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Re: Theos-World A Closer Look at the Coulomb Testimony on the Masters

Mar 25, 2009 09:32 AM
by Morten Nymann Olesen

Thanks Daniel.

I would like to add HPB's offcicial version of the events... as they were given in ...
Pall Mall Gazette, London, October 23, 1884 just after the Coulomb articles ahd appeared.

Blavatsky Collected Writings, Volume 6 Page 308


[Pall Mall Gazette, London, October 23, 1884]

[This interview with H. P. B. in London, at a very critical time in her career, is published here because it contains a very clear statement of the Coulomb-trouble and a succinct appraisal of the whole situation, as viewed by H. P. B. herself. Her reported words may not be verbatim, but are unquestionably close to being so and are corroborated by her elsewhere.-Compiler.]

Madame Blavatsky leaves London for India today (Friday). Last night she took farewell of the faithful at a great reception of the Theosophists in the drawing-room of Mrs. Sinnett. Before leaving she was interviewed by a representative of this journal, who was instructed to ascertain what the authoress of Isis Unveiled had to say concerning the unveiling of the mysteries of the Theosophical Society by Madame Coulomb in the columns of the Christian College Magazine of Madras. This is his report of the conversation:- 
"I have come to hear," I said, "what Madame Blavatsky, the prophetess of the Theosophists, has to say concerning the alleged revelations that the famous Mahatmas had been proved to be nothing but cunningly devised arrangements of muslin, bladders, and masks." Without attempting to reproduce in its original vivacity this remarkable woman's explanation of the exposure which has taken place in Madras, the following may be accepted as the substance of her case. "The whole story," she said, "is very simple. Madame Coulomb was a woman whom I had 

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befriended, and whose avarice I had checked. She professed to be a sincere Theosophist, and notwithstanding many shortcomings on her part, I bore with her chiefly in deference to Colonel Olcott's belief in her sincerity. She was in the habit of professing to discover hidden treasures. She may have believed in her ability to find hidden gold, but she never found any; and I interfered on two occasions to prevent her taking money from persons whom she had persuaded that she could reveal hidden deposits of treasure in their land. I said that it was little better than receiving money under false pretences, and from that moment she vowed revenge. Not knowing, however, the malignity of thwarted avarice, I left her and her husband in charge of all my papers, correspondence, and documents, nor did I dream that she would abuse her trust. When we had reached Europe we were warned by the Mahatma that mischief was brewing. We communicated with the Coulombs and the Board of Control concerning these communications from our Masters. We received in reply a letter from the Coulombs, dated only two days before their so-called revelations, in which they professed most emphatically their devotion to the Theosophical Society, and indignantly repudiated any suspicion that they were not faithful to the cause. Two days afterwards came a telegram announcing their expulsion by the Board of Control and Council for dishonesty; then four months later the 'exposure' which is foolishly believed to have extinguished the Society. At first it created some uneasiness among those who did not know the Coulombs and whose faith was but weak; as soon, however, as the full details of the so-called revelation reached us we exploded with laughter; the fraud was too silly to deceive anyone who has the most elementary acquaintance with the teachings of the Society.
"The Coulombs' revelations amounted to the declaration that Madame Coulomb produced the phenomena upon which it is assumed mistakenly that the Theosophical Society is based. This she supports by the publication of letters said to have been written by me, letters in which I 

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direct her to persuade the Mahatmas to secrete cigarettes and to despatch telegrams, as if they had proceeded from the occult world. Those letters are said to be in my handwriting, and one at least is unquestionably mine. Madame Coulomb having access to all my correspondence had no difficulty in copying or tracing parts of letters which I had written, and interpolating in those letters statements which I never made, and which it is quite impossible for me to have made. Hence there is a certain resemblance between those letters which are imputed to me and those which I unquestionably wrote. The only genuine letter in the whole collection is that dated, and it contains absolutely nothing in which the most suspicious could detect any fraud. The other letters represent me as having made several specific statements concerning matters of fact which are so obviously false that it is difficult to understand how Madame Coulomb could be so stupid as to impute them to me. For instance, I would never speak of the Maharajah of Lahore, as I know perfectly well what apparently Madame Coulomb does not know, that there is no such person in existence. Neither would I mistake the initials of one of my most intimate friends, as I am made to do in the letter which speaks of H. instead of N. D. Khandalavala. Then, again, I am made to announce as if it were a great thing that I had dined with the Governor. As a matter of fact, I never dined with the Governor, although I was invited-a fact which Mrs. Grant Duff, who is now in London, can verify. Ramalinga is represented as if he were a Mahatma, while everyone knows that he is only a Chela, who has as much right to send telegrams as any other subject of your Queen. Several of the letters are simply nonsense, and if I had written them they might prove that I was a silly old woman, but certainly not the astute impostor which I am represented as being. 
"Dismissing those trivialities I come to the chief charges brought against me, the first being that the Mahatmas were fraudulent arrangements of bladders and muslin concocted by Madame Coulomb to swindle the public. No one who has seen a Mahatma could believe such an absurdity, and 

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a well-known painter at South Kensington has painted in London the portraits of the Mahatmas without having seen them, producing a likeness which was identified immediately by Englishmen and natives who have seen them in India. He will show you two portraits which not even the wildest imagination could mistake for an arrangement of bladders and muslin. Now suppose, for a moment, that this accounted for all the appearances of the Mahatmas at Adyar, it could not account for their appearance hundreds of miles from where Madame Coulomb was living. She could not project her bladders and muslin three hundred and ten thousand miles through space, so as to deceive simultaneously some of the most intelligent men in India. The Mahatmas manifested themselves in India hundreds of years before the Coulombs were born, and since the Coulombs have left the Society there have been more numerous manifestations than ever.
"They say that I secreted cigarette papers where they were afterwards to be found. That is an impudent falsehood. It is true that I once tried to have a cigarette fall at Bombay in a certain place, and said so; but, owing I suppose to a great storm of rain, it could not be discovered. All my experiments were made at Simla, where Madame Coulomb was not. As for the saucer story that is too absurd. No doubt the Coulombs have the pieces of a broken saucer. Anyone can break a saucer and buy one in order to break it if need be. But the saucer the Mahatmas restored in its entirety was reconstructed out of fragments which the Coulombs certainly have not. The forged letter about Mr. Sassoon, the owner of a crore of rupees, who was to receive a phenomenon in return for 10,000 rupees, suggests an absolute lie. I refused Mr. Sassoon any phenomena, because he thought he could purchase them with his rupees. We receive no money for those manifestations, and that fact cuts up by the roots the theory that we are a gang of swindlers preying on the credulity of the rich.
"You are inquisitive about the shrine? It is nothing but a box in which we place letters to our Masters. We ask their advice or seek information from them upon all kinds 

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of things. We place the petition in the box, and after a time we find the reply in the handwriting of the Masters. This is so constant an occurrence that it excites no surprise. We deny the possibility of all miracle. Nothing is supernatural. But I assert with as much confidence as the fact that I came here in a hansom cab, that the Masters at whose existence you scoff habitually answer our inquiries upon all manner of subjects, the writing being produced in scrolls of paper inside a locked box. There is no need of the shrine at Madras to receive such letters; they were and are received everywhere, and when I am far away. Dr. Hübbe-Schleiden, Pres. of the Germania Theosophical Society, received a letter from Mahatma K. H. in a railway carriage in Germany, in answer to a conversation he was then having, and to his questions. I was then in London. Who was the friend on that occasion? Mr. Sinnett will tell you that Mr. A. O. Hume, of Simla, received letters in his own library when alone from the Mahatmas, in answer to letters just written, and when I was at Bombay. The handwriting was the same; evidently there must be forgers about-writing in the Mahatma's writing and on his special paper-besides me. You cannot say I write the answers. The Coulombs have left, but still there are replies. Are we all a pack of self-deceived idiots, or fraudulent impostors? If the latter, what object can we have? We make no money. We seek no notoriety. We only gain abuse. What do we gain? Is it a pleasure, think you, to be held up to the scorn and hatred of Christendom? I do not find it so, and would very much prefer to live remote in some Thibetan cave to enduring the contumely and disdain heaped upon me because I have been selected to make known to an unbelieving world the great truths of occult philosophy.
"Two of the letters, that to General Morgan and about Mr. Sassoon, have now been proved conclusively to be forgeries. I am returning to India to prosecute these traducers of my character, these fabricators of letters. As for the Theosophical Society, it is too well founded upon scientific truth to be shaken by a thousand Madame 

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Coulombs. On the whole, the Society will have no reason to regret the malevolence of these people. Great is truth, and it will prevail; but at the same time it is very disgusting to be abused and misrepresented as I have been; and I am much obliged to you for the opportunity afforded me of explaining the truth about the so-called exposure.""


M. Sufilight

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: danielhcaldwell 
  Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 5:21 AM
  Subject: Theos-World A Closer Look at the Coulomb Testimony on the Masters

  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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