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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Mahatma Letters To A.P. Sinnett, The

Possibly one of the most significant of all theosophical books as an early source of information about the Ancient Wisdom. The book consists of letters said to have been sent by the Mahātmas KOOT HOOMI and MORYA to Alfred Percy SINNETT and Alan Octavian HUME over a period of some six years (1880-1886). The originals of the letters have been turned over to the British Museum for permanent safekeeping. They have been microfilmed, copies of which were given to major theosophical centers.

A. P. Sinnett died in 1921 and the letters came under the care of his executrix, Maud Hoffman. She in turn asked A. Trevor Barker to edit and publish them as a book. The first edition came out in December 1923, followed by a revised edition in 1926. In 1962, a third edition was prepared by Christmas Humphreys and Elsie Benjamin who carefully reviewed the transcriptions from the original letters. In these three editions, the letters were arranged according to subject matters. As a result, some letters were split up to suit the subject headings.

Since they were published, attempts were made to identify the dates of the letters since most of them were not dated by the Mah€tmas, although Sinnett would sometimes put a note regarding when a letter was received. Seven chronological listings of the letters have been made: those by Mary K. Neff, Margaret G. Conger, Beatrice Hastings, James Arthur, G. H. Slyfield, K. F. Vania, and George Linton/Virginia Hanson. Linton and Hanson published a Readers’ Guide to the Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, where the letters are sequenced according to their probable dates of receipt.

In 1993, a chronological edition was published by the Theosophical Publishing House in Manila, Philippines. It was compiled and edited by Vicente Hao Chin, Jr. based on the chronological sequence of Linton and Hanson. It also contained introductory notes to each letter penned by Virginia Hanson. This edition also included all other known letters received by Sinnett and Hume from Mah€tmas (such as the “Mahāchohan’s letter”) but which were not included in the previous editions.

The letters were private correspondence not intended to be published for a public readership and Barker’s act in doing so has been questioned by some, but a large majority of theosophists have felt grateful that the letters have become accessible.

P.S.H./V.H.C.

© Copyright by the Theosophical Publishing House, Manila

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