Who was William Quan Judge?

His central role and importance for the Theosophical Movement
– Past, Present, and Future



In addressing to you this letter, which I request you to read to the Convention summoned for April 22nd, I must first present my hearty congratulations and most cordial good wishes to the assembled Delegates and good Fellows of our Society, and to yourself – the heart and soul of that Body in America. We were several, to call it to life in 1875. Since then you have remained alone to preserve that life through good and evil report. It is to you chiefly, if not entirely, that the Theosophical Society owes its existence in 1888.

~ Extract from H. P. Blavatsky’s 1888 Message to the American Theosophists ~

In an article as brief as this we cannot say everything that can be said about William Quan Judge or, rather, that special soul who lived and worked in and through the personality known to the world by that name up until the untimely death of the body in 1896 at the age of 44.

But there is a need for an article such as this, in order to present a brief overview and summary of the life and work of this individual who H. P. Blavatsky – at the end of her life – referred to as her “only friend.” What was so special about him that during the closing years of her life, whilst living in London, HPB always kept a picture of him close by her bedside? What was her reason for even going as far as to call him “my friend, brother, and son”? And why is it that many today who call themselves Theosophists have never even heard of him or have only a very limited knowledge of him?

It is actually only those whose only exposure to Theosophy has been through “The Theosophical Society – Adyar” (the Leadbeater/Besant branch of the modern Theosophical Movement) who have such limited or non-existent knowledge of Judge. This is due to the fact that after HPB’s death he became the victim of persecution, lies, and purposeful misrepresentation at the hands of Annie Besant, this contributing eventually to the complete breakdown of his health and early death.

There was originally only one Theosophical Society. But, as it became increasingly apparent just a few years after HPB’s passing that Annie Besant was determined to alter, distort, and reject much of the original teachings of Theosophy – as well as belittle and depreciate the name, work, and reputation of H. P. Blavatsky, who she had once revered – Judge eventually felt, due to immense pressure put on him in numerous ways by both Besant and Col. Olcott because of his persistent refusal to join them in their increasing denigration of the great Teacher who had given Theosophy to the world, that he had no other option but to break away from the parent Society and declare the American section of the Society, of which he was already the leader, as entirely independent from the parent Society, whose headquarters were at Adyar, India.

Later on after the initial split, Annie Besant ruled that he should never be mentioned or referred to ever again within “her” Society and even went to the extent of having all references to him removed from written accounts of the history of the Theosophical Society and its founding. This tragic tale has recently been explored and revealed in greater depth than ever before in a very lengthy book titled “The Judge Case” by Ernest Pelletier. This extreme anti-Judge sentiment in the Adyar Theosophical Society is nowadays no longer what it once was but it is still very prevalent nonetheless and the Society as a whole still declines to recognise Judge and his writings in any way.

Despite the general ignorance about him amongst Adyar Theosophists, William Judge has always been, and continues to be, held in high regard by those three main branches of the Theosophical Movement which have always chosen to respect HPB and those who she respected; these are the ULT (United Lodge of Theosophists), the Theosophical Society with headquarters at Pasadena (an entirely different international organisation to the Theosophical Society which has its headquarters in Adyar), and the Point Loma Theosophists whose present headquarters are at Blavatsky House in the Netherlands.

These important facts are worth knowing about William Q. Judge . . .

* He was one of the original founders of the Theosophical Society in New York in 1875, alongside Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott.

* He was Vice President of the entire Theosophical Society.

* He was the leader of the entire American section of the Theosophical Society.

* He was the overseer of the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society in the USA whilst HPB oversaw the Esoteric Section in the UK, she being the overall Head of the Esoteric Section as a whole.

* He was, in HPB’s words, “an accepted chela” (i.e. beyond the probationary stage) of the Masters since 1875.

* He was the author of the popular book “The Ocean of Theosophy,” still in print and constant demand today around the world, the book being a clear and concise introductory overview of the main teachings of Theosophy and “The Secret Doctrine.”

* He was also the author of hundreds of simple yet profound articles on a huge range of Theosophical topics, many of which were published in “The Path” magazine which he started in New York in the mid 1880s. Some of his articles were also featured in other periodicals, including popular American magazines and newspapers of the time.

* As well as being an indefatigable writer he was also a constant lecturer on Theosophical teachings, travelling the length and breadth of the USA in order to help spread and introduce such concepts as karma, reincarnation, and the sevenfold nature of man to the Western mind. Many years after his death it was written that “More than any other, his work with the public through magazines, the Press, and on the lecture platform broke the molds of limited and dogmatic thought in America.”

* He gained national and international recognition in 1893 when he represented Theosophy at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago.

* HPB wrote that “Judge is one of the Founders and a man who has ever been true to the Masters. . . . And Judge will be the President of the T.S. [i.e. Theosophical Society] after our death or the T.S. will die with us.”

* The Master M. (his own Guru, who was also the Guru of HPB) wrote regarding him that “For the first year or two no better guide can be had. For when the ‘PRESENCE’ is upon him, he knows well that which others only suspect and ‘divine.’ . . . greater services may be rendered to him, who, of all chelas, suffers most and demands, or even expects the least.”

* The same Master also wrote to a German Theosophist, “Be friendly towards W. Q. Judge. He is true, faithful and trustworthy,” and later sent to Judge through HPB a portrait of himself which he had signed on the back, addressing him as his trusted colleague.

It may be interesting to see what else HPB had to say about him . . .

* In 1889, writing in the third person, she stated that “W.Q.J. is part of herself since several eons.”

* She wrote that he was the connecting link between “American thought and the Indian – or rather the trans-Himalayan Esoteric Knowledge.”

* She said that he was “the chief & only agent of the “Dzyan” in America.”

* In 1886 she praised his magazine “The Path” as being “pure Buddhi.”

* In various private letters, both to him and to others, she remarked that she trusted him “more than anyone in the world” including Col. Olcott.

* Her referring to him as “my only friend” was not a one off thing but was repeated frequently, both to him and others, over the course of several years.

* “If W. Q. Judge, the man who has done most for Theosophy in America, who has worked most unselfishly in your country, and has ever done the bidding of Master, the best he knew how, is left alone . . . then I say – let them go! They are no Theosophists: and if such a thing should happen, and Judge be left to fight his battles alone, then I shall bid all of them an eternal good-bye. I swear on MASTER’S holy name to shake off the dust of my feet from every one of them . . . I am unable to realize that at the hour of trouble and supreme fight . . . any true Theosophist should hesitate for one moment to back W.Q.J. publicly and lodge in his or her protest. Let them read Master’s letter in the preliminary. . . . All that I said about W.Q.J. was from HIS words in HIS letter to me. . . . Do with this letter what you like. Show it to anyone you please as my firm determination.”

* She remarked with significant emphasis that she was “His ever and till and AFTER death.”

* In a letter to him in October 1886, she wrote, “The trouble with you is that you do not know the great change that came to pass in you a few years ago. Others have occasionally their astrals changed and replaced by those of Adepts (as of Elementaries) and they influence the outer, and the higher man. With you, it is the NIRMANAKAYA not the ‘astral’ that blended with your astral . . .”

In the teachings of Theosophy, a Nirmanakaya is a highly advanced soul who has reached to the very threshold of Nirvana but chosen to renounce its eternal bliss in order to stay and help the spiritual progress of humanity. Such a soul may do this in either physically embodied form living on the physical plane – like many of the Masters – or disembodied and functioning on inner planes. H. P. Blavatsky’s remark to Judge suggests that a disembodied Nirmanakaya had blended with his own inner nature, perhaps referring to the time he was visiting India in 1884 or to the event which occurred when he was seven years of age, described below.

As he had told a Theosophical friend in a private letter whilst stopping for a time in Paris on his way to India, HPB had “told me independently and voluntarily that the Master had told her in India, that he was doing, or “about to do something with and for me.””

Significantly, it was only upon his return to the USA from India in 1884 that the Theosophical Cause really began to pick up and make an impact there; things having proceeded very slowly, quietly, and bleakly in the American Theosophical endeavours up to that point. As one writer has expressed it, “When H. P. Blavatsky left New York for India, he remained behind in the darkness of America; from 1878 to 1884 he worked in loneliness and obscurity. He paid a short visit to India, the land of his Masters and returned home to America. Then the hour of his mission struck.”

“It was as if but the evening before we had parted . . .”

Even prior to this mysterious occurrence, William Quan Judge had never been exactly what he outwardly seemed to be.

In “William Quan Judge – His Life and Work,” Sven Eek and Boris de Zirkoff have written:

“The life of William Quan Judge is so completely identified with the history and development of The Theosophical Society that to outline the one is almost identical to outlining the other.

“The son of Frederick H. Judge and Mary Quan, William Quan Judge was born in Dublin, Ireland, April 13, 1851, and spent his early childhood in a country where material adversity often found compensation in its natives’ awareness of the silent forces of nature. At the age of seven a serious illness struck the lad and the doctor informed the family gathered at his bedside that William was dead. But before grief could overwhelm the would-be mourners, to everyone’s amazement the boy revived. His recovery was slow, however, but during the year of his convalescence, he began to show an interest in mystical subjects. Unaware of his ability to read, the family found him engrossed in books dealing with mesmerism, phrenology, magic, religion and similar subjects.”

In 1864, the great and mysterious forces of Destiny – or rather KARMA – resulted in the Judge family emigrating to the USA and settling in New York. Nine years later, in July 1873, the Master M. instructed H. P. Blavatsky that it was now time for her to emigrate to the USA in order to begin the preparations for the proper beginning of her great mission. She was directed to take up residence in New York and it was there that these two were united or rather re-united in their spiritual work and mission. They had never met each other before in that particular lifetime but as Judge wrote later:

“It was her eye that attracted me, the eye of one whom I must have known in lives long passed away. She looked at me in recognition at that first hour, and never since has that look changed. Not as a questioner of philosophies did I come before her, not as one groping in the dark for lights that schools and fanciful theories had obscured, but as one who, wandering many periods through the corridors of life, was seeking the friends who could show where the designs for the work had been hidden. And true to the call she responded, revealing the plans once again, and speaking no words to explain, simply pointed them out and went on with the task. It was as if but the evening before we had parted, leaving yet to be done some detail of a task taken up with one common end; it was teacher and pupil, elder brother and younger, both bent on the one single end, but she with the power and the knowledge that belong but to lions and sages.”

Being taken into HPB’s confidence and forming a close and lasting connection with her – closer than she ever enjoyed with any of her other colleagues and associates – he was able to write with sure knowledge to certain Theosophists that “Your vision that when you looked at HPB and saw no old woman but a God is correct. You were privileged to see the Truth – For the Being in that old body called H P Blavatsky is a mighty Adept working on his own plan in the world. And thus we do not need to go to Tibet or S. America to find the sort of Being so many wish to see. Yet having seen the reality better keep silent and work with that in view. For even did you go and tell Him you knew He was there he would smile while he waited for you to do something such as you could in your limited sphere. For flattery counts not and professions are worse than useless,” and “As to HPB you cannot judge her by any rule. There is a great Adept there and he uses that body for His own purposes, both for use and for trial of others.”

In one article he wrote: “The plain unvarnished truth, which hurts no one save the man who denies it, is that H. P. Blavatsky was the head, front, bottom, top, outskirts, past and future of the Theosophical Society. We were all but pawns on the chessboard. What is the use of permitting vanity to influence us toward denying the facts? No game, no battle, no diplomacy can go forward without agents, subordinates, generals, privates, but there is always a moving head without whom there would be no success. Not only was H.P.B. predominant with us in 1875, but she is yet. . . . it remains a fact that the T.S. stands or falls by H. P. Blavatsky. Give her up as an idea, withdraw from the path traced by her under orders, belittle her, and the organization will rot; but remember her and what she represented, and we triumph.”

In another: “And we would have no one misunderstand how we look upon H. P. Blavatsky. She is the greatest woman in the world in our opinion, and greater than any man now moving among men. Disputes and slanders about what she has said and done move us not, for we know by personal experience her real virtues and powers. Since 1875 she has stood as the champion and helper of every theosophist; each member of the Society has to thank her for the store of knowledge and spiritual help that has lifted so many of us from doubt to certainty of where and how Truth might be found; lovers of truth and seekers after occultism will know her worth only when she has passed from earth; had she had more help and less captious criticism from those who called themselves co-laborers, our Society would today be better and more able to inform its separate units while it resisted its foes. During all these years, upon her devoted head has concentrated the weighty Karma accumulated in every direction by the unthinking body of theosophists; and, whether they will believe it or not, the Society had died long ago, were it not for her. Next to the Brothers [i.e. the Masters], then, we pin our faith on her: let none mistake our attitude.”

And in another: “In all I say here, it must not be forgotten that the part played by H. P. Blavatsky can never be rightly given to the world, because it would not be understood. Her service and efforts can never be estimated, but they may be glimpsed by intuitional natures.”

The Indian in an Irish Body

When the body of the Irish boy William Quan Judge had died at the age of seven (a very significant age esoterically, when we bear in mind the teaching about the septenary cycles) it had subsequently become immediately occupied – with prior higher planning and under Karmic Law – by an Indian Hindu initiate, for the purpose of the work of Theosophy in the West. Reflecting on what Maji, the famous Yogini of Benares, had said about HPB – that “her body was occupied by a Yogi, who was working it so far as he could for the spread of Eastern philosophy” – we can readily see that HPB and WQJ had a very important joint mission and inner connection. Robert Crosbie, a personal friend and colleague of Judge and later the founder of the United Lodge of Theosophists, once spoke of them as “the Two who masqueraded in mortal garments.”

Time and space will not permit to be given here all the relevant references and quotations from various places about the inner William Judge actually being an Indian man, a Rajah “in a borrowed body” (Judge’s own phrase, used privately, since he never made general public mention or suggestion about his true inner nature) but we will briefly quote from one letter by Cyrus Field Willard in which he described something which took place at an Esoteric Section meeting which he had attended:

“The room soon filled up with about 200 persons, and I noticed leaning up against the pedestal behind which Judge stood as presiding officer, so all could see and exposed for the first time, pictures of the two Masters, blessed be their name, for the knowledge they have given us. As he started to call the meeting to order, he leaned toward her [i.e. Annie Besant], who stood on his right hand, and I heard him say to her in a low voice, “Sound the Word [i.e. the AUM] with the triple intonation.” She replied in the same low voice, “I don’t dare to,” or, “I don’t care to,” but I think it was the first. I heard him say in a firm tone, “Then I will.” He had been twirling his gavel in his hand but laid it down, stepped to his right, pushing her aside, and stepped to the side of the pedestal, facing his audience, with her behind him, and said:

“I am about to sound the Word with the triple intonation, but before I do, I have a statement to make which I do not care to have you speak to me about later, nor do I wish you to discuss among yourselves. I am not what I seem; I am a Hindu [i.e. an Indian, “Hindu” and “Indian” often being used as synonyms in the West in Victorian times].”

“Then he sounded the Word with the triple intonation. Before my eyes, I saw the man’s face turn brown and a clean-shaven Hindu face of a young man was there, and you know he wore a beard. I am no psychic nor have ever pretended to be one or to “see things,” as I joined the T.S. to form a nucleus of Universal Brotherhood. This change was not one seen by me only, and we did not discuss the import of his significant statement, until after his death when a meeting was held . . . I mentioned it in a speech and his statement, and fully ten persons from different parts of the hall spoke up and said, “I saw it too.” “I saw and heard what he said,” etc. That would seem proof enough about the borrowed body.”

In some of his letters to friends and co-workers, he wrote certain words including his own signature in Sanskrit lettering, casually and as if this was normal and natural to him. Although of course anyone could do this by copying the Devanagari script out of a book, it was remarked to Ernest Hargrove by Charles Johnston (HPB’s nephew-in-law and an expert on all things Indian) “that the Sanskrit lettering was perfectly formed, in spite of the speed and boldness of the writing, and that he had known other cases of Judge’s fluent use, not only of Sanskrit, but of various Indian scripts.”

It was readily admitted that the “inner Indian” was never able to act as freely and fully through his Irish physical vehicle as he would have liked but this does not negate or alter the fact and reality of the matter. This may potentially explain why, even in his renditions of the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali, both still in print and in demand today, there are occasional significant mistranslations from the Sanskrit, which one would not expect an Indian Initiate to make. HPB once closed a letter to him by saying, “Oh my poor crushed chum what I would I give to help you. But how can I fight against your Irish Self which sits upon & tries to throttle the Hindu Self – the “mild” Hindu? I try to be with you as much as I can. I am often watching you. Watch the shadows on the walls around you & gather strength from one who is oftener with you than you know of.”

Theosophy comes to us through Blavatsky and Judge – If only Theosophists would study it!

What was the real reason and motive behind the attacks levelled at William Quan Judge following Madame Blavatsky’s death by Besant, Olcott, A. P. Sinnett, and others who had their own personal ambitions and agendas regarding the future of the Theosophical Society?

“W.Q.J. had similar judgment passed on him; primarily, because he upheld H.P.B. first, last, and all the time – which was the underlying reason for the attacks,” wrote Robert Crosbie. “Fearful of “authority,” they minimized the only possible source upon which reliance could be placed, and then endeavored to convey the impression that they were so much greater than H.P.B., that they could explain Her away; in this, they made a greater claim for authority than she ever made. Where was W.Q.J. all this time? Right beside Her, holding up Her hands, pointing to Her as the one to whom all should look. Those who followed his advice or yet follow it, will find where She pointed. It comes to this, that those who pretend to follow H.P.B. do not do so, unless they also recognize W.Q.J. . . . These Two stand or fall together.”

Crosbie also very pertinently wrote that “The work we have to do, the knowledge we have to give out, depends on no other names than those of the true Teachers, H.P.B. and W.Q.J. Associates must learn to look to Them, to point to Them and to the Masters whom They served. Nothing else will restore the Movement. . . . So far as the world and all Theosophists are concerned, Theosophy comes from H.P.B. and W.Q.J., or rather, through them. So, to avoid misconceptions, we get back of living persons to the Message and the Messengers. W.Q.J. was not the “successor” of H.P.B.; he was her Colleague and Co-worker who retained his body a few years longer than she remained in hers. He was the “stone that was rejected by the builders,” who desired to pose as successors to H.P.B. – to the confusion of all who depended on them. The real foundation of the “successor craze” is the itch for more instructions; this begets the hunt after anyone who will promise fresh “revelations.” What was given out by H.P.B., and applied by W.Q.J., was not and is not studied by Theosophists at large, or it would have awakened a fuller thought and realization by the students. All the theosophical follies are the result of ignorance, superstition and selfishness, which knowledge alone can overcome.”

Always loved and remembered . . .

As Judge had departed from the physical plane on 21st March, this date is commemorated every year at ULT Lodges around the world as “Judge Day.” In Robert Crosbie’s 1915 Judge Day address, titled In Memory of William Q. Judge, he said:

“Speaking of Mr. Judge as anybody might have known him – as a human being like ourselves – he was humble, unassuming, modest, strong, patient, meek, courageous, an organizer beyond comparison, with powers similar to those possessed by H. P. B., and never using them in any way but to smooth the path for those who desired to follow the road to knowledge. He was kind and patient, as we do not often find with tremendous forcefulness; he had extraordinary powers of organization, with a perception that could look into the very motives and minds of others, could see traitors around him, could read the hearts of those desirous of injuring him, and yet in all his intercourse with them, paving the way for them, remaining ever kind. . . . In William Q. Judge we had a true man – the kindest-hearted being that ever lived, patient, forgiving, strong, courageous, with the wisdom of the serpent, the harmlessness of the dove. From my own point of view, I have never, never met such an one before.”

George William Russell was a famous and much loved Irish poet, mystic, and essayist, who wrote under the name of AE. In his written tribute to Judge, he explained that, “Long before I met him, before even written words of his had been read, his name like an incantation stirred and summoned forth some secret spiritual impulse in my heart. It was no surface tie which bound us to him. No one ever tried less than he to gain from men that adherence which comes from impressive manner. I hardly thought what he was while he spoke; but on departing I found my heart, wiser than my brain, had given itself away to him; an inner exaltation lasting for months witnessed his power. It was in that memorable convention in London two years ago that I first glimpsed his real greatness. As he sat there quietly, one among many, not speaking a word, I was overcome by a sense of spiritual dilation, of unconquerable will about him, and that one figure with the grey head became all the room to me. Shall I not say the truth I think? Here was a hero out of the remote, antique, giant ages come among us, wearing but on the surface the vesture of our little day. We, too, came out of that past, but in forgetfulness; he with memory and power soon regained. To him and to one other [i.e. referring to HPB] we owe an unspeakable gratitude for faith and hope and knowledge born again.”

G. Hijo once wrote, “It was the good fortune of a few of us to know something of the real Ego who used the body known as Wm. Q. Judge. He once spent some hours describing to my wife and me the experience the Ego had in assuming control of the instrument it was to use for so many years. The process was not a quick nor an easy one and, indeed, was never absolutely perfected, for to Mr Judge’s dying day, the physical tendencies and heredity of the body he used would crop up and interfere with the full expression of the inner man’s thoughts and feelings. An occasional abruptness and coldness of manner was attributable to this lack of co-ordination. Of course Mr Judge was perfectly aware of this and it would trouble him for fear his friends would be deceived as to his real feelings. He was always in absolute control of his thoughts and actions, but his body would sometimes slightly modify their expression. Mr Judge told me in December, 1894, that the Judge body was due by its Karma to die in the next year and that it would have to be tided over this period by extraordinary means. He then expected this process to be entirely successful, and that he would be able to use that body for many years, but he did not count upon the assaults from without, nor the strain and exhaustion due to the “Row.” This, and the body’s heredity, proved too much for even his will and power.”

“To get on with the work and forward the movement seemed to be his only aim in life,” said J. D. Buck. “For myself, knowing Mr Judge as I did, and associating with him day after day – at home, in the rush of work, in long days of travel over desert-wastes or over the trackless ocean, having travelled with him a distance equal to twice around the globe – there is not the slightest doubt of his connection with and service of the Great Lodge. He did the Master’s work to the best of his ability, and thus carried out the injunction of H.P.B. to “keep the link unbroken.””

Jerome Anderson wrote, “Wm. Q. Judge was an Adept – a great one, however much the true man was hidden behind the one of clay. Is it reasonable to suppose that at a time when the Great Lodge had for foes the intellectual giants – the Spencers, Mills, Huxleys, and Darwins – of an era the very apotheosis of materialistic agnosticism, they sent tyros or babes to do battle for the world? Nay; they sent their best and bravest; were there no other proof of this, the work accomplished would be sufficient. Right royally did H.P.B. march down to Armageddon; confounding the learned by her wisdom, mocking materialism by her wonderful exhibition of abnormal and at first sight supernatural powers. But she was the Knight errant, who fought amid the beating of drums, and the clash and clamor, the excitement and glory, of a princely tournament. None the less royally did Wm. Q. Judge do his knightly duty on his silent, unnoticed field of battle. His place, his task, it was to teach ethics; to turn aside the craze for phenomena and wonder-working into the more healthy, lasting channels of love for our fellow men. H.P.B. laid the foundations well; but it was left for Wm. Q. Judge to build strongly and safely thereon.”

In the words of Thomas Green: “William Q. Judge was the nearest approach to my ideal of a MAN that I have known. He was what I want to be. H.P.B. was something more than human. She was a cosmic power. W.Q.J. was splendidly human: and he manifested in a way delightfully refreshing, and all his own, that most rare of human characteristics – genuineness. His influence is continuingly present and powerful, an influence tending steadily, as ever, in one direction – work for the Masters’ Cause.”

C. F. Willard described him as having been “so modest that the knowledge of his ability along occult lines was known to few, except those to whom he wished to impart occult information which he saw would be needed in after years.”

Archibald Keightley, whose wife Julia (the recipient of many of the “Letters That Have Helped Me”) was one of Judge’s closest associates, wrote, “Judge was the best and truest friend a man ever had. H.P.B. told me I should find this to be so, and so it was of him whom she, too, trusted and loved as she did no other. And as I think of what those missed who persecuted him, of the loss in their lives, of the great jewel so near to them which they passed by, I turn sick with a sense of their loss: the immense mystery that Life is, presses home to me. . . . Judge made the life portrayed by Jesus realizable to me.”

“Mr Judge has lived hundreds of lives,” wrote Claude Falls Wright. “So have all men,” he added, “but very few have any recollection of them. Mr Judge’s existence has been a conscious one for ages, whether alive or “dead,” sleeping or waking, embodied or disembodied. In the early part of his last life I do not think he was completely conscious twenty-four hours a day, but several years ago he arrived at the stage where he never afterwards lost his consciousness for a moment. Sleep with him merely meant to float out of his body in full possession of all his faculties, and that was also the manner in which he “died” – left his body for good.”

“I know now that I wronged Judge . . .”

As is shown in Chapter XX (titled “The Adyar Society”) of the book titled “The Theosophical Movement: 1875-1950,” both Besant and Olcott eventually privately admitted, years after Judge’s death, that they had wronged him.

In Besant’s case, it was B. P. Wadia to whom she made the admission but, on the supposed grounds that it was now “an old and forgotten matter,” she stated that she would not be publicly exonerating Judge from the false charges she had brought against him towards the end of his life and that she wished to say no more about the matter. As the authors of the book put it, “About all that can be said in extenuation of Mrs Besant’s attitude in this connection is that she quite possibly really believed that Mr Judge’s innocence was no longer a matter of importance, so far had she departed from the essential work and meaning of the Theosophical Movement.” B. P. Wadia eventually left the Adyar Theosophical Society in saddened disgust at the whole set up, declaring that “The Theosophical Society is disloyal to Theosophy,” and went on to become a highly influential worker around the world for the United Lodge of Theosophists that Robert Crosbie had founded in 1909.

In Olcott’s case, it was to Laura Holloway that he made the admission, shortly before he died. Elderly, frail, and nearing the end of his life, he had begun to realise that he had done a great disservice to HPB (and to the Theosophical Society) in his repeated conceited belittling and criticising of her in writing after her death, which he had done for no valid reason at all.

“Olcott, Mrs Holloway soon realized, was lonely, homesick, and missed very greatly his old association with H.P.B. He spoke of his “dear old colleague” and recognized the magnitude of her loss in “the trend of events in the Theosophical Society since her death.” Moreover, although Olcott was still the “President-Founder,” other and younger workers, he said, were in control of the affairs of the Society. Mrs Holloway reminded him that there was a third co-worker who had been with him and H.P.B. at the beginning, to whom Olcott later became hostile. Olcott knew that she spoke of Judge, and, encouraged by his visitor, he took her hand and said, “in a manner subdued and most impressive”: “We learn much and outgrow much, and I have outlived much and learned more, particularly as regards Judge. . . . I know now, and it will comfort you to hear it, that I wronged Judge, not wilfully or in malice; nevertheless, I have done this and I regret it.” . . . Her own deep friendship with Judge, she thought, which was known to Olcott, had led him to reveal his heart’s feelings at the end of his life.”

HPB’s relation to Judge is clearly, simply, and beautifully captured in these words written by Holloway when relating the above mentioned occasion: “When I reminded him, as I did, of how long and how unalterably she had loved Mr Judge, he sat like one listening to an unseen speaker.”

After Mr Judge’s passing in 1896, Theosophical magazines reported his writing of a message “By Astral Hand” when he had been literally right on the verge of death two years previously and which was then, in 1896, read out at his cremation. This unusual happening, apparently from 1894, was described by Claude Falls Wright, saying that, “It was a solemn scene, and one I shall never forget. The soul was about to leave its earthly tenement and the president’s [i.e. Judge’s] hand was utterly powerless. But, as the serenity of what is called death was settling on his features, we all observed a slight fluttering among the papers that lay on the table beside his bed. Turning our eyes in that direction, what was our astonishment to see the hand of a man, a white delicate hand, write several lines on the blank page of a book, the title of which is The Ocean of Theosophy. Those best acquainted with Mr Judge say the hand was his. As for the lines, I cannot remember them exactly, but I know they related to one of the principal tenets of our belief. When the hand had completed the writing, Mr Judge sighed lightly, and closed his eyes.”

Newspapers in New York were so intrigued by such accounts that they contacted Wright, who was reported as saying to “The Morning Advertiser” that “We are not accustomed to seek publicity or notoriety, but as we have nothing to conceal, and since you are persistent, here is the paper you refer to.” The 26th March 1896 edition of that newspaper contained a photographic reproduction of the message that had been written by William Judge’s astral hand. The first sentence was a line from the Isha Upanishad. It read:

Reproduced from “Echoes of the Orient” Volume 3, Theosophical University Press.

Those Theosophists today who are sincerely dedicated and committed to the service of the spreading of genuine Theosophy – the Esoteric Philosophy of the Mystic East – may take heart from these words of Robert Crosbie: “About W.Q.J. being at work now. It can be said that he never ceased working, and that work has gone on directly and indirectly. He is working for unity – what he has always worked for. His aid will be given to every effort to spread Theosophy pure and simple.”

This is what HPB, WQJ, and the Masters, wait for us to do. And, although they know it not, all of humanity is also waiting.

~ BlavatskyTheosophy.com ~

You may also like to read

William Q. Judge and The Masters of Wisdom, Understanding The Importance of Mr. Judge, In Memory of William Q. Judge, The Welcome Influence of William Q. Judge, William Q. Judge – In The Words of Some Who Knew Him Best, William Q. Judge – A Sculptor’s Appreciation, and Alice Leighton Cleather and William Q. Judge. The latter article provides a response and rebuttal to misinformation regarding WQJ’s later years and activities, which still circulates among some Theosophists. For an example of WQJ’s clear and practical guidance and advice, please see Helpful Hints for Spiritual Progress.

One thought on “Who was William Quan Judge?

  1. Hello,…I’m loving your website! I’ve dabbled in Theosophical writings and the ‘Perennial Wisdom’ of many schools for some time, but appreciate your dedication to hold to HPB and WQJ’s seminal teachings. I’ve read Beasant and some Leadbeater,…but want the pure seeds first. I’m reading ‘Ocean of Theosophy’ now. I appreciate a mentor here as well. Thanks

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