[The Theosophists and the British Gov. of India]
Theosophist, February, 1880
The work we have to do in India might be so much impeded by foolish misconceptions that we heartily welcome any additional evidence showing that the public authorities are now alive to the true character of our undertaking. It has already been announced in these columns that the Political Department of the Government of India, from which the order to place our party under Police surveillance first originated, some time ago rescinded that order and announced that the Theosophists were no longer to be molested. This was all the amende honorable that could be made in a matter which pertained to the confidential branch of the service and had never found a place in the Gazette. It is pleasant to feel that the groundless, and in view of our antecedents absurd, notion that some political designs lay hidden under our intimacy with the natives and our desire to give a new impulse to the study of Oriental philosophy, has already been dissipated by the progress of time. Our friends will be additionally glad to hear that without the necessity for the slightest sacrifice of self-respect on our part, the last shade of misunderstanding on the part of Government has been cleared away. Those who know us at all need not be told that there is no association in the world which builds its hope of success on Government favour, less than the Theosophical Society. Our business is with truth and philosophy, not with politics or administration. But the conditions of life in India are such that the modicum of Government favour which consists of freedom from the blighting effects of active disfavour, is essential to the success of even a purely intellectual movement. It is satisfactory to realize that we now receive—as we are certainly entitled to receive that much support from the rulers of this country to whose spiritual interests we have devoted our lives. And now that this support has been liberally granted, we cannot be misunderstood if we add that there is no organization in this land on which the British Government in India could look kindly with better reason than our own. As an independent link between two races which the Government expresses a wish to see united in closer intimacy, as a society which is sternly intolerant of seditious efforts of any kind among its members—we have already done better service to the cause of public order in this country, than its rulers are aware of having received at our hands. But so the fact stands, and thus it is that we receive, with the full satisfaction attending a conviction that we deserve it, the kindly though cautious greeting conveyed in the following letter from the Personal Assistant of the Viceroy, in acknowledgement of the receipt of the first three numbers of the Theosophist, forwarded by the conductor of this journal for his Excellency’s perusal:
Calcutta, 1st January, 1880.
I submitted to His Excellency the Viceroy the letter which you addressed to me and the numbers of the Theosophist which you were good enough to send.
His Excellency desires me to say that he is glad to find a Society of Western origin devoting itself with such zeal to the pursuit of Indian philosophy.
(Sd.) G. H. M. BATTEN.
TO MME. BLAVATSKY.
Our party should feel deeply grateful to the London Spiritualist for the suggestion that Theosophy may be regarded as a “subordinate branch of Spiritualism”; meaning thereby not the general antithesis of materialism, but the Western phenomenalistic movement of our days. This is extremely liberal; about as much so as for a Manchester man to concede that the British Empire is an auxiliary branch of the county of Lancashire. When it can be shown that a part of anything can contain its whole, that the tail can wag the dog, or that the ocean can be put into a gallon measure, then it will be time to seriously debate the novel proposition put forth by the respectable metropolitan organ of the Spiritualists. Especially as it is by no means clear that it is not personal rather than public opinion which the paragraph in question reflects.