Echoes of the Past:
Master Koot Hoomi
by Mary K. Neff
[First published in The Theosophist
(Adyar, Madras, India)
November 1929, pp. 214-217.]
On July 8, 1881, Mr. Sinnett received a letter from Master K.H. in which the latter
remarked: "I may answer you, what I said to G.T. Fechner, one day, when he
wanted to know the Hindu view on what he had written." (1) Here was something tangible to seize upon! The
Master conversing with Fechner! It was not long before C.C. Massey, leader of the
British Theosophists, made an effort to test this bit of physical plane evidence of the
existence of the Mahatmas. His letter to Dr. Wernekke and the Doctor's reply are of
1, ALBERT MANSIONS,
Victoria St., London,
15th April, 1883.
DR. HUGO WERNEKKE,
I write to you with a special object, in the hope of some information which it much
concerns me to obtain, and which you may be able to get for me from Professor Fechner.
I am a member of a Society called "The Theosophical," which has its
Headquarters in India, where it is said to be in communication, through certain of our
leaders there, with a sect or fraternity of Tibetan Buddhists, known to us as the
"Brothers" and as "Adepts" in occult science.
One of these, named Koot Humi Lal Singh, is credited with extraordinary knowledge and
powers, and is the "Brother" with whom we are chiefly in correspondence.
Some of our Society in England, including myself, are extremely anxious to verify, if
possible, some statements which have been made about this personage, on his authority, and
indeed by himself, in letters we have seen.
One of these statements is that he has travelled in Europe, and at one time studied in
a Germany University. It has been suggested by one outside our Society that
"Koot Humi" is altogether a myth, a pseudonym used by a certain designing person
who is imposing upon us. I am so far from being indignant at this suggestion, that
some things in my own experience have made me rather doubtful about this "Koot
Humi"; and as he has made one specific statement about his German life, I am very
anxious to test it.
I must say that "Koot Humi" is, we are told, a Tibetan mystic
appellation, and is therefore probably not the name by which Prof. Fechner would
have known him, as alleged. But this is what he says in a letter now before me
(written and received, I must add, long before the publication of your translation of
Fechner's book, and therefore certainly not suggested by that):
"I may answer you what I said to G.T. Fechner one day when he wanted to know the
Hindu view on what he had written: 'You are right; every diamond, every crystal, every
planet and star has its own individual soul, besides man and animal. . . and there is a
hierarchy of souls from the lowest forms of matter up to the world-soul; but you are
mistaken when adding to that the assurance that the spirits of the departed hold direct
psychic communication with souls that are still connected with a human body; for
they do not. The relative position of the inhabited worlds in our solar system would
alone preclude such a possibility.' "
I do not quote the rest, for my object is only to find out whether Professor Fechner
ever had such a conversation with an Oriental whom we could thus identify with Koot Humi.
He might probably recollect the fact if it occurred, or be able to say
positively that it never did occur.
My friend, Mr. A.P. Sinnett (author of The Occult World), is expected home
from India at the end of this month. He is the chief correspondent among us of Koot
Humi, and is quite certain of the latter's existence and that he is all that he has been
represented to us. But he has not seen him; and I am by no means satisfied, as
statements have come to me from from Koot Humi through Sinnett which I rather suspect of a
different authorship, though Sinnett would know nothing about that. But if the
particular letter to which I am referring is not genuine, or rather if it was written by,
or at the instance of, the person I suspect, then all the others which are in the same
handwriting would be discredited.
Pray pardon me for troubling you; but if you would obtain for me from Professor Fechner
any evidence on the subject of the above, I should feel much indebted to you.
Perhaps the shortest way, and the one which would spare you trouble, would be to send on
this letter to Prof. Fechner, whose address I do not know, and I have also not the honour
of being known to him.
I have just obtained a copy of his Zend-Avesta, as my impatience to read it
would not suffer me to wait for the translation which I hope some day you will be able to
COPY OF AN EXTRACT FROM
A LETTER FROM PROFESSOR FECHNER,
DATED LEIPZIG, APRIL 25TH,
1883, TO DR. HUGO WERNEKKE (2)
What Mr. Massey enquires about is undoubtedly in the main correct; the name of the
Hindu concerned, when he was in Leipzig, was however, Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyaya, not Koot
Humi. In the middle of the seventies he lived for about one year in Leipzig and
aroused a certain interest owing to his foreign nationality, without being otherwise
conspicuous; he was introduced to several families and became a member of the Academic
Philosophical Society, to which you also belonged, where on one occasion he gave a lecture
on Buddhism. I have these notes from Mr. Wirth, the Librarian of the Society, who is
good enough to read to me three times a week. I also heard him give a lecture in a
private circle on the position of women among the Hindus. I remember very well that
he visited me once, and though I cannot remember our conversation, his statement that I
questioned him about the faith of the Hindus is very likely correct. Apart from this
I have not had personal intercourse with him; but, after his complete disappearance from
Leipzig, I have been interested to hear about him, and especially to know that he plays an
important role in his native country, such as undoubtedly he could not play here.
Only one other incident of the Master K.H.'s sojourn in Germany as a student, in the
seventies of the last century, is available. It is narrated by Mr. A.O. Hume in his Hints
on Esoteric Theosophy, p. 37, thus:
Take a case said to have occurred many years ago in Germany, in which a Brother, who
has corresponded with us, is said to have taken part. He was at this time a student,
and though in course of preparation was not then himself an Adept, but was, like all
regular chelas, under the special charge of an Adept. A young friend of his
was accused of forgery, and tried for the same. Our Brother, then a student as above
explained, was called as a witness to prove his friend's handwriting; the case was
perfectly clear and a conviction certain. Through his mentor, our Brother learnt
that his accused friend did not really deserve punishment that would necessarily fall on
him, and which would have ruined not only him, but other innocent persons dependent on
him. He had really committed a forgery but not knowingly or meaningly, though it was
impossible to show this. So when the alleged forged document was handed to the
witness, he merely said: "I see nothing written here," and returned the
deed blank. His mentor had caused the entire writing to disappear. It was
supposed that a wrong paper had been by mistake handed to the witness; search was made
high and low, but the deed never appeared, and the accused was perforce acquitted.
(1) The Mahatma Letters [2nd edition], p.
(2) Translated from German.