H. P. Blavatsky and the SPR by Vernon Harrison

Copyright ©1997 by Theosophical University Press. All rights reserved.


Opinion

On the basis of the Hodgson Report itself and of the primary evidence available to me, I give it as my OPINION that:

1) The Hodgson Report is not a scientific study. It reads like part of a judicial inquiry recording only the address of the Counsel for the Prosecution. There is no address of a Counsel for the Defense, no cross-examination of the Prosecution's chief witnesses, no recall of Defense witnesses rejected by the Prosecution, and no Judge's summing up.

2) Richard Hodgson was either ignorant or contemptuous of the basic principles of English Justice. No court would accept his testimony.

3) In cases where it has been possible to check Hodgson's statements against the direct testimony of original documents, his statements are found to be either false or to have no significance in the context. This applies in particular to Three Cardinal Statements on which hangs his whole contention that Madame Blavatsky wrote the Mahatma Letters herself in a disguised hand in order to deceive.

4) Having read the Mahatma Letters in the holographs, I am left with the strong impression that the writers KH and M were real and distinct human beings. They had their fair share of prejudice and were influenced by the viewpoint of their time.

5) Who KH was I do not know, but I am of the opinion that all letters in the British Library initialed KH originated from him. The basic characteristics of his handwriting are present from first to last, but in the earliest letters in particular there are variations in and distortions of some of the characters. These variations do not bear the hallmark of the apprentice forger.

I am satisfied that the Mahatma Letters were not dictated to chelas who wrote them in their own handwriting. However, it is stated in the letters themselves that many of them were transmitted in KH's handwriting by chelas using "precipitation" or what seems to be a human FAX process. If this suggestion is plausible, it could be that the chelas were having difficulty with the system at first, which had to be "debugged." Most of the "debugging" must have been done within a fortnight.

6) I draw attention to curious and unexplained features of the KH letters, namely the clear, regular striations of some of the writing apparently made with blue pencil (Fig. 11), the small amount of ink penetration even when thin "rice" paper was used, the unexplained features of the erasures seemingly made with ink eradicator yet without staining or roughening of the paper, the variability of some (but not all) of the characters and the (at times) grossly exaggerated t-bars. These features suggest that the documents preserved in the British Library may be copies, made by some unknown process, of originals which we do not possess.

7) It is almost certain that the incriminating Blavatsky-Coulomb letters have been lost or destroyed, but there is strong circumstantial evidence that these letters were forgeries made by Alexis and Emma Coulomb, who had strong motives and ample means for doing so.

8) I have found no evidence that the Mahatma Letters were written by Helena Blavatsky consciously and deliberately in a disguised form of her own handwriting developed over a period of several years, as claimed by Richard Hodgson. That is, I find no evidence of common origin between the KH, M, and HPB scripts. In any ordinary legal case I would regard them as different scripts and attribute them to different authors.

9) If any of the KH and M scripts came through the hand of Madame Blavatsky while she was in a state of trance, sleep, or other altered states of consciouness known to psychologists and psychiatrists, KH and M might be considered sub-personalities of Helena Blavatsky. To what extent the sub-personalities are independent is a matter for debate; but in no case would conscious fraud or imposture be involved. Nor does this supposition circumvent the difficulty that there are KH letters which even Hodgson had to admit Madame Blavatsky could not possibly have written as she was too far away at the time and communications were bad.

10) I am unable to express an opinion about the "phenomena" described in the first part of the Hodgson Report. All eyewitnesses and items of firsthand evidence are gone, and I have no way of checking whether any of the reported "phenomena" were genuine; but having studied Hodgson's methods, I have come to distrust his account and explanation of the said "phenomena."

11) H. P. Blavatsky was known to be highly complex and hard to understand. There are still many unanswered questions concerning her life and work. However, I am of the opinion that in any future assessment of her, the "Report of the Committee Appointed to Investigate Phenomena Connected with the Theosophical Society," published in 1885 by the Society for Psychical Research, should be used with great caution, if not disregarded. It is badly flawed.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I HAVE MADE MY AFFIDAVIT DATED THE 27th DAY OF FEBRUARY 1997, NOW LODGED WITH THE INTERNATIONAL HEADQUARTERS OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY, PASADENA, CALIFORNIA, USA, A COPY OF WHICH HAS BEEN SENT TO THE SOCIETY FOR PSYCHICAL RESEARCH, LONDON, ENGLAND.

— Vernon Harrison


Affidavit

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