Blavatsky Study Center

"Bear Witness!"
Who Was the Real H.P.B.?

by Daniel H. Caldwell

A Mighty Adept Using the Old Body Called H.P. Blavatsky

In May 1891, Julia Keightley had the following experience:

"A few days after Madame Blavatsky died, H.P.B. awoke me at night.  I raised myself, feeling no surprise, but only the sweet accustomed pleasure.  She held my eyes with her leonine gaze.  Then she grew thinner, taller, her shape became masculine; slowly then her features changed, until a man of height and rugged powers, stood before me, the last vestige of her features melting into his, until the leonine gaze, the progressed radiance of her glance alone remained.  The man lifted his head and said:  'Bear witness!' He then walked from the room, laying his hand on the portrait of H.P.B. as he passed." Reminiscences of H.P. Blavatsky and The Secret Doctrine, 1893, p. 127.

Some two years earlier, James Pryse also had a remarkable encounter with HPB:

"One evening [in 1889] while I was thus meditating the face of H. P. B. flashed before me.  I recognized it from her portrait in Isis, though it appeared much older.  Thinking that the astral picture, as I took it to be, was due to some vagary of fancy, I tried to exclude it; but at that the face showed a look of impatience, and instantly I was drawn out of my body and immediately was standing "in the astral" beside H. P. B. in London.  It was along toward morning there, but she was still seated at her writing desk.  While she was speaking to me, very kindly, I could not help thinking how odd it was that an apparently fleshy old lady should be an Adept.  I tried to put that impolite thought out of my mind, but she read it, and as if in answer to it her physical body became translucent, revealing a marvellous inner body that looked as if it were formed of molten gold.  Then suddenly the Master M. appeared before us in his mayavi-rupa. To him I made profound obeisance, for he seemed to me more like a God than a man.  Somehow I knew who he was, though this was the first time I had seen him.  He spoke to me graciously and said, 'I shall have work for you in six months.'  He walked to the further side of the room, waved his hand in farewell and departed.  Then H. P. B. dismissed me with the parting words, 'God bless you,' and directly I saw the waves of the Atlantic beneath me; I floated down and dipped my feet in their crests.  Then with a rush I crossed the continent till I saw the lights of Los Angles and returned to my body, seated in the chair where I had left it. . . ."  "Memorabilia of H.P.B."  The Canadian Theosophist, March 15, 1935, pp. 1-5. 

James Pryse wrote to William Q. Judge about his out-of-body experience and "vision" of H.P.B.  Judge referred to these experiences in his reply to Pryse dated September 3, 1889:

"My dear Pryse:

"I have your letter, and fully appreciate your feelings as they resemble my own.

"I do not think your position is so strange or remarkable as to be beyond our ken, nor do I look at your experiences as being solely mediumistic, nor at the dream or vision as unsolvable. You are now struggling with the personal self in the early stages, and can consider yourself fortunate that you have the chance to overcome in the initial battle. . .

". . . . Your vision that when you looked at H P B and saw no old woman but a God is correct. You were privileged to see the Truth --- For the Being in that old body called H P Blavatsky is a mighty Adept working on his own plan in the world. And thus we do not need to go to Tibet or S. America to find the sort of Being so many wish to see. Yet having seen the reality better keep silent and work with that in view. For even did you go and tell Him you knew He was there he would smile while he waited for you to do something such as you could in your limited sphere.  For flattery counts not and professions are worse than useless. But it is a great thing to see as much as you have, and a greater thing it will be if you do not doubt for you may never see it again. . . . " William Quan Judge, Practical Occultism.

Two Persons in Madame Blavatsky

In a letter dated February 23, 1887, HPB wrote to William Judge:

"Yes there are 'two persons' in me.  But what of that?  So are there two in you; only mine is conscious & responsible & yours is not."  The Theosophical Forum, July 1932, p. 226

" 'Two persons' in me"?  What does that phrase mean?

In the Glossary appended to the 2nd edition (1890) of The Key to Theosophy, HPB writes about the "two Egos in man":

"Esoteric philosophy teaches the existence of two Egos in man, the mortal or personal, and the higher, the divine or impersonal, calling the former 'personality,' and the latter 'individuality.' "  (See entry on "Ego.")

In another glossary definition, HPB writes that "Individuality," is one "of the names given in Theosophy and Occultism to the human Higher Ego. We make a distinction between the immortal and divine and the mortal human Ego. . . ."

Elsewhere in the glossary, we find this:

"The Individuality is the Higher Ego (Manas) of the Triad considered as a Unity. In other words the Individuality is our imperishable Ego which reincarnates and clothes itself in a new Personality at every new birth."

Let us now give a number of statements by HPB in which she apparently refers to the conscious Individuality within her:

"Do you believe that, because you have fathomed --- as you think---my physical crust and brain; that shrewd analyst of human nature though you be---you have ever penetrated even beneath the first cuticles of my Real Self ?  You would gravely err, if you did...You DO NOT KNOW me; for whatever there is INSIDE it, is NOT WHAT YOU THINK it is; and---to judge of me therefore, as of one UNTRUTHFUL is the greatest mistake in the world besides being a flagrant injustice.  I (the inner real "I") am in prison and cannot show myself as I am with all the desire I may have to. Why, then, should I, because speaking for myself AS I AM and feel myself to be, why should I be held responsible for the OUTWARD jail-door and ITS appearance, when I have neither built nor yet decorated it ?"   Letter of H.P. Blavatsky to A.P. Sinnett, The Mahatma Letters, 2nd ed., pp. 465-466.

". . .  I am enough of an occultist to know that before we find the Master within our own hearts and seventh principle --- we need an outside Master....I got my drop from my Master (the living one)....He is a Saviour, he who leads you to finding the Master within yourself. . . . "  Letters of H.P. Blavatsky to Franz Hartmann, The Path , Volume X, p. 367.

". . . I venerate the Masters, and worship MY MASTER --- the sole creator of my inner Self which but for His calling it out, awakening it from its slumber, would never have come to conscious being --- not in this life, at all events..."   Letters of H.P.
Blavatsky to A.P. Sinnett,  p. 104

"Several times a day I feel that besides me there is someone else, quite separable from me, present in my body. I never lose the consciousness of my own personality; what I feel is as if I were keeping silent and the other one -- the lodger who is in me -- were speaking with my tongue. For instance, I know that I have never been in the places which are described by my 'other me', but this other one -- the second me -- does not lie when he tells about places and things unknown to me, because he has actually seen them and knows them well. I have given it up: let my fate conduct me at its own sweet will; and besides, what am I to do? It would be perfectly ridiculous if I were to deny the possession of knowledge avowed by my No. 2, giving occasion to the people around me to imagine that I keep them in the dark for modesty's sake. In the night,  when I am alone in my bed, the whole life of my No. 2 passes before my eyes, and I do not see myself at all, but quite a different person -- different in race and different in feelings."  The Path, December 1894.

"Do not be afraid that I am off my head. All that I can say is that someone positively inspires me. . . . more than this: someone enters me. It is not I who talk and write: it is something within me, my higher and luminous Self, that thinks and writes for me. Do not ask me, my friend, what I experience, because I could not explain it to you clearly. I do not know myself! The one thing I know is that now, when I am about to reach old age, I have become a sort of storehouse of somebody else's knowledge... "

It is Something Within Me, My Higher and Luminous Self,
that Thinks and Writes for Me.

Some students believe that HPB herself reveals that the mighty Adept using the "H.P. Blavatsky" body was a Nirmanakaya.  In a letter dated September 15, 1887, Madame Blavatsky writes Mr. Judge:

"Begin by being elected both of you [Judge and Elliott Coues] for a year, and then if you are prepared to pledge yourselves both for life - then affairs & events may be turned off by unseen powers into such a groove that you will be unanimously elected for life - just as Olcott & I were - to go on with the work after our deaths. Do you understand what it means? It means that unless you consent, you force me to a miserable life & a miserable death with the idea preying on my mind that there is an end of theosophy. That for several years I will not be able to help it on & stir its course, because I will have to act in a body which will have to be assimilated to the Nirmanakaya, because even in Occultism there are such things as a failure, & a retardment, and a misfit. But you don't understand me, I see."  

Here HPB writes that following her death "I will have to act in a body which will have to be assimilated to the Nirmanakaya."  Since this assimilation can take years, she was concerned that "I will not be able to help" the Theosophical cause and movement for that period of time.

Here is what HPB writes in her glossary to the Key to Theosophy about a "Nirmanakaya":

". . . Occultism...says...that Nirmanakaya, although meaning literally a transformed "body," is a state. The form is that of the Adept or Yogi who enters, or chooses, that post-mortem condition in preference to the Dharmakaya or absolute Nirvanic state. He does this because the latter Kaya separates him for ever from the world of form, conferring upon him a state of selfish bliss, in which no other living being can participate, the adept being thus precluded from the possibility of helping humanity, or even devas. As a Nirmanakaya, however, the adept leaves behind him only his physical body, and retains every other "principle" save the Kamic, for he has crushed this out for ever from his nature during life, and it can never resurrect in his post-mortem state. Thus, instead of going into selfish bliss, he chooses a life of self-sacrifice, an existence which ends only with the life-cycle, in order to be enabled to help mankind in an invisible, yet most effective, manner. . . . Thus a Nirmanakaya is...verily one who, whether a Chutuktu or a Khubilkhan, an adept or a Yogi during life, has since become a member of that invisible Host which ever protects and watches over humanity within Karmic limits. Mistaken often for a "Spirit," a Deva, God himself, &c., a Nirmanakaya is ever a protecting, compassionate, verily a guardian, angel to him who is worthy of his help...."

Who "Incarnated" into the Blavatsky Body?

Let us first give two suggestive statements from the letters of Mahatma Koot Hoomi that may shed some light on this question.

Referring to Madame Blavatsky, Master K.H. wrote:

"After nearly a century of fruitless search, our Chiefs had to avail themselves of the only opportunity to send out a European body upon European soil to serve as a connecting link between that country and our own."  The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, Letter No. 26, K.H.'s Confidential Memo about Old Lady [HPB]. Received Simla, Autumn, 1881.  Italics added.

In another letter the Master wrote:

"The Tchang-chub (an adept who has, by the power of his knowledge and soul enlightenment, become exempt from the curse of UNCONSCIOUS transmigration) --- may, at his will and desire, and instead of reincarnating himself only after bodily death, do so, and repeatedly --- during his life if he chooses. He holds the power of choosing for himself new bodies -- whether on this or any other planet --- while in possession of his old form, that he generally preserves for purposes of his own." The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, Letter No. 49.   Italics added to "new bodies".

Madame Blavatsky also wrote a very interesting and suggestive remark in Lucifer:

"It had also escaped him [A.P. Sinnett] for the moment, no doubt, that among the group of Initiates to which his [Sinnett's] own mystical correspondent [Koot Hoomi] is allied, are two [Initiates] of  European race, and that one [Initiate] who is that Teacher's [Koot Hoomi's] Superior is also of that origin [European], being half a Slavonian in his 'present incarnation,' as he himself wrote to Colonel Olcott in New York. "  Lucifer, October, 1888, p. 173; reprinted in H.P.B.'s Collected Writings, Volume X, p. 153  Italics added.

This is a quite fascinating statement by HPB that Koot Hoomi's Superior was of European origin and was "half a Slavonian in his 'present incarnation.' "  HPB also tells us that this latter information was conveyed to Colonel Olcott in New York in a letter written by the Adept Superior.

The anonymous author of The Theosophical Movement (1925 edition, p 378) pens a valuable suggestion about this passage:

"Just why H.P.B. should put the phrase 'present incarnation' in quotes is worth some intuitional effort, as is also the fact that 'H.P.B.' was herself precisely and exactly 'half a Slavonian' in her then 'present incarnation.' "

Who Was Master K.H.'s Superior Who Was European
and Half a Slavonian in His "Present Incarnation"?

Pursuing this intuitional effort, let us examine some other primary sources.

A.P. Sinnett had a remarkable encounter with the Master K.H.  Sinnett wrote in a brief note of the experience:

"I saw K.H. in astral form on the night of 19th of October, 1880, --- waking up for a moment but immediately afterwards being rendered unconscious again (in the body) and conscious out of the body in the adjacent dressing-room where I saw another of the Brothers afterwards identified with one called 'Serapis' by Olcott, --- 'the youngest of the chohans.' "  The Mahatma Letters, Letter No. 3a in the first three editions.

Some four years later, while William Judge was in London and on a visit to Mr. Sinnett's home, the following interesting conversation ensued.  Mr. Judge wrote:

"I asked him [A.P. Sinnett] about his sight of K.H. and he related thus: 'He was lying in his bed in India one night [see above], when suddenly awakening, he found K.H. standing by his bed.  He rose half up, when K.H. put his hand on his head, causing him to fall at once back on the pillow. He then, he says, found himself out of the body, and in the next room, talking to another adept whom he describes as an English or European, with light hair, fair, and of great beauty.  This is the one [adept] Olcott described to me in 1876 and called by name -------.  Please erase that when read. . . . S[innett] says he [the European adept] is very high. . . ."  Letters That Have Helped Me, Theosophy Company edition, p. 196.

Notice that this adept called Serapis is described as "English or European, with light hair, fair, and of great beauty."

In 1883, Colonel Olcott was healing people with his mesmeric "power".  He relates the following experience:

"On the day in question, while under treatment for his eyes, upon which business my thoughts were closely concentrated, [Badrinath Babu, the patient] . . . suddenly began describing a shining man whom he saw looking benevolently on him.  His clairvoyant sight, had, it seemed, become partially developed, and what he saw was through closed eyelids.  From the minute description he then proceeded to give me, I could not fail to recognise the portrait of one of the most revered of our Masters. . . .[Badrinath] described to me an individual with blue eyes, light flowing hair, light beard, and European features and complexion. . . . The description...fitted accurately a real personage, the Teacher of our Teachers [KH and M.], a Paramaguru, as one such is called in India, and who had given me a small colored sketch of himself in New York, before we left for Bombay. . . ." Old Diary Leaves, Volume III, 430-1.

It is on record that the Master Serapis gave Colonel Olcott "a small colored sketch of himself in New York."  See Letters from the Masters of Wisdom, Series II.

Concerning Colonel Olcott's mesmeric healing, Master Koot Hoomi wrote to A.P. Sinnett:

"This [healing] is all done thro' the power of a lock of hair sent by our beloved younger Chohan to H. S. O."

This is KH's comment on a newspaper article titled "Cures Effected by Colonel Olcott in Calcutta by Mesmeric Passes" that was published in the Calcutta Indian Mirror. See The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett, Appendix III.

Confirmation that the Superior or Master of both Masters Koot Hoomi and Morya was Serapis is again found in this statement by Henry Olcott:

"One of the greatest of them, the Master of the two Masters [KH and M] about whom the public has heard. . . . , wrote me on June 22, 1875:

'The time is come to let you know who I am.  I am not a disembodied spirit, Brother, I am a living man; gifted with such powers by our Lodge as are in store for  yourself some day.  I cannot be with you otherwise than in spirit, for thousands of miles separate us at present. . . . .' "  Old Diary Leaves, Volume I, p. 237.

Koot Hoomi's Superior is further mentioned in a letter of HPB's:

"K. H. or Koot-Hoomi is now gone to sleep for three months to prepare during this Sumadhi or continuous trance state for his initiation, the last but one, when he will become one of the highest adepts.  Poor K. H. his body is now lying cold and stiff in a separate square building of stone with no windows or doors in it, the entrance to which is effected through an underground passage from a door in Toong-ting (reliquary, a room situated in every Thaten (temple) or Lamisery; and his Spirit is quite free.  An adept might lie so for years, when his body was carefully prepared for it beforehand by mesmeric passes etc.  It is a beautiful spot where he is now in the square tower.  The Himalayas on the right and a lovely lake near the lamisery.  His Cho-han (spiritual instructor, master, and the Chief of a Tibetan Monastery) takes care of his body.  M[orya] also goes occasionally to visit him. . . .

"Now Morya lives generally with Koot-Hoomi who has his house in the direction of the Kara Korum Mountains, beyond Ladak, which is in Little Tibet and belongs now to Kashmire.  It is a large wooden building in the Chinese fashion pagoda-like, between a lake and a beautiful mountain. . . . They come out very rarely.  But they can project their astral forms anywhere."  Letter from H. P. B. to Mrs. Hollis Billings, Simla. Oct. 2. 1881. The Theosophical Forum (Point Loma, California), May 1936, pp. 343-346.

From the above material, it would appear that Serapis, one of the Chiefs or Chohans of the Occult Brotherhood, was the Superior or Teacher of both Master K.H. and   Master M.  Furthermore, Serapis (being a Nirmanakaya) had taken on his "present incarnation" using the "old body" called H.P. Blavatsky as a instrument for his "life of self-sacrifice."  These insights help us to understand more fully the significance of KH's words about H.P. Blavatsky:

"After nearly a century of fruitless search, our Chiefs had to avail themselves of the only opportunity to send out a European body upon European soil to serve as a connecting link. . . . "