Mahatma Letter No. 64

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Written by: Subba Row
Received by: A. P. Sinnett
Sent via: unknown
Written on: June 26, 1882
Received on: June 1882
Other dates: unknown
Sent from: Coconada, India
Received at: Simla, India
Via: unknown 

This is Letter No. 64 in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, 4th chronological edition. It corresponds to Letter No. 131 in Barker numbering. See below for Context and background.

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Page 1 transcription, image, and notes

Coconada. 26th June, 1882.

To A. P. Sinnett, Esq., etc. etc. etc.

Dear Sir,

Please kindly excuse me for not having sent you a reply to your letter up to this time. The qualified assent which you were pleased to give to the conditions laid down by me necessitated a reference to the Brothers for their opinion and orders. And now I am sorry to inform you that anything like practical instruction in the ritual of Occult Science is impossible under the conditions you propose. So far as my knowledge goes, no student of Occult Philosophy has ever succeeded in developing his psychic powers without leading the life prescribed for such students; and it is not within the power of the teacher to make an exception in the case of any student. The rules laid down by the ancient teachers of Occult Science are inflexible; and it is not left to the discretion of any teacher either to enforce them or not to enforce them according to the nature of the existing circumstances. If you find it impracticable to change the present mode of your life, you cannot but wait for practical instruction until you are in a position to make such sacrifices as Occult Science demands; and for the present you must be satisfied with such theoretical



Page 2

instruction as it may be possible to give you.

It is hardly necessary now to inform you whether the instruction promised you in my first letter under the conditions therein laid down would develop in you such powers as would enable you either to see the Brothers or converse with them clairvoyantly. Occult training, however commenced will in course of time, necessarily develop such powers. You will be taking a very low view of Occult Science if you were to suppose that the mere acquirement of psychic powers is the highest and the only desirable result of occult training. The mere acquisition of wonder-working powers can never secure immortality for the student of Occult Science unless he has learnt the means of shifting gradually his sense of individuality from his corruptible material body to the incorruptible and eternal Non-Being represented by his seventh principle. Please consider this as the real aim of Occult Science and see whether the rules you are called upon to obey are necessary or not to bring about this mighty change.

Under the present circumstances, the Brothers have asked me to assure you and Mr. Hume that I would be fully prepared to give you both such theoretical instruction as I may be able to give in the Philosophy of the Ancient Brahminical religion and Esoteric Buddhism.

I am going to leave this place for Madras on the 30th of this month.

I beg to remain your sincerely,

T. Subba Row.



Context and background

Physical description of letter

The original is in the British Library, Folio 3. According to George Linton and Virginia Hanson, the letter was written:

In the handwriting of TSR, both sides of paper in black ink.[1]

Publication history

Commentary about this letter

Joy Mills comments on T. Subba Row's statement on occult powers and true purpose of occult training:

Occult training, states Subba Row, involves "instruction" that would "in the course of time necessarily develop such powers." In other words, the training and instruction accompanying it comes first and involve what Subba Row here calls "the means of shifting gradually [the student's] sense of individuality from the corruptible material body to the incorruptible and eternal Non-Being represented by the seventh principle." He adds: "Please consider this as the real aim of Occult Science." What is called for is a genuine "shift" from ego-centered consciousness to a transpersonal awareness of the underlying source of all existence ... [2]

Subba Row, was a Hindu belonging to the Advaita Vedanta school. In this quote it is interesting to notice that he uses the phrase "Non-Being" to refer to Ātman, the seventh principle. The Sanskrit word ātman (which means "self") is used in Vedanta to refer to the true self of an individual beyond the conditioned phenomena. Subba Row's translation as "non-being", however, sounds more Buddhist than Hindu.


  1. George E. Linton and Virginia Hanson, eds., Readers Guide to The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett (Adyar, Chennai, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972), 47.
  2. Joy Mills, Reflections on an Ageless Wisdom, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 2010), 224.