LIFE OF H P BLAVATSKY
H P Blavatsky
A DETAILED BIOGRAPHY
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Petrovna von Hahn was born at Ekaterinoslav (now Dniepropetrovsk.), a town on the river Dnieper, in Southern Russia, on the
12th of August, 1831. She was the daughter of Colonel Peter von
Hahn, who was a cavalry officer in the Russian army and of Prussian
aristocratic descent, and Helena de Fadeyev, a renowned novelist. On her
mother’s side, she was the granddaughter of the gifted Princess Helena Dolgorukov, a noted botanist and writer. After the early
death of her mother in 1842, Helena was brought up in her
maternal grandparents’ house at Saratov, where her grandfather
was Civil Governor.
at the Time of H P Blavatsky’s Birth
Society at the Time of H P Blavatsky’s Birth
Helena was an exceptional
child, and at an early age was aware of being different from those around her.
Her possession of certain psychic powers puzzled her family and friends. At
once impatient of all authority, yet deeply sensitive, she was gifted in many
ways. She proved a clever linguist, in 1838 Miss
Augusta Jeffries from Yorkshire was employed to teach
English to Helena and her younger sister
Vera. She was also a talented pianist and
a fine artist, she was yet a fearless rider of
half-broken horses, and always in close touch with nature. At a very early age
she sensed that she was in some way dedicated to a life of service, and was
aware of a special guidance and protection.
almost eighteen, she married the middle-aged Nikifor
V. Blavatsky, Vice-Governor of the Province of Yerivan, in a mood of
rebellious independence and possibly with a plan to become free of her
surroundings. The marriage, as such, meant nothing to her and was never
consummated. In a few months she escaped and travelled
widely in Turkey, Egypt, and Greece, on money supplied by
Russia in 1848
Great Exhibition (London) of 1851
her twentieth birthday, in 1851, being then in London,
she met the individual whom she had known in her psycho-spiritual visions from
childhood --- an Eastern Initiate of Rajput birth, the Mahatma Morya or M. as he became known in later years among
Theosophists. He told her something of the work that was in store for her, and
from that moment she accepted fully his guidance.
the same year, Helena embarked for Canada, and after adventurous
travels in various parts of the U.S.A., Mexico, South America and the West Indies, went via the Cape and Ceylon to India in 1852. Her first
attempt to enter Tibet failed.
returned to England via Java in 1853. In
the Summer of 1854, she went to America again, crossing the Rockies with a caravan of
emigrants, probably in
a covered wagon.
late 1855, she left for India via Japan and the Straits. On
this trip she succeeded in entering Tibet through Kashmir and Ladakh, undergoing
part of her occult training with her Master. In 1858 she was in France and Germany, and returned to Russia in the late Fall of the
same year, staying a short time with her sister Vera at Pskov. From 1860 to 1865, she
lived and traveled through the
Caucasus, experiencing a severe physical and psychic crisis
which placed her in complete control over her occult powers.
left Russia again in the autumn of
1865, and travelled extensively through
the Balkans, Greece, Egypt, Syria and Italy and various other
1868 she went via India to Tibet. On this trip H.P.B.
met the Master Koot Hoomi
(K.H.) for the first time and stayed in his house in Little Tibet. In late 1870
she was back in Cyprus and Greece. Embarking for Egypt, she was shipwrecked
near the island of Spetsai on July
saved from drowning, she went to Cairo where she tried to form
a Societe Spirite which
further travels through the Middle East, she returned for a
short time to
her relatives at Odessa, Russia in July, 1872. In the Spring of 1873, Helena was instructed by her
Teacher to go to Paris, and on further direct
orders from him, left for New York City where she landed July
Blavatsky was then forty-two years old and in controlled possession of her many
and most unusual spiritual and occult powers. In the opinion of the Mahatmas, she was the best
available instrument for the work they had in mind, namely to offer to the
world a new presentation, though only in brief outline of the age-old Theosophia, "The accumulated Wisdom of the ages,
by generations of Seers...," that body of Truth of which religions, great
and small, are but as branches of the parent tree. The Mahatmas assess H P
B’s suitability as a teacher in the Mahatmas
Letters to A P Sinnett.
task was to challenge on the one hand the entrenched beliefs and dogmas of Christian
Theology and on the other the equally dogmatic materialistic view of the
science of her day. A crack, however, had recently appeared in the twofold set
of mental fortifications. It was caused by Spiritualism, then sweeping America. To quote Helena’s own words: "I
was sent to prove the phenomena and their reality, and to show the fallacy of
the spiritualistic theory of spirits."
October, 1874, H.P.B. was put in touch by her Teachers with Colonel Henry Steel
Olcott, a man of sterling worth who had acquired considerable renown during the
Civil War, had served the U.S. Government with distinction, and was at the time
practicing law in New York. She also met William Quan Judge, a young Irish
Lawyer, who was to play a unique role in the future Theosophical work.
September 7, 1875, these three leading figures, together with several others,
founded a society which they chose to call The Theosophical Society, as
promulgating the ancient teachings of Theosophy, or the Wisdom
concerning the Divine which had been the spiritual basis of other great
movements of the past, such as Neo-Platonism, Gnosticism, and the
Mystery-Schools of the Classical world. The Inaugural Address by the
was delivered November 17, 1875, a date which is
to be the official date of the founding of the
Society. Starting from a generalized statement of objectives, namely, "to
collect and diffuse a knowledge of the laws which govern the Universe,"
the Founders soon expressed them more specifically. After several minor changes
in wording, the Objects stand today as follows:
1. To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity,
without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color.
2. To encourage the study of Comparative Religion, Philosophy and
3. To investigate unexplained laws of Nature, and the powers
latent in man.
September 1877, a powerful impact was made upon the reading and thinking public
by the publication of H.P. Blavatsky’s first monumental work, Isis Unveiled,
which was issued by J.W. Bouton in New York City, the one thousand
copies of the first printing being sold within ten days. The New York
Herald-Tribune considered the work as one of the "remarkable productions
of the century," many other papers and journals speaking in similar terms.
Isis Unveiled outlines the history, scope and development of the Occult Sciences,
nature and origin of Magic, the roots of Christianity, the errors of Christian
Theology and the fallacies of established orthodox Science, against the
backdrop of the secret teachings which run as a golden thread through bygone
centuries, coming up to the surface every now and then in the various mystical
movements of the last two thousand years or so.
July 8, 1878, H.P. Blavatsky was
naturalized as a U.S. citizen, an event which
received publicity in various newspapers.
In December of the same year, H.P. Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott left for
India via England.
in Bombay in February, 1879, they
established their Theosophical Headquarters in that city. Soon after landing,
they were contacted by Alfred Percy Sinnett, then Editor of the Government
Paper, The Pioneer of Allahabad.
contact soon proved of the utmost importance. After a tour of northwestern
India, the Founders returned to Bombay and started, in October, 1879, their first
Theosophical Journal, The Theosophist (still published today), with H.P.
Blavatsky as Editor. The society experienced then a rapid growth, and some very
remarkable people were attracted to it both in India and elsewhere.
May-July, 1880 the Founders spent some time in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), where Colonel Olcott
laid the foundations for his later work to stimulate the revival of Buddhism.
They both took "Pancha Sila"
or became officially Buddhists.In September and
October, 1880, H.P.B. and Colonel Olcott visited
A.P. Sinnett and his wife Patience at Simla in northern India. The serious interest of
Sinnett in the teachings and the work of the Theosophical Society prompted H.P.
Blavatsky to establish a contact by correspondence between Sinnett and the two
Adepts who were sponsoring the Society, Mahatmas K.H. and M. From this
correspondence Sinnett wrote The Occult World (1881) and Esoteric
Buddhism (1883), both of which had an enormous
influence in generating public interest in Theosophy. The replies and
explanations given by the Mahatmas to the questions by Sinnett were embodied in
their letters from 1880 to 1885 and were published in 1923 as The Mahatma
Letters to A.P. Sinnett. The original letters from these Teachers are preserved
in the British Library where they
be viewed by special permission in the Department of Rare Manuscripts.
May, 1882, a large estate was bought in southern India at Adyar, near Madras, and the Theosophical
Headquarters were moved there at the end of the year. This center became soon
the radiating point for a world-wide activity. Madame Blavatsky and Colonel
Olcott engaged in trips to various outlying districts, founded Branches,
received visitors, conducted an enormous correspondence with inquirers, and
filled their Journal with most valuable and scholarly material the main purpose
of which was to revitalize the dormant interest on the part of India in the spiritual worth
of their own ancient Scriptures.
is during this period that Colonel Olcott engaged in widespread mesmeric
healings until February, 1884, when he left for London to petition the British
Government on behalf of the Buddhists of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). H.P. Blavatsky, then
in rather poor health, went to Europe with him.
staying almost five months in Paris and London, H.P.B. visited the Gebhard family in Elberfeld, Germany during the late Summer and early autumn of 1884 and was busily engaged in writing
her second work, The Secret Doctrine.
a vicious attack on her by Alexis and Emma Coulomb (two of her staff members at
Adyar) was rapidly building up. She returned to Adyar on December
to learn the details of the situation. She wished to sue the couple, already
dismissed from Adyar for their gross libel on her concerning the supposed
fraudulent production of psychic phenomena. H.P.B. was, however, overruled by a
Committee of leading T.S. members, and in disgust resigned as Corresponding
Secretary of the Society. On March 31, 1885, she left for Europe, never to return to
Coulomb attack, as was later proved, had no solid foundation whatsoever. It was
based on forged and partially forged letters, purporting to have been written
by H.P. Blavatsky, with instructions to arrange fraudulent psychic phenomena of
various kinds. A Christian missionary magazine in Madras published the most
incriminating portions of these letters.
the Society for Psychical Research (London) had appointed a
special committee to investigate Madame Blavatsky’s claims. Then, in December,
1884, Richard Hodgson, a member of this S.P.R. committee, arrived in India to inquire into and
report on the Coulombs’ allegations. Based upon Hodgson’s findings, the S.P.R.
committee in its final report of December, 1885, branded Madame Blavatsky
"one of the most accomplished, ingenious and interesting impostors in
history." Mr. Hodgson also accused Madame Blavatsky of being a Russian
spy. This "S.P.R.-Hodgson" Report has been the basis for most
subsequent attacks on H.P. Blavatsky, as to her dishonesty, the non-existence
of her Masters, and the worthlessness of Theosophy.
vicious attack had a most unfavorable effect on H.P. Blavatsky’s health. Having
left India for Europe, she settled first in Italy and then in August,
1885 at Wurzburg, Germany, where she worked on
The Secret Doctrine. In July, 1886, she relocated to Ostend, Belgium, and in May of 1887, at
the invitation of English Theosophists, she moved to a small house at Upper Norwood, London.
her arrival in England, Theosophical
activities immediately began to move rapidly. The Blavatsky Lodge was formed
and started publicizing Theosophical ideas.
H.P. Blavatsky had virtually lost control of The Theosophist, she founded in
September, 1887 Lucifer, a monthly magazine designed, as stated on its
title-page, "to bring to light the hidden things of darkness." Also
in the same month, H.P.B. moved to 17 Lansdowne Road, Holland Park, London.
continued to write her great work which was finally completed and published in
two large volumes in October-December, 1888. Her indefatigable helpers in the
transcription and editing of the manuscript were Bertram Keightley
and Archibald Keightley, whose financial backing was
also of immense assistance.
Secret Doctrine was the crowning achievement of H.P. Blavatsky’s literary
career. Volume I is concerned mainly with the evolution of the Universe. The
skeleton of this volume is formed by seven Stanzas, translated from the Book of
Dzyan, with commentary and explanations by H.P.B. Also in this volume is an
extended elucidation of the fundamental symbols contained in the great
religions and mythologies of the world. The second Volume contains a further
series of Stanzas from the Book of
Dzyan, which describe the evolution of humanity.
in October, 1888, Madame Blavatsky formed the Esoteric Section (or School) of the Theosophical Society for
the deeper study of the Esoteric Philosophy by dedicated students, and wrote
for them her three E. S. Instructions.
1889 H.P. Blavatsky published The Key to
Theosophy, "a clear Exposition, in the form of Question and Answer, of
the Ethics, Science and Philosophy for the study of which the Theosophical
Society has been founded," and the devotional mystical gem called The Voice of the Silence,
containing selected excerpts translated from an Eastern scripture, The Book of
the Golden Precepts, which she had learnt by heart during her training in the
July, 1890, H.P. B. established the European Headquarters of the Theosophical
Society at 19 Avenue Road, St. John’s Wood, London.
this address H.P. Blavatsky died on May 8,
during a severe epidemic of flu in England, and her remains were
cremated at Woking Crematorium, Surrey.
the background of her writings and teachings, her life and character, her
mission and occult powers, H.P. Blavatsky is destined to be recognized in time
as the greatest Occultist in the history of Western civilization and a direct
agent of the Trans-Himalayan
Brotherhood of Adepts.
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