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Why HPB did not return to India

Mar 14, 2006 09:14 PM
by krsanna

Bart -- What is the point you want to make with the article about 
why HPB did not return to India?  What do you think HPB meant when 
she talked about the FTS (Fellows of the Theosophical Society) 
and "cutting off a diseased limb from the healthy body of the tree, 
and thus save it from infection?"

She speaks of people with courage she found in America and Europe 
and her confidence in the Esoteric Section:  

"I was enabled and encouraged by the devotion of an ever-increasing 
number of members to the Cause and to Those who guide it, to 
establish an Esoteric Section, in which I can teach something of 
what I have learned to those who have confidence in me, and who 
prove this confidence by their disinterested work for Theosophy and 
the T.S. For the future, then, it is my intention to devote my life 
and energy to the E. S., and to the teaching of those whose 
confidence I retain."

She speaks of her special relationship with the Esoteric Section she 
founded when the parent society was abolished:

"Know, moreover, that any further proof and teaching I can give only 
to the Esoteric Section, and this for the following reason: its 
members are the only ones whom I have the right to expel for open 
disloyalty to their pledge (not to me, H.P.B., but to their Higher 
Self and the Mahâtmic aspect of the Masters), a privilege I cannot 
exercise with the F.T.S. at large, yet one which is the only means 
of cutting off a diseased limb from the healthy body of the tree, 
and thus save it from infection." 

She asks the Hindu who desire a regeneration of India to turn a new 
leaf and rally around the President-Founder, Olcott.  She did not 
ask the Americans and Europeans, where Olcott's authority was 
terminated, to rally around Olcott.  Adyar had been abolished as the 
parent society.  

"If, then, my Hindu brothers really and earnestly desire to bring 
about the regeneration of India... Let them bravely rally round the 


[This Open Letter one of the most extraordinary and deeply pathetic 
documents ever penned by H.P.B., may be found among the original 
Manuscripts in the Adyar Archives. Written to the Indian Members of 
The Theosophical Society in the last year of H. P. B.'s life it is 
like a karmic vision that both interpretes the past and throws a 
flood of light upon the future It embodies a message from H. P. B.'s 
long-suffering heart to all Theosophists without distinction. This 
Open Letter contains declarations very rarely made, and 
pronouncements which only those will understand who are firmly 
rooted in the Theosophical philosophy and will not mistake them 
for "claims," "dogmas" or delusions of grandeur. Facts and attitudes 
spoken of in this Letter afford a background of meaning against 
which may be measured various crises which took place in later years 
within the framework of the T.S.
N. D. Khandalavala, quoting some short passages from this Letter in 
The Theosophist, Vol. XX October, 1898 pp. 23-24, states that it was 
at first intended to be circulated to the Indian 

Members, but "was afterwards, for certain reasons, not published." 
He was permitted to take a copy of it. With the "climate" prevailing 
at the time in the Indian T.S., the reasons which Khandalavala does 
not specify are easy to determine.
There seems to he no reason to doubt the accuracy of a statement by 
W. E. Coleman in the Religio-Philosophical Journal (Chicago), of 
September 16, 1893, p. 266, that this Open Letter was sent to India 
by the intermediary of Bertram Keightley who left London for India, 
at H.P.B.'s special request, sometime in the Summer of 1890, 
reaching Bombay August 31, 1890 (The Theosophist, Vol. XII, Suppl. 
to October, 1890, pp. ii-iii). He was soon elected General Secretary 
of the newly-formed Indian Section of the T.S. which was chartered 
Jan. 1, 1891.
The Open Letter which follows is one of the most important items 
of "source material" available today for the use of the future 
historian of the Theosophical Movement and its many vicissitudes. It 
deserves a close study on the part of all students.— Compiler.] 


In April, 1890, five years elapsed since I left India.
      Great kindness has been shown to me by many of my Hindu 
brethren at various times since I left; especially this year (1890), 
when, ill almost to death, I have received from several Indian 
Branches letters of sympathy, and assurances that they had not 
forgotten her to whom India and the Hindus have been most of her 
life far dearer than her own Country.
It is, therefore, my duty to explain why I do not return to India 
and my attitude with regard to the new leaf turned in the history of 
the T. S. by my being formally placed at the head of the 
Theosophical Movement in Europe. For it is not solely on account of 
bad health that I do not return to India. Those who have saved me 
from death at Adyar, and twice since then, could easily keep me 
alive there as They do me here. There is a far more serious reason. 
A line of conduct has been traced for me here, and I have found 
among the English and Americans what I have so far vainly sought for 
in India. 

In Europe and America, during the last three years I have met with 
hundreds of men and women who have the courage to avow their 
conviction of the real existence of the Masters, and who are working 
for Theosophy on Their lines and under Their guidance, given through 
my humble self.
In India, on the other hand, ever since my departure, the true 
spirit of devotion to the Masters and the courage to avow it has 
steadily dwindled away. At Adyar itself, increasing strife and 
conflict has raged between personalities; uncalled for and utterly 
undeserved animosity—almost hatred —has been shown towards me by 
several members of the staff. There seems to have been something 
strange and uncanny going on at Adyar, during these last years. No 
sooner does a European, most Theosophically inclined, most devoted 
to the Cause, and the personal friend of myself or the President, 
set his foot in Headquarters, than he becomes forthwith a personal 
enemy to one or other of us, and what is worse, ends by injuring and 
deserting the Cause.
Let it be understood at once that I accuse no one. Knowing what I do 
of the activity of the forces of Kali Yuga, at work to impede and 
ruin the Theosophical movement, I do not regard those who have 
become, one after the other, my enemies—and that without any fault 
of my own—as I might regard them, were it otherwise.
One of the chief factors in the reawakening of Âryâvarta which has 
been part of the work of the Theosophical Society, was the ideal of 
the Masters. But owing to want of judgment, discretion, and 
discrimination, and the liberties taken with Their names and 
Personalities, great misconception arose concerning Them. I was 
under the most solemn oath and pledge never to reveal the whole 
truth to anyone, excepting to those who, like Dâmodar, had been 
finally selected and called by Them. All that I was then permitted 
to reveal was, that there existed somewhere such great men; that 
some of Them were Hindus; that They were learned as none others in 
all the ancient wisdom of Gupta-Vidyâ, and had acquired all the 
Siddhis, not as these are represented in tradition and the "blinds" 
of ancient writings, but as they are in fact and nature; and also 
that I was a Chela of one of them. However, in the fancy of some 
Hindus, the most wild and ridiculous fancies soon grew up concerning 
Them. They were referred to as "Mahâtmas" and still some too 
enthusiastic friends belittled Them with their strange fancy 
pictures; our opponents, describing a Mahâtma as a full Jîvanmukta, 
urged that, as such, He was debarred from holding any communications 
whatever with persons living in the world. They also maintained that 
as this is the Kali Yuga, it was impossible that there could be any 
Mahâtmas at all in our age.
These early misconceptions notwithstanding, the idea of the Masters, 
and belief in Them, has already brought its good fruit in India. 
Their chief desire was to preserve the true religious and 
philosophical spirit of ancient India; to defend the Ancient Wisdom 
contained in its Darśanas and Upanishads against the systematic 
assaults of the missionaries; and finally to reawaken the dormant 
ethical and patriotic spirit in those youths in whom it had almost 
disappeared owing to college education. Much of this has been 
achieved by and through the Theosophical Society, in spite of all 
its mistakes and imperfections.
Had it not been for Theosophy, would India have had her Tukaram 
Tatya doing now the priceless work he does, and which no one in 
India ever thought of doing before him? Without the Theosophical 
Society, would India have ever thought of wrenching from the hands 
of learned but unspiritual Orientalists the duty of reviving, 
translating and editing the Sacred Books of the East, of 
popularizing and selling them at a far cheaper rate, and at the same 
time in a far more correct form than had ever been done at Oxford? 
Would our respected and devoted brother Tukaram Tatya himself have 
ever thought of doing so, had he not joined the Theosophical 
Society? Would your political Congress itself have ever been a 
possibility, without the Theosophical Society? Most important of 
all, one at least among you has fully benefited by it; and if the 
Society had never given to India but that one future Adept (Dâmodar) 
who has now the prospect of becoming one day a Mahâtma, Kali Yuga 
notwithstanding, that alone would be proof that it was not founded 
at New York and transplanted to India in vain. Finally, if any one 
among the three hundred millions of India can demonstrate, proof in 
hand, that Theosophy, the T.S., or even my humble self, have been 
the means of doing the slightest harm, either to the country or any 
Hindu, that the Founders have been guilty of teaching pernicious 
doctrines, or offering bad advice—then and then only, can it be 
imputed to me as a crime that I have brought forward the ideal of 
the Masters and founded the Theosophical Society.
Aye, my good and never-to-be-forgotten Hindu Brothers, the name 
alone of the holy Masters, which was at one time invoked with 
prayers for Their blessings, from one end of India to the other—
Their name alone has wrought a mighty change for the better in your 
land. It is not to Colonel Olcott or to myself that you owe 
anything, but verily to these names, which, but a few years ago, had 
become a household word in your mouths.
Thus it was that, so long as I remained at Adyar, things went on 
smoothly enough, because one or the other of the Masters was almost 
constantly present among us, and their spirit ever protected the 
Theosophical Society from real harm. But in 1884, Colonel Olcott and 
myself left for a visit to Europe, and while we were away the Padri-
Coulomb "thunderbolt descended." I returned in November, and was 
taken most dangerously ill. It was during that time and Colonel 
Olcott's absence in Burma, that the seeds of all future strifes, and—
let me say at once—disintegration of the Theosophical Society, were 
planted by our enemies. What with the Patterson-Coulomb-Hodgson 
conspiracy, and the faintheartedness of the chief Theosophists, that 
the Society did not then and there collapse should be a sufficient 
proof of how it was protected. Shaken in their belief, the 
fainthearted began to ask: "Why, if the Masters are genuine 
Mahâtmas, have They allowed such things to take place, or why have 
they not used Their powers to destroy this plot or that conspiracy, 
or even this or that man and woman?" Yet it had been explained 
numberless times that no Adept of the Right Path will interfere with 
the just workings of Karma. Not even the greatest of Yogis can 
divert the progress of Karma or arrest the natural results of 
actions for more than a short period, and even in that case, these 
results will only reassert themselves later with even tenfold force, 
for such is the occult law of Karma and the Nidânas.
Nor again will even the greatest of phenomena aid real spiritual 
progress. We have each of us to win our Moksha or Nirvâna by our own 
merit, not because a Guru or Deva will help to conceal our 
shortcomings. There is no merit in having been created an immaculate 
Deva or in being God; but there is the eternal bliss of Moksha 
looming forth for the man who becomes as a God and Deity by his own 
personal exertions. It is the mission of Karma to punish the guilty 
and not the duty of any Master. But those who act up to Their 
teaching and live the life of which They are the best exemplars, 
will never be abandoned by Them and will always find Their 
beneficent help whenever needed, whether obviously or invisibly. 
This is of course addressed to those who have not yet quite lost 
their faith in Masters; those who have never believed, or have 
ceased to believe in Them, are welcome to their own opinions. No 
one, except themselves perhaps some day, will be the losers thereby.
As for myself, who can charge me with having acted like an impostor? 
with having, for instance, taken one single pie from any living 
soul? with having ever asked for money, or even with having accepted 
it, notwithstanding that I was repeatedly offered large sums! Those 
who, in spite of this, have chosen to think otherwise, will have to 
explain what even my traducers of even the Padri class and Psychical 
Research Society have been unable to explain to this day, viz., the 
motive for such fraud. They will have to explain why, instead of 
taking and making money, I gave away to the Society every penny I 
earned by writing for the papers, why at the same time I nearly 
killed myself with overwork and incessant labour year after year, 
until my health gave way, so that but for my Master's repeated help, 
I should have died long ago from the effects of such voluntary hard 
labour. For the absurd Russian spy theory, if it still finds credit 
in some idiotic heads, has long ago disappeared, at any rate from 
the official brains of the Anglo-Indians.
If, I say, at that critical moment, the members of the Society, and 
especially its leaders at Adyar, Hindu and European, had stood 
together as one man, firm in their conviction of the reality and 
power of the Masters, Theosophy would have come out more 
triumphantly than ever, and none of their fears would have ever been 
realised, however cunning the legal traps set for me, and whatever 
mistakes and errors of judgment I, their humble representative, 
might have made in the executive conduct of the matter.
But the loyalty and courage of the Adyar Authorities, and of the few 
Europeans who had trusted in the Masters, were not equal to the 
trial when it came. In spite of my protests, I was hurried away from 
Headquarters. Ill as I was, almost dying in truth, as the physicians 
said, yet I protested, and would have battled for Theosophy in India 
to my last breath, had I found loyal support. But some feared legal 
entanglements, some the Government, while my best friends believed 
in the doctors' threats that I must die if I remained in India. So I 
was sent to Europe to regain my strength, with a promise of speedy 
return to my beloved Âryâvarta.
Well, I left, and immediately intrigues and rumours began. Even at 
Naples already, I learnt that I was reported to be meditating to 
start in Europe "a rival Society" and bust up Adyar (!!). At this I 
laughed. Then it was rumoured that I had been abandoned by the 
Masters, been disloyal to Them, done this or the other. None of it 
had the slightest truth or foundation in fact. Then I was accused of 
being, at best, a hallucinated medium, who had mistaken "spooks" for 
living Masters; while others declared that the real H. P. Blavatsky 
was dead—had died through the injudicious use of Kundalini—and that 
the form had been forthwith seized upon by a Dugpa Chela, who was 
the present H.P.B. Some again held me to be a witch, sorceress, who 
for purposes of her own played the part of a philanthropist and 
lover of India, while in reality bent upon the destruction of all 
those who had the misfortune to be psychologised by me. In fact, the 
powers of psychology attributed to me by my enemies, whenever a fact 
or a "phenomenon" could not be explained away, are so great that 
they alone would have made of me a most remarkable Adept—independent 
of any Masters or Mahâtmas. In short, up to 1886, when the S. P. R. 
Report was published and this soap bubble burst over our heads, it 
was one long series of false charges, every mail bringing something 
new. I will name no one; nor does it matter who said a thing and who 
repeated it. One thing is certain; with the exception of Colonel 
Olcott, everyone seemed to banish the Masters from their thoughts 
and Their spirit from Adyar. Every imaginable incongruity was 
connected with these holy names, and I alone was held responsible 
for every disagreeable event that took place, every mistake made. In 
a letter received from Dâmodar in 1886, he notified me that the 
Masters' influence was becoming with every day weaker at Adyar; that 
They were daily represented as less than "second-rate Yogis," 
totally denied by some, while even those who believed in, and had 
remained loyal to them, feared even to pronounce Their names. 
Finally, he urged me very strongly to return, saying that of course 
the Masters would see that my health should not suffer from it. I 
wrote to that effect to Colonel Olcott, imploring him to let me 
return, and promising that I would live at Pondicherry, if needed, 
should my presence not be desirable at Adyar. To this I received the 
ridiculous answer that no sooner should I return, that I should be 
sent to the Andaman Islands as a Russian spy, which of course 
Colonel Olcott subsequently found out to be absolutely untrue. The 
readiness with which such a futile pretext for keeping me from Adyar 
was seized upon, shows in clear colours the ingratitude of those to 
whom I had given my life and health. Nay, more, urged on, as I 
understood, by the Executive Council, under the entirely absurd 
pretext that, in case of my death, my heirs might claim a share in 
the Adyar property, the President sent me a legal paper to sign, by 
which I formally renounced any right to the Headquarters or even to 
live there without the Council's permission. This, although I had 
spent several thousand rupees of my own private money, and had 
devoted my share of the profits of The Theosophist to the purchase 
of the house and its furniture. Nevertheless I signed the 
renunciation without one word of protest. I saw I was not wanted, 
and remained in Europe in spite of my ardent desire to return to 
India. How could I do otherwise than feel that all my labours had 
been rewarded with ingratitude, when my most urgent wishes to return 
were met with flimsy excuses and answers inspired by those who were 
hostile to me?

The result of this is too apparent. You know too well the state of 
affairs in India for me to dwell longer upon details. In a word, 
since my departure, not only has the activity of the movement there 
gradually slackened, but those for whom I had the deepest 
affections, regarding them as a mother would her own sons, have 
turned against me. While in the West, no sooner had I accepted the 
invitation to come to London, then I found people—the S. P. R. 
Report and wild suspicions and hypotheses rampant in every direction 
notwithstanding—to believe in the truth of the great Cause I have 
struggled for, and in my own bona fides. 

Acting under the Master's orders, I began a new movement in the West 
on the original lines; I founded Lucifer, and the Lodge which bears 
my name. Recognizing the splendid work done at Adyar by Colonel 
Olcott and others to carry out the second of the three Objects of 
the T.S., viz., to promote the study of Oriental literature, I was 
determined to carry out here the two others. All know with what 
success this has been attended. Twice Colonel Olcott was asked to 
come over, and then I learned that I was once more wanted in India—
at any rate by some. But the invitation came too late; neither would 
my doctor permit it, nor can I, if I would be true to my life-pledge 
and vows, now live at the Headquarters from which the Masters and 
Their spirit are virtually banished. The presence of Their portraits 
will not help; They are a dead letter. The truth is that I can never 
return to India in any other capacity than as Their faithful agent. 
And as, unless They appear among the Council in propria persona 
(which They will certainly never do now), no advice of mine on 
occult lines seems likely to be accepted, as the fact of my 
relations with the Masters is doubted, even totally denied by some; 
and I myself having no right to the Headquarters, what reason is 
there, therefore, for me to live at Adyar? 
The fact is this. In my position, half-measures are worse than none. 
People have either to believe entirely in me, or to honestly 
disbelieve. No one, no Theosophist, is compelled to believe, but it 
is worse than useless for people to ask me to help them, if they do 
not believe in me. Here in Europe and America are many who have 
never flinched in their devotion to Theosophy; consequently the 
spread of Theosophy and the T.S., in the West, during the last three 
years, has been extraordinary. The chief reason for this is that I 
was enabled and encouraged by the devotion of an ever-increasing 
number of members to the Cause and to Those who guide it, to 
establish an Esoteric Section, in which I can teach something of 
what I have learned to those who have confidence in me, and who 
prove this confidence by their disinterested work for Theosophy and 
the T.S. For the future, then, it is my intention to devote my life 
and energy to the E. S., and to the teaching of those whose 
confidence I retain. It is useless I should use the little time I 
have before me to justify myself before those who do not feel sure 
about the real existence of the Masters, only because, 
misunderstanding me, it therefore suits them to suspect me.
And let me say at once, to avoid misconception, that my only reason 
for accepting the exoteric direction of European affairs, was to 
save those who really have Theosophy at heart and work for it and 
the Society, from being hampered by those who not only do not care 
for Theosophy, as laid out by the Masters, but are entirely working 
against both, endeavouring to undermine and counteract the influence 
of the good work done, both by open denial of the existence of the 
Masters, by declared and bitter hostility to myself, and also by 
joining forces with the most desperate enemies of our Society. 

Half-measures, I repeat, are no longer possible. Either I have 
stated the truth as I know it about the Masters and teach what I 
have been taught by them, or I have invented both Them and the 
Esoteric Philosophy. There are those among the Esotericists of the 
inner group who say that if I have done the latter, then I must 
myself be a "Master." However it may be, there is no alternative to 
this dilemma.

The only claim, therefore, which India could ever have upon me would 
be strong only in proportion to the activity of the Fellows there 
for Theosophy and their loyalty to the Masters. You should not need 
my presence among you to convince you of the truth of Theosophy, any 
more than your American brothers need it. A conviction that wanes 
when any particular personality is absent is no conviction at all. 
Know, moreover, that any further proof and teaching I can give only 
to the Esoteric Section, and this for the following reason: its 
members are the only ones whom I have the right to expel for open 
disloyalty to their pledge (not to me, H.P.B., but to their Higher 
Self and the Mahâtmic aspect of the Masters), a privilege I cannot 
exercise with the F.T.S. at large, yet one which is the only means 
of cutting off a diseased limb from the healthy body of the tree, 
and thus save it from infection. I can care only for those who 
cannot be swayed by every breath of calumny, and every sneer, 
suspicion, or criticism, whoever it may emanate from.

Thenceforth let it be clearly understood that the rest of my life is 
devoted only to those who believe in the Masters, and are willing to 
work for Theosophy as they understand it, and for the T.S. on the 
lines upon which they originally established it.

If, then, my Hindu brothers really and earnestly desire to bring 
about the regeneration of India, if they wish to ever bring back the 
days when the Masters, in the ages of India's ancient glory, came 
freely among them, guiding and teaching the peoples; then let them 
cast aside all fear and hesitation, and turn a new leaf in the 
history of the Theosophical Movement. Let them bravely rally round 
the President-Founder, whether I am in India or not, as around those 
few true Theosophists who have remained loyal throughout, and bid 
defiance to all calumniators and ambitious malcontents—both without 
and within the Theosophical Society.

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