The history of the 1900-KH letter to Annie Besant

This letter is famous in theosophical circles, because it arrived in the year 1900, 9 years after the death of H.P. Blavatsky, which makes (for theosophists) its authenticity a question of debate. But if it is real, then it proves that the Mahatmas were not an invention out of H.P. Blavatsky's brain. There is also another matter of curiosity, that is the fact that it was published as authentic by C. Jinarajadasa, in Letters from the Masters of Wisdom, first series, letter 59, p. 123, but that he did not there publish the letter in full. The book is still in print, by the Adyar-T.S., but the deleted portions remain deleted. C.J. gives as his reason for deletion that the matter is private to the life of Annie Besant. This is not quite correct, as deleted portions also deal with the function and goal of the ES. These deleted portions give such a highlight to the questions about the ES that many current theosophists worry about, that most students view this as a clear case of censorship.

The authenticity of the letter is questioned by some, but not by many theosophical students. As to the handwriting for instance, Geoffrey A. Barborka (a prominent theosophical writer) says the following:

"The letter is in the script associated with Mahatma Koot Hoomi, although the calligraphy is somewhat different from the letters received by A.P. Sinnett." (1)

About the way the ink/pencil was placed on the paper he says:

"the Mahatma's letter was precipitated on to the paper, not hand-written, because a careful examination shows that each letter gives evidence of a "cross-grained" effect (as some have described this type of precipitation), especially observable in the underlining and the crossing of the "t's". An examination by means of a magnifying glass clearly illustrates the small horizontal lines or bars forming each letter, especially noticeable in the second page of the facsimile of the document, whether above or below the line, whether in a curved letter or a straight letter. This type of writing could not have been done by pen and ink. Those who are skeptical about the genuineness of this type of precipitation should try to duplicate the formation of but one word, or even the single letter "o." Then, too, there are the characteristic bars over the letter "m." " (2)

For those not acquainted with the history of the T.S., I will try to give a short explanation here. Precipitation is the way it was claimed that the Mahatma letters were written. The Adept would make a mental picture of the letter and then a chela (student) would precipitate that letter in the handwriting of that Adept on a piece of paper. This would not be done with pen or pencil, but by getting the image of the words onto the paper by occult means. The physical mechanism may well be much like that of photocopying today.

Then there is the mystery (a common one in Mahatma letters) of the precipitation being done in an envelop that had already been posted. Because, the writing by the Mahatma was done after B.W. Mantri posted the letter, but before Dr. Annie Besant opened the envelop.

All this adds to the mystery of course. For those readers who are skeptical of the possibility of this mechanism, there is always the matter of the content. If it is worthy of attention, than whoever wrote it is worthy of a hearing. For me this is the final test, but of course, those who think the E.S. should stay as it is, use precisely this test as a way of saying that it cannot be genuine. Truth is difficult to find. What is significant however is that the letters posted to the Eclectic Theosophist show only one theosophical student saying that it is probably not genuine and scores of others professing their relief that it is finally published in full. These positive reactions include members of all the major theosophical organizations.

Katinka Hesselink

[Note in 2003 -  I've recently been helped to a large amount of interesting historical material, in electronic form. Among this material is an article that has some good arguments against the Mahatmic origine of this letter.]

1900 KH-letter

(1) From The Mahatmas and Their Letters, by Geoffrey A. Barborka, 1973, The Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India. p. 357

(2) Ibid.