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A. P. Sinnett's Views on the Mahatma Letters

Sep 05, 2006 10:06 PM
by danielhcaldwell

A.P. Sinnett received the bulk of the existing Mahatma Letters. 
Below is his view concerning these letters:

"They contained masses of information concerning the natural truths 
that have since become the fundamental ideas underlying Theosophy, 
which were previously as unknown to Madame Blavatsky as to myself. 
Reincarnation, karma , the planetary chains, the succession of the 
root races, the sub-races and so on, were not tampered with. Madame 
Blavatsky did not know enough about them at that time to make it is 
possible for her to import confusion into information on these 
subjects which passed through her hands. But unhappily she had 
contracted - under conditions I will not attempt to elucidate - a 
bitter detestation of spiritualism, and sometimes when the letters 
touched on after-death conditions she wove this feeling into them. 
The result was dreadfully misleading and the consequences very 
deplorable." [A.P Sinnett, "The Early Days of Theosophy in Europe", 

But the inquiring reader might ask:

How did Sinnett really know that HPB had imported confusion into the 
information given in the Mahatma Letters? 

How did Sinnett determine that HPB had distorted the teachings on 
the "after-death conditions"? 

And even more importantly, how did Sinnett himself know the REAL 
teachings on the "after-death conditions"?

How did he also come to the conclusion that Blavatsky had NOT 
tampered with other teachings on "Reincarnation, karma , the 
planetary chains, the succession of the root races, the sub-races 
and so on"? 

A number of other important questions should be asked about Mr. 
Sinnett's assertions.

The following information may help to give the reader a wider 
context to Sinnett's above remarks. 

In 1884, Sinnett came to believe he was in contact with the Master 
K.H., independent of H.P.B. acting as mediator. Sinnett wrote in his 
book "The Early Days of Theosophy":

"About this time [early July 1884] Mrs. Holloway, a wonderfully 
gifted American psychic came to stay with us. . . . .She used to get 
vivid clairvoyant visions of the Master, - could pass on messages to 
me from K.H. and on one occasion he actually made use of her to 
speak to me in the first person." p. 27 

But the Master K.H. (in a letter received July 18, 1884) pronounced 
Sinnett's claim false and untrue: 

"You ask me if you can tell Miss Arundale what I told you thro' Mrs. 
H [olloway]. . . . . .[But] I have never . . . communicated with you 
or any one else thro' her. . . . . She is an excellent but quite 
undeveloped clairvoyante. . . . ." "The Mahatma Letters", 2nd ed., 
p. 355 

In a letter to Laura Holloway herself, KH wrote: 

"I have denied  black on white communicating with him [Sinnett] 
through you. I have never done so, and this I repeat; but he clings 
to his unwholesome illusion. . . . " 

Sinnett had such a strong belief that KH had communicated with him 
through Mrs. Holloway that he even doubted KH's letter (quoted 
above) received on July 18, 1884. 

Soon thereafter, Blavatsky wrote: 

"My dear Mr. Sinnett,

"It is very strange that you should be ready to deceive yourself so 
willingly. I have seen last night whom I had to see, and getting the 
explanation I wanted I am now settled on points I was not only 
doubtful about but positively averse to accepting. And the words in 
the first line are words I am bound to repeat to you as a warning, 
and because I regard you, after all, as one of my best personal 
friends. Now you have and are deceiving, in vulgar parlance, 
bamboozling yourself about the letter received by me yesterday from 
the Mahatma. The letter is from Him, whether written through a chela 
or not; and -- perplexing as it may seem to you, contradictory 
and 'absurd,' it is the full expression of his feelings and he 
maintains what he said in it. For me it is surpassingly strange that 
you should accept as His only that which dovetails with your own 
feelings, and reject all that contradicts your own notions of the 
fitness of things. . . . you imagine, or rather force yourself to 
imagine that the Mahatma's letter is not wholly orthodox and was 
written by a chela to please me, or something of the sort. . . . If 
you -- the most devoted, the best of all Theosophists -- are ready 
to fall a victim to your own preconceptions and believe in new gods 
of your own fancy dethroning the old ones -- then, notwithstanding 
all and everything Theosophy has come too early in this 
country. . . . Yours, H.P.B."

Sinnett persisted in his "unwholesome illusion." 

Notice what happened four years later. 

Master K.H. in his August 1888 "S.S. Shannon" letter to Colonel 
Henry Olcott wrote: 

"Since 1885 I have not written, nor caused to be written save thro' 
her [HPB's] agency, direct or remote, a letter or line to anybody in 
Europe or America, nor communicated orally with, or thro' any third 
party. Theosophists should learn it. You will understand later the 
significance of this declaration so keep it in mind. Her [HPB's] 
fidelity to our work being constant, and her sufferings having come 
upon her thro' it, neither I nor either of my Brother associates 
will desert or supplant her. . . . " 

". . . (This letter) . . . is merely given you as a warning and a 
guide; to others as a warning only; for you may use it discreetly if 
needs be . . . Prepare, however, to have the authenticity of the 
present denied in certain quarters." "Letters from the Masters of 
the Wisdom", Series I. 

Notice KH's words: 

"Prepare, however, to have the authenticity of the present denied in 
certain quarters."

When Sinnett was shown this KH letter in London, he wrote privately 
to C.W. Leadbeater: 

"It [the 'S.S. Shannon' letter] reads to me very much en suite with 
the other letters in blue handwriting that came during the 1884 
crisis, when Mm. B. herself admitted to me afterwards that during 
that time the Masters had stood aside and left everything to various 
chelas, including freedom to use the blue handwriting". (C. 
Jinarajadasa, "The K.H. Letters to C.W. Leadbeater", p. 75).

At this same time, Madame Blavatsky wrote an article in LUCIFER 
which contains the following passage which is VERY RELEVANT to 
Sinnett's views. 

HPB stated: 

"We have been asked by a correspondent why he should not "be free to 
suspect some of the so-called 'precipitated' letters as being 
forgeries," giving as his reason for it that while some of them bear 
the stamp of (to him) undeniable genuineness, others seem from their 
contents and style, to be imitations. This is equivalent to saying 
that he has such an unerring spiritual insight as to be able to 
detect the false from the true, though he has never met a Master, 
nor been given any key by which to test his alleged communications. 
The inevitable consequence of applying his untrained judgment in 
such cases, would be to make him as likely as not to declare false 
what was genuine, and genuine what was false. Thus what criterion 
has any one to decide between one "precipitated" letter, or another 
such letter? Who except their authors, or those whom they employ as 
their amanuenses (the chelas and disciples), can tell? For it is 
hardly one out of a hundred "occult" letters that is ever written by 
the hand of the Master, in whose name and on whose behalf they are 
sent, as the Masters have neither need nor leisure to write them; 
and that when a Master says, "I wrote that letter," it means only 
that every word in it was dictated by him and impressed under his 
direct supervision. Generally they make their chela, whether near or 
far away, write (or precipitate) them, by impressing upon his mind 
the ideas they wish expressed, and if necessary aiding him in the 
picture-printing process of precipitation. It depends entirely upon 
the chela's state of development, how accurately the ideas may be 
transmitted and the writing-model imitated. Thus the non-adept 
recipient is left in the dilemma of uncertainty, whether, if one 
letter is false, all may not be; for, as far as intrinsic evidence 
goes, all come from the same source, and an are brought by the same 
mysterious means. But there is another, and a far worse condition 
implied. For all that the recipient of "occult" letters can possibly 
know, and on the simple grounds of probability and common honesty, 
the unseen correspondent who would tolerate one single fraudulent 
line in his name, would wink at an unlimited repetition of the 
deception. And this leads directly to the following. All the so-
called occult letters being supported by identical proofs, they have 
all to stand or fall together. If one is to be doubted, then all 
have, and the series of letters in the "Occult World," "Esoteric 
Buddhism," etc., etc., may be, and there is no reason why they 
should not be in such a case-frauds, "clever impostures," 
and "forgeries," . . . . " Quoted from:

I ask interested readers to compare and contrast the thinking and 
view of A.P. Sinnett about some of the Mahatma Letters with Jake's 
thinking concerning what he considers a "phoney" Mahatma Letter from 

Food for thought.


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