R. Keshava Pillai

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R. Keshava Pillai (variously spelled as "Kesava", "Casava" or even "Keshow"). He was also known as "Brother Keshu," "Chandra Kesha," or "Chandra Kusho." In Mahatma Letter No. 31 he was called "Keshub Chandra Sen." He was an Inspector of Police at Nellore, in Andhra Pradesh. On May, 1882, a Branch of the Theosophical Society was formed at Nellore and Mr. Keshava Pillai was chosen as Secretary.

Visions of the Mahatmas

In his youth, Mr. Pillai had a vision of Mahatma M. He had decided to convert to Christianity and, after a heart-breaking argument with his father, he went to bed with a fervent prayer to God "to open my eyes and show me the Truth." He wrote:

That memorable night, which I shall never forget --- the 21st of July 1869 --- I had a dream, I cannot say it was exactly a dream, because I was not fully asleep --- I saw a figure, a majestic figure in the very likeness of the Great Mahatma M., whom I have subsequently seen on the other side of the Himalayas --- and whose portrait is now to be seen in the Adyar head-quarters --- with a book in hand, which he gave me. On my opening it, I found an English translation of the paragraph in the Upanishads, "Prana or Pranava (Om) is the Bow; the Atma, the Arrow; and the Brahman, the Mark" --- and He then recited to me the corresponding Sanskrit --- "Parnodhanuswarohyate Bramhatallakshyamuchyate" --- and, in the most impressive manner, told me that "the Aryan Sages by practicing this have become Muktas, and not by simple faith in any person or God." He added further --- "My child, do not be hasty, the labors of many births alone entitle one to Moksha."[1]

In 1876 he had a visitation from Mahatma K.H., who would later become his Master. He wrote:

I was seated in the carriage, when I felt a hand over my shoulders from behind --- the sensation that was produced in my mind and body was something heavenly --- so pleasant, and at the same time so solemn, that I could not utter a word --- and while in this state, I saw him from the window of the carriage, and He placing his blessed hand on my head told me in plain northern Hindustani with an admixture of Sanskrit --- "My son, be not grieved --- you will have better days --- and, in the meanwhile, you have my blessings."[2]

Besides these encounters, he saw the Mahatmas several times in dreams, on some occasions gaining new knowledge about situations or teachings.


In 1882 he became a probationary chela of Mahatma K.H.. He received at least four letters from the Mahatma. They have been published in Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, Second Series as letters Letter 64, Letter 65, Letter 66, and Letter 67. He is also mentioned as "Keshub Chandra Sen" in Mahatma Letter No. 31.

On the night of September 14, 1882, he received an astral visit from Master K.H. who told him, in Telugu, to go and see him beyond the Himalayas. On September 17 a letter from Master K.H. fell to his feet in the compartment of a railway carriage. He wrote:

In the year 1882 while I was traveling by railway between the Allahabad and Mogul Sarai stations, a letter fell in the compartment of the railway carriage in which I was sitting. I was alone in the compartment and the carriage was in motion. I had wished that Mahatma K.H. should give me instructions regarding a certain matter about which I was then thinking, and which I opened the letter I found that my thoughts had been answered, and that the letter was in the handwriting of Mahatma K.H., whose writing I know so well. Madame Blavatsky was then in Bombay.[3]

The letter answered his thoughts and advised him to carry out the instructions received from Damodar and Mme. Blavatsky. This involved a change of name to the Tibetan Chandra Cusho (also spelled Chundro Cusho or Chunder Cusho) and a change of attire to a yellow robe and cap. Master K.H. also told him that he would receive further instructions from him at Darjeeling by post (LMW 2:118-9). Pillai met up with HPB again in Allahabad on 18 September, and they reached Chandernagore by train the next morning. There, he left HPB and travelled to Darjeeling, where he arrived the following evening, and met Babaji Dharbagiri Nath. Pillai continues:

We were both together until the 28th idem. We travelled together, both on horseback and on foot in Bhutan, Sikkim, etc. . . . In the course of these travels, just about Pari or Parchong* on the northern frontier of Sikkim, I had the good fortune and happiness to see the blessed feet of the most venerated Master Kut Humi and M. in their physical bodies. The very identical personage whose astral bodies I had seen in my dreams, etc., since 1869, and in 1876 in Madras and on the 14th September 1882 in the head-quarters at Bombay.[4]

Keshava Pillai did not pass his probation. He eventually lost interest in the Theosophical Society and had a life of many worldly disappointments.

Online resources



  1. R. Casava Pillai, "How a Hindu of Madras Interviewed a Mahatma at Sikkim," The Indian Mirror vol. XXV (March 3, 1885), 2. See full article here
  2. R. Casava Pillai, "How a Hindu of Madras Interviewed a Mahatma at Sikkim," The Indian Mirror vol. XXV (March 3, 1885), 2. See full article here
  3. Curuppumullage Jinarājadāsa, Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom Second Series No. 66 (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1977), 118-119.
  4. The Theosophical Mahatmas. A Critique of Paul Johnson’s New Myth, Part 5, "A scheme of deception?" by David Pratt