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Russia, England and HPB

May 11, 1998 07:19 AM
by K Paul Johnson

Now for some comments about the implication of the passages from
the Collected Writings and the HPB letters to Sinnett.  First
thing to note is that HPB proclaims herself that her previous
statement to Sinnett was a lie, so the term is not my own.  (I
prefer the less accusing-sounding "untruths" but that didn't get
me any less flack than if I'd said "lies.")  But, as Jerry says,
it's much more important to understand why a person would lie
than to simply prove that it occurred.  And in these passages we
see precisely the circumstances of the lie.  HPB, in a letter to
an English Theosophist working on a publication in English for
Theosophical consumption, presents herself as being unsympathetic
to the prospect of an armed Russian invasion of India, and in
fact opposed to it.  But in her heart of hearts, and in her
writings for Russian audiences, she was far more critical of
English rule in India and far more sympathetic to the prospect of
Russian invasion.  When word of her statements to Sinnett,
intended for English Theosophical readers, circulates in Russia,
HPB is caught in this misrepresentation and admits even to
Sinnett where her true sympathies lie.  This is in late 1886, yet
by early 1887 HPB was willing to warn the British viceroy of
plans for a Franco-Russian invasion of India, as seen in a later
letter in Sinnett.  And then, after arriving in England, HPB
expresses to Johnston that she not only supports Russia but fully
believes that the invasion will occur and will be victorious.

I won't go into what this implies about her associations in
India, or specifically with her Masters, since that is discussed
so thoroughly in my books and needs no rehashing here.  But I
will say that these passages disprove several beliefs prevalent
among Theosophists: that HPB was entirely indifferent to
politics, that she would never lie to her English speaking
Theosophical readers about where her real sentiments were, that
her statements to Sinnett are the most reliable source of
information about her (which is implicit but assumed often.)

I am NOT saying here that HPB was entirely driven by pro-Russian
sentiment; she was instead quite conflicted about the fate of
India.  And most importantly, I am not saying what high official
in one Theosophical organization accused me of last year: "that
all HPB's books were written out of political motives."  I was
shocked when this man referred to *someone* believing such a
thing, and said that *I* certainly did not.  Then he had the
brass balls to tell me that he knew better than I what my books
say about HPB's writings and motives, and that they *did too*
make this bizarre accusation.  In fact, the political tangles of
the India/Russia/England Great Game figure largely in HPB's life,
according to my research, only in the years 1879-1887.  Before
and after that, there is virtually no evidence of such
involvement.  And *all* her books were written before and after
this period, excepting those that originated in Russian articles
and which *do indeed* express anti-English and pro-Russian
sentiments.  I mention in the final chapter of TMR that I
consider spiritual motivations to have been primary in HPB's
career from first to last; nonetheless while in India she did get
enmeshed in politics, which she later came to regret.


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