Resolved: That the letters published in the Christian College Magazine under
the heading "Collapse of Koot Hoomi," are only a pretext to injure the cause of
Theosophy; and as these letters necessarily appear absurd to those who are acquainted with
our philosophy and facts, and as those who are not acquainted with those facts could not
have their opinion changed even by a judicial verdict given in favour of Madame Blavatsky,
therefore it is the unanimous opinion of this Committee that Madame Blavatsky should not
prosecute her defamers in a Court of law.
NORENDRO NATH SEN, Chairman.
A. J. COOPER-OAKLEY, Secy.
FRANZ HARTMANN, M.D.
NAROJI DORABJI KHANDALEVALLA.
H. R. MORGAN, MAJOR-GENERAL.
GYANENDRA NATH CHAKRAVARTI,
NAVIN K. BANNERJI.
T. SUBBA ROW.
P. SREENEVAS ROW.
R. RAGOONATH ROW.
P. IYALOO NAIDU.
S. SUBARAMANNI IYER.
Discussion on the above Report.
BABU NORENDRO NATH SEN gave some account of an action for libel
brought by Babu Keshub Chunder Sen, his cousin, saying that the action was not brought in
K. C. Sens own name but in the name of one of his missionaries as the former did not
wish to be cross-examined as a witness. He said the position of plaintiff in an Indian
libel case is much worse than that of defendant.
MR. KHANDALAVALLA, a member
of the Committee, said that from the day the letters were published he had made them his
special study. He was himself connected with one of the most damaging of the letters put
forward, and regarding that letter he had come across certain documents which show that
the "Sassoon letter" is a perfect forgery. With regard to the letters about
Messrs. Damodar and Padshah, the latter had long ago communicated with him in a way that
showed that the phenomenon did not happen as the woman Coulomb said it did.
GENERAL MORGAN said he had
examined one of the letters sent him by request, in the presence of Mr. Benson of the
Civil Service and two other persons at Ootacamund, and after careful examination of the
letter and comparing it with the letters of Madame Blavatsky, they came to the conclusion
that the letter concerning the speaker was a forgery. Both from the character of the
hand-writing and from other circumstances it was clear that Madame Blavatsky could not
have written the letter. She was at the time living in the Generals house and knew
he desired no phenomena. The only reason of his visit to the Head-quarters at that time
was to see a portrait of the Mahatma, and it was impossible for Madame Coulomb to know the
day and hour of that visit; and moreover he found her out on his arrival. He said it was
utterly impossible for the circumstances as related by the woman Coulomb to have taken
place. They had made other false statements, such as that referring to Madames
having dined with the Governor, whereas she had refused the invitation sent. Putting all
these statements together it was clear to the General that the whole series of letters was
a forgery, and therefore when Mr. Gribbles pamphlet appeared, he thought it
incumbent on himself to come forward and disprove it to the best of his ability.
MR. SREENEVAS ROW said: Being interested and implicated, I went over the letters
very carefully and tried to find out what intrinsic evidence they contained besides that
of the character of the handwriting which is always a most fallacious test. From my
experience as a judicial officer of 25 years standing, I attached more importance to
the intrinsic facts given by the letters than to the writing, and I came to the conclusion
that every one of the letters was a forgery. I will not detain you with a lengthy
narrative of my investigations. In one of the letters I am mentioned. The letter is
supposed to be sent by post and then a reply to be returned enclosing a letter to me. Now
the train leaves Madras at 5:45 p.m., the letters are delivered at Ootacamund at 5 the
next evening, the post starts on its return journey on the third day and reaches Madras on
The facts are these: Madame Coulomb came to my house one evening, when
Damodar, the Dewan Bahadoor, myself and two or three other gentlemen were holding a
committee upon the Societys Sanskrit schools. I asked Damodar if I could see the
Shrine, but he said Mme. Coulomb had the key. I then asked her to let me see the Shrine
when I came to Head-quarters, and then she asked me to procure some shoes for Damodar,
describing the kind he wanted. I sent for the shoes and it was nearly 7 oclock
before Damodar was suited with a pair. At this hour she started, promising to show me the
Shrine on the morrow.
Next day I went to the office and thence direct to Adyar. Unknown to
any one I wrote a short letter and kept it in my pocket, showing it to nobody. At about
6:15 p.m. Mme. Coulomb came into the room and asked if I was ready. Mme. Coulomb, Babajee,
Damodar and every one in the house, even the servants, went with me upstairs, to the
occult room. The room was opened and I inspected the pictures and Mme. Coulomb said:
"Judge, have you any letter for the Shrine?" I said, "I am not sure if it
will be taken." Damodar said, "I am not sure either, because Madame Blavatsky is
not here, but let me try." I did not like to put the letter in with the risk of its
not being taken, but Damodar opened the Shrine and said, "Let us see." I saw
there was nothing in the silver bowl inside and put my letter into it, and the door was
closed. A few moments after, it was opened no one stirring out during the time
and my letter was gone and there was a reply from my Master in its place. I became
very much excited, because, from Damodars doubts, I did not expect a reply, but I
was tenfold more excited at the contents of the letter, since it contained a reply to
every single point in my letter which I had just deposited and had shown to nobody else. The
Coulombs were the first to come forward and congratulate me, as they had been doubtful of
my success. Now is it physically possible for any one to send a letter from Madras to
Ootacamund at that late hour in the evening? Or even if so, how could the letter in reply
have been received in time? How could Madame Blavatsky have known the contents of my
letter 24 hours before it came into existence? Again, I have not formed my opinion on the
strength of only one letter; I have seen various phenomena during the absence of both
Madame Blavatsky and the Coulombs and Col. Olcott. I one day received a letter when I was
extremely wretched on account of domestic affliction. I came to Adyar and found no one
there: Damodar was absent and I sat in the office alone. Shortly afterwards he came in and
I asked to see the Shrine. He said it was not usual to show it at that hour, but we went
up, and the door was opened. Before I could express my condition, Damodar said:
"Master says we are to close the door." I thought: "Is the door of mercy
then shut against me in my trouble?" But before I had time to put my thought into
words, Damodar said: "The door is to be opened," and as soon as this was done I
found a letter in a Tibetan envelope. I took the letter from the cup and found that it
contained this passage among others: "My dear brother, there is no occasion for you
to feel so miserable" to-day. Now who could have known that I was miserable? Accounts
like this can be multiplied over and over again. Besides, as to the general question
whether the Coulomb-letters are genuine or not, the Missionaries came here with some of
the letters which Mr. Gribble thinks to be genuine. Mr. Gribble examined them and compared
them with Madame Blavatskys handwriting in company with one of our brothers, Diwan
Bahadur R. Raghunath Row. Both had the same chance of examining the letters, and our
brother has had considerably more experience then Mr. Gribble in such matters. The result
was I hear that Mr. Gribble said: "The letters look like Madame
Blavatskys," but our brother said: "I am certain they are not her
writing." At the best it is but a matter of opinion; gentlemen with the same
opportunities of arriving at a conclusion have expressed different views.
THE HONBLE S. SUBRAMANI IYER said: I had previously come to
the same conclusion as the Committee. My reason is that an opinion requesting that Madame
Blavatsky should go to law would rest upon the assumption that a Court of justice is the
only instrument by which truth can be ascertained. Madame Blavatsky has of course the
right of disregarding the recommendation of the Committee if she so pleases. From my
experience, however, I know the difficulty of proving the genuineness of letters in a
Court of law, a difficulty which has existed in cases on which I have been engaged myself.
It is merely a question of opinion, and I will ask whether it is not better to form such
an opinion from the evidence embodied in a pamphlet than by the surrender of ones
judgment to the verdict of a Court of justice. The question is whether this Society,
putting itself forward as a Society for the promotion of peace and order, is justified in
making an appeal to a Court of justice in this matter. I think that every reasonable man
is at liberty to form an opinion on the evidence placed before him. It would be an easy
thing for any member, if he wishes to satisfy himself by comparison of handwriting, to
obtain a comparison of that of Alexis Coulomb and Madame Blavatsky. It is open to every
member of this Convention if he so wishes to come to a conclusion without going into a
Court of justice in which the results arrived at are very often contrary to the truth. If
Theosophy has only strength in itself, I consider it will survive such difficulties. And
if Madame Blavatsky feels justified in making an appeal to a Court of justice, I think
such an appeal should be made, and the issue tried not upon the question of the
genuineness of some paltry letters, but upon the question of the truth or otherwise of
occultism. We cannot bind Madame Blavatsky, but as members of our Society I do not think
it is the proper course for us to give the world the spectacle of a spiteful
cross-examination. Many are insisting that it will be necessary, simply because it would
make an interesting trial, but as sober men engaged in spreading the truth, we ought to
take a different view. I submit that the proper course is to wait for the appearance of
the pamphlet which is to be published, and from it decide which side is speaking the
COL. OLCOTT said that
although Madame Blavatsky might do what she liked with her own reputation, neither he nor
she had any right to trifle with that of the Theosophical Society, and if that Society,
represented by the strong Committee appointed, demanded that Madame Blavatsky should not
prosecute her traducers, she ought to feel her self bound by that decision.
He then read a letter from Mr. Finch, an English Barrister, on the
subject, which strongly advised against a prosecution.
MR. DAMODAR said that
reference had been made to him in four or five of the letters published in the September
number of the Christian College Magazine. An attempt had been made to prove that he
had been imposed upon by Madame Blavatsky. Long before the dates assigned to those letters
he had seen phenomena with which neither Madame Blavatsky nor Col. Olcott were concerned,
accounts of which were given by him at the time in letters to several people in England
and America. If these were not sufficient to strengthen his "faith," he did not
see what use there could have been in the clumsy tricks of the Coulombs. He would prefer
to confine his remarks to only one letter written from Simla. He said, "I have been
able, from evidence in the Theosophist, to assign dates to these letters. From
Simla Madame Blavatsky is made to write that she sends a letter to Coulomb, which letter
is to be thrown at me in a miraculous manner; that refers to certain family troubles I
then had." Here the speaker produced the letter and said: In September, a Bombay
native weekly paper published one Sunday an article containing a personal attack on Madame
Blavatsky and Col. Olcott in reference to myself, stating that their only object in taking
me was money; that they had duped me, that because I belonged to a rich family it was
their interest to make my father give up my property to them. Four or five days after the
attack appeared, it was repeated in the columns of an influential Anglo-Indian paper,
without my being allowed any time for answering the vernacular papers correspondent.
When I saw such attacks, it made me very miserable, because it seemed that my removal to
Head-quarters, instead of fulfilling its object of helping the Founders, was only the
cause of slander and trouble to them. Engrossed in such thoughts, that very evening I
was making up accounts, but felt very unhappy, when suddenly I saw a white form before me
and felt a shivering sensation. Here is the letter I then saw formed before my eyes; and
to show that it refers to this particular occasion, I will read an extract: "Do not
feel so disheartened, my poor boy; no need for that; your fancy is your greatest enemy. Do
not accuse yourself and attribute the abuse lavished upon ... to your fault. I tell thee,
child, the hissing of a snake has more influence upon the snow-covered Himavat, than the
breath of slander on me. Keep steadily to your duty and no mortal man will harm you."
That is the advice I have always tried to follow, and so, as soon as this last attack
appeared, my first feeling was that this being a great work, we cannot help being
attacked; but we have to keep steadily to our duty and no mortal man can harm us. The
evidence I have given proves how impossible it was for Madame Blavatsky to have written
the letters, referring to me. As regards one of those published, which refers to my
father, he was bed-ridden at the time, and Madame Coulomb had professed a desire to nurse
him; so Madame Blavatsky writes: "Take care of Damodars father," which is
construed into meaning "Play a trick upon him!" Such a hypothesis is perfectly
absurd under the circumstances, as my father was confined to bed in his own house.
COL. OLCOTT said he
supposed a hundred such cases could be adduced if necessary.
The report of the Committee was then unanimously adopted by
acclamation. Three cheers were then given for Madame Blavatsky, who was deeply (and very
naturally) affected by this fresh proof of affectionate confidence.