Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

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Fast Facts
Madame Blavatsky.jpg
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Elena Petrovna Gan ,Madame Blavatsky
Theosophical Society
Main Countries of Activity: 
India, Europe, USA
Date of Birth: 
Place of Birth: 
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Date Left His/Her Body: 


Madame Blavatsky, 'that extraordinary woman,' was co-founder, with Colonel H.S. Olcott, of the Theosophical Society. She was born at Ekaterinoslav in Russia at midnight between 30 and 31 July 1831. Her father, Colonel Peter Hahn, came of a noble family originally of Mecklenburg, Germany, but which had settled in Russia for some 300 years. Her mother's family, also of noble lineage, traced its origins to a ninth century ancestor.

H.P.B.'s clairvoyant faculty was such that, even as a child, she was consulted by the nobility about their private affairs and by the police regarding crimes committed. She was a talented pianist, and as a young girl, played in London with Clara Schumann and Arabelle Goddard.

In 1848 when she was seventeen, she married General Blavatsky, a very elderly man, from whom she soon separated. During 1848 and 1849, she studied magic in Egypt with an aged Copt and joined 'The Druses of Lebanon,' a secret society. She was present with Garibaldi at the battle of Mentana in 1849 and 'was picked out of a ditch for dead with the left arm broken in two places, musket balls embedded in right shoulder and leg, and a stiletto wound in the heart.'

When walking with her father in London in 1851, she saw a tall and stately Rajput whom she recognized as a Protector known in her visions from childhood. He spoke to her of a future work she was to do under His direction after preparation in the East. In 1852-54 she attempted to enter Tibet, however she was not successful until 1867-70. During the intervening period, she made contact with spiritualism, learned to 'bring under her control her marvelous power to produce phenomena at will,' and engaged in 'several commercial enterprises' (a trade in high class woods, head of an artificial flower factory, etc.). In Tibet, she learned, we are told, to manipulate occult forces. In Cairo in 1871 she made an unsuccessful attempt to found a spiritual society upon the basis of phenomena. Then as 'Madame Laura,' she did concert tours in Italy and Russia. In 1873 she lived with her brother in Paris, painting and writing (in addition to her other accomplishments she was a fine artist and a very clever caricaturist).

Whilst in Paris she received peremptory orders from 'the Brothers' to go to New York to await instructions. She landed on 7 July 1873, without personal funds, having exchanged her first class passage to steerage class (the cheapest) in order to buy steerage class for a poor woman and children who had been swindled. Although she had in her trunk 23,000 francs entrusted to her by her Master, she earned her living by working for a maker of cravats. Still acting under orders she finally took the money to town of Buffalo and gave it to an unknown man just in time to prevent him from committing suicide! An unsuccessful business venture in a Long Island Farm, used up the 1,000 ruble legacy she had received on the death of her father.

In 1874 she was ordered to go to the Eddy homestead in Chittenden. This was the scene of various occult phenomena being investigated by Colonel H.S. Olcott. With him in 1875, in New York, she founded the Theosophical Society. Isis Unveiled, her magnificent attack upon the materialism of religion and science, was published in 1877. She sent the first proceeds together with money received for her various articles published by Russian newspapers and journals, to the Red Cross in Russia to help her compatriots wounded in the Russo-Turkish war.

On 8 July 1878, she became an American citizen. Later that year, acting 'under orders,' she and Olcott sailed for India; they landed in Bombay in February 1879. In 1880 the two founders toured Sri Lanka on behalf of Buddhism, themselves becoming Buddhists on 19 May 1881. In 1882, the headquarters of the Society was moved to its present site in Adyar, Madras. She made various tours of India between her arrival in 1879 and her visit to Europe in 1884. In the absence of the Founders, came the one sided report of the Society for Psychical Research, in an attempt to show her up as an impostor. Since then, the S.P.R. has retracted the allegations against her. Despite the intervention of her Guru to restore her health, it deteriorated and she was unable to remain at Adyar for more than a short visit paid later that year.

In Wurzburg she worked at The Secret Doctrine, whose real authors, according to Countess Wachtmeister, were the Adept Brothers. As with Isis Unveiled, the Brothers collected the material and passed it before the inner gaze of H.P.B. In 1887 at Ostend, H.P.B. fell very ill but made another strange recovery explaining that she had 'elected' to work for a few more years in her suffering body. By invitation, she moved to London which then became the centre of the Theosophical work in Europe. In this she was assisted by occasional visits of the President-Founder (Colonel Olcott). In 1888 the first two volumes of The Secret Doctrine were published. She died on 8 May 1891 in London. Her ashes were divided between New York, India, and London, and part of it is interred under her statue in Adyar. In her will she requested that each year, on the anniversary of her death, her friends should assemble and read from The Light of Asia and the Bhagavad Gita. By Colonel Olcott's wish, this anniversary came to be known as 'White Lotus Day.'

Colonel Olcott summed up the secret of H.P.B.'s remarkable power in producing swift changes in the lives of those about her as due to:

Her amazing occult knowledge and phenomena-working powers, together with her relation to the hidden Masters.

Her sparkling talents, especially as a conversationalist with her social accomplishments, wide travels, and extraordinary adventures.

Her insight into problems of philology, racial origins, fundamental bases of religions, and keys to old mysteries and symbols.

Unflinching self-consecration to the Great Ones irradiated the life of H.P.B. and she will ever be known as the 'Light-Bringer' of the nineteenth Century.

Some Publications: Editor, The Theosophist, The Secret Doctrine (in three Volumes), Isis Unveiled, Practical Occultism, The Voice of the Silence, two books of The Stanzas of Dzyan, The Key to Theosophy, Original Programme of the TS, Dynamics of the Psychic World, etc.

More info at http://www.ts-adyar.org/


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