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RE: Theos-World

Apr 17, 2004 05:30 AM
by Dallas TenBroeck

March 16 2004


Dear Friends:


As some comments concerning the value and veracity of HPB have just been
sent in for us to read and comment on let me offer the following in

Best wishes,






H. P. BLAVATSKY died May 8, 1891. As a person she ceased to be on that
date. All that survives is a name, a memory, one of countless other
names and memories, the remains of a generation almost extinguished and
fast fading into the indistinguishable monument we call the past. She is
now a mere episode in written and unwritten History -- the occidental
term for the Skandhas of the human race and the personal human being. As
a body, as a mind, as an actor, she has played her part, passed from the
stage and been replaced. 

But the play goes on. The great drama of life and death, of good and
evil fortune, is not of yesterday and to-day only but of all time, and
each new person, each incoming generation must perforce become both
spectator and actor in the Mysteries. Like many another, H. P. Blavatsky
was one who purported to speak from behind the screen of time, to bear
witness and to teach of things hidden from mortal sight, even that of
the wisest among us. What are the credentials of H. P. Blavatsky,
Messenger of the Masters of Wisdom, Elder Brothers of the human race, to
us Their younger brothers in the School of Life? 

Nearest to us of all such Messengers, the claims or credentials of H. P.
Blavatsky are of vital moment to all searchers for truth and are more
readily and searchingly possible of examination. To determine between
claims and credentials is the prime necessity of the student of life and
action. As matters stand from generation to generation the average
searcher for truth is bewildered by the cloud of witnesses, by the
apparently hopeless contradictions in their testimony, by his own
inability to distinguish the true from the false in witnesses and in
their testimony. The experience of the race is that of a continual
alteration and alternation of opinion. We reach a decision one day, one
generation, only to reverse it the next, though all men are aware that
the essential facts of life never vary, that Truth must be in its own
nature changeless. 

Unless we are prepared to admit, and to ourselves act upon the
admission, not only that Truth exists but that we are capable of
discerning the truth in all things, we but stultify our Self in giving
any attention at all to the search for Truth as reflected in such mighty
subjects as philosophy, religion, ethics, science. If we contradict the
terms of our own inmost Being, if we render our Self foolish,
incompetent to prove all things and to hold fast to that which is true,
if we allege our Self insane and incapable of determining Truth, who or
what can validate the Truth to us, can make us reasonable? 

But, granting that we are "open to reason," it must follow that we are
bewildered, that we err and wander in our search for Truth, not because
credentials and evidences are lacking to us, but because we do not
examine them in the light of reason and experience. 

The all-inclusive credential of H.P.B. as messenger and witness is that
she addressed herself exclusively to the intelligence of mankind -- that
is to say, to the universal experience, the common sense, the innate
reason of all men, therefore of every man. Her teachings were put
forward as in no sense a revelation. She appealed to the Truth in us, to
the truth as known to us, to our capacity to assimilate additional truth
-- to what the Masters have in common with us, to what all men have in
common with the Masters, as the bridge of progress, the Antaskarana of
spiritual, as of all other evolution. 

What she knew that is to us unknown, she put forward as a theory, as a
working hypothesis which every man is invited to examine, test, verify
for himself, step by step, proceeding from the known to the unknown. 

Compare and contrast this credential with those submitted by the
revealers, the prophets, the priests of every religion and of every
sect. Always it is a revelation of one sort or another from a higher to
a lower being -- a revelation which demands belief, which in its very
nature is impossible of proof or disproof by the ones to whom it is
offered, and which promises rewards or threatens penalties to those who
do or do not accept it out of hand on the ipse dixit of the revealer. 

Compare and contrast the credential of H.P.B. with the "working
hypotheses" so freely offered and accepted in modern "exact" science --
working hypotheses which do not "work," and of which there is not a
single one submitted by any scientist that other equally eminent
scientists have not exposed as faulty, incomplete, contradicted by known
facts. Not a theory or hypothesis propounded by H. P. Blavatsky has ever
been upset philosophically, logically, historically or evidentially.
Hundreds and thousands have tried it, as invited first and foremost by
H.P.B. herself. The most that any have achieved has been a "Scotch
verdict": "Not proven." This is an admission of her impregnability; a
confession of their own inability to impeach her testimony after rigid

Invariably the religious or scientific investigator of the credential of
H.P.B. has tested her theories in the light of his own. If her
propositions agreed with his, well and good; if not, they must be false
or erroneous, "not proved," -- that is, "not approved." Assume for one
moment that her theories are true, and the inverted logic of these
investigators is instantly self-evident. They did not, and they do not,
compare and contrast theory with theory, hypothesis with hypothesis, for
relative consistency and synthesis, for relative accord with known
facts. It stands to-day as it has stood from the beginning; no known
fact conflicts with or discredits a single theorem advanced by H.P.B.,
while her propositions do shed the light of reason on all the problems
of life, all the missing links in science and religion; do bring into
order and relation, into ethical and moral purposiveness, all the
otherwise bewildering and confused mass of the facts which constitute
the experience of the race and the individual; do point out the causes
of those failures and miseries which our religions and our sciences seek
in vain to explain or alleviate. 

The individual and personal credential of H. P. Blavatsky to every
sincere searcher for truth is the spiritual fact that her mission is
educative. She was and is a Teacher of truth. It is through the Hall of
Learning alone that we can hope to arrive at Wisdom on our own account.
Not miracle, not prayer, not revelation, not even the devotion of
implicit faith can ever bring any of us one step nearer to the Masters
of Wisdom, to real Knowledge. Her life, her labor, her writings,
constitute a School of Life, into which may enter whosoever will to
acquire instruction in the mysteries of Self; instruction in
Self-knowledge, Self-discipline, Self-control -- and prove out to
himself and for himself the same credential of The Wisdom. 

THEOSOPHY, Vol. 14, No. 7, May, 1926 
(Pages 289-291; Size: 9K) 



W Q J --

The Late Mme. Blavatsky - A Sketch of Her Career
By William Quan Judge


A WOMAN who, for one reason or another, has kept the world - first her
little child world and afterward two hemispheres - talking of her,
disputing about her, defending or assailing her character and motives,
joining her enterprise or opposing it might and main, and in her death
being as much telegraphed about between two continents as an emperor,
must have been a remarkable person. such was Mme. Helena Petrovna
Blavatsky, born under the power of the holy Tzar, in the family of the
Hahns, descended on one side from the famous crusader, Count
Rottenstern, who added Hahn, a cock, to his name because that bird saved
his life from a wily Saracen who had come into his tent to murder him.

Hardly any circumstance or epoch in Mme. Blavatsky's career was prosaic.
She chose to be born into this life at Ekaterinoslaw, Russia, in the
year 1831, when coffins and desolation were everywhere from the plague
of cholera. The child was so delicate that the family decided upon
immediate baptism under the rites of the Greek Catholic Church. This was
in itself not common, but the ceremony was - under the luck that ever
was with Helena - more remarkable and startling still. At this ceremony
all the relatives are present and stand holding lighted candles. As one
was absent a young child, aunt of the infant Helena, was made proxy for
the absentee, and given a candle like the rest. Tired out by the effort,
this young proxy sank down to the floor unnoticed by the others, and,
just as the sponsors were renouncing the evil one on the babe's behalf,
by three times spitting on the floor, the sitting witness with her
candle accidentally set fire to the robes of the officiating priest, and
instantly there was a small conflagration, in which many of those
present were seriously burned. Thus amid the scourge of death in the
land was Mme. Blavatsky ushered into our world, and in the flames
baptized by the priests of a Church whose fallacious dogmas she did much
in her life to expose.

She was connected with the rulers of Russia. Speaking in 1881, her
uncle, Gen. Fadeef, joint Councillor of State of Russia, said that, as
daughter of Col. Peter Hahn, she was grand-daughter of Gen. Alexis Hahn
von Rottenstern Hahn of old Mecklenburg stock, settled in Russia, and on
her mother's side daughter of Héléne Fadeef and grand-daughter of
Princess Helena Dolgorouky. Her maternal ancestors were of the oldest
families in Russia and direct descendants of the Prince or Grand Duke
Rurik, the first ruler of Russia. Several ladies of the family belonged
to the imperial house, becoming Czarinas by marriage. One of them, a
Dolgorouky, married the grandfather of Peter the Great, and another was
betrothed to Czar Peter II. Through these connections it naturally
resulted that Mme. Blavatsky was acquainted personally with many noble
Russians. In Paris I met three princes of Russia and one well-known
General, who told of her youth and the wonderful things related about
her then; and in Germany I met the Prince Emile de Wittgenstein of one
of the many Russo-German families, and himself cousin to the Empress of
Russia and aide-de-camp to the Czar, who told me that he was an old
family friend of hers, who heard much about her in early years, but, to
his regret, had never had the fortune to see her again after a brief
visit made with her father to his house. But he joined her famous
Theosophical Society by correspondence, and wrote, after the war with
Turkey, that he had been told in a letter from her that no hurt would
come to him during the campaign, and such turned out to be the fact.

As a child she was the wonder of the neighborhood and the terror of the
simpler serfs. Russia teems with superstitions and omens, and as Helena
was born on the seventh month and between the 30th and 31st day, she was
supposed by the nurses and servants to have powers and virtues possessed
by no one else. And these supposed powers made her the cynosure of all
in her early youth. She was allowed liberties given none others, and as
soon as she could understand she was given by her nurses the chief part
in a mystic Russian ceremony performed about the house and grounds on
the 30th of July with the object of propitiating the house demon. The
education she got was fragmentary, and in itself so inadequate as to be
one more cause among many for the belief of her friends in later life
that she was endowed with abnormal psychic powers, or else in verity
assisted by those unseen beings who she asserted were her helpers and
who were men living on the earth, but possessed of developed senses that
laughed at time and space. In girlhood she was bound by no restraint of
conventionality, but rode any Cossack horse in a man's saddle, and later
on spent a long time with her father with his regiment in the field,
where, with her sister, she became the pet of the soldiers. In 1844,
when 14, her father took her to London and Paris, where some progress
was made in music, and before 1848 she returned home.

Her marriage in 1848 to Gen. Nicephore Blavatsky, the Governor of Erivan
in the Caucasus, gave her the name of Blavatsky, borne till her death.
This marriage, like all other events in her life, was full of
pyrotechnics. Her abrupt style had led her female friends to say that
she could not make the old Blavatsky marry her, and out of sheer bravado
she declared she could, and sure enough, he did propose and was
accepted. Then the awful fact obtruded itself on Helena's mind that this
could not - in Russia - be undone. They were married, but the affair was
signalized by Mme. Blavatsky's breaking a candlestick over his head and
precipitately leaving the house, never to see him again. After her
determination was evident, her father assisted her in a life of travel
which began from that date, and not until 1858 did she return to Russia.
Meanwhile her steps led her to America in 1851, to Canada, to New
Orleans, to Mexico, off to India, and back again in 1853 to the United
States. Then her relatives lost sight of her once more until 1858, when
her coming back was like other events in her history. It was a wintry
night, and a wedding party was on at the home in Russia. Guests had
arrived, and suddenly, interrupting the meal, the bell rang violently,
and there, unannounced, was Mme. Blavatsky at the door.

>From this point the family and many friends testify, both by letter and
by articles in the Rebus, a well-known journal in Russia, and in other
papers, a constant series of marvels wholly unexplainable on the theory
of jugglery was constantly occurring. They were of such a character that
hundreds of friends from great distances were constantly visiting the
house to see the wonderful Mme. Blavatsky. Many were incredulous, many
believed it was magic, and others started charges of fraud. The
superstitious Gooriel and Mingrelian nobility came in crowds and talked
incessantly after, calling her a magician. They came to see the marvels
others reported, to see her sitting quietly reading while tables and
chairs moved of themselves and low raps in every direction seemed to
reply to questions. Among many testified to was one done for her
brother, who doubted her powers. A small chess table stood on the floor.
Very light - a child could lift it and a man break it. One asked if Mme.
Blavatsky could fasten it by will to the floor. She then said to examine
it, and they found it loose. After that, and being some distance off,
she said, "Try it again." They then found that no power of theirs could
stir it, and her brother supposing from his great strength that this
"trick" could easily be exposed, embraced the little table and shook and
pulled it without effect, except to make it groan and creak. So with
wall and furniture rapping, objects moving, messages about distant
happenings arriving by aerial port, the whole family and neighborhood
were in a constant state of excitement. Mme. Blavatsky said herself that
this was a period when she was letting her psychic forces play, and
learning fully to understand and control them.

But the spirit of unrest came freshly again, and she started out once
more to find, as she wrote to me, "the men and women whom I want to
prepare for the work of a great philosophical and ethical movement that
I expect to start in a later time." Going to Spezzia in a Greek vessel,
the usual display of natural circumstances took place, and the boat was
blown up by an explosion of gunpowder in the cargo. Only a few of those
on board were saved, she among them. This led her to Cairo, in Egypt,
where, in 1871, she started a society with the object of investigating
spiritualism so as to expose its fallacies, if any, and to put its facts
on a firm, scientific, and reasonable basis, if possible. But it only
lasted fourteen days, and she wrote about it then: "It is a heap of
ruins - majestic, but as suggestive as those of the Pharoahs' tombs."

It was, however, in the United States that she really began the work
that has made her name well known in Europe, Asia, and America; made her
notorious in the eyes of those who dislike all reformers, but great and
famous for those who say her works have benefited them. Prior to 1875
she was again investigating the claims of spiritualism in this country,
and wrote home then analyzing it, declaring false its assertion that the
dead were heard from, and showing that, on the other hand, the phenomena
exhibited a great psycho-physiological change going on here, which, if
allowed to go on in our present merely material civilization, would
bring about great disaster, morally and physically.

Then in 1875, in New York, she started the Theosophical Society, aided
by Col. H. S. Olcott and others, declaring its objects to be the making
of a nucleus for a universal brotherhood, the study of ancient and other
religions and sciences, and the investigation of the psychical and
recondite laws affecting man and nature. There certainly was no selfish
object in this, nor any desire to raise money. She was in receipt of
funds from sources in Russia and other places until they were cut off by
reason of her becoming an American citizen, and also because her
unremunerated labors for the society prevented her doing literary work
on Russian magazines, where all her writings would be taken eagerly. As
soon as the Theosophical Society was started she said to the writer that
a book had to be written for its use. Isis Unveiled was then begun, and
unremittingly she worked at it night and day until the moment when a
publisher was secured for it.

Meanwhile crowds of visitors were constantly calling at her rooms in
Irving Place, later in Thirty-fourth street, and last in Forty-seventh
street and Eighth avenue. The newspapers were full of her supposed
powers or of laughter at the possibilities in man that she and her
society asserted. A prominent New York daily wrote of her thus: "A woman
of as remarkable characteristics as Cagliostro himself, and one who is
every day as differently judged by different people as the renowned
Count was in his day. By those who know her slightly she is called a
charlatan; better acquaintance made you think she was learned; and those
who were intimate with her were either carried away with belief in her
power or completely puzzled." 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 eyewitnesses to the production of the book, that the writer
had no library in which to make researches and possessed no notes of
investigation 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, and subjects such as no
other human being ever was capable of, or her claim to help from unseen
beings is just.

In 1878, Isis Unveiled having been published, Mme. Blavatsky informed
her friends that she must go to India and start there the same movement
of the Theosophical Society. So in December of that year she and Col.
Olcott and two more went out to India, stopping at London for a while.
Arriving in Bombay, they found three or four Hindoos to meet them who
had heard from afar of the matter. A place was hired in the native part
of the town, and soon she and Col. Olcott started the Theosophist, a
magazine that became at once well known there and was widely bought in
the West.

There in Bombay and later in Adyar, Madras, Mme. Blavatsky worked day
after day in all seasons, editing her magazine and carrying on an
immense correspondence with people in every part of the world interested
in theosophy, and also daily disputing and discussing with learned
Hindoos who constantly called. Phenomena occurred there also very often,
and later the society for discovering nothing about the psychic world
investigated these, and came to the conclusion that this woman of no
fortune, who was never before publicly heard of in India, had managed,
in some way they could not explain, to get up a vast conspiracy that
ramified all over India, including men of all ranks, by means of which
she was enabled to produce pretended phenomena. I give this conclusion
as one adopted by many. For any one who knew her and who knows India,
with its hundreds of different languages, none of which she knew, the
conclusion is absurd. The Hindoos believed in her, said always that she
could explain to them their own scriptures and philosophies where the
Brahmins had lost or concealed the key, and that by her efforts and the
work of the society founded through her, India's young men were being
saved from the blank materialism which is the only religion the West can
ever give a Hindoo.

In 1887 Mme. Blavatsky returned to England, and there started another
theosophical magazine, called Lucifer, and immediately stirred up the
movement in Europe. Day and night there, as in New York and India, she
wrote and spoke, incessantly corresponding with people everywhere,
editing Lucifer, and making more books for her beloved society, and
never possessed of means, never getting from the world at large anything
save abuse wholly undeserved. The Key to Theosophy was written in
London, and also The Secret Doctrine, which is the great text book for
Theosophists. The Voice of the Silence was written there too, and is
meant for devotional Theosophists. Writing, writing, writing from morn
till night was her fate here. Yet, although scandalized and abused here
as elsewhere, she made many devoted friends, for there never was
anything half way in her history. Those who met her or heard of her were
always either staunch friends or bitter enemies.

The Secret Doctrine led to the coming into the society of Mrs. Annie
Besant, and then Mme. Blavatsky began to say that her labors were coming
to an end, for here was a woman who had the courage of the ancient
reformers and who would help carry on the movement in England
unflinchingly. The Secret Doctrine was sent to Mr. Stead of the Pall
Mall Gazette to review, but none of his usual reviewers felt equal to it
and he asked Mrs. Besant if she could review it. She accepted the task,
reviewed, and then wanted an introduction to the writer. Soon after that
she joined the society, first fully investigating Mme. Blavatsky's
character, and threw in her entire forces with the Theosophists. Then a
permanent London headquarters was started and still exists. And there
Mme. Blavatsky passed away, with the knowledge that the society she had
striven so hard for at any cost was at last an entity able to struggle
for itself.

In her dying moment she showed that her life had been spent for an idea,
with full consciousness that in the eyes of the world it was Utopian,
but in her own necessary for the race. She implored her friends not to
allow her then ending incarnation to become a failure by the failure of
the movement started and carried on with so much of suffering. She never
in all her life made money or asked for it. Venal writers and spiteful
men and women have said she strove to get money from so-called dupes,
but all her intimate friends know that over and over again she has
refused money; that always she has had friends who would give her all
they had if she would take it, but she never took any nor asked it. On
the other hand, her philosophy and her high ideals have caused others to
try to help all those in need. Impelled by such incentive, one rich
Theosophist gave her $5,000 to found a working girls' club at Bow, in
London, and one day, after Mrs. Besant had made the arrangements for the
house and the rest, Mme. Blavatsky, although sick and old, went down
there herself and opened the club in the name of the society.

The aim and object of her life were to strike off the shackles forged by
priestcraft for the mind of man. She wished all men to know that they
are God in fact, and that as men they must bear the burden of their own
sins, for no one else can do it. Hence she brought forward to the West
the old Eastern doctrines of karma and reincarnation. Under the first,
the law of justice, she said each must answer for himself, and under the
second make answer on the earth where all his acts were done. She also
desired that science should be brought back to the true ground where
life and intelligence are admitted to be within and acting on and
through every atom in the universe. Hence her object was to make
religion scientific and science religious, so that the dogmatism of each
might disappear.

Her life since 1875 was spent in the unremitting endeavor to draw within
the Theosophical Society those who could work unselfishly to propagate
an ethics and philosophy tending to realize the brotherhood of man by
showing the real unity and essential non-separateness of every being.
And her books were written with the declared object of furnishing the
material for intellectual and scientific progress on those lines. The
theory of man's origin, powers, and destiny brought forward by her,
drawn from ancient Indian sources, places us upon a higher pedestal that
that given by either religion or science, for it gives to each the
possibility of developing the godlike powers within and of at last
becoming a co-worker with nature.

As every one must die at last, we will not say that her demise was a
loss; but if she had not lived and done what she did humanity would not
have had the impulse and the ideas toward the good which it was her
mission to give and to proclaim. And there are today scores, nay,
hundreds, of devout, earnest men and women intent on purifying their own
lives and sweetening the lives of others, who trace their hopes and
aspirations to the wisdom-religion revived in the West through her
efforts, and who gratefully avow that their dearest possessions are the
result of her toilsome and self-sacrificing life. If they, in turn, live
aright and do good, they will be but illustrating the doctrine which she
daily taught and hourly practised.


New York Sun, Sept. 26, 1892



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