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First S.P.R. Report on H.P.B.

[Private and Confidential.]


It may be remembered that on May 2nd, 1884, the Council of the Society for Psychical Research appointed a Committee for the purpose of taking such evidence as to the alleged phenomena connected with the Theosophical Society as might be offered by members of that body at the time in England, or as could be collected elsewhere.

The Committee consisted of the following members, with power to add to their number: --- Messrs. Gurney, Myers, Podmore, and Stack.  They have since added Mr. R. Hodgson to their number.  The President is, by virtue of his office, a member of this as of other Committees.

For the convenience of Members who may not have followed the progress of the Theosophical Society, a few words of preliminary explanation may be added here.

The Theosophical Society was founded in New York, in 1875, by Colonel Olcott and Madame Blavatsky, for certain philanthropic and literary purposes, with which we are not now concerned, and one of its objects is to serve as a channel through which some part of the occult wisdom alleged to be possessed by certain Adepts or Mahatmas in Thibet and elsewhere, might be communicated to the outer world.

The Society’s headquarters were removed to India in 1878, and it has made considerable progress among the Hindus and other educated natives.  “The Occult World,” by Mr. Sinnett, at that time editor of the Pioneer, introduced the Society to English readers, and that work, which dealt mainly with phenomena, was succeeded by “Esoteric Buddhism,” in which some tenets of the Occult doctrine, or so-called “Wisdom-religion,” were set forth.  With these doctrines, however, we have here no concern.  These books have passed through several editions, and we have assumed that it was not necessary to print extracts from “The Occult World” in the Appendices to this Report.

During the past summer, Colonel Olcott and Madame Blavatsky have spent some months in England, accompanied by Mr. Mohini, a Brahmin graduate of the University of Calcutta, who, we understand, has given up other prospects and avocations for the sake of aiding the Theosophical cause.  These visitors have added much to the interest already taken in London, Cambridge, &c., in the Theosophical system; and the Committee are glad to acknowledge the ready courtesy with which opportunities of oral and documentary investigation have been afforded to them.

The Committee began by taking the evidence offered by Messrs. Olcott, Mohini, and Sinnett, in the presence of a shorthand writer.  The greater part of the depositions of Colonel Olcott and Mr. Mohini is given in Appendices I. and II.  Mr. Sinnett’s dealt but little with phenomena not already described in “The Occult World,” and we have, therefore, thought it unnecessary to print it here.

Colonel Olcott was thus examined on May 11th and 27th.
Mr. Mohini                ”                  on June 10th.
Mr. Sinnett                ”                  on June 13th.

Besides these formal examinations the Committee have enjoyed many other opportunities of acquiring information.

The meetings of the Cambridge Branch of the Society for Psychical Research were attended on

April 25th by Mr. Padshah.
May 8th    ” Colonel Olcott.
June 9th     ” Mr. Mohini.
Aug. 9th    ” Madame Blavatsky and Mr. Mohini,

and on each occasion the visitors permitted themselves to be questioned on many topics.

Other evidence has also been obtained from sources hereafter specified.

The Committee are therefore of opinion that the time has arrived for a First Report.  They think, however (and the Council confirms this view), that such Report should not be included in the published Proceedings, but sent round as a private and confidential document to Members and Associates only.  The reasons for this difference of treatment fall under two main heads.

1. Certain of the witnesses whose evidence is given below would dislike its actual publication.  This is especially the case with Mr. Damodar and the lady hereafter styled Mrs. X.

It is unlikely that this kind of semi-private circulation of evidence may be desirable on other occasions besides the present.  The Committee, therefore, at the desire of the Council, wish to state as explicitly as may be possible in so delicate a matter, the kind of limitations which are thus intended to be imposed.

No part (not previously published) of this “private and confidential” Report can be printed or published elsewhere without infringing the legal rights of the Council, to whom the Report is addressed, and to whom it belongs.

And it is also hoped that Members and Associates will deal with the Report as being in reality a confidential document, not to be allowed to pass from Members’ own keeping, and to be shown only to persons on whose discretion complete reliance can be placed.

The Committee would venture to remind all readers of this First Report that the nature of the matter to be included in further Reports of this kind must largely depend on the manner in which the present document is treated.

2. But besides consideration for the witnesses who have given evidence, the Committee have another reason for not wishing this Report to be laid before the general public, namely, this, that they find themselves in a state of suspense of judgment as to the genuineness and significance of the alleged phenomena.  They solicit criticism, as well as information, from persons who have paid attention to the matters in question.  But they wish any expressions of opinion here given to be considered as provisional and hypothetical, not quoted as positive dicta or unanimous conclusions.

Understanding then, that this is a semi-private Report on the phenomenal side of Theosophy, three further questions at once suggest themselves, namely: ---

I. What is to be our prima facie attitude as to the trustworthiness of Theosophical testimony?

II. What is the total list of first-hand witnesses whose good faith or sanity is involved?

III. What part of the phenomena which they describe is to be considered as within the scope of our inquiry?

I. This first question is one which the Council has already had to consider, in the case of some zealous propagandists of special doctrines on the one side, and in the case of paid mediums on the other side.

As regards this latter class, the Council has altogether declined to accept the evidence of a paid medium as to any abnormal event; not that it is considered that persons accepting money for psychical performances are necessarily untrustworthy, but because, in dealing with these matters, it is admitted that special stringency is necessary, and one obvious precaution lies in the exclusion of all the commoner and baser motives to fraud or exaggeration.

If, then, we saw reason to suppose that the persons mainly engaged in propagating Theosophy were actuated by some motive of this kind, we should probably decline to continue the investigation.  But we may say at once that no trustworthy evidence supporting such a view has been brought under our notice.

Well, then, it may be said, are not the Members of the Theosophical Society on much the same level as to credibility with the Members of the Society for Psychical Research?  Ought we not to assume bona fides in the case of Theosophical evidence as readily as we should expect it to be assumed in the evidence of our own Committees?

To a certain extent we accept this analogy, but we demur to it on some essential points.

The attitude which it appears to us reasonable for a critic to hold with regard to some novel and extraordinary fact, (as Thought-transference), when attested by a Committee of the Society for Psychical Research, might be expressed in some such sentence as this: “I do not venture to accuse these gentlemen either of fraud or of imbecility; but human minds are fallible and human motives mixed; in all scientific experiments mistakes, and mal-observation, and non-observation of important facts, are liable to occur; and, therefore, before giving full credence to phenomena antecedently so improbable, I should like to see the Committee’s testimony confirmed by some other observers.”

And, in fact, the Thought-transference Committee thought it their duty, not merely to insist on the validity of their own evidence, but to corroborate it by the evidence of others, until (to quote Proceedings VI.) the phenomenon was attested “by a group of witnesses too large to be summarily discredited;” and a group, we may add, which we ourselves still feel the great importance of increasing.

It will be seen, then, that we accept in our own case the view, which we apply to the evidence of others, that without any wish to impugn the character or ability of a witness to abnormal phenomena, the critic is entitled to press for corroboration with an insistance which in any ordinary matter would seem unnecessary and offensive.

But there are three points on which the Theosophical evidence stands on a quite different footing from that of our Committees.

 (1) In the first place, it is certain that fraud has been practised by persons connected with the Society.  This appears from the charges brought against Madame Blavatsky by M. and Madame Coulomb (see note on the Coulombs, p. 25.)  For even supposing it to be proved that the letters alleged by the Coulombs to have been written by Madame Blavatsky are forgeries, it will remain certain that the Coulombs themselves, who have long resided at the headquarters of the Theosophical Society in a position of trust, are tricksters, and that Madame Blavatsky, if not their accomplice, has been at least their dupe, to the extent, at least, of reposing confidence in utterly unworthy persons.  Moreover, what is known as the Kiddle incident --- and some other evidence privately brought before us by Mr. C. C. Massey --- suggest, to the Western mind at any rate, that no amount of caution can be excessive in dealing with evidence of this kind.

(2) In the second place, Theosophy appeals to occult persons and methods.

Now we do not deny that good reasons may exist for the concealment either of persons or of processes from the knowledge even of honest and friendly inquirers.  In all such matters our rule is to make no assumptions.  We do not say: “You ought to show us your Teachers and explain your methods.”  We only say: “If your Teachers think it right to conceal themselves and their methods from us, we on our part feel it our duty to scrutinise all that is revealed with proportionate stringency.”  The difference between the Theosophical Society and the Society for Psychical Research is here almost diametrical.  The Society for Psychical Research exists merely as a machinery for investigation, every step of which is open to the public, and in which any competent person who chooses may join.  The Theosophical Society exists mainly to promulgate certain doctrines already formulated, these doctrines being supported by phenomena which are avowedly intended and adapted rather for the influencing of individual minds than for the wholesale instruction of the scientific world.  Into such phenomena the moral factor seems likely to enter, in one way or other, to a marked extent.

 (3) In the third place Theosophy makes claims which, though avowedly based on occult science, do, in fact, ultimately cover much more than a merely scientific field.  The teaching embodied in “Esoteric Buddhism,” the Theosophist, &c., comprises a cosmogony, a philosophy, a religion.  With the value of this teaching per se we are not at present concerned.  But it is obvious that were it widely accepted a great change would be induced in human thought in almost every department.  To take one point only, the spiritual and intellectual relationship of East to West would be for the time in great measure reversed.  “Ex Oriente lux” would be more than a metaphor and a memory; it would be the expression of actual contemporary fact.  Now we know, indeed, that the suspicions which the Anglo-Indian authorities at first entertained as to the political objects of the Theosophical Society have been abandoned as groundless.  But we can imagine schemes and intentions of a patriotic kind which, though quite innoxious to British rule in India, would effectually spoil Theosophic evidence for the purposes of occidental science.  We must remember that in psychical research we must be on our guard against men’s highest instincts quite as much as their lowest.  The history of religions would have been written in vain if we still fancied that a Judas or a Joe Smith was the only kind of apostle who needed watching.  “Fingunt simul creduntque”; “The end justifies the means” --- these two sayings are the key to a good deal of ecclesiastical history.

Suspicions of this kind are necessarily somewhat vague; but it is not our place to give them definiteness.  What we have to point out is that it is our duty, as investigators, in examining the evidence for Theosophic marvels, to suppose the possibility of a deliberate combination to deceive on the part of certain Theosophists.  We cannot regard this possibility as excluded by the fact that we find no reason to attribute to any of the persons whose evidence we have to consider, any vulgar or sordid motive for such combination.

But the difficulty of supposing such a confederacy will be sensibly increased by the introduction of each fresh person of hitherto unblemished probity who is to be not merely a disciple but a coadjutor; who, in plain terms, is not only to be taught the philosophy, but to be let into the truck.  Much might, no doubt, be hoped from the mere complaisance and credulity of sympathising spectators.  But each attempt to induce a man of character and position to sign an obvious falsehood, or to cooperate in an undeniable fraud, would be a source of fresh and serious danger.  Let us take a parallel from English or American Spiritualism.  Many worthy persons would find themselves quite able to give a somewhat loose account of a seance, under the inspiration of the great truth of the immortality of the soul.  Many, for instance, would be willing to sign a statement that “a small gas-burner gave a good light” when, in point of fact, they could scarcely see their hands before them.  They would say to themselves that the light was good, as light at seances goes.  But if they were asked to state that the seance was held in broad daylight, a statement which they felt to be a lie, and to be meant as a lie, they would shrink from doing it.  Similarly, many a sitter would be apt to recognise the medium’s pocket-handkerchief protruded from the cabinet, as his own father.  But few would go behind the curtains and help the medium to dress up.

Judging by this analogy, it becomes a matter of capital importance to determine, as nearly as may be, how many persons are actually committed to the alleged marvels, in a manner which mere complaisance or mal-observation fails to explain.  This list, and the character of every name on it, must be scrutinised with anxious care.

 II. And this brings us to our second question: What is the full list of witnesses whose good faith or sanity is involved?  It is obvious that if we could account for all the phenomena described by the mere assumption of clever conjuring on the part of Madame Blavatsky and the Coulombs, assisted by any number of Hindu servants, we could hardly, under present circumstances, regard ourselves as having adequate ground for further inquiry.  But this assumption would by no means meet the case.  The statements of the Coulombs implicate no one in the alleged fraud except Madame Blavatsky.  The other Theosophists, according to them, are all dupes.  Now the evidence given in the Appendix in our opinion renders it impossible to avoid one or other of two alternative conclusions: --- Either that some of the phenomena recorded are genuine, or that other persons of good standing in society, and with characters to lose, have taken part in deliberate imposture.

The exact extent of this class cannot be determined without greater knowledge of the persons who have given first-hand evidence than we at present possess.

A great part of the evidence of these witnesses is given in full, or in summary, in the Appendices to this Report.  But some statements, involving persons averse to publicity, have been made to us in confidence.  Other statements, too general in form to be cited as exact evidence, have been made to us in explanation of the printed testimony.

III. We now proceed to our third preliminary question, viz: What specific forms of occult phenomena are we to include in our purview?  The depositions of these witnesses are of a very mingled kind, often resembling rather what used to be styled a “Narrative of Particular Interpositions” or “Special Providences,” than a bare statement of definite facts.  We must manage in some way to disentangle the strands of objective evidence from amidst much matter which, though subjectively equally impressive to the percipients, is by its very nature incapable of verification.

Now, first, let us consider at what points this Theosophical evidence comes in contact with the evidence already published in our own Proceedings.  What is perhaps most interesting to us at the present stage of our inquiry, is the claim of the Theosophists that certain persons are able to exercise psychical powers at will; how far are the phenomena which they produce such as our own inquiries would lead us to regard as conceivably producible by means of traditional knowledge, or natural sensitiveness, beyond our own?  And here, be it noted, a distinction is necessary.  It is extremely improbable, prima facie, that the sum total of claims to knowledge and power advanced by the Theosophists on behalf of certain Adepts can succeed in approving itself in the Court of Science.  But this does not mean that it is improbable that any psychical powers which may actually exist in man will be found operating with greater intensity in India than in England.  On the contrary, this is very probable indeed; and in the only instance in which an accurate comparison has as yet been made, the results have pointed most markedly in this direction.  It was not at University College, London, under Dr. Elliotson, but at the Calcutta hospital, under Mr. Esdaile, that the experiments were made which practically convinced the scientific world that absolute anaesthesia could be produced by mesmeric (or hypnotic) passes.  Dr. Elliotson and his friends attempted the world’s conversion in England with untiring pertinacity; but though their experiments succeeded to an extent sufficient to convince fair-minded and attentive persons, their human material was too intractable to afford a conspicuous triumph.  Esdaile, on the other hand, set to work at mesmerism almost by accident, and without any special knowledge whatever.  But he found in the Hindus subjects so susceptible that a conspicuous triumph was, so to speak forced on him unawares.  Never did a man who expected so little achieve so much.

To our minds, the career of Mr. Esdaile is in many ways one of the most instructive pages in the history of science.  And to those who have learnt how subtly all these nervous, psycho-neural, and psychical sensibilities are interblent, one of its most obvious lessons is:  In psychical research, experiment on Orientals.  And this our Committees have felt from the very first.  We have always desired --- we still desire --- to establish a psychical laboratory at Calcutta or Madras.

The great difficulty of such a step, it is needless to say, would consist in our own remoteness from the Hindu mind, --- in the reserve or reluctance which would prevent suitable subjects from offering themselves to our observation.  But if we can get at any exact accounts of results achieved by Hindus among themselves, on lines which even our rudimentary experience has shown to be fruitful, then we ought certainly to be prepared to find that the Oriental results may have surpassed our own markedly as Esdaile’s foudroyant mesmerisation of an unknown blind Bengalee at many yards distance surpasses our laboured efforts to induce hypnotic fixation in some too wide-awake British eye.

Now, as regards this very point of mesmerism, there is a good deal of recent Oriental evidence more or less interlinked with Theosophy, but, for various reasons, we think it better to leave this to be dealt with as part of a more general discussion of mesmeric processes and results.  We here wish to concentrate attention on the testimony which the Theosophists offer to the occurrence of telepathic phenomena: since this testimony is of special interest and importance when considered in relation to the evidence, experimental or otherwise, on which our own conclusions as to the existence of “telepathy” are based.

In our own experiments on Thought-transference we have, as we believe, obtained the phenomenon in its most elementary form; we have dealt with the transmission by A of a mere thought or image into P’s mind, A and P being both in the same room, and there being no insight on A’s part as to the success or failure of the transmission.  We have, however, further collected much evidence of apparitions of living persons to others at a considerable distance.  In the large majority of cases these apparitions are stated to have occurred at a time of abnormal physical or mental condition (such as trance or the process of dissolution) on the part of the person whose apparition is seen, and whom we call the “agent;” and frequently some knowledge of this “agent’s” actual condition is affirmed to have been conveyed to the “percipient” by means of, or at the same time as, the apparition.  Hence our evidence leads to the conclusion that such apparitions are “veridical,” i.e., not mere hallucinations, but connected in some way with the agent, and implying some telepathic communication between him and the percipient.  The cases, however, are in our collection very rare where we have any evidence of intention on the agent’s part, or of what we may call reciprocity, i.e., consciousness on the part of both agent and percipient of the communication established between them: and it is clear that in many cases such evidence cannot be hoped for on account of the death of the agent at time of the apparition, and similar causes.  Nevertheless a few cases, involving both intentional appearance and reciprocity, have come before us, some of the most interesting of which we will give.  One gentleman, known to some of the Committee, appears on a few occasions to have voluntarily caused an apparition of himself to certain persons.  We understand that he can only rarely produce this phenomenon, and cannot always recognise in himself the conditions under which he will be able to do it; still he can to some extent foresee the possibility and arrange test conditions.  Unfortunately he is usually asleep when the apparition occurs, and is unable to remember or describe his part in the phenomenon; but on one occasion there seems to have been some consciousness on his part.  Some evidence obtained from him is given in Appendix XL.  In Appendix XLI. will be found another very interesting case of intentional though unconscious appearance of A during sleep to B, with the additional element of conversation between B and the phantom.  B is known to all the members of the Committee, and some of them are acquainted with A.  Unfortunately these experiments have been discontinued because they were thought trying to health.  The following case, related orally to Professor Sidgwick two or three years ago, by the lady concerned, and now given from notes taken at the time, carries us in one respect further, since there would seem to have been both reciprocity and intention, but on the other hand no visual phantasm.  This case has a special interest for us here, because it occurred in connection with a secret society which existed some years ago at Leghorn, with branches elsewhere, and which believed itself to have constant experience of phenomena very similar to those described by the Theosophists --- instantaneous intercommunication at a distance, phantasmal appearances, conveyance and precipitation of letters, disintegration and reintegration of objects, &c.  Two members of our Society visited Leghorn two years ago, with a view to obtain, if possible, some experimental results; but though they were received with much courtesy and kindness by the President of the Leghorn Society --- a gentleman of good position in his profession, and of independent means --- they were disappointed in the hope of being in any degree admitted into the inner circle, and were indeed led to understand that the Society had broken up, and that the phenomena were in abeyance.  The lady whom we before alluded to, and from whom we first heard of the Society, had been more successful in establishing relations with it than our members were.  She told Mr. Sidgwick that one night in Paris she woke up and heard two members of the Leghorn Society, who were at the time in Italy, speaking for a few minutes; that she got up and wrote down the conversation; then wrote to one of the members of the Society, saying, “I have received a communication; has any one communicated?”  and received a letter in reply, naming the members and stating truly what was said.

The narratives of Theosophical apparitions have much analogy to those above given: but they seem, in some cases at least, to be more complete than any of them, as combining intention, reciprocity, and visual phantasm:  it is, therefore, of very special interest and importance to us to examine carefully the nature and extent of the evidence on which they rest.

Now in order to establish the habitual voluntary apparition, in India and elsewhere, of certain living persons, various distinct points will have to be proved.

A. --- The evidence must first establish the ordinary physical existence of the persons thus appearing, and prove their identity with the alleged apparitions by the recognition of persons who have seen them in the flesh, or who have seen portraits certified to by persons who have seen the originals in the flesh.

If the existence of ordinary physical bodies appertaining to the “astral” or phantasmal bodies be unproved, the theory of voluntary “projection of the double” of course falls to the ground, though the phantoms may still have been observed.

B. --- On the other hand, if the existence of the physical body be demonstrated, the evidence must then prove that the alleged phantasmal forms were not the real men themselves, nor other men personating them, nor illusions produced by optical apparatus, nor hallucinations generated by expectant attention, or by some mesmeric process.

 C. --- And, thirdly the evidence must show that these phantasmal appearances of living men were conscious and intentional; subserving some definite and ascertainable purpose, or corresponding to some objective fact independently known.

If this is not proved, the repeated apparitions of some one man would only suggest the operation of expectancy in producing hallucinations or determining their form: --- unless, indeed, we can suppose a natural tendency on the part of some persons, while in the normal state, to produce unconsciously phantasmal appearances of themselves to other persons.

We purpose in this Report to deal with the alleged apparitions or projections --- to use the Theosophic term --- of “astral forms” by three persons only, viz: ---

MAHATMA M-------.

We place Mr. Damodar first, because his ordinary physical existence is not disputed.  Some information as to his antecedents, &c., is given by Colonel Olcott in Appendix I, Mr. Hume, in “Hints on Esoteric Theosophy,” and others.

We have some available evidence as to four occasions on which Mr. Damodar is alleged to have appeared where his body was not; a power which he is said to have quite recently acquired in the course of his training for Adeptship, and whose exercise may therefore be considered as still experimental.  These occasions are as follows, giving first the place where his actual body was situated, and then the place of projection.

1. Moradabad and Adyar, November 10th, 1883.  (See Appendices  I. and V.)
2. Saharanpur and Adyar, November 17th, 1883.  (Appendix I.)
3. Adyar and London, May 23rd, 1884.  (Appendix III.)
4. Adyar and London, August 15th, 1884.  (Appendix III.)

The records of these appearances are a good sample of much evidence with which we shall have to deal.  The incidents take place in an apparently unpremeditated way, in the midst of ordinary existence.  Many persons are more or less mixed up with them, and, although they tend to centre round certain principal personages, no special effort seems to be made to secure the presence of some bystanders or the absence of others.  Evidentially this miscellaneous character of the experiences has an obvious drawback in the want of clear test conditions, the difficulty of eliminating all chance of collusion on any one occasion.  There is, however, a certain counterbalancing advantage in the increased risks of detection were anything underhand attempted where so many witnesses are concerned.

We shall endeavour to arrange the witnesses to each group of phenomena in four classes, viz: ---

First Degree. --- Persons so deeply involved in the incident that a doubt of its substantial truth involves a doubt of their probity.  In drawing up this list we must once more disclaim any offensive intention.  We have explained already how important it is to ascertain distinctly how many persons must be implicated in the plot (if plot there be) to force upon the world Theosophical phenomena.  The more this list is lengthened the stronger will the argument in favour of the genuineness of the phenomena become.

Second Degree. --- In this class we shall place persons whose reported evidence seems prima facie to place them in the first class, but with whom we have not yet communicated directly.

Third Degree. --- Persons whose share in the incident is conceivably reducible to a hallucination, which, however, it is difficult to regard as purely accidental on account of the corroboration which it affords of other parts of the evidence.  This is a very interesting class, whose existence seems hitherto to have been but little discussed.  Yet there is no set of witnesses for whom persons familiar with such researches will more carefully watch.  The analogy of some of our own narratives would suggest that if the force which produces telepathic phenomena is operating in a definite direction, it is not impossible that some cognate psychical incidents may overflow into the lives of persons altogether outside the main channel of influence.  An illustration of our meaning here will be found in Appendix III.

Fourth Degree. --- The fourth degree will consist of persons who, if a fraud were practised, may have been its dupes, and not its contrivers.

It is clear that there will be many grades in this class.  Some persons have simply heard the “astral bell,” without being able to account for it.  If that sound be fraudulently made, these witnesses must be considered as wanting in acumen, but not necessarily in fairness of mind or correctness of statement.  Everyone admits that the localisation of sounds is difficult, and the description of sounds necessarily vague.  But many of the witnesses in this class depose to phenomena of a much more unmistakable kind.  If they positively assert that they saw a majestic human form walking with stately steps, and if that form should turn out to have been composed of bladders and a wig, these witnesses are probably lacking in something besides acumen.  They must be taken as showing a degree of prepossession which leaves them divided by a very narrow line from our witnesses of the first degree, whose veracity is absolutely staked on the genuineness of the phenomena.

The evidence for the two first cases of Mr. Damodar’s astral journeys is given in Appendices I. and IV.

The evidence for the two latter cases (Adyar, London), which are closely connected together, will be found in Appendix III.

We have in all these cases evidence at both ends of the chain of communication, which, if accepted, would prove both reciprocity and intention.

Dividing the witnesses to the Damodar apparitions into our four classes we shall have some such arrangement as the following: ---

First Degree.--- Mdme. Blavatsky
                           Mr. Damodar
And perhaps also Col. Olcott
Second Degree.--Col. Morgan
                             Mrs. Morgan
Third Degree.---  Mr. Ewen
Fourth Degree.---Mr. Brown
                             Mr. Keightley
                             Mrs. Z. and Miss Z. (ladies
                             well known to the Committee)
                             Mr. Padshah
                             Mr. Gebhard
                             and others.

We come next to the alleged apparitions of Mahatma Koot Hoomi.  And here a new point meets us.  The physical existence of Mahatma Koot Hoomi is itself a contested matter.  According to Theosophical statements, Koot Hoomi is a Brahmin, whose full name has not been given; Koot Hoomi, alleged to be an ancient Brahmin family name, (1) forming a part only of the designation to which he is entitled.  He is said to have been partly educated in Europe, and to have attended Professor Fechner’s lectures; after which, as we are informed, he became what is called an Adept, and took up his residence in Thibet.

What we have in his case to consider is whether we have evidence before us establishing the following four points: ---

(1) The existence of a real person claiming to be Koot Hoomi, and to be possessed of occult powers.

(2) Apparitions of the same man.

(3) That the handwriting attributed to Mahatma Koot Hoomi is that of this person.

(4) That the apparitions are intentional, and Mahatma Koot Hoomi conscious of the communication.

(1) Besides Madame Blavatsky (whose testimony would, if it were accepted, establish all the kinds of phenomena alluded to in this report, and whom accordingly we shall not think it necessary to mention among the witnesses again), the persons who, according to the testimony before us, have seen and conversed with Koot Hoomi in the flesh are: ---

Col. Olcott App. I. Mr. Damodar.   App. VIII., IX.
Mr. W. T. Brown. App. VII. Mr. Mohini.   App. XIX.
Mr. Bawaji Dhabagiri Nath.App. VI., XXII.

There is also a Hindu servant of Madame Blavatsky’s, and Rama Sourindro Gargya Deva, of whom we know nothing, except that his name is affixed to the letter from which we quote in Appendix V.  Mr. Sinnett’s account of Mr. Bawaji D. Nath’s prolonged acquaintance with the Mahatmas will be found in Appendix VI.  The testimony of the remaining four witnesses is shown to relate to the same personage by the portrait which they all know.  Moreover, the first three witnesses seem, on one occasion, to have seen him when they were all together (see Appendix VII.); and Mr. Mohini and Mr. Damodar were co-witnesses of a supposed apparition of him.  (See Appendix II.)  Mr. Damodar’s testimony is the most complete, for he tells us that he resided with Mahatma Koot Hoomi and other Adepts for several days, while the other witnesses --- except, of course, Mr. Bawaji --- have only enjoyed occasional interviews with him.

(2) The persons who claim to have seen apparitions of Mahatma Koot Hoomi are ---

Colonel Olcott.   App. I., XVIII.
Mr. W. T. Brown.   App. VII.
Mr. Mohini.   App. II.
Mr. Sinnett (“Occult World,” p. 155).
Mrs. X.
Mr. Damodar.   App. VIII., IX.

And others whose evidence, on account of its inconclusiveness, we have not thought it necessary to give.

But here we think the evidence of most of our witnesses is less complete than it is for the existence of the real man.

In the accounts of the first three witnesses there is either insufficient detail to enable us to judge what the improbability is of their having been deceived, or the account fails to convince us that it was impossible that the so-called apparition should have been the real man, or some other person or thing dressed up to represent him.

The hypothesis of an accidental hallucination in the likeness of a known person or picture, would cover, we think, Mr. Sinnett’s nocturnal visions.  They were seen when he was in a confessedly abnormal state, and his mind, no doubt, full of the thought of Koot Hoomi.  But it can scarcely be stretched to cover the cases of Mr. Damodar and Mrs. X. (2)  This lady is well-known to one member of the Committee, and appears to him to be an exceptionally conscientious, accurate, and trustworthy informant.  The reasons which she has given for withholding her name, and the bulk of her evidence, from even th limited public to which this paper is addressed, are fully intelligible to us.  But we may say, in brief, that she reports herself to have distinctly and repeatedly seen Koot Hoomi in “astral body,” in a country distant from India, before she had even seen his picture (which she subsequently recognised), and without discovering who he was; that she acted on communications made to her in these interviews; and that these communications were afterwards confirmed by letters in the Koot Hoomi handwriting, addressed not only to Madame Blavatsky and others, but to Mrs. X. herself, under such conditions that no other person, as she maintains, could possibly have had a hand in them.

Mr. Damodar’s evidence is, up to a certain point, somewhat similar (Appendix IX.), but it goes further, for if it be suggested that Mrs. X.’s experiences must, in default of evidence to the contrary, be assumed to have occurred in dreams, this can at any rate not be maintained of apparitions about which Mr. Damodar, in Appendix VIII., uses the expression, “When making Pranam (salutation) my hands passed through his form.”

(3) We have no evidence that anyone has seen Mahatma Koot Hoomi writing, but Colonel Olcott and Mr. Brown both tell us that letters in the Koot Hoomi handwriting were brought to them by Koot Hoomi in the flesh.

 (4) We have no direct evidence as to whether the apparitions of Koot Hoomi are produced consciously and intentionally, but we think that if the first three points were established by the evidence before us, this fourth point would be a legitimate inference from it.

As regards Mahatma Koot Hoomi, then, we have: ---

Witnesses to his existence in the flesh:

First Degree: Colonel Olcott, Mr. Brown, Mr. Damodar, Mr. Mohini, Mr. Bawaji Dhabagiri Nath.

Witnesses to his belonging to a brotherhood claiming occult powers:

First Degree: Mr. Damodar, Mr. Bawaji Dhabagiri Nath.

Witnesses to his appearance in “astral form:”

First Degree: Mr. Damodar, Mrs. X.
Third Degree: Mr. Sinnett.
Fourth Degree: Colonel Olcott, Mr. Mohini, Mr. Brown.

We come next to the alleged apparitions of Mahatma M., and must make again the same four points in the same order.

(1) To his existence in the flesh we have three witnesses besides Madame Blavatsky, all of whom know his portrait.  They are: ---

Colonel Olcott, App. I., X.
Mr. Damodar, App. VIII.
Mr. Ramaswamier, App. XI.

Mr. Damador’s evidence is again the most complete, telling us that he saw him when staying with some of the Brotherhood in the Himalayas.  Colonel Olcott’s evidence is confined to a more or less detailed account of one short interview, and a statement that he has had others.  Mr. Ramaswamier believes himself to have met Mahatma M. on horseback, accompanied by two Chelas, near the borders of Thibet, and to have had a long conversation with him, but it seems just conceivable that this may have been a delusion due to long fasting.

(2) The witnesses to apparitions of Mahatma M. are: ---

Colonel Olcott, App. I., XIII., XIV., XV., XVIII.
Mr. Damodar, App. XIII., XIV.
Mr. Ramaswamier, App. XIV.
Mr. Mohini and others, App. II.
Mr. and Mrs. Ross Scott and others, App. XIV.
Mrs. Gebhard, App. XXXIX.
Mr. Solovioff, App. XXXVIII.

Unfortunately, we think that in none of the cases described in detail, the possibility that what the witnesses saw was the real man or some one personating him, is completely excluded, except in Madame Gebhard’s and Mr. Solovioff’s.  The evidence of this latter gentleman is among the most important which lies before us.  Mr. Wsevolod Solovioff, Page of Honour to the Czar and son of the tutor of the late Czar, is a Russian author of high repute.  In his case, as in that of Mrs. X., there was no previous inclination to mysticism, nor acquaintance with Eastern modes of thought.  Phenomena personal to himself have directed him to the Theosophic group, into which he had not definitely entered until the occurrence narrated in Appendix XXXVIII.  The corroborative hallucination is here complete and prolonged, and confirmed as it is by the evidence of another person, whom we will call Madlle. A. (3), it is peculiarly difficult to explain by a mere accidental coincidence of morbid fancies.

The lady whom we have designed as Madlle. A. has given to one of us an account entirely confirmatory of M. Solovioff’s, and adding other matter.  But she does not wish to give written evidence at present.

(3) No one, so far as we know, has seen this Mahatma writing, but the supposed apparition, seen by Mr. Ross Scott and others (Appendix XIV.), brought a note in the M. handwriting.

(4) No doubt, here again, if the apparitions really occur, it is probable from the evidence before us that Mahatma M. intends them and is conscious of the communication, but we have no positive evidence of it.

We may then arrange the witnesses as to Mahatma M.’s apparitions in our degrees as follows: ---

Witnesses to M.’s existence, in the flesh.

First Degree.--- Col. Olcott.
                           Mr. Damodar.
and probably Mr. Ramaswamier.

Witnesses to the apparitions.

First Degree.--- None.
Second Degree.--- None.
Third Degree.--- Mr. Solovioff, Madame Gebhard.
Fourth Degree.--- The remaining witnesses named above.

Here, at present, the evidence as to projection of “astral form” closes.  There are some scattered accounts of the appearance of other Mahatmas, but we do not find any direct evidence of the identification of these supposed phantoms with persons seen in the flesh.  We, therefore, merely note their occurrence, in case further evidence should accrue.  We have now to take note of a fact which it is fundamentally important to consider in drawing any final conclusion as to the value and drift of the testimony that we have been examining.  By accepting as valid this evidence taken alone --- apart from its Theosophic interpretation --- we should not necessarily be carried far beyond the general conclusions which other Committees of our Society have already put forward.  The additional step that it would take us is, as we have already pointed out, of great interest and importance; but it would not necessarily involve a materially greater divergence on our part from the opinions generally accepted among scientific men as to the limits of physical and psychical possibilities.  But in fact we cannot separate the evidence offered by the Theosophists for projections of the “astral form,” from the evidence which they also offer for a different class of phenomena, similar to some which are said by Spiritualists to occur through the agency of mediums, and which involve the action of psychical energies on ponderable matter: since such phenomena are usually described either as (1) accompanying apparitions of the Mahatmas or their disciples, or (2), at any rate as carrying with them a manifest reference to their agency.

It is indeed possible to suppose that the projections of the “astral form,” as above narrated, are genuine, and yet that all the narratives of effects produced by “occult” means on ponderable matter are to be explained as due to trickery, illusion, exaggeration, &c., but though this supposition is possible, anyone who examines the evidence will see that it is extremely improbable.  We feel bound to assume that the two bodies of evidence must stand or fall together, and this assumption alone, together with the fact that the Committee have had no opportunities of investigating experimentally the latter class of phenomena, is a sufficient reason why they should refrain from pronouncing a final judgment on any part of the evidence.  They have, however, no hesitation in affirming that, in the case of both classes of phenomena alike, the quantity and quality of the evidence is --- on the general principles adopted by the Society for Psychical Research --- sufficient to justify serious and systematic investigation, so far as opportunities may be offered.  They accordingly proceed to give a summary of the evidence that they have collected under the second of the two heads; which will be found in Appendices I., II., XVI.- XVIII., XX.-XXXV., XXXVII.

The alleged phenomena which come under this head consist --- so far as we need at present take them into account --- in the transportation, even through solid matter, of ponderable objects, and of what the Theosophists regard as their duplication; together with what is called “precipitation” of handwriting and drawings on previously blank paper.  As these phenomena cannot always be clearly distinguished, it will be convenient to treat them all together.

The evocation of sound without physical means is also said to occur, and some cases of this will be found in the Appendices; but this phenomenon, even if genuine, may possibly be due to auditory hallucination telepathically caused.

A good many accounts of alleged transportation or precipitation of letters will be found in the Appendices --- most of them independent of the “shrine” (see Appendix XXX., &c.) on which the Coulombs have thrown so much suspicion, and many of them at a distance from both Madame Blavatsky and the Coulombs.  The most interesting, perhaps, in this last respect are two cases of letters received in railway carriages.  (See AppendicesI., II., and XXXII.)  In the case of Appendix XXXII., we think it is almost impossible to frame a hypothesis of trickery which would not implicate Colonel Olcott.

For a case where a recognised letter and cards are said to have been transported see Appendix XVIII.  We speak only of the transport of the letter from Bombay to Calcutta, omitting the evidence of transit from the ss. “Vega” to Bombay, which depends in great measure on the assertion of Mr. Eglinton, and is vitiated by the way in which he dealt with the test conditions.

Taking then only the evidence as to the fall of a letter in Calcutta which had previously fallen in Bombay, we have

Witnesses to the fall in Bombay and subsequent “evaporation;” Friday, March 24th, 1882, 8 p.m., Bombay time: ---

Mr. K. M. Shroff.                             Mr. Martandrao B. Nagnath
Mr. Gwala K. Deb.                          Mr. Dovat H. Bhavucha.
Mr. Damodar K. Mavalankar.          Mr. Bhavani Shankar.

Witnesses to the fall in Calcutta, Friday, March 24th, 1882, 9 p.m. Madras time: ---

Col. Olcott.
Col. Gordon.
Mrs. Gordon.

Two Adepts (supposed to be in astral form), viz., Mahatma Koot Hoomi and Mahatma M., were seen by Colonel Olcott, but not by the others.

This is an important case, in spite of the weakness of the “Vega” portion of the story.  For if the fall at Calcutta were fraudulent, it is difficult to believe that Colonel Olcott was a dupe.

Other cases of transportation or duplication of objects will be found in “The Occult World.”

For cases where letters are asserted to have been seen actually forming themselves, see Mr. Bawaji D. Nath’s evidence in Appendix XXII., and what Colonel Olcott says (on p. 59, Appendix I.) about the case where Judge Gadgill was present.  Judge Gadgill’s own evidence has yet to be obtained.  See also Mr. Mohini’s evidence in Appendix XLII.

For an instance of a letter purporting to come from Koot Hoomi, and received in a mysterious way after the Coulombs had been turned out, and while Madame Blavatsky was still in Europe, see Mr. Bawaji D. Nath’s evidence in Appendix XXII.

The caligraphy of the letters is mainly of two types, the Koot Hoomi and the M. handwriting; and here we may conveniently discuss what bearing phenomena of this kind can have on the identity of the agents causing them.

Material evidence for the individual identity of a communicating intelligence is in common life generally obtained from identity of handwriting.  But it seems doubtful how much, on the Theosophic theory, such identity would prove.  If A can precipitate handwriting in his own style, may he not also be able to precipitate B’s handwriting, --- as in fact we hear in Colonel Olcott’s deposition (p. 60) that Madame Blavatsky actually has done?  An endless vista of perplexities thus opens before us.  Fortunately, what we have primarily to determine is whether precipitation occurs at all.  We must at any rate begin by refusing to allow our personages any powers beyond those of the ordinary forger.  If we should decide that they can precipitate handwriting, it will then be time enough to discuss what the internal evidence of handwriting, style, or continuity of matter may indicate as to their authorship.  In the language of theologians, our epistles must be shown to be genuine before they are shown to be authentic.

In this connection we must mention the most serious blot which has as yet been pointed out in the Theosophic evidence.

The “Kiddle incident” has been so fully discussed already (in Light and elsewhere) that we shall not think it needful to give it in full details.  Briefly, the case stands as follows: ---

A certain letter, in the Koot Hoomi handwriting and addressed avowedly by Koot Hoomi from Thibet, to Mr. Sinnett, in 1880, was proved by Mr. H. Kiddle, of New York, to contain a long passage apparently plagiarised from a speech of Mr. Kiddle’s, made at Lake Pleasant, August 15th, 1880, and reported in the Banner of Light some two months or more previous to the date of Koot Hoomi’s letter.  Koot Hoomi replied (some months later) that the passages were no doubt quotations from Mr. Kiddle’s speech, which he had become cognisant of in some occult manner, and which he had stored up in his mind, but that the appearance of plagiarism was due to the imperfect precipitation of the letter by the Chela, or disciple, charged with the task.  Koot Hoomi then gave what he asserted to be the true version of the letter as dictated and recovered by his own scrutiny apparently from the blurred precipitation.  In this fuller version the quoted passages were given as quotations, and mixed with controversial matter.  Koot Hoomi explained the peculiar form which the error of precipitation had assumed by saying that the quoted passages had been more distinctly impressed on his own mind, by an effort of memory, than his own interposed remarks; and, that inasmuch as the whole composition had been feebly and inadequately projected, owing to his own physical fatigue at the time, the high lights only, so to speak, had come out; there had been many illegible passages, which the Chela had omitted.  The Chela, he said, wished to submit the letter to Koot Hoomi for revision, but Koot Hoomi declined for want of time.

It would have been very desirable that the alleged original precipitation, or a photograph of it, should have been sent to Mr. Kiddle and subjected to scientific scrutiny.  It is alleged to have been seen by Mr. Subba Row and General Morgan, and since destroyed.  This document could not of course have proved the truth of Koot Hoomi’s explanation, but it would at any rate have afforded scope for certain tests which its alleged destruction renders impossible.

Further difficulties involved in Koot Hoomi’s explanation were pointed out by Mr. Massey, who showed (among other points) that the quoted sentences seemed to have been ingeniously twisted into a polemical sense, precisely opposite to that in which they were written.  It might, of course, be rejoined that this was the work of the Chela, endeavouring to set forth what he thought his Master meant; but the odd coincidence remains that words should have been originally quoted most of which were capable of being pieced together into a coherent meaning other than that intended by their original author.

And quite lately (Light, September 20th, 1884) Mr. Kiddle has shown that the passage thus restored by no means comprises the whole of the unacknowledged quotations; and, moreover, that these newly-indicated quotations are antecedent to those already described by Koot Hoomi, as forming the introduction to a fresh topic of criticism; especially as he had admitted the accuracy of the rest.  We wait to hear Koot Hoomi’s reply to this last charge.  It will be somewhat difficult to extend much further the explanation of accidentally dropped connecting passages, which, nevertheless, leave behind them a coherent sense.  In fact, an obvious criticism on the whole incident would be that a line of explanation a priori most improbable had been adopted, and that, furthermore, this improbable explanation had itself been strained to bursting.

Into this class of letters falls the only one which a member of our Committee has received.  On August 11th, 1884, Mr. Myers was talking with Madame Blavatsky and others on the Kiddle incident, when Madame Blavatsky said that she felt Koot Hoomi’s presence.  She left the room, and in two or three seconds returned with a letter, which she said had fallen on a slab outside the door.  This formed no test, of course.  The letter was in the Koot Hoomi handwriting, and alluded to what had just passed in conversation.  The subject, however, might have been purposely led up to.  But the odd thing was that the letter included a verbal quotation (duly acknowledged) from a volume of essays of Mr. Myers’.  It will not be maintained on any side that this publication has made its way into Thibet; whereas a copy of the work had recently lain in a room where Madame Blavatsky had sat.  The obvious inference would be that Madame Blavatsky is connected with the authorship of the letter.  On the other hand, it seems strange that Madame Blavatsky (if she wrote the letter) should attempt, so to say, to purge the writer of the Koot Hoomi letters from the charge of having read the Banner of Light, and in the same instant should gratuitously indicate that this mysterious correspondent had, at any rate, read a book quite equally unlikely to be obtainable at Lhassa.

We have made inquiry from Dr. Hartmann as to the continued receipt of letters in the K. H. handwriting at Madras after the departure of Madame B. for Europe.  Appendices IX., XXI., XXII., XXIII., XXIV., XXV., XXXVII. deal with this point.  For the occurrence of the handwriting under circumstances which absolutely preclude its having been sent out or left behind by Madame Blavatsky, see Mr. Bawaji D. Nath’s evidence in App. XXII.; Mr. T. Vigia Raghava Charloo’s in Appendix XXIV., and Mr. Harisinghji Rapsinghi’s in Appendix XXV.

Here, for the present, the Committee must close their review of the existing evidence for Theosophical phenomena.

That evidence is of a kind which it is peculiarly difficult either to disentangle or to evaluate.  The claims advanced are so enormous, and the lines of testimony converge and inosculate in a manner so perplexing, that it is almost equally hard to say what statements are to be accepted, and what inferences as to other statements are to be drawn from the acceptance of any.  On the whole, however, (though with some serious reserves), it seems undeniable that there is a prima facie case, for some part at least of the claim made, which, at the point which the investigations of the Society for Psychical Research have now reached, cannot, with consistency, be ignored.  And it seems also plain that an actual residence for some months in India of some trusted observer, --- his actual intercourse with the persons concerned, Hindu and European, so far as may be permitted, to him, --- is an almost necessary pre-requisite of any more definite judgment.

It may be said that the Council of the Society for Psychical Research possess already such a source of information in the person of Mr. St. George Lane-Fox, formerly a member of their body, who has now joined the Theosophical Society, transferred his residence to Madras, and assumed an active part in Theosophical affairs.  The Committee do not regard Mr. Lane-Fox’s membership of the Theosophical Society as a disqualification in the research; for such membership is expressly admitted by the Theosophical Society to be compatible with an attitude of the freest inquiry; and this attitude many members of the Theosophical Society avowedly assume.  But Mr. Lane-Fox, when he went out to Adyar, admittedly did not take this step on purely scientific grounds.  He was deeply impressed by the philosophy set before him, --- by the teaching of the Adepts or their exponents as well as by their alleged powers.  He had, doubtless, satisfied himself as to the general validity of the evidence offered; but had the philosophy, the cosmogony, the theodicy of the Adepts been altogether repugnant to his mind, he would hardly, we imagine, have felt it incumbent on him to embrace them on the strength of the phenomenal evidence alone.

Now the capacity to recognise intuitionally exalted truth, --- the faith to act on such recognition, --- may, no doubt, be among the highest gifts of mankind.  But, as we have already remarked, in psychical research we must be on our guard against men’s highest instincts as much as against their lowest; and when we find so many competing religions appealing with confidence to the innate and self-evident truth and beauty of their respective tenets, we are warned to keep to our humbler task of simply testing, as well as we can, by ordinary scientific methods, whatever evidence as to unknown powers or an unseen world is put before us, --- of approaching all with the same absence of prepossession, whether we have to deal with the visions of Swedenborg, or the miracles at Lourdes, or the communications received at Spiritualistic seances.

Having necessarily to touch on so many delicate subjects, so many profound convictions, so many ardent hopes, we can only avoid giving offence by rigidly confining ourselves to those parts of each inquiry which can be tested by the same definite rules in every instance.  It can never be our part (so to say) to discuss the policy of any Bill introduced, but only to determine whether the Standing Orders have been duly complied with.

We are of opinion, therefore, that it would be very desirable to receive the reports of some competent inquirer, who, while free from any prepossession against the wisdom or the peculiar psychical developments of the East, is, nevertheless, prepared to conduct his Indian investigations with a sole regard to definite evidential proof.  But we could not, under present circumstances, recommend that any considerable portion of the funds of the Society should be employed in so remote and costly an inquiry.  An opportunity has, however, presented itself of attaining the result at which we aim in a way that will entail no expense on the Society.  A colleague whom we regard as thoroughly competent to conduct the required investigation, Mr. Hodgson, B.A., Scholar of St. John’s College, Cambridge, is now on his way to India, and it is hoped that his letters from that country, or some part of them, may be submitted to Members and Associates in a Second Report of this Committee.

Note on the Coulombs.

As some of our readers may not be acquainted with the nature of the connection of M. and Madame Coulomb with the Theosophical Society, and of their late attack on Madame Blavatsky, we think it best to give here a brief outline of such facts as seem to us important, without drawing any conclusions.  Our information is mainly drawn from (1) a pamphlet by Dr. Hartmann, entitled “Report of Observations made during a Nine Months’ Stay at the Headquarters of the Theosophical Society”; (2) two articles in the Christian College Magazine (Madras), of September and October last; (3) a pamphlet recently issued by the London Lodge of the Theosophical Society, and entitled, “The Latest Attack on the Theosophical Society.”

M. and Madame Coulomb were attached to the Theosophical Society for several years.  They lived at the headquarters of the Society in positions of trust --- Madame Coulomb as housekeeper and M. Coulomb as librarian and apparently general factotum.  He is a skilful carpenter and mechanic.

Madame Blavatsky felt herself, we understand, to be under obligations to them for services rendered previously to the foundation of the Theosophical Society, and appears to have regarded them both as friends.  And judging from what we know of their correspondence, namely, a letter from Madame Coulomb to Madame Blavatsky, given in Dr. Hartmann’s pamphlet, and such parts of the extracts from letters to be hereafter alluded to, as Madame Blavatsky admits to be possibly genuine, it seems clear that what correspondence they had was of an informal kind, and such as would naturally pass between friends who knew that each would understand the other.

On the 21st of last February Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott sailed for Europe, leaving the management of the affairs of the Society in the hands of a Board of Control of which Mr. St. George Lane-Fox and Dr. Hartmann were members.  Madame Blavatsky seems to have left her own rooms in charge of the Coulombs, who kept other members of the Society out of them.  Adjoining Madame Blavatsky’s room, and having a common wall with her bedroom, is the room containing the so-called shrine (which Dr. Hartmann asserts to be a simple cupboard with a solid immovable back), and the shrine hangs on the common wall.  In this wall, behind the shrine, there had once been a door-way, but it had been walled up on both sides.  Dr. Hartmann states that in December, 1883, “the shrine hung upon an apparently solid and plastered wall,” and “the other side of the wall behind the shrine, on its side in the adjoining room, was equally plastered and also papered.”  He also quotes from Mrs. Morgan, “I can state for a fact that during. . . December, 1883, Madame Blavatsky. . . showed us the back of the shrine and the wall she had built behind it, where there had been a door; and the people were welcome to inspect this and see it was barred and bolted, yet she thought it would remove the last occasion of suspicion were it bricked up, and so had it done.  The wall then presented a fine highly-polished white surface.  This wall I afterwards saw papered, as I superintended the hanging of the paper.”

Very soon after Madame Blavatsky’s departure --- in March --- the Board of Control found that the Coulombs were guilty of gross misconduct, wasting the funds of the Society, &c., and were about to proceed against them when they were stopped by a letter in the well-known handwriting attributed to Mahatma Koot Hoomi, ordering patience.  Things were, therefore, temporarily patched up; but towards the end of April, a letter, dated April 26th, came to Dr. Hartmann through Mr. Damodar K. Mavalankar, in the handwriting attributed to another Mahatma, accusing the Coulombs of betraying the Society, stating that “when needed, trap-doors will be found, as they have been forthcoming for some time,” and advising secrecy and action without delay.  The secrecy was prevented by Colonel Olcott, who wrote a letter to Madame Coulomb, dated April 2nd, remonstrating with her and saying, among other things, that he had information that M. Coulomb had made trap-doors and other apparatus for trick manifestations, --- or that she was saying so; for the phrase is not clear.  On the 14th of May the Coulombs were dismissed from the Theosophical Society by the Council, and shortly afterwards compelled to give up the keys of Madame Blavatsky’s rooms, when it was found that an entrance from the bedroom had been made into the walled-up space behind the shrine --- though it is stated that the wall between this space and the shrine remained intact.  There were also three movable panels in other parts of the rooms, which all appeared to be new.  “M. Coulomb confessed,” says Dr. Hartmann, “to having made all these tricks, holes and trap-doors with his own hand, but excused himself by saying that they were made by H. P. Blavatsky’s order.”

We next hear of the Coulombs in the first article in the Christian College Magazine already mentioned.  That article contains selections “from letters and other documents in Madame Blavatsky’s handwriting, left with strange recklessness in the possession of the Coulombs.”  “These, together with Madame Coulomb’s explanations, are the authorities on which the conclusions of the article depend.”  These conclusions are, briefly, that all the alleged phenomena are tricks got up by Madame Blavatsky with the Couloumbs; that there has been a figure of muslin, and bladders to represent Koot Hoomi; and that the shrine has a back door by which answers are put in --- the apparatus for this operation being so ingenious that none but those in Madame Blavatsky’s confidence have had any suspicion of its existence.  The selections (which are, as we are told in the second article, “only scraps torn away from their context”) by themselves would, if genuine, prove conspiracy in trickery between Madame Blavatsky and the Coulombs.  Madame Blavatsky, however, asserts that they are, to a great extent, forgeries, and at best made up and altered from her real letters.  She makes, moreover, the following positive points in her criticism: --- (1) “There is no ‘Maharajah of Lahore,’ hence I could not have spoken of such a person, nor have attempted mock phenomena for his deception;” (2) . . . “in writing to her who saw the man every day. . . . . I should simply have said ‘Dewan Bahadur,’ without adding ‘Rajanath Rao, the President of the Society,’ as if introducing to her one she did not know.”  (3) “How could I make a mistake in writing . . . about the name of one of my best friends . . . . H. Khandalawalla.” . . . . The real name is N. D. Khandalawalla.  The letter in which this last mistake occurs purported to be written from Poona about a telegram which she wants sent to take in a Mr. Sassoon, cousin of Mr. A. D. Ezekiel.  Mr. Ezekiel, writing to the Times of India, says about this letter: “In one of the letters my name has been mentioned, and you will allow me to make a few observations.  I know in detail all the particulars of Madame Blavatsky’s last visit to Poona.  Some of the particulars have inaccurately been put into the alleged letter.  The telegram referred to therein was not at all meant, even in the most distant way, to suggest the possession of phenomenal powers by Madame Blavatsky, and she never attempted to put before me or Mr. Sassoon the telegram in any such light.”  Madame Blavatsky hopes also to get from Ramalinga, mentioned in this letter, a statement of his part in the affair.

In connection with these letters, it should be mentioned that a forged letter, purporting to be written by Dr. Hartmann to Madame Couloumb, dated April 28th, 1884, is asserted by Colonel Olcott to have reached him some weeks later in an envelope addressed in an unknown handwriting, and with the postmark Madras.  Apart from Dr. Hartmann’s assertion it is clear from the statements in the letter that it is a forgery, but the forger is not known.  The Christian College Magazine thinks it was forged by or for Madame Blavatsky “as a proof that forgery is in the air --- that attacks upon Theosophy are being made through the forger’s pen.”  On the other hand, the letter is calculated, if believed, to make mischief between the founders of the Theosophical Society and Dr. Hartmann and Mr. Lane-Fox, and it is undeniable that the Coulombs may have forged it with this object.

There remains one very important point to notice in the Coulomb letters.  Throughout them the only persons implicated in trickery are Madame Blavatsky and the Coulombs.  Other Theosophists are dupes.  Mr. Damodar figures as a person for whom phenomena must be got up, and Colonel Olcott as person who must not be allowed access to the “shrine” in Madame’s absence, lest he should examine it too closely.  This view, however, is very difficult to reconcile with other evidence before us: since these gentlemen cannot have been dupes in the case of all the phenomena with which they have been connected, whether these phenomena be genuine or not.  (Note especially the various accounts of Mr. Damodar’s “astral journeys” in AppendicesI. and III., and Dr. Hubbe Schleiden’s description of how he received a letter in a railway carriage (Appendix XXXII.).  It seems hardly probable that they should first be dupes, and within a few months should join their deceivers in elaborate plots to impose on others.

Note by Mr. F.W.H. Myers.

The Committee have deemed it unadvisable to insert in their Report anything beyond a mere description of the phenomena under review.  To enter formally upon the explanation of those phenomena, as given by the Theosophists themselves, would, at the present stage of the inquiry, have been altogether premature.

On the other hand, it is thought by some persons that to many of our readers the evidences given in the Appendices will be hardly intelligible without some elementary statement of the theories which are pre-supposed by the Theosophical witnesses as underlying and connecting the isolated incidents which they attest.

An explanatory note is therefore added, for which the writer alone is responsible.  Solely for the sake of clearness and conciseness the theory is stated in Theosophic terminology, and from the Theosophic point of view; although no kind of adherence to that view is anywhere implied.  It may be added that Mr. Mohini has attested the substantial accuracy of the statement of the theory of the akas.

The two main classes of phenomena described in this report are projections of the double and precipitations from the akas.  It will be convenient to explain first the latter of these performances.

In thus dealing with a medium or state of matter --- the akas --- as familiarly as we ordinary men can deal with the matter which we know, the Adept is not in reality assuming any magical novelty of power.  He is merely standing at a more advanced point than we in the evolutionary series in which all sentient beings are included.  He has powers of analysis and synthesis as much ahead of ours as ours are ahead of the savage’s, or as the savage’s are ahead of the brute’s.  To the brute beast matter in its grossest and most complex forms --- sand, mud, &c., --- is ultimate and unmodifiable.  Of spirit the beast knows nothing; he is monistic from the materialistic side.  The savage can convert water into steam and sticks into smoke, but he cannot re-condense the steam into water, still less re-integrate the smoke into wood.  He has an idea of spirit, but this idea is still so near to matter that air in motion serves as its very type.  We civilised men can see deeper into the structure of things; we can not only vapourise water and re-condense it, but also dissociate its elements and re-combine them.  To us the air is mere ponderable matter, and although, when we conceive the luminiferous ether or “radiant matter,” we feel ourselves on the brink of immateriality, still we are learning to stretch our conceptions to embrace matter in several states which are only conjecturally known to us.  But the gulf between the objective and the subjective side of our experience remains unbridged.  Such conceptions as “thought,” “will,” “life,” “soul,” we still class in the world of mind or spirit, as contradistinguished from the world of matter.  Our dualism, however, is not so unquestioning as the savage’s.  We are capable of a speculative monism --- of conjecturing that underlying all visible phenomena may be something akin to our own minds.

Now the difference in the case of the Adept is that he is confidently monistic.  Not that he can fully see or perceive the underlying identity of spirit and matter.  He too has a purely subjective side to his experience.  The atma, the seventh principle, the pervading unity of things, remains incognisable to him save as an indwelling essence, which is the soul of his soul.  But he has nevertheless made just that forward step which was necessary to make his monism a confident and not a merely speculative tenet.  For he has obtained an experimental insight into the “mind-stuff,” whose existence we can only conjecture; he has half bridged over the gulf between objective and subjective, by actually learning to see his own thought, his own will, as vibrations of the akas, as well as feeling them as changes of his own consciousness.  The gulf, we say, is thus half bridged over; it would need not an Adept’s gaze, but a re-absorption of all things into absolute existence to bridge it over entirely, to recognise no difference between inner consciousness and external entities.  Yet to see thought and will as vibrations in the akas involves a deeper insight than would be involved in merely watching their correlated vibrations in the physical brain.  For the akas is the foundation of thought and brain alike; it is (in another sense than the poet’s) “such stuff as dreams are made of;” it is the very fabric of the veil of illusion on which our world and we are projected as images from the unmanifested unity of things.

Thus much of explanation is necessary if we are to understand either the nature of the akasic phenomena which the Adept can produce, or the means which he adopts to produce them.  In the first place, to a person who can discern the akasic substratum of ponderable things, our “chemical elements” are of course as conspicuously composite as organised matter is to ourselves.  All substances known to us are modifications of the akas; and the forces which hold them together, and govern their behaviour, --- cohesion, gravitation, chemical affinity, electricity, magnetism, --- are incidental cases of the deeper laws which regulate the structure and govern the behaviour of the akas.  An experimenter, therefore, who could deal with the akas could overcome and renew the molecular cohesion of wood or iron as easily as we can vapourise water and re-condense it; he could precipitate any substance known to us from his great reservoir of relatively undifferentiated akas as easily as we can accrete to our electrodes the desired elements of a chemical compound.

And this (to continue our statement of the Theosophical case) is just what the Adept can do.  And he does it by the aid of no ponderable instruments, but by a trained and appropriate direction of the energy of his own thought and will.  For, be it remembered, his own thought is in pari materia with the effects which he wishes to produce.  Super-consciously, no doubt, his thought involves an inconceivable process in the unmanifested unity.  Sub-consciously it involves a molecular vibration in the thinker’s physical brain.  But consciously, --- as the Adept realises it and can direct it, --- it is an impulse propagated through the akas, which can be made either to impress the akas without otherwise modifying it, or to modify it by condensation or segregation, into, or out of, any concrete substance desired.  Thus, for instance, if an Adept in Thibet wishes to transmit a letter to a friend at Madras he can proceed in various ways.  If his friend is himself gifted with occult power it will suffice for the Adept to imprint the intended words on the akas by an effort of will.  The disciple will then discern them in the akas, and if necessary can himself precipitate them on to an ordinary sheet of paper.  Or else the Adept can write his letter on ordinary paper in Thibet, and then disintegrate the paper, --- keeping its particles, however, sufficiently close for ultimate reunion, --- convey the disintegrated or virtual missive through intervening obstacles, and re-integrate it at Madras.  Or he can write a letter in Thibet by ordinary means, elicit its astral image, project that image to Madras, accrete visible matter thereto, and thus create a duplicate of the original letter, which duplicate he can render either temporary or permanent.  Or he can simply precipitate both paper and handwriting from the akas at Madras, without any previous preparation or transmission.

One more point remains to be noticed.  These powers of the Adept, as has been so often said, are not miraculous.  They are inherent in all of us, in the same sense as the power to make electrical experiments is inherent in the savage.  And just as the savage, who cannot even dimly conceive of electricity, is nevertheless unconsciously producing electric phenomena at ever step he takes; is modifying the electric conditions around him in a manner which would be perceptible to savants armed with the necessary instruments; even so we are modifying the akas around and in us by every thought which manifests itself in our brains.  We do not consciously stamp our thoughts on the akas, but they make their mark on the akas none the less.  We thus leave an involuntary but a permanent imprint, by means of which the Adept can track our moral and mental course in the akas, partly as a dog can track our physical course by the smell, and partly as we can track the dog’s course if he has run before a row of instantaneously-recording photographic cameras.

All thought, therefore, is potentially visible, and the Adept habitually exercises, in the realm of the akas, the same excursive faculty by which the mesmerised clairvoyant visits the earthly scenes to which his attention is directed; or rather, by a mere act of abstraction, and without the motion through space of any part of his own identity, he can become cognisant of the contents of any part of the akas which falls within the range of his mental vision.  These last terms must, of course, be taken figuratively; for the pictures are not disposed in the akas in a simple spatial arrangement.  Any given picture may be spatially co-existence with any number of other pictures, and which among all these pictures is discerned will depend on the affinities or on the choice of the spectator.

The Adept, however, may wish to do something more than thus read the thoughts of a person at a distance.  He may wish to manifest himself in bodily form, to hold visible converse with some one who is unable reciprocally to discern the mere direction toward him of the Master’s thought.  What, then, can the Adept do?  Can he disintegrate and reintegrate his own ponderable body, as he can a letter or a ring?  No; for although the molecules which constitute a piece of paper, or of metal, can be held at distance from each other and re-aggregated without injury, the subtler tissues of organic life would not survive such interruption.

But he can perform with his own body a process analogous to that duplication of objects of which mention has already been made in the case of inanimate things.  The inanimate object, it has been implied, has an akasic substratum, an astral body.  It exists at once in the akasic and in the ponderable world, and its double existence can be made manifest in discrete places simultaneously.  Much more is this the case with the far more complex organism of the man himself.

For the doctrine of the involute or septenary constitution of man --- a true articulus stantis aut cadentis Theosophiae --- the reader must be referred to Mr. Sinnett’s works, and to the Theosophist passim.  It is sufficient here to say that each of us is existing simultaneously on several different planes of being.  As a general rule, we are conscious only of the lowest of these existences, that on the physical plane --- nay, only of a part of that; for even on the physical plane a large part of our existence is below the level of ordinary consciousness.  Far more, however, of our existence is above our consciousness than below it, and the great achievement of Adeptship is an upward extension of consciousness; a voluntary action and perception on a plane of being above that on which common life proceeds.  Operating in this higher region, he has control over that astral body or more tenuous simulacrum of himself, which is a denizen of the akasic world just as his ponderable body is a denizen of the physical world.  He translates that astral body by an act of will; and (just as in the case of the duplicated letter) he accretes thereto such ponderable particles as may suffice to render it visible to ordinary eyes, with a greater or less degree of apparent materiality.  He cannot make it permanent; for the connection of his astral with his physical body must be carefully maintained, and the astral body must be restored to the physical, which, if wholly severed from it, would become at once a corpse.

This, briefly, seems a fair statement of the Theosophic teaching; --- however differently the problems involved might be stated by the more idealistic monism of the West.  In any case, the theory, it must once more be repeated, lies wholly outside the evidential questions with which alone the Society for Psychical Research is now concerned.  It is stated here simply for convenience sake, as a clue to the terminology and habits of thoughts of the witnesses whose statements will now be given.



The following [42] Appendices consist of accounts of a number of phenomena alleged to have occurred in connection with the Theosophical Society, and of some others.  They all serve, we think, to illustrate our Report, but the reader will at once perceive that evidential value has not been the sole ground of selection, and that the evidential value of the different cases varies greatly.  We have prefixed to most of the Appendices a few remarks which may help the reader to form an estimate of their respective importance.

Appendix I
Appendix II
Appendix III
Appendix IV
Appendix V
Appendix VI
Appendix VII
Appendix VIII
Appendix IX
Appendix X
Appendix XI
Appendix XII
Appendix XIII
Appendix XIV
Appendix XV
Appendix XVI
Appendix XVII
Appendix XVIII
Appendix XIX
Appendix XX
Appendix XXI
Appendix XXII
Appendix XXIII
Appendix XXIV
Appendix XXV
Appendix XXVI
Appendix XXVII
Appendix XXVIII
Appendix XXIX
Appendix XXX
Appendix XXXI
Appendix XXXII
Appendix XXXIII
Appendix XXXIV
Appendix XXXV
Appendix XXXVI
Appendix XXXVII
Appendix XXXVIII
Appendix XXXIX
Appendix XL
Appendix XLI
Appendix XLII


(1)  “The name Koothoomi is mentioned as belonging to a Rishi, in Vishnu Puran.  The precise reference I shall be able to give you later on.  The book is translated into English by H. H. Wilson.  There is, I believe, also a French translation by Burnouf.  About the name, see also Monier Williams’ Indian Wisdom, p. 305.  There is a school of Sama Veda students founded by Koothoomi, and called after him Kauthoomi.  The text of the Sama Veda according to this school is published by the Asiatic Society, in Calcutta.  All Brahmans who belong to this school (and everything being hereditary, many Brahmans of the present day are supposed to belong to it by right of descent, even though ignorant of Sanskrit) may call themselves Kauthoomis.” --- From a letter by Mr. Mohini M. Chatterji to Mr. F. W. H. Myers, who has verified the reference to Monier Williams.