THEOSOPHY, Vol. 10, No. 11, September, 1922
(Pages 333-355: 80K)
(Number 33 of a 34-part series)
THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT(1)
APPARENT calm having been restored to the exoteric body of the Theosophical Society by the proceedings and results of the London enquiry, as narrated, remained the far more difficult problem of a corresponding readjustment in the affairs of the Esoteric School of which Mrs. Besant and Mr. Judge had been, since the death of H.P.B., the co-Heads.
The London proceedings had demonstrated for the moment to the satisfaction of all one thing, at least, and that was that "occult" phenomena, genuine or spurious, mediumistic or adept, formed no part of the business of the Theosophical Society, either under its proclaimed Objects or under its Constitution, Rules and by-laws. This had been the one point insisted on by H. P. Blavatsky throughout her lifetime, and no less insistently pressed by Mr. Judge after her death. The great wrong and evils inflicted by the bringing of the charges had thus been, to that extent, turned to good, and the attention of all members, high and low, once more directed to the consideration and practice of the ethical, philosophical and scientific basis and objects of the Society. A corollary resultant benefit was the practical realization for the time being that occult phenomena cannot, in the present state of human evolution, be proved, from the evidences available to the reasoning mind; proved, we mean, in the same sense and to the same extent that physical phenomena can be proved to the satisfaction of an impartial judge and jury in a court of law. In legal affairs the trial of a disputed issue, actual or moot, presupposes an accepted code of principles, laws and processes, for the determination of the facts, their causation, bearings, and the resultant decree of judgment -- accepted by and acceptable to all parties to the issue, regardless of whether the ensuing decision be for the plaintiff or the defendant. Manifestly no such code exists in the world for the determination of metaphysical cases at issue, and no more did nor does it exist, even among believers in the "occult."
The "Judge case," and all similar cases, before and since, including the very status of H. P. Blavatsky, and the existence and status of her Mahatmas Themselves, has, before the bar of public and learned opinion, no locus whatever, using that word in its exact mathematical sense. And certainly among Theosophists, however assured their faith in the reality of "the occult world and its inhabitants," the whole question of occult phenomena has been from the beginning, and still remains, sub judice, whether as to their principles, laws and processes, or their actuality. They pertain, in their causal and effectual, no less than in their practical, visible aspects, exclusively to the domain of the unknown First and Second Sections of the Theosophical Movement -- that is to say, to the Masters, Adepts and Chelas of Occultism.(2) As shown by the repeated statements of the Mahatmas Themselves, no less than by the repeated statements of H.P.B. and Mr. Judge, mediumistic phenomena are one thing, the phenomena of Occultism quite another matter altogether, and it was never intended to perform or produce any Occult phenomena at any time of a character and accompaniment to prove their verisimilitude to the recipient and other witnesses. To have done that would have been, as often stated by themselves, to have overwhelmed the mind of the race and to have induced and precipitated an irreparable catastrophe. The time has not yet come to teach and demonstrate the realities of the Occult world. Every "phenomenon" in connection with the career of Mr. Judge, no less than in connection with the mission of H.P.B. herself, was therefore left, and purposely left, partially enshrouded in mystery for the recipients and witnesses. Their mission was preparatory to the great task of the twentieth century -- the work of the Messenger for 1975. It was to arouse and provoke thought and inquiry, at all events among a choice minority, by the injection into the mind of the race of the ideas and ethics of the Wisdom-Religion, and such phenomena as were performed can be distributed into two main classes: First, those which were incidental, because unavoidable, concomitants of their nature and work, and this class was little perceived or pondered by even the most intelligent of the students; second, those phenomena which were produced intentionally in specific cases for or before given individuals. These were extremely limited in number and variety, when all is said, no two of them were identical in circumstance and environment, and no publicity was ever given any of them, in the first instance, either by H.P.B. or Mr. Judge. The karma of their publicity, as the karma of their performance, was that of the recipients and witnesses, who had earned what they received, and having received such tokens, broadcasted them -- against the admonition and the warning of H.P.B. and Mr. Judge in every case, be it noted.
The "Esoteric Section" was not formed until, in the words of H.P.B., the Society had "proved a failure" and "become a sham," because it had departed both from the original impulse and the original program. And in this "failure" and this "sham" must, of necessity, be included all those officers and leaders of the Society, however highly placed or esteemed, who had brought about that departure. The Karma of the first fourteen years was the karma of the Society, including its officers and members; the Karma of the ensuing seven years was the Karma of the "Esoteric Section." The Society had been weighed in the balance and found wanting, though it still lived on and was vicariously sustained by the "Esoteric Section" as an utilitarian instrument. The events of 1894-5 were the testing-out of the "Esoteric Section" itself as a worthy or unworthy vessel.
No more than the Theosophical Society, was the "Esoteric Section" intended to be or become a "Hall of Occultism," "a factory for the manufacture of adepts." This is shown by all the esoteric as well as exoteric writings and "messages" of Masters as well as H.P.B. and Mr. Judge. It is succinctly but unmistakably shown on the very first page of the First Preliminary Memorandum where it is specifically stated (the italics being our own):--
"This degree of the Esoteric Section is probationary, and its general purpose is to prepare and fit the student for the study of Practical Occultism or Raja Yoga. Therefore, in this degree the student -- save in exceptional cases -- will not be taught how to produce physical phenomena, nor will any magical powers be allowed to develop in him; nor, if possessing such powers naturally, will he be permitted to exercise them before he has mastered the knowledge of SELF, of the psycho-physiological processes (taking place on the occult plane) in the human body generally, and until he has in abeyance all his lower passions and his PERSONAL SELF."
All those who entered the E.S. did so voluntarily and were in honor bound either to abide by its conditions, or leave it altogether. As before shown, great pains were taken with each applicant that he should be fully informed of the nature of the School, its Pledge, its Rules, its purposes and requirements, before he entered. Each and all were warned of the occult consequences -- consequences which no one could avoid for them -- of persistent violation of the School conditions sine qua non; while each one was notified before entrance that grave violation of the School Discipline would entail his suspension or expulsion for the sake of those who might remain loyal.
The conduct of Col. Olcott throughout the "Judge case" was a violation of the Constitution and Rules of the exoteric Theosophical Society and a departure from its Objects -- the self-imposed criterions which he had not only accepted as a member but was in honor bound, as President-Founder, to be first and foremost, not only in enforcing upon the membership, but in himself rendering obedience to them. But the case of Mrs. Besant was far more serious. Her entire part in the "Judge case" was a gross breach of her Pledge and an equally gross infraction of the Rules and Discipline of the "Esoteric Section" which, for her, was the self-assumed canon of conduct. All this quite apart from any consideration of the guilt or innocence of Mr. Judge of the offenses charged against him. In the one case the Constitution and Rules of the Society had provided from the first that charges against a member must be brought, and could only be tried, before the Branch to which the accused belong. It may be remarked here, for the sake of the record, that the charges made against Mr. Judge were brought before his Branch, the Aryan Theosophical Society of New York City, and, by the unanimous vote of the Council and Members of that Branch, rejected. In the other case the Rules and Discipline of the School provided that no charge of any description should be made by any member against another, except within the School. How grave was Mrs. Besant's conduct, from the standpoint of the School, can be seen from the following extracts from the Rules:"Groundless condemnation, on hearsay, of others, Theosophists or not, must be refrained from, and charity to each other's faults widely practiced among those within, as well as for others without, the Theosophical area."We are not here arguing that these Rules from the Book of Discipline of the School are true statements either of theory or practice; we are submitting them as the Code of conduct voluntarily accepted and affirmed by Mrs. Besant on her "solemn and sacred word of honor" as the true standard of ethics by which she would abide. Mrs. Besant was not only a member of the School, but of its "second degree" or so-called "inner group," and one of its Heads, and therefore the more bound in honor to the most strict adherence to its time-honored practice. In considering the Theosophical life and conduct of all those connected with the Society or the "Esoteric School," therefore, they are not to be weighed, either by what they themselves claimed, or by what others said of them, or by worldly standards of action, but by their loyalty to, or departure from, the self-declared Objects of the Society, the self-assumed Obligations of the School. Only from this basis can they be intelligently considered, fairly judged.
"Repetition of statements derogatory to others must be avoided."
"A derogatory or slanderous statement made against a fellow-Theosophist, in the presence of a member [of the School], shall not be permitted by him to pass without protest, unless he knows it is true, in which case he should remain silent."
"No member shall, in any circumstances, bring any charge of whatever nature against another member except" [under the School procedure].
"Suspicions as to the character of the members of the School are prejudicial to advancement. In short, any malevolent feeling, especially malice, envy or revenge toward any person, high or low, creates peculiarly obstructive conditions in the student's path, and will absolutely prevent progress of every sort."
"No member of this School shall belong to any other body, association, or organization for the purpose of mystic study or occult training."
The Objects, Constitution and Rules of the Society were just as binding upon H. P. Blavatsky and William Q. Judge as upon any one else, and their conduct in that respect is the criterion of judgment on their actions within the Society. And, with respect to the School of the "Esoteric Section," they were, like Mrs. Besant or any other member, bound to act according to its precepts or leave it. A due understanding of these considerations will make the Theosophical record of H.P.B. and W.Q.J. stand out in solitary grandeur against the broken ground of total and partial failures of their colleagues and co-workers in the Theosophical Cause. It was the very allegiance to the declared Objects and democratic organization of the T.S., that brought them into almost constant conflict with others, nominal but ambitious Theosophists. And in the Esoteric School itself it was their rigid and undeviating adherence to the letter as well as the spirit of the Book of Discipline which made H.P.B. unpalatable and Mr. Judge impossible to those whose self-confidence was such that they "took the law into their own hands" when it interfered with their own ideas and desires. It was this obedience to the Constitution and Rules, the Objects of the Society, which required Mr. Judge to raise the Constitutional questions involved in the attempted "trial" by the Judicial Committee, and which equally debarred him from proffering just charges against the President-Founder for the latter's flagrant breach of the Theosophical conventions, moral and legal. In the same way he was debarred from making charges against Mrs. Besant before the Society, while in the School itself, the Book of Discipline requires that two warnings shall be given before the suspension or expulsion of "the Disciple who shows himself whether willingly or inadvertently disloyal to the letter and spirit of any law."
The first of these warnings had been given to Mrs. Besant by Mr. Judge as the "representative of H.P.B.," and as co-Head of the School in September, 1893 (at the time of her visit to the Parliament of Religions at Chicago), because of her relations with Mr. Chakravarti, whose "occult" pupil she had become, and with whom she discussed her School relations, duties and conduct, in addition to taking him as her Guru. The first of the "occult consequences" which befell Mrs. Besant was her yielding to the cajoleries of the enemies of Mr. Judge and sponsoring and "prosecuting" the charges against him. Immediately following the close of the Judicial Committee meeting and the proceedings of the European Convention which was supposed to have terminated the "Judge case" so far as the Society was concerned, a meeting became necessary between Mrs. Besant and Mr. Judge to adjust the status of the Esoteric School, and at this meeting Mrs. Besant received her second warning, as the Book of Discipline made imperative.
With regard to the School itself a joint circular letter, "strictly private and only for E.S.T. Members," was sent out to all members over the signatures of the two Heads. The London copy is dated July 18, and the American copy August 1, 1894. It contains the recital of the conditions prevailing in the School, the respective accredited positions of the two Heads at the reorganization of the School immediately following the death of H.P.B., and the agreement reached for the future conduct of the E.S.T. We quote so much as is necessary to make clear the summary just given:"To the members of the E.S.T.:Then follows the copies of the Document of December 14, 1888,(3) and the Document of October 23, 1889,(4) as already given in these pages. The circular continues:
"You all know that during the last few months the activity of the E.S.T. has been to a great extent suspended in consequence of events which are matters of public notoriety. The issue of these is now before the T.S., and each must form his own judgment upon them. ... So far as the T.S. is concerned, it has passed through a grave crisis; but it goes forward unbroken in its great work in the world. The E.S.T. should do the same.
"In the E.S.T. time is needed for the full restoration to a state devoid of friction, as well as for the revival of as perfect mutual trust and confidence as human nature will permit. Without this full restoration and revival no two persons can act as a single channel for spiritual influences.
"But we have our fundamental unity and channel in the Masters and in their mouthpiece -- Our Teacher in this School -- our recognized Head, H.P.B. ... On this the School was founded and rests today. We will proceed under the arrangements made and left by her at the time of her passing away. She declared that William Q. Judge was the Antaskarana, or channel for the Americans, and made him under herself the sole authority in America by the following Documents:""She [H.P.B.] made the then Inner Group the Council, under herself, for the remaining part of the School, and shortly before her departure made Annie Besant its chief officer, as Chief Secretary of the I(nner) G(roup) and Recorder of the Teachings, by the following:"(5)This is followed by the text of the "Order" already quoted in an earlier chapter of this history. The circular then goes on:"Thus it was when she departed.When The Aftermath of The Theosophical Movement comes to be written its historians will need to compare closely the reorganization of the Esoteric School following the death of H. P. Blavatsky as set out in detail in the Report of the Council Minutes, dated May 27, 1891, the above cited circular, and Mrs. Besant's pamphlet "Past and Present of the E.S.," which latter has been put into the hands of every one of her "E.S." members ever since 1908. Such comparison any present member of the "esoteric" part of Mrs. Besant's existing Society can make for himself and see how she has written history to suit her own exigencies. For the first named, the Minutes, signed by Mrs. Besant as well as all the others, set out in unmistakable language (a) that Mr. Judge attended attended "as the representative of H.P.B."; (b) that Documentary evidence in the handwriting and with the signature of H.P.B. attested him as a "Chela of thirteen years' standing" at its date (1888), and her "sole representative" in the United States, and to whom "full faith and credence" were to be given; (c) that the Council Members as such had no power or authority except consultative; (d) that Mrs. Besant's position in the School was that of "Chief Secretary of the Inner Group of the Esoteric Section and Recorder of the Teachings" of H.P.B.; (e) that the Council disclaimed any power or authority to conduct the School, and turned over its conduct to Mrs. Besant and Mr. Judge, under the Documents mentioned, the Council Members resigning as such at the same time; (f) that the basis for the future conduct of the School was solemnly and unanimously asseverated to be "that in full accord with the known wishes of H.P.B. ... the work of the School ought and shall be continued and carried on along the lines laid down by her, and with the matter left in writing or dictated by her before her departure." The so-called "Inner Group" had two Secretaries, the other being G. R. S. Mead, and the "Teachings" of which Mrs. Besant was made the "Recorder" were the writings and dictations of H.P.B. How Mrs. Besant fulfilled her duties as Recorder of the Teachings is shown in many ways, but most glaringly by two standing witnesses: the "Third and Revised Edition" of the Secret Doctrine, and the spurious "Third Volume" of the Secret Doctrine issued by her in 1897. Any reader can compare the Original Edition of the "Secret Doctrine" with the "Third and Revised Edition" edited by Mrs. Besant and Mr. Mead. Despite the assurances contained in their "Preface," the comparison will show more than twenty thousand changes from the text of the Original Edition, ranging all the way from mere trivialities, through important alterations, to deliberate suppression of all those paragraphs of the Original Edition of two volumes which showed unmistakably what the genuine Third Volume (already, with the Fourth Volume, completed by H.P.B. before her death) consisted of. The utter disappearance without a trace left behind, of the genuine Third and Fourth Volumes of the Secret Doctrine remains to this day an unrevealed mystery. And as to Mrs. Besant's spurious "Third Volume," her own Preface alone is ample to convince any careful student, able to sift statements, that it is nothing more than a hodge-podge of rejected manuscripts, "literary remains," private papers originally issued to the E.S.T. during the life-time of H.P.B., and largely rejected manuscript of the first volume of the Original Edition. For it is, or should be, well known to every Theosophical student that, as repeatedly announced in the earlier volumes of "The Theosophist," H.P.B.'s original intention was that the "Secret Doctrine" should be a revised edition of "Isis Unveiled," and in pursuance of that intention she wrote one entire volume, prior to 1886, when returning confidence and trust in her by the mass of members of the T.S. enabled her to enlarge her plan and write an entirely new work. A copy of that early first volume was sent by H.P.B. to Subba Row for criticism and comment. Followed his breach with H.P.B.(6) as already narrated. He refused to do anything with it, but kept the manuscript. It is matter from that rejected manuscript which is incorporated in Mrs. Besant's "Third Volume." And, -- notable phenomenon -- the fact is admitted by Mrs. Besant herself in "The Theosophist" for March, 1922 -- twenty-five years after the event. Why did she concoct this spurious "Third Volume" in the first instance? And why did she in 1922 let slip the truth which in 1897 she not only suppressed, but replaced by a deliberate untruth? The answer to the first query can be seen by reading her article "East and West" in Lucifer for May, 1895, written during the throes of the recrudescent "Judge case." She there states in discussing the celebrated "Prayag Letter" or "Message to Some Brahmins," to the consideration of which we shall soon come, that the Message, which Mr. Judge had declared to be genuine, is in her opinion spurious. She says, after giving her reasons:
"Out of these two appointments was constituted (see Council Minutes, 1891) the Dual Headship in 1891 for the management of the School, an arrangement that has not on the whole at any time worked well in practice. At the present time the only way to preserve the E.S.T. unbroken and give time for the restoration of the mutual trust referred to and to smooth out friction is by returning to the above arrangements. We remain throughout the world the one School -- 'the throbbing heart of the T.S.' -- founded by H.P.B., recognizing her as our Teacher and the Masters as our foundation, having in common her Headship, the Instructions she left, and the Rules of the School....""These facts seemed to me to necessitate the rejection of the letter as being in flagrant contradiction with H.P.B.'s teachings, and it is certainly no more supported by the third volume of the Secret Doctrine, which was placed in my hands by H.P.B., than by the other two. Why so wild an assertion, which will be proved false by the forthcoming publication of the third volume, should be made, I do not know."Neither the "facts" (reasons) alleged by Mrs. Besant for rejecting the "Message to Some Brahmins," nor its "contradiction with the teachings of H.P.B.," are remotely suggested, even by inference, by anything contained in Mrs. Besant's "Third Volume," nor is the "wild assertion" of Mr. Judge that the Message is true in substance in any way impugned by any of the writings of H.P.B., the matter of the "Third Volume" included -- as anyone can verify for himself by reference to the contents of the "Third Volume" itself. But Mrs. Besant's article "East and West," and her following article, "The Prayag Letter,"(7) were written in self-defense and self-extenuation. "East and West" contains, inter alia, another astounding illustration of Mrs. Besant's lack of trustworthiness, for she says:"Instead of denouncing 'faith in the gods' as a superstition, [the substance of the "Prayag Message"] H.P.B. professed it,..."We ask any student of Theosophy to consider whether misrepresentation could reach to greater audacity than is shown in this single sentence?
In Mrs. Besant's "Third Volume" are incorporated the private papers originally issued by H.P.B. to the E.S., and in reprinting these Mrs. Besant not only falsely declared them to be a part of the "third volume of the Secret Doctrine which was placed in my hands by H.P.B.," not only broke the Seventh clause of her solemn Pledge as a member of the Esoteric School, but corrupted them by more than twelve hundred alterations, perversions, suppressions and substitutions of text.
Why did she let the truth escape her lips twenty-five years later, unless it be that she had forgotten her original statements in a fresh exigency in her career? Her remarks in the "Theosophist" for March, 1922, bear no other rational construction when read in connection with those in the April number immediately following. She did the same thing in regard to this very "Prayag Message," as we shall see very soon. It will have long since been noted by the careful reader of this History, that the unavoidable impeachments of Col. Olcott's, Mr. Sinnett's and Mrs. Besant's testimony on controversial questions of teaching and of fact, have been in every case out of their own mouths and those of their own witnesses. An exhaustive study and comparison of their own writings and actions has forced us, as we believe it will force any student, to the conviction that their evidence is utterly untrustworthy on any subject in which their self-interest was aroused. Not even Eusebius and Constantine in their successful efforts to bend the teachings and the influence of Christianity to their personal theological and political purposes, showed such ethical blindness coupled with intellectual ability to mislead those who trusted them.
Returning to the circular of date at London July 18, and New York August 1, signed by Mrs. Besant and Mr. Judge as co-Heads of the E.S.T.; it possesses great interest and value, not merely to the historian but to all students of Theosophy seeking to unravel the baffling mysteries of the present and the past. First, this circular confirms and reaffirms the accuracy of the original Minutes of May 27, 1891, the reorganization of the School then effected, the status of Mrs. Besant and Mr. Judge, and the basis and evidence on which that status was established. Second, this confirmation and reaffirmation was made after the "Enquiry into the charges against W. Q. Judge" by the Judicial Committee, after Mrs. Besant had read her Statement to the European Convention, and after it had, at her request, acted as a "Jury" to "dispose of the whole matter," and had so disposed of it. Certainly if the Statement of Mrs. Besant and this Circular signed by her are to be construed as the sincere testimony and good faith declarations of an honest witness under conditions the most solemn possible, then they give the lie, direct and irrefutable, to her subsequent asseverations on the same subject matters during the heat and fury of her second onset on the name and fame of Mr. Judge. On the other hand, if her subsequent affirmations are to be taken as true, they show Mrs. Besant in the role of a bearer of false witness in July, 1894. Either point of view shows Mrs. Besant to have been deaf, dumb and blind to all moral sense, for her two sets of statements covering the same matters at issue are beyond any possibility of reconciliation. The second attack on Mr. Judge must now be traced.
Mr. Judge left London July 18, 1894, to return to New York; Col. Olcott, after a brief tour of England, Scotland and Ireland, departed for India; Bertram Keightley also returned to India to resume his duties as General Secretary of the Indian Section, and to be near Mr. Chakravarti, whose pupil he had become -- and has since remained to this date. Mrs. Besant at once set sail for Australia to form Branches and establish an Australasian Section of the T.S. under the carte blanche authority given her by the President-Founder in his "Executive Notice" of April preceding, the text of which was given in a former Chapter. She also bore with her from the just-held European Section Convention its authority for her to represent the European Section as its Delegate to the "Adyar Parliament" to be held in December following.
Walter R. Old remained in England while his associate in the article "Theosophic Free-Thought," Mr. Sydney V. Edge, continued to serve as sub-editor of the "Theosophist." Mr. Old had judiciously retired from London to a near-by town during the "Enquiry," but kept in close touch with the progress of events at the hearing before the Judicial Committee and the subsequent session of the European Convention devoted to the "Judge case." Displeased by Mrs. Besant's too close coupling of his name and Edge's with her statement before the Convention that "for some years past persons inspired largely by hatred for Mr. Judge, and persons inspired by hatred for the Theosophical Society and for all that it represents, have circulated a mass of accusations against him," Mr. Old, who knew that Olcott, Chakravarti, Countess Wachtmeister and Mrs. Besant were equally in the mire with himself, was not only aggrieved, but in a quandary as well. To break with these intimate friends and associates by exposing the whole truth was to bring ruin to them and himself instead of to Judge. To remain silent was to assume the whole burden of the joint iniquity himself. He therefore took the matter up with Col. Olcott. The result was a formal letter addressed by him to Col. Olcott as "President-Founder." This was published by Mrs. Besant in the August, 1894, "Lucifer," the same number which contained the "Truth and Occultism" circular and the text of the "Neutrality" report on the "Judge case." Mrs. Besant published Mr. Old's letter with this prefatory statement in brackets:"[Colonel Olcott asks us to publish the following. We do so, omitting a passage to which we cannot give publicity.]"The text of Mr. Old's letter will be found in "Lucifer," Vol. XIV, pages 463-4. We give a few of its unconsciously telltale sentences. He says to Col. Olcott (italics preceding and following being ours):"As you were associated with me in your capacity of Editor of The Theosophist at the time of the publication of the joint article by Mr. Edge and myself, you will be able to speak from personal knowledge as to our attitude in this connection ... Annie Besant would, I think, admit that the text of her statement is open to misinterpretation in this particular instance. The association of the two paragraphs referred to would certainly lead to a conclusion which, I think, she would be the last to desire."There the matter rested until October following, all the recent protagonists and their followers of every degree being apparently busy in renewed Theosophical activities and in healing the sores caused by the late "Judge case." Under cover of these activities, however, the campaign against Judge was carried on by word of mouth and by private correspondence, by Mrs. Besant, by Col. Olcott, by Countess Wachtmeister, and by Mr. Sinnett, as shown by subsequent events and admissions of the several parties.
In October, 1894, the London Westminster Gazette began the publication of a series of articles by Edmund Garrett, entitled "Isis Very Much Unveiled; the Story of the Great Mahatma Hoax." This series, the editorial articles which accompanied it, and the printed correspondence, ran on for two months without cessation. All former Theosophical storms rolled into one were but as a barometric fall to the monsoon which it presages, in comparison with the havoc wrought in the Theosophical Society's ranks by this publication. It was immediately gotten out in book form by the Westminster Gazette, and the book had a tremendous circulation. Some one paid for sending copies to all Lodges of the Theosophical Society.
Mr. Garrett was an exceedingly clever and brilliant writer. No "trial by newspaper" ever had an abler advocate for the plaintiff. Moreover, Mr. Garrett was plainly honest. He concealed neither the sources of his information, his own detestation of Theosophy and its Society, nor that his object was to destroy what he detested. The Preface to the book publication, a volume of 120 pages, shows his frank sincerity and will serve as an index to its contents. We give it in full:"Tourists at Pompeii are shown a temple of Isis. The impartial cinders have preserved for us there, not only the temple, but the secret passage which the priests used in the production of what are nowadays called 'phenomena.'Mr. Garrett was a personal friend of Walter R. Old, and it was Old who inspired him to write his series of articles and who supplied most of the documentary matter employed by Mr. Garrett with rare skill in making his case. Old was the only one of the numerous dramatis personae Mr. Garrett's serio-comedy treated with respect. All the others were targets for his keen wit, Mrs. Besant most of all. Col. Olcott was mercilessly lampooned, H.P.B. and Mr. Judge held forth as a couple of able tricksters and charlatans who had made dupes and fools of Mrs. Besant, Olcott, and the rest, with bogus phenomena and bogus "messages" from equally bogus "Mahatmas."
"The following pages are designed to show the secret passage in the temple of the Theosophic Isis, the goddess of Madame Blavatsky's 'Isis Unveiled.'
"Instead of having to wait on the pleasure of Vesuvius, I am enabled to act as cicerone while the temple is still (for the present) a going concern.
"The important difference between the exposure of Madame Blavatsky's box of tricks by the Society for Psychical Research, and the present exposure of her successors is, that in this case we have the high-priesthood giving evidence against itself. My own part in the business is merely the humble one of seeing that they shall all satisfactorily 'get at' one another. In redacting, out of the mass of various testimony which has fallen into my hands as clear and readable a story as I could present, my main care has been to tone down the mutual insinuations. Talk about augur meeting augur with a smile! It is the snarl which these augurs cannot disguise.
"As for myself, I have tried to render a service to truth; but I cannot see, with some good people, that a sense of truth necessarily excludes a sense of humour.
"Mrs. Besant is a lady whose character I have often defended in the press, though I have not always been able to accept the extremer estimates of her intellectual power. She is about the only one of my dramatis personae in whom the public at large (like myself) feel any personal interest whatever. She is, therefore, the strongest buttress of a fabric which she has now for some time known to be rotten at the base. That is why I have dealt more seriously with her than with these Olcotts and Judges. The President is too flabby to be worth fighting; the Vice-President is already thrown over by all the shrewder and honester members; even Mrs. Besant herself has now cabled her refusal to accept his latest revelation, and discovered that his Mahatma is indeed a fraud -- when he deposes Mrs. Besant.
"My pity is saved for those humbler dupes of the rank-and-file who have trusted these others not wisely but too well. From some of them I have seen pathetic letters; and if any gall has got upon my pen, it is the gall of the bitterness of their disillusion. They are more widely spread, and more worth saving from the quagmire of shams than most people suspect.
"I need hardly remark that I was never a Theosophist myself. But my Theosophical sources of information, referred to in the course of the story, have been growing within the Society week by week ever since the exposure began.
"There are no signs at present of any intention on the part of the three Theosophic chiefs to return from the various continents to which they departed last July -- departed simultaneously with the issue of that 'Report of an Inquiry' (so-called) which is the starting-point of these chapters. Mrs. Besant has left Australia to join Colonel Olcott in India; Mr. Judge remains just five days hence at New York. And so, taking a cue from Mahomet and the Mountain, 'Isis Very Much Unveiled' will now, in booklet form, go out to them."F. EDMUND GARRETT."
It was clearly evident from the documents used by Mr. Garrett that Old had been aided by both Col. Olcott and Mrs. Besant, for some of the papers cited could not have been otherwise obtained. This is practically admitted by Mr. Old in a letter to "Lucifer," which will be found in its issue for December 15, 1894, Vol. XV, pp. 337-8 -- and this despite his denial of the fact in the same letter. We quote, italics ours:"The published facts are just those which came into the evidence of Col. Olcott and Bertram Keightley, and upon which the charges were based and action taken; and they are, moreover, part of a body of evidence, which, from the outset, it was decided to publish. I take the whole Karma of my own action, and I affirm that it is wholly independent of connivance or instigation on the part of anyone."At the same time Mr. Old addressed a letter to the Westminster Gazette, which was published, and which was also included in the matter of Mr. Garrett's book. We quote so much as is necessary to establish or confirm the links already given, italicised portions being, as before, our own emphasis of Mr. Old's words:"The writer of those articles has named me, quite correctly, as having taken the first step in forcing an inquiry into the case against Mr. Judge. For this act of mine, I was suspended from my membership in the Esoteric Section, under the authority of the joint signatures of William Q. Judge and Annie Besant, Outer Heads of the E.S.T., and my name was dishonourably mentioned before the members of the E.S. among whom I numbered many an old friend and colleague. ... After her official action in suspending me from membership Mrs. Besant was, of course, bound to hear my justification. This happened at Adyar in the winter of 1893. Mrs. Besant's first remark to me after reading the case and examining the documents was, 'You were perfectly justified by the facts before you.'Mr. Old goes on to tell of Mrs. Besant's formal demand to Col. Olcott for the investigation, Col. Olcott's official letters to Mr. Judge, and the Judicial Committee meeting, "with the abortive and disingenuous result already known." He then continues:
"In the presence of the president-founder Colonel Olcott, Mrs. Besant, Countess Wachtmeister, Mr. E. T. Sturdy, together with Mr. Edge and myself, it was decided that the task of officially bringing the charges should devolve upon Mrs. Besant, and that the whole of the evidence should be published....""But what of the 'full publication of all the details?' What of us Theosophists who had brought these charges against Mr. Judge? Were we not left in the position of persons who had brought charges without proving them? The position was one I felt to be intolerable."It never occurred to Mr. Old, any more than to Mrs. Besant and the others, that there was anything "intolerable" in spreading privately and publicly calumnies dignified as "charges" and "evidences", even as human beings, let alone as Fellows in a Society whose first Object was "brotherhood," and as members of an Esoteric School pledged "never to listen without protest to any evil thing said of a Brother Theosophist and to abstain from condemning others." But when publicity played the spotlight upon the authors of the "mass of accusations," then, indeed, the position became "intolerable" -- first to Mr. Old, and then to Mrs. Besant and Col. Olcott.
After arguing that it was his "duty" to supply ammunition to Mr. Garrett, whom he calls a "Philistine", in order that "a system of truth" should not be "raised from a fabric of fraud," Mr. Old says:"It will, therefore, be clear to all members of the T.S. and the public generally that I am responsible for the facts occurring in Mr. Garrett's articles only so far as they apply to the charges against Mr. Judge. ... I do not lose sight of the fact that, however mistaken or misled many of the Theosophical Society may be, as regards the traditional 'Mahatmas' and their supposed 'communications,' they are nevertheless as sincere in their beliefs as many of their more orthodox fellows, and have as much right to respectful consideration. I particularly regret that Mrs. Besant should have been placed in this awkward public position by the present exposure....Applying this last italicised clause of Mr. Old's, the question arises, Was it H.P.B. and Mr. Judge who had thus committed themselves, or Mr. Old and his associates in the campaign against Judge, which speedily became of necessity a campaign against H.P.B.? The further question arises, What was Mr. Old doing in the Theosophical Society and particularly in its Esoteric School, for five years, with the views, express and implied, just given? Or did these views arise in him after being suspended from the E.S. for violation of his Pledge and the Rules? Mr. Old follows with this statement:
"Of Madame Blavatsky I speak as I knew her. At the time I made her acquaintance she had forsworn all 'phenomenalism,' so that I never saw any occult phenomena at any time. I believe that for her (these italics are Mr. Old's) the Mahatmas existed, and I believe she thought them to be embodied personalities. Colonel Olcott has another theory, and others have their own. ... Finally, I have been through the Theosophical Society with my eyes open, and for more than five years have been, officially and unofficially, as fully 'in the Theosophical Society' as one can well be; and while I am certain that many are fully convinced of the truth of their own beliefs in these matters, I am also fully assured that a large number are in the position of persons self-deceived, who have unfortunately committed themselves too far to review their position without almost disastrous consequences to themselves and others.""I have the fullest conviction ... that no such thing as evidence of the existence (in an ordinary sense) of the Mahatmas, or of their connexion with the T.S. as a body or with its members individually, is obtainable by a person pursuing ordinary methods of investigation."The fact itself is a truism to any man of the most casual information and common sense, and was repeatedly affirmed by H.P.B. and Mr. Judge; but if Mr. Old himself had this conviction, how could he know that H.P.B. or Judge, or anyone else, was, or was not, in communication with these Mahatmas, and what becomes of his "mass of accusations?"
We think the inference is irresistible that Mr. Old, Mrs. Besant, Col. Olcott, and the rest, suffering the stings of wounded pride and vanity, pricked at being "hoist with their own petard" by the outcome of the "Judge case," and convinced by his conduct during the preceding months that he would make no counter-attacks upon them, whatever they might do, proceeded, the one publicly, the others at first privately, to defend and extenuate themselves in the reaction that followed the London Enquiry, by intimating that they "could an' they would" produce evidence that would damn, and doubly damn, Judge. It seems never to have occurred to any of them that ex parte accusations, private or public, or "trial by the newspapers" was in any way disreputable, or that an accused person, even one "guilty" of suspected "messages from the Masters," was entitled to the presumption of innocence and freedom from the circulation of "accusations" by all honorable persons, until proven guilty. Nowhere, in any of the immense mass of printed matter poured out by his defamers, is there one solitary hint that any of his accusers ever took the straightforward course of going direct to Mr. Judge with their alleged "evidences" and asking him to explain and rebut what seemed to them questionable.
What did Mr. Judge do? He did what he had to do -- nothing in so far as the Theosophical Society was concerned; in the Esoteric School, that which the Book of Discipline made obligatory upon him, and which, according to his own declaration, was also directly "By Master's Order." In the circular letter with that heading, issued by him to all members of the Esoteric School under date of November 3, 1894, he deposed Mrs. Besant from her co-Headship in the School.
In this circular Mr. Judge says that he has "put off writing it since March, 1894," although "it then seemed to me as necessary as it is now," but that he was "directed to wait for the conclusion of the matter of the charges made against" him. He says he has since seen the wisdom of the directions to "wait," because had he written it while the "charges" were still undisposed of the Theosophical Society would have been "mixed up" with the troubles in the Esoteric Section which had no official relation to the Society. "We have now," he proceeds, to deal with the E.S.T. and with our duty to it and to each other; and among those others, to Mrs. Besant."
He then briefly rehearses the story of the foundation of the E.S.T., its history, the "Inner Group," the reorganization of the School following the death of H.P.B. -- all of which has already been told in detail in the course of this history. He makes public to the members the fact that the actual formation of the School originated with himself, in a letter to H.P.B. in May, 1887, a year and a half before its public announcement, and that the foundation followed the lines suggested by him. He also advised the members that he himself had never taken the School or Inner Group Pledges, having made his own vows in 1874 direct to the Masters -- all of which is borne out by recorded public and private statements by H.P.B. He then speaks of Mrs. Besant as follows:"Mrs. Annie Besant has been but five years in this work, and not all of that time engaged in occult study and practice. Her abilities as a writer and speaker are rare and high for either man or woman, her devotion and sincerity of purpose cannot be doubted. She gave many years of her life to the cause of the oppressed as she understood it: against the dread blight of materialistic belief in herself, she worked thus without hope in a future life and in every way proved her altruistic purpose and aim. Since 1889 she has done great service to the T.S. and devoted herself to it. But all this does not prevent a sincere person from making errors in Occultism, especially when he, as Mrs. Besant did, tries to force himself along the path of practical work in that field. Sincerity does not of itself confer knowledge, much less wisdom. H.P.B. ... and all the history of occultism says that seven years of training and trial at the very least are needed. Mrs. Besant has had but five. Mistakes made by such a disciple will ultimately be turned to the advantage of the movement, and their immediate results will be mitigated to the person making them, provided they are not inspired by an evil intention on the person's part. And I wish it to be clearly understood that Mrs. Besant has had herself no conscious evil intention; she has simply gone for awhile outside the line of her Guru (H.P.B. ... ), begun work with others, and fallen under their influence. We should not push her farther down, but neither will the true sympathy we have blind our eyes so as to let her go on, to the detriment of the whole movement."Mr. Judge discusses in extenso the recent charges and troubles in the Society and the School, from the standpoint of the Second Section, treating their real origin, their strategy and tactics, as having their source in the everlasting struggle of human evolution -- the contending forces of the Light and Dark sides of Nature and Being. In this respect he follows closely the parallel of the first great outburst of the conspiracy -- the Coulomb troubles in 1884, as set out in Dr. F. Hartmann's Observations at that epoch of the Movement. He concludes this part of his narrative by saying that the difficulty focalized anew "when in January or February  Annie Besant finally lent herself unconsciously to the plot which I detail herein; but prior to that (from August, 1893), those managing that plot had begun to work upon her." He places the root of the plot in India and says that the opposing forces to the Theosophical Movement,--"... have succeeded in influencing certain Brahmins in India through race-pride and ambition, so that these, for their own advantage, desire to control and manage the T.S. through some agent and also through the E.S.T. They of course have sought, if possible, to use one of our body, and have picked out Mrs. Besant as a possible vehicle. One object of the plot is to stop the current of information and influence started by H.P.B. ... by deflecting thought back to modern India. To accomplish this it is absolutely necessary to tear down the tradition clustering around the work of H.P.B. ... ; her powers and knowledge have to be derogated from; her right to speak for the Masters has to be impugned; those Masters have to be made a cold abstraction; her staunch friends who wish to see the real work and objects carried on have to be put in such a position as to be tied hand and foot so as not to be able to interfere with the plans of the plotters; it has to be shown that H.P.B. ... was a fraud and a forger also. These men are not the Chelas of our Masters.Mr. Judge then goes on to tell of a message in regard to himself received by Chakravarti, in which the Master commended Judge and his work, and says: "I informed Mrs. Besant in September, 1893, of the message." This message was the one referred to by Mr. Judge in his Statement before the European Convention in July, 1894, as being undisputed by Mrs. Besant. The circular continues:
"The name of the person who was worked upon so as to, if possible, use him as a minor agent ... for the influencing of Mrs. Besant is Gyanendra N. Chakravarti, a Brahmin of Allahabad, India, who came to America on our invitation to the Religious Parliament in 1893. At the first sincerely desirous of helping the race by bringing to the American people the old truths of his forefathers, he nevertheless, like so many before him, permitted ambition to take subtle root in his heart. Fired with the ambition of taking position in the world as a Guru, though doubtless believing himself still a follower of the White Brotherhood, he is no longer in our lines; on the contrary his mediumship and weakness leave him a vehicle for other influences also.""But afterwards, when Mr. Chakravarti's work under me was finished, and when ambition, aroused through that visit, had grown strong, he tried to destroy the effect of that message on Mrs. Besant's mind by cunningly construing it to mean that, although I was thus in all things commended, the last part of it contradicted the first and supported the charge of forgery and lying. This is madness when not deliberate. ... She accepted the cunning construction, permitted herself to think that the Master could commend me for all the work I had done, of which the pretended acts of forgery would be a part, and at the same time send me a delusive message, part of which was to be immediately used as condemnation if brought forward by me. If I was guilty of what I was accused, then Master would be shown as conniving at forgery and lying -- a most impossible thing. The only other possibility is that Mr. Chakravarti and I 'got up' the message. But he and Mrs. Besant have admitted its genuineness, although she is perfectly unable herself to decide on its genuineness or falsity. But further, Mrs. Besant admitted to several that she had seen the Master himself come and speak through my body while I was perfectly conscious. And still further, H.P.B. ... gave me in 1889 the Master's picture, on which he put this message: 'To my dear and loyal colleague, W. Q. Judge.'It seems to us that in all the foregoing Mr. Judge was endeavoring to do by the E.S.T. what, in his circular of March 15, 1894, he endeavored to do by the members of the T.S.: To strip the difficulties to their abstract root and show the real issues at stake. Two views prevailed in the Society at large and in the E.S.T. with regard to Theosophy, to Masters, and to their Messenger. The view held out by H.P.B. and consistently maintained by her and by Mr. Judge was that Theosophy is a body of Knowledge, "ancient, constant and eternal," as the Bhagavad-Gita has it, not subject to change, not an "evolving system of thought;" Masters the Custodians of that Knowledge, and H.P.B. their direct Agent in the world, the Society, and the E.S.T. On this basis and the simple proposition of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, Theosophy, H.P.B. and Masters, together with all those who accept that view, stand or fall together. This is the view argued at length by H.P.B. in the extract given in the last Chapter, culminating in the proposition that if a single one of her "messages" were found false, if Masters were found winking at a single fraud perpetrated by her in their name, she and they were capable of unlimited repetitions of the same fraud. Her formal documents in regard to Mr. Judge -- in the Coues case, in the Second Preliminary Memorandum, in that of December 14, 1888, of October 23, 1889, in her Notice of August 9, 1890, in her first [Letter-1] and last Letters [Letter-4 and Letter-5] to the Conventions of the American Section for 1888 and 1891 -- not to speak of numerous private letters to "doubting Thomases" and loyal students, all establish one and the same fact: that she held out Mr. Judge to the students in the same light that the Masters held her out, her authorized Agent and "direct representative," as she was that of the Masters. And that this was originally the view of Mrs. Besant, both in respect to H.P.B. and Mr. Judge, has been abundantly shown; the first by her article in "Lucifer" for December, 1890, "H.P.B. and the Theosophical Society" and her article in "Lucifer" for October, 1891, "Theosophy and Christianity;" the second in her signature to the Minutes of the E.S. Meeting of May 27, 1891, and, after the "Judge case," by her signature to the circular of July 18th, and August 1st, 1894, not to speak of her repeated statements publicly in "Lucifer."
"Now, then, either I am bringing you a true message from the Master, or the whole T.S. and E.S.T. is a lie, in the ruins of which must be buried the names of H.P.B. ... and the Masters. All these stand together or they fall together. Let it be proved that H.P.B. ... is a liar and a fraud, and I will abandon the T.S. and all its belongings; but until so proved I will remain where I was put. Lastly, as final proof of the delusions worked through this man and his friends I will mention this: Many years ago (in 1881) the Masters sent to the Allahabad Brahmans (the Prayag T.S.) a letter which was delivered by H.P.B. ... to Mr. A. P. Sinnett, who handed a copy over to them, keeping the original. It dealt very plainly with the Brahmans. This letter the Brahmans do not like, and Mr. Chakravarti tried to make me think it was a pious fraud by H.P.B. ... . He succeeded with Mrs. Besant in this, so that since she met him she has on various occasions said she thought it was a fraud by H.P.B. ... , made up entirely, and not from the Master. ... Only delusion would make Mrs. Besant take this position; deliberate intention makes the others do it. It is an issue that may not be evaded, for if that letter be a fraud then all the rest sent through our old teacher, ... are the same. I shall rest on that issue; we all rest on it.
"Mrs. Besant was then made to agree with these people under the delusion that it was approved by the Masters. She regarded herself as their servant. It was against the E.S.T. rules. When the rule is broken it is one's duty to leave the E.S.T. ... Mrs. Besant was put in such a frightful position that while she was writing me most kindly and working with me she was all the time thinking that I was a forger and that I had blasphemed the Master. She was made to conceal from me, when here, her thoughts about the intended charges. ... Not until the time was ripe did she tell me, in her letter in January  from India, asking me to resign from the E.S.T. and the T.S. offices, saying that if I did and would confess guilt all would be forgiven and everyone would work with me as usual. ... She was induced to believe that the Master was endorsing the persecution, that he was ordering her to do what she did....
"In all this Mr. Chakravarti was her guide, with others....
"We are all therefore face to face with the question whether we will abide by Masters and their Messenger on the one hand, or by the disrupting forces that stand on the other, willing to destroy our great mission if we will but give them the opportunity."
The second view believed in Masters, in many shades of belief and understanding; in the Theosophical Society as the vehicle of their work; in H.P.B. as a human instrument of their teaching, medium, psychic, chela of some degree or another, sometimes speaking on their account and sometimes on her own, her writings therefore to be dissected and divided by each according to his judgment, as hers or her Masters; therefore in her Theosophy as being no different or other than their own -- her understanding and interpretation, to be accepted or rejected, improved and extended, as each might esteem himself capable and persuade others to the like opinion. They saw no incongruity in consulting other mediums, or in developing mediumship and psychism in themselves along any lines that seemed profitable; in according the messages thus received the same treatment of acceptance or rejection, in whole or in part, as they accorded to H.P.B. and to each other. Thus Col. Olcott, Mr. Sinnett, Bertram Keightley, Mabel Collins, Walter R. Old and many others, and finally Mrs. Besant, accepted some of the messages and writings of H.P.B. as genuine, others as fraudulent; the same with Mr. Judge; ultimately the same with each other, for in 1907 Mr. Sinnett, Mr. Mead, Bertram Keightley, and others who were firm allies in 1894-5, broke with Mrs. Besant over the famous "Adyar manifestations" at the period of the death of Col. Olcott. Mr. Sinnett, who regarded highly the "clairvoyance" of Mr. Leadbeater in 1895, ceased to have any respect for Mr. Leadbeater's "occult" powers when the latter took a tangent of "revelations" which opposed and obscured Mr. Sinnett's own coruscations. Col. Olcott, who took Mrs. Besant to be the promised substitute for H.P.B., came to disbelieve in her spiritual powers, almost to disbelieve in her ordinary integrity, as was well known to many in the years before his death. Leadbeater, whom Col. Olcott thought to be the most brilliant star in the occult hierarchy, broke the Colonel's heart by his frank admission before the London Committee of 1906 of teaching nameless practices to young boys as a cure for "evil thought-forms." Mrs. Besant, who from 1893 till 1904, was a firm believer in the powers of Mr. Chakravarti and his connection with the Masters, and to whom she looked for the "messages" that should guide her conduct, came at last to believe that Chakravarti was under "dark influences," and substituted Mr. Leadbeater as her "occult" mentor. All these persons, joined together under a common influence, were determined in 1894-5 to "purify the Society" by the destruction of the reputation and influence of Mr. Judge. But in their subsequent careers they took tangential paths. Of all the coterie of 1894-5, only one, Bertram Keightley, still follows the faded star of Mr. Chakravarti, whose "theosophical" history terminated abruptly in 1904. But neither Col. Olcott, Mrs. Besant, Mr. Sinnett, nor any of the others ever had the courage or the sense of justice to avow publicly their occult blunders, and thus repair the mischief they had unwittingly wrought to the very Cause they once aspired to serve with full allegiance. In private, and to various persons, both Col. Olcott and Mrs. Besant repeatedly admitted that they had wronged Judge, that their course in 1894-5 was a mistaken course, but neither -- such are the karmic consequences of infidelity to the pledges of Occultism -- was ever able to regain the stamina and sense of honor to publicly admit their folly, and thus undo as best they could the evil they had unconsciously made themselves the tools and instruments of. For the one, there must be much of extenuation as well as charity; for the other -- there can be only charity. But it is owing to-day, as it was in 1893-5, that the truth should be made known without fear or favor, as without malice, that those whose only demerit is ignorance and whose only fault reliance upon authority, may choose their path in knowledge of the opposing issues and the parts played by the respective proponents of the two mutually irreconcilable views of the Theosophical Movement, which includes all, the false as the true, the foolish as the wise, in its mighty stream.
Mr. Judge closed his circular of November 3, 1894, with the followingA copy of this E.S.T. Order was at once cabled to Mrs. Besant in Australia, where she then was, and a copy of the entire circular was forwarded to her at Colombo, Ceylon, where she arrived on December 18, 1894, en route to attend the Adyar Convention scheduled for the holidays as usual. Immediately Mrs. Besant drew up a counter circular which, dated Colombo, December 19th, was as quickly as possible sent out under a London imprint, to all members of the E.S.T. Mrs. Besant's circular is much shorter than Mr. Judge's and requires extended quotation to enable proper comparison to be made by the student. After a preliminary paragraph devoted to explanations of her delay in sending out her statement, she makes the following comments:
I now proceed a step further than the E.S.T. decisions of 1894,(8) and solely for the good of the E.S.T., I resume in the E.S.T. in full all the functions and powers given to me by H.P.B. ... and that came to me by orderly succession after her passing from this life, and declare myself the sole head of the E.S.T. ... Hence, under the authority given me by the Master and H.P.B. ... , and under the Master's direction, I declare Mrs. Annie Besant's headship in the E.S.T. at an end."I do not know if the statements as to Mr. Judge's part in the foundation of the E.S.T. are or are not true. H.P.B. never mentioned to me the alleged facts, except the one that Mr. Judge had not taken the ordinary pledge, he being already pledged."This statement can scarcely be taken as other than a convenient hiatus of memory on Mrs. Besant's part, seeing that it was herself who read at the Meeting of May 27, 1891, the bundle of documents establishing the veracity of Mr. Judge's statements. Mrs. Besant goes on to discuss her own status at the time of the departure of H.P.B., the status of the Inner Group, and Mr. Judge's participation in the meeting of May 27, 1891. Thus:"... H.P.B. did, when I left her [to go to America to attend the Convention at the end of April, 1891], give me a sealed statement, constituting me Chief Secretary of the I.G. and Recorder of the teachings. She also wrote to Mr. Judge stating that I was her "Successor," when she had to leave us, and Mr. Judge read that extract to our little group at Avenue Road when he came over after her death, as constituting -- with her statements to himself -- the basis for the future arrangements. ... Ere leaving for America I asked her if I might discuss the I.G. Instructions with Mr. Judge; she answered: No, not unless he took the pledge. When he came to London after her death I told him this, and the first of the spurious 'messages,' was the assent to his question if he might enter the I.G. without taking the pledge. It seemed to all of us natural and right that he should come in, and we joyfully welcomed him."If the reader will turn to the extracts, given in Chapter XIX of this History in THEOSOPHY for August, 1921, [Note: Which is the 20th article in this series. --Compiler.] from the Official Minutes of the Avenue Road meeting of May 27, 1891, to which Mrs. Besant refers above, he will find that it was not a meeting of the "Inner Group," but of the Advisory Council, English and American, although the members of the Inner Group were all members of that Council. The opening words of the Minutes recite:
"A full meeting of the Council, as appointed by H.P.B., was held at the Headquarters of the Theosophical Society in Europe, 19, Avenue Road, London, England, on May 27, 1891. The American Councillors were represented by Bro. William Q. Judge, with full power, and Bro. Judge attended as the representative of H.P.B. under a general power given as below." The "general power" mentioned was the document of December 14, 1888, which is reproduced in full in the Minutes. Further, referring both to the various documents mentioned as well as to H.P.B.'s letter to Mr. Judge about Mrs. Besant, of which she speaks, as "stating that I [Mrs. Besant] was her 'Successor,'" the Minutes say "which we now here have read," -- not, as Mrs. Besant puts it, "Mr. Judge read that extract to our little group at Avenue Road." It was after every Councillor had read those documents and that letter that the Minutes were drawn up, giving to Mr. Judge, not Mrs. Besant, the status of "the representative of H.P.B." The status accorded Mrs. Besant, on the documents and letter, was Chief Secretary and Recorder of the teachings of H.P.B. to the Inner Group. Those Minutes were signed by every Councillor without exception, Mrs. Besant included.
This circular of Mrs. Besant's, written after Mr. Judge's action in terminating her co-headship of the E.S.T., is the origin of her claim to be the "Successor," appointed by H.P.B. She had either to accept the action of Mr. Judge or reject it; she chose the latter course and the "Successor" claim was her foundation. If the letter of H.P.B. to Mr. Judge, dated March 27, 1891, meant what Mrs. Besant claimed it meant, it stands to reason that she would have broadcasted the text of that letter, of which she and every Councillor had copies. She never did so, and the presumption must stand heavily against her on that account alone, quite apart from H.P.B.'s known position on the subject of "apostolic succession" and the position taken by herself at the time of the Foulkes' claim to be H.P.B.'s "Successor."(9) Moreover, as often happens in cases of concerted action on an insecure basis, one of the "partners" in the "case against W. Q. Judge" went too far for safety in her zeal. Early in 1895 Countess Wachtmeister put out a pamphlet in support of Mrs. Besant, entitled "H.P.B. and the Present Crisis in the Theosophical Society." On page 4 of that pamphlet she gives -- correctly -- the particular extract from H.P.B.'s letter to Judge covering the "Successor" myth, as follows:--"Judge, she is a most wonderful woman, my right hand, my successor, when I will be forced to leave you, my sole hope in England, as you are my sole hope in America."With all of this, every one familiar with Mrs. Besant's career and the situation in the Theosophical world in 1891, must entirely agree, as did Mr. Judge. Did H.P.B. mean "Successor" in the sense which Mrs. Besant claimed and claims -- apostolic succession?
It so happens that H.P.B. refers to the same subject, the same conditions, and uses the very same terms, in the Key to Theosophy -- to mention a specific instance -- and she there says regarding "the future of the Theosophical Society," in reply to a postulated question:"I spoke rather of the great need which our successors in the guidance of the Society will have of unbiassed and clear judgment."(10)It will be noted that both in Countess Wachtmeister's textual copy from the letter, and in the above quotation from the "Key," H.P.B. spelled the word with a small letter, not with a capital "S" as Mrs. Besant puts it in her circular -- a tell-tale change indeed.
We have gone thus fully into Mrs. Besant's claim of being the "Successor" of H.P.B., because her theosophical prestige before the world, now as then, rests exoterically on the fact of her being the "most wonderful woman" that H.P.B. called her, and esoterically on her claim to be the "Successor" of the Messenger of the nineteenth century. To any student of the teachings of H.P.B., the mere fact that any one should claim to be her "Successor" is evidence merely of the delusion, the ignorance or the guile of the one making such a claim.
Mrs. Besant, in the paragraph last quoted from her circular of December 19, 1894, presents another of those curious idiosyncrasies of character and inconsistencies of conduct with which her career abounds. She says: "Ere leaving for America I asked her [H.P.B.] if I might discuss the I.G. Instructions with Mr. Judge; she answered: No, not unless he took the I.G. pledge." Yet in literally the next breath she says: "When he came to London after her death I told him this, and the first of the spurious 'messages' was the assent to his question if he might enter the I.G. without taking the pledge. It seemed to all of us natural and right that he should come in, and we joyfully welcomed him." Now, if she had such instructions from H.P.B. not to admit Mr. Judge without his taking the pledge, what kind of a "Successor" was she to admit him pledge-free? Or, if she was a genuine "Successor," how came it that she violated her "instructions" and admitted him on the strength of a spurious "message?" What is the "occult" nature of that "Successor" who, by her own confession, is unable to tell a "spurious" from a genuine Message from the Masters? Or violates the Instructions received?
Mrs. Besant's circular goes on to say:"The 'plot,' so far as I know, is the purest delusion. What is said of Mr. Chakravarti I know to be false, and I can but feel the profoundest pity and sorrow for him who uses the holy name of the Master to cover such a charge."We have inserted italics above, because we do not doubt that Mrs. Besant spoke truly in saying "so far as I know." And although she claimed to "know" that what was said of Mr. Chakravarti was "false," she has many times, since 1904, said the same thing of Mr. Chakravarti herself that Mr. Judge wrote in 1894. Was Mrs. Besant right then and wrong since 1904, or vice versa, on the nature of the "influences" exerted through Mr. Chakravarti?
Mrs. Besant states, with reference to Mr. Judge's "E.S.T. Order:""The 'E.S.T. Order' ... I reject. I shall pursue my work quietly, with such of the Council left by H.P.B. as think it right to work with me. Mr. Judge thinks it right to rend the School in twain, and I can only go on steadily as I have learned. We have come to the parting of the ways. I recognize no authority in Mr. Judge. Not from his hands did I receive my work; not into his hands may I surrender it.It seems not even remotely to have suggested itself to Mrs. Besant that it was her own actions, not those of Mr. Judge, that had "rent the School in twain;" that it was herself who had "broken the last tie which remained." How she "pursued her work," we are now to witness.
"And now, brothers and sisters, you must choose your road, grievous as the choice must be to you. Mr. Judge casts me aside, breaks the last tie between us that remained."
(To be Continued)
THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT
(Part 34 of a 34-part series)
"THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT"
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TEN (10) 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, for example, the letters of the Mahatma "K.H." to Messrs. Sinnett and Hume in "The Occult World," the first edition of which was issued in 1881.
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(3) See THEOSOPHY for August, 1921, for the text of the various Documents placed before the Council meeting of May 27, 1891, upon which was based the re-organization of the Esoteric School and the status therein of Mrs. Besant and Mr. Judge. The same Chapter of this History gives copious extracts from the Minutes of the Council Meeting. [Note: This entire footnote, as well as footnotes number (4) and (5), refers to the 20th article in this series (Chapter XIX) that you are reading. --Compiler.]
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(4) [Note: See the information in the above footnote number (3), as it is the information for footnote numbers (3), (4), and (5): pointing to the same 20th article in this series (Chapter XIX). --Compiler.]
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(5) [Note: See the information in the above footnote number (3), as it is the information for footnote numbers (3), (4), and (5): pointing to the same 20th article in this series (Chapter XIX). --Compiler.]
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(6) See THEOSOPHY for October, 1920, pp. 364-366, and THEOSOPHY for February, 1922, pp. 109-110, for the account of the Subba Row controversy. [Note: Both these references are to earlier chapters of this series that you are now reading. The October, 1920 article is Chapter IX, and is the 10th article in this series. It was on pages 357-368 of that issue of THEOSOPHY magazine, so the material referred to on pages 364-366 is found about 3/4 of the way into the article. The February, 1922 article is Chapter XXIV, and is the 26th article in this series. It was on pages 97-111 of that issue of THEOSOPHY magazine, so the material referred to on pages 109-110 is found near the end of the article. --Compiler.]
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(7) See Lucifer, for July 15, 1895, Vol. XVI., pp. 375-379, for "The Prayag Letter," and pp. 185-194, May, 1895, for "East and West."
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(8) This was a typographical error in the original circular. The date should be 1891, as the reference is to the Avenue Road meeting on May 27 of that year, following the death of H.P.B.
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(9) See THEOSOPHY for January, 1922, for the facts in detail on Mr. Foulke's claims and the subject of "Apostolic succession." [Note: This refers to the Conclusion (Part 2) of Chapter XXIII, the 25th article in this series that you are reading. --Compiler.]
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(10) The Key to Theosophy, Original Edition, pp. 304-5.
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