Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky



A word about Helena Petrovna 

Heredity and childhood [1]

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

An old family friend, E. F. Pisareva was saying: “H.P.B. has a very interesting ancestry – there were French, German, and Russians among her ancestors. Her father belonged to a lineage of crown Mecklenburg princes Hahn von Rottenstern-Hahn. Her mother was a great-granddaughter of Huguenot Bandre du Plessis, who was exiled from France because of religious reasons; in 1784 his daughter married Knyazh Pavel Vasiliyevich Dolgoruky; their daughter – Princess Elena Pavlovna Dolgorukaya married Andrey Mickhailovich Fadeev, she was the grandmother of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, who was bringing up early bereaved kids of her daughter. She was an outstanding, highly cultured and exclusively educated woman of exceptional kindness; she held correspondence with a lot of scientists, for example with Murchison, the president of Geographical Society of London, and other famous botanists and mineralogists…

She knew five foreign languages; was a great painter and a great woman in all senses. Her gifted nature was passed onto her daughter, Elena Andreevna, mother of Helena Petrovna. Elena Andreevna was writing novels and stories. She was called “Zinaida R.” under her pen-name and was very popular in the 40-s. A lot of people grieved for her early death; Belinsky dedicated her some flattering lines by calling her “Russian George Sand”.

I heard a lot about family of Fadeevs from Mariya Grigoriyevna Ermolova, who had great memories and knew them well from Tiflis, where her husband had been a governor in 40’s. She remembered Helena Petrovna as a very gifted, but very restive girl, who didn’t obey anybody. Their family had a very good reputation; everyone had the best opinion especially about the grandmother. Despite the fact that she rarely visited anybody, the whole city was coming to her to “to pay their respects”.

“My childhood? Spoilt and petted on one side, punished and hardened on the other. Sick and ever dying till seven or eight, sleep-walker; possessed by the devil. Governesses two—Mme. Peigneux, a French woman and Miss Augusta Sophia Jeffries a Yorkshire spinster. Nurses—any number. No Kurd nurse. One was half a Tartar. Father’s soldiers taking care of me. Mother died when I was a baby.”[p.13]

Madame Blavatsky continues: “Travelled with Father from place to place with his artillery regiment till eight or nine, taken occasionally to visit grandparents. When 11 my grandmother took me to live with her altogether. Lived in Saratow when Grandfather was civil Governor, before that in Astrachan, where he had many thousands (some 80, or 100,000) Kalmuck Buddhists under him”. [p.13]

“I was quite familiar with the Lamaism of the Tibetan Buddhists. I passed months and years of my childhood among the Lamaist Calmucks of Astrakhan, and with their great priest…

I had visited Semipalatinsk and the Ural Mountains with an uncle of mine who had possessions in Siberia, on the very border-land of the Mongolian countries where ‘Terachan Lama’ resides, and had numerous excursions beyond the frontiers, and knew all about Lamas and Tibetans before I was fifteen.”[p.14]

Left early an orphan, Helena Petrovna spent the greater part of her childhood in the home of her grandfather Fadeev, first in Saratov, later in Tiflis. In the summer, the whole family moved to the Governor’s summer residence, a large ancient mansion surrounded by a garden with many mysterious nooks, a pond, a deep ravine, behind which ran a dark forest descending to the banks of the Volga. The ardent child saw in nature a mysterious life of its own; she often conversed with birds and animals, and during the winter her learned grandmother’s study presented such an interesting world that it would have fired even a less brilliant imagination. The study contained many curious things: various stuffed animals, and grinning heads of bears and tigers; on one wall there were charming little humming-birds, glittering like so many bright flowers; on the other sat owls, falcons and vultures, and above them, under the very ceiling, a large eagle spread its majestic wings. But the most awful was a white flamingo, which stretched out its long neck, as if it were living. When the children came to their grandmother’s study they set astride on the black stuffed horse or on the white seal, and in the twilight they fancied all these animals began to move, and the little Helena Petrovna told many terrible and captivating stories…

Besides the phenomena due to her near connection with nature and evident to all, there were others visible to her alone. From early childhood the clairvoyant child saw a majestic figure of a Hindu in a white turban, always on e and the same. She knew him as well as she knew her own relatives, and called him her Protector, saying that it was He who saved her in dangers.

One of those accidents happened when she was 13 years old; a horse she rode became frightened and ran away; the child was unseated and, getting entangled in the stirrup, hung on to it; instead of being killed, however, she felt round her body somebody’s arms, which supported her till the horse was stopped.

Another accident happened much earlier, when she was quite a baby. She wished very much to examine a picture hanging high up on the wall and covered by a white curtain. She asked someone to uncover the picture, but her wish was not gratified. Once, being in the room alone, she pushed a table to the wall, put another small table over it, and a chair over this again, and succeeded in climbing to the top of it, holding to one hand to the dusty wall and with another reaching out to the curtain. She lost her balance and remembered nothing else. Coming to, she found herself lying on the floor safe and sound, both tables and chair standing in their usual places, the curtain drawn over the picture, and the only proof of all this really happened was a little trace of the small hand, left on the dusty wall under the picture.”[p.14]

Helena was a very advanced child for her age and was conspicuous to many. She didn’t accept any discipline, didn’t give ear to her mentors, she had her own opinion about everything. She was exceptionally original, self-confident and do-or-die child. When our mother died and we moved to our relatives’ house, our teachers would run out of patience with Helena, but despite her slighting approach to lessons, they were surprised by her extraordinary talent; musical capabilities and especially easiness with which she was learning foreign languages. She bore boyish features of character; as good, as bad ones; she loved travelling, hated dangers and was absolutely indifferent to leadings of elders.

Blavatsky’s favorite aunt, Nadezhda Fadeeva was writing about her the following: “From her earliest childhood, she was unlike any other person. Very lively and highly gifted, full of humor, and of most remarkable daring; she struck everyone with astonishment by her self-willed and determined actions… It was a fatal mistake to regard and treat her as they would any other child. Her restless and very nervous temperament, her unaccountable attraction to, and at the same time fear of, the dead; her passionate love and curiosity for everything unknown and mysterious, weird and fantastical; and, foremost of all, her craving for independence and freedom of action – a craving that nothing and nobody could control; all this, combined with exuberance of imagination and a wonderful sensitiveness, ought to warn her friends that she is to be dealt with and controlled by means of exceptional.

The slightest contradiction brought on an outburst of passion, often a fit of convulsions. Left alone with no one near her to impede her liberty of actions, she would spend hours and days quietly whispering, as people thought, to herself, and narrating, with no one near her, in some dark corner, marvelous tales of travels of travels in bright stars and other worlds, which her governess described as ‘profane gibberish’; but no sooner would the governess give her a distinct order to do this or the other thing, that her first impulse was to disobey. Her nurse sincerely believed the child possessed b y ‘the seven spirits of rebellion’. Her governesses were martyrs to their task, and never succeeded in bending her resolute will, or influencing by anything but kindness her indomitable, obstinate and fearless nature…

There was one, however, who could curb and guide this child with the “fiery temper of Dolgorukis” to some extent; namely, her grandmother, another Dolgoruki…

On one occasion, in a fit of temper at her nurse, she struck her a blow in the face. This coming to her grandmother’s knowledge, the child was summoned, questioned, and confessed her fault. The grandmother at once had the castle bell rung to call all the servants of the household, of whom there were scores, and when they were assembled in the great hall, she told her grand-daughter that she had acted as no lady should, in unjustly striking a helpless self who would not dare defend herself; and she ordered her to beg pardon and kiss her hand in token of sincerity.

The child at first, crimson with shame, was disposed to rebel; but the old lady told her that if she did not instantly obey, she would send her from her house in disgrace. She added that no real noble lady would refuse to make amends for a wrong to a servant, especially one, who by a lifetime of faithful service earned the confidence and love of her superiors. Naturally generous and kind-hearted towards the other people of the lower classes, the impetuous child burst into tears, kneeled before the old nurse, kissed her hand and asked to be forgiven. Needless to say that she was thenceforth fairly worshipped by the retainers of the family.” [p.23]


Youth and marriage

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

It is known very little about youth of Helena von Hahn, may be because of her brief youth: she got married when she was barely seventeen.

A girl, who rode a bareback Cossack horse, who didn’t learn to any authority, kept these features of character in her youth as well. She was saying herself: “I hated that so called “upper-class society”, as I hated hypocrisy in any of its forms, and always aspired against that society with its norms of behavior.”

“I hate attire, jewelry, and civilized society; hate balls and halls.”

Her early marriage and hasty escapement from her husband caused an overall misapprehension. H.F. Pisareva made the following assumption: “Her marriage at the age of seventeen to an elderly and unloved man, with who she could have nothing in common, can be explained only by a keen desire to gain more freedom. If one imagines the condition of life of a young lady in provincial “high life”, even in a good family, with all the prejudices and irksome etiquette of that time, one can easily understand how such conditions oppressed a nature so ardent , so difficult to limit, and so freedom-loving as the young Helena Petrovna’s must have been. [p.33]

“Her husband was the Vice-Governor of the Province Erevan, in Transcaucasia. He was in all respects an excellent man, but with one fault, namely marrying a young girl, who treated him without the least respect and who told him quite openly beforehand that the only reason she had selected him was that she would mind less making him miserable than anyone else.

‘You make a great mistake in marrying me; you know perfectly that you are old enough to be my grandfather. You will make somebody unhappy, but it won’t be me. As for me, I’m not afraid of you, but I warn you that it is not you that will gain anything from our union.’ He never could say that he did not get what he had bargained for.”[p.34]

When on their church marriage she heard the priest saying to her: ‘Though shalt honour and obey thy husband; and she hated word ‘shalt’ her young face – for she was hardly seventeen – was seen to flush angrily, then to become deadly pale. She was overheard to mutter in response, through her teeth: ‘Surely I shall not.’ And surely she has not. Forthwith she determined to take the law into her own hands, and - she left her ‘husband’ forever, without giving him any opportunity to think of her as his wife. Thus Mme Blavatsky abandoned her country at seventeen, and passed ten long years in strange and out-of- the-way places – in Central Asia, India, South America, Africa and Easter Europe.”[p.35]


Her Master

“I saw Master in my visions ever since my childhood. In the years of the first Nepal Embassy saw and recognized him. Saw him twice. Once he came out of the crowd, then he ordered me to meet him in Hyde Park. I cannot, I must not speak of this.”[p.54]

“When she was in London, in 1851, with her father, Colonel Hahn, she was one day walking when, to her astonishment, she saw a tall Hindu in the street with some Indian princes. She immediately recognized him as the same person that she had seen in the Astral. Her first impulse was to rush forward and speak to him, but he made her a sign not to move, and she stood as if spell-bound while he passed on…

The next day she went into Hyde Park for a stroll, that the might be alone and free to think over her extraordinary adventure. Looking up, she saw the same form approaching her, and then her Master told her that he had come to London with the Indian princes on an important mission, and he was desirous of meeting her personally, as he required her co-operation in a work which he was about to undertake. Then he told her how the Theosophical Society was to be formed, and that he wished her to be the founder. He gave her a slight sketch of all the troubles that she would have to undergo, and also told her that she would have to spend three years in Tibet to prepare her for important task.

Master Morya, El Morya

After three days’ serious consideration and consultation with her father, H.P.B. decided to accept the offer made to her, and shortly afterwards left London for India…

August 12 is July 31 in the Russian calendar, the day of my birth – Twenty years! I met M.’., the Master of my dreams!!”[p.54]


Seeking the Master. With the Master in India

The Countess Wachmeister remarks that after meeting her Master, Mme. Blavatsky left London for India. She didn’t arrive there right away. Her journey lasted over a year before she arrived in Bombay at the end of 1852. At first she visited Canada, New Orleans, Texas and Mexico.

Though in 1856 H.P.B. had penetrated to Tibet, at that time she couldn’t come into Master’s ashram. It doesn’t mean that she didn’t see Him. He was able to visit India and she was able to meet him during her stay in India in 1852-1853 and 1855-1857. Sinnett asserts on her authority that her occult training began at the age of 25 and that “She was directed by her occult Guardian to leave India in 1857.”

H.P.B. was saying: “Master ordered me to go to Java for a certain business. There were two whom I suspected always of being chelas there. I saw one of them in Mahatma’s house and recognized him, but he denied it.” This indicates now that she was definitely enrolled in her Master’s service, and given commissions to execute for him here and there about the world. [p.67]

One more confirmation was given by V.S. Solovyoff, who got acquainted with H.P.B. in 1884, in Paris:
— “Are you here for long?
— I don’t know myself yet; the Master sent me.
— What master?
— My Master, the teacher, my Guru; you may call him Gulab Lal Singh, from the «Caves and Jungles of Hindustan». [p.68]

Further H.P.B. writes: “I shall dwell upon his personality because the most wonderful and diverse stories were in circulation about this strange man. It was asserted that he belonged to the sect of Raj-Yogis, and was an initiate of the mysteries of the magic, alchemy, and various other occult sciences of India. He was rich and independent, and rumour didn’t dare to suspect him of deception, the more so because, though quite full of these sciences, he never uttered a word about them in public, and carefully concealed his knowledge from all except a few friends.

Gulab Lal Singh was an independent Takur from Rajistan, a province the name of which means the land of kings. Takurs are, almost without exception, descended from Surya (the sun), and are accordingly called Surya-vansa. They are prouder than any other nation in the world. They have a proverb: “The dirt of the earth cannot stick to the rays of the sun.”[p.69],which means to Rajputs; that’s why they don’t accept any cast, but Brahmins, rending honors just to bards, who praised in songs their military valor , of which they are so fairly proud.


In the Caucasus

“In the summer of 1860, we left the Government of Pskoff, for the Caucasus, to pay a visit to our grandparents, the Fadeews, and Mme Witte, our aunt, our mother’s sister, who have not seen Helene for more than eleven years. On our way there, at the town of Zadonsk, in the Government of Voronege, we learnt that the Metropolitan of Kieff, the Venerable Isadore, whom we had known well when we were children at Tiflis, when he had been the head of the Exarchate of St.George, happened to be in the town, passing through on his way to St. Petersburg, and was for the moment officiating in the monastery.

We were most eager to see him; he remembered us, and sent us word to say that he would be very pleased to see us after Mass. We made our way to Archi-Episcopal Church, but not without misgiving of my part. As we were on our way, I said to my sister: “Do please take care that your little devils keep themselves quiet while we are with the Metropolitan.” She began laughing and saying that she would like nothing better, but she could not answer for them. Alas! I knew it but too well. And so I was not astonishes, but all the same suffered agonies when I heard the tapping begin as soon as venerable old man began to question my sister about her travels. One! Two! One! Two! Three! Surely he could not but notice these importunate in individuals who seemed determined to join the party and take part in the conversation; in order to interrupt us they made the furniture, the looking-glasses, our cups of tea, even the rosary of amber beads, which saintly old man was holding in his hand, move and vibrate.

He saw our dismay at once, and taking in the situation at a glance, enquired which of us was the medium. Like a true egoist, I hastened to fit the cap on my sister’s head. He talked to us for more than an hour, asking my sister question after question out loud, and asking them mentally of her attendants, and seemed profoundly astonished and well pleased to have seen the phenomena. On taking leave of us, he blessed my sister and myself, and told us that we have no cause to fear the phenomena.

‘There is no force,’ he said, ‘that both in its essence and in its manifestation does not proceed from the Creator. So long as you don’t abuse the gifts given you, have no uneasiness. We are by no means forbidden to investigate the hidden forces of nature. One day they will be understood and utilized by man, though that’s not yet. May the blessing of God rest on you, my child!’

He again blessed Helene and made the sign of the cross. How often must these kindly words of one of the chief Heads of the Orthodox Greek Church have been recalled to the memory of H.P. Blavatsky in later years, and she ever felt gratefully towards him.”[p.117]

Ultimately she bought a house at Ozoogretty, a military settlement in Migrelia, a small town, lost among old forests that had neither roads nor conveyances, which had almost no connections with outer world. In her little home Mme Blavatsky fell very ill. Says Mme Jelihovsky in her narrative to Mr. Sinnett: “It was one of those mysterious nervous diseases that baffle science. She began – and repeatedly told to her friends – ‘to lead a double life.’ What she meant by it, no one of the good people of Mingrelia could understand. This is how she herself describes the state:

“Whenever I was called by name, I opened my eyes upon hearing it, and was myself, my own personality in every particular. As soon as I was left alone, however, I relapsed into my usual, half-dreamy condition, and became somebody else (who, namely, Mme. B. will not tell). I had simply a mild fever that consumed me slowly but surely, day after day, with entire loss of appetite, and finally of hunger, as I would feel none for days, and often went a week without touching any food whatever, except a little water ; so that in four months I was reduced to a living skeleton.

“In cases where I was interrupted, when in my other self, by the sound of my present name being pronounced, and while I was conversing in my dream life – say at half a sentence either spoken by me or those who were with my second me at the time – and opened my eyes to answer the call, I used to answer very rationally, and understood all, I was never delirious. But no sooner I had closed my eyes again that the sentence which had been interrupted was completed by my other self, continued from the word, or even half the word, it had stopped at When awake, and myself, I remembered well who I was in my second capacity, and what I had been and was doing. When somebody else, i.e., the personage I had become, I know I had no idea who was H.P. Blavatsky! I was in another far-off country, a totally individuality from myself, and had no connection at all with my actual life.”

Perhaps the following, written by H.P. Blavatsky many years later, throws light on this abstruse subject: “This power is latent in man, and not in solitary units of the human family only, though this mystery of dual life in every man, woman and child may remain unknown to them ninety-nine times out of hundred. This ignorance is due to our Western modes of life…

“Who of us knows or, or has any means of knowing Self, while he lives in the lethal atmosphere of whether Society of Proletariat?” [p.120]


Psychic development in Russia

“When addressed as a medium,” says Mme Jelihovsky, “Mme Blavatsky used to laugh and assure us that she was no medium, but only a mediator between mortals and beings whom we knew nothing about… But I could never understand the difference…My sister passed most of her time travelling in India where, as we now informed, spiritual theories are held at great scorn, and so called (by us) mediumistic phenomena are said to be caused by quite another agency than that of spirits; mediumship proceeding, they say, from a source, to draw from which my sister thinks it is degrading to her human dignity; in consequence of which ideas she refuses to acknowledge such a force in herself.”[p.124]

“Her occult powers all this while, instead of weakening, became every day stronger, and she seemed finally to subject to her will every kind of manifestation…Meanwhile sporadic phenomena were gradually dying away in her presence. They still occurred, but very rarely, though they were always very remarkable. ” [p.127]


In the Master’s Ashrama

“Why was she so many weary years reaching her goal? Why the long search and the repeated failure to find? “Ever since 1851 when I saw my Master bodily and personally for the first time, I have never denied or doubted Him,” she cries. But that confidence in him was not enough. “Before the soul can stand in the presence of the Masters, its feet must be washed in the blood of the heart,” says Light on the Path.” [p.145]

Remembering “seven years’ preliminary initiation”, full of struggle with all the Incarnated Evils and legions of Devils, she writes to Colonel Olcott in 1875, “ and think before you accept.” And again in the same letter: “I am an initiated wretch and I know what a curse the word ‘Try’ has proved to me in my life, and how often I trembled and eared to misunderstand their orders and on myself punishment for carrying them too far or not far enough. ” “Try”might well be called the slogan of the Masters who communicated with Colonel Olcott in New York. Thus: “He who seeks us find Us. Try…Don’t give up thy club. Try,” ect. Mahatma K. H. writes to Mr. Sinnett: “You know our motto, and its practical application has erased the word “impossible” from the occultist’s vocabulary. If he wearies not of trying, he may discover that most noble of all facts, his true SELF.” [p.145]

“Colonel Olcott remarks: “I asked (the Master) why a permanent control was not put upon her fiery temper, and why she should not always be modified into the quiet, self-centered sage that she became under certain obsessions. The answer was that such a course would inevitably lead to her death by apoplexy; the body was vitalized by a fiery and impetuous spirit, one which from childhood brooked no resistant; and if vent were not allowed for the excessive corporeal energy, the result must be fatal.

I was told to look into history of her kinsfolk, the Russian Dolgourokis, and I would understand what was meant. I did so and found out that princely and warlike family, tracing back to Rurik (ninth century) had always been distinguished by extreme courage, a darling equal to every emergency, a passionate love of personal independence, and a fearlessness of consequences in the carrying out of its wishes. Prince Yakob, a Senator of Peter the Great, was a type of the family character. Disliking an imperial ukase, he tore it to pieces in full council of the Senate, and when the Tsar threatened to kill him, he replied: ‘You have but to imitate Alexander, and you will find a Clitus in me.’” [p.145-146]

“This was H.P.B.’s character to the life, and she more than once told me that she would not be controlled by any power on earth or out of it. The only persons she actually reverenced were the Masters, yet even towards them, she was occasionally so combative that in certain of her moods the gentler ones could not, or did not, approach her. To get herself in to the frame of mind when she could have open intercourse with them had – as she had pathetically assured me – cost her years of the most desperate self-resistant. I doubt if any person ever entered upon the Path against greater obstacles or with more self-suppression.

There was another and supreme reason why the Masters dare not co troll and compel H. P. B.’s innate character to be softened and refined into the higher ideal of benevolent and gentle sage, independently of her own volition. To do so would be an unlawful interference with her personal Karma… To have interfered with that by benumbing the violent temper and suppressing the other personal defects of character, would have been a grievous wrong to her without hastening her evolution one whit; it would have been something like keeping of a hypnotic sensitive perpetually under the hypnotizer’s will, on an invalid permanently stupefied by a narcotic.

Of course, a brain is so liable to disturbance was not the best adapted to the supremely delicate business of the mission she had taken upon herself; but the masters told me it was far and away the best now available, and that they must get all they could out of it. She was to them loyalty and devotion personified, and ready to dare and suffer for the sake of the Cause. Gifted beyond all other persons of her generation with innate physical powers, and fired with an enthusiasm that ran into fanaticism, she supplied the element of fixity of purpose, which conjoined with a phenomenal degree of bodily endurance, made her a most powerful, if not a very docile and equable agent.

With less turbulence of spirit she would, probably, have turned out less faulty literary work, but instead of lasting 17 years under the strain, she would doubtless have faded out of the body ten years earlier, and her later writing have been lost to the world.” [p.146]


Flying visit to Europe

“Then comes Venice, Florence, Mentana. The Garibaldis (the sons) are alone to know the whole truth; and a few more Garibaldians with them. What I did, you know partially; you do not know all. My relatives do, my sister does not.” “I was at Mentana during the battle of October. 1867, left Italy in November of that year. Whether I was sent there, or found myself there by accident, are questions that pertain to my private life.

In her first scrap-book, she has annotated an article called “Heroic Women”, in which she spoken of as “a petticoated Staff Officer of Garibaldi,” as follows: “Every word is a lie. Never was on ‘Garibaldi’s staff.’ Went with friends to Mentana to help shooting the Papists and got shot myself. Nobody’s business, least of all a d--- reporter’s.

Says Colonel Olcott: “She told me of her being present as a volunteer…with Garibaldi at the bloody battle of Mentana. In proof of her story she showed me where her left arm had been broken in two places by a sabre-stroke, and made me feel in her right shoulder a musket-bullet still imbedded in the muscle, and another in her leg. She also showed me a scar just below the heart where she had been stabbed with a stiletto. This wound reopened a little while she was at Chittenden, and it was to consult me about it that she was led to show it to me…I have sometimes been even tempted to suspect that none of us, her colleagues, ever knew the normal H. P. B. at all; but that we just dealt with artificially animated body, a sort of perpetual psychic mystery, from which the proper jiva was killed out at the battle of Mentana (November 2, 1867), when she received those five wounds and was picked up out of ditch for dead.” [p.154]

From the Master’s Ashrama to the World

“A characteristic incident occurred, which Mr. William Q. Judge related in the New York Times of January 6, 1889, thus : “She reached Havre with a first class ticket to New York, and only one or two dollars over. Just as she was going abroad the steamer, she saw a poor woman, accompanied by two little children, who was sitting on the pier, weeping bitterly.

‘Why are you crying?’ she asked.’

The woman replied that her husband had sent to her from America money to enable her and the children to join him. She had expended it all in the purchase of the steerage tickets that turned out to be valueless counterfeits. Where to find the swindler who had so heartlessly defrauded her she did not know, and she was quite penniless in a strange city.

‘Come with me,’ said Mme Blavatsky, who straightway went to the agent of the steamship company and induced him to exchange her first-class tickets for steerage tickets for herself, the poor woman and the children. Anybody who has ever crossed the ocean in the steerage among the crowd of emigrants will appreciate the magnitude of such sacrifice to a woman of fine sensibilities, and there are few but Mme Blavatsky who would have been capable of it.”[p.169]


Meeting of the founders of the Theosophical society

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

“One or two of us hoped that the world had so far advanced intellectually, if not intuitionally, that the Occult doctrine might gain an intellectual acceptance, and the impulse given for a new cycle of occult research…In casting about we found in America the man to stand as leader—a man of great moral courage, unselfish, and having other good qualities. He was far from being the best, but …he was the best one available. With him we associated a woman of most exceptional and wonderful endowments. Combined with them she had strong personal defects, but just as she was, there was no second to her living fit for this work. We sent her to America, brought them together—and trial began.” – Mahatma Moriya wrote in February 1882

In the year 1874, in America, H. P. B. meets her closest coworker, a student and a friend, with whom she collaborates till the end of her life, and who is known to the world as the second founder of Theosophical Society. Colonel Henry Steel Olcott, a famous lawyer from New-York, he was glorious by his erudition, intelligence and ethics, and at the same time he was very enthusiastic about para-psychological phenomena. They accidentally met at the Eddy brother’s farm in Chittenden, where they were both studying spiritual phenomena. Olcott left a touching description of this first meeting in his diary: “From the very beginning my vision was deceived by the red garibaldiс chlamys, which H. P. B. was wearing instead of a shirt. She presented a sharp contrast to the darkness of everything, which surrounded her… Her hair was red, soft, like a silk, and wavy, like Cotswold lambs’ wool. This hair and the shirt attracted my attention earlier than her face with Kalmyck features, a little bit heavy, breathing with strength; greatness and culture in contrast with regular face of people around her... [3]

When entered, I stopped to tell my friend Cappes, ‘Look at this amazing creature,’ and quickly sat in front of her to occupy myself with my favorite thing; examination of characters… ”

H. P. B. made herself a cigarette. I turned to her saying: “Madam may I?, bringing the fire by her cigarette. Thus, from the fire of cigarette our acquaintance was born, which afterwards turned to a fire which didn’t redeem to the present day. ” [4]

The colonel Olcott tells in his book “Old diary leaves”: “ H. P. B. was talking about existence of Adepts of East and their power, she showed me her ability to control occult powers of nature in many examples…Her fiendlike participation helped me to enter into personal correspondence with the Teachers. I saved a lot of their letters with receipt dates.


The founding of theosophical society

“Master sent me to the United States to see what could be done to stop necromancy and unconscious black magic exercised by Spiritualists. I was made to meet you and to change your ideas, which I have. The Society was formed, then gradually made to merge into and evolve hints of the teachings from the Secret Doctrine of the oldest school of Occult Philosophy in the whole world – a school to reform which, finally, the Lord Gautama was made to appear. These teachings could not be given abruptly. They had to be instilled gradually.” (H. P. Blavatsky to H. S. Olcott) [October 23rd, 1907]

Members of Theosophical Society:

• President: Henry S. Olcott;
• Vice-Pres.: Dr. S. Pancoast and G. H. Felt;
• Cor. Sec.: Mme H. P. Blavatsky;
• Rec. Sec.: john Storer Cobb;
• Treasurer: Henry J. Newton;
• Librarian: Charles Sotheran;
• Councillors: Rev. J. H. Wiggin, Rev. R. B. Westbrook, Mrs. Emma Hardinge Britten, C. E. Simmons, M. D. Herbert D. Monachesi;
• Counsel to the Society: William S. Jadge


Joined later (A note from author’s report):

  1. Thomas Edison, American inventor
  2. William Crookes, leading chemist and physicist of XIX century, President of London Royal Society (1913-1915);
  3. Camille Flammarion, a famous French astronomer;
  4. William James, an American philosopher and psychologist;
  5. Motilal Nehru, father of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime-minister of independent India;
  6. William Butler Yeats, an Irish poet, play writer. The Nobel prizewinner in Literature in 1923;
  7. Anna Kingsford, one of the first women in England, who received an academic degree in Medicine;
  8. Charles Webster Leadbeater, an English priest and a writer;
  9. Annie Bezant, an English social reformist;
  10. George Sidney Arundale;
  11. Charles Jinarajadasa;
  12. Nilakanta Sri Ram;
  13. John Coats.


With time the goals of Theosophical Society were determined as following:

1. Creation of Universal Brotherhood of Humanity without distinction by races, creeds or social positions;

2. Promoting studying of comparative religion, philosophy and nature;

3. Exploration of inexplicable laws of Nature and powers, undetected in a man.

Master Koot Hoomi writes in 1880: “The Chiefs want a ‘Brotherhood of Humanity’ the real Universal Fraternity started; an institution which would make itself known throughout the world and arrest the attention of the highest minds”. [p.261]


Isis Unveiled

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

“I was introduced to them by H. P. B. through the agency that my previous experiences would make me most comprehensible, a pretended medium-overshadowing ‘spirit’. John King brought four of the Masters to my attention: one of whom was a Copt, one a representative of the Neo-Platonic School, one – very high one, a Master of Masters, so to say – a Venetian, and one an English philosopher, gone from men’s sight, yet not dead. The first of these became my first Guru, and a stern disciplinarian he was, indeed, a man of splendid masculinity of character. ” [p.223]

Colonel Olcott talks about writing the book “Isis Unveiled”:

“A month or two after the formation of Theosophical Society, she and I took two suits of rooms at 433 West 34th Street, she on the first and I on the second floor, and thenceforward the writing of Isis went on without break or interruption until its completion in 1877. In her whole life she had not done a tithe of such literary labour, yet I never knew even a managing daily journalist who could be compared to her for dogged endurance or tireless working capacity.

From morning to night she would be at her desk, and it was seldom that either of us got to bed before 2 o’clock a.m. During the daytime I had my professional duties to attend to, but always after an early dinner, we would settle down together to our big writing-table and work for dear life, until bodily fatigue would compel us to stop. What an experience! The education of an ordinary life-time of reading and thinking was, for me, crowded and compressed into this period of less than two years…

She worked on no fixed plan, but ideas came streaming through her mind like a perennial spring which is ever overflowing its brim.

…Higgledy-piggledy it came, in a ceaseless rivulet, each paragraph complete in itself and capable of being excised without harm to predecessor or successor… ” [p.262, 263]

“We sat at opposite sided of one big table usually, and I could see her every movement. Her pen would be flying over the page, when she would suddenly stop, look out into space with the vacant eye of the clairvoyant seer, shorten her vision as though to look at something held invisibly in the air before her, and begin copying on the paper what she saw. The quotation finished, her eyes would resume their natural expression, and she would go on writing until again stopped by a similar interruption.” [p.263]

“It was when we were living at 302 West 47th Street – the once famous ‘Lamasery,’ and the executive headquarters of the Theosophical Society. I said: ‘I cannot pass this quotation, for I am sure I cannot read as you have it.’ She said: ‘Oh don’t bother; it’s right; let it pass.’ I refused until finally she said: ‘Well, keep still a minute and I’ll try to get it.’ The far-away look came into her eyes, and presently she pointed to a far corner of the room, to a étagère on which were kept some curios, and in hollow voice said: ‘There!’ and then came to herself again. ‘There, there; go and look for it over there!’ I went, and found the two volumes wanted, which to my knowledge had not been in the house until that very moment.

I compared the text with H. P. B. quotation, showed her that I was right in my suspicions as to the error, made the proof correction, and then, at her request, returned the two volumes to the place from which I had taken them. I resumed my seat and work, and then after a while I looked again in that direction, the books had disappeared!...

H. P. B. was, all the world knows, an inveterate smoker. She consumed an immense number of cigarettes daily, for the rolling of which she possessed the greatest deftness. She could even roll them with her left hand while she was writing ‘copy’ with her right… While she was writing Isis Unveiled , she would not leave her apartment for six months at a stretch. From early morning until very late at night, she would sit at her table working. It was not an uncommon thing for her to be seventeen hours out of the twenty-four at her writing. Her only exercise was to go to the dining-room or bath-room and back again to her table.” [p.264]

Mr. W. Q. Judge bears witness to this same fact in the New York Sun, of September 26, 1892. He says: “Isis Unveiled attracted wide attention and all the New York papers reviewed it, each saying that it exhibited immense research. The strange part of this is as I and many others can testify as eye-witnesses to the production of the book, that the writer had no library in which to make researches, and possessed no notes or investigations or reading previously done. All was written straight out of hand. And yet it is full of references to books in the British Museum and other great libraries, and every reference is correct. Either then we have, as to that book, a woman who was capable of storing in her memory a mass of facts, dates, numbers, titles an subjects, such as no other human being was capable of, or her claim to help from unseen being is just….

My father, remembering her and underlining his admiration, repeatedly said : ‘Never have I seen such an intense creature, intense in her purpose, intense in her endeavor; nothing round her mattered; though the heavens fall she would keep on her way ’.”[p.269]


Who wrote “Isis Unveiled”?

“Manuscripts” of H.P.B. which had been made in a different time always differed a lot. Most perfect of all were the manuscripts which were written for her while she was sleeping. The beginning of the chapter of the civilization of ancient Egypt is an illustration. We had stopped at about 2 a.m. as usual, both too tired to wait for our usual smoke and chat before parting. The next morning when I came to breakfast, she showed me a pile of at least 30 of 40 pages of beautifully written H. P. B. manuscript, which, she said, she had had written for her by – well, a Master whose name she has never been degraded like some others. I was perfect in every respect, and went to the printers without revision.

“I have spoken of the part of Isis that was done by H. P. B. in propia persona which was inferior to that done for her by the Somebody’s. This is perfectly comprehensible, for how would H. P. B., who had no previous knowledge of this sort, write correctly about multifarious subjects treated in her book? In her (seemingly) normal state, she would read a book, mark the portions that struck her, write about them, make mistakes, correct them, discuss them with me, set me to writing, help my intuitions, get friends to supply materials, and go on thus as best she might, so as long as there were none of the teachers within call of her physic appeals. And they were not with us always, by any means.” [p.277]

H. P. B. wrote to her family: “”When I wrote Isis, I wrote it so easily that it was actually no labor, but a real pleasure. Why should I be praised for it? Wherever I am told to write, I sit down and obey, and then I can write easily upon almost anything – metaphysics, psychology, philosophy, ancient religions, zoology, natural sciences, or what not. I never put myself the question: ‘Can I write on this subject?’ or ‘Am I equal to the task?’ but I simply sit down and write. Why? Because somebody who knows all dictates to me… My Master and occasionally others whom I knew in my travels years ago…

…I have hinted to you before now about Them… and I tell you candidly, that whenever I write upon a subject I know a little or nothing of, I address myself to Them, and one of Them inspires me, i.e., He allows me to simply copy from manuscripts, and even printed matter that passes before my eyes in the air, during which process I have never been unconscious one single instant…It is that knowledge of His protection and faith in His power, that have enable me to become mentally and spiritually so strong… and even He (the Master) is not always required; for, during his absence on some other occupation, He awakens in me His substitute in knowledge…At such times it is no more I who write, but my Inner Ego, my ‘luminous self,’ who thinks and writes for me.”

In another letter she says to her sister: “Well, Vera, whether you believe me or not, something miraculous is happening to me. You cannot imagine in what charmed world of pictures or visions I live. I am writing Isis, not writing, rather copying out and drawing what she personally shows to me. Upon my word, sometimes it seems to me that ancient Goddess of Beauty in person leads me through all the countries of past centuries which I have to describe. I sit with my eyes open, and to all appearances see and hear everything real and actual around me, and yet the same time I see and hear which I write. I feel short of breath; I am afraid to make a slightest movement, for fear and spell might be broken. Slowly, century after century, image after image, float out of the distance and pass before me, as if in magic panorama; and meanwhile I put them together in my mind, fitting in epochs and dates, and know for sure that there can be no mistake. Races and nations, countries and cities, which have for long disappeared in the darkness of the prehistoric past, emerge and then vanish, giving place to others, and I am told the consecutive dates.”” [p.278]

“Colonel Olcott says: “Upon its appearance, Isis made such a sensation that the first edition was exhausted within ten days. The critics on the whole dealt kindly with it… The truest thing said about it was the expression of an American author that it is ‘a book with a revolution in it.’” [p.280]



“H. P. B. was compelled for various reasons to become an American citizen. This troubled her considerably, as, like all Russians, she was passionately devoted to her country,” says Mrs. Johnston, her niece, in The Path. H. P. B. wrote to her aunt, Mme. Fadeef:

“My dearest, I write you because otherwise I would burst with a strange feeling which is positively suffocating me. It is the 8th of July to-day, an ominous day for me, but god only knows whether the omen is good or bad. To-day is exactly five years and one day since I came to America, and this moment I have just returned from the Supreme Court, where I gave my oath of allegiance to the American Republic and Constitution. Now for a whole hour I have been a citizen of with equal rights to the President himself. So far so good: the working of my original destiny have forced me into this naturalization; but to my utter astonishment and disgust I was compelled to repeat publicly after the judge, like a mere parrot, the following tirade: that I would renounce forever and even to my death every kind of submission and obedience to the emperor of Russia; that I would renounce all obedience to the powers established by him and the government of Russia; and that I would accept the duty to defend, love and serve the Constitution of the United States alone. So help me God in whom I believe! I was awfully scared when pronouncing this blackguardly recantation of Russia and the emperor. And so I am not only an apostate to our beloved Russian Church, but a political renegade. A nice scrape to get into, but how am I to manage to no longer love Russia or respect the emperor? It is easier to say a thing then to act accordingly.” [p.282]

The founders of Theosophical Society left America on December 19th, 1878, and arrived to Bombay on February 16th, 1879.

“In spite her American citizenship Mme Blavatsky remained ever a true Russian patriot. Her sister, Mme Jelihovsky writes: “During the war between Russia and Turkey, Helena Petrovna had not a moment’s peace. All her letters written during 1876-1877 are full of alarm for her comparitors, of fears for the safety of those members of her family who were actively engaged in it. She forgot her anti-materialist and anti-spiritualist articleds in order to breath forth fire and flame against the enemies of the Russian nation…” [p.285]

Everything that she earned for articles in Russian newspapers, and first wages from publication of “Isis Unveiled” were sent to Odessa and Tiflis for injured soldiers and their families, or to Red Cross Society.


Last Years

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

In last seven years a hurricane of slander, baiting, intrigues and absurd accusations of all possible sins and evils fell on H. P. B. The closest people, who she believed to and loved with all her soul, had betrayed her and moved to a camp of bitter enemies. Theosophists were leaving the society in swarms. She suffered and worried, but was doing her job: she had to manage, to protect, strengthen, give everything she could and everything she had…and people remembered this…

She was suffering very deeply, thinking that she spattered the good name of her Teachers, their teachings and that she put pipe out and harmed theosophical idea. And this all was because of unfortunate para-psychological phenomena and miracles, which she was performing everywhere generously, with her extraordinary abilities, but treating them with disregards calling them “psychological traps”. She was sincerely hoping that seeing real miracles, people will start to believe in deep teachings, which stand behind them and in Universal Teachers, who transmit these teachings. When the desire of becoming a disciple of the Teachers turned to a mass fever and rush down the initiations, gaining of occult abilities, very few remembered that the path of discipleship is; service, virtues, commitments and honor code. Her sufferings had no limit. She sincerely believed that she ruined the work because of her own foolishness.

In her last years, seriously ill, H.P.B. was writing continuously; her inflexible will made her body serve her. She was rushing to finish “Secret Doctrine”, a work, which Teachers themselves were saying contains an “essence of Occult Truth…and for years-long this book will be a source of knowledge and information for future disciples.”[5]

On May 8, 1891 in London, at the age of 60, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky passed away. Lora Kuper, one of the initial students of Helena Petrovna wrote:

“The following night brought her a lot of sufferings and it was the last night, she spent with us… When the last hope faded, the caregiver left the room, leaving Claude Wright, Walter Old and me with our beloved H. P. B. Two of us were kneeling in front of her, holding her hands, I was standing on the side, holding her head with my hand. We stayed motionless for a while in that position, and this way, in silence, H. P. B. passed away. We couldn’t even guess the exact moment she stopped breathing. A great sense of peace filled the room and we kneeled down in silence …” [6]

It is impossible to recount all the obituaries and articles, which appeared in many- many countries to the memory of Helena Petrovna. A year later, in April 1892 the President of Theosophical Society Henry Still Olcott issued an “Executive order”, where it was mentioned the following:

“H. P. Blavatsky expressed her wish in her last bequeathal, that in the anniversary of her death, some of her friends get together in the Main office of Theosophical Society to read a chapter from “The Light of Asia “by Edvin Arnold, and excerpts from the Bhagavad-Gita”; and because it would not be proper for all her surviving colleagues to let the memory of her service to humanity and the selfless love of our Society die out, the undersigned also suggests this anniversary to be named, “White Lotus Day”…

A text of the Executive Order was issued by Colonel S. Olcott and published in Lucifer magazine, Issue X, Number 57, May 1892, p.250-251


“…You will never know her the way we knew, and that is why you can never judge her fairly, without fear or favor. You are seeing just a surface of things…In your eyes H. P. B., in the best case, for those who love her in spite of herself, is a strange, queer woman, psychological trap; impulsive and good-hearted, but never the less not without wickedness. We, on the other hand…, find in her inner “I” a deeper wisdom than you will ever be able to perceive yourselves…” Koot Hoomi. [7]

«Messenger» - Nicholas Roerich

«Messenger» - Nicholas Roerich


[1] Here and further (besides the paragraphs with references to other sources) Mary K. Neff Personal Memoirs of H.P. Blavatsky. Wheaton, IL, USA: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1971. In 1927, at the invitation of sir C.Jinarajadas Mary K.Neff went to Adiyar. There, by the order of Dr.Annie Besant she disassembled and systematized archives of Theosophical Society. To accomplish this job she had to handle a lot of paperwork, books, newspapers, magazines, letters and brochures. Later she realized that the archives of Theosophical Society keep a lot of documents, connected with H.P.B., which would allow her to complete the blanks in her biography. At George Arundale’s proposal, Mary published a series of articles about the life and activities of Blavatsky. Significant amount of materials, which are used in this book, are taken from this source.

[2] The Mahatma letters to A. P. Sinett from The Mahatmas M. and K. H. Transcribed and Compiled. Introduction by A. T. Barker, T. Fisher UNWIN LTD London: Adelphi Terrace, 1923, p.263.
Available at: http://blavatskyarchives.com/theosophypdfs/mahatma_letters_to_A_P_Sinnett.pdf

[3] A riddle of sphinx. Helena Sikirich. Magazine “New Acropolis”. Available at:
http://www.newacropol.ru/Alexandria/philosophy/Philosofs/EPB-spisok/sfinks (In Russian, unpublished)

[4] Henry S. Olcott. Old diary leaves. The true story of the theosophical society. New York and London, G. P. Putnam’s Son, Madras, The Proprietors of the “Theosophist”, 1895.

[5] The riddle of the Sphinx.Elena Sikirich. Novy Acropol (New Acropolis).
Available at http://www.newacropol.ru/Alexandria/philosophy/Philosofs/EPB-spisok/sfinks (Russian- unpublished).

[6] Caldwell, Daniel H, The Occult World Of Madame Blavatsky- Reminiscences and Impressions by Those Who Knew Her. "Impossible Dream Publication" Tucson, Arizona, 1991.

[7] The Occult World, by A.P. Sinnett, London: Trubner and Co., 1881- First Edition,172 pp.