“And now it is your province to decide which will you have: the highest philosophy or simple exhibitions of occult powers. Of course this is by far not the last word between us and — you will have time to think it over. The Chiefs want a “Brotherhood of Humanity,” a real Universal Fraternity started; an institution which would make itself known throughout the world and arrest the attention of the highest minds. I will send you my Essay. Will you be my co-worker and patiently wait for minor phenomena? I think I foresee the answer. At all events the holy lamp of spiritual light burning in you (however dimly) there is hope for you, and — for me, also.” From a letter by the Mahatma Koot Hoomi to A P Sinnett
With my British Library reading card in hand I headed to the manuscript room where the Mahatma Letters awaited me. I had booked them online the day before and was very much looking forward to seeing them. I was armed with notebook, pencil and magnifying glass. I could not believe I was finally going to see these letters with my own eyes, that I would be able to touch them with my own hands.
These were the documents, the letters, that were sent to A P SInnett, some were precipitated, some sent by post but all composed by the Mahatmas. The majority are addressed to A P Sinnett though some are letters from Helena Petrovna Blavatsky with Koot Hoomi or Master Morya adding their notes to the end. The Mahatmas’ are the guiding lights of the Theosophical Society, these were the men who instigated the forming of the society through Helena Blavatsky.
I am reminded that Koot Hoomi had requested to A P Sinnett not to make these letters public, but that they could be circulated amongst theosophical members. Should this correspondence be kept private? Are they of use to budding theosophy students?
My own opinion is that surely, they are of use to theosophy students. The Masters, or Brothers as they are also known, were the ones who instigated the Theosophical Society, guiding Madam Helena Blavatsky to start the group in New York City. These are the letters written by the members of the White Brotherhood to the early members of the Society, and these letters give explanations of the theosophical work, guidance on development of one’s self and the evolution of the human race.
At the desk that I was assigned in the manuscript room of the British Library I sat with two big boxes. I opened the first one expecting the letters to be loose but instead found them attached to a portfolio, a giant book filled with different sized letters.
Some of these letters were written on the thinnest paper and the ink from the writing on the other side was coming through. Some of the letters were written on the back of other letters, presumably because they were the only papers at hand when they were being written. A few of the letters were written on small scraps of paper or the backs of cards.
Koot Hoomi’s ink appears over old letters, he having written over the black ink or adding his piece to the bottom of a letter from HPB. HPB’s writing is hard to decipher, let alone read, her handwriting is a scrawl.
It is not easy to see if the Masters writing is embedded in the paper or actually written on top of it, the light is not great in the library and the letters themselves seem to be fading with age. They look and feel delicate.
It is astonishing that whoever bound these letters to the folios was not concerned with whether the letters are upright or not. Some letters are even put in sideways so one has to swivel the heavy portfolio to be able to read them. It says at the front of each folio that it was presented (presumably to the British Library) by Miss Maud Hoffmaan on the 11th March 1939.
It is interesting to see the signatures, HPB’s signature is identifiable, one of the few things I can actually read of her writing though it is still a joined up written scrawl. Both the Mahatma’s use their initials to end their post though in the early pieces from Koot Hoomi he still writes out his name.
There is one letter that is written out at a diagonal, the lines are written from one corner to the other instead of from top to bottom.
Koot Hoomi’s writing is the clearest, the most readable and is very neat compared to Blavatsky’s whereas Morya’s writing comes across as quite childlike. One can still see they are written in different colours, the red and blue writing from the Mahatma’s look like they come from a crayon or a pencil rather than are ink but I am no expert.
It was a thrill to see these letters, though sometimes a pain to be able to try and read some of them, some seem to be written or should I say scribbled down as if in a hurry, others are faded; the magnifying glass came in handy for many of them as the writing can be quite small in some places. I give even more respect to those who have read these letters and deciphered them and compiled them ready to have them published. The originals are not easy documents to read but anybody with a genuine interest in the Mahatma letters should come and see the originals at the British Library.