[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

Goswami's Parts III and IV

Nov 25, 2002 09:23 AM
by Daniel H. Caldwell

Dear Goswami,

Thank you for posting both Parts III and IV of your essay to Theos-

Your essay is quite interesting and contains much food for thought.

Unfortunately, you have asserted many things but have not given the 
evidence and documentation that would allow your readers to judge 
whether your generalizations are valid or not. Hopefully at some 
point, you will provide some detailed examples of the documentation 
behind some of your generalized statements.

For example, let us take just one small section of your essay. Let 
me quote it first:

"Scholars of the Western Esoteric Traditions and 
sciences, and non-Indian Languages have shown that the Theosophical 
Society writings of HPB contained enormous amounts of material from 
other sources, that were not properly credited by her. In the case 
of the Sanskrit Content of the Mahatma Letters, this is again what 
was obviously done. Ideas and language were appropriated principally 
from classic Vaishnava Source-works in Sanskrit, and these were used 
unjustifyably out of context and often with corrupted meaning to 
create a world-view filled with a pathological obsession about race 
in a Darwinist-related new evolutionary model. The challenging and 
valuable ideas, which ARE THERE in the Mahatma Letters and other 
Theosophical Society Writings, are not sui generis from the claimed 
mystical Mahatmas, who were constructed as their mouth pieces. These 
ideas were clearly collected piece-meal from much earlier Vaishnava 
Sanskrit writings, with nothing new or original added. In fact, much 
of the authentic value of the appropriated sources has been lost in 
the rough handling of their ideas by the Theosophical Masters, who 
were actually neophytes when compared to the real living masters of 
those orthodox "shasters" traditions."

You cover alot of material in this one quoted extract but what 
inquiring readers need are detailed examples that would illustrate 
and document what you are asserting as being true.

For example, consider the very first sentence above which reads: 

"Scholars of the Western Esoteric Traditions and 
sciences, and non-Indian Languages have shown that the Theosophical 
Society writings of HPB contained enormous amounts of material from 
other sources, that were not properly credited by her."

What do you mean by "not properly credited by her"?

Have you read what the historian Michael Gomes has written about W.E. 
Coleman's plagiarism charge against Madame Blavatsky? See the 
relevant pages in Gomes' book "Theosophy in the Nineteenth Century" 
as well as his "The Dawning of the Theosophical Movement" for his 
detailed comments.

Furthermore, take in to consideration the following.

John Patrick Deveney, a Theosophical historian, in the latest issue 
(Oct. 2002) of THEOSOPHICAL HISTORY, writes about Coleman's claim 
against H.P. Blavatsky.

Deveney writes:

"His claim was that, while the learned QUOTATIONS from classical and 
other sources in H.P.B.'s books would lead the reader to believe she 
had read some 5,000 authors, in fact all of her references could be 
found in approximately 100 easily available, second-hand sources. 
This, Coleman, thundered, was plagiarism." Caps added (Theosophical 
History, Oct. 2002, p. 272.)

Deveney's explanation here is indeed correct. And Coleman himself 
confirms it. To cite just one of many examples, Coleman writes:

"By careful analysis I found that in compiling Isis about 100 books 
were used. About 1400 books are QUOTED from and REFERRED to in this 
work; but, from the 100 books which its author possessed, she copied 
everything in Isis taken from and relating to the other 1300. There 
are in Isis about 2100 QUOTATIONS from and references to books that 
were copied, at second-hand, from books other than the originals; and 
of this number only about 140 are credited to the books from which 
Madame Blavatsky copied them at second-hand." caps added.

Coleman made the above statement in the 1890s.

But notice what the scholar Deveney discovered:

" In the spring and summer of 1881, however, when he himself was 
accused of plagiarism [by W.H. Burr], Coleman's definition [of 
plagiarism] was RATHER DIFFERENT." !! caps added.

Deveney quotes Coleman's rebuttal to W.H. Burr's charges of 

Coleman wrote:

"Even were I guilty of what he [Burr] charges, it would not be 
plagiarism. To quote extracts from other authors found in Mr. B
[urr]'s work is not plagiarism but to use Mr. Burr's own language or 
ideas, without credit, is plagiarist. This I have not done, and Mr. 
B. knows it."

A little latter in the same piece, Coleman makes a very SIGNIFICANT 
statement and admission:

"It is ridiculously absurd to call it plagiarism to use quotations 
from other writers, taken second-hand. All writers do it more or 
less, Mr. Burr [himself] very largely, and no one else ever called it 
plagiarism before." 

Indeed, it appears it was a common practice in the 19th century for 
authors to do exactly what Coleman says in the last extract.

This is just one example of where your generalized statements need to 
be examined in greater detail in order to determine if what you 
assert has merit or not.

Daniel H. Caldwell

[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application