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Theosophical Traditions & New Students of Theosophy

Feb 06, 2008 09:39 PM
by nhcareyta

There are at least a dozen different Theosophical "traditions" 
or "schools" based on the claims of various prominent individuals in 
the modern Theosophical Movement.  

H.P. Blavatsky (1831-1891) was the first person in modern times to 
write about the Theosophical Adepts, especially the Masters Morya and 
Koot Hoomi. 

Madame Blavatsky wrote:

" . . . I was the first in the United States to bring the existence 
of our Masters into publicity; and . . . exposed the holy names of 
two members of a Brotherhood hitherto unknown to Europe and America 
(save to a few mystics and Initiates of every age), yet sacred and 
revered throughout the East, and especially India . . . . " "The 
Theosophical Mahatmas." The Path, December, 1886.

But after H.P.B.'s death in 1891, we find numerous claims of contact 
with the same Adepts. See a list of persons making such claims.

These various claims are dependent on Mme. Blavatsky's original 
statements and testimony. 

For example, if H.P.B. was a fraud, her Masters fictional characters, 
and her teachings false or simply made up and/or borrowed from 
genuine previously existing religious and esoteric beliefs, then all 
the later claims based on hers would also be false. 

"You cannot acquire psychic power until the causes of psychic 
debility are removed. . . . You have scarcely learned the elements of 
self-control in psychism. . . . "

"Your vivid creative fancy [imagination] evokes illusive Gurus and 
chelas, and puts into their mouths words coined the instant before in 
the mint of your mind, unknown to yourself." 

"The false appears as real, as the true, and you have no exact method 
of detection, since you are yet prone to force your communications to 
agree with your preconceptions." 
Master Koot Hoomi, 
Mrs. Holloway and the Mahatmas,
Letter 17  Bold added.
 But if H.P.B.'s claims and teachings are true and genuine, that is 
no guarantee that any of the later claims are therefore true and 
genuine, too. All later claims might be false.
Or only one or only some of the later claims might be true but the 
rest might be false.  Etc. 

Looking briefly at Theosophical history, we find that in the 1890s, 
William Q. Judge and Annie Besant (both students of H.P.B.) claimed 
to be in contact with H.P.B.'s Master Morya. But each of them 
reported opposite and contradictory statements as coming from Master 
M. (1)

Some Theosophists sided with Mr. Judge; others with Mrs. Besant.  
This "division" led eventually to the breakup of the original 
Theosophical  Society into two separate and competing organizations. 

The contradictory claims by Judge and Besant apparently were the 
beginning of the various lineage claims concerning "esoteric" 
successors to Madame Blavatsky.

In the Adyar Theosophical Society, we find the following lineage of 

H.P. Blavatsky  >  Annie Besant & Charles W. Leadbeater  >  the next 
successor ??

In the Point Loma Theosophical Society:  

H.P. Blavatsky  >  William Q. Judge   >  Katherine A. Tingley  >   G. 
de Purucker  >  the next successor ??

In the United Lodge of Theosophists: 

H.P. Blavatsky  >  William Q. Judge   >  Robert Crosbie  >   the next 
successor ??

In the Arcane School: 

H.P. Blavatsky  >  Alice A. Bailey   >  the next successor ??

And, of course, there are also many other lineage claims (e.g. those 
of Helena Roerich, Elizabeth Prophet, etc.). 

The end result is a confusing morass of claims and counterclaims and 
various contradictory and conflicting teachings.

But should we really be surprised that all of this has happened?

Even during her own lifetime, Mme. Blavatsky wrote about bogus claims 
of contact with her Masters, about "wild and fanciful speculation" 
concerning the Theosophical teachings and even about "charlatanesque 
imitations" of Theosophy:

"Great are the desecrations to which the names of two of the Masters 
have been subjected. There is hardly a medium who has not claimed to 
have seen them.   Every bogus swindling Society, for commercial 
purposes, now claims to be guided and directed by 'Masters' often 
supposed to be far higher than ours!...."  The Key to Theosophy, 
original edition, p. 301.   Italics added.

"The publication of many of the facts herein stated has been rendered 
necessary by the wild and fanciful speculation in which many 
Theosophists and students of mysticism have indulged...." The Secret 
Doctrine, original edition, Vol. I, p. viii.  Italics added. 

"... A new and rapidly growing threatening...the spread 
of the pure Esoteric Philosophy and knowledge....I allude to those 
charlatanesque imitations of Occultism and Theosophy....By pandering 
to the prejudices of people, and especially by adopting the false 
ideas of a personal God and a personal, carnalized Saviour, as the 
groundwork of their teaching, the leaders of this 'swindle' (for such 
it is) are endeavoring to draw men to them and in particular to turn 
Theosophists from the true path."  E.S. Instruction No. I., 1890 
edition, p. 2.   Italics added.

Therefore how should inquirers approach all these claims?  What 
should new students to Theosophy "believe" or think about all these 

First of all, students of Theosophy might seriously consider the 
implications of what H.P.B. and her Masters wrote about these false 
claims and pseudo-Theosophical teachings when they are evaluating the 
validity of the later claims occurring after 1891. 

In addition to the extracts by H.P. Blavatsky given above, see:

?  On Pseudo-Theosophy and Pseudo-Adepts
?  Confusion and Bogus Claims among some Theosophical and Occult 
?  A.P. Sinnett's Mistaken Belief and Confusion
?  Psychic versus Initiate Visions & Knowledge
?  "Mistakes have now to be checked by the original teachings and 

But some may ask:  who actually has the time, energy, resources, 
inclination, etc. to:

(1) examine and study all the various claims, all the historical 
material pro and con related to the claims, as well as the hundreds 
of books on Theosophical teachings written by these claimants; 

and then to:

(2) try to determine what is what, whose claim or teaching is valid, 
true or false, etc.?? 

Of course, some Theosophical students say that they don't need to do 
such a laborious task as outlined in the last paragraph. They say 
they have "intuitions" and those intuitions are all they need to find 
the truth in these matters. 

Others apparently don't even care what is "true" or "false" or may 
even question the labels "true" and "false". 

Other seekers may simply "pick and choose" what they "feel" is 
appropriate for them. 

And there are, no doubt, other approaches.

But some (especially those new to Theosophical teachings) may still 

what theosophical books and literature should I read and study? 

In light of this morass of claims and teachings, interested inquirers 
and new students of Theosophy would do well to read and study 
firsthand the original writings of H.P. Blavatsky and her Masters.  

This original Theosophical literature includes H.P.B.'s 10,000 + 
pages of writings and the letters of H.P.B.'s Masters received during 
her lifetime.  Some students would also include in this category the 
historical material relating to H.P.B.'s life, the Masters and the 
early Theosophical Society/Movement covering the years 1874 through 

These writings as described in the last paragraph contain a wealth of 
valuable material on Theosophy, metaphysics, esoteric lore/knowledge, 
occult laws/processes in nature, ethical, spiritual and devotional 
material, history (Theosophical and otherwise) and much more. 

For additional information on some of the issues discussed above, see:

?  The Fountain Source of Modern Theosophy.

?  Madame Blavatsky's Occult Status and the Claims of Latter-Day 
Messengers of the Masters.

?  Theosophical Claims & Controversies After H.P.B.'s Death 

For recommended introductory reading plus listings of the writings of 
Blavatsky and the Mahatmas, see:

?  H.P. Blavatsky, the Mahatmas and Theosophy:  21 Highly Recommended 

?  H.P. Blavatsky, the Mahatmas & Theosophy:  Introductory & Other 
Recommended Online & Inprint Material

?  H.P. Blavatsky, the Mahatmas and Theosophy:  Online and Printed 

?  Online Writings of H.P. Blavatsky & the Mahatmas:  A Comprehensive 

?  In the Blavatsky Tradition:  Major Online Books, Pamphlets & Other 
Material on H.P. Blavatsky, the Mahatmas & Theosophy 



(1)  In Nov. 1894, Mr. Judge declared (based on what he claimed were 
the directions of Master M.) that Mrs. Besant was no longer joint 
outer head with him of the esoteric school. See Judge's Order of 
1894.  See also Mrs. Besant's reply to Mr. Judge's order.


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