Skip to content

The Identities of The Masters behind the Theosophical Movement



Of your own accord, somehow you stumbled into the complex library and history of “Theosophy.” You have numerously come across the names “Morya” and “Koot Hoomi,” and the term “Adepts.” You may have an idea of what is meant, or perhaps you have done research and have some notion about the topic. Perhaps, you have been introduced to these names through other spiritual groups in the last century, and particularly New Age and neo-Theosophy “ascended masters” or spirit beings. What I want to do is provide a better understanding of the role and history of the “Theosophical Masters” who were the sponsors behind the Theosophical Movement with activities notably in South Asia, America and Western Europe. We will both come to understand certain theories and critiques put forth regarding the identities of these secretive individuals. There is sufficient personal accounts and meetings with theosophists about these individuals so often not detailed to those first coming to learn of the topic. Firstly, one must know that we must distinguish “New Age” and later “neo-Theosophy” influences from Theosophy proper. This is in regards to the systematic body of philosophy provided and explained by those “Adepts” or “mahatmas” to whom Helena P. Blavatsky and themselves in The Mahatma Letters asserted were historical human beings, men of flesh and blood, and not disembodied spirits or jinn; nor the fictitious creations of H.P.B. to conceal their true identities under a political conspiracy.

This pertains to a second issue – K. Paul Johnson’s hypotheses, assumptions and interpretations about the real identities of the Theosophical Masters. K. Paul Johnson is a former member of the Theosophical Society who joined the Church of Light in 2005 and retired from his position as head librarian at the Halifax County-South Boston Regional Library in 2008. For many years the author has encountered numerous persons not Theosophists who through some means were introduced to K. Paul Johnson’s claims identifying the Masters as either fictitious inventions of H.P. Blavatsky, or fictitious inventions but based on the real historical identities of political figures. A while back, I had wrote, that “Besides Dr. Wernekke of Germany, the casebook of encounters with the theosophical mahatmas, and Ramalingam Pillai’s insight, Charles J. Ryan and famous Russian philosopher Vladimir Solovyov defended the existence of masters (Russian Philosopher Vladimir Solovyov and Charles J. Ryan: ‘H.P.B. did not invent the Tibetan Brotherhood and Chelas’).

Namely, in this case in K. Paul Johnson’s research, he asserted that H.P.B.’s portrayal of Master Morya and Koot Hoomi was designed to mislead in order to protect the privacy of the real identities, i.e., that the personae of the Masters are covers for other people. There are problems with this, as will be shown. This article was originally meant to supersede, or be a revision of The Identity of Koot Hoomi of Kashmir, and College and Travels by discussing more about Morya as well. Instead, lets deal with some misunderstandings, and expand the scope on the influences underlying the Theosophical Movement, and the profiles of a number of adepts and sponsors, including K.H. and Morya.


Thakar Singh Sandhawalia

For example, K. Paul Johnson claimed to provide a “suggestion” and “persuasive case” of his findings. Beginning with K.H. (Koot Hoomi or Kuthumi). K. Paul Johnson suggests K.H. was Sardar Thakar Singh Sandhawalia, the chief and founder of the Sikh Singh Sabha Movement in India who was involved in patriotic efforts in the freedom movement from the British, along with his exiled cousin, prince Maharaja Daleep Singh. Thakar Singh masterminded the campaign for the restoration of Maharaja Duleep Singh to the throne of the Punjab. Thakar Singh was well versed in Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit languages, and appointed to the administrative board of the Golden Temple at Amritsar. Thakar Singh was only 12 years old when his cousin, Maharaja Daleep Singh lost his empire to the British, and he was witness to the “First War of Independence in 1857, in which his father-in-law Raja Nahar Singh of Ballabhgarh was hanged to death” (Sardar Thakur Singh Sandhawalia – Chief of Singh Sabha Movement). The British Government hated Thakar Singh, and he left Amritsar. There was a prophecy spoken of, in which the Maharaja was to return to India through Russia:

“However, he [Thakar Singh] left Amritsar on September 28, 1884. He went to England accompanied by his sons Narinder Singh and Gurdit Singh and a granthi called Partap Singh. He wanted the granthi to recite the Guru Granth Sahib to the Maharaja. In England, Thakur Singh would talk of the lost riches of the Punjab and Talbot’s report. “But, Thakur Singh Sandhawalia had carried with him to England something much more potent than a list of lost property. He bore the keys to the whole kingdom in the form of a prophecy,” says Christy Campbell, a researcher.

According to the “prophecy”, the Maharaja was to return to India through Russia and regain his lost empire after extensive bloodshed. The Maharaja did not believe the prophecy earlier but Thakur Singh Sandhawalia wrote to his eldest son Gurbachan Singh in India to obtain written statements from principal Sikh priests verifying the prophecy. These were then signed and sealed and sent to Elvedon Hall. After that there were no doubts in the gullible Maharaja’s mind. A year later, the impolitic Maharaja committed one of the most tragic mistakes of his life by mentioning that prophecy in a letter to Lord Randolph Churchill, Secretary of State for India.” (Ibid.)

Jean Overton Fuller in his biography Blavatsky and her Teachers, refers to K.H. and Morya as “the Sikhs.” K. Paul Johnson wrote about Olcott’s supposed impression of Koot Hoomi (Kuthumi) acting in a priestly manner at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. K. Paul Johnson calls K.H. a Punjabi or Kashmiri Sikh. H.P. Blavatsky described Koot Hoomi as Kashmiri by birth, a Punjabi whose family was settled for years in Kashmir (Collected Writings, Vol. VI, p. 277); and Mohini Chatterji (a pupil of K.H.) said, that he was a “Kashmiri Brahmin.” However, Olcott never says K.H. specifically was officiating at the Golden Temple, a function reserved for Sikh priests, but instead says, “one of the masters…for the moment…was figuring as one of the guardians.” Jean Overton Fuller speculated that this master was “officiating” at the Golden Temple, and further that this master was K.H. In Was Koot Hoomi a Sikh, Daniel H. Caldwell shows that this is not possible, given the minutes of K.H. travels in the week of October 26, 1880 when Olcott was in Amritsar. Olcott notes on that day they went to the Golden Temple again in the afternoon, and a brother gave them a rose. They would have known if this brother handing them a rose was K.H. or not. Between October 27-29, 1880, K.H. notes that he is on a journey down the Karakorum mountains, where he had emerged out of seclusion to spend some time with H.P.B. October 27, 2:05 pm, K.H. is thirty miles beyond Rawalpindi. K.H., two hours later sends a telegram from Jhelum, and on October 29th, he goes to Amritsar.


Daleep Singh and Thakar Singh had a prophecy related to Russia, but so did a well-known Yogi in Southern India, Chidambaram Ramalinga Pillai Avergal (also called Arulprakasa Vallalare) have a prophecy about Russians and an American. So, two prophecies coincidentally about Russia, though dissimilar. Ramalinga Pillai was said to have predicted the arrival of H. P. Blavatsky and H. S. Olcott to India in 1873, a year before they actually met and six before they came to India.

According to his disciple Tholuvore Velayudham Mudaliar, a member of the Theosophical Society, Mr. Mudaliar stated that Yogi Ramalinga prophesied to him, that:

“During the latter part of his visible earthly career, he often expressed his bitter sorrow for this sad state of things, and repeatedly exclaimed:

“You are not fit to become members of this Society of Universal Brotherhood. The real members of that Brotherhood are living far away, towards the North of India. You do not listen to me. You do not follow the principles of my teachings. You seem to be determined not to be convinced by me. YET THE TIME IS NOT FAR OFF, WHEN PERSONS FROM RUSSIA, AMERICA (these two countries were always named), and other foreign lands WILL COME TO INDIA AND PREACH TO YOU THIS SAME DOCTRINE OF UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD. Then only, will you know and appreciate the grand truths that I am now vainly trying to make you accept. You will soon find that THE BROTHERS WHO LIVE IN THE FAR NORTH will work a great many wonders in India, and thus confer incalculable benefits upon this our country.”

This prophecy has, in my opinion, just been literally fulfilled. The fact, that the Mahatmas in the North exist, is no new idea to us, Hindus; and the strange fact that the advent of Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott from Russia and America was foretold several years before they came to India, is an incontrovertible proof that my Guru was in communication with those Mahatmas under whose directions the Theosophical Society was subsequently founded.”

Morya. Portrait by Hermann Schmiechen, London 1884.
Morya. Portrait by H. Schmiechen, London 1884.

As to Sahib Morya, K. Paul Johnson made two confusing suggestions that K.H. and M. was the Hindu Rajput Ranbir Singh (1830-1885), who was the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir (from 1856-1885). The prince Ranbir Singh was a Vedantist, fond of speaking Pashto; and like Thakar Singh, a scholar, though of Sanskrit and Persian languages, with many books translated.

In contrast, Morya in a letter to A.O. Hume October 1881 said: “I am not a fine scholar, Sahibs, like my blessed Brother; but nevertheless, I believe, I understand the value of words.” Ranbir Singh in fact had several correspondences with Morya, and three letters written by K.H. mentions Ranbir Singh, but K. Paul Johnson claims this was to mislead.


Henry S. Olcott, an American Theosophist and co-founder of the Theos. Soc. had met the Maharajah Ranbir Singh in Jammu 21 November 1883 who mentions to Olcott his belief in the living Mahatmas. Olcott describes his various meetings with Ranbir Singh in a chapter of his Old Diary Leaves (Vol. III) titled “Reception by the Maharajah of Kashmir”.


Maharaja of Kashmir Ranbir Singh

“I broke up camp the next say–November 21–and left Lahore for Jammu, the lower capital of H.H. the…Maharajah of Kashmir, whose invitation to visit him I had accepted….We reached…Jammu…and were brought onto two of the royal elephants, a distance of two miles, to the huge bungalow that the Maharajah keeps for his more important guests….The next morning, at 10-30, the…Minister…brought me word that His Highness begged the honour of my presence at the Palace….The Maharajajah came soon and received me with an air of kindness and stately courtesy that showed beyond doubt that I was welcome. In compliment to him I wore the woolen dress of the better class in the Punjab….His first expression to Pandit Gopinath, my interpreter, was one of pleasure to see me in his national costume. A carpet and back-bolster had been spread for him on a slightly raised platform, before which we were to sit on the carpeted floor: but he dragged the bolster from there, placed it on the floor, motioned me to sit beside him, called me his elder brother, and proceeded with the conversation, which he opened with the usual exchange of compliments and good wishes. He was a man of noble presence, with an intellectual face and the splendid eyes of the Hindu, which by turns can be full of pathos, blaze with anger, or penetrating with intelligent interest. His personality fitted the kingly office perfectly….I found him to be a thoughtful Vedantin, well acquainted with philosophical systems. He fully believed in the existence of living Mahatmas, and trusted in them to do for India all that her karma made possible, but no more. He gently broached the subject of his own ill-health, said he knew of my cures and of the recent prohibition to continue the practice, but asked if I would not at least relieve the acute pain he was then suffering from. I consented, of course, and on his removing his turban, did what I could for him with mesmeric healing passes….When the audience closed he begged me to visit him twice a day during my stay, that we might talk of the high religious themes which equally interested us….I went twice to the Palace the next day, and resumed the Vedantic discussions and even the mesmeric passes. His Dewan (Prime Minister) was present with other officials, including the Chief Justice, and after the free Eastern fashion, dipped into the conversation from time to time….In the afternoon the Maharajah presided at games and a series of animal combats, and took me to his pavilion and placed me at his side….I went twice to the Palace….[another] day and found myself increasingly welcome to His Highness. He showed me every courtesy, discussed the Vedanta philosophy with evidently deep interest, and gave me a pressing invitation to accompany him the next time he should go to his Kashmirian capital, Srinagar….At the Maharajah’s request I had been giving him some mesmeric passes every day, which seemed to do him good, or, at least, he said they did. He now began to deplore my necessary departure, and begged me to select somebody at his Court to whom I should be willing to give him over for future treatment….I told him frankly that the only person whom I would recommend as his psychopath was his youngest son, Prince Amar Singh, who was then a handsome, honest-looking youth. His Highness approving of my choice, I showed the young Prince how to treat his father….The Maharajah died a few years later, and was succeeded by his eldest son, whom was away at Srinagar at the time of my visit to Jammu, and whom, there, I did not meet….The day fixed for my departure having come, the Maharajah, finding me obdurate about prolonging my visit, consented to receive me in audience for the leave. So I went to the Palace for the last time [November 39, 1883]….We found His Highness, with his Prime Minister (Dewan), his Treasurer, and other officials, seated cross-legged on the floor, with a number of piles of woolen stuffs placed before him in a row: one pile much bigger than the rest. Through the able interpreter, Pandit Gopinath, he and I fell into conversation about my departure and hoped-for-return, after which, on a signal from the Maharajah, a high official pushed the big pile over towards me, with the request that I should accept the articles as His Highness’ khillat (complimentary present)…According to custom, I touched the presents, made a respectful salutation, by joining my palms and holding them edgewise to my forehead, which the Maharajah returned; we rose and, saluting the officials in turn, left the audience-chamber, having seen the noble face of our host for the last time. No other reigning Indian Prince whom I have met has left so pleasant impressions on my memory….”

If Morya is Ranbir Singh, he would not need Mr. Olcott to pass mesmeric hands over him to heal him; and “No other reigning Indian Prince whom I have met has left so pleasant impressions on my memory” tells us, that Olcott would’ve recognized in meeting both various times, whether or not Morya is Ranbir Singh, except he doesn’t. We can confidently say, that Morya and Ranbir Singh are not the same person.


Signature of Master Serapis Bey in Letter no. 7 to Col. Olcott.

Another less known Theosophical master of a sub-brotherhood of the Greater Fraternity of Adepts, known as the Egyptian Brotherhood of Luxor is Hilarion Smerdis, whom K. Paul Johnson identified with Ooton Liatto. Hilarion resided in Cairo, and H.P.B. describes Hilarion Smerdis in one case, as a “Greek gentleman” she had known since 1860 with a black beard and long flowing white garments – and from a distance to look like another one of the adepts, Serapis Bey. According to H.P. Blavatsky, this elusive Egyptian Brotherhood of Lukshoor (or Luxor), the Egyptian branch of the “Fratres Lucis” is “one of the oldest and most powerful of Eastern Brotherhoods. It is known as the Brotherhood of Luxor, and its faithful members have the custody of very important secrets of science. Its ramifications extend widely throughout the great Republic of the West. Though this brotherhood has been long and hard at work, the secret of its existence has been jealously guarded” (Helena P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, Vol. II, pg. 308 fn.).

The term “Luxor” refers to an Egyptian city, known for its ruins of great historical value.

H.P.B. states, that the Council of Luxor chose Mesmer as a pioneer to enlighten a small portion of the Western nations in occultism. Tuitit Bey, an adept involved in the early journeys of H.P. Blavatsky, who informed her to found the “Miracle Club,” in a letter to Henry S. Olcott details the Sections of this Brotherhood and the names of their chiefs: Ellora Section under Serapis Bey; the Section of Solomon under a Polydorus Isurenus; and the Section of Zoroaster under Robert More. In the end of the letter, it states that it was written in the “Observatory of Luxor.” These sections indicate an inter-cultural dimension to this Brotherhood. The Ellora Section of the Observatory of Luxor to which this Serapis Bey belonged to and headed is very curious, according to the notes of C. Jinarajadasa, in regards to this letter. In India, Ellora is a system of caves and cave-temples 225 miles Northwest of Mumbai, and is on the World Heritage List of the UNESCO.

“Its hundreds of monuments include at least 34 ancient monasteries and temples. Ellora certainly constitutes a major magnetic centre, and some of its caves might be unknown and invisible to the public…In “The Secret Doctrine”, volume II, pp. 220-221, H.P. Blavatsky strongly suggests Ellora and other ancient places have even today vast nets of subterranean labyrinths and passages, perhaps with six or seven stories. As to old and forgotten times, in “Isis Unveiled”, volume I, pp. 561 and 567, HPB says that the buildings and ruins of Ellora are so similar to the ancient ruins in Guatemala, Mexico and other places that their builders evidently had close contact among them. On p. 590 of “Isis” she also mentions ancient Ellora subterranean rooms and their connections to other places.” (Carlos Cardoso Aveline, The Observatory of Luxor)

Morya in one letter refers to Serapis Bey as a superior to K.H. and M: “…Once that you had determined to make of India your new home, it was in compliance with the direct orders of our beloved Lord and Chief – him whom you know under the name of S. — and Maha Sahib.” The Maha Sahib of the Egyptian brotherhood of Luxor is not the same person as the Chohan, who was chief of the trans-Himalayan brotherhood (see Sarat Chandra Das the Bengali Spy, Sengchen Tulku and the Maha-Chohan Connection). Colonel Henry S. Olcott describes Serapis Bey physically, as having a body of young age, but he is one of the highest adepts among the Brothers, the “Teacher of our Teachers, a Paramaguru.” The very name “Serapis” refers to the official god of Egypt during long occupation of the country by the Hellenistic Macedonia, between 305 B.C.E. and 30 B.C.E. Serapis, the protector and healer-god of syncretic Alexandria was adopted by Ptolemy I Soter, the first Greek ruler of Egypt, who wanted to establish links between Egypt and Greece. This again brings into direct lineage and relation — Theosophy, Alexandria and the Neoplatonists. Sufficient for the case, Carlos Aveline Cardoso quotes Matthew Battles:

“In the first centuries of our era, there was in the city an intense cultural competition among Pagans, Jews, Christians and Neoplatonists. That which we know today as Jewish-Christian tradition had its origins in the Alexandrian Eclecticism. Its libraries remained almost in every occasion above such disputes: their goal was to have in their bookshelves the whole of Greek literature, as well as the most significant works written in various other languages. The Library of Alexandria was, therefore, the first one to have universal aspirations; and, together with its community of students, it became the prototype of the modern era universities.” (A Conturbada História das Bibliotecas, p. 36.)

Demonstrating a continued current of thought existing on a more subtler level than a mere external association, we are told by H.P. Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine (p. xlv), that:

“This period, beginning with Buddha and Pythagoras at the one end and the Neo-Platonists and Gnostics at the other, is the only focus left in History wherein converge for the last time the bright rays of light streaming from the aeons of time gone by, unobscured by the hand of bigotry and fanaticism.”

The word theosophy, says H.P. Blavatsky: “comes to us from the Alexandrian philosophers, called lovers of truth, Philaletheians, from phil ‘loving’, and aletheia ‘truth’. The name Theosophy dates from the third century of our era, and began with Ammonius Saccas and his disciples, who started the Eclectic Theosophical system. (…) Hence the motto adopted by the Theosophical Society: ‘There is no religion higher than truth’. The chief aim of the Founders of the Eclectic Theosophical School was (…) to reconcile all religions, sects and nations under a common system of ethics, based on eternal verities.”


Serapis was working in joint cooperation with the Himalayan brotherhood, therefore the creation of this modern esoteric movement was a combined operation of three main groups of Adepts. These three main groups, or centres of the Adepts are mentioned in a Mahatma Letter (no. 85), while though being separated geographically, promulgate the same esoteric tradition:

“Hermetic Philosophy suits every creed and philosophy and clashes with none. It is the boundless ocean of Truth, the central point whither flows and wherein meet every river, as every stream — whether its source be in the East, West, North, or South. As the course of the river depends upon the nature of its basin, so the channel for communication of Knowledge must conform itself to surrounding circumstances. The Egyptian Hierophant, the Chaldean Mage, the Arhat, and the Rishi, were bound in days of yore on the same voyage of discovery and ultimately arrived at the same goal though by different tracks. There are even at the present moment three centres of the Occult Brotherhood in existence, widely separated geographically, and as widely exoterically – the true esoteric doctrine being identical in substance though differing in terms; all aiming at the same grand object, but no two agreeing seemingly in the details of procedure. It is an every day occurrence to find students belonging to different schools of occult thought sitting side by side at the feet of the same Guru. Upasika (Madam B.) and Subba Row, though pupils of the same Master, have not followed the same Philosophy – the one is Buddhist and the other an Adwaitee.” 


As to Hilarion Smerdis, K. Paul Johnson tries to tie him to the underground culture and operations of Jamal al-Din, stating that Hilarion’s travels between Egypt and Cyprus are politically suggestive. After Egypt and Cyprus become British protectorates, Hilarion leaves his residence and Cairo permanently. K. Paul Johnson points to a letter of Hilarion in H.P.B.’s 1878 scrapbook, in which Hilarion notes of “panic in England. Russians at Constantinople. Gorchakov hoodwinks Disraeli” (Johnson, Masters Revealed, 59). Four years later in 1882, a further political-military crisis emerged in Egypt, to which K.H. said about Occultists there: “The Egyptian operations of your blessed countrymen involve such local consequences to the body of Occultists still remaining there and to what they are guarding, that two of our adepts are already there, having joined some Druze brethren and three more on their way. I was offered the agreeable privilege of becoming an eye-witness to the human butchery, but – declined with thanks. For such great emergency is our Force stored up, and hence – we dare not waste it (…).”

H.P.B. says, she had met Hilarion before this in Greece around 1870, and a year later in Egypt, which was 7 years before the treaty between England and Cyprus in 1878. Hilarion was mistaken for a Hindu Brahmin by others. Henry S. Olcott describes meeting an adept from Cyprus in an 1878 manuscript, “Rosicrucian Miscellany”: “Other persons have seen this man in New York—he is not a Brahmin but a swarthy Cypriot—I did not ask before what country he was (…) We took cigars and chatted for a while—I asked him if he knew Madam B—he turned the subject—thus giving me to understand that the first duty of a Neophyte is to ask no questions of a personal nature, but take what comes” (Francis G. Irwin and Herbert Irwin, Rosicrucian Miscellany).

This is where Hilarion Smerdis is suggested to be Ooton Liatto. Olcott following this, then names one of the two visitors, or adepts in the meeting as they sat quietly smoking cigars, and said, that the younger of the two gave him his name – Ooton Liatto.

The other older adept takes a lacquered case from his pocket to reveal a round flat concave crystal, into which he instructs Olcott to gaze into, which induced a trance, bringing Olcott back 20 years in time to continue a conversation with his mother, only to then leave him wandering clairvoyantly in space and time before returning to consciousness. K. Paul Johnson, after describing a strange number of magical phenomena or trickery that occurred in the meeting involving Hilarion, concludes that the mystery of who was Hilarion and Ooton Liatto (both pseudonyms) must remain a mystery. Olcott was so stupefied by the phenomena that occurred in the meeting, it left H.P.B. upon catching up with him to say, “what the Devil are you staring at Olcott? What’s the matter? You must be crazy.”

It is noted, that Emma Coulomb remembered that a secretary of H.P.B.’s Societe Spirite (Miracle Club) was a “Greek gentleman” (Daniel H. Caldwell, The Occult World of Madame Blavatsky, p. 45) like Hilarion Smerdis. Morya mentions to A.P. Sinnett in a letter (no. 48 chron., March 3, 1882) that the Theosophists did not even know, that there was a hidden section, a division within the T.S. under the responsibility of a Greek master. These sections existed in the early part of the Theosophical Society from 1875-1891, and were discussed in Theosophy and Freemasonry: Esoteric Schools within the Theosophical Society:

“The sun of Theosophy must shine for all, not for a part. There is more of this movement than you have yet had an inkling of, and the work of the T.S. is linked in with similar work that is secretly going on in all parts of the world. Even in the T.S. there is a division, managed by a Greek Brother about which not a person in the Society has a suspicion excepting the old woman and Olcott; and even he only knows it is progressing, and occasionally executes an order I send him in connection with it. (…) Europe will not be overlooked, never fear; but perhaps you even may not anticipate how the light will be shed there.”


A number of researchers have demonstrated undoubtedly, that K. Paul Johnson contradicts his suspicions, and the logic of his arguments were not consistent. For now, we are only discussing partial work from the case study of Daniel H. Caldwell in this paper.

To read K. Paul Johnson’s theories about the Theosophical masters, and then adopt them as conclusive ignores this issue and other testimony when it disagrees with K. Paul Johnson’s speculations. The non-Theosophical scholar commonly views the Theosophical masters as the fanciful inventions of H.P. Blavatsky – some simply because. . .; and others, having come across K. Paul Johnson’s theories adopt them on no criteria besides pure skepticism. K. Paul Johnson seemed only to believe testimonies when they agreed with his speculations. Among scholars, this subject has been considered too outré, weird or far-out to be satisfyingly solved.

Clearly however, the issue about the existences of the mahatmas has remained unsatisfactorily closed to both Theosophists and scholars; and precisely because the brotherhood never wanted to be found. In the case for the Theosophists who believe that H.P.B.’s masters and their federations of fraternities existed, including myself, yes, this is convenient. Though, we have as one can tell, far more than faith to go on, as we are not dealing with ghosts. Sure, one can be skeptical of the non-physical means of communication, such as telepathy, but of the physical encounters, no.

Other researchers have tried to interpret the history of the Theosophical Movement through a racial lens as conjectural as K. Paul Johnson’s speculations, concluding, that (1) the masters were inventions of these Europeans through their romantic and colonial imaginings about the Orient; and (2) the introduction of the concepts “Black and White Magic” linked to light and dark by European esotericists is rooted in racism, and were developed in the context of the justification for slavery, “an example of intentional and explicit white supremacy” (Brandy Williams, White Light, Black Magic: Racism in Esoteric Thought). In one sense, the proponents of the second position are partially correct, given that the concept has been used by a certain number of esotericists to connect to racial theory. These positions hold, so long as its defendant continues to assert, that the “mahatmas” are the fictitious inventions and romanticizations of these Europeans. However, it ought to be noted, that adepts are of various nationalities and ethnicity, and they are not inventions of a colonial imagination. It is rather a story of real and difficult interactions and communication obstacles, both physically and culturally, during the colonial periods.


In one testimony of theosophist and disciple, Damodar K. Mavalankar, he tells us his meeting with K.H. in Lahore, and three nights consecutively for about three hours in Jammu:

“…I was visited by him in body, for three nights consecutively for about three hours….[in Jammu] I had the good fortune of being sent for, and permitted to visit a sacred Ashram where I remained for a few days in the blessed company of several of the much doubted MAHATMAS….There I met not only my beloved Gurudeva [K.H.] and Col. Olcott’s Master [Morya], but several others of the Fraternity….” (Damodar and the Pioneers of the Theosophical Movement, pp. 335-336)

Due to their close vicinity in Jammu to Thakar Singh, K. Paul Johnson makes a leap of faith, assuming that Thakar Singh was Koot Hoomi, despite not citing any of the accessible historical records and minutes that would suggest Thakar Singh was in Lahore and Jammu the same time as Damodar. We can also include Scottish Theosophist, William Tournay Brown’s testimony of meeting K.H. in Lahore physically in the afternoon of November 19, 1883. W.T. Brown appeared in his testimony to be incredibly surprised by meeting K.H. in the flesh, stating how “markedly audible” his foot-steps were on the ground as he left that evening. This testimony is well-known to Theosophists and was compiled by Daniel H. Caldwell in his casebook of encounters:

“…Lahore has a special interest, because there we saw, in his own physical body, Mahatma Koot Hoomi himself. On the afternoon of the 19th November, I saw the Master in broad daylight, and recognized him, and on the morning of the 20th he came to my tent, and said, “Now you see me before you in the flesh; look and assure yourself that it is I,” and left a letter of instructions and silk handkerchief. On the evening of the 21st, after the lecture was over, Colonel Olcott, Damodar, and I were sitting outside the shamiana (pavilion or pandal), when we were visited by Djual Khool (the Master’s head Chela), who informed us that the Master was about to come. The Master then came near to us, gave instructions to Damodar, and walked away. On leaving Lahore the next place visited was Jammu, the winter residence of His Highness the Maharajah of Cashmere. At Jammu I had another opportunity of seeing Mahatma Koot Hoomi in propria persona. One evening I went to the end of the “compound” (private enclosure), and there I found the Master awaiting my approach. I saluted in European fashion, and came, hat in hand, to within a few yards of the place on which he was standing. After a minute or so he marched away, the noise of his footsteps on the gravel being markedly audible.” (A Casebook of Encounters with the Theosophical Mahatmas, Case 37, compiled and edited by Daniel H. Caldwell)


In his Old Diary Leaves (Vol. III), Col. Olcott also gave an account of his meeting with K.H. November 19th 1883 on the outskirts of Lahore, India:

“I was sleeping in my tent, the night of the 19th, when I rushed back towards external consciousness on feeling a hand laid on me. The camp being on the open plain, and beyond the protection of the Lahore Police, my first animal instinct was to protect myself from a possible religious fanatical assassin, so I clutched the stranger by the upper arms, and asked him in Hindustani who he was and what he wanted. It was all done in an instant, and I held the man tight, as would one who might be attacked the moment and have to defend his life. But the next moment a kind, sweet voice said: ‘Do you not know me? Do you not remember me?’ It was the voice of the Master K.H….I relaxed my hold on his arms, joined my palms in reverential salutation, and wanted to jump out of bed to show him respect. But his hand and voice stayed me, and after a few sentences had been exchanged, he took my left hand in his, gathered the fingers of his right into the palm, and stood quiet beside my cot, from which I could see his divinely benignant face by the light of the lamp that burned on a packing-case at his back. Presently I felt some soft substance forming in my hand, and the next minute the Master laid his kind hand on my forehead, uttered a blessing, and left my half of the large tent to visit Mr. W.T. Brown, who slept in the other half behind a canvas screen that divided the tent into two rooms. When I had time to pay attention to myself, I found myself holding in my left hand a folded paper enwrapped in a silken cloth. To go to the lamp, open and read it, was naturally my first impulse. I found it to be a letter of private counsel…On hearing an exclamation from….[Brown’s] side of the screen, I went in there and he showed me a silk-wrapped letter of like appearance to mine though of different contents, which he said had been given him much as mine had been to me, and which we read together….The next evening….we two and Damodar sat in my tent, at 10 o’clock, waiting for an expected visit from Master K.H…..We sat on chairs at the back of the tent so as not to be observed from the camp: the moon was in its last quarter and had not risen. After some waiting we heard and saw a tall Hindu approaching from the side of the open plain. He came to within a few yards of us and beckoned Damodar to come to him, which he did. He told him that the Master would appear within a few minutes, and that he had some business with Damodar. It was a pupil of Master K.H. Presently we saw the latter coming from the same direction, pass his pupil…and stop in front of our group, now standing and saluting in the Indian fashion, some yards away. Brown and I kept our places, and Damodar went and conversed for a few minutes with the Teacher, after which he returned to us and the king-like visitor walked away. I heard his footsteps on the ground…Before retiring, when I was writing my Diary, the pupil lifted the portiere, beckoned to me, and pointed to the figure of his Master [K.H.], waiting for me out on the plain in the starlight. I went to him, we walked off to a safe place at some distance where intruders need not be expected, and then for about a half-hour he told me what I had to know…There were no miracles done at the interview…just two men talking together, a meeting, and a parting when the talk was over.…” (Old Diary Leaves, Vol. III, pp. 37-39, 43-45)

During H.P.B.’s lifetime, over twenty five people testified to having seen the mahatmas, which includes Franz Hartmann. Daniel H. Caldwell thus made the point, that if K. Paul Johnson’s lower standard assessment of Olcott’s testimony is to be taken at face value, so should the testimony of the other more than twenty five people.


During a period that The Secret Doctrine was being written, Olcott’s relationship with H.P.B. had become strained for some years prior, and K.H. materialized a letter on his table saying of her that they have no favorites, but H.P.B. despite her personality and flaws is their direct agent, and they employ the best agents:

“….we have no favourites, nor affections for persons, but only for their good acts and humanity as a whole. But we employ agents – the best available. Of these for the past thirty years the chief has been the personality known as H.P.B. to the world (but otherwise to us). Imperfect and very troublesome, no doubt, she proves to some, nevertheless, there is no likelihood of our finding a better one for years to come – and your theosophists should be made to understand it. (…) Theosophists should learn it. You will understand later the significance of this declaration so keep it in mind. Her fidelity to our work being constant, and her sufferings having come upon her thro’ it, neither I nor either of my Brother associates will desert or supplant her. As I once before remarked, ingratitude is not among our vices. (…) To help you in your present perplexity: H.P.B. has next to no concern with administrative details, and should be kept clear of them, so far as her strong nature can be controlled. But this you must tell to all: – With occult matters she has everything to do. We have not abandoned her; she is not ‘given over to chelas’. She is our direct agent. I warn you against permitting your suspicions and resentment against ‘her many follies’ to bias your intuitive loyalty to her. (…) I have also noted your thoughts about the ‘Secret Doctrine’. Be assured that what she has not annotated from scientific and other works, we have given or suggested to her. Every mistake or erroneous notion, corrected and explained by her from the works of other theosophists was corrected by me, or under my instruction. It is a more valuable work than its predecessor, an epitome of occult truths that will make it a source of information and instruction for the earnest student for long years to come.”

The Theosophical Society lost its masters and sponsors, and Morya had written two letters to Col. Henry S. Olcott in very personal tone, saying: “The night before last will prove a memorable one for you. … You have alienated from yourself another brother – though a woman – and that, I am afraid, for ever. What possessed you to speak in the way you did of a friend, a woman, one to whom you owe all you know, and even the possibilities of the future – for she was the first to show you the way – is more than all the occult sciences are able to explain! … She went to Maha Sahib the same night and proved to him she had been all the time right and He wrong. … The Maha Sahib had nothing to say – neither have I or any of us, but to regret, and that very deeply, that want of discrimination and tact so prominent in a man of your intellect and sense.” In the second mentioned letter: “These are foolish, insane ideas of yours about Upasika [H.P.B.], Henry, wretched thoughts – the mirage thrown upon your brain by some of those who surround you (…) You wrong her from beginning to end. You have never understood Upasika, nor the laws thro’ which her apparent life has been made to work since you knew her. You are ungrateful and unjust and even cruel.”

The superior of K.H. and M. referred to in the above quote as Maha Sahib is Serapis Bey, who was mentioned earlier.

This is showing that the masters watched the Theosophical Society mature from a distance, repeatedly stating their roles are not to be nannies, and the leaders and members must sort out the Karma they create, and which brought them together. William Q. Judge, a co-founder of the Theosophical Society became Vice-President of the T.S., and leader of the entire American Section.

In a private letter to H.P.B. dated 29th November 1890, W.Q. Judge states that: “I know and have for years known what is the matter with Olcott. It is this, he has never been loyal to you who gave him all he ever knew of the Masters and their wisdom. He used to say and to write the most awful mean things to me about you, and that is why I have always been disgusted with him. But I regarded him as a man whom THEY had taken to use for THEIR purposes as long as he would carry them out. I am not surprised at his attitude now for it is perfectly in line with the past and now when he has been put in the fire he shows the weakness of his disloyalty. Whatever you are and whatever faults you have in the eyes of the world I have never found you to fail about the Masters and Their wishes, and more I know that I and all the rest of the Society owe all that we prize in that line to you.”

Hence, it is very odd, that in the April Theosophist (magazine) of 1895, Olcott admits publicly his opinion, that H.P.B. forged bogus messages from these masters, and yet had such detailed accounts of him meeting the masters, stating of himself to be a pupil of Morya. William Q. Judge says in The Path, Vol. X, June 1895 that Olcott despite being beside H.P.B. remained ignorant of ‘practical occultism,’ in the same manner, H.P.B. said lacked in Annie Besant (Anagarika Dharmapala and Gandhi Distrusted Charles Leadbeater and Besant). Have we digressed? Not quite. The point we establish here is that there was believed to be also a subtle magical and magnetic link between the Theosophical Society and the secret fraternities of the Adepts – a link, which was severed through pettiness, credulity, conflict and scandal. The adepts removed themselves from having anything else to do with the Theosophical Society, contrary to the claims of C.W. Leadbeater, Annie Besant and Alice A. Bailey that these same masters were then continuing to direct their work.

Indeed, for the skeptic, he may only conclude as Patrick Jane does in “The Mentalist,” when he unveils the switchboards to a supposed ‘Haunted House’ during a murder case:

“All fake, because you see my credulous Van Pelt, spirits are smoke-and-mirrors, and that’s all that they are.” (Patrick Jane played by Simon Baker, Season 2, Episode 5. Red Scare, “The Mentalist” TV Show)

But in light of the given information, is it that simple? It isn’t.


The master Morya had even visited the Theosophical Society Headquarters at Bombay, and a joint statement of seven Theosophists (including Olcott) was given as quoted in Hints on Esoteric Theosophy (No. 1, 1882, pp. 75-76):

“We were sitting together in the moonlight about 9 o’clock upon the balcony which projects from the front of the bungalow. Mr. Scott was sitting facing the house, so as to look through the intervening verandah and the library, and into the room at the further side. This latter apartment was brilliantly lighted. The library was in partial darkness, thus rendering objects in the farther room more distinct. Mr. Scott suddenly saw the figure of a man step into the space, opposite the door of the library; he was clad in the white dress of a Rajput, and wore a white turban. Mr. Scott at once recognized him from his resemblance to a portrait [or Morya] in Col. Olcott’s possession. Our attention was then drawn to him, and we all saw him most distinctly. He walked back out of our sight…when we reached the room he was gone….Upon the table, at the spot where he had been standing, lay a letter addressed to one of our number. The handwriting was identical with that of sundry notes and letters previously received from him….” The statement is signed by: “Ross Scott, Minnie J.B. Scott, H.S. Olcott, H.P. Blavatsky, M. Moorad Ali Beg, Damodar K. Mavalankar, and Bhavani Shankar Ganesh Mullapoorkar.”

Olcott is clearly able to distinguish between Morya and Ranbir Singh, the Maharaja of Kashmir whom he met and gave a detailed description of; because again, concerning this event, Olcott mentions in a Jan. 5, 1882 entry in his diary, M’s face:

“Jan. 5, 1882, “Evening. Moonlight. On balcony, HPB, Self, Scott & wife, Damodar (…) M appeared in my office. First seen by Scott, then me (…) Scott clearly saw M’s face (…) M left note for me on table in office by which he stood….”

Morya in a letter (Letter no. 29, chron.) refers to another visit with Olcott:

“O’s memo…was written on the 27th [of Sep. 1881].…K.H. thought of asking me to go and tell O to do so….At the same time as I delivered my message to O, I satisfied his curiosity as to your Society [Sinnett’s Simla T,S.] and told what I thought of it. O asked my permission to send to you these notes which I accorded….”

And Olcott recounted this same meeting with M. three days before Sept. 27th 1881 in Colombo, Sri Lanka:

“…on the night of that day I was awakened from sleep by my Chohan (or Guru, the Brother whose immediate pupil I am) (…) He made me rise, sit at my table and write from his dictation for an hour or more. There was an expression of anxiety mingled with sternness on his noble face, as there always is when the matter concerns H.P.B., to whom for many years he has been at once a father a devoted guardian….” (Hints on Esoteric Theosophy, No. 1, 1882, pp. 82-83).

So, how can it be accepted on such accounts, that Morya is fictitious, and was really Ranbir Singh? A fictitious Tibetan could not be walking and interacting with Olcott, and why would Ranbir amidst all his important duties be traveling so free of guards at all possible times of the day in Bombay and Colombo on those exact dates Olcott was meeting Morya?

A clerk from Tirunelveli in South India on leave in 1882 by the name of S. Ramabadra Ramaswamier had given an account of meeting Morya.

“…I suddenly saw a solitary horseman galloping towards me from the opposite direction. From his tall stature and the expert way he managed the animal, I thought he was some military officer of the Sikkim Raja…But as he approached me, he reined the steed. I looked at and recognized him instantly….I was in the ….presence of…my own revered Guru….The very same instant saw me prostrated on the ground at his feet. I arose at his command….He wear a short black beard, and long black hair hanging down to his breast…He wore a yellow mantle lined with fur, and on his head…a yellow Tibetan felt cap…I had a long talk with him. He told me to go no further, for I would come to grief. He said I should wait patiently if I wanted to become an accepted Chela…Before he left, two more men came on horseback, his attendants I suppose, probably Chelas, for they were dressed…like himself, with long hair streaming down their backs. They followed the Mahatma, as he left, at a gentle trot….” (Damodar and the Pioneers of the Theosophical Movement, 1965, pp. 295-297)

Here, we are supposed to believe that Morya is Ranbir Singh, and Ranbir Singh is going all the way to Sikkim without any guards or attentions to his duties at home, to go around fooling his countrymen by dressing in the garb of a Yellow-cap gelugpa.

These are some of the questions and contradictions that were strongly put forth by Daniel H. Caldwell, John Algeo and others throughout the years — information that does not inform persons who speak on the subject, having become just acquainted with the history, or concluding the case on the basis of very limited source material.

H.P.B. Portrait by H. Schmiechen, London 1884.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: