[The Pioneer, July 31, 1880, carried an article titled “The Theosophists in Ceylon”, which recounted H.P.B. and Col. Olcott’s trip to Ceylon. The article was reprinted in full in the Theosophist, with the following note by H.P.B.]
The Pioneer’s correspondent appears to have entirely overlooked one of the most important events of our Ceylon visits. On the 4th of July the Convention of Buddhist priests elsewhere alluded to by us, met at Galle, and listened to an address from Colonel Olcott upon the necessity of reviving Pali literature, and the special duty that rested upon them as its sole custodians. Thereupon they unanimously adopted a resolution to permanently organize as an Ecclesiastical Council under the auspices of the Theosophical Society, and every priest present, not previously initiated, applied for and was duly received into our Parent Society. This Convention was entirely composed of picked men—of such as were recognized to be leaders in their respective sects; hence by this one meeting the Society enormously increased its strength and prestige in all Buddhistic countries.
The profound agitation, caused in Ceylon society by the visit of our Delegates, may be gauged by a single fact:—While we were there, three Christians of Galle were made insane by brooding over our arguments against the sufficiency of the basis of their religion. Poor things! their belief was evidently founded upon faith rather than logic.
On the 10th of July we went by invitation to Welitara, a village between Galle and Colombo, to organize our seventh, and last, Buddhistic branch. As an illustration of the thoughtful kindness shown us everywhere, we may mention that, though we were only to spend a few hours of daylight at Welitara, we found ready a large bungalow completely furnished, every article of furniture in which had been specially sent down from Colombo by the millionaire Mudalayar Mr. Sampson Rajapaksa. At this village, are the temples of two eminent priests, the Revs. Wimelasara and Dhammalankara, of the Amarapura sect. Besides founding the Welitara Theosophical Society—with Mr. Baltasar M. Weerasinghe, Interpreter Mudelyar, as President,—we admitted thirty priests of the two viharas above mentioned. Thus was gathered into the Parent Society the last of the cliques, or schools among the Buddhist priests, and the last obstacle to a practical exposition of Buddhism before the world, removed.
The permanent organization of the Galle Branch, on the evening of July 11, was the last important business transacted. On the morning of the 13th—the fifty-seventh day since we put foot upon Ceylon soil—we embarked on the B. I. Co.’s steamship Chanda for Bombay, which we reached on the 24th after a stormy buffeting of eleven days by the S. W. monsoon. Again the Number Seven asserted itself, the 24th of July being the seventy-seventh day since we sailed from Bombay for Ceylon! In fact, the part which the Number Seven played in every essential detail of this Ceylon visit, is so striking and mysterious that we reserve the facts for a separate article.
[Note: the following is a stand-alone note about the journey to and from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) by H.P.B. from The Theosophist, August, 1880, p. 283]
The voyage from Bombay to Point de Galle during the dry months, by one of the fine steamers of the British India S. N. Co., touching at all the Coast ports, is charming. With an agreeable captain, good company, and reasonable immunity from sea-sickness, it is so like a yachting excursion that one is sorry when the journey is ended. Such, at any rate, was our case. To come back in the S. W. monsoon, as we did, is quite another affair.