Theosophical Society in the Philippines                 Online Books

                                   Home      Online Books     Previous Page     Next Page

OLD DIARY LEAVES, Third Series (1883-87)
by Henry Steel Olcott



THIS Cawnpore visit was made memorable to me by the proofs I got of Damodar's rapid psychical development. As stated elsewhere, he had been visited when a lad, during a severe illness, by a glorious Personage, whom he was enabled to identify many years later, after connecting himself with our Society, as one of the Masters. The intimate relationship of teacher and pupil had then been established between them, and Damodar had thrown himself heart and soul into psychic training; regulating his diet, devoting specified hours to meditation, cultivating a spirit of perfect unselfishness, and working night and day, to the uttermost limits of his strength, on the duties of the official position I gave him in the Society. His coming with me on the present tour was by command of his Guru, and throughout the journey we had many proofs of the progress he was making in spiritual unfolding. I remember that he astonished me, that evening of our arrival at Cawnpore, by giving me, verbally, a message from the Master in answer to my surmise as to what I ought to do in a certain matter that had just turned up, and telling me that I would


find it written out in a note that was even then in my locked writing-desk, the key of which was in my pocket, as it had, of course, been all day. On going to the desk and unlocking it, I did find the very letter he had mentioned, and which, by the by, was from Mahatma K. H., in the handwriting subsequently pronounced by the sage S. P. R., on the authority of the infallible Mr. Netherclift, to be of H. P. B.'s concoction and nothing else! As H. P. B. and I were then five days' postal distance apart, the forgery theory will hardly cover the Cawnpore incident.
On the second day after reaching Cawnpore, I received from Adyar a rather large mail that had been readdressed to me from there. Among the letters was one from the late Mr. Sam. Ward, dated at Capri, and enclosing a note to Mahatma K. H., which he begged me to have forwarded if possible. As Damodar was then going nightly in astral body to the ashram (residence) of that Master, I handed him the letter, saying that he might ask him whether he should bring on the letter, or not. This was on the afternoon of November 4 (1883), and we were at Cawnpore, N. W. P. The reader will kindly keep this in mind in view of the sequel.
On the previous evening I had lectured in the station theatre, a long narrow room with the stage at one end. Agreeably to the repulsive custom that prevails through-out British India, all Europeans, or rather whites, all half-breeds, and even all Christian converts or pretended converts wearing European dress, were


given the front seats, and all Hindus, however highborn or respectable (not always convertible terms), were placed behind them: an aisle ran through the middle of the room. Now I am rather sensitive to the auric "spheres" of persons, and quick at feeling whether they are sympathetic or hostile to myself. Every public lecturer, dramatic artist, and other public character has this same finer sense more or less acutely developed, but I fancy mine is rather quicker than the average. On this occasion I felt as if there stretched between me and the beloved Hindus a barrier, almost a wall, of antagonistic thought, and a less skilled hand might have been stricken dumb by it. But, finding the hostile current flowing towards me from the right, I planted myself opposite the aisle, put my will to work to break through the cross current, and at last made the connection between myself and the sympathetic portion of my audience. That this is no freak of the imagination, but a very real and palpable fact in human intercourse, will be attested by every person of average nervous sensitiveness whose business it is to speak, sing, or play before the public. More than once it has happened that the presence of a single white man, not a Theosophist, in an audience of Hindus, has acted as a damper upon them and reacted upon me, and for the simple reason that, while between all Asiatics, of whatsoever race and creed, and myself there is a complete sympathy and mutual trust, between them and the average white man there is the distinct mutual antipathy based, as I believe,


upon a conflict of auric or mesmeric polarities. Closer personal intercourse and the development of mutual sympathies would change the present feeling of noli me-tangere into the same pleasant relationship as that of all Asiatics and all recognised Theosophists.
From Cawnpore we moved on to Lucknow on the evening of 4th November, reached that station at 9 p.m., and were welcomed at the house of Mr. Jwala Prasad, one of our active members. Every minute Of the following day was occupied, the details including receptions of visitors, with conversaziones, the trial and expulsion of an unworthy half-caste member, a lecture on "Theosophy and Its Claims," and then, until 1 a.m., private teaching of mesmerism, with illustrative demonstrations on one of the Hindu gentlemen of my suite. Bara Banki followed after Lucknow, and the usual routine was gone through. I must in passing, however, pay a just tribute to the intellectual brilliancy shown by Pandit Pran Nath, F.T.S., in summarising my lectures at the above two places, in Urdu, with an eloquence and unhesitating fluency that were both admirable and remarkable. I have been often placed similarly under obligations by educated friends, for from first to last my lectures throughout Asia have been interpreted in eighteen different languages.
Bareilly next, where I lectured, and then on to Moradabad, where Damodar gave me another proof of his acquired power of travelling in the astral “double”. He went to Adyar, conversed with H.P.B.,


heard the voice of a Master speak a message to me, and asked H. P. B. to telegraph me the substance of it so as to satisfy me of his veracity in these matters. On reporting the facts to me, he dictated the message as he heard it, and all present in my room signed a certificate as to the facts. The next morning the expected telegram form H.P.B. was delivered to me by the postman, this being the rule in India as to the class of "Deferred" messages. The despatch corroborated Damodar's dictated and certificated message, and again the witnesses who were present signed their names on the back of the Government dispatch. The S.P.R. has been pleased to do its best to weaken Damodar's reputation for credibility and mine for common sense in this affair, but the facts are above honestly reported, and their opinion does not concern me in the least.
Aligarh came next on our tour-programme, and here, on the 12th of the month, we came to the sequel of the Ward-K.H. letter affair. At the post-office I received my mail from Adyar, and in it a letter posted at Headquarters on the 5th inst. by H. P. B., enclosing Mr. Ward's identical letter to K. H., which, it will be remembered, I received from Italy and handed to Damodar at Cawnpore on the 4th—that is to say, the evening before she posted it at Adyar. Its cover bore the despatching stamp of Adyar, November 5, and the receiving stamp of Aligarh of November 10, the two places being distant apart five days' rail journey. The letter had been awaiting me two days in


the Aligarh post-office. I submit this as about as clear a provable case of instantaneous transportation of a material object between two distant points as can be found on record. Collusion and trickery are barred by the evidence of the postal marking described. I have the letter still in my possession, and shall be happy to show it to anyone save the managers of the S. P. R., whose savage injustice to H. P. B., the most gifted and marvellous psychic of the age, makes it unseemly for those who knew her merits as well as demerits to take further notice of that clique.
In connection with this astral journey, Damodar told me an interesting fact. On putting his body to sleep as usual, he made a dash for the home of the Master among the Himalayas, but found, on arriving, that he too was away in the astral body; and, by the power of his attraction for his pupil, the latter was swept away as powerfully and instantaneously as though he had ventured into a deep and impetuous river current and been carried off his footing. The next minute Damodar found himself at Adyar, in the presence of both his Master and H. P. B. On going to sleep he had held Mr. Ward's letter in his hand, and it had, it seems, gone along with him on the astral plane—itself, of course, changed from ponderable into astral, or etheric, matter. On telling the Master about the letter, he perceived it in his hand, gave it over to him, and was bidden to return to his place. By the radical power of the occult chemistry or physics, the astralised letter was restored to its solid


stake, taken by H.P.B., and the next day duly posted to my Aligarh address; the sequel is known. If I were better versed in science, I should use this incident, together with that of the other Master's turban given me at New York by my astralised visitor, and various other instances of apport, as a text for a discourse upon the possible changes in solid bodies, from the densely physical, objective, and ponderable condition, into that of the invisible, intangible one of bodies on the astral plane. That the changes can be worked in both directions, viz., from the objective to the hyperphysical, and back again into reintegration, or manifestation, is within the personal knowledge of many experienced investigators of psychical phenomena. These sixty-odd chapters of this series of OLD DIARY LEAVES contain enough examples to prove the case, and the eye-witnesses to them are both numerous and unimpeachable: so, too, the works of an army of other writers and experimentalists in this field of natural science support my own statements. What with our X-rays, our Marconi rays, our researches in the Odic Force, in hypnotism, and, by no means the least important, in spiritualistic mediumship (e.g., the cases of Mrs. Compton, Mrs. d'Esperance, and Honto and other materialisations at the Eddys'), we shall soon find ourselves forced to begin again with the alphabet of physical science, and stretch out our hands to the East for help to understand the Nature in which our microcosmic selves have been so long vaunting our wisdom. The


phenomenon of my rose-born, half-ounce gold ring, which all my constant readers must recollect, is the only one that I can now call to mind which proves that a solid object can exist within another solid object without possessing tangible bulk and without abrading or disturbing its particles, yet at the same time have appreciable weight. Surely a long vista of physical discoveries is opening out before us!
We went on to Delhi next, where I lectured twice at the Town Hall, and whence I despatched young Brown and L. V. V. Naidu, of my party, to form a Branch at Rawal Pindi, my own duties precluding my going myself. From Delhi the programme took me to Meerut, the home of that gifted young Hindu lawyer, Rama Prasad, whose work on Nature's Finer Forces made him known, some years later, to the whole Theosophical reading public, the world over. From thence to Lahore, where things of great moment happened. Between the two stations Damodar made another astral flight which was capable of verification. Three of us—he, I, and T. Narainswamy Naidu—were in the same railway carriage, Damodar apparently moving uneasily, as if in sleep, on one of the berths: I was reading a book by the lamp-light. Damodar suddenly came over to me and asked the time, which by my watch was some minutes before 6 p.m. He told me that he had just come from Adyar, where H. P. B. had met with an accident; whether a serious one or not, he could not tell me, but he thought she had tripped her foot in the carpet and fallen heavily


on her right knee. The reader will observe that the young man was but a beginner in occult science, and incapable as yet of accurate recollection, in returning to outward consciousness, of his experiences on the other planes of being. I mention this in view of the studied unfairness of the S. P. R. toward him. For my own satisfaction I did two things on hearing his story. I wrote a certificate of the occurrence and got Narainswamy to sign it with me, noting the time; and from the next station, Saharanpore, telegraphed H. P. B. a question as to "what accident happened at headquarters at about 6 o'clock"? We reached Lahore the next morning at 9, and were escorted to a camp of six tents and four large shamianas (open canvas pavilions) which had been pitched for me on the open ground (maidan) to the north of the city. We very soon began talking with our friends about the previous evening's incident in the train, and my memorandum was passed around for information: I got the friends present to sign it, and to say that the expected telegram from H. P. B. had not yet arrived. My party left me to take their morning bath and meal, and while I was sitting under the shadow of my tent with Mr. R. C. Bary, Editor of the Arya magazine, a Government telegraph peon was seen coming towards us with a brown-covered telegram in his hand. I made Mr. Ruttan Chand take it into his own hands and keep it unopened until the return of our party, in whose presence it should be opened and read. This was done at 12 noon by Mr. R. C. Bary, and the nine


present signed on the back to attest the circumstances. The contents were these: "Nearly broke right leg, tumbling from Bishop's chair, dragging Coulomb, frightening Morgans. Damodar startled us." My Saharanpore despatch was received by H. P. B. late at night on the 17th: her reply was dated at Adyar at 7.55 a.m. on the 18th, and I got it at Lahore at noon. The discrepancy in Damodar's statement of details and H. P. B.'s is not even surprising in view of his then stage of spiritual evolution, while the corroboration of the major fact of the heavy fall and the injury to her right knee is full. There have been critics of limited acumen but great conceit, who wish us to believe that this might have been a vulgar conspiracy between Damodar and H. P. B. to deceive me; but I am not aware that it is likely that a fat woman of 16-stones' weight would give herself a serious injury to her knee for the purpose of befooling me, when she might as easily have agreed with Damodar that he should have seen her doing something that would have been queer and yet harmless in itself, such, for instance, as making antic gestures, tearing a newspaper into bits, or declaiming a Russian or French poem: the explanation has not the support of common sense. And then character counts for something outside the S. P. R., and gentlemen are entitled to some credence when it is not a question of money interests; sometimes even then. H. P. B.'s telegram mentioned a fact until then unknown to us, that Major-General and Mrs. Morgan, of Ootacamund, were visiting at Adyar.


My camp was thronged with visitors during the three days of our stay, and I gave two lectures under the largest shamiana to multitudes, with great pots of fire standing along the sides to modify the biting November cold, for the Punjab is the reverse of tropical as to temperature in our winter months. My kind and most capable interpreter was Pandit Gopinath, F. T. S., a well-educated and most enterprising journalist, a Brahmin of Kashmir, well known to Theosophists for his unshakable loyalty to the two Founders.
I was sleeping in my tent, the night of the 19th, when I rushed back towards external consciousness on feeling a hand laid on me. The camp being on the open plain, and beyond the protection of the Lahore Police, my first animal instinct was to protect myself from a possible religious fanatical assassin, so I clutched the stranger by the upper arms, and asked him in Hindustani who he was and what he wanted. It was all done in an instant, and I held the man tight, as would one who might be attacked the next moment and have to defend his life. But the next instant a kind, sweet voice said: "Do you not know me? Do you not remember me?" It was the voice of the Master K. H. A swift revulsion of feeling came over me, I relaxed my hold on his arms, joined my palms in reverential salutation, and wanted to jump out of bed to show him respect. But his hand and voice stayed me, and after a few sentences had been exchanged, be took my left hand in his, gathered the fingers of his right into the palm, and stood quiet beside my


cot, from which I could see his divinely benignant face by the light of the lamp that burned on a packing-case at his back. Presently I felt some soft substance forming in my hand, and the next minute the Master laid his kind hand on my forehead, uttered a blessing, and left my half of the large tent to visit Mr. W. T. Brown, who slept in the other half behind a canvas screen that divided the tent into two rooms. When I had time to pay attention to myself, I found myself holding in my left hand a folded paper enwrapped in a silken cloth. To go to the lamp, open and read it, was naturally my first impulse. I found it to be a letter of private counsel, containing prophecies of the death of two undesignated, then active, opponents of the Society, which were realised in the passing away of the Swami Dayânand Saraswati and Babu Keshab Chandra Sen shortly after. A point to notice is that the handwriting of this letter, formed in my own palm by the Master K. H. himself, is identical with that of all those others which the sagacious Netherclift, after much dissection of them into their original pothook-and-hanger elements, pronounced to be of Blavatskyan origin! What happened in young Brown's end of the tent he related orally to a great many still living witnesses, and published in his pamphlet, Some Experiences in India, my copy of which I cannot lay my hand upon at this moment. But in his other pamphlet, The Theosophical Society an Explanatory Treatise, published at Madras, he says (p. 11): "It will be sufficient here to remark that Mahatma K. H.


is a living Adept, and that the writer had the honor of seeing him personally at Lahore and of being spoken to by him and even touched. Letters have been received by the writer at Madras, Lahore, Jammu (Kashmir), and again at Madras, all being in the same handwriting," etc., etc. The foundation having been thus laid, and Mr. Brown's other pamphlet available after a little search, I may say that on hearing an exclamation from his side of the screen, I went in there and he showed me a silk-wrapped letter of like appearance to mine though of different contents, which he said had been given him much as mine had been to me, and which we read together. That he has since swung around a whole circle of changes, and is now a professed Roman Catholic and a teacher in a school of that Church, does not alter in the least the facts of his receiving this letter as described, and his identifying it as in the K. H. script.
The Master's letter to me connects itself with the visit to me at New York of the other Master when at my unspoken thought-wish, he "materialised" his turban and gave it to me as an objsective proof that I had received his visit. The letter says: "At New York you demanded of . . . an objective proof that his visit to you was not a Mâya, and he gave it; [now] unasked, I give you the present one: tho' I pass out of your sight, this note will be to you the reminder of our conferences. I now go to young Mr. Brown to try his intuitiveness. To-morrow night, when the camp is quiet and the worst of the emanations from your


audience have passed away, I shall visit you again for a longer conversation, as you must be forewarned against certain things in the future." He concludes with a remark that will not be very palatable reading to our ingenious American rivals who are trying to play the drama of Hamlet with the Dane omitted. He says: "Ever be vigilant, zealous, and judicious; for, remember that the usefulness of the Theosophical Society largely depends upon your exertions, and that our blessings follow its suffering 'Founders' and all who help on their work."

Previous Page       Top of this page       Next Page