Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.

Blavatsky and Her Followers

by William T. Brown

[Reprinted from The Religio-Philosophical Journal 
(Chicago), July 23, 1887, pp. 7-8.]

The time has arrived when my position should be defined regarding Blavatsky and her “Theosophical” Society --- and that in the interest of all earnest, spiritual truth-seekers, whether known to the world As Spiritualists, Theosophists, or Rosicrucians.

In some respects I am a most remarkable man.  The great “Koot Hoomi” has placed his hand upon my head, and said, in writing, that his influence would be over me!  Even Sinnett has never been so privileged; and as, according to the doctrine of Karma, it is declared that we never can obtain more or less than we deserve, it follows that I must be an individual of unusual attainments to have merited the notice and benediction of a great Adept of the Himalaya mountains.

If it be urged that I have been gullible, I reply that it is to my credit.  Human nature is not, on the whole, so wicked and heartless as to warrant the constant uneasiness of suspicion and distrust; and the likelihood is that if I found people again whose motto was, “There is no religion higher than truth,” I should again believe in them and their professed philanthropy, until and unless the powers that be saw fit to undeceive me.

On the principle that Evil and Good are relative terms, and that Evil is Good in disguise, The “Theosophical” Society and literature have been most beneficial.  The Blavatsky literature has widened men’s views, and prepared them for thought and action in the realms of the occult.  Viewed impersonally, “Isis Unveiled” and “Esoteric Buddhism” have been good instruments of iconoclasm.  We need not believe, it is true, that we shall be called back again and again, by reincarnation, to endure the bonds of matter upon this infinitesimal orb.

But where Blavatsky has lamentably, culpably and criminally failed, has been in all pertaining to her personal claims.  Her claims to be in communication with “Mahatmas” or “souls regenerate,” have not been established.  On the contrary, she has been proved by myself to be an untruthful and unscrupulous deceiver upon the ordinary earth plane; and, as we know that Good employs good and Evil evil, it follows that the occult powers behind her cannot be of a different nature from that which her daily character represents.  Sufficient stress can hardly be placed upon the fact that feats of “magic” may be scientific, in the sense of being true on occult planes, and yet be morally worthless and false, and may proceed from any other than the represented source.  When Dr. Richard Hodgson, of the Society for Psychical Research, declared that Madame Blavatsky was an arch-imposter; and when, at Madras, in India, Mr. and Mrs. Coulomb revealed to myself and others the trap-doors and sliding-panels, which they declared were prepared for the production of “phenomena,” under Madame Blavatsky’s own directions, I felt and knew that the ground had not been covered, and that there were psychical phenomena which neither Mr. Hodgson nor Mr. and Mrs. Coulomb could in any way explain.  Sufficient perseverance has enabled me to see, however, that Madame Blavatsky’s impositions extend even far into the realms of the occult.  Like Goethe’s Faust, I find that she has sold herself, for a temporary consideration, to the devil.  Let us hope that she will see the error and folly of her ways; that she will publish a volume of “Confessions,” and become a help to mankind, instead of being, as heretofore, a snare.

The names, “Kuthumi” and “Morya,” are those of old Indian Rishis, or spiritual teachers, and have been chosen on that account by the madame for her adepts.  But so far from the sons of India being captured by use of the venerable names, a mere handful of East Indians favor the organization at all in any way, while the responsible and educated Hindoos, as a class, have unhesitatingly characterized the madame as a superb, daring fraud, which fact is very surprising to the visitor from England or America in the face of the protestations of “the founders,” that they are working unselfishly for the benefit of the children of “old Aryavarta.”  The “Aryavartans” don’t seem to see that their salvation is in any way dependent on a couple of sympathetic foreigners.

The fact is that the Theosophical movement owes its origin in this country directly to Mrs. E. H. Britten’s volumes, “Art Magic,” and “Ghostland.”  Before the publication of these valuable works, Madame Blavatsky was a wandering spirit medium.  When these works came out, she saw what seemed her opportunity, and her powers instantly became transformed to those of great Eastern adepts.  She had been, it is proved, in this country many years before, under different names, and her story as to having lived in Thibet, and being the widow of a deceased Russian general, is, to say the least, highly improbable.  Sinnett and Olcott have been her dupes; but there comes a time, it is needless to point out to these gentlemen, when, unless a righteous stand be taken, a dupe becomes a knave.  In this country, Dr. Coues, it is well known, is the embodiment of vanity, and is hunting for a place of power, which, of course, will constantly elude him.  So much for the Blavatsky movement.

Theosophy (not Blavatskyism) is benign and comprehensible.  It is the story of the soul --- its fall into matter and its salvation by re-generation.  The same story has been told in Buddhism, Israeliteism, Platonism, and Christianity.  A comprehensive title, therefore, is Theosophy.  From the innocence of childhood in generation to the harmlessness and wisdom of re-generation, this is the entire psychical drama.  The details of our experience on all the different planes are for our discipline, and every soul must be allowed to follow its inner light in the fulness of its freedom.

The works of true Theosophy, which I would cordially recommend to others, are “The Perfect Way,” by Dr. A. Kingsford and Edward Maitland, B.A.; Scribner and Welford, New York.  “The Light of Asia,” by Edwin Arnold; “Theosophy, or the Higher Life,” by Dr. Wyld of London; “The Spirit of the New Testament,” by Susan E. Gay; “The Temple of the Rosy Cross,” by F. B. Dowd; “Esoteric Christianity,” by Dr. W. F. Evans; “The Mystery of the Ages” and other works, by Lady Caithness and several others.  And for Theosophical periodicals I would name the Religio-Philosophical Journal, The World’s Advance Thought, Light, L’Aurore, The Esoteric, and the Sphinx.