Published by Blavatsky Study Center

Click here to see a larger reproduction of this "sketch on China silk."
The "colored sketch on China silk"

Where was the "Ravine in Tibet"? (1)
by Daniel H. Caldwell

In 1881, Colonel Henry S. Olcott wrote of the Masters:

"I have also personally known . . . [Master Koot Hoomi] since 1875. He is of quite a different, a gentler, type, yet the bosom friend of the other [Master Morya]. They live near each other with a small Buddhist Temple about midway between their houses."

"In New York, I had . . . a colored sketch on China silk of the landscape near . . . [Koot Hoomi]'s and my Chohan's [Morya's] residences with a glimpse of the latter’s house and of part of the little temple." Letter from Col. Olcott to A.O. Hume.  See a larger reproduction of this "sketch on China silk."

In another letter dated 1880, Colonel Olcott commented on the same "colored sketch on China silk." Referring to a "small Tibetan temple," he wrote:

". . . you will see the very image of [the Tibetan temple] in a colored painting on silk that lies on my bureau in my bed-room, and that was magically produced by her [H.P. Blavatsky] for me in New York one day. . . . "
Extracts from a Private Letter of Col. Olcott to Damodar K. Mavalankar.

In 1881, H.P. Blavatsky herself gave more information on where the Masters lived in the following extract from one of her letters:

"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. . . . "  Letter from H. P. B. to Mrs. Hollis Billings.

Damodar K. Mavalankar wrote in 1881 the following about an "out of my body" experience he had:

"I felt a very pleasant sensation as if I was getting out of my body. I can not say now what time passed between that and what I am now going to relate. But I saw I was in a peculiar place. It was the upper end of Cashmir at the foot of the Himalayas.  I saw I was taken to a place where there were only two houses just opposite to each other and no other sign of habitation. From one of these came out the person. . . "Koot Hoomi. "  It was his house. Opposite him stops [Morya].  Brother K -- ordered me to follow him. After going a short distance of about half a mile we came to a natural subterranean passage which is under the Himalayas. The path is very dangerous. There is a natural causeway on the River Indus which flows underneath in all its fury. Only one person can walk on it at a time and one false step seals the fate of the traveller. Besides this causeway there are several valleys to be crossed. After walking a considerable distance through this subterraneous passage we came into an open plain in L-----k. . . . "  Letter V to W.Q. Judge.

In 1884, C. Ramiah related in The Theosophist a series of his "visions" and "out of the body" experiences.  He wrote:

"About the latter part of last August [1884] I was in prayers as usual when the golden ray of light having appeared the Mahatma [K.H.] stood in it in all his glory. He receded again, and I followed him close. . . . After traversing many mountains and dangerous valleys, I came upon a broad tableland and at some distance I perceived a cluster of fine tall trees beneath the shadow of which there stood a neat house facing eastward. Thither I went, and at its entrance I saw Mahatma K. H. seated alone, and my mind told me it was his own house. I [later] mentioned this curious vision to Mr. Damodar K. Mavalankar, and he told me that I must try and see what more I can; and this resolve I at once made."  "Psychological Experiences [Part II]."

At this point in Ramiah's article, the acting editor of The Theosophist, T. Subba Row, added the following footnote:

"This is a correct description, as far as it goes, of the house of the MAHATMA [Koot Hoomi]."

Ramiah continued his narrative:

Three or four days after this interview, the same vision appeared to me, and facing the house of
the Mahatma K. H. there appeared another cluster of trees with a house under, with a distance of
about a mile or two between the houses; and there was also a small temple with a circular dome
half way between them. This other or second house I learnt by intuition belonged to another Mahatma."

Again Subba Row added the following editorial footnote:

"This description corresponds to that of the house of the other MAHATMA [Morya], known to Theosophists."

Ramiah added this comment:

"I am sorry I am not an artist or I would have sent you a sketch of the scenery of the two houses
with the picturesque temple half way between the houses."

We close this article with the following three comments of the Master K.H. to A.P. Sinnett.:

"Please to remark that the present [note] is not dated from a 'Lodge' but from a Kashmir valley."  Mahatma Letters, Letter No. 3b, October 20, 1880.

". . . your last note [written Oct. 20, 1880]. . . was received in my room about half a minute after the currents for the production of the pillow dak had been set ready and in full play." Mahatma Letters, Letter No. 3c, October 20, 1880.

". . . the other day . . . I was coming down the defiles of Kouenlun -- Karakorum you call them -- and saw an avalanche tumble. I had gone personally to our chief to submit Mr. Hume's important offer, and was crossing over to Lhadak on my way home." Mahatma Letters, Letter No. 4, October 29, 1880.


(1) The illustration accompanying this article is reproduced from Mary K. Neff's The Personal Memoirs of Madame Blavatsky (1937).

At the beginning of Chapter II of The Masters And The Path, C.W. Leadbeater gave the following description of this illustration:


"There is a certain valley, or rather ravine, in Tibet, where three of these Great Ones, the Master Morya, the Master Kuthumi and the Master Djwal Kul are living at the present time.

"A Ravine in Tibet

"The Master Djwal Kul, at Madame Blavatsky' s request, once made for her a precipitated picture of the mouth of that ravine, and the illustration given herewith is a reproduction of a photograph of that. The original, which is precipitated on silk, is preserved in the shrine-room of the Headquarters of The Theosophical Society at Adyar. On the left of the picture the Master Morya is seen on horse-back near the door of His house. The dwelling of the Master Kuthumi does not appear in the picture, being higher up the valley, round the bend on the right. Madame Blavatsky begged the Master Djwal Kul to put himself into the picture; He at first refused, but eventually added Himself as a small figure standing in the water and grasping a pole, but with His back to the spectator! This original is faintly tinted, the colours being blue, green and black. It bears the signature of the artist-- the nickname Gai Ben-Jamin, which He bore in His youth in the early days of the Society, long before He reached Adeptship.[a] The scene is evidently taken early in the day, as the morning mists are still clinging to the hillsides.

"The Masters Morya and Kuthumi occupy houses on opposite sides of this narrow ravine, the slopes of which are covered with pine trees. Paths run down the ravine past Their houses, and meet at the bottom, where there is a little bridge. Close to the bridge a narrow door, which may be seen on the left at the bottom of the picture, leads to a system of vast subterranean halls containing an occult museum of which the Master Kuthumi is the Guardian on behalf of the Great White Brotherhood. . . .

". . . . Near the bridge there is also a small Temple with turrets of somewhat Burmese form, to which a few villagers go to make offerings of fruit and flowers, and to burn camphor and recite the Pancha Sila. A rough and uneven track leads down the valley by the side of the stream. From either of the two houses of the Masters the other house can be seen ; they are both above the bridge, but both cannot be seen from it, since the ravine bends round. If we follow the path up the valley past the house of the Master Kuthumi it will lead us to a large pillar of rock, beyond which, the ravine bending round again, it passes out of sight. Some distance further on the ravine opens out into a plateau on which there is a lake, in which, tradition tells us, Madame Blavatsky used to bathe ; and it is said that she found it very cold. The valley is sheltered and faces south, and though the surrounding country is under snow during the winter, I do not remember having seen any near the Masters' houses. These houses are of stone, very heavily and strongly built. . . . "

[a] C.W. Leadbeater's footnote reads:  "This signature was upon the lower margin outside the actual picture, and consequently it does not appear in our reproduction."