Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.

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


 A short period of belief in Mahatmas, followed
 again by scepticism.

Colonel Olcott stayed with me during the short time that he was at Dacca.  His mode of living was quite as simple as that of Madame Blavatsky.  He possessed to a large extent the magnetic healing power, and treated successfully several patients by making passes.  His kind and sympathetic disposition was admired by all those that came in contact with him.  On looking at my library, he said he was greatly struck by the absence of books on religion, psychology, or spirituality, though there were many on mathematics, physics, and other natural sciences.  I made no secret of my scepticism and materialism.  I told him that I did not believe in any spiritual substance apart from the material.

The fact is that I was quite saturated with the teachings of Huxley, Spencer, and Tyndall, and could not believe in the existence of anything that was not capable of being experimented upon by scientists.  With such an attitude of mind, I did not benefit more by the presence of Colonel Olcott than I had done by that of Madame Blavatsky.  I, however, worked for the establishment of the branch Theosophical Society in the same way as I would have done had I been a sincere believer.  The Dacca Branch Society was duly opened by Colonel Olcott, and its office-bearers were elected.  As I had taken the principal part in its organisation, I was asked to be one of the office-bearers.  But I thought that by thus identifying myself with Theosophy, I should be compromising my position as a student of science, so I excused myself of the honour on the ground that the state of my health, and the nature of my duties, compelled me to remain away from Dacca for the greater part of the year, which also was true.

During his short stay at Dacca, Colonel Olcott delivered a lecture, one evening, in the Town Hall, in which he praised the Aryan Rishis of old, and advocated the more general study of Sanskrit.  But the same spirit of hostility towards the Rishis and their teachings which had induced me to deliver, at Darjeeling, in 1881, a counterlecture in answer to Babu Protap Chunder Mozoomdar, roused me up again, and at the conclusion of Colonel Olcott's address I said all manner of things against the ancient Hindus.  I attributed our present degraded condition to the too great importance they attached to the spiritual side at the expense of the material.  The study of the Sanskrit language and literature, which had such charms for Sir William Jones, T. Colebrooke, Max Muller, and others, meant to me a mere waste of time.  Sanskrit, I argued, was a dead language, and contained none of the sciences and arts which had contributed to the greatness of the Europeans, and so it deserved no revival.  My remarks wounded the feelings of the audience, who were mostly Hindus, and must have also wounded those of Colonel Olcott, though he was far too good to betray any sign of being hurt.  He was too noble to take offence at my rudeness and want of patriotic feelings.

On the evening following Colonel Olcott's departure from Dacca, I lay on a couch contemplating about the Theosophical movement.  In the course of this contemplation, I gradually fell into a sort of calm and passive state of mind, when to my utter surprise and bewilderment, I saw, with my closed eyes, appearing from either side of me, two persons --one of whom had a long grey beard, wore white flowing robes, and a turban like a respectable Brahmin of Upper India, while the other was a young man dressed in white dhoti and shirt like an ordinary Hindu gentleman.  They said, "We are with you."  No sooner I heard these words, than the active state of my mind returned, and the figures vanished.  I did not, before that time, believe in spiritual eyes or ears, but what I had seen and heard that evening were not through any physical organs.  The two persons who thus appeared were quite strangers to me.  It was after some time that I recognised, from a photograph, the younger gentleman to have been Damodar Mavalankar, a Madrasee, who was a highly-advanced Chella (disciple) of the Mahatmas.  A photograph of Colonel Olcott's Guru (Master), which I subsequently saw, bore some resemblance to the elder gentleman.  But the resemblance was not complete, and I am up to this day quite ignorant as to who my other visitor was.

The subjective effect of the above vision was most remarkable.  I could not get over the fact that I had, through other than physical ears and eyes, both heard and seen the persons who appeared before me, and who were quite strangers to me, and the vision could not have been a creation of my imagination.  There must exist spiritual counterparts of the physical organs, and my visitors must have possessed the power of appearing in spiritual bodies at a distance from their physical bodies, and of communicating spiritually.  I was not given to seeing visions, and this was the first of its kind.  Under these circumstances, I could not help believing that there were persons who were capable of manifesting themselves, and of communicating spiritually.  I also came to believe that there was a spiritual counterpart of our material body.  But I kept this belief within myself.  I spoke about the vision to several of my friends at the time it occurred, amongst whom was Babu Dinanath Sen.  I also spoke subsequently to Babu Chhatra Dhar Ghose and others at Darjeeling.  Two years after, I spoke about it to Colonel Olcott when he came up to that place.  I never made any mention of it in my letters to Madame Blavatsky, fearing lest she should make out a strong case in favour of the occult powers alleged to be possessed by the adepts from this incident.  Madame Blavatsky had left India when Colonel Olcott showed me the photographs referred to above, on my telling him of the vision.

My attitude towards the Theosophical Society was at this time that of a calm and earnest inquirer.  In fact I was, for the time being, more a believer than a sceptic; but the new light was too dazzling for eyes just emerged from the darkness of materialism, and so at times I thought I should have further evidence before I avowed my firm belief in the spiritual truths taught by Theosophy.  At last I came to the conclusion that the best thing to do would be to pay a visit to the headquarters of the Theosophical Society at Adyar, Madras.  I then wrote to Madame Blavatsky, intimating my intention to be present at the next anniversary of the Society, provided she undertook to give some further phenomenal evidence of the existence of the Mahatmas.  Her reply was as follows:

November 7, 1883.

"My Dear Brother, --I have just returned from Bombay, and therefore just had your letter, to which I answer.

I am glad to find you in such a state of mind, but how can I assure you of that which it is not in my power to accomplish?  All I can say to you is, no one, no Theosophist who ever came here, went away without having had some phenomenal proof or other of the existence of the Mahatmas.  Whether, after having had such proofs, you will be convinced or not, is not in my power to vouch for; all I know is that he who does not believe (and I know of no such case) after seeing what takes place here, must be wrong in his brains.  And I am too well acquainted with your Europeanised and Anglicised remarkable intellect, to have any such fear.  But perhaps after all, your scepticism will be proof even against facts.  I hope not.  At any rate come.  I do most sincerely beg of you to come and pass with us a week or two.  Only this can cure you of your congenital scepticism and soul-blindness.  I had an affection for you from the first and I do feel a regard for your future moral welfare.  I hope to cure and to convince you.  Therefore come and try.  Au revoir.  My love to Kanti Babu.


In the end, however, I did not carry out the intention of paying a visit to Madras.  I thought I had had enough evidence of occultism in the shape of astral bells, and of letters precipitated through the air, while Madame Blavatsky was at Darjeeling; and after that, I had seen Mahatmas in the vision experienced at Dacca, independent of H.P.B.  If all these would not convince me, nothing else would.  It was not for want of evidence that I had not become a believer in the Mahatmas, but the evidences were too wonderful to be believed in as real.  While, therefore, I waited with a longing heart for more and more light, I gave up the idea of going to Madras.  I feared I should be apt to consider as acts of trickery on the part of Madame Blavatsky any phenomena witnessed in her house.  I wanted independent evidence.  This was furnished when I was in a state of trance.  I often felt that the Mahatmas were present with me giving instructions.  The beginning of these trances was involved in sleep, but after that, the state of sleep vanished.  I then felt quite conscious that I was not dreaming, but was awake, and that what I was experiencing was not in dream, but in a working state.  I had to lie down in a passive condition as long as the Mahatma remained present.  I could not open my eyes so long as he was with me.  But no sooner he disappeared than the eyes opened of themselves.  This kind of trance I have also now, and I shall refer to this subject again later on.

In 1884, when Madame Blavatsky was in England, her former servants, the Coulombs, were gained over by her Christian enemies, and they bore testimony as to her having associated them with her in practising frauds on Theosophists.  This led the London Psychical Research Society to depute one of their members, Mr. Hodgson, to investigate the matter.  His report went against Madame Blavatsky, who was called, in the proceedings of the Society, the greatest of impostors.  In my then state of mind, which still continued to reverence whatever came in the name of science, the decision of the Psychical Research Society seemed to be conclusive, and, without judging the case calmly and dispassionately, I joined the rank of H.P.B.'s calumniators.  I cut off correspondence with her, and spoke disparagingly both of her and Colonel Olcott to the Theosophists and others.

Madame Blavatsky had left India, and so she might have been ignorant of what I had said against her.  Colonel Olcott learnt all about it from the Darjeeling Theosophists when he came there in 1885.  But the news did not produce the slightest change in his attitude towards me, though he expressed a regret that I did not make any difference in his case, as the delegate of the Psychical Research Society, while finding Madame Blavatsky guilty of fraud, had absolved Colonel Olcott of all complicity in the matter.  In the face of this, I could not but plead guilty, and apologised, though that was hardly necessary, as the nobility of Colonel Olcott's character was such as knew not what it was to take offence.

During his short stay at Darjeeling, Colonel Olcott delivered a lecture on the "Soul," at which, by his desire, I occupied the chair.  Whatever belief in a spiritual world had been produced in me by the vision and trance communications described above, it disappeared after the so-called Coulomb exposure, which left me again as great a sceptic as ever.  Though Madame Blavatsky could not possibly have had any near or remote connection with that vision and the trances as they occurred independently of her, with the loss of my belief in her, I also lost all belief in Spiritual things.  When, therefore, at the end of Colonel Olcott's lecture, I had to speak a few concluding words, I wound up by expressing a disbelief in the existence of "Soul."  To this circumstance Colonel Olcott refers in a letter dated 15th December, 1894, in reply to one I wrote him after experiencing a most remarkable vision.  He writes:

 November 15, 1894.

"My Dear Parbati Bhai, -- So you have a Soul after all and if I had you again for chairman at a Darjeeling lecture, I should have to retract my remark to the effect that you had not! . . .

Yours affectionately,

As has already been said, I went to England in the spring of 1888.  Madame Blavatsky was then in London.  After the remarks I had made as to her practising deception, I was ashamed to see her, especially as, on maturer consideration, I had come to the conclusion that she was innocent, and that the attacks made against her were the result of envy and malice.  I thought thus:  if she had practised deception, she would not have left any criminating evidence in the hands of the Coulombs, or in the house occupied by her.  She was far too intelligent to have managed her affairs in such a clumsy manner, and as she did not require the help of the Coulombs when the phenomena described in the Occult World took place, nor at those occurring at Darjeeling, it is evident that the Coulombs were not indispensable to her.  Again, the delegate of the Psychical Research Society absolved Colonel Olcott of all complicity with Madame Blavatsky in the deceptions practised by her.  But as Colonel Olcott was identified with her in all her professions regarding the Mahatmas, it would amount to saying that he was wanting in even the barest common sense, and that he too had been deceived.  This theory none would admit who have had the opportunity of knowing, even slightly, the good Colonel.  Far from being a man who could easily be deceived, he might have deceived others if he had been so disposed.  But to me, who had the most favourable opportunities of judging the President of the Theosophical Society, both in private and in public, Colonel Olcott seemed to be as intelligent as he was honest and good-natured.  The theory of the delegate of the Psychical Research Society that he too was a dupe in the hands of Madame Blavatsky was, therefore, ultimately rejected by me, though, at the time the proceedings were published, I was carried away by the superstitious veneration I then had for anything that came in the name of science.  But deeply as I now regret my conduct, I had been at the time not with, but against, Madame Blavatsky.  I, therefore, through a sense of shame, did not call on her for some months after my arrival in England.  But towards the end of my trip, I received a letter from a female relation at Bombay, in which she said that Colonel Olcott had called on her on his way to London, and had desired her to write to me to see him and Madame Blavatsky.  As I had heard that H.P.B. did not see visitors before evening, I wrote to her inquiring if I could call at some other time, as I resided at some distance from London, and was in a delicate state of health.  I received the following reply: ---


"My Dearest Brother --- You were misinformed.  Every evening, the year round, I am visible after 6 P.M.  You I will be delighted to see any day -- evening, morning, or twilight.  Olcott is here, and you had better come as soon as you can, so as to come at least twice before your departure.  Do come, I shall be so glad, my love for the benighted Hindus having been increasing these years in proportion to your love for the civilsation and sciences of those accursed Europeans, the symbol of every evil.

Yours ever fraternally and sincerely,

I visited Madame Blavatsky twice before my departure for India, which took place in about  a fortnight's time after the receipt of the above letter.  Each time I saw her I met with the most cordial reception at her hands.  Though in consequence of having taken the part of her calumniators I felt very awkward and degraded in her presence, she did not for a moment refer to my conduct.  I did not derive any spiritual benefit by the interviews, as my mind was then unprepared for receiving spiritual truths.

Shortly after my return to India, the publication of the "Secret Doctrine" took place.  The perusal of this book again awakened in me new interest in Theosophy.  Of all the wonderful acts attributed to Madame Blavatsky, this seemed to me to be the most wonderful.  There was not a department of science on which it did not throw new light, and whatever might be said of the correctness of the teachings, there could be no doubt that they were most varied and original.  My opinion regarding H.P.B. changed materially after I had finished reading the two thick volumes in which the "Secret Doctrine" was given out to the world.  The occult phenomena performed by or through her might have been frauds, but there was no fraud in the writing of this book, which challenged the examination and criticism of the literary world.  My admiration for H.P.B. knew no bounds, and I wrote to her stating what I thought of the book.  I received a most kindly reply through Mr. Bertram Keightley.  Along with his letter came the rules of the Esoteric (now called Eastern) Section of Theosophists, and a copy of the book called "The Voice of the Silence."  I was quite charmed with the perusal of the latter, and sent in my application for enrollment as a member of the Esoteric Branch.  My application was granted.  Shortly after, I began to receive the "Instructions" for Esotericists, issued by Madame Blavatsky.  These "Instructions," which I now value most, appeared too much like myths for a long time after I had received them, and so I left them unread.  The mind had become so wedded to the gross matter of the scientists, that I could not conceive of such subtle matter as is dealt with in the "Instructions."  I can now, that my eyes have been opened to subtle matter, understand why the teachings of the "Inner Section" are kept a secret.  The occult doctrines are far too transcendental to be realised as truths by the scientists generally.  A student of occultism must leave behind many preconceived notions regarding the nature and constitution of "Man" and the "Universe" before he can benefit by the "Instructions."

[End of Roy's reminiscences of HPB]

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