Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.

[Two Replies by]
Mr. Damodar K. Mavalankar

[First published in Richard Hodgson's "Account of Personal Investigations in India,
and Discussion of the Authorship of the 'Koot Hoomi' Letters,"
Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research,
Volume III, 1885, Appendix IV, pp. 336-337. ]

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From his first reply to circular inquiry: -

August 18th, 1884.

As regards the hole [through the sideboard into the recess] . . . in the presence of Dr. Hartmann and Mr. Lane-Fox, I attempted to enter it. All who know me or have seen me are aware how thin and lean I am; and although I was almost half naked at the time, I could enter the "hole" with difficulty. And when once inside I could only stand abreast without being able to move, either way, an inch, or to lift up my hand. I was there hardly 10 seconds when I felt choked, and I am firmly persuaded to believe that if I had stopped there two minutes longer I should have fainted on account of suffocation. And this when the cupboard attached to the hole was removed, and there was passage for air through it. How much more suffocating must it be when there is no such free passage for air? Moreover, the piece of wall on which the "Shrine" was hung is intact. Mr. Coulomb himself told us, on the evening of the 18th, that there was no communication then between that "wall" and the "Shrine." The frame of the "Shrine" was also intact, and there was no sliding panel to it. All this he himself admitted, adding, however, that he had closed them up before Madame Blavatsky’s departure from Madras. If so, there are several witnesses to show that the phenomena were witnessed even in the "Shrine" after Madame Blavatsky’s departure, and when, according to Mr. Coulomb’s own admission, the communication between the "Shrine" and the aperture was no longer existing.

From his second reply to circular inquiry: -

August 19th, 1884.

I had not myself examined the wall, nor the Shrine for some time; but I was present on several occasions when the various witnesses to the "occult phenomena" had examined them. One or two of these were themselves engineers, and had closely and minutely examined the places. They had scrutinised carefully, in every possible way, the Shrine, and had satisfied themselves that it was intact, and had no panels or anything of the kind. I say all this because the several examinations in my presence were completely satisfactory, and I had no reason to complain in any way. When some outsiders had made unfavourable observations, I mean those who had never been in the Occult Room, Madame Blavatsky had asked me to examine the Shrine; and one day, in December or January last, I well remember Mr. Subba Row and myself very carefully examining the Shrine and the wall; and we were both satisfied that they were intact. But I must state something before that time. To the other side of the wall, behind the Shrine, was put a wardrobe, which was sometimes removed in the presence of several witnesses, and we had all every reason to be sure that the wall was intact. In July or August last year Madame Blavatsky went to Ootacamund; and shortly afterwards Colonel Olcott, who was then visiting the South Indian Branches, joined her there. During their absence, the key of the Shrine and of the Occult Room were in my charge, and every week, without fail, I used to take all the things out of the Shrine, and clean it myself with a towel, many times in the presence of Madame Coulomb, and sometimes when others were there I used to rub the frame hard with the towel, and if there were any workable panel at that time, it could not but have moved under the pressure. But I noticed nothing of the kind. The whole frame was quite intact, and I can say from positive knowledge that it was so till the middle of September last. Madame Blavatsky then returned to Madras, and I handed the keys over to her. During that period of nearly three months, I had put in several letters in the Shrine, the key being in my possession, and invariably I received replies. It was then, during that period, that General Morgan saw the phenomenon of the broken saucer mentioned by him in The Theosophist. . . .

Then he showed us three sliding panels to three pieces of furniture in Madame Blavatsky’s room. These were evidently new. They could not be moved without a great deal of effort and a great noise. One of these, moreover was to a shelf, to be worked from outside, i.e., the passage from the stairs to Madame Blavatsky’s rooms. At all times the door of the stairs was open, and any one going up could easily see anyone working it. And, moreover, hardly any phenomena were produced therein. Another of these panels also was to a shelf, to be worked from outside, so that anyone standing on the stairs could see what the person was doing. Moreover, the difficulty and the great noise with which they could be moved distinctly showed their very recent origin and the impracticability of their having been used before.