Sunday, August 8, 2010

Blavatskiana: the Hodgson Report, Pt 2

No mention of the Hodgson report would be complete without reference to the response of Theosophists, especially that of K.F. Vania and Victor Endersby.

Vania was author of Madame H. P. Blavatsky, Her Occult Phenomena and the Society for Psychical Research published in Bombay, India, in 1951. The book looked at Hodgson’s report in detail, especially in the Indian context, noting where it was in variance with the facts. 

Endersby’s The Hall of Magic Mirrors was published in New York in 1969. It also took a detailed look at Hodgson’s report, especially in relation to the “Shrine,” a cabinet that hung in a room adjacent to Mme. Blavatsky’s residence at the theosophical headquarters at Adyar. The shrine was noted as a means for communicating with the Mahatmas. Letters were put into the shrine and replies were received therein, sometimes instantaneously. Mme. Coulomb, a housekeeper at the headquarters claimed that she helped remove and insert the Mahatma replies. But as Michael Gomes observes in his Coulomb Case, she was not able to produce the collateral evidence necessary to substantiate her claim, that is, any of the correspondence put into the shrine that she claimed to have removed from it.

Both Endersby and Vania had some commonalities: both self-published their books, and both were intimately involved with the United Lodge of Theosophists but later fell out of favor with this group. Vania knew B.P. Wadia, a leading Indian member of the group, but left to pursue his research on the defense of Blavatsky, eventually becoming a member of the Blavatsky Lodge of the Theosophical Society in Bombay, the oldest surviving branch of that organization. Endersby was actively involved with the United Lodge of Theosophists in Los Angeles in California but later ran afoul with its leadership. He went on to publish his own journal, Theosophical Notes, from December 1950 to April 1978. Jerry Hejka-Ekins has a revealing biographical study of him, “Victor A. Endersby, a Pioneering Independent Theosophist,” in Keeping the Link Unbroken: Theosophical Studies Presented to Ted G. Davy on His Seventy-fifth Birthday, edited by Michael Gomes in 2004.

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