OLD DIARY LEAVES, Second Series (1878-83)
by Henry Steel Olcott
PHENOMENA AND PANDITS
THIS being our first year in India, every scene and experience had the charm of novelty, and we enjoyed them like children. It was something, after all, to be suddenly transferred from prosaic America and its atmosphere of mad haste and bitter commercial competition, to the calm and mental peace of hoary India, where the sage had first place in public estimation and the saint was exalted above all princes. Scarcely any head would have been unaffected by the intoxication of the popular love and seeming reverence that we received, the delightful discussions of philosophy and spiritual ideals, the contact with high-thinkers and noted scholars, the ever-changing, picturesque daily incidents of our wanderings. I, who had passed through the social hurricane called the war of the Rebellion, and the tumult of a long public service, was moved to a degree I can now, with my present knowledge of Pandits and their ways, hardly realize, by a meeting of the Literary Society of Benares Pandits, convened on 21st December in my honor. The President was Pandit Ram Misra Shastri, Professor of Sankhya in Benares College, and the other officers his colleagues. It was a typical Oriental assemblage,
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every one present, except myself, being dressed in Indian garb, and every face representing the highest Aryan ethnical type. On arrival I was received with every mark of courtesy and conducted to the seat of honor by the learned President. Coming in from the glare of sunshine, it took a little time for my eyes to get accustomed to the dim light of the brick-paved, cool room, in which a fine scent of sandalwood and tuberose blooms hung in the air. Amid a perfect silence, broken only by muffled sounds of rumbling vehicles and the jangling brass discs of ekkas, that came from the distant street, addresses of welcome were read to me in English, Sanskrit, and Hindi, expressive of the pleasure the Pandits of Benares had felt on hearing of the interest taken by our Society in Sanskrit Literature and Indian Philosophy; bidding me heartily welcome, and promising their lasting sympathy and goodwill. In my reply, I took the opportunity of pointing out what an immense service the Benares Pandits could, with the help of English-knowing graduates, do to the cause of Aryan learning by inventing Sanskrit equivalents for the numberless terms derived from the Greek and Latin, which were employed in scientific writing. For example, they might make Sanskrit synonyms for Oxygen, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Carbon, Electricity, Magnetism, Attraction of Cohesion, Gravity; the names of chemical elements and compounds; those of Biology, Botany, Geology, etc., etc., etc. Practically, I had already discovered when being interpreted into an Indian vernacular, that, in my remarks upon Modern Science and its relations with Ancient Science, my
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interpreters had to merely pronounce the technical words without translation, and hence without conveying to, say, an orthodox Pandit who had never read a Western scientific book, the least idea of what was meant. Sanskrit was abundantly rich in terms denoting every object, substance, physical or mental condition, law, principle, ideal, etc., connected with philosophy, psychology, and metaphysics, and the West would be forced to either coin new equivalents for them or take them over into its various tongues as, in the course of time, the Theosophical Society and other popularizing agencies spread Eastern views throughout the world. But the need of the hour in India was to make it possible for every undergraduate and graduate to see for himself how much the Aryan thought was in harmony with modern scientific discovery, how his ancestors had traversed the whole field of knowledge, and how proud and glad he ought to be that he was of their blood, the heir of their wisdom. Some discussion ensued between the Pandits and myself, in which I cited many instances of the necessity for a new nomenclature, with the result that the Society voted unanimously for the appointment of a Philological Committee. I was also honored by election as an Honorary Member of the Society, and after the usual garlanding, rosewater-sprinkling, and distribution of betel and pân, the meeting broke up. In turning over the leaves of the First volume of the Theosophist, I find an essay by Pandit Ram Misra Shastri upon "The Vedanta Darsanâ," from which, to give an idea of the fondness of the Eastern mind for hyperbole, I venture to quote the following:
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"Here in the land of Benares, fragrant as it were with the stores of knowledge, arrived Colonel Olcott, with a mind earnestly desirous of acquiring the knowledge of the manners, customs, mechanical and other arts and sciences of the ancient Aryas, and having formed friendship with the members of the Brahma-mritavarshini Association, showed at a meeting of that assembly a very great liking for the Indian Philosophies (the Darsana Shâstras).
"Methinks that although he is born in a foreign land, yet he is assuredly a native of India, inasmuch as in him the effect of the original antecedent relationship has shown life afresh, and he has made not infrequent efforts towards the good of India. Nevertheless, enough with such series of conjectures. The fact, however, still remains that he longs to know the philosophy (the Darsanas) of our country and, being desirous of spreading in foreign countries the knowledge of the Vedanta Darsana, invited earnestly and not infrequently Vedantic contributions to their famous journal which, as it were, acts the part of the moon in expanding the lotus of Indian Wisdom."
From this meeting I went to pay my respects to Professor G. Thibaut, Ph. D., Principal of Benares College, and an old pupil and protégé of Professor Max Müller. I found him a most agreeable man, deeply versed in Sanskrit, yet without pretence or pomposity: in short, a real specimen of the German litterateur. From thence to see Mr. Wall, the local Magistrate and Collector; a title meaning nothing to Western people, but here in India designating the official who rules
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almost despotically over more or less millions of Hindus in a given district, to whom he is at once the Providence, the Jupiter Tonans, and all the gods and goddesses "rolled into one".
That evening there was a glorious moon, shining day-bright out of a sky without a cloud. Doctor Thibaut, the College Sanskrit Pandits, Babu Pramâdâ Dâsâ Mitra, Swami Dyânand, Mr. Ram Rao, one of Swami's disciples, Damodar, Mrs. Gordon, H. P. B., myself, and others, whose names are not recorded, sat on chairs and a large Indian carpet, on the platform at the head of the steps, with the moon turning our white bungalow into an ivory palace and silvering the water of the lotus tank before us, and discoursed on Aryan themes. The Swamiji was, of course, heterodox in that he denied that idol worship was authorized by the Vedas, the primal source of all inspired religion, the foundation of Brâhmanism in particular. Babu Pramâdâ Dâsâ and the College Pandits were intensely orthodox, i.e., idolaters; sc the reader may fancy the warmth and volubility of the debate, to which Dr. Thibaut and we others, Europeans, gave impartial attention. Every now and then H. P. B. would get translated to her something that had been said and thereupon "take a hand in," to our great amusement; for she was so deliciously witty and unreservedly outspoken as to be irresistible. What made us laugh the more was, that her most comical outbursts would be received with unruffled solemnity by the Hindu professors, who had probably a congenital incapacity for joking, and could not form to themselves the least idea of what this prodigious.
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woman was driving at. Then she, seeing this, would turn to us with obstreperous energy and curse the others for a pack of bigoted fools!
At last, some of the Pandits took leave, and the rest of us went within and continued the conversation. There were H. P. B., Mrs. Gordon, Dr. Thibaut, the Swami, Pramâdâ Babu, Ram Rao, Damodar, and myself present. The talk was upon the subject of Yoga "Matam Plavatsky," said Dr. Thibaut, in his strong German accent, " dese Pandits tell me dat, untoutedly, in te ancient times dere vere Yogis who hat actually teveloped the Siddhis tescribed in the Shâstras; tat dey could too vonterful tings; for instance, tey coult make fall in a room like dis, a shower of roses; put now nobody can do dat. "I ask my friend's pardon for transcribing his then accent and words, but the scene comes back to me so vividly that I can almost hear him speaking. He can get his revenge the first time he hears me speak German! I see him now; as he sat on a sofa to H. P. B.'s right, with his frockcoat buttoned to his chin, his intellectual, pale face as solemn as though he were pronouncing a funeral oration, and his hair cut as short as it could be, and standing up like spikes all over his head. He had no sooner pronounced the last word than H. P. B. started up in her chair, looked scornfully at him, and burst out: "Oh, they say that, do they? They say no one can do it now? Well, I'll show them; and you may tell them from me that if the modern Hindus were less sycophantic to their Western masters, less in love with their vices, and more like their ancestors in many ways they would not have to make such a
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humiliating confession, nor get an old Western hippopotamus of a woman to prove the truth of their Shastras!" Then, setting her lips together and muttering something, she swept her right hand through the air with an imperious gesture, and bang! on the heads of the company fell about a dozen roses. As soon as the momentary shock of surprise was over, there was a scramble for the roses, but Thibaut sat as straight as a post and seemed to be casting it up, pro and con, in his mind. Then the discussion proceeded with renewed vivacity. The Sankhya was the topic and Thibaut put many searching questions to H. P. B., which she answered so satisfactorily that the Doctor said that neither Max Müller nor any other Orientalist had made so clear to him the real meaning of the Sankhya philosophy as she had, and he thanked her very much. Towards the end of the evening, in a pause in the conversation, he turned to H. P. B. and –always keeping his eyes fixed towards the floor according to his habit—said that, as he had not been so fortunate as to get one of the roses that had so unexpectedly fallen, might he be favored with one “as a souvenir of this very delightful evening"? Those were his very words. His secret thought probably was, that if the first floral rain had been a trick she would not be ready for a second, if taken unawares! "Oh yes, certainly," she said, “as many as you like.” And, making another of her sweeping gestures, down fell another shower of flowers; one rose actually hitting the Doctor on the top of his head and bounding into his lap as .he sat bolt upright. I happened to be looking at him at that moment and
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saw the whole incident. Its effect was so funny as to set me off into a fit of laughter. He gave a little, very slight start, opened and shut his eyes twice, and then taking a rose and looking down at it, said with imperturbable solemnity: "De veight mooltiplied py te felosity, proves dat it moost haf come from a creat distance." There spoke the hard savant, the unimaginative scholar, who reduces all life to an equation, and expresses all emotions by algebraical signs! The story of the discomfiture of the larking Paris students, who had dressed up one of their number in a bull's hide, rubbed phosphorus over the eyes and lips, lay in wait for the learned Cuvier in the College Campus one dark night, and with bellowings sprang out before him in the hope of giving him a start, came to my mind. As everybody knows, the legend is that the great naturalist merely paused a moment, looked at the silly apparition, said: "Humph! hoofs; horns; herbivorous"—and walked quietly on, leaving the ambushed students crest-fallen enough. Let that be as apocryphal as one pleases, this Benares incident is the simple truth, as everyone present win attest.
But we had not done with the evening's surprises. Dr. Thibaut finally took leave and I conducted him to the entrance, where I lifted the purdah (curtain) to give him egress. Damodar followed after me with the light—a student reading-lamp with shade, vertical rod for the body of the lamp to slide upon, and a ring at top to carry it by. H. P. B. also left her seat and was approaching us. The Doctor and I exchanged a remark on the
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beauty of the night, shook hands and he turned to go. I was just dropping the curtain when I saw on H. P. B.'s face that strange look of power which almost always preceded a phenomenon. I called back our guest and pointed to H. P. B., who spoke never a word until she took the lamp from Damodar's hand, held it by her left forefinger, looked fixedly at it, pointed at it with her right forefinger and in an imperious tone said: "Go up!" The flame rose and rose until it came to the top of the chimney. "Go down!" said she: it slowly descended until it burnt bluish at the wick. "Go up!" she exclaimed, “up: I command you." The obedient flame once more mounted to the top of the chimney. "Down! " she cried; and once more it sank to the point, almost of extinction; whereupon she returned the lamp to Damodar, nodded to the Doctor and went into her bedroom. This, again, is a plain unexaggerated tale of what really happened in our presence. If the sceptic would explain away the rose-shower incidents by the, theory of confederacy,1 at least here was one instance of a genuine phenomenon to which the theory of fraud does not apply. She said it was very simple: a Mahatma was there, invisible to all but herself, and he had just turned the lamp up and down while she spoke the words. This was one of two explanations given by her at different times, the other being that she had power over the elementals of
1 I should have mentioned that when the two roses dropped in Mr. Sinnett's presence (see Chap. VIII), he and I at once hurried to the staircase leading to the roof-terrace, ran up, and searched about for any possibly concealed confederate. We found no one.
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Fire, and they obeyed her commands. I think this is the more probable of the two. As for the facts, they are indisputable, and everybody is free to attach his own theory to them. To me, the incident was one more in a long series going to prove her possession of real and extraordinary psychical powers; facts upon which I could fall back whenever her good faith might be challenged by her critics or impugned by her own indiscretions of language and of actions. Here intimate friends believed in her in spite of her often feverish outbursts of temper, when she would declare herself ready to shout from the housetops that there were no Mahatmas, no psychical powers, and that she had simply deceived us from first to last. Talk of ordeals and trials of faith! I doubt if any neophytes, postulants, or disciples ever had to undergo fiercer ones than we. It seemed her delight to drive us frantic with her vagaries and self-accusations, she knowing all the while that to us doubt was impossible in view of our experience with her. That is why I hesitate to place the least value on her so-called “Confession” to M. Aksakof of her having had a turbulent and disreputable past. In fact, I had for years in my possession a bundle of old letters which proved her innocence of a certain grave fault that she has been charged with, and her having deliberately sacrificed her own reputation to save the honor of a young lady who had met with a misfortune. But let me not be drawn into further digression. Time will vindicate the memory of this most unhappy victim of social injustice, and meanwhile her books and her teachings stand as her imperishable monument. My
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souvenirs of those long years of our common work, their struggles, sorrows, and successes, will help to show her in her true character, and, while written with the candor of the historian, they will, I hope, reflect also the spirit of loving friendship which animates their author.
After all our visitors had departed the Swami sat along with us, explaining to Mrs. Gordon the philosophy of such phenomena as we had had shown us. A note in my Diary reminds me of the intense interest with which he had watched H. P. B. while they were in progress, and, whatever he may have said later, when he chose to break with us, there is not the slightest doubt as to his having been perfectly satisfied of their genuineness at the time.
Mrs. Gordon left for her home the following morning. Dr. Thibaut came and stopped until it was our time to go to the train, and we reached Allahabad in time for dinner, and spent a quite evening with our kind friends, the Sinnetts. The next day H. P. B. and I were given a reception in town by leading Hindu gentlemen, at the Allahabad Institute, and I made an address upon "Ancient Aryavarta and Modern India," which drew out several fervid responses at the close, and a vote of thanks, with the obligatory garlands and scented-water sprinklings. H. P. B. was also coaxed into making a brief discourse, and acquitted herself admirably.
Callers, discussions, dinner parties, and evening gatherings at the house filled up our few remaining days at "Prayâg," the holy city—as Allahabad used to be called. On 26th December I received
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Mr. and Mrs. Sinnett into membership, the ceremony being made unusually interesting by a voice replying "Yes, we do" to my question whether the Masters heard the pledges of the candidates and approved of their admission into the Society. Truly, events have amply proved the value of their accession to our then small membership. On the 30th, at 8 p.m., we left for Bombay after this most delightful visit, passed two nights in the train, and reached home on New Year's Day, 1880. On the same day of the previous year, we were tossing on the stormy Atlantic, and yearning for Bombay. Our Indian life began in clouds, treachery, and disappointment; the year closed in bright promise for the future! Friends gained, obstacles surmounted, enemies baffled, our Magazine founded, the ties becoming stronger that were to bind us for life to India and Ceylon. On 31st December I wrote: “This day we have 621 subscribers to the Theosophist,” and, however paltry that may sound to Western people, accustomed to the wonderful statistics of their journals, it was a very respectable circulation for India, where the leading daily papers of Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras have only 1,500 to 2,000 names on their mailing registers!
The first formal meeting of the Theosophical Society, as a body, in India, was held on 4th January, 1880, in the Library.
The growing business of the Theosophist made a deal of work for us, for, being too poor to hire helpers, we had to do the packing, addressing, and pasting, as well as the editorial duty. In addition to which was the ever-growing correspondence to look after;
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so that I seldom got to bed before a late hour. This month the Magazine began to pay its way.
To keep up the interest of our members I undertook a course of weekly lectures at the Library on Mesmerism, Psychometry, Crystal-reading and allied subjects, with experimental illustrations. I treated them all from the point of view of their evidential value in the problem of the superior consciousness of man. A number of our members proved excellent sensitives, and the attendance was always large at the meetings.
We received, 15th January, from Russia the news that H. P. B.'s first Indian letter on the Caves and Jungles of Hindustan had made a great stir; everybody was talking about it. On 1st February we all witnessed a special performance by students of Elphinstone College, of a play called "Harischandra," which deeply interested us. This was not only an account of its novelty and picturesqueness to us Westerns, but also because we saw unfolded in this drama the undoubted prototype of the Biblical story of Job. So we few beyond the Red Sea know the Purânic story of Harischandra that I am tempted to reproduce from Ward's History of the Hindus the following brief summary: with an important prefix, however. The story, as told in Harischandropâkhyâna, recites that a sort of wager was made by the two great Rishis, Vashistha and Visvâmitra, on the subject of King Harischandra's inflexible virtue: the one declaring him to be the most perfect among mortals, the other replying that he had never been properly tested. If he had had to suffer the miseries of
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common men, his virtue would have collapsed. The dispute ended in an agreement that Visvâmitra should be free to plague the king until he was satisfied as to his pre-eminent merit. The story taken by Rev. Missionary Ward is from the Markandeya Purâna. His omission to note the resemblance to the almost identical story of the temptations and victory of Job is rather amusing. Here is his version:
Harischandra's Kingdom extended over the whole earth; he was so famed far liberality that Visvâmitra, the sage, desirous of seeing the extent of it, went to him and asked a gift. The king promised to grant him whatever, he would ask. The sage demanded his kingdom and it was granted. He then asked for the fee which accompanies a gift, which the king promised to give in a month. But where should the king reside, since he had surrendered the earth to Visvâmitra? The latter ordered him to go to Benares, which was not reckoned a part of the earth. Visvâmitra, tearing a piece of cloth into three pieces, divided it amongst the king, the queen, and their son, and the family departed; the king attempted to take with him a gold drinking-cup, but Visvâmitra prevented him. They were nearly a month in walking to Benares, where they ad hno sooner arrived than Visvâmitra came and demanded the fee. The king asking from whence he should procure this, seeing he had surrendered his all, the sage directed him to sell his wife. A covetaus Brahmin bought her, who allowed her food only once a day.
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Visvâmitra, now complained that the sum raised by the sale of the queen was too little, and refused to accept it. The king was then led round the market, with a blade of grass in his hair, to signify that he was for sale, when a man of the lowest caste bought him and made him a swineherd and superintendent of the place where the dead are burnt. With the money thus raised the fee was paid and Visvâmitra returned home.
Harischandra's son remained at the house of the Brahmin with his mother; but the Brahmin resolving that he should not live idle, sent him daily to gather flowers in a forest, near a hermit's hut of leaves, where they broke down the trees and did much mischief; upon which the hermit forbade them once, twice, thrice, but they still continued obstinate. At last he denounced a curse on the next boy who should dare to transgress, and Harischandra's son was soon bitten by a snake and died. The distressed mother entreated the Brahmin, her master, that, as they were of the Kshatriya caste, the dead body might not be thrown into the river. The Brahmin promised to send wood to burn the body, when the mother, carrying her child to the landing place, where they burn the dead, laid it down and began to weep aloud and bitterly. Harischandra was aroused by her cries and, going to the spot, saw a female who had brought a dead body to be burnt. He demanded the usual fee for liberty to bum the corpse. She in vain pleaded that she was a poor widow, and could give nothing; he demanded that she should tear the cloth in two which she wore and give him the half
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of it, and was proceeding to beat her with the iron crow in his hand, when she wept and began to tell him her miserable tale; her descent; that she was the wife of King Harischandra, and that this dead child was her son. All the feelings of horror, sorrow, and love started up in his bosom at once, and he confessed to the poor broken-hearted mother that he was her husband, the father of the dead child—that he was Harischandra. The woman was unable to believe him, but he related some secrets that had passed betwixt them when king and queen, from which she knew he must be Harischandra. She then .put his dead son into his arms, and they both sat down and wept bitterly. At last, resolving to burn themselves with the dead child, they prepared the fire, and were about to throw themselves into it, when Yama and lndra arrived, and assured Haris-chandra that they had assumed these forms and carried him through these scenes to try his piety, with which they were now completely satisfied. They raised the dead child to life and sent the king and queen to take possession of their kingdom.
The plot of the play that we saw represented followed the lines of the Harischandrapokhyânâ, the -curtain rising in the Prologue upon a scene in Indra's Heaven, with the two Rishis in debate together, and falling on the exit of Visvâmitra to put Harischandra to the test. Everyone to his taste, but it seems to me a much better beginning of the story than that given in Job i, 6 to 12; for here are two equals—advanced human adepts—wagering together, while in the other
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case the Devil with impunity intrudes into the presence of God, sneers to His face about the sham virtue of His devout servant, and instead of being blasted where stood, actually provoking the "Lord" into giving a most deserving, pious, and innocent man into the power of the "Adversary" to morally vivisect!
The anniversary of the landing of our quartette at Bombay—15th February—was celebrated by our working all day, save when receiving visitors; by Mr. William Scott, D.P.W., dining with us; and by my sticking to my desk until 2 a.m.
About this time I proposed the institution of a Medal of Honor. From the Theosophist for March, 1880, the following excerpt shows the object in view:
“The said medal to be of pure silver and made from Indian coins melted down for the purpose; and it shall be suitably engraved, stamped, carved, or embossed with a device expressive of its high character as a Medal of Honor. It shall be annually awarded by a committee of native scholars, designated by the President, to the native author of the best original essay upon any subject connected with the ancient religions, philosophies or sciences; preference being given, other things being equal, to the occult or mystical branch of science as known and practised by the ancients."
An admirable committee was selected, and the offer published from time to time, but neither of the essays sent in was thought worthy of such a
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distinction. Babu S. K. Ghose and other friends sent me some very ancient Indian coins for the purpose, and they are still in my custody. The object was, however, substantially realized by the foundation of the T. Subba Row Medal at the Convention of 1883, which has been awarded to Judge P. Sreenivasa Row, Mme. H. P. Blavatsky, Mr. G. R. S. Mead, and Mrs. Annie Besant, for specially meritorious Theosophical publications.
On 4th March, a European lady of Northern India, wife of a high military officer, was admitted into the Society, and I mention the fact merely to recall a circumstance which shows the utter lack of social relations between the two races. After the ceremony of admission of the candidate was concluded, I called on several of our cleverest Parsi and Hindu members to express any sentiments of goodwill and fellowship that they would wish the new lady member to convey to our colleagues in London. Short speeches were made by Messrs. Seervai, Deshmukh, Mooljee, Patwardhan, and others, their views being given in excellent taste and perfect English. Mrs. M. was "astonished and delighted" —she said—to find so much intelligence among the natives. In her eighteen years of residence in India she had never even spoken to any Hindu but her servants! And she, the wife of a high officer. A very much more important acquisition to our membership was that of Khan Bahadur N. D. Khandalavâla, one of the ablest men on our rolls, who was admitted at a special meeting of the Society on 9th March. The application for membership of Baron
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J. Spedalieri, of Marseilles, one of the most erudite Kabalists of Europe and chief pupil of the late Eliphas Levi, reached us on the 19th of the same month. The same month brought us a Collector and Magistrate of the Punjab, a C. S., as a candidate. On the evening of the 25th, H. P. B., Damodar, and I had an experience of a most delightful character, which I have related elsewhere from memory, but which must now be repeated in its proper place from my notes of the same evening written in my Diary.
We three had driven out in the open phaeton that Damodar had presented to H. P. B., to the farther end of the causeway known as Worli Bridge, to enjoy the cool sea-breeze. A magnificent electric storm was raging, unaccompanied with rain, the flashes being so vivid as to light up the neighbourhood almost like day. H. P. B. and I smoked and we all chatted about this and that, when we heard the sound of many voices coming from the seashore to our right, from a bungalow situated on a transverse road not far from the corner where we sat. Presently a party of well-dressed Hindus, laughing and talking together, came in sight, passed us and entered their carriages, which were drawn up in line on the Worli Road, and drove off to town. To see them, Damodar, who was sitting with his back to the driver, stood up and looked over the box. As the last party of convivial friends were coming abreast of our carriage, he silently touched my shoulder and motioned with his head that I was to look at something in that direction. I stood up and saw behind the last group a single human figure approaching. He, like the others, was
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dressed in white, but the whiteness of his costume positively made theirs look grey, as the electric light makes the brightest gaslight appear dull and yellow. The figure was a head taller than the group which preceded him, and his walk was the very ideal of graceful dignity. As he came about as far as our horse's head, he deflected from the road in our direction, and we two, to say nothing of H. P. B., saw that it was a Mahatma. His white turban, and dress, mass of dark hair dropping to his shoulders, and full beard, made us think it was "the Sahib," but when he came to the carriage-side and stood not more than a yard from our faces, and laid his hand on H. P. B.'s left arm as it lay on the carriage body, and looked us in the eyes and responded to our reverential salutations, we then saw it was not he, but another, whose portrait H. P. B. wore, later, in a large gold locket, and which many have seen. He spoke no word, but quietly moved towards the causeway, taking no notice of, nor, seemingly, exciting any from the Hindu guests as they rolled away in their carriages towards the town. The recurrent blazes of electric light lit him up as he stood by us; and as his tall form showed against the horizon and the dark earth of the causeway, I noticed, too, that a lamp of the last of the carriages threw him up in high relief when he was some fifty feet away from us and on the causeway. There was no tree or bush to screen him from us, and, it may be believed, we watched him with intense concentration. One instant we saw him, the next he was gone; disappeared, like one of the lightning flashes. Under the strain of excitement
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I jumped out of the carriage, ran to the spot where he was last seen, but no one was there. I saw nothing but the empty road and the back of the carriage that had just passed.