[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

Prelude to IsisUnveiled

Aug 21, 2012 08:08 AM
by Ramanujachary nallanchakravarti

Prelude to âISIS UNVEILEDâ

ISIS UNVEILED is the first ever book published under the
classification of

theosophical literature. Though the Theosophical Society was
formed in 1875, there was no literature available till this publication came
out in 1877. Members and public had to be content with the communications sent
by the founders occasionally, pamphlets and circulars issued. The monthly
journal The Theosophist was started only in 1879, when the founders landed in

Madame H P Blavatsky [ 1831-â91 ] wrote -- rather compiled --
this big and

voluminous book and got it published by J W Bottom, 706,
Broadway, London,Bernard Quaritch. She sub-titled the book: A Master-key to the
Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology; and dedicated the work
âTo the Theosophical Society, which was founded at New York A.D 1875 To Study
the Subjects on which They (the volumes) Treat.â

The book is divided into 2 parts, namely Science and Religion,
each running to 600 and odd pages in fine print. Each section is prefaced
independently, plus a helpful index added at the end. Under a caption âBefore
the Veilâ an introduction to the work is rendered in the beginning running to
around 40 pages, a purposeful glossary of terms used being a part of it. Madame
Blavatsky wrote and published âThe Secret Doctrineâ in 1888; eleven years after
the first book came out. Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine go together as
parts of an integrated exposition of the âaccumulated Wisdom of the Ages.â
Readers would find it useful to keep this view-point in mind while studying either
of the texts.

âOf all the books I have put my name to, this particular one is,
in literary

arrangement, the worst and the most confused,â says Madame
Blavatsky in her article âMy Booksâ published in May 1891 issue of Lucifer. She
further analyses:

Isis is full of misprints and misquotations; contains useless
repetitions; and most irritating digressions. The book has âno system in it, --
as if a mass of

Independent paragraphs having no connection with each other, had
been well shaken up in a waste-basket, and then taken out at random and

This was her first book. She inserted many ideas that were
supplied to her by the Spiritual Teachers and was anxious to share her
new-acquired knowledge with the readers spread all over the world.

By her own admission, âIsis contains a mass of original and
never hitherto

divulged information on occult subjects.â She includes the
following reviews on the book:

This monumental work -- about everything connected with magic, mystery,
witchcraft, religion, spiritualism, which would be valuable in an encyclopaedia.
---North American Review

It must be acknowledged that she is a remarkable woman, who has

more, seen more, and thought more than most wise men. Her work
abounds in quotations from a dozen different languages, not for the purpose of
a vain display of erudition, but to substantiate her peculiar views --- her pages
are garnished with foot-notes establishing as her authorities, some of the
profoundest writers of the past. To a large class of readers, thisremarkable
work will prove of absorbing interest --- demands the earnest attention of
thinkers, and merits an analytic reading. --

Boson Evening Transcript

The appearance of erudition is stupendous. Reference to and

from the most unknown and obscure writers in all languages

interspersed with allusions to writers of the highest repute
which have

evidently been more than skimmed through.


An extremely readable and exhaustive essay upon the paramount

importance of reestablishing the Hermetic Philosophy in a world

blindly believes that it has outgrown it. ---N.Y.World

Most remarkable book of the season. ---Com.Advertiser

[To] Readers who have never made themselves acquainted with the

literature of mysticism and alchemy, the volume will furnish the

for an interesting study -- a mine of curious information.

---Evening Post

They give evidence of much and multifarious research on the part
of the

author, and contain vast number of interesting stories. Persons
fond of the

marvelous will find in them an abundance of entertainment.

--- New York Son

A marvelous book both in matter and manner of treatment. Some
idea may

be formed of the rarity and extent of its content when the index

comprises fifty pages and we venture nothing in saying that such
an index

of subjects was never before compiled by any human being â But
the book is a curious one and will no doubt find its way into libraries because
of the unique subject matter it contains --- will certainly prove attractive to

who are interested in the history, theology, and the mysteries
of the ancient

world. ---Daily Graphic

The present book is the result of her remarkable course of
education, and

amply confirms her claims to the character of an adept in secret

and even to the rank of a hierophant in the exposition of its
mystic lore.

--- New York Tribune

One who reads the book carefully through, ought to know
everything of the

marvelous and mystical, except perhaps, the passwords. Isis will

supplement the Anacalypsis. Whoever loves to read Godfrey
Higgins will

be delighted with Mme. Blavatsky. There is a great resemblance

their works. Both have tried hard to tell everything apocryphal

acopalyptic. It is easy to forecast the reception of this book.
With its

striking peculiarities, its audacity, its versatility, and the
prodigious variety

of subjects which it notices and handles, it is one of the

productions of the century.

---New York Herald

Commenting further on the content of the volumes, she says:

Every word of information found in this work or in my later

comes from the teachings of our Eastern Masters; and many a
passage in

these works has been written by me under their direction.

She further explains:

When I started to write that which later developed as Isis
Unveiled, I

had no more idea than the man in the moon what would come of it.
I had no plan; did not know whether it would be an essay, a pamphlet, a book,
or an article. I knew that I had to write it, that was all. I began the work
before I

knew Colonel well, and some months before the formation of the

Theosophical Society.

Writing in âThe Theosophistâ in April 1886, she mentions the
following, seeming to be the aim of the work:


About ten years ago, when Isis Unveiled was being written, the

important point the work aimed at was the demonstration of the

(a) the reality of the occult in nature, (b) the thorough
knowledge of, and

familiarity with, all such occult domains amongst âcertain men,â
and their

mastery therein; (c) hardly an art or science known in our age,
that the

Vedas have not mentioned; and (d) that hundreds of things,

mysteries of nature in abscondito as the alchemists called it â
were known

to the Aryas of the pre-Mahabharatan period, which are known to
us, the

modern sages of the XIXth century.

She was assisted by Col. H S Olcott in editing the book. She
asserts the following:

The language in Isis is not mine; but (with the exception of
that portion of

the work which, as I claim, was dictated), may be called only a
sort of

translation of my facts and ideas into English;

It was not written for the public, -- the latter having always
been only a

secondary consideration with me â but for the use of
Theosophists and

members of the Theosophical Society to which Isis is dedicated;

Though I have since learned sufficient English to have been
enabled to edit

two magazines â The Theosophist and Lucifer â yet, to the
present hour I

never write an article, an editorial or even a simple paragraph,

submitting its English to close scrutiny and correction.

Her article âMy Booksâ was written on 27 April 1891, a few days
before her

casting away the physical body ( 8 May 1891).

The book made wonderful impact on the Indian scholars too. It is
worth noting here that Damodar Mavlankar and T Subba Row, who were attracted to
the theosophical movement from the time the founders arrived in India, were
greatly influenced by the rich content of the book. In his letter dated 3
February 1882, T Subba Row writes: âThough no Branch Theosophical Association
has yet been established here, there are a good many gentlemen here who
sincerely sympathize with your aims and objects and who would be glad to see you.
â Your Isis Unveiled has made a very strong impression on their mindsââ

As was said elsewhere in this book, Madame Blavatsky made
âNatureâ stand up in the deposition box and reveal her laws, principles and
working systems. Madame Blavatsky remained a mere recorder to the benefit of
generations of thinkers.


[Extracted from Dr N C Ramanujacharyâs book âIn the World of


Literature is for Portrayal of Philosophic Ideas.

Dr N C Ramanujachary(Srivirinchi)

Besant Gardens, The Theosophical Society, Adyar, Chennai 600 020 

Phone: 044/24913584, Mobile: 9444963584

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application