Praise for H.P. Blavatsky and Theosophy

Praise for H.P. Blavatsky and Theosophy

For some reason it is not very well known that H.P. Blavatsky (1831-1891), her teachings and the Theosophical Movement which she founded, have received endorsement and praise from numerous highly respected and influential individuals. The aim of this article is to give some of the most prominent examples of this.

There is actually a great need for such a compilation of quotes, since HPB has been so repeatedly and appallingly slandered and ridiculed by so many that the vast majority of people – Theosophists included, to their shame! – simply refuse to believe that anyone, let alone someone as great and highly regarded as Mahatma Gandhi, could have ever held her in high esteem and said wonderful things about her and her work for humanity.

Undoubtedly many will still continue to promulgate the same old lies and misinformation, spreading the idea that “Blavatsky has no credibility and no-one takes her seriously.” Let them do so, if they are happy and content for their bigotry, prejudice, ulterior motives, and willful misrepresentation of facts to be plainly obvious to all and sundry.

Theosophists, you have no reason whatsoever to be ashamed of your Teacher. She single-handedly changed the face of world spirituality forever! While others may scorn and criticise her, let us celebrate her and all that she stands for. Ex oriente lux – the Light truly comes from the East.

Links to several related articles are included at the end.

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“She was a completely cultured woman in the renaissance ideal: She was a scientist, poet, pianist, painter, philosopher, writer, educator and above all a tireless warrior for the Light. In her quest for truth and universal brotherhood, H.P. Blavatsky earned much enmity and many enemies. No one so ruffled the feathers of nineteenth century religious prejudice, spiritualistic charlatanism, and intellectual pomposity as she did.” – Dr Paul Weinzweig in a 1978 United Nations tribute to “Outstanding Women”

“Theosophy is the teaching of Madame Blavatsky. It is Hinduism at its best. Theosophy is the Brotherhood of Man. … I recall having read … Madame Blavatsky’s Key to Theosophy. This book stimulated in me the desire to read books on Hinduism, and disabused me of the notion fostered by the missionaries that Hinduism was rife with superstition.” – Mahatma Gandhi (see Gandhi on Blavatsky and Theosophy)

“I have had the pleasure of sharing my thoughts with Theosophists from various parts of the world on many occasions. I have much admiration for their spiritual pursuits. … I am therefore happy to have this long association with the Theosophists and to learn about the Centenary Edition: THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE which is being brought out this year. I believe that this book has strongly influenced many sincere seekers and aspirants to the wisdom and compassion of the Bodhisattva Path.” – The Dalai Lama, in his foreword to the Centenary Edition of “The Voice of the Silence” by H.P. Blavatsky in 1989

“The Ninth Panchen Lama … Lopsang Tubten Chokyi Nyima … requested them [Alice Leighton Cleather and Basil Crump] to have The Voice of the Silence reissued, exactly as Madame Blavatsky had written it. Since her death, Adyar editions had incorporated what were meant to be amendments, but they did not meet with his approval. He would permit the correction only of what were obviously printers’ errors. It was, he said, ‘the only true exposition in English of the doctrine of the Mahayana and its noble ideal of self-sacrifice for humanity’.” – From “The Panchen Lama’s endorsement,” chapter 85 of “Blavatsky and Her Teachers” by Jean Overton Fuller

“Since its translation into English from the Tibetan by Madame H.P. Blavatsky, in 1889, this little book, the gem of Buddhist teachings, has enjoyed a wide circulation among Europeans and Americans interested in Buddhism. There is, therefore, little need for me to recommend it to foreign readers, except to point out that what is embodied in it comprises a part of the teachings of the Esoteric School. … Madame Blavatsky had a profound knowledge of Buddhist philosophy, and the doctrines she promulgated were those of many great teachers. This book is like a call to men to forsake desire, dispel every evil thought, and enter the true Path. … It has been suggested to me that, for the benefit of the Chinese Buddhists, this work should be translated into Chinese. I quite agree with this idea, but pressure of work has hitherto prevented me from writing more than these few lines. Although they form an inadequate recognition of the merit of the book, I offer them because of my great reverence for its teachings; and I hope to be able to undertake the translation at some future time.” – B.T. Chang, Chinese secretary of the Ninth Panchen Lama, foreword to the 1927 reissue of “The Voice of the Silence”

“It was learned that a niece of Einstein’s, in India during the 1960s, paid a special visit to the headquarters of the Theosophical Society at Adyar. She explained that she knew nothing of theosophy or the society, but had to see the place because her uncle always had a copy of Madame Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine on his desk. The individual to whom the niece spoke was Eunice Layton, a world-traveled theosophical lecturer who happened to be at the reception desk when she arrived. While in Ojai, California, in January 1982, Sylvia Cranston met Mrs Eunice Layton, who confirmed the story.” – From “HPB – The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Blavatsky” by Sylvia Cranston

“Theosophy occupies a central place in the history of new spiritual movements, for the writings of Blavatsky and some of her followers have had a great influence outside of her organization. … The importance of Theosophy in modern history should not be underestimated. Not only have the writings of Blavatsky and others inspired several generations of occultists, but the movement had a remarkable role in the restoration to the colonial peoples of nineteenth century Asia of their own spiritual heritage.” – Robert S. Ellwood and Harry B. Partin, Religious and Spiritual Groups in Modern America

“Madame Blavatsky stands out as the fountainhead of modern occult thought, and was either the originator and/or popularizer of many of the ideas and terms which have a century later been assembled within the New Age Movement. The Theosophical Society, which she co-founded, has been the major advocate of occult philosophy in the West and the single most important avenue of Eastern teaching to the West.” – J. Gordon Melton, Jerome Clark & Aidan A. Kelly, editors, New Age Almanac

“Theosophy is a religious philosophy with definite mystical concerns that can be traced to the ancient world but is of catalytic significance in religious thought in the 19th and 20th centuries. … The movement has been a catalytic force in the 20th century revival of Buddhism and Hinduism, and a pioneering agency in the promotion of greater Western acquaintance with Eastern thought. In the United States it has influenced a whole series of religious movements … In the estimation of some scholars, no other single organization has done more to popularize Asian religions and philosophical ideas in the West.” – Encyclopaedia Britannica

“Blavatsky’s esoteric synthesis has served as a basic source for later esotericists, literati, scientists, and entire movements, including the New Age. Unlike most of her contemporaries, she is as visible today as a modern trendsetting guru, and she will most likely remain the most memorable and innovative esotericist of the 19th century.” – James A. Santucci, Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism

“A visionary trailblazer, H.P.B., more than any other person was responsible for the introduction of Eastern religious and spiritual thinking into Western religion, science, psychology, art and literature.” – Jeremy P. Tarcher, Path Publishing House

“You dismiss H.P. Blavatsky rather too easily as “hocus pocus.” Nobody ever affected the thought of so many able men and women by “hocus pocus.” The real source of her influence is to be found in The Secret Doctrine, a book on the religions of the world suggesting or disclosing an underlying unity between all great religions. … it is one of the most exciting and stimulating books written for the last hundred years. It is paying a poor compliment to men like Yeats, Maeterlinck, and others, to men like Sir William Crookes, the greatest chemist of modern times, who was a member of her society, to Carter Blake, F.R.S., the anthropologist, and the scholars and scientists in many countries who read H.P. Blavatsky’s books, to assume that they were attracted by “hocus pocus.” If you are ever in the National Library, Kildare Street, and have a couple of hours to spare, you might dip into “The Proem” to The Secret Doctrine, and you will understand the secret of the influence of that extraordinary woman on her contemporaries. … You should not be misled by popular catch-words … but try to find out the real secrets of H.P. Blavatsky’s influence, which still persists strong as ever, as I have found over here among many intellectuals and well-known writers.” – The famous author George Russell (AE) in a letter to the Irish author Sean O’Faolain

“I knew Madame Blavatsky very well … and I believe there is no doubt that the theosophical movement has had an excellent effect upon humanity. It has made a large number of people understand what all India always understood, and that is the importance of invisible things. The real universe is that which you do not see, and the commonest Indian peasant knows that to be true by inheritance. The theosophists have impressed upon the present generation the necessity of admiring the existence of the invisible. The senses are very limited, and everybody ought to know that behind them lies an illimitable field of development.” – Sir Edwin Arnold, famous author (particularly of “The Light of Asia”) and poet, made Knight Commander of the Indian Empire by Queen Victoria

“I saw The Voice of the Silence for the first time when at Oxford. I got a copy and sent it to Mrs Suzuki (then Miss Beatrice Lane) at Columbia University, writing to her: ‘Here is the real Mahayana Buddhism.’ … Undoubtedly Madame Blavatsky had in some way been initiated into the deeper side of Mahayana teaching and then gave out what she deemed wise to the Western world as Theosophy. … There is no doubt whatever that the Theosophical Movement made known to the general world the main doctrines of Mahayana Buddhism, and the interest now being taken in Mahayana in the Western world has most certainly been helped forward by the knowledge of Theosophy. … As Mr Kingsland says, ‘She did more than any other single individual to bring to the West a knowledge of Eastern religious philosophy’.” – The world renowned Buddhist scholar D.T. Suzuki

“Blavatsky had access to Tibetan Buddhist sources which no other Westerner during her time had. Her works are by no means merely strings of plagiarisms, but rather very cogent arguments, supplemented by masses of data, that her readers should believe Buddhist claims that there is a perennial philosophy, in the possession of Adepts, which explains the origins of the world and leads to salvation from it. … Blavatsky knew what the Buddhist Tantras were, knew their content and philosophical import better than any Western contemporary, and knew bona fide Tibetan traditions surrounding them. This alone gives strong reasons not to dismiss her claims out of hand.” – The Buddhism expert Richard Taylor

“Her familiarity with Tibetan Buddhism as well as with esoteric Buddhist practices seems to be beyond doubt.” – Dr G.P. Malalasekera, founding president of the World Fellowship of Buddhists, in the entry for “Blavatsky” in his “Encyclopedia of Buddhism”

“I learned that he [Edward Conze] was, and still is, a theosophist: he admires The Secret Doctrine, and believes that Mme. Blavatsky was the reincarnation of Tsonkapa.” – Mircea Eliade about Edward Conze, “the leading authority in the field of Mahayana Buddhism” (also see The Great Tsong Kha-pa)

“All felt her penetration and her power. Each fell to the charm of her universality. She lifted people to the expression of their best at once. It gave men new force to feel they had met one who could look right through to their real selves, uninfluenced by the littleness of which others make so much. Naturally, the creedbound, the literal Jonah-swallowing-the-whale order who were frightened at symbolic interpretation, were uncomfortable in the light of her logic and deep-dredged knowledge and went away calling her “a dreadful woman.” Sometimes their wives confessed, “We don’t approve of her – but love her just the same.” …

“When she wanted to draw anyone on in argument, she pretended not to know English very well, but her knowledge and command increased as she swept into discussion. It was amusing to watch her parry with a journalist – lean, mental, cross-examining – who had come to trap her. At such times she would put on that stupid look Loie Fuller uses so effectively, as if only a little brighter she might be called half-witted; lead him on to play out all his rope, then, regaining her trenches step by step, drop her bombs; till finally she wiped up the floor with him. Then with hearty laugh she would grasp his hand. “You are a splendid fellow – come often – come always!”

“I have seen her in an argument suddenly strike her forehead with her clenched fist: “What an idiot I am! My dear friend, forgive me – you are right, and I am wrong.” How many will do this? … Samadhi or god-consciousness was her ideal. She was the bar of iron heated red-hot which becomes as fire, forgetting its own nature. Most people occupy themselves with the needs or pleasures of the lower all the time. She seemed not to have needs or pleasures of her own. Often she did not go out of the house for half a year. Not even for a walk in her garden. The influence of such example was the secret of the astonishing growth and expansion of the Theosophical Society. She lived in great truth, yet was called a liar; in great generosity, and was called a fraud; in a detestation of all shams, and yet – was crowned the Queen of Humbugs.” – The American artist Edmund Russell

“In spite of her tremendous attainments and unrivaled talent, she had not a vestige of pedantic assumption, and had the simple heart of a child. … Her followers are gnostic on grave issues of teleology on which I am only agnostic. … To me Madame Blavatsky is dead, and another shadow has fallen athwart my life. … Theosophy or no Theosophy, the most extraordinary woman of our century, or of any century, has passed away. ‘Impostor’ indeed! She was almost the only mortal I have ever met who was not an impostor … and one of the very few who ever understood me.” – William Stewart Ross, editor of The Agnostic Journal

“On ordinary lines it is strange that an old, sickly woman, not consulting a library and having no books of her own of consequence, should possess the unusual knowledge that Madame Blavatsky undoubtedly did. Indeed, it is incomprehensible, unless she were of an extraordinary mental capacity, and had spent her whole life in study. On the contrary, from many sources we gain undoubted evidence that Madame Blavatsky’s education had not even been carried as far as that of a High School student of the present day. But it is a fact that she knew more than I did on my own particular lines of anthropology, etc. For instance, her information was superior to my own on the subject of the Naulette Jaw. Page 744 in the second vol. of The Secret Doctrine refers to facts which she could not easily have gathered from any published book.

“On page 754, also of the second vol. Secret Doctrine, the sentence beginning: “If we turn to the new world,” and speaking of the existence of “pliocene mammalia and the occurrence of pliocene raised beaches.” I remember in conversation with her in 1888, in Lansdowne Road, at the time she was engaged on The Secret Doctrine, how Madame Blavatsky, to my great astonishment, sprung upon me the fact that the raised beaches of Tarija were pliocene. I had always thought them pleistocene – following the line of reasoning of Darwin and Spotswood Wilson. The fact that these beaches are pliocene has been proven to me since from the works of Gay, Istoria Fiscia de Chile, Castlenaw’s book on Chile, and other works, though these out-of-the-way books had never then come into my hands, in spite of the fact that I had made a speciality of the subject; and not until Madame Blavatsky put me on the track of the pliocene did I hear of them.

“On page 755, II, Secret Doctrine, her mention of the fossil footprints from Carson, Indiana, U.S.A., is again interesting as a proof that she did not obtain her information by thought-reading. When Madame Blavatsky spoke of the footprints to me I did not know of their existence, and Mr G.W. Bloxam, Assistant Secretary of the Anthropological Institute, afterwards told me that a pamphlet on the subject in their library had never been out. Madame Blavatsky certainly had original sources of information (I don’t say what) transcending the knowledge of experts on their own lines.” – Dr Charles Carter Blake, respected anthropologist and scientist of the Victorian era

“HPB helped me much in my effort. … Until the day of her departure [from Adyar] HPB took care of me. She wrote to me to follow the light that is within me. I have strictly followed her advice, and am glad to testify to her wonderful powers of mystic illumination. … Love to all living beings, small and great, the desire to renounce sensual pleasures that impede the progress in the realm of spirituality and the strenuous effort to do meritorious deeds for the betterment of humanity, forgetting self, have been to me a kind of spiritual pabulum which I have partaken since I came in touch with the wonderful personality of HPB.” – Anagarika Dharmapala, called “the leading Buddhist missionary of our time” and “a towering figure in the work for the spiritual resurgence of Asia.”

“In connection with Isis Unveiled, I may quote from an interview I had with Professor Hiram Corson, now Regius Professor of English at Cornell University, New York State, and the recognized authority on Browning. In talking to him about the great men and women of the nineteenth century whom he had met intimately, I asked him whom, of them all, he considered the most striking and remarkable. He at once replied, by all means Madame Blavatsky, the founder of the Theosophical Society, and after her, Walt Whitman.

“This was a line of interesting conversation I little expected, and I urged him to tell me more of this outstanding figure in his memory. He said, “She wrote a considerable part of Isis Unveiled in my house at Ithaca, and living constantly with her for those weeks, she continually filled me with amazement and curiosity as to what was coming next. She had a profound knowledge of everything apparently, and her method of work was most unusual. She would write in bed, from nine o’clock in the morning till two o’clock the following morning, smoking innumerable cigarettes, quoting long verbatim paragraphs from dozens of books of which I am perfectly certain there were no copies at that time in America, translating easily from several languages, and occasionally calling out to me, in my study, to know how to turn some old-world idiom into literary English, for at that time she had not attained the fluency of diction which distinguished The Secret Doctrine.”

“I asked him how he accounted for her quotations in full from these very rare and curious volumes. He smiled reminiscently, and said – “She herself told me that she wrote them down as they appeared in her eyes on another plane of objective existence, that she clearly saw the page of the book and the quotation she needed, and simply translated what she actually saw into English.” I asked him whether he believed this.

“He replied: “The woman was so marvellous and had such mysterious funds of definite knowledge, that I find it much easier to believe her statement than to account for her quotations by any ordinary explanation of memory. The hundreds of books she quoted from were certainly not in my library, many of them not in America, some of them very rare and difficult to get in Europe, and if her quotations were from memory, then it was an even more startling feat than writing them from the ether. The facts are marvellous, and the explanation must necessarily bewilder those whose consciousness is of a more ordinary type.” – The Canadian Theosophist Charles Lazenby

“I remember stopping in the street in Cambridge and demanding loudly, “It won’t do, dammit, it won’t do! Who am I and what am I, revolving on this speck of mud in this particular universe?” I found my Plan in a commentary on what are called the Stanzas of Dzyan, a very old Tibetan scripture, in a book called The Secret Doctrine, by H.P. Blavatsky. This for the first time gave me what seemed to me then, and seems to me now, a clear exposition in outline of the coming into being of the universe and its ceasing to be, and within this the genesis and meaning of man. Here was a map of becoming.”

“What a woman! … misunderstood, vilified and abused, and yet with a brilliant, cultured and deeply learned mind; the very soul of generosity; a woman of direct speech and action, refusing to talk the pious platitudes and nonsense that we chatter under the guise of socially good manners, but offering the truth for anyone who wanted it. … She was never neutral, or the same to all. She made a great number of friends who would die for her, and enemies who would kill her if they could. … Those strong blue eyes could see into the character of every man and woman who came to her, and even see by whom she would later be betrayed. … She would help from her meager funds (and she was always poor), all those in need, even though she knew at the time that they were planning to smash the cause she had given her life to serve. … As a speaker she was magnetic; she never lectured but she would talk, and those who heard her could think of nothing else. In 1920, when I came into the movement, I knew a number of people who had known her well, and on this they were agreed, that after meeting her nothing was quite the same again.” – Christmas Humphreys, highly respected author on Buddhism and founder of the London Buddhist Society

“Scriabin felt greatly beholden to Mme. Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine in his own development; indeed he felt tremendous admiration for Mme. Blavatsky to the end of his life. He was particularly fascinated by her courage in essaying a grandiose synthesis and by the breadth and depth of her concepts, which he likened to the grandeur of Wagner’s music dramas. … The theosophic vision of the world served as an incentive for his own work. “I will not discuss with you the truth of theosophy,” he declared to [de Schloezer] in Moscow, “but I know that Mme. Blavatsky’s ideas helped me in my work and gave me power to accomplish my task.” – Celebrated Russian composer and pianist Alexander Scriabin, quoted in his biography “Scriabin: Artist and Mystic”

“Come to see her when you are in London. She is the most human person alive, is like an old peasant woman, and is wholly devoted, all her life is but sitting in a great chair with a pen in her hand. For years she has written twelve hours a day.”

“I believe Madame Blavatsky’s teachers are wholly righteous learned teachers and that I have in them all due confidence as from pupil to teacher.”

“I remember how careful she was that the young men about her should not overwork. … I overheard her saying to some rude stranger who had reproved me for talking too much, ‘no, no, he is very sensitive’. … [She was] humorous, unfanatical, and displaying always, it seemed, a mind that seemed to pass all others in her honesty.”

“You need not be afraid of my going in for mesmerism. It interests me but slightly. No fear of Madame Blavatsky drawing me into such matters – she is very much against them and hates spiritualism vehemently – says mediumship and insanity are the same thing.”

“When Madame Blavatsky was more silent, less vivid than usual, it was “because her Masters were angry”; they had rebuked her because of some error, and she professed constant error. Once I seemed in their presence, or that of some messenger of theirs. It was about nine at night, and half a dozen of us sat round her big tablecloth, when the room filled with the odor of incense. Somebody came from upstairs, but could smell nothing – had been outside the influence it seems – but to myself and the others, it was very strong. Madame Blavatsky said it was a common Indian incense, and that some pupil of her “Master’s” was present; she seemed anxious to make light of the matter and turned the conversation to something else. Certainly it was a romantic house, and I did not separate myself from it by my own will.” – W.B. Yeats, one of the most important figures of 20th century literature

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SOME RELATED ARTICLES: Responding to Lies about H.P. Blavatsky, Gandhi on Blavatsky and Theosophy, Who are you, Madame Blavatsky?, The Masters and Madame Blavatsky, Words from The Masters about H.P. BlavatskyTheosophy: The Ancient Wisdom, 12 Things Theosophy Teaches, An Invitation to The Secret Doctrine, Who wrote “The Secret Doctrine”?, Meeting Madame Blavatsky, Who was William Quan Judge?, Col. Olcott’s Disloyalty to H.P. Blavatsky, The Great Tsong Kha-pa, Alaya – The Universal Soul, The Closing Cycle, Unity of the World’s Religions, The Four Branches of the Theosophical Movement, and How to successfully study the Teachings of H.P. Blavatsky.

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One thought on “Praise for H.P. Blavatsky and Theosophy

  1. “I think that she I think that she [Balvatsky] was some kind of incredible self-made yogini. In any case, she was someone who had attained magical powers. When she was a child, she was blessed in a dream by two Tibetan lamas named Mura [Morya] and Gutumé [Khoot Hoomi].” –
    Gendün Chöphel ((1903–1951), Tibetan artist, writer and scholar, “he is considered by many to have been one of the most important Tibetan intellectuals of the twentieth century.

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