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.


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.

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Dear friends

My views are:

The theosophical teachings seek to alleviate the sufferings of mankind. And therefore they do not promote anything, which would have the opposite effect.

- Time, place, people and circumstances requires various activities from the theosophical Seekers and initiates of compasssion. I.e. it would for instance be much better for me to show myself smoking a cigaret if it would prevent some villain and illmotivated person from doing something much worse than such a minor unhealthy deed.

The accuse a theosophist (HPB included) for being addictedor to use Marijuana or another drug, aught only do be done if one is prepared to show some concrete documentation. Else, one is doing nothing better than to employ oneself as a barking dog or similar, who is not caring about truth and lies.

- - -
The theosophical motto is: There is no religion higher than truth.

M. Sufilight
Yes, I like cigars and MJ, and I am old enough to remember when they had doctors (we assumed) on early TV who recommended/sold certain brands of cigarettes as being more healthy!

As to MJ, it is the "aspirin" or "penicillin" of the coming age in that it will turn out to be a "wonder drug" once it is legalized and patented and taxed. Consider the completely legal use of Marinol (a MJ substitute) now in (non-high) pill form for, I think, ocular disease and nausea, among other things. The "evil weed" will eventually be found out to hide great medicinal value---I'm sure of it!

As to cigars, well, they do help keep my seizures away, but I am, alas, hooked on them for now (I have been known to quit smoking for up to 3 to 4 years at a time in my past life, when I was a "good Mormon," which I, obviously, no longer am) .

(BTW, the "asthma cigarettes" were not tobacco at all, but an odd assortment of harmless herbs.)
Dear friends

I find alcohol to be more dangerous to the average persons since it generates a number of alcoholist and because it hampers the cognitive thinking-patterns in the individual. Some get aggressive by its use, which is an effect that tobacco is not producing. This an important difference.

It is estimated that 9% of the general population is pre disposed to alcoholism based on genetic factors. Severe cognitive problems are not uncommon in alcoholics. Approximately 10% of all dementia cases are alcohol related making alcohol the 2nd leading cause of dementia. (Wikipedia)

As scientific evidence mounted in the 1980s, tobacco companies claimed contributory negligence as the adverse health effects were previously unknown or lacked substantial credibility. Health authorities sided with these claims up until 1998, from which they reversed their position.
The active substances trigger chemical reactions in nerve endings which hightens heart rate, memory, altertness,[11] and reaction time.[12] Dopamine and later endorphins are released, which are often assoicated with reward and pleasure."

"Fresh tobacco, processed tobacco, and tobacco smoke contain carcinogens. The current view on cancer is that carcinogenicity is a stochastic effect, where various environmental factors trigger the development of cancer. While exposure to a carcinogen increases the probability of cancer, the process remains random. For example, smoking tobacco is known to cause cancer in humans, but not all people who smoke necessarily develop smoking-related cancer. Additionally, in studies on humans, the large number of confounding variables makes it challenging to statistically distinguish their effects." (Wikipedia)

"Urban VIII issued a 1624 papal bull that made smoking tobacco punishable by excommunication, because he believed it led to sneezing which too closely resembled sexual ecstasy. Pope Benedict XIII would later repeal the ban." (Gately, Iain (2001). Tobacco: A Cultural History of How an Exotic Plant Seduced Civilization. --- Cutler, Abigail. "The Ashtray of History" -The Atlantic Monthly, 2007.)

This was what I got from the Internet. And I find it to be close to the truth.

I have to mention, that some clairvoyants, claim that tobacco slowly damages the nerve cells in the brain and that the smoking-paper isn't healthy. But again, there are different kinds of tobacco.

M. Sufilight
Dear friends

A few more views...

Here is a link about the Christian views upon Alcohol: Christianity and alcohol

Here is a link about the Islamic views upon Alcohol: Islamic dietary laws

The difference in opinion between Islam and Christianity is quite interesting.
Now we hear H. P. Blavatsky's view...

C. H. P. Blavatsky said in the Esoteric Section:
13. The use of wine, spirits, liquors of any kind, or any narcotic or intoxicating drug, is strictly prohibited. If indulged in, all progress is hindered, and the efforts of teacher and pupil alike are rendered useless. All such substances have a direct pernicious action upon the brain, and especially upon the "third eye," or pineal gland (vide "Secret Doctrine," Vol. II, p. 288 [d] et seq. ) They prevent absolutely the development of the third eye, called in the East "the Eye of Shiva."

14. The moderate use of tobacco is not prohibited, for it is not an intoxicant; but its abuse, like that of everything else - even pure water or bread - is prejudicial.
( )

And let i rest there, while we keep the book, which is named Zanoni in mind. A book referred to by HPB.
And when Sufis in the writings get intoxicated with wine it aught not to be taken literally, because "Grapes" and "Wine" are metaphors for "Wisdom".

M. Sufilight
Where and how did she do that? Not through recommending the plant asclepias acida instead of recommending spiritual intoxication?

"Plainly speaking, Soma is the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge forbidden by the jealous Elohim to Adam and Eve or Yah-ve, 'lest Man should become as one of us' " (SD 2:498-9&n).

M. Sufilight
Here are some quotes from HPB:

"The 'Soma' plant is the asclepias acida, which yields a juice from which that mystic beverage, the Soma drink, is made. Alone the descendants of the Rishis, the Agnihotri (the fire priests) of the great mysteries knew all its powers. But the real property of the true Soma was (and is) to make a new man of the Initiate, after he is reborn, namely once that he begins to live in his astral body . . .; for, his spiritual nature overcoming the physical, he would soon snap it off and part even from that etherealized form. .
. .
"The partaker of Soma finds himself both linked to his external body, and yet away from it in his spiritual form. The latter, freed from the former, soars for the time being in the ethereal higher regions, becoming virtually 'as one of the gods,' and yet preserving in his physical brain the memory of what he sees and learns. Plainly speaking, Soma is the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge forbidden by the jealous Elohim to Adam and Eve or Yah-ve, 'lest Man should become as one of us' " (SD Vol 2:498-9&fn).

"A 'soma-drinker' attains the power of placing himself in direct rapport with the bright side of the moon, thus deriving inspiration from the concentrated intellectual energy of the blessed ancestors. . . .

"This which seems one stream (to the ignorant) is of a dual nature -- one giving life and wisdom, the other being lethal. He who can separate the former from the latter, as Kalahamsa separated the milk from the water, which was mixed with it, thus showing great wisdom -- will have his reward" (BCW Vol. 12:203-4).

"This Hindu sacred beverage answers to the Greek Ambrosia or nectar, drunk by the gods of Olympus. A cup of kykeon was also quaffed by the mysta at the Eleusinian initiation. He who drinks it easily reaches Brahma, or the place of splendor (Heaven). The soma-drink known to Europeans is not the genuine beverage, but its substitute; for the initiated priests alone can taste of the real soma; and even kings and rajas, when sacrificing, receive the substitute. . . . We were positively informed that the majority of the sacrificial priests of the Dekkan have lost the secret of the true soma. It can be found neither in the ritual books nor through oral information. The true followers of the primitive Vedic religion are very few; these are the alleged descendants from the Rishis, the real Agnihotris, the initiates of the great Mysteries. The soma-drink is also commemorated in the Hindu Pantheon, for it is called King-Soma. He who drinks of it is made to participate in the heavenly king, because he becomes filled with it, as the Christian apostles and their converts became filled with the Holy Ghost, and purified of their sins. The soma makes a new man of the initiate; he is reborn and transformed, and his spiritual nature overcomes the physical; it gives the divine power of inspiration, and develops the clairvoyant faculty to the utmost. According to the exoteric explanation the soma is a plant, but, at the same time it is an angel. It forcibly connects the inner, highest 'spirit' of man, which spirit is an angel like the mystical soma, with his 'irrational soul,' or astral body, and thus united by the power of the magic drink, they soar together above physical nature and participate during life in the beatitude and ineffable glories of Heaven.

"Thus the Hindu soma is mystically, and in all respects the same that the Eucharist supper is to the Christian. The idea is similar. By means of the sacrificial prayers -- the mantras -- this liquor is supposed to be transformed on the spot into real soma -- or the angel, and even into Brahma himself" (IU Vol 1:xl-xli).


Dear Erica ,

             I am upset - I did write on the soma and it vanished - did not save - I was thrown banished to the front page .So that knowledge probably I am not supposed to divulge maybe . I will still persevere and do wrong despite the superstition pushing itself onto me - Not just Soma - there are many beverages which were made by Siddhas and are still made today - The finished product was called a ''Divya Oushadam"  Divya = Divine Oushadam = Medicine, concoction, palliative etc (always on the good side) it was life giving - the word Oushadam precludes evil intentions .(I have used my own mother tongue to explain the above - it is malayalam ) . Oushadi = plural .

Now since childhood we were told that soma was a ''Divya Oushadam'' and per se did not exist as ordinary medicines and it was made by using (any) green plant considered auspicious for the purpose and its oil or essence extracted and given potency through the use of mantras during the process - now this is very easily understandable for us as we have a culture of Ayurveda in our state and many plants not available these days for medicines can be substituted by (people who are knowers and have sadhana) common plants and "Veeryam" or strength imparted  so as to have the same results of healing . 

This is still in practice here . I am sorry that I digressed - The point is I can give you an Idea from one particularly interesting angle - There are a million innitiates into yoga and sannyasa in India in a given time - but It is very very very rare for an initiate to have astral experiences "Against will" - this is particularly traumatic to the initiate - since he attains to knowledge after the experience - the person is torn away from his moorings etc etc - We say that "The Atma chooses the Atma'' - but sometimes some masters who have insight into the past of a particular disciple will do it so as to ensure his (the disciples) safety . A master can do this - without giving Soma a master can by thought do the same thing but the Initiate must be strong enough to accept a thing without cause - it is very very traumatic believe me - now in order that this impending trauma may be averted a master will make a show of giving soma so the student after getting highly initiated is still at rest as a cause was there and his restless mind is alleviated . The Brihadaryanaka Upanishad is one dealing with consciousness and the self only nothing else -but it is very hard to understand without help - pundits and translation are of very little help - it requires a person of insight to correctly give the knowledge - now in this Upanishad there is about a Soma Juice and other things and about a man sleeping and getting up and etc . It is the experience that when the infinite moves "against will"" there is a complete shattering of the individual and he ''dies'' so to say and slowly comes to his senses over a period in which knowledge is displayed to him . Whatever he may indulge in to reverse the process will prove extremely inimical to his existence - he has no other way but to gain knowledge of the incident . This is where all bodily superimpositions are removed by the innundation of the infinite - actually it is a force of Kundalini that destroys the individual and expands him . Not everyone has this type of raising of kundalini - the master who does this to a disciple should be also able to be impart knowledge to him on the event - thus unfolding the person into the glory of his self . 

One need not debate whether instruments or aids are require for realising the self - no instruments are required only thought and knowledge emanating from rising consciousness due to intense thinking on a subject . Anything else extraneous will only detract from the pursuit .

Kundalini can be raised by Knowledge , everyone can do it through proper thought an dknowledge - just a little push in the ''thinking process'' is required that is all.

I am not in favour of any strictures - what is wrong if a man takes peyote or weed to expand his senses ? (the intent must be pure -self relaization and not addiction !! ). Once a  preliminary rise is achieved - it is not required anymore (I have not taken any of these things !!! ) These things pertain to Shakthi Sanchara and some other types of Yoga - it has to be transmuted with Gnana Yoga  and later discarded fully after all the astral body is also perishable and one has to give it up to attain to the intellect and knowledge. Many get stuck there - raising the kundalini above the 4th chakra is not very easy . And unfortunately 5,6 and 7 are the knowledge chakras . 

getting a head ache is not any chakra - a doctor is to be consulted for migraine.

Hope I have been uselessly helpful !! I just entered into this post because I hope what I know may help maybe anyone or maybe even give them ideas . Kundalini ,Soma, Yajur Veda , Mantras etc are not things I generally like to get into same as teleology - but let me see if anything bad will happen !!! I love experimenting with myself and anyway these things may help another -myself to be honest I ma not really into these things.

I happen to grow tobacco myself. Tobacco strains most common in the Middle-East are Samsoun, Izmir, Sherazi etc., and they all tend to be very sweet and have a low nicotine content compared to other strains. But there are literally thousands of man made tobacco strains and another thousand different ways to process and cure it, so... hard to say! But I guess that Egyptian tobacco would be a sweet one.   

Dear Erica,

         Swami Vivekanada the Indian monk used to smoke , he used to smoke a pipe - and whilst he was in America somebody once happened to ask him why he was taken to smoking (this I believe after dinner when he reached out for his pipe ) His reply was that '' the pipe is there and it is meant for smoking - other wise man would not have made it ". 

Again please let me introduce to a few metaphysical truths on Tobacco that I am aware of - Tobacco represents WOOD in the higher echelons of symbols and is not to be taken as divine call to smoke it in order to attain to the self . 
Brown colour in any vision also represents wood . This is my emphatic findings on this subject .


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