Theosophist, September, 1883
We have just received from a gentleman, an Anglo-Indian Theosophist of the highest rank, and one, whose generous disposition is unfortunately too well known, the following letter:
“I am almost daily receiving letters in the spirit of the enclosed. But this is perhaps the most unblushingly impudent I have had, and I am specially requested to send it on to you and so I do. I have given this ingenuous youth my views as to his reasons for wishing to join the Society. But this spirit is too common, and I think it might be expedient to publish his letter (without his name) and while giving him the castigation he so richly deserves, to take opportunity of reiterating the fact, that no person need join the Society in the hopes of thereby obtaining worldly advancement of any kind. There are an awful lot of scamps who need this advice—that other fellow * * * of * * * * * has never ceased, since he became a Theosophist, to worry me to do something for him. I think after two years’ probation and patience, I have at last shut him up. I have told him very plainly that he is a mere self-seeker (this is true, for I asked to have his conduct and life looked into before I gave him a probation) endeavouring to use Theosophy as a stepping stone. He replied quoting Shakespeare and calling all the gods to witness how shameful it was for one Brother to thus defame another. I told him I acknowledged no brothership with sham Theosophists like himself, who were the people who brought discredit on a Society, and have now ceased to answer his letters.”
If there be nothing improper, kindly submit my request with your recommendation to Col. H. S. Olcott or Madame H. P. Blavatsky for disposal.
The facts are:—
1. The Free and Private admission in the Society.
2. Any arrangement for my support, as I know English, Persian and Hindi up to the entrance class, also have served as a teacher and clerk in schools and Courts.
3. A little help of Rs. 200 [!] for the payment of debt rising from the non-engagement of mine.
These are most Private things, and can be well proved to you with my other descriptions by Dhyan Yoga.
If succeeded1I shall pray for your further success and prosperity.
I write to you, knowing you to be a Theosophist, for a Brotherhood help of 3 objects; and having a strong hope of success in this matter. Please excuse me for the trouble. An early reply shall highly oblige.
* * *
I take this opportunity, with the approval of the President-Founder, of once for all warning such selfish and unblushing aspirants, that our Society was not founded for the purpose of affording relief to those who, by idleness, prodigality and often worse, have incurred debts. We never bought, nor do we intend at any future of buying our recruits and proselytes, though we are always ready to help to the best of our ability our modest and worthy members, whenever they are in trouble. Our Society was established for far nobler purposes, and nothing in them would warrant our degrading these lofty aims by offering, in addition to them as a bait, a money premium for joining it; and were we to admit persons of the character of the writer of the above given letter, we should, far from doing good, be doing harm. Every needy and unsuccessful man in the land would be applying on such terms for fellowship, and our ranks would be filled with a class of persons, ill calculated to further our nobler aims, one of which is to render mankind—especially Hindus—self-dependent, self-respectful and dignified as were their glorious forefathers.
In direct connection with the present, we would call attention to Paragraph VI of the Rules of 1883, where the borrowing and especially the begging of money from each other is strictly prohibited “unless business should be transacted between the two entirely outside their connection with the Theosophical Society.”
Our writer begins his application for admission by a cool request for Rs. 200, thus at once breaking Rule VI; and he does not even ask it as a loan! We may at various times have helped many worthy characters to enter the Society, but here is one who, not only expects the remission of his initiation fee, but in addition to it demands the donation of a considerable sum, without ever having done anything himself for humanity, with the exception, perhaps, of the equivocal honour of being born in it. Truly the words of Talleyrand are here exemplified and his definition of gratitude fully borne out, viz., “gratitude—a lively sense of favours to come.” Is it likely, that an aspirant of this nature would be satisfied with his fees being paid and “the small present” of Rs. 200 made him? Certainly not. His gratitude would be of a far more lively character, somewhat resembling the “daughter of the horse-leech ever crying, give, give!” As we observe, the writer only prays for the “success and prosperity” of the expected giver if he gets his money. Indeed, one has seldom read a more mendacious, impudent avowal than this. Then again in paragraph 2 of his letter he would, in addition to the other trifles solicited, like “some arrangement for his support!”
Truly, were our Society to let go unnoticed such extraordinary pretensions, it would soon have on its hands a task far surpassing that of the Hydra-headed monster’s killing; for, no sooner would one such claim be disposed of, than a hundred more would crop up to take its place. The man prefaces modestly his request by saying “if there be nothing improper” in it. Indeed, the “would-be theosophist” must have a fine sense of what is proper, if this letter is to be considered a specimen of his ideas of the fitness of things. Having asked “to be excused,” he, the writer, with an additional sense of propriety, subscribes himself “yours affectionately,”—an affection for the anticipated rupees, of course.
To close, I have to say in my official capacity that it is intolerable that high-placed theosophists should be worried in this manner, not only by willing candidates for theosophy with a price-marked label suspended to their applications, but even, shame to say—by initiated members! It is in the hope of relieving the former of such nuisance that I felt it my duty, as a high officer of our association, to pen the above remarks and even to publish—at the very natural suggestion of our long-patient Anglo-Indian Brother—the impudent letter complained of. I hope, it may be a warning for all who would have the unfortunate idea of walking in the steps of either of the two above-mentioned individuals. For, should such a complaint occur again, we may be compelled, by order of the President and Council, to publish not only the begging document, but likewise the full name or names of the paupers.
H. P. Blavatsky,
Corresponding Secretary of the Theosophical Society.
Ootacamund, 7th August.
1. Italics are ours. [H.P.B.]