Mahatma Letter to Leadbeater - LMW 1 No. 7

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Quick Facts
People involved
Written by: Koot Hoomi
Received by: Charles Webster Leadbeater
Sent via: post
Written on: unknown
Received on: 31 October 1884, at midday
Other dates: unknown
Sent from: Kensington post office
Received at: London
Via: unknown

This letter is Letter No. 7 in Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series. Mahatma Koot Hoomi responds to questions from Charles Webster Leadbeater about chelaship.[1]

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Page 1 transcription, image, and notes

Last spring – March the 3rd – you wrote a letter to me and entrusted it to “Ernest”. Tho' the paper itself never reached me – nor was it ever likely to, considering the nature of the messenger – its contents have. I did not answer it at the time, but sent you a warning through Upasika.

In that message of yours it was said that, since reading Esot. Bud. and Isis your “one great wish" had been to place yourself under me as a chela, that you may learn more of the truth. “I understand from Mr. S.” you went on “that it would be almost impossible to become a chela without going out to India”. You hoped to be able to do that in a few years, tho' for the present ties of gratitude bind you to remain in this country, etc. I now answer the above and your other questions.

1. It is not necessary that one should be in India during the seven years of probation. A chela can pass them anywhere.

2. To accept any man as a chela does not depend on my personal will. It can only be the result of one's personal merit and exertions in that direction. Force any one of the “Masters” you may happen to choose; do good works in his name and for the love of mankind; be pure and resolute in the path of righteousness (as laid out in our rules); be honest and unselfish; forget your Self but to remember the good of other people – and you will have forced that “Master” to accept you.

So much for candidates during the periods of the undisturbed progress of your Society. There is something more to be done, however, when theosophy, the Cause of Truth, is, as at the present moment on its stand for life or death before the tribunal of public opinion – that most flippantly cruel, prejudiced and unjust of all tribunals. There is also the collective karma of the caste you belong to – to be considered. It is undeniable that the cause you have at heart is now suffering owing to the dark intrigues, the base conspiracy of the Christian clergy and missionaries against the Society. They will stop before nothing to ruin the reputation of the Founders. Are you willing to atone for their sins? Then go to Adyar for a few months. “The ties or gratitude” will not be severed, nor even become weakened for an absence of a few months if the step be explained plausibly to your relative. He who would shorten the years of probation has to make sacrifices for theosophy. Pushed by malevolent hands to the very edge of a precipice, the Society needs every man and woman strong in the cause of truth. It is by doing noble actions and not by only determining that they shall be done that the fruits of the meritorious actions are reaped. Like the “true man” of Carlyle who is not to be seduced by ease – “difficulty, abnegation, martyrdom, death are the allurements that act” during the hours of trial on the heart of a true chela.

You ask me – “what rules I must observe during this time of probation, and how soon I might venture to hope that it could begin”. I answer: you have the making of your own future, in your own hands as shown above, and every day you may be weaving its woof. If I were to demand that you should do one thing or the other, instead of simply advising, I would be responsible for every effect that might flow from the step and you acquire but a secondary merit. Think, and you will see that this is true. So cast the lot yourself into the lap of Justice, never fearing but that its response will be absolutely true. Chelaship is an educational as well as probationary stage and the chela alone can determine whether it shall end in adeptship or failure. Chelas from a mistaken idea of our system too often watch and wait for orders, wasting precious time which should be taken up with personal effort. Our cause needs missionaries, devotees, agents, even martyrs perhaps. But it cannot demand of any man to make himself either. So now choose and grasp your own destiny, and may our Lord’s the Tathgata’s memory aid you to decide for the best.




  • “true man” of Carlyle refers to an essay by Thomas Carlyle He. regards a "true man" as "one who is a deep and spiritual being, living his life by divine truths."[2]

Context and background

Mr. Jinarajadasa provided these notes about this letter:


Physical description of letter

The original letter is preserved at the Adyar headquarters of the Theosophical Society.

Publication history

Commentary about this letter

Additional resources


  1. C. Jinarajadasa, Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series (Adyar, Chennai, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 2011), 29-32, 141-143.
  2. Bryce R. Covert, "Masculinity in Thomas Carlyle's On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History" in The Victorian Web.
  3. C. Jinarajadasa, 27-28, 141.