Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.

Report of the Committee Appointed by the
Annual Convention of the Theosophical
Society to Advise Madame Blavatsky as
the Best Course to be Taken by Her with
Reference to Certain Letters Published in
the September and Following Numbers
of the Christian College Magazine

[First published in Official Report of the Ninth Session of the General Convention
and Celebration of the Ninth Anniversary at Madras, December 27th-31st,
.  Madras, India:  The Theosophical Society at Adyar, 1885, pp. 99-106.]

—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.


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. Sen’s 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 General’s 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 Madame’s 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. Gribble’s 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 fourth.

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 Society’s 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 o’clock 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 Damodar’s 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 Blavatsky’s 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 Blavatsky’s," 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 HON’BLE 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 one’s 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 truth.

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 paper’s 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 Damodar’s 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.