Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.

From Hinduism to Hinduism
by Parbati Churn Roy, B.A., F.T.S.


 Scepticism towards Occultism.

As has already been said, Madame Blavatsky used to shut herself up in her room, whence she came out only during meal hours, or to see visitors.  Three or four days after her arrival at Willow Dale, I had occasion one morning suddenly to enter her study with a telegram that had come for her.  After reading the telegram, she showed me a letter that I saw lying on her table.  She said that it had been precipitated only a few minutes before I entered the room, and that I could read it if I liked.  On looking at the letter, I was greatly struck by the economy, as regards space, practised by the writer.  The letter was written on both sides of half a sheet of note paper, without any margin being left.  The writing commenced at the very top of the first page, and ended at the bottom of the second.  There was no sender's address and no date.  The subject matter treated of, related to the Theosophical Society, and there were words in it which referred to persons and things unknown to me.  The handwriting was quite different from that of H.P.B.'s.  There was not the least ground for suspecting that the letter was not genuine, or that it was an act of imposition practised by Madame Blavatsky, but the precipitation theory was so novel, and so opposed to the teachings of science, that I could not persuade myself to believe that a letter could be disintegrated by the sender, and then reintegrated by him at the place to which it was directed.  I was, therefore, not prepared to accept as true the statement of Madame Blavatsky, and so quietly came out of her room without expressing either belief or unbelief.

Before the arrival of Madame Blavatsky at my cottage, I invited two friends to come up from Calcutta, and spend with me a few days during the Court vacation.  One of these was my cousin, Babu Bhuban Mohan Das, brother to Babu Kali Mohan Das, mentioned in the preceding chapter, who was editor of the Brahmo Public Opinion: and the other was my friend Babu Tariny Kumar Ghose, a graduate of the Calcutta University.  The former was a leading member of the Sadharan Brahmo-Somaj, or the Constitutional Theistic Church; and the latter, a very learned Agnostic.  When these guests arrived, we were pressed for room, and Madame Blavatsky was put to much inconvenience, but she did not mind it.  These friends, however, did not like her presence, as they looked upon her as an impostor.  And, though I myself had noticed nothing against her conduct, I began to doubt my own senses, especially as I believed my friends to be men of very sound judgment.  I gradually began to think that it would be well if H.P.B. were to leave Willow Dale.

It has been said that Madame Blavatsky was accompanied by some disciples.  These were Babu Nobeen Krishna Bannerjea, Manager under the Court Wards at Berhampore; two Pleaders of the Judge's Court at Berhampore; one Madrassee, a District Registrar; one Ceylonese, a Magistrate; and one Burmese, whose antecedents were not known.  Babu Nobeen Krishna Bannerjea had followed H.P.B. to Darjeeling with his wife and family, leaving his work.  He was a highly educated man, and possessed varied experience.

One night, when my feelings against the Mahatmas had been worked up by the sneers and taunts of my Theistic and Agnostic friends mentioned above, I had a most heated discussion with Nobeen Babu.  The quarrel, for so it was, arose in this wise; I began by finding fault with the Mahatmas for not coming forward before the public and explaining their doctrines by means of experiments like the scientists in the West.  If what they were said to be capable of doing was true, surely truth would not suffer by being publicly made known to the world.  To this Nobeen Babu replied by saying, that the truths taught by the Mahatmas were far too transcendental to be understood and appreciated by anyone who had not gone through a course of preparatory training; that just as a boy, who had no knowledge of chemistry and physics, would be incapable of understanding the highest teachings of those sciences; as one whose knowledge of mathematics was confined only to arithmetic would be incapable of appreciating the high mathematical teachings of Sir W. Thomson's vortex theory, so a person, uninitiated in the mysteries of the spiritual world, would be incapable of understanding the teachings of the Mahatmas.  And that, even if the Mahatmas were to appear before the public and exhibit their powers, they would be considered as no better than jugglers, who often perform tricks, which baffle the understanding of even men of science.  This nettled my temper, as I thought that I, as a student of science, was not to be treated in this disrespectful manner.  I took it as an insult.  Now, in a calmer state of mind, I understand that Nobeen Babu did not mean in any way to underrate my scientific knowledge, but that his object in making the comparison was to illustrate the difficulty of following the teachings of the Mahatmas on the spiritual plane, the laws of which, though not antagonistic to those of the known sciences, were quite different from them, and that, howsoever proficient one might be in the latter he must begin the study of the former like a child, and advance step by step up the spiritual ladder before he can attain to the height of the Mahatmas.  As I have said, I lost my temper, and began to speak loudly and angrily, while Nobeen Babu continued calm and dignified.  Just as I was speaking disparagingly of the Mahatmas, the soft tinkling sound of a bell, like that which was heard on the day following Madame Blavatsky's arrival, was heard over our head.  On hearing this, Madame Blavatsky, who was quietly listening to our discussion in a lounging chair in the adjoining room, desired us to shut the door opening into it.  This was immediately done.  We were quite startled by this bell phenomenon, and an end was put to the discussion.  A little while after, the door was again opened by H.P.B.'s desire.  She did not tell us what took place in the room when the door was closed, but it is believed that she had a visit from her Guru (Teacher) in his astral body.  Next morning H.P.B. left my house.  To my entreaties for her to stay, she said that she had been ordered to leave, and that her stay at Willow Dale was causing inconvenience to the friends whom I had invited to come up before I expected her arrival.

When Madame Blavatsky was gone, I felt somewhat uncomfortable in mind.  In spite of my scepticism, and the sneers and taunts of my friends, I could not get over the impression that her conduct was far different from that of an impostor; that she was earnest and sincere in the cause for which she was working; and that there was no earthly motive associated with her work.  I was anxious to know more about her, but was afraid that my Agnostic friend would regard me as a dupe and a fool.  I was also ashamed to appear before H.P.B. after the disgraceful squabble I had with Nobeen Babu, which was the immediate cause of her leaving my house.

 Some days after H.P.B. had removed to her new house, which was the one occupied by Nobeen Babu and his family, my friend, Tariny Babu, and I went one afternoon to pay her a call.  This house was much smaller than mine, and was situated in a crowded part of the town, and I could easily perceive that she had there to put up with much inconvenience.  She was in her room busy with writing when we went, but, on learning of our arrival, she came out into the sitting room and talked about various matters.  She seemed to be very happy in her new quarters.  It being tea-time, Nobeen Babu entertained us with tea.  Besides ourselves, there were several other visitors present.  There not being sufficient accommodation for all of us at the table, Madame Blavatsky, Tariny Babu, and myself took our tea there, while Nobeen Babu and other friends, amongst whom was Babu Chattra Dhar Ghose, Manager of the Burdwan Raj Estate, had theirs in the verandah in front of us.  They sat on the floor at a distance of ten or twelve feet from us.  When the tea was over, and my friend and I were about to take leave, H.P.B. asked us to stay a little while longer as she felt that some news was coming from Thibet.  We waited in an expectant attitude, when the friends in the verandah suddenly cried out -- "A letter, a letter!"  We immediately turned our eyes to the verandah, and saw a letter standing in the tea-cup of Nobeen Babu who, at the desire of Madame Blavatsky, brought it to us.  The letter was addressed to "Babu Nobeen" in the same handwriting as that of the one I saw in Madame Blavatsky's room at my house!  We were at a loss how to account for the appearance of this letter, which had, so to speak, dropped from the air before our very eyes.  It is true that none of us saw it while in the act of falling, but the time taken in dropping from the ceiling into the tea-cup could not have been even half a second, as the distance was only six or seven feet.  The letter could not have been thrown into the tea-cup by Madame Blavatsky, as we were looking at her.  But even supposing that she managed to throw it without our being able to observe the act, it was impossible that the letter could fall perpendicularly into the tea-cup, seeing that she was sitting only about two feet higher than Nobeen Babu, at a distance of ten or twelve feet.  This was a puzzle to me, sceptic as I was.  My friend Babu Tariny Kumar Ghose afterwards pointed out to me that the address on the envelope was sufficient against the supposition that the letter came from an Indian.  If an Indian Mahatma had written it, he would have addressed "Nobeen Babu," and not "Babu Nobeen;" the former being the familiar way in which one Bengali gentleman addresses another.  Though he could not explain how the letter came to be in the tea-cup, he had no doubt that it was the doing of Madame Blavatsky, and I believed at the time that he was right.  But I have since come across two letters written to me by H.P.B., from which it appears that she was not ignorant of the familiar mode of addressing a Bengali gentleman.  In a letter dated "Allahabad, November 15, 1882," and in another dated "Madras, November, 17, 1883," which will be found later on, Madame Blavatsky, when speaking of a brother Theosophist, calls him "Kanti Babu," and not "Babu Kanti."  The writer of the address must, therefore, have been not Madame Blavatsky, but someone else.  It is not unusual for Hindus in the Upper Provinces of India to call a Bengali gentleman "Babu so and so," and not "so and so Babu."  As the Mahatmas are said to come from those Provinces, it is quite reasonable to suppose that they would very naturally address the letter as it was addressed.  The contents of the letter we could not know, as they were especially meant for Nobeen Babu.

On returning home from the above visit to Madame Blavatsky, I found a telegram waiting for me with the news that my wife was seriously ill at Dacca.  I had, therefore, to leave Darjeeling by the next down train; but before leaving I wrote a letter to H.P.B. informing her of my sudden departure, to which she replied as follows:

"My Dear Brother, -- I am sorry to lose you.  I hope you will allow us to hear from you occasionally.  You are a member of our Society, hence no real evil can befall you, and I do fervently hope and pray that some day will find you a good Aryan, and in your Dhoti (Indian dress) again.

"Take care of yourself.  Thanking you for the brotherly services rendered, and all your attentions.

Believe me,
Yours sincerely and fraternally,


Though I left H.P.B. without being in the least shaken in my scepticism, I felt greatly interested in the Occultism preached or taught by her, and so resolved on making further inquiries on the subject.  On my arrival at Dacca, I spoke to my friends about what I had witnessed, and what were the objects of Theosophy.  They expressed great interest in the subject, and were anxious to form a branch at Dacca.  I mentioned this in a letter to H.P.B., who, in reply, wrote as follows:

 26th October, 1882.

"My Dear Brother, -- I am glad to get your letter of the 18th inst.  It speaks well of your town that you think a branch Theosophical Society is likely to be opened there.  Unfortunately I have so many pressing engagements for some time to come, that it would be impossible for me to come to Dacca.  If there are at your place some seven or eight persons desirous of being Fellows of our Society, the best thing under the circumstances would be for them to write to Colonel Olcott, the President Founder, inviting him to come and open the branch.  Colonel Olcott will be back from Ceylon next month, and he might be with you by the middle of it.  In the meantime, the requisite number of candidates for fellowship should be secured.  I am glad to hear of your wife's recovery.

Your fraternally,

The body of the above letter was in another's handwriting, but the following postscript was written by her: ---

 "P.S. --- Your surmise that there is already a large branch at Darjeeling is not corroborated by fact . . . . Some day, if you work well, I will come and pay you a visit.

Yours in Jesus and Julius Caesar,

With the help of my friends, foremost amongst whom were Babu Dina Nath Sen, at present Inspector of Schools, Dacca Circle, and Babu Anath Bandhu Mullick, the requisite number of members was soon secured.  This news was communicated to H.P.B., whose reply is quoted below:

 15th November, 1882.

 "My Dear Brother, --- Your letter received and sent to Colonel Olcott, Bombay.  I hope he will answer you soon.  At the end of December, we migrate to Madras headquarters, Theosophy and all.  Our exodus must have a finale worthy of recollection, and we have to go off with flying colours and drums.  Our Septenary anniversary closes on the 27th of this month, and a great general meeting is to be held in the Town Hall, with delegates from all the branch Societies.  But this does not interest you.

 "Well, there is a letter that I enclose; please, if you serve as the sponsor of the young gentleman who believes in spirits, and know him worthy of becoming a member, initiate him.  Unless you have forgotten, and very likely too, the grip signs and passwords, it is an easy matter for you.

 "I enclose several forms and applications; if you find candidates, make them sign; pay if they have the means, and send their applications to headquarters.  This Brahmin lad if poor, and if you personally know that he is unable to pay his fee, then you may exempt him from his fee.  We want good honest members, and I care not a fig for his ten rupees.  I am working like a post horse; this is the twenty-second letter I have written today.  Oh, Holy Moses!  I believe I shall soon have the scribner's paralysis.  Good-bye, and behave yourself my son . . . . If your cousin (Editor of Brahmo Public Opinion) defends X., then he must be a queer Theist.  I like both brothers, but I prefer my Maharajah (Babu Kali Mohun Das).  My love to all, and Kanti Babu if there.

Yours in Jesus and Julius Caesar,

Colonel Olcott arrived at Dacca, on March 15th, 1883, to open the branch Theosophical Society established there.  A large number of persons of all classes and ranks had assembled at the steamer station to receive him.  They gave him a most cordial and enthusiastic reception on landing.  Many persons said that his appearance was that of a Yogi.

Continue to Chapter X

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