Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.

Letters of H.P.B. to Dr. Hartmann

Letter VI

[Reprinted from The Path (New York), March 1896, pp. 368-373.]

April 3, 1886.

My Dear Doctor: --- I had given up all hope of ever hearing from you again, and was glad to receive to-day your letter. What you say in it seems to me like an echo of my own thoughts in many a way; only knowing the truth and the real state of things in the "occult world" better than you do, I am perhaps able to see better also where the real mischief was and lies.

Well, I say honestly and impartially now - you are unjust to Olcott more than to anyone else; because you had no means to ascertain hitherto in what direction the evil blew from.

Mind you, Doctor, my dear friend, I do not justify Olcott in what he did and how he acted toward yourself - nor do I justify him in anything else. What I say is: he was led on blindly by people as blind as himself to see you in quite a false light, and there was a time, for a month or two, when I myself - notwithstanding my inner voice, and to the day Master’s voice told me I was mistaken in you and had to keep friends - shared his blindness. (1)

This with regard to some people at Adyar; but there is another side to the question, of which you seem quite ignorant; and that I wanted to show to you, by furnishing you with documents, had you only come when I asked you. But you did not - and the result is, this letter of yours, that will also go against you in the eyes of Karma, whether you believe in the Cross empty of any particular entity on it - or in the Kwan-Shi-Yin of the Tibetans.

To dispose of this question for once, I propose to you to come between now and May the 10th, when I leave Wurzburg to go elsewhere. So you have plenty of time to think over it, and to come and go as you like. The Countess is with me. You know her; she is no woman of gush or impulse. During the four months we have passed together, and the three months of utter solitude, we have had time to talk things over; and I will ask you to believe her, not me, when and if you come, which I hope you will. (2)

As to the other side of the question, that portion of your letter where you speak of the "army" of the deluded - and the "imaginary" Mahatmas of Olcott - you are absolutely and sadly right. Have I not seen the thing for nearly eight years? Have I not struggled and fought against Olcott’s ardent and gushing imagination, and tried to stop him every day of my life? Was he not told by me (from a letter I received through a Yogi just returned from Lake Mansarovara) in 1881 (when he was preparing to go to Ceylon) that if he did not see the Masters in their true light, and did not cease speaking and enflaming people’s imaginations, that he would be held responsible for all the evil the Society might come to? (3) Was he not told that there were no such Mahatmas, who Rishi-like could hold the Mount Meru on the tip of their finger and fly to and fro in their bodies (!!) at their will, and who were (or were imagined by fools) more gods on earth than a God in Heaven could be, etc., etc., etc.? All this I saw, foresaw, despaired, fought against; and, finally, gave up the struggle in utter helplessness. If Sinnett has remained true and devoted to them to this day, it is because he never allowed his fancy to run away with his judgment and reason. Because he followed his common-sense and discerned the truth, without sacrificing it to his ardent imagination. I told him the whole truth from the first, as I had told Olcott, and Hume also.

Hume knows that Mahatma K. H. exists, and holds to it to this day. But, angry and vexed with my Master, who spoke to him as though he (Hume) had never been a Secretary for the Indian Government and the great Hume of Simla - he denied him through pure viciousness and revenge.

Ah, if by some psychological process you could be made to see the whole truth! If, in a dream or vision, you could be made to see the panorama of the last ten years, from the first year at New York to the last at Adyar, you would be made happy and strong and just to the end of your life. I was sent to America on purpose and sent to the Eddies. There I found Olcott in love with spirits, as he became in love with the Masters later on. I was ordered to let him know that spiritual phenomena without the philosophy of Occultism were dangerous and misleading. I proved to him that all that mediums could do through spirits others could do at will without any spirits at all; that bells and thought-reading, raps and physical phenomena, could be achieved by anyone who had a faculty of acting in his physical body through the organs of his astral body; and I had that faculty ever since I was four years old, as all my family know. I could make furniture move and objects fly apparently, and my astral arms that supported them remained invisible; all this ever before I knew even of Masters. Well, I told him the whole truth. I said to him that I had known Adepts, the "Brothers," not only in India and beyond Ladakh, but in Egypt and Syria, - for there are "Brothers" there to this day. The names of the "Mahatmas" were not even known at the time, since they are called so only in India. (4) That, whether they were called Rosicrucians, Kabalists, or Yogis - Adepts were everywhere Adepts - silent, secret, retiring, and who would never divulge themselves entirely to anyone, unless one did as I did - passed seven and ten years probation and given proofs of absolute devotion, and that he, or she, would keep silent even before a prospect and a threat of death. I fulfilled the requirements and am what I am; and this no Hodgson, no Coulombs, no Sellin, can take away from me. All I was allowed to say was - the truth: There is beyond the Himalayas a nucleus of Adepts, of various nationalities; and the Teschu Lama knows them, and they act together, and some of them are with him and yet remain unknown in their true character even to the average lamas - who are ignorant fools mostly. My Master and K. H. and several others I know personally are there, coming and going, and they are all in communication with Adepts in Egypt and Syria, and even Europe. I said and proved that they could perform marvellous phenomena; but I also said that it was rarely they would condescend to do so to satisfy enquirers. You were one of the few who had genuine communications with them; and if you doubt it now, I pity you, my poor friend, for you may repent one day for having lost your chance. (5)

Well, in New York already, Olcott and Judge went mad over the thing; but they kept it secret enough then. When we went to India, their very names were never pronounced in London or on the way (one of the supposed proofs - that I had invented the Mahatmas after I had come to India - of Mr. A. O. Hume!) When we arrived, and Master coming to Bombay bodily, paid a visit to us at Girgaum, and several persons saw him, Wimbridge for one - Olcott became crazy. He was like Balaam’s she-ass when she saw the angel! Then came Damodar, Servai, and several other fanatics, who began calling them "Mahatmas"; and, little by little, the Adepts were transformed into Gods on earth. They began to be appealed to, and made puja to, and were becoming with every day more legendary and miraculous. Now, if I tell you the answer I received from Keshow Pillai you will laugh, but it characterizes the thing. "But what is your idea of you Hindus about the Masters?" - I asked him one day when he prostrated himself flat before the picture in my golden locket. Then he told me that they (the Mahatmas) were their ancient Rishis, who had never died, and were some 700,000 years old. That they were represented as living invisibly in sacred trees, and when showing themselves were found to have long green hair, and their bodies shining like the moon, etc., etc. Well, between this idea of the Mahatmas and Olcott’s rhapsodies, what could I do? I saw with terror and anger the false track they were all pursuing. The "Masters," as all thought, must be omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent. If a Hindu or Parsi sighed for a son, or a Government office, or was in trouble, and the Mahatmas never gave a sign of life - the good and faithful Parsi, the devoted Hindu, was unjustly treated. The Masters knew all; why did they not help the devotee? If a mistake or a flapdoodle was committed in the Society - "How could the Masters allow you or Olcott to do so?" we were asked in amazement. (6) The idea that the Masters were mortal men, limited even in their great powers, never crossed anyone’s mind, though they wrote this themselves repeatedly. It was "modesty and secretiveness" - people thought. "How is it possible," the fools argued, "that the Mahatmas should not know all that was in every Theosophist’s mind, and hear every word pronounced by each member?"

That to do so, and find out what the people thought, and hear what they said, the Masters had to use special psychological means, to take great trouble for it at the cost of labor and time - was something out of the range of the perceptions of their devotees. Is it Olcott’s fault? Perhaps, to a degree. Is it mine? I absolutely deny it, and protest against the accusation. It is no one’s fault. Human nature alone, and the failure of modern society and religions to furnish people with something higher and nobler than craving after money and honors - is at the bottom of it. Place this failure on one side, and the mischief and havoc produced in people’s brains by modern spiritualism, and you have the enigma solved.  Olcott to this day is sincere, true and devoted to the cause.  He does and acts the best he knows how, and the mistakes and absurdities he has committed and commits to this day are due to something he lacks in the psychological portion of his brain, and he is not responsible for it. Loaded and heavy is his Karma, poor man, but much must be forgiven to him, for he has always erred through lack of right judgment, not from any vicious propensity. Olcott is thoroughly honest; he is as true as gold to his friends; he is as impersonal for himself as he is selfish and grasping for the Society; and his devotion and love for the Masters is such that he is ready to lay down his life any day for them if he thinks it will be agreeable to them and benefit the Society. Be just, above all, whatever you do or say. If anyone is to be blamed, it is I.  I have desecrated the holy Truth by remaining too passive in the face of all this desecration, brought on by too much zeal and false ideas. My only justification is that I had work to do that would have been too much for four men, as you know. I was always occupied with the Theosophist and ever in my room, shut up, having hardly time to see even the office Hindus. All was left to Olcott and Damodar, two fanatics. How I protested and tried to swim against the current, only Mr. Sinnett knows, and the Masters. Brown was crazy before he came to us, unasked and unexpected. C. Oakley was an occultist two years before he joined us.

You speak of hundreds that have been made "cowards" by Olcott. (7)  I can show you several hundreds who have been saved through Theosophy from drunkenness, dissolute life, etc. Those who believed in a personal God believe in him now as they did before. Those who did not - are all the better in believing in the soul’s immortality, if in nothing else. It is Sellin’s thought, not yours - "the men and women ruined mentally and physically" by me and Olcott. Hubbe Schleiden is ruined only and solely by Sellin, (8) aided by his own weakness.

No, dear Doctor, you are wrong and unjust; for Olcott never taught anyone "to sit down and expect favors from Mahatmas." On the contrary, he has always taught, verbally and in print, that no one was to expect favors from Mahatmas or God unless his own actions and merit forced Karma to do him justice in the end.

Where has Sellin heard Col. Olcott’s Theosophy? Sellin had and has his head full of spiritualism and spiritual phenomena; he believes in spirits and their agency, which is worse even than believing too much in Mahatmas. We all of us have made mistakes, and are all more or less to blame. Why should you be so hard on poor Olcott, except what he has done personally against you, for which I am the first to blame him? But even here, it is not his fault. I have twenty pages of manuscript giving a detailed daily account of your supposed crimes and falseness, to prove to you that no flesh and blood could resist the proofs and insinuations. I know you now, since Torre del Greco; I feared and dreaded you at Adyar - just because of those proofs. If you come, I will let you read the secret history of your life for two years, and you will recognize the handwriting. (9) And such manuscripts, as I have learned, have been sent all over the branches, and Olcott was the last to learn of it. What I have to tell you will show to you human nature and your own discernment in another light.

There are things it is impossible for me to write; and unless you come here - they will die with me. Olcott has nothing to do with all this. You are ignorant, it seems, of what took place since Christmas. Good-bye, then, and may your intuitions lead you to the Truth.

Yours ever,
H. P. B.


(1)  This refers to a certain intrigue, owing to which Col. Olcott was made to believe that I wanted to oust him from the presidential chair. - H[artmann].

(2)  When I went to Wurzburg I found that the whole trouble resulted from foolish gossip, started by Babajee, concerning my relations with a certain lady member of the T.S. - H[artmann].

(3)  The great increase in numbers of the members of the T.S. was undoubtedly due to the fact that, attracted by the false glamor of phenomena, fools rushed in "where angels fear to tread." - H[artmann].

(4)  In Ceylon everybody of high standing is called "Mahatma"; the title seems to correspond to what in England is called "Esquire." - H[artmann].

(5)  I could not doubt the existence of the Adepts after having been in communication with them; but I denied the existence of such beings as the Mahatmas were misrepresented to be. - H[artmann].

(6)  The representative of the Society for Psychic Research was awfully angry because the "Mahatmas" could not see the importance of appearing before him with their certificates and producing a few miracles for his gratification. See The Talking Image of Urur. - H[artmann].

(7)  In many minds the misconceptions regarding the "Mahatmas" gave rise to a superstitious fear and a false reliance upon unknown superiors. - H[artmann].

(8)  A certain German professor and spiritualistic miracle-monger, who never could see a forest on account of the number of trees. - H[artmann].

(9)  These papers, filled with the most absurd denunciations against me, were concocted by Babajee out of jealousy and national hatred. - H[artmann].

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