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Besant, Blavatsky and History

Feb 02, 1994 12:04 PM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins


> So I am sorry for having misled you by insunuating that HPB
> had quoted from ABesant's 'Study in Consciousness'.  I donot
> see any quote in the Key either by HPB or by Clara from 'Study
> in Consciousness'.  I should also like to take the opportunity
> to say that I found Clara Codd's version of the Key to be
> extremely easy to read and for many this may be the perfect
> book to read, esp. those who find HPB's writing style difficult
> to follow (I am not one of them but I know there are many
> out there in this category).

     Since I had already acknowledged that Blavatsky spoke highly
of Besant during the former's last two years on earth, I don't
see any need for you to spend time digging up proof of it.  I'm
aware of her public praise for Besant, and have probably seen all
of it at one time or another.  The other side of the story, is
that Blavatsky was also sometimes critical of Besant, but for
some reason that you may be able to guess, the Adyar Society
tends not to publish those instances.  Blavatsky also speaks
highly of Col. Olcott in public, but privately, her attitude was
very different, and in one letter she even calls him an "ass."
Probably the person who gets the most praise from Blavatsky, both
publicly and privately, was Judge.  But since the Adyar Society
doesn't publish any Judge material, we never hear about it.
Judge was accredited with genuine occult status by Blavatsky, who
said that he was under the influence of a Nirmanakaya.  Blavatsky
made Judge the "sole representative" of the American ES.
Blavatsky made Besant the Recording Secretary of the British
Section ES (i.e. she took notes on business conducted).  I'm
bringing this up in order to put a little perspective on your
campaign to prove that Blavatsky spoke highly of Besant.

     Regarding Clara Codd's version of THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY, the
point that Paul and I were trying to make is that Besant's A
STUDY IN CONSCIOUSNESS was written 13 years after THE KEY TO
THEOSOPHY WAS PUBLISHED and 11 years after HPB died.  Therefore
it is not possible for HPB to have quoted from a book written 11
years after she was dead.  Paul and I were also trying to point
out (Paul was being more direct than I) that Codd's version of
THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY is a butchered version of the original,
where half of the contents was discarded.  Paul uses the
euphemism "disfiguring HPB's writings," but our messages are
essentially the same i.e.:  the Adyar Society has a long held
policy of omitting, changing, re-editing and/or adding false
statements in theosophical literature in order to suppress
information and to rewrite history to make it appear that
Theosophy is a continuous and harmonious revelation from
Blavatsky down to today.  Nother could be further from the truth.
Paul says that this "disfiguring" isn't being done anymore.  I
don't know.  The last instance of this being done that came to my
attention was around 1989, but I haven't been watching lately.

     Let us take the example before us: Clara Codd's version of
THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY.  You cited a letter quoted in the KEY,
which Codd appended a footnote identifying the author of that
letter as Annie Besant.  In the original edition, the author is
not identified.  I would ask, how does she know it was Besant? Is
Codd guessing?  Is she repeating second hand information?  Or did
she locate the original of that letter, from which she determined
the author?  We will never know, because Codd doesn't cite the
source of her information.  Theosophical history is a tangled
mess of wrong dates and wrong identifications because of this
kind of sloppy methodology (sometimes inadvertent, sometimes
intentional).  Now we have generations of theosophical students
who take it on faith that Besant wrote that letter, and would
never think to question it.  Yet those who are discriminating
enough in their reading to ask these kinds of questions are not
given the information needed to evaluate the veracity of the
information.  Multiply this minor incident a thousand times, and
you will begin to get a picture of the mess we are left with.

     Now look at Section IX of Codd's version of the KEY.  It is
titled "On Life After Death."  The corresponding section in the
original edition is called "On the Kama-Loka and Devachan."  Why
did Miss Codd rename this section, when all of the other's retain
their original names?  This section also happens to be where HPB
enumerates and defines the seven human principles in detail.  But
all of this is cut out in Codd's version.  Why?  Could it be that
because Besant and Leadbeater renamed and redefined the seven
principles, the editor thought that it would be better not to
"confuse" the reader with the fact that HPB had a different
system with different definitions?  Inconvenient material such as
this may stimulate an actively questioning reader to compare the
systems, and perhaps draw the "wrong" conclusions.

     It took me about two minutes to discover these discrepancies
in Codd's version of the KEY.  Imagine what I might find if I put
an hour into it.  A theosophical historian once concluded a
conference paper with the observation that the Theosophical
Society ought to be more straight forward about their practices
and change their motto to: "There is no religion higher than (a
carefully edited version of the) truth."

     I would strongly recommend that you take some time to start
reading histories in order to get your sense of chronology
straight.  Past statements about returning ES material to Judge
in 1921, or Blavatsky quoting from a book written eleven years
after she was dead, are obvious blunders you wouldn't make if you
took the time to read some theosophical history.  Or at least,
please give it some thought--It will give you a whole new


Jerry Hejka-Ekins

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