THEOSOPHY, Vol. 10, No. 7, May, 1922
(Pages 200-216; Size: 58K)
(Number 29 of a 34-part series)
THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT(1)
LET us now follow into the light the web whose midnight weaving we have been tracing through the years following the death of H.P.B.
Bertram Keightley, whose indiscretions had formed one of the ingredients of the Coues-Collins-Lane explosion, had been sent by H.P.B. to the United States where, under H.P.B.'s instructions, Mr. Judge had put him to work to enable him to recover his stamina. Despite his follies, H.P.B. had written most kindly of him to various American workers, as he well deserved in view of his many services to the Cause.
In a little while Mr. Keightley, finding that the American members looked up to him as one who had been close to H.P.B. for years, began to speak as an "occultist" upon the many problems treated of in H.P.B.'s "Instructions" to the Esoteric Section. These interpretations of Mr. Keightley's were taken by many as "authoritative," and Keightley was considered as the "representative" of H.P.B. This finally compelled H.P.B. to issue the Notice of August 9, 1890(2), which the student will do well to bear firmly in mind, for it is the key to the aberrations in the Society and its Esoteric School.
Mr. Keightley was recalled to London and at the end of the year 1890 transferred to India, whither he went in time to serve as the delegate of the American, British and European Sections at the Adyar Convention. During the year 1891 Mr. Keightley remained in India as a volunteer helper at the headquarters and at the Adyar Convention at the close of 1891 was elected General Secretary of the Indian Section. His work in India during 1892 brought him an acquaintance with every prominent member of the Society and a thorough knowledge of the condition of affairs in the Indian Branches. The deplorable state in which he found them is set forth at length in his Report to the Indian Convention at the close of 1892 -- a report given in detail in the Supplement to the "Theosophist" for January, 1893, and to which we have before adverted.
Bertram Keightley was a man of wealth, of good education and excellent abilities. He had become attached to H.P.B. at the time of her European visit in the summer of 1884. He and his nephew, Dr. Archibald Keightley, had contributed freely in time, money, and work, to the activities in England which followed upon H.P.B.'s settlement there in 1887. To them more than to any and all others was due the sustentation of the work in England until the conversion of Mrs. Besant in the early summer of 1889. His relation to the Movement naturally brought him a personal acquaintance which, by 1893, covered the whole area of the Society; in the United States, in England, on the Continent, and in Asia. It was known by all that he had been firmly loyal personally to H.P.B. during all the troubled events of the last seven years of her stormy career, and it was known by some that he had done what few indeed were able to do -- he had submitted without resentment to drastic correction and discipline at H.P.B.'s hands. Naturally materialistic he had, like all materialists whose attention is finally awakened, been intensely interested in the psychical aspect of the teachings of Theosophy. Having no capacities -- or infirmities -- of his own in a psychical way, he was the more impressed by those who had, or claimed to have, such "gifts." It was this tendency which had involved him with Mabel Collins. In India, a land which teems with "gurus" and their "disciples" whose whole life-effort is the development of abnormal faculties, he soon came in contact with devotees of the various sorts of yoga, and amongst these was G. N. Chakravarti, whose destiny it was to become the first of the evil geniuses of Mrs. Besant.
Gyanendra Nath Chakravarti was born a Brahmin of the Sandilya Gotra. In his twentieth year he became, through the influence of his uncle, a member of the Cawnpore Branch of the T.S. Young as he was, he was selected as a member of the Committee which, at the Convention in December, 1884, unanimously recommended that no defense be made on behalf of H.P.B. against the Coulomb charges. In the intervening years he had contributed occasional articles to the "Theosophist" and was, in 1893, President of the "Students Theosophical Association" at Allahabad. He had been educated in Western ideas first at a missionary school at Benares, then at Calcutta University and at Muir College, Allahabad. Subsequently, he had filled the chair of physical science at a college in Bareilly, and, at the time of meeting Bertram Keightley, he was Professor of mathematics at Muir College. He had also studied law and had been admitted to practice in the English courts in India. Nor had his breeding been in any wise neglected from the Oriental standpoint. He had been strictly reared in all the observances of his caste, was thoroughly versed in the scriptures and traditions of Brahmanism, and was highly esteemed by his co-religionists as well as among the English. He was well-known to Col. Olcott and on friendly terms with both native and English members of the T.S. in India.
Although Professor Chakravarti had not been active theosophically and was not a member of the Esoteric Section, Bertram Keightley soon came to believe him to be, if not a Mahatma, at least an Occultist of high rank and in direct connection with the Masters of H.P.B. Moreover, in the congenial atmosphere of Col. Olcott and the other headquarters workers, Mr. Keightley found tendencies and predilections in the line of the "third object" fully in flower. In the circumstances it was inevitable that these influences should divorce him more and more from the lines followed by H.P.B. and those wedded to her view of the true mission of the Theosophical Society. By the spring of 1893, "Old Diary Leaves" and the direct personal exertion of Col. Olcott's influence had largely accomplished their intended purpose in India and to a considerable degree in the West. The time was ripe to carry the war of ideas into the enemy's country. This was the real occasion for Bertram Keightley's departure from India and no better ally or agent could have been selected for the work in hand. Accordingly Mr. Keightley came first to the United States, where he attended the Convention of the American Section as delegate from the Indian Section and as bearer of Col. Olcott's Presidential communication, as has been recited.
It is only by observing with utmost care the chronological sequence of events in 1893 and 1894 that the student will be able to perceive the causal and invisible springs from which those events emanated, and thus to relate the exoteric to the esoteric aspects in the record made by the opposing forces on the field of battle. In this respect it is like the study of a game of chess, with its successive alternating moves of the effigies of the different classes by the opposing protagonists: Judge on the one side, the President-Founder on the other; the capture of the "Queen" the essential to the "checkmate."
As will more and more appear, Mr. Judge knew well the real purpose behind all of Col. Olcott's moves, and saw those moves clearly long in advance. Concurrently with the ostensible questions raised over "dogmatism" and the "neutrality" of the Society in all religious matters, with the unsolved problem of the status of H.P.B. and her teachings, with the corollary difficulties evoked by the dust of side-issues raised to obscure the real cause of conflict and thus confuse the membership, Mr. Judge knew he had to face the hidden source of all these dangers. This was the secret Brahminical hostility to the great First Object of the Society, which had been slowly festering since 1881, which had perverted the Movement in India, and which, if not checked, must result in the corruption or destruction of the Society in the West. Mr. Judge had, therefore, for a long time been steadily at work by correspondence with Olcott and others in India whose acquaintance he had made at the time of his visit there in 1884, in the endeavor to allay Brahminical suspicions that the Society was a Buddhist propagandum in disguise, and to bring the Society there to a more close adhesion to the line of the First Object. Just prior to Bertram Keightley's return to the West he began an active public campaign along the same lines. Thus, he contributed to "Lucifer" for April, 1893, a striking article, "India, A Trumpet Call at a Crisis," to which the student is referred, in connection with the "Interesting Letter," published in the same number of "Lucifer," and reprinted in last month's issue of THEOSOPHY. At the same time he drew up an eloquently worded and moving appeal which he addressed "To the Brahmins of India," and this he sent to as many Hindu members as could be reached. This circular he also published in the "Path" for May, 1893, with a prefatory note, reading as follows:"The subjoined circular has been sent by me to as many Brahmins as I could reach. I have purposely used the words 'Brahmins of India' in the title because I hold to the view of the Vedas and the ancient laws that the Brahmin is not merely he who is born of a Brahmin father. In America lack of accurate knowledge respecting Indian religions causes a good deal of misapprehension about Brahmanism and Buddhism, as very many think Buddhism to be India's religion, whereas in fact it is not, but, on the contrary, the prevailing form of belief in India is Brahmanism. This necessary distinction should be remembered and false notions upon the subject dissipated as much as possible. Buddhism does not prevail in India, but in countries outside it, such as Burmah, Japan, Ceylon, and others. The misconception by so many Americans about the true home of Buddhism if not corrected may tend to cause the Brahmins to suppose that the T.S. here spreads abroad the wrong notion; and no form of religion should be preferred in the T.S. above another."Still earlier than the above articles, Mr. Judge had written privately to Mr. George E. Wright, a leading member of the Chicago Branch, suggesting that an effort be made to secure representation for the T.S. at the "World's Parliament of Religions" to be held at the Chicago Fair in 1893. This was in the Fall of 1892. Mr. Wright set to work and after some difficulty the necessary recognition was achieved and dates arranged for the Theosophists. The idea of Theosophical representation was received with acclaim in Europe and India as well as amongst the American members. When Bertram Keightley arrived in America Mr. Judge at once broached to him the advisability of Brahminical as well as Budhistic representation at the Parliament and, without disclosing more than the apparent advantages, suggested that such representation should be under the auspices of the T.S., and requested Mr. Keightley's advice and aid in procuring representatives the most distinguished possible. Bertram Keightley was strongly favorable to the ideas advanced and urged the selection of Mr. Chakravarti as representing the Brahmins and H. Dharmapala, a distinguished Ceylonese, for the Buddhists. He undertook to secure the consent of Chakravarti and accordingly subscriptions were soon opened in the United States and in England to defray the traveling expenses of the two delegates.
Serious difficulties at once supervened, for while Mr. Chakravarti was very agreeable to the proposed plan, grave objections were raised among the Brahmins. Such a mingling with "Mllechhas" (foreigners) was offensive to their teachings and traditions, and it was a violation of caste for a Brahmin to cross the seas. Thus, if he attended at all, Chakravarti would be "outcaste" for the time being and would be compelled upon his return either to renounce his caste or to submit to "purificatory rites" which, to Western minds, would be superstitious and degrading, and to an orthodox Brahmin extremely humiliating.
Nevertheless, the difficulties were resolved and all objections overcome. Mr. Chakravarti formally accepted the invitation to attend the Parliament as the guest of the Society and three Brahminical associations were induced to countenance his mission by appointing him to represent them. They were: the Hari Bhakti Prodayini of Cawnpore; Varnashrama Dharma Sabbha of Delhi, and the Sanatan Dharma Rakshani Sabbha of Meerut. All this, as may be inferred, occupied several months in its accomplishment.
Meanwhile Mr. Judge had followed up the articles mentioned by publishing an editorial in the "Path" for July, 1893, with the significant title, "A Plot Against the Theosophical Society." Primarily this was drawn up as a warning concerning a renewed series of attacks on H.P.B. by certain enemies outside the Society (W. Emmette Coleman and Vv. Solovyoff, although not mentioned by name), but the real caution is contained in the concluding paragraph, reading as follows:"There is some likelihood that slight assistance will be rendered by one or two disaffected persons in India, who in the past have aided in spreading similar attacks which have been published in spiritualistic journals. From time to time we may be able to present further plans and purposes of this brigade of plotters for the information of theosophists in advance. The plotters expect this to hurt the Society, but theosophists should know that nothing can hurt it if they remain loyal to their convictions, if they endeavor to understand the theosophic philosophy, if they avoid personalities and confine themselves, as was suggested by one of the Adepts long ago, to philosophical and ethical propaganda designed to benefit the moral nature of the community in which a Theosophist may live. No plot can avail against this. But we have thought it well, on behalf of the conspirators, to publish this notice as a preliminary to further details when the time is ready."Other articles in the "Path" all written and published in view of the disastrous undertow already pulling the members from their allegiance to the First Object of the Society and their reverence for H.P.B., have already been earlier noted. Such were the article on the "Authorship of the Secret Doctrine," in the April number; on the "Earth Chain of Globes," [Note: This was a 3-part series: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three. --Compiler.] in the same and succeeding numbers which drew out of Mr. Sinnett a declaration antipathetic to H.P.B. and her teachings; the "Interesting Letter" in "Lucifer," which unmasked the enmity of Old, Sturdy and Edge, and showed which way Col. Olcott was leaning. In the May "Path" was an article on "Glamour," showing its dual nature and application; in the June number the article on "Masters, Adepts, Teachers, and Disciples," from which we have earlier quoted. All these articles had an application immediately to events at hand and forthcoming, and not alone a merely informative and teaching value on theosophical doctrines. The same is true of Mr. Judge's rendition of the Bhagavad-Gita and his Ocean of Theosophy. The one gave to the students a faithful version of the greatest of the Brahminical philosophical disquisitions; the other put into clear English a correct presentation of Theosophical teachings, free from the crudities of Mr. Sinnett's "Esoteric Buddhism," and without the materialistic bias and speculations of that book. The "Ocean" remains to this day the one authentic treatment in small compass of the whole of the vast subjects dealt with in the "Secret Doctrine," and is, in fact, a simplified and brief version of Madame Blavatsky's great work.
As we have before indicated in the case of H.P.B. in analogous conditions, we believe that the various references and quotations covering Mr. Judge's activities show clearly his prescience of coming events. They show too the successive steps he took to allay and counteract the currents running beneath the smooth and prosperous surface of affairs.
A little later in the year 1893 Mr. Judge published in the September "Path" the article "Our Convictions; Shall We Assert Them?" This was in reply to an inquiry from a student as to whether the "neutrality" of the Society precluded the expression by a member of convictions sincerely held by him "for fear of a vague future dogmatism." The article re-affirmed the view that every member, being free to hold such opinions as he might choose, he had necessarily the same freedom of expression, so long as such expression was not made in the name of the Society or as an official, nor to coerce others who might hold and express contrary opinions. In the November "Path" Mr. Judge printed "Impolitic Reference -- 'H.P.B.,'" followed in the December "Lucifer" by "'Blavatskianism' in and out of Season." These articles struck the same note of freedom of individual opinion and expression, and at the same time accentuated the danger of their abuse by enthusiasts, as well as voicing a strong caution against mere reliance on and following of any one, however highly esteemed, as an "authority." Mrs. Besant in a very clear essay on the same subject struck the same note. Her article was entitled "Conviction and Dogmatism" and was published in the "Path" for October, "Lucifer" for November, and the "Theosophist" for December.
As in the similar cases during the lifetime of H.P.B., the students for the most part read the various articles published, talked of them, wondered in some cases what might be hinted at, and when the very test came to which these articles related, were unable to make any application. Of these, the most instructive example is that of Mrs. Besant. She had had the benefit of nearly two years of close relations with H.P.B. Of all the defenders of H.P.B.'s good faith and mission she had been the most outspoken. The student will recall her article "The Theosophical Society and H.P.B.," written without H.P.B.'s knowledge, though published before her death, as well as the article "Theosophy and Christianity," published some months after the passing of H.P.B. Likewise her part of the proceedings of the Council of the E.S. immediately after H.P.B.'s passing, and her repeated remarks during the European Convention in July, 1891, evinced the same rigid, uncompromising view of the unique status and importance of H.P.B. as Messenger and Teacher. She had adhered with intense conviction to these views during the two following years, and had supported Mr. Judge with the same fervor as the one man in the Society who was true to the lines laid by H.P.B. and fully cognizant of them. Her quoted articles and others equally significant showed the depths of her convictions. We have noted how she suspended Walter R. Old from his membership in the Esoteric School for his veiled attack in the article on "Theosophic Freethought." This was in August, 1893, and the suspension was declared by her to be because, "first, a violation of the pledge of secrecy made by Brother Old, and second, is a violation of honor and confidence as a member of the Council of the E.S.T." Furthermore she declared in the same circular that Old's "statement is itself untrue," and proceeded to give forthwith a formal declaration of the facts in rebuttal of Old's claim -- a declaration signed by herself and others present at the Council meeting of May 27, 1891. In the same month -- August, 1893 -- in her "Answers to Correspondence" in the E.S. she had given the letter of H.P.B. written in 1889 in which H.P.B. had declared Judge to be the "Link" between the American Esotericists and the Masters(3). While she was in the United States to attend the Parliament of religions she joined with Mr. Judge in signing a prefatory note which was published in the "Path" for October, 1893, and entitled, "A Word On the 'Secret Doctrine,' An old Letter Republished." The Letter in question was a long extract from the famous letter from the Master K.H. phenomenally delivered to Col. Olcott on shipboard in August, 1888, at the time Olcott was on his way to London to "fight it out with H.P.B." over the question of the formation of the E.S. The prefatory note signed by Mrs. Besant and Mr. Judge reads as follows:"There is so much discussion going on just now in the Theosophical movement as to the value of the Secret Doctrine, as to the amount of aid given to H. P. Blavatsky in the compilation of it, and as to her position as a Teacher in Occult matters, that it appears to us that the republication of an old letter -- published in 1888 -- which bears on these questions, is peculiarly timely, and may be of service to many who did not have the opportunity of reading it on its first issue. The letter is, of course, of no authority for those members of the T.S. who do not share our sentiments of reverence for the Masters, but for those who do, the interest of it will be great. It was received in mid-ocean by Col. Olcott, P.T.S., and was originally published with his consent in a small pamphlet entitled, 'An Explanation important to all Theosophists,' issued by H.P.B."In the same month -- that is, October, 1893 -- Mrs. Besant had published in her magazine, "Lucifer," her article on "Gurus and Chelas," to which we have referred and from which we have given an extract indicative of her strong stand against the spirit of the articles by E. T. Sturdy and others. At the same time Mrs. Besant prepared the article on "Conviction and Dogmatism," mentioned above. Thereafter she was silent on the great issues waging publicly and privately in the Society and the E.S. until after her arrival in India. The occasion of this silence and the great change it betokened must now be considered, and to do that we must return to the early summer of 1893 and go forward again from that point.ANNIE BESANT.
WILLIAM Q. JUDGE.
All arrangements having been perfected, G. N. Chakravarti left India in June and journeyed to England where he remained two months, chiefly as the guest of Bertram Keightley. He met all the leading Theosophists in Britain and was intensely active among them during his entire stay. His coming had been anticipated with the utmost interest, as may be imagined, and his suavity, his versatility and great knowledge, added to the lure of Oriental mystery with which he was surrounded, gave him a vogue that rose to veneration on the part of some. Toward the end of August he sailed for America in company with Mrs. Besant, Miss Müller, and others. In the United States the party was received by Mr. Judge and leading American theosophists as distinguished visitors. Chakravarti soon rose to the position of an unique presence, almost an ambassador from the East in the eyes of many. His share in the proceedings of the Parliament became a mission more than a function, so that he was invited especially by the Management of the World's Fair to participate in the dedicatory ceremonies at the opening of the Congress of Religions. The Theosophical program during the Congress was by all odds the most notable and noteworthy success of the proceedings, and in this success Professor Chakravarti and Mrs. Besant held the leading place. The effect of all this upon the general public and the membership was immediate and marked. An immense interest in everything theosophical sprang up. The whole theosophical world was elated. To be called a "theosophist" was equivalent to "honorable mention;" to enjoy the personal acquaintance of Mr. Chakravarti and Mrs. Besant a coveted distinction.
Mrs. Besant had already acquired fame as an "occultist" and "ascetic." She had become a strict vegetarian in diet; she carried her own table utensils with her on her travels; she followed rigidly the various "practices" laid down in numerous Oriental schools for "development." The savoir faire, the gravity of decorum, the great ability of Chakravarti, the extreme respect he manifested towards her, the deference of Bertram Keightley toward this friend who was almost if not quite a Master, all weighed heavily and cumulatively with Mrs. Besant. She had discovered that Professor Chakravarti possessed and practiced "psychic powers," and as, in spite of all her proclamations and all her practices she was woefully deficient in these "gifts," it was inevitable that she should view him with more than admiration. "Not psychic or spiritual in the least -- all intellect," as H.P.B. had written of her to Mr. Judge in the letter of March 27, 1891, it is all too clear that it was borne in on Mrs. Besant that here was her coveted opportunity to acquire those powers and faculties of which she only knew at second hand. She suffered herself to be "magnetized" by Chakravarti, and came more and more under the spell of his charm. On his part, Professor Chakravarti received her devotions with elaborate punctilio. On their common journeying he watched over her with protective care to shield her from too close contact with the unworthy. He slept outside her door that she might be fitly sheltered from all disturbance, and advised with her as to her occult "progress." All this, it need scarcely be said, was in direct violation of her pledge in the Esoteric Section, as well as in spirit and in letter a breach of the Rules of the E.S. Quite naturally these conspicuous mutual attentions did not altogether escape comment from unfriendly as well as friendly sources. Mr. Judge took occasion, therefore, to call to Mrs. Besant's notice the adverse interpretation that might easily be placed upon her conduct, as well as to caution her in regard to the Rules of the School governing the relations of the Probationers with teachers and teachings outside the strict lines established in the Preliminary Memoranda and Instructions.
We think there is no doubt, also, that Mr. Judge acted with a view to safeguarding and strengthening Mrs. Besant in her hour of trial, in getting her to write the article on "Conviction and Dogmatism," in having her join with him in the Note to the republication of the Master's letter to Olcott in reference to H.P.B., and in some suggestions to abandon her forthcoming trip to India. It will be recalled that when she had first been invited to visit India, immediately following the European Convention of 1891, her trip had been given up on the ostensible grounds of her health -- in reality because of the charges she went to New York to place before Mr. Judge. When again urged to visit India in 1892 she had consulted Mr. Judge and had, on his advice, visited the United States on a lecturing tour, as recounted. When Bertram Keightley returned to England in the spring of 1893, he laid before Mrs. Besant a renewed request from the Hindus for a visit from her the following winter, and this was supplemented by urgent entreaties of Col. Olcott's. Immediately after her return from her American trip she had yielded to these insistencies and had herself published the news in the "Watch-Tower" of "Lucifer" for June, 1893.
Mrs. Besant and Professor Chakravarti arrived at London on their return from America, early in October, 1893. After a short stay in England Chakravarti sailed for home, followed a week later by Mrs. Besant and the Countess Wachtmeister. Mrs. Besant arrived at Colombo early in November, where she was met by Col. Olcott and a party of headquarters aids. Six weeks were spent in Ceylon and in reaching Adyar, where the party arrived on Christmas day, 1893, just preceding the convention. At the Convention Mrs. Besant delivered five lectures and, after a short rest, proceeded on a tour of India, accompanied by Col. Olcott and others. This tour engaged her until March, 1894, when she set sail once more on her return voyage to England. In all the annals of the Theosophical Movement there is nothing comparable to this Indian visit of Mrs. Besant's. From the first moment of her landing hers was a vice-regal progress and a triumph. Natives and Europeans, members and non-members of the Society crowded her with attentions. The pages of the "Theosophist" during the months of her presence in India are burdened with descriptions and laudations devoted to the avatara "Annabai," as she was christened by the enthusiastic Hindus. During her trip she visited the sacred places of India, held conferences with leading priests, proclaimed herself an Indian in heart and feeling, and took the Brahminical thread. An article contributed by her over her signature to the native publication, the daily "Amrita Bazar Patrika," expresses in her own words some of her views at the time -- views which explain in part the frenzy of adulation she excited among the Hindus; views of extreme interest when contrasted with Mrs. Besant's activities in India for the past eight or ten years. We quote from the reprint in the "Theosophist," Supplement for March, 1894:"My work in the sphere of politics is over, and I shall never resume it....Now, having traced the successive moves of Mr. Judge, and having followed Mrs. Besant's successive positions on the chess-board, it is necessary to review Col. Olcott's share in the strategy and tactics of the rapidly culminating manoeuvres. We have shown him in his "Old Diary Leaves," in his Presidential Addresses, in his Letter to the American Section Convention of 1893, in his part in the "White Lotus Day" celebration at Adyar on May 8, 1893, in his use of Mr. Sturdy as a pawn, and of Walter R. Old as a more important piece through which to make his moves. We have partly indicated the glamour of deference, devotion and extravagant attentions with which Mrs. Besant was enveloped in sequence to the mission of Bertram Keightley and the occult lure held out by Professor Chakravarti. There is more -- much more -- to follow, but they should be contrasted with the attentions paid at the same time by the President-Founder to Mr. Judge and H.P.B. Thus:
"I say this in answer to your suggestion that I should be aroused to take interest in Indian 'affairs.' To be able to lay at the feet of India any service is to me full reward for the many sufferings of a stormy life through which the power of service has been won. But the India that I love and reverence, and would fain see living among the nations, is not an India westernized, rent with the struggles of political parties, heated with the fires of political passions, with a people ignorant and degraded, while those who might have raised them are fighting for the loaves and fishes of political triumph. I have seen too much of this among the 'progressed and civilized nations' of the West to have any desire to see such a civilization over-spreading what was Aryavarta. The India to which I belong in faith and heart is ... a civilization in which spiritual knowledge was accounted highest title to honour, and in which the whole people reverenced and sought after spiritual truth. To help in turning India into another Great Britain or another Germany, is an ambition that does not allure me; the India I would give my life to help in building, is an India learned in the ancient philosophy, pulsing with the ancient religion, -- an India to which all other lands should look for spiritual light, -- where the life of all should be materially simple, but intellectually noble and spiritually sublime.
"The whole of my life and of my energies are given to the Theosophical Society, because the Society is intended to work in all nations for the realisation of this spiritual ideal; for the sake of this it deliberately eschews all politics, embraces men of parties, welcomes men of all faiths, declines to ostracise any man, any party or any faiths. I may not mingle in a political fray which would make one temporary party regard me with enmity; for the message of spiritual life belongs equally to both and may not be rendered unacceptable by its bearer wearing a political garment which is a defiance of those clad in other political robes. The politician must ever be at war; my mission is one of peace. Therefore I enter not the political field; and in the religious field I seek to show men of every faith that they share a common spiritual heritage and should look through the forms that divide them to the spirit that makes them one. It is the recognition of this which makes Hinduism ever a non-proselyting religion....
"I write this lengthy explanation of my absolute refusal to have anything to do with politics because any expression of love and confidence from Indians goes straight to my heart, ... because I honestly believe that the future of India, the greatness of India and the happiness of her people, can never be secured by political methods, but only by the revival of her philosophy and religion. To this, therefore, I must give all my energies, and I must refuse to spread them over other fields."ANNIE BESANT.
When the first copies of Mr. Judge's "Ocean of Theosophy" arrived at Adyar, Col. Olcott took time in the midst of his activities to write a review of the book. It will be found in the "Theosophist" for September, 1893. Col. Olcott calls it an "interesting little volume" which is "another proof of Mr. Judge's tireless activity and commercial enterprise." He says that in print, paper and binding it is "faultless" and "far and away beyond anything we can do at Madras." He goes on: "I wish I could unqualifiedly praise his present work; but I cannot. It contains some errors that are flagrant." The errors are then detailed; some typographical; some, errors of derivation of words; others, words said to be Sanskrit which are not; Mr. Sinnett is not "an official in the Government of India," but the Editor of the Pioneer newspaper; and, as it seems to the President-Founder, "Mr. Judge makes a sad mistake in saying 'in place of the "Absolute" we can use the word space,' and making it one of the divisions of the sevenfold universe." As Mr. Judge's brief sentences thus quoted from do but repeat in skeleton H.P.B.'s statement of the "First Fundamental Proposition" of the "Secret Doctrine," Col. Olcott's strictures in reality apply to those numbered statements in the "Secret Doctrine" concerning which H.P.B. said, in presenting them, "on their clear apprehension depends the understanding of all that follows" in her great work. Col. Olcott closes this first of the two paragraphs of his review by saying: "Other errors might be pointed out; but I need not enlarge, since the task is ungrateful, and they will be quickly recognized by Indian readers."
But the real animus of the review is contained in the concluding paragraph. Its spirit may be discerned from its letter, which is as follows:"What I regard as most unfortunate is the habit which my old friend, in common with other of H.P.B.'s pupils whom I have known, but who long ago deserted her, has fallen into, of hinting that he could, and he would, disclose ultimate mysteries properly veiled from the common people. Examples occur in this book, and moreover he unhesitatingly declares (Preface) that his 'bold statements' (i.e., the whole presentation of the subjects treated) are 'made ... upon the knowledge of the writer,' and that he 'has simply written that which I (sic) have been taught and which has been proved to me (sic).' When we consider the stupendous declarations of cosmic and human evolution and order that are made upon our friend's bare authority, it strikes one how much more nobly we would stand before the thinking and aspiring world, if Mr. Judge would make good this statement by adducing proofs that he has written that only which he 'knows' and which 'has been proven' as true. Or, at least, he might have taken a bit more pains and avoided downright errors in fact and metaphysic. Does he, for example, wish us to believe that it has been proven to him that the Absolute is a septenary principle, and that Charlemagne reincarnated as Napoleon I. and Clovis of France as the Emperor Frederic III. -- proven? I trow not. This is a very loose fashion of asserting instead of proving which is spreading and which is very detrimental to a cause possessing enough solid merit in itself to make its way if discreetly engineered."Any reader can turn to the Preface and the text of the "Ocean" and determine for himself whether Col. Olcott's blows are struck fairly or foully, and whether Mr. Judge throughout the book, faithfully epitomizes the teachings of the "Secret Doctrine."H.S.O.
The President-Founder's criticism of the "Ocean," which included its author, Mr. Judge, and H.P.B. the Teacher, and her Teachings, in its invidious implications, was followed in the October, 1893, "Theosophist" by an article by "N.D.K." taking mild exceptions to the statements in the August installment of "Old Diary Leaves" on H.P.B.'s ignorance of "reincarnation" at the time of the writing of "Isis Unveiled." Col. Olcott appends an "Editorial Note," signed with his initials, to "N.D.K.'s" article and goes still further than in the original statements made in "Old Diary Leaves." He says that not only did H.P.B. not teach reincarnation, but that "she really taught the opposite." Just how she could do even this and be ignorant of reincarnation, the Colonel does not explain. But he does go on to claim credit for himself for the "discovery" in 1881 of the "idea of Individuality and Personality." "After that" (italics Col. Olcott's), "it was taught by H.P.B., ... and, generally, made current as our belief."
The Adyar Convention at the close of December, 1893, was opened by the President-Founder in person with his Annual Address. Beginning with his second sentence he sounds public official pæans to Mrs. Besant and himself. We quote from the Report in the Supplement to the "Theosophist" for January, 1894:"The night's blackness is rolling away, the dawn of a happier day is breaking. Thanks -- as I believe -- to the kind help of those whom I call my Masters ... our patient and loyal persistence is about being rewarded by help of the most valuable kind, for they have sent me 'Annabai' [Mrs. Besant] to share my burden, relieve our mental distress, and win the respect and sympathy of good people. While she is not yet able to quite fill the void left by the departure of my co-founder, H.P.B., she will be in time, and meanwhile is able to render service that her Teacher could not, by her peerless oratory and her scientific training. This meeting will be historical, as marking her first appearance at our Annual Conventions:-- her first, but not her last, for I have some reason to hope that she will devote a certain part of her future years to Indian work. [Great applause.]The reader should bear in mind the specific declaration of H.P.B. that "the E.S.T. has no relation whatever with the Theosophical Society as a body," and the historical fact that its formation was opposed and its conduct under H.P.B. disapproved by Col. Olcott.
"Mrs. Besant's and my close association in the Indian tour now in progress, and the consequent mutual insight into our respective characters and motives of action, has brought us to a perfect understanding which, I believe, nothing can henceforth shake. She and I are now at one as regards the proper scope and function of the E.S.T. as one of the activities carried on by our members. ... Whatever misunderstandings have occurred hitherto with respect to the exact relationship between the Society, as a body, and the Esoteric Section which I chartered in 1888 -- now known as the Eastern School of Theosophy -- and of which she is the sweet spirit and the guiding star, have passed away -- I hope, forever."
The President-Founder's Address goes on to refer to the recent Congress of Religions at the Chicago Fair, and says:"In common with every other working member in the Society, I am encouraged by this demonstration to unflagging persistence in the work, and very recent assurances from sources I most respect [he means the Masters], give me the conviction of speedy and complete success. At the same time I am warned to expect fresh disagreeable surprises; but for these, long experience has fortified me, and the Society, as heretofore, will emerge purer and stronger than ever. The Society is gradually learning that personalities are but broken reeds to lean upon; and that the best of us are but mortals, fallible and weak."Repeated further laudatory references to Mrs. Besant appear throughout the remainder of the Presidential Address. Miss Müller and Professor Chakravarti are spoken of with commendation. Considerable time is spent in arguing once more the advisability and necessity of "Adyar" as a central focus of the movement, and that the "President-Founder" is the real inspiration and authority of the Society is affirmed in the following sentences:"The Chief Executive has already become in great part, and must ultimately be entirely, the mere official pivot of the wheel, the central unit of its life, the representative of its federative character, the umpire in all intersectional disputes, the wielder of the Council's authority."Then the President goes on to say, without a break:"I abhor the very semblance of autocratic interference, but I equally detest that spirit of nullification which drives people to try to subvert constitutions under which they have prospered and which has proved in practice well fitted to promote the general well being. This feeling has made me resent at times what seemed attempts to make the Society responsible for special authorities, ideas and dogmas which, however good in themselves, were foreign to the views of some of our members, and hence an invasion of their personal rights of conscience under our constitution. As the official guardian of that instrument, my duty requires this of me, and I hope never to fail in it."Finally, at the close of his Address, the President-Founder returns once more to the epiphany of Mrs. Besant, and says:"With the formation of my present close acquaintance with Mrs. Besant, my course has become very clearly marked out in my mind. Unless something unexpected and of a very revolutionary character should happen, I mean to abandon the last lingering thought of retirement and stop at my post until removed by the hand of death. 'Annabai' will in time become to me what H.P.B. was, and I shall try to prove as staunch and loyal a colleague to her as I think you will concede I have been to my lamented co-Founder of this Society. In her bright integrity, her passionate love of truth, her grand trained intellect and her unquestioning altruism, I feel a strength and support which acts upon me as the elbow-touch of the comrade to the soldier in battle. Disciples of the same Master, devoted to the same cause, and now friends who know and trust each other, we may, I hope and pray, henceforth resemble in this movement the Aryan god, who is dual when looked at from two aspects, but when properly understood is but one and indivisible. [Great applause.]"When these remarks of Col. Olcott's are weighed in the light of preceding events and measured in their relation to the framework of circumstances by which they were surrounded, there can be no question of their gravity or that they were deliberately calculated. They were spoken at the most important convocation yet held in India after the one at the end of 1884. There the planned purpose was negative -- to leave the most important personage connected with the Society unsupported and undefended against an assault leveled, not against her as an individual, but as the head and forefront of the Theosophical Movement. It was the first great test of the professed devotion to Brotherhood -- the First Object of the Society. It ended in desertion, rather than in active disloyalty. Injurious as its effects were, it would have been ruinous had H.P.B. had to depend on the Hindus and Olcott; as it was, its reactionary effects were felt chiefly in India, so far as the Society was concerned.
But in 1893, the disloyalty was positive; it was a planned assault, by the chief officer of the Society, aided and abetted by leading members, aimed not against William Q. Judge, but against what he represented. It was that very plot against the Theosophical Society, of which Mr. Judge had written months before -- against brotherhood as that word had been used in the declaration of the First and Second Sections in 1881, as it had been exemplified by Masters and H.P.B., and as it had been taught in Theosophy and in the Rules, the Preliminary Memoranda and the Instructions of the Esoteric School.
Olcott intended his statements to be received as his authoritative and official proclamation to all who might look to him for direction. It is therefore well worth while for the student to examine them closely in relation to the tissues of the web spun to the occasion of his designed pattern. Stripped of redundancies and tergiversations the extracts given come to this: the President-Founder of the Society, speaking as its Official Head, declares:(1) That the Masters have rewarded his "patient and loyal persistence" by sending him Mrs. Besant "to fill the void left by the departure of H.P.B.," and who is "able to render service that her Teacher could not;"These statements of his are put forth officially, although he "abhors the very semblance of autocratic interference" and "resents attempts to make the Society responsible for special authorities, ideas and dogmas" which "are foreign to the views of some of our members, and hence an invasion of their personal rights of conscience under our constitution," and although "personalities are but broken reeds to lean upon, and the best of us are but mortals fallible and weak."
(2) That he has come "to a perfect understanding with her that nothing can henceforth shake," so that he and Mrs. Besant "are now at one as regards the proper scope and function of the E.S.T.," of which "she is the sweet spirit and the guiding star;"
(3) That he himself has "already become in great part, and must ultimately be entirely" the "central unit" in the "life" of the Society, the "representative," the "umpire," the "wielder of the Council's authority;"
(4) And, finally, that "very recent assurances" from the Masters warn him "to expect fresh disagreeable surprises," from which, however, he is assured that the Society "will emerge purer and stronger than ever."
Indicative as these contrasted declarations are of that "loss of moral balance unconsciously to himself" -- as H.P.B. had written must be the fate of those who "wander from the discipline" -- indicative as they are when weighed only in the light of what preceded and accompanied the Presidential Address, they become ever more profoundly significant when viewed in unbroken continuity with the succeeding events.
Who shall speak with convincing voice from behind the thick arras of the past and bring to light the "hidden things of darkness?" Who can say, that the dull may hear, what sinister influences had been steadily at work, what cabal consummated, what black-robed councils held during the months of Mrs. Besant's Indian journey? Who can picture, so that the blind may see, "the personal wish to lead, and wounded vanity, and personal pride, dress themselves in the peacock's feathers of devotion and altruistic work?" Who shall read, so that all may understand, the prophetic last Message of the Masters through H.P.B. in her letter to the American Convention of 1891, in its hour of fulfillment three short years later? Let the facts come forth, let that Message be pondered, and the spoliated Past may be redeemed through the restoration of borrowed robes, through the vindication of calumniated but glorious reputations: The Message, the Messengers, and the Theosophical Movement, now separated and sullied, become once more one. [Note: Here's HPB's "last Message", that is spoken of above: Letter 4 (this was her general address that was read to the convention, and is the one referred to). There was also a very short Letter 5 (this was read to everyone, sometime later, on the same day). --Compiler.]
The facts, unknown then, are knowable now. Through Bertram Keightley first, Chakravarti next and Olcott finally, Mrs. Besant was infected with doubts and suspicions of H.P.B. and then of Judge, as Olcott had himself succumbed to the same influences in 1881. The potion, in increasing doses, mixed with subtle flatteries, by degrees led Mrs. Besant to the point where, "in the name of the Masters" she was induced to break her most solemn and sacred word of honor and "for the honor of the society" to violate her Pledges in the E.S. All unconsciously to herself did she thus become victim and tool of the dark magic of the Jesuits of the Orient.
At Adyar Mrs. Besant counseled with Walter R. Old, who, smarting under his "wrongs," told his psychic tale of inference and hearsays. At Adyar Mrs. Besant attended a dark cabinet at which were present beside herself, Old, Olcott, Edge, Sturdy and Wachtmeister. Here their mutual doubts were well confirmed, each by the others, their mutual burdens of circumstantial evidence adjusted to fit their several interpretations. William Q. Judge was weighed in the balance, tried, convicted, condemned of Theosophical infamies, and plans made to carry the sentence into execution. From November, 1893, until March, 1894, the conspirators day by day wrote and spoke of brotherhood, and night after night plotted fruitfully its most fell negation.
What is the evidence? The recorded facts prove it; subsequent history confirms their fatal accuracy; the unwritten record does but make them doubly damning. Does anyone deny them? Let the still living conspirators hale us into Court. Here are no "occult phenomena which can never be proven in a court of law during this century," but demonstrable physical facts, damning facts, capable of proof or disproof.
Early in January Mrs. Besant, Col. Olcott and their party resumed the tour of India temporarily suspended during the Convention. Allahabad -- home of Professor Chakravarti -- was reached early in February. There, as was most fit and proper, the final step was taken, and in accordance with the plan agreed upon, Mrs. Besant handed to Col. Olcott the following:On the next day Colonel Olcott wrote the following official communication to Mr. Judge:To the President-Founder of the Theosophical Society."ALLAHABAD, Feb. 6th, 1894.
Dear Sir and Brother,--
Some little time ago an appeal was made to me by members of the T.S. belonging to different Branches, to set their minds at rest as to the accusations made against the Vice-President of the Society, Bro. W. Q. Judge, with reference to certain letters and sentences in the alleged writings of the Mahatmas. As it is to the detriment of the whole Society that such accusations -- believed to be true by reputable members of the Society -- should be circulated against a prominent official without rebuttal and without investigation, I ask you, as the President of the Society, to direct that the charges made shall be formulated and laid before a Committee, as provided by Art. VI, Secs. 2, 3 and 4.
"THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY, PRESIDENT'S OFFICE,To William Q. Judge, Vice-President T.S.Agra, Feb. 7th, 1894.
Dear Sir and Brother,--
I enclose herewith a certified copy of Annie Besant's formal letter to me, dated Allahabad, Feb. 6th inst. In it she demands an official enquiry, by means of a Committee, into the matter of your alleged misuse of the Mahatmas' names and handwriting.
By virtue of the discretionary power given me in Art. VI of the Revised Rules, I place before you the following options:
1. To retire from all offices held by you in the Theosophical Society and leave me to make a merely general public explanation, or--
2. To have a Judicial Committee convened, as provided for in Art. VI, Sec. 3, of the Revised Rules, and make public the whole of the proceedings in detail.
In either alternative, you will observe, a public explanation is found necessary: in the one case to be limited as far as possible and made general; in the other to be full and covering all the details.
I suggest that if you decide for a Committee you fix London as the place of meeting, as by far the most central and convenient to all concerned. But whether you choose New York, London or elsewhere, I shall in all probability be represented by proxy, unless something now unforeseen should arise to make it imperative that I shall personally attend.
As it will be much better that I should know your decision before Annie Besant leaves India (March 20th), I would ask you to kindly cable me the word "first" if you choose to resign; or "second" if you demand the Committee.
H. S. OLCOTT,
President Theosophical Society."
(To be Continued)
THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT
(Part 30 of a 34-part series)
"THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT"
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THREE (3) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
(1) Corrections, objections, criticisms, questions and comments are invited from all readers on any facts or conclusions stated in this series. --EDITORS.
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(2) See THEOSOPHY for August, 1921, page 306. [Note: This refers to Chapter XIX, which is the 20th article in this series that you are reading. Since the article was on pages 298-308 of that month's magazine, the "Notice" being referred to on page 306 is near the end of the article. After you click on this link, which takes you to the article:
"STRICTLY PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL"scroll down until you get to the section in the article which is headed the same as I headed the link; you can't miss it. -- Compiler.]
"Notice from H.P.B.",
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(3) See THEOSOPHY For August, 1921, page 307, for the text of this letter of H.P.B.'s. [Note: This refers to the same article in this series as in the above footnote, and is found in the same link that you see above, just a little after the "Notice", near the end of the article. --Compiler.]
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