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No Religion Higher Than Truth

Publication of The Mahatma Letters

What follows is a research letter by Daniel Caldwell ( his site “Blavatsky Archives“). This letter first appeared in material associated with Theosophy World. It presents that contrary to some opinion, the Masters were anticipating and even encouraging the publication of their material in their letters to A.P. Sinnett.

Some Comments on Publication of The Mahatma Letters and HPB’s Esoteric Writings
by Daniel H. Caldwell

[These comments formed one message in a discussion held on “theos-l” regarding the value of The Mahatma Letters, and of how appropriate it may be for their publication and public discussion.]

One of the Masters (K.H.) wrote the following concerning the publication of his own letters and notes to Sinnett:

The letters, in short, were not written for publication or public comment upon them, but for private use, and neither M. nor I would ever give our consent to see them thus handled.
Mahatma Letter No. 63

One should read the whole letter from which I have quoted in order to see the context in which those words were made.

But there is another letter from the Mahatma K.H. which throws additional light on the issue of publishing the letters from the Masters. In the summer of 1884, Mohini Chatterji and Laura C. Holloway were writing a book on Theosophy entitled Man: Fragments of Forgotten History. Both Mohini and Laura were chelas of K.H. In a letter addressed to Mohini, Master K.H. wrote:

You may, if you choose so, or find necessity for it, use in Man [the above titled book] or in any other book you may chance to be collaborating for, anything I may have said in relation to our secret doctrines in any of my letters to Messrs. Hume or Sinnett. Those portions that were private have never been allowed by them to be copied by anyone; and those which are so copied have by the very fact become theosophical property. Besides, copies of my letters — at any rate those that contained my teachings   — have always been sent by my order to Damodar and Upasika [H.P.B.], and some of the portions even used in The Theosophist. You are at liberty to even copy them verbatim and without quotation marks. … Thus not only you, a chela of mine, but anyone else is at liberty to take anything, whole pages, if thought proper, from any of my “copied” letters and convert their “dross” into pure ore of gold, provided they have well grasped the thought. Show this to L.C.H. who was already told the same.
— Letter 39 in Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series

It should also be noted that a great deal of the teaching letters from K.H. and M. were quoted in the following books published in the 1880s:  

* The Occult World by A.P. Sinnett. (First edition published 1881)

* Esoteric Buddhism by A.P. Sinnett. (First edition published 1883)

* The Occult World by A.P.S. See 4th English edition, 1884, Appendix, pp. 145-149 for an additional KH letter.

* Man: Fragments of Forgotten History by Two Chelas [Chatterji and Holloway) (First edition, published 1885)

* The Secret Doctrine by H.P. Blavatsky. (First published 1888).  See especially Vol. I where H.P.B. quotes from several of KH’s letters to Sinnett.

* In additional to the above books, excerpts from the Masters’ letters were published in various articles in The Theosophist (1881-1883).

* Also W.J. Judge published lengthy extracts from K.H.’s letters to Sinnett dealing with Kamaloka and Devachan. See The Path, August, 1889, November, 1889, May 1890 and June, 1890. These articles have been reprinted by The Theosophy Company, Los Angeles, in their compilation Theosophical Articles and Notes, 1985, pp. 236-247.

* H.P.B. also quoted extracts from KH’s Letters to Sinnett in the pages of Lucifer.

* Judge published the Prayag Letter [also contained in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett in The Path in the early 1890s.

And there are many more . . . . 

It would be an interesting exercise to take a copy of The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett and underline in red all the passages that have been published in the above sources.

Directing attention back to KH’s letter to Mohini in which mention is made of the “copied letters” which have “become theosophical property”, Francesca Arundale, an early Theosophist, had “three manuscript books” of “these early teachings” from the Masters. Evidence indicates that Sinnett copied these “teachings” from the letters of the Masters and sent them to London for the benefit of Arundale and other students of Theosophy. These “teaching letters” as found in Arundale’s manuscript books were eventually published by C. Jinarajadasa in 1923 under the title The Early Teachings of the Masters 1881 to 1883. This book by Jinarajadasa was published some months before A. Trevor Barker published the complete collection of letters from the Masters K.H. and M. in London in Dec. 1923.

In the light of the above historical facts, would ULT students (who have usually objected to the publication of The Mahatma Letters) be willing to study The Early Teachings of the Masters? Would they be willing to publicly circulate this volume by Jinarajadasa or a similarly compiled work?

Now another issue. ULT associates privately read and study The Mahatma Letters. But if we are to take literally and at face value the Master K.H.’s prohibition on the publishing of the letters in their entirety, then once any ULT student reads this prohibition, would not reason and logic dictate that he should close the book and never pick The Mahatma Letters up again? As H.N. Stokes once wrote about this very subject,

If The Mahatma Letters are private documents today, no one without a diploma of sanctity and a special permit from the Mahatmas is more entitled to read them than any others. 

Speaking of H.N. Stokes, the editor of The O.E. Library Critic (Washington, D.C.), Dr. Stokes wrote at least two articles on the ULT’s attitude toward The Mahatma Letters. The articles are:

“Is the ULT Boycotting The Mahatma Letters?” (The O.E.  Library Critic, April, 1934.)

“Magazine Theosophy Places The Mahatma Letters on ULT Index  Expurgatorius.” (The O.E. Library Critic, May-June, 1935.

Stokes notes that soon after The Mahatma Letters were first published in London in Dec., 1923, Theosophy Magazine (the L.A.-based ULT periodical) “hailed” the publication of these Letters as follows:

These letters are, beyond all question the one great and final contribution to Theosophical literature and history since The Secret Doctrine.  They solve the hitherto baffling and inscrutable mysteries in connection with the public course of the Movement, by bringing to light the missing links of its degradation through theosophists, theosophical societies, and the world at large. … Let all true Theosophists rejoice at the light that is now shed on the dark places of the past and present.

Theosophy Magazine, March, 1924

But Stokes points out that four ULT magazines (including Theosophy Magazine) subsequently had the practice of quoting from The Mahatma Letters but never telling their readers that they were quoting from the book entitled The Mahatma Letters To A. P. Sinnett. Stokes found that in the years 1928-1933, these four ULT magazines had quoted 87 times from the Letters. Stokes writes:

Of the 87 quotations from The Mahatma Letters only one gives reference; the others afford not the slightest clue to the source, not the slightest possibility of the student locating it without laborious search. He is not even permitted to know the existence of such a book as   The Mahatma Letters.

The O.E. Library Critic, April, 1934

In the other article cited above, Stokes discusses an article published in Theosophy Magazine for February, 1935. The anonymous ULT associate writes for two or three pages on The Mahatma Letters but then concludes:

All that is taught in the Letters is contained in The Secret Doctrine … and is there presented in proper form for students under the direct instruction and sponsoring of the Mahatmas themselves. The publication of the Mahatma Letters in violation of Their own injunction, and recourse to these Letters [by Theosophical students] instead of to The Secret Doctrine for instruction in Occultism, shows the difference between true and false psychology. Mr. Sinnett’s use of the Letters was such as to close to him the door opened via H.P.B. with the Mahatmas: What will be the effect of the unlawful publication and use of them thus made possible to so many hopeless Incurables in the Mysteries?

Stokes points out that several of the assertions made in this quotation are not true. Stokes goes on to say:

But when the Theosophy Magazine writer speaks of “false psychology” and of “hopeless Incurables in the Mysteries” one is prompted to ask whether these rather strong terms do not apply to himself. He is constantly referring in these articles to The Mahatma Letters. Consequently, he must have read them. If so, why does he do that which he thinks it improper for others to do because of their private nature? And why did the magazine Theosophy in its series [of articles] later published as The Theosophical Movement [in 1925 as a book] constantly quote from documents [written by H.P.B. and] marked private and issued to E.S.T. members under pledge of secrecy? Are we to suppose that this anonymous writer, or the editors of Theosophy Magazine, are above all rules applying to lesser mortals? No, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If The Mahatma Letters are private documents today, no one without a diploma of sanctity and a special permit from the Mahatmas is more entitled to read them than any others, or to discourage others from doing what he does himself when it suits his purpose …. Sensible students will not be deterred by talk from those who do not  practise what they preach.

The O.E. Library Critic, May-June, 1935.

In the above quote from Stokes, he refers to the book The Theosophical Movement issued by the top officials of the ULT, Los Angeles, CA.

Speaking of publishing “private and confidential” communications, in Chapter XI (“Work of the Esoteric Section”, pp. 163-177) of this ULT 1925 book, the anonymous author(s) quote(s) from two of H.P.B.’s E.S. documents which were marked: “strictly private and confidential”. The author of this chapter XI writes:

Permissible extracts from the Preliminary Memorandum to the E.S. applicants show her esoteric treatment. 

Then long extracts are given from this E.S. document. Permissible extracts? Who gave the writer of this chapter permission to quote from H.P.B.’s “strictly private and confidential” paper? This is not discussed in the pages of The Theosophical Movement. [Perhaps the ULT Lodge did received permission from Masters? It is not inconceivable that the Masters, having spent considerable effort throughout the ages would stop at the death of HPB. Surely, they are still among us, working for the greater cause – Universal Brotherhood. -BNet]

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