I write to rectify the many
mistakes if they are, indeed, only "mistakes" in
Mr. Lillies last letter that appeared in Light of August 2nd,
in answer to the Observations on his pamphlet by the President of
the London Lodge.
1. This letter, in which the author of Buddha and Early Buddhism proposed
Consider briefly some of the notable omissions made in the "Observations,"
begins with two most notable assertions concerning myself, which are
entirely false, and which the author had not the slightest right
to make. He says:
For fourteen years (1860 to 1874) Madame Blavatsky was an avowed Spiritualist,
controlled by a spirit called "John King" . . . she attended
But this would hardly prove anyone to be a Spiritualist, and, moreover,
all these assertions are entirely false. I say the word and underline
it, for the facts in them are distorted, and made to fit a preconceived
and very erroneous notion, started first by the Spiritualists, whose interest
it is to advocate "spirits" pure and simple, and to kill, if they
can, which is rather doubtful, belief in the wisdom, if not in the very
existence, of our revered Masters.
Though I do not at all feel bound to unbosom my private life to Mr. Arthur
Lillie, nor do I recognize in him the right of demanding it, yet out of
respect to a few Spiritualists whom I esteem and honour, I would set them
right once for all on the subject. As that period of my life (1873-1879)
in America, with all its spiritual transactions, will be given very soon
in a new book called Madame Blavatsky, published by friends, and
one which I trust will settle, once and for ever, the many wild and unfounded
stories told of me, I will briefly state only the following.
The unwarranted assumption mentioned above is very loosely based on one
single document, namely, Colonel Olcotts People from the Other
World. As this book was written partly before, and partly after,
my first acquaintance with Colonel Olcott, and as he was a Spiritualist,
which he has never denied, I am not responsible for his views of me and
my "power" at that time. He wrote what he then thought the whole
truth, honestly and sincerely; and as I had a determined object in view,
I did not seek to disabuse him too rudely of his dreams. It was only after
the formation of the Theosophical Society in 1875, that he learned the whole
truth. I defy anyone, after that period, to find one word
from his pen that would corroborate his early views on the nature of my
supposed "mediumship." But even then, when writing of me in his
book, he states distinctly the following:
Her mediumship is totally different from that of any other person I
ever met, for instead of being controlled by spirits to do their will,
it is she who seems to control them to do her bidding.
Strange "mediumship," one that resembled in no way any that
even Colonel Olcott a Spiritualist of thirty years standing had
ever met with! But when Colonel Olcott says in his book (p. 453) that instead
of being controlled by, it is I who control the so-called
spirits, he is yet made to say by Mr. Lillie, who refers the public
to Colonel Olcotts book, that is I who was controlled! Is this a misstatement
and a misquotation, I ask, or is it not?
Again, it is stated by Mr. Lillie that I conversed with this "spirit"
(John King) during fourteen years, "constantly in India and elsewhere."
To begin with, I here assert that I had never heard the name of "John
King" before 1873. True it is, I had told Colonel Olcott and many others
that the form of a man, with a dark pale face, black beard, and white flowing
garments and fettah, that some of them had met about the house and my rooms,
was that of a "John King." I had given him that name for reasons
that will be fully explained very soon, and I laughed heartily at the easy
way the astral body of a living man could be mistaken for, and accepted
as, a spirit. And I had told them that I had known that "John"
since 1860; for it was the form of an Eastern Adept, who has since gone
for his final initiation, passing through and visiting us in his living
body on his way, at Bombay. Whether Messrs. Lillie and Co. believe the statement
or not, I care very little, as Colonel Olcott and other friends know
it now to be the true one. I have known and conversed with
many a "John King" in my life a generic name for more than
one spook but, thank heaven, I was never yet "controlled"
by one! My mediumship has been crushed out of me a quarter of a century
or more; and I defy loudly all the "spirits" of the Kâma
Loka to approach let alone to control me now. Surely
it is Mr. Arthur Lillie who must be "controlled" by some one to
make untruthful statements which can be so easily refuted as this one.
2. Mr. Lillie asks for
Information about the
seven years initiation of Madame Blavatsky.
The humble individual of this name has never heard of such an initiation.
With that accuracy in the explanation of Esoteric terms that so preëminently
characterizes the author of Buddha and Early Buddhism, the word may
be intended for "instruction"? If so, then I should be quite justified
in first asking Mr. Lillie what right he has to cross-examine me. But since
he chooses to take such liberties with my name, I will tell him plainly
that he himself knows nothing, not merely of initiations and Tibet, but
even of exoteric let alone Esoteric Buddhism. What
he pretends to know about Lamaism he has picked up from the hazy information
of travellers, who, having forced themselves into the borderland of
Tibet, pretend on that account to know all that is within the country
closed for centuries to the average traveller. Even Csomo de Köros
knew very little of the real gyelukpas and Esoteric Lamaïsm,
except what he was permitted to know, for he never went beyond Zanskar and
the lamasery of Phagdal erroneously spelt by those who pretend to know
all about Tibet, Pugdal, which is incorrect, just because there are
no meaningless names in Tibet, as Mr. Lillie has been taught to say.
And I will tell him also that I have lived at different periods in Little
Tibet as well as in Great Tibet, and that these combined periods form more
than seven years.
Yet I have never stated either verbally or over my signature that I had
passed seven consecutive years in a convent. What I have said, and repeat
now, is that I have stopped in Lamaïstic convents; that I have visited
Tzi-gadze, the Teshu Hlumpo territory and its neighbourhood, and that I
have been further into, and have visited such places of Tibet as have never
been visited by other Europeans, and such as he can never hope to visit.
Mr. Lillie had no right to expect more "ample details" in Mr.
Finchs pamphlet. Mr. Finch is an honourable man, who speaks of the
private life of a person only so far as that person permits him. My friends
and those whom I respect and for whose opinion I care, have ample evidence from
my family for instance that I have been in Tibet, and this is
all I care for. As to
The names, perhaps, of three
or four . . . English [rather Anglo-Indian officials,
who would certify
to having seen me when I passed, I am afraid their vigilance would not
be found at the height of their trustworthiness. Only two years back, as
I can prove by numerous witnesses, when journeying from Chandernagore to
Darjeeling, instead of proceeding to it direct, I left the train half-way,
was met by friends with a conveyance, and passed with them into the territory
of Sikkhim where I found my Master and Mahâtmâ Kûthûmi.
Thence I went five miles across the old borderland of Tibet.
Upon my return, five days later, to Darjeeling, I received a kind note
from the Deputy Commissioner. It notified me in the politest of terms that,
having heard of my intention of going over to Tibet, the government
could not allow me to proceed there before I had received permission to
that effect from Simla, nor could it accept the responsibility of
The Râjah of Sikkhim being
very averse to allow travellers on his territory, etc.
This I would call shutting the stable-door when the steed is stolen.
Nor had the very "trustworthy" official even heard that a month
before Mr. Sinnett had kindly procured for me permission, since I went to
Sikkhim but for a few days, and no farther than the old Tibetan borderland.
The question is not whether the Anglo-Indian Government will or will not
grant such permission, but whether the Tibetans will let one cross their
territory. Of the latter, I am sure any day. I invite Mr. Lillie to try
the same. He may at the same time study with profit geography, and ascertain
that there are other routes than those laid down into Tibet, besides viâ
"English officials." He tries his best to make me out, in
plain words, a liar. He will find it even more difficult than
to disprove that he knows nothing of either Tibet or Buddhism or our "Byang
I will surely never lose my time in showing that his accusations against
One, Whom no insult of his can reach, are perfectly worthless. There are
numbers of men quite as intelligent as he believes himself to be, whose
opinion of our Mahâtmâs letters is the reverse of his.
He can "suppose" that the authorities by him cited knew more about
Tibet than our Masters; others think they do not; and the thousand and one
blunders of his Buddha and Early Buddhism show us what these authorities
are worth when trusted literally. As to his trying to insinuate that there
is no Mahâtmâ Kûthûmi at all, the idea alone is
absurd. He will have to dispose, before he does anything more, of a certain
lady in Russia, whose truthfulness and impartiality no one who knows her
would ever presume to question, who received a letter from that Master so
far back as 1870. Perchance a forgery also? As to my having been
in Tibet, at Mahâtmâ Kûthûmis house, I have
better proof in store when I believe it needed than Mr. Lillies
rancorous ingenuity will ever be able to make away with.
If the teachings of Mr. Sinnetts Esoteric Buddhism are considered
atheistic, then I am an atheist too. And yet I would not deny what I wrote
in Isis, as quoted by Mr. Finch. If Mr. Lillie knows no difference
between an anthropomorphic extra-cosmic God, and the Divine Essence of the
Advaitîs and other Esotericists, then, I must only lose a little more
of my respect for the R. A. S. in which he claims membership; and it may
justify the more our assertions that there is more knowledge in "Bâbu
(?) Subba Rows" solitary head than in dozens of the heads of
"Orientalists" about London we know of. The same with regard to
the Masters name. If Mr. Lillie tells us that "Kûthûmi"
is not a Tibetan name, we answer that we never claimed it to be one. Everyone
knows that the Master is a Punjabi, whose family was settled for years in
Cashmere. But if he tells us that an expert at the British Museum ransacked
the Tibetan dictionary for the words "Kut" and "Humi,"
"and found no such words," then I say: Buy a better dictionary
or replace the expert by a more "expert" one. Let Mr. Lillie try
the glossaries of the Moravian Brothers and their alphabets. I am afraid
he is ruining terribly his reputation as an Orientalist. Indeed, before
this controversy is settled he may leave in it the last shreds of his supposed
Lest Mr. Lillie should take my omitting to answer a single one of his
very indiscreet questions as a new pretext for printing some impertinence,
I say: I was at Mentana during the battle in October, 1867, and left
Italy in November of the same year for India. Whether I was sent
there, or found myself there by accident, are questions that pertain to
my private life, with which, it appears to me, Mr. Lillie has no concern.
But this is on a par with his other ways of dealing with his opponents.
Mr. Lillies other sarcasms touch me very little, for I know their
value. I may let them pass without any further notice. Some persons have
an extraordinarily clever way of avoiding an embarrassing position by trying
to place their antagonists in the same situation. For instance, Mr. Lillie
could not answer the criticisms made on his Buddha and Early Buddhism
in The Theosophist, nor has he ever attempted to do so. But he
applied himself instead to collect every vile rumour and idle gossip about
me, its editor. Why does he not show, to begin with, that his reviewer was
wrong? Why does he not, by contradicting our statements, firmly establish
his own authority as an Orientalist, showing first of all that he is a genuine
scholar, who knows the subject he is talking about, before he allows himself
to deny and contradict other peoples statements in matters which he
knows still less about? He does nothing of the kind, however not a
word, not a mention of the scourging criticism that he is unable to refute.
Instead of that, one finds the offended author trying to throw ridicule
on his reviewers, probably so as to lessen the value of what they have to
say of his own book. This is clever, very clever strategy whether
it is equally honourable remains, withal, an open question.
It might be difficult, after the conclusions reached by qualified scholars
in India concerning his first book, to secure much attention in The Theosophist
for his second, but if this volume in turn were examined with the care
almost undeservedly devoted to the first, and if it were referred to the
authority of such real Oriental scholars and Sanskritists as Mr. R. T. H.
Griffith, for instance, I think it would be found that the aggregate blundering
of the two books put together might excite even as much amusement as the
singular complacency with which the author betrays himself to the public.
August 3, 1884
[From Light, 1884.
H. P. Blavatsky