The greatest Occultist in the history of Western civilization, a direct agent of the Trans-Himalayan Brotherhood of Adepts.
Born August 12 (July 31, old Russian style) 1831, at Ekaterinoslav, Ukraine, Russia. Daughter of Col. Peter Alexeyevich von Hahn, and Helena Andreyevna, née de Fadeyev, renowned novelist who died young. Granddaughter on maternal side of Privy Councillor Andrey Mihailovich de Fadeyev, and Princess Helena Pavlovna Dolgorukov, who supervised her education at Saratov and Tiflis, Caucasus. At an early age, traveled with her father in Western Europe. Endowed from childhood with remarkable psychic sensitivity. Married, 1849, Nikifor Vassilyevich Blavatsky, a State Official, very much her senior. Left him and traveled in Turkey, Greece, Egypt, France, 1849–50. Met her Master in London, 1851. Embarked for Canada later in the year; went to New Orleans, Mexico, South America, West Indies; thence via the Cape and Ceylon to India, 1852. Attempted but failed to enter Tibet. Returned to England via Java, 1853. Came to America again, Summer 1854, crossing the Rockies with caravan of emigrants. May have visited South America again. Left for India, late 1855, via Japan and the Straits. Traveled throughout India, Kashmir, Ladakh, parts of Tibet, Burma, 1856-57. Returned to Europe, via Java, 1858, staying in France and Germany. Then returned to Russia, reaching Pskov on Christmas Night, 1858. Left for the Caucasus, early 1860, where she traveled among the native tribes, remaining there until 1864 or 1865. Experienced severe physical and psychic crisis, acquiring complete control over her occult powers. Left Russia again, and traveled extensively in Balkans, Egypt, Syria, Italy, 1866-67. Returned to Italy, 1867, and paid a short visit to Southern Russia. Was present at the battle of Mentana, November 3, 1867, and was wounded. Went to India and Tibet with her Master, late 1868. Returned to Greece, 1870. Embarked for Egypt and was shipwrecked near the Island of Spetsai, July 4, 1871. Settled in Cairo, 1871-72, where she tried to form a Société Spirite which soon failed. Traveled in Syria, Palestine, the Lebanon, 1872, returning for a short time to Odessa. After brief travels in Eastern Europe went to Paris, Spring 1873. On her Master’s orders left for New York, landing July 7. Met Col. Henry Steel Olcott at the Eddy farmhouse Chittenden, Vermont, October 14, 1874. Started her literary career late 1874, by writing in defense of genuine spiritualistic manifestations.
September 8, 1875, founded The Theosophical Society, together with Col. Olcott, William Q. Judge, and others (Inaugural Address of Col. Olcott delivered Nov. 17, 1875). Published her first great work, Isis Unveiled, Fall of 1877. Became American citizen, July 8, 1878. Left for India, with Col. Olcott, December 17, 1878, settling at Bombay. Launched her first magazine, The Theosophist, October, 1879, which resulted in rapid growth of Theosophical work in India during 1879-83. Transferred Headquarters to Adyar, Madras, January, 1883. Left for Europe, February 20, 1884, accompanied by Olcott, Mohini, and others. After visiting Nice settled for a while in Paris, to work on The Secret Doctrine. Briefly visited London. Moved to Elberfeld, Germany, Fall of 1884, at which time the Coulomb conspiracy broke out at Adyar. Went to London, October, 1884, and soon after sailed for India, reaching Adyar December 21, 1884. Gravely ill, February, 1885, but restored by her Master. Sailed for Naples, March 31, 1885, leaving India for good. After a brief stay at Torre del Greco, settled at Würzburg, Germany, where she wrote large portion of The Secret Doctrine. Moved to Ostende, July, 1886, visiting Elberfeld on her way. Continued her literary task. Transferred her residence to London, May 1887, where the Blavatsky Lodge was established, and her second magazine, Lucifer, was launched, September, 1887. Published The Secret Doctrine late Fall, 1888. Founded the Esoteric School the same year, and wrote her Instructions. Published The Key to Theosophy and The Voice of the Silence, 1889. Established, 1890 European Headquarters of the Theosophical Society, at 19 Avenue Road, London, where she died in the midst of arduous labors, May 8, 1891. Cremated at Woking Crematorium Surrey.
From the flap cover of
THE LETTERS OF H. B. BLAVATSKY to A. P. Sinnett:
OF ALL the problems which confront the student of Theosophy, there is none more vital in the present day than a thorough grasp and correct perspective not only of the personal character of the Founder of the Theosophical Society, but of the nature of the work she did and the true relationship it bears to the whole fabric of the Theosophical Movement. It is now beginning to be recognised that her writings contain the key to the profoundest mysteries of Man and the Universe, and those who opposed her, finding themselves unable to disprove the value and truth of her philosophy, sought by means of personal slander and vilification to prejudice public opinion, and thus divert attention from the treasure of knowledge which she was the means of giving to the world, and which, if impartially considered on its merits, must have carried with it the conviction of the integrity of the writer. In The Secret Doctrine Mme. Blavatsky quoted the words of Gamaliel as being particularly applicable to her own work: “If this doctrine is false it will perish of itself, but if true then it cannot be destroyed.”
The biassed and untrustworthy nature of the Hodgson Report of the Society of Psychical Research, which has provided the basis for so much ignorant and malicious criticism even down to the present day, is clearly revealed in these pages. Much fresh light is also thrown on the forgeries known as the Coulomb Letters, and also of her relation with the notorious Solovioff, who, in his rage and resentment at being refused the privilege of chelaship, did so much to injure her reputation. It would require a volume to deal adequately with all the evidence on these important questions; the reader is therefore left to form his own conclusions as to whether the heroic figure which stands out so vividly in these pages was the liar, the fraud, and worse than dishonest medium which the Society of Psychical Research and the Spiritualists generally would have us believe, or whether she was what she claimed to be—no medium indeed, but the conscious Agent of the Masters who sent her forth, performing her prodigious task under conditions which would make the bravest halt; an occultist pledged to silence as to the true reasons for most of her actions, ever fearful of giving out too much, but yet through it all labouring so fiercely and wholeheartedly for the sake of the few who were entitled to her Master’s thanks. . .
There is hardly one of these pages that does not throw some unexpected light on the mysteries of the relationship between Adept and chela, and it is thus possible to gain some comprehension of the life of those who, while living in the world, serve the purposes of the Great Lodge of Adepts whose headquarters are beyond the Himalayas of Northern India....
There are several references to the writing of The Secret Doctrine which show to how great an extent the Masters were themselves responsible for that work. That is why the teaching of H. P. B. “remains for us the test and criterion of Theosophy”, by which all other teaching on the subject must be judged.
A. TREVOR BARKER, Introduction.
Most excellent biography, 648 pp:
The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Blavatsky,
Founder of the Modern Theosophical Movement
by Sylvia Cranston.