To search and strive for truth in everything.
To aspire to possible human improvement; to expand one’s scientific and philosophical concepts.
Strive for international brotherhood: the establishment of universal peace and the consolidation of humanity and selflessness between all people, with prejudice to any personal feelings and profit.
H. P. Blavatsky
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, nee Hahn, better known here in Russia under the literary pseudonym Radda-Bai, under which she wrote her talented essays of India1 in the eighties, was an extraordinary phenomenon even in our century that coped with extraordinary personalities. In Russia, her activities and scholarly works (“Isis Unveiled”, “The Secret Doctrine”, “The Key to Theosophy”, “The Voice of Silence”, “Gems of the East”, “Glossary of Theosophical Terms”) and various articles in her London magazine “Lucifer”, in the Indian «The Theosophist» and many English and French publications, almost are unknown. For us, the Russians, they are only of external interest, as a wonderful mental movement, excited throughout the world by a Russian woman, without any means except her own mind, vast knowledge and extraordinary power of will. In Russia she cannot be of that moral value, for which she is glorified in the West, proclaiming her as a fighter for life after death, for supremacy of spirit in the human existence, for the insignificance of flesh and mortal life, given to us only as a means of improving our immortal soul, and as an opponent of materialism and an advocate of the spiritual principles in man and nature. She could be so appreciated and have influence on human minds only where the foundations of Christianity are shaken, or where they are completely unknown. We, her compatriots, not being stuck, thanks God, in the absurdity of Western materialism, can only pay tribute to her mind and knowledge in general, and then her literary talent, at least to the extent that it has manifested itself in our Russian press.
Helena Petrovna was the daughter of a famous Russian writer, Yelena Andreyevna Hahn2, nee Fadeyeva3, once called by Belinsky4 «Russian George Sand». Helena Petrovna’s father5, commanding a battery of horse artillery, led a kind of military, nomadic life, having an effect on the early upbringing of the girl. When, after the death of her mother, the relatives, the Fadeyevs and the Witte, fostered the orphans, Helena Petrovna could never get used to the usual classes schedule with teachers and governesses, whom she constantly drove to a despair being rebellious to the routine and delighted with her witty mind and abilities, especially philological and musical. All the qualities of her character were notable for resoluteness and were more suitable for a male than for a female. Energy never left her in the troubles and dangers of her extraordinary life. Since childhood, she had a passion for traveling, for risky undertaking, and was a thrill seeker. She never recognized any authorities, always followed her own road, paving the way for herself, setting herself independent goals, despising society’s claims, resolutely eliminating the encountered on the way obstacles that hindered her freedom … At seventeen she on a whim married a man old enough to be her father, and after a few months, without hesitation, she left him, left for some unknown place, and for almost ten years passed out of sight so that even her relatives did not know about her whereabouts for years …
She confessed her close friends that then she got married to N. V. Blavatsky6 only to “be free” from the relatives’ oversight.
Blavatsky spent much of her youth outside Europe; for several years she lived in northern India, studying languages, Sanskrit literature and the abstract knowledge for which Indian Raja Yogis7 are famous, and for which she later had to pay a lot. Too zealous followers, glorifying her as some kind of charmer, gave the enemy a reason to accuse her of deceit and call her a charlatan…
Having missed her relatives, Blavatsky returned to Russia exactly ten years later, in 1859. First she came to me, her sister8, and our father in the Pskov province9, and then to her mother’s mother in Tiflis10. She returned from her wanderings as a person gifted with exceptional qualities and powers that manifested immediately and amazed all those around her. She turned out to be the strongest medium, a condition which she later herself greatly despised, considering it not only humiliating for human dignity, but also very unhealthy. Later, her mental forces, unfolding, gave her the opportunity to subordinate the external manifestations of mediumship to her will and control. But at the age of 27, they manifested themselves against her will, rarely obeying her. She was surrounded by constant raps and movements, the origin and significance of which she couldn’t explain.
“I myself do not know what a nuisance it is!” said she. “A certain power stuck to me, I brought it out of America. Not only that everything is rapping and ringing around me, but things are moving, rising without need in disorder… And besides, everything shows sensible manifestations, interferes in conversations with raps and rings, answers questions and even guesses thoughts. Some devilry!”
At that time, American theories, brought to practice in St. Petersburg by Hume, were already known to all. Nevertheless, few people in Russia had a chance to see mediumistic manifestations in practice.
The amazing qualities of Blavatsky made such noise in Pskov that even now, more than over 30 years the old-timers remember her short-term stay there.
In particular, they were struck by meaningful answers to the questions they had thought up; such omniscience of the powers operating around Blavatsky, at that time already made some inveterate skeptics become her proselytes, much more than the movement of inanimate objects and the “shadows” she constantly described, which turned out to be true portraits of the deceased whom she herself never knew, but those present always recognized them by her descriptions.
Soon Pskov and partly Petersburg, as later the whole Caucasus, started talking about the “miracles” that surrounded Blavatsky. They came to look at her like at a miracle, she was attacked with letters and requests and the most ridiculous demands then she complacently obeyed, allowing herself to be tied up, put on soft pillows and take all safety measures to prevent any fraud. That didn’t stop everything from ringing, rapping and rocking. These manifestations always took place, even when Helena Petrovna slept or was in unconsciousness being ill.
In particular, a lot of talks were given rise when, with the help of her “spirits” (as all these manifestations were called), the murderer committing a crime in the vicinity of my village, the village of Rugodevo, where we spent the summer, was found.11 Her spirits directly stated the name of the criminal, the village and the house of the peasant, where he was hiding, to the bewildered district police superintendent, who immediately rode there and really found and arrested him there.
Helena Petrovna later recalled that period with horror and contempt for her then “senseless, involuntary mediumship”. After a few years, she completely conquered these forces by her will, the harmful qualities and impure origin of which she defined in her writings with full confidence that she was right, although she might be wrong.
The following year, Blavatsky left for Tiflis. On the way, it was in Zadonsk, at the mass, that His Right Reverend Isidore, the former Exarch12 of Georgia, later metropolitan of St. Petersburg who was on his way from Kiev, recognized her. He knew her back in Tiflis and sent a servant to call her to him. Bishop asked her tenderly, where and how she traveled, where she was going to, etc. Noticing soon the phenomena surrounding her, the church hierarch paid attention to them. He inquired with great interest, asked questions mentally and, having received clever answers to them, was even more amazed…
In parting, he blessed her and bid farewell with words that forever remained to her memorable and dear as the opinion of the Most Reverend Priest of Russian Orthodox Church concerning her exceptional gift. He said:
“There is no power which is not from God! You have nothing to be embarrassed about it if you do not abuse the special gift given to you … Are there not enough unexplored powers in nature? It is not given to man to know all of them, but it is not forbidden to learn them, as it is not forbidden to use them. He will master and, over time, be able to use them for the benefit of all mankind … May God bless you with all the good and kind.”
- P. Blavatsky lived in the Caucasus (where her early adolescence went by) for another four years. Her talented, dynamic nature constantly demanded new activities, new interests and occupations. To be content with usual, routine environment, colorless existence of most women was unthinkable to her. She was seeking for a variety of objects, like a fish strives for water, and a wild bird – for airy wide open space, without limits and obstacles to its peculiar flight.
All her life, it can be said, she rushed about, looking for something, trying to break free from the bonds and shackles that constrained her to an open light. Always dissatisfied, she clutched at this or that and, again deceived by hope, abandoned the business that had been started and tried to chase a new lure.
These aspirations to the unknown, for a long time couldn’t be grasped by her, being something abstract, elusive and the most incomprehensible task at first, the fulfillment of which lay upon her as a heavy and demanding consciousness of her duty, ceased only with the appearance of the Theosophical teachings on her horizon.
Then she immediately stopped, as a wandering ship, which finally found the right pier, stops and confidently lowers its anchor. She has been faithful to this cause all her life. She gave it her health, time and all her soul, having finally learned in it the cause that she was intended for, in which, it seemed to her, she found a worthy goal: spreading the faith in the unity of the spiritual forces of mankind, in the knowledge of theosophy – the oldest religion of the mind among people of all classes. – Its ideals and faith are almost everywhere lost!
“Pseudoscience has destroyed them”, said she. “People of our century require scientific support, scientific evidence of the immortality of the spirit: ancient esoteric science – Oumnaya religion (Aum) – as our Russian Orthodox church fathers called it (from the Sanskrit word Oum that is Higher Power) will give it them!”
But all this came much later. All her youth, Helena Petrovna rushed from place to place, from one business to another, not finding an occupation for the soul. It is necessary to take into account that in those years women’s activities were not as common as they are today, but she did not keep up with the routine and knew how to overcome obstacles.
She was a great craftswoman in needlework, she knew how to make skillfully artificial flowers; at one time she had a whole workshop and was very successful. Then she was engaged in trade in a broader sense: the rafting of forest trees, the export of chestnut tree woodknobs. She even moved to Mingrelia, on the shores of the Black Sea.
Still later, she started some cheap production of ink. And it went on quite smoothly. She subsequently resold it.
In 1864, she again went to the south of Russia, then to Greece and, finally, to Egypt. There, she, having not yet made any conclusions about the malignancy of spiritualistic activities, was very enthusiastic about organizing of a local society of spiritualists, during the séances of which remarkable phenomena occurred testified to more than once by local newspapers.
For those close to her, this period of Blavatsky’s stay in Cairo was marked by the first manifestation of her abilities to see the deceased on the very day of their death, which in her later life happened to her all the time. Almost no one in the family or from her close ones, died for thousands of miles from her being unknown to her: she always saw them and wrote about her vision on the same day, inquiring about the details of death.
“Is it true that armless Peter died?” She wrote to me the day after the event, when I had not yet known anything about the death of this servant of our mother’s family. “I saw him … Imagine, one our Englishwoman, a medium who wrote with a pencil on the tomb of Pharaoh, suddenly had phrases in a language that none of her companions could read. I was a little away from and came up just in time to prevent their intention to throw away a piece of paper written with incomprehensible scribbles and I could read the following Russian message to me on it: “Young lady! Young lady! Help! Pray for me! I am thirsty! I’m suffering!” According to this address (young lady) I guessed that it was written by one of our Fadeyevs’ people and took a pencil myself… ”.
The writer called himself Peter Kucherov and announced to her that he had died the day before, in the poorhouse, where I had placed him with his brother, when these people remained helpless invalids after the death of the older members of the Fadeyevs and their departure from Tiflis. Peter explained to her that his brother had lately died, and all this turned out to be absolutely right, word for word. This poor man was a confirmed drunkard during his lifetime and, according to his testimony, he was punished after death by a painful thirst, a recompense for his sin.
After the séance, Helena Petrovna saw him and confirmed it in the same letter that she wrote in Egypt, while this man died the day before in Tiflis. It must be said that there were no telegraphs in the Caucasus then, if anyone had even thought to use them for such uninteresting to anyone messages.
In 1873 H. P. Blavatsky left for America. The Englishman Sinnett, her biographer, in his book Incidents in the Life of Madame Blavatsky, states that even then, “there was constant mental communication with her teachers of occultism in Tibet and Ceylon”, that only obedient to their orders, she was always ready to move from country to country … Is he right? It depends on the opinions of believers or skeptics. But the fact is that as soon as she found herself at that hotbed of spiritualism, where the phenomena of materialization were already being manifested at that time, all her letters became filled with sorrow and indignation about that. Her visit to the “Vermont cottage” of the Eddy brothers, about which Colonel H.S. Olcott13 wrote a whole book entitled People from the Other World14 seemed to be the last stone on the scales of Blavatsky’s attitude to spiritualism. She began publishing article after article in American magazines, pointing out the danger of mediumship. Her letters were full with irritation against the abuse of powers and health of mediums by spiritualists and also human superstitions.
At the Eddie brothers’ Helena Petrovna first met with an ardent spiritualist, a colonel of the American military service, who fought for the freedom of slaves, Henry S. Olcott, and soon managed to attract him to share her opinion. Both ardent opponents of materialism, they did not deny the benefit brought to the world, hardened in disbelief, by the unexpected invasion of spiritualism, but thought that its role should be limited to turning society to believing “in more things than are dreamt of in … philosophy”15, but not to plunge them to another extreme, to superstition and “evoking evil powers, in other words, black magic …”.
“What spiritualists we are, good heavens!” – wrote she to her relatives. If I joined the theosophist society, a branch of the Indian Aryan brotherhood community, it is precisely because they honestly fight against prejudice and abuse of the false prophets of the letter, the priests of Calhas16 and the nonsense of spiritualists. We, perhaps, are spiritualists, and even then, not in the American, but in the ancient Alexandrian way …”
Soon her articles began to be praised in the American newspapers. An analysis of her public controversy with Professor Huxley, a preacher of materialism, made a stir. At the same time, she conceived of writing her first scholarly work, Isis Unveiled. In her letters, however, more and more often hints began to appear that it wasn’t her work; that she herself did not understand what was happening to her. But it is quite obvious to her that she says and writes about scientific and abstract objects not from herself – because she doesn’t understand a thing, but “somebody who knows everything dictates” and suggests her.
These strange manifestations of the scientific knowledge of an unknown origin, that at the age of forty dawned upon her, together with extraordinary indications of some kind of “suggestion”, alarmed relatives of HP Blavatsky … They, at one time, were positively feared for her reason.
“Tell me, dear one,” wrote she to her aunt,17 “are you interested in physiological and psychological secrets? And all this for any physiologist is an amazing problem. There are some extremely learned members in the Society (for example, Professor Wilder, an archaeologist and Orientalist) and they all come to me with questions and assure me that I know Eastern languages as well as sciences, positive and abstract, better than them. After all, that’s a fact! And you can’t run away from the facts, as you can’t knock your head against a stone wall!.. So, tell me, how could it happen that I being, as you know, an ignoramus before the mature years, suddenly became a phenomenon of scholarship in the eyes of real scientists? .. After all, that’s an unfathomable mystery of Nature!.. I am a psychological problem, a rebus and enigma for future generations, a Sphinx … Just think that I, who studied absolutely nothing in my life, who had no idea either about chemistry, physics or zoology, now write dissertations on all these. I enter into disputes with scientists and get out the winner … I am not joking, but perfectly serious; I am really frightened, because I do not understand how this is being done!.. Everything that I read seems now familiar to me … I find mistakes in the articles of scholars, in the lectures of Tyndall, Herbert Spencer, Huxley and others … Professors, doctors of science, theologians are hanging about from morning to evening at my place. They get into arguments – and I find myself right … Where is all this from? Have I been replaced, or what?”
At the same time, she sent clippings from various newspapers that confirmed her verbal victories and ones in the press over various authorities and, moreover, proclaimed to the world a lot of such improbable facts about the occult, phenomenal qualities and powers of the founder of the Theosophical Society, that it was impossible for people having common sense to believe them. “Phenomena” or simply miracles, to which her followers, Olcott18, Judge19, later Sinnett and many others devoted whole books, brought Blavatsky instead of glory only sorrow and accusation of fraud and deceit. Truly obliging friends turned out to be more dangerous than enemies. They only aroused mistrust about their teaching and its representative, glorifying what she herself always scornfully called “psychological tricks” known to hundreds of people in India … Enemies who, of course, she had many, took advantage of the imprudence of Blavatsky’ followers, accusing her of “these tricks,” whereas as if no one knew about them, it would in no way harm her cause and certainly not diminish the merits of her writings. There are no two opinions about them: both friends and enemies agree in recognition of their brilliance. Her first major work Isis Unveiled got hundreds of flattering reviews20 in the American and later in the European press. Few Russian people read these two thickest volumes with columns of the smallest references to writers of all countries. But the more significant is the fact how surprisingly the opinions on this classic Blavatsky’s work were expressed by two prominent figures in Russia: those of the Archbishop of Armenia, His Grace Aivazovsky21, and those of our talented writer Vsevolod Sergeyevich Solovyov22 coincided. The former, as soon as he read Isis Unveiled, and with it Sinnett’s book The Occult World, full of stories about “phenomena,” immediately wrote to me that, in his opinion, “there cannot be better phenomenon than the coming of such an essay from the pen of a woman”; and the latter (Solovyov) writes almost the same from Paris on July 7, 1884: “I am reading the second part of Isis and getting absolutely sure that this is a phenomenon!”
As for us, Russians, are concerned, these two testimonies are enough to prove that this book has irrefutable merits.
Our war with Turkey began, and Helena Petrovna had no rest. Oh! What crushing articles she wrote in American newspapers at the end of 1876 and the whole of 1877, against the Jesuitism of Catholics, against the hostile tricks of the Pope in relation to the Slavs. How sick at heart she was, sick with every fiber, with every drop of her Russian blood, because of the blood of her compatriots. Her letters of that time were not written in ink, but written in blood and tears.
She perfectly translated Turgenev’s Crocket in Windsor into English, and the poem was reprinted in several newspapers. The New York Poles did not give her rest with their anti-Russian meetings. The publication of the famous papal speech that “schism,” the sooner it is suppressed, the better,” and that “the hand of God can also guide the sword of the bashi-bazuka23,” laid her down in the fever and delirium from indignation.
Recovering, she burst out with a number of such caustic articles on the Pope and his “blessing of Turkish weapons” that the New York nuncio found prudent to soften her up and sent a truce envoy. Of course, the truce envoy was not received, and besides the next article by Helena Petrovna was adorned with a description of the visit of the “home-grown” Jesuit … Being constantly worried about the war, about her loved ones24 who took part in it, Blavatsky was not even pleased with the high-profile articles about her book, flattering letters to her by people like Lyman John Draper, Alfred Russell Wallace, and the reviews of this Darwin’s rival on her Isis.
“I am amazed at your erudition,” wrote Wallace. “You have positively opened to me a new, unforeseen world, from the point of view, that explained many things to me, which were incomprehensible before… ”
This autumn, Blavatsky was disturbed several times by the vision of her cousin, Alexander Witte (at that time, the major of the Nizhny Novgorod Dragoon Regiment), in blood, with his head bandaged. Unfortunately, this vision preceded the truth. On October 2, 1877, he miraculously escaped death. But at the same time he was wounded in the head so badly that he almost died. The contusion left fatal consequences, constant headaches that complicated the disease in a few years, from which A. Yu. Witte died in 1884.
Helena Petrovna was indescribably happy to hear about the successes of the Russian weapon, which she was eagerly following; much happier than to hear about her own ones. This can be seen from her letters to Russia. The liberation of Pleven, for example, made her burst out with an enthusiastic joyful message to her relatives; while sending her a certificate of an honorary Masonic title from England at the same time caused a moderate content and – a humorous letter:
“Look, fellows!” writes she. “I am sending you a curiosity: the Freemasons of England, whose head is the Prince of Wales, sent me a certificate for my Isis … I am, kind of, a “Mysterious Mason”! Any moment because of my virtues I am likely to be made a Roman Pope; I am sending a clipping from the Masonic magazine. And the order is very nice – a ruby cross and a rose.”
Even earlier, than from European masons, she got a membership certificate from the oldest in the world (still pre-Christian) Lodge of the Benaresan society Sat-Bai in Sanskrit language with the image of Brahmin signs.
Soon after making peace with Turkey, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky had volens-nolens to receive American citizenship. One American at his death bequeathed his estate to her so that she would receive it. It was a simple formality, but it excited her a lot.
“Now I am back from the Supreme Court, where I took the oath of allegiance to the American Republic”, wrote she. “Now I am an equal in rights citizen with the President of the United States himself … It’s wonderful; such is my special fate. But how disgusting it was to repeat the tirade after the judge, which I had never expected – that, I deny the citizenship and obedience to the Emperor of All Russia, and accept the obligation to love, protect and honour the unified constitution of the United States of America … It was badly terrible for me to utter this meanest denial! .. Now I’m probably a political and state traitor? … Nice! But how can I stop loving Russia and respecting the Sovereign? … It is easier to blurt out than to do it in reality.”
Indeed all her life, what an ardent patriot she was, and she remained the same. Having received citizenship, she continued for a long time, as during the entire war, to send money to the Russian wounded, and even the first proceeds received for Isis were used for the same purpose. Everything she received at that time for articles in Russian newspapers, everything was entirely sent to the Red Cross and to the Caucasian barracks of the wounded.
In the spring of 1878, a strange incident happened to H. P. Blavatsky, she suddenly fell in a dead faint lasting for several days. She was considered dead and was going to be buried when Olcott received a telegram from India from the person whom she considered to be an inspirer of all her knowledge and called him “Master”. He wrote: “Do not be afraid, she is not dead and not ill, but overworked herself. Her body demanded rest. She will be healthy.” At the beginning of the fifth day, Blavatsky regained consciousness and turned out to be completely healthy.
After that, representatives of the Theosophical Society, leaving it in America in the care of Judge (who is still its president), moved to India. They motivated their resettlement by the desire to study Sanskritology more closely and work together with the learned preacher Dayananda Saraswati, the great reformer nicknamed “Luther of India” to restore the primitive beliefs of the Hindus. Dayananda preached monotheism according to the Vedas, the sacred books of Buddhism, written in ancient times, when religion was not yet distorted by polytheism, invented by Hinduism, which turned the pure and moral teaching of the Buddhas into variegated mythology.
The Theosophical Society actually set three main objects:
1) The foundation of the Universal Brotherhood, without distinction of faith, race, origin. Its members are committed to constantly striving for moral self-improvement and possible help to their neighbors, spiritual assistance, and, if possible, material assistance;
2) Assistance in the dissemination of Aryan and other Eastern languages, sciences and knowledge;
3) Not obligatory – research in the field of the innermost laws of nature and mental forces of man.
Of these three objects, only the first is obligatory for all members; observing the second or third one is granted to members’ discretion.
On February 17, 1879 Blavatsky and Olcott reached the shores of India.25 At the pier of Bombay, the Arya-Samaj brotherhood prepared a solemn meeting for them, with music, flowers and elephants.
Here is an excerpt from her humorous letter to her relatives about this meeting:
“I was both seized with the desire to laugh and to get furious when seeing a large boat, decorated with flowers, and smaller boats with music coming up to the ship. They entangled us with garlands so that Olcott looked like the carnival “boeuf gras” 26, and I looked like a spherical nursery of lilies and roses, and with music we were taken in a large boat to the pier. There is a new surprise! Local girl-dancers met us, almost completely naked, surrounded us, bombarding with flowers all the time, and led us to a… perhaps you think to a carriage? .. Not likely! – to the white elephant! .. Good Lord! You can imagine what cost me to climb on the hands and backs of the naked coolies27 on that huge object! I almost fell out of the pavilion28 on his back when the elephant was getting up!.. Others were lucky to sit just in the palanquins, and Olcott and I were carried, accompanied with tambourines, timpani and joyous cries, like monkeys on a show, to the Arya Samaj premises”.
Tireless work was in a full swing. Olcott travelled most of the time, and Helena Petrovna was writing eleven hours a day, she worked without a letup. She wrote to local newspapers, sent correspondence to all countries of the world and collected materials for the future magazine The Theosophist.
At first, they were suspected by the British authorities for malicious purposes: espionage, propaganda of Russian influence. They were placed under the police surveillance; their letters were opened, they were looked askance at … Blavatsky was losing her temper! She wrote indignant letters to her friends in London. From there, many influential individuals broke out with articles in newspapers and letters to the authorities in Bombay in their defense.
The letter to Lord Litton (the then viceroy) from Lord Lindsey, a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences, President of the Astronomical Society of London, had the most effect.
“Your police have shamed themselves!” wrote he, “I myself am a member of their society, so you, perhaps, will consider me an agitator if I come to Bombay?”
The intercession had an effect. They were not more under the surveillance, but the censure was bitter. And still the enemies of the Theosophical Society and personally of H. P. Blavatsky continually reproached her with espionage.
Despite the prejudice of the Anglo-Indians against the founder of the Theosophical Society, especially as against a Russian woman, who did not hesitate to express her patriotism29, she soon managed to come up into place and gained many friends among the authorities, writers, and other society opinion leaders.
She soon began to be invited to routs, dinners and summer holidays in local villa regions, in Simla, Otakamund and similar mountainous areas. She found those obligatory trips very burdensome, having become estranged from society, from wearing evening dresses, especially in such tropical heat and busy life. For the sake of the cause, she had to restrict herself; as she had to, yielding to the insistence of “friends”, demonstrate “natural phenomena” in order to attract the attention of the profane to the reality of occult forces – all this for the sake of the propaganda of the Society … Local newspapers30 caught up cock-and-bull stories of “eyewitnesses” right away; they glorified the “miracles of the theosophical preacher,” made her a reputation as a sorceress that served as an obloquy to her, making her to be accused of quackery, to the detriment of those true merits, which even without “miracles” should have brought her fame.
Then her friend, the editor of the government newspaper Pioneer, Mr. A. P. Sinnett, sinned a lot against H. P. Blavatsky, without an intention to cause her any harm, of course. On the contrary, he thought to glorify her with such books as his “Occult World”, which aroused only quite understandable distrust. After the summer months in Simla, hostile rumours were again circulated, stirred up by the Pioneer articles telling incredible incidents. Clericals31 rose more resolutely than the others, quite legitimately hostile to the members, and even more to the founder of the Theosophical Society, who in a way popularized, although a very moral doctrine, but not a purely Christian one. Besides the fable about agitation in favour of Russia, other slanders against Blavatsky were being spread. One of the most absurd was the accusation of imposture. They invented that the real H. P. Blavatsky died and was buried in Aden, and that this was her maid … She had to resort to the testimony of the authorities and relatives: her uncle, General Rostislav Andreyevich Fadeyev, and Prince A. Dondukov-Korsakov, then the commander in the Caucasus. The latter sent her a certificate stating that her husband was a vice-governor in Erivan. And besides, he wrote a friendly letter, as to an old acquaintance.
All of this was published by Helena Petrovna’s friends and proselytes, but they were naturally fewer than the enemies and the indifferent – who felt hostility to her. The feeling grew excited by Jesuit missionaries and patriotic fanatics, as the Theosophical Society became more popular and its members influenced the higher native castes, the Hindu, the Brahmans, and the Sinhalese Buddhists who joined the Society in large numbers.
President H. S. Olcott openly accepted Buddhism. On the island of Ceylon, every time they went there, the Sinhalese made them royal receptions, although Helena Petrovna Blavatsky insisted not to violate one of the main principles of the Society, namely freedom of conscience, equality of all religions and the highest tolerance of its members to mutual beliefs, and the convictions of each other; it was because of this, that T.S. parted with its patron, with Hindu preacher Dayananda Saraswati, the monotheism preacher, because of his demand that only Buddhists should be part of the society – nevertheless, inclination of the Society to Buddhism, especially in India, was great. The Society’s co-founder and its President himself even compiled a Buddhist catechism approved for introduction into all schools by Sumangalla himself, the chief high priest in Ceylon.
Blavatsky morally suffered most from all those worries, slanders and all sorts of troubles, especially since the climatic bad conditions affected her, worsening her chronic illnesses. She was sick all the time, and several times so severely and dangerously that doctors denied assistance to her, finally sentencing her to death. But in those extreme cases, according to the testimony of many eyewitnesses, something unforeseen always happened to save her at the last minute. Or someone appeared, unknown by whom sent, some native healer and gave her an unknown medicine; or there was simply a saving dream, from which she awoke relieved; or unknown people appeared and took her away for a while to somewhere, from where she came relieved. Dozens of persons testify to such cases, in whose presence she was sick and disappeared temporarily; the stamps of those letters of Blavatsky, with which she informed about her unexpected disappearance, testify about it too. In front of me, for example, there is her letter from Meerut, further than Allahabad, in which she writes that “she received orders, leaving the iron and beaten paths, follow the sent guide to the jongle32, to the sacred forests of Deobend …”
In the next letter, my sister informed me that a Tibetan Lama named Debo-Durgai had healed her in those “sacred forests”.
“I was unconscious,” she says, “I don’t remember how they brought me on a stretcher to great heights. I woke up the other day in the evening. I lay in the middle of a large, stone, completely empty room. Around images of the Buddha were carved in the walls; some balmy potions were boiling in pots all around, and above me a completely white old lama made magnetic passes.”
After that, she fell asleep for the whole day, and in a dream she was taken down from the mountains to her friends who were waiting below. So the whole life of E. P. Blavatsky was woven out of weirdness and extraordinary incidents.
Moral shocks always extended to her physical body. So in the early spring of 1881 she became seriously ill, amazed, and shocked to the depths of her soul, by the terrible affair of March 1st33. She wrote:
“Good Lord! What kind of horror is this? Have you got a doomsday or what? Or has Satan possessed the offspring of our Russian land! Or have the poor Russian people gone mad? What will happen now? What should we wait for?! .. Oh, Heavens! I am an atheist, in your opinion, a Buddhist, renegade, a citizen of a Republic, and it pains me to hear that! It really pains! I feel sorry for the Tsar-Martyr, the Tsar’s family, sorry for the whole of Orthodox Russia! I hate, despise and curse these vile fiends – the socialists!”
“Let everyone laugh at me, but I, an American citizen, feel such pity, such sadness and shame for the undeserved, martyrdom of the Tsar the Autocratic, that in the heart of Russia people cannot feel it more strongly.”
Her magazine The Theosophist was published with a mourning cover. That was a result of Olcott’s care for her feelings. She herself was so ill that she stayed in bed.
When she came to her senses, she wrote an excellent article in The Pioneer about everything that Tsar Alexander II had accomplished, and was very pleased that most of the newspapers had reprinted it.
To the surprise expressed by some local authorities about a «mourning American citizen and her magazine,» Blavatsky sent a collective response to Bombay Gazette.
“Not as a Russian citizen, I put on mourning,” she says among other things, “but as a Russian by birth! As a unit of a multimillion people, favoured by that meek and merciful man, for whom my entire Motherland was dressed in mourning.”
“By this I want to express love, respect and sincere grief over the death of the Tsar of my father and mother, sisters and brothers in Russia.”
She was sent a portrait of the Tzar in his coffin.
“As I looked at him,” she wrote to her aunt N.A. Fadeyeva, “believe or not, I must have gone out of my mind. Something uncontrollable trembled in me, impelling my hand and me myself; suddenly I made a wide Russian sign of the cross and pressed my lips to His hand, the deceased’s one, thus getting even dumbfounded … Is it me, doing so? Perhaps I remembered old times and was deeply moved. I never expected it.”
In winter 1881-1882, the entire Indian theosophical community moved to Adyar, a lovely place on the outskirts of Madras. There, the Theosophical Society bought a house and land on a bank of the river that flows into the ocean, which Helena Petrovna immediately nicknamed as Adyarka in the Russian fashion. So it is still named in this Headquarters of the Theosophists.
Immediately upon our arrival, the seventh anniversary of T.S. was unusually solemnly celebrated. For these anniversaries delegates from all branches of the Society always come to Adyar. But they are unusually solemn and crowded in those years, where the number seven is involved, for it is highly revered by Theosophists due to its mystical secret meaning, anciently honoured by occultists. They always strive to connect all their undertakings, travels, residence address with this “happy” number.
In the early spring of 1884, Olcott and Blavatsky were about to travel to Europe on business. Therefore, in December, they moved from Adyar to Bombay.
At the same time, she again had a vision like other visions before, which always amazed Helena Petrovna’s relatives.
In late December, her uncle, Rostislav Andreyevich Fadeyev, died in Odessa. At the same time she saw him three times in a row and wrote to us:
“I am being oppressed by terrible grief: either my own uncle is dead, or I’ve lost my mind!”
She explained the first two visions as a dream, but the third one was impossible to explain in such a manner. She was on her way to Bombay. She was alone in the compartment, but she didn’t sleep when she suddenly saw him in front of her, just as he was twenty years ago. She not only saw him, but spoke with him…
Only when she came to Suez, she found out from the newspapers that she was not a victim of hallucinations, and she certainly (as she was sure of that, but tried to console herself with the opposite) saw the deceased himself.
She undoubtedly believed such visions (real appearance of the dead, at their free will, without any calls and mediumistic interventions). Well, she could not but believe them, seeing them all her life.
- P. Blavatsky had scarcely got to the European coast, when she was plied with invitations from London, Paris and Germany, and she persistently refused them, trying to succeed only in one thing: to arrange a meeting with her aunt Fadeyeva and with me.
She wrote us pleading letters, asking us to visit her. After spending some time in Nice with Lady Cattness, Duchess de Pomar, a chairwoman of one of the two Parisian branches of the Theosophical Society, she moved to Paris in May, hiring herself a separate, small flat where she expected to live in peace. But the news of her arrival soon appeared in the newspapers, and friends, curious acquaintances and reporters began to besiege her.
Wanting to temporarily escape from this kind of siege, she accepted an invitation from her big admirers, Count and Countess D’Ademar34, who lived near Saint-Denis, at a lovely villa near Enghien.
There she lived with her entire staff (Mr. Judge who came to visit her from New York, her secretary, Mr. Bertram Keightley, the Brahman Mohini Chatterjee and the Hindu servant) for three weeks, about which her dear hosts and everyone who was with her, now after the death of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, recall with the greatest reverence.”35
After having a rest at the Gonzag villa, Helena Petrovna returned to Paris just in time to receive her aunt and me, whom she was inexpressibly pleased to see. During all six weeks that we were staying with her, she was trying to get rid of her many pursuers – the visitors – but she did not succeed in that.
At that time, neither in Germany nor in France there was a completely organized branch of the Theosophical Society. In Paris, where even today there is no Society, following strictly theories of Blavatsky, but only a few hostile branches, the disagreement among which leads its serious members in England and America to the despair; there was almost no Theosophists at all then. There were a lot of idle curious foreigners – mostly Russian Parisians; there were also French lovers of novelties, and among them there were, of course, serious people, scientists, professors and doctors of various sciences. Of these, the most distinguished guest of H. P. Blavatsky was the astronomer and talented writer Camille Flammarion. He would often spend the whole morning alone with Helena Petrovna, and sometimes he would come with his wife and begged Blavatsky to visit them and stay for a day.
There have been many so-called «occultists» – clairvoyants, magnetizers, readers of thoughts among visitors. Colonel Olcott, when he returned from London and constant travelling, spent whole days with them in conversations and séances, as he himself was a powerful magnetiser, known for many remarkable healings. He also treated the novelist Vsevolod Solovyov, who marveled at his strength. But he even more enthusiastically marveled at the “phenomena” of H. P. Blavatsky: the sound ones that could be heard by everyone, and the light one that he alone could constantly observe around her. Mr. Solovyov, who had subsequently sharply changed his opinions about theosophy and his views on its prophet, was at that time an ardent admirer of both, predicting the prophet great glory. All this is evident from the letters of Mr. Solovyov to Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and to me. He not only waited for great benefits from the patronage of omnipotent “Masters” or Mahatmas – patrons of the Theosophical Society, but even was in communicating with them: he received letters from Raj Yogi Koot-Hoomi and saw Raj Yogi Morya himself in his astral body … He, however, saw once H.P. Blavatsky herself in her room, in Paris, when she was in India. His story about this phenomenon in a letter dated December 22, 1884 was extremely amusing. But one must think that he was carried away … Such excesses of unrestrained or hypocritical people who exaggerated Blavatsky’s occult gifts – due to the special devotion to her or some interests expecting special benefits from her friendship – were only harmful to her. Nevertheless, the surprising development of her psychic properties was obvious to everyone: her clairvoyance, mind reading, and sometimes the vision of what was happening at the other end of the world. Such phenomena of the spirit were incessantly manifested by her, much more often than the manifestations of her sound phenomena36 or the demonstration of animal electricity.
The last term meant the phenomena similar to the following.
Blavatsky would order, to many of those present, to lay a hand on a hand, in a heap. She with her hand would only wave through the air over all those hands, and everyone will jump aside with a cry, it seemed to everyone as if she had pierced their hands with an arrow or had nailed them through to the table. Exactly the same painful sensation, she, at will, could produce, waving at any organ of the human body.
An old man, the magnetizer Evette, a friend and disciple of the wizard and magician Baron Dupote, said that at “ill will” such an electro-magnetic blow could kill.
“Natural” phenomena, such as the reading of closed letters, or more surprising incidents when portraits of Raj Yogi Morya and Helena Petrovna herself had been replaced in a closed medallion, from which those present did not take their eyes off, were described many times in Russian and foreign newspapers and magazines. One phenomenon, witnessed by many eyewitnesses, namely, Blavatsky’s psychometrical reading the closed letter of E. A. Witte to her sister N. A. Fadeyeva and transferring an impression of a theosophical star, drawn in red pencil on a separate piece of paper to it, was especially very eloquently described by Mr. Solovyov in the magazine Rebus (July 1, 1884) under the title “Interesting Phenomenon.”37
Like many others at that time, Mr. Solovyov sought and longed for “phenomena” as the manna of heaven … In Paris, Blavatsky had no peace due to his requests to teach him to produce electric, sound and other manifestations the same as she did. And when she left for London at the end of June, he besieged her there with letters. And he was not alone! She writes to her aunt, for example, on July 7th:
“My correspondents bother me! I just do not know what to do with the pathetic letters of people in love with me. Half, of course, I do not answer. But after all, there are many of those whom I myself love and to whom I would like to help, like Vsevolod Sergeyevich Solovyov! ”
Later she again wrote from London, complaining not so much about not having enough time to study, but about the fact that she was always being put off work.
“Never can I get well here… This is not life, but some kind of mad turmoil from morning till night. Visits, lunches, parties and rallies – every day! Olga Alekseyevna Novikova38 alone had taken all the high-ranking London to me, except for Minister Gladstone, who, according to St. James Gazette, «fears me as much, as he admires me.» How do you like it? It’s just some kind of delusion!”
“… On July 21st there was a conversazione in honour of the founders of T. S. in the Town Hall (Prince’s Hall). 1000 tickets were sent out. Olga Alekseyevna Novikova brought representatives of all embassies, the Romanian Prince Giku, the entire staff of her devoted friend Gladstone and, finally, Khitrovo, our Consul General, who had arrived on business from Egypt … Here is a picture that I offer your imagination. The hall is huge; ladies are in ballroom clothing; ceremonial costumes of all nations can be seen. I am sitting on a kind of a throne from a ballet performance, in my black velvet dress, with a tail seven feet long, that I hate, and every now and then each one willing to meet me personally is being brought to me. Just fancy, in the course of two hours, shaking hands and smiling at 300 ladies and gentlemen! Phew!!!… The Secretary of State for Indian Affairs sat next to me and cracked compliments about the love of the Hindus for me … I got nearly frightened that a political colouring could be put on this too… Besides all sorts of European notabilities, a lot of different black and yellow princes: Javanese, Malay – how do I know – were introduced to me!.. And Professor Crookes and his wife found a place behind my chair, like adjutants, and he, every now and then, names me his colleagues of the Royal Society, famous scientists: physicists, astronomers and all sorts of experts in “Dark Sciences”… And suddenly Sinnett struck an attitude and began orating:
“Ladies and gentlemen! Before you you can see a woman who has accomplished a world-wide work. She alone thought out and executed a colossal plan, the creation of a whole army of cultured people whose duty it is to fight against Materialism and Atheism as much as against superstition and an ignorant interpretation of the teaching of Christ (that is to say, against the one hundred and thirty-seven sects, Shakers, Quakers, howling Salvationists revelling in darkness) which is the shame of the Christian world… Ladies and gentlemen of cultured England, behold the woman who has shown the world what can be accomplished by the power of will, steadfastly pursuing a certain aim, and by a strongly realized ideal. All alone, ill, without means, without patronage, without help of any kind, with the sole exception of Col. Olcott, her first convert and apostle, Madame Blavatsky has planned to unite into one intellectual whole a universal brotherhood of all nations and of all races. She has accomplished this undertaking; she has overcome animosity, calumny, the opposition of fanatics, and the indifference of ignorant people… Even our liberal Anglo-Indian government mistakenly arose against her humanitarian mission. But happily it realized its mistake and stopped in time.”
Ladies and gentlemen! You can see a woman who has done a world job. She conceived and fulfilled a colossal plan: creating an entire army of cultured people, of whom it is their duty to fight materialism and atheism, as well as superstition and ignorant interpretations of Christian doctrine (that is, against 137 sects of skippers, jumpers, howlers and the like obscurantists) who shame the Christian world … Look, the ladies and gentlemen of cultural England, at the woman who proved to the world what will, a steady desire for a given goal, for a clearly realized ideal can do! .. Alone, ill, without means, without patrons, only with the help of her first converted Apostle – Colonel Olcott, m-me Blavatsky conceived to unite, into an intelligent whole, a worldwide fraternity of volunteers of all races and all nations, and now she has completed this task! She mastered the indifference of the ignorant, the resistance of fanatics, enmity and slander by meaningful and energetic fulfillment of her humane mission, «etc., all in the same vein» … ”
Although Helena Petrovna’s friends hoped that her health would get better in Europe, she was always sick and in early August, she again got seriously ill.
It happened in Cambridge. She was honoured by university professors. After the ceremonial dinner they had a rally. Blavatsky was tired and remained in bed the next day.
Fortunately, here came, for a meeting with her, passing from America to Germany, a certain Mr. Gebhard, a devoted friend and a staunch Theosophist, like his whole family.
He was horrified at her condition and, without thinking twice, sparing no funds, he himself went to London and convinced the first experts and professors to come to the council.
Doctors carefully examined her, being busy during two hours, feeling, tapping, recording, deliberating, and deciding that only one brain was healthy throughout Blavatsky’s body, they prescribed, of course, other than medicine, impossible means: calm, complete rest, pleasant entertainment and other unthinkable pleasures that doctors generally like to prescribe to patients … There were two acceptable means – massage and mineral water. Mr. Gebhard undertook to provide them, along with all kinds of care and comfort, with a proviso that she move to his place in Elberfeld.
There are his silk and brocade factories, and his whole family lived in that small but wonderfully beautiful town.
Of course, Helena Petrovna agreed, especially since that kind and generous friend (so as not to interrupt her studies) demanded that she move to him with the whole staff of Hindu and British secretaries and those friends in whose house she lived in London. At the same time, Colonel Olcott had to take advantage of the opportunity to hold a congress of the German Theosophists in Elberfeld to form a properly organized German branch of the Theosophical Society.39 In a word, the house of the Gebhards in Elberfeld turned into a theosophical European centre for several months, where Helena Petrovna, who was diligently treated, was surrounded by followers of her teachings coming from every part, including followers from Russia, namely the maid of honour U. N. Glinka, the novelist Vs. S. Solovyov40, G. A. Zorn and Mrs. Gemerlei from Odessa and from there also N. A. Fadeyeva came, only for the sake of their niece, and not at all for theosophy.
Almost all the guests and all the family of Mr. Gebhard described verbally or in print a lot of “phenomena” that happened there.
In particular, the appearance of the letters of the Mahatmas41 Morya and Koot-Hoomi, in which there were always direct answers to the topic of the conversations that currently interested those present42 … It is impossible to enumerate all the miracles described by persons at different times surrounding Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. In our opinion, it is completely unnecessary, since the essence and the object of her aspirations are not in them. Although she, and especially those whom she considered her “teachers,” resorted, according to the stories of her followers, to actual demonstrations of “secret forces hidden in nature and in the spirit of man” (as the sources of these extraordinary manifestations defined by theosophists themselves). But they resorted to them only in order “to attract the attention of materialists who reject everything; to make them think, to understand that there are forces above the few ones, known to mankind, and to arouse in them a greater desire to develop the spiritual side of their being – “self-perfection”.
The main and only object of the works of H. P. Blavatsky and the task of all the last years of her life was in the struggle against materialism – with the moral ulcers of egoism and debauchery, generated by the unbelief of our time, and in the feasible help of those in need.
While the founders of the Theosophical Society were in Europe, their enemies in India were on the alert. On the initiative of the Scottish Jesuit Patterson43, a kind of plot was being hatched out there. Bribed by him the former Blavatsky’s housekeeper and her husband, a carpenter, whom she entrusted with her belongings in Adyar and charged with some repairing in her rooms – the people whom she literally saved from starvation – made such a long-drawn-out affair of fraudulent letters and joinery works that were supposedly intended for future deceptions to serve to the eternal accusations of her detractors.
No matter how many her supporters would publish refutations later, no matter how firmly and clearly they proved the falsity and absurdity of those accusations, all the dishonest actions of the London Society for Psychical Research, which published its accusatory “report” based on the testimony of the only person who did not even allow to compare the handwriting of the fabricated letters with the authentic handwriting of Helena Petrovna, nothing helped to dismiss her disgraceful accusations.
Why? Therefore, it is likely that most of the protests, proving the absurdity of Blavatsky’s accusation of such, for example, insanity, as ordering false, secret structures in her house during her absence, or such untenable slander, as if by herself fabricated Raj-Yogis’ letters written in all languages, from various places of the globe and received everywhere in her presence or without her44, almost never found a place in third-party journals, and almost exclusively remained in the theosophical organs. The report of the Society for Psychical Research (hostile to the Theosophical Society) was widely distributed in every language.45 When and where has slander and evil not prevailed over justice and truth? A small minority are interested in teachings of the theosophists, philanthropy activities of the society created by H. P. Blavatsky, her scientific works and her moral tasks, and in Russia almost no one is. Who will not take an interest in vivid, sensational stories, as Mr. Solovyov’s memories of his acquaintance with the late H. Blavatsky? Who would not laugh at his cheerful revelations? And, laughing, who will begin to inquire about his motives? Does he tell the truth? Who cares how much Blavatsky suffered from such, generally speaking, untenable attacks of her ill-wishers. Laughter, even a false one, is easier to spread among people and is better remembered by them than the boring truth which is of no interest to anyone.46
It will be just to say that in the Indian, English and American press there have been many refutations of the maliciously false testimony of the missionary organ Christian College in Madras and false (perhaps unintentionally, but due to the inexperience of the investigator, Mr. Hodgson, – “fooled youth” as he is called in Mr. Stead’s Journal of Journals) reports to the Society for Psychical Research. Nevertheless, the whole story almost cost the life of Helena Petrovna. She decided to return immediately to Madras, although doctors predicted risk to which she exposed herself to. She preferred risk and possibility not only of illness, but also of death itself, if only to refute the shameless slander of the Jesuit magazine, which said that she “would not dare to return to India,” because, apart from deceptions and lies, with which she “fooled the credulous, she – moreover – robbed T. Society’s till… ”
How could she read such slander, she, who gave all her personal fortune, all her literary earnings to the Society, found by her?
Of course, she immediately packed things and in November she was already in India again.
Here, a series of ceremonial meetings convincingly refuted the libel of the Christian College Magazine and partly rewarded Helena Petrovna’s selflessness. Students from Madras higher colleges presented her with a sympathetic and grateful address, signed by eight hundred people, most of which did not even belong to the Theosophical Society.47 The Hindus are all grateful to her, besides her teachings, for the fact that, with her influence, the Theosophical Society softened caste prejudices; forced the British to deal with the natives not so arrogant and to get closer acquainted with the mental development and literature of the Hindus and the Buddhists. Western Europe was acquainted with the best works of their ancient literature by talented writings and translations of Blavatsky. The Hindus are well aware of this and will not forget her name.
But despite the comforting manifestations of sympathy and friendship, despite the most favorable applause and meetings, Helena Petrovna when entering her working room and seeing the unexpected works of the villain – the carpenter Coulomb (an unfinished cupboard with a double bottom and a partition on the hinges, which, however, could not move because of the dampened wood), showed such indignation and was so excited that she got ill the same evening … For three weeks she had been fighting against death. Again, European doctors announced her on her deathbed, and again she struck them, having suddenly recovered, while the doctor announced the last agony to those present.
Nevertheless, although the immediate danger had passed, she was, according to the doctors, sentenced to inevitable death if she remained in Madras. She could not walk at all. She was taken on a steamer in a chair and sent with a doctor, her friend, who was also sailing to Europe, and with two servants or a companion and a native secretary, back to Italy.
Olcott could not go with her: it was difficult to raise funds for her journey. And besides, on the occasion of all these troubles, such intrigues and unrest arose among the Society itself that its President, nolens volens, had to continue at his post.
Helena Petrovna, very sick, morally broken, reached Europe in the most pitiful emotional and physical condition. She settled near Naples, in Torre del Greco, wanting to seclude herself so that no one would know where she was. Olcott got her word that she would not even write to anyone except the ones dearest to her … He thought that the rumours would soon subside and the commotion raised by the intrigues of the Indo-Jesuits be forgotten.
Her stay in Torre del Greco was one of the saddest episodes of her life … But, of course, the forced estrangement of all her friends from her could not last long: she was soon found, and the assurances of loyalty and invitations poured on her from everywhere. At the same time, in India, members of the Society who were not in the know raised a whole revolt against Olcott, demanding her address, recognizing no representation, no authority other than her.
Upon learning that, Blavatsky’s health was ruined to some extend by ridiculous accusations that she “imagined Raj Yogis who never existed,” the Indians bombarded her with letters, and the journals with statements about their authentic existence. From Negapatama, the country of the Pandits (the learned) for the most part, a message with 70 signatures arrived, being reprinted in all theosophical magazines.48
Here is a brief summary of its contents:49
“We, the undersigned, are incredibly surprised to read the Report of the London Psychic Society on Theosophy. We dare to declare that the existence of the Mahatmas is in no way invented by anyone. Our great-great-grandfathers, who lived long before the birth of Madame Blavatsky, had complete faith in their psychic powers, for they knew them and communicated with them. And nowadays there are many people in India who have nothing in common with the Theosophical Society, but who are in constant communication with them. We have many means for proving the existence and activity of these “Superior Beings”. Let Mr. Hodgson and his “committee” look for the truth more deeply and may themselves find that they were in a hurry and made a very erroneous conclusion … He, with his committee, showed great ignorance in the history of India and the Hindus, and behind them the notorious Society for Psychical Research made the most flagrant error, not satisfying the hopes entrusted to it by mystics.”
In addition to such official statements, Helena Petrovna received many friendly protests against her seclusion and her attaching too much importance to the personal conclusions of an inexperienced investigator (whom she herself, say, in brackets, demanded to send to Adyar) and the readiness of the Society for Psychical Research to believe them. She herself wrote to her relatives from Würzburg, where she moved in the summer at the insistence of many friends:
“I see that such a mess suits the Psychic Society fine. It plays on that not to diverge from European science. So, how could it honestly and fearlessly declare that all our phenomena are the results not of deceptions, but of powers, completely unknown and incomprehensible to European scientists. It would be dangerous for them: it would arm the main social forces of England, the scientific corporations and the clergy, against the psychologists. It is better for them try to trample us down, the Theosophists, who are not afraid of anything and tread against the routine, their direct path!.. Well, here I am a cheat and a spy! They have me as an eyesore, because I am not theirs, but Russian; here they made of me a paid agitator. Good heavens! I recognize my eternal lot: d’avoir a reputation sans enoiru eu le plaisir50. Oh, If only dear Russia really had some benefit, it was just that there was a negative benefit: almost all the editors of the best newspapers in India, my friends, knew perfectly well that their every word against Russia cuts my heart, and so they abstained! That’s my only service to the motherland, forever lost…”
Visits and letters from “friends” comforted H. P. Blavatsky. In Würzburg, her Russian friends again visited her and, of course, Vsevolod Solovyov, who spent six weeks there, and although he is now writing (Russkiy Vestnik, 1892) completely different things, but his letters of that time proved how enthusiastic he was about my sister’s psychic powers.
Returning to Paris, he wrote her the most friendly letters, where he reported on his conversations about her with Madame Adam and the famous Dr. Charles Richet; that he finally “convinced” both of them “in reality” of her personal power and “the phenomena coming from her”, and promised her a speedy “triumph from which all psychologists would disappear …” 51
Such friendly statements of complete trust pleased Helena Petrovna, not allowing her to even suggest future grieves. She unfortunately did not know how to love or suffer by halves. Being mistaken in people she believed in she suffered much more deeply than most of them deserved.
Although she had a lot of troubles in Würzburg, and she was very sick that winter, however, despite all the hardship, her new work The Secret Doctrine was progressing very fast. In October, she wrote to Sinnett:
“I am very busy on The Secret Doctrine. The thing at New York (meaning pictures of psychographic clairvoyance – “suggestions” – as she called them), is repeated only far clearer and better. I begin to think it shall vindicate us. Such pictures, panoramas, scenes, antediluvian dramas, with all that! Never saw or heard better.”
The Countess Constance Wachtmeister, the widow of the Foreign Minister in Stockholm, stayed that winter with Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, and since then she had hardly separated from her, giving her whole life, fortune and time to propagate the teaching.52
Having lost her beloved husband early, she was nearly carried away by spiritualism and was herself a medium. But having gone deep into the theosophists’ theory concerning the harm and danger of the mediumistic state, she overcame this power in herself and devoted herself to theosophy and occultism with all her soul.
“I was convinced,” she wrote to me, “that a person has a dual nature and that for some of the elect who have been able to develop their powers to the possible perfection, new, wide and bright horizons are opened, inaccessible to others. They are precisely those about which St. Paul so eloquently narrates: those for whom there is neither time nor distance. There are also such lucky, innate occultists who are from birth endowed with powers that facilitate the achievement of such higher spiritual development. Such is Blavatsky. I was completely convinced of this.”
The following are descriptions of the “amazing” methods and techniques of Blavatsky in her studies. As in the old days Olcott and Judge described clairvoyance and the phenomena accompanying the writing of Isis in America, the Countess Wahtmeister also describes bringing forth the Secret Doctrine in Würzburg …
Keeping away from such “fabulous” so to say aspects of the life and activities of Blavatsky, we will not give her stories,53 but we cannot help but express surprise at their similarity to the stories of the first closest associates of Helena Petrovna. “The phenomena of the spirit,” according to the Countess, were the everyday phenomena of their life in Würzburg, and then in Ostend. They were so common that she never wondered when Helena Petrovna had warned her in advance about the content of the letters that had been received the next day, or had asked her to answer this and that for future inquiries. We, her relatives, always wondered how seemingly incompatible extremes fit in that abnormal woman: reading thoughts, knowledge of the future and at the same time childish trustfulness, openheartedness, gullibility and lack of knowledge of people. And, my God, how often, due to her last qualities, my sister trusted in unworthy people and drank a cup of woe because of this!
The space of this biographical essay do not permit me to dwell on a new, complex intrigue, which at the same time broke out over Helena Petrovna’ head. A deceitful, ambitious and vindictive man, looking to achieve what he could not get, angry with her, he set up a bad, traitorous, deceptive business, wanting to completely compromise her in the opinion of some of her followers and quarrel with her relatives. Though he did not succeed, it nevertheless told hard to the calmness of Blavatsky and her health, of course. In all likelihood, he even managed to take away several years of her life. It is what this “devotee friend,” as he constantly called himself, assuring that he would never change his friendly feelings, can now be justly proud of!..
Being sick in body and soul, Blavatsky several times during these two years tried to ask for a permission “to retire”, insisting that, having retired from direct participation in the administration of the Theosophical Society, she would serve it more and better, having more time to write … But no one wanted to hear about this either in England, America or India. On the contrary, the European members of the Society persistently urged her to be an exclusive representative in Europe, leaving India to Olcott. And fervent exhortations were sent to her from India, pleading not to leave them, to return to Adyar. The latter was unthinkable, and she was gradually moving towards England, afraid to move there immediately, due to climatic conditions. But from London her followers visited her more and more often to get instructions, and more and more resolute measures were taken there to persuade her finally moving over the Channel, to publish with them a new Theosophist, as she wrote to us.
At that time in summer, my sister again visited her faithful friends the Gebhards in Elberfeld, where she met me and my eldest daughter, and with us also finished the season at the sea resort in Ostend. Many visitors came to her from Germany, France and Sweden, but most of them came from London on business. They already began to publish the first part of the Doctrine. In addition, Sinnett wrote his book about the life of H. P. Blavatsky and came several times to confer about it. Countess Wachtmeister again came to her for the winter, and from that time she and Mme Gebhard did not leave her, being by turn beside her until she moved to London, caring for her tirelessly and helping her in her work. In general, there was no problem then with scientific assistants. People of science, doctors and professors who wanted to get acquainted in advance with the content of her new book, offered their services and assistance, coming to her from London every now and then. There were also those who came from afar: from Stockholm, Switzerland and America.
In general, she was never left alone since then. And thank God, that there was someone to look after and take care of her: by spring she again suffered a serious illness … In Ostend doctors were ready to lay her in a coffin, but doctor Ashton Ellis, from London, did not allow it.
Learning from Countess Wachtmeister’s telegram that Blavatsky was very bad, he left everything, immediately crossed the Channel and stayed with her for a whole week, for which he paid with a great position at Westminster Hospital. He did not hesitate to quit the job voluntarily to help the woman, whom, it should be noted, he knew not personally, but only by her writings and work.
At the end of April (1887), her friends transported Helena Petrovna to England, surrounding her transfer with all sorts of worries, transferring her in a chair to the steamer and to the car, having prepared for her in advance a lovely villa in Norwood, amidst a flourishing area that completely was like a country house.
Then the work was in full swing.
Immediately, a new magazine was launched and a special branch of the London Theosophical Society, named the Blavatsky Lodge of the London Theosophical Society was established. Sinnett presided over the London Society; but then the local theosophists found that the primacy must have necessarily passed to the founder of Society, and Sinnett himself asked her to do so. But she decisively rejected this proposal, reasonably responding that in such a case she would have had to give up the Doctrine … She soon had already been up to the eyes with work, working no less than before in Adyar. She wrote to her family, apologizing for short letters:
“Do think how much urgent, daily business I have! To publish my magazine Lucifer, to write articles for Parisian Le Lotus, New York Path, Madras Theosophist, which, without my articles (Olcott is complaining), has lost too many subscribers; to continue writing the second volume of The Secret Doctrine, and correct the proofreading of the first volume five times; and to receive twenty and thirty visitors who come every day on business and not. After all, not only 24, but a hundred and 24 hours a day are not enough … Do not be afraid: I am writing, it means that I am healthy, relatively! Or others will write. Have you seen on the title page of the magazine Le Lotus a sensational statement that it is published “sous l’inspiration de H. P. Blavatsky”? What “inspiration” can there be, when there is no time to write a single word for them! … Do you get it? … I subscribed you both to it, and Katkov was the third 54. Let him have a glimpse at least. I just adore Katkov for his patriotism! Well done! He calls a spade a spade. Articles like his do credit to the entire Russia. I am sure that if my uncle 55 were alive, he would find in them an echo of his own thoughts …”
“What did you attack me for, because I called my magazine Lucifer? – writes she in another letter. This is a great name! Lux, Lucis – light; ferre – to bear: “Light-bearer” – what can be better? .. This is only due to Milton’s “Lost Paradise” that Lucifer has become a synonym for a fallen spirit. The first honest deed of my magazine will be to remove a blame of the misunderstandings from this name, with which the ancient Christians called Christ. Eosphorus56 with the Greeks, Lucifer with the Romans, because it is the name of the morning star, the herald of bright sunshine. Did not Christ himself say about himself: “I, Jesus, the morning star” (Rev. St. John XXII v. 16)? .. Let our magazine like a pale, pure dawn star foreshadow the bright dawn of truth – merging of all interpretations by letter, into a single light of truth by spirit!”
The same autumn a theosophical publishing house and a separate office appeared in the trade center of London, in the City. In addition to the monthly magazine, they began to publish weekly brochures “T.P.S.” – their short title, which could equally mean “Theosophical Published Siftings” or “Theosophical Publishing Society”. Such a big business soon attracted the attention of even the London press and public accustomed to the active manifestations of public life.
The clergy also turned their attention to the success of the new teaching and the rapid growth of the Theosophical Society in England. One should give them credit: they did not allow themselves any excess that Indo-Scots Jesuits considered possible in Madras.
Although, at the initiative of representatives of the Episcopal Church, several stormy rallies occurred in London, however, a beautiful, quite Christian letter published by H. P. Blavatsky in Lucifer under the title “Lucifer to the Archbishop of Canterbury” stopped any arguments. It caused, according to the Primate of England himself, his deep sympathy and respect “if not to the teachings of the Theosophists, then to its preacher…”
The clergy and the spouse of the Bishop of Canterbury themselves often attended crowded rallies of the Theosophical Society.
Helena Petrovna often had prophetic dreams. At the beginning of July 1886 we were surprised by her letter (from Ostend), in which she asked to give her details of the death of A. M. Butlerov57. This letter was received at the same time as a notice of his death appeared in the capital city’s newspapers. It was written by her on the very day of his death which as was well known occurred in the estate of the late professor, in Kazan province. In June of the following year, while living in Petersburg, I received this letter from my sister:
“I had a strange dream. As if newspapers were brought to me, I open and see only one line: “now Katkov is really dead”. Is he ill? Will you learn, please, and write … God forbid! ”
M.N. Katkov was in Petersburg then, but his illness had not been yet spoken about. However, it was spoken after two or three weeks, and soon his name was in all the newspapers. He was getting worse and worse until the end came: Katkov was really dead! – as it was said to Blavatsky in her prophetic dream.
Her letter to N. A. Fadeeva is worth giving here. Here it is in a shortened version:
Maycott, Crown-Hill, Upper Norwood. August 5, 1887
“I am, my dear friend, in a great woe! This death of Katkov just plunged me into some kind of fog. I am thinking, thinking and cannot figure it out. Well, “what is Hekube to me and I am to Hekube?” … Who would have thought it possible! As if I’m burying the whole of Russia with him … Yes, the death of this great patriot and bold defender of my much-loved Mother-Russia has upset my routine. I offends me!.. It offends me a lot, as soon as appears a Russian man out of a general run like Skobelev58, Aksakov59 or another – and so death swats at the most necessary moment. After all, Bismarck, Battenberg, Bulgarian regents or Salisbury, and tutti quanti60, do not die, don’t they? And all of ours. What was for Russia Katkov now only can be seen and figured out: joyful howling is heard from every magazine editorial board. Only two of them – Pall-Mall and St. James Gazette – responded nobly: no matter how much this death would take a burden off us, but “it would be desirable if there were such two or three patriots in England as Katkov was …” “Give us more Katkovs, then England will succeed much more…” I have just written a letter to his editorial office, it was necessary! For seven years I worked for Moskovskie Vedomosti and Russkiy Vestnik … Although, probably, they won’t believe the sincerity of my sadness, but I wrote what I felt … One is not a patriot or a Russian, who is not aware of the irreplaceable loss on those hard days for Russia! Russia has many “rulers” and candidates for them, but there is no another such faithful guardian of its national interests! And for a long time, maybe there will be not. Good lord, what kind of misfortune is pursuing Russia? .. As if dark forces have enmeshed it with an invisible network … And now there is no one more to destroy these loops with the powerful, truthful word of a shrewd patriot! .. For me, having lost all hope of seeing native Russia, all my love for it, my ardent desire to see its triumph over the enemies was concentrated and, as it were, shone in Katkov’s editorial articles. Who would write as he did? .. Who would write now, when he, and his uncle, and Aksakov, and everyone, are all gone. Who will be able to guess, who will dare to tell how he guessed and pointed out to Russia intrigues against it? .. Russia is lost! .. And I have lost my best advocate and guide, my leader in the field of politics. Yes, the truth is, “the patriot’s watchful eye has closed forever,” as the dragon protecting the interests of the nation, and only now they will understand what Katkov was for the Tsar and the Fatherland. He was therefore dangerous and hit true when all foreign diplomats and the press were trembling at his name, as they are now trembling with joy that they had got rid of him. We can now easily fool Russia …”
“Happy are Russian Orthodox Christians who can sincerely wish the deceased: “Let Heaven Kingdom be with you, great patriot!” I can only wish him from the depths of my soul “eternal memory” in the hearts of all who love Russian Motherland.”
“The Motherland, Mother-Russia, erects statues and monuments to its poets, musicians, writers. Will the first capital city, Moscow, erect monuments to one who, I think, has made for Russia with his powerful word no less than Minin and Pozharsky with their swords. It would be better for Russia to prove that the path to his grave would not be overgrown in the hearts of the faithful sons, instead of theatrical effects of his burial, with wreaths from the National League of Republican France. Let our diplomats remember his instructions, but in fact let them prove that his lessons were not in vain, and opened their eyes. Let them not allow Russia to be given over to the ridicule of Europe, thanks to swineherd men – regents and Milans, Austrian lackeys. And if the path will be overgrown in their memory, then shame be on them!..”
“That’s what I wrote to them … Maybe they will call me a fool … Well, let be a fool. I didn’t write affectedly, but from my heart. “As long as I live, yours is always … And if I am allowed there, then after Nirvana, I am still yours. H. B.”
- P. Blavatsky was very offended by the incorrect information published about her in Russia. These reports were curious, even to the point that she was repeatedly accused of murder, etc. criminal offenses. She never wanted to answer such fables. But her supporters more than once tried to object to the “domestic slander” of their respected preacher. But unsuccessfully: their protests in Russia were not taken into account, but were thrown by the editors, probably into the stove…
However, once or twice her relatives, indignant at the absurdities coined on her, should have intervened, but never their legal protests were accepted by those organs in which false information about her was published.61 Even Helena Petrovna herself wrote an objection, but the newspaper that published slander also rejected it… She was very upset and wrote:
“Well, why are they all lying? Where did they get that I was going to abolish Christianity and preach Buddhism? If they read in Russia what we write, they would know that we are preaching pure Christ-like theosophy – knowledge of God and life morality, as Christ himself understood it. The third November issue of Lucifer in 1887 published my article (The Esoteric Character of the Gospel), in which I exalt the preaching of Christ as much as may God give to any true Christian who is not infected with Papism or Protestant nonsense. I bet they don’t know a lot what Blavatsky is preaching! They declare: “she has built a heathen temple in London and put the idol of Buddha in it!”
They invented nonsense! They are idols themselves, that’s what they are! Well, if their reporters are talking nonsense, they would have the courage to publish objections. It seems that I wrote not in the least offensive and the most good-natured letter, and N** didn’t have enough good faith to publish even it?.. Well, God be with you, dear compatriots!”
Every day more work was added to the London Theosophical Society, and it grew by leaps and bounds. Soon it became impossible to stay in the second apartment too, in a much larger house, rent for two years in Lansdowne Road, near Kensington Gardens. They decided to rent a house to which it would be possible to build a separate meeting hall for 300–400 people and, moreover, a study or pavilion in the garden with one door, without windows, covered with a blue glass dome instead of a roof. It was intended for the occult studies for the members of an “esoteric”, special section with the starting of which Helena Petrovna had oral classes twice a week. She herself gave lessons to the present “esoterists”62 and watched the lessons to be correct given in writing, drawings and calculations for sending them to the absent members of her Esoteric Section.
In the early winter of 1889, Blavatsky wrote to her family very rarely and little. I reproached her for this, asking: “Are you so terribly busy that you can’t write a word?”
Here is Helena Petrovna’s typical answer.
“My friend and sister! Your imprudent question struck us like a bomb filled with naive ignorance of the theosophist’s active life! I, as soon as I read your Kuzma-Prutkov’s dictum63, called my friends and translated it them into Shakespeare’s language. As soon as I translated it Bart, Arch, Wright, Mead64, the countess and my entire home staff fell down in a faint in different directions from your defamation question … What are you doing? Is it me?! Yes, if there is in the world an overloaded victim, so this is your hapless sister. Well, will you count, Zoílos65 heartless, my activities: every month I write 40 to 50 pages of Esoteric Instructions, instructions in the secret sciences, which cannot be published, and the unfortunate five to six volunteer martyrs of the esoterists must stay awake at night, draw, write and type on the typewriter, just 320 copies … But I have to look through everything so that they do not make a mistake and do not shame my occult studies. After all, gray scientists, Kabbalists, and Freemasons are learning from me, as you yourself saw. Then I am in charge of the publication of Lucifer: proofreading with my signature from the editorial to an article more or less amusing. My dear Countess Ademar sends also Revue Theosophique, and she needs help too! Well, and I myself need to eat: it means that I also need to put a lucrative article in other magazines. And receptions on Saturdays, and meetings every Thursday, with scientists’ inquiries, with a stenographer behind my chair, and two or three reporters in the corners, they also take time…”
“I should get ready to every Thursday, after all, because visitors are not off the street, they are not ignorant, but such gentlemen as an electrician Kingsland, like Dr. William Benet, as a naturalist Carterblack. I must be prepared to defend the theory of the occultism against applied sciences so that information, according to the stenographer’s record could be directly published in our new special monthly magazine under the title Transactions of Blavatsky Lodge.
“My Theosophists remembered just in time and published, you see, a circular sending it throughout the world: «H.P.B.66,» they say, «is old and sick. If H.P.B. dies, then whistle for her! There will be no one to teach us good sense, secret wisdom. Let’s make a purse for expenses»… And so, they did it. One stenographer and publication cost them more than £ 40 a month. And «H.P.B.» should have her clothes out at elbows, without a shot in the locker, and take the rap for everyone – teach them! Of course, I myself will not take a penny for such a doctrine!.. «Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!» I say to those who imagine buying the divine wisdom of the centuries for pounds and shillings …”
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky’s exiting articles (as she called them) very often dealt with Russia and the Russians, and it’s a pity that there was no translator for those. Her compatriots would have a better notion about her if they could read such an article that she broke into about the silliest British “rallies of indignation” in connection of our “cruelties in Siberia” and our “oppressions of the Jews.” This article was published in Blavatsky’s magazine (Lucifer, June 1890) under the title The Mote and the Beam. Or the one that she wrote about the catastrophe of October 17 … Even the last printed word of H.P. Blavatsky, which appeared after her death, in the May book of Lucifer for 1891, concerned our Russian Tsarist family. There, on p. 186, she makes the following note, entitled True Nobility.
“The burial of Mrs. Stretter, an Englishwoman, a former nanny of the children of the late Emperor Alexander II, made two or three days ago a great impression on the inhabitants of St. Petersburg. Sovereign Alexander III, Duchess of Edinburgh, and all their other brothers, the Grand Dukes of the Russian House, followed the coffin of this simple woman on foot, and the Empress went by a mourning carriage. Here is an excellent lesson and an example of heartfelt attention, which Queen Victoria’s courtyard, the soulless servant of formalism and etiquette, should take into account and think about it deeply.”
It is remarkable that next to these last words, coming out from the pen of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, the first, hasty notice of her own death was pasted…
This mourning notice amazes the reader with its unexpectedness, in the same book (and even on the same page) an article (Civilization as the Death of Beauty in Art) signed by her initials “H.P.B” is ended, and the other one, My Books, opens the same issue of the magazine – the article in which she herself with such severity criticize her writings, that no critic had ever done.
In the second year of Blavatsky’s moving to England, she met that talented and devoted woman who, after the death of the preacher of the Theosophical Doctrine, became her main stronghold and engine in England. I am speaking of Mrs. Annie Besant, an orator-writer who gained the greatest fame in England, much earlier than she met Blavatsky.
That’s what the latter wrote about her in the autumn of 1889.
“I have a more bitter war with the materialists and atheists than ever!..
“All the liberal atheists rebelled against me, all the “Free Thinkers” – Bradlow’s friends, because I seduced their beloved Annie Besant from the true path. It is true that I made the most ardent theosophist out of the atheist Bradlow’s right hand, an active and convinced in materialism woman. She now also calls me her saviour, like the Gebhards, like Marquis Chifre67 and other poor creatures, bewildered by our thoughtless thinkers … Read her Profession de foi68: “Why did I become a theosophist”, a brochure where she explains why she became a convinced theosophist. She read this confession in the hall where two thousand people gathered, most of them were members of the Free Thought Society, where she had, after his leader Bradlow, the most prominent position. Her appeal was a real thunderbolt for England! Read the clippings from the newspaper I am sending. “The churchmen were so happy with her renunciation of disbelief that they even forgot their hatred for me and praise theosophy!!! Here is the incident!
“But what a hearty, noble, wonderful woman she is! And how she speaks! You are listening and can’t stop doing it! Demosthenes in a skirt! .. She is such an acquisition that I can’t stop rejoicing! It is an eloquent speaker that we needed. I can’t speak at all. And she is some kind of a nightingale! And how deeply intelligent, how comprehensively developed! She was very unhappy … Her life is a whole novel. Oh, this assistant will not betray the cause, not even me.”
Blavatsky was right: with such an employee she could have a rest and calm down if her days were not numbered.
The news of the “intercessor of the proletarians”, the preacher of the working classes, adored by the poor in London, known throughout England for her teaching activities, joining the camp of the theosophists caused great excitement in socialist circles and in the entire press. The East End, a beggarly kingdom of London, especially its miserable female workers, slaves of wealthy factory owners, were crying out, thinking that she was leaving them … But this energetic woman calmed them down, declaring that, on the contrary, becoming a member of the Society, one of main goals of which was practical philanthropy, she will be still their better helper and servant.
She kept her word. With her help, the first significant sum of money put at the disposal of H.P. Blavatsky for charity by one rich member of her Society,69 £ 1,000, was spent for a long-term purchase of a house in the East End, where a shelter for women workers was opened.
Opening of this club-shelter for 300 women with the cheapest, if not completely free food, with a free library, Sunday lessons, sewing and other machines; in addition with 40, almost free, beds for women, mostly orphans, made the best impression and added many proselytes to the Theosophical Society.
Immediately, two volumes of The Secret Doctrine, one after another, came out in print, and all the British and American press was overfull with complimentary reviews and echoes throughout Western Europe. And, after these, The Key to Theosophy and The Voice of Silence, the works that finally brought to the name of H. P. Blavatsky a place of honour not only in the theosophical world, but in the sphere of science and literature.
But after that, the doctors declared to the seriously ill Helena Petrovna that she would not survive the spring if she did not give herself a long full rest; that she worked till extremely dangerous exhaustion of her brain and stress of her nervous system.
In February 1890, half-dead she was sent to Brighton, on the seashore, where she was taken around all day in a wheelchair, not being allowed to do anything for a minute, not even read or write letters.
Two months of rest restored her a little, but certainly not for a long time, because no later than in May, she again began her numerous activities.
By this time, the closest associates of Blavatsky (Countess Wachtmeister, Annie Besant, the Keightley brothers70, etc.), who lived with her constantly under one roof, had acquired new premises for their community – “The Headquarter of the Theosophical Society” as the sign above the main entrance runs. Three houses connected by a garden, in the blossoming Avenue Road, in the Regent’s Park. A single-story rally hall was added to the main large house;71 there was also a nice room of H.P. Blavatsky on the ground floor; and on the upper floors there were rooms for five or six ladies who lived with her and for three or four of her personal secretaries.
She did not have such luxurious rooms in London before. But, entering them, Helena Petrovna said: “I won’t live in this house for a long time: there is no my number on it – number 7. From here they will take me out – to be burned!”72
And so it happened. Although she was convinced that in their premises there is another house with number 17, and that number 19 (number of her main house) also belongs to the lucky numbers, but she shook her head and objected, smiling:
“I don’t consider death to be a misfortune! Suffering, like me, can you consider liberation from the body – unhappiness? What can be more desirable then plunging into disembodied peace, blissful Nirvana? … Just I need to finish the work, the third and fourth book of the Doctrine! Then I can have a rest …”73
In July 1890, Helena Petrovna moved to Avenue Road, and next May she passed away.
That spring, after the terrible severe winter in England in 1891, the illnesses in London were terrible. In particular, the Influenza rampaged, and entirely all the brethren in the theosophical main apartment had got sick. Blavatsky also fell ill with it, which did not prevent her from taking care of other patients and being interested in everyone all the time. On the eleventh (23rd) of April, on Thursday, the day of their rallies, she was last in the lecture hall, but that same night she fell ill. However, in the morning she tried to “work”. She, as always, had urgent works to write, but she could not get up: the temperature was 40 degrees.
After a week, however, she recovered and sat down again at her desk. She had to respond to greeting telegrams from America…
The first successes H.P. Blavatsky had in the United States. The same gave her the last pleasures and laurels in this life. From Boston, two days in a row (April 26th and 27th) telegrams from the congress of the American section of the Theosophical Society, where she sent Mrs. Besant and Dr. Archibald Keightley as delegates from the London Society were sent to her. She sent with them a letter “to her first brothers in Theosophy and fellow citizens”; as if a precept, how to act in the future to succeed in their cause, and together a friendly message, with which, as if knowing the imminent future, she said goodbye to them … Three times this last letter of her was read there. And each time the reading prompted the listeners to telegraph to the “Founder and Chief Representative of their Society” to express their feelings of gratitude and sympathy and the warmest wishes of health. The last letters from the Boston Conference were received when E. Blavatsky was already in the coffin, but the telegrams were read by her and gave her some joyful moments … These were really not official messages, but heartfelt greetings from people who were sincerely devoted, sympathetic to her ailments and grateful for her labours.
In early May, Blavatsky again became seriously ill, probably having caught a cold. She had quinsy and bronchitis and all the complications in her chest and throat. However, she courageously fought with persistent illnesses, and was all the time trying, until the last minute, to work at her desk. She even died beside it, “at her post,” say her followers, “not in bed, but in her chair. It is remarkable that on the very morning of this, on May 8 (April 26), the doctor reassured everyone saying that she was out of danger.
She got dressed and wanted to work, but suddenly closed her eyes and at some minutes past one p. m. she passed away.
“She left so quietly and peacefully,” an eyewitness would write about her, “that we, who were standing beside her, did not even notice when she last sighed …
A great sense of peace came down on her and on us, when we knelt, realizing that it’s all over…”
On a brilliant day of May the coffin where the body of the founder of the Theosophical Society rested, all covered with flowers, was taken to Waterloo station, and from there to Woking, where the London crematorium was located. There were no solemn processions, according to her indispensable desire, no one even went into mourning. Only at the door of the incinerator that was supposed to turn her body into ashes a few words of gratitude and last greeting “to the creator and inspirer of the theosophical movement who taught her followers to live honestly, purely and actively, to the benefit of others and to succeed in their eternal immortal spirit… ” were spoken. So those words were said in a speech over her body.
Her ashes were divided into three parts, which are stored in urns in New York, Adyar and London, in Blavatsky’s own rooms, which are kept in her memory intact and uninhabited.
It is impossible to list all the demonstrations, speeches and articles that appeared in the exaltation and praise of my late sister.74 Donations are being collected everywhere for scholarships in schools, for libraries, for the Blavatsky literary foundation: “H.P.B.’s Memorial Fund” is estimated at quite a sum in India, America and England. But the most wonderful were the commemorations and divine services in Ceylon. Three scholarships of her name were provided in the women’s colleges, and in addition several monks are dressed and 3000 beggars are fed. Everywhere in India, America and England, in all the Theosophical Centres, it was decided to commemorate each anniversary of her death – with good deeds, reading her writings in solemn gatherings and giving alms. This day is called “White Lotus Day”.
In our opinion, one of the best graveside oration devoted to H. P. Blavatsky is in a sensible article by a publicist Stad, in his Review of Reviews, in June 1891, where four of her portraits were published.
“Don’t tell me about her phenomena,” he exclaims by the way. “What do they mean when this great woman, in our age of unbelief, accomplished a spiritual phenomenon, an unprecedented phenomenon, forcing many of the most educated people of our generation to believe that the world invisible to us is inhabited by intelligent beings that are incomparably superior to us in intellect and true knowledge … Blavatsky worked the miracle! … Once again having inhabited the world of the spirit, – robbed by modern science to meaningless emptiness, – this Russian woman, this “spy”, according to the Anglo-Indian government, – turned into passionate supporters of her mission the most educated leaders of public opinion and, already being in her old years, depressed by suffering, managed to turn into proselytes such people like Annie Besant, who for years advocated atheism and who now is glorifying the power of “Mahatmas”, patrons of the theosophical movement!”
The name of the Russian woman Blavatsky who inspired such a world movement will not be erased from the tablets of history, but should get a prominent place among the figures of the end of the XIX century.
1In the magazine «Russkiy Vestnik» «From the caves and wilds of Hindustan», «Durbar in Lahore», «Blue Mountains», etc.
3Writing under the pseudonym «Zeneida R-va».
5Pyotr Alexeyevich von Hahn (1798–1873), a descendant of the German von Hahn aristocratic family, who served as a captain in the Russian Royal Horse Artillery, and would later rise to the rank of colonel. Ed.
6He was a very good, although somewhat mediocre, elderly man who served at that time in the Caucasus, where he had just been appointed to the newly formed Erivan province as vice-governor.
7Raj Yogi – Great Sage. Raj Yogis should not be confused with fakirs or simple magicians, who show amazing phenomena in all cities of India.
11This was described in the magazine Rebus in the essay «The Truth about H. P. Blavatsky», 1883, No. 40-48.
12Exarch, in the Russian Orthodox churches is a head of the church district, sometimes uniting several dioceses (exarchate), enjoying a certain independence. – Ed.
13The future president of the Theosophical Society, Blavatsky’s co-worker in the Society activities since its foundation.
14It also attracted attention in Russia through the articles about it by Professor Wagner in the Russkiy Vestnik.
15Hamlet (1.5.167-8) – Ed.
16Calchas (/ˈkælkəs/; Ancient Greek: Κάλχας, Kalkhas) is an Argive mantis, or «seer,» dated to the Age of Legend, which is an aspect of Greek mythology. Calchas, a seer in the service of the army before Troy, is portrayed as a skilled augur, Greek oionopolos (‘bird-savant’): «as an augur, Calchas had no rival in the camp.
17Nadezhda Andreyevna Fadeyeva, the sister of her mother.
18Olcott, president of the entire Theosophical Society.
19Judge, a former lawyer, a very famous and respected man in New York, is still the representative of the Theosophists of the United States.
20Blavatsky herself recognizes it as the weakest of her works in the article My Books, one of the last articles in her magazine Lucifer; she directly declares this, even admitting that at that time (although she wrote it under inspiration) she did not know English well, and confused a lot.
21Painter Aivazovsky’s brother who died in 1880 in Tiflis.
22Subsequently, Mr. Solovyov changed his mind and tried to prove the opposite. But his letters kept by me expose the falsity of him.
23Basibuzuzuk in Turkish – a soldier of the irregular parts of the Turkish army. [Ed.]
24Her uncle Rostislav Adreevich Fadeev, cousin Alexander Yulievich Witte and nephew Rostislav Nikolaevich Yakhontov.
25Arrival and first time in India was excellently described in the book «From the Caves and Wilds of Hindustan» in the Russkiy Vestnik. This work, in Russian, signed by her pseudonym Radda-Bai, is now translated into English.
26«boeuf gras» (Fr.) – literally – a fat bull; fattened bull, decorated with garlands of flowers. [Ed.]
28Howdah (Sansk.)– Ed.
29It was the time of the actions of the Russian troops in Afghanistan and throughout the Trans-Caspian region. The hostile feelings of the British against Russia were very excited.
30«Indian Mirror», «Amrita-Bazar-Patrika», «The Pioneer» etc.
31The clerical (from ecclesiastical Latin clericalis, from clericus ‘clergyman’) – a supporter of clericalism, a member of the clerical party. Clericalism is an orientation in policy that seeks the primacy of the church and clergy in political and cultural life.
34Subsequently, Countess D’Ademar published a theosophical magazine under the supreme guidance of Blavatsky («Revue theosophique». Redacteur en chef H. P. Blavatsky). Both, husband and wife remained until the end loyal friends, despite the erroneous testimony of Mr. Solovyov in the magazine «Russkiy Vestnik», February 1892.
35Here is an excerpt from the Countess’s letter to Judge, in which she reminds him of one of the evenings at Villa Gonzag, where they stayed with her («Lucifer», July 1891).
«Do you remember that amazing evening when Mme Blavatsky was sitting in our living room, immersed in thought. How, having got up, she suddenly went to the window, opened to the garden, and, waving her hand, with an imperious gesture summoned quiet music from afar? .. How this wonderful, sweet harmony, as if rushing, flew towards us from the distant regions of the heavenly ether, closer and louder, and suddenly sounded a full chord above us, in the very room where we were sitting … Remember how the Hindu Mohini then rushed to her feet and touched the flap of her dress with his lips… Doing this he expressed that general delight that we all felt for the amazing creature, the loss of which we will never stop mourning! .. «.
36Sound phenomena or «throwing chords,» or «the sound of astral bells,» were heard constantly by the will of Helena Petrovna. When she used to wave her hand somewhere, harmonic sounds were heard from there, as if the chords of a harp or another stringed instrument.
37We point to this article because in such an extraordinary matter in Russia it is the authorities of the Russian people that are valuable.
38Nee Kireeva. In the English and Russian press, better known under the initials «O.K.».
39The German branch still exists today, under the chairmanship of its then elected president in Elberfeld, the well-known doctor of science Gübbe Schleiden, publisher of the theosophical journal Sphinx.
40Here, by the way, occurred the phenomenon of the meeting of Mr. Solovyov with Mahatma Morya, that is, with his double or perisprit, described in detail in many of his letters, as well as in the reports of the London Society for Psychical Research.
41Mah-Atma – «Great Soul». Common name of Indian Raj Yogis.
42In all theosophical journals anyone can find descriptions of these and many other incidents that are unbelievable for most ordinary mortals. A list of them, witnessed by eyewitnesses, is also in Sinnett’s book, Incidents in the Life of Madame Blavatsky.
43Judging by the reports on this case (repeatedly being in the press), he himself did not conceal that “for Christian purposes” he did not think a moment to bribe the servants of H. P. Blavatsky “for the delivery of the information he needed”.
44The last letters of the Mahatmas were received in London after the death of Blavatsky – clear evidence that if anyone here is lying and fabricating letters, then she is not!
45They are now used by Mr. Solovyov to throw Helena Petrovna Blavatsky with mud in the magazine, the former publisher of which, M. P. Katkov, was so proud of her collaboration!
46Those interested in the valid opinions of Mr. Solovyov, which he expressed in his previous letters, can refer to my answer to him under the title: «H. P. Blavatsky and the Modern Priest of Truth.»
47This address is stored in the Adyar Library, and copies are sent to all branches of the Theosophical Society.
48Their number is more than 20, but most of them are in English.
49«Boston Courier», July 18, 1886.
50To enjoy ill fame, having no benefit from it (iron.). [Ed.]
51This letter is from Vs. S. Solovyov to E. P. Blavatsky, from Paris, dated October 8, 1885 and many others can be found in my work: “E. P. Blavatsky and the Modern Priest of Truth. ”
52The Countess Wachtmeister now works with her son, who also devoted himself to theosophy. The count is now in India, and his mother is working from morning to evening, all the time being in the City, in the London office of the Theosophical Society.
53“Lucifer”, June 1891. K. E. Wachtmeister “In Würzburg and Ostende”.
54Katkov, Mikhail Nikiforovich (1810–1887) – a publicist, publisher of the Russkiy Vestnik magazine (since 1856) and the Moskovskie Vedomosti newspaper. In the 30s he joined Stankevich’s philosophical circle, which preached enlightening and humanistic ideals. From the beginning of the 60s, he was an apologist of the government course, one of the instigators of counter reforms.
55Rostislav Andreevich Fadeev.
56the dawn-bringer [Ed.]
57Butlerov Alexander Mikhailovich (1828–1886) – Russian organic chemist, founder of the Kazan Scientific School, Academician of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1871).
58Skobelev Mikhail Dmitrievich (1843–1882) – General of Infantry, a participant in many campaigns. In the Russian-Turkish war, he successfully commanded a detachment near Plevna, then a division in the Battle of Shipka-Sheinovo. [Ed.]
59Aksakov Ivan Sergeevich (1823–1886) – Russian publicist, poet, publisher of the newspapers Den, Moscow, Russia. The son of the writer S. T. Aksakov. He affirmed the ideas of Slavophilism and Pan-Slavism. During the years of the Russian-Turkish war, he organized a campaign in support of the southern Slavs. [Ed.]
60tutti quanti (it.) – and all others; and all the rest; and so forth and so forth; all polls. [Ed.]
61Similarly, The Russkiy Vestnik now, having printed 29 chapters of the attacks on her by Mr. Solovyov, refused to place the refutation, which I had to publish separately.
62The full title of these «elected» members of the Society, who wished to devote themselves completely not to theosophical studies alone, but to the sacraments of the occultism, such is a «member of the Blavatsky’s Lodge Esoteric Section of London Theosophical Society.»
63Kuzma-Prutkov’s dictum – Kozma Prutkov is a literary pseudonym, under which AK Tolstoy and the Zhemchuzhnikov brothers wrote in Sovremennik and Iskra magazines in the 50s of the 19th century. The satirical image of Kozma Prutkov parodied mental stagnation, political «good intentions», literary epigonism. [Ed.]
64Helena Petrovna Blavatsky’s secretaries
65Zoil is an ancient Greek philosopher and rhetorician of the 4th century BC, a disciple of Socrates, a representative of the early criticism of the Homeric text. In the 19th century, the name of Zoil became a household name for a picky, malevolent, and caustic critic. [Ed.]
66«H. P. B.» – the capital letters of the name of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, by which all close to her people in England called her, according to the custom.
67A Spaniard, a representative of a branch of the Theosophical Society in Madrid.
68Profession de foi (fr) – confession of faith, creed. [Ed.]
69Such donations often gave Blavatsky the opportunity to support many charities: schools, libraries of the Theosophical Society in India; but in England she did not do anything publicly, contenting herself only with helping the poor members of their fraternity.
70They were uncle and nephew, perhaps the author didn’t know that.
71For 300 people, but now it is being rebuilt for better accommodation of everyone who wants to attend lectures.
72Elena Petrovna Blavatsky bequeathed her body to be cremated.
73The third part of this work has been written and will soon be published; the fourth will never appear. It is good that this essay in each part of it represents a separate, completely independent whole.
74Of course, there were a lot of mockers and detractors, but it is comforting that the praises of her mind and activities are based on her writings and facts, while her enemies’ abuse is unsubstantiated.