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Some Comments on Publication of The Mahatma Letters and HPB's Esoteric Writings

Nov 25, 2002 01:34 PM
by Daniel H. Caldwell

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 [available online at: ], 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. [See: ]

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 [Man: Fragments of Forgotten History is available online at: ]

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 
* The Occult World by A.P. Sinnett. (First edition published 1881)
[Available online at: ]

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

* 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. [See:

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

* Also W.J. Judge published lengthy extracts from K.H.'s letters to 
Sinnett dealing with Kamaloka and Devachan. See The Path, August, 
1889, Nov., 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. [See: ]

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.
[Jinarajadasa's compilation is available online at: ]

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." [Compare: 
in Chapter 11.]

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. 

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