Henry Steel Olcott
1832 - 1907

   

HENRY STEEL OLCOTT se je rodil 2. avgusta 1832 v Združenih Dražavah Amerike. Že zgodaj je pokazal svojo izjemno nadarjenost za znanstveno kmetovanje. Njegove knjige in spisi o tem predmetu so bili splošno znani in deležni časti, kar mu je prineslo ponudbe, da bi zasedel pomembne položaje, tako doma kot v tujini.

Ko je leta 1861 izbruhnila državljanska vojna, se je priključil armadi Severa. Kmalu mu je bila zaupana občutljiva in težavna naloga odkrivanja in razkrivanja velikih prevar in zločinov, ki so jih počenjali brezobzirni goljufi, ne da bi se ozirali na dobrobit vojakov in mornarjev. Z velikim pogumom se je boril proti obrekovanju in nasprotovanju vojske in mornarice, da bi postavil stvari na pravo mesto. Za svoje uspešno delo, častno služenje in neomajen pogum je bil deležen mnogih pohval in bil povišan na položaj polkovnika.

Polkovnik Olcott se je poročil in imel štiri otroke, s katerimi je vedno ohranil stik. Od žene se je ločil potem, ko je srečal H.P.B. in bil prisiljen sprejeti življenjsko odločitev.

Leta 1865 se je polkovnik Olcott odpovedal svojemu položaju v vojski in se odločil za odvetništvo ter se specializiral za carinske, finančne in zavarovalniške primere. Kmalu je bil na čelu svoje branže in njegovo pravno mnenje in zastopanje je bilo zelo iskano. Imenovan je bil na položaj tajnika in direktorja National Insurance Convention z namenom, da bi uredil in poenostavil zakone, ki so vplivali na delovanje zavarovalniških podjetij. Njegov statut je šel skozi državen postopek sprejemanja, njegovi objavljeni zapisi o konferenci pa so postali merodajno delo o zavarovalništvu v ZDA. Če se ne bi postavil na stran nasprotnikov tedanjega predsednika ZDA, bi bil imenovan za finančnega ministra.

Že zgodaj v življenju se je zanimal za mesmerizem in hipnotizem ter odkril, da ima zdravilske in hipnotizerske darove, katere je kasneje s pridom uporabil. Spiritualistično gibanje je pritegnilo previdno pozornost znanstvenikov, in ko so leta 1874 osupnili svet pojavi na domačiji Eddyjevih, je polkovnik Olcott na podlagi poročil, v kolikor so resnična, spoznal njih pomembnost in se odločil, da se odpravi v Chittenden in za New York Daily Graphic popiše svoja opažanja, ki so, potem ko so bila objavljena, obkrožila svet. Prav tu, na domačiji Eddyjevih v Chittendenu je srečal H.P.B., ki je nazorno prikazala svoje moči in ga prepričala v določena dejstva o "drugem svetu"; predvsem pa sta sklenila trajno prijateljstvo.

Z rastjo medsebojnega zaupanja ga je H.P.B. začela učiti okultizma in ga privedla v stik z mnogimi Mojstri. Končno je postal 'učenec' Mojstra Morya, kateremu se je povsem predal. Mojstra, ki sta navdihnila oblikovanje Teozofskega društva, sta že dolgo tega načrtovala njegovo sodelovanje pri njegovem ustanavljanju in razvoju. Leta 1878 je polkovnik Olcott izgubil tako svoje bogastvo kot položaj. Svoje čudovite darove je brez zadržka položil na oltar velikega ideala - 'sveto delo za Človeštvo' - kateremu je v posvetil preostanek svojega izjemnega življenja.

V Društvu je postopoma vzpostavil sistem, ki velja še dandanes. Skupaj s H.P.B. sta kupila posestvo v Adyarju pri Madrasu in ga leta 1882 vzpostavila kot glavni stan Društva. Od tu se je Društvo razširilo po vsem svetu. Člani so se povezovali v avtonomne lože in te v avtonomne sekcije ali nacionalna društva, ki jih je povezovala pripadnost Pravilom, ki jih je sprejel Generalni svet, oziroma vladajoče telo društva.
 
 

Leta 1885 je polkovnik Olcott ustanovil Adyar Library in si zagotovil podporo velikih religij. Knjižnica je postala zelo bogata in v njej se nahajajo mnoge redke in ragocene knjige in rokopisi. Postala je ena od najbolj bogatih orientalskih knjižnic sveta.

Poleg svojega neomajnega dela za Društvo, v imenu katerega je potoval in predaval v mnogih deželah, je vzpodbudil k obnovi delovanja mnoga gibanja. V Indiji je promoviral ponovno oživitev sanskrita, ki je znova postal živi jezik. Zasnoval je hindujske šole, gibanja, knjižnice in mladinski časopis; vzpodbudil je organizacijo prve razstave indijske umetnosti in obrti ter načrtoval inštitut za tehnološko izobraževanje v Barodi. Podprl je neformalno ustanovno konferenco Women's National Society - predhodnico gibanja za celovito emancipacijo žena, ki je sedaj realnost. Odprl je mnoge brezplačne šole za zelo revne in zatrte razrede, ki so sedaj znane kot Harijans. Vlada je postopoma prevzela te šole v svoje okrilje, vendar pa ostaja ena šola v spomin na polkovnika Olcotta tesno povezana z Adyarjem in je deležna prostovoljne finančne pomoči s strani Društva.

Polkovnik Olcott je ceylonske buddhiste rešil verskega preganjanja in zasnoval močno in trajno buddhistično izobraževalno gibanje. Počasi je izgradil bratstvo med sektami na Ceylonu, Burmi, Siamu in Japonskem ter med severnim in južnim buddhizmom. Njegov dobro znani Buddhistični Katekizem se še sedaj uporablja kot mednarodni priročnik ter je doživel okoli petdeset izdaj ter bil preveden v več kot dvajset jezikov.

 
Polkovnik Olcott je bil deležen precejšnjih časti v mnogih deželah. Umrl je v Adyarju, 17, februarja 1907. Podrobnosti o delu polkovnika Olcotta za Društvo in druga gibanja - še posebej za buddhizem - naj se bralci obrnejo na njegovih šest zvezkov Old Diary Leaves, na The Golden Book of the Theosophical Society, A Short History of the Theosophical Society, The Theosophist, in na Annual Reports.

Izvleček iz knjige Josephine Ransom
The Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Book of the T.S., 1950.

HENRY STEEL OLCOTT was born 2 August 1832 in the United States of America. He early showed a marked ability for scientific agriculture. His books and writings on this subject were widely known and honors were heaped upon him, as well as offers of important posts at home and abroad.

When Civil War broke out in 1861 Olcott enlisted in the Northern Army. Presently he was entrusted with the delicate and arduous task of detecting and exposing the gross frauds and crimes perpetrated by unscrupulous peculators regardless of the welfare of soldiers and  sailors. He fought with great courage calumny and opposition both in the Army and in the Navy to put matters right. He was highly complimented for his successful, honorable services and unfaltering courage.  He was raised to the rank of Colonel.

Colonel Olcott had married and had four children, with whom he always kept in touch. His wife was estranged from him through his choice of life after meeting H.P.B. She obtained a divorce and remarried.

In 1865 Colonel Olcott resigned his commission and applied himself to becoming a Barrister, after which he specialized in Customs, Revenue and Insurance cases. He was soon at the front of his profession, and his legal opinions and advocacy were eagerly sought. He  was appointed Secretary and Director of the National Insurance Convention called to codify and simplify the laws affecting Insurance Companies. The Statute drafted by him and another was passed by the State Legislatures. His published notes on the Conference became the standard work on Insurance in the US. Had he not taken sides against the then U. S. President, he would have been appointed Treasurer.

Early in his life Colonel Olcott had taken an interest in mesmerism and hypnotism and found himself in possession of healing and hypnotic gifts, of which he later made striking and effective use. The Spiritualistic Movement was engaging the cautious attention of scientists. When in 1874 the phenomena at the Eddy Homestead startled the world, Colonel Olcott read reports about them and realized their importance, if true. He went on behalf of the New York Daily Graphic to Chittenden, and wrote up his observations which, when published, were copied throughout the world. It was here in the Eddy Homestead, Chittenden, Vt., that  H.P.B. came to meet Colonel Olcott, and to demonstrate her powers, thus convincing him of certain facts about “the Other World”, and above all to form with him that comradeship which lasted throughout their lives.

As that friendship grew, H.P.B. began to teach Occultism to him, and brought him into touch with several of the Masters. Finally he became a 'pupil' of the Master Morya, to whom he gave a rich and vigorous devotion. The two Masters who inspired the formation of the Theosophical Society had long planned for his assistance in founding and developing it. By 1878 Colonel Olcott had lost both wealth and position. He laid all his splendid gifts unreservedly upon the altar of a great Ideal - 'the holy cause of Humanity' - to which he gave unswerving allegiance for the rest of his remarkable life.

For the Society he gradually brought into being the system of organization which still prevails. He and H.P.B, acquired an estate in the Adyar district of Madras and made it the Society's permanent Headquarters, 1882. From there the Society spread all over the world. Members grouped themselves into autonomous Lodges and Lodges into autonomous Sections, or National Societies, all bound together by a common adherence to the Rules as laid down by the General Council or Governing Body.

In 1885 Colonel Olcott founded the Adyar Library, enlisting for it the support of the great religions. The Library has grown very rich in the possession of many rare and valuable books and manuscripts. It has become one of the greatest Oriental Libraries in the world.

In addition to his unceasing work for the Society on whose behalf he traveled and lectured in many lands, he stimulated many revivals. In India he promoted the revival of Sanskrit, now beginning once more to be a living language. He started Hindu schools, leagues, libraries, and a magazine for boys; promoted the first exhibition of India’s own arts and crafts, and planned an institute of technological education in Baroda; he sponsored an informal conference on the possibility of a Women's National Society - the forerunner of the  movement for the full emancipation of women, which has now come to pass. He started free schools for the very poor and depressed classes now known as Harijans. The Government took over most of these schools, but one remains in close association with Adyar in memory of Colonel Olcott and receives some voluntary financial support throughout the Society.

Colonel Olcott secured for Ceylon Buddhists freedom from religious persecution, and started the strong and enduring Buddhist Educational Movement. Gradually he built up fraternization between the sects of Ceylon, Burma, Siam and Japan, and between Northern and Southern Buddhism. His famous Buddhist Catechism, still used as an international textbook, has run into about fifty editions and has been translated into more than twenty languages.

Colonel Olcott became a much honored man in many countries. He died at Adyar on 17 February 1907. For the details of Colonel Olcott s services to the Society, and to other causes - particularly Buddhism - readers should consult: Old Diary Leaves, in six volumes; The Golden Book of the Theosophical Society, A Short History of the Theosophical Society, The Theosophist, and the Annual Reports. More ...

From Josephine Ransom's
The Seventy-Fifth Anniversary Book of the T.S., 1950.

Njegova dela in internetni viri

His works and online resources

H. S. Olcott - Stoletna dediščina
Polkovnik Olcott - Njegova podpora Buddhizmu
H. S. Olcott - A One-Hundred Year Legacy
Colonel Olcott - His Service to Buddhism

Olcott, Henry Steele, (1832-1907)
Spomin na H. S. Olcotta, Sarah Belle Dougherty

Olcott, Henry Steele, (1832-1907)
Remembering H. S. Olcott by Sarah Belle Dougherty

Beli buddhist:
Henry Steel Olcott and sinhalski buddhistični preporod,
Stephen Prothero
Beli buddhist: azijska odiseja Henryja Steela Olcotta,
komentar, Gananath Obeyesekere
Beli buddhist: azijska odiseja Henryja Steela Olcotta,
komentar, Jacob N. Kinnard

The White Buddhist:
Henry Steel Olcott and the Sinhalese Buddhist Revival
By Stephen Prothero
The White Buddhist: The Asian Odyssey of Henry Steel Olcott
Reviewed by Gananath Obeyesekere
The White Buddhist: The Asian Odyssey of Henry Steel Olcott
Reviewed by Jacob N. Kinnard

Poiščite pisma in članke H. S. Olcotta na Blavatsky Archives.

Search for H. S. Olcott's letters and articles on Blavatsky Archives.

Povzetek arijske morale
Praktična teozofija
Asketizem
Buddhizem in znanost
Buddhistični katekizem
Značajski oris Madame Blavatsky
Vzhodnjaška magija in zahodnjaški spiritualizem
Temeljna buddhistična verovanja
Kako najbolje postati teozof
Madam Blavatsky in lamaserija
Skrivna poroka Madam Blavatsky
Max Muller o ezoteriki
Listi starega dnevnika 1 - 6
O Buddhi in buddhizmu
O teozofiji
Ljudje iz drugega sveta
Projekcija dvojnika
Psihometrija in branje akashe
Reinkarnacija
Spiritualizem
Spiritualizem in teozofija
Začetki zdravljenja
Skupen temelj vseh religij
Dharma ali nauk
Zlata pravila buddhizma
Buddhovo življenje in Njegove lekcije
Mojster K. H. v Lahoreju
Risanje portretov Adeptov
Umiranje ptice
Možno odkritje skrivnosti psihopatičnega zdravljenja
Duh zoroastrske religije
Teozofsko društvo in njegovi nameni
Vampir
Okultne znanosti
Teozofija ali materializem - kaj?
Teozofija - znanstvena osnova religije
Teozofija: njeni prijatelji in sovražniki
Teozofija: religija in okultna znanost

An Epitome of Aryan Morals
Applied Theosophy
Ascetism
Buddhism and Science
Buddhist Catechism
Character Sketch of Madame Blavatsky
Eastern Magic and Western Spiritualism
Fundamental Beliefs of Buddhism
How best to become a Theosophist
Madame Blavatsky at the Lamasery
Madame Blavatsky's Secret Marriage
Max Muller on Esotericism
Old Diary Leaves 1 - 6
On Buddha and Buddhism
On Theosophy
People From the Other World
Projection of the Double
Psychometry and Akashic Readings
Reincarnation
Spiritualism
Spiritualism and Theosophy
Starting to Heal
The Common Foundation of All Religions
The Dharma or Doctrine
The Golden Rules of Buddhism
The Life of Buddha and Its Lessons
The Master K. H. at Lahore
The Painting of Adept Portraits
The Passing of a Bird
The Possible Discovery of the Secret of Psychopathic Healing
The Spirit of the Zoroastrian Religion
The Theosophical Society and Its Aims
The Vampire
The Occult Sciences
Theosophy or Materialism - Which?
Theosophy the Scientific Basis of Religion
Theosophy: Its Friends and Enemies
Theosophy: Religion and Occult Science

HENRY STEEL OLCOTT, President-Founder of The Theosophical Society was born at Orange, New Jersey, 2 August, 1832. His ancestry was English Puritan, and of the same family as Dr. John Alcocke, who, in the reign of Henry VII, became Bishop of Ely and in 1496 founded Jesus College, Cambridge, over the entrance of which is to be seen his coat of arms of three cock’s heads with other symbols. As Madame Blavatsky’s family has the same heraldic crest, Col. Olcott placed a bas-relief over the door of the Western Library, Adyar, combining the two, placing the standing cock of the Hahns in the centre and the three heads, of the Alcockes, in triangle form, around it. The name Alcocke gradually changed into several forms, one of which was Olcott. One of the family, Thomas Olcott (Alcott) migrated to America and settled first at Hartford, Conn., and then at Cambridge, Mass., 1635, and helped to form a new Colony.

There is not much trace of Henry Olcott’s early education, but the later stages were continued at the University of New York, with emphasis on the scientific side of agriculture. A crash in his father’s business compelled him in 1851 to seek work elsewhere. A friend advised him to try Cleveland, O. There he fell into despondency over his position. He was advised to go to Elyria, O., where he worked a 50-acre farm on a share basis for two years. He was already attracted to the study of Hypnotism and Mesmerism and had read Prof. (Dr.) Braid’s books on Trance and Hypnotism. As the daughter of a neighbour was about to undergo a small operation for some inflammation of the jaw, her father asked Olcott to make her unconscious so as not to feel the pain, which he did successfully. He did not use this power again till 1883, when he discovered his unusual mesmeric and healing gifts.

At Amherst he came into contact with a spiritualistic group, and found here the beginning of that line of thought which led eventually to H. P. B. and the Theosophical movement. His family were Methodist, but this form of religious conviction had never appealed to him. He returned to New York, and by the time he was twenty-three had won such success at the model farm of Scientific Agriculture near Newark, New Jersey, that he was both nationally and internationally well known. The Greek Government offered him the Chair of Agriculture in the University of Athens, which he declined. In 1856 he availed himself of a legacy to become co-founder of the Westchester Farm School, near Mt. Vernon, N. Y. This was the first scientific school, upon the Swiss model, devoted solely to agriculture, and was the pioneer in the United States of the present system of national agricultural education. About this time Henry Olcott wrote three books on Agriculture, one of which, on Sorghum and Imphee, the Chinese and African Sugar Canes, a Treatise upon their Origin, Varieties and Culture, 1857, ran into seven editions, and was placed in school libraries. It caused a brief panic among foreign sugar planters. In order to further his studies of sugar-bearing grasses, he was offered a botanical mission to Caffraria (or Kaffraria, a now unused designation of eastern Cape Province, S. Africa). This too he declined. Nor would he accept the Directorship of the Agricultural Bureau at Washington, D. C., nor the managership of two immense properties, preferring personal liberty of action. In 1857 Olcott became a life member of the U. S. Agricultural Society. He visited Europe, 1858, in the interests of agriculture and his Report of his observations was published in Appleton’s New American Cyclopaedia, 1859. He was awarded the largest silver medal (which he long treasured) made up to that time, presented by the Dept. of Agriculture for the best reports of the Chicago Exhibition, 1859.

Recognised as an expert, Henry Olcott became one of the two Agricultural Editors of the famous New York Tribune, and American correspondent to the Mark Lane Express (Lond.), the great Corn Trade journal. The Mt. Vernon Horticultural Society passed a vote of thanks to him for his able address at their Exhibition; at which a special session was held by the Agricultural Committee of the Legislature of Massachusetts to hear him on the adaptability of the new sugar plant, Holeus Saccharinus, to cultivation in New England - especially in view of the growing troubles in the South, the great sugar producing area.

In December 1859 Olcott was present at the hanging of John Brown at Charlestown, Va., which was the prelude to the breaking out of civil war between the North and the South in April 1861. For many years John Brown had worked passionately for the abolition of slavery and the South would have none of him. The New York Tribune was the leading Abolitionist journal in the North, and published vivid accounts concerning Brown’s agitation. So furious were the Virginians about this that they drove out anyone they suspected of supplying information, and threatened they would hang the unknown reporter on sight. The reporter left, but waylaid those coming and going and so managed to secure a considerable amount of information.

The Virginians were determined that no Northerner should witness the hanging of Brown, and feared attempts to rescue him. The Tribune was anxious to have someone present, and Olcott volunteered to go. Escaping risks on the way and in constant peril of detection, he managed by ruses to get to Charleston. Anxieties had caused him to forget his trunk, labelled New York, on which were his initials. All lauggage had to go the Provost Marshal to be examined. It was a matter of life and death. He went to a young Staff officer whom he thought he could trust and, under seal of Masonic confidence, told him who he was and asked him to go to the Court House and claim and bring away the trunk. This he did. Olcott witnessed the hanging of the brave and fearless old Abolitionist. (Taken from Col. Olcott’s own account “How we hanged John Brown,” reprinted in New India, 17 Nov. 1928, p. 15.)

Henry Olcott married in April 1860 and had four children to whom he was much attached. His wife was estranged from him through his later choice of destiny, and sought and obtained a divorce, and remarried 1881. He kept in touch with his children, and had a family reunion with his relatives during his last visit to the United States in 1906.

At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Olcott enlisted in the Northern army. Owing to a severe fever and obstinate dysentery (which troubled him periodically throughout his life) he was invalided to New York. When about to leave for the front again, 1862, he was chosen by Stanton, Secretary of State for War, as a Special Commissioner of the War Department of the Mustering and Disbursing Office, with the delicate and arduous task of detecting and exposing the “gross frauds and crimes which during the war had been attempted or perpetrated by unprincipled peculators regardless of the welfare of soldiers and sailors.” He fought with great moral courage through calumny and opposition, till the worst offenders were tried and imprisoned. After two years Olcott was loaned to the Navy Department in Philadelphia to do the same service, and came through, as wrote the Assist. Secretary of the Treasury, with no stain on his reputation, though he faced and dealt with men of power and audacity who resented interference with their corrupt practices. He was complimented by those in authority for his honourable service and unfaltering courage, his integrity, patriotism, and uncompromising faithfulness to duty. During the course of these services Olcott rose to the rank of Colonel.
In 1865 Col. Olcott resigned his Commission and retired into private life. He had evidently studied Law previous to his army experiences, and by 1868 he was admitted to the Bar and specialised in Customs, Revenue and Insurance cases. He soon came to the front in his profession, and his legal opinions and his advocacy were eagerly sought. His clients were numerous and important.

Col. Olcott was appointed Secretary and Director of the National Insurance Convention - composed of the officials from the various States, called to codify and simplify the laws affecting Insurance Companies. He brought his phenomenal energies to bear on the subject. The Conference continued for two years. The Statute drafted by him and another able lawyer had the distinction of being passed by ten State legislatures. His notes on the Conference were published in two large volumes, and are still the standard work on Insurance in the United States.

In 1867, when Mr. W. E. Chandler retired from the Treasury, he recommended President Johnson to appoint Col. Olcott as his successor. This suggestion was warmly supported, but a political crisis occurred and Olcott sided against the President, who, though he had fully determined upon it, could not then make the appointment.

The “Rochester Knockings” took the Spiritualistic world by storm in 1848, and aroused deepest interest. Scientists fought shy of these phenomena as a rule, till the time of Profs. Wallace, Crookes, and others, because of the many “gross impostures” connected with them. The Faculty of Harvard, 1857, had pronounced against them. Then the Eddy manifestations drew the startled attention of the world. Trickery did not explain them. Col. Olcott records that one day in 1874 he was thinking over a heavy law case when it suddenly occurred to him that for years he had not been paying much attention to the Spiritualistic movement. He bought a copy of the Banner of Light and read in it of the remarkable manifestations at the Eddy farmhouse in Chittenden, Vt. He at once realised the importance of these, if true. He went to Chittenden and wrote his observations for the New York Sun. These were copied throughout the world. The editor of the New York Daily Graphic proposed that he should return to Chittenden and, with an artist to make sketches, make a thorough investigation, his reputation for impartial judgment being so well known. He went back to the Eddys and stayed there for about twelve weeks. Twice a week there appeared in the Graphic his letters about the “Eddy Ghosts.” It was the publication of these letters that drew Madame Blavatsky to Chittenden to meet Col. Olcott. They became friends at once.

So keen was public interest in the Colonel’s reports that newspapers in which they appeared were sold for a dollar a copy, and seven different publishers contended for the right to publish them in book form, but he had arranged for their publication at Hartford, Conn. Before the book appeared a blight fell upon the Spiritualistic situation, due to the exposure and denunciation as cheats of the mediums, Mr. and Mrs. Holmes. The Colonel’s publishers were so alarmed that, in order to increase interest in the book, he arranged seances with Mrs. Holmes, under his own test conditions, which he carried out successfully with the help of Madame Blavatsky. Then he went to Havana, N.Y. State, and saw and recorded also the “truly marvellous” phenomena of a materialisation and transfiguration medium named Mrs. Compton. He added these experiences to his book and it was published, under the title of People from Another World.

Col. Olcott’s intimacy with Madame Blavatsky grew. She began to teach him Occultism and brought him into touch with the Masters of Wisdom, Who had long planned for him to assist Them in the founding and development of The Theosophical Society, 1875, to which he presently devoted all his time and his splendid gifts. This noted, successful man of affairs, in whose grasp lay a great worldly career, sacrificed it all in obedience to an inner urge. By 1878 he had lost both wealth and position. His sacrifice was complete. He laid all his splendid gifts unreservedly on the altar of a great ideal, to which he gave unswerving allegiance for the rest of a remarkable life.

From Josephine Ransom's A Short History of the Theosophical Society, 1950.

Pripravil: Anton Rozman