The Theosophical Society in America

The Cant about "Masters"

Originally printed in the Summer 2011 issue of Quest magazine. 
Citation: Koot Hoomi. The Cant about "Masters"
. Quest  99. 3 (Summer 2011): 96 - 97.

Koot Hoomi's Last Letter to Annie Besant

      In 1900 one B. W. Mantri of India wrote a letter to Annie Besant, dated August 22. When Besant opened it, she found on the back a letter written in blue pencil and in the handwriting of the Master Koot Hoomi. This is K. H.'s last letter.

     The letter has been reprinted in part in C. Jinarajadasa's Letters from the Masters of Wisdom, first series (Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1919), pp. 123—24. But Jinarajadasa published the letter in an abridged form, leaving out some of the more strongly worded passages. He claimed, somewhat incorrectly, that these parts "refer to the occult life of Dr. Besant which only the Master could have known."

     The letter was reprinted unabridged in The Eclectic Theosophist (Sept.-Oct. 1987), page 1. We are reproducing it in full below, including the passages omitted in Jinarajadasa's edition. Spelling and punctuation follow the original.

     The letter is noteworthy for several reasons. In the first place, it dates from 1900, nine years after the death of H. P. Blavatsky, which strongly suggests that Blavatsky could not have been the author of the Mahatma Letters, as current academic scholars argue. It also warns against worship of the Masters, credulity in spiritual matters, and outmoded forms of religious observance. The disparaging opening reference to the writer of the original letter is rather amusing.
—Richard Smoley

      A psychic and a pranayamist1 who has got confused by the vagaries of the members. The T. S. and its members are slowly manufacturing a creed. Says a Thibetan proverb 'credulity breeds credulity and ends in hypocrisy'. How few they are who know anything about us. Are we to be propitiated and made idols of. Is the worship of a new Trinity made up of the Blessed M. Upasika and yourself to take the place of exploded creeds.2 We ask not for the worship of ourselves. The disciple should in no way be fettered. Beware of Esoteric Popery. The intense desire to see Upasika reincarnate at once has raised a misleading Mayavic3 ideation. Upasika has useful work to do on higher planes and cannot come again so soon. The T. S. must safely be ushered into the new century. You have for some time been under deluding influences. Shun pride, vanity and love of power. Be not guided by emotion but learn to stand alone. Be accurate and critical rather than credulous. The mistakes of the past in the old religions must not be glossed over with imaginary explanations. The E. S. T.4 must be reformed so as to be as unsectarian and creedless as the T. S. The rules must be few and simple and acceptable to all. No one has a right to claim authority over a pupil or his conscience. Ask him not what he believes. All who are sincere and pure minded must have admittance. The crest wave of intellectual advancement must be taken hold of and guided into spirituality. It cannot be forced into beliefs and emotional worship. The essence of the higher thoughts of the members in their collectivity must guide all action in the T. S. and E. S. We never try to subject to ourselves the will of another. At favourable times we let loose elevating influences which strike various persons in various ways. It is the collective aspect of many such thoughts that can give the correct note of action. We show no favours. The best corrective of error is an honest and open-minded examination of all facts subjective and objective. Misleading secrecy has given the death blow to numerous organizations. The cant about "Masters" must be silently but firmly put down. Let the devotion and service be to that Supreme Spirit alone of which one is a part. Namelessly and silently we work and the continual references to ourselves and the repetition of our names raises up a confused aura that hinders our work. You will have to leave a good deal of your emotions and credulity before you become a safe guide among the influences that will commence to work in the new cycle. The T. S. was meant to be the cornerstone of the future religions of humanity. To accomplish this object those who lead must leave aside their weak predilections for the forms and ceremonies of any particular creed and show themselves to be true Theosophists both in inner thought and outward obedience. The greatest of your trials is yet to come. We watch over you but you must put forth all your strength.

K. H.



[1]  A practitioner of pranayama, a regimen of yogic breathing practices.

[2]  "M." refers to Morya, Koot Hoomi's fellow adept. Upasika, a Sanskrit word meaning "female disciple," refers to H.P. Blavatsky.

[3] Illusory; from the Sanskrit maya, "illusion."

[4] The Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society.