Damodar K. Mavalankar – Interview with a Mahatma

[From The Theosophist, August, 1884.]

I had the pleasure of seeing in several issues of the Theosophist articles describing my interview with a Himalayan Mahatma. But I am sorry to see that you have been led or rather misled to form some strange, if not incorrect, notions about the fact, and also regret to find that some positive mistakes have been made by the writer in reporting the matter to you. In order to make the matter more clearly known to you, I beg to write the following few lines and trust they will meet with your approval.

At the time I left home for the Himalayas in search of the Supreme Being, having adopted Brahmacharyashrama, I was quite ignorant of the fact whether there was any such philosophical sect as the Theosophists existing in India, who believed in the existence of the Mahatmas or “superior persons.” This and other facts connected with my journey have already been reported to you perfectly right, and so need not be repeated or contradicted. Now I beg to give you the real account of my interview with the Mahatmas.

Before and after I met the so-called Mahatma Kouthumpa, I had the good fortune of seeing in person several other Mahatmas of note, a detailed account of whom, I hope, should time allow, to write to you by and bye. Here I wish to say something about Kouthumpa only.

When I was on my way to Almora from Mansarowar and Kailas, one day I had nothing with me to eat. I was quite at a loss how to get on without food and keep up my life. There being no human habitation in that part of the country, I could expect no help but pray God and take my way patiently on. Between Mansarowar and Taklakhal by the side of a road I observed a tent pitched and several Sadhus, called Chohans [*the correspondent probably means “the Chutuktus” or the disciples? Chohans are the “Masters”], sitting outside it who numbered near seventeen in all. As to their trimmings, &c., what Babu M. M. Chatterjea reports to you is all correct. When I went to them they entertained me very kindly, and saluted me by uttering “Ram Ram.” I returning their salutations, sat down with them, and they entered upon conversation with me on different subjects, asking me first the place I was coming from and whither I was going. There was a chief of them sitting inside the tent and engaged in reading a book. I enquired about his name and the book he was reading from one of his Chelas, who answered me in rather a serious tone, saying that his name was Guru Kouthumpa and the book he was reading was Rig-veda. Long before, I had been told by some Pundits of Bengal that the Thibetan Lamas were well-acquainted with the Rig-veda. This proved what they had told me. After a short time when his reading was over, he called me in through one of his Chelas, and I went to him. He also bidding me “Ram Ram” received me very gently and courteously and began to talk with me mildly in pure Hindi. He addressed me in words such as follows: — “You should remain here for some time and see the fair at Mansarowar, which is to come off shortly. Here you will have plenty of time and suitable retreats for meditation, &c. I will help you in whatever I can.” Having spoken in words as above for some time, I said in reply that what he said was all right, and that I would put up with him by all means, but there was some reason which prevented me from stopping there any longer. He understood my object immediately, and then having given me some secret advice as to my future spiritual welfare bade me farewell. Before this he had come to know that I was hungry that day and so wished me to take some food. He ordered one of his Chelas to supply me with food, which he did immediately. In order to get hot water ready for my ablutions he prepared fire by blowing into a cowdung cake which burst into flames at once. This is a common practice among the Himalayan Lamas. It is also fully explained by M. M. Chatterjea and so need not be repeated.

As long as I was there with the said Lama he never persuaded me to accept Buddhism or any other religion, but only said, “Hinduism is the best religion; you should believe in the Lord Mahadewa — he will do good to you. You are still quite a young man — do not be enticed away by the necromancy of anybody.” Having had a conversation with the Mahatma as described above for about three hours, I at last taking his leave resumed my journey.

I am neither a Theosophist nor any sectarian, but am the worshipper of the only “Om.” As regards the Mahatma I personally saw, I dare say that he is a great Mahatma. By the fulfilment of certain of his prophecies I am quite convinced of his excellence. Of all the Himalayan Mahatmas with whom I had an interview, I never saw a better Hindee speaker than he. As to his birth-place and the place of his residence, I did not ask him any question. Neither can I say if he is the Mahatma of the Theosophists. In short, I beg to ask the leaders of the Theosophic movement, Col. Olcott and Madame Blavatsky, why they are entertaining doubts as to his personality, why do they not refer the matter to the Mahatmas, with whom they can easily have communication. When they say they receive instructions from them in petty affairs, why do they not get them in a matter which has become a riddle to them. As to the age of the Mahatma Kouthumpa as I told Babu M. M. Chatterjea and others, he was an elderly looking man. Cannot the Mahatmas transform themselves into any age they like? If they can, the assertions of Babu Damodar cannot be admitted to be true when he says his Guru was not an old one. When the age of even a common man cannot be told exactly, how is it possible to be precise about the age of a Mahatma, specially when one believes that the Mahatmas have the supernatural power of changing their outward appearance and look. It must be admitted that our knowledge of them is far from being complete; and there are several things concerning them which we do not know.

It is said that [[Sanskrit characters]]

ALMORA, 3rd June 1884


Note. — Although the correspondent begins by saying that certain “incorrect notions have crept into the narrative of his interview with a MAHATMA, I fail to see a single statement of Babu Mohini M. Chatterjee contradicted by the Brahmachari. As the former gentleman is in Europe, he cannot give a reply to the above letter; but the reader can compare it with Mohini Babu’s statement on pp. 83-86 of Vol. V of the Theosophist[“The Himalayan Brothers — Do They Exist?”; reprinted in Five Years of Theosophy, pp. 459-69]. All that the correspondent does now is that he gives a few additional facts.

As regards the Brahmachari’s remark about my statement concerning the MAHATMA’S age, the reader will perceive that the correspondent but repeats, in other words, to a certain extent, what I have already said to be the reply of my MASTER (Vide page 62, Vol. V. Theosophist, col. 1, para 1) [“A Great Riddle Solved.” — EDS.]. I may, however, add that since “intellect moulds the features,” many of the comparatively young persons (if physical age be taken into account) look “elderly,” such is the majesty of their appearance. The question has already been discussed at length in the article “Mahatmas and Chelas” [an unsigned editorial, probably by H. P. Blavatsky; republished in Five Years of Theosophy, pp. (2-95.-EDS.] in the last month’s Theosophist, and in several other writings.

The question put by the correspondent to Col. Olcott and to Mme. Blavatsky, and the advice he offers them, are rather confused. But every reader of the Theosophist knows full well that the Founders collect and publish independent testimonies about the existence of the MAHATMAS, not because they have any doubt in the matter, but because they wish to put their case as clearly and as strongly as possible before an enquiring public. Nothing more need be said about it, as every searcher after truth — in whatever department — knows full well the weight and validity of evidence, especially concerning facts which are out of the reach, at present, of the ordinary run of mankind, although these facts may in the process of higher evolution come more and more within the grasp of a more developed humanity. — D. K. M.


[From The Path, February, 1896.]

 [NO DATE.] [Written from Wurzburg. — EDS.]

My Dear Doctor: — Two words in answer to what the Countess told me. I do myself harm, you say, “in telling everyone that Damodar is in Tibet, when he is only at Benares.” You are mistaken. He left Benares toward the middle of May, (ask in Adyar; I cannot say for certain whether it was in May or April) and went off, as everybody knows, to Darjeeling, and thence to the frontier via Sikkhim. Our Darjeeling Fellows accompanied him a good way. He wrote a last word from there to the office bidding goodbye and saying: “If I am not back by July 21st you may count me as dead.” He did not come back, and Olcott was in great grief and wrote to me about two months ago, to ask me whether I knew anything. News had come by some Tibetan pedlars in Darjeeling that a young man of that description, with very long flowing hair, had been found frozen in the (forget the name) pass, stark dead, with twelve rupees in his pockets and his things and hat a few yards off. Olcott was in despair, but Maji told him (and he, D., lived with Maji for some time at Benares,) that he was not dead — she knew it through pilgrims who had returned, though Olcott supposes — which may be also — that she knew it clairvoyantly. Well I know that he is alive, and am almost certain that he is in Tibet — as I am certain also that he will not come back — not for years, at any rate. Who told you he was at Benares? We want him sorely now to refute all Hodgson’s guesses and inferences that I simply call lies, as much as my “spy” business and forging — the blackguard: now mind, I do not give myself out as infallible in this case. But I do know what he told me before going away — and at that moment he would not have said a fib, when he wept like a Magdalen. He said, “I go for your sake. If the Maha Chohan is satisfied with my services and my devotion, He may permit me to vindicate you by proving that Masters do exist. If I fail no one shall ever see me for years to come, but I will send messages. But I am determined in the meanwhile to make people give up searching for me. I want them to believe I am dead.”

This is why I think he must have arranged some trick to spread reports of his death by freezing.

But if the poor boy had indeed met with such an accident — why I think I would commit suicide; for it is out of pure devotion for me that he went.* I would never forgive myself for this, for letting him go. That’s the truth and only the truth. Don’t be harsh, Doctor — forgive him his faults and mistakes, willing and unwilling.

*The fact is that Damodar was never asked to go to Tibet, but begged to be permitted to go there, and at last went with permission of H. P. B., on which occasion I accompanied him to the steamer. — H. [Evidently Hartmann. — EDS.]

The poor boy, whether dead or alive, has no happy times now, since he is on probation and this is terrible. I wish you would write to someone at Calcutta to enquire from Darjeeling whether it is so or not. Sinnett will write to you, I think. I wish you would.

Yours ever gratefully,

H. P. B.


 Letter CLXXIX

[Sent from Torre del Greco, July 16, 1885.]

[From The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett. — EDS.]

. . . Now that our Damodar is away in Thibet and nothing is known at Adyar about him, and as Respected Sir does not care a fig for anything but his own affairs, the Masters find no facility for communicating direct with anyone at Adyar. . . .**

**[This letter is unsigned, but is in the handwriting of Babajee, a young Brahman and a probationary chela, who was sent to help H. P. Blavatsky when she went to Europe in 1885. His real name was S. Krishnamachari, but he also called himself Dharbagiri Nath. — EDS.]

Damodar K. Mavalankar

 [Supplement to The Theosophist, July, 1886.]

To relieve the anxiety of a great many friends who have been anxious to learn the fate of our brother Damodar K. Mavalankar, and to dispel the rumours of his death which came by way of Sikkim and Darjeeling, we are very happy to state that we have positive news as late as the 7th of June that he has safely reached his destination, is alive, and under the guardianship of the friends whom he sought. The date of his return, however, is yet uncertain, and will probably remain so for a long time to come.