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CHRONOLOGICAL SURVEY

OF THE CHIEF EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF H. P. BLAVATSKY AND

COL. HENRY S. OLCOTT,

FROM JANUARY, 1881, TO MARCH, 1882, INCLUSIVE.

(the period to which the material in the present volume belongs)

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January 1—Date of Charter of the Prayāg Theosophical Society, Allāhābād (Gen. Report of the 31st Anniversary and Convention of the T.S., p. 100), although the Charter was not actually forwarded until July 27 (Theos., II, Suppl. to Sept., 1881) . Bābū Benee Madhab Bhattachārya has already bought a plot of ground to build a Theosophical Hall. The Branch is to be composed exclusively of the natives of India.

January 4—A. O. Hume is working on the last pages of his forthcoming pamphlet, Hints on Esoteric Theosophy, No. 1 (LBS., p. 305).

January 20—Mirza Murad Ali Beg (Godolphin Mitford) comes to see the Founders (ODL., II, 289).

February (approx.)—Damodar’s relatives withdraw their support of the T.S. (ODL., II, 291-93; Ransom, 156).

February 17—General Council meeting is held: Rules are revised and simplified; decided by unanimous vote that the President and the Corresponding Secretary will hold office for life; Dāmodar appointed Joint Recording Secretary (Ransom, 155-56) .

February 19—The Adept known as Hillarion Smerdis visits the Founders “en route for Tibet and has been looking over, in and through the whole situation . . . He gave his views on India, Bombay, The Theosophical Society in Bombay, Ceylon, England and Europe, Christianity and other subjects, highly interesting” (Diaries). Leaves as a memento a much-worn gold-embroidered head-covering (ODL., II, 294) .

 

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February 25—H.S.O. has a long consultation with H.P.B., resulting, apparently as a consequence of Hillarion’s visit, in agreement to reconstruct the T.S. on a different basis, “putting the Brotherhood idea more prominently forward and keeping the occultism more under cover—in short to have a secret society for it . . .” (Diaries; ODL., II, 294).

February 27—H. S. O. delivers lecture on “Theosophy: Its Friends and Enemies,” at Framji Cowasji Hall, Bombay. Circulars slandering the Founders are distributed by Krishnarao (Damodar’s brother), Miss Rose Bates and E. Wimbridge (Ransom, 156).

March 13 (1st o.s.)—Assassination of Emperor Alexander II of Russia; this results in grave shock to H.P.B.; she is ill. (Vera P. de Zhelihovsky in Lucifer, XV, Feb., 1894, p. 474) .

March 17—H. S. O. receives order to go to Ceylon in April (Ransom, 155).

March—The Sinnetts go to England for a holiday, via Calcutta and Ceylon. A. P. Sinnett works on his Occult World which was “mainly written at sea” (Autobiogr.; ED., 29; Vania, 105).

April 22—H. S. O. sails for Ceylon, in company with Aeneas Bruce of Scotland; reach Galle on the 26th. This trip was mainly for the purpose of raising an Educational Fund to start schools with (ODL., II, 295; Ransom, 158; Theos., II, May, 1881, p. 184).

May 5—H. S. O. finishes the first draft of his Buddhist Catechism, which he compiled on this trip to Ceylon (ODL., II, 299) .

June—First edition of Sinnett’s Occult World published by Trübner & Co., London (Theos., II, Suppl. to July, 1881).

June—Approximate time when Mrs. Marie Gebhard makes her first contact with the Theosophical Center in London (ED., 30) .

July 4—A. P. Sinnett returns to India alone, having left his wife in England on account of health. Arrives in Bombay on the P. & O. Company’s mail steamer and stays for a short time with H.P.B.; then goes to Allāhābād (OW., 176; Autobiogr.; Theos., II, Suppl. to Aug., 1881, p. 1; ED., 33-34, where June is wrongly mentioned).

July 5—Date on which Sinnett receives his first letter from Master K. H. upon returning to India, in reply to one he sent via H.P.B. shortly before leaving London. Beginning of the vast correspondence which ultimately enabled him to write Esoteric Buddhism. (ML., No. IX, pp. 38-51; OW., 176, Amer. ed.; Theos., II, Suppl. to Aug. 1881, “The Bombay T.S.”; Autobiogr.).

 

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July 13—Date of the Document published in The Spiritualist of August 19, 1881 and signed by a number of natives, among them Dāmodar, concerning the fact of seeing the Brothers and knowing them. Coulombs’ signatures affixed also.

July 14—Mrs. Patience Sinnett gives birth in England to second child, still-born (Autobiogr.).

July 22—H.P.B. leaves Bombay for Allāhābād and Simla to stay for some time with the Humes at Rothnay Castle. It must have been on this visit that Sinnett escorted H.P.B. up the Tonga Road. Hume’s gradual discontent seems to date from approximately that time (Theos., II, Suppl. to Aug., 1881, last page, 2nd col. bottom; Ransom, 162; Autobiogr.).

July 24—H. S. Olcott’s Buddhist Catechism published both in English and Sinhalese. Means for this supplied by Mrs. Ilangakoon of Mātara. A third edition became necessary before the end of August (ODL., I, 284; II, 301-02; Ransom, 159).

August 21—Formation of the “Anglo-Indian Branch” of The Theosophical Society at Simla, during H.P.B.’s visit there; it became later known as the Simla Eclectic T.S., with A. O. Hume, President, A. P. Sinnett, Vice-President, and Ross Scott, Secretary (The Pioneer, Aug. 26, 1881; Theos., II, Suppl. to Sept., 1881, p. 1; Ransom, 162).

September—H.P.B. is at Simla most of the month, as evidenced by several of her letters dated from there.

September—William Q. Judge is in the West Indies on business.

September 27—Most likely date when Master K. H. entered into Samādhi, in search of “supreme knowledge.” He had asked Master M. to continue corresponding with A. P. Sinnett during his absence (ML., Letter XXIX, end; Hints, I, 115, 1909 ed.; H.P.B. to Mrs. Hopis-Billings, Oct. 2, in Theos. Forum, VIII, May, 1936) .

September 30 (18th old style)—Date of the French letter written by General Rostislav Andreyevich de Fadeyev, H.P.B.’s uncle, to A. P. Sinnett, enclosing affidavit concerning H.P.B.’s family background and antecedants, intended to counteract inimical attacks on her (Theos., III, Suppl. to Jan., 1882; Collected Writings, Vol. III).

October—Wm. Q. Judge is at Carupano, Venezuela, on mining business.

October—H.P.B. is still at Simla.

October—First installment of “Fragments of Occult Truth” written by A. O. Hume is published in The Theosophist (Vol. III, pp. 17-22).

 

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October 21—Party made up of Col. H. S. Olcott and several Ceylonese workers embark at Colombo and make a trip to Tinnevelly to form a Branch there. Return to Ceylon the 27th (ODL., II, 309-14; Them., III, Suppl. to Nov., 1881, p. 2).

October (last week)—Most likely time when H.P.B. went to Lahore and saw Master M. (LBS., VII, p. 9). She starts on an extensive tour in Northern India, apparently on order of her Teacher.

November 1—H.P.B. arrives at Sahāranpur; dines with Mr. and Mrs. Fisher, staying, late at their house (LBS., No. VII).

November 2—H.P.B. spends most of the day with Williams (ditto).

November 3—H.P.B. starts for Dehra Dūn, North of Hardvār, with Ross Scott who had come from Multān to join her (LBS., No. VII, p. 9) . Arrives late same day (ML., 461) .

November 4 (Friday)—H.P.B. writes from Dehra Dūn a letter to A. P. Sinnett which embodies the so-called “Prayāg Message” (ML., No. CXXXIV, p. 461) .

November 6—Changes effected in the Prayāg Theosophical Society: the word “Psychic” is added to its name and Rules are established; any F. T. S. is eligible to membership in it, and not only natives, as originally conceived. S. J. Padshah assists in this, being on his way from Bombay to Lucknow (Theos., III, Suppl. to Dec., 1881, p. 1; ibid., IV, Suppl. to Feb. 1883, p. 3).

November 6-9—This seems to be the most likely period when H.P.B., being quite ill, receives orders “to, leave the railways and other highways,” and to let herself be guided, by a man sent to her for the purpose, into the jungles of the sacred forest of Deobund; she is to meet there a certain Lama Debodurgai who would heal her. Her illness is greatly relieved on this trip (H.P.B.’s letters to her relatives in Lucifer, XV, Feb., 1895, pp. 473-74; Path, X, April, 1895, pp. 6-7) .

November 10—H.P.B. is back at Debra Dūn; receives orders to proceed to Meerut on the 12th (LBS., VIII, p. 10) .

November 13—H.P.B. is at Meerut; receives Nov. 14th a telegram from Sinnett, sent by order of Master M., to come to Allāhābād (ML., CXIV, p. 449; LBS., IX, p. 12). She stays at Meerut until the evening of the 15th.

November 16—H.P.B. goes to Bareilly, capital of Rohilkhand; meets there S. J. Padshah by pre-arrangement, on his way from Lucknow. Rohilkhand Theosophical Society formed at Bareilly on the 17th (LBS., IX, p. 12; Theos., III, Suppl. to Dec., 1881, p. 1).

 

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Nov. 18 or 19—H.P.B. goes to Allāhābād (LBS., p. 13; Ransom, p. 162).

November 29—H.P.B. returns to Bombay Headquarters (Theos., III, December, 1881, p. 86) .

December, 13—H. S. O. sails home from Ceylon, after a very strenous sojourn there, conventions, trips to many towns, etc., Reaches Bombay on the 19th. Receives a kind message from the Master about his success in Ceylon (ODL., Il, 325-26).

December 25—General Council meets to discuss the policy of shifting Headquarters. Founders decide to spend part of each year at Calcutta, Bombay and Ceylon. This was not carried out, however (Ransom, 162-63; Theos., III, Suppl. to Dec., 1881. p. 8 fnote).

December 28—Marriage of Ross Scott, Bengal Civil Service, to Maria Jane Burnby Hume, only daughter of Allan Octavian Hume., C.B., late Secretary to the Government of India; at Rothnay Castle, Simla LBS., p. 5; Theos., III, Suppl. to Feb. 1882, p. 16).

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January (early)—Ross Scott and his wife are in Bombay on their honeymoon; spend most of their time at Crow’s Nest, the Theos. Hdqrts. (Ransom, 165).

January 10—Mrs. Patience Sinnett returns to India. Brief visit of A. P. Sinnett to Bombay to meet his wife (ED., 37; Ransom, 165; Autobiogr.). D. M. Bennett, Editor of the Truthseeker, arrives by the same boat; met by H. S. O., Dāmodar and Schroff (ODL., II, 327; Ransom, 165).

January 12—6th Anniversary of the Theos. Soc. celebrated at the Framji Cowasji Hall, Bombay (ODL., II, 331-32; Theos., III, Suppl. to Feb., 1882, pp. 2-12) .

January 17 and 19—Rev. Joseph Cook derides Theosophy and Bennett to a large audience in Bombay; H.P.B., H.S.O., Bennett and Capt. Banon present on the 19th (Ransom, 167; Theos., III, Suppl. to Feb., 1882, pp. 12-16) .

January 20—The T. S. arranges a large meeting at the Framji Cowasji Hall to answer the charges of Rev. Cook; Capt. Banon presides; Cook escapes to Poona (Ransom, 167; Theos., III, Suppl. to Feb., 1882, pp. 15-16) .

 

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January 21—H.P.B., H. S. O. and Capt. Banon go to Poona in pursuit of Rev. Cook. Poona Branch is formed; they stay there four days (ODL., II, 331; Ransom, 168) .

Jan. 28—Parker Pillsbury and 13 others apply for the formation of a Branch at Rochester, N. Y. (Theos., III, Suppl. to April, 1882. p. 1) .

Jan. 31—Prof. John Smith returns to Crow’s Nest, Bombay, after a tour of Northern India (Neff, 13).

February—Sinnett receives his first letter from Master K. H, after the latter returns from his initiatory trials (ML., No. XLV, pp. 264-68).

February 14—H. S. O. delivers at Bombay his lecture on “The Spirit of the Zoroastrian Religion.” MSS in H.P.B.’s handwriting in the Adyar Archives shows that he had special help given him in preparing its text. Pārsīs print it in English and Gujarāti, distributing some twenty thousand copies (ODL., II, 333-34; Ransom, 168).

February 17—H. S. O. leaves Bombay with Bhavāni Shankar on a tour of the North. Visits Jeypore (19th), Delhi (22nd), Meerut (24th), Bareilly (28th), Lucknow (Mch. 7th), Cawnpore (8th), Allāhābād 13th), Berhampur (17), whence he proceeds to Calcutta (ODL., II, 334-39; Ransom, 168-69; Theos., III, Supplements to Mch., April and May, 1882 ).

 

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KEY TO ABBREVIATIONS

Autobiogr.—An Autobiography of A. P. Sinnett, dated June 3rd, 1912, with additions dated May, 1916, and Jan. 2, 1920, which exists in the form of a typewritten MSS. in the Archives of the Mahatma Letters Trust in London.

Diaries—Colonel Henry S. Olcott’s original Diaries in the Adyar Archives.

ED—The Early Days of Theosophy in Europe, by A. P. Sinnett. London: Theos. Publishing House, Ltd., 1922. 126 pp.

Hints—Hints on Esoteric Theosophy, No. 1, by A. O. Hume (though publ. anonymously). Issued under the Authority of The Theosophical Society in 1882. Benares and London: Theos. Publ. Society; Adyar, Madras: The Theosophist Office, 1882: 131 pp.—No. 2 was published about a year later. 2nd ed. of both appeared in 1909. Paging differs.

Inc.—Incidents in the Life o f Madame Blavatsky, by A. P. Sinnett. London: George Redway; New York: J. W. Bouton, 1886. xxii, 324 pp.

LBS—The Letters o f H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett, and Other Miscellaneous Letters. Transcribed, Compiled, and with an Introd. by A. T. Barker. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Co., 1924. xvi, 404 pp.

Lucifer—Monthly magazine started by H.P.B. in London, September, 1887.

ML—The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett (from the Mahatmas M. and K. H.). Transcribed, Compiled and with an Introd. by A. T. Barker. London: T. Fisher Unwin, December, 1923; New York: Frederick A. Stokes Co., 1923. xxxv, 492 pp.; 2nd rev. ed., London: Rider & Co., 1926; 8th impression, Rider & Co., 1948; 3rd. rev. ed., Adyar: Theos. Publ. House, 1962.

Neff—How Theosophy Came to Australia and New Zealand, by Mary K. Neff. Sydney, Austr.: Austr. Section T. S., 1943. xi, 99 pp. Illus.

 

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ODL—Old Diary Leaves, by Henry Steel Olcott. Second Series, 1878-83. Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1900; 2nd ed., Adyar, 1928. The original edition contains nine illustrations, all of them being views of the Theos. Society’s Estate at Adyar. Being too faded for further reproductions, eight of these have been eliminated from the 2nd ed. of 1928.

Path—The Path. Published and Edited in New York by W. Q. Judge. Vols. I-X, April, 1886—March, 1896 incl.

Ransom—A Short History of The Theosophical Society. Compiled by Josephine Ransom. With a Preface by G. S. Arundale. Adyar, Madras: Theos. Publ. House, 1938. xii, 591 pp.

Theos. Forum—The Theosophical Forum. New Series. Publ. under the Authority of the Theosophical Society, Point Loma, Calif. Editor, G. de Purucker. Vols. I-XXIX, Sept., 1929-March, 1951 incl. Later edited by Arthur L. Conger.

Theos.—The Theosophist. Conducted by H. P. Blavatsky. Bombay (later Madras): The Theos. Society, October, 1879—, in progress (Volumes run from October to September incl.).

Vania—Madame H. P. Blavatsky, Her Occult Phenomena and the Society for Psychical Research, by K. F. Vania. Bombay, India: Sat Publ. Co., 1951. xiv, 488 pp.