Dr. Peebles, Mrs. Britten, and the Brahmo Samaj

These slides include quotes from my chapter in three cases, and from a crucial source in the fourth instance. Of the many characters who appear in the chapter, these four are the ones most relevant to this blog.

James Martin Peebles (1822-1922) is the only one of 32 individuals profiled in my The Masters Revealed (1994) as an important influence on Madame Blavatsky who might also have been a direct influence on Elbert Benjamine.  His natal chart is discussed in the Brotherhood of Light lessons and the last years of his long life were spent in Los Angeles. Fifty years earlier he had met Blavatsky’s circle in Cairo in 1872, two years later was present at the Eddy Brothers farmhouse in Vermont when she met Henry Steel Olcott, and provided fateful introductions to Buddhists in Ceylon and Spiritualists in India who subsequently become prominent Theosophists.

New in this book is the information that the Calcutta-based Brahmo movement, and not the Bombay-based Arya Samaj, was the earliest source of Indian recruits to the TS and that Peebles had been the catalyst. Peebles was a longtime ally of Emma Hardinge Britten, who had written a glowing preface to a biography of him, The Spiritual Pilgrim, by Joseph Osgood Barrett in 1871.  Peary Chand Mittra has received little attention in Theosophical history studies because he died so early in the Society’s existence in India. Yet his overall place in the Bengali literary renaissance of the 19th century as a highly influential novelist, editor, and activist reformer is increasingly well established. In 2o21 my attention will be focused on new projects but as 2020 ends I wanted to offer a brief glimpse of this publication from last January.