It is natural to feel a sense of awe when contemplating the Masters. However, it is not advisable to worship them and this becomes plain from the vignettes depicted in the letters. One in particular depicts Blavatsky demonstrating excessive devotion to her Master. She had not seen her Master (Morya) for some months and was overcome with enthusiasm. On seeing him come towards her mounted on his steed, she ran forward throwing herself prostate against his riding mantle much to his surprise. He was thrown off balance by such a demonstration of human devotion and had to use his power “to plunge her into a profound sleep, otherwise she would have burst some blood-vessel including kidneys, liver and her ‘interiors’ … in her delirious attempts to flatten her nose against his riding mantle besmeared with the Sikkim mud!” (Ibid, ML 54, 314)
As the Master Koot Hoomi expresses it in the Letters: “We are not gods.” Compared to average mortals, they are indeed wise, but we need to remember, they too are not “perfection writ large” and still retain certain very human qualities while working toward greater inclusiveness and fuller realization of the divine. (A. Trevor Barker, The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, Second Edition, Theosophical University Press, 1992. ML 28, 210)
In yet another letter, the same Master comments rather humorously: “we are far from being the heartless, morally dried up mummies some would fancy us to be. ‘Mejnour’ (the adept hero of Bulwer Lytton’s occult novel, Zanoni) is very well where he is – as an ideal character of a thrilling – in many respects truthful story. Yet believe me, few of us would care to play the part in life of a dessicated pansy between the leaves of solemn poetry.” (Ibid, ML 8, 32)
Then he continues in similar vein: “We may not be quite the ‘boys’ – to quote Olcott’s irreverent expression when speaking of us – yet none of our degree are like the stern hero of Bulwar’s romance. While the facilities of observation secured to some of us by our condition certainly give a greater breadth of view, a more pronounced and impartial, as a more widely humaneness … we might justly maintain that it is the business of ‘magic’ to humanize our natures with compassion for the whole mankind as all living beings, instead of concentrating and limiting our affection to one predilected race – yet few of us (except such as have attained the final negation of Moksha) can so far enfranchise ourselves from the influence of our earthly connection as to be insusceptible in various degrees to the higher pleasures, emotions, and interests of the common run of humanity.” (Ibid, ML 8, 32)
Blavatsky, who had numerous genuine experiences of her Master not only in India and Tibet, but also in Europe and England, simply described the Masters in a letter to a friend in July 1890 as “Living men, not spirits…. Their knowledge and learning are immense and their present holiness of life is still greater. Still they are mortal men….”
Interestingly, Annie Besant, who later became president of The International Theosophical Society, also had direct experiences of the Masters, including one that involved the Adept Jesus. He left in her possession a locket on a gold chain with a two inch oval picture of himself in it. At the time she was rather anti-Christianity as a result of abusive treatment by the Catholic nuns of her childhood schooling. The Master advised her to wear the locket; soon after this event, around 1901, she felt compelled and inspired to write the book, Esoteric Christianity.
Despite the misguided efforts of some academicians to try and prove otherwise, there is well-documented evidence demonstrating that a number of individuals in the pioneer days of The Theosophical Society, apart from Blavatsky, had first-hand experiences of the Masters. In his book, The Mahatmas and Their Letters, British theosophist, Geoffrey Barborka reports no less than 25 persons having genuine meetings.
There is the bona fide story of Henry Steel Olcott, co-founder of The Theosophical Society with Blavatsky and William Q. Judge, experiencing the real appearance of his Master, K.H., while travelling, giving talks, and meeting with potential theosophists close to the city of Lahore, now in Pakistan. (Geoffrey A. Barborka, The Mahatmas and Their Letters, The Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, 1973, 236 – 237)
It occurred during the month of November 1883. The colonel was sleeping in his tent on the night of the 19th when he felt a hand laid on him. His first instinct was to protect himself and so he clutched “the stranger” and asked him in Hindustani who he was and what he wanted. But in the next moment a kind voice said, “Do you not know me? Do you not remember me?” It was the voice of the Master K.H. Olcott comments that he wanted to jump out of bed to show his respect. However the hand and voice restrained him from doing so.
The Master stood quietly beside his bed for a time, from which, he, Olcott, could see the divinely, benign face by the light of the lamp. Then Olcott felt some soft substance forming in his left hand and realized there was a folded paper enwrapped in a silken cloth. He found it to be a long letter of “private counsel” which referred to Olcott’s affiliation with the Brotherhood in America and other matters.