Judge case etc.
Aug 17, 1994 09:36 PM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins
Actually the Judge case is pretty complicated, and there is
a tremendous amount of mis-information concerning it, including
what the thing was about in the first place. The reasons for
this seem to be several: First, since the issues were
complicated by so many side issues, people became confused as to
what the whole thing was about. Second, actual documents that do
clarify the issues are now very scarce, and very few people have
seen them. Third: The issue is still so hot, that it is hard to
find old-time members who are not completely polarized one way or
the other, regardless of evidence. Part of this is because, the
case also touches upon some *very hot* side issues, such as: the
validity of successorship; the veracity of both Besant and Judge;
and the validity of the existence of the E.S. after HPB's death.
Further, important documents that would prove or disprove
Olcott's and Besant's charges against him, are in the Adyar
archives, and never have been published. But more on this later.
Basically the "Judge Case" is about a controversy that
eventuated into splitting the Theosophical Society into two
Organizations. This much everyone agrees on. Beyond this basic
statement, it very quickly gets harder to find areas of
agreement. Because of the so many strongly held opinions (mostly
held by members who are completely unacquainted with the
available documents), I will limit my remarks to facts that I can
easily document. When I express an opinion, I think you will be
able to clearly discern it in my text. I will also try to give
my rationale for these opinions.
One of the most important documents concerning the Judge
Case is an 87 page document written and published very early very
early in 1895 by Annie Besant. The pamphlet spells how Besant's
complaint against Judge, and was diestributed to the entire
membership of the Theosophical Society. This pamphlet is
entitled: ~The Case Against W.Q. Judge.~ In the first 22 pages
of this pamphlet, Besant gives her account as to how she was
originally in support of Judge, and finally determined that he
was trying to take over the Theosophical Society through issuing
bogus Mahatma Letters. One of the ironic aspects of her story is
that aside from the "evidence" she had accumulated, she also
claimed that her suspicions were confirmed through a visitation
of a Mahatma (p. 13). Now if one has faith in Besant, then that
is pretty conclusive evidence right here. But on the other hand,
the issue appears to me to become Judge's Mahatmic authority
verses Besant's. It is no wonder that the publication of this
document polarized the T.S. into loyalty towards one leader
against the other.
The second part of the pamphlet is divided into sections,
giving Besant's statement prepared for the Judicial committee;
her charges; evidence against Judge; and statements made by
others. On the whole it looks like a pretty impressive document,
but I wonder how many members made up their minds on the issues
based upon the thickness of the pamphlet rather than making a
careful study of it.
According to her pamphlet, the charges Besant leveled
against Judge, are as follows:
1. Untruthfulness, in now claiming uninterrupted teaching
from and communication with the Masters, from 1875 to the present
time, in flagrant contradiction with his own letters in which he
states that he had no such communications, and asks certain
persons to try and obtain communications for him.
2. Untruthfulness, in denying that he has sent any letters
or messages purporting to be from the Masters, whereas he has
sent such by telegram, and enclosed in letters from himself, to
Annie Besant and others.
3. Deception practiced towards H.S. Olcott with regard to
the Rosicrucian Jewel of H.P.B.
4. Lack of straightforwardness re alleged Lodge messages
supposed to be from a Master, which seal was not His.
5. The sending of messages, orders and letters as if sent
and written by Masters, such messages, etc., being proved to be
a. Error in matter of fact.
b. Threat based on mistake.
Further the probability being against their genuineness and in
favor of their being written by W.Q. Judge from:
a. Their occurring only in letters from W/Q/ Judge or
in letters that had been within his reach.
b. The limitation of the knowledge displayed in them to
that possessed by W.Q. Judge.
c. The personal advantage to himself, directly in some
cases, and indirectly generally as being the only
person through whom such written messages were
Further the possibility of such imitation of known scripts by him
is shown by imitations done by him to prove the ease of such
imitations. (Case: 25-26)
My own reading of the pamphlet, shows that the weight of
evidence against Judge depends upon Besant's version of she heard
and experienced; what she claimed the Master told her; and upon
her excerpts of letters from Judge.
If I were to try to be an impartial judge in this case, I
would balance Besant's authority of the Master she invokes
against the authority of the Master that she claims that Judge
invoked. Therefore the score for the first round would be zero
to zero. As for Besant's account of her experiences with Judge,
I would want to balance that against all of the historical
documentation I could find on the matter, and against Judge's own
statements in a 29 page document he published in answer to
Besant's 87 page document. Judges reply is entitled: ~Reply by
William Q. Judge to Charges of Misuse of Mahatma's Names and
Handwritings.~ Such an undertaking would probably take at least
six months of undivided research on my part--something I have
never had the time to do.
However, there are a couple of matters in Besant's account
that disturb me very deeply. The first is her public answer to
Judge's complaint that he was not given copies of the evidence
against him. She counters that he was shown the evidence, and
that "He made no complaint at the time that he was hurried in his
inspection", but admits that she would not provide copies for
"As to copies, no duty lies on me to supply Mr. Judge with
copies, still less with copies of long letters on various
subjects, in which perhaps only a few sentences are cogent to the
charges made; I have not the time to make copies, nor am I
inclined to undertake the cost of having them transcribed; if Mr
Judge chooses to appoint a trustworthy copyist, such a person can
come and make copies of all the documents used and not used."
Now my understanding of the rules of evidence, is that the
plaintiff is legally obligated to furnish copies of documents to
the defendant. Perhaps the Brits have a different rule. Are
there any lawyers reading this who can answer that one? In any
case, it strikes me as an unfair advantage that Judge wasn't
permitted copies of the evidence, which he could used to prepare
Her attitude on this matter become ever more bizarre when we
find published in the "Supplement to The Theosophist" a letter by
Besant requesting Olcott to furnish her with the above said
documents to be used at a "Special Convention of the European
Section T.S." She goes on to explain that "there is a general
demand for the production of these papers for the information and
guidance of Members." It seems strange that Besant could request
the "production" of documents to plead her case to the European
Section, but felt no obligation to produce these documents for
the benefit of the person she was accusing (Supplement: p. xx,
vol. 16, No. 7, Apr. 1895).
The other matter that bothers me deeply, is that Besant
devoted several pages in her introductory letter to accusing
Judge of trying to take actions to assure that he succeeds Olcott
to the Presidency (Besant admits that Judge's successorship was
assumed by the membership anyway). This charge, though probably
true, is not included among the six formal charges against him.
Yet, it is pretty clear in my reading of her introductory letter,
that Judge's successorship to the Presidency was Besant's primary
concern. Further, She quotes a letter from Chakravarti stating
that Olcott had asked her to become President of the T.S. If
this were true, why wasn't she able to quote Olcott making this
Returning to the formal charges against Judge, and the
weight of the evidence that Besant provides, most of the evidence
is made up of excerpts of letters from Judge mostly to her and
Olcott, and Besant's account of what who said to whom. In
examining the excerpts from the letters, I'm left with a desire
to want to see the whole letters to see the excerpts in context.
The excerpts themselves tend to be ambiguous. For instance,
under her first charge that Judge had no communication with the
Masters, she extracts a sentence from a letter from Judge to
Damodar (Aug. 5, 1880), who was writing Judge concerning his
experiences with the Masters. Judge write:
"Without doubt many of the brothers are daily in your
vicinity; how I wish I could share them with you." (Case: 37).
Now Besant presents this quote as proof that Judge was not
in touch with the Masters at that time. I agree that one could
interpret this quote in this way. But I can also just as easily
interpret this quote to be a wish on Judge's part to be in India
with Damodar and share in all of the action that was going on
there. This interpretation, I think, is not only just as valid,
but also consistent with other letters that he wrote around this
time. But I leave you to read the evidence for yourself, and see
if you are convinced.
The other major aspect of the Judge Case concerns the
splitting of the T.S.: Once again there is a lot of mis-
information concerning this. First of all, to say that Judge
split the T.S. is technically incorrect: Judge, had been arguing
with Olcott for some time that the same autonomy given to the
early Lodges should also be given to the sections. Olcott was
against this, but during the 1895 American Convention, the
membership overwhelmingly voted autonomy, and elected Judge
President for life. Keep in mind that "autonomy" within the T.S.
is not the same as creating another Society.
Olcott's response to the news of the American Section's
autonomy can be found in the Supplement to the Aug. 1895
as a declaration of "autonomy," Olcott declared it an act of
"succession," and declared null and void the original charter
Olcott had issued for the Section in 1886. He also annulled the
charters of all of the Lodges that went along with Judge.
Therefore, it was Olcott, not Judge who split the Society.
Regarding the unpublished documents I mentioned in the
beginning, that would throw more light on the case:
1. The Mahatma letters that Judge was supposed to have
forged would have been in Besant's and Olcott's possession. They
have never been published, though every other extant Mahatma
letter that we know of has. I think publication of these
"letters" in their entirety is not too much to ask in the name of
2. Judge's side of the Judge-Olcott correspondence is in the
Adyar archives. They have been seen by several people I know and
knew. Considering that fact that Olcott's charges--that Judge
was trying to take the Presidency away from him--are based upon
this correspondence, in the name of fairness, I think they should
be published in their entirety.
3. Olcott's side of the Judge-Olcott correspondence is in
the Pasadena Archives. Since Judge made no charges against
Olcott based upon his correspondence, their publication is of
less importance in light of the Judge Case. However, if Judge's
side would be published by Adyar, then Olcott's side should also
be published in the name of helping to get a complete picture of
I find it curious that Adyar never published the "evidence"
they have against Judge. It certainly doesn't seem to be a
matter of scruples. In 1931, ~The Theosophist~ published a
series of letters from Judge to Olcott, dated around 1882-83.
Though they have no bearing on the "Judge case" they do not show
Judge in his best light, as Judge this series was written during
the lowest time in Judges life. During 1882-83, his son had
died, he was estranged from his methodist wife, who did not
approve of theosophy. He was along in the U.S., with no support
from India to continue the T.S. in America. The text of these
letters show that he was pretty desperate for that support.
Anyway, in the December 1931 issue of ~The Theosophist~ the
series of letters were ended with this editorial note:
We suspend the further publication of the letters of W.Q.
Judge with this letter which records his arrival in Bombay,
whence he passed on to the Societies Headquarters at Adyar. The
letters were published with two objects: first, to give new
matter to the historians of the Theosophical Society and
Movement, who are many; second to show how futile is the attempt
made by some Theosophical Organizations to dethrone Colonel
Olcott form his rightful place by the side of H.P. Blavatsky and
put in his place W.Q. Judge. It is true that in 1893 wide
divergences of views took place between H.S. Olcott and W.Q.
Judge, and that their friendship was broken completely when Mr.
Judge seceded form the Society in 1895 and organized the
"Theosophical Society in America". That Society then claimed
that it was the original Parent Society, and that it had never
left the United States.
The letters already published show that a warm friendship
existed between the two, and the expressions of gratitude in some
of the letters from the younger towards the elder reveal how deep
was that attachment on both sides. Nor was there the slightest
sign that Mr. Judge ever doubted in any manner Colonel Olcott's
position as the leader and his, W.Q. Judge's, as loyal assistant.
My observation is that Besant, who was editor of ~The
Theosophist~ when this series ran, had the opportunity to prove
the points she makes in this editorial by publishing the
correspondence that is relevant to the issue she is addressing--
i.e. the Judge Case. Why didn't she?
To sum up, I submit my humble opinion, based upon the
available evidence, that the underlying issue had more to do with
who would control the T.S., than whether or not Judge forged
If interest in this discussion continues, I will try to find
time to discuss in more detail Besant's six accusations against
Judge, and other documents germane to the Case.
A> When I was in Adyar at the beginning of the year, I was
> interested to see that there was no mention of CWL at all
> (except "Leadbeater chambers" still bears the same name and his
> photograph), even though Besant is very much respected and even
> idolized by many of the Indian people. And of course
> Krishnamurti is quoted all the time.
A friend upon returning from Adyar once told me that he had
observed there that the official policy concerning Leadbeater was
"that he doesn't exist, and there is nothing wrong with him in
the first place." Thank you for your experiences, which seems to
confirm my friend's.
> My personal view is that he cracked under the considerable
> strain of chelaship. I think many of his books are good and
> very clearly written. Some of you might have seen a video made
> by some Australians who attended the Wesak festival in remote
> Tibet, which was exactly as he had described it - although the
> "politically correct" had, I understand, already started
> omitting his sketches of the festival from "The Masters and
> the Path" as being too fanciful.
Interesting view you have concerning C.W.L.--I think it is
probable. Damodar seems to have been the only probationary chela
that was finally accepted.
Concerning the video, I would very much like to see it. Is
it for sale? Where might I be able to obtain this video? Who
would have the background information on this group? Can it be
substantiated that this is a group has been meeting at least
before 1908?--which is about the time Leadbeater first shared his
"vision." Or is it possible, that this ceremony was set up in
imitation of the one portrayed by Leadbeater?
> Doesn't HPB comment in one of her essays on "practical
> occultism" or "chelaship" that a large number of the members
> of her inner group cracked under the strain, one way or
> another- suicide, madness, crime, immorality etc. I don't
> think we should ignore the good work CWL did do - but
> acknowledge his failings as the same time.
Yes HPB said things to that effect in a lot of places. Yes,
I agree, we should throw away anything of value in C.W.L.'s
writings. On the other hand, we also need to evaluate it in
light of his dark side. For instance, I had a recent
conversation with someone who just finished reading ~The Elder
Brother.~ She made the comment, that she found it hard to accept
anything that CWL taught concerning invisible planes etc.,
considering that fact that he couldn't tell the truth concerning
his age, number of people in his family, his profession, his
father's profession etc. I think this is also a reasonable
Thanks for your interesting contribution concerning the
Judge case. There are a couple of points you made, that I would
PJ> After HPB's death, Judge produced Mahatma letters to Besant
> and gradually persuaded her to side with him against Olcott,
> whose resignation was demanded and obtained in 1892 (I think)
> but later withdrawn.
Olcott submitted his resignation early in 1892, and withdrew
it later that year. As you know, his reason concerned fear that
a sexual scandal concerning him would get out. Some recommended
that he resign, but this is the first I heard that it was
demanded. What's your source?
PJ> Although warned that Olcott was planning to kill her, Annie
> disregarded this,...
What is your source for this?
I tried to send a message to your box, and it was returned
with the message "Deferred: bad file number." Did you receive
it anyway? Please let me know.
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