P. Srinivasa Rao

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Dewan Bahadur P. Srinivasa Rao (alternative spellings: Shrinivasa Rao, Sreenivasa Row, Sreenevas Row, Srinavas Rao, etc.) (1833 - February 15, 1906) was a Judge in the Court of Small Causes in Madras and later in the City Civil Court, in which he earned the reputation of a model Judge.[1] He joined the Theosophical Society in 1882. In 1884 he was elected as Secretary and one of the Vice-Presidents of the Madras Theosophical Society, with T. Subba Row as the President. His relations with the Founders were intimate and pleasant. In 1885 he was awarded the first Subba Row Medal for his contributions to Theosophical literature.

P. Srinivasa Rao was present on the morning of June 24, 1890, when T. Subba Row attended his "last worldly business" before he died.[2]

He died at the age of 73 in his residence in Triplicane on February 15, 1906. An obituary was published by Col. Olcott in the Supplement to The Theosophist in March. The Madras papers reported that "He died full of years and honor, and indeed there are few citizens held in such high public esteem and regard and with the weight of age, experience and reputation such as his."

Letters from the Master

Judge Srinivasa Rao received a number of letters from Master K.H., but they have not been published and their location is not known. Col. Olcott wrote about one of these instances, that took place on December 28, 1883:

On the morning of the 28th out on the lawn, before the opening of Convention, I told H. P. B. how sorry I was that the other Madras members had allowed Judge P. Sreenivas Row to spend so large a sum as Rs. 500 out of his own pocket towards the cost of the Convention, as I was sure he could not afford to be so generous. She reflected a moment, and then called Damodar to her from a group with whom he was talking a little way off. "Go," she said, “to the shrine and bring me a packet you will find there.” He went, and within less than five minutes came hurrying back with a closed letter in his hand, addressed on the cover to "P. Sreenivas Row". The Judge, being called to us, was given the packet and bidden to open it. He did so, and the expression of amazement on his face was indescribable when he drew forth a very kind and affectionate letter to himself from Master K. H., thanking him for his zealous services, and giving him the notes enclosed as a help towards the Convention's expenses The enclosure was in Government Promissory Notes to the aggregate value of Rs. 500, and on the back of each were written the initials "K. H." in blue pencil. I have given the facts exactly as they occurred, and one of the notes—for Rs. 10—I have kept as a souvenir, by the Judge's kind permission. The points to bear in mind are that I myself had heard, but a moment before repeating it to H. P. B., about the Judge's unstinted generosity; that Damodar had gone to the shrine and returned with the money within the next five minutes; that each note bore the familiar "K. H." initials; that neither H. P. B. nor Damodar had then between them one hundred, let alone five hundred rupees, and that the gift was at once reported to all the Delegates clustered over the lawn.[3]

At least three more letters from Master K.H. were received by him in February-March 1884, in Adyar, while the Founders were away.[4]

One of them was on February 17, while Mme. Blavatsky and Col. Olcott were in Bombay. This letter was precipitated on Babaji's desk and directed Srinivasa Rao to work on the spreading of Sanskrit literature and to assume the superintendence of the Triplicane Sanscrit School.

On March 4, he felt exceedingly miserable due to certain domestic afflictions. He went to Adyar, and on seeing Damodar K. Mavalankar said he wished to see the Shrine where the portrait of the Master was kept. There, a consoling letter was precipitated avising him to take courage and explaining that "the laws of Karma were inevitable".

The third letter was received on March 25, 1884 in answer to one of his that had been placed the day before in the Shrine.


Srinivasa Rao wrote a number of articles in The Theosophist with the spelling of P. Sreenevas Row:

  • December 1882, vol. 4, p. 56 - Observations of PSR, of Madras, on the existing system of Education in the Government Schools.
  • May 1883, vol. 4 p. 192 - Mystic Lore - Reading a sealed Envelope.
  • Supplement, June 1884, vol. 5, p. 90 - The Madras Theosophical Society [election of officers; resolutions passed]
  • Supplement, June 1884, vol. 5, p. 90 - The Madras Theosophical Sanscrit Schools (all four Madras schools inspected).
  • Supplement, August 1884, vol. 5, p. 113 - Phenomenal.
  • Supplement, November 1884, vol. 6, p. 151 - The Madras TS [resolution expressing confidence in Blavatsky despite the allegations made against her] -- T Subba Row & P Sreenivasa Row
  • October 1885, vol. 7, p. 53 - Light on the Path (1)
  • November 1885, vol. 7, p. 113, - Light on the Path (2)
  • December 1885 v7, p. 192 - Light on the Path (3)
  • January 1886, vol. 7, p. 260 - Light on the Path (4)
  • February 1886, vol. 7, p. 321 - Light on the Path (5)
  • March 1886, vol. 7, p. 392 - Light on the Path (6)
  • November 1886, vol. 8, p. 87 - Sapta-Bhumika (1) A Romance of Human Life in Seven Aspects
  • December 1886, vol. 8, p. 178 - Sapta-Bhumika (2)
  • January 1887, vol. 8, p. 243 - Sapta-Bhumika (3)
  • February 1887, vol. 8, p. 292 - Sapta-Bhumika (4)
  • March 1887, vol. 8, p. 370 - Sapta-Bhumika (5)
  • May 1896, vol. 17, p. 485 - Never Despair


  1. Henry Steel Olcott, "Obituary", Supplement to The Theosophist vol. 27 (March 1906), 32.
  2. See T. Subba Row (1856-1890) - His Death in 1890 by David Pratt
  3. Henry Steel Olcott, Old Diary Leaves Third Series (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1974), 66-67.
  4. P. Sreenevas Row, "Phenomenal", Supplement to The Theosophist vol. 5:No. VIII (August 1884), 113.