Mahatma Letter No. 99

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Written by: Koot Hoomi
Received by: A. P. Sinnett
Sent via: unknown
Written on: unknown
Received on: December 1882
Other dates: unknown
Sent from: unknown
Received at: Allahabad, India
Via: unknown 

This is Letter No. 99 in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, 4th chronological edition. It corresponds to Letter No. 78 in Barker numbering. See below for Context and background.

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Page 1 transcription, image, and notes

My dear friend: — do not accuse me — after having started it myself — of indifference to, or oblivion of, our little speculation. The Chohan is not to be consulted every day on such "worldly" matters, and that is my excuse for the unavoidable delay.

And now, I am permitted by my venerated Chief to convey to you a memorandum of His views and ideas upon the fortune and destinies of a certain paper upon which his foresight was asked by your humble friend and his servant. Putting them into business shape I have noted his views as follows.

I. The establishment of a new journal of the kind described is desirable, and very feasible — with proper effort.

II. That effort must be made by your friends in the world, and every Hindu theosophist who has the good of his country at heart, and not very afraid to spend energy and his time. It has to be made by outsiders — i.e. those who do not belong to our Order irretrievably; as for ourselves —

III. We can direct and guide their efforts and the movement, in general. Tho' separated from your world of action we are not yet entirely severed from it so long as the Theosophical Society exists. Hence, while we cannot inaugurate it publicly and to the knowledge of all theosophists and those concerned, we may, and will so far as practicable, aid the enterprise. In fact, we have begun already to do so. Moreover, we are permitted to reward those who will have helped the most effectually to realize



  • The "new journal" was a newspaper that was going to be called The Phoenix.

Page 2

this grand idea (which promises in the end to change the destiny of a whole nation, if conducted by one like yourself).

IV. In proposing to capitalists, especially to natives, the risk (as they are likely to think) of so large a sum, special inducements should be held out to them. Therefore, we are of opinion that you should ask no more compensation than you now receive, until your exertions have made the journal a decided success — something that must and shall happen, if I am good for anything. For a certain time, then, it is desirable that the affair should be stripped in the eyes of the future shareholders of every objectionable feature. Capital may now be invested in various ways so as to secure moderate interest with little or no risk. But for the ordinary speculator, there is much risk in founding a new journal of high cost, which is to favour the side of just native interests in those too frequent cases of injustice (which can hardly be proven to you under ordinary circumstances, but that will) — which always occur when a country is held by foreign conquerors. Cases which, as regards India, tend to multiply with the gradual entrance of officials of a lower social origin under the competitive system of appointment; and increased friction due to a selfish resentment of the admission of natives to Civil Service. To your capitalists, therefore, you should hold out the inducement that you will unselfishly labour, for the same emolument



Page 3

as at your disposal now — to make their venture more than ordinarily profitable, and only claim a share of profits — as delineated by yourself with a slight change — when that point will be reached. I am ready to offer myself as a guarantee that it speedily will.

V. My suggestion is therefore, agreeably with the Chohan's opinion, that you should offer to accept the consolidated monthly pay you mention, (with the usual and necessary personal expenses of travel when on business for the journal) until the capital shall be earning 8 per cent. Of the profits between 8 and 12 per cent you should have one quarter share. Of all above 12 per cent., one half share.

VI. You should have certainly entire control over the journal; with some reassuring provisos that that power should not be transferable to a successor without the consent of a majority of the capital represented in the ownership; and that it should cease when it became apparent that the journal was being used against the interests to promote which it was founded. Without some such reservation, my venerable Chohan, and we too, think that deep-seated prejudices and suspicions would cause native capitalists — especially the rajahs — to hesitate — not for fear to make the large risks of this undertaking, but owing to doubts as to its success. The whole Anglo-European community now suffers in native opinion for the commercial sins of dishonest houses who have heretofore broken faith with the capitalists; and there



Page 4

are several Rajahs, who now follow in pensive gloom the far distant form of Sir Ashley Eden, who walks off with one pocket full of never fulfilled promises and the other loaded with the remembrance of several lakhs of rupees borrowed from and never returned to his friends — the rajahs. At the same time, these provisos should be so framed as to protect your interests as well. Some offer on your part, spontaneous of course, inviting the occasional inspection of books and papers at reasonable times for the verification of accounts rendered, should be given, since your personal integrity cannot be guaranteed for all your servants. But this is not to diminish your authority over the management of the journal in all departments.

VII. It is better that the whole capital should be paid in before the journal is begun, as it is always unpleasant and troublesome to call in assessments on top of original losses. But it should be provided that so much as was not immediately needed should be kept at interest; and that a Sinking Fund should be created out of the income of the journal, to provide for any unforseen exigency. The surplus capital as well as earnings, to be distributed from time to time.

VIII. The usual contracts and copartnership papers might be executed from the beginning, but deposited in confidential hands mutually agreeable and their nature kept secret until the arrival of a certain specified contingency. This would show good faith on both sides and inspire confidence.

IX. No remark upon the other features of your programme seems called for. Therefore — to something else now.



  • Sir Ashley Eden, (1831-1887), was an official in British India.
  • A sinking fund is established by a government agency or business to reduce debt by repaying or purchasing outstanding loans.

Page 5

Two or three nights ago, the following conversation, or rather, profession of independent opinion was listened to by myself, and approved, as far as worldly reasoning goes. Olcott was talking with several influential theosophists concerned with, and interested in our future journalistic operations. Your colleague and brother, the good and sincere Norendro Babu of the Mirror said wise words to this effect:

"Of the several princes, whom Mr. Sinnett's friends have in view in India, probably not one would be influenced to subscribe the capital from patriotic motives. The Nizam wants the Berars, and is hoping that England will be as generous to him as she is to Cetewayo. Holkar wants cent per cent or as nearly that as possible. Kashmir fears the C. and M. Gazette and the cupidity that has long yearned to annex his rich province (to this, my conservative and patriotic friend A.P.S. is sure to demur); Benares is orthodox and would spend freely to abolish cow- (not ox-) killing. Baroda is a boy, with a colt's restiveness and no clear idea, as yet, about life. With proper agents and discreet negotiations the 5 lakhs may (?) be raised, but it cannot be said how soon; (right, there, especially he who has little if any faith in our helping him).

H.P.B. forwarded me since then your letter. In case my advice is asked I should counsel — (1) the keeping of your Proprietors in suspense as to your actual chances, so as to give you the option



  • The Nizam was the ruler of Hyderabad.
  • Berars refers to a province in India.
  • Cetewayo was king of the Zula tribe in Africa.
  • Holkar refers to Tukojirao Holkar II, (1835-1886), Maharaja of Indore.
  • Kashmir refers to a northwestern region of British India.
  • C. and M. Gazette refers to the Civil and Military Gazette, published in Lahore.
  • Baroda refers to a province in western India, now known as Vadodara.

Page 6

of doing what may develop into the best thing. I, for one, confess to you now that I have two strings to my bow. When the new capital is raised, in case even it is so very soon — it will make no very great difference whether your paper be started next cold weather or the following so long as you are at the head of the Pioneer. You would be at it's helm until November and meanwhile your friends would have time to manage their difficult and delicate negotiations, and provisions might be made for you to receive an equitable proportion of salary while perfecting your arrangements at home, to begin in the cold weather of 1884. On the other hand, if the capital could be secured shortly you could put it at interest, and draw no pay until you leave the Pioneer. Of course, without forcing the events — in violation of our laws, save the Chohan's permission — all this is an uncertainty and a dilemma in some sort. Yet I can help your friends, and they will find it out very quick no sooner they begin. No: I would not promise, if I were you, not to start another paper; for, to begin with, you do not know what might turn up; and then it is always useful to have a sword of Damocles hanging over such heads as Rattigan's and Walker's. They are frightened to death — I tell you. They



  • Sword of Damocles is a metaphor from ancient Greek culture indicating the peril and fear faced by those in positions of power.
  • Rattigan and Walker were the new owners of The Pioneer.

Page 7

might even make it pleasant and profitable to you to continue directing the Pioneer, with increased editorial powers and salary, for this they could better afford than to have you compete with them with 5 lakhs at your back. As to the advisability of such a thing — time will show. As advised at present I still hold to the original programme. You must be complete and sole master of a paper devoted to the interests of my benighted countrymen. The "Indo-British nation" is the pulse I go by. More — anon.

I enclose a letter kindly lent to me — without his knowledge tho' — by the Colonel. Our friend foams with rage in the most unyogi like manner, and Subba Row is right in his opinions of him. Such letters and worse will be received by C. C. M., S.M. and others. And this is the man who swore his word of honour but the other day that he would never injure the Society, whatever may be his opinion of us personally! The close of the cycle good friend — the very last efforts. . . . Who will win the day? Of the Dugpas, under whose influence he has now placed himself altogether, whom he attracts in every way and manner or ----

But that will do! Yours sincerely,

K. H.



Context and background

This letter is largely concerned with the Mahatma K.H.’s report of the Mahachohan’s views on the Phoenix venture.

The last paragraph refers to A. O. Hume, who is apparently writing vitriolic letters about H. P. Blavatsky, the Mahatmas, the Theosophical Society, etc., to C. C. Massey and Stainton Moses in London.

Physical description of letter

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

KH script in black ink, on four sheets of letter-sie smooth paper, light in weight and pink in color. Fine lettering on both sides.[1]

Publication history

Commentary about this letter


  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), 163.