In the summer of 2006 I discussed with some Theosophical
friends the paper
on Narayan on which I was working then (1). As we knew
that Jean was getting frail we came to the conclusion that
it would be fair to send her my draft in order for her to
be able to respond if she so wished. At that moment the
basic argument of the paper, i.e. that Narayan could not
be identified with Nagaratnaswami, was already fully formulated
and argued. She promptly sent me the rejoinder above [below],
dated August 12, 2006, with the request to have it published
with the paper. In April of 2007 I send her another draft,
which only differed from the first one in that it had much
more additional material, though with the basic argument
unchanged. I did receive a much shorter response, which
was substantially not different from the first. I did not
respond formally to her rejoinder because I was waiting
for the article to be published first, which did not happen
till December 2009, as Prof. Santucci was very busy with
the workload of being chair of his department.
Meanwhile Jean passed away in April of 2009 and so she
was never able to read the final product, though it was
not that different from the April 2007 draft. This puts
me in the slightly awkward situation of debating an issue
while my opponent is not there anymore. What to do? I could
just leave her response as the last word, or, and I toyed
with that idea, I could develop her position further, out
of deference to her, with possible additional reasons and
maybe some documented facts. Not unlike a chess player helping
out his opponent to increase the level of the game. But,
rereading her response, I think the fairest course would
be to give both my straight answer and to develop further
some of her ideas, especially her "erroneous projection"
thesis. Giving a straight answer might not be that easy,
because her letter is not clearly structured in its argumentation
and is not addressing the core of my argument. So, I will
have to read between the lines and hope that if I make a
factual mistake or a fallacious argument somebody will point
1. [Editors Note: The article
appeared in Theosophical
History, Vol. XIV, No. 1-2 (Jan.-Apr. 2008): 11-46.]
Jean Overton Fuller to Govert Schuller
21 August 06
Dear Govert Schuller,
Thank you for sending me a copy of your paper. If you are
getting it published, please add to it my rejoinder, herewith
Jean Overton Fuller
Such an array of names and dates makes me dizzy, and rather
than take up each point separately I think it will be better
if I just state my own position, which appears to have been
misunderstood. I do believe in the Masters. I have always
done so. It was Leadbeater's book The Masters and the
Path which brought me into the Theosophical Society.
But I see the point being made by Krishnamurti. He never
said the Masters did not exist or that there was anything
wrong with them. He did say that in claiming inspiration
from a being one had not met on the physical plane there
is always the danger one may get him wrong. If one misquotes
someone, one knows on the physical plane he call pull one
up, say no he did not say that, he is being misrepresented.
But where the alleged communicator is not known on the physical
plane, anything can be projected on to him, unchecked, and
there is the danger - terribly real - that one may be projecting
on to him pet ideas of one's own that happen to be erroneous.
This indeed is what I believe happened with Anrias. He knows
that Wood made more than one visit to India, that on the
first he met a blind man of great wisdom. On his return,
some years later he learned that his old friend had died.
Anrias now came on the scene and claimed to have got in
touch with this wise man, psychically, but the ideas he
projects on to him show so grievous a misunderstanding of
Krishnamurti's point that it can only come from Anrias's
I have nevertheless read his sketches of the Masters with
interest, especially the one on the third, whom he says
was Paolo Veronese. I had thought he might have been Albrecht
Durer, whose self-portrait is so very full of occult symbols.
See my article on this.
Howerver, in the year Durer died Veronese was born so,
though we have not the date, it seems possible Durer reincarnated
as Veronese - who did move to Venice.
He sees Hilarion as having been St. Paul. So do I, but
I wish he would not connect him with modern Spiritualism.
A better connection would have been Christian Science. Founded
in 1875, the same year as the Theosophical Society, it would
well have formed an alternative expression of the centennial
impulse for those whose temperaments channeled them more
towards the Masters Jesus and Hilarion.
Jean Overton Fuller
Govert Schullers response to Jean Overton Fuller
First, I'm not sure which of her positions she is referring
to as being misunderstood by me. It initially seems to be
about if I understood correctly or not that she and Krishnamurti
believed in the existence of the Masters, as she explicitly
confirms her own belief and makes the case Krishnamurti
did so also. If that is he case then I have to say that
I nowhere put her or K's belief into question, which I would
not do in the first place because I know they both indeed
have professed that belief, nor would I have any reason
to bring their belief into doubt as it is not relevant to
any of the arguments in my paper. Or, and this is another
possibility, she thinks I misunderstood what she thinks
was the actual nature of the interaction between the blind
yogi and Anrias, with her position that Anrias somehow psychically
contacted the yogi after his death, but then projected all
his misunderstandings of Krishnamurti unto the sage, while
my understanding of her position was that the two never
could have met as the adept had surely died before Anrias
came to India and that therefore Anrias' Mahatmic
messenger was as fictional as Fuller thought that Scott's
characters were. If this would be the case, then I have
to say that it is only here in the above rejoinder that
she makes for the first time the explicit charge of Anrias
projecting errors unto a real, albeit deceased, yogi. In
her Krishnamurti biography she clearly implies that the
crucial flaw in the Anrias claim of meeting the sage and
receiving the criticisms of Krishnamurti was to be found
in the fact that the sage had died, not that there was a
possible post-mortem connection with erroneous projections
as she stated above.
Now, for arguments sake, let's accept her "erroneous
projection" thesis and see how her other facts fare.
The first (slightly) problematic idea is that she just posits
without supporting facts or reasoning that Anrias knew that
Wood had been in India and met the blind yogi in 1910. This
is of course not impossible and to give a helping hand I
would argue that, because Anrias lived at Adyar for around
two years, from 1925 till 1927, he could have met Ernest
Wood there and heard firsthand the story of the blind yogi
from him. I did not find any confirming evidence that Wood
was actually in Adyar in those years though. On the contrary.
Leadbeater's biographer Gregory Tillett places Wood at the
Manor in Sydney in the summer of 1925 with Leadbeater and
from 1928 on as his close co-worker and he is not mentioned
as part of the Leadbeater party going to the 1925 Theosophical
Society golden jubilee (The Elder Brother, pp. 218,
220 & 244). The other possibility is that Anrias might
have heard from other Theosophists at Adyar the story of
the blind yogi, as there had been this discussion about
the possibility that this yogi was Narayan and if he was
Mahatma Morya's guru or pupil.
A graver problem is Fuller's supposed timeline in stating
that Anrias came on the scene after Wood had learned the
yogi had died. Wood wrote in 1936 that he had passed by
the yogi's village in 1933 and heard only then he had died.
Anrias' messages from the yogi were published in 1932 a
full year before Wood could have passed on this knowledge.
As in her Krishnamurti biography, her Anrias chronology
is somewhat sloppy.
Anyway, in the end, the strength of her arguments is quite
problematic in the light of the fact that Wood's blind sage
could not be equated with Anrias' Rishi, a central issue
she unfortunately did not address.
Having said that, is there a chance that by a little tweaking
here and there one could salvage her thesis that the origin
of Anrias' criticisms of Krishnamurti had their origin in
erroneous projections unto a meta-empirical Mahatmic character?
Well, to begin, the Wood material on Nagaratnaswami will
probably have to be tossed and then sources in which some
of the Narayan material was presented will have to found,
which were plausibly available to Anrias either in India
during his stay there between 1918 and 1927 and/or in Great
Britain in the 1927-1932 period when he was there leading
up to his publication of Through the Eyes of the Masters.
Strong candidate sources would be Olcott's Old Diary
Leaves, Vol I (1895); Bailey's Initiation (1922);
Leadbeater's Lives (1923) and The Masters and
the Path (1925); and Besant's Agastya revelations in
The Theosophist (1929). All of them probably should
have been quite easily available to anybody moving in Theosophical
circles either in India or Great Britain in those days.
And it would provide enough material to get the idea of
the existence of this important master who might be contacted
psychically and might provide deep answers to the Krishnamurti
conundrum, though the answers received, according to Jean,
were erroneous projections.
The possibility also remains, Theosophically speaking,
that Scott and Anrias were genuine contactees and that their
critique of Krishnamurti was esoterically correct. Somewhere
else I argued that the fact that their ideas did not have
much traction in the Adyar TS was due to Adyar Theosophists
suffering from a variation of post-traumatic stress disorder
triggered by the failed world teacher project. The variation
is abused person syndrome with Krishnamurti in the role
of abuser by bashing both Theosophy and Theosophists and
Adyar Theosophists (with notable exceptions like Leadbeater,
Scott, Anrias and Hodson) in the role of abused ones idealizing
the abuser and rationalizing the abuse as justified. (See
State of the TS (Adyar) in 2008: A Psycho-esoteric Interpretation"
[accessed July 23, 2010])
Alternately, in order to give all metaphysical positions
their due, it could be argued--taking a materialist-reductionist
position--that both Anrias and Scott just made it all up
as there are neither masters to be contacted nor psychic
means to do so. Maybe they thought they had to do some Platonic
"noble lying" to save the Adyar Theosophists from
Krishnamurti's iconoclasm, or they were pranksters with
a deviant sense of humor, or they were just delusional,
with their sensitive, creative, over-imaginative minds impregnated
with Theosophical fantasies which had originated with the
arch-fantasist and highly accomplished hypnotist, stage
magician, forger and fraudster, Madame Blavatsky herself.
For now I'm still with Scott and Anrias, though the last
possibility is gaining plausibility in my mind as I'm trying
to think through the implications of the many dubious historical
claims made by Blavatsky and will have to revalue the basic
assumptions on which Theosophy rests, which I have not sufficiently
done. This will have to be investigated very seriously,
even if only it enables a deeper understanding (to bring
it back again to the main protagonist in this issue) of
Krishnamurti's possibly justified wholesale rejection of
Theosophy in the late 1920s and his possibly opportunistic
rapprochement with Adyar in the 1980s.
All the above lines of possible inquiry are provisional
hypotheses for which the appropriate methodologies have
not yet firmly been established. It might look like as if
I am moving into a more reductionist etic position, but
that is not true. What I am looking for is a methodology,
which navigates between the poles of both axiomatic materialism
and religionism, including the Theosophical variant. In
this context I like to bring to the attention of both academics
and Theosophists the reflections of K Paul Johnson on his
experiences in investigating Theosophy and the methodological
issues involved in his article "Historian
as Heretic: Conflicting Perspectives on Theosophical History."
Interestingly, the philosopher whom Johnson found most helpful
in thinking through these methodological questions is also
the one who was asked by the Krishnamurti Foundation of
America to edit an anthology of Krishnamurti's writings,
which would be geared towards academic philosophers and
students of philosophy, and also wrote a small philosophical
study about Krishnamurti's teachings. See Raymond Martin
The Elusive Messiah: A Philosophical Overview of the
Quest for the Historical Jesus (Boulder, Co.: Westview
Press, 2000); Krishnamurti: Reflections on the Self,
edited by Raymond Martin (Chicago and LaSalle, IL.: Open
Court, 1997); and On Krishnamurti. Wadsworth Philosophers
Series (Belmont, Ca.: Wadsworth Publishing, 2003).
July 27, 2010
This communication appeared in Theosophical
History, Vol. XIV, No. 3-4 (July-Oct. 2010): 5-9.