Published by the Blavatsky Study Center
Paranormal Features of
Some of the Appearances of the Mahatmas
by Daniel H. Caldwell
Some readers of the compilation titled The Testimony of Emma Coulomb & Richard Hodgson Concerning the Appearances of the Mahatmas may have noticed that Emma Coulomb's and Richard Hodgson's accounts concerning the "appearances" and "encounters" with the Mahatmas do not mention or explain what I will call the "paranormal" features of many of these encounters that various people testified about. This "silence" by Coulomb and Hodgson leads me to conclude that these "explanations" by Coulomb and Hodgson are (to say the least) inadequate and unconvincing. (1)
Dr. Ian Stevenson, well-known for his study and research of cases of children who apparently remember previous lives, has written about the importance of recurrent features of various paranormal phenomena. He writes:
"In the study of spontaneous paranormal phenomena we must usually interview and cross-question informants about events that have happened before we arrive on the scene. In principle, the methods are those that lawyers use in reconstructing a crime and historians use in understanding the past. Once we have the best account possible of the events in question, we consider one by one the alternative explanations and try to eliminate them until only the single most probable one remains. Then we try with further observations to confirm or reject the initially preferred explanation.
In addition, we search through series of apparently similar phenomena for recurrent features that may provide clues to causative conditions and processes of occurrence." "Some of My Journeys in Medicine." Italics added.
It should also be noted that this search for recurrent features is also done in many other branches of science.
In his classic work titled Apparitions, the psychical researcher/parapsychologist G. N. M. Tyrrell listed the various recurrent features of apparitions. Looking for common features, he came up with this list after studying hundreds of apparitional cases. Some of these recurrent features or characteristics are as follows:
An apparition can appear as a real and solid person but if you touched the apparition, your hand would go right through it.
An apparition can appear luminous or radiant.
An apparition can disappear in a variety of ways. It can simply walk out the door, or it can vanish on the spot, walk through walls, or slowly fade into nothingness.
It is also to be noted that an apparition sometimes appears to glide or float instead of walk.
In many of the cases given in A Casebook of Encounters with the Theosophical Mahatmas, these recurrent features can also be seen to occur. I quote below various excerpts from these cases illustrating these recurrent features. Italics have been added.
"I suddenly saw, at the distance of about 15 paces, a gleaming substance which assumed the figure of a man. It was not walking on the ground, but appeared to be gliding through mid-air among the top-most branches of the trees. It glided forwards and backwards four or five times."
"Shortly after the figure again appeared on the hill, and suddenly vanished, leaving a brightness which gradually faded away."
"The figure seemed faintly luminous....The figure gradually vanished, and for a minute or two afterwards the place where it had been seemed to be gleaming with a milky brightness."
"I received a letter . . . which was brought to me in the most incomprehensible and mysterious manner, by a messenger of Asiatic appearance, who then disappeared before my very eyes."
"The four of the party, happening to sit so they could look out of the window into the street (a room in second story of house), saw pass the window on the outside the forms of two men."
"When I asked him to leave me some tangible evidence that I had not been the dupe of a vision, but that he had indeed been there, he removed from his head the puggri [turban] he wore, and giving it to me, vanished from my sight."
"Within about 2 or 3 minutes I heard HPB's voice in her room calling me. I got up with a start and went in. She said 'some persons want to see you' and after a moment added, 'Now go out, do not look at me.' Before however I had time to turn my face, I saw her gradually disappear on the spot and from that very ground rose up the form of [Mahatma Morya]."
"On the next occasion, when we were chatting in the above verandah as usual, another Brother, clothed in a white dress, was suddenly seen as if standing on a branch of a tree. We saw him then descending as though through the air, and standing on a corner edge of a thin wall. Madame then rose up from her seat and stood looking at him for about two minutes, andas if it seemedtalking inaudibly with him. Immediately after, in our presence, the figure of the man disappeared, but was afterwards seen again walking in the air through space, then right through the tree, and again disappearing."
"The figure in coming up to Madame Blavatsky's room was seen by us "to float through the air," and we also distinctly heard it talking to her...."
"That very night while I was going to bed in Col. Olcott's room, with all doors closed, and in good lamp light, I was startled to see coming out, as it were, of the solid wall, the astral form of my most revered Guru Deva [Mahatma K.H], and I prostrated before him, and he blessed me and desired me to go and see him beyond the Himalayas, in good Telugu language....He disappeared in the same way as he appeared."
"[The second time I saw an astral appearance was] two or three days after that. We were sitting on the ground --- on the rock, outside the house in Bombay, when a figure appeared a short distance away. It was not the same figure as on the first occasion. This [astral figure] was the same shining colour as before. It seemed to float. There was no sound accompanying it. It seemed like phosphorus in the dark. The hair was dark, and could be distinguished from the face.'
"Of the three persons present one left the room, and the other two --- Narasimhulu and Soobiah --- drew near to him. He made certain signs which the brothers did not understand, but remembered vividly....He turned and left the house, followed by the two brothers, and suddenly disappeared, to their great astonishment."
"His manner of walking was so gentle that not a footstep, not the slightest sound, was audible; nor did he appear to move, by his gestures. It was only the change of position that made us see he had come nearer and nearer....He held out and put his hands twice over Mme. B.'s head. She then stretched out her hand which passed through his --- a fact proving that what we saw was a mayavi rupa [apparitional body], although so vivid and clear as to give one the impression of a material physical body. She immediately took the letter from his hands. It crumpled, as it were, and made a sound. He then waved his hands toward us, walked a few steps, inaudibly and imperceptibly as before, and disappeared! Mme. B. then handed the letter to me, as it was intended for me."
"He materialised partly, and I was able to see a hazy form and though hazy I saw His arm clearly handing something to H.P.B."
"In one corner of the room there appeared a thin vapoury substance of a shining white colour. Gradually it took shape, and a few dark spots became visible, and after a short time it was the fully-formed body of a man, apparently as solid as an ordinary human body. This figure passed and re-passed us several times, approaching to within a distance of a yard or two from where we were standing near the window. It approached so near that I think that if I had put out my hand I might have touched it."
"During the night. . . I was visited by Dj.K... who talked with me about sundry persons and things. Mr. Leadbeater. . . sleeping on another charpai in the same room, heard the two voices and saw a column of light by my bedside, but could not distinguish the form of my visitor."
"Another time I remember that the rooms gradually filled until there was no vacant seat. On the sofa sat a distinguished Hindu, in full panoply of turban and dress. The discussion proceeded and apparently our distinguished guest was much interested, for he seemed to follow intelligently the remarks of each speaker. The President of the Lodge arrived that night very late, and coming in looked around for a seat. He walked up to the sofa and sat down right in the middle
of the distinguished Hindu, who promptly, and with some surprise, fizzled and vanished!"
"One night I awoke suddenly owing to an extraordinary feeling that there was in the room. The air was all throbbing, and it seemed as if an electric machine was playing there; the whole room was electric. I was so astonished (for it was my first experience of the kind) that I sat up in bed, wondering what on earth could be happening. It was quite dark, and in those days I was not a bit clairvoyant. At the foot of the bed a luminous figure appeared, and stood there from half a minute to a minute. It was the figure of a very tall man, and I thought, from pictures I had seen, it was H. P.
B.'s Master. Near him was another figure, more faintly luminous, which I could not clearly distinguish. The brilliant figure stood quite still, looking at me, and I was so utterly astounded that I sat perfectly still, simply looking at Him...."
The presence of these recurrent features in these various cases leads me to conclude that these apparitions of the Mahatmas were genuine and not the result of fraud as alleged by Coulomb and Hodgson. (1)
(1) I could cite several other good reasons for not accepting Coulomb's and Hodgson's explanations.
For example, Richard Hodgsons 1885 Society for Psychical Research Report (charging HPB with fraud and declaring that her Masters were fictional) may appear convincing if one only looks at what Hodgson presents in the pages of his Report. But if you start searching for more evidence outside this Report, you may begin to doubt the soundness of Hodgsons charges and "explanations".
In dealing with the testimony pertaining to the existence of HPBs Masters, Hodgson omits or downplays Colonel Henry S. Olcotts testimony about these Masters. Unless one consults other sources, the reader of Hodgsons Report would never know the extent of Olcotts close encounters with the Masters Morya and Koot Hoomi.
It is my opinion that Hodgson is not dealing with this issue of the Masters in a fair and impartial manner. Hodgsons Report does not provide its readers with vital details and information concerning HPB and the Masters. In other words, Richard Hodgson omits or downplays any evidence that might show that his hypotheses or explanations about H.P.B. and the Masters have serious deficiencies.
For evidence of this, carefully compare the various testimonies given by Colonel Olcott with Hodgson's "explanation".
Olcott's testimony can be found in the following two documents:
Colonel Henry S. Olcott's Testimony about His Meetings with the Master Morya
Henry S. Olcott's Testimony: Nine Accounts of Meeting Masters and Adepts
Hodgson's explanations can be found in the following source:
The Testimony of Emma Coulomb & Richard Hodgson Concerning the Appearances of the Mahatmas
Other reasons for rejecting Hodgson's and Coulomb's contentions can be found in the following two works:
Obituary: The "Hodgson Report" on Madame Blavatsky by Walter A. Carrithers, Jr.
H. P. Blavatsky and the SPR by Vernon Harrison
Published by the Blavatsky Study Center