I felt great interest in Spiritualism from the time that it first came to India from
America. The arrival, in 1879, of Madame H.P. Blavatsky in Bombay, and the accounts
of her wonderful doings, awakened in my mind fresh interest towards it. What I would
not accept as true from Hindus, whom I looked upon as too credulous and superstitious, I
was prepared to accept as such when it came from Europeans. I had read about the
performances of Eglington in Calcutta, and thought that she must be like him. I once
intended to go to Bombay to satisfy my curiosity, but through some cause or other, chiefly
because my scepticism was increasing more and more, I did not carry out my
intention. I could not, however, rest quiet; something within always prompted me to
continue my spiritual inquiries, and so I wished I could have an interview with Madame
Blavatsky. I had not to wait long before I had an opportunity of seeing her, and
that too in my own house.
She was at first suspected by the Government to be a Russian spy, but, far from being a
spy, she was an admirer of the British Rule. In her opinion it was the best
Government that India could have in her present condition.
In the autumn of 1882 --- the year following my anti-Hindu lecture, referred to in the
preceding chapter, Madame Blavatsky, accompanied by several of her disciples, came to
Darjeeling, a hill station in Bengal, in the course of her Theosophical tour. As she
would not go to the house of any European, or to any European hotel, some Hindu friends,
who were looking for a place for her accommodation, asked me if I could not put her up in
my house for a few days. I had longed for an opportunity to see her, and nothing
could be more desirable than that I should do so in my own house, and so I readily
complied with the request of my friends.
Though I had adopted the English way of living, I was quite ignorant of English manners
and customs, and, therefore, I felt somewhat anxious as to the manner in which Madame
Blavatsky was to be entertained during her stay at my cottage. My anxieties were,
however, put to rest, as soon as I met her.
There could not be a more simple, unostentatious, open-hearted, and unceremonious
person than H.P.B. Her heart was full of love and kindness for others. Her
dress was plain and simple; her food and drink also being of the simplest possible
description. In the morning she made a hearty breakfast of coffee, milk, and bread,
which she provided for herself. The milk was brought from a distance, fresh from the
cow, every morning by one of her disciples. After breakfast, she shut herself up in
her room, and spent till luncheon, at 1:00 P.M., in reading and writing. Neither at
luncheon nor at dinner did she eat a full meal, and ate but very little meat. At
tea-time she again had her coffee, milk, and bread; in fact, her chief meals were taken at
breakfast and tea. As is well known, she was a great smoker of cigarettes, at the
making of which she was an expert. She always wore a kind of loose gown, over which
she sometimes put a yellow robe like what is used by the Buddhist nuns. She often
had a rosary in her hand, which she counted as she inaudibly repeated to herself certain
On the night of her arrival, in fact, the very moment that she stepped inside my
threshold, I began to talk disparagingly of everything spiritual, while I lauded to the
skies the teachings of the Materialists and Agnostics. She smiled, and touching a
pane of glass with her hand, produced a soft tinkling sound, which she asked me to
explain. Of course, I was not able to explain, nor could I find any explanation of
it in any of my scientific books. She gave an explanation which was quite
unintelligible to me. So far as I remember now, she said something about Akas
(ether). She also sent down, from the tips of her fingers, something like electric
currents to the head of my cousin Babu Kali Mohun Das, Vakeel of the Calcutta High Court,
without touching it. Babu Kali Mohun Das said that he felt a sort of burning
sensation in his head by the very fact of Madame Blavatsky's fingers being pointed towards
it. I watched her hand carefully, and saw that the tips of her fingers were two or
three inches above the head.
On the day follow Madame Blavatsky's arrival at "Willow Dale," the cottage
occupied by me, as we were sitting at luncheon, we heard in the air a soft tinkling sound
as that of a bell. No sooner she heard the sound than she rose up hurriedly from her
chair, saying, "I am called, I am called," and, in a most agitated manner,
proceeded towards her room. As she was going out of the dining room, another sound
like the first was heard immediately over her head. She then shut herself in her
room for some time. When she came out, she looked somewhat fatigued. All the
above-described phenomena were witnessed by myself, my cousin, and Babu Kanti Bhushan Sen,
my assistant, who was then living with me.
In the course of conversation, on the very night of her arrival, Madame Blavatsky
inquired if I knew anything about Theosophy. I replied in the negative, and she then
ordered from Calcutta some books for me. When the books came, she would not let me
touch them until she had written my name therein. She afterwards presented me Mr.
A.O. Hume's "Hints on Esoteric Theosophy," and Mr. A.P. Sinnett's "Occult
World." In the first page of the latter, she wrote these words -- "To my
sceptic and quarrelsome brother." Though she was hardly more than forty-eight
hours in my house, I had already begun to quarrel with her. In my admiration for the
civilisation of the English, I cried down that of the Hindu. I also had no sympathy
for the exclusiveness of the Thibetans, who would not let any foreigners visit their
country, and so I wished that the English might go and conquer them, and throw their
country open to us. She felt greatly pained at my then attitude of mind, and said
that I was an unworthy descendant of the great Aryans.
I had no time to read the books on the night I received them; but when I went to sleep,
I had most interesting dreams, in the course of which I found myself in the presence of
Yogis, working in furtherance of the cause of Theosophy. I, of course, treated these
dreams as no better than others, and laid them to the account of my imagination having
been worked up through the influence of Madame Blavatsky; but now, after the lapse of
twelve years, I am beginning to understand their real significance and importance.
Having read the "Occult World," I felt somewhat serious on the subject.
Mr. Sinnett was the editor of the leading newspaper in India, namely, The Pioneer.
Was it likely that he should have been so easily deceived by Madame Blavatsky, especially
as it was not a single but a series of acts of fraud, if fraud it was? Again, Mr.
Sinnett was an Englishman --- an Anglo-Indian --- whose attitude towards the Yogis,
or Mahatmas, could not naturally be very friendly. How could all these doubts be
reconciled, unless on the supposition that the writer honestly described facts which
really happened? But still, the things related to have happened, could not be
explained by any known laws of nature --- laws known to the great scientists of the West;
and, therefore, I argued, they could not be accepted as true. Though there was a
sort of impulse from within to believe that the book gave an account of things that
actually happened, I hesitated to act on my intuition, and so told Madame Blavatsky that I
could not be a member of the Theosophical Society, as I could not believe in
Mahatmas. On this she said that a belief in Mahatmas was not essential for becoming
a Theosophist. She then gave me the Rules, from which I found that the following
were the objects of the Society:
1. To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without
distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour.
2. To promote the study of Aryan and other Eastern literatures, religions,
philosophies, and sciences, and demonstrate the importance of that study.
3. To investigate unexplained laws of nature, and the psychic powers latent in
I had no objection to the first object, but I strongly protested against attaching any
importance to objects 2 and 3. Madame Blavatsky said that if I believed in the
importance of forming a Society to promote brotherly feelings, that would be sufficient,
that I might put off the two others until I was convinced of their importance. As I
felt that by standing aloof, I should be wounding the feelings of a lady who was,
according to her light, working for the good of humanity, and was in my house as a guest,
I signed a "Form of Application," and H.P.B. granted me a Diploma of Membership
of the Theosophical Society. I had not to pay admission fees.
Continue to Chapter IX
to Contents page for From Hinduism to Hinduism by Parbati Churn Roy