Theosophical History: Challenging Old Research and Libel about Helena P. Blavatsky

Was Helena P. Blavatsky a lunatic, a con artist, a “fat” (people seem to love fat shaming) Victorian table-rapping, Slavic clairvoyant, who tried to put the wool (“woo-woo”) over the eyes of the world?

Were her teachers, “holy dead men?”

Her chunky appearance, seems to be the most grabbing feature of her, to quite a recurrent few writers, who come upon her.

A beauty or charm, who aged, no less or more, than we will. Why is her appearance, more important than her teachings, and dedication?

The Reigles’ Helpful Research

David Reigle writes in “Why Take Blavatsky Serious?,” that it is generally thought Helena P. Blavatsky was proved to be a fraud, so there was no further need to examine her works. David Reigle begins:

“Scholars have not heretofore taken Blavatsky seriously, because it is generally accepted that she was proven to be a fraud. There was therefore no reason or need to evaluate her writings. However, in 1986 the century-old report which was primarily responsible for branding her a fraud was itself put in serious doubt. This original report of Richard Hodgson, published by the Society for Psychical Research, London, in December 1885,  has now been examined by Dr. Vernon Harrison. His study is also published by the Society for Psychical Research, in their Journal for April 1986, almost exactly one hundred years later.

Dr. Harrison opens by referring to Hodgson’s conclusion that Blavatsky was an “impostor,” noting that it “has been quoted in book after book, encyclopaedia after encyclopaedia, without hint that it might be wrong.” He continues:

  1. For years Hodgson has been presented as an example of a perfect psychical researcher, and his report a model of what a report on psychical research should be. I shall show that, on the contrary, the Hodgson Report is a highly partisan document forfeiting all claim to scientific impartiality. After showing this, he states in his conclusion:
  2. As detailed examination of this Report proceeds, one becomes more and more aware that, whereas Hodgson was prepared to use any evidence, however trivial or questionable, to implicate HPB, he ignored all evidence that could be used in her favour. His report is riddled with slanted statements, conjecture advanced as fact or probable fact, uncorroborated testimony of unnamed witnesses, selection of evidence and downright falsity. It is this Report on which virtually all modern assessments of Blavatsky, other than those of her supporters, are ultimately based.”

Some of the old research fell into a general pattern, ever since the days of Russian Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov’s brother Vsevelod Solovyof. His brother, Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov (Влади́мир Серге́евич Соловьёв) is known as one of the great Russian thinkers of all time. However, one should have examined his brother, Vsevelod’s integrity, who entered the Theosophical Society, became its enemy, and went on a slandering campaign. Helena P. Blavatsky spoke of:

“selfish intrigues (even in Russia) among pseudo-Theosophists who have turned into unscrupulously lying and confirmed enemies of the Theosophical Society and especially of me, its ‘scapegoat,’ because of their failure and the refusal of the Mahatmas to provide them with money for various ventures.”

United Church under Russia

Certain Catholic traditionalist circles and evangelicals have implicated the Theosophical Society and Theosophists in a global anti-Christian conspiracy. They can’t handle the fact, that there just may be issues with the truth-claims of their religion, so they must implicate Theosophists in a secret plot to institute a “One World Religion.” Then you realise, that such an idea never came from Theosophists, and the true Theosophists who saw through the Besantian, Leadbeater, and Bailey scheme reject it either way.

H.P.B. was also accused of being from a Russian spy to a British one, which she had to deny her entire life. Into the key contents of the work of Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov, he advocates the unification of Russia under the unity of various Churches (ecumenicism) and Church and State (theocracy). Parts of the West and East, he insisted had to unify the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Churches into their primordial unity, which H.P.B. called “Neo-Papism.” This primordial unity was conceived as none other than the fundamental “truth of Christianity.”

This is not the truth of Christianity.

It is evasion through amassing an illusion of unified priestly authority.

This was the ideology of Vladimir Solovyof and his adherence to the Vatican. For Vladimir Solovyof, it was Russia’s mission to be the carrier of religious unification; and the result of the movement he was of, to bring the East and West under a universal Church-State. This is obviously, opposite of the Theosophical Society, as the latter came to dissolve tendency to such ideology; but we can unfortunately see the infiltration of this idea, by later theosophists and supposed leaders of the Theosophical Society.

The charges of fraud against Blavatsky were but copies of now challenged theories, and we can provide fresh thorough investigation. A careful observation of the contents of several books, for one, would be Jeffery D. Lavoie’s “The Theosophical Society: The History of a Spiritualist Movement” (2012).  It demonstrates our statement, in repeating the statement of others, such as the 1885 Hodgson Report, the Teacup, and Coleman’s accusations of Blavatsky’s plagiarism. Sylvia Cranston dealt with this in “The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Blavatsky.”

Jeffery D. Lavoie is under the idea, The Mahatma Letters was a fraud, created by Blavatsky, which he says demonstrates a shift in Oriental philosophy from her Spiritualism. In his chapter on Esoteric Buddhism, he emphatically states, for which there is zilch evidence — that Blavatsky wrote The Mahatma Letters as she was developing her own cosmological structure of time and spiritual evolution (pg. 196).

K. Paul Johnson on the Mahatmas

A number of people have adopted the theory K. Paul Johnson puts forth in his work, “The Masters Revealed: Madame Blavatsky and the Myth of the Great White Lodge” (1994), without doing research, or fully checking all claims. K. Paul Johnson’s works are well-researched concerning other history. Now, rather than endorsed as a theory, some have wholly spread the idea as if it was an absolute fact.

The theory that K.H. was Thakar Singh Sadhanwalia, president of Sri Guru Singh Sabha at Amritsar of the Singh Sabha Movement in the late 19th c., does not hold weight against other stories that could not have involved Thakar Singh. So, this theory has been challenged before.

Many others have spread this false idea that H.P.B. thought of her teachers as infallible? This is far from correct, as they admit they make mistakes, are flesh-and-bone men, and die just like men do. Most importantly, H.P.B. never used the term “Great White Lodge,” to describe the purported brotherhood her Bhanté were said to be of.

H.P. Blavatsky says, at the time, the Tashi Lama knew some of the Masters there, and K.H. and Morya were traveling back and forth.

“Morya lives generally with Koot-Hoomi who has his house in the direction of the Kara Korum Mountains, beyond Ladak, which is in Little Tibet and belongs now to Kashmire.” (H.P. Blavatsky to Mrs Hollis-Billing, October, 2, 1881)

Concerning their reach in the world:

“However it may be, and whatsoever is in store for the writer through malevolent criticism, one fact is quite certain. The members of several esoteric schools — the seat of which is beyond the Himalayas, and whose ramifications may be found in China, Japan, India, Tibet, and even in Syria, besides South America — claim to have in their possession the sum total of sacred and philosophical works in MSS. and type: all the works, in fact, that have ever been written, in whatever language or characters, since the art of writing began; from the ideographic hieroglyphs down to the alphabet of Cadmus and the Devanagari.” (The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1., xxiii.)

Johnson makes the wild accusation, that the friends, family, and network of H.P.B. were quite all dupes and accomplices in her fraud.

K. Paul Johnson proposed the theory that Morya was the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir, head of Jamwal Rajput clan, Ranbir Singh. K. Paul Johnson tied, in his House of Cards, Morya to Kashmir, but Morya, had no ties to Kashmir, nor was he born in Kashmir.

“…why should Spiritualists feel so interested in my travels, studies, and their supposed dates? Why should they be so eager to unravel imagined mysteries, denounce alleged (or even possible) mistakes, in order to pick holes in everything Theosophical? To even my best friends I have never given but very fragmentary and superficial accounts of the said travels, nor do I propose to gratify anyone’s curiosity, least of all that of my enemies. The latter are quite welcome to believe in and spread as many cock-and-bull stories about me as they choose, and to invent new ones as time rolls on and the old stories wear out.” (Blavatsky Collected Writings, Vol. 11, pg. 363.)

Why have certain people accepted dogmatically, the hypotheses and speculations of K. Paul Johnson? The work of theosophists is then treated as nothing but the work of an enthusiastically-complex con artist at best. The average researcher would simply copy that work.

Now, it is corrected. It’s fine if K. Paul Johnson posits his theories, but for other academics to have a conclusive idea, because it is the “middle ground” as Joselyn Godwin put it, it is not sufficient a case. We know that the struggle between control of Central Asia by Russia and England and the Indian resistance to British rule in alliance with the Theosophical Society, is interesting history to take into account.

Few academics pay attention to such complex dynamics of colonial relations, of which the Theosophical Society played in those times.

It is an error to insistently conflate the mission of K.H., Morya, and Blavatsky with the fancies of Besant, Leadbeater, and Bailey.

K. Paul Johnson argued that the motivations of Blavatsky were political, and that she found herself caught in an international web of intrigue. Her motive was not covert political agitation, and in reading her letters, we see that she thought the overthrow of British rule would not happen till the next century. Johnson himself believed her case was a mix of fraud and “genuine psychism,” and would have us believe that any supporter of her ideas are just “True Believers.”

“Of course, you all who believe in, and respect the Masters cannot without losing every belief in Them, think me guilty. Those who feel no discrepancy in the idea (Hume was one of such) of filthy lying and fraud even for the good of the cause – being associated with work done for the Masters – are congenital Jesuits. One capable of believing that such pure and holy hands can touch and handle with no sense of squeamishness such a filthy instrument, as I am now represented to be – are natural born fools, or capable themselves of working on the principle that “the end justifies the means.” . . . [H]ad I been guilty once only – of a deliberate, purposely concocted fraud, especially when those deceived were my best, my truest friends – no “love” for such one as I! At best – pity or eternal contempt.” (Helena P. Blavatsky, The Letters of H.P. Blavatsky to A.P. Sinnett, pg. 102-3)

So many accounts of this woman, and by people who lived with her, found her careless, overly trusting, unselfish, excitable, and child-like. This woman would have had to been the greatest actress and trickster of the 19th c., to have created everything, and had dupe accomplices at every turn. Yes, it is true Ranbir Singh and Thakar Singh supported the cause of the T.S., but as prototypes of Morya and K.H., among the other figures, nothing adds up; and I am confused as to why so many just wish, just wish with no evidence, that she was an absolute fraud.

Carlos Cardoso Aveline said in On Trying to Look Like a Scholar:

“A deep desire to look like smart scientific guys is likely to be also a significant part of the motivation of the 21st century Soloviofs, Hodgsons, Sidgwicks and Coulombs.”

Perhaps. H.P.B. answers on another issue:

“He seems to think he has obtained proofs of it absolutely unimpeachable. I say he has not. What he has obtained is simply proof of the villainy of some men, and ex-theosophists such as Hurrychund Chintamon of Bombay now of Manchester and elsewhere; the man who robbed the Founders and Dayanand of Rs. 4,000, deceived and imposed upon them from the first (so far back as New York), and then exposed and expelled from the Society ran away to England and is ever since seeking and thirsting for his revenge.” (The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, Letter no. 54.)

The Character of H.P.B.

Charles J. Ryan (1865-1949) wrote of his account of H.P. Blavatsky:

“No charlatan would have either spoken or behaved so unceremoniously as she often did to persons whom she hoped to convince of her genuineness. No trickster would have dreamed of presenting fraudulent manifestations in the utterly casual and unmethodical way described by numerous witnesses. All this was part of her complex character which was curiously unsophisticated and childlike in many ways and as far removed from that of a cunning impostor as could be. She is known to have put her trust in the most disappointing people, even after being warned by her Master, though at other times she showed an amazingly keen perception of character.” (Charles J. Ryan, H.P. Blavatsky and the Theosophical Movement)

According to Alice Gordon, H.P.B. was:

“…so constituted that in her case systematic deceit was impossible. She had neither the cunning nor the self-control needful for plotting and concealment; and she lived so openly among her friends that the many falsehoods about her are absurd to those who have lived in the same house with her.” (In Memory of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, by some of her pupils, pg. 68., 1891)

Franz Hartmann wrote:

“H.P.B. – as all who were acquainted with her will testify – was never capable of disguising herself, and any imposture, great or little, which she could have attempted, would have immediately been found out, even by a child.” (ibid. 65)

According to Johnson, we cannot accept their accounts, as they too might have been accomplices in her “fraud.” He then denounces claims of enemies within the Society often as paranoia. This woman had enemies all around her. Perhaps, she courted publicity, without knowing how to handle it.

American artist, Edmund Russell (1852 – 1927) said that:

“All felt her penetration and her power. Each fell to the charm of her universality. She lifted people to the expression of their best at once. It gave men new force to feel they had met one who could look right through to their real selves, uninfluenced by the littleness of which others make so much. Naturally, the creedbound, the literal Jonah-swallowing-the-whale order who were frightened at symbolic interpretation, were uncomfortable in the light of her logic and deep-dredged knowledge and went away calling her “a dreadful woman.” Sometimes their wives confessed, “We don’t approve of her – but love her just the same.” …

“When she wanted to draw anyone on in argument, she pretended not to know English very well, but her knowledge and command increased as she swept into discussion. It was amusing to watch her parry with a journalist – lean, mental, cross-examining – who had come to trap her. At such times she would put on that stupid look Loie Fuller uses so effectively, as if only a little brighter she might be called half-witted; lead him on to play out all his rope, then, regaining her trenches step by step, drop her bombs; till finally she wiped up the floor with him. Then with hearty laugh she would grasp his hand. “You are a splendid fellow – come often – come always!”

“I have seen her in an argument suddenly strike her forehead with her clenched fist: “What an idiot I am! My dear friend, forgive me – you are right, and I am wrong.” How many will do this? … Samadhi or god-consciousness was her ideal. She was the bar of iron heated red-hot which becomes as fire, forgetting its own nature. Most people occupy themselves with the needs or pleasures of the lower all the time. She seemed not to have needs or pleasures of her own. Often she did not go out of the house for half a year. Not even for a walk in her garden. The influence of such example was the secret of the astonishing growth and expansion of the Theosophical Society. She lived in great truth, yet was called a liar; in great generosity, and was called a fraud; in a detestation of all shams, and yet – was crowned the Queen of Humbugs.”

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