Travelling with the Colonel and Madam
Four months ago a book in my library caught my attention after having been there silently for about 24 years, “A Short History of The Theosophical Society. Compiled by Josephine Ransom”, published in India in 1938 for 4 rupees. It had come to me with a bunch of other valuable books – with many works of Master EK – from an old German theosophist who let me chose from his library whatever I wanted; it was his legacy, and he died in November 1990, directly after a last visit to our home in Switzerland.
I haven’t read most of the books, but I hold them in good honour. The “History”, however, now had its turn for reading.
With great interest I went through the pages, seeing how Helena P. Blavatsky (H.P.B., or the “Madam” and Colonel Henry St. Olcott struggled to set up the Theosophical Society, how the Masters have frequently appeared to them and many others or how instructions had manifested in most mysterious ways. I also enjoyed reading how there had been a lot of quarrels and discussions – it wasn’t a “meeting of saints” – from the 17 founding members all except the Colonel and Madam dropped away. The two struggled tremendously to spread the teachings, but also to develop an understanding themselves. Quote p 243: “He often disagreed with her, and she with him. Those who knew them both intimately have left on record their admiration for his patient and uncomplaining endurance of her worst and most volcanic outbursts.” In his “Old Diary Leaves” he gave his best to “prevent any tendency to set her up as infallible, yet he cherished for her a great friendship”.
In a letter from Master KH to the Colonel that dropped into his cabin on a boat on 29 August 1888 the Master wrote to him, “H.P.B. has next to no concerns with administrative details, and should be kept clear of them… But this you must tell to all: – with occult matters she has everything to do… she is our direct agent…”
I took the book with me on the journey to India and was thrilled to read about their tours up and down the country. I came to know that Olcott had given lectures to large groups in Kumbhakonam at the time where Master CVV had been mayor there. He had been at other placed I also knew and he had given talks in Ooty in the Nilagiris and later been there for recovery after a very strenuous trip. I felt like travelling with them, feeling with them when worst calumnies were spread by traitors, how leading Indian members left out of protest because they didn’t want that “sacred secrets” were to be unveiled to the ignorant masses… And though I had read several times before how the Madam had struggled with great atrocities of members and foreigners as well as most severe health problems, it again touched me deeply to read about it – being in the Indian ambiance.