
Judge knew in 1893 that this had been going on for years and that the time had come to put the membership on notice; hence the articles quoted. His signed editorial in The Path for July, 1893, on "Mars and Mercury," was preceded, in the June issue, by another signed leading article, entitled "Masters, Adepts, Teachers, and Disciples," evidently intended to enforce the logical, as the July article treated of the authoritative, significance of the opposing currents running riot beneath the placid surface of the Society's life. We quote:
"This article is meant for members of the T.S., and chiefly for those who keep H.P.B. much in mind, whether out of respect and love or from fear and envy. Those members who believe that such beings as the Masters may exist must come to one of two conclusions in regard to H.P.B., either that she invented her Masters, who therefore have no real existence, or that she did not invent them, but spoke in the names and by the orders of such beings. If we say that she invented the Mahatmas, then, of course, as so often said by her, all that she has taught and written is the product of her own brain, from which we would be bound to conclude that her position on the roll of great and powerful persons must be higher than people have been willing to place her. But I take it most of us believe in the truth of her statement that she had those teachers whom she called Masters and that they are more perfect beings than ordinary men.
"The case I briefly wish to deal with, then, is this: H.P.B. and her relations to the Masters and to us; her books and teachings; the general question of disciples or chelas with their grades, and whether a high chela would appear almost as a Master in comparison to us, including every member from the President down to the most recent applicant.
"The last point in the inquiry is extremely important, and has been much overlooked by members in my observation.... An idea has become quite general that chelas and disciples are all of one grade, and that therefore one chela is the same as another in knowledge and wisdom. The contrary, however, is the case. Chelas and disciples are of many grades, and some of the Adepts are themselves the chelas of higher Adepts... So much being laid down, we may next ask how we are to look at H.P.B.
"In the first place, every one has the right to place her if he pleases for himself on the highest plane, because he may not be able to formulate the qualities and nature of those who are higher than she was. But taking her own sayings, she was a chela or disciple of the Masters, and therefore stood in relation to them as one who might be chided or corrected or reproved.... But looking at her powers exhibited to the world, and as to which one of her Masters wrote that they had puzzled and astonished the brightest minds of the age, we see that compared with ourselves she was an Adept....
"Now some Theosophists ask if there are other letters extant from her Masters in which she is called to account, is called their chela, and is chided now and then, besides those published. Perhaps yes. And what of it? Let them be published by all means,... As she has herself published letters... from the Masters to her in which she is called a chela and is chided, it certainly cannot matter if we know of others of the same sort. For over against all such we have common sense, and also the declaration of her Masters that she was the sole instrument possible for the work to be done, that They sent her to do it, and that They approved in general all she did. And she was the first direct channel to and from the Lodge, and the only one up to
date through which came the objective presence of the Adepts. We cannot ignore the messenger, take the message, and laugh at or give scorn to the one who brought it to us....
"There only remains, then, the position taken by some and without a knowledge of the rules governing in these matters, that chelas sometimes write messages claimed to be from the Masters when they are not. This is an artificial position not supportable by law or rule. It is due to ignorance of what is and what is not chelaship, and also to confusion between grades in discipleship. It has been used as to H.P.B. The false conclusion has first been made that an accepted chela of high grade may become accustomed to dictation given by the Master and then may fall into the false pretense of giving something from himself and pretending it is from the Master. It is impossible. The bond in her case was not of such a character as to be dealt with thus. One instance of it would destroy the possibility of any more communications from the teacher. It may be quite true that probationers now and then have imagined themselves as ordered to say so and so, but that is not the case of an accepted and high chela who is
irrevocably pledged, nor anything like it. This idea, then, ought to be abandoned; it is absurd, contrary to law, to rule, and to what must be the case when such relations are established as existed between H.P.B. and her Masters."
This, and the articles on Mars and Mercury, in connection with a letter of Mr. Judge's published in Lucifer for April, 1893, and to which we shall recur, (6) precipitated what before was concealed, as a catalytic agent produces a chemical reaction. Mr. Sinnett was the first to declare himself openly, which he did in an article entitled "Esoteric Teachings," which he sent to The Path where it ap-
(6) See Chapters XX and XXVI.
peared in the number for September, 1893. He also sent copies to Lucifer, where it appeared in the issue for August 15, 1893, and to The Theosophist, in which it appeared for the month of September, 1893. In each case the article was commented on by the editors of the several publications. Mr. Sinnett says:
"Some recent references in The Path to portions of the original esoteric teachings embodied by me in Esoteric Buddhism seem to call for remarks on my part in reply. The line of criticism in question has culminated in an article which appears in The Path for July, entitled 'Mars and Mercury.'
"... The question is one which, on its own merits, will only be of interest within the area of serious Theosophic study; but the controversy that has now arisen really involves some of the deepest questions affecting the future well-being of the Theosophical Society and the progress of the movement....
"For a long time after the publication of Esoteric Buddhism the statement concerning Mars and Mercury remained unchallenged. It scarcely seemed possible that any one imbued with respect for the Masters' teaching could challenge it... In later years when the Secret Doctrine was published by Madame Blavatsky, I found to my great surprise that she had asserted a new view of the planetary chain, altogether at variance with that previously given out,... On the basis of this declaration some Theosophical students have felt bound by their loyalty to Madame Blavatsky to put aside the earlier teachings of the Masters conveyed through myself, and to argue that I misunderstood my instructions.... The really important point developed by the controversy has to do with the question, What was Madame Blavatsky's position really in the occult world,
and what kind of authority should be attached to the writings she has left behind her?
"I hope no one will take the explanation I am now forced to give as implying any abandonment by me of the position respecting Madame Blavatsky I have always maintained. I showed in the fragmentary biography I put together at her own wish... that she was truly in close relations with the great Masters of esoteric wisdom. That she was one of their partially initiated disciples was also unquestionable for anyone who has been in independent touch with the realities of the occult world....
"It is not my business here to offer hypotheses to account for the strange misapprehensions into which Madame Blavatsky fell when writing the Secret Doctrine, not merely as regards these questions of Mars and Mercury, but also in regard to some other points which have not yet attracted attention. That Madame Blavatsky was capable of making mistakes when endeavoring to amplify and expand the occult teaching of the Masters is the all-important conclusion to which I think all unbiassed minds in the Theosophical Society must be brought by a consideration of the matter under discussion."
Mr. Sinnett then enters into details and argues in defense of his interpretations of teachings from the letters of the Masters to himself, his questions and the Masters' replies, and says, "the notion that there could be any ambiguity about my question or the answer, in the circumstances, is an insult to common sense, - not to speak of Adept wisdom." He then adds forthwith the following declaration:
"I am entitled to add that at a very recent date, within the last few months since this subject has been under discussion, the Master himself in communication with me made the following comment on the situation....
"Few persons in touch with the principles of occultism will be surprised to hear me quoting recent words addressed to me by the Master.... During Madame Blavatsky's lifetime my privileges of communication with the Master through channels of which she knew nothing were private and personal and I was precluded from speaking of them. That prohibition has since been removed.... For many Theosophists, I know, Madame Blavatsky represented the whole movement.... For many such persons Madame Blavatsky may have been the only teacher from which they received occult enlightenment. Immense as is my respect for her attainments, for her industry and devotion to the work she undertook, it is, nevertheless, a fact that I myself did not receive my Theosophic teaching directly from her, but in the way described; and long before her death my relations with the Master were carried on through the intermediation of one of his chelas, quite outside the range of Madame Blavatsky's connexions...."
The student can compare these several statements of Mr. Sinnett with the extracts from the Masters' letters from which we have quoted, as well as with the other citations from Mr. Judge's articles, and with statements of H.P.B. in the first volume of the "Secret Doctrine," and thus see clearly the gross contradiction, both as to facts and relations, between the contrasted positions. One pertinent fact should once more be called to the student's attention in reference to Mr. Sinnett's claim of unbroken connection with the Masters. By referring to the "Occult World," Mr. Sinnett's earliest book, the student can find in a direct quotation from one of the Master's letters at that time (letters sent "through H.P.B.") the plain, categorical statement that They will not give direct instruction or correction to any one not "irrevocably pledged." It is a well-known fact in The-
osophical history not only that Mr. Sinnett was never pledged at all to Them, even as a probationary chela, but refused to pledge himself even to the probationary requirements. His position never was other than that of a man of the world who refused to submit himself to any obligation of any kind. But he was intensely interested in phenomena; then, in the idea of Masters, and was able to render enormous service to the Society and the Movement because of his education, literary ability, and standing in India. Hence the letters to him, all "through the agency of H.P.B., direct or remote," up to the year 1885, when, having broken away and taken a tangent of his own, he received no more communications from the Masters of H.P.B., - his messages through psychics and mediums to the contrary notwithstanding.
Mr. Judge, following the example set by H.P.B. in the earlier controversy, published Mr. Sinnett's communication to The Path in full and followed it with an article of his own, "How to Square the Teachings." In this article he reviewed Mr. Sinnett's arguments, treated their author with the utmost respect, acknowledged his great service to the work of the Movement, but reinforced his own former statements on the controversy by stating that he had himself seen the Masters' letters to H.P.B. containing the corrections embodied in the "Secret Doctrine." Mr. Judge ignored entirely Mr. Sinnett's claims in reference to unbroken communications with the Masters, but upheld the integrity of H.P.B. as the trustworthy channel, and showed how Mr. Sinnett's misunderstanding of the original teaching came about.
In publishing Mr. Sinnett's article in Lucifer Mrs. Besant prefaced it with a comment of her own, in which she deals as kindly with Mr. Sinnett as does Mr. Judge, but states her own position unequivocally:
"With regard to H.P. Blavatsky's position in the movement, some of us are quite satisfied to know that she was a Chela of one of the Mas-
ters, helped and taught by and in constant communication with Him; for the teaching she brought us we are deeply grateful, and we do not care to benefit by the message and constantly cavil at and find fault with the messenger. Because we are not continually 'nagging' at and belittling her, we are often accused of setting her on too lofty a pedestal, of idolizing her, and claiming for her infallibility. We do nothing of the kind, though we prefer to leave to her ever active adversaries the task of pulling her to pieces, and we listen in pained silence when those who should be her friends put weapons against her into her enemies' hands. For myself, the fire of loving gratitude to her burns ever in my heart, and while I recognize that she most probably made some errors in her writings, I recognize also that she knew far more than I do, that her teaching is invaluable to me, and that until I stand in knowledge where she stood any criticism by me is likely to be full of blunders.
"Touching Mars and Mercury, each must decide for himself, if he feels it necessary to come to a decision. Having no personal knowledge on the subject, I am obliged to judge from general considerations. In any doubtful matter I prefer to follow H.P. Blavatsky's teachings, and in this particular case it is more congruous with the whole evolutionary scheme than that of Mr. Sinnett, and therefore in itself it recommends itself more to my judgment." (7)
Colonel Olcott follows the publication of Mr. Sinnett's article with a comment signed with his initials. His own leanings are indicated by the following quotation:
(7) Three months later Mrs. Besant receded and took an equivocal position (Lucifer, November, 1893); two years later she reversed herself completely and aided emphatically with Mr. Sinnett's contentions (Lucifer, December, 1895). All this was a sequence to her falling into the same methods of "communication" as Mr. Sinnett. But see succeeding chapters.
"The inestimable services which Mr. Sinnett has rendered our movement in the past, and his unfaltering loyalty to the Masters and to H.P.B. personally... would entitle him to occupy the free platform of The Theosophist,... Like every other contributor to our pages, he is responsible for his facts and opinions, and neither I nor the T.S. is to be held accountable for the same. His assertion that he is, and for many years has been, in frequent epistolary intercourse with Mahatma K.H. is most important and interesting, since, if valid, it goes to prove what has always been affirmed, that the Adepts are the friends and benefactors of the race, not the appanage of single individuals or groups of persons.... If Mr. Sinnett's remarks with regard to the human fallibility of H.P.B. should give offense to any, these should still bear in mind that the writer was her devoted friend when friends were few, and learnt from her Teachers direct that loyalty to an idea did not imply wilful blindness as to the merits or deficiencies of its exponents."
If now the student will turn to Chapter IX herein, he will have no difficulty in relating the controversy just described to the discussion arising out of Subba Row's discourses on the "Bhagavad-Gita," delivered before the Indian Convention in December, 1886. H.P.B. knew then what was to come; otherwise how account for the exact disclaimers and specific warnings contained in her articles in The Theosophist for April and August, 1887, and in her correspondence with Col. Olcott on Mr. Cooper-Oakley's fatuousness in admitting the Subba Row criticisms, disclaimers and warnings that neither Olcott nor any other save W.Q. Judge saw rhyme or reason in at the time? Two additional quotations from H.P.B.'s articles at that time are germane here, besides those given in Chapter IX, though the whole series in The Theosophist should be carefully studied. She said, in
April, 1887 (The Theosophist, Volume 8, p. 448):
In a most admirable lecture by Mr. T. Subba Row ... the lecturer deals, incidentally as I believe, with the question of septenary 'principles' in the Kosmos and Man. The division is rather criticized....
"This criticism has already given rise to some misunderstanding, and it is argued by some that a slur is thrown on the original teachings. This apparent disagreement... is certainly a dangerous handle to give to opponents who are ever on the alert to detect and blazon forth contradictions and inconsistencies in our philosophy... Therefore, now, when he calls the division 'unscientific and misleading,'...
"A few words of explanation... will not be out of place... That it is "misleading" is... perfectly true; for the great feature of the day - materialism - has led the minds of our Western Theosophists into the prevalent habit of viewing the seven principles as distinct and self-existing entities, instead of what they are - namely, upadhis and correlating states - three upadhis, basic groups, and four principles...
"We have unfortunately - for it was premature - opened a chink in the Chinese wall of esotericism, and we cannot now close it again, even if we would. I for one had to pay a heavy price for the indiscretion but I will not shrink from the results...."
Subba Row replied with further strictures and personal allegations directed at H.P.B. as the author of the "sevenfold" classification of "Esoteric Buddhism." In the August, 1887, Theosophist, H.P.B., forced to definitive and direct reply to Subba Row's charges that she was the "original expounder" of the statements in "Esoteric Buddhism," and "Man: Fragments of Forgotten History," said:
"This is hardly fair. Esoteric Buddhism was written absolutely without my knowledge, and as the author understood those teachings from letters he had received, what have I to do with them.... Finally 'Man' was entirely rewritten by one of the two 'chelas' and from the same materials as those used by Mr. Sinnett for Esoteric Buddhism; the two having understood the teachings, each in his own way. What had I to do with the 'states of consciousness' of the three authors, two of whom wrote in England while I was in India....
"This will do, I believe. The Secret Doctrine will contain, no doubt, still more heterodox statements from the Brahminical view. No one is forced to accept my opinions or teaching in the Theosophical Society, one of the rules of which enforces only mutual tolerance for religious views.
"Most of us have been playing truants to this golden rule as to all others; more's the pity."
Finally, as we noted in Chapter IX, Mr. Judge contributed to the discussion in the August, 1887, Theosophist, from which we quote:
"The greatest schisms often come about through the supporters of one cause disputing over mere terminology. Mr. Subba Row... condemned the 'sevenfold classification' which has come to be very largely accepted among Theosophists... This brought out a reply which was published in The Path, and one which H.P. Blavatsky wrote for The Theosophist...
"As his [Subba Row's] articles appeal to my eyes and mind, the real difficulty seems to be, not with any and all sevenfold classifications, but with the particular sevenfold classification found in Esoteric Buddhism and other theosophical works....
"... in Mr. Sinnett's book some division had to be adopted that Western minds could grasp until they were able to go higher. But for my part I have never understood that his book was gospel truth. The great basis of our Society would be undermined by any such doctrine, just as much as his own progress would be retarded did he fancy that the views expressed by him were his own invention... many decades will pass away, and many false as well as ridiculous systems will arise, grow up and disappear, before the whole truth will be known...."
Thus the matter stood in the fall of 1893: an open breach in the Society and among its leaders on the question of one of the most important Theosophical teachings as to Nature and Man; an equally sharp cleavage of opinion as to the status of H.P. Blavatsky in the Occult world. Was she a Teacher, the direct Agent of the Masters of Wisdom, or was she a mere "medium" and "psychic" used as a tool by Them at times, and at other times, shorn of Their help and guidance, a mere inventor and deliverer of bogus "messages" in Their names?
Annie Besant in America, 1892-1893It will be recalled (1) that an urgent invitation had been extended to Mrs. Besant to visit India in the fall of 1891, following the death of H.P.B. This visit was canceled, ostensibly because of the ill-health of Mrs. Besant due to prolonged strain and overwork; actually because of the charges made to her against the moral character of Col. Olcott, on account of which she came to the United States to place them before Mr. Judge. This was her second visit to America, her first having been in the spring preceding to attend the Convention of the American Section as the bearer of H.P.B.'s last Message to the American Theosophists.
In the early fall of 1892, the invitation to visit India was again extended to Mrs. Besant. Colonel Olcott, Bertram Keightley and others, Hindu as well as English officials and prominent members of the Indian Section, wrote her on the need for her presence there. The fund to pay her expenses, started in 1891, was largely increased by voluntary contributions. Mrs. Besant consulted Mr. Judge, who advised against her going and, instead, recommended that she visit the United States on a lecturing tour. Mrs. Besant accepted his advice and the Indian members were satisfied, for the time being, by arrangements made to send to Adyar two of the English workers connected with the "household" at Avenue Road. Messrs. Sidney V. Edge and Walter R. Old were accordingly "loaned" to the Indian headquarters where they went late in 1892, the one becoming assistant secretary there and the other taking the place of Mr. Bertram Keightley, who arranged to return to Eng-
(1) See Chapter XXI.
land early in 1893. Both Mr. Edge and Mr. Old entered at once into the work of the Indian Section and the affairs at Headquarters, and were active contributors to the pages of The Theosophist; becoming, in short, diligent and satisfactory aides to Col. Olcott in his multifarious duties and activities. Mr. Keightley assigned as his reason for returning to England the advanced age and precarious health of his mother, to whom he was much attached. This was true; but as in many similar cases the announced occasion was not the compelling reason - as we shall see.
Mrs. Besant arrived in New York on November 30, 1892. From then until her departure at the end of February, 1893, she was incessantly engaged in public lectures, in addresses public and private to the various American Branches and the Groups of the Esoteric Section, in receptions, conferences, interviews, and correspondence which brought her the acquaintance and esteem of practically every Theosophist in the United States. The general arrangements for her tour had been carefully planned by Mr. Judge, but in every local centre the resident members looked after the details of her visit with such attention and assiduity that her mission before the public was an overwhelming success, while amongst the Theosophists themselves, her progress was a continuous ovation. She visited, with the exception of the South, every large centre in the United States, east and west. The largest halls and theatres were packed to capacity with attentive and respectful audiences. The press throughout the country was filled with interviews and articles descriptive of her remarkable history, her oratorical ability, her personal characteristics, her pre-eminence in the Theosophical world, her presumed Occult attainments and powers. A great outburst of curiosity and interest in her and her doctrines preceded and followed her wherever she went.
On her return to England she published, under the title "Speeding the Message," an account in Lucifer for April of her American trip. In the editorial section - "On
the Watch-Tower" - she commented on the lessons gained on her American trip in these words:
"Elsewhere in these pages I have given a brief account of my American tour, but I want to place on record here my testimony to the splendid work done in America by the Vice-President of our Society, the General Secretary of the Section, William Q. Judge. H.P.B. knew well what she was doing when she chose that strong quiet man to be her second self in America, to inspire all the workers there with the spirit of his intense devotion and unconquerable courage. In him is the rare conjunction of the business qualities of the skillful organizer, and the mystical insight of the Occultist - a combination, I often think, painful enough to its possessor with the shock of the two currents tossing the physical life into turbulence, but priceless in its utility to the movement. For he guides it with the strong hand of the practical leader, thus gaining for it the respect of the outer world; while he is its life and heart in the region where lie hidden the real sources of its energy. For out of the inner belief of members of the T.S. in the reality of spiritual forces springs the activity seen by the outer world, and our Brother's unshakable faith in the Masters and in Their care for the movement is a constant encouragement and inspiration to all who work with him."
Immediately following Mrs. Besant's tour the annual Convention of the American Section was held in New York at the end of April, 1893. Fifty-five Branches were represented by delegates or proxies and an unusually large number of visiting members attended the sessions. Mr. Bertram Keightley attended the Convention and read letters of greeting from the Indian and European Sections. Numerous other messages were received from abroad, amongst them an official letter from the President-Founder. This letter is important as
showing the position assumed by him and the means taken to express his personal views. We quote the letter in full:
"The Theosophical Society
"Adyar, Madras, 23 March, 1893.
"The Delegates of the American Section in Convention Assembled"
"During the past year you have been giving abundant proofs of the tireless zeal with which you have pursued the work of our Society. The results prove the truth of the oft-repeated statement of our Masters that their help is always given to the earnest and unselfish worker. We have but one danger to dread and guard against. This is the subordination of general principles to hero-worship, or admiration of personalities. I shall not excuse myself for frequent recurrence to this theme, for I am convinced that, if the Society should ever disintegrate, this will be the cause. The Masters wrote in Isis that 'men and parties, sects and schools are but the mere ephemera of the World's day'; and, following the precedent of their great recognized exemplar, Buddha Sakyamuni, they taught me to believe nothing upon authority, whether of a living or a dead person. I pray you to keep this ever in mind; and when I am dead and gone to recollect that the admission of the microbe of dogmatism into our Society will be the beginning of its last and fatal sickness.
"Wishing you for the coming year a continuance of prosperity, and expressing a hope that I may sometime personally attend a Session of your Convention, I am fraternally and affectionately yours,
President Theosophical Society."
This was the second formal pronouncement by the president-Founder with all the authority of his official sanction, ostensibly to warn the members of the Society against dogmatism, authority, and hero-worship; actually, to reduce H.P.B. to the level of a dead person in place of a still potent and vital factor as the Teacher of Theosophy. His first attempt in this direction was the Adyar Presidential Address at the close of 1891, from which we have quoted. (2) This had been followed by his "Old Diary Leaves," and a continuous active propaganda in his official as well as personal correspondence and speech. He had ignored the repeated articles of Mr. Judge and Mrs. Besant in The Path and Lucifer upholding the entire neutrality of the Society on all matters of opinion, the perfect freedom everywhere accorded in America and Europe for the fullest expression of the most contradictory views. What he could not endure was that anyone should choose to regard H.P.B. as a Teacher par excellence, should dare publicly to express such an opinion, should act upon it. His voice was never at any time raised against those who belittled her; he never called attention to the fact that it was H.P.B. herself who had warned first, foremost, and insistently against "popery" in any guise, and herself set the constant example of rejecting homage of any kind. Nor did he ever inform the members that no one was for an instant tolerated at Adyar or in India who did not implicitly obey himself in all things, while both England and America were notable throughout for constant conflicts of opinion amongst workers. It seems never to have occurred to him that he had himself from the very beginning been the very one, and the only one of prominence, who had claimed and exercised arbitrary authority, who had fought consistently against any semblance of genuine democracy in the government of the Society. "Councils" appointed by himself and changeable at his will, constitutions, by-laws, Executive Orders, and so on, all emanating from himself, all expressive of his own ideas and importance, were the continuous and
(2) See Chapter XX.
glaring signs of his own violation of the spirit of the Movement and the Society. Over and over his official utterances no less than his actual practices proclaimed his firm conviction that the Society needed a "ruler," and himself that ruler "chosen" to rule by the Masters. Though he denied the validity of H.P.B.'s writings and rejected their authenticity when they or she came in conflict with his own ideas and desires, he did not hesitate to quote them as Masters' words when they could be bent to his own ends. Thus, in the letter just quoted, he says: "The Masters wrote in 'Isis.'" So far as he and the members were concerned, it was H.P.B. who wrote in "Isis." Quite true he had H.P.B.'s word (as a matter of fact and not of "authority") that all she wrote was Masters' teaching, all she did was Masters' will, and equally true that her statements were confirmed to him and to others by direct Messages to them from those very Masters Themselves. But all this was mere testimony; testimony which he was quite as ready to reject when it suited him, as to quote when he could make use of it. But when Judge or any other, convinced that H.P.B. was Masters' "direct Agent" and her writings Their Teachings and Instructions, followed her teaching and example, even against the "executive notices" of the President-Founder and his proclaimed opinions, they were of necessity guilty of the "unpardonable sin" and were injecting dogmatism and hero-worship into the Society. When they declared as their view that the Society existed for the sake of Theosophy and that the Teacher was more important than the "ruler," then, equally of necessity, it could appear to Col. Olcott only as treason against the Society and a violation of its neutrality.
The Report of the American Section's Convention contained Col. Olcott's letter as also the letter of the Indian Section read by Mr. Bertram Keightley and signed by him as General Secretary of the Indian Section. It contains a sentence which the reader should compare with quotations from Mr. R. Harte's earlier articles (3) in The Theosophist, written prior to the formation of the
(3) See Chapter XVI.
Esoteric Section in 1888, when Col. Olcott was in the throes of his battle with H.P.B. Mr. Keightley says:
"We look hopefully forward to a time when the headquarters of the whole Society will in reality be its living heart and centre, sending out vitalizing spiritual influences, knowledge, and guidance to all its parts, as was the case when our revered teacher, H.P.B., resided there."
The same Report contains also some remarks of Mr. Judge as General Secretary of the American Section, which it cannot be doubted were written in view of the letter of Col. Olcott as President and of Mr. Keightley as General Secretary of the Indian Section. They were intended to make clear the perfect freedom and right of individual expression of opinion, no matter what or by whom, in distinction from official declarations vesting with the sanction of office and authority any personal views of any kind. He says:
"I hold that no officer or committee of the T.S. should appear in print as publisher or approver of any general treatises, doctrinal expositions, or other controversial matter, and that they should confine their official names to diplomas, charters, blanks, general information about T. S., and the like. Following this policy I have never placed on my private publications my official title nor the office title, as I insist that if we follow any other policy we cannot keep the Society out of dogmatism or out of a reputation for dogmatizing. Every member has perfect freedom to issue over his individual name what books or publications he deems proper, and that I have long exercised, but I have no right in any way, however slight, to attach the T.S. to any publication which gives private views on Theosophy."
The American Convention was followed by the Convention of the British and European Section in July,
1893. Mr. Judge attended as delegate from the American Section and was chosen as Chairman of the Convention. In his closing address to the assembled delegates and visitors he recurred to the subjects of government and dogmatism. We quote here some of his salient sentences:
"... The Society grew, members increased, work spread, the organization embraced the earth. Now was this growth due to a constitution and red tape? No; it was all because of the work of earnest men and women who worked for an ideal. Red tape, and votes, and laws to preserve votes, or to apportion them, are useless for any purpose if they are such as to hamper effort. Bind your soul about with red tape, and like the enwrapped mummy it will be incapable of movement.
"If you will regard its history in Europe, you will see that it came to its high point of energy without votes, without rules, supported and sustained by unselfish effort. Was it H.P.B. alone who made it grow here? No, for she alone could do nothing. She had to have around her those who would work unselfishly....
"The next point I would like you to consider is that of dogmatism. A great deal has been said about the fear of a dogmatic tendency and of the actual existence among us of dogmatism. This I consider to be all wrong and not sustainable by facts. The best way for you to produce dogmatism is by continually fearing and talking about it, by waving about the charge of dogmatism on every occasion. In that way you will soon create it out of almost nothing.
"What is dogmatism? To my mind, it is the assertion of a tenet that others must accept. Is that what we do as a body? I think not. Certainly I do not do it. In my opinion, oft declared, anyone who asserts in our Society that
one must believe this or that theory or philosophy is no Theosophist, but an intolerant bigot.
"But those who have spoken of dogmatism have mistaken energy, force, personal conviction and loyalty to personal teachers and ideals for dogmatism. Such are not dogmatism. One has a perfect right to have a settled conviction, to present it forcibly, to sustain it with every argument, without being any the less a good member of the Society. Are we to be flabby because we are members of an unsectarian body, and are we to refuse to have convictions merely because no one in the Society may compel another to agree with him? Surely not. My friends, instead of being afraid of a future dogmatism of which there is no real sign now, we should fear that it may be produced by an unreasonable idea that the assertions of your own convictions may bring it about. I feel quite sure that those who accuse us of dogmatism have no fixed ideal of their own....
"Too many have failed to make brotherhood a real thing in their life, leaving it merely as a motto on their shield. Our brotherhood must naturally include men and women of very various characters, each with different views of nature, having personal characteristics which may or may not grate on others, as the case my be. The first step, then, to take is to accept and tolerate personally all your fellows. In no other way can we begin to approach the realization of the great ideal. The absence of this acceptation of others is a moral defect. It leads to suspicion, and suspicion ruptures our union. In our assembly where harmony is absent, and brotherhood is not, the labors of those assembled are made almost nil, for an almost impenetrable cloud rolls out and covers the mental plane of all present. But let harmony return, and then
the collective mind of all becomes the property of each, sending down into the mind of everyone a benediction which is full of knowledge."
Nor was Mrs. Besant in any way behind in affirming the full freedom of expression in the Society, or the declaration of her own convictions on questions of teaching and of policy. Thus in Lucifer for May, 1893, she published a paper by Mr. W.F. Kirby on "French Spiritism." In his paper Mr. Kirby states:
"... the doctrines of Reincarnation and Karma, though now justly regarded by all Theosophists as of paramount importance... were not openly propounded by the Society until the publication of Mr. Sinnett's Esoteric Buddhism in 1883."
To this statement Mrs. Besant appends an editorial note, reading as follows:
"Our friend, Mr. Kirby, has perhaps forgotten that the Theosophist was first published in 1879 and Isis Unveiled in 1876 [this should be 1877]. We should also remember that the doctrines of Karma and Reincarnation are not propounded by the Theosophical Society, but only by those of its members who believe in the Esoteric Philosophy or some other system of Philosophy or Religion in which these doctrines are taught. The T.S. has three objects, but no doctrines. We may perhaps wisely add that the presentation of Theosophical teachings by any writer is not authoritative. We should certainly take objection to the statement as to Devachan in this article. - Eds."
Again, in the same number, in reviewing Mr. W. Scott-Elliott's paper in the London Lodge Transaction to which we have referred, (4) on the "Evolution of Humanity," Lucifer says:
(4) See Chapter XXIV.
"We must take exception to the phrase in its second paragraph that it is to be 'regarded as an authoritative statement.' Authoritative, it may be, to those who accept the authority on which it is based - what this is, is nowhere stated - but not authoritative so far as the T.S. is concerned. ... We notice that Mr. Scott-Elliott agrees with Mr. Sinnett... Those who follow the teachings of the Secret Doctrine will, of course, dissent... "
In the "Watch-Tower" of the August, 1893, Lucifer Mrs. Besant editorially reiterates her own convictions as follows:
"The keynote of the work for each of us is that of devotion to the Masters, as the great Servants of Humanity.... Here again the influence of H.P.B. makes itself strongly felt; for she trained us to look on this work as theirs... And as, since she left us, the signs that some of us had learned to recognize as from Them continued to occur, and we found the communication was not broken, but remained open to us just to the extent that each was able to take advantage of it, our knowledge of Them has been a living and a growing knowledge....
"Nor do I fear to thus frankly state the fact of my knowledge of the existence of Masters.... From observations made in Europe and America of the many societies I have visited, I am able to say that just in so far as the Masters are recognized as 'Facts and Ideals' by the members, so far also are the societies progressive and influential. While carefully guarding the Theosophical Society as a whole, and each of its branches, from erecting belief in the Masters into a dogma which members must tacitly, if not openly, accept, every member who does believe in Them should be ready to say so
if challenged, and should never shrink from saying that he carries on his work on lines that he thinks They approve."
Next, Mrs. Besant goes on to discuss the proper attitude to hold when issues are raised, whether of teaching or policy, on which different or contradictory views are held. It is of such major importance as setting forth the practice and principles of H.P.B. and Mr. Judge - practice and principles with which Mrs. Besant was then in full sympathy - that we reproduce it in full:
"It may be as well to remind the readers of Lucifer that one of the lines laid down by H.P.B. for the conduct of this magazine - and she would not have adopted and carried on a policy in antagonism to the wish of her Master - was the admission to its pages of articles with which she totally or partially disagreed, where the articles raised questions bearing on Theosophical teachings or interests. Her statement is worth reproducing:
"'Free discussion, temperate, candid, undefiled by personalities and animosity, is, we think, the most efficacious means of getting rid of error and bringing out the underlying truth... Keeping strictly in its editorials and in articles by its individual editors, to the spirit and teachings of pure Theosophy, it [Lucifer] nevertheless frequently gives room to articles and letters which diverge widely from the Esoteric teachings accepted by the editors, as also by the majority of Theosophists. Readers, therefore, who are accustomed to find in magazine and party publications only such opinions and arguments as the editor believes to be unmistakably orthodox - from his peculiar standpoint - must not condemn any article in Lucifer with which they are not entirely in accord, or in which expres-
sions are used that may be offensive from a sectarian or a prudish point of view, on the ground that such are unfitted for a Theosophical magazine. They should remember that precisely because Lucifer is a Theosophical magazine, it opens its columns to writers whose views of life and things may not only slightly differ from its own, but even be diametrically opposed to the opinion of the editors.'
"This is the policy followed still by Lucifer, and it should be understood that the publication of such articles, say, as those of Mr. Sinnett and of Mr. Sturdy in the present issue, by no means implies any agreement with the views put forward on the part of my colleague G.R.S. Mead or of myself."
The reference to the articles by Mr. Sinnett and Mr. Sturdy were, in the one case, to Mr. Sinnett's communication on "Esoteric Teaching" from which we have already quoted. (5) In the other case Mrs. Besant was referring to an article on "Gurus and Chelas," in which Mr. Sturdy expressed very emphatically his views on the subject. Mr. Sturdy's article was manifestly inspired indirectly by the numerous claims and counter-claims of "chelaship" and "messages from the Masters" made by or on behalf of various members. Directly, it was, we think, undoubtedly occasioned by a brief article with the same title, and bearing the signature, "A Hindu Chela," published in Lucifer for May preceding. Whatever the source or origin of the article by the "Hindu Chela," it is strictly true to the principles and conduct of the Second Section, so far as those have ever been disclosed. In publishing Mr. Sturdy's article Mrs. Besant did not state that she had suppressed its three closing paragraphs, in which Mr. Sturdy discloses his real animus in writing. Mr. Sturdy was a close follower of Col. Olcott and a great admirer of Mr. Sinnett and Mrs.
(5) See preceding chapter.
Besant. It was well understood that his suppressed statements actually were aimed at Mr. Judge, and while Mrs. Besant had already begun to listen to hints and innuendoes against the good faith of Mr. Judge, she was still publicly supporting him and his policies as the policies of H.P.B. The student will do well to read, re-read, and relate as closely as possible the stream of matter in the Theosophist, Lucifer, and The Path during the year 1893, if he is to discern the weaving of the meshes of the web of the fatal plot of 1894. We can but barely indicate some of the most significant of the knots that were being tied. First, then, let us turn to The Theosophist for October, 1893, in which Mr. Sturdy's article is reproduced in full, with an editorial note by Col. Olcott as editor of The Theosophist. Colonel Olcott's note reads:
"The three paragraphs within brackets having been expurgated by the editors of Lucifer for reasons of their own, and Mr. Sturdy regarding them as the pith of his argument, we print the whole article by his request and commend it to the attention of the reader. - Ed. Theos."
Mr. Sturdy's expurgated paragraphs read as follows:
"Of concrete things and persons we need concrete proofs. Of concrete letters and messages from living men, we need concrete evidence; not metaphysical or mere argumentative proof. Yet you can never disprove these claims. If I choose to send a letter in green, blue, or red or any other coloured ink or pencil and tell you I received it from a Mahatma for you, or merely say nothing and enclose it in a letter to you, you may be very much astonished, but you can prove no lie or forgery against me. If you are wise you will act as if you had never received it; unless indeed you make a mental note or two against me; one of folly for my having done
such a thing and given no proofs, and another of watchfulness as to my character generally. Nor does it seem probable that the Mahatmas, who, as we know, teach no dogmas, but always act by the amount of understanding an individual has, would encourage a system of mere statement and claim without accompanying proof; for this would be to lay the seeds in men's hearts of a faith in the statements of other men quite outside their experience and quite unsupported, men whose hearts they had not fathomed. This would lead back to all the evils of the past, not forward into light and knowledge.
"All such is glamour: there is no false mystery is chelaship; all nonsense about 'developing intuition' is merely making excuses for what cannot be proven and is about the same in the end as the Christian 'faith.' Let a man go on his path acting sternly by what he knows, not by what he is asked or persuaded to believe. Let him act by no directions which may be merely the thoughts of others no wiser than himself. How does he know? He does not know. Then let him be quite clear and straightforward in this, that he does not know."
In Lucifer for October, 1893, Mrs. Besant wrote over her signature an article in reference to "Gurus and Chelas" and took a strong stand against the spirit and logic of Mr. Sturdy's article. A brief quotation will disclose her position on what she calls the "fundamental difference" between Mr. Sturdy's views and her own:
"Is the most sacred and sublime of all human relationships nothing more than an intellectual bond, entered into with questions that appear to make the initial stage one of mutual suspicion, to be slowly removed by prolonged knowledge of each other in physical life? Not so have I been
taught, little as I know of these high matters, and the process described by Bro. Sturdy is the complete reversal of all that I have heard as to the methods of the school to which I was introduced by H.P.B."
Mr. Sturdy, it will be remembered, was himself not only a member of the Esoteric School but also had been one of the "E.S.T. Council" appointed by H.P.B., and had been present at the meeting at 19 Avenue Road on May 27, 1891, when the E.S. was reorganized immediately after the death of H.P.B. (6) To understand the breach indicated by the "Gurus and Chelas" articles, these must be related not only to the matters we have been discussing, but in particular to an existing situation and a series of events which were due to it, which we have so far but barely hinted at, so that students might more readily grasp the connection when it required consideration. Let us first treat of the events themselves, and then go into the situation which gave rise to them.
We have earlier mentioned that at the meeting of the E.S. Council on May 27, 1891, all that transpired, with one exception, (7) was covered in the circular of the same date sent to all members of the Esoteric School. That omitted matter was a message from one of the Masters received during the deliberations, and by Mrs. Besant read to those present. We shall recur to this subject again, so that it is sufficient here to speak of the fact. This meeting was under the pledge of secrecy, as was the circular sent to the E.S. members. Immediately following this, and while Mr. Judge was still in England, following H.P.B.'s death, The Path for August, 1891, edited during Mr. Judge's absence by "Jasper Niemand" (Mrs. Archibald Keightley, or Julia Campbell-Ver Planck, as her name was then), began with a powerful article on "A Theosophical Education." This article was headed with a message from one of the Masters,
(6) See Chapter XIX.
(7) See Chapter XIX.
and was signed by Jasper Niemand. It should be remembered that at that time no one knew who Jasper Niemand was except Mr. Judge and Mrs. Ver Planck herself. The article went on to say that the "message" had been received by a "student theosophist" since H.P.B.'s death, that the message was from H.P.B.'s Master and was "attested by His real signature and seal." We have italicized the word "real" because we shall later have to return to the subject. (8)
Following this, on August 30, 1891, Mrs. Besant, in St. James' Hall, London, made a farewell address to the Secularists with whom she had worked for so many years prior to her becoming a Theosophist. The great hall was packed with her old co-workers. Her lengthy address was entitled "1875-1891: a Fragment of Autobiography." Near the close of this address she pledged her word, her senses, her sanity, and her honor that "since Madame Blavatsky left, I have had letters in the same writing and from the same person," i.e., from the "Mahatma" from whom the "messages" transmitted by H.P.B. during her lifetime had been believed by Theosophists to emanate.
Naturally, these two public proclamations, the anonymous one in The Path, the other the solemn personal affirmation of Mrs. Besant, both of them direct, sweeping, and unqualified, aroused a furore in the world and particularly amongst Theosophists. Because of Mrs. Besant's statement it was inevitably inferred that she herself was in "communication with the Masters" and this inference was strengthened by her subsequent statements to various newspaper interviewers, and by other direct statements similar to the one in Lucifer for August, 1893, from which we have quoted in the present chapter. No one, reading Mrs. Besant's various statements during the three years following H.P.B.'s death, and granting her sanity and honesty, could do other than infer that she spoke from direct, immediate personal knowledge and experience of her own, and not from hearsay, inference, or dependence on any one else's assumed pow-
(8) See Chapter XXXIV.
ers and knowledge. These affirmations, coupled with her great reputation and towering place in the Theosophical world, caused numbers of Theosophists throughout the world to look to her, her writings, and her example, as the sure guide to follow. In the Esoteric School the members considered her as little, if any, short of H.P.B.'s stature in the Occult world, and this was particularly the case in England, Europe, and Asia. Her influence, therefore, with the membership both of the Society at large and of the Esoteric School grew to be tremendous and surpassed that of any other living person, while in the world she was the propagandist who could command the most attention, the largest audiences, the greatest publicity in the press. Judge, declining the Presidency by securing the revocation of Olcott's resignation, writing in his magazine largely under pseudonyms, confining his official activities to the routine of a "General Secretary" of a Section, at all times avoided publicity to the utmost possible extent. He was unceasing in his devotion to the work of the School, to the promotion of the First Object, and to the dissemination of Theosophy. Such publicity as befell him was due rather to the outspoken praise of Mrs. Besant and others, and to the attacks upon him, direct and indirect, for his vigilant efforts to keep the name, the fame, and the writings of H.P.B. alive before the membership as their example and their guide, than to any necessity of his work or official position, which was at all times purely nominal, as had been the case with H.P.B. herself. And the student may be interested to know that from the year following the death of H.P.B. till his own passing in 1896, his was a sick and over-burdened body, as was H.P.B.'s after the fiery furnace of 1884-5. In fact, during the years 1893-5, Mr. Judge was in such condition that he was for the most of the time able to speak but in whispers, and much of his work was done either in bed, or while traveling in search of physical relief.
Mrs. Besant's fame and reputation for "Occultism," her continuous lectures, her vast and unceasing emission of writings, her capacity for continuous work under un-
ending pressures, her confident surety of opinion and conviction in all things, made her every day more and more the "leader" of the Society. She overshadowed Col. Olcott and Mr. Sinnett as she overshadowed Mr. Judge - with this difference: she was convinced that Mr. Judge had been the real colleague of H.P.B., and that the others were not only "lesser lights" in an Occult sense than Mr. Judge, but that they had not been, and were not, true to Masters and H.P.B. as Mr. Judge was. Her support it was, chiefly, her looking to Judge for counsel and advice, that gave him standing with the general membership outside America.
Colonel Olcott and Mr. Sinnett, both exceedingly tenacious of whatever opinions they held, both greatly enjoying the prestige which they had acquired, the one as President-Founder, and the other as the President of the London Lodge and writer of the most popular treatises on Theosophy, could but be affected by the rise of Mrs. Besant into the luminous zone of the Theosophical firmament. Neither of them had been pleased, either with H.P.B. and her "interferences," or with her partiality - as it must have seemed to them - toward the obscure and unpretentious young man upon whom Theosophy and the Society perforce had to depend in America. With the passing of H.P.B. it could but have seemed the natural and the appropriate thing for them to step, with proper expressions of regret and appreciation, into the place made vacant by the death of "the old lion of the Punjab." But when Mr. Judge kept on speaking and writing of H.P.B. as though she were still living and still the surpassing factor of the Movement, her writings the criterion by which to weigh and act, it was too much! Were they never to receive that recognition which was rightly theirs? With Mr. Judge out of the way H.P.B. had been easier to deal with while she was alive; with Judge out of the way, it would be easy to deal with H.P.B. dead. But when Mr. Judge found in Mrs. Besant a supporter and defender, both of H.P.B. and himself, and their brief triumph seemed threatened, without a chance of viability, it was much too much!
Hence the issues of "hero worship," of "dogmatism," of the "neutrality of the T.S."; hence "Old Diary Leaves"; hence the revived activities of the London Lodge with its "Transactions"; hence the swift coming to the surface of disharmony, disunion, charges and counter-charges, claims and counter-claims.
Beginnings of the "Judge Case"When the "Message" in the August, 1891, Path came to Col. Olcott's attention he wrote Mr. Judge. Then ensued a long private correspondence between the two, Judge doing his best to mollify the President-Founder while yet holding the position of uncompromising loyalty to H.P.B. and her Mission, and to the policies he was pursuing; Col. Olcott, determined to bring matters to an issue once and for all and enforce his own authority and standing as the "Official Head" of the Society. Colonel Olcott's strategy and tactics were grievously interfered with and upset for the time being by Mrs. Besant's charges against his moral character which caused him to "flee from the field of battle" by resigning under fire. When Mr. Judge came to his support and rescue, the better nature of Col. Olcott was once more in the saddle, and his public and official, as well as his private and personal, acts and statements became once more for a brief period those of the earlier years of his probation. But when it was whispered in his ear that it was Mr. Judge himself who had concocted the charges against him, with the purpose to unseat him in the love and veneration of the membership, and that Mr. Judge had come to his aid only through fear of being unmasked, Col. Olcott, old, sick, and disheartened, threw off his faint-heartedness, once more girded on his armor and weapons and re-entered the lists for a combat a l'outrance - "for the sake of the Masters and the Society," as he verily believed. It seems never to have occurred to him to write Mr. Judge his fears and suspicions direct and ask the facts; it seems never to have occurred to him to investigate or verify in any way the suspicions breathed to him. His vanity pricked, his
jealousies aroused, his own sincerity and devotion mocked, as it must have seemed to him, he took his fears for facts, his suspicions for certainties, and was thenceforth as sure of the "ingratitude" and the "disloyalty" of Mr. Judge as before he had been of H.P.B.'s. His fiery courage, his impetuous nature, all his noble and strong qualities were thenceforth blindly at the service of the masked and hidden enemies of the Theosophical Movement.
While Mrs. Besant was on her third visit to America in the winter of 1892-3, Mr. Judge showed her the correspondence with Col. Olcott. One of the letters of Mr. Judge was on questions raised by Col. Olcott on the "message" in The Path of August, 1891. (1) Mrs. Besant asked and obtained from Mr. Judge consent to the publication of this letter in her magazine Lucifer, where it appeared in April, 1893, immediately after her return from the United States. This letter was, according to the restriction imposed by Mr. Judge, not published as to Col. Olcott, but as to "An Indian Brother," and was given by Mrs. Besant the caption, "An Interesting Letter."
So soon as Lucifer with the "interesting letter" reached India, Col. Olcott took action. In The Theosophist for July, 1893, appear two articles in criticism of the views expressed by Mr. Judge in the "interesting letter." The second of these, signed "N.D.K." (the initials of N.D. Khandalavala, a prominent Indian member), is an argument, from a similar point of view to that of Mr. Sturdy in "Gurus and Chelas," against the danger of mere substitution by the unwise of "Masters" for a personal "Savior." "Reliance on Masters as ideals and as facts" seems to N.D.K. mere folly. N.D.K. says:
"Does not the Christian missionary come canting after us with exactly the same words? Substitute the words 'Jesus and Saviour' for 'Masters' in the sentences of Mr. Judge, and
(1) See Chapter XX.
they will read like a propaganda of the Evangelist preachers."
N.D.K. objects very strongly to Mr. Judge's saying that he "knows out of his own experience" of the existence of Masters and suggests that Mr. Judge "systematically and exhaustively bring forward his experiences for the benefit of us all.... There is no virtue whatsoever in boldly making an assertion, and withholding the evidence upon which the assertion has been based." Most objectionable of all to N.D.K. is Mr. Judge's statement that his means of identifying a "message" is "within himself," and not by means of external evidences such as signatures, seal, etc. This, N.D.K. thinks, is very bad indeed. He quotes from H.P.B. on the great need for "unbiased and clear judgment" in all maters, but apparently has never read H.P.B.'s article in Lucifer for September, 1888, on "Lodges of Magic" in which she discusses this very question of the evidences of messages from the same standpoint as Mr. Judge's statements, in reply to those who were whispering about that some of her Messages were fraudulent, others genuine, etc. N.D.K. 's implications would all apply equally to H.P.B. as to Mr. Judge, and, as the student may discern for himself by comparison of statements, all that Mr. Judge wrote in his "interesting letter" had before him been said by H.P.B., to the same annoyance of the "doubting Thomases" who, themselves unable to "communicate," nevertheless wanted "proofs" satisfactory to themselves. N.D.K.'s article has for title and subtitle, "Theosophy in the West. The Tendency Towards Dogmatism."
The other article in The Theosophist had for title, "Theosophic Freethought" and is signed by Messrs. Walter R. Old and Sidney V. Edge, Col. Olcott's two chief lieutenants at the time. Mr. Old, like Mr. Sturdy, had been a member of the "E.S.T. Council" during H.P.B.'s lifetime and had been present at the Avenue Road meeting of May 27, 1891. "Theosophic Freethought" must have been written and published with the
full endorsement of Col. Olcott. The writers profess to regard Mr. Judge's statements as "virtually... a dogma" and the publication of his letter as in itself a "leading to dogmatism." They go on to say:
"Hence we cannot conclude otherwise than that a personal declaration of belief coming from Mr. Judge and unsupported by any evidence showing how, in the face of general experience, he has attained that belief, is extremely inimical to the spirit of our Society...
"Another dangerous dogma advanced by Mr. Judge is the statement that 'a very truism, when uttered by a Mahatma, has a deeper meaning for which the student must seek, but which he will lose if he stops to criticize and weigh the words in mere ordinary scales.' ... if we push it to its ultimate issue, as Mr. Judge seems anxious to do, its thoroughly noxious and unwholesome nature becomes simply overpowering....
"Of the same nature as the above, and of equally dangerous tendency, is the statement in regard to messages received from a Master that 'The signature is not important. The means of identification are not located in signatures at all. If you have not the means yourself for proving and identifying such a message, then signature, seal, papers, water-mark, what-not, are all useless. As to 'Master's Seal,' about which you put me the question, I do not know. Whether he has a seal or uses one is something on which I am ignorant.'...
"To sum up: it appears from Mr. Judge's letter:
"1. A Theosophist of high standing and authority in the Society has a right to widely affirm the existence of Masters as a matter of personal experience, without adducing proofs of his experience.
"2. That others may, unchallenged, assert the same with equal force, upon the authority of his unproved personal statement.
"3. That so long as he is prepared to take the Karma of such assertions, it is not a matter of concern to any other member of the same body.
"4. That the progress of the T.S. lies in fidelity to the "assertions" of a few of its members.
"5. That a truism when uttered by a Mahatma becomes something more than a truism.
"6. That letters received from a Mahatma will not permit of the usual tests of identification.
"7. That the only test is one's own intuition."
The reader, with the collateral circumstances in mind and the text of Mr. Judge's "interesting letter" before him, can take these criticisms by Messrs. Old and Edge one by one and compare them in spirit and fairness, as well as in logic, with the manner and matter of Mr. Judge's statements. The irony of the situation is enhanced by the simple fact that none of the "messages" which formed the basis of the shafts leveled at Mr. Judge had been received by him, or had been made public by him, and that he had scrupulously avoided any statements direct or indirect that might direct or attract attention to himself as Master's agent. On the other hand the statements made by Mrs. Besant and Mr. Sinnett were in such form and made in such circumstances as directly to challenge acceptance or rejection on their mere ipse dixit. And the same was exactly true of Col. Olcott. No "evidence" was ever offered by either of these three, no arguments, no citations of teachings, to support their claims. Each repeatedly claimed "communications from the Masters of H.P.B.," with himself as the sole "authority" for the claims; each, at one time and another, rejected the "authenticity" of messages coming through H.P.B., the "rejected" messages of H.P.B. always those which, if genuine, upset their own teachings and their own claims. In contrast with
this, the student can easily ascertain for himself by examination that the "fraudulent" messages attributed to both H.P.B. and Mr. Judge were in every case in strict accord with the whole philosophy of Occultism as recorded by them during twenty years, and with all the "accepted Messages" from the Masters.
Setting aside the possibility that there may be modes of communication and means of verification of Occult communications which are absolute to Masters and "accepted Chelas," and wholly unknown and unsuspected by any others - setting all this aside, what possible "proofs" are there of the genuineness of an alleged communication from "other planes of being"?
The records of all religions are full of communications from God, demons, angels, discarnate "spirits," what-not. Modern Spiritualism and psychical research swarm with the statements of such communications. The proofs, when investigated, always come down to two things: (1) the affirmation of the recipient that he has received the communication and that he knows the source of the message; (2) the phenomenal accompaniment - slight, a voice, a vision, objects moved without physical contact, words and letters "precipitated," facts related and events described unknown to the recipient, or supposedly known to him alone, prophecies, and so on. These proofs have in all ages been sufficient to satisfy multitudes of recipients and masses of believers, and to excite to fury the incredulity of others. But when the thoughtful man compares the respective "revelations" he always finds them in gross contradiction, one with another; more, he finds the accepted explanation of the recipients and their followers inconsistent within itself, and impossible of reconciliation with the everyday demonstrated facts of life, and their accepted explanation. One would think, to listen to any of the votaries of these communications, that there remain no mysteries in life to explain, whereas, any reflective mind must admit that life holds little else than mysteries, and that the true explanation and understanding of God and Nature and
Man are as far from human solution as ever. The most that can be truly said by the layman is that all these proofs demonstrate is that "there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
It remains true, as H.P.B. wrote at the time of the New York Sun libel, that "Occult phenomena can never be proved in a Court of Law during this century." "Messages," whether from Masters or from other sources, must continue to be for the "uninitiated" a matter of intelligent or unintelligent, of consistent or inconsistent, belief or disbelief. Phenomena at best are but accompaniments, not certificates, and if the source of any message is metaphysical and transcendental, its verification must be looked for on the plane of its origin, not that of its receipt. Hence the repeated statements of H.P.B. and Mr. Judge, as well as those of the Masters in the generally accepted communications from Them, that "messages" as well as Messengers must be judged on their philosophical and moral worth, not on the basis of "authority" or phenomenal accompaniments. But to return to "Theosophic Freethought."
A footnote to the article by Messrs. Old and Edge says, in connection with Mr. Judge's remarks on "Master's Seal":
"In regard to this statement we can only remark that Mr. Judge's memory must be seriously defective. We must therefore remind him that a very important step in connection with the re-organization of the Esoteric Section of the T.S. was taken, after the death of H.P.B., on the authority of a certain message, purporting to come from one of the Mahatmas, and which bore, as Mr. Judge will now remember, a seal-impression, said by him to be that of 'the Master.' No doubt Mr. Judge will take the opportunity of either rectifying his statement or of showing how his acting upon the author-
ity of "the Master's" seal at one time, and professing ignorance of it at another, may be regarded as consistent."
Advance proofs of The Theosophist containing the article on "Theosophic Freethought" were sent to many persons in England and the United States, and the article itself was at once issued from Adyar with a Madras imprint and sent broadcast throughout the Society in pamphlet form. No public attention was paid to it by either Mr. Judge or Mrs. Besant, as, under the proclaimed neutrality of the T.S., any member thereof had full freedom and liberty to hold any opinions that might seem acceptable to him, and to express them. We have before called attention to the fact that no member of the T.S. was bound to any obligation other than assent to the First Object, and to the other fact that the Esoteric Section or School admitted only (1) those who accepted in full the Three Objects of the T.S.; (2) who professed full belief in and acceptance of Theosophy and pledged themselves to "endeavor to make Theosophy a living power" in their life; who pledged themselves to "support before the world the Theosophical Movement and its Founders"; (3) who pledged themselves to strict voluntary obedience to the Rules of the School. These rules were clear and unequivocal. Every member of the E.S., before being permitted to enter it, was furnished with a copy of the Preliminary Memoranda, the pledge, and the Book of Rules, so that he might inform himself fully of the conditions of his entrance and continuance in the School, as well as of the sine qua non conditions precedent to any progress in esotericism. Thus whoever entered the School did so voluntarily with full knowledge in advance of what was required of him, with full warning that his difficulties would lie within himself, and pledged his "most solemn and sacred word of honour" to all the conditions.
Both Mr. Old and Mr. Edge were members of the Esoteric School, the former having entered during the life of H.P.B., the latter after her passing. As the state-
ments, criticisms, and charges in the Old and Edge article, and particularly the footnote just quoted, were in direct violation both of the spirit and the letter of some of the clauses of the pledge and certain of the Rules of the School, prompt and decisive action was taken by Mr. Judge and Mrs. Besant as Co-Heads of the E.S. Both Messrs. Old and Edge were in that geographical section which was under the immediate jurisdiction of Mrs. Besant. She therefore drew up a "strictly private and confidential" circular letter dated "August, 1893," which was signed by Mr. Judge with her and sent from London to all E.S. members throughout the world. At the same time both Messrs. Old and Edge were suspended from membership in the E.S.
This circular, which was headed, "To All Members of E.S.T.," reads, in part, as follows:
"In the July Theosophist  an article appeared signed by W.R. Old and S.V. Edge, entitled "Theosophic Freethought," as a criticism on Brother Judge's letter in Lucifer. No objection except that of good taste could be made to the article considered as a criticism, since Brother Judge concedes to every one a right to their opinions and to the expression of such in every case except where questions of a pledge or of honor are concerned. So with the article we are not concerned, but we are with the foot-note of it....
"The article was given to public printers and sent in advance to many persons in Europe, but it was not sent in time to London, where Brother Judge was in July, to permit our cabling to India, and no previous notice was given Brother Judge, nor was he asked his views.
"This foot-note is, first, a violation of the pledge of secrecy made by Brother Old... and second, is a violation of honor and confidence as a member of the Council of the E.S.T. By reason of the above we are compelled to take action.
"Therefore... we have for the present suspended them [Messrs. Old and Edge] from their membership in the E.S.T....
"But the statement in above foot-note is itself untrue. The reorganization of the School in 1891 was not based on a message from the Master: it was based on several letters and certificates from H.P.B. (see Council Minutes) explicitly making William Q. Judge her representative in America, and on one from her assigning to Annie Besant the position she was to hold after her [H.P.B.'s] death.... "
The circular also contained a signed statement by Mrs. Besant and other Councillors present at the meeting on May 27, 1891, refuting in positive terms the assertions and implications in the footnote to Messrs. Old and Edge's "Theosophic Freethought." To this we shall refer again in its proper connection. (2)
To complete the picture of the marshaling of the opposing forces the reader should now turn to The Theosophist for May, June, July, and August, 1893, and read carefully the successive instalments of Col. Olcott's "Old Diary Leaves" first printed during those months. After the preliminary details of his first thirteen chapters, covering his acquaintance with H.P.B. and the crowding events culminating in the publication of "Isis Unveiled" in 1877, the Colonel pauses to discuss the writing of that work, the "collaboration" of the Masters in its production, the nature of H.P.B., and the possible explanations of the mysteries of which he had caught many glimpses during the preceding three years. In Chapter XIV he lays down the seven hypotheses of which we have earlier spoken, (3) and proceeds to argue and discuss them through the succeeding chapters in the fashion already indicated. In the August number he propounds his central idea, the dominant note to which he has all along
(2) See Chapter XXXI.
(3) See Chapter XXIII.
been leading up. He says that H.P.B. "appears to have been the subject of a distinct mental evolution."
What he meant by this is very clearly shown and argued in the body of the chapter and subsequently. He meant that H.P.B. at best was a student of the Wisdom-Religion, the same as any and all others; that when she began her mission she was both ignorant and misinformed on many subjects and teachings which afterwards she learned as she "progressed." Her sole and questionable advantage was in the possession of psychic and clairvoyant faculties which enabled the Masters to use her for Their purposes in the same way and under the same disadvantages as a control or guide uses a Spiritualist medium or that a mesmerist or hypnotizer uses a sensitive or subject.
He proceeds to illustrate this fundamental idea of his by saying:
"Take, for instance, her teachings on Re-incarnation, the strong foundation-stone of the ancient occult philosophy, which was affirmed in the Secret Doctrine and her other later writings. When we worked on Isis it was neither taught us by the Mahatmas, nor supported by her in her literary controversies or private discussions, of those earlier days. She held to, and defended, the theory that human souls, after death, passed on by a course of purificatory evolution to other and more spiritualized planets....
"She told Mr. Walker R. Old - who is my informant that she was not taught the doctrine of Re-incarnation until 1879 - when we were in India....
"Ultimately, the doctrine of Re-incarnation was fully accepted and expounded, both in its exoteric sense and esoterically."
In the course of his chapter he suggests that he has "notes" of a conversation between one of the Mahatmas
and himself in which the Adept affirmed the same theory of "purificatory evolution" on "higher spheres." Naively he inquires:
"Is it possible that Re-incarnation was not taught this Adept by his Master, and that he, as well as H.P.B., had to learn it subsequently? There are said to be sixty-three stages of Adeptship and it is not impossible."
Colonel Olcott's views of H.P.B. as a "student" had been very succinctly voiced by Mr. Old at the White Lotus Day commemoration at Adyar on May 8, 1893, and printed in The Theosophist for June. Mr. Old was introduced by Col. Olcott and made the address of the day. He said:
"It is provided in the Constitution of the Society, that perfect freedom of opinion shall be allowed to all its members; but nothing would be more dangerous to the catholicity of our doctrines than to suppose this to convey with it the right, to any individual member, of forcing his views upon others; or of reading into the writings of H.P.B., or any other person connected with the movement, anything of authority; or yet of enunciating therefrom a dogma or credo which shall be considered pre-eminently Theosophical or binding upon Theosophists generally. And the dangers we have to face are undoubtedly of this nature...
"What we now need to recognize is the merit of that self-devotion to the cause of Truth which characterized the life-work of H.P.B. No impartial student of her writings can fail to recognize the indications of a steady unfoldment of mind, an ever-widening spiritual perception, with the concomitant changes of view-point and modifications of doctrine."
Colonel Olcott, Messrs. Sinnett, Bertram Keightley, Old, Sturdy, Edge, the leading Hindus, and many
others of lesser prominence were now all of one mind in regard to the "dangers" besetting the Society and the Movement; their ideas regarding H.P.B. now sown broadcast in America, England, Europe, and India. The machinery of the Society was in their hands, its most widely circulated publication under their control. What else was lacking in the equipment necessary to relegate H.P.B. and her defender, Judge, to the background, to subordinate the teachings of Theosophy given out by these two colleagues to the "more recent teachings" and the "progressive development" of other "students" and "Occultists" more in harmony with the "official authority" of the President-Founder? What was still essential to do away with the policy and example of H.P.B. and Mr. Judge and replace them by a management and guidance from Adyar, without risk of failure for the conspirators behind the scenes, and without breaking up the Society? The storm of 1884-5 had shown that however violent the commotion, attacks from without could not destroy the integrity of the Movement nor the prestige of H.P.B. with the members. The Coues-Collins-Lane-Sun conspiracy had come far nearer achieving its object in 1889-90, because it had been hatched within the Society, and had the tacit sympathy and support of Col. Olcott until he saw that its success would ruin the Society. But it, too, had failed, because H.P.B. and Mr. Judge were both alive and had, in the newly formed Esoteric Section, a loyal battalion of members of the Society pledged to Theosophy first.
This time the conspiracy had all the elements of victory in hand save one only. Could Mrs. Besant be brought to join hands with Col. Olcott, Mr. Sinnett, and the rest, the combination would be invincible. But for more than two years she had already taken her stand in the most positive manner, for all that H.P.B. and Judge had from the beginning proclaimed and fought for, in principle and in practice. Could she be brought to change sides on the very eve of battle?
Determined to banish the spectre of the "dead" H.P.B. whose memory was still a more potent influence
than their living claims to preferment, it was all too clear that this could not be done except by ruining the reputation of Mr. Judge. Could Mrs. Besant be made the fulcrum of their energies, then Mr. Judge could be routed, H.P.B. consigned to the region of eulogiums, and a victorious future assured to the Society and its "leaders." There would be no greater risk than that a few recalcitrants might have to be read out of the Society or forced to resign or secede.
But Mrs. Besant was no ignorant and superstitious "Christian," like Madame Coulomb, and therefore not to be approached with threats and bribes. She was no psychic or medium like Mrs. Cables and Miss Mabel Collins, therefore to be swept off her feet by some astral intoxication or personal experience in psychology. Nor was she an Elliott Coues, brilliant but conscienceless, educated but steeped in ethical savagery, to whom Theosophy was a mere means to personal ends. If she were to be seduced and suborned - made to serve as dupe and tool of "the mighty magic of Prakriti," - then indeed would need be called in play the fine art of oriental subtlety and sophistication in the mysteries of the governing forces in human life; subtlety and sophistication laughed at by the wisest of Western minds, whose very incredulity and scepticism in regard to their own susceptibility to the sway of "Occult powers" makes them, at occasion, victim to their own virtues. Messrs. Hume, Sinnett, Massey, Olcott, and many another able, sincere and honorable-minded man had been, in turn and in successive links, so influenced, all unknown to themselves, that their course had become the exact opposite to that taught and pursued by Masters and by H.P.B.; the opposite of the very course originally taken by themselves. And the substitution of charts, the change in direction, had been so subtly accomplished that the more the victims went astray, the more profoundly convinced they were of the rectitude and consistency of their conduct!
The welter of fact and opinion covering the years 1893-5 is not easy to assemble, assort, relate, and marshal
into something like order and proportion. Yet this is the task that confronts, not merely the historian, but every Theosophical student who would be true to his duty, to the Movement and himself. A firm conclusion must be reached or the student will always be harassed by doubts, bewilderments, uncertainties. Such a firm conclusion will be arrived at either as the result of knowledge acquired at first hand and weighed with impartiality in the light of the principles of Theosophy, or it will rest upon no better basis than hearsay and reliance upon authority - mere blind faith, of which the world has ever held an overplus and from which all mankind suffers continually.
Under the criteria afforded by the Theosophy which all the protagonists professed, the student has to take into consideration not only the physical facts and factors, ,but he has to ascertain and evaluate factors and phenomena metaphysical - the Psychic, the Manasic, the Spiritual components of actions and events. These various constituents are not disjunctive and sequential, but integral and correlative, their governing importance as prime factors of correct judgment in inverse order to that habitually employed by mankind. Moreover, since it is certain that whatever, either of Truth or error or falsehood there may be in the world, or whatever their ultimate source, they have all reached mankind through the agency of human beings, it follows that the student must, of necessity, weigh actors as well as actions; persons and personages as well as their statements; motives and character as well as opinions and belief. And there is no alternative route, Theosophically or practically, either to accurate knowledge or correct judgment. As so well put in the Preface to H.P. Blavatsky's "Key to Theosophy":
"To the mentally lazy or obtuse, Theosophy must remain a riddle; for in the world mental as in the world spiritual each man must progress by his own efforts. The writer cannot do the reader's thinking for him, nor would the
latter be any the better off if such vicarious thought were possible.
"As with all conspiracies, much of what occurred in 1893 and subsequently is enveloped in the obscurity of secrecy and silence. But there is no maxim, esoteric or esoteric, more profoundly true than the aphorism that "murder will out." Perception, inference, and testimony are all essential components of true knowledge, and when the ascertainable facts, the relevant testimony extant, are fitted together, all the rest becomes a matter of unavoidable inference to the logical mind: the Great Betrayal is exposed in all its hideous blackness, and the subsequent degradation and disintegration of the Theosophical Movement into sects and sectaries seen to be the Karmic consequence of the actions of the students themselves.
Mrs. Besant Changes SidesIt is only by observing with utmost care the sequence of events in 1893 and 1894 that the student will be able to perceive the causal and invisible springs from which those events emanated, and thus to relate the exoteric to the esoteric aspects of the record made by the opposing forces on the field of battle. In this respect it is like the study of a game of chess, with its successive alternating moves of the effigies of the different classes by the opposing protagonists: Judge on the one side, the President-Founder on the other; the capture of the "Queen" the essential of the "checkmate."
Mr. Bertram Keightley, whose indiscretions had formed one of the ingredients of the Coues-Collins explosion, had been sent temporarily to the United States by H.P.B. There, under H.P.B.'s instructions, Mr. Judge had put him to work to enable him to recover his stamina. Despite his follies, H.P.B. had written most kindly of him to various American workers, as he well deserved in view of his many services to the Cause.
In a little while Mr. Keightley, finding that the American members looked up to him as one who had been close to H.P.B. for years, began to speak as an "Occultist" upon the many problems treated of in H.P.B.'s Instructions to the Esoteric Section. These interpretations of Mr. Keightley's were taken by many as "authoritative," and Mr. Keightley was considered as the "representative" of H.P.B. This finally compelled H.P.B. to issue the Notice of August 9, 1890. This Notice was, in its essential matters, as follows:
"3. The only 'orders' in Instructions which I issue in the U.S. are through Mr. William Q.
Judge, or those which I myself sign my name to with my physical hand.
"4. Any report or statement by any one of orders or instructions alleged to be by me in any other form than as stated in the foregoing paragraph are and shall be false; and any member acting on any other sort of order and without first sending the same to Mr. William Q. Judge will be expelled from the Section.
"5. I desire above all that the members of this Section shall exercise as much common-sense as they are capable of and that they shall avoid all dealings with astral messages, reports, spooks and the like until they shall have attained the requisite knowledge and ability."
Mr. Keightley was recalled to London and at the end of the year 1890 transferred to India, whither he went in time to serve as the delegate of the American, British, and European Sections at the Adyar Convention. During the year 1891 Mr. Keightley remained in India as a volunteer helper at the headquarters and at the Adyar Convention at the close of 1891 was elected General Secretary of the Indian Section. His work in India brought him an acquaintance with every prominent member of the Society and a thorough knowledge of the condition of affairs in the Indian Branches. The deplorable state in which he found them is set forth at length in his "Report" to the Indian Convention at the close of 1892 - a Report given in detail in the "Supplement" to The Theosophist for January, 1893, and to which we have before adverted. (1)
Mr. Bertram Keightley was a man of wealth, of good education and excellent abilities. He had become attached to H.P.B. at the time of her European visit in the summer of 1884. He and his nephew, Dr. Archibald Keightley, had contributed freely in time, money, and work to the activities in England which followed upon H.P.B.'s settlement there in 1887. To them more than
(1) See Chapter XXIII.
to any and all others was due the sustentation of the work in England until the conversion of Mrs. Besant in the early summer of 1889. His relation to the Movement naturally brought him a personal acquaintance which, by 1893, covered the whole area of the Society, in the United States, in England, on the Continent, and in Asia. It was known by all that he had been firmly loyal personally to H.P.B. during all the troubled events of the last seven years of her stormy career, and it was known by some that he had done what few indeed were able to do - he had submitted without resentment to drastic correction and discipline at H.P.B.'s hands. Naturally materialistic he had, like all materialists whose attention is finally awakened, been intensely interested in the psychical aspect of the teachings of Theosophy. Having no capacities - or infirmities - of his own in a psychical way, he was the more impressed by those who had, or claimed to have, such "gifts." It was this tendency which had involved him with Miss Mabel Collins. In India, a land which teems with "Gurus" and their "disciples" whose whole life-effort is the development of abnormal faculties, he soon came in contact with devotees of the various sorts of Yoga, and amongst these was G.N. Chakravarti, whose destiny it was to become the first of the evil geniuses of Mrs. Besant.
Gyanendra Nath Chakravarti was born a Brahmin of the Sandilya Gotra. In his twentieth year he became, through the influence of his uncle, a member of the Cawnpore Branch of the T.S. Young as he was, he was selected as a member of the Committee which, at the Convention in December, 1884, unanimously recommended that no defense be made on behalf of H.P.B. against the Coulomb charges. In the intervening years he had contributed occasional articles to The Theosophist and was, in 1893, President of the Students Theosophical Association at Allahabad. He had been educated in Western ideas, first at a missionary school at Benares, then at Calcutta University, and at Muir College, Allahabad. Subsequently, he had filled the chair of physical science at a college in Bareilly, and, at the
time of meeting Mr. Bertram Keightley, he was Professor of mathematics at Muir College. He had also studied law and had been admitted to practice in the English courts in India. Nor had his breeding been in any wise neglected from the oriental standpoint. He had been strictly reared in all the observances of his caste, was thoroughly versed in the scriptures and traditions of Brahminism, and was highly esteemed by his co-religionists as well as among the English. He was well known to Col. Olcott and on friendly terms with both native and English members of the T.S. in India.
Although Prof. Chakravarti had not been active Theosophically and was not a member of the Esoteric Section but was, on the contrary, a chela of one of the numerous Yoga systems in India, Mr. Bertram Keightley soon came to believe him to be, if not a Mahatma, at least an Occultist of high rank and in direct connection with the Masters of H.P.B. Moreover, in the congenial atmosphere of Col. Olcott and the other workers at headquarters, Mr. Keightley found tendencies and predilections in the line of the Third Object fully in flower. In the circumstances it was inevitable that these influences should divorce him more and more from the lines followed by H.P.B. and those wedded to her view of the true mission of the Theosophical Society.
By the spring of 1893, "Old Diary Leaves" and the direct personal exertion of Col. Olcott's influence had largely accomplished their intended purpose in India and to a considerable degree in the West. The time was ripe to carry the war of ideas into the enemy's country. This was the real occasion for Mr. Bertram Keightley's going from India, first to the United States and then to England, and no better ally or agent could have been selected for the work in hand. Accordingly, Mr. Keightley attended the Convention of the American Section in April, 1893, as delegate from the Indian Section and as bearer of Col. Olcott's Presidential communication, as has been recited. (2)
As will more and more appear, Mr. Judge knew well
(2) See Chapter XXV.
the real purpose behind all of Col. Olcott's moves, and saw those moves clearly long in advance. Concurrently with the questions ostensibly raised over dogmatism and neutrality, with the unsolved problem of the status of H.P.B. and her teachings, with the corollary difficulties evoked by the dust of side issues raised to obscure the real cause of conflict and thus confuse the membership, Mr. Judge knew he had to face the hidden source of all these dangers. This was the secret Brahminical hostility to the great First Object of the Society, which had been slowly festering since 1881, which had perverted the Movement in India, and which, if not checked, must result in the corruption or destruction of the Society in the West. Mr. Judge had, therefore, for a long time been steadily at work to allay Brahminical suspicions that the Society was a Buddhist propaganda in disguise, and to bring the Society in India to a more close adhesion to the line of the First Object. Just prior to Mr. Bertram Keightley's return to the West he had begun an active public campaign along the same lines. He contributed to Lucifer for April, 1893, a striking article, "India, A Trumpet Call at a Crisis," to which the student is referred, in connection with the "Interesting Letter," published in the same number of Lucifer. At the same time he drew up an eloquently worded and moving appeal which he addressed "To the Brahmins of India," and this he sent to as many Hindu members as could be reached. This circular he also published in The Path for May, 1893, with a prefatory note, reading as follows:
"The subjoined circular has been sent by me to as many Brahmins as I could reach. I have purposely used the words 'Brahmins of India' in the title because I hold to the view of the Vedas and the ancient laws that the Brahmin is not merely he who is born of a Brahmin father. In America lack of accurate knowledge respecting Indian religions causes a good deal of misapprehension about Brahmanism and Buddhism,
as very many think Buddhism to be India's religion, whereas in fact it is not, but, on the contrary, the prevailing form of belief in India is Brahmanism. This necessary distinction should be remembered and false notions upon the subject dissipated as much as possible. Buddhism does not prevail in India, but in countries outside it, such as Burmah, Japan, Ceylon, and others. The misconception by so many Americans about the true home of Buddhism if not corrected may tend to cause the Brahmins to suppose that the T.S. here spreads abroad the wrong notion; and no form of religion should be preferred in the T.S. above another."
Still earlier than the above articles, Mr. Judge had written privately to Mr. George E. Wright, a leading member of the Chicago Branch, suggesting that an effort be made to secure representation for the T.S. at the World's Parliament of Religions to be held at the Chicago Fair in 1893. This was in the Fall of 1892. Mr. Wright set to work and after some difficulty the necessary recognition was achieved and dates arranged for the Theosophists. The idea of Theosophical representation was received with acclaim in Europe and India as well as among the American members. When Mr. Bertram Keightley arrived in America Mr. Judge at once broached to him the advisability of Brahminical as well as Buddhistic representation at the Parliament and, without disclosing more than the apparent advantages, suggested that such representation should be under the auspices of the T.S., and requested Mr. Keightley's advice and aid in procuring representation the most distinguished possible. Mr. Bertram Keightley urged the selection of Chakravarti as representing the Brahmins and H. Dharmapala, a distinguished Ceylonese, for the Buddhists. He undertook to secure the consent of Chakravarti. Accordingly, subscriptions were opened in the United States and in England to defray the traveling expenses of the two delegates.
Serious difficulties at once supervened, for while Chakravarti was very agreeable to the proposed plan, grave objections were raised among the Brahmins. Such a mingling with "Mlechhas" (foreigners) was offensive to their teachings and traditions, and it was a violation of caste for a Brahmin to cross the seas. Thus, if he attended at all, Chakravarti would be "out-caste" for the time being and would be compelled upon his return either to renounce his caste or to submit to purificatory rites which, to Western minds, would be superstitious and degrading, and to an orthodox Brahmin extremely humiliating.
Nevertheless, the difficulties were resolved and all objections overcome. Chakravarti formally accepted the invitation to attend the Parliament as the guest of the Society. Three Brahminical associations were induced to countenance his mission by appointing him to represent them. They were: the Hari Bhakti Prodayini of Cawnpore; Varnashrama Dharma Sabbha of Delhi, and the Sanatan Dharma Rakshani Sabbha of Meerut. All this, as may be inferred, occupied several months in its accomplishment.
Meanwhile Mr. Judge had followed up the articles mentioned by publishing an editorial in The Path for July, 1893, with the significant title, "A Plot Against the Theosophical Society." Ostensibly this was drawn up as a warning concerning a renewed series of attacks on H.P.B. by certain enemies outside the Society (Messrs. W. Emmette Coleman and Vv. Solovyoff, although not mentioned by name), but the real caution is contained in the concluding paragraph, reading as follows:
"There is some likelihood that slight assistance will be rendered by one or two disaffected persons in India, who in the past have aided in spreading similar attacks which have been published in spiritualistic journals. From time to time we may be able to present further plans and purposes of this brigade of plotters for the
information of theosophists in advance. The plotters expect this to hurt the Society, but theosophists should know that nothing can hurt it if they remain loyal to their convictions, if they endeavor to understand the theosophic philosophy, if they avoid personalities and confine themselves, as was suggested by one of the Adepts long ago, to philosophical and ethical propaganda designed to benefit the moral nature of the community in which a Theosophist may live. No plot can avail against this. But we have thought it well, on behalf of the conspirators, to publish this notice as a preliminary to further details when the time is ready."
Other articles in The Path all written and published in view of the disastrous undertow already pulling the members from their allegiance to the First Object of the Society and their reverence for H.P.B., have already been noted. All these articles had an application to events immediately at hand and forthcoming, and not merely an informative and teaching value on Theosophical doctrines. The same is true of Mr. Judge's rendition of the "Bhagavad-Gita" and his "Ocean of Theosophy." The one gave to the students a faithful version of the greatest of the Brahminical philosophical disquisitions; the other put into clear English a correct presentation of Theosophical teachings, free from the crudities of Mr. Sinnett's "Esoteric Buddhism," and without the materialistic bias and speculations of that book. The "Ocean" remains to this day the one authentic treatment in small compass of the whole of the vast subjects dealt with in the "Secret Doctrine,", and is, in fact, a simplified and brief version of Madame Blavatsky's great work. It was first issued early in 1893.
As before indicated in the case of H.P.B. in analogous conditions, we believe that the various references and quotations covering Mr. Judge's activities show clearly
his prescience. They show too the successive steps he took to allay and counteract the currents running beneath the smooth and prosperous surface of affairs.
Later in the year 1893 Mr. Judge published in the September Path the article "Our Convictions; Shall We Assert Them?" This was in reply to an inquiry as to whether the neutrality of the Society precluded the expression by a member of convictions sincerely held by him "for fear of a vague future dogmatism." The article re-affirmed the view that every member, being free to hold such opinions as he might choose, he had necessarily the same freedom of expression, so long as such expression was not made in the name of the Society or as an official, nor to coerce others who might hold and express contrary opinions. In the November Path Mr. Judge printed "Impolitic Reference - H.P.B.," followed in the December Lucifer by "Blavatskianism in and out of Season." These articles struck the same note of freedom of individual opinion and expression, and at the same time accentuated the danger of their abuse by enthusiasts, as well as voicing a strong caution against mere reliance on and following of any one, however highly esteemed, as an "authority." Mrs. Besant wrote a very clear essay on the same subjects. Her article was entitled "Conviction and Dogmatism," and was published in The Path for October, Lucifer for November, and The Theosophist for December.
As in the similar cases during the lifetime of H.P.B., the students for the most part read the various articles published, talked of them, wondered in some cases who and what might be hinted at, but when the very test came to which these articles related, were unable to make any application. Of these, the most instructive example is that of Mrs. Besant. She had had the benefit of nearly two years of close relations with H.P.B. Of all the defenders of H.P.B.'s good faith and mission she had been the most outspoken. The student will recall her article "The Theosophical Society and H.P.B.," written without H.P.B.'s knowledge, though published
before her death, as well as the article "Theosophy and Christianity," published some months after the passing of H.P.B. Likewise her part of the proceedings of the Council of the E.S. immediately after H.P.B.'s passing, and her repeated remarks during the European Convention in July, 1891, evinced the same rigid, uncompromising view of the unique status and importance of H.P.B. as Messenger and Teacher. (3) She had adhered with intense conviction to these views during the two following years, and had supported Mr. Judge with fervor as the one man in the Society who was true to the lines laid by H.P.B. and fully cognizant of them. Her quoted articles and others equally significant showed the depths of her convictions. She suspended Mr. Walter R. Old from his membership in the Esoteric School for his veiled attack in the article on "Theosophy Free-thought." This was in August, 1893, and the suspension was declared by her to be because, "first, a violation of the pledge of secrecy made by Brother Old, and second, is a violation of honor and confidence as a member of the Council of the E.S.T." Furthermore she declared in the same circular that Mr. Old's "statement is itself untrue," and proceeded to give forthwith a format declaration of the facts in rebuttal of Old's claim - a declaration signed by herself and others present at the Council meeting of May 27, 1891. In the same month - August, 1893 - in her "Answers to Correspondence" in the E.S. she had given the letter of H.P.B. written in 1889 in which H.P.B. had declared Judge to be the Link between the American Esotericists and the Masters. This statement by H.P.B. was as follows:
"London, Oct. 23, 1889
"... The Esoteric Section and its life in the U.S.A. depend upon W.Q.J. remaining its agent and what he is now. The day W.Q.J. resigns, H.P.B. will be virtually dead for the Americans. W.Q.J. is the Antaskarana (the "Link") between the two Manas(es), the American
(3) See Chapters XIX and XX.
thought and the Indian - or rather the trans-Himalayan esoteric knowledge. Dixi
H.P.B. .'. "
While she was in the United States to attend the Parliament of religions Mrs. Besant joined with Mr. Judge in signing a prefatory note which was published in The Path for October, 1893, and entitled, "A Word on the 'Secret Doctrine,' An Old Letter Republished." The letter in question was a long extract from the famous letter from the Master "K.H." phenomenally delivered to Col. Olcott on shipboard in August, 1888, at the time Olcott was on his way to London to "fight it out with H.P.B." over the question of the formation of the E.S. (4) The prefatory note ran:
"There is so much discussion going on just now in the Theosophical movement as to the value of the Secret Doctrine, as to the amount of aid given to H.P. Blavatsky in the compilation of it, and as to her position as a Teacher in Occult matters, that it appears to us that the republication of an old letter - published in 1888 - which bears on these questions, is peculiarly timely, and may be of service to many who did not have the opportunity of reading it on its first issue. The letter is, of course, of no authority for those members of the T.S. who do not share our sentiments of reverence for the Masters, but for those who do, the interest of it will be great. It was received in mid-ocean by Col. Olcott, P.T.S., and was originally published with his consent in a small pamphlet entitled "An Explanation important to all Theosophists," issued by H.P.B.
William Q. Judge."
In the same month - that is, October, 1893 - Mrs. Besant had had published in her magazine, Lucifer, her
(4) See Chapter X.
article on "Gurus and Chelas," before referred to. (5) At the same time Mrs. Besant prepared the article on "Conviction and Dogmatism," mentioned. Thereafter she was silent on the great issues waging publicly and privately in the Society and the E.S. until after her arrival in India. The occasion of this silence and the great change it betokened must now be considered.
All arrangements having been perfected, G. N. Chakravarti left India in June and journeyed to England where he remained two months, chiefly as the guest of Mr. Bertram Keightley. He met all the leading Theosophists in Britain and was intensely active among them during his entire stay. His coming had been anticipated with the utmost interest, as may be imagined, and his suavity, his versatility and great knowledge, added to the lure of oriental mystery with which he was surrounded, gave him a vogue that rose to veneration on the part of the "household" at Avenue Road. Toward the end of August he sailed for America in company with Mrs. Besant, Miss Muller, and others. In the United States the party was received by Mr. Judge and leading American Theosophists as distinguished visitors. Chakravarti soon rose to the position of an unique presence, almost an ambassador from the East. His share in the proceedings of the Parliament became a mission more than a function, so that he was invited to participate in the dedicatory ceremonies at the opening of the Congress of Religions. The Theosophical program during the Congress was by all odds the most notable and noteworthy success of the proceedings, and in this success Prof. Chakravarti and Mrs. Besant held the leading place. The effect of all this upon the general public and the membership was immediate and marked. An immense interest in everything Theosophical sprang up. The whole Theosophical world was elated. To be called a "Theosophist" was equivalent to "honorable mention"; to enjoy the personal acquaintance of Chakravarti and Mrs. Besant a coveted distinction.
(5) See preceding chapter.
Mrs. Besant had already acquired fame as an Occultist and ascetic. She had become a strict vegetarian in diet; she carried her own table utensils with her on her travels; she followed rigidly the various "practices" laid down in oriental schools for "development." The savoir faire, the gravity of decorum, the great ability of Chakravarti, the extreme respect he manifested towards her, the deference of Mr. Bertram Keightley toward this friend who was almost if not quite a Master, all weighed heavily and cumulatively with Mrs. Besant. She had discovered that Chakravarti possessed and practised "psychic powers," and as, in spite of all her proclamations and all her practices she was woefully deficient in these "gifts," it was inevitable that she should view him with more than admiration. "Not psychic or spiritual in the least - all intellect," as H.P.B. had written of her to Mr. Judge in the letter of March 27, 1891 - it is all too clear that it was borne in on Mrs. Besant that here was her coveted opportunity to acquire those powers and faculties of which she knew only at second hand. She suffered herself to be "magnetized" by Chakravarti, and came more and more under the spell of his charm. On his part, Chakravarti received her devotions with elaborate punctilio. On their common journeying he watched over her with protective care to shield her from too close contact with the unworthy. He slept outside her door that she might be fitly sheltered from all disturbance, and advised with her as to her occult "progress."
All this, it need scarcely be said, was in direct violation of her pledge in the Esoteric Section, as well as in spirit and in letter a breach of the Rules of the E.S. Quite naturally these conspicuous mutual attentions did not altogether escape notice from unfriendly as well as friendly sources. Mr. Judge took occasion, therefore, to call to Mrs. Besant's attention the adverse interpretation that might easily be placed upon her conduct, as well as to caution her in regard to the Rules of the School governing the relations of Probationers with
teachers and teachings outside the strict lines established in the Preliminary Memoranda and in the Instructions.
It will be recalled that when Mrs. Besant had first been invited to visit India, immediately following the European Convention of 1891, her trip had been given up on the ostensible grounds of her health - in reality because of the charges she went to New York to place before Mr. Judge. (6) When again urged to visit India in 1892 she had consulted Mr. Judge and had, on his advice, visited the United States on a lecturing tour, as recounted. (7) When Mr. Bertram Keightley returned to England in the spring of 1893, he laid before Mrs. Besant a renewed request from the Hindus for a visit from her the following winter, and this was supplemented by urgent entreaties of Col. Olcott's. Immediately after her return from her American trip she yielded to these insistencies and herself published the news in the "Watch-Tower" of Lucifer for June, 1893.
Mrs. Besant and Prof. Chakravarti arrived at London on their return from America, early in October, 1893. After a short stay in England, Chakravarti sailed for home, followed a week later by Mrs. Besant and the Countess Wachtmeister. Mrs. Besant arrived at Colombo early in November, where she was met by Col. Olcott and a party of headquarters aides. Six weeks were spent in Ceylon and in reaching Adyar, where the party arrived on Christmas Day, 1893, just preceding the Convention. At the Convention Mrs. Besant delivered five lectures and, after a short rest, proceeded on a tour of India, accompanied by Col. Olcott and others. This tour engaged her until March, 1894, when she set sail once more on her return voyage to England. In all the annals of the Theosophical Society there is nothing comparable to this Indian visit of Mrs. Besant's. From the first moment of her landing hers was a vice-regal progress and a triumph. Natives and Europeans, members and non-members of the Society, crowded her with
(6) See Chapter XXI.
(7) See Chapter XXVI
attentions. The pages of The Theosophist during the months of her presence in India were burdened with descriptions and laudations devoted to the avatars "Annabai," as she was christened by the enthusiastic Hindus. During her trip she visited the sacred places of India, held conferences with leading priests, proclaimed herself an Indian in heart and feeling, and took the Brahminical thread. An article contributed by her over her signature to the native publication, the daily Amrita Bazar Patrika, expresses in her own words some of her views at the time - views which explain in part the frenzy of adulation she excited among the Hindus; views of extreme interest when contrasted with Mrs. Besant's activities in India for the past eight or ten years. We quote from the reprint in The Theosophist, "Supplement" for March, 1894:
"My work in the sphere of politics is over, and I shall never resume it ...
"I say this in answer to your suggestion that I should be aroused to take interest in Indian 'affairs.' To be able to lay at the feet of India any service is to me full reward for the many sufferings of a stormy life through which the power of service has been won. But the India that I love and reverence, and would fain see living among the nations, is not an India westernized, rent with the straggles of political parties, heated with the fires of political passions, with a people ignorant and degraded, while those who might have raised them are fighting for the loaves and fishes of political triumph. I have seen too much of this among the 'progressed and civilized nations' of the West to have any desire to see such a civilization over-spreading what was Aryavarta. The India to which I belong in faith and heart is ... a civilization in which spiritual knowledge was accounted highest title to honour, and in which the whole people reverenced and sought after spiritual
truth. To help in turning India, into another Great Britain or another Germany is an ambition that does not allure me; the India I would give my life to help in building is an India learned in the ancient philosophy, pulsing with the ancient religion, an India to which all other lands should look for spiritual light, where the life of all should be materially simple, but intellectually noble and spiritually sublime.
The whole of my life and of my energies are given to the Theosophical Society, because the Society is intended to work in all nations for the realisation of this spiritual ideal; for the sake of this it deliberately eschews all politics, embraces men of all parties, welcomes men of all faiths, declines to ostracise any man, any party or any faith. I may not mingle in a political fray which would make one temporary party regard me with enmity; for the message of spiritual life belongs equally to both and may not be rendered unacceptable by its bearer wearing a political garment which is a defiance of those clad in other political robes. The politician must ever be at war; my mission is one of peace. Therefore I enter not the political field; and in the religious field I seek to show men of every faith that they share a common spiritual heritage and should look through the forms that divide them to the spirit that makes them one. It is the recognition of this which makes Hinduism ever a non-proselyting religion....
"I write this lengthy explanation of my absolute refusal to have anything to do with politics because any expression of love and confidence from Indians goes straight to my heart,... because I honestly believe that the future of India, the greatness of India and the happiness of her people, can never be secured by political methods, but only by the revival of her philoso-
phy and religion. To this, therefore, I must give all my energies, and I must refuse to spread them over other fields.
Now, having traced the successive moves of Mr. Judge, and having followed Mrs. Besant's successive positions on the chessboard, it is necessary to review Col. Olcott's share in the strategy and tactics of the rapidly culminating manoeuvres. We have shown him in his "Old Diary Leaves," in his Presidential Addresses, in his letter to the American Section Convention of 1893, in his part in the "White Lotus Day" celebration at Adyar on May 8, 1893, in his use of Mr. Sturdy as a pawn, and of Mr. Walter R. Old as a more important piece through which to make his moves. We have partly indicated the glamour of deference, devotion, and extravagant attentions with which Mrs. Besant was enveloped by Col. Olcott and his followers in sequence to the mission of Mr. Bertram Keightley and the Occult lure held out by Prof. Chakravarti. This should be contrasted with the attentions paid at the same time by the President-Founder to Mr. Judge and H.P.B. Thus:
When the first copies of Mr. Judge's "Ocean of Theosophy" arrived at Adyar, Col. Olcott took time to write a review of the book. It will be found in The Theosophist for September, 1893. Colonel Olcott calls it an "interesting little volume" which is "another proof of Mr. Judge's tireless activity and commercial enterprise." He says that in print, paper, and binding it is "faultless" and "far and away beyond anything we can do at Madras." He goes on: "I wish I could unqualifiedly praise his present work; but I cannot. It contains some errors that are flagrant." The errors are then detailed; some typographical; some, errors of derivation of words; others, words said to be Sanskrit which are not; Mr. Sinnett was not "an official in the Government of India," but the Editor of the Pioneer newspaper. And, as it seems to the President-Founder, '"Mr. Judge makes a sad mistake in saying 'in place of the
"Absolute" we can use the word space,' and making it one of the divisions of the sevenfold universe." As Mr. Judge's brief sentences thus quoted from do but repeat in skeleton H.P.B.'s statement of the "First Fundamental Proposition" of the "Secret Doctrine," Col. Olcott's strictures in reality apply to those numbered statements in the "Secret Doctrine" concerning which H.P.B. said, in presenting them, "on their clear apprehension depends the understanding of all that follows" in her great work. Colonel Olcott closes this first of the two paragraphs of his review by saying: "Other errors might be pointed out; but I need not enlarge, since the task is ungrateful, and they will be quickly recognized by Indian readers."
But the real animus of the review is contained in the concluding paragraph. It is as follows:
"What I regard as most unfortunate is the habit which my old friend, in common with other of H.P.B.'s pupils whom I have known, but who long ago deserted her, has fallen into, of hinting that he could, and he would, disclose ultimate mysteries properly veiled from the common people. Examples occur in this book, and moreover he unhesitatingly declares (Preface) that his 'bold statements' (i.e., the whole presentation of the subjects treated) are 'made... upon the knowledge of the writer,' and that he 'has simply written that which I (sic) have been taught and which has been proved to me (sic).' When we consider the stupendous declarations of cosmic and human evolution and order that are made upon our friend's bare authority, it strikes one how much more nobly we would stand before the thinking and aspiring world, if Mr. Judge would make good this statement by adducing proofs that he has written that only which he 'knows' and which 'has been proven' as true. Or, at least, he might have taken a bit more pains and avoided downright errors in fact
and metaphysic. Does he, for example, wish us to believe that it has been proven to him that the Absolute is a septenary principle, and that Charlemagne reincarnated as Napoleon I, and Clovis of France as the Emperor Frederic III - proven? I trow not. This is a very loose fashion of asserting instead of proving which is spreading and which is very detrimental to a cause possessing enough solid merit in itself to make its way if discreetly engineered. - H.S.O."
Any reader can turn to the Preface and the text of the "Ocean" and determine for himself whether Col. Olcott's blows are struck fairly or foully, and whether Mr. Judge throughout the book, faithfully epitomizes the teachings of the "Secret Doctrine."
The President-Founder's criticism of the "Ocean" which included its author, Mr. Judge, and H.P.B. the Teacher, and her Teachings, in its invidious implications, was followed in the October, 1893, Theosophist by an Editorial Note, signed with Col. Olcott's initials, to an article by "N.D.K." taking mild exceptions to the statements in the August installment of "Old Diary Leaves" on H.P.B.'s ignorance of "reincarnation" at the time of the writing of "Isis Unveiled." Colonel Olcott goes still further than in "Old Diary Leaves." He says that not only did H.P.B. not teach reincarnation but that "she really taught the opposite." He goes on to claim credit for himself for the "discovery" in 1881 of the "idea of Individuality and Personality." "After that" (italics Col. Olcott's), it was taught by H.P.B.,... and, generally, made current as our belief."
The Adyar Convention at the close of December, 1893, was opened by the President-Founder in person with his Annual Address delivered in the presence of Mrs. Besant. Beginning with his second sentence he sounds public official paeans to Mrs. Besant and himself. We quote from the Report in the "Supplement" to The Theosophist for January, 1894:
"The night's blackness is rolling away, the dawn of a happier day is breaking. Thanks - as I believe - to the kind help of those whom I call my Masters... our patient and loyal persistence is about being rewarded by help of the most valuable kind, for they have sent me "Annabai" [Mrs. Besant] to share my burden, relieve our mental distress, and win the respect and sympathy of good people. While she is not yet able to quite fill the void left by the departure of my co-founder, H.P.B., she will be in time, and meanwhile is able to render service that her Teacher could not, by her peerless oratory and her scientific training. This meeting will be historical, as marking her first appearance at our Annual Conventions: - her first, but not her last, for I have some reason to hope that she will devote a certain part of her future years to Indian work. [Great applause.]
"Mrs. Besant's and my close association in the Indian tour now in progress, and the consequent mutual insight into our respective characters and motives of action, has brought us to a perfect understanding which, I believe, nothing can henceforth shake. She and I are now at one as regards the proper scope and function of the E.S.T. as one of the activities carried on by our members.... Whatever misunderstandings have occurred hitherto with respect to the exact relationship between the Society, as a body, and the Esoteric Section which I chartered in 1888 - now known as the Eastern School of Theosophy - and of which she is the sweet spirit and the guiding star, have passed away - I hope, forever."
The reader should bear in mind the specific declaration of H.P.B. that "the E.S.T. has no relation whatever with the Theosophical Society as a body," and the historical fact that its formation was opposed and its conduct under H.P.B. disapproved of by Col Olcott.
The President-Founder's Address goes on to refer to the recent Congress of Religions at the Chicago Fair, and says:
"In common with every other working member in the Society, I am encouraged by this demonstration to unflagging persistence in the work, and very recent assurances from sources I most respect [he means the Masters], give me the conviction of speedy and complete success. At the same time I am warned to expect fresh disagreeable surprises; but for these, long experience has fortified me, and the Society, as heretofore, will emerge purer and stronger than ever. The Society is gradually learning that personalities are but broken reeds to lean upon; and that the best of us are but mortals, fallible and weak."
Repeated further laudatory references to Mrs. Besant appear throughout the remainder of the Presidential Address. Miss Miller and Prof. Chakravarti are spoken of with commendation. Considerable time is spent in arguing once more the advisability and necessity of Adyar as a central focus of the movement. That the President-Founder is the real inspiration and authority of the Society is affirmed in the following sentences:
"The Chief Executive has already become in great part, and must ultimately be entirely the mere official pivot of the wheel, the central unit of its life, the representative of its federative character, the umpire in all intersectional disputes, the wielder of the Council's authority."
Then the President goes on to say, without a break: I abhor the very semblance of autocratic interference, but I equally detest that spirit of nullification which drives people to try to subvert constitutions under which they have prospered and which has proved in practice well
fitted to promote the general well being. This feeling has made me resent at times what seemed attempts to make the Society responsible for special authorities, ideas and dogmas which, however good in themselves, were foreign to the views of some of our members, and hence an invasion of their personal rights of conscience under our constitution. As the official guardian of that instrument, my duty requires this of me, and I hope never to fail in it."
Finally, at the close of his Address, the President-Founder returns once more to the epiphany of Mrs Besant and says:
"With the formation of my present close acquaintance with Mrs. Besant, my course has become very clearly marked out in my mind. Unless something unexpected and of a very revolutionary character should happen, I mean to abandon the last lingering thought of retirement and stop at my post until removed by the hand of death. 'Annabai' will in time become to me what H.P.B. was, and I shall try to prove as staunch and loyal a colleague to her as I think you will concede I have been to my lamented co-founder of this Society. In her bright integrity, her passionate love of truth, her grand trained intellect and her unquestioning altruism, I feel a strength and support which acts upon me as the elbow-touch of the comrade to the soldier in battle. Disciples of the same Master, devoted to the same cause, and now friends who know and trust each other, we may, I hope and pray, henceforth resemble in this movement the Aryan god, who is dual when looked at from two aspects, but when properly understood is but one and indivisible." [Great applause.]
When these remarks of Col. Olcott's are weighed in the light of preceding events and measured in their rela-
tion to the framework of circumstances by which they were surrounded, there can be no question of their gravity or that they were deliberately calculated. They were spoken at the most important convocation yet held in India after the one at the end of 1884. There the planned purpose was negative - to leave the most important personage connected with the Society unsupported and undefended against an assault leveled, not against her as an individual, but as the Head and forefront of the Theosophical Movement. It was the first great test of the professed devotion to Brotherhood - the First Object of the Society. It ended in desertion, rather than in active disloyalty. Injurious as its effects were, it would have been ruinous had H.P.B. had to depend on the Hindus and Col. Olcott; as it was, its reactionary effects were felt chiefly in India, so far as the Society was concerned.
But in 1893, the disloyalty was positive; it was a planned assault, by the chief officer of the Society, aided and abetted by its leading members. It was that very plot against the Theosophical Society, of which Mr. Judge had written months before - against brotherhood as that word had been used in the declaration of the First and Second Sections in 1881, as it had been exemplified by Masters and H.P.B., as it had been taught in Theosophy, and in the Rules, the Preliminary Memoranda and the Instructions of the Esoteric School.
Colonel Olcott intended his statements to be received as his authoritative and official proclamation to all who might look to him for direction. It is therefore well worth while for the student to examine them closely in relation to the tissues of the web spun to the occasion of his designed pattern. Stripped of redundancies and tergiversations the extracts given come to this: the President-Founder of the Society, speaking as its Official Head, declares:
(1) That the Masters have rewarded his "patient and loyal persistence" by, sending him Mrs. Besant "to fill the void left by the de-
parture of H.P.B.," and who is "able to render service that her Teacher could not";
(2) That he has come "to a perfect understanding with her that nothing can henceforth shake," so that he and Mrs. Besant "are now at one as regards the proper scope and function of the E.S.T.," of which "she is the sweet spirit and the guiding star";
(3) That he himself has "already become in great part, and must ultimately be entirely" the "central unit" in the "life" of the Society, the "representative," the "umpire," the "wielder of the Council's authority";
(4) And, finally, that "very recent assurances" from the Masters warn him "to expect fresh disagreeable surprises," from which, however, he is assured that the Society "will emerge purer and stronger than ever."
These statements of his are put forth officially, although he "abhors the very semblance of autocratic interference" and "resents attempts to make the Society responsible for special authorities, ideas and dogmas" which "are foreign to the views of some of our members, and hence an invasion of their personal rights of conscience under our constitution," and although "personalities are but broken reeds to lean upon, and the best of us are but mortals fallible and weak."
Indicative as these contrasted declarations are of that "loss of moral balance unconsciously to himself" - as H.P.B. had written must be the fate of those who "wander from the discipline" - indicative as they are when weighed only in the light of what preceded and accompanied the Presidential Address, they become ever more profoundly significant when viewed in unbroken continuity with the succeeding events.
The facts, unknown then, are knowable now. Through Messrs. A.P. Sinnett and Bertram Keightley first, Chakravarti next and Col. Olcott finally, Mrs. Besant was infected with doubts and suspicions of H.P.B., then of
Mr. Judge, as Col. Olcott had himself succumbed to the same influences in 1881. The potion, in increasing doses, mixed with subtle flatteries, by degrees led Mrs. Besant to the point where, "in the name of the Masters" she was induced to break her "most solemn and sacred word of honor" and "for the honor of the Society" to violate her pledges in the E.S.
At Adyar Mrs. Besant counseled with Mr. Walter R. Old, who, smarting under his "wrongs," told his psychic tale of inference and hearsay. At Adyar Mrs. Besant attended a dark cabinet at which were present besides herself, Mr. Old, Col. Olcott, Messrs. Edge and Sturdy, and Countess Wachtmeister. Here their mutual doubts were well confirmed, each by the others, their mutual burdens of circumstantial evidence adjusted to fit their several interpretations. William Q. Judge was weighed in the balance, tried, convicted, condemned of Theosophical infamies, and plans made to carry the sentence into execution. From November, 1893, until March, 1894, the conspirators day by day wrote and spoke of brotherhood, and night after night plotted fruitfully its negation.
Early in January Mrs. Besant, Col. Olcott, and their party resumed the tour of India temporarily suspended during the Convention. Allahabad - home of Prof. Chakravarti - was reached early in February. There, as was most fit and proper, the final step was taken, and in accordance with the plan agreed upon, Mrs. Besant handed to Col. Olcott the following:
"Allahabad, Feb. 6th, 1894.
"To the President-Founder of the Theosophical Society.
"Dear Sir and Brother, -
"Some little time ago an appeal was made to me by members of the T.S. belonging to different Branches, to set their minds at rest as to the accusations made against the Vice-President of the Society, Bro. W.Q. Judge, with reference to certain letters and sentences in the alleged
writings of the Mahatmas. As it is to the detriment of the whole Society that such accusations - believed to be true by reputable members of the Society - should be circulated against a prominent official without rebuttal and without investigation, I ask you, as the President of the Society, to direct that the charges made shall be formulated and laid before a Committee, as provided by Art. VI, Secs. 2, 3 and 4.
On the next day Colonel Olcott wrote the following official communication to Mr. Judge:
"Agra, Feb. 7th, 1894.
"To William Q. Judge, Vice-President T.S.
"Dear Sir and Brother;
"I enclose herewith a certified copy of Annie Besant's formal letter to me, dated Allahabad, Feb. 6th inst. In it she demands an official enquiry, by means of a Committee, into the matter of your alleged misuse of the Mahatmas' names and handwriting.
"By virtue of the discretionary power given me in Art. VI of the Revised Rules, I place before you the following options:
"(1) To retire from all offices held by you in the Theosophical Society and leave me to make a merely general public explanation, or
"(2) To have a Judicial Committee convened, as provided for in Art. VI, Sec. 3, of the Revised Rules, and make public the whole of the proceedings in detail.
"In either alternative, you will observe, a public explanation is found necessary: in the one case to be limited as far as possible and made general; in the other to be full and covering all the details.
"I suggest that if you decide for a Committee you fix London as the place of meeting, as by far the most central and convenient to all concerned. But whether you choose New York, London, or elsewhere, I shall in all probability
be represented by proxy, unless something now unforeseen should arise to make it imperative that I shall personally attend.
"As it will be much better that I should know your decision before Annie Besant leaves India (March 20th), I would ask you to kindly cable me the word 'first' if you choose to resign; or 'second' if you demand the Committee. Fraternally yours,
President Theosophical Society."
Go to the next chapter:
XXVIII. THE AMERICAN SECTION SUPPORTS JUDGE ........ 468
Back to Table of
The Theosophical Movement 1875-1925