Of all the lies and misrepresentations which abound regarding H.P. Blavatsky, one of the worst is the ridiculous insinuation that she was a racist and that after her death her writings and theories strongly influenced Adolf Hitler and Nazism. There could be little more slanderous, offensive, and downright wrong than such a claim.
We will now present the undeniable facts of the matter.
The Theosophical Movement was founded with three chief objects or aims. These continue to be the three chief objects of the Movement today and are:
“First – To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour.”
“Second – To promote the study of Aryan and other Eastern literatures, religions and sciences.”
“Third – A third object – pursued by a portion only of the members of the Society – is to investigate unexplained laws of nature and the psychical powers of man.”
(See The Key to Theosophy by H.P. Blavatsky, Appendix)
The theme of Universal Brotherhood is emphasised constantly throughout all the writings and teachings of HPB. She stated on more than one occasion that “Theosophy is Universal Brotherhood.” To quote from p. 230-231 of The Key to Theosophy:
ENQUIRER: “What do you consider as due to humanity at large?”
HPB: “Full recognition of equal rights and privileges for all, and without distinction of race, colour, social position, or birth.”
ENQUIRER: “When would you consider such due not given?”
HPB: “When there is the slightest invasion of another’s right – be that other a man or a nation; when there is any failure to show him the same justice, kindness, consideration or mercy which we desire for ourselves. The whole present system of politics is built on the oblivion of such rights, and the most fierce assertion of national selfishness.”
Does this sound in any way whatsoever like racism or an early form of Nazism?!? On p. 233 of the same book, HPB wrote that “universal Unity and Causation; Human Solidarity; the Law of Karma; Re-incarnation … are the four links of the golden chain which should bind humanity into one family, one universal Brotherhood,” and on p. 270-271 expressed her wish that Theosophists would start schools based on the principles of “self-reliance, love for all men, altruism, mutual charity” which would serve to help children grow into “free men and women, free intellectually, free morally, unprejudiced in all respects, and above all things, unselfish.”
The false accusations of racism and “Nazism” boil down to an ignorant – or in many cases wilfully ignorant – misunderstanding of three main things. These are (1) The Theosophical teaching about “Root Races” (2) The use of the swastika symbol in the Theosophical logo, and (3) The usage and meaning of the word “Aryan” in the writings of H.P. Blavatsky and her colleagues.
The term “Root Race” is used to refer to specific epochs of civilisation. According to the teachings of Theosophy and HPB, four of these epochs or Root Races have already come and gone on our globe, each succeeding the other after tens or even hundreds of thousands of years and each Root Race and its own particular continent eventually being largely destroyed and wiped out by natural disaster. The first four Root Races no longer exist, because those epochs have run their course. They were the Polarian Race, the Hyperborean Race, the Lemurian Race, and the Atlanteans. Mankind’s evolution requires that there will be seven major epochs and thus seven Root Races in total. It is the fifth which is currently underway and this is mainly referred to in Theosophy as the Aryan Root Race.
It is called the Aryan because the beginnings of its civilisation were in the ancient land once known as Aryavarta but today known as India. All the various races in the world today descend originally from “Mother India,” according to Theosophy, with the exception of the Orientals, Africans, and some aboriginals such as the native Australians. They are considered to be the surviving descendants of older races, particularly of the last Lemurian and especially Atlantean sub-races.
But this does not mean that those races or the billions of people belonging to them are in any way inferior. HPB taught that the real person is the soul within and that the soul reincarnates in the bodies of various races throughout its long cyclic journey of evolution. “Thus the reason given for dividing humanity into superior and inferior races falls to the ground and becomes a fallacy.” (The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 2 by H.P. Blavatsky, p. 425)
Anyone who takes the time and effort to do even a little historical research will readily see that the word “Aryan” was frequently used as a synonym for “Indian” in Victorian times, the era in which HPB lived and began the Theosophical Movement. “Aryan and other Eastern literatures, religions, and sciences” in the second object means exactly “Indian and other Eastern literatures, religions, and sciences.”
H.P. Blavatsky loved the nation and people of India with an undying love. In 1879 she moved the international headquarters of the Theosophical Society to India and lived there for around seven years, during which time she ceaselessly and fearlessly drew attention to the atrocious prejudice, bigotry, and discrimination that was being shown daily to the Indian people in their own homeland by the white English “conquerors.” This was of course before India gained her independence from British rule. In Theosophical terminology, all Europeans are also Aryans because of their being an offshoot from the Root Race which had its beginnings in old Aryavarta. To make the matter clearer, HPB also suggested the use of the term “Indo-European Root Race.” Although inhabiting a European body, she made no secret of the fact that she felt Indian in her heart.
There is not the slightest trace or faintest allusion to anything even mildly approaching “white supremacy” in any of her writings. Quite the opposite in fact, since she never failed to expose the prejudices, ignorance, hypocrisy, and viciousness which were at the time so prevalent amongst those races who nevertheless naively believed themselves to be the most superior, cultured, and civilised people in the world.
Considering the Indian religions of Hinduism and Buddhism to be the two which hold the most precious of spiritual truths, HPB wrote that one of the aims of the Theosophical Movement was to Indian-ise the thought life of the West (see Five Messages from H.P. Blavatsky to the American Theosophists, Fourth Message).
In Adolf Hitler’s use of the term “Aryan” he applied to it a completely different meaning from that used in Theosophy. Hitler’s theory was that the Aryans were a so-called “perfect race” of blonde haired, blue eyed people and that the Jews, who he sought to exterminate, were not Aryans. This ridiculous concept was unique to Hitler and prior to this the usage of the terms “Aryan” and “Aryan Root Race” caused neither concern nor fear for anyone, Theosophist or otherwise. It is only because of his gross misuse of this term, as well as his misuse of the ancient Indian spiritual symbol of the swastika, that some people – those who prefer jumping to conclusions rather than doing independent and unbiased research into FACTS – have mistakenly thought there to be some type of connection between Blavatsky and Hitler.
The fact that Theosophists in Germany, Austria, and elsewhere were persecuted unsparingly by the Nazis during the Second World War and protested with all their might against Nazism, just serves as additional proof – as if any were needed – that neither HPB nor the followers of her philosophy could ever be sympathetic with such unspeakably evil ideologies and policies as those of the Nazis.
The translated text of an official document by the Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler, declaring the compulsory dissolution of all Theosophical Societies in Germany, can be found on p. 607 of the extensive and excellently researched and referenced biography HPB: The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Blavatsky by Sylvia Cranston.
“What Theosophical teaching so aroused Hitler that Theosophists were among the first to be sent to concentration camps? The first object of the Theosophical movement; to form a nucleus of universal brotherhood, naturally including all human beings, was an alarming concept for a tyrant planning to dominate by eliminating races and groups through genocide. The Secret Doctrine has one sentence (2:266) that would inflame the Nazi mentality: “The Aryan and their Semitic Branch are of the Fifth Race.” … Two teachers, Mary Linne and Emmi Haerter were imprisoned in Germany because of Theosophical literature found in their house – all of which was burned, including their own translation of The Secret Doctrine. This was also the fate of the letters from the Masters to Dr Hubbe-Schleiden.” (Sylvia Cranston, HPB: The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Blavatsky, p. 607-608)
According to H.P. Blavatsky, all the Middle Eastern peoples, including the Jews, are just as much Aryans as the Anglo-Saxons and white Europeans. Particularly important to our topic are her words on p. 200 of the second volume of The Secret Doctrine where she says, “The occult doctrine admits of no such divisions as the Aryan and the Semite … The Semites, especially the Arabs, are later Aryans … To these belong all the Jews and the Arabs.” We also read there that the Jewish people “are a tribe descended from the Tchandalas of India, the outcasts, many of them ex-Brahmins, who sought refuge in Chaldea, in Scinde, and Aria (Iran), and were truly from their father A-bram (No Brahmin) some 8,000 years B.C.” The same idea is also expressed on p. 471 of that volume.
As for the swastika symbol which adorns the official logo or seal of the Theosophical Movement, it is an ancient Indian spiritual symbol with inherent good and pure meaning. Just because many centuries after the design or invention of the English flag it came to be used as a symbol of hate and intolerance in the rallies of such racist idiots as the misleadingly named “English Defence League,” that is no reason for the English flag to be denounced as an intrinsically evil or demonic sign. The same is true for the swastika. Prior to Hitler, it was never thought of by anyone as being a symbol of evil or hate. Although originating in India and today predominantly the property of Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists, it was throughout history used all over the world, even by the early Christians, who used to accompany this archaic symbol with the inscription “Vitalis vitalia” – “Life of life.” The literal meaning of the Sanskrit word “svastika” is “all is well.”
H.P. Blavatsky wrote that the coming sixth Root Race will owe its unique and special qualities in part to the fact of interracial marriage and free mixing of the existing races during our time. Theosophy is against all racism, all discrimination, all prejudice, and all ignorance. As said at the start, its first and fundamental aim is to help bring about the actualisation of Universal Brotherhood in this world. According to HPB, Universal Brotherhood is eternally “a fact in Nature” because all life is the ONE Life and all life is sacred, precious, and divine.
As she once informed Charles Johnston:
“There are really no “inferior races,” for all are one in our common humanity; and as we have all had incarnations in each of these races, we ought to be more brotherly to them.” (See H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, Vol. 8)
Being labelled a forerunner of Nazism is not the only downright deceitful and thoroughly false accusation to be arraigned against this much misrepresented and maligned woman, whose only intent and purpose was to help humanity. Some have assumed her to be a satanist and a devil worshipper; this is dealt with in our articles Lucifer the Lightbringer and What do we mean by Occult? Others have accused her, and still do, of plagiarism, apparently unaware that the person who started the whole plagiarism accusation in the first place was found to be a major plagiarist himself! Our article Was Blavatsky a Plagiarist? deals with this.
Others have said that she was a fraud; that she made up the sources (such as the “Secret Book of Dzyan” and “Book of the Golden Precepts”) upon which she based some of her most influential writings, that she invented the Masters or Mahatmas who she said were her Initiate-Teachers and the custodians of the Secret Doctrine, and that she forged hundreds of letters to people around the world to trick them into thinking they were in correspondence with those Masters.
Anyone who cares about fact rather than fiction is advised to read such articles on our site as The Secret Book of Dzyan, The Masters and Madame Blavatsky, Who wrote “The Secret Doctrine”?, and also the article “A Casebook of Encounters with the Theosophical Mahatmas” which can be read on the “Blavatsky Archives” website by clicking here.
They may also like to read Prof. Vernon Harrison’s 1986 and 1997 report and critique on the false accusations of forgery and fraud which were mainly first levelled against Blavatsky in the first place by what became known as the “Hodgson Report” published in 1885 by the Society for Psychical Research. Harrison, a trained expert in forgery and counterfeit himself, has shown that the Hodgson Report was by no means “the model of impartial investigation so often claimed for it over the past century. It is flawed and untrustworthy; and Hodgson’s observations and conclusions need to be taken with a considerable port of salt. The case of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky needs re-examination in this light. She deserves no less.”
Prof. Harrison’s report and findings are so conclusive that the Society for Psychical Research was forced to publish and acknowledge them in their own journal. Today all except the uninformed and the bigoted cannot but agree with Harrison’s remarks that the Hodgson Report was “riddled with slanted statements and downright falsity.”
Many people also confidently state – and genuinely seem to believe – that “Blavatsky has no credibility and no-one takes her seriously.” This too is simply nonsense, as can be ascertained by reading Gandhi on Blavatsky and Theosophy and particularly Praise for H.P. Blavatsky and Theosophy. Sylvia Cranston’s highly regarded and extensive biography of HPB, already referred to above, also shows in depth just how influential and highly regarded are her work and teachings, both during her lifetime and in the present day.
“It is well known that the first rule of the society is to carry out the object of forming the nucleus of a universal brotherhood. The practical working of this rule was explained by those who laid it down, to the following effect:-
“HE WHO DOES NOT PRACTISE ALTRUISM; HE WHO IS NOT PREPARED TO SHARE HIS LAST MORSEL WITH A WEAKER OR POORER THAN HIMSELF; HE WHO NEGLECTS TO HELP HIS BROTHER MAN, OF WHATEVER RACE, NATION, OR CREED, WHENEVER AND WHEREVER HE MEETS SUFFERING, AND WHO TURNS A DEAF EAR TO THE CRY OF HUMAN MISERY; HE WHO HEARS AN INNOCENT PERSON SLANDERED, WHETHER A BROTHER THEOSOPHIST OR NOT, AND DOES NOT UNDERTAKE HIS DEFENCE AS HE WOULD UNDERTAKE HIS OWN – IS NO THEOSOPHIST.” (H.P. Blavatsky, “Let Every Man Prove His Own Work”)