In an interesting article written by Laura Langford, she describes the painting of the portrait of the Mahatmas (at least one of them), and the strange effect caused by the cigarette H.P.B was smoking.
As this area of the forum is to discuss controversies, I am daring here to ask those who might know better than me, what kind of cigarettes H.P.B. was smoking. Michael Gomes told me she was smoking Egyptian Tobacco. I don’t know anything about tobacco, so my question is: Any tobacco can calm the nerves and cause the effect described on the article you can read below?
Why H.P.B. would insist for others to smoke also? Of course at the time cigarettes were not a problem as they are nowadays, so just for social reasons she would do that? For fun? Or there were other unknown reason.
Anyone who reads this article, and is not a theosophist full of theories will affirm she was smoking marijuana. Of course we theosophists know that this is most unlikely. Whoever studied her teachings knows she was radically against the use of drugs. Still I would like very much to know, which is the explanation of the most experienced theosophists about it.
Please read the article below, and let me know what you would tell a new student of theosophy who would come to you with this article, making all kind of questions.
THE PORTRAITS OF THE MAHATMAS* (1)
By Laura C. Langford
As had been promised by the Mahātmas, Mr. Schemiechen, a young German artist then residing in London, was to paint the portraits. And, at the appointed time, a number of Theosophists gathered at his studio. Chief Mr. Schemiechen’s guests at the first sitting was H.P.B., who occupied a seat facing a platform on which was his easel. Near him on the platform sat several persons, all of them women, with one exception. About the toom were grounded a number of well-known people, all equally interested in the attempt to be made by Mr. Schemiechen. The most clear defined memory of that gathering, always in the mind of the writer, is the picture of Madame Blavatsky placidly smoking cigarettes in her easy chair and two women on the platform who were smoking also. She had “ordered” one of these women (2) to make a cigarette and smoke it, for it was the first attempt and even the mild Egyptian tobacco used was expected to produce nausea. H.P.B. promised that no such result would follow, and encouraged by Mrs. Sinnett, who was also smoking the cigarette was lighted. The result was a curious quieting of the nerves, and, soon all interest was lost in the group of people about the room, and only the easel and the hand of the artist absorbed her attention.
Strange to related that though the amateur smoker considered herself an onlooker it was her voice who uttered the word “begin it,” and the artist quickly began outlining a head. Soon the eyes of everyone present were upon him as he worked with extremely rapidity. While quiet reigned in the studio and all were eagerly interested in Mr. Schemiechen’s work, the amateur smoker on the platform saw the figure of a man outline itself beside the easel and, while the artist with head bent over his work continued his outlining, it stood up by him without a sign or motion. She leaned over to her friend and whispered” “It is the Master K.H.; he is being sketched. He is standing near Mr. Schemiechen.”
“Describe his looks and dress,” called out H.P.B. And while those in the room were wondering over Madame Blavatsky’s exclamation the woman addressed said: “He is about Mohini’s height; slight of build, wonderful face full of light and animation; flowing curly black hair, over which is worn a soft cap. He is a symphony in greys and blues. His dress is that of a Hindu --- though its far finer and richer than any I have ever seen before --- and there is fur trimming about his costume. It is his picture that is being made, and he himself is guiding the work.” (3)
Mohini, (4) whom all present regarded with love and regard as the gifted disciple of the revered Masters, had been walking slowly to and fro with this hands behind him, and seemed absorbed in thought. Few noticed his movements, for he was in the back part of the large apartment and his footsteps were noiseless. But the amateur smoker have followed his movements with earnest glances for she was noting a similarity of form between the psychic figure of the Master and himself, and, as well, a striking resemblance in their manner.
“How like the Master Mohini is,” she confined to her friend beside her; and looking toward him see saw him watching her with an expression of much concern on his face. Smiling back an assurance to him that she would make no further revelations, she glanced towards the artist and got the eyes of the Master, who stood beside him. The look was one she never forgot, for it conveyed to her mind the conviction that her discovery was a genuine fact, and henceforth she felt justified in believing that the Mahātma K.H., and Mohini the chela were more closely related than she had before realized. In fact, that Mohini was nearer the Master than all the others in the room, not even excepting H.P.B. And, no sooner was this conviction born in her mind than she encountered a swift glance of recognition from the shadow form beside the easel, the first and only one he gave to anyone during the long sitting. H.P.B.’s heavy voice arose to admonish the artist, one of her remarks remaining distinctly in memory. It was this: “Be careful, Schemiechen; do not make the face too round lengthen the outline, and take not of the long distance between the nose and the ears.” She sat where she could not see the easel, nor know what was on it.
All who are familiar with the copies of the two portraits of the Masters painted by this artist will recall the look of youth that is upon the face of K.H. It is a look not of youthfulness, but of youth itself; not of youthful inexperience and lack of years, but of life --- full and abounding life that is ever young, and of self-control so great as to control not only expression, but nerves and muscles as well. Transparent seemingly as was his body, yet powerful beyond the conception of those who have not seen on the astral plane, was the mental and spiritual strength of the man. A being in whom was filled every ideal men conceived of manhood glorified. A finished product in fact, upon whom the privilege of resting one’s sight was an inexpressible delight. No real likeness of such a Being could ever be taken, could ever be more than a shadowy outline of the Real Man.
How many of the number of those in the studio on that first occasion recognized the Master’s presence was not known. There were psychics in the room, several of them, and the artist, Mr. Schemiechen, was a psychic, of he could not have worked out so successfully the picture that was outlined by him on that eventful day.
The painting of the portrait of the Master “M” followed the completion of the picture; both ere approved by H.P.B. and the two paintings become celebrated among Theosophists the world over. They are a source of inspiration to those who have had the opportunity to study the wonderful power and expression depicted in them by Mr. Schemiechen.
* Reprinted from The Theosophist, September 1948, pp 367-369.
(1)(Reprinted with the permission of “The Word Publishing Company,” New York.
(2) Mrs. Langford
(3) I Think we must admit that Mrs. Langford made a mistake in her clairvoyant vision. She states that the invisible personage whom she saw was Mahātma K.H., but we have two statements that it was Mahātma M., first, in the Letter which H.P.B. received from Mahātma M. where the statement is made (Letters from the Masters of Wisdom, First Series, 4th Edition, p. 214): “I myself will guide his hands with brush for K’s portrait---M.” The second confirmation of this fact is The Mahatma Letters to A.P.Sinnett, Letter LX (page 349): “…while the others are the productions of chelas, the last one was painted with M.’s hand on the artist’s head, and often on his arm --- K.H.” The mistake is all the more strange as the height of Mahātma K.H. is between 5 feet and 6 inches and 5 feet 8 inches, whereas that of Mahātma M. is 6 feet 4 inches, Colonel Olcott, mentioning the incident of the visit to him of the Master M. in his room in New York states: “I wondering at his great height.” (Old Diary Leaves, I.)
(4) Mohini M. Chatterjee.