H. P. Blavatsky: The Mystery

By Gottfried de Purucker in collaboration with Katherine Tingley

These articles first appeared in the series H. P. Blavatsky: The Mystery in The Theosophical Path in 1929.


Chapter I. A Spiritual-Psychological Mystery

The biography of a soul rather than a mere human personality. H.P.B. a great psychological mystery. Attracted into membership in the Theosophical Society a large number of spiritually-minded people. Her inner Self one of the Great Ones of the ages. The nature of man's inner constitution. Maeterlinck quoted, "Ernst ist das Leben." The rationale and meaning of a Bodhisattva, a Buddha, a Christ.

Chapter II. The Threshold of the Mystery

The constitution of man and universe can be divided into three parts. Some great Teachers enumerated. Great Ones work in silence and retirement. H. P. Blavatsky a Messenger of the Association of Great Ones.

Chapter III. Pausing on the Threshold of the Mystery

Three elements of man's constitution separable each from the other two without causing death. Temporary disjunction of psychological portion of human constitution from the vital-astral-physical, enabling the monadic element to dominate and inspire the individual, the case of H. P. Blavatsky. H.P.B. a vehicle of a lofty Master-Intelligence, her own Inner Divinity or Spiritual Self. Hpho-wa explained. H.P.B. the chosen Messenger and Mouthpiece of the Association of Great Sages and Seers.

Chapter IV. Over the Threshold

Cycles of spiritual barrenness and spiritual fertility. H. P. Blavatsky's spiritual and intellectual inspiration came from her own Inner Spiritual Inspirer made possible by a complete stilling of the brain-mind. The subordination of personality to quasi-divinity. The essence of H.P.B.'s message. Secrets of nature and philosophical deductions made by modern science. Einstein instanced; also Eddington and Sir James Jeans. Latter on 'singular points' or 'laya centers.'

Chapter V. Approaching the Light

H. P. Blavatsky one of a long line of World-Teachers, not a will-less instrument but agent of free will. Human beings may be divided into three Classes: Ordinary men, Messengers and disciples of Sages, Avataras. The word 'avatara' explained. Sankaracharya and Jesus examples of avataras.

Chapter VI. Clothed with the Light: The Inner God

Teaching of man's essential divinity back of all systems of mystic training in various lands and ages by individuals and schools. Destiny of the human race to transfer the seat of consciousness upwards from the brain-mind to the noetic or spiritual-intellectual part. Living reality of the inner god. The pathway is within yourself.

Addendum. Biographical Sketch

ADDENDUM -- Biographical Sketch

As regards the very remarkable personality itself of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky there is little to add here to what has already been set forth in Theosophical literature. We give, therefore, only a hasty sketch.

She was born on July 31, 1831, old style (August 11 of the present calendar), in the town of Ekaterinoslav [now Dniepropetrovsk], Southern Russia, and in a family of historic distinction. Her father was Colonel Peter A. von Hahn, and her mother was Helena A. de Fadeyev. She was the granddaughter of General Alexis G. Hahn von Rottenstern-Hahn, a descendant of a noble German stock, originally of Mecklenburg, Germany, but then settled in the Russian Empire. On her mother's side she was the granddaughter of Privy Councillor Andrew M. de Fadeyev, and of Princess Helena P. Dolgorukov.

Her child-life was one of surpassing interest to any student of the beginnings of human greatness, for even then she gave promise of the spiritual and intellectual energies which later were to blossom forth in splendor in her mature age. She was a born Mystic in the ancient sense of the word; that is to say, one whose inner life was controlled by a dominating influence of spiritual type, surging through the mere personality as a stream of intimations and intuitions that could neither be stayed nor turned aside, and which ruled the destiny of the mere personality through which its spiritual stream passed.

On July 7, 1849, when she was seventeen years old, she entered into a formal marriage with Nikifor V. Blavatsky, Vice-Governor of the Province of Yerivan' in the Caucasus, who was 23 years her senior. But this marriage was a mere formality and within a few months at most it eventuated in a permanent separation. Thereupon began the series of travels at her father's expense in Egypt, Greece, and other parts of eastern Europe. Some time was also passed in London and in Paris, and in 1851 she visited Canada, Mexico, and the United States, in which country she is known to have been in Texas and in New Orleans.

It was in 1851 that she first met her Teacher personally in London, as she herself says. At the end of 1852 she was known to have been in Ceylon and shortly afterwards in Bombay; she was also in Java for a time and in other parts of the far Orient. In 1853 she was again for a short time in England, and in the same year, after crossing the Atlantic again, passed through New York and Chicago, and continued her travels westwards to the Pacific Coast.

In 1855 she was in India again, especially in Kashmir, and in 1856 she is known to have been at Leh in Ladak. About this time it is known that she entered Tibet under the protection of her great spiritual Teacher. In 1857 she left India and in the following year was for a while in France and Germany. She returned to Russia in late 1858, where she remained with relatives of her own family till about 1865. Leaving Russia again, she went to Hungary and possibly to Egypt where she met a very unusual character commonly spoken of as 'the Old Copt' with whom she studied ancient Egyptian lore. More than once in later years she met this mysterious figure again.

In 1867 she returned to the Orient, and some years afterwards revisited Cairo; she spent some time also during this period in Palestine and Greece. She reached Russia again in 1872. In 1873 she went to Paris, and in the summer of that year took passage for New York, in which city she arrived on July 7th.

In the following year she met Colonel Henry Steel Olcott and William Quan Judge, both of whom were to play important parts as collaborators with her in her great work and as co-founders of The Theosophical Society.

In 1874 H. P. Blavatsky began writing for various American publications. On September 7, 1875, at a meeting in her own rooms in New York, there was proposed the formation of a society for the study of various mystical and quasi-mystical subjects. On the following day, the Theosophical Society was formed there at her home. There were then present H. P. Blavatsky, Henry S. Olcott, William Quan Judge, and thirteen others. On September 13, the name 'The Theosophical Society' was adopted.

In 1877 H. P. Blavatsky's first great book, Isis Unveiled, was published. In 1878 she became a naturalized American citizen. On December 18, 1879, accompanied by Colonel Olcott, she left the New World for India in order to enlarge the work of the Society, leaving General Abner Doubleday as Acting President ad interim of the mother-society in New York, and William Q. Judge as Joint Recording Secretary. In 1879 The Theosophist was founded and edited in India by H. P. Blavatsky. In 1882 H. P. Blavatsky with her headquarters-staff took up residence at Madras, where a small property had been purchased for the purpose.

On April 7, 1884, H.P.B. left India for Europe, but in a later month of the same year returned to India. In 1885 she returned definitely to stay in Europe, living for various short periods in Wurzburg, Germany; in Ostend, Belgium; and in Paris. In this year she began the writing of The Secret Doctrine, her greatest and most powerful work, in which she outlined the scheme of cosmic and human evolution and the nature of the Universe, which remarkable literary work ever since has furnished the foundation of the studies in Theosophy for her devoted followers.

In 1887 H. P. Blavatsky moved from Ostend to London, where she took up her permanent residence, first at 17 Lansdowne Road, and finally at 19 Avenue Road. In this year she founded and edited the magazine Lucifer in London. In 1888 her magnum opus, The Secret Doctrine, was published. The few remaining years between 1888 and May 8, 1891, the day of her passing from this physical sphere, was a very busy time for her. She not only wrote a large number of articles for her own magazine, Lucifer, and for The Theosophist in India, and for The Path of New York, but also for various Theosophical periodicals in European countries, and in addition to this she published The Key to Theosophy and The Voice of the Silence.

Under her inspiration and directing genius the various branches and centers of the Theosophical Society in European countries grew apace, while the literary and propaganda-work which she had inaugurated in India some years before pursued its own course, a course which can hardly be characterized otherwise than as rather slow and painful, because her departure from India had removed from the Indian sphere the immediate influence and inspiration of her pen, her tireless energy, and her wonderful mind. The work in America, meanwhile, even from a time as far back as 1882, had been growing steadily, and at the time of H. P. Blavatsky's passing the 'American Section,' as it was then called, was the most active, widely spread, and strong in membership of any of the various Sections of the Theosophical Society.

The Great Teacher, the Mover of men's hearts, and the inaugurator in very truth of a new civilization among men, a civilization founded upon spiritual ideals and cosmic verities, passed away quietly in her armchair, surrounded by a few of her attendants and friends, on the morning of May 8, 1891.

Legend has begun but has not yet succeeded in weaving around her memory and her personality those outlines of figure and type, based on reverential but imperfect knowledge, which at the present time portray to us Occidentals the distorted figures of other great World-Teachers of the past. True reverence should need no such fictitious embellishments of truth. A World-Teacher stands firm through the ages upon the basis of fact which is the work that he wrought; and let us hope that this grand and imposing figure, H. P. Blavatsky, may forever remain clear in our memories and sharp in the outlines of truthful delineation, untouched by the blurrings and embellishments of fancy and story, however reverential in origin such later fancy may be. We must see her as she was, not as fancy would portray her to have been; we must see her as she passed across the pages of history: grand, truthful, powerful, clear-cut, splendid, a martyr to her world-work, and a much misunderstood benefactor of her fellow-men.


This brief chapter gives only an outline-sketch of the life of H. P. Blavatsky, considered as a personality. Some of the dates given are uncertain, as available information is often contradictory. One of these days someone with full leisure at his disposal and with a mind stocked with wide reading on the fascinating events in the life of the Great Theosophist, will give to the world a full, truthful, and fascinating study of the great Russian woman who, without any reservation whatsoever, is to be called the most remarkable and interesting figure of her age -- indeed, of any age known to history.

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