Cardiff Blavatsky Archive

Theosophical Society, Cardiff Lodge, 206 Newport Road, Cardiff CF24 – 1DL




H P Blavatsky


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Established in India 1879 -1884


Sara M Carmichael



JUDGED by ordinary standards of common sense, Mme. Blavatsky's long stay in America was not a good preparation for her residence in India. And yet her Theosophic mission appears to have had India as its objective point from the outset. It is just possible, therefore, that her alienation from the English population of India in the first instance, due to the unreasonable prejudices against them which she came possessed with, may have served the cause she had in view in one way more than it told unfavorably in another. Unhappily there is no good understanding widely diffused as yet amongst the two races in India.


Each sees the worst features in the character of the other, and ill appreciates the best. The responsibility for this state of things would, I think, be found very equally divided, but at all events it is possible, that in wishing to secure the

hearty good-will of the natives, Mme. Blavatsky did not find herself really so

much impeded as I have sometimes been inclined to think, by starting on terms

which may almost be said to have cultivated the ill-will of the Europeans. The

too readily enlisted sentiment of race antagonism may thus have put the natives

all the more on her side, when it was seen that she was not on intimate or

friendly relations with the Anglo-Indian community.


However this may be, Mme. Blavatsky came to India to plant the Theosophical

Society in the soil where she believed, not quite correctly as subsequent events

proved, that it was destined chiefly to flourish, armed for her task (for good

or evil as we like to look at the matter) with a flourishing stock of

misconceptions concerning the social conditions of the country. She was

guiltless of any inclination to concern herself practically with politics, and

indeed, on the subject of politics, though greatly misconceiving the true

character of the English government at that time, was less prejudiced than in

other ways, for at any rate she consistently recognized the theory that, bad

though it might be, the English Government was immeasurably the best India could acquire in the present state of her degeneration, as compared with the era of ancient Aryan grandeur. But her sympathies were always ready to flame up on

behalf of individual native wrongs, and since the organs of native interests are

apt in India to circulate stories too hastily, if they seem to be flavored with

native wrongs, Mme. Blavatsky, living almost entirely at first in native

society, imbibed a good many ideas, on her first establishment in the country,

which used to be the subject of warm argument between her and myself, when I

first made her acquaintance.


This acquaintance was formed at the close of the year 1879, during the earlier

part of which she reached Bombay, accompanied by Colonel Olcott and two persons who were supposed to be Theosophists in the beginning, but fell off from the Society at an early date, under circumstances which constituted the first of the long series of troubles that have attended the progress of the Theosophical movement. I never knew either of them, but they do not appear to have been persons anyone of soberer judgment, in Mme. Blavatsky's place,

would have brought over as companions in an enterprise like that she had in

hand. The four strangely assorted travelers settled down in one of the native

quarters of Bombay, and were very naturally objects of some suspicion with the

authorities. Their movements about the country and into the neighboring native

states were not of a kind that the ordinary habits of Europeans would account

for, and as a matter of course, in a country where great interests have to be

guarded from possible foreign intrigue, they were put under surveillance.


But Englishmen are not clever at the tricks of police surveillance — no more so

in India than elsewhere — and the watch set upon the movements of Mme. Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott was absurdly apparent to the persons who — if it had been really required — should never have been allowed to suspect it. Mme. Blavatsky fretted under the sense of insult this espionage inflicted on her, with the intensity of feeling she carries into everything. For my own part, I used often

to tell her, when we laughed over the narrative of her adventures afterwards, I

pitied the unhappy police officer, her spy, a great deal more than herself. She

pursued this officer with sarcasms all the while that he, in the performance of

his irksome duty, pursued her in her vague and erratic wanderings. She would

offer him bags or letters to examine, and address him condolences on the

miserable fate that condemned him to play the part of a mouchard. I suspect from what I heard at Simla at the time, that the Bombay Government must have been treated by the superior authorities to remarks that were anything but complimentary on the manner in which they conducted this business. At any rate, the mistake concerning the objects of the Theosophists was speedily seen

through,  and the local government instructed to trouble itself no

more about them.


I had been in correspondence with Colonel Olcott and Mine. Blavatsky, partly

about this business, during the summer. Their arrival in India had been heralded

with a few newspaper paragraphs dimly indicating that Mme. Blavatsky was a

marvelous person, associated with a modern development of “magic”, and I had

seen her great book, Isis Unveiled, which naturally provoked interest on my part

in the authoress. From some remarks published in the Pioneer, of which I was at

that time the editor, the first communications between us arose. In accordance

with arrangements made by letter during the summer, she came to Allahabad to

visit my wife and myself at our cold weather home at that station in December



I well remember the morning of her arrival, when I went down to the railway

station to meet her. The trains from Bombay used to come into Allahabad in those days at an early hour in the morning, and it was still but just time for chota

hazree, or early breakfast, when I brought our guests home. She had evidently

been apprehensive, to judge from her latest letters, lest we might have formed

some ideal conception of her that the reality would shatter, and had recklessly

painted herself as a rough, old, “hippopotamus” of a woman, unfit for civilized

society; but she did this with so lively a humor that the betrayal of her bright

intelligence this involved more than undid the effect of her warnings. Her rough

manners, of which we had been told so much, did not prove very alarming, though I remember going into fits of laughter at the time when Colonel Olcott, after the visit had lasted a week or two, gravely informed us that Madame was under “great self-restraint” so far. This had not been the impression my

wife and I had formed about her, though we had learned already to find her

conversation more than interesting.


I would not venture to say that our new friends made a favorable impression all

round, upon our old ones, at Allahabad. Anglo-Indian society is strongly colored with conventional views, and Mme. Blavatsky was too violent a departure from accepted standards in a great variety of ways to be assimilated in Anglo-Indian circles with readiness. At the same time, the friends she made among our acquaintances while under our roof were the best worth having, and all who came to know her, and were gifted with the faculty of appreciating bright and versatile talk, sparkling anecdote, and first-rate dinner-table qualifications,

were loud in her praises and eager for her society. Her dinner-table

qualifications it will, of course, be understood did not include those of the

bon vivant, for her dislike of alcohol in all forms amounted to a kind of mania,

and led her to be vexatious sometimes in her attack on even the most moderate

wine-drinking on the part of others. An illustration, by-the-by, of the manner

in which Mme. Blavatsky is constantly made the subject of the most extravagant

falsehoods is afforded by a statement which has, I hear, been made quite

recently in London by some ex-Anglo-Indian. He or she — I am glad to say I do

not know who the he or she is, and do not seek to know — told my informant that he or she had actually seen Mine. Blavatsky intoxicated at Simla. As I know her to be a total abstainer, not merely on principle (in connection with her occult

training), but by predilection as well — by virtue indeed, as I have described,

of an absolute horror of alcohol — and as she has never resided at Simla under

any roof but my own and one other, beneath which I was myself at the same

time a guest — the statement is for me exactly as if it asserted that,

during her Simla visit, Mme. Blavatsky was double-headed like the famous



I want to give my readers an idea of Mme. Blavatsky, as I have known her, that

shall be as nearly complete as I can make it, and I shall not hesitate to put in the shadows of the picture. The first visit she paid us was not an unqualified success in all respects. Her excitability, sometimes amusing, would sometimes

take an irritating shape, and she would vent her impatience, if anything annoyed

her, by vehement tirades in a loud voice directed against Colonel Olcott, at that time in an early stage of his apprenticeship to what she would sometimes

irreverently speak of as the “occult business”. No one with the least discernment could ever fail to see that her rugged manners and disregard of all conventionalities were the result of a deliberate rebellion against, not of

ignorance or unfamiliarity with, the customs of refined society. Still the rebellion was often very determined, and she would sometimes color her language with expletives of all sorts, some witty and amusing, some unnecessarily violent, that we should all have preferred her not to make use of.


She certainly had none of the superficial attributes one might have expected in a spiritual teacher ; and how she could at the same time be philosopher enough to have given up the world for the sake of spiritual advancement, and yet be capable of going into frenzies of passion about trivial annoyances, was a profound mystery to us for a long while, and is only now partially explainable, indeed, within my own mind, by some information I have received relating to curious psychological laws under which initiates in occult mysteries, circumstanced as she is, inevitably come. By slow degrees only, and in spite of herself — in spite of  injudicious proceedings on her part that long kept alive suspicions she might easily have allayed, if she could have kept calm enough to understand them, — did we come to appreciate the reality of the occult forces and unseen agencies behind her.


It is unnecessary for me to give an elaborate account here of occult wonders

performed by Mme. Blavatsky during her various visits to us at Allahabad and

Simla. These are, most of them, recorded in The Occult World. Those which took place during her first visit were not of great importance, and some of them were so little protected by the conditions that would have been required to guarantee their bona fide character that they were worse than useless. My wife and I were patient observers, and by not jumping to any conclusions too precipitately, were enabled in the long run to obtain the satisfaction we desired; but guests, especially if they happened to be of a very materialistic temperament, would regard anything Mme. Blavatsky might do of an apparently abnormal character as so much juggling, and hardly disguise these impressions from her. The result in such cases would be a stormy end to our evening after such guests had gone.


To be suspected as an impostor deluding her friends with trickery, would sting her at any time with a scorpion smart, and bring forth a flood of passionate

argument as to the cruelty and groundlessness of such an imputation, the

violence of which would really have tended with most hearers to confirm

suspicions rather than to allay them.


Recollection of this time supplies me with a very varied assortment of memory

portraits of Madame, taken during different conditions of her nerves and temper.

Some recall her flushed and voluble, too loudly declaiming against some person

or other who had misjudged her or her Society; some show her quiet

and companionable, pouring out a flood of interesting talk about Mexican

antiquities, or Egypt, or Peru, showing a knowledge of the most varied and

far-reaching kind, and a memory for names and places and archaeological theories she would be dealing with, that was fairly fascinating to her hearers.


Then, again, I remember her telling anecdotes of her own earlier life, mysterious bits of adventure, or stories of Russian society, with so much point, vivacity, and finish, that she would simply be the delight for the time being of everyone



I never could clearly make out her age at this time, and was led partly by the

look of things, for the hard life she has led has told upon her complexion and

features, and partly by her own vague reference to remote periods in the past,

to overestimate it by several years. She has always had a dislike to telling her

age with exactitude, which does not spring in her case from the vanity which

operates with some ladies, but has to do with occult embarrassment. The age of

the body in which a given human entity may reside or function, is held by occult

initiates to be sometimes a very misleading fact, and chelas under strict rules

are, I believe, forbidden to tell their ages. In Mme. Blavatsky's case the

problem was somewhat complicated by the fact that she had, within the few years previous to my first knowledge of her, grown to somewhat unwieldy proportions.


Mr A. O. Hume, whose name has been a good deal mixed up in very different ways, both with the early beginnings of the Theosophical movement in India and with some of its latest phases, was at Allahabad when Mme. Blavatsky first came there, holding an appointment for the time on the Board of Revenue in the N. W. P., and he took great interest in our remarkable guest. He presided

one afternoon at a public meeting which was held at the Mayo Hall to give

Colonel Olcott an opportunity of delivering an address on Theosophy, and a

passage from his brief speech on that occasion may fitly find a place here as

showing in graceful language the manner in which, at that time, the subject was

opening up: —


“This much I have gathered about the Society, viz. that one primary and

fundamental object of its existence is the institution of a sort of brotherhood

in which, sinking all distinction of race and nationality, caste and creed, all

good and earnest men, all who love science, all who love truth, all who love

their fellowmen, may meet as brethren, and labor hand in hand in the cause of

enlightenment and progress. Whether this noble ideal is ever likely to germinate

and grow into practical fruition ; whether this glorious dream, shared in by so

many of the greatest minds in all ages, is ever destined to emerge from the

shadowy realms of Utopia into the broad sunlight of the regions of reality, let

no one now pretend to decide. Many and marvelous are the changes and

developments that the past has witnessed; the impossibilities of one age have

become the truisms of the next; and who shall venture to predict that the future

may not have as many surprises for mankind as has had the past, and that this

may not be one amongst them. Be the success, however, great or little of those

who strive after this grand ideal, one thing we know, that no honest efforts for

the good of our fellowmen are ever wholly fruitless. It may be long before that

fruit ripens ; the workers may have passed away long ere the world discerns the

harvest for which they wrought; nay, the world at large may never realize what

has been done for it, but the good work itself remains, imperishable,

everlasting. They who wrought it have necessarily been by such efforts purified

and exalted, the community in which they lived and toiled has inevitably

benefitted directly or indirectly, and through it, the world at large. On this

ground, if on no other, we must necessarily sympathize with the Theosophists.



The Theosophists in those days had all their troubles before them in an

unsuspected future, and the movement seemed to be advancing gaily with many

friendly hands stretching out to aid it, and nothing but petty squabbling among

the members at the Bombay headquarters to disturb the peace of its chiefs. But

Mme. Blavatsky's temperament always magnified the annoyance of the moment,

whatever it might be, till it overshadowed her whole sky. Colonel Olcott spoke

at the meeting which Mr Hume opened with the remarks just quoted, but one of his hearers, at all events — his distinguished colleague, — was not altogether

pleased with his address, and no sooner were we clear of the Hall compound on

our drive back than she opened fire upon him with exceeding bitterness. To hear

her talk on this subject at intervals during the evening one might have thought

the aspirations of her life compromised, though the meeting and the speech —

about which I do not remember that there was anything amiss — were not important to the progress of the Society in any serious degree.


Colonel Olcott bore all these tantrums with wonderful fortitude, taking them as all so much probation to be set down to the account of his occult chelaship; and with all this exasperating behavior Mme. Blavatsky nevertheless had a strange faculty of winning affection. Her own nature was exceedingly warm-hearted and affectionate, as it is still, and must remain as long as she lives, in spite of the cruel disappointments and trials, the sickness and suffering of later years, the

poignant regret she has spent over irremediable mistakes that have compromised

the success of her cause, and the passionate sense of wrong under which she

fumes, as the unteachable world complacently listens to the tales of her

traducers, or as flippant newspapers make fun of the wonderful stories told

about her, as though she were a mountebank or impostor.


Thus the prestige of her occult power, uncertain and capricious though it has latterly become, invests her with so much interest for people who have emerged from the bog of mere materialistic incredulity about her, that anyone with a tendency towards mysticism is apt to become possessed with something like reverence for her attributes, in spite of the strangely unattractive shell with which she sometimes surrounds them. Thus, in one way and another, large numbers of people in India, who came to know her through ourselves, learned to regard her with a very friendly feeling, rugged manners and stormy temperature notwithstanding.


Mme. Blavatsky visited us again at Simla in the autumn of 1880, when most of the phenomena described in The Occult World took place. She was much better inclined now than on her first arrival in India to conciliate European sympathy and support for the movement on which she was engaged. She had learned the lesson which the best friends of native interests in India must always learn sooner or later, if they come in contact with the realities of the situation, that for any practical work to be done, the natives want a European lead. Even when the task in hand has to do with the revival of Indian philosophy, its administration

languishes when confided too exclusively to native direction. Mme. Blavatsky

therefore came to Simla prepared for society. She would protest against the

flap-doodle” of “Mrs Grundy” — favorite phrases often on her lips, — but to

serve her cause she would even condescend to put off occasionally the red

flannel dressing-gown in which she preferred to robe herself, and sit down in

black silk amid the uncongenial odors of champagne and sherry. Of course, beyond a very narrow circle, the wonders she wrought were quite ineffective

in kindling that zeal for intelligent inquiry into the higher psychic laws of

nature by virtue of which they were accomplished, which it was the intention of

their promoters to awaken. No one could understand Mme. Blavatsky without

studying her by the light of the hypothesis — even if it were only regarded as

such — that she was the visible agent of unknown occult superiors. There was

much in her character on the surface as I have described it, which repelled the

idea that she was an exalted moralist trying to lead people upward towards a

higher spiritual life. The internal excitement, superinduced by the effort to

accomplish any of her occult feats, would, moreover, render her too passionate

in repudiating suspicions which could not but be stimulated by such protests on

her part. Conscious of her failure very often to do more than leave people about

her puzzled and vaguely wondering how she did her “tricks”, she would constantly abjure the whole attempt, profess violent resolutions to produce no more phenomena under any circumstances for a sneering, undiscerning, materialistic generation; and as often be impelled by her love of wielding the strange forces at her command to fall into her old mistakes, to hurriedly rush into the performance of some new feat as she felt the power upon her, without stopping to think of the careful conditions by which it ought to be surrounded, if she meant to do more than aggravate the mistrust which drove her into frenzies of suffering and wrath. Once, however, recognize her as the flighty and defective, though loyal and brilliantly-gifted representative of occult superiors in the background, making through her an experiment on the spiritual intuitions of the world in which she moved, and the whole situation was solved, the apparent

incoherence of her character and acts explained, and the best

attributes of her own nature properly appreciated.


So much exasperation and trouble have been brought about in recent years by the disputes which have arisen concerning the authenticity of Mme. Blavatsky's

phenomena, that the general opinion of Theosophists has been apt to condemn the whole policy under which such displays have been associated with the attempt to recommend the exalted spiritual philosophy of the “Esoteric Doctrine” to the outer world.


It is easy to be wise after the event; it is easy now to see that in Europe, at all events, where sympathy with new or unfamiliar ideas can best be courted by purely intellectual methods, the Theosophical position, as now understood by its most devoted representatives, would be stronger without, than with the record of Mme. Blavatsky's phenomena behind it.


Still I am very far myself from thinking that the idea of awakening the attention of the world in regard to the possibilities for all men of greatly elevating and expanding their own inner nature and capabilities along the lines of occult study, by the display of some of the powers which such study was capable of bringing about, was in itself an injudicious idea. It is plain, of course, that Mme. Blavatsky has to bear the responsibility of having often misapplied that idea; that she is suffering from the prompt retribution of circumstances in the ignominy that has been heaped upon her of late, is also apparent. But cool observation of the whole position will show that, with all her mistakes, she has infused into the

current of the world's thinking a flood of ideas connected with the possibilities of man's spiritual evolution, that many thinkers are at work with now in profound disregard of, not to say ingratitude for, the source from which they have come.


Mme. Blavatsky's failures and mistakes are glaring in

the sight of us all; trumpeted in every newspaper that mocks her as an impostor,

and proclaimed (by the irony of fate) in the proceedings of a Society that has

stultified its own name by investigating an episode in her career, as if

psychical developments were so much ironmongery, and the depth of nature's

mysteries could be expressed — by a sufficiently acute observer — in decimals of an inch. But her successes are only apparent to those who have eyes to see, and an enlightened understanding to comprehend.


And just as the history of Mme. Blavatsky's work is a party-colored page, so her personality, her external character, is equally variegated. I have said a good deal of her impetuosity and indiscretions of speech and manner and of the way in which she will rage for hours, if allowed, over trifles which a more phlegmatic, not to speak of a more philosophical temperament would barely care to notice.


But it must be understood that, almost at any time, an appeal to her philosophical intellect will turn her right off into another channel of thinking, and then, equally for hours, may any appreciative companion draw forth the stores of her information concerning Eastern religions and mythology, the subtle metaphysics of Hindu and Buddhist symbolism, or the esoteric doctrine itself, so far as in later years some regions of this have been opened out for public treatment. Even in the midst of passionate lamentations — appropriate in vehemence to a catastrophe that might have wrecked the fruits of a life-time — over some offensive sneer in a newspaper article or letter, an allusion to some unsolved problem in esoteric cosmogony, or misinterpretation by a European orientalist of some Eastern doctrine, will divert the flow of her intense mental activity, and sweep all recollection of the current annoyance, for the moment, from her mind. 


The record of Mme. Blavatsky's residence in India is, of course, intimately

blended with the history of the Theosophical Society, on which all her energies are spent, directly or indirectly, and indirectly in so far only as she was obliged during this period to do what literary work she could for Russian magazines to earn her livelihood, and supplement the narrow resources on which the headquarters of the Society were kept up. The Theosophist, the monthly

magazine devoted to occult research, which she set on foot in the autumn of her

first year in India, paid its way from the beginning, and gradually came to earning a small profit, subject to the fact that its management was altogether gratuitous, and all its work, in all departments, performed by the little band of Theosophists at the headquarters ; but all the while that sneering critics of the movement in the papers would be suggesting, from time to time, that the founders of the Society were doing a very good business with “initiation fees”, and living on the tribute of the faithful, Mme. Blavatsky was really at her desk from morning till night, slaving at Russian articles, which she wrote solely for the sake of the little income she was able to make in this way, and on which, in a far greater degree than on the proper resources of the Society, the headquarters were supported, and the movement kept on foot.


Thus energetically promoted, the Society continued to make steady progress.

Colonel Olcott travelled about the country with indefatigable perseverance,

founding new branches in all directions, and Mme. Blavatsky herself went with

him and some others to Ceylon during the cold weather, 1880-81, where the

theosophical party was fêted by large and enthusiastic native audiences. The

movement took firm root in the island at once, and flourished with wonderful



Here, of course, Madame Blavatsky's open profession of Buddhism as her religion was all in her favour, though it had been rather against her in India, as

exoteric Hindus and Buddhists are not at all in sympathy, though the esoteric

docrines of the initiates of both schools are practically identical. The

Singalese welcomed, with delight, a lead which showed them how to set up schools in which their children could be taught the essentials of secular education without coming into contact with European missionaries.


During the autumn of 1881 I returned to India from a visit to England, and on

landing at Bombay spent a few days with Madame Blavatsky at the headquarters of the Theosophical Society, then established at Breach Candy, in a bungalow called the Crow's Nest, perched up on a little eminence above the road. It had been unoccupied for some time I heard, discredited by a reputation for snakes and ghosts, neither of which encumbrances greatly alarmed the new tenants. The

building was divided into two portions — the lower given over to the Society

service and to Colonel Olcott's Spartan accommodation ; the upper part, reached by a covered stairway, corresponding to the slope of the hill, to Mme. Blavatsky and the office work of the Theosophist. There was also a spare room in this upper portion, all the rooms of which were on one level, and opening on to a broad covered-in verandah, which constituted Mme. Blavatsky's sitting, eating, and reception room all in one. Opening out of it at the further end she had a small writing-room.


On the whole she was more comfortably housed than, knowing her wild contempt for the luxuries of European civilisation, I had expected to find her ; but the establishment was more native than Anglo-Indian in its organisation, and the covered verandah was all day long, and up to late hours in the evening, visited by an ebb and flow of native guests, admiring Theosophists who came to pay their respects to Madame. She used to like to get half a dozen or more of them round her talking on any topic connected with the affairs of the Society that might arise in a desultory, aimless way, that used to be found rather trying by her European friends.


The latest embarrassment or little difficulty or annoyance, whatever it might be, that had presented itself, used to fill her horizon for the moment, and give her fretful anxiety out of keeping with its importance, and there has rarely been a period during the five or six years I have had to do with the Society when there has not been some situation to be saved — in Mme. Blavatsky's estimation, — some enemy to be guarded against, some possible supporter to be conciliated. How it was possible for any nervous system to stand the wear and tear of the perpetual agitation and worry in which — largely in consequence of the peculiarities of her own temperament, of course — Mme. Blavatsky spent her life, persons of calmer nature could never understand. But she would generally be up at an early hour writing at her Russian articles or translations, or at the endless letters she sent off in all directions in the interest of the Society, or at articles for the Theosophist; then during the day she would spend a large part of her time talking with native visitors in her verandah room, or hunting them away and getting back to her work with wild protests against the constant interruption

she was subject to, and in the same breath calling for her faithful “Babula”,

her servant, in a voice that rang all over the house, and sending for some one

or other of the visitors she knew to be waiting about below and wanting to see



Then in the midst of some fiery argument with a pundit about a point of

modern Hindu belief that she might protest against as inconsistent with the real meaning of the Vedas, or a passionate remonstrance with one of her

aides of the Theosophist about something done amiss that would for the time

overspread the whole sky of her imagination with a thundercloud, she would

perhaps suddenly “hear the voice they did not hear” — the astral call of her

distant Master, or one of the other “Brothers”, as by that time we had all

learned to call them, — and forgetting everything else in an instant, she would

hurry off to the seclusion of any room where she could be alone for a few

moments, and hear whatever message or orders she had to receive.


She never wanted to go to bed when night came. She would sit on smoking

cigarettes and talking — talking with a tireless energy that was wonderful to

watch — on Eastern philosophy of any sort, on the mistakes of theological

writers, on questions raised (but not settled) in Isis, or, with just as much

intensity and excitement, on some wretched matter connected with the

administration of the Society, or some foolish sarcasm levelled against herself

and the attributes imputed to her in one of the local newspapers. To say that

she never would learn to, estimate occurrences at their proper relative value,

is to express the truth so inadequately that the phrase does not seem to express

it at all. Her mind seemed always like the exhausted receiver of an air-pump, in

which a feather or a guinea let fall, drop with apparently the same momentum.

Of society in the European sense of the term she had absolutely none at Bombay.


She never paid visits, and as the custom of the English communities in the East

requires the new-comer to make the first calls, she, ignoring this necessity, was left almost absolutely without acquaintances of her own kind in that station of India where she was supposed to be most at home. I often wondered that none of the English residents at Bombay had the curiosity to break through the conventionalities of the situation and take advantage of the opportunity lying within reach of their hands for making friends with one of, at all events, the most remarkable and intellectually-gifted women in the whole country — rugged eccentricities and cigarettes notwithstanding. But certainly at first the quarters where Madame Blavatsky established herself, and the habits of  her heterogeneous native household, and the wild tales which I have no doubt

from the first were circulated about her, may have intimidated any but the most

adventurous of the English ladies accustomed to the decorous routine of

Anglo-Indian etiquette.


She herself may have fretted occasionally against her isolation, but at all events did not regret the loss of European “society” in the special sense of the word; she would have found it a terrible burden to go out to formal parties of any kind, to forego the ease of the nondescript costumes — loose wrappers — that she wore, to put herself in any position in which her fingers would be restrained from reaching, whenever the impulse prompted them to do so, for her tobacco pouch and cigarette papers. Rebel as she had been in her childhood against the customs of civilized life, so equally was she a rebel against the usages of English society in India; and the strange discipline of her occult training that had rendered her spirit devoted and submissive to the one kind of control she had learned to reverence, left the fierce independence of her outer nature quite unaltered.


She joined me at Allahabad a few months after my return to India in 1881, and

went up to Simla with me to be the guest for the remainder of that season of Mr A. O. Hume. She was far from well at the time, and the latter part of the journey — a trying one for the most robust passenger — was an ordeal that brought out the peculiar characteristics of her excitable temper in anamusing way, I remember; for the “tongas” in which the eight-hours' drive up the mountain roads from Kalka at the foot of the hills to the elevated sanatorium is accomplished, are not luxurious conveyances. They are low two-wheeled carts hung on a crank axle, so that the foot-boards are only about a foot above the road, with seats for four persons, including the driver, two and two back to back — just accommodation enough in each for one passenger with his portmanteau (equivalent, if he has one with him, to a passenger), and a servant.


We had two tongas between us, putting our servants with some of the luggage in one, while Madame Blavatsky and I occupied the back seat of the other with a porte manteau on the seat beside the driver. The only recommendation of a tonga is that it gets over the ground rapidly, and the ponies, frequently changed, trot or canter up all but the steepest gradients. The traveler is jolted frightfully, but he is not likely to be capsized, though even that happens sometimes, for the mountain roads are very rough, and the ponies apt to be troublesome.


The general character of the tonga pony may be appreciated from the fact that I have known a driver apologize to a passenger for a particularly flighty pair, on the ground that they had never been in harness before. The animals are attached to the vehicle by a strong cross-bar resting in sockets on saddles they carry for the purpose, and though on this system ponies and cart are as firmly united as a

bunch of keys by its steel ring, still they are no less loosely linked together,

and n nervous passenger is liable to be disturbed by the extraordinary positions

into which they get during any little disagreement between the team and the

driver. One such disagreement arose soon after our start on the journey of which

I am speaking, and Madame's impassioned anathemas directed against the whole

service of the tonga dak and the civilization of which it formed a part, ought

not, I remember thinking at the time, to have had their comicality wasted upon

an audience of one. Then, as the day and the dreary drive wore on, Madame's

indignation at the annoyance of the situation only waxed more vehement, instead

of settling down into the dogged despair with which the more phlegmatic Briton

as a rule accepts the disagreeables of a tonga drive. Especially she used to be

incensed whenever the driver sounded his ear-piercing horn close behind us. She

would break off whatever she was talking about to launch invectives at this

unfortunate “trumpet” whenever it was blown, and as often, up to the end of the

journey; and, seeing that a tonga driver for self-preservation's sake must blow

his horn whenever he approaches a turn in the road (which may conceal another

tonga coming the other way); also that the road from Kalka to Simla, the whole

fifty or sixty miles of it, consists chiefly of turns all the way up, the

trumpet was more effectually cursed by the time we got to our destination than

the jackdaw of Rheims himself.


I do not think it worth while to add to the wonderful records of Mme.

Blavatsky's “phenomena”, contained in other portions of this volume, any

description of the relatively insignificant incidents of that kind, which were

all that occurred at the period to which I have now come. The manifestations of

abnormal occult power which had been displayed so freely in the summer of 1880 had given rise to a good deal of acrimonious discussion. Whatever

policy had been under trial, by the mysterious authorities whom Madame Blavatsky spoke of as her Masters, when she was freely permitted to exercise whatever abnormal gifts she possessed, and even helped to achieve results beyond her own reach, had now fallen into discredit. The days of phenomena working were all but over. All that occurred now were concerned merely with the despatch and receipt of letters, or in some way incidental to the work of the Theosophic movement. It would rarely happen that even these presented themselves under conditions that

rendered the transaction complete enough to be described as a wonder; though

with the experience of Madame Blavatsky that most of us about her at this time

had had on other occasions, incidents that were incomplete as tests of occult

power, would necessarily share the retrospective credit attaching to other

similar incidents that had been complete in the past. However, the mot d'ordre

in the Theosophical Society was now coming to be unfavorable to the craving for phenomena as such, that each new set of acquaintances Madame Blavatsky might make would necessarily feel at first. Mr Hume — who at that time was greatly interested in the information I had begun to obtain shortly before in reference to the views of Nature entertained by the adepts of Indian occultism — and I, were far more intent now on enlarging our comprehension of this “Esoteric Doctrine” than on witnessing further displays of a mysterious power of which we could not fathom the secrets.


We used to spend long hours together, day after day, in trying to develop the unmanageable hints we obtained in the form of written answers to questions, with the help of Mme. Blavatsky; but the task she had to perform in endeavoring to elucidate these hints, was almost hopelessly embarrassing; for though her own knowledge was very great, it had not been originally implanted in her own mind on European methods; it was not readily recast in a European mould, and above all, she had no clear idea as to what she was at liberty to tell us, and how far her general obligations of secrecy still applied.


It was an uphill and not very profitable beginning that was made at this time with an enterprise that assumed considerable proportions in the end, and it was not till a later period, when I had returned to my own house at Allahabad, that my instruction in occult philosophy, leading up to the subsequent development of the book called Esoteric Buddhism, began to make real progress. By that time, to my lasting regret, Mr Hume's sympathies had been alienated from the undertaking.


It has been, in this way, Mme. Blavatsky's fate, throughout her work on the

Theosophical Society, to make and lose many friends. The peculiarities of her

character, which these memoirs will have disclosed, sufficiently account for

this checkered record of success and failure. No personal demeanor could be

imagined worse calculated than hers to retain the confidence of people earnestly

pursuing exalted spiritual ideas, during that intermediate stage of

acquaintanceship intervening between the first kindling of an interest in her

general theories of occultism, and the establishment of a profound intimacy. It

is only people who know her hardly at all, or only through her writings, and, at

the other end of the scale, those who knew her so thoroughly that she herself

cannot mislead them, by external roughness and indiscretion, into distrusting

the foundations of her character, who do her justice. People who are familiar

with her without being closely intimate and long acquainted with the conflicting

elements of her nature, can hardly escape some shock to their confidence, sooner or later, some uncomfortable suspicion about her code of

truthfulness, of right or wrong, which once planted in their minds, and not

immediately brought forward and frankly discussed with her, will be sure to

rankle and grow.


It is easy for people whose work lies altogether on the physical plane of existence, who deal with one another by the light of principles which are perfectly well understood all round, to remain beyond the reach of all moral reproach, to regulate their conduct so that all men recognize the purity of their intentions, and the high standards of right by which they are governed. The course of life before an occult chela endeavoring to carry out

a work of spiritual philanthropy amongst people on the “physical plane” — “in

the world” — (as the occult phrase would express it, distinguishing between the

normal community of human kind at large, and the secluded organization in

contact with other modes of human existence, besides those of ordinary living

flesh) is immeasurably more embarrassing.


Such a person is entangled, to begin with, in a network of reserve. He cannot but be cognizant of a great many facts connected with the occult life which he is not at liberty to disclose, which, indeed, he is bound to guard even from the betrayal which an indiscreet silence in face of indiscreet questioning might sometimes bring about. There would be no difficulty in his way if he were simply a chela of the ordinary kind concerned as such merely with his own spiritual and psychic development ; but when he has to make some disclosures, and must not go too far with these — when he is not allowed, withal, to be judge of what information he shall communicate and what keep back, — his task may often be one that is replete with the most serious



These embarrassments would, of course, be least for a person of naturally cool

and taciturn temperament, but amongst occultists, as amongst people “in the

world”, temperaments vary. Of course Mme. Blavatsky's excitable and passionate disposition has been a frightful stumbling-block in her way: but what is the use in an orchard of the most gracefully shaped tree that bears no fruit ?


She might have been born with the manners of Mme. Récamier, and the sedate discretion of an English judge, and have been perfectly useless in her generation. Whereas, with all her defects, the possession of her splendid psychic gifts, of her indomitable courage — which carried her through the ordeals of initiation in the mysteries of occult knowledge, and again held her up against the protracted

antagonism of materialistic opinion when she came back into the world with an

onerous mission to discharge, — and of her spiritual enthusiasm, which made all

suffering and toil as dust in the balance compared with her allegiance to her

unseen “Masters”, the possession, in short, of her occult attributes has

rendered her an influence in the world of great potency. The tree may not have

assumed a shape that passing strangers would admire, but the fruit it has borne

has been a stupendous harvest.


When I say that suffering and toil have been with Mme. Blavatsky as dust in the

balance compared to her duty, I say that with deliberate conviction; but, of

course, the phrase must not be taken to mean that she bears suffering and

privation with philosophical calm or equanimity. She is not capable of bearing

the annoyance of a pin-prick with equanimity. She cannot help fuming and

fretting over every annoyance, great or small, and when, as so often happens

inevitably, considering the stories told of her wonder working, and the

occasional manifestation of her powers in this respect up to a recent

date, she is suspected of trickery, her indignation and misery and incoherent

protests are so vehement and unwise in their expression that they only serve to

strengthen unjust conclusions to her disadvantage.


During the Simla visit of 1881, we established the Simla Eclectic Theosophical

Society — a branch which it was hoped at the time would attract Anglo-Indian

members. Mr Hume was its president for the first year, and I myself for its

second; but the movement never took root firmly in Anglo-Indian society, and

indeed at that time there was nothing before the world that could give the

movement an adequate raison d'être for Europeans at large.


The record of Mme. Blavatsky's life in India for the next year or two would be

mainly a narrative of tiresome episodes connected with attacks of one kind or

another on the Theosophical Society. A Calcutta newspaper called the Statesman made her and her Society the object of frequent sarcasms, and sometimes of grave misrepresentation, so that in December 1881 it was driven under a threat of legal proceedings to publish a letter from solicitors on Mme. Blavatsky's behalf. This may be usefully reproduced here as illustrating at once the offensive nature and the groundlessness of the attacks of which she was the



CALCUTTA, December 16, 1881.

 “SIR, —


In the Statesman of Tuesday, the 6th instant, there appears an article having

reference, among other matters, to Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott, the

founders of the Theosophical Society. In the course of that article it is

stated: —


“ 'It is now asserted not only that the resources of both (Madame Blavatsky

and Colonel Olcott) are exhausted, but that they are largely in debt, on

account, it is alleged, of the expenses of the Society. It is not

difficult for any one to arrive at the conclusion that it would be highly

desirable and expedient for the founders of the Theosophical Society to have

these debts paid off. This is a simple and not unpraiseworthy instinct. The

question that remains is, as regards the means by which this consummation is

to be effected.'


“The remainder of the article, which we need not quote at length, is an

elaborate insinuation that Madame Blavatsky is endeavoring to procure from a

gentleman named, by spurious representations, the payment of her debts.


“Now, the allegation about Madame Blavatsky being in debt is, we are

instructed, absolutely false to begin with ; nor is the Society which she

helped to found in debt, unless, indeed, it be to herself. The accounts of the

Society, published in the THEOSOPHIST for last May, show that the outlay

incurred on behalf of the Society up to that date had exceeded the receipts

 (consisting of ' initiation fees ' Rs. 3900, and a few donations) by a sum of

Rs. 19,846, but this deficit was supplied from the private resources of Madame

Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott.


“We may further explain that Madame Blavatsky is a Russian lady of high rank

by birth (though since naturalized in the United States), and has never been

in the penniless condition your article insultingly ascribes to her — whatever

mistakes may have arisen from the improper publication of a private letter by

Colonel Olcott to a friend in America, the careless exaggerations of which,

designed merely for a correspondent familiar with the real state of the

affairs to which these referred, have given you occasion for some offensive



“We therefore, duly instructed on behalf of Madame Blavatsky and Colonel

Olcott, now require of you that you should publish this letter together with

an apology for the scandalous libel to which you have been misled into giving



 “We also require that in further refutation of these, and in general reply to

the insulting language of your article, you should publish the enclosed

explanations extracted from the Pioneer of the 10th instant.


 “In the event of your failure forthwith to comply with our request, or to give

up the name of the writer of the article in question, we are instructed to

proceed against you in the High Court for recovery of damages for the libelous

attacks of which our clients complain. —


  Yours faithfully,




The publication of this letter was accompanied by a quasi-apology, and the

matter dropped. But next month the Theosophists were engaged in another war of words with a Mr Joseph Cook, a missionary preacher, who attacked the Society in certain lectures he gave at Poona. All standards of European good sense applied to such a matter would, of course, have required Mme. Blavatsky to remain perfectly quiescent in face of such assailants, but her temperament forbade this, and possibly the native Indian feeling on such subjects, very unlike the European feeling in corresponding cases, may have made it impossible for the leaders of the Theosophical Society to refuse an answer to any charges made against them. At all events, poor Mme. Blavatsky was never dragged out of one pool of hot water without forthwith finding herself in another.


In the autumn of 1882, of which she spent the greater part at Bombay, she became seriously ill, and was at length summoned to an interview with her occult

superiors across the Sikkim frontier, near Darjeeling. In a note I had from her

shortly before her departure from Bombay, written in the middle of September,

she bade my wife and myself good-bye, in the expectation, apparently, that the

term of her physical life was nearly over. The note is so characteristic that I

give it here with only a few private allusions suppressed.




I am afraid you will have soon to bid me good-bye. This time I have

it well and good. Bright's disease of the kidneys, and the whole blood turned

into water, ulcers breaking out in the most unexpected spots, blood, or

whatever it may be, forming into bags à la kangaroo, and other pretty extras

and et ceteras. This all, primo, brought on by Bombay dampness and heat; and,

secundo, by fretting and bothering. I have become so stupidly nervous that the

unexpected tread of Babula's naked foot near me makes me start with the most

violent palpitations of the heart. Dudley says — I forced him to tell me this

that I can last a year or two, and perhaps but a few days, for I can die at

any time in consequence of an emotion. Ye lords of creation ! of such emotions

I have twenty a day. How can I last then ? I give all the business over to

-----; ----- (meaning her Master) wants me to prepare and go somewhere for a

month or so toward end of September. He sent a chela here from Nilgerri Hills,

and he is to take me off, where, I don't know, but, of course, somewhere in

the Himalayas.


 “ ... I can hardly write, I am really too weak. Yesterday they drove me down

to the Fort to the doctor. I got up with both my ears swollen thrice their

natural size, and I met Mrs ------ and sister, her carriage crossing mine

slowly. She did not salute nor make a sign of recognition, but looked very

proud and disdainful. Well, I was fool enough to resent it. I tell you I am

very sick. Yes, I wish I could see you once more, and dear ------ and -----.


“Well, good-bye all, and when I am gone, if I go before seeing you, do not

think of me too much as an 'impostor', for I swear I told you the truth,

however much I have concealed of it from you. I hope Mrs ----- will not

dishonor by evoking me with some medium. Let her rest assured that it will

never be my spirit, nor anything of me — not even my shell, since this is gone

long ago.


Yours in life yet,


H. P. B.”


Some particulars of her journey up to Darjeeling, made shortly after this, are

given in a narrative by an enthusiastic candidate for chelaship, Mr S.

Ramaswamier, who endeavored to accompany Mme. Blavatsky, scenting the

probability that she was really going to meet one of the higher adepts or

“Mahatmas”. I take a portion of this narrative from the Theosophist of December 1882. It took the form of a letter addressed by the writer to a brother



“... When we met last at Bombay I told you what had happened to me at Tinnevelly. My health having been disturbed by official work and worry, I

applied for leave on medical certificate, and it was duly granted. One day in

September last, while I was reading in my room, I was ordered by the audible

voice of my blessed Guru, M ------, to leave all and proceed immediately to

Bombay, whence I had to go in search of Mme. Blavatsky wherever I could find

her and follow her wherever she went. Without losing a moment, I closed up all

my affairs and left the station. For the tones of that voice are to me the

divinest sound in nature; its commands imperative. I travelled in my ascetic

robes. Arrived at Bombay, I found Mme. Blavatsky gone, and learned through you that she had left a few days before; that she was very ill ; and that, beyond

the fact that she had left the place very suddenly with a Chela, you knew

nothing of her whereabouts. And now, I must tell you what happened to me after

I had left you.


 “Really not knowing whither I had best go, I took a through ticket to

Calcutta; but, on reaching Allahabad, I heard the same well-known voice

directing me to go to Berhampore. At Azimgunge, in the train, I met, most

providentially I may say, with some Babus (I did not then know they were also

Theosophists, since I had never seen any of them), who were also in search of

Mme. Blavatsky. Some had traced her to Dinapore, but lost her track and went

back to Berhampore. They knew, they said, she was going to Tibet, and wanted

to throw themselves at the feet of the Mahatmas to permit them to accompany

her. At last, as I was told, they received from her a note, informing them to

come if they so desired it, but that she herself was prohibited from  going to Tibet just now. She was to remain, she said, in the vicinity of Darjeeling, and would see the BROTHERS on the Sikkim Territory, where they would not be allowed to follow her. . . . Brother Nobin, the President of the Adhi Bhoutic Bhratru Theosophical Society, would not tell me where Mme. Blavatsky was, or perhaps did not then know it himself. Yet he and others had risked all in the hope of seeing the Mahatmas. On the 23rd, at last, I was brought by Nobin Babu from Calcutta to Chandernagore, where I found Mme. Blavatsky, ready to start, five minutes after, with the train. A tall, dark-looking hairy Chela (not Chunder Cusho), but a Tibetan I suppose by his dress, whom I met after I had crossed the river with her in a boat, told me that I had come too late, that Mme. Blavatsky had already seen the Mahatmas, and that he had brought her back. He would not listen to my supplications to take me with him, saying he had no other orders than what he had already executed, namely — to take her about 25 miles beyond a certain place he named to me, and that he was now going to see her safe to the station, and return.


The Bengalee brother-Theosophists had also traced and followed her, arriving

at the station half-an-hour later. They crossed the river from Chandernagore

to a small railway station on the opposite side. When the train arrived, she

got into the carriage, upon entering which I found the Chela! And, before even

her own things could be placed in the van, the train — against all regulations

and before the bell was rung — started off, leaving Nobin Babu, the Bengalees,

and her servant behind. Only one Babu and the wife and daughter of another —

all Theosophists and candidates for Chelaship — had time to get in. I myself

had barely the time to jump in, into the last carriage. All her things — with

the exception of her box containing the Theosophical correspondence — were

left behind, together with her servant. Yet, even the persons that went by the

same train with her did not reach Darjeeling. Babu Nobin Banerjee, with the

servant, arrived five days later; and they who had time to take their seats were left five or six stations behind owing to another unforeseen accident (?) at another further place, reaching Darjeeling also a few days later! It requires no great stretch of imagination to know that Mme. Blavatsky had been, or was perhaps, being again taken to the BROTHERS, who, for some good reasons best known to them, did not want us to be following and watching her. Two of the Mahatmas, I had learned for a certainty, were in the neighborhood of British territory, and one of them was seen and recognized, by a person I need not name here, as a high chutuku of Tibet.”


Mme. Blavatsky was only two or three days across the frontier with her occult

superiors, but she returned practically well again, and cured for the time of

the formidable diseases by which her life had been menaced.On the 16th of

December 1882, a farewell entertainment was given by native friends to the

founders of the Theosophical Society, just before their departure from Bombay to take up their residence at Adyar, Madras, where a house had been purchased for the Society by subscription. At this entertainment an address was read as



“On the eve of your departure for Madras, we, the members of the Bombay

Branch, beg most respectfully to convey to you our heartfelt and sincere

acknowledgment for the benefit which the people of this Presidency in general,

and we in particular, have derived from your exposition of the Eastern

philosophies and religions during the past four years. Although the exigencies

of the Society's growing business make it necessary to remove the headquarters

to Madras, we assure you that the enthusiasm for Theosophical studies and

universal Brotherhood which you have awakened in us will not die out, but will

be productive of much good in future. By your editorial efforts and public

lectures, you have done much to awaken in the hearts of the educated sons of


India a fervent desire for the study of their ancient literature, which has so

long been neglected; and though you have never undervalued the system of

Western education for the people of India, which to a certain extent is necessary for the material and political advancement of the country, you have often justly impressed upon the minds of young men the necessity of making investigations into the boundless treasures of Eastern learning as the only means of checking that materialistic and atheistic tendency engendered by an educational system unaccompanied by any moral or religious instruction.


“You have preached throughout the country temperance and universal brotherhood, and how far your attempts in that direction have been successful

during the brief period of four years was perfectly manifest at the last

anniversary of the Parent Society, just held in Bombay, when on one common

platform brave hearts from Lahore and Simla to Ceylon, from Calcutta to

Kattiawar, from Gujerat and Allahabad — Parsees, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews,

Mahomedans, and Europeans — assembled under the banner of Theosophy, and advocated the regeneration of India, under the benign influence of the British

rule. Such a union of different communities, with all the prejudices of sects,

castes, and creeds set aside, the formation of one harmonious whole, and the

combining together for any national object, in short, a grand national union,

are indispensable for the moral resuscitation of Hindustan.”


Your endeavors have been purely unselfish and disinterested, and they

therefore entitle you to our warmest sympathy and best respects. We shall most

anxiously watch your successful progress, and take an earnest delight in the

accomplishment of the objects of your mission, throughout the Aryawart.


“As a humble token of our sense of appreciation of your labours of love, and

as a keepsake from us, we beg most respectfully to offer for your acceptance,

on behalf of our Branch, an article of Indian make, with a suitable



Thus by words as well as by deeds the native Theosophists of India were showing their appreciation of the good work done by Mme. Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott in spite of the perpetually renewed slights they received all the

while from the Anglo-Indian newspapers.


The house at Madras in which Mme. Blavatsky was next established was a great

improvement on the cramped and comfortless bungalow at Bombay from which she removed. Madras is a station of enormous extent, straggling along seven or eight miles of the sea-shore. Adyar is a suburb at the southern extremity, through

which a small stream finds its way to the sea, and just before it reaches the

beach spreads out into a broad shallow expanse of water, beside which the

Theosophical House stands in extensive grounds. Here we found Mme. Blavatsky and her heterogeneous household comfortably installed when my wife and I visited her on our way home from India in March 1883. She was looking forward to final rest there, and was hoping she had at last found the tranquil retreat in which she would spend the remainder of her life. Her occult gifts have not included the power of forecasting the vicissitudes of her own career, and she was very far at that time from suspecting the renewed disturbance of her destinies, which the next two or three years were preparing to bring forth. The upper rooms of the house were her own private domain.


These did not cover the whole area of the lower storey, but even with an

addition that had just been made, stood on the roof like the poop of a ship upon its deck. The new room just built had been hurried forward that we might see it complete, and was destined by Madame to be her “occult room”, her own specially private sanctum, where she would be visited by none but her most intimate friends. It came to be sadly desecrated by her worst enemies a year or two later. In her ardor of affection for all that concerned the “Masters”, she had especially devoted herself to decorating a certain hanging cupboard to be kept exclusively sacred to the communications passing between these Masters and herself, and already bestowed upon it the designation under which it became so sadly celebrated subsequently — the shrine. Here she had established some simple occult treasures — relics of her stay in Tibet — two small portraits she possessed of the Mahatmas, and some other trifles associated with them in her imagination.


The purpose of this special receptacle was, of course, perfectly intelligible to everyone familiar with the theory of occult phenomena — held by Theosophists to be as rigidly subject to natural laws as the behavior of steam or electricity. A place kept pure of all “magnetism” but that connected with the work of integrating and disintegrating letters, would facilitate the process, and the “shrine” was used a dozen times for the transaction of business between the Masters and the chelas connected with the Society for every once it was made to subserve the purpose of any show phenomenon.


At Madras Mme. Blavatsky was not quite so much neglected by the European society of the place, in the beginning of her residence there at all events, as she had been at Bombay. Some of the leading Anglo-Indian residents went to see her and became her fast friends. With some of these she spent part of the autumn at Ootacamund, the hill station of Madras. An incident which took place during this visit excited much local interest at the time, and is described by the lady chiefly concerned, Mrs Carmichael, as follows: —


“I went to see Mme. Blavatsky, who was at that time on a visit to General and

Mrs Morgan, who live at Ootacamund. After some interesting conversation with

her I left, expressing a desire to see her again soon, and on my third visit the following incident occurred.


“It was about four o'clock in the afternoon when I  called on Mme. Blavatsky, and was received by her in the drawing-room. I sat beside her on the sofa, and took off my driving gloves.”


I had already several times expressed to Madame Blavatsky my great desire to

see some occult phenomenon, and also to be convinced by some token of the

presence of the Mahatmas.“


After a short time spent in conversation on this and other subjects, in course

of which I said how much I should like to have a ring duplicated in the same

way that Mrs Sinnett had, Mme. Blavatsky took my hand, and withdrawing from

her hand a ring which she called her occult ring, took off also two rings from

my hand, one a blue sapphire, single stone. She held the three rings for a

short time in her right hand, and then returned me one saying — ' I can do

nothing with this; it has not your influence' (it was a ring of my husband's

which I had put on accidentally that day). She then proceeded to manipulate in

her right hand my blue sapphire and her own occult ring, at the same time

holding my right hand with her left."


After an interval of a minute or two she extended her right hand saying —“

'Here is your ring' — showing me at the same instant two sapphire rings, my

own and another identical in every respect, except that the second was larger

and a better cut stone than my own. ' Why do you give me this? ' I asked in



' I have not done it; it is a gift from the Mahatmas,' answered Mme. Blavatsky. ' Why should I be so favored ?' I asked. ' Because,' said Mme. Blavatsky, ' the Mahatmas have allowed you to have this as a token that they recognize and thank you and your husband for the deep interest you have always shown to the natives.' ”


About two months after, on my return to Madras, I took the duplicated sapphire

ring to Messrs Orr & Son, jewelers, and I was told by them that they valued

the stone at 150 rupees, calling it a party-colored sapphire.


  (Signed) “ Sara M. CARMICHAEL.

  LONDON, August 14th, 1884.”





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