Beatrice Hastings: Defence of H.P. Blavatsky
Canadian Theosophist XVIII, Aug. 1937, pp.172-175
Volume I. of the series planned in connection with the attack by the Hare Brothers, and intended also to include critical examination of earlier and equally baseless attacks upon Madame Blavatsky, has now been in circulation for some weeks and Theosophical students are hastening to read what turns out to be one of the most thorough and skilful dissections of these assaults that have been made. As a further preliminary to the persual of this first volume, a letter from Mr. A. Trevor Barker, who was responsible for the publication of The Mahatma Letters in the first place, has come to me and I feel that it should be shared with our fellow students, so that they may fully understand the kind of mentality behind these attacks. Mr. Barker, in calling attention to Mrs. Hastings' work, writes as follows:
"I may say that the writing of this book was undertaken by Beatrice Hastings at my urgent request to provide an effective answer to 'Who Wrote the Mahatma Letters?' You and others may have wondered why I have not made some contribution myself to refute the conclusions drawn by the Hares. I have not done so simply because I knew that it would he useless for the purpose in view to state what is the fact: that the Hares abused the confidence of myself and the Executrix of A. P. Sinnett, in coming to us in the autumn of 1925 with the statement that they wished to bring out a work of serious and scholarly criticism of what they described as 'that most important work' The Mahatma Letters. Mr. Loftus Hare had managed in my absence to extract a half-promise from the Executrix that he should be allowed complete freedom to examine the original MSS. I personally arrived on the scene in the nick of time, and a rapid decision had to he taken between two alternatives either to allow him to examine the MSS., as we had nothing whatever to hide, lest a refusal should give colour to the suggestion that there was something that we wished to keep concealed; or on the other hand to give a categorical refusal out of what would have amounted to fear of consequences which were necessarily an entirely unknown quantity. We decided that he should be given the opportunity to examine the MSS. under strict supervision in my presence. This experience will always remain one of the most unpleasant recollections of my life. The examination took place, as far as I remember, from about 7 p.m. till midnight on a single evening (there may, or may not, have been a second evening devoted to the Blavatsky letters). Mr. Hare's attitude throughout was that of a detective, and for the time being he played the role of Hodgson of the S. P. R.
"I was out of England a few weeks later when there appeared a series of double-column articles in the 'Morning Post' of a sensational and misleading character, together with posters on all the 'Morning Post' placards 'Exposure of Bogus Mahatmas', or words to that effect. You can imagine the feelings of Mr. Sinnett's Executrix and myself when we saw what we were forced to conclude was 'this work of serious and scholarly criticism.' Subsequent events seem to show that their hook was hastily prepared but that they were unable to find a publisher until Messrs. Williams & Norgate were misguided enough, to risk the expense of publishing such an utterly worthless, prejudiced and one-sided criticism. It is but just therefore that the book has been a failure from the publishing point of view.
"There is the whole story, and when the book finally appeared, I came to the conclusion, as I have stated in my review article, that nothing but facts and still more facts are of the least use in combating unscrupulous writers of this kind. Mere pious opinions are useless. An expert knowledge of all the voluminous documentation of the whole of the early Theosophical literature was an indispensable part of the equipment necessary to have the whole of one's time free for the purpose.
"I feel that the Theosophical Movement owes a debt to Mrs. Hastings for her exceedingly able defence, and I would appeal to you . . . . to utilize the valuable platform of your magazine to give the widest possible publicity to this book. Beatrice Hastings is only now beginning to publish the results of her seven years of research devoted to the end of re-establishing the calumniated reputation of H. P. B. I do not hesitate to say that she should be given the whole-hearted support of all who call themselves Theosophists, and you have my full permission to publish this letter if, as I believe, it would serve a useful purpose so to do. With the expression as always of my kindest regards, believe me, very sincerely yours, (signed) A. Trevor Barker."
Mr. Barker's address in The English Theosophical Forum for June-July is a summons to all members of the Theosophical Movement who have been in earnest and serious in their pledge of Brotherhood, and not merely self-deceivers in their decision, to rally to its support before the world. We need not expect the world or outsiders to take us seriously if we cannot convince ourselves that we are in earnest. "We drew attention", says Mr. Barker, "in our last issue to the first of a series of volumes by Beatrice Hastings entitled Defence of Madame Blavatsky, and we have been astounded by the reception given to this invaluable vindication of her integrity by certain Theosophists, who, Pratyeka-like, appear to regard all such questions as of no possible concern to them, because, forsooth, they do not question either her good faith or her integrity. In other words they have accepted her Teaching, and have not for a moment considered that in doing so they have incurred a debt and an obligation to her memory which they could not adequately repay, if they did all that lies in their power to support her before the world in every situation in which such support is called for. More than one of this kind of Theosophist has stated: 'H. P. B. does not need any defence as far as I am concerned; therefore I do not need to bother my head about such books. Let those read it who doubt her, if they want to.'" Mr. Barker then quotes four passages from The Mahatma Letters bearing on the situation, from pages 362, 267, 365, and 254, of which the last reads: "On the other hand we claim to know more of the secret cause of events than you men of the world do. I say then that it is the vilification and abuse of the Founders, the general misconception of the aims and objects of the Society that paralyzes its progress --nothing else."
"The plain truth is," Mr. Barker proceeds, "that the reputation of the Founders down to the present moment has never been rehabilitated in the public mind in a thoroughly radical fashion. This is partly due to the fact that the data to be found scattered over the early Theosophical literature has never up to the present time been available in published documents. But today the situation is changed. Most if not all of the necessary information is now available for those who seek it."
A copy of Mr. Barker's article from which we have quoted about one-third of its important statements, has been sent to the Secretary of each of our Canadian Lodges with the hope that it will be brought before the members. We frequently hear that many of our members, especially among the older ones, are no longer interested in our work. Sometimes in a Lodge one or two are inclined to monopolize what is to be done, and this is a grave mistake, shutting out other members from what is the most valuable thing for them in this incarnation -- the opportunity to work for Theosophy. Of course every member can find some means of working for Theosophy if he or she is sufficiently devoted to wish to do so. We only learn in action. Not to work for Theosophy, which is Universal Brotherhood, and means that and nothing else, mutual help, the right to take part in the redemption of the race, the way to the heart of the Master by sacrifice and service, self-devised, self determined, self-directed, -- not to work for Theosophy is to reject the one opportunity to attain the Wisdom. Every member has his chance to reach that critical point where he enters on the next grade of evolution, not by favour of anyone else, not by promotion through examinations, but by natural development, the result of his own effort. Should any man bar such attempts to serve, automatically he will find his own efforts obstructed, perhaps unconsciously and incomprehensibly so, but as a plain result of the action of the Law that we reap as we sow. Let us take hands and help, and help others to help if we desire to pass onward. Many miss the racial starting point, lagging behind, hoping for some one to push them forward forgetting that the human machine is a self-starter. Of the Ten Virgins of the Marriage parable, five were wise and five were foolish. I fear the foolish percentage is higher than this among members of the T. S.
There is a great deal, a real revival of interest in the life and work of Madame Blavatsky. This work of Mrs. Hastings is marvellous evidence of it. The new Life of Madame Blavatsky, just published by Rider & Co., is another most striking piece of evidence. The new generation is coming to these old truths, no longer blinded by the lies and prejudices of fifty years ago. Those who do not care to go forward with the new race, may perhaps content themselves with the idea that they have done enough, but they miss their opportunity to reach their own highest purpose, to realize their own latent powers, to attain that vision of the Holy Grail which only comes to the wholly devoted. It is not for those who put their hand to the plough, and turn backward in the furrows.
Many are called and few are chosen, and the few are chosen by themselves. No other makes the selection. Each man casts his own lot. If we had ten men wholly devoted, unalterably pledged to Universal Brotherhood, our Movement would leaven the whole nation. "They all began with one consent to make excuse." That is the difficulty. The potential saints and heroes have too many excuses to be able to range themselves in the ranks of the Immortals. Their incarnation is a failure, and they must tread the weary paths again, and risk the chance once more of finding a favourable cycle. Those who have resolved, whose hearts are fearless, must know that today is the accepted time, and they will take their places in the solid phalanx which will outlast these troubled times, and prepare the way for the new era in 1975. It is the spirit, not the form that is important, the true companions care not for the manner of organization, but everything for the courage and the truth that inspires their high purpose.
Defence of Madame Blavatsky Volume I by Beatrice Hastings
Defence of Madame Blavatsky Volume II by Beatrice Hastings
New Universe: "Try" Volume I by Beatrice Hastings
New Universe: "Try" Volume II by Beatrice Hastings
New Universe: "Try" Volume III by Beatrice Hastings
New Universe: "Try" Volume IV by Beatrice Hastings
New Universe: "Try" Volume V by Beatrice Hastings
New Universe: "Try" Volume VI by Beatrice Hastings
For further insite into Beatrice Hastings' battle to clear the name of HPB, see also: