“Enq: Who are they, finally, those whom you call your “Masters”? Some say they are “Spirits”, or some other kind of supernatural beings, while others call them “myths”.
Theo: They are neither. I once heard one outsider say to another that they were a sort of male mermaids, whatever such a creature may be. But if you listen to what people say, you will never have a true conception of them. In the first place they are living men, born as we are born, and doomed to die like every other mortal.
Enq: Yes, but it is rumored that some of them are a thousand years old. Is this true?
Theo: As true as the miraculous growth of hair on the head of Meredith’s Shagpat. Truly, like the “Identical”, no Theosophical shaving has hitherto been able to crop it. The more we deny them, the more we try to set people right, the more absurd do the inventions become.
I have heard of Methuselah being 969 years old; but, not being forced to believe in it, have laughed at the statement, for which I was forthwith regarded by many as a blasphemous heretic.
Enq: Seriously, though, do they outlive the ordinary age of men?
Theo: What do you call the ordinary age? I remember reading in the Lancet of a Mexican who was almost 190 years old; but I have never heard of mortal man, layman, or Adept, who could live even half the years allotted to Methuselah. Some Adepts do exceed, by a good deal, what you would call the ordinary age; yet there is nothing miraculous in it, and very few of them care to live very long.
Enq: But what does the word “Mahatma” really mean?
Theo: Simply a “great soul”, great through moral elevation and intellectual attainment. If the title of great is given to a drunken soldier like Alexander, why should we not call those “Great” who have achieved far greater conquests in Nature’s secrets, than Alexander ever did on the field of battle? Besides, the term is an Indian and a very old word.”
H. P. Blavatsky