HPB-Caves-Translator's foreword

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Translator's foreword

Helena Petrovna Blavatskaya’s letters from India were originally published under the pseudonym "Raddha-Bai" in the newspaper "Moskovskie vedomosti" (“Московские ведомости”, Moscow Records) under the title “From the Caves and Wilds of Hindustan. Letters to the Homeland”. Then these letters were republished in the magazine "Russkiy Vestnik" (“Русский вестник”, Russian Herald, 1883, No. 1-7, Appendix) and reprinted as a separate book “From the Caves and Wilds of Hindustan”, part 1-2 (Russkiy Vestnik, Appendix, Moscow, University Printing House, 1883, 411 pp).

The second part of the book (7 chapters) was published in the same journal in 1885 (No. 11, pp. 270-299) and 1886 (No. 2, 3, 8) as appendix.

Later these letters were published under the same title in A.S. Suvorin Printing House in Saint-Petersburg in 1912.[1]

The first translation of letters was made and published by Helena Petrovna's niece, Vera Johnston (born Zhelekhovskaya) in 1892 under the title “From the Caves and Jungles of Hindostan” (London, Theosophical Publishing Society, 1892, 318 pp). She has translated 22 and a half letters published in the “Russkiy Vestnik”, with small alteration: she has skipped those parts, concerning the author's negative statements about the British in India. Here is what Vera Vladimirovna wrote to her relatives about this translation:

To V.P. Zhelikhovsky

[First half of September 1891, London]

“… I am translating From the Caverns and Wilds rather slowly. I will give it to the Countess to be published as a separate book ... I omit a lot. All attacks on the British in India and their police.”

Actually there were few omitions.

To V.P. Zhelikhovsky

September 18 [1891, London]

“... I have already translated 3 chapters of Caves and Wilds. I like working on it and it is pleasant.”

To V.P. Zhelikhovsky

October 5 [1891, London]

“... The translation of Caves and Wilds is advancing little by little. From July to October, I wrote so much that I can't translate more than 4-5 pages a day, I'm tired.”

To V.P., N.V., E.V. Zhelikhovskys

[October 10, 1891, London]

“... I have found a long-distance assistant through the Countess, Mr. Staples, a writer living outside the city whom I had never seen. He will correct and rewrite my translation of Caves and Wilds for publication. I have already sent him 50 pages.”

To V.P. Zhelikhovsky

December 8 / November 26 [1893, Hallain 378]

“In America, they didn’t like Caves and Jungles, because people found that it was impossible to make out, according to the spirit of the style, whether to believe everything or not.”

Who knows, maybe due to such a reaction Vera Vladimirovna did not continue to translate the letters published later. According to her letters, she sincerely loved her aunt, the same patriot of Russia as herself. Moreover it could be that she has encountered some problems with translating names and terms. That is why I paid much attention to this in current edition. Another motivation for me was to recover the original full text and publish it in the public domain.

As Vera Vladimirovna I was lucky enough to have a long-distance assistant too. I am grateful to the Canadian theosophist Mark Casady for proofreading the translation of Letters 23-29.

Olga Fyodorova
June, 2021


  1. The full original text in Russian is available in Teopedia: [1]