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Testimony Concerning the Mahatmas

by Damodar K. Mavalankar (1)

The criticisms upon Mr. Sinnett's book "The Occult World" force upon me the duty of testifying from personal experience and knowledge to the fact that those whom we call our "Brothers of the First Section" (also known as the Masters or Mahatmas) of whom "Koot Hoomi Lal Singh" is one, and who possess the so-called "miraculous" powers, are real and living beings.

It is not belief with me but knowledge, for, if I have seen one of them, I have at least seen about half a dozen on various occasions, in broad daylight, in open places, and have talked to them, not only when Madame Blavatsky was in Bombay but even when she was far away and I here in Bombay.  I have also seen them at times when I was travelling (for instance in Ceylon).  I was taken to the residences of some of them and once when Col. Olcott and Mme. Blavatsky were with me.  I know "Koot Hoomi Lal Singh" personally and have seen and conversed with him when Mme. Blavatsky was here as also when she was far away.

I had the moral certainty concerning the existence of the Himalayan Mahatmas long before I heard of the name of the Theosophical Society, nay, even before it was formed in America in 1875.  In my childhood I had a very dangerous illness, and doctors gave me up for lost.  While my relatives were every moment expecting my death, I had a vision which made such a deep impression on my mind that I could never forget it.  Then I saw a certain personage --- whom I then considered to be a Deva, i.e., God --- who gave me a peculiar medicine; and curiously enough, I began to recover from that time.    Some years after that, while I was one day engaged in meditation, I saw the identical Personage and recognised him as my Saviour.  Once more He saved me from the clutches of death. 

It was some years after this last occasion that the founders of the Theosophical Society came to India; and within a few months I joined the Society.   Since then I have witnessed several phenomena, both in the presence and absence of Madame Blavatsky, in the company of others or while alone.  These several accounts have from time to time been published in the Theosophist over my own name.    There are several other occurrences not so mentioned, which I wrote about in private correspondence to Theosophical friends in London and New York.

I may here add that some time after I joined the Society, I saw several Mahatmas, both in their astral form and physical bodies, one of whom was the Mahatma Koot Hoomi known as Mr. Sinnett’s correspondent and the author of the letters published in “The Occult World.”  And when I saw Him, I at once identified Him with the majestic Power I had seen in my youth thrice, He who had saved my life twice and appeared once during my meditation.  I have got several letters from Him and others; and all those, written by the same person, whether received by me direct or through anybody else, bear the same handwriting.  Latterly, since They have chosen to give me verbal instructions, I have been receiving very few written communications.

Before joining the Society, as well as after, during Madame Blavatsky’s absence as well as her presence, under a thousand and one different circumstances, I have received several letters for myself or for others from different Mahatmas, have seen them, talked to them, heard their voices, and seen several kinds of phenomena.

In a village in Ceylon in May 1880, H. P. B., Col. Olcott and myself were the only three persons that stopped one night, the rest of our party having gone to a further place. We were all busy there initiating people and forming a branch of our Society till about 12 in the night. H. P. B. and Col. Olcott went to bed at about one. As we had to stay in the village only one night we had got down in the Rest House where comfortable accommodation can be had only for two travellers. I had therefore to lay down in an arm-chair in the dining room. I had scarcely locked from inside the door of the room and laid myself in the chair than I heard a faint knock at the door. It was repeated twice before I had time enough to reach the door. I opened it and what a great joy I felt when I saw the Master again! In a very low whisper he ordered me to dress myself and to follow him.

At the back door of the Rest House is the sea. I followed him as he commanded me to do. He brought me to the back door of the place and we walked about three quarters of an hour by the seashore. Then we turned in the direction of the sea. All around there was water except the place we were walking upon which was quite dry!! He was walking in front and I was following him. We thus walked for about seven minutes when we came to a spot that looked like a small island. On the top of the building was a triangular light. From a distance, a person standing on the seashore would think it to be an isolated spot which is covered all over by green bushes. There is only one entrance to go inside. And no one can find it out unless the occupant wishes the person to find the way.

After we reached the island we had to go round about for about five minutes before we came in front of the actual building. There in a little garden in front we found one of the Brothers sitting. I had seen him before in the Council Room and it is to him that this place belongs.   Master seated himself near him and I stood before them. We were there for about half an hour. I was shown a part of the place. How very pleasant it is!   And inside this place he has a small room where the body remains when the Spirit moves about. What a charming, delightful spot that is! What a nice smell of roses and various sorts of flowers! I wish I were permitted to visit that place again if I should go to Ceylon another time. The half hour was finished and the time for our leaving the place was near. The master of the place whose name I do not know, placed his blessing hand over my head and and I marched off again. We came back near the door of the room wherein I was to sleep and he suddenly disappeared there on the spot.

Also in Ceylon I was taken to a certain place where the Masters have their Council. After that I saw the Master twice or thrice alone on the same business.  Happy were those moments when alone at midnight we thus had conversation! Nothing or no body to disturb us! We were to ourselves during that time.  I was taken also to two other places:  one of them is near Colombo, a private house of the Master and the other one near Kandy, a library.  I can now think only of four places where I was taken while in Ceylon.

One evening after dressing myself for dinner on the Steamer on our way back to Bombay from Ceylon, I took out from my trunk my coat to be put on after dinner. As is my habit, I examined its pockets and put it on my bed. The dinner table was exactly opposite my cabin so that I could easily see any one going in or coming out from there but I saw none.

After we finished our dinner I went in and put on the coat. Without thinking I put my hands into my pockets as I usually do and lo! in the right hand one I felt some paper while, when I first examined it, there was nothing inside. I took it out and to my surprise I found a letter addressed to Mme. Blavatsky. I took it nearer to the light.   The cover was open and on it were written in red the words: "For Damodar to read." I then read the letter and saw that it was about the same business.

Thinking all the time of this matter I lay down in my bed. Absorbed in deep thought I was startled on the sound of footsteps in the cabin which I had locked from inside. I looked behind and there was the Master again and two others! What a pleasant evening that was! Speaking of various things in regard to knowledge and philosophy for about half an hour! Those were the happiest moments in my life! But that was only for that time and I determined to make myself worthy of enjoying it always!

Having returned from our trip to Ceylon, H. P. B. and Col. Olcott left Bombay on August 27, 1880 for Simla and other places in the North on the business of the Society and I was almost alone at the Headquarters.  Mr. and Mme. Coulomb also stayed and have been staying with us but they are not much interested in these matters. I worked all alone in H. P. B.'s compartments and there not a single soul came to disturb me.

On the evening previous to my birthday (in September) I went as usual for dinner in the evening. After dinner we removed to the verandah in H. P. B.'s Bungalow. A sudden peculiar sensation came over me and the brilliant moonlight reminded me of my trip to ------ where Col. O. & I were magnetized.

Presently Mme. C. heard footsteps in H.P.B.'s room, and somebody trying to open the cupboard. I did not hear any such thing but I did not dare go in as H. P. B. before her departure had told me not to do so in case I should hear any noise or voices there.   For the same reason I prevented them from trying to enter there as they wanted to do for fear there might be some thing wrong. After some time all that stopped and both of them went to bed.

I went into my writing room the window of which opens into the verandah where we were sitting after dinner. And just above the table in front of the clock was a big triangular note. When I left the room for dinner there was nothing there as I always when going in or coming out referred to that clock and if it had been there before I could not have seen the figures on the clock and consequently should have noticed it before. I took it up and opened it and inside was a triangularly folded cap which the Fakirs and the people in Northern India wear. Inside was written "To Damodar."  It is a gift I shall always preserve and have it still.

After that I very often received communications from the Masters and others by post or in some mysterious way.

Then one day at about 2 in the morning after finishing my work I locked the door of the room and lay in my bed. Within about 2 or 3 minutes I heard H. P. B.'s voice in her room calling me. I got up with a start and went in. She said "some persons want to see you" and after a moment added "Now go out, do not look at me." Before however I had time to turn my face I saw her gradually disappear on the spot and from that very ground rose up the form of the Masters..

By the time I had turned back I saw two others dressed in what I afterwards learned to be Tibetan clothes. One of them remained with the Master in H. P. B.'s room. The other one I found seated on my bed by the time I came out. I saluted him and asked him if he had any orders to give. He said: "If there are any, they will be told to you, without being asked."

Then he told me to stand still for some time and began to look at me fixedly. I felt a very pleasant sensation as if I was getting out of my body.

I cannot 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 "Koot Hoomi ." It was his house. Opposite him stops Master Morya.   Brother Koot Hoomi 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. There is a large massive building thousands of years old. In front of it is a huge Egyptian Tau. The building rests on 7 big pillars in the form of pyramids. The entrance gate has a large triangular arch. Inside are various apartments. The building is so large that I think it can easily contain twenty thousand people. I was shown some of these compartments.

This is the Chief Central Place where all those of our Section who are found deserving of Initiation into Mysteries have to go for their final ceremony and stay there the requisite period. I went up with my Guru to the Great Hall. The grandeur and serenity of the place is enough to strike any one with awe. The beauty of the Altar which is in the centre and at which every candidate has to take his vows at the time of his Initiation is sure to dazzle the most brilliant eyes. The splendour of the CHIEF'S Throne is incomparable. Every thing is on a geometrical principle and containing various symbols which are explained only to the Initiate. But I cannot say more now as I come now under an obligation of Secresy which Koot Hoomi took from me there.

While standing there I do not know what happened but suddenly I got up and found myself in my bed. It was about 8 in the morning. What was that I saw? Was it a dream or a reality? If a reality, how could I traverse the whole of the Himalayas even in my astral body in so short a time? Perplexed with these ideas I was sitting silent when down fell a note on my nose. I opened it and found inside that it was not a dream but that I was taken in some mysterious way in my astral body to the real place of Initiation where I shall be in my body for the Ceremony if I show myself deserving of the blessing. My joy at that moment can be easily conjectured than described. 

On April 19, 1883 at the Theosophical Society (Madras), Narasimhalu Chetty and myself were seated on a chair quite close to Mme. Blavatsky’s bed, fanning her and talking together, so as gradually to induce sleep in her.  Then for a few minutes we were talking about some caves and so on.

Suddenly Mme. Blavatsky gave a start and exclaimed, "I feel Him." She enjoined on us strictly not to leave our places, nor to get excited, but remain where we were, without moving an inch, one way or the other, and be perfectly calm and quiet. Suddenly she asked for our hands and the right hand of each of us was held by her.   Hardly two minutes had elapsed when we saw the Master Morya coming from the screen-door of Mme. B.’s bed-room and approaching her.

His manner of walking was so gentle that not a footstep, not the slightest sound, was audible; nor did He appear to move, by His gestures. It was only the change of position that made us see He had come nearer and nearer. He stood exactly opposite Mme. B. --- not quite an arm’s length from us. We were on this side of the bed; He on the other.

I have seen Him often enough to enable me to recognise Him at once. He then bent over the bed.  His usual long white coat, the peculiar pagri (turban), long black hair flowing over the broad shoulders, and long beard --- were as usual striking and picturesque. He was standing near a door the shutters of which were open. Through these the lamp-light, and through the windows which were all open, the moonlight, were full upon Him. And we being in the dark, i.e., having no light on our eyes --- we being turned against the windows through which the moonlight came --- could see distinctly and clearly.

He held and put His hands twice over Mme. B.’s head. She then stretched out her hand which passed through His --- a fact proving that what we saw was a Mayavi Rupa (apparitional body), although so vivid and clear as to give one the impression of a material physical body. She immediately took the letter from His hands. It crumpled, as it were, and made a sound. He then waved His hands towards us, walked a few steps, inaudibly and imperceptibly as before, and disappeared!

Narasimhalu at once recognised Him, so distinctly and close did he see Him.  It appears that in 1874 Master Morya was in Madras, and both his brother Subbiah Chetty and Narasimhalu saw Him, although they knew nothing more. What made an impression then upon their minds was the fact of His sudden disappearance before their very eyes. Narasimhalu swears that He is the same person he had seen in 1874.

Mme. B. then handed the letter to me, as it was intended for me.  Inside were instructions from my revered Guru.  Never shall I forget last night’s experience; so clear, vivid and tangible it was!

At Lahore in late November 1883, I was visited by him Mahatma Koot Hoomi in body, for three nights consecutively for about three hours every time, and in one case, even went to meet him outside the house --- re-entering the house with him, offering him a seat and then holding a long converse with the Master.   Moreover Him whom I saw in person at Lahore was the same I had seen in astral form at the Headquarters of the Theosophical Society, and the same again whom I, in my visions and trances, had seen at His house, thousands of miles off, to reach which in my astral Ego I was permitted, owing, of course, to His direct help and protection.

In those instances with my psychic powers hardly developed yet, I had always seen Him as a rather hazy form, although His features were perfectly distinct and their remembrance was profoundly graven on my soul's eye and memory; while now at Lahore, Jummu, and elsewhere, the impression was utterly different. In the former cases, when making Pranam (salutation) my hands passed through his form, while on the latter occasions they met solid garments and flesh.

Here I saw a living man before me, the same in features, though far more imposing in His general appearance and bearing than Him I had so often looked upon in the portrait in Mme. Blavatsky's possession and in the one with Mr. Sinnett.

At Jummu again, where we proceeded from Lahore, I had the good fortune of being sent for, and permitted to visit a Sacred Ashram where I remained for a few days in the blessed company of several of the much doubted MAHATMAS of Himavat and Their disciples. There I met not only my beloved Gurudeva Koot Hoomi and Col. Olcott's Master Morya, but several others of the Fraternity, including One of the Highest.

The place I was permitted to visit is in the HIMALAYAS.  I saw Him in my own sthula sarira (physical body) and found my Master identical with the form I had seen in the earlier days of my Chelaship. Thus, I saw my beloved Guru not only as a living man, but actually as a young one in comparison with some other Sadhus of the blessed company, only far kinder, and not above a merry remark and conversation at times.

Thus on the second day of my arrival, after the meal hour I was permitted to hold an intercourse for over an hour with my Master. Asked by Him smilingly, what it was that made me look at Him so perplexed, I asked in my turn: --- "How is it MASTER that some of the members of our Society have taken into their heads a notion that you were 'an elderly man,' and that they have even seen you clairvoyantly looking an old man passed sixty?"

To which he pleasantly smiled and said, that this latest misconception was due to the reports of a certain Brahmachari, a pupil of a Vedantic Swami in the N. W. P. --- who had met last year in Tibet the chief of a sect, an elderly Lama, who was his (my Master's) travelling companion at that time. The said Brahmachari having spoken of the encounter in India, had led several persons to mistake the Lama for himself.

As to his being perceived clairvoyantly as an "elderly man," that could never be, he added, as real clairvoyance could lead no one into such mistaken notions; and then he kindly reprimanded me for giving any importance to the age of a Guru, adding that appearances were often false, &c. and explaining other points.


(1)  This online document has been collated from several articles and letters written by Damodar K. Mavalankar in the book Damodar and the Pioneers of the Theosophical Movement.  An earlier "edition" of this book can be found online at:  Damodar: The Writings of a Hindu Chela.  Some of these articles are also online under Mavalankar's last name in The Blavatsky Archives.   

The extracts given above have been transcribed from the original articles but some material has been silently deleted.  The text has also been somewhat edited with some explanatory words, phrases and sentences added from time to time to the original text to make the overall narrative more easily read. The additions have not been placed in brackets.

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