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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Eglinton, William

(1857-1933). An English medium to whom the Mahatmas demonstrated proofs of their existence and powers.

Eglinton was born on July 10, 1857, in Islington, London, England. His father investigated spiritualism and had participated in séances but with no apparent results. When William joined one such session, phenomena began to manifest. The table being used by the participants rose so high that they had to stand. He eventually became a professional medium. He was apparently highly respected as a medium and did not resort to any fraudulent acts to produce phenomena.

William Eglinton
    William Eglinton

In 1881, Eglinton went to Calcutta, where he continued his spiritualistic activities. There he met Theosophists and became interested in Theosophy and the phenomena associated with H. P. Blavatsky. As a medium, he had a spirit guide named Ernest. Because the guide did not tell him about the Brothers or the Adepts, he did not believe in their existence. On one occasion, however, the Mahatma Morya apparently intervened. In a letter to A. P. Sinnett received on March 18, 1882, the Mahatma K.H. wrote: “Eglinton was preparing to depart leaving on poor Mrs. G.’s [Gordon’s] mind the fear that she had been deceived; that there were no “Brothers” since Eglinton had denied their existence and that the ‘Spirits’ were silent as to that problem. Last week then M., stalking in, into the motley crowd took the spooks by the skin of their throats and, — the result was the unexpected admission of the Brothers, the actual existence and the honour claimed of a personal acquaintance with the ‘Illustrious.’ The lesson for you and others, derived from the above, may be useful in future — events having to grow and to develop” (ML 54, p. 149)

On March 15, 1882, Eglinton left for England aboard SS Vega. On March 22, after the ship left Ceylon (Sri Lanka), he was visited by the Mahatma K.H. in the latter’s mayavi-rupa or illusory body. This fully convinced Eglinton of the existence of the Mahatmas. He wrote a letter while on board, which was phenomenally received on the 24th in Bombay and Calcutta, which are on the western and eastern ends of India respectively. Six persons attested to the receipt of Eglinton’s letter in Bombay on the 24th before it was retransmitted to Calcutta on the same day in the presence of Henry Steel Olcott and of Col. and Mrs. W. Gordon. From above the head of Mrs. Gordon fell the letter of Eglinton that was written on board the Vega on the same day, as well as a letter from H. P. Blavatsky from Bombay also dated on the 24th. These were accompanied by a card of Eglinton containing the handwriting of Mahatmas K.H. and M. The letter from Eglinton affirmed his complete belief in the Mahatmas. A month later, the Mahatma K.H. wrote to A. P. Sinnett saying, “This – to prove that living men can appear – thro’ such excellent mediums – in London, even tho’ themselves at Tsi-gadze, Tibet.”

Eglinton was regarded by the Mahatma K.H. as an honest medium (ML 38, p. 108) and was considered by the Adepts to serve as an agent through which phenomena could be manifested. In a letter to A. P. Sinnett dated April 27, 1882, the Mahatma K.H. wrote: “If you or Mr. Hume are really anxious to see me — (or rather my astral Self) there’s a chance for you. H.P.B. is too old and not passive enough. Besides she has done too many services to be forced into it. With Mr. Eglinton, and he willing, the thing would become easy. Profit then by the chance offered; in a year more it WILL BE TOO LATE” (ML 57, p. 153). It appears that nothing came out of this offer.

Two years after these events, one of those attending the séances of Eglinton in England was a young Anglican curate, Charles W. Leadbeater. Having heard of the Mahatmas, Leadbeater decided to try to communicate with them by writing to the Mahatmas through Eglinton. He did this in March, 1884, and did not receive any reply till October 31, 1884, when the Mahatma K.H. wrote his first letter to Leadbeater which began as follows: “Last spring – March the 3rd – you wrote a letter to me and entrusted it to ‘Ernest’. Tho' the paper itself never reached me – nor was it ever likely to, considering the nature of the messenger – its contents have” (LMW 1, Letter 7).

Eglinton died in Kent, England, on March 10, 1933.

Bibliography: Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, chronological edition, (Manila: Theosophical Publishing House); Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, Series 1 (Adyar, Chennai: Theosophical Publishing House); Blavatsky Collected Writings (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House) vol. 3.

Vicente R. Hao Chin, Jr.

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