Re: theos-talk Re: Justice to Judge in 2011
Apr 02, 2011 11:54 AM
by Govert Schuller
Leslie Price should be commended for laying out the issue in a clear and even-handed manner in his article "Call to Reopen Judge Case".
What caught my eye is the following, imo, very important paragraph:
"However, I would not want to single out Adyar in this situation. It is but one of a number of relevant Theosophical archives. In the pro-Judge TS Pasadena may be found letters of Olcott and Besant to Judge, the diaries of Judge, and the letters of the Mahatmas to Judge which featured in the Case. Someone might suggest the TS Pasadena was suppressing evidence of Judge's guilt."
Probably most Theosophists either don't know about the Judge Case or are indifferent about it, or leave it alone because it is so complex, but for some it's a very important issue. Personnally I'm interested, but not to the extent to purchase the $95 book The Judge Case - A Conspiracy Which Ruined the Theosophical Cause by Pelletier and go through its 984 pages. Katinka Hesselink did and came to the following conclusions in her review of the book:
"Was W.Q. Judge conspired against? Did Annie Besant become magnetized to trust in Brahmin-hinduism too much? Did Olcott lose touch with the Mahatmas? I don't know. Unfortunately The Judge Case ignores much of the material that has been gathered in the magazine Theosophical History over the years, making it necessary for the present reviewer to look them up personally. The letter by Blavatsky, the article by Spierenburg and the testimony of Wachtmeister taken together pull the rug under most of Pelletier's thesis and minor points. I have only gone into the main issues here. The result of the Judge case was in all events the split up of the Theosophical Society and with that starting point, the movement shattered ultimately into far more fragments. Whatever his mistakes, the literature Judge produced stands as a monument to his theosophical insight even now. As this case is still a dividing point between the various theosophical groups, it is unfortunate that a more impartial hearing wasn't produced. Still, TJC pulls together pieces of evidence and details from Judge's life that have been hard to find otherwise. The serious student of theosophical history can't do without this book."
Given all of the above and Price's observation that both Ernest Pelletier, who compiled The Judge Case, and Carlos Aveline, who wrote the open letter "A Call to Action" to Adyar, could be considered "hostile" critics of Adyar, I think the move towards resolution and reconciliation of and around the Judge Case might be helped by the following actions:
1) A new, truly neutral letter with the request to open any and all relevant archives should be composed. Mr. Aveline's letter already takes the position that Judge was innocent and Besant guilty and basically demands Adyar to admit that.
2) The letter should be addressed to all the relevant archives and organizations.
3) The "Justice for Judge" initiative at the Edmonton Theosophical Society could be structured as a committee with representatives of the different organizations, preferrably scholars, and chaired by a neutral scholar like James Santucci, the editor of Theosophical History, in which findings and documents could be published.
Don't know if this helps, but it makes sense to me.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, April 01, 2011 9:17 AM
Subject: theos-talk Re: Justice to Judge in 2011
Dear Erica, MKR, friends,
Thanks Erica. You are right.
For those who haven't read yet I will take the liberty to share here
an important text by Leslie Price, entitled "Call to Reopen Judge
Call To Reopen Judge Case
Notes by the Way
00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 Reproduced from PSYPIONEER
bulletin,Volume 2, No 4; April 2006, pp. 91-92. Mr.Leslie Price is a
well-known British historianof the Theosophical Movement. In the
1980s, hefounded the magazine "Theosophical History".
Let's summarise, and then comment on a recent Theosophical development.
A Brazilian Theosophist has called on the Adyar-based Theosophical
Society to reopen the case of one of its founders, later its American
leader, William Quan Judge (1851-1896). In 1894, Judge was accused of
misusing the name of and handwriting of the Mahatmas, the advanced men
believed to have inspired the formation of the Society. This led to a
schism among Theosophists which persists to this day. The United Lodge
of Theosophists, the T.S. Pasadena, and the independent Edmonton
Theosophical Society (Alberta, Canada) are among groups supporting
In a letter published in the Edmonton journal Fohat (Spring 2006) Carlos
Cardoso Aveline suggests that "independent students could write
annual, open letters to the Adyar Theosophical Society asking it to
re-examine its 'process' moved against William Q. Judge in 1894-5 and
suggesting that its leaders should either show proofs of his guilt or
declare him innocent of any charges whatsoever." This letter also
appears on the Edmonton web site
<http://www.theosophycanada.com/fohat_justice.htm> In June 2004 the
Edmonton Society published a 1000 page book "The Judge Case: a
conspiracy which ruined the Theosophical Cause" by Ernest Pelletier
which printed much relevant documentation. However in an Addendum to the
"Supplement" to this book, Pelletier charged that the Adyar
Society was withholding relevant documentation, in order to preserve the
impression that Judge was guilty.In his letter, Aveline draws attention
to the 1885 case of H.P.Blavatsky who was also accused as a fraud - in
this case by the SPR. In April 1986, however, the SPR (which has no
collective views) published in its Journal a paper by a senior member,
Dr Vernon Harrison, which was highly critical of the previous findings.
An SPR press release made Dr Harrison's new investigation widely known.
0000000 Now, does the Blavatsky /SPR case offer lessons for the Judge
Case? I believe it does. The SPR had been asked to make available its
surviving documentation about the Blavatsky investigation by Walter
Carrithers ( pseudonym Adlai Waterman ) and it did so about 1960.
Carrithers could be regarded as a hostile critic, in much the same way
as Aveline or Pelletier could be regarded as hostile, but the material
was made available anyway, and it circulated in photocopied or microfilm
form among theosophical historians, before bearing fruit. (It revealed,
incidentally, that Blavatsky had produced bell phenomena in the presence
of members of the investigating committee, but this had been deleted at
proof stage of a report. The written decision to delete had survived.)
91 Later the SPR, after putting Dr Harrison's paper through its normal
review procedure, published it and publicised it. Not all members of the
SPR agreed with Dr Harrison, just as not all agreed with the original
Blavatsky report. But the sting of the mutual antipathy which had
sometimes characterised SPR/TS relations since 1885 was drawn. Does the
TS Adyar have any documents which would assist the defenders, or for
that matter, the critics, of Judge? In the same issue of Fohat,
Pelletier points to at least one relevant letter (Judge to Khandalavala
Sept. 17 1884) of which he has a photocopy, but which he suspects may
have been tampered with in the original. And he has been told by Adyar
people of other relevant material at Adyar. Any new material could be
published in a suitable place, like the quarterly journal
"Theosophical History." In due course, "The Theosophist"
(Adyar's main journal) could carry one of more articles by senior
Theosophists of various views and organisations, drawing lessons from
the case, in the light of what we now know. This might go some way to
healing the wounds of the schism. However, I would not want to single
out Adyar in this situation. It is but one of a number of relevant
Theosophical archives. In the pro-Judge TS Pasadena may be found letters
of Olcott and Besant to Judge, the diaries of Judge, and the letters of
the Mahatmas to Judge which featured in the Case. Someone might suggest
the TS Pasadena was suppressing evidence of Judge's guilt. In fact all
archives, by preserving documentation, are performing a vital service.
It would be useful now to move beyond charges and for all parties to
work together to get all relevant documentation into the scholarly
domain. Beyond this Case, Judge was not only a profound Theosophical
thinker, whose writings merit study, but also a witness to a variety of
HPB phenomena - and a severe critic of the American psychic scene of his
time. LESLIE PRICE
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