THEOSOPHY, Vol. 8, No. 8, June, 1920
(Pages 230-241; Size: 39K)
(Number 6 of a 34-part series)



THE first serious modern attempt to investigate metaphysical phenomena in a quasi-scientific spirit was that made by the London Dialectical Society. At a meeting of the Council of that society in January, 1869, a committee was appointed "to investigate the Phenomena alleged to be Spiritual Manifestations, and to report thereon."

The Committee, composed of thirty-four well-known persons, passed nearly eighteen months in its investigations. It held fifteen sittings of the full committee, received testimony from thirty-three persons who described phenomena occurring within their own personal experience, and procured written statements from thirty-one others. The Committee also appointed from its membership six sub-committees who undertook first-hand investigations by experiments and tests. The Committee sent out letters inviting the attendance, co-operation and advice of scientific men who had expressed opinions, favorable or adverse, on the genuineness of spiritualistic phenomena.

On July 20, 1870, the full Committee rendered its unanimous Report to the Council, with request for publication of the report under the approval of the Society. The Council received and filed the Report, discharged its Committee with a vote of thanks, but declined to accede to the request for publication of the report. In consequence the Committee unanimously resolved to publish its report on its own responsibility. Two editions of the report were printed to supply the demand for copies, and at the time caused a very great discussion.

The Report is drawn with great conservatism. The statement of facts ascertained and conclusions reached by the Committee is, condensed, as follows:

The Committee specially invited the attendance of persons who had publicly ascribed the phenomena to imposture or delusion. On this the report says, "your Committee, while successful in procuring the evidence of believers in the phenomena and in their supernatural origin, almost wholly failed to obtain evidence from those who attributed them to fraud or delusion. A large majority of the members of your Committee have become actual witnesses to several phases of the phenomena without the aid or presence of any professional medium, although the greater part of them commenced their investigations in an avowedly sceptical spirit."

The Committee recites that the reports of the several sub-committees "substantially corroborate each other, and would appear to establish the following propositions:"

1. "Audible sounds and sensible vibrations of a very varied character apparently proceeded from articles of furniture, from the floors and walls of rooms, without being produced by muscular action or mechanical contrivance."

2. "Movements of heavy bodies take place without mechanical contrivance of any kind or adequate exertion of muscular force by the persons present, and frequently without contact or connection with any person."

3. "These sounds and movements often occur at the times and in the manner asked for by persons present, and by means of a simple code of signals, answer questions and spell out coherent communications."

4. "The answers and communications thus obtained are, for the most part, of a common-place character; but facts are sometimes correctly given which are only known to one of the persons present."

5. "The circumstances under which the phenomena occur are variable, the most prominent fact being, that the presence of certain persons seems necessary to their occurrence, and that of others generally adverse; but this difference does not appear to depend upon any belief or disbelief concerning the phenomena."

6. "Nevertheless, the occurrence of the phenomena is not insured by the presence or absence of such persons respectively."

In addition to these conclusions the Committee state that occurrences of a still more extraordinary character are testified to by reputable witnesses: Levitation, both of human beings and of other heavy bodies; Materialization, both of hands and of full figures; handling of red-hot coals without injury; drawings in pencil and in colors; automatic writings; prophecies of future events; voices, music, flowers, crystal visions, elongations of the human body, etc. The phenomena are variously ascribed by the witnesses, some attributing them "to the agency of disembodied human beings, some to Satanic influences, some to psychological causes, and others to imposture or delusion."

The Report concludes: "Your Committee, taking into consideration the high character and great intelligence of many of the witnesses to the more extraordinary facts, the extent to which their testimony is supported by the reports of the sub-committees, and the absence of any proof of imposture or delusion as regards a large portion of the phenomena, the large number of persons in every grade of society and over the whole civilized world who are more or less influenced by a belief in their supernatural origin, and the fact that no philosophical explanation of them has yet been arrived at, deem it incumbent upon them to state their conviction that the subject is worthy of more serious attention and careful investigation than it has hitherto received."

It has been fifty years since the above Report was issued. In that period unnumbered thousands have repeated the investigations of "the phenomena alleged to be spiritual manifestations," great numbers of books have been issued, arguments and theories pro and con have been multiplied, but no advance whatever in actual knowledge has been gained. It remains today, as it remained then, that "no philosophical explanation of them has been arrived at" outside the propositions advanced by H. P. Blavatsky in "Isis Unveiled."

Viewing the moderation, the accuracy and the dispassionateness of the Committee's report of facts ascertained and conclusions reached, it should be of interest to the student of human nature in the light of the teachings of Theosophy, to observe the reception accorded the Report of the Committee by the moulders of public opinion in press and science. The London Times called the Report "a farrago of impotent conclusions, garnished by a mass of the most monstrous rubbish it has ever been our misfortune to sit in judgment upon." The Pall Mall Gazette declared, "It is difficult to speak or think with anything else than contemptuous pain of proceedings such as are described in this report." The London Standard commented, with unconscious verisimilitude, as follows: "If there is anything whatever in it beyond imposture and imbecility, there is the whole of another world in it." The Morning Post swept the whole matter aside in one contemptuous sentence: "The Report which has been published is entirely worthless." The Saturday Review pronounced the subject "one of the most unequivocally degrading superstitions that have ever found currency among reasonable beings." The reviewer of the Sporting Times made these dispassionate remarks: "If I had my way, a few of the leading professional spiritualists should be sent as rogues and vagabonds to the treadmill for a few weeks. It would do them good. They are a canting, deceiving, mischievous lot. Some of their dupes are contemptibly stupid -- insane, I should say." Professor Huxley, who had spoken slightingly of the manifestations, wrote, in reply to the Committee's invitation to participate: "It would be little short of madness for me to undertake an investigation of so delicate and difficult a character, the only certain result of which would be an interminable series of attacks from the side from which I might chance to differ. I hope that I am perfectly open to conviction on this or any other subject; but I must frankly confess to you that it does not interest me." Professor Tyndall's attitude is indicated by this quotation from his Fragments of Science: "The world will have a religion of some kind, even though it should fly for it to the intellectual whoredom of Spiritualism."

While the Dialectical Society Committee was engaged in its investigation, Professor William Crookes, later to become the most notable scientist of his generation, but then just beginning to attract the attention of the Fellows of the Royal Society, had determined on his own account to study the phenomena privately. His bold and unqualified statements of the results achieved, his cautious discussion of the many theories to account for the phenomena he witnessed, were first printed in the numbers of the Quarterly Journal of Science for 1870-72, and published later in book form in 1874, with the title, "Researches into the Phenomena of Spiritualism." His researches were undertaken in a truly scientific spirit, in the public interest, and his results described with a sincerity, a courage and candor that in any other field would have received, as they merited, the highest commendation. But upon his head, as in the case of Darwin, was heaped every abuse, and against his scientific repute every calumny was spread, that could be devised by the reactionists of religion and science. It was more than thirty years before his enormous services to mankind in the field of physical research brought him a restored reputation.

In 1875 was published "The Unseen Universe," an attempt primarily to reconcile the "Darwinian Theory" with the tenet of a "revealed religion," and containing a discussion of ancient religions, spiritualism, and immortality in relation to the phenomena of the visible universe. In less than a year the work passed through four editions. Numerous other books and continuous discussion in the press throughout the period from 1870 to 1880 marked the steady increase of interest in metaphysical phenomena, and betokened the growing unrest of the generation. The formation of the Theosophical Society and its rapid progress was like a Gulf stream in the vast ocean of public discussion. The teachings embodied in "Isis Unveiled" and "The Theosophist" and put in popular form in "The Occult World" and "Esoteric Buddhism" might be likened to the sudden upheaval of a new land in the midst of that ocean, offering its compelling attraction to adventurous explorers.

It was in such circumstances that the Society for Psychical Research was established early in 1882 by a number of well-known persons, among them Prof. F. W. H. Myers, W. Stanton Moses (M. A. Oxon), and C. C. Massey, all members of the London Lodge of the Theosophical Society. The preliminary announcement of the new society declared that "the present is an opportune time for making an organized and systematic attempt to investigate that large group of debatable phenomena designated by such terms as mesmeric, psychical, and spiritualistic." Committees were to be appointed to investigate and report upon such subjects as telepathy, hypnotism, trance, clairvoyance, sensitives, apparitions, etc. The announcement stated that "the aim of the Society will be to approach these various problems without prejudice or prepossession of any kind, and in the same spirit of exact and unimpassioned inquiry which has enabled science to solve so many problems, once not less obscure nor less hotly debated."

With such a broad and just prospectus and such an inviting field for its efforts, the new Society almost immediately attracted to its Fellowship some hundreds of men and women of reputation and ability in their several fields. By 1884 the Society had made numerous investigations, had begun the publication of the voluminous reports of its Proceedings, and was firmly established in the public confidence as a serious and scientific body engaged in the methodical and unbiased investigation of the disputed phenomena.

Meantime Mr. Sinnett had removed to London, his published books had been read by thousands, he had been elected Vice-President of the London Lodge, and was the center and inspiration of eager investigations and experiments in the line of the "third object" of the Theosophical Society. Rumors and circumstantial stories were afloat regarding "astral appearances," "occult letters" and other phenomena connected with the mysterious "Brothers" supposed to be the invisible directors behind the Theosophical activities. When Col. Olcott arrived in London early in the summer of 1884, followed a little later by H.P.B., interest rose to a genuine excitement. This excitement, coupled with the fact that a number of members of the Society for Psychical Research were also Fellows of the Theosophical Society, made it natural and plausible for the S.P.R. to turn its attention to the new and inviting possibilities at hand. Accordingly, on May 2, 1884, the Council of the S.P.R. appointed a "Committee for the purpose of taking such evidence as to the alleged phenomena connected with the Theosophical Society as might be offered by members of that body at the time in England, or as could be collected elsewhere." Out of this beginning grew the famous "exposure" that for a time threatened the ruin of the Theosophical Society.

The S.P.R. Committee as originally constituted consisted of Professors E. Gurney, F. W. H. Myers, F. Podmore and J. H. Stack. To these were subsequently added Professor H. Sidgwick, Mrs. Sidgwick, and Mr. Richard Hodgson, a young University graduate.

The Committee held meetings on May 11 and 27 at which Col. Olcott was present and replied to numerous questions, narrating the details of various phenomena of which he had been witness during the years of his connection with H.P.B. Mohini M. Chatterji, a young Hindu who had accompanied the founders from India, was questioned on June 10. On June 13 Mr. Sinnett repeated to the Committee his observations of the phenomena described in his "Occult World." During the summer the meetings of the Cambridge branch of the S.P.R. were attended on several occasions, by invitation, by Col. Olcott, Mohini and Madame Blavatsky. On these occasions, says the preliminary report, "the visitors permitted themselves to be questioned on many topics." Additional evidences were obtained by the Committee from many sources, testifying to a wide range and variety of phenomena through the preceding ten years, in America and Europe as well as in India. All the witnesses were persons of repute and some of them well-known in England and on the Continent. In the autumn of 1884 the Committee published "for private and confidential use" the "first report of the Committee." This report, now very rare, is a pamphlet of 130 pages. The first 33 pages are devoted to the formal recital of the basis and nature of the investigations made, the Committee's comments on the various questions raised, the conclusions tentatively arrived at, and two notes, one relating to the Coulombs and the other, by Professor Myers, giving a brief digest of the Theosophical views and explanations of the phenomena inquired into. The remaining 97 pages consist of XLII Appendices, giving the substance of the evidence obtained from the many witnesses.

The phenomena investigated by the Committee were chiefly (a) "astral appearances" of living men; (b) the transportation by "occult" means of physical substances; (c) the "precipitation" of letters and other messages; (d) "occult" sounds and voices. The appendices contain the details of numerous occurrences of the kinds indicated, the sources of the testimony and the names of the scores of witnesses, with comments of the Committee on the character and validity of the testimony as to its sufficiency and bearing, and not upon the good faith of the witnesses themselves, all of whom are regarded as reputable. In the earlier portion of the report the Committee say that in considering evidences of abnormal occurrences it "has altogether declined to accept the evidence of a paid medium as to any abnormal event." It goes on to say, "in dealing with these matters, it is admitted that special stringency is necessary, and one obvious precaution lies in the exclusion of all the commoner and baser motives to fraud or exaggeration." But with regard to the Theosophical exponents it says, "we may say at once that no trustworthy evidence supporting such a view has been brought to our notice."

Although the witnesses expressly state that the Theosophical phenomena are not of the kind familiarly known as mediumistic, and although Madame Blavatsky expressly declined to produce any phenomena for the consideration of the Committee as her purpose was to promulgate certain doctrines, not to prove her possession of occult powers, the Committee's basis of treatment of the phenomena, and its theories to account for them, was the familiar one employed in spiritualistic investigations. Nevertheless, the Committee recognized that there were three points calling for the greatest care on its part. The first of these is "that it is certain that fraud has been practiced by persons connected with the Society." This refers to the charges brought by the Coulombs, who were members of the Theosophical Society, against Madame Blavatsky; to the "Kiddle incident," and to certain "evidence privately brought before us by Mr. C. C. Massey." On this matter the Committee says that it suggests, "to the Western mind at any rate, that no amount of caution can be excessive in dealing with evidence of this kind."

The second point raised by the Committee is that "Theosophy appeals to occult persons and methods." Accustomed to dealing with mediums and mediumistic manifestations, where the moral and philosophical factors have no bearing, accustomed to believe that where there is reticence there must be fraud, the Committee does not like the idea made plain at all times by H.P.B. that the subject of occult phenomena, their production and laws, will not be submitted to scientific exploitation, but will only be made known to those who qualify themselves under the strictest pledges of secrecy and discipleship.

Finally, the Committee recognizes that "Theosophy makes claims which, though avowedly based on occult science, do, in fact, ultimately cover much more than a merely scientific field." This, also, is not agreeable to the Committee, which remarks: "The history of religions would have been written in vain if we still fancied that a Judas or a Joe Smith was the only kind of apostle who needed watching.... Suspicions of this kind are necessarily somewhat vague; but it is not our place to give them definiteness. What we have to point out is that it is our duty, as investigators, in examining the evidence for Theosophic marvels, to suppose the possibility of a deliberate combination to deceive on the part of certain Theosophists. We cannot regard this possibility as excluded by the fact that we find no reason to attribute to any of the persons whose evidence we have to consider, any vulgar or sordid motive for such combination."

These frank expressions of the Committee are illuminating as to its own basis and motives, and equally illuminating when contrasted with the fair promises made in the preliminary announcement of the formation of the S.P.R. They become still more clear when viewed in the light of the Preface to "Isis Unveiled," with its statement in advance of the kind of opposition its author would be called upon to face.

In spite of its suspicions, its doubts, its fears, its mental reservations occasioned by its own ignorance of the laws governing metaphysical phenomena, by the absolute refusal of H.P.B. to disclose the processes of practical Occultism, by the atmosphere of mystery surrounding the whole subject of the hidden "Brothers" and their powers, by the charges of fraud laid by the Coulombs at the door of H.P.B., by the undisclosed "evidence privately brought before us by Mr. C. C. Massey" -- in spite of all these disturbing equations, the testimony amassed by the Committee was so absolutely overwhelming as to the fact of the alleged phenomena that the Committee found itself compelled to make certain admissions, as follows:

"It is obvious that if we could account for all the phenomena described by the mere assumption of clever conjuring on the part of Madame Blavatsky and the Coulombs, assisted by any number of Hindu servants, we could hardly, under present circumstances, regard ourselves as having adequate ground for further inquiry. But this assumption would by no means meet the case. The statements of the Coulombs implicate no one in the alleged fraud except Madame Blavatsky. The other Theosophists, according to them, are all dupes. Now the evidence given in the Appendix in our opinion renders it impossible to avoid one or other of two alternative conclusions: Either that some of the phenomena recorded are genuine, or that other persons of good standing in society, and with characters to lose, have taken part in deliberate imposture."

Accordingly, the Committee expressed the following conclusions:

"On the whole, however (though with some serious reserves), it seems undeniable that there is a prima facie case, for some part at least of the claim made, which, at the point which the investigations of the Society for Psychical Research have now reached, cannot, with consistency, be ignored."

The Committee decided to send one of its members to India to investigate the charges made by the Coulombs, to interview the numerous witnesses to phenomena testified to by Hindus and Europeans in India, and report on the results of such examination. Mr. Richard Hodgson was the member chosen. His report is the foundation and superstructure of the celebrated "exposure" embodied in volume III of the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research. Before considering Mr. Hodgson's report, it is necessary to review the antecedent and surrounding circumstances and events, the main features of which are wrapped up in the connection of the Coulombs with the Theosophical Society.

In the year 1871, Madame Blavatsky was en route by ship from India to her home in Russia after an absence of many years in the Americas, in Africa, and in the Orient. The vessel on which she embarked was wrecked. H.P.B., along with the other survivors, was landed in Egypt, destitute of money or belongings. She made her way to Cairo and there met Madame Coulomb, an Englishwoman then unmarried and conducting a lodging house. Madame Coulomb was moved by the misfortunes and distress of the wanderer, received her into her house, supplied her necessities, and advanced her funds until H.P.B. could communicate with her family.

Madame Coulomb was mediumistic, intensely interested in spiritualism, and the more so because she had but recently lost a brother with whom she was anxious to "communicate." Finding that H.P.B. possessed a fund of lore and experience in matters occult, Madame Coulomb besought her to aid in procuring the longed-for communications, as, from her experience, they could not consciously be obtained except through another. Finding that others in Cairo were also interested in the mysterious phenomena with which all the Western world was then dabbling in one way and another, H.P.B. took advantage of the opportunity, and endeavored to form a society for investigation and experiment. It speedily developed that curiosity and the thirst for phenomena, not the desire for philosophy and understanding, was at the bottom of all the would-be investigators' zeal, and H.P.B. dropped the matter. The society went to pieces as soon as she did so. H.P.B. was in Egypt in all nearly a year, returning to Russia toward the end of 1872. From there, in the spring of 1873, she went to Paris, and from there to New York, returning to India early in 1879.

Madame Coulomb married in Egypt. After a succession of misfortunes the Coulombs went to India, and then to Ceylon. Their misfortunes pursued them and they were living in direst penury in 1879 when they heard of the arrival of H.P.B. and Col. Olcott in India and the interest attendant upon their activities. Madame Coulomb at once wrote to H.P.B., recalling the Cairo acquaintance, detailing her circumstances and asking for help. To this letter H.P.B. replied with expressions of sympathy, but stating that she herself was in little better plight personally than the Coulombs, and describing her mission and purposes in India. Madame Coulomb wrote again avowing the interest of herself and husband in the Society, and pleading for help. To this appeal H.P.B. answered that if the Coulombs so desired they could come to headquarters and share such fortunes as might befall the Founders. Accordingly, the Coulombs made their way to India, arriving early in 1880. They took the pledges of membership and entered the Theosophical Society. During the ensuing four years Madame Coulomb acted as housekeeper, and, as she was acquainted both with French and Italian, and the labors were great and the workers few, she assisted in translations and in foreign correspondence. M. Coulomb was made general utility man around the premises. He acted as gardener, as carpenter, as librarian, and also assisted in some of the correspondence. The Coulombs were made entirely free of the premises and the work at headquarters, and at first professed the utmost gratitude for the succors given them, and the liveliest interest and sympathy in the work of the Society. As the affairs of the Society progressed, they became acquainted with the numerous visitors and inquirers, European and native, at headquarters. They became dissatisfied and discontented with the comparatively insignificant and menial rôle played by themselves, and felt that they were not receiving their just dues. Greedy, weak by nature, and anxious to become financially independent, it appeared to them that Madame Blavatsky was receiving an attention and prominence to which she was no more entitled than themselves. In addition, the Coulombs were Christians of the narrowest kind, superstitious to a degree, and in fact wholly out of sympathy and accord with the aims and teachings of the Founders.

Within a couple of years Madame Coulomb tried to extort or beg money from wealthy natives interested in the Society, notably from the native prince, Harrisinji Rupsinji. This coming to the knowledge of H.P.B., she reproved Madame Coulomb sternly. To others of the visitors and residents at headquarters Madame Coulomb whispered tales of her own powers and of her ability to find "hidden treasures." To others she intimated that Madame Blavatsky's powers were from the "evil one." The Coulombs were more or less constantly in communication with the near-by establishments of the missionaries, and Madame Coulomb, in particular, was in constant frictions and disputes over religious matters and opinions with resident chelas and members of the Society. Col. Olcott took her to task for these needless difficulties on several occasions. In general, however, the Coulombs were looked upon as harmless meddlers, their misfortunes caused them to be viewed with charity, and the known gratitude of H.P.B. for help received from Madame Coulomb at a time of need, reconciled the Theosophists to the annoyances and disturbances occasioned by their presence and officiousness at headquarters.

Just prior to the departure of H.P.B. and Col. Olcott for Europe in February, 1884, a Council was appointed to take charge of affairs at headquarters during the absence of the Founders. Among the Council were Dr. Franz Hartmann, St. George Lane-Fox and W. T. Brown, with whom, particularly Dr. Hartmann and Mr. Lane-Fox, the Coulombs had been in almost constant wrangles. They desired to dispense with the Coulombs altogether, but on the prayers of Madame Coulomb H.P.B. permitted them to remain as hitherto, and, in order to remove sources of disagreement as much as possible, gave the Coulombs "authority" to do the house-work, to have charge of the upkeep of the premises, and to keep her own rooms in order.

The Founders away, fresh fuel for the fires of discord was soon heaped on the ashes of discontent. The Coulombs refused to accept any orders or obey any instructions from the resident members of the Council; they refused all access to H.P.B.'s apartments and declared that H.P.B. had placed them in independent control of her quarters and the conduct of the household. On the other hand, the members of the Council living at headquarters, having no liking for the Coulombs and distrusting them utterly, were more or less harsh and contemptuous towards them, communicating with them only by letter, and refusing to eat with them, or to eat the food provided by Madame Coulomb. They charged Madame Coulomb with extravagance, waste, and with personally profiting out of her handling of the domestic funds, and set about auditing and checking her daily expenditures. Vain, sensitive, and without doubt smarting under their grievances, real and imaginary, the Coulombs planned revenge in dual fashion. They wrote to H.P.B., reciting their wrongs, asserting their own loyalty and innocence of any wrong-doing, and making sundry charges against the Council members. At the same time the Council members were also writing the Founders their side of the disputes, and telling circumstantially the actions of the Coulombs and the insinuations being whispered about by them against the good faith of the Theosophists and H.P.B. While this war of charges and recriminations was going on by mail the Coulombs were busy fortifying themselves for their ultimate treachery by constructing false doors, and sliding panels in the so-called "occult room" in H.P.B.'s apartments, to give such an appearance of mechanical contrivance as might support and give color to charges of fraud in the phenomena taking place at headquarters. To our mind, after weighing well all the circumstances of this unhappy period, there is no room for doubt that the Coulombs were already in active conspiracy with the missionaries and were carefully following able but sinister instructions in their course of conduct. By temporizing with the resident members of the Council, by their written denials and protestations to H.P.B. and Col. Olcott, they were gaining the needed time to perfect the mise en scene for their subsequent accusations.

Both H.P.B. and Olcott wrote the Coulombs and the Council, endeavoring to patch up the rancors and bitternesses engendered, and appealing to all for the sake of the Society and its work, to exercise mutual forbearance and tolerance. But the evil forces at work were too favored of circumstance. The Council members at last forced their way to the quarters of H.P.B., discovered what had been going on there, talked severally with the Coulombs, and summoned them before the meeting of the Council to answer charges of bad faith, of treachery, of false stories about H.P.B. and the phenomena at headquarters. The Coulombs neither affirmed nor denied the statements made in the several affidavits read concerning their behavior, and declining to produce any evidence to support their allegations, were expelled from the Society and ordered to leave the premises. Legal proceedings were then threatened to eject them, and in the wrangling St. George Lane-Fox struck M. Coulomb, who had him arrested and fined for assault and battery. The Coulombs offered, during the disputes and negotiations, to leave the country and go to America if paid 3,000 rupees and given their passage. This was refused. Finally, on the direct approval of H.P.B., to whom both the Coulombs and the Council members had appealed, and after the Coulombs had threatened to her that if she did not support them in their contentions they would expose her, the Coulombs were compelled to leave the premises. This took place at the end of May, 1884.

The Coulombs went at once to the missionaries by whom they were received with open arms. They were given money and their living was provided them. In the ensuing three months the plans of battle were perfected and the material provided for the assault which it was hoped would once and for all destroy the reputation of H.P.B., and in the ruin of her good repute ruin the Theosophical Society. In the September and succeeding issues of the Christian College Magazine were published with extended comments a series of letters purporting to have been written by H.P.B. to Madame Coulomb which, if genuine, showed H.P.B. to have been a conscienceless and heartless swindler, her phenomena plain frauds, her Society a mere collection of dupes, her Masters a mere invention, her teachings a myth of the imagination.

The facts, so far as pulicly disclosed, may be found as represented by the various interests involved, in the Christian College Magazine articles entitled "The Collapse of Koot Hoomi;" in Madame Coulomb's pamphlet issued at the time in India and republished in London by Elliot Stock "for the proprietors of the 'Madras Christian College Magazine,'" under the title "Some Account of My Intercourse with Madame Blavatsky from 1872 to 1884, by Madame Coulomb;" in Dr. Franz Hartmann's pamphlet, "Observations During a Nine Months Stay at the Headquarters of the Theosophical Society, Madras, India," published in the fall of 1884; in the "Report of the Result of an Investigation into the Charges against Madame Blavatsky," by the Committee of the Indian Convention; in the Report of the Indian Convention of the Theosophists held at the close of December, 1884; in Mr. A. P. Sinnett's book, "Incidents in the Life of H. P. Blavatsky;" in Col. Olcott's "Old Diary Leaves," and in numerous articles pro and con at the time and during succeeding years in many Theosophical, Spiritualist, Christian and secular publications. The facts as herein given are those derived from the immense accumulation of literature on the subject, after the most careful and painstaking comparison and weighing.

We may now consider the effect of the Coulomb disclosures and the missionary use of them, both on the Theosophists and on the Society for Psychical Research.

(To be continued)

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:


"If another by altruistic service benefits one, is not such action vicarious and inconsistent with Karma?"

W.Q.J.--A common error, which arises from incompletely viewing the doctrine of Karma, is the idea that we interfere with Karma when we benefit another. The question is equally applicable to the doing of any injury to another. It cuts both ways; so we might as well ask if it is not inconsistent with the law and vicarious for one to do any evil act which results harmfully to a fellow creature. In neither case is there vicarious atonement or interference. If we can do good to our fellows, that is their good Karma and ours also; if we have the opportunity to thus confer benefits and refuse to do so, then that is our bad Karma in that we neglected a chance to help another. The Masters once wrote that we should not be thinking on our good or bad Karma, but should do our duty on every hand and at every opportunity, unmindful of what may result to us. It is only a curious kind of conceit, which seems to be the product of nineteenth century civilization, that causes us to falsely imagine that we, weak and ignorant human beings, can interfere with Karma or be vicarious atoners for others. We are all bound up together in one coil of Karma and should ever strive by good acts, good thoughts and high aspirations, to lift a little of the world's heavy Karma, of which our own is a part. Indeed, no man has any Karma of his own unshared by others; we share each one in the common Karma, and the sooner we perceive this and act accordingly the better it will be for us and for the world.

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(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) This answer by Mr. Judge to the question asked was first printed in The Vahan of August, 1891. The title used is our own. --EDITORS THEOSOPHY.
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