Where is the postrider rushing in his “Urton” blog about the Mongolian world, once he has stepped on a quest for the truth? (“Urton” or “өртөө” in Mongolian, may the author of the blog forgive me for another parallel drawn from the Mongolian vocabulary, means a relay station.) It is not urton duty that he is serving, while taking on his shoulders a heavy burden of restrictions of the induction method! Me too, following him, I will allow myself a "deviation from the academic genre."
For quite a long time I have not had time to make summarizing comments on the issues raised by the Buddhologist translator S. Kuvaev in his article "Sources of Information about the Religion and Culture of Tibet in “The Mahatma Letters”" and his response to its review in this author's blog (“On False and True Mahatmas”; hereinafter – “On False...”). However, as times are uneasy and unpredictable nowadays, and they require from everyone to distinguish spirit from letter as never before, I will find a possibility to speed myself up and finally respond. As it turns out, soon followed an addendum to the blog (“Memo to the critics-Roerichites”) that admonishes the theosophists and Roerich followers of the lack of attention and no response to possible subsequent criticism in case the critics are careless about a list of questions he had compiled. I do not seek to get a follow-up response and I am not, in the generally accepted sense, either a translator of theosophical literature, as the author called me, or a "venerable follower of the Roerichs," for whom, in the author's mind, it became possible, as for himself, to fall into "the trap of defective editions by Roerichs’ followers." Still, when mentioning Hume from the letter No. 81 in “On False... ,” the author "fell once again into the trap," and not "almost" at all: he again uses the chronological numbering by V.H. Chin (based, in its turn, on extensive research of G.E. Linton and V. Hanson), rather than the previously stated one, used in the other fragments, namely by A.T. Barker. At the same time, S. Kuvaev believes that, "for obvious reasons, there is no scientific publication of the ML [“The Mahatma Letters” – E.T.]." Not quite guessing what reasons are obvious to him (and whether various editions of the ML at least in other languages, including in electronic form, for example [The Mahatma...], and containing analytical and reference material written by professional orientalists and Buddhists, are also unscientific), I will mention the selected letters in the edition of “Ligatma,” which contain reference material [Chasha... 2007]. These, however, also contain erroneous explanations of terms from Oriental languages.
According to S. Kuvaev, the questions he posed in the memo to the material from “unscientific” publications, apparently, should in their totality once and for all with all obviousness prove the author's main idea: not only “Mahatma Letters,” but also works of H.P. Blavatsky are products of her and possibly her associates’ fantasy. Moreover, they should prove that the desire for falsification often visited the founder of the theosophical movement in connection with the creation of these written works.
S. Kuvaev states that in the initial response, written in a very short period of time, "E.V. Turley considered it possible to resort to some personal arguments." However, the main and, most importantly, self-sufficient argument (the need to at least mention in passing the arguments that he must have read many times from the authors he had studied and that obviously did not suit him in any way) is not from the ad hominem category and in this very article from scientific (!) collected works was not present. He was alleging, "Blavatsky's statements about the methods of correspondence of the “mahatmas” are already known." At the same time, the author, resorting to the ploy of petitio principii, calls such arguments unreliable (being a Buddhist, he does not make a point of the skepticism based on the current paradigm of the scientific majority regarding the arguments’ plausibility, but contrasts them with particularly science-based alternative explanations that are based only on everyday experience). Isn't this the main reason for excluding them from consideration as something established as impossible? Naturally, established as satisfactorily as, according to his assurances, "the authorship of these letters was quite satisfactorily established in the end of the XIX century" (the article from the collected works also says that there are numerous critical studies which "invariably [! – E.T.] yielded results that denied the validity of the myth she popularized about the “Tibetan esoteric brotherhood”"). This is despite the fact that until now fully academic collections have been published where the authorship of the Mahatmas may not be excluded (among other hypotheses mentioned there), for example in [Imaganing... 2020]. Therefore, in the words of the author, "such a subject of research in our time would be, to put it mildly," just relevant enough.
Moreover, one can visit the British Museum and examine for oneself with a magnifying glass the ink deposited on the original ML, as G. McNamara, who was once treasurer of the Theosophical Society of England, did in 2006 and found evidence of ink deposition by a method similar to printing methods available only since the XX century [McNamara 2006]. One can try to assess independently or with the help of an expert this method of ink deposition following him and other researchers. V. Harrison, among others, drew attention to the method of depositing and even imprinting ink particles deep into the paper [Harrison 1997], which was uncharacteristic for writing and printing devices known at that time, when he re-examined “that very” report of R. Hodgson from the Society for Psychical Research which in 1885 had equally "satisfactorily established" that H.P. Blavatsky was a charlatan and the ML had been falsified. V. Harrison was a Doctor of Philosophy, Chartered Physicist and Chartered Engineer, Fellow of the Institute of Physics, Honorary Fellow and Past President of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain, Fellow of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He was an experienced professional examiner of questioned documents: his ten-year work as a researcher in a company that took part in the production of banknotes for more than 150 national currencies, as well as passports or identification systems for more than 65 countries, also played a role. The results of his research were summarized in a 1986 press release of the same Society for Psychical Research. The old report was then labeled by the Society as untrustworthy (and before V. Harrison there had been many other criticisms of this biased and shoddy study [Tyurikov]). It is remarkable that ardent supporters of the falsification hypothesis in their works, if they mention the Hodgson report, often forget to mention the discrediting of the report and R. Hodgson as a researcher which happened more than a century after its publication. It is likely that these authors also "had to shorten" the mention of this important fact as "completely redundant" "to fit the format." They would imply it is "already known to everyone who has at least some interest in the early history of Theosophy." (Then in the article, the author should have omitted also the history of finding inconsistencies in the ML – this too should be "known to everyone".)
At last, in “On False...” a similar omission with theosophical justifications of ML's inconsistencies was to some extent filled by the author – naturally, with pointing out the insufficient, in his opinion, validity of the corresponding arguments. Probably the author did not consider it possible to get acquainted with a more detailed apologia with respect to the incidents of this and other kinds in such classics of theosophical literature as the volumes by B. Hastings mentioned in the review or a biographical book by S. Cranston [Cranston 1993]. However, if this topic really does not interest the Buddhist minister that much, then why not concentrate, as has already been suggested, on the problem of the disputed origin of that part of the Buddhist texts which is quite available for study. And this can be seen not "as unsolicited advice of a spiritual nature," but as advice of a quite scholarly nature. With proper effort, the findings could enrich, at the very least, Buddhology, as well as provide an opportunity for those on the path of painstaking research into the artifacts of thought to draw their own conclusions.
Now as for the additional conclusion established in the course of my study that the omission that occurred makes his work less objective precisely in the light of his publicly known activities of a religious nature, which, like theosophical works, are not understood by academic science in very similar aspects. S. Kuvaev himself makes the personality of H.P. Blavatsky as an object of study and considers it quite possible to bring in his rhetoric arguments that are similar in form, but not in coherence. Thus, being convinced of H.P. Blavatsky's desire to falsify her sources of wisdom, he calls to consider "Blavatsky's undoubtedly remarkable intellectual capacity and memory" with her lack of proper study of the Tibetan language as an argument for her lack of "genuine interest in Tibetan Buddhism, its teachings and literature." By the way, it was her contemporary opponent M. Müller [Müller 1893] who wrote back then about the fact that H.P. Blavatsky, despite her abilities, did not give herself time to the study of ancient languages, without which it is allegedly impossible to study Buddhism.
The attitude to the subject of study by orientalists and religious scholars like M. Müller, who declared that there can be nothing esoteric in Buddhism (but there is a distorted understanding of illiterate theosophical proselytes who do not speak oriental languages properly), is exactly this very orientalist paradigm, for which the author reproached H.P. Blavatsky. In the mentioned collected works [Imagining... 2020], in which there is also a place for the traditional criticism of the sources and motives of theosophists cut from every cloth in general and H.P. Blavatsky in particular, the so-called positive orientalism of theosophy is spoken about. It is implied that the first theosophists sought to convey to Western minds a thesis that despite the markedly less favorable socio-economic situation in the countries of the East, including China and, above all, India, their spiritual heritage and philosophical and metaphysical apparatus are not largely surpassed and should serve as an important component of development of the uniting humanity in the future.
Further, I will go through a number of inaccuracies and unsupported assumptions, expressed in the two main texts of the author on this topic, and I will give comments in a wider context, repeating the main arguments, which, by and large, are many decades old; except that S. Kuvaev complemented them with new illustrations. In the article’s course, there will be touched upon information and reasoning which answer the questions of the notorious memo – an amulet from some fanatical and uncritically thinking theosophists and Roerichs’ followers, which are present as, however, similarly minded persons in any other spiritual-philosophical movement. There will also be a specific answer to the last question, because it has been answered by more than one generation of theosophists, also in a way apparently paradoxical for S. Kuvaev. At the same time he, quite probably, found it difficult to pose himself a similar question in relation to the much more familiar Buddhist doctrine, although, as stated in the last version of the review, there are reasons for that – at least, if one follows S. Kuvaev’s own methodology.
Distorted sounds and non-native languages
After the introduction, upon dedicating a couple of paragraphs to the correction of minor errors, S. Kuvaev moves on to one more consideration of "extremely problematic etymologization": "... he [i.e., Turley – E.T.] comes to appeals to – nothing more nor less – titular denominations of Kievan Rus." Although it is not clear why, having realized the arguments adjacent in the delimited block of text as belonging to V. Bazyukin, S. Kuvaev attributed references to the sources of Ancient Rus to me, but really how many ways the ancient Mongolian title of ruler (khan) was reflected in the early medieval sources in the Latin alphabet: Chagan, Kagan, Chaganum, Chaganus, Caganus. And yes, being reflected in many languages, which are not native or even to some significant extent familiar to me and S. Kuvaev, it also reached Kievan Rus.
S. Kuvaev notes that "in one of Roerich's diary notebooks from 1951 there is a writing “Chohan”," and on this basis he already suggests that "probably towards the end of her life she nevertheless realized that she had read this word incorrectly before" and concludes that "all of Turley’s [i.e. V. Bazyukin’s, for whom H. Roerich's opinion in questions of theosophy, in general, does not matter much – E.T.] subsequent arguments about kagans, kohens, etc., turn out to be vain." Indeed, perhaps the only time in her epistolary legacy that H. Roerich emphasizes a spelling of the term which was correct in her opinion it is earlier in 1938: "One should write “Dhyan-Kogan” or even “Dhyan Kagan," but by no means “Chohan”[Cho-khan] as it is found in Russian translations." [Rerikh 2006]. But no "quite satisfactorily established" reason for such a change in spelling is known, even if it lies in the lack of care in writing the unpolished diaries.
The same H.P. Blavatsky, besides the “dyan-chokhans” (this was the original magazine spelling, if transliterated from Russian), speaks also of such chohans: "Sitting with a chatara [maybe misspelled or alternatively spelled chikara – E.T.] in his hands on the floor, he [the Charan – E.T.] sang to us legends about the ancient prowess of the sons of his country, about the fall of Chittoor, about the heroic Chohans [or Chauhans – E.T.] (Thakur tribe) and about the bliss of dying for a duty of honor, for a word given, for the homeland... " [Blavatsky 2021:607–608]. She writes further about "the daughter of the king of Ceylon, Chauhan Hamir Sank" [Blavatsky 2021:614]. Since on the same page in a footnote there is a reference to a work of orientalist J. Tod, the story about Hamir Sank must have apparently been taken from there [Tod I 1920]. The work speaks about Padmini, the daughter of Hamir Sank, the Chauhan (not Chohan) of Ceylon (according to the version of the poet M.M. Jayasi, the legendary daughter of the Ceylon king Padmini had a father named Gandharvsen; there were also other versions of the legend). H.P. Blavatsky, who is surely familiar with the Sanskrit root "padma" (lotus), mistakenly refers not to Padmini, but to Padmani (or it is maybe due to confusion with her another name Padmavati). But in J. Tod's own story about Padmini some distortions were also made by him, and when reading the genealogy of the Kshatriya clan Sisodia he for some reason transformed Sekh to Sank [Sreenivasan 2007]. It turns out that H.P. Blavatsky also used the term transliterated as “chohan” in the sense of a ruler, after the name of a clan historically associated with various Rajput ruling families, which comes from the folk form of the Sanskrit Cāhamāna. The same J. Tod, in his three-volume book, providing a lot of information about this clan and its rulers, even drew a genealogical tree of the ruling Chauhans [Tod III 1920]. And now it is not uncommon to attempt tracing the ancestry of the Chauhans even from the Huns-Hephthalites.
However, could not H.P. Blavatsky during the transliteration mistakenly decide that the Dhyan-Chohans etymologically come from those Chauhans which she had in mind in the letter "from the caves and jungles of Hindustan" published in “Russky vestnik” (“Russian Herald”) the last? Then a version with Chohans not directly related to the Chauhans of India, or etymologically another version has a right to exist. Also, as the “Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge” suggest [Transactions… 1889], the Dhyan-Chohans (Dhyan-Cogans?) of theosophy are a rather general class of beings of the heavenly hierarchy (whereas the Dhyan-Buddhas mentioned in B.H. Hodgson and then C.F. Köppen are precisely characteristic of the worlds of human evolution, and the first five Dhyani-Buddhas have correspondence with the exoteric Five Tathagatas – according to the number of races in the theory of evolution revealed in “The Secret Doctrine,” hereinafter referred to as the SD). The etymology of Sanskrit-like and Tibetan-like theosophical terms has been extensively discussed earlier by a community of theosophists-researchers, including linguists [Stanzas 1; Stanzas 2]. By the way, they have also discussed the fallacy of originating the name of Potala from Phäg-pa. Not surprisingly, they have also discussed all the listed variants of origin of the word “Chohan.” But the origin of the epithet “Dhyani,” as well as the compound word’s ending that follows it, may not be at all from the now well-known Sanskrit or any other academically studied language, although the word parts may be similar – simply by virtue of the kinship of languages – to the corresponding words in Sanskrit or Tibetan and even have similar meanings. Thus, the sacred Kalki-avatar known from quite exoteric texts also has an unclear etymology of the name, although some specific hypotheses have their supporters.
And why not attribute the origin of the word “Chohan” and other mentioned words, as a hypothesis requiring additional confirmation, to the unknown Indo-Aryan (proto)language (which is also related to the Proto-Indo-European language being reconstructed) that can be given a conventional name of Senzar? But the catch is that this would definitely not suit the modern author of the research on H.P. Blavatsky. Judging by his expressive ellipsis in the text between Senzar as the language of initiates and Atlantis as its origin region, he does not see the possibility of mentioning both Senzar and Atlantis, except in the descriptions of some myths unworthy of linguistics and history as such.
One can certainly ignore the fact that even in the Soviet Union the book “Atlantis, Atlantology: Basic Problems” by N. Zhirov [Zhirov 1970] could be published even in English (of course, his doctoral thesis was far from Atlantology). The book, by the way, contained several rather critical pages about H.P. Blavatsky’s information. One can also disregard the fact that the prominent Tangutologist A. Terentiev-Katansky researched the subject of Atlantis and did not hesitate to mention it in his scientific works. By the way, if it were not for the texts in Tangut found in 1909 in Khara-Khoto by P. Kozlov, this Tibeto-Burman language would have remained almost unknown, nearly a legendary language. And Troy, too, for a long time was considered a fiction of the ancient Greek genius.
As for Senzar, it is known about it even less than can be found in the story of Atlantis, especially in terms of vocabulary (Russian-language transcriptions of a couple hundred words from H. Roerich's notes resembling Sanskrit, Latin, Greek, etc. are not of significant interest to the non-Roerichite part of theosophists). As for the more substantive studies on the language and its nature, there have indeed been few studies in the academic field. The most recent of these include, for example, the section by J. Santucci in the Oxford monograph mentioned above [Santucci 2020] and a booklet by J. Algeo, former head of several American philological societies [Algeo 1988]. However, the most interesting is the publication of 2013 by the same D. Reigle [Reigle 2013] mentioned by J. Santucci. After the above-mentioned preserved “Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge” (commentaries on the SD) were first fully published in English only in 2010 [The Secret… 2010], it finally became clear to D. Reigle that the Mahatmas’ Senzar has a phonetic rather than a pictographic writing (in fact, both may be involved, as hinted at, for example, by the theosophical “Theogenesis” in the first commentary on the 4th sloka of stanza IV [Theogenesis 1981]). He then decided to systematize the arguments that there was precisely a sacerdotal form of Proto-Indo-European language which left similar traces in both the Sanskrit and Pali Buddhist canon, as well as in the Jain canon in Ardhamagadhi prakrit. In the references he cites, he naturally also points to traces in Vedic Sanskrit. For instance, G. Roerich had a pupil, T. Elizarenkova, whose husband V. Toporov, one of the founders of the Moscow-Tartu school of semiotics, prepared for print under George Roerich's editorship a Russian translation of “Dhammapada” (at that time only by rapid and unconventional actions of G. Roerich its circulation was saved from arrest, which led to further attacks on the latter and to his health giving way, after which he soon died). As a translator of the Rigveda into Russian, she showed not only the presence of prakritisms in the most ancient of the known Vedas, indicating in favor of an unknown language of earlier unknown sacred texts that is less contaminated by vernacular words (many Sanskrit scholars conducted similar work in the XX century), but also noted the features of the corresponding syntax [Elizarenkova 1989].
The fact that saying mantras out loud can have serious effects on the body can be still accepted only as a scientific hypothesis (it is just that in the past psychophysiologists could register changes under the influence of mantras in ordinary organisms, and recently, with the assistance and blessing of the Dalai Lama XIV, research into various states of consciousness of Buddhist monks has intensified [Medvedev et al. 2022]). But such a statement is not surprising to many Buddhists. So, in the hypothetical Senzar protolanguage of the sacred texts the sounding and rhythmic of the words may well cause a similar effect in some cases. This could explain why H.P. Blavatsky writes in the Proem of the SD that there it is opted for "using the Sanskrit and Tibetan proper names whenever those cannot be avoided, in preference to giving the originals. The more so as the said terms are all accepted synonyms, the former only being used between a Master and his chelas (or disciples)." But Sanskrit and Tibetan may be not native to the members of the Brotherhood to which the Mahatmas belong, which has already been said before. Therefore, in the light of the explanations given earlier by the theosophists, it is also not surprising that "the Tibetan terms and words found in the Letters go back to only a few European books." That seems to be the case, if we are talking only about the ML and some publications of H.P. Blavatsky.
But to end with Tibetan linguistics, we can mention a few more points connected with the non-native language, concerning which S. Kuvaev even decided to conclude that "the Tibetan language is a completely new and practically unfamiliar area for him [me – E.T.]." It is amazing where only his knowledge about the novelty of the subject comes from, but that the area is practically unfamiliar (although at a level of quite skillful searching for sources of lexicography and ways of reading information in an unfamiliar alphabet!) – this was already declared in the review itself.
Thus, speaking of the abbreviation “byang chub spyod pa” (bodhisattva behavior), "to deduce from this that “byang chub” can mean “bodhisattva” in the Tibetan language" is certainly not worthwhile: it was only a question of whether the corresponding abbreviation occured or not. This assumption was made as a hypothesis within the framework of the parasemantic phenomena known for many languages. And outside of a strictly linguistic approach, many things are possible, given that the words were chosen by those who did not know the language.
The preface to “The Chalice of the East,” by the way, immediately states, "These letters, passed third-hand, of course, are subject to consequent effects not only of the amanuenses, but also of time." This book, as it is known, did not include all the ML, and some of them were abridged, with only the notorious “chang chub” (which, however, is quite consistent with the related concept) being included out of those attributed by S. Kuvaev to purely linguistic bloopers. In the original edition, it remained in Roman characters “Byang chub” at all. However, one should take into account that the first edition of “The Chalice of the East” in New York was published rather poorly prepared, with many misprints, and later the translator made numerous corrections, and modern editions also take into account the spelling from her later translation of the SD [Chasha... 2007].
I also note that the telepathic reception of messages stated by theosophists cannot be likened to a fax machine. What is transmitted is a meaning that is verbalized in the mind of the perceivers and therefore is inevitably affected by their personal characteristics, taking into account their background, including linguistic knowledge (as well as their ability to handle dictionaries and language textbooks). Even “scientifically accurate” pronunciation can change dramatically over the centuries. Theosophy itself, as stated in a number of well-known theosophical texts, only gives impetus to the knowledge of timeless wisdom, which is only partially and fragmentarily expressed in human languages – with varying degrees of effectiveness and nuances, depending on the language means.
In general, S. Kuvaev repeatedly makes hints in his publications that, like modern followers of the “Bongo-Bongo” approach and contributors of the folk etymology, who see distorted Sanskrit everywhere and are convinced that the native speakers of Russian and Sanskrit can easily understand each other, H.P. Blavatsky suffered linguistic carelessness, though on selfish grounds. In particular he speaks "about the name of Koot Hoomi (in fact, taken by Blavatsky from a fresh English translation of Vishnu Purana [Vishnu ... 1866: 60-61], and after it was quickly revealed, mercilessly distorted by her in order to disguise this)." It is only unclear why about a possible (but not really asserted) connection of Koot Hoomi with a hero of Vishnu Purana (as well as, according to H.P. Blavatsky, other Puranas) she writes about (“acknowledges”) only in 1883 [Blavatsky 1883], whereas Koot Hoomi signs his letter with a signature different from how his name is spelled in Vishnu Purana ("distorts in order to disguise" it) back in 1880 [Boer 2018]. And in 1884 she already opposes the “Western Buddhist” A. Lilly, whose works on the subject of religions were also poorly received by academic researchers, as follows. She alludes to the fact it was never claimed that the name Koot Hoomi is Tibetan (and this hereditary Brahman came from Punjabis who had once settled in Kashmir), but the author of the book “Koot Hoomi Unveiled” should have looked into the glossaries of the Moravian Brothers to see whether it also has a meaning in Tibetan [Blavatsky 1884]. By the way, in this answer to A. Lilly one can find the spelling “Byang Tisub” for the familiar “chang chub”; it is not known who made the misspelling – the editor, proofreader, typesetter or author – but, as it was known earlier, H.P. Blavatsky had, despite her numerous explanations and use of terms from Eastern languages, a rather modest understanding of these languages, at least some of them; and, as one can judge from many of her writings, she was really not very picky about transcription. According to the religious scholar U. App, H.P. Blavatsky under the glossaries had in mind that very handwritten 1866 dictionary of H.A. Jaeschke, with regard to which S. Kuvaev writes in the article that H.P. Blavatsky "was not worried that Jaeschke's manuscript would ever come across to Hume or Sinnett in the foreseeable future" and that it "was apparently intended for the internal use of the mission in Western Tibet, existed only as a manuscript" and allegedly "was never published" (it may seem, he does not consider the autolithographic edition, which allowed the manuscript to be reproduced and deposited in several libraries around the world, a publication). Correspondingly, U. App, who also paid attention to the dictionary of 1866, gives no less plausible hypothesis than G. Roerich’s collaborator G. Chöphel mentioned by S. Kuvaev as to what meaning H.P. Blavatsky might attribute to Koot Hoomi’s name in Tibetan. It was in this dictionary that he found the words (s)“ku” ("an honorific prefix to form respectful terms for anything relative to the bodily existence of an honored person") and “thami” (which in H.A. Jaeschke's handwriting looks like “thumi,” although located between other words beginning with “tham”) – "inhabitant of a neighboring country" [App 2021].
Unfruitful Source Studies
In addition to the traditional study of lexicographic sources this time S. Kuvaev decided to carry out a cartographic expertise. "Why did “Chomto” become Blavatsky’s “Chamto”?" he asks a question and refers to inattentive reading of the lake's name on the map. Although why be untrue to herself if H.P. Blavatsky, unlike many contemporary orientalists and travelers with different spellings of terms and toponyms, "distorted it slightly" as usual?
But the map and the vast expanse of the Himalayas on it so captivate the author, who described Mahatma's recommendation to send the children of the Indian theosophist N.K. Banerjee to Tibet, that he is perplexed: "Needless to say, Bannerjee’s kids ultimately never went anywhere." It looks needless, indeed. The Indian pundits he mentioned earlier had mastered Tibetan to some extent, so why couldn't N.K. Banerjee’s children master it before the possible but not necessarily accomplished (like so many rejected Mahatmas’ instructions) trip? After all, the linguistic obstacles are not insurmountable (besides, there were H.A. Jaeschke’s dictionaries and T. Levin’s textbook available, not always accurate but quite useful and catching the author’s fancy), and the author knows about the intellectual and linguistic abilities of these children, apparently, no more than the ML say about it, that is nothing. However, this conjecture, not confirmed by published research, is not important in light of the totality of other arguments – accepted or rejected by readers.
S. Kuvaev further finds for himself that Koot Hoomi "quite unequivocally betrays his acquaintance" with a map in Markham's collected works, because... Koot Hoomi writes, "I crossed to the Horpa Pa La territory, – “the unexplored regions of Turki tribes” – say your maps ignorant of the fact that there are no tribes there at all" [letter No. 49]. However, the statement about the absence of the tribes remains unexplored, whereas the absence was confirmed after the publication of the map that happened two years before the letter No. 49 was written. The tendency to such understanding appeared in works of researchers who worked after the death of H.P. Blavatsky. In any case, such a conclusion can be drawn from the chapter XVI “The Hor-pas and Their Country” of G. Roerich's “Trails to Inmost Asia” [Roerich 1931: 331–371], which gained success among orientalists. In it he describes his observations made while staying on a high mountain plateau, where he with his companions and pack animals were locked up by officials of theocratic Tibet to starve. The renowned Tibetologist writes about the findings of other researchers in this way, supplementing with his observations of the tribal population:
"Recent authors seem to have a tendency to erase the name of Hor from the map of Tibet. Dr. Sven Hedin says in his great work, Southern Tibet: “The Tibetans call the Turks Hor or Hor-pa and the Mongolians Sok or Sok-pa (Sok-po). There are no Turks until you come to the northern side of the Kwen-lun Mountains. But in spite of almost all modern maps, there is no single Turk in the heart of the Tibetan Plateau land. And there is nobody else either, for the part of Tibet which is generally called Hor on our maps is not inhabited.”
Della Penna and Nain Singh, one of the ablest native surveyors of the Indian Trigonometrical Survey, called “Hor” the whole of the highland region west of the Nga-ri kor-sum Province, and the country north of the thirty-second latitude has been marked “Hor” on European maps. In reality, the name belongs only to the district of Jya-de, northeast of the Tengri-nor, and west of the Amdo tsho-nak. In Tibetan historical annals, the name “Hor” or “Jya-hor” commonly designates tribes of Mongol or central Asian origin, which, since the eighth to ninth centuries A.D. continuously overran Tibet and especially the northeastern border." [Roerich 1931:335].
It may be noted that in his youth G. Roerich showed willfulness and upset his parents also by the fact that he questioned some ideas from theosophical writings [Fosdick 2015]. However, in his mature years, having achieved world authority as an orientalist and linguist and expert on Asia (in his academic works he did not allow to appear things that were impossible to explain to his colleagues, who were not used to a differing language and a more comprehensive historical paradigm), in private life with people close to his aspirations he was quite unambiguous about the transcendental origins of the most important writings of theosophical type, as it follows from memories of various people who met him. And from the reminiscences of the sculptor A. Arendt it follows, for example, that he advised the writer and geologist I. Yefremov to take the SD quite seriously [Arendt 1994]. Although this did not shake the writer's opinion about a number of scientific errors in this work (whose author did not think that all the theories listed in it are necessarily true and did not declare that they all come from the High source), later he advised his correspondents interested in esoterics to pay attention to other parts of the book, including those containing the much-speculated Stanzas of Dzyan, whose source no one has ever definitely identified.
As for the toponyms from T. Sanders’ map, S. Kuvaev "unequivocally betrays" his ignorance of R. Taylor’s research book [Taylor 1999], which is more than relevant to the subject, because the latter had already found on that same map the location of the "librarian-archivist of Dalai- and Panchen-lamas" particularly well-known to S. Kuvaev. One can somehow understand why in S. Kuvaev's publications on H.P. Blavatsky there is no mention of H. Spirenburg's book “The Buddhism of H.P. Blavatsky,” where there is a detailed analysis of Buddhist terms from theosophical sources in comparison with Buddhist texts: its author was not a professional Buddhologist (which did not prevent S. Kuvaev from citing his other work in Dutch). One can also somehow understand the absence of the point of view on connection between Buddhism and theosophical sources of famous Buddhists E. Сonze and D.T. Suzuki: they, being also theosophists (which may seem to cancel “scientificity” of their works for certain persistent fans of demonstrating their knowledge in some Buddhist teachings), did not set themselves the goal in their works to prove in detail the authenticity of Buddhist concepts and doctrines in the theosophical context. But what was the fundamental difficulty in commenting on R. Taylor's reasoning, explicitly entitled “Blavatsky and Buddhism” [Taylor 1999], is unclear. Like any study, it is not undisputable, as other theosophists have also pointed out, but it was written by a Buddhist scholar from the University of California at Berkeley. The work, by the way, contains a large list of works known in the West on the subject of Buddhism and Tibet since 1817 – just good to investigate possible sources of Tibetan vocabulary and concepts used by theosophists and Mahatmas’ hapless chela.
Fascinated by his cartographic research of Lake Nganglaring, S. Kuvaev also reports that an Indian pundit hired by the British "incorrectly oriented the lake relative to the cardinal points" and that "there was no monastery at all on the lake," which was noted in a book by the first European to visit the lake S. Hedin. However, it is not clear why S. Hedin wrote that the Indian pundit pointed to the island as the location of the monastery (p.398 of the volume) – on T. Sanders map the inscription "Monastery" is simply next to the lake, on its eastern side. In his account of K. Singh's 1867 expedition, T. Montgomerie writes, "... the Pundit made diligent enquiry as to the adjacent countries; he was informed that <...> a smaller district, called Shellifuk, lay to the south [of Thok-Jalung]..." [Montgomerie 1868–1869]. That publication does not seem to have a map, but a publication neighboring in time, by the same author, on a route surveyed by an anonymous explorer from Nepal to Lhasa, has a map. On this map, the area of Shellifuk is not marked, but simply inscribed, with a note that there is a large lake in the area [Montgomerie & Pundit 1868]. Probably, T. Sanders in the given scale of the map had to draw the contours of the lake and a provisional island really to some extent at random (besides, it should be taken into account that small islets and lake boundaries can in principle change over time). At the same time, in the mentioned volume II of the book by S. Hedin, published in 1909, he mentioned a monastery in Selipuk (i.e. Shellifuk) south-west from the lake and even provided a watercolor image, testifying that at that time the monastery was still functioning (pp. 374–375). In the previously unplanned volume III, published in 1913, S. Hedin provided more detailed information about the monastery, such as that it was founded by a certain rinpoche named Gerung Lama, and that the appearance of the monastery showed it to be no more than 200 years old [Hedin 1913]. It is likely that Hedin's memory failed him when he mentioned the non-existent inscription “Monastery on the Island.” Therefore, it might not have occurred to him that the monastery on the plain of Selipuk seen near the lake (at a distance of less than one kilometer to the southeast, not southwest of the current lake limits) was the Nganglaring-Tso monastery stated on the map. Now that only ruins remain of the monastery, still visible from a satellite on Google maps, it is difficult to argue without further research that the toponym Nganglaring-tso could not indicate the monastery. All in all, in the context of the well-known T. Sanders’ map, mentioning the plain’s name that was not there as the name of the monastery, given the neighborhood of the named lake, would not have been so logical for the author of the letter, whose familiarity with the maps of European researchers was not concealed.
So, despite the fancied theme of objects sunken in the hydrosphere, there was no need for the monastery, "like the legendary Russian city of Kitezh," to disappear.
A wheel instead of Atlantis
Brand-new cartographic accents in S. Kuvayev's research alternate with the evidence of his former impatience: he wanted to find something (pseudo)Tibetan and related to Buddhism in the ML and some articles as quickly as possible, whereas concomitant things were explored occasionally. For example, he finds suspicious the use of a Mahatma's handwriting in an evidently erroneous phrase in Tibetan in the passage “about a goat and a Chohan”: "The supporters of Theosophy will undoubtedly say here that since the disciples' hand was guided by the suggestion of the “mahatma” when writing them, that is why the handwriting at the same time turned out to be mahatmian." What an invention of an Atlantis of falsification!
Probably, S. Kuvaev got carried away by searching mistakes in the ML and inattentively read the explanations of the letters’ authors themselves, whoever they may be. Therefore, I will have to expand my arguments in that direction, which, however, have already been mentioned in my review.
Letter No. 53 (beginning with "strictly private and confidential") tells us just how chelas could in certain cases reproduce a Mahatma’s handwriting: "Another of our customs, when corresponding with the outside world, is to entrust a chela with the task of delivering the letter or any other message; and if not absolutely necessary – to never give it a thought. Very often our very letters – unless something very important and secret – are written in our handwritings by our chelas." This is similar to the use of a facsimile in business: a manager entrusts an employee with its use in the manager’s absence.
Idiosyncrasies and errors are already possible from this description. So the acceptance of the stated mechanism of the creation of a letter and that what it contains – adjusted for errors due to the earthly factor – is more a matter of faith (but a person of rational knowledge can also find something that testifies in favor of the novelty of the scientific knowledge given then). As for issues of comparative religious studies, and even more so in relation to some occult doctrines, they belong to a highly debatable area, since many things from different fields of knowledge, especially the humanities, do not find consensus in the scholarly milieu, but a combination of ideas and approaches level out many of these differences. The content and value of theosophical knowledge are no different in this respect.
At one time in an article by A.T. Barker, a compiler of the ML, it was noted: "H.P.B. stated specifically, and more than once, that it was the rarest thing in the world for any one of the Mahatmans, or even for a high chela, personally to write a letter, i.e. indite any communication with his own hand. There are very, very few, very rare exceptions, such as one or two, it may be three, cases of direct precipitation from the Master or from a high chela, and possibly one or two brief notes, maybe a telegram or two, written by the Master's own hand" [Barker 1938].
Therefore, the question should not be why Mahatmas precipitated letters through disciples, but why they attracted inattentive disciples at all, or why they gave these letters, originally not intended for wide reading, so little importance and attention. The Mahatmas did so in opposition to the vanity and thoughtlessness of those recipients who thought that even their most minor experiences and immature considerations should have been given personal attention by those whose activities covered far greater things in the universe. H.P. Blavatsky herself fully answers such a question in her letter, which was written to a close and old friend at a moment of estrangement from her, caused by the report of the Society for Psychical Research on the phenomena she was producing, and published at first with cuts, as an article [Blavatsky 1893]. This letter, which most broadly and voluminously explains the mishaps that dozens, if not hundreds, of people have been catching for nearly a century and a half, contains in the special statement part her words, omitted in most theosophical publications for reasons of delicacy and now, as a consequence, because of their obscurity:
"… the only thing I can be reproached with – a reproach I am ever ready to bear though I have not deserved it, having been simply the obedient and blind tool of our occult laws and regulations – is of having 1) used Master's name when I thought my authority would go for naught, when I sincerely believed acting agreeably to Master's intentions*, and for the good of the cause; and 2) of having concealed that which the laws and regulations of my pledges did not permit me so far to reveal; 3) PERHAPS – (again for the same reason] of having insisted that such and such a note was from Master written in His own hand- writing, all the time thinking JESUITICALLY ... (*Found myself several times mistaken and now I am punished for it with daily and hourly crucifixion. Pick up stones, Theosophists, pick them up, brothers and kind sisters, and stone me to death with them for trying to make you happy with one word of the Masters!)" [H.P.B.’s... 1931].
Naturally, having read the full text of the statement, which also contains illustrations of the complexities of the process of transferring meanings through semantic spaces and sign systems available to the imperfect transmitters involved, one can still not believe in the sincerity of her who wrote it. And one can even carelessly assert that supposedly Helena Petrovna thereby herself admitted the falsity of the ML and the fabrication of conceptually important things in them. At that, in fact, she only repented of referring to a Mahatma, sometimes in vain, where she did not want to be limited by her authority, and of the assurance of a Mahatma’s authorship of some notes, written by his own order and in his handwriting, whereas the principal use of Mahatmas’ handwriting for the ML is already stated in them themselves. It has long been no great secret: she repented that she misestimated a number of her actions in her mission and probably thereby caused unnecessary consequences. And is it possible in principle to prove that she falsified something out of self-interest, rather than acting out of conviction in her supreme mandate, which she received to act for the good of all mankind and in accordance with which she could disregard certain generally accepted restrictions where she thought it permissible due to the effect it produced? On the contrary, it is worthwhile to look into the context of her life, full of oppression, but also of the appreciation of many people, including very prominent ones (of course, this itself could provide grounds for vanity) – this is partly what my review and the current publication are about. But then belief in a something still unproven by modern science, but accompanied by a large body of evidence can rather be countered only by conviction in her self-deception, a thing which any pretenders to a channel of communication with the Supreme were surely suspected of. Well, everyone is free to try on the role of judge, especially if they ignore the variously documented and substantiated considerations from the sources cited, and to pass their own “judgment” if they consider themselves worthy of such a role. It can only be noted that familiarity with background research in the form of that very book by R. Taylor would have led S. Kuvaev to such revelations, tempting by their seeming confession of self-serving and systematic falsification, much earlier because for this it was enough to stumble upon Appendix III of that book, representing that very statement.
Similarly, S. Kuvaev's question to the theosophists hangs in mid-air: "What in general allows them to be sure that this or that statement from the letters of “mahatmas” is conveyed without distorting the meaning?" Theosophists are not necessarily sure of this. An example of such a position (which is akin to that of those who follow Buddhism) is, for example, the article by H. Shearman [Shearman 1967], concluding like this: "The letters contain a vast range of very wise sayings and insights <...> But they do not constitute an infallible authority." That is, even outside the context of possible forgeries, this attitude could be derived from the information left by nineteenth-century theosophists.
In this case I will not go deep into the problem of those very mediums, whose forgeries were to beware, as it was cautioned, albeit in a vague context, in letter No. 92. I will only mention that "descriptions of pranks and forgeries by “brothers” who swarm in that sort of “channels”" [channels of communication used by A.P. Sinnett in his psychic experiments – E.T.], can be found e.g. in Letter No. 91b, received 1882 (?) and Letter No. 96, received 1883 or '84(?)" [Sova]. Also one such “suspicious” letter is mentioned on the website of the Dutch researcher K. Hesselink, which contains a lot of interesting discussion material regarding the difficult places of theosophy and the theosophical movement [Communications... 1952]. (It is noteworthy that after leaving the Theosophical Society in 2011, in whose activities K. Hesselink became disillusioned, as other members did for over a hundred years, she concentrated on Buddhist activities at the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, in which S. Kuvaev works as well.)
However, H. Shearman did not go into too much detail about possible distortions in the ML (so he is somewhat opposed by D. Caldwell, as one may see by following the hyperlink on the same web page), at least those related to the misuse of the Tibetan vocabulary. Does this in itself mean that the ideas not reducible to illustrations taken from translations of Indo-Tibetan texts (as well as collections of proverbs, etc.) have also necessarily been substantially distorted? Certainly not. However, concerning the contents of the ML and the desirability of developing a reserved attitude to them, there are also assessments not directly connected with the possibility of unintentional distortion, for example one by H. Roerich, a translator of the ML into Russian: "... it is advised not to be too fond of “The Mahatma Letters to Sinnett,” given almost a hundred years ago and confined to the minds not only narrow, but also brought up in passionate dogmatism in everything. There is much there that is not told, and therefore they can no longer meet the modern consciousness, awakened to a higher, broader awareness of many concepts and questions due to the world upheavals and new discoveries in science" [Rerikh 2009].
Although the question of what kind of information the SD comprises escaped the researcher's due attention, he does not forget to express doubt that it can be relied upon ... because allegedly "Blavatsky wrote it also sometimes copying it from some “astral” sample." C. Wachtmeister and the Keightley brothers once left their testimonies about the writing of the SD [Wachtmeister et al. 1893], which also contained references on collation of citations from the SD with sources in the British Museum Library. They say that there were quite a number of publications and manuscripts, including rare ones, which H.P. Blavatsky could read from their copies reflected in the so-called astral light (due to which, as explained, some page numbers were mistakenly written with numbers in reverse order). According to evidence surrounding Helena Petrovna at the time of writing, and based on the chronology and locations, such a number of sources in material form was physically unavailable to her in the conditions available. In this backdrop, it is all the more strange that one is talking about some “astral” sample of the SD at all, as if it were a single whole.
However, if we are talking about the total distrust of H.P. Blavatsky, then everything is seen in a certain light, and, apparently, there is a temptation to neglect details and nuances of the reconstructed cause-and-effect relations. Thus, the desire of those who took part in making the MLs (almost all written just at Mahatmas’ orders) to give the materialized letters a special authenticity by using the Tibetan vocabulary known through European orientalists turns into the statement: "Blavatsky falsified not Tibetan vocabulary as such, but her (and “mahatmas”’) knowledge of the Tibetan language."
Parallel to such notions of falsification was the question, "what does Bazyukin mean by “falsification of cosmogony” and so on?" This indicates that the author "did not fully comprehend" that the matter is not reduced to falsification of texts. On the other hand, he did not understand that the comparison is not, of course, "with the real state of affairs at the beginning of the universe," but with the philosophical gnosis of a large volume on the subject. Comparative studies imply this, which also means larger and more painstaking work. This still does not preclude textual reconciliation. “The Book of Dzyan,” the core of the SD, was not found in 19th-century orientalists' translations, although attempts were made (M. Müller too blustered at pointing out the source, but failed to do so). Apparently, this led S. Kuvaev to make a statement justified only by his surprise in relation to the artefacts discovered: "an attempt to compare the SD in view of falsification with a text that does not exist in nature cannot be nothing but unsuccessful." But if such comparativism is too time-consuming, it is possible to try to advance even in the direction already chosen. So, the peculiarities of esoterism of Buddhist doctrine are given attention in the volume III of the SD compiled by H.P. Blavatsky's collaborators on the basis of her articles and notes. Perhaps S. Kuvaev would be interested in finding the source of the apocryphal talks of the Buddha placed there? In addition to them, one might find there, for example, an esoteric explanation of the legendary death of the vegetarian Buddha from pork served by Cunda, which might be unexpected to a traditional Buddhist, who would find it not satisfactory only because of that. However, even in exoteric Buddhism, the polysemantic meaning of the name of the served dish from the Mahāparinibbān sutta in Pali, sūkaramaddava (either tender pork or, conversely, something like truffles or yam tubers eaten by pigs), is a matter of debate in various currents of non-Theravādin Buddhism.
Sources in Oblivion, or the Second Life of the Text
In the light of the falsification attributed to H.P. Blavatsky, it is not surprising that the use in her articles and the ML of translations of Buddhist texts without citing sources of borrowing (and this may even be unnecessary when citing in a private letter, just as it is not strictly necessary in opinion journalism when retelling or paraphrasing) or with citing only a title of a text translated by someone led S. Kuvaev to the conclusion that she was trying to give readers "the impression that they [Buddhist texts – note E.T.] are available to her and her characters directly, in the original." In this hypothesis of H.P. Blavatsky's motivation, however, he somewhat contradicts himself: "There is nothing reprehensible in such anonymous quotations in themselves ‒ this is a completely standard technique in Tibetan commentary literature." Still for him there is no such contradiction because... "these quotes from these works, as has been shown, were borrowed not from the conventional “Tashi Lhunpo library,” but from fresh Western publications." And it does not matter that indication of the sources used, albeit irregular, is given in chronologically related articles of the same H.P. Blavatsky. Such is the fastidious induction, inaccessible for everyone to understand, “proving” the desire of the founder of the theosophical movement to create a false impression.
For another illustration of his thesis, but still not adding logical completeness to his constructions, S. Kuvaev mentions: "Thus, a fragment of the letter No. 45 beginning with “Look around ...” and ending with the words “lust and desire” is a free retelling of a fragment from Beal's book [Beal 1871: 196-197]. This was determined by D. Reigle." It is remarkable that in his pursuit of undeclared sources the author discovered D. Reigle's finding. But the latter also noted (following the famous Buddhologist P. Williams [Williams 1989]) that in this letter the Mahatma speaks of what is essentially the Tathagatagarbha, the “Buddhahood” in every human being [Reigle 1997]. However, this doctrine is not found in Southern Buddhism and was unknown in the West until the publication in 1931 of E. Obermiller's translation of the Uttaratantra (another name of Ratnagotravibhaga repeatedly mentioned by the author) from the Tibetan language. The Sanskrit text was discovered later and published in 1950 [Reigle 2015a]. It would be surprising if the corresponding doctrinal text also caught "the eye of only one person ‒ Blavatsky," and not some chela among those involved in telepathic precipitation, who was more knowledgeable in the concept and whose existence S. Kuvaev apparently considers a "satisfactorily established" fiction.
In support of the idea of striving of the ML’ authors to create the appearance of knowledge of ancient languages he gives an example from the famous letter about God (No. 10), apparently written on behalf of Koot Hoomi, where the author says about the 1st Kandaka of Mahavagga: "Allow me to translate it for you." The translation given in the ML may indeed be a paraphrase of the English translation from Rees-Davids and Oldenberg's "The texts of Vinaya," and it is clearly not just a paraphrase, but a condensed version (with many repetitions removed) which contains explanations of some of the terms. Thus, it would be more accurate to say, "Allow me to retell and clarify its translation." Given the already elucidated mechanism of delegation and the use of ready-made translations, we could write off the erroneous wording as another oversight (inattention) of the final author. But S. Kuvaev, according to his general line, believes that the author "not only hints that he has the original text before his eyes and speaks the Pali language, but directly declares that he himself is the author of the translation." Similarly, the naturally occurring errors of chelas, for him, are "the systematic appropriation of other people's merits by the “mahatmas”," which should "suggest their dubious honesty."
It is no secret that the norms of morality have varied considerably according to the era and location of human communities. The interpretation of these norms is equally heterogeneous. In order to accuse someone of dishonesty, it is not bad to know for certain the real circumstances. And the more incommensurate an accused person with the gravity of the offenses imputed, the greater the risk of error. History has preserved descriptions of how Mahatmas, and even more so those very close to them, were sometimes accused: for even the most trusted persons, in accordance with the law of free will, were allowed to make mistakes, including those that were very harmful to the mission entrusted to them for the common good of mankind. But why shouldn't the universal laws of the cosmos, assuming the existence of such laws (some popular scientific theories allow for this), be inexorable in their universality? It is not surprising, then, that in the literature of the theosophical type some of Mahatmas' own errors are also known. Of these, man can adequately assess only those committed in their earthly, human incarnations. This descent of the spirit into matter, according to the most ancient, in a broad sense, theosophical tradition, is subject to the laws of collective karma and limits the possibilities and insights of the Mahatmas that are available in other planes of being.
The knowledge and capacities of the Mahatmas as individual entities are not infinite either, as their teachings suggest. For the hierarchy of life is vast, just as the manifested universe itself is incomprehensibly vast. In direct correlation with this happen to be various gradations of nirvana, where it and samsara are one – that very shunyata mentioned also in theosophical sources. (Although even here Buddhist exegetes can be irrepressible and dispute on anything but the number of angels on the head of a pin, as some medieval theologians from Christian Europe virtually did.) There are parallels as well as differences between theosophical and Buddhist (in the narrow sense of both qualifiers) understandings. So what is a person exploring the world to do in a state of such relativism of knowledge? For example, the same Law of Hierarchy, as accepted in Agni Yoga, in a broad sense has an expression acceptable to the rational as well as the broader Buddhist mind, and helps to extract from the knowledge accumulated by the humanity its part inaccessible for personal experience and complement it by belief of a certain kind. The law makes hierarchically true for the consciousnesses standing on the lower level of mental or spiritual development that what is a matter of fact for the more developed ones – the Highest leads the lowest, and the truly spiritual goes ahead of the narrow-intellectual (only one facet of the spiritual). Here it is even not necessary to have the deep level of the Master-disciple relation widespread in the East, when a disciple voluntarily accepts the Master's interpretations and instructions, while the Master, correspondingly, bears karmic responsibility for the mistakes in the upbringing of the disciple. Thus, for example, it is even merely hierarchically true that the Earth revolves around the Sun, as scientists confirm, and not vice versa, as a third of, say, EU citizens may think according to surveys [Besley, Hill 2020]. But it would be almost impossible to observe the hierarchical principle in this form in the Middle Ages. After all, intellect and the knowledge derived from it were not so well developed back then, when scholasticism, far from true spirituality, could have provided nourishment even for modern uneducated proponents of the flat Earth theory. Medieval lovers of false logical assumptions would also want to subject our scientists to execution for their current “freethinking.” The eternal Maya never completely lets people go, so the highly ambiguous duck test for plausibility survived the “witch hunt” during McCarthyism, during which it was first widely used, and is now “successfully” used especially zealously in all kinds of propaganda, including in its disguised form of argumentation.
Returning after some deviation, caused by more than unambiguous hints of S. Kuvaev on the dishonesty of the authors of the ML, to the main topic, we can also note his reference to the use in the ML of not only lines from philosophical works, novels and poetry of the XVII‒XIX centuries, but also from "scabrous French songs." The reference is evidently to the phrase "And this is why we will no longer go to the woods" ("Et voici pourquoi nous n'irons plus au bois," as the French song goes") from the letter No. 5, which alludes to a reason more prosaic than the consequence it causes. The phrase is attributed to the Marquise de Pompadour, who allegedly created it as a counting-out rhyme for children of a village next to her estate. The double meaning could indeed then indicate the influence of Madame de Maintenon on Louis XIV in banning houses of ill repute (with laurel branches on the doors) or the cutting down, on her orders, of the laurel bushes of Versailles, where ladies of pleasure found themselves. This allusion lost its significance after the XVII century, and the rhymes remained simply a counting-out rhyme and a children’s song with some melody. The song was so beloved by C. Debussy that he quoted it in three of his scores
Such genre transformations are not so rare for a living language. The children's rhyme “V etoy malen’koy korzinke est’ pomada i dukhi…” (there are a lipstick and perfume in this little basket...), for example, comes from a vaudeville. And there is nothing surprising in the fact that the sphere of functioning of words, especially phraseological units, can also change over time. Speaking of vaudevilles, Chekhov, in his “Vaudeville”, used the expression “the further into the wood, the more firewood” (partially equivalent to “as the days grow longer, the storms are stronger”) in the modern sense, while his ancestors used it in a more direct sense. Similarly, “one goes to the forest, another one goes to grab firewood” (at sixes and sevens) from a fable of 1808 by I. Krylov became a catchphrase about musical discord, which with time expanded the scope of its functioning. The extended “one goes to the forest, another one goes to grab firewood: ok one ruble, ok one and a half” entered somewhat later in the dictionary of V. Dal as a folk saying, which may indicate the elimination of a part of the idiom had happened before its transformation into the catchphrase of the most famous Russian fable writer.
S. Kuvaev focuses on the obscenity of the words of the French song, but P. Tchaikovsky wrote: "… we can say that there is a real Russian symphonic school. And so? All of it is in “Kamarinskaya,” just like a whole oak tree is in an acorn! And Russian authors will draw from this rich source for a long time, because it takes a lot of time and a lot of effort to exhaust all its wealth" [Tchaikovsky 1888; ed. E.T.]. Anyone can open variations of the Kamarinskaya dance song, which Glinka immortalized in his overture, and find obscene words in it. Apparently, the heirs of the great Russian composers, at least connoisseurs of Pyotr Ilyich's music, should have their heads sprinkled with ashes. And the connoisseurs of A. Pushkin (and M. Lermontov as well) should recall their obscene poems, just as admirers of the genius of W.A. Mozart, when they feel the urge to be sanctimonious, should associate him more often with the scatological humor in some of his obscene works. Then it is not a sin to recall for Germanophobes in their criticism the peculiar nature of German national culture, expressed, among other things, in scatological motifs in H. Heine, J.W. von Goethe and even the initiator of the second largest Christian movement M. Luther.
Of course, this does not mean that the great ones have always brightly manifested both high and low neighboring each other, all the less it means that the great is necessarily born of something rather down-to-earth. But being an incarnate human implies quite different peculiarities, which is why the biblical admonition “make for yourself no idol” is so relevant. One of the apocrypha tells us that Nagarjuna mastered witchcraft in his adolescence, which led to the death of two of his buddies, and this gave rise to his spiritual quest. The transition from the pharisaical Saul of Tarsus, who imprisoned Christians, to the brightest Christian preacher known in history as the Apostle Paul shows another inscrutable path of the spirit. Buddhists who study the life of Milarepa also have reason to ponder how the serious sins he committed in his youth were succeeded by the achievements of his later ascesis, and how uneven was the path of his spiritual ascent. All kinds of metamorphosis occurred.
All in all, it is of sanctimony that is hard to suspect the Great Teachers of humanity, based on the spirit of theosophical doctrine and their bold vision on matters of morality independent of human judgment. This can explain the presence of formally very physiological details in sacred texts of humanity (in this, by the way, one can trace the difference between Hindu-Buddhist and Judeo-Christian traditions – because the Mahatmas, as stated in the texts attributed to their authorship, take into account the minds and sentiments of those peoples in which they live and with whom they interact). If some semiliterate non-Buddhist cult servants were to read some of the Buddhist scriptures, they could find quite a few “monstrous” things about ritual murder, torture, sexual violence, etc. in them. In general, much in the ancient mythological consciousness, from which, according to the popular theory in science, religious consciousness emerges, is distant from modern ideas about morality. By the way, in the diaries of H. Roerich, which cause misunderstanding and rejection of “puristic” researchers, one can see much of this ancient mythological consciousness, especially in her later notes on cosmogony and cosmic struggle. To the modern mind, this may seem ridiculous, wrong. But what do we really know about the underlying nature of human consciousness? Isn’t such language of myths and images a profound, anciently developed instrument for cognizing the world and oneself in it, about which A. Losev wrote in his famous work? Our “enlightened materialism” is a couple of hundred years old. And who knows if it, along with other “isms,” will not be consigned to the ash heap of history after such a short period of time.
From the caves of Plato and jungles of theology
S. Kuvaev complains that for the Mahatmas allegedly "of all the Tibetan lamas only Tsongkhapa and Panchen Lamas have undisputable authority," overlooking, for example, that very "librarian-archivist" from the “Tibetan teachings” by H.P. Blavatsky as a character that in his opinion is fictional. But a real appraiser of Tsongkhapa, he believes, could not mention the former the way H.P. Blavatsky did, referring to “The Great Treatise” in her article on lamas and Druses and mentioning the annihilation of 666 millions of men by the breath of “Wisdom” and the surviving 666 millions who would have “Supreme Wisdom” incarnated in them. Like, "in the real “Great Treatise” of the real Tsongkhapa, of course, there is and can be nothing of the kind." It is difficult to say exactly which "kind" he meant, but the footnote in the article, before referring to “The Great Treatise,” says only this: "The Hindus have the same belief. In the “Deva-Yuga” they will all be devas or gods." And if this inevitably refers to the evolution of various kinds of beings (such as devas in Hinduism), why didn't the author take into account the soteriological aspect of the following passage from the Lamrim Chenmo, which still operates with the number six and millions?
"... during the continuation of the teaching of Teacher Krakucchanda, nine hundred and eighty million house-holders and renunciates were born as nāgas on account of their lapsed rituals, livelihood, and ethical discipline. During the continuation of the teaching of Teacher Kanakamuni, there were six hundred and forty million. During the continuation of the teaching of Teacher Kāśyapa, there were eight hundred million. During the continuation of the teaching of our own Teacher, nine hundred and ninety million have been or will be reborn as nāgas. Even since our own teacher passed into nirvāṇa, those of the four types of followers who commit sins and whose ethical discipline lapses are reborn as nāgas.
Nonetheless, it is said that, although their practice is not pure, upon their death as nāgas and transference to a new life they are reborn as deities or humans through the power of their unlapsed conviction in the teaching. Except for those who entered the Mahāyāna, all of them will pass into nirvāṇa during the teachings of those who will become buddhas in this auspicious eon" [Tsong-kha-pa 2000].
Of course, we can speculate about different numbers of zeros, but in different occult doctrines, due to their cryptography, this number varies in a fractal-like way and depends on the scale of similarity of a described phenomenon (this is also mentioned in the SD). Such numerology can have a literal reading only in the presence of an appropriate key also in the Buddhist and Hindu calculations, including those related to kalpas and eschatology. At the same time, there are a million and a thousand possibilities for profanations of the teachings of Pythagoras. (Of course, the Pythagoreans were not the only ones who attached special importance to numbers: just think of the Jewish Gematria, the Qur'anic jafr based on the Abjad system, isopsephy of the ancient Greeks' and so on.) This is why we see such curious things in history, as, for example, the overthrow of a Burmese dictator, who in a very peculiar way combined Buddhism, Marxism, and nationalism, but was influenced by some numerologists to introduce notes of 15, 35 and 75 kyats instead of the withdrawn 50 and 100, and then limited everything to 45 and 90 kyats (in an effort to live 9x10=90 years). Although the new regime, which came on the wave of student protests changed the “monetary” policy, it was no stranger to “numerology” either: the uprising “against the nines” that began on August 8, 1988 was called ... the “four eighths” (8888) uprising.
Now about the comparison of the "esoteric Lamrim," ironically called so because of the confusion of the main text of the article on Druses with a footnote to it, with the revelations in H. Roerich’s diary notes, whose chronological peculiarities of writing and the resulting stylistics thereof S. Kuvaev, apparently, did not give himself the trouble to study. At the same time, conclusions of some enthusiastic amateurs on this subject did exist (and recently there was also a short publication in a culturological collection [Budnikova 2022]). Overall, it has been partially said before on this topic, which requires from a researcher an exceptional delicacy as a professional quality, and it will be said further in relation to similar hints. At the same time, it was exactly the quite exoteric Tsongkhapa's Lamrim (perhaps its abridged version) which was listed by Helena Ivanovna among the first books-teachers of her lifetime [Letters 1967].
Further S. Kuvaev recalls that a Mahatma did not realize even shunyata, though in the review besides its ironic meaning (at times, irony in relation to bipeds was indeed present among Mahatmas) there is a reference to its quite classical aspects. Of course, S. Kuvaev is free to interpret them differently. His initial, even unsubstantiated opinion that the unspecified Tibetan version of “stong pa nyid” from the ML along with other terms "stripped of their original meaning and interpreted by her [H.P. Blavatsky – as if S. Kuvaev usuallly "satisfactorily established" her authorship of the ML – E.T.] in isolation from tradition," is just an opinion of a person, even though a Buddhist. The Buddhologist D. Reigle does find differences between the two fundamental propositions of the Proem to the SD and Tsongkhapa's extant writings in his comparison of Tsongkhapa's teachings and theosophical writings, including those on aspects of emptiness (Reigle 2015b). However, he reminds us that in parallel to the founding of the Theosophical Society, in Tibet the Ri-me movement was born, which dialectically eliminated contradictions of Buddhist traditions, primarily Gelugpa and other less popular traditions of the time. And its famous and prolific representative Mipham Rinpoche described how the differences in the understanding of emptiness between Jonangpa and Gelugpa could be reconciled (in another publication [Reigle 1996] D. Reigle also discusses Tsongkhapa's criticism of the famous Buddhist master Dolpopa, who moved from Sakyapa to Jonangpa and left interpretations of Mahayana teachings quite debatable for the Vajrayana). The apparent differences between theosophy and the teachings of Tsongkhapa can also be seen in this way. Incidentally, in the appendix of the same study D. Reigle showed erroneous borrowings by H.P. Blavatsky from works of Tibetan scholars, which she did not represent as coming from transcendental source. S. Kuvaev must be aware of her references to such works in case they were explicitly cited in her own publications.
Without mentioning how different, for example, the doctrines of Vaibhashika or Sautrantika were from Tsongkhapa's views on anatman (and in China, with the help of translators, Buddhism even managed to obtain... the soul – jingshen, 精神 [Park 2012]), S. Kuvaev, however, reminds that in theosophical writings, not even claiming to be recognized by this or that school of Buddhist philosophy, "there are a lot of other statements that directly contradict the content of Je Rinpoche's main work ‒ for example, that it is impossible for a person to be reborn as an animal." And this contradiction, as well as the discrepancies among Buddhists in the related topic of understanding the Self, arises only when one considers the issues too dogmatically and is dialectically resolved. Thus, there is the following explanation by Helena Petrovna.
"Even the physicists teach us that the particles composing physical man are, by evolution, reworked by nature into every variety of inferior physical form. Why, then, are the Buddhists unphilosophical or even unscientific, in affirming that the semi-material skandas of the astral man (his very ego, up to the point of final purification) are appropriated to the evolution of minor astral forms (which, of course, enter into the purely physical bodies of animals) as fast as he throws them off in his progress toward Nirvana? Therefore, we may correctly say, that so long as the disembodied man is throwing off a single particle of these skandas, a portion of him is being reincarnated in the bodies of plants and animals. And if he, the disembodied astral man, be so material that "Demeter" cannot find even one spark of the pneuma to carry up to the "divine power," then the individual, so to speak, is dissolved, piece by piece, into the crucible of evolution, or, as the Hindus allegorically illustrate it, he passes thousands of years in the bodies of impure animals" [Blavatsky 1878].
One could, of course, again accuse H.P. Blavatsky that she "treated Tibetan Buddhism with disdain, considering it possible to juggle its fundamental concepts." And that she is not at all trying to describe in broad strokes the general scheme of the migrations of the skandhas, combining the ideas of both Buddhism and Hinduism that preceded it, but taking into account theosophical theories that place more emphasis on the evolution of different classes (kingdoms) of beings. But can S. Kuvaev himself in such a case explain what belongs to Buddhism and what does not? What is defined as Buddhavachana, “the word of the Buddha,” in Tibetan Buddhism may not coincide significantly even with the notions of authenticity in Theravada. As to whether books of Abhidharma Buddhist philosophy derive directly from the Buddha or his closest disciples or were compiled later than the split of the early Buddhist community, the Theravada, Mahayana, and Sarvastivada followers and Buddhologists also had different views. Views of the rebirth process also differ in the broad variations of abhidarmic literature: the relationships of skandhas, pudgala (“personality”) and dharmas, and processes in the bardo have all been viewed quite differently by Buddhists of different schools and eras. Different schools of Buddhism have different conventions about what is considered canonical, what is considered authentic – also depending on the class of sattvas through whom one or another part of the teaching comes. Similarly, no one forbids the followers of theosophy to choose criteria for verifying how close this or that part of theosophical writings is to the Highest Sources of Knowledge. Actually, those who, taking into account specific features of the life path of messengers of that very “rare and highest” (dkon mchog), are aware of at least some difficulties of crystallization, formulation and transmission of knowledge (almost never – from primary sources, which is also typical for all ancient religious teachings) do exactly like that.
But examining the Buddha over a long period of time on the subject of how enlightened he himself is, which he urged his disciples to do according to, for example, the Vimansaka sutta, cannot be done automatically and mechanistically. After all, it is also a question of the purity of perception and the wisdom of the “examiner”! That which ensures impartiality, however not excluding heartfelt comprehension of the truth (in the words of a great humanist, “it is only with the heart that one can see rightly”), even though S. Kuvaev states: "The decision about this worthiness [of respect – E.T.] should be made not according to some “call of the heart”." The Heart Sutra, while seemingly denying the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, in fact views them from a different, higher perspective and presents to a Mahayana representative the Prajnaparamita, the perfect wisdom. Dialecticism is a strong feature of modern Northern schools of Buddhist philosophy, and generations of the Buddha's followers of different directions were not so much embarrassed that he could give different answers in principle to different disciples or ignore questions, such as the relationship between the jiva and the body, with “noble silence.” By the way, in similar circumstances, Jesus Christ had to resort abundantly to allegory in order not to confuse the “motley” minds, just as high teachings and occult truths were taught according to the consciousness of the listeners. After all, none of the disciples in Plato's cave of samsara was capable of grasping the idea of the good the way the Master understood it.
Therefore we should not consider meaningless the very idea of the existence of different versions of the five Maitreya treatises, which was met with irony by S. Kuvaev, who prefaced it with words about H.P. Blavatsky: "Declaring them fictitious, she declared that the five treatises of Maitreya which are “no fiction” [misquoted by S. Kuvaev as “non-fiction” – E.T.] were written in prose and accessible to her." But the original “no fiction” here means “non-fictional.” So H.P. Blavatsky called the well-known writings a blind, but in no way “fake” or fictitious, as one might think in opposition to the secret writings called “no fiction”. What was meant was merely that there was an exoteric addition to something more secret.
The irony culminates in the phrase: "Even such great teachers as Asanga and Atisha <...> turned out to be so short-sighted that they seriously quoted and interpreted what, according to Blavatsky, was a fiction created only to divert the eyes." But here, too, the misunderstanding of the role of the esoteric comes to a curious Buddhological (and Buddhist!) incident. Modern Buddhists, for example, often attribute the authorship of the Ratnagotravibhaga, one of the five treatises, not to Asanga, but to the Indian monk Sthiramati. In the spirit of the criticism suggested, one might wonder then whether this does not indicate some forgery in texts that are so important for Buddhists. That said, there is also evidence in Chinese Buddhism (which is earlier than Tibetan Buddhism) that the treatise was written by Sthiramati some number of centuries after Gautama Buddha's death and before the birth of Asanga, to whom Tibet began to attribute the reception of the text from the heavenly Buddha Maitreya.
In the denouement of the ironic passage about "the “false” pentateuch" not existing in H.P. Blavatsky’s letter S. Kuvaev notes the knowledge that the notorious phrase from the textbook of T. Lewin, misused by a pupil (whose existence S. Kuvaev does not admit), is taken from the Ratnagotravibhaga, could save "Koot Hoomi from this annoying oversight [i.e. using exoteric text instead of esoteric, which allegedly is not proper to the Mahatmas – E.T.]." Here I can only point out that, according to the very same D. Reigle, the doctrinal standpoint of the Ratnagotravibhaga, as it is understood in the Mahamadhyamaka tradition, is of all known texts the closest to that of the SD [Reigle 1997].
Unfortunately, the vaguely illustrated disbelief in regard to the five esoteric treatises did not make it possible to understand exactly what is that "irreconcilable with the Buddhist doctrine of refuge in the Three Jewels" that should await theosophists, who study countless manifestations of identity and analogy of the forces of the universe, when they see the phrase "Buddha is the only refuge for those who seek the highest." It is irreconcilable rather with the minds of those who artificially create the irreconcilable – even in their quest for the truth. S. Kuvaev wonders why "by the term “Kon Chhog” the “mahatmas” called by no means Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, but an “Uncreated Principle”." But why does it seem to him that only missionaries for the convenience of European minds (and the ML recipients were those too) have the right to use “Kon Chhog” as God (which for the Mahatmas, like for the Buddhists, does not exist in its theistic sense)? And those hapless chelas (as previously mentioned, not existing for S. Kuvaev), who in the presentation on a given topic used conventional names in the unknown Tibetan language, should not have acted similarly to the missionaries?
It is not surprising that with such expectations S. Kuvaev's main claim to the review of his article is essentially reduced to the following: "The degree of ignorance in the Tibetan language and the basic teachings of Tibetan Buddhism, coupled with the categorical confidence in his ability to speak out about them, demonstrated in it, is comparable to that of Blavatsky herself." Such ignorance and the circumstances of writing the review were well known to him. About possible doubts in terminology, due to the lack of proper training, it was written, as mentioned above, in the review itself. However, my role was to find possible alternative lexicographic sources, which a single researcher, no matter how deep his knowledge is, would not be able to consider. The same knowledge will not allow the presence or absence of previously unknown Buddhist quotations in theosophical texts to be reliably established even after the entire corpus of Buddhist esoteric texts will have been digitized and, if necessary, translated into intelligible languages. (Even a mere translation of the Tibetan canon is planned to be fully completed only by 2110 !) After S. Kuvaev's rebuttal containing studies not included in the article was published, the original review itself was also put in public space, also in an expanded form, involving other arguments besides the Tibetan linguistics and Buddhist terminology, in which S. Kuvaev has an undeniable advantage of relevant professional experience.
At the same time, S. Kuvaev needlessly expressed himself a way as if I were separating enlightenment and awakening (by the attributes of enlightenment and awakening I meant not only these two synonymous uses of the translation “sangs” but also the epithet “rgyas”) and almost putting them in correspondence with “sangs” and “rgyas.” By pointing out the presence of two signs of enlightenment and awakening within “sangs rgyas” ‒ purification (being, in fact, enlightenment) and multiplication (or, in another sense, expansion and blossoming), I called the apparent double calquing (cf. the meanings of the adjective “bodhana”, cognate with “budh”: both “causing to awake or expand (a flower)” and “enlightening” [Bodhana 1988]) simply a calquing by following an anonymous source [སངས་རྒྱས]. Perhaps S. Kuvaev would insist that “sangs” relates only to being purified from imperfections and defilements and “rgyas” relates to having expanded virtues and wisdom, whereas enlightment, or awakening, is not fully equivalent to purification (although the dictionary of Nalanda Translation Committee member I. Waldo gives both these meanings of the word [sangs]), and “rgyas” is known to him in religious texts only as multiplication, not as part of the less metaphorical “expand (a flower)”. But a source created by the Estonian Buddhist community also expresses the sense I have described (similar to double calquing) [sangs rgyas]. Unfortunately, due to my ignorance of the language I cannot, within a reasonable time, conduct a textual search in the digitized Tibetan texts in order to rely on primary sources. But in general, it is no secret that semantic calquing can be paired with metonymic transfer. Both are methods of secondary nomination, and calquing may be accompanied by metonymic transfer, for both are conditioned by the degree of translation semantic equivalence (for example, in the Russian language: [Senko, Lenchina 2020]).
S. Kuvaev concludes his discussion of Buddhist Buddhism (because he staunchly opposes the “non-Buddhist Buddhism” of the theosophists) in a somewhat abstract way, moving on to the subject of a legation of Western Buddhists to Tibet, under the flag of which the Roerichs, being in the crosshairs of divergent forces of the Great Game and sometimes veiling their true intentions, hoped to reach Lhasa during their Central Asian expedition. One cannot find in his words any echoes of what the Roerichs and their collaborators wrote before and on the approaches to Tibet regarding their goal. Their goal was to give the country, a reserve of Buddhism that was approaching a critical threshold, a chance to unite with the growing community of Buddhists in the Western culture countries through mutual respect, but also to stimulate the renewal of contacts between Tibet and Russia (then already Soviet), which included Buddhist peoples. In contrast, S. Kuvaev suggests that their main goal was to have the Dalai Lama XIII recognize their prestige and that it was only after being "rudely dismissed" by the Thubten Gyatso administration (being under substantial influence from insistent directives of British officials in India), full of intrigues, that the Roerichs "became imbued with disgust for Tibet and its “Lamaism”." Had they previously been so naïve as to believe that the constant difficulties of the arduous journey would dissolve in Tibet, or perhaps even to think that Tibet was a fairyland, as one fantast would later call it, Shangri-La, with kindly lamas and universal great spirituality? Even the quotation marks in the word “Lamaism” are also noteworthy. Despite some discourse on the incorrectness of the term, it implies more than just a religious component (when it would be better to call it Tibetan Buddhism). Moreover, by no means all professional researchers refrain from using it to this day (all the more so in the sociopolitical dimension, regardless of the unsurprising rhetoric of official Chinese authorities regarding Tibetan history in the current context of ethnic Tibetans rebelling from time to time).
To show the bias of the perspective proposed by S. Kuvaev (not to a small extent, apparently, based on a cursory reading of Helena Roerich's diary entries, which was far enough from covering the relevant context), we can first note the state of affairs which was known before the Roerichs' expedition. It probably, in one way or another, did not escape the attention of a recent graduate of the famous Langues'O, which was part of the Sorbonne, George Roerich, who studied Tibetan under J. Bacot, who came into direct contact with Tibet (including the Eastern Hor) and Tibetan culture.
Politics, including that of neighboring powers, affected the Dalai Lama's tradition of succession, in which it resembled considerably Catholicism with its institution of the papacy but not practicing tulku. Under these conditions, it is not surprising that semi-feudal Tibet, by the time of the Dalai Lama XIII's reforms, was a relic of the Middle Ages, with all the ensuing consequences, including the vestiges and atrocities of gradual degradation that existed. Hoping for protection from revolutionary China by allowing the maximum influence of the British, the penultimate Dalai Lama found himself in a difficult political situation. The traditional intrigues of his court were in full bloom, his reforms were opposed by a very conservative clergy. His own prophecy given before his death, in fact, agreed with the one recorded by H. Roerich and mentioned by S. Kuvaev: "Very soon in this land (with a harmonious blend of religion and politics) deceptive acts may occur from without and within. At that time, if we do not dare to protect our territory, our spiritual personalities including the Victorious Father and Son (Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama) may be exterminated without trace, the property and authority of our Lakangs (residences of reincarnated lamas) and monks may be taken away. Moreover, our political system, developed by the Three Great Dharma Kings (Tri Songtsen Gampo, Tri Songdetsen and Tri Ralpachen) will vanish without anything remaining. The property of all people, high and low, will be seized and the people forced to become slaves. All living beings will have to endure endless days of suffering and will be stricken with fear. Such a time will come" [Rinpoche 2010].
Without specifying to what period the words about a harmonious blend of religion and politics refer (when embracing Buddhism, Tibetans may have been guided by the ideals of the last period of Ashoka's reign in India), Thubten Gyatso certainly idealized the state of affairs in his fiefdom if he did mean his contemporaneity. The attempts of certain high lamas to reveal the achievements of Western civilization to Tibet previously ended in failure (thus the enlightened preceptor of the Panchen Lama Sengchen Dorjechang, associated with the Ri-me movement, was drowned for helping the Indian C. Das in his acquaintance with Tibet and its language [Roerich 1931:106], whereas the servants of the Palha family linked with this tulku hierarch were brutally mutilated to death [McKay 2011]). As a relatively large body of modern Tibetan studies literature suggests, the first Tibetologists, while often captive to the orientalist paradigm of the West’s civilizing mission mentioned by S. Kuvaev, nevertheless did not invent the very existence of significant distortions in the socio-religious construction. It was not only Europeans who were affected by them. As, for example, P. Bishop writes, "negative evaluation of the lamas' power was consistent among travellers at this time, no matter what their nationality. Even the respected Japanese Buddhist monk Kawaguchi was of a similar opinion after three years in Tibet" [Bishop 1989]. Another book that has gone through several editions and refers to primary sources that dispel the mystical fog over the Shangri-La, although not favored by circles associated with the Tibetan government in exile, is written by the historian A.T. Grunfeld [Grunfeld 2015]. The autobiographical book by the Tibetan historian D. Norbu [Norbu 1974] is a particularly interesting account of the processes in Tibet on the eve of the establishment of full Chinese power and afterwards. Born into a family of simple peasants attached to the Sakya monastery (essentially semi-serfs, if one compares them with the European equivalent), he was forced to flee with his relatives to India. His views, which included an endorsement of a number of positive innovations brought by Communist China, in certain significant aspects ran counter to the Chinese propaganda claiming total feudal serfdom. But the description of the pre-Chinese invasion behaviors in Tibet and the criticism of the Tibetan government-in-exile led to numerous threats from Tibetans in India (at one point even an intercession of the Dalai Lama, criticized for pandering to his entourage, was necessary).
Accordingly, it should come as no surprise what G. Roerich reported about the realities of Tibet after his trip there. He concluded his 1929 lecture with the following words: "After a brief spell of modernizing efforts, Tibet has again let down the curtain of isolation, and the dust of centuries still veils the hidden treasures of knowledge." [RoerichG 1929:65]. And before that, he wrote of the negative tendencies that weakened Tibet's national character:
"The nomads, who form a considerable portion of Tibet’s population, present a very degenerate type. <...>
... [a] section of the priestly class consists of a limited number of learned doctors and hermit lamas who see in the doctrine not merely blind devotion, but a path towards deeper knowledge, and to these adepts the outward church ceremonies of Buddhism do not exist. They neither recognize the State hierarchy of the order, nor bind themselves with certain fraternity rules of the Monasteries. <...>
Such monks are rarely met with in present day Tibet. They have either retired to the mountains, or have passed away without leaving worthy disciples. <...>
The flight of the Tashi Lama was a signal for a general exodus of learned lamas, who fled to the confines of Tibet, to China, and Mongolia, to British Sikkim, and Nepal. <...>
Tibet is the land of contrasts, and a profound abyss lies between the turbulent and ignorant monks of the larger religious establishments and the class of hermits and ascetics, who alone can claim the reputation of sanctity, which has been too often attached to Tibet as a whole. <...>
I speak of the renegade lamas, who flood the country, and are contemptuously designated by the Tibetans themselves as tra-lo or “one who has returned his vows.” A special class of Tibetan society consists of former monks who were either expelled from the monastery for breach of discipline, or had no calling for monastic life. These people occupy different positions in the service of the Government, engage in lively trade <...> they try their best to make their fortunes and are extremely unscrupulous in their means. Drunkenness, addiction to opium, and other vices are screened by the shaved head of the virtuous and the lama dress. This class of people is a typical product of the unnatural state of life that enchained the country and transformed it into a desert of spiritual quest.
There can be no doubt that the influence of religion is waning in Tibet <...> Tibetan Buddhism is passing thru a state of mechanization, in which salvation is effected by purely mechanical devices such as Prayer Wheels, ready-made formulae, and rites that protect the sinner from the results of his actions. <...> The people still follow outwardly the injunctions religion, but all their daily ceremonies are a hideous farce. <...>
All forgotten, all enveloped by the grey shroud of common life, in which the words of the Blessed One have no place.
All strivings are reduced to one conception of luk-sö, or custom, which serves to designate both the piety of the lamas and the corruption of officialdom. <...>
The true value of Tibet has vanished long ago, and the people bluntly trample about, trying to seize the reflection of their former attainments that are attested by the dusty piles of books and the treasuries of monasteries.
Only the hermits of Tibet and a few errant “geshe,” or doctors of divinity, still keep burning the flame of spiritual quest that had once given the country its reputation of sanctity." [RoerichG 1929:34–62; ed. by E.T.].
Perhaps the Roerichs really should have seen Tibet with their own eyes first in order to fully understand the disorder and turmoil “on the ground,” far from the remnants of the Tibetan capital's well-being. N. Roerich, the leader of the expedition, also wrote about this in his travel diary and then in his book “Altai – Himalayas.” However, at the end of the chapter on Tibet he writes, "I have been asked, “How shall you speak of Tibet after your experiences?” Truly I shall praise what is full of light and shall condemn what is obscured in darkness." [Roerich 1929:389]. And there is no "disgust for Tibet" in his words: "But “will everything which has fallen – not rise again?” In the future there will be a new Tibetan people and a Tibetan art" [Roerich 1930].
As for H. Roerich's communication with Mahatma Morya, who "deceived her expectations" regarding Tibet (does anyone know what her expectations really were?), a thoughtful reader may ponder the following. How motivated the expedition would have been to travel to dangerous places (just look at a visit in Moscow on an inauspicious call of F. Dzerzhinsky, whose unexpected death caught N. Roerich at the reception desk of this chairman of OGPU), had they been told day after day: "Well, you should try to do something, but these armed and dangerous guys on your way also have the right to show their free will, so they can bury their chance for a better future and shorten your life?" This is not to say that the so-called principle of incarnation “with human hands and feet” (the principle of individual evolution) does not imply the only possible version of events succession from the main actors of the highest approved order. After all, they are not puppets in the hands of the gods, and each must pass their own test, only partially overlapping with the overall mission of the team.
Not surprisingly, in her notes of December 13, 1927, after a long detention at an altitude of about 4500 m in Chunargen, H. Roerich wrote about the future [Roerich 1927]:
– What does “secret attacks by Tib[et]” mean?
– At you, after the triumph of the West in Buddhism.
– What form will these attacks take?
Buddhism has indeed gained much more popularity since then, though often in some newfangled and profane forms, and fabrications about the nature of the multifaceted expedition and the motives of the Roerichs for Tibet began to appear even before the expedition ended.
And yet, one can at least admire the faith of H. Roerich, if after the long “deception of expectations” she still readily believed Morya, including his words about the "imminent destruction" of Tibetan statehood, which, due to the Chinese invasion, are allegedly "perceived by today's Roerichites <…> with secret joy ‒ this is how the prophecy of their “Master” was fulfilled." But the demise of old Tibet was looming against the backdrop of the aggravated contradictions underlying the established structure of its society, and these have been studied in many academic works. In addition to those mentioned earlier, one might also note a work of D. Lopez on representations of Tibetan Buddhism in the West [Lopez 2018]. Yes, like any great work, it has been criticized (in particular by the Buddhist scholar R. Thurman, a friend of the Dalai Lama), but in this work no one disputes the Tibetan prophecies about the purity of the Teaching, which alone could keep the country from conquest. Modern Tibetans in exile, like their ancestors, also continue to make sense of prophecies of Dharma decline, such as the multiple variations of the Kausambi prophecy (for Tibetans it implied an invasion of their lands by non-Buddhist kings) or the end of the Dharma cycle in the Kalachakra Tantra [Jenkins 2018].
The Tibetan prophecy [Kuvaev 2016] as a significant reason for the exclusion of the Pelings (foreigners) from Tibet was also written about by H.P. Blavatsky in the article “Doctrines of the Holy "Lha"” [Blavatsky 1894], mentioned by S. Kuvaev and published for the first time posthumously and included into the 3rd volume of the SD. She attributed one part of this prophecy (about preserving the true doctrine in Tibet until Western nations penetrated there) to Tsongkhapa, and the preceding part (about the birth of the Panchen Lama in a foreign land) she simply attributed to the information of the servants of the Bas-pa Dharma (i.e. the Tibetan Secret Doctrine). The source of this prophecy in Buddhist literature, as far as we know, has not been established and, being politically sensitive, was probably lost among popular interpretations ("as far as our rules will permit me to discuss so sacred a subject openly" – such words preceded the prophecy). By the way, in his blog S. Kuvaev, citing a similar prophecy from the book of É. Huc (it specified the future birth of the Panchen Lama, who will purify the teachings, north of Tibet), noted that despite the popularity of this prophecy among historians, he could not find its source in the latest works on the history of Mongolia and Tibet of the first half of the XX century. Naturally, this prophecy, and perhaps its other interpretations, including one related to the idea of A. Dorzhiev about Russia as the Northern Shambhala, were known to N. Roerich, who paid considerable attention to building his reputation. This allowed him, who considered himself a messenger of the Lord of Shambhala, to interpret the prophecy thus: "It is said that until the day when a lama will be born in a western body and appear as a spiritual conqueror for the destruction of the century-old ignorance, until then there will be little success in dissolving the snares of the West" [Roerich 1929:27]. It was quite logical for him, who also considered himself a reincarnation of the Dalai Lama V, for the purposes of the expedition to Tibet and taking into account the ceremonial foundations of Tibetan autocracy, to present himself as the head of a legation of Western Buddhists (it looks those were meant to be an American group of Buddhists attached to the New York Roerich organizations, which was directed to seek contacts with Buddhists in America, Germany, France and England [Letter... 1927]). Of course, the tulku lineages of the Panchen Lamas (one of whom was mentioned in the prophecy) and the Dalai Lamas are different. And the Dalai Lama V, being a legendary reincarnation of Avalokiteshvara, could not seemingly be at the same time N. Roerich's incarnation. (However, based on the information contained in the diary entries of H. Roerich, a special theory of reincarnations is emerging, which takes into account such a phenomenon as the divisibility of the spirit and includes, in addition to the so-called incarnations under a Ray – these, known from printed editions of the Roerichs’ works and the “Agni Yoga” series of books published by them, can be likened to the emanations of deities described in Buddhism. which does not recognize the soul, in relation to the Dalai Lama as well [Laird 2007], – also chronologically overlapping incarnations (for example, the same Sengchen Lama and Toïn Lama, who was born 3 years before the death of the former [Haslund 1990]); this theory could explain a number of paradoxical phenomena known among supporters of the reincarnation theories.) At the same time, even within the Tibetan (or rather Tibeto-Mongolian) tradition of Buddhism itself, as mentioned earlier, there may be reasons to be suspicious of information authenticity. One of such reasons is just the institute of tulku, often explained by much more prosaic, political reasons. See, for example, the article of A. Tsendina [Tsendina 2015].
However, S. Kuvaev, who considers Mahatma Morya as a gyalpo spirit, has recent examples of political games involving incarnations of famous lamas and spirits because he wrote an article about tulku and peripeteia of a gyalpo [Kuvaev 2014]. Thus, Pehar Gyalpo, who, according to legend, was once defeated by Padmasambhava and put over the other gyalpos, obliged not to harm living beings, at some point began to take possession of the official oracle of the Tibetan government and the Dalai Lama, the Nechung oracle. The latter, as S. Kuvaev says, "through the mouth of the Dalai Lama declared Dorje Shugden, out of envy to him, to be a worldly evil spirit, a common gyalpo." S. Kuvaev also says: "Gelugpa followers of Dorje Shugden, however, are offended when he is called a Gyalpo – they consider him a manifestation of the bodhisattva Manjushri. In the Sakya school he is regarded as an embodiment of Avalokiteshvara's activity. In Mongolia you can find an opinion that he is an emanation of Vajrapani, who is considered the patron of Mongols, and that he revealed himself to the world as Genghis Khan." It turns out even in such things defenders of the “true Dharma Teaching” cannot understand each other, which does not prevent some of them to spend their time on “pseudo-Buddhists,” i.e. “heretics-theosophists” (tirthikas, as it was expressed in the epilogue coda by S. Kuvaev) and alike...
As for the unfulfilled prophecies and their purpose, this topic is too complex to say, after flipping through the draft records, anything reliable about the expectations of the Roerichs and the "secret joy" of the Roerichites, who, however, have reason to consider the prophecy to have come true. And these records themselves were not intended for wide reading by our contemporaries (the earliest estimate of the time when “it is already possible” was given as follows: "...your records will see the light no sooner than in 50 years. We will reveal them in the Monastery and in the Institute [one may imagine that those were the Soviet Roerichs' Foundation and the affiliated center-museum – E.T.] with an admonishment to open them to serious-minded researchers of the hidden properties of man" [Roerich 1952; ed. E.T.]). Evidently, their contents had to be first examined and realized by researchers who in their reverence know how to exercise care and patience, especially where the seeming obviousness may end up being nothing more than an illusion to be consigned to oblivion.
In the books of Agni Yoga themselves there are quite a few prophecies and there is about prophecies. Here are only three passages that can give a hint of the complexity of the topic, which is not confined to pallid “came-true-or-not” statistics (for scientific knowledge, which is called for in the books to study this and many other topics of human life, is not limited to statistics).
"Legends, prophecies, and signs of all kinds are significant not for separate individuals but for the cementation of space" [Leaves of Morya’s Garden-II, 101].
"What is prophecy? It is foretelling the destiny of a definite combination of particles of matter. Therefore, prophecies can be fulfilled but also may be spoiled by an unfitting attitude, exactly as may be spoiled a chemical reaction. This indeed cannot be understood by people, though they can apprehend the meaning of a barometer" [New Era Community, 24].
"Can prophecies remain unfulfilled? Indeed they can. We have a whole storehouse of such lost prophecies. A true prophecy foresees the best combination of possibilities, but it is possible to allow them to escape.
The subject of fulfillment of prophecies is very profound; in it are combined cooperation and higher knowledge of the spirit. The unwise say “What a kitchen!” But a kitchen is easily transformed into a laboratory" [New Era Community, 25].
As one can read in H. Roerich's diary entries, it is often "impossible to give out exact dates, for people will distort karmic timeframes and consequences that are useful to them and sometimes salutary for them" [Roerich 1952:77; ed. E.T.]. According to Agni Yoga ontology, events have higher-order causality on the higher planes of being: the more complex and depending on many factors, the higher spheres of causality are generally involved (what is sometimes called the tablets of metahistory). And this means that while higher-order causal dependencies remain unchanged, the ultimate manifestations of our familiar physical world are fluid in time (this is explored in the synergetic approach to theoretical history). Regarding a certain apocalyptic prediction the same is said, for example, in the diary notes of H. Roerich (and not all the prophecies from there are subject to direct interpretation): "... there are no mistakes. The catastrophe is manifested correctly in occult time, but not in calendar time" [Roerich 1952:78]. The factor of possible perception error during recording, which in general cannot be excluded for such a large array of information received in different ways at different times and under different external conditions, is now taken off the table as no less difficult to investigate.
At the right time
In the last section of “On False...” the author returns again to issues of faith and trust, attributing to the theosophists the belief that the provisions of exoteric Buddhism are "moral platitudes for the common people" and that esoteric Buddhism (which is still not adequately synonymous with the Secret Doctrine) allegedly requires blind faith. At the same time, although the questions of faith and its classification have certain differences from those in other religions, their understanding was not homogeneous at different times and in different branches of Buddhism. In later Buddhism, especially in Mahayana, such a variety of objects of worship and meditation had accumulated that it was often impossible to talk about individual verification, but unconditional acceptance of an object of one’s devotion became quite common – such are the natural costs of diversity. But in early Buddhism, when much of the Pali canon was still taking shape, questions of personal verification of the teachings were generally of higher priority. Accordingly, there are a number of suttas on this subject in the Sutta Pitaka. In addition to the Vimansaka Sutta, mentioned earlier, there is, for example, the Canki Sutta (faith can make mistakes, and one can attain truth without faith, the main thing is to strive for it and understand that in this striving one manifests his or her faith in one way or another), the Sandaka Sutta (mere rationality is not enough, one needs intuition and personal faith), the Chulahatthipadopama Sutta (for enlightenment one still needs initial faith in the Tathagata, and by the way theosophists have “their own” Tathagata), the Kalama Sutta. The last sutta, from the Anguttara Nikaya, was even quoted in “The Buddhist Catechism” by the president of the Theosophical Society H.S. Olcott (the catechism "by 1938 had survived 44 editions and had been translated into several dozen languages. As a result, “The Buddhist Catechism” became a globally used textbook on the foundations of Buddhism" [Ulanov 2013]), and following this in the section XLVI of the 3rd volume of the SD: "Our Lord Buddha has said that we must not believe in a thing said merely because it is said; nor traditions because they have been handed down from antiquity; nor rumours, as such; nor writings by sages, because sages wrote them: nor fancies that we may suspect to have been inspired in us by a Deva (that is, in presumed spiritual inspiration); nor from inferences drawn from some haphazard assumption we may have made; nor because of what seems an analogical necessity; nor on the mere authority of our teachers or masters. But we are to believe when the writing, doctrine, or saying is corroborated by our own reason and consciousness. “For this,” says he in concluding, “I taught you not to believe merely because you have heard, but when you believed of your consciousness, then to act accordingly and abundantly’" [Blavatsky 1897].
The famous commentator on the Pali Canon Bhikku Bodhi argues that contemporaries often misunderstand the Kalama Sutta: "On the basis of a single passage, quoted out of context, the Buddha has been made out to be a pragmatic empiricist who dismisses all doctrine and faith, and whose Dhamma is simply a freethinker's kit to truth which invites each one to accept and reject whatever he likes" [Bhikku 1988]. He points out that the Buddha preached to the members of the Kalama tribe who were not Buddhists, who could not assimilate his Dharma, and who above all needed "a teaching that is immediately verifiable and capable of laying a firm foundation for a life of moral discipline and mental purification" [ibid.]. It turns out that one who has just embarked on the Buddhist path is by no means obliged to "make his own personal experience the criterion for judging the Buddha's utterances and for rejecting what cannot be squared with it" [ibid.].
And let doctrines be doctrines, but, returning to his denial of the explanations of mistakes provided by theosophists (no one is perfect, and this is the position of the Mahatmas), S. Kuvaev believes that "the study of even such a particularity as the Tibetan vocabulary in the ML has exposed their author (or authors, whoever they are) in such an unattractive light." In what "unattractive light" were however exposed even the founders of religions... And how this image was greatly magnified by their followers in their hermeneutic efforts and modifications of texts. But in this case we are talking about an outstanding person, but still a being of our common evolutionary level, who tried to turn humanity to the study of the single source of world religions and knowledge as a whole. Her imperfections ("Imperfect and faulty is my nature; many and glaring are my shortcomings – and for this my Karma is heavier than that of any other Theosophist," she wrote in [Blavatsky 1886]) naturally complicated her self-sacrificing resistance to the interfaith alienation of humanity. At times even its best representatives were willing to acknowledge the usefulness and depth of theosophical interpretations, but only in comparison with some single religion. Thus, at the end of his life, in an interview with his biographer, Mahatma Gandhi, who at that time had long since moved away from theosophists and was, of course, aware of the ambivalent attitude to theosophy in society, said, "Theosophy is the teaching of Madame Blavatsky. It is Hinduism at its best" [Fischer 1953].
S. Kuvaev is right in his examples from the articles of H.P. Blavatsky herself: she mistakenly used Tibetan terminology from the works of orientalists of those years that she had read. She was writing in the language of that modernity, because her goal was to give people the Secret Doctrine in a way that they could perceive it. The questions of erroneous vocabulary in the ML are entirely on the conscience of their final composers, as theosophists have pointed out more than once, and in this respect no cardinally new evidence of authorship can be expected from such source examinations in principle. Exactly the same inattention and certain irresponsibility of unknown chelas, which is unconvincing for S. Kuvaev to explain the most ridiculous errors in the ML, could explain the single example of false attribution of a proverb similar to that of the Kabylians. This is even without taking into account the possible similarity and borrowing (of course, indirect) of proverbs in different cultures, which in principle could not be thoroughly studied. After all, according to an assertion of the Great Teachers of the East, proverbs, as a storehouse of wisdom, can imprint in themselves Their own wisdom, remaining in the centuries with the peoples in which they lived. This provides a certain continuity of their inter-civilizational heritage and at the same time reflects a fact long known to science: the lives of many a great and legendary figure and their sayings often strongly resemble and even repeat in detail each other. But yes, for those who doubt the existence of the Mahatmas (or specifically the Mahatmas of theosophy), all this creates a great field of activity for “exposing the fakes.”
Or, perhaps, this is also part of the divine plan: that the doubting people fall away more easily and burden the Mahatmas less with their requests, demands, and expectations? Such a goal – that all mankind would accept their existence – seems never to have existed. Moreover, had all people really believed in it now, the whole of Central Asia would have simply been dug over and ... eventually all the ashrams would have been destroyed. According to H. Roerich, because of the threat of disclosure as well as the increasing pollution of the psychic atmosphere of the places, a number of ashrams of the Transhimalayan Brotherhood were closed in the XX century, and the outpost of the Fortress of Light, the Tower of Chung, had to be moved at all to another place because a pilot dropped a bomb in a valley next to it [Roerich 1952:64-65].
Actually, as far back as the Tibetan Expedition of Schaefer, which took place under the aegis of the Ahnenerbe, had as one of its tasks to collect all sorts of artifacts that would provide knowledge of the occult forces that might have been in use in Tibet, which some researchers correlate with the obsessions of the Nazi elite with regard to the search for something like Shambhala. And if this expedition turned out to be in the end a traditional research expedition (allowing for data collection according to Nazi quasi- and pseudoscience), who knows what Germany or another power would have done in its further exploration of the Tibetan wilderness if World War II had not ended with the defeat of Fascism. Partly in view of such interests of the founder of the Ahnenerbe H. Himmler, what fabrications there were about the role of modern theosophy in the organization of the diffuse New Age movement! Also tales of scribblers and researchers, who unscrupulously studied theosophical materials and derived fascism from theosophy (or, for example, from the Nietzschean superman who, like H.P. Blavatsky, could disregard conventional wisdom – in the name of higher goals, sometimes understood quite wrongly by contemporaries, according to their own level of spiritual development) have not vanished. Just look at the reference to the theory of races smoothly changing one another, including the so-called Aryan race (which by no means consisted only of Aryan tribes), which were perceived by sick minds in a completely different sense. At one time there was a popular book by J. Bergier and L. Pauwels, “The Morning of the Magicians”, in which this connection was less clear, but there was much discussion of the memories of the politician H. Rauschning (they were even used by the prosecution at the Nuremberg Trials). Subsequently these memories of his many meetings with A. Hitler were dismissed as having no possibility of existence, but the content of these conversations seems to have been inspired by apparent fantasies at the top of the Third Reich about magical weapons that were to be found by the Ahnenerbe and used for anti-human purposes.
Yes, the figure of H.P. Blavatsky was most likely the largest in the field of non-denominational spiritual teachings in the XIX century (at the same time, few outside theosophy know that, having received inoculation of séances in her younger years, Helena Petrovna then very strongly expressed against spiritualism as a dangerous and uncontrollable way of contact with the other world, which can bring all kinds of mental infections to its irresponsible contactors and participants of the séances; opponents of theosophy, of course, explain this position by her simple fear of competition “for the souls of neophytes”). But to explain the variegated and sometimes destructive influence of the New Age, which originated in the the XIX century, by the noxiousness of ideas introduced into the public consciousness with the help of H.P. Blavatsky, is like blaming Christ (whose grandeur, however, it is impossible for H.P. Blavatsky to compete with) for the Inquisition, the persecution and burning of schismatics, ritual emasculation, phrenetic ecstatic dances and other fanatical cruelties with which Christian confessions and sects of all kinds (and, as a consequence, the state systems that patronized them) stained themselves.
The Mahatmas, as it follows from various theosophical sources, are not followers of Tibetan Buddhism or Hinduism, or adherents of Tantra (although they belonged in their time to these traditions). Their task, which they did not conceal, was to give some revelation of the essence of the knowledge available to them about the creation of the world, man, etc. for the harmonization of the accelerated development of mankind. This knowledge in all religions and in all peoples of mankind was preserved only partially. The same applies to Tibet – this is clearly stated in the Introductory to the SD, as well as the fact that the incorrectly called “Esoteric Buddhism” is not about the well-known ordinary Buddhism. But about an ancient sacred doctrine underlying all ancient religions and not being preserved without distortion in any of them (!).
Modern theosophy is the very first such an extensive attempt to systematize numerous branches of religious, philosophical, and scientific knowledge, which, among other things, was to demonstrate the idea that the entire universe is filled with consciousness manifesting in different forms. From the moment of the beginning of its visible existence to the moment of the next pralaya, the so-called death of the universe, consciousness (alaya-vijñana if we confine ourselves to Yogachara terminology) determined the guiding lines of the evolution of the natural kingdoms and human cultures, including all kinds of religious systems. And if semiosis differs in time and space, this does not mean that there are no common roots and that life is devoid of a global creative principle (or divine essence). Common roots are preconditioned by physical (in the broadest sense) reality itself. Some people prefer to do very thorough and scrupulous research in this direction on a very limited scale (and their results can be used later simply as more reliable), while others, having the means to see the wood for the trees (including those who have earned the right to see directly into subtle realities), can in their creativity do broader strokes or even make some not too reliable conclusions, sometimes having behind them quite real prototypes. At the same time, while being wrong in small things, one can be right in big ones – this situation is familiar to many even at the mundane level.
What combination of rationally acquired and irrationally comprehended knowledge is formed in the life and work of this or that eminent person is always a question. Errare humanum est, but remembering the divine wisdom with which eminent men are graced and which they imprint in catchphrases, quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi. Therefore, one measure, one practice, one lens is impossible for all occasions. Nevertheless, H.P. Blavatsky's creative legacy is far from just broad strokes and specific inaccuracies and mistakes. This should be obvious to any unbiased researcher.
However, every realization has its proper time. This is also mentioned in the Mahamangala Sutta, which S. Kuvaev also took a particular liking to. It was recorded for the first time, of course, not in Tibetan, but in Pali:
"... kālena dhammassavanaṃ,
etaṃ maṅgalamuttamaṃ <...>
etaṃ maṅgalamuttamaṃ …"
Let not our Buddhist scholar think, as he has developed the habit of thinking in regard to 19th-century theosophists, that not only they tried but also I am now trying to join the ranks of those who seek to impress others "as experts in Buddhist literature and its languages". The translations and dictionaries available to everyone for comparison tell us that this text means verbatim a very difficult but necessary thing to do:
"... listening to the Dharma at the right time:
this is the greatest blessing <...>.
discussing on the Dharma at the right time:
this is the greatest blessing ... "
अरे चञ्चलमनो बुद्धानुयायिन् । येन न श्रुतं वाक्यं यत्प्रोक्तं तथागतेनान्यश्रावकाणाम् । य असङ्गेन तुषितेऽपि लोके सुलब्धो मध्यान्तविभङ्गः सोऽयं प्रयुज्यताम् । अदृष्टबोधिसत्त्वानां तीर्थेषु मध्यां प्रतिपदं प्रपश्येति ॥
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