S.P.R. Press Statement
Feb 15, 2006 00:16 AM
by Anton Rozman
S.P.R. Press Statement
The Society for Psychical Research has released the following Press
Statement dated 8 May 1986.
MADAME BLAVATSKY, CO-FOUNDER OF THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY WAS UNJUSTLY
CONDEMNED, NEW STUDY CONCLUDES
The 'exposure' of the Russian-born occultist, Madame H. P.
Blavatsky, by the S.P.R. in 1885, is in serious doubt, with the
publication in the S.P.R. Journal (Vol. 53 April 1986) of a forceful
critique of the 1885 report.
The case has been re-examined by Dr. Vernon Harrison, past president
of The Royal Photographic Society and formerly Research Manager to
Thomas De La Rue, who is an expert on forgery. The 1885 report was
written mostly by Richard Hodgson, an Australian pioneer of both the
British and Australian S.P.R.s, who became widely known through the
Central to the case were two sets of disputed letters. One set,
provided by two dismissed employees of The Theosophical Society at
its headquarters in India, were apparently in the handwriting of
Madame Blavatsky and implicated her in fraudulent psychic phenomena.
The other set, were ostensibly written in support of The
Theosophical Society by members of an oriental fraternity, popularly
called Mahatmas. Dr. Hodgson accepted the genuineness of the first
set. He argued that the Mahatma Letters were spurious productions by
Madame Blavatsky and occasional confederates.
Dr. Harrison on the contrary, suggests that it is the incriminating
letters that are forgeries, concocted by the ex-employees for
revenge; while the bulk of the Mahatma Letters, now preserved in the
British Library, are not in Madame Blavatsky's handwriting,
disguised or otherwise.
Dr. Harrison concludes;
"As detailed examination of this Report proceeds, one becomes more
and more aware that, whereas Hodgson was prepared to use any
evidence, however trivial or questionable, to implicate H.P.B., he
ignored all evidence that could be used in her favour. His report is
riddled with slanted statements, conjecture advanced as fact or
probable fact, uncorroborated testimony of unnamed witnesses,
selection of evidence and downright falsity:
"As an investigator, Hodgson is weighed in the balances and found
wanting. His case against Madame H. P. Blavatsky is not proven."
Much of Dr. Harrison's paper is an examination of the handwriting
evidence presented in the 1885 report. He believes this was so weak,
partisan and confused that it might just as easily show that Madame
Blavatsky wrote "Huckleberry Finn" - or that President Eisenhower
wrote the Mahatma Letters.
In an introductory note to the paper, the Editor of the S.P.R., Dr.
John Beloff, recalls that other researchers have criticised the 1885
report, and that it had wrongly been taken as expressing an official
view of the S.P.R., when in fact the S.P.R. had no corporate
opinions. Noting that Dr. Harrison is not a member of The
Theosophical Society, but a long-standing member of the S.P.R., Dr.
"Whether readers agree or disagree with his conclusions, we are
pleased to offer him the hospitality of our columns and we hope
that, hereafter, Theosophists, and, indeed, all who care for the
reputation of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, will look upon us in a more
Responding to the publication of Dr. Harrison's paper, Dr. Hugh
Gray, General Secretary of The Theosophical Society in England, said:
"We welcome the publication of Dr. Harrison's findings, which
independently confirm what many Theosophists have pointed out in the
past century. We hope that the Theosophical message in general, and
Madame Blavatsky's work in particular, can now be studied without
the distraction of the Hodgson allegations."
Dr. Vernon Harrison, who lives in Surrey, may be available for
interviews from 6 May onwards. Please contact the S.P.R. in the
The Society for Psychical Research, as noted above, has no
collective views. Thus it was not the S.P.R. which condemned Madame
Blavatsky in 1885, but only an S.P.R. Committee, whose report was
mostly written by Dr. Hodgson. Similarly, Dr. Harrison'spaper
represents only his personal views.
Cordial relations have existed between psychical researchers and
Theosophists in England for sometime. In 1982, the S.P.R. chose as
its centenary president, Professor Arthur Ellison of The City
University, a distinguished engineer, psychical researcher and
Madame Blavatsky founded The Theosophical Society with others in New
York in 1875, and it is an international body active in more than 60
countries with its headquarters at Adyar, Madras, India. The Society
exists to promote a knowledge of Theosophy, a word of Greek origin
meaning Divine Wisdom. Madame Blavatsky's main work was "The Secret
Doctrine" (1888). She died in London in 1891 at the age of 59.
For further information contact;
The Society for Psychical Research Tel. 01 937 8984
The Theosophical Society in England
50 Gloucester Place, London W1H '3HJ Tel. 01 935 9261
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