The Masters, The Way and The Learners


During 1883-5, TSR wrote two letters, to two different aspirants, and the reason for treating them together here is that they are focused to a student in the West and a student in the East with cultural and religious backgrounds incomparably different. Their purport is the same: To enthuse the student’s keen and exploring interest in the pursuit on Spiritual Path under the guidance of the philosophy and tenets of theosophy.

The addressee of the first letter is not known. The tentative date of the letter is determined by Mr Henk, who compiled the Collected Writings of TSR, to be the Fall of 1883. This letter came to light when first published in 1935 by a journal   The Theosophical Forum (Vol.VI, No.7, March 15, 1935), which means it was in public domain only after 52 years of its birth.  

The second letter was addressed to one Vavilala Venkata Sivavadhanulu, a member of the Society and a student of TSR. This letter is part of the material collected in Esoteric Writings of TSR with the opening sentence omitted therein. This sentence, as is seen from the original, reads thus:

I now sit down to write to you the long letter that I promised. To tell you the truth, my dear friend, never my life (was) more miserable than during the last 12 months. This is due to various causes, which I shall not stop to enumerate. But I have nearly passed through the crisis and as you advise me to do, I am going to effect a change in my life.

This letter was published for the first time in The Theosophist for January 1952, with an introductory note by C Jinarajadasa. There the date of the letter was mentioned as 1883, which cannot be so - considering the contents and the later editions adopted 1885, the correct date.  

The principal points touched in both the letters deal with the methods of working of the Masters, Their Being and relationship with the aspirants. The second letter has also references to HPB and her occult status.

We shall now quote excerpts from the first letter. The passages being very clear and pointed, no commentary is offered. Very pertinent sentences are put in ‘Bold type’.

I am glad that you agree with me in thinking that the ways of Mahatmas are inscrutable.

The Adepts belong to a higher plane and are surrounded by quite different conditions. They do not look upon things from our standpoint. We cannot, therefore, criticize their actions until we know something more of them and arrive at their plane of existence.

Our Gurus, be it remembered, never teach us as our English schoolmasters. Nothing by word. They simply impress in our minds and help us develop the higher fifth rounder’s faculty.

The Chela is exposed to all temptations at the hands of the advanced Chelas. He must show his fitness for what he aspires to at every corner; he must show that he has more of the Spirit in him than of matter – in short his determination to become a precocious and artificial fifth rounder should be unshaken under any circumstances.

The oriental method of teaching was not in words and he (A O Hume) had by certain methods and a life of chastity, truth, universal benevolence and above all unselfishness  to develop a sixth faculty – the keenness of his disappointment was equal to his conceit and ignorance.

Our Gurus leave us free to study what we like. But if we practice anything without consulting them, we will fall into the ditch. No man can become an initiate without a Guru. Indeed without him one cannot advance one real step in the direction of Occult study.

You may ask as many questions as you please. I shall answer them as far as I know. Only when I tell you that in some instances I am not at liberty to say further, do not consider me rude or conceited. Implicit obedience to my Guru is absolutely necessary, obedience in thought, mind and deed. For my Guru can read my innermost thoughts.

Between them (ordinary people who ever think by proxy and take without inquiry to any belief that a popular leader inculcates) and  the initiates is a class of learned and inquiring men, trying to become initiates and occupying the various grades from the ordinary man to the Adept. These are the interpreters to the people of what is passing on Adept circles. All knowledge of Adepts and their doings, people learn from these direct. But of late English education has dwindled this number into very, very few, and these find still fewer to sympathize with them. So the ordinary people having lost trace of this important class, the Adepts become to them the Gods of the Fable, and not real living men.

What my affinities are at this my own incarnation, I am not yet arrived at a stage to know.  I will know it some time. My own guru has several Chelas. Some of them have been initiated, others are in the various intermediate grades.

An Adept is not made but becomes. If you have determined to one, you WILL become one. The immutable laws of Nature decreed so. Once  we have the determined, inflexible will, we will carry everything before us. Mind under normal conditions is of the same clearness in all persons.

We receive communications now and then in a mode we call psychological telegraphy, that is to say, whatever our Masters think, is made to pass in our brain just the same way I suppose a mesmerist makes his thoughts pass into the brain of the subject. Only we remember it always, whereas the subject loses traces of them when he awakes. The  impressment  cannot be done if our brains are not as clear as crystal, free from alltaints of absorbing worldly feelings of all sorts.

The kingdom of Heaven ought to be taken by  force.  If you bring your brain to this state and then think of the Adepts, they will be forced to take up and assist you.


The second letter, as already mentioned, was written on July, 1885, by which time HPB has left Adyar. More references to Hodgson’s visit and reports are available here. The excerpts are as under:

You appear to be in a chaotic state of mind at present, owing to all that has happened during the last twelve months, in connection with so-called Theosophical phenomena and the missionary attack.  --- In course of time, you will be able to get rid of the confusion that has now taken possession of your mind.

Karma itself is a product of human effort and of human action, and can be altered and varied  by human endeavor. Karma is not a settled and invariable cause, existing fron eternity to eternity, predetermining the fate of every human being through thousands of incarnations.

You are not right in objecting to a definite path of progress to adeptship. – It will be more reasonable to wait until you know something more about the Path. In every path of occult study, there are a few essential conditions, while the rest are mere accidental. The latter have varied greatly with the varied races, while the former have remained the same. This is as it ought to be.

You are mistaken in supposing that worthless men of depraved character ‘have been taken under the special patronage of Mahatmas.’ It is not true.

Why cannot Adepts control the evil magnetism of the world and live here? – This is your curious question. “Why should they?’’ – is my question by way of reply. Their difficulties are great enough as they are; why should They enhance them and waste Their energy and power in overcoming the same, and even endanger Their existence for the purpose of satisfying the curiosity of the common herd? The select few can go Them as they do now. Their influence on the progress of humanity will be the same whether They live in Their retreats or in a place like Madras.

You must wait until you yourself can learn something of occult dynamics (about precipitation of letters). – Your ability to conceive it does not however disprove the phenomenon.

She (HPB) happens to be the only agent that can be employed by the Mahatmas  for the purposes of the TS. Had it not been for the bad temper, she would have been somewhere else by this time.

She (HPB) now is in Italy. She was not expelled, as you imagine, but was requested to go there for the sake of her health.

The question at issue as between the Theosophical Society and the public is not whether Madame B. is honest of dishonest, but whether occult science is a reality or a fiction. Even a single phenomenon must produce a finding in our favour.  My client is the Theosophical Society and not Madame B.

 We did not re-issue it (Committee’s report against that of Hodgson’s )  corrected, as we decided after consulting Mr A O Hume and others, that the Society as such should not make it its duty to defend Madame B. --- --- Do not suppose that we came to this conclusion as we found it impossible to defend Madame B.  if we make it the duty of the Society to defend the phenomena assailed and take up its stand on them, its time and energy will have to be wasted in answering a thousand attacks every day. --- We therefore thought it proper not to take any further official action in connection with that report.

Mr Hodgson’s report is adverse, no doubt. We are not responsible for it however.

My dear friend, do not take a desponding view of the matter. ... I can give you my assurance that occult science and the Theosophical Society have got some basis of truth to stand upon. Be calm and composed; your difficulties will disappear.

The matter of Hodgson’s report and the reversal of the whole stand by the Society for Psychical Research in 1980s are on record and are therefore not detailed here. Matter of concern here is the stand taken by the Society’s committee, as also the contentions of TSR; his testimony for the Society, Masters and the Path of progress for humanity.

Dr N C Ramanuajchary


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