Mahatma Letter to Besant - LMW 1 No. 59

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People involved
Written by: Koot Hoomi
Received by: Annie Besant
Sent via: unknown 
Dates
Written on: unknown
Received on: August 1900
Other dates: unknown
Places
Sent from: unknown
Received at: London
Via: unknown

This letter is Letter No. 59 in Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series. Mahatma Koot Hoomi warns Annie Besant against allowing the Theosophical Society to rely on creeds and rituals.[1] In editions 1945-1974, before the First Series was resequenced in 1988, this was called Letter 46.

NOTE: Authorship of this letter has at times been disputed. See Commentary about this letter below.

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Envelope

Mrs. Annie Besant
Theosophical Society
28 Albemarle
Street London

LMW1-59_env_thm.jpg

NOTES:


Page 1 transcription, image, and notes

Text of the B. W. Mantri letter to Annie Besant to which K.H. added his message:

Kalbadevi, Bombay 22nd August

Dear Madam

I have long wished to see you but somehow I have been so confused by many things I heard from several members of the Theosophical Society that I really do not understand what are really the tenets and beliefs of the Society. What form of yoga do you recommend. I have long been interested in Yoga Studies and I send you the "Panch Ratna Gita" by Anande-bai who is much advanced in this science. I wish you could see her. I am going to Kholapore but have to come back soon and pay my respects to you when you come back to India.

Yours respectfully B. W Mantri


NOTE: This is the complete text of the K.H letter to Annie Besant as first published in The Eclectic Theosophist No. 101, September-October 1987, p. 1. Capital letters represent the sections that were replaced by ellipses in previous publications:

A psychic and a pranayamist who has got confused by the vagaries of the members. The T.S. and its members are slowly manufacturing a creed. Says a Thibetan

LMW1-59_1_thm.jpg

NOTES:

  • pranayamist practices the yoga of regulation of the breath.

Page 2

proverb "credulity breeds credulity and ends in hypocrisy." How few are they who can know anything about us. Are we to be propitiated and made idols of. IS THE WORSHIP OF A NEW TRINITY MADE UP OF THE BLESSED M., UPASIKA AND YOURSELF TO TAKE THE PLACE OF EXPLODED CREEDS. WE ASK NOT FOR THE WORSHIP OF OURSELVES. THE DISCIPLE SHOULD IN NO WAY BE FETTERED. BEWARE OF AN ESOTERIC POPERY. The intense desire to see Upasika reincarnate at once has raised a misleading Mayavic ideation. Upasika has useful work to do on higher planes and cannot come again so soon. The T.S. must safely be ushered into the new century. YOU HAVE FOR SOME TIME BEEN UNDER DELUDING INFLUENCES. SHUN PRIDE, VANITY AND LOVE OF POWER. BE NOT GUIDED BY EMOTION BUT LEARN TO STAND ALONE. BE ACCURATE AND CRITICAL RATHER THAN CREDULOUS. THE MISTAKES OF THE PAST IN THE OLD RELIGIONS MUST NOT BE GLOSSED OVER WITH IMAGINARY EXPLANATIONS. THE E.S.T. MUST BE REFORMED SO AS TO BE AS UNSECTARIAN AND CREEDLESS AS THE T.S. THE RULES MUST BE FEW AND SIMPLE AND ACCEPTABLE TO ALL. No one has the right to claim authority over a pupil or his conscience. Ask him not what he believes. ALL WHO ARE SINCERE AND PURE MINDED MUST HAVE ADMITTANCE. The crest wave of intellectual advancement must be taken hold of and guided into spirituality. It cannot be forced into beliefs and emotional worship. The essence of the higher thoughts of the members in their collectivity must guide all action in the T.S. and E.S. We never try to subject to ourselves the will of another. At favourable times we let loose elevating influences which strike various persons in various ways. It is the collective aspect of many such thoughts that can give the correct note of action. We show no favours. The best corrective of error is an honest and open-minded examination of all facts subjective and objective. MISLEADING SECRECY HAS GIVEN THE DEATH BLOW TO NUMEROUS ORGANIZATIONS. The cant about "Masters" must be silently but firmly put down. Let the devotion and service be to that Supreme Spirit alone of which each [1] one is a part. Namelessly and silently we work and the continual references to ourselves and the repetition of our names raises up a confused aura that hinders our work. YOU WILL HAVE TO LEAVE A GOOD DEAL OF YOUR EMOTIONS AND CREDULITY BEFORE YOU BECOME A SAFE GUIDE

LMW1-59_2_thm.jpg

NOTES:

  • popery refers to the types of doctrines, practices, and ceremonies associated with a religion such as Roman Catholicism.
  • Mayavic ideation refers to ideas created under the influence of māyā, or illusion.

Page 3

AMONG THE INFLUENCES THAT WILL COMMENCE TO WORK IN THE NEW CYCLE. The T.S. was meant to be the corner-stone of the future religions of humanity. To accomplish this object those who lead must leave aside their weak predilections for the forms and ceremonies of any particular creed and show themselves to be true Theosophists both in inner thoughts and outward observance. The greatest of your trials is yet to come. We watch over you but you must put forth all your strength.

K.H.

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NOTES:

Abridged text from LMW first edition

NOTE: The following text is the abridged version given in the first edition of Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom:

A PSYCHIC and a prnymist who has got confused by the vagaries of the members. The T.S. and its members are slowly manufacturing a creed. Says a Thibetan proverb ‘credulity breeds credulity and ends in hypocrisy’. How few are they who can know anything about us. Are we to be propitiated and made idols of... The intense desire of some to see Upasika reincarnate at once has raised a misleading Mayavic ideation. Upasika has useful work to do on higher planes and cannot come again so soon. The T.S. must safely be ushered into the new century…no one has a right to claim authority over a pupil or his conscience. Ask him not what he believes… The crest wave of intellectual advancement must be taken hold of and guided into Spirituality. It cannot be forced into beliefs and emotional worship. The essence of the higher thoughts of the members in their collectivity must guide all action in the T.S.... We never try to subject to ourselves the will of another. At favourable times we let loose elevating influences which strike various persons in various ways. It is the collective aspect of many such thoughts that can give the correct note of action. We show no favours. The best corrective of error is an honest and open-minded examination of all facts subjective and objective… The cant about ‘Masters’ must be silently but firmly put down. Let the devotion and service be to that Supreme Spirit alone of which each one is a part. Namelessly and silently we work and the continual references to ourselves and the repetition of our names raises up a confused aura that hinders our work...The T.S. was meant to be the corner-stone of the future religions of humanity. To accomplish this object those who lead must leave aside their weak predilections for the forms and ceremonies of any particular creed and show themselves to be true Theosophists both in inner thoughts and outward observance. The greatest of your trials is yet to come. We are watching over you but you must put forth all your strength.

K.H.

NOTES:

Transcription Page 1

This transcription was used to produce the edited letter that was published in The Theosophist. Sections marked in red were omitted from the book:

Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, First S., pp.99-l00

Letter 46

(The last letter, written in 1900, received nine years after the death of H. P. Blavatsky.)

To Annie Besant

A psychic and a pranayamist who has got confused by the vagaries of the members. The T.S.and its members are slowly manufacturing a creed. Says a Tibetan proverb "credulity breeds credulity and ends in hypocrisy".How few are they who can know anything about us. Are we to be propitiated and made Idols of. Is the worship of a new Trinity made up of the Blessed M. Upasika and yourself to take the place of exploded creeds. We ask not for the worship of ourselves,, The disciple should in no way be fettered. Beware of Esoteric Popery, The intense desire of some to see Upasika reincarnate at once has raised a misleading Mayavic ideation. Upasika has« useful work to do on higher planes and cannot come again so soon. The T.S. must safely be ushered lntо the new Century. You have for some time been under deluding influences. Shun pride, vanity and love of power. Be not guided by emotion but learn to stand alone. Be accurate and critical rather than credulous. The mistakes of the past in the old religions need not be glossed over with imaginary explanations. The E.S.T. must be reformed so as to be as unsectarian and creedless as the T.S. The rules must be few and simple and acceptable to all. No one has a right to claim authority over a pupil or his conscience. Ask him not what he believes. All who are sincere and pure minded must have admittance. The crest wave of intellectual advancement must be taken hold of and guided intо Spirituality. It cannot be forced into beliefs and emotional worship, The essence of the higher thoughts of the members in their collectivity must guide all action in the T.S. and E.S. We never try to subject to ourselves the will of another. At favourable times we let loose elevating influences which strike various persons in various ways. It is the collective aspect of many such thoughts that can give the correct note of action. We show no favours. The best corrective of error is an honest and open-minded examination of all facts subjective and objective. Misleading secrecy has given the death blow to numerous organizations«. 

LMW1-59_tr1_thm.jpg

NOTES:

Transcription Page 2

The cant about "Masters” must be silently but firmly put down. Let the devotion and Service be to that Supreme Spirit alone of which each one is a part. Namelessly and silently we work and the continual references to ourselves and the repetition of our names raises up а confused aura that hinders our work. You will have to leave aside a good deal of your emotions and credulity before you become a safe guide among the influences that will commence to work in the new cycle. The T.S.was meant to be the corner stone of the future religions of humanity. To accomplish this object those who lead must leave aside their weak predilections for the forms and ceremonies of any particular creed and show themselves to be true Theosophists both in inner thought and outward observance. The greatest of your trials is yet to come, We are watching over you but you must put forth all your strength. K.H.

LMW1-59_tr2_thm.jpg

NOTES:

Context and background

Mr. Jinarajadasa provided these notes about this letter:

This letter is perhaps the most remarkable of all the letters received bearing the signature ‘K.H.’, as it was received nine years after the death of Madame Blavatsky in 1891. The charge that she herself forged all the voluminous letters of the Masters falls utterly to the ground. I have given a photographic reproduction of the letter in The Theosophist of May 1937, and a comparison with the dozens of letters in the K.H. script will show that it is in the K.H. handwriting. The story of the letter is as follows. On 22 August 1900, a Mr B.W. Mantri wrote a letter to Dr Annie Besant as follows:

Kalbadevi
Bombay 22nd August

Dear Madam I have long wished to see you but somehow I have been so confused by many things I heard from several members of the Theosophical Society that I really do not understand what are really the tenets and beliefs of the Society. What form of Yoga do you recommend? I have long been interested in Yoga studies and I send you the ‘Panch Ratna Gita’ by Anandebai who is much advanced in this science. I wish you could see her. I am going to Kholapoor but hope to come back soon and pay my respects to you when you come back to India.

Yours respectfully
B.W. Mantri

He did not put the year on the letter, but we get that from the postmark on the envelope. The letter was addressed to Dr Annie Besant at 28 Albemarle Street, London, then the headquarters of the Theosophical Society in England. When Dr Besant opened Mr Mantri’s letter, she found in blue handwriting the comment of the Master. The supposition that the K.H. script is a forgery implies that the forgery was done by somebody familiar with the K.H. script after Mr Mantri posted it in Bombay and before it was delivered in London. It should here be remembered that before I reproduced the K.H. script in my Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, Second Series, in 1925, and one letter of the Master was reproduced in Barker’s The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in 1923, the only other reproductions were (so far as I am aware) in the rare volume of the Society for Psychical Research which investigated the charges of forgery against H.P.B.

The parts in the letter which I have omitted refer to the occult life of Dr Besant which only the Master could have known.[2]

Physical description of letter

According to Mr. Jinaradasa, the original of this letter is preserved at the Theosophical Society, Adyar, Chennai, India.

Publication history

A photographic reproduction of the letter was published in The Theosophist in May, 1937. This letter was not published in the early editions of Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series. It first appeared as Letter 46 in the 1945 edition, and was renamed as Letter 59 when the First Series was resequenced in 1988.

A complete transcription was published in the The Eclectic Theosophist No. 101, September-October 1987, p. 1.

Commentary about this letter

In 1997, Dr. Vernon Harrison (an examiner of questioned documents) wrote:

The last letter believed to have come from KH was received in 1900 by Annie Besant. I now have a photocopy of this letter and my opinion is that it is a good simulation of KH's hand, but nevertheless a forgery. The literary style is unlike that of KH.[3]

Many Theosophists believe that no letters were sent by the Mahatmas after the death of H. P. Blavatsky in 1891, because as she told Constance Wachtmeister, "the day for phenomena was past."[4]

Additional resources

Notes

  1. C. Jinarajadasa, Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series (Adyar, Chennai, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 2011), 122-124, 171.
  2. C. Jinarajadasa, 172-174.
  3. Vernon Harrison, H. P. Blavatsky and the SPR: An Examination of the Hodgson Report of 1885. Pasadena, Calif.: Theosophical University Press, 1997. Available at Theosophical University Press website.
  4. Constance Wachtmeister, "H.P.B. And The Present Crisis In The Theosophical Society" Theosophy in Australasia (July 5, 1895), 5-8. Available at Theosophists.org website.