The Theosophical Society in America

His Meetings with the Master Morya

Colonel Henry S. Olcott's Testimony about His Meetings with the Master Morya

Compiled and edited by Daniel H. Caldwell


H.P. Blavatsky (1831-1891) was the first person in modern times to claim contact with the Theosophical Adepts, especially the Masters Morya and Koot Hoomi. She also affirmed that in her writings she was giving out the teachings of the Adept Brotherhood.

There has been a great deal of controversy concerning the existence or non-existence of these particular Adepts.  Mme. Blavatsky's critics have usually doubted the reality of her Masters. 

But it is a historical fact that more than twenty five individuals testified to having seen and been in contact with these Mahatmas during H.P.Blavatsky's lifetime. For a detailed chronological listing of these testimonies, see A Casebook of Encounters with the Theosophical Mahatmas.

One of the principal witnesses who testified to such encounters was Henry Steel Olcott (1831-1907), American Theosophist, journalist, editor, attorney, and co-founder/first president of The Theosophical Society (founded 1875). (1)

Below the reader will find the following primary source documents:

(1) a letter Colonel Olcott wrote in 1882 to a spiritualistic magazine in London giving his testimony to "the fact" of the Himalayan Brothers' existence and;

(2) Colonel Olcott's eyewitness testimony describing eight of his meetings and encounters with the Master Morya. The meetings are given in chronological order.

For more relevant information, see footnote 2 below.

 

"The Himalayan Brothers"
February 1882 Letter to The Spiritualist

Theosophical Society, President's Office,
Bombay, 7th February, 1882.

To the Editor of the "Spiritualist."

...About two months ago, I sent you from Ceylon a letter respecting my personal knowledge of the so-called "Himalayan Brothers," [the Masters or Mahatmas] which has not yet been published in your columns.  It was called forth by your editorial remark that I have not given testimony to the fact of their existence; and the necessary implication that my silence was due to disbelief in the same, or at least to lack of proof sufficient to make me willing to so commit myself.  Pray allow me to set the question at rest, once for all.

I have seen them, not once but numerous times. I have talked to them.  I was not entranced, nor mediumistic, nor hallucinated, but always in my sober senses.  I have corresponded with them, receiving their letters....I have seen them, both in their bodies and their doubles, usually the latter..... Since November last, four different Brothers have made themselves visible to visitors at our head quarters.

I know the Brothers to be living men and not Spirits; and they have told me that there are schools, under appointed living adepts, where their Occult science is regularly taught.

It is all this actual knowledge of them and close observation of multifarious phenomena shewn me by them, under non-mediumistic conditions, that has made me take the active part I have in the Theosophical movement of the day.

And their precept and example has made me try to do some practical good to the Asiatics.  For their lives and their knowledge are devoted to the welfare of mankind.  Though unseen by, they yet labour for, humanity.  The first lesson I, as a pupil, was required by them to learn, and having learnt, to put into practice, was --- unselfishness. ....

H.S. OLCOTT.  

Source:  "The Himalayan Brothers," Light (London), March 4, 1882, p. 98.

 

 

Meeting 1
1876-1877 [?], New York City

...about the objective reality of the Brothers [the Masters, the Mahatmas]...I have only to go back to the point where I was in 1874, when I first met [H.P. Blavatsky] .... And so going back, I know that . . . I would never have taken anybody’s evidence to so astounding a claim as the existence of the Brothers, but required personal experience....

...I got that proof in due time....I had all the proofs I needed, alike of the existence of the Brothers, their wisdom, their psychical powers, and their unselfish devotion to humanity.  For six years have I been blessed with this experience....I have seen, been taught by, been allowed to visit, and have received visits from the Brothers....

...Throughout my studies I have tried to obtain my proofs in a valid form.  I have known mesmerism for a quarter of a century or more, and make every allowance for self-deception and external mental impressions.  What I have seen and experienced is, therefore, very satisfactory to myself, though mainly valueless to others.

Let me give you one instance: ---

One evening, at New York, after bidding H. P. B. good night, I sat in my bed-room, finishing a cigar and thinking.  Suddenly there stood my Chohan ["Lord", Guru, i.e., Master Morya] beside me.   The door had made no noise in opening, if it had been opened, but at any rate there he was. 

He sat down and conversed with me in subdued tones for some time, and as he seemed in an excellent humour towards me, I asked him a favour.  I said I wanted some tangible proof that he had actually been there, and that I had not been seeing a mere illusion or maya conjured up by H. P. B.  He laughed, unwound the embroidered Indian cotton fehta [turban] he wore on his head, flung it to me, and --- was gone.   That cloth I still possess, and it bears in one corner the initials . . . of my Chohan in thread-work.

This at least was no hallucination. . . .

...But this, it may be said, was all an illusion; that is the trouble of the whole matter; everything of the kind seen by one person is a delusion, if not a lie, to those who did not see it.  Each must see for himself, and can alone convince himself....

Source:  Olcott, Henry S.   Letter from Col. Olcott to Mr. H----- X -----. This letter (dated Sept. 30, 1881) from Henry S. Olcott to Allan O. Hume about the Mahatmas was first published in A.O. Hume's Hints on Esoteric Theosophy, No. 1, 1882, pp. 76-86.


...And as the light gradually dawned on my mind, my reverence for the unseen teachers [the Mahatmas] who had instructed her [Mme. H.P. Blavatsky] grew apace. At the same time, a deep and insatiable yearning possessed me to seek their society, or, at least, to take up my residence in a land [India] which their presence glorified, and incorporate myself with a people whom their greatness ennobled.

The time came when I was blessed with a visit from one of these Mahatmas in my own room at New York - a visit from him, not in the physical body, but in the "double," or Mayavi-rupa. When I asked him to leave me some tangible evidence that I had not been the dupe of a vision, but that he had indeed been there, he removed from his head the puggri [turban] he wore, and giving it to me, vanished from my sight. That cloth I have still, and in one corner is marked in thread the cipher or signature he always attaches to the notes he writes to myself and others.

This visit and his conversation sent my heart at one leap around the globe, across oceans and continents, over sea and land, to India, and from that moment I had a motive to live for, an end to strive after. That motive was to gain the Aryan wisdom; that end to work for its dissemination. Thenceforth I began to count the years, the months, the days, as they passed, for they were bringing me ever nearer the time when I should drag my body after the eager thought that had so long preceded it....

Source:  Olcott, Henry S.  On Madame Blavatsky and the Mahatmas.  An extract from Olcott's lecture titled "Theosophy, the Scientific Basis of Religion," delivered at the Town Hall, Calcutta, India, April 5, 1882.  Reprinted from Olcott's Theosophy, Religion and Occult Science, London, George Redway, 1885, pp. 121-124.


...COLONEL OLCOTT: I could name two cases where I have encountered the person [the Mahatma] both in the physical body and in the astral body.  There are also a number of instances in my experience where I have seen the person in the astral body but not in the physical, and in the physical but not in the astral; but in two cases I can state that I have known the person in both capacities....In both cases I saw them in the astral body first....

The first case I will mention is the case already reported in the pamphlet called “Hints on Esoteric Theosophy --- No. 1”...In that instance the person was my Teacher . . . and I now exhibit the turban which he took off his head, when I demanded of him some tangible proof of his visit....

MR. MYERS: Was the Hindu you saw in New York indisputably the same as you subsequently saw in India?

COLONEL OLCOTT: The same.

MR. MYERS: And whom you saw in the astral body?

COLONEL OLCOTT: The same.

MR. STACK: He suddenly appeared?

COLONEL OLCOTT: He appeared when I was in my room before retiring at night.  As it was my custom to lock my door, I presume that my door was locked at that time.  I know that the door was not opened, for I sat in such a way reading that the door could not be opened without immediately attracting my notice....

COLONEL OLCOTT: ...My own conviction is --- in fact, I should be willing to affirm most positively --- that the door did not open and that the appearance and disappearance of my visitor occurred without using the means of ingress or exit....

MR. MYERS: How tall was the Hindu who appeared to you in New York?

COLONEL OLCOTT: He was a model of physical beauty, about 6ft. 6in. or 7in. in height, and symmetrically proportioned.

MR. MYERS: That is a very unusual height, and is in itself a tolerable identification.

COLONEL OLCOTT: Great stature is not so rare among the Rajpoots [of India].

MR. MYERS: I presume that you were impressed by his height in New York?

COLONEL OLCOTT: Yes.

 MR. MYERS: Have you seen other Hindus of that height?

COLONEL OLCOTT: No; I have seen very tall Hindus, for I have been through the Rajpoot country; but taking him all in all, he was the most majestic human figure I ever laid my eyes upon....

Source:  Olcott, Henry S. Henry S. Olcott's Deposition to the Society for Psychical Research, 1884. Reprinted from the First Report of the Committee of the Society for Psychical Research, Appointed to Investigate the Evidence for Marvellous Phenomena offered by Certain Members of the Theosophical Society, Appendix I, pp. 34-62, London, 1884.


...Our evening’s work on [the manuscript of H.P.B.'s future book] Isis [Unveiled] was finished, I had bade goodnight to H.P.B., retired to my own room, closed the door as usual, sat me down to read and smoke, and was soon absorbed in my book; which, if I remember aright, was Stephens' Travels in Yucatan....

I was quietly reading, with all my attention centered on my book.  Nothing in the evening's incidents had prepared me for seeing an adept in his astral body; I had not wished for it, tried to conjure it up in my fancy, nor in the least expected it.

All at once, as I read with my shoulder a little turned from the door, there came a gleam of something white in the right-hand corner of my right eye; I turned my head, dropped my book in astonishment, and saw towering above me in his great stature an Oriental clad in white garments, and wearing a head cloth or turban of amber-striped fabric, hand-embroidered in yellow floss silk.

Long raven hair hung from under his turban to the shoulders; his black beard, parted vertically on the chin in the Rajput fashion, was twisted up at the ends and carried over the ears; his eyes were alive with soul fire, eyes which were at once benignant and piercing in glance....He was so grand a man, so imbued with the majesty of moral strength, so luminously spiritual, so evidently above average humanity, that I felt abashed in his presence, and bowed my head and bent my knee as one does before a god or a godlike personage.

A hand was lightly laid on my head, a sweet though strong voice bade me be seated, and when I raised my eyes, the Presence was seated in the other chair beyond the table.

He told me he had come at the crisis when I needed him; that my actions had brought me to this point; that it lay with me alone whether he and I should meet often in this life as co-workers for the good of mankind; that a great work was to be done for humanity, and I had the right to share in it if I wished; that a mysterious tie, not now to be explained to me, had drawn my colleague [H.P.B.] and myself together, a tie which could not be broken, however strained it might be at times.  He told me things about H.P.B. that I may not repeat, as well as things about myself, that do not concern third parties....

At last he rose, I wondering at his great height and observing the sort of splendor in his countenance --- not an external shining, but the soft gleam, as it were, of an inner light --- that of the spirit.

Suddenly the thought came into my mind: "What if this be but hallucination; what if H.P.B. has cast a hypnotic glamour over me? I wish I had some tangible object to prove to me that he has really been here, something that I might handle after he is gone!"

The Master smiled kindly as if reading my thought, untwisted the fehta [turban] from his head, benignantly saluted me in farewell and --- was gone: his chair was empty; I was alone with my emotions! Not quite alone, though, for on the table lay the embroidered head cloth, a tangible and enduring proof that I had not been "overlooked," or psychically befooled, but had been face to face with one of the Elder Brothers of Humanity.

To run and beat at H.P.B.’s door and tell her my experience was the first natural impulse, and she was as glad to hear my story as I was to tell it. I returned to my room to think, and the gray morning found me still thinking and resolving. Out of those thoughts and those resolves developed all my subsequent theosophical activities....

I have been blessed with meetings with this Master and others since then ....However others less fortunate may doubt, I KNOW....

Source:   Olcott, Henry S.  Old Diary Leaves: The True Story of the Theosophical Society. Vol. 1 (1874–1878). New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1895, pp. 377, 379–81

 

 

Meeting 2
July 15, 1879, Bombay, India

...[I] had visit in body of the Sahib [Morya]!! [He] sent Babula to my room to call me to HPB’s bungalow, and there we had a most important private interview. Alas! how puerile and vain these men make one feel by contrast with them....

Source:   Olcott, Henry S.   Unpublished Diaries.  Entry for July 15, 1879, Bombay, India.


...This . . . Brother [Morya] once visited me in the flesh at Bombay, coming in full day light, and on horseback.  He had me called by a servant into the front room of H. P.B.’s bungalow (she being at the time in the other bungalow talking with those who were there). 

He came to scold me roundly for something I had done in T. S. matters, and as H. P. B. was also to blame, he telegraphed to her to come, that is to say he turned his face and extended his finger in the direction of the place she was in.  She came over at once with a rush, and seeing him dropped on her knees and paid him reverence.  My voice and his had been heard by those in the other bungalow, but only H. P. B. and I, and the servant saw him....

Source:  Olcott, Henry S.    Letter from Col. Olcott to Mr. H----- X -----.  This letter (dated Sept. 30, 1881) from Henry S. Olcott to Allan O. Hume about the Mahatmas was first published in A.O. Hume's Hints on Esoteric Theosophy, No. 1, 1882, pp. 76-86.


...MR. MYERS: We want now an account of seeing your Teacher in the flesh.

 COLONEL OLCOTT: One day at Bombay I was at work in my office when a Hindu servant came and told me that a gentleman wanted to see me in Madame Blavatsky’s bungalow --- a separate house within the same enclosure as the main building.  This was one day in 1879.  I went and found alone there my Teacher.  Madame Blavatsky was then engaged in animated conversation with other persons in the other bungalow.   The interview between the Teacher and myself lasted perhaps 10 minutes, and it related to matters of a private nature with respect to myself and certain current events in the history of the Society....

MR. MYERS: How do you know that your Teacher was in actual flesh and blood on that occasion?

COLONEL OLCOTT: He put his hand upon my head, and his hand was perfectly substantial; and he had altogether the appearance of an ordinary living person.  When he walked about the floor there was noise of his footsteps, which is not the case with the double or phantasm.

MR. MYERS: Do you conceive that he had travelled to Bombay in the ordinary way?

COLONEL OLCOTT: He was then stopping at a bungalow, not far from Bombay, belonging to a person connected with this brotherhood of the Mahatmas, and used by Mahatmas who may be passing through Bombay on business connected with their order.  He came to our place on horseback.

MR. STACK: Was he on that occasion dressed the same as in New York?

COLONEL OLCOTT: Yes.  They wear ordinarily, when away from Thibet, a dress of white cotton --- in fact, that is the common dress of Hindus.

MR. MYERS: Was that the only occasion on which you have seen him in the flesh?

COLONEL OLCOTT: No; I have seen him at other times.

MR. MYERS: Have you seen him three or four times in the flesh?

COLONEL OLCOTT: Yes, more than that, but not under circumstances where it would be evidence to others.

MR. MYERS: And about how many times in the astral body?

COLONEL OLCOTT: Oh, at least 15 or 20 times.

MR. MYERS: And his appearance on all those occasions has been quite unmistakable?

COLONEL OLCOTT: As unmistakable as the appearance of either of you gentlemen....

SourceOlcott, Henry S. Henry S. Olcott's Deposition to the Society for Psychical Research, 1884. Reprinted from the First Report of the Committee of the Society for Psychical Research, Appointed to Investigate the Evidence for Marvellous Phenomena offered by Certain Members of the Theosophical Society, Appendix I, pp. 34-62, London, 1884.

 

 

Meeting 3
August 4, 1880, Bombay, India

...M [orya was] here this evening & wrote to Fauvety of Paris. He says 5000 English troops killed in Afghanistan in the recent battle. . . .

SourceOlcott, Henry S.  Unpublished Diaries.  Entry for August 4, 1880, Bombay, India.


....On the evening of 4th August [1880], a Mahatma [Master Morya] visited HPB, and I was called in to see him before he left. He dictated a long and important letter to an influential friend of ours at Paris, and gave me important hints about the management of current [Theosophical] Society affairs.

I was sent away before his visit terminated, and as I left him sitting in HPB’s room, I cannot say whether his departure was a phenomenal disappearance or not....

Source:   Olcott, Henry S. Old Diary Leaves: The Only Authentic History of the Theosophical Society. London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1900. Vol. 2 (1878–1883), p. 208.

 

 

Meeting 4
September 27, 1881, Ceylon

...On the night of that day [Sept. 27, 1881] I was awakened from sleep by my Chohan (or Guru, the Brother [Morya] 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 and a devoted guardian....

Source:   Olcott, Henry S.   Letter from Col. Olcott to Mr. H----- X -----. This letter (dated Sept. 30, 1881) from Henry S. Olcott to Allan O. Hume about the Mahatmas was first published in A.O. Hume's Hints on Esoteric Theosophy, No. 1, 1882, pp. 76-86.

 

 

Meeting 5
January 28, 1882, Bombay, India

...M[orya] showed himself very clearly to me & HPB in her garden.  She joining him they talked together....

SourceOlcott, Henry S.  Unpublished Diaries.  Entry for January 28, 1882, Bombay, India.

 

 

Meeting 6
August 18, 1882, Ceylon, (at a village on the way to Colombo) 

...[I had a] night visit from M[orya] who directed telegram to be sent to A[llan] H[ume] about Fern's visions. . . .

SourceOlcott, Henry S.  Unpublished Diaries.  Entry for Aug. 18, 1882, Ceylon, (at a village on the way to Colombo) 

 

 

Meeting 7
September 25, 1885, Gooty, India

. . . In night [I] had visit from M[orya] and Majji. . . .

SourceOlcott, Henry S.  Unpublished Diaries.  Entry for Sept. 25, 1885, Gooty, India.


. . . that night [at Gooty] I was visited by my Guru [Morya] and 'Majji'. . . .

Source: Olcott, Henry S.  Letter dated October 10, 1885 from Henry S. Olcott to Francesca Arundale. The Theosophist (Adyar, Madras, India), December 1932, p. 275.

 

 

Meeting 8
October 25, 1888, Approaching Rome, Italy by train

...At 9:30 [I] took train for Rome via Pistoia and Pisa.  In train all night. . . . [I] had a most encouraging visit from M[orya] in the train....

Source:   Olcott, Henry S.  Unpublished Diaries.   Entry for October 25, 1888.


...[I had] the most unexpected and splendid visit from M[orya] in the train.  I felt so rejoiced I could almost have jumped out of the window.  He was so kind, so loving and compassionate; despite all my faults and shortcomings, he bears with me and holds to me because of the useful work I have now and then done, and of my fervent desire to do my duty. 

If he has not told you already, he will; so I shall not flog my tired brain to describe how he came, talked, looked and went.  Goodnight, Chum -- to you and to all . . . .

Source:  Letter dated Oct. 26, 1888 from Henry S. Olcott to H.P. Blavatsky (quoted in Yankee Beacon of Buddhist Light:  Life of Col. Henry S. Olcott by Howard Murphet, Wheaton, Illinois, Quest Books, Theosophical Publishing House, 1988, p. 236)


Endnote

(1) Henry Steel Olcott (1831-1907) was an American Theosophist, journalist, editor, attorney, and co-founder/first president of The Theosophical Society (founded 1875).

Olcott was associate agricultural editor (1859-1861) of the New York Tribune. He served in the American Civil War and was appointed Special Commissioner (1862-66) in the U.S. War and Navy Departments to investigate corruption and fraud in military arsenals and navy yards.  Colonel Olcott also practiced law in New York City from 1868 to 1878. 

While investigating Spiritualistic phenomena at Chittenden, Vermont in October, 1874, he met Madame Blavatsky.  They became close friends and associates and were two of the principal founders of the Theosophical Society.

As first President of The Theosophical Society (an office he held for the rest of his life), Colonel Olcott worked tirelessly on behalf of the Society, traveling throughout India, southern Asia, Australia, Europe and elsewhere. 

For more on his life, see

• "Henry Steel Olcott," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia;

• Yankee Beacon of Buddhist Light:  Life of Col. Henry S. Olcott by Howard Murphet, Wheaton, Illinois, Quest Books, The Theosophical Publishing House, 1988;

• The White Buddhist: The Asian Odyssey of Henry Steel Olcott by Stephen Prothero, Bloomington, Indiana, Indiana University Press, 1996.