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A Closer Look at the Coulomb Testimony on the Masters

Mar 24, 2009 09:21 PM
by danielhcaldwell

Anand's repeated quoting of the Peter Washington version of the Coulomb allegation that the Mahatmas were NOT real but simply a "doll" made of bladders gives us an opportunity to present to interested readers Emma Coulomb's and Richard Hodgson's actual claims as well as the testimonies of the various witnesses who said they were visited by the Masters Morya and Koot Hoomi and several other Adepts.

I first give below the relevant primary sources from Coulomb and Hodgson and then ask readers to COMPARE AND CONTRAST the assertions of Coulomb and Hodgson with the detailed testimonies of Colonel Henry Olcott and other witnesses which are given in the links at the end of this posting.

A reporter in "The Madras Mail", October 20, 1884, p. 5 wrote:

On Saturday night the College Hall, Madras, was half filled by an audience comprised of all classes of the community, including many natives, on the occasion of an "entertainment" given by Madame Coulomb, formerly on the staff of the Theosophical Society.  As an entertainment it can hardly be said to have been successful, and as an exposure of Madame Blavatsky we know that many of the audience were rather disappointed.  The Rev. Mr. Goudie presided, and introduced Madame Coulomb....

Madame Coulomb now commenced her "entertainment," which mainly consisted of a lecture directed chiefly, in a sarcastic vein throughout, against Madame Blavatsky....She said that necessity compelled her to take the course she was now pursuing.  The fable of Koot Hoomi was not suitable for the nineteenth century.  Reason should accompany our researches after truth.  We should see whether these phenomena of the Mahatmas were possible.  Was there a law in chemistry, or any other branch of science, by which a letter could be written by a Mahatma, and then travel instantly hundreds of miles to Madras, appearing here on ordinary paper and exactly as written in the Himalayas?...Madame Blavatsky's Mahatmas were made of bladders and masks.  To the sham Mahatmas the Hindus bowed their heads to the ground.  Blind faith had even made them confess their weaknesses, and state their wants.  The Hindus, she admitted, entered into the matter bona fide and did not suppose they were being made dupes of.  How much better would it have been for them to look into the matter scientifically....If the Mahatmas had such power as was claimed for them, why need Madame Blavatsky have recourse to masks and bladders, paper and sliding panels?  

...Here some amusement was caused by the appearance on the stage of a tall figure, with a mask well surrounded with hirsute appendages, and wearing a long white robe.  About 6 1/2 feet high, it slowly passed across the stage and disappeared.... 

This was Koot Hoomi, who had been shown on the roof of the bungalow at head quarters.  The mask and dress formed the identical Koot Hoomi which Mr. Sinnett had done poojah to.  Madame Coulomb next produced the mask and dress, after it had been taken off the person who had worn it on the stage, pointing out that the head was made up of bullock's bladder, while two sheep's bladders served the Master for chest and shoulders.  She had herself helped to make it....

Later in Dec. 1884 Emma Coulomb told her readers:

...[Madame Blavatsky] called me up and told me:   "See if you can make a head of human size and place it on that divan," pointing to a sofa in her room," and merely put a sheet round it; it would have a magic effect by moonlight."  What can this mean?  I wondered.  But knowing how disagreeable she could make herself if she was stroked on the wrong side, I complied with her wish.  She cut a paper pattern of the face I was to make, which I still have; on this I cut the precious lineaments of the beloved Master, but, to my shame, I must say that, after all my trouble of cutting, sewing, and stuffing, Madame said that it looked like an old Jew---I suppose she meant Shylock.  Madame, with a graceful touch  here and there of her painting brush, gave it a little better appearance.   But this was only a head, without bust, and could not very well be used, so I made a jacket, which I doubled, and between the two cloths I placed stuffing, to form the shoulders and chest; the arms were only to the elbow, because, when the thing was tried on, we found the long arm would be in the way of him who had to carry it.  This beauty finished, made Madame quite another person.... 
Let us see for what purpose the doll was made.  This was to give a convincing and material proof of the existence of the brothers [the Mahatmas], as their (said) invisible presence did not fully satisfy the truthseekers. 

Among the many apparitions to which this doll has been instrumental, I will choose one seen by Mr. Ramaswamier, [Colonel Olcott and Damodar], in December, 1881.  The Mahatma [Morya] he saw in his astral body on the balcony at the head-quarters of the Theosophical Society in Bombay, on the memorable night of December, 1881, was no one else than Monsieur Coulomb, with the doll's head on his own. 
The doll plays the greatest part in these apparitions, and, as I have already explained, it is carried on somebody's head; but at times it is placed on the top of a long bamboo, and raised to show that it is an astral body; but when the doll has not been at hand, even a white cloth wrapped round the person who was to perform the Mahatma was at times used, and answered the purpose....

Finally in the December 1885 SPR Report, Richard Hodgon gave his expert opinion based on the Coulomb testimony:

...Koot Hoomi is a fictitious personage... [and the]...supposed "astral forms" of the Mahatmas were confederates of Madame Blavatsky in disguise --- generally the Coulombs..... 

I was left without any doubt that the appearances [of the Mahatmas Morya and Koot Hoomi] might have been well produced by [Monsieur] Coulomb in disguise.  I have seen [Monsieur] Coulomb disguised as a Mahatma, and can understand that the figure may have been very impressive.   A dummy head (with shoulders), like that of a Hindu, with beard, &c. and fehta [turban], is worn on the top of the head of the person disguised.   A long flowing muslin garment falls down in front, and by holding the folds very slightly apart, the wearer is enabled to see, and to speak also, if necessary.  I do not think it in the least degree likely that any of the witnesses would have penetrated this disguise had the figure been even much nearer than it was, and the light much better. 

I cannot regard Colonel Olcott's testimony as of any scientific value.  In particular, his testimony to the alleged "astral" appearance [of the Mahatma Morya] in New York proves, in my opinion, no more than that he saw someone in his room, who may have been an ordinary Hindu, or some other person, disguised, as a Mahatma for the purpose, and acting for Madame Blavatsky.  And the same may be said of all his testimony to apparitions of Mahatmas....

....I must express my unqualified opinion that no genuine psychical phenomena whatever will be found among the pseudo-mysteries of the Russian lady alias Koot Hoomi Lal Sing alias Mahatma Morya alias Madame Blavatsky....

Now compare and contrast the above with what Colonel Olcott and other witnesses actually wrote about their encounters with the Masters.  I give the relevant links below:

Colonel Henry S. Olcott's Testimony about His Meetings with the Master Morya

Henry S. Olcott's Testimony: Nine Accounts of Meeting Masters and Adepts

Casebook of Encounters with the Theosophical Mahatmas.

Paranormal Features of Some of the Appearances of the Mahatmas


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