Mavalankar, Damodar K. (1857–after 1885).
Published: Saturday, 22 January 2011 03:00
An important early worker for the Theosophical Society, which he joined on August 3, 1879. Damodar was born in September 1857 at Ahmedabad in Gujarat, India, into a wealthy family of the Karhada Maharashtra Brahmana caste. In his childhood, he suffered a severe illness, during which he had a vision of an imposing person who gave him medicine that led to his recovery and whom he later identified as the Master Koot Hoomi. Damodar was reared as a Hindu and received an excellent English education, which he used in his later literary work for the Society.
Damodar read Isis Unveiled, Helena Blavatsky’s first major work, which so impressed him that he contacted the TS, then located in Bombay. He joined the Society in 1879 and renounced his Hindu caste status. Almost immediately he was made joint secretary with HPB and business manager of the publications department, with considerable editorial duties. He wrote many articles for the Theosophist magazine. In 1880, while in Sri Lanka with Olcott and Blavatsky, Damodar and the founders “took pansil,” that is, recited the panca-sila, the five moral precepts that every Buddhist promises to observe.
He was reported to have demonstrated remarkable psychic powers and claimed to recall an association with the Master Koot Hoomi in earlier lives. He also claimed to have visited Koot Hoomi’s ashram in November 1883, when he is said to have left Adyar as a frail, timid, and deferential person, but returned robust, energetic, and sun-tanned.
The year 1884 was critical, not only for Damodar, but for the TS as well. It was the year that saw the commencement of the Coulomb crisis. Olcott and Blavatsky were in Europe, and Damodar had been left to shoulder a great deal of responsibility for affairs at the Adyar headquarters. He wrote long and detailed letters to the founders, warning them of the serious nature of the Coulombs’s plotting, but there was little that they could do at such a distance. Friction also developed between Damodar and Franz Hartmann, chairman of the Board of Control at Adyar. Hartmann seems to have resented the correspondence that took place between Damodar and the founders. The stresses of this time aggravated the tubercular condition that Damodar suffered from, and he began hemorrhaging. He sought and received permission from his Master to go to his ashram in Tibet.
Damodar left Adyar on February 23, 1885. He was never seen again, but a message came from the Tibetan ashram in June 1886, claiming that he was alive and well. Nothing more was heard from him. Damodar and the Pioneers of the Theosophical Movement (1965), by Sven Eek, recounts his work in the early Theosophical Society.