Obituary The Hodgson Report on Madame Blavatsky

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Obituary The Hodgson Report on Madame Blavatsky

By W.A. Carrithers

The Doll Christofolo and Apparitions of Mahatmas


The Theosophical phenomena which first attracted official attention of the S.P.R. were the reported apparitions of Mahatmas at Adyar and elsewhere.

1. Mme. Coulomb in her pamphlet charged that these were faked, a "doll, Christofolo" playing the role of Mahatma (31, 42).  But in this allegation, she tripped herself up, for she claimed this alleged doll played the part of Mahatma during December, 1881, (34) and later (243-44, 370-71), whereas this doll already had been incinerated by the 25th of October, 1881, according to the definite dating of one "Blavatsky-Coulomb letter" she published.  Mme. Coulomb (41) shows the letter indicated was addressed from "SIMLA" by Mme. Blavatsky some time before the "25th of October" and when "headquarters" were at "Bombay" (42), which places the authentic portion just prior to October 21, 1881, as H.P.B. was then in Simla as guest of A. O. Hume (later to be "Father of the Indian National Congress"),  [48] whereas in October, 1882, she was not in Simla but in Darjiling, [49]  and in October, 1883, she was at Adyar. [50]

2. Dr. Hodgson in 1885, without letting his readers know of this important contradiction, tried to bail his witness out of her predicament by claiming that she told him she "afterwards made another" doll (213-14).

3. But his display of ingenuity was futile, for, after describing the making of the one and only doll mentioned in her account, Mme. Coulomb proceeds to state in explicit and irrevocable terms that "this doll" (not another, nor any second doll) had been the Mahatma seen on the balcony of the Bombay headquarters building in December, 1881, in act of dropping a letter of reply to Mr. Ramaswamier (34).

Our conclusion, therefore, must be that, finding herself having destroyed the doll too soon in a forgery (by reason of the fact that the original letter, to which this forgery was attached, had not been dated as to year), when this document had left her hands and the contradiction brought to her attention after publication of her account --- by reason of Hodgson's inquiries? ---, Mme. Coulomb by necessity had to then fabricate another doll in her imagination.

4. That she seems to have been so ready to prop up one lie with another was perhaps because in this instance she was satisfied that Dr. Hodgson would do all he could to keep his readers in ignorance of this conflict in dates.  If this was her anticipation, it was soon justified, for, in quoting this "Blavatsky-Coulomb letter," Hodgson published the (forged) portion bearing the lament for the incinerated "Christofolo" but he suppressed the genuine portion of text by which the document could be dated and Mme. Coulomb's falsehood detected.

5. In fact, he was ready to do more than this for Mme. Coulomb.  In her pamphlet, she had declared (35) that the letter dropped to Ramaswamier on the above occasion had been "handed" by Mme. Blavatsky "to Mr. Coulomb" with instruction for its delivery.  But when interviewed months later by Hodgson --- it being established in the meantime that Mme. Blavatsky had been under constant observation from the time she received Ramaswamier's enquiry until the time he received this reply, and that Mme. Blavatsky had had no opportunity to write such a reply nor hand it to Mons. Coulomb unobserved (362) ---, Mme. Coulomb gave a quite different account (363) of this alleged chicanery.  According to Hodgson, she now claimed that the reply had been written by Mme. Blavatsky in "the bath-room" and there handed not to Mons. Coulomb but to Mme. Coulomb herself!

6. In his report, when reaching this incident, Hodgson pretends that, on bringing it up at their interview, he was ignorant as to whether Mme. Coulomb "knew anything of this letter" --- despite the fact that her printed statements concerning it appeared in his copy (282) of her pamphlet, a copy he had obtained some time in 1884 (290).  This pretence of ignorance was, of course, merely a cunning subterfuge to keep his readers ignorant of the fact Hodgson was suppressing Mme. Coulomb's first account and its contradiction with her second story.

By this and similar tactics on like occasions, Richard Hodgson felt safe in telling his readers, "I finally had no doubt whatever that the phenomena connected with the Theosophical Society were part of a huge fraudulent system worked by Madame Blavatsky with the assistance of the Coulombs and several other confederates, and that not a single genuine phenomenon could be found among them all.  And I may add that though, of course, I have not, in coming to this conclusion, trusted to any unverified statements of the Coulombs, still neither by cross-examination nor by independent investigation of their statements wherever circumstances permitted, have I been able to break down any allegations of theirs which were in any way material" (210).

[48]  A Short History of the Theosophical Society, compiled by Josephine Ransom, with Preface by G. S. Arundale, P.T.S.; 1938, Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar; p. 162.

[49]  Ibid., p. 173

[50]  Ibid, p. 184.



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