H. S. Olcott vs. H.P.B.
The Path, June 1895
In the April Theosophist Col. Olcott makes public what we have long known to be his private opinion—a private opinion hinted at through the pages of Old Diary Leaves,—that H.P.B. was a fraud, a medium, and a forger of bogus messages form the Masters. This final ingrate’s blow is delivered in a Postscript to the magazine for which the presses were stopped. The hurry was so great that he could not wait another month before hurling the last handful of mud at his spiritual and material benefactor, our departed H.P.B. The next prominent person for whom we wait to make a similar public statement, has long made it privately.
Col. Olcott “stops the press” and rushes off the Postscript, “for the honor of the Masters.” He wishes to defend those Masters, who sent H.P.B. as their messenger, by declaring that she “cooked up,” forged, and humbugged with, a long and important message to Brahmans at Allahabad in 1881. The Colonel is H.P.B.’s first Western disciple, ignorant to this day of practical occultism and not able to propound a question to the Masters; never heard of Masters except through H.P.B. He now preserves the honor of Masters by blackening the character of their messenger. Splendid defence, this, of the Masters!
How does he explain the long silence of the Masters since 1881 on the subject! And another very pertinent question is this: How does this “defender of the Masters” explain his own silence in 1881 and since? He was present when the message was sent and knew of it. If he knew then that it was bogus why did he not divulge? If he did not know then, was it because he was unable to tell? If he has since been told by one of the Masters—á la Besant in the Judge case—will he kindly let us know which of the Masters told him, and when?
All these questions ought to be answered, and many proofs given by him showing the least occult ability to decide on false or genuine messages, because he has attempted to classify H.P.B. with frauds, forgers and mediums. Hence the Masters who sent her are put by him in similar categories. Observe that the forgery now alleged by him was at the very time H.P.B. was giving out from the Masters the series of messages which have become known to all. If we believe him, then the delivery by this irresponsible medium of one false message must throw doubt on every message. Certainly Col. Olcott is no occultist whose decision we will accept. Each of us will be left to decide for this, that, or the other message according to our fancy. Olcott does not like the one in question because he lives in India, and it is too gallingly true. Perhaps others may like it, and not be willing to accept other messages that contradict their partisan view of the London Lodge papers or metaphysics and science. For my part, the message in question testifies to its genuineness by its text, except for those who are hit by it, or those who have the Indian craze and think themselves Brahmans, or those whose self-interest and comforts are against it.
The message condemns bigotry. The person to whom it was sent were then of the most theologically bigoted families. They were wondering, like Pharisees, how it was possible that the Mahatmas could communicated with a beef-eating wine-drinking Sinnet and not with them, who took no such things and never shook hands. To these very points, to their superstitions, to their upholding idolatry, to the horrors of caste, the letter adverts. The whole letter rings true and strong. Were one at all disposed to join Olcott in his absurd explanations by mediumship, this letter is the one that would be selected as true.
If for a moment we accept this view of H.P.B. put forward by Olcott then there is, as she published herself, no certainty about any message. Who is to decide? If she hoodwinked with one message, all may be the same—bogus—and the great force and strength derived from a firm belief in Masters will be swept away, because she, their first messenger to us, is made out a fraud. All this is precisely what Olcott et al wish to do. He cannot tolerate the idea that H.P.B. was greater than himself, so he throws around her memory the dirty cloak of tricky and irresponsible mediumship. That done, anything can be explained and anything accounted for.
Well, for my part, I will not accept such nonsense; Col. Olcott being incompetent to decide on Mahatmic messages on occult lines, and being a disciple of H.P.B. is certainly much below her. His present utterance settles nothing about her character, about her mediumship or about the message; but it does serve to brand him as an ingrate and to place him plainly in view as one who calls that great teacher a fraud and medium.
Now let the next and the next come on, so that we may have the lines clearly drawn and the hypocrisies unveiled.
Mrs. A. Besant vs. H.P.B.
Mrs. Besant has sent an advance copy of an article to appear in Lucifer entitled “East and West.” It is a very long article devoted chiefly to William Q. Judge, but in it she takes up the message from the Master to the Allahabad Brahmans, which Col. Olcott deals with in his April Postscript. She says the message was not genuine, and thus walks beside Col. Olcott in abuse of H.P.B., for everyone with correct information knows that the message came through H.P.B.