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The 'Missing' Third Volume of The Secret Doctrine????

Feb 11, 2007 10:11 AM
by danielhcaldwell

"The Myth of the 'Missing' 
Third Volume of The Secret Doctrine"    

In 1897, Annie Besant published what she called the third volume of
The Secret Doctrine, which had been announced by H. P. Blavatsky but
left unpublished during the author's life.

Received opinion at the present time is that what Besant published
was not Blavatsky's third volume, but instead something assembled
out of various documents left by HPB.

Some examples of the received opinion are as follows:

A spurious 'Third Volume'. . .[was] issued in 1897, six years after
the death of H. P. Blavatsky. Compiled from miscellaneous papers
found among her effects, this volume forms no part of the original
SECRET DOCTRINE written by H.P.B. [Publishers' preface (1947) to the
facsimile reprint of the 1888 edition of The Secret Doctrine by The
Theosophy Company, Los Angeles, California.]

Volume III of The Secret Doctrine. . .was published in London in
1897 with a preface written by Annie Besant. It should be
understood, however, that this volume is not the third volume
contemplated by H.P.B. [Geoffrey A. Barborka, H. P. Blavatsky, Tibet
and Tulku, 159]

The real Volume III...vanished without a trace. [Boris de Zirkoff in
H.P.B.'s Collected Writings, 7: 226 fn]

The prospective Volume III...never saw the light. [de Zirkoff in SD
1: 679 (Collected Writings edition)

It is possible that H.P.B. had in mind an additional [third] volume
of The Secret Doctrine which was never actually found among her
papers. [de Zirkoff in CW 14: 1]

In volume 1, Blavatsky had promised a third volume and projected a
fourth. That promise was repeated at the end of volume 2.... There
was some material left over from volume I as she had originally
conceived it. . .but relatively little seems to have been actually
written down....When Annie Besant tried to find the unpublished
material, she was able to locate very little that seemed to belong
to what HPB had intended for the continuation of the book. The
little which Besant found, she combined with some instructions
Blavatsky had written for members of the Esoteric Section...and that
material, admittedly a hodgepodge, was the "third
volume" of HPB's work. The 'third volume' undoubtedly contains some
material--that on the lives of famous occultists--which had been
rejected from the first volume of the original work. But it also
contained a good deal of material which certainly was never intended
to be a part of The Secret Doctrine." [John Algeo, Getting
Acquainted with The Secret Doctrine: A Study Course, l990 ed., 23-4]

H. N. Stokes, editor of The 0. E. Library Critic (Washington, D.C.),
held the view that the real Volume III manuscripts vanished and were
never published. He wrote about seventeen articles analyzing the
evidence concerning the Volume III manuscripts.

To the list of those holding similar views, we can add many other
distinguished names: Alice Cleather, Basil Crump, Charles J. Ryan,
Victor Endersby, Walter A. Carrithers, Jr., Kirby Van Mater, Ted G.
Davy, Richard Robb, Dara Eklund, and several more.

This received view was also my initial opinion. But after a great
deal of study of the Wurzburg MSS of The Secret Doctrine and all the
other relevant primary source documents (1886-1897) on the subject,
I am no longer certain that the Theosophical writers mentioned above
are correct in their views concerning Volume III.

In fact, I am inclined to believe that pages 1-430 of Volume III of
The Secret Doctrine published in 1897 was the real third volume
intended by HPB.

Pages 433-594 of that published volume consist of H. P. Blavatsky's
esoteric teachings given to members of her Esoteric Section or
School during the years 1889-1891 and are not at issue.

The evidence and reasoning to support this position follow.




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