The Question of G. de Purucker

Some visitors to the site have asked questions about Gottfried de Purucker (1874-Gottfried de Purucker - The Theosophical Society1942), more commonly known simply as G. de Purucker, or G de P amongst his students, and have expressed the desire to know whether we consider his teachings and books to be reliable, trustworthy, recommendable, and properly representative and in harmony with the original Theosophical teachings presented by H.P. Blavatsky and the Masters.

Purucker succeeded Katherine Tingley as Leader of The Theosophical Society – Point Loma upon the latter’s death in 1929. He had met William Q. Judge on several occasions and had been a close and trusted associate of Tingley for a long time.

The use of the word “succeeded” here is important. A strong emphasis on “successorship” and “leadership” characterised not only de Purucker’s own Theosophical career but still characterises the two existing organisations which survive as the remnants of the original Point Loma Theosophical Society over which he – and Katherine Tingley before him – presided. These are The Theosophical Society – Point Loma with international headquarters at Blavatsky House in the Netherlands and The Theosophical Society – Pasadena with international headquarters at Altadena, California, USA, neither of which are on particularly friendly terms with one another.

These had originally been one international Society but split into two on disputed “successorship” grounds in 1951. Following the de Purucker way of doing things, these organisations are presided over by an international Leader, who is always appointed by his/her predecessor as their successor, and remains Leader (equivalent to President) for life. There is no voting or elections. Each claims to be able to trace his successorship back to H.P. Blavatsky in a direct and unbroken line of chosen successors. The current international Leader of the Pasadena Society is Randell C. Grubb, whilst Herman Vermeulen holds sway in the Point Loma Society and has even drawn up a chart attempting to illustrate his direct line of occult successorship from HPB.

The emphasis and the very notion of Theosophical “leadership succession” is misplaced and misleading and it’s rather surprising that people are still willing to take Vermeulen and Grubb seriously whilst they continue to keep up such a transparent and nonsensical pretence. These are the only two of the four branches of the Theosophical Movement today which continue to make such outrageous claims, although they have admittedly become less loud about it in recent decades, probably because the “Successors/Leaders” themselves feel somewhat embarrassed or ashamed to make such assertions about themselves.

G. de Purucker, however, felt no such hesitation. In a letter dated 29th July 1929 which was sent to all members of the Society, he announced his new Leadership role in the following terms, “K.T.” referring to Katherine Tingley, who had just passed away:

“All the Comrades here feel a supreme confidence in the future, for they know that the Work is fully safeguarded, and thanks be to the immortal gods! they trust the one who now assumes the reins of government in the line of succession from H.P.B., W.Q.J., and K.T. … In assuming the heavy burden of responsibility that has devolved upon me by K.T.’s appointment of me to succeed her … I realize that, due to the work of our blessed K.T., more even than to the work of my two previous great Predecessors, our members have been trained, taught to reflect and to have an intuitive realization of what the Theosophical Movement means, not only to ourselves, but to Humanity. …

“Even as were my three great Predecessors, so am I, utterly devoted to the Cause of the Great Ones. … Thrice recently, before and since the passing of K.T. has one of the Great Teachers been with me here in Loma-land. I will open my heart to you and tell you something. The two Masters who originally founded the Theosophical Society, and who are the Chiefs of the E.S., are still working with the Society both inner and outer, and for it. … Each of these two has progressed far along the Path of Initiation since H.P.B.’s days, … I have seen and conversed with Master M within this last month, and twice has Master K.H. been in my office, once alone, and once with a chela, who said not one word, but whom I knew to be a Tibetan of high esoteric rank. These conversations are of course a very holy and precious treasure to me, and in them I was shown the future of the Society, what to expect and what to look forward to; and I again pledged myself in a manner of which I may not speak, but which I feel it my duty to tell you of. …

“I have opened a little to you the door that was opened to me. I hereby give you my full confidence and trust, and assure you that even as you will be loyal and devoted to me, your Leader and Official Head, and your Teacher of the E.S., so shall I be utterly devoted and true to you. May the sublime Light of the Great Lodge, the Light of the Tathagatas, burn in your hearts and minds, and lead you into ways of peace.

“Written in the Masters’ names, and under the authority that has devolved upon me, this twenty-ninth day of July, 1929, according to the current calendar, at the International Theosophical Headquarters, Point Loma, California.”

In a second general letter, issued in September of that year, he informed the members that:

“The spiritual and intellectual forces pouring through me from the Great Lodge at times seem almost to tear into pieces the fabric of my being, so strong are they; … Point Loma of course will be the General Headquarters of the Theosophical Society, and will be the official residence of the Leader and Official Head, who is, as you know, the Supreme Head of the Society.”

At a meeting on 4th August, he had stated “I have a very definite policy – a clear-cut one, which is not my own, in a sense, but which has been put upon me as a sacred trust to carry out, and which I have taken into my heart and mind and will carry out; and therefore in that sense it is my own. Who put it upon me? Katherine Tingley.

“You may know that we have a line of successorship in the Theosophical Society which is different from anything else in the world. Christianity in its early years had somewhat the same idea, which it called and still calls the Apostolic Succession, that is to say, that Teacher succeeded Teacher, or Leader succeeded Leader; but the spiritual aspect of this true system died out very quickly in the Christian Church and in the very early history of that ecclesiastical society.

“But it has not died out among us, and may the immortal gods prevent that it ever die out, because it is based on a spiritual fact or operation of Nature. …

“Of course when the Apostolic Succession, as it actually took place in the Christian Church, became a mere form, a mere matter of election to the office of Teacher, or mere appointment, the light, or what there was of the Divine Light, was gone; and consequently, the Apostolic Succession in the Christian Church is but a whited sepulcher filled with the ideals of men long dead, ideals which have left, as it were, but their aroma in the whited sepulcher. …

“So then, the corner-stone of my policy is the handing on of the light: undimmed, pure, and brilliant as I have received it. As I have received it, so shall I pass it on.”

But that was not all. In the second letter, he had made these very profound statements – and claims to occult status, knowledge, and authority, if not even superiority – in this very pretentious and grandiloquent manner:

“O! the brilliant, magnificent promise of the future! If I can only infuse into the membership of our Society all over the world, the enthusiasm, the power, the Lodge-force, that is now pouring through me, our successes will be unspeakably brilliant! You will assuredly receive in time some of this Lodge-force; for as I am the intermediary or mediator between the Great Lodge of the Masters of Compassion and Wisdom and the general membership of the T.S., and more particularly of the E.S.: being the channel through which the Lodge-forces pour: so also am I therefore the Teacher, and will hand on what I may and can to those who prove themselves fit and ready to receive.

“Consequently, it will be my duty as soon as time and strength permit me to do so, to issue new E.S. teachings of a far deeper and more esoteric kind than those which were issued even by H.P.B. or by W.Q.J., or by our Beloved, Katherine Tingley. This I can do for the simple reason that these, my three great Predecessors, never had the opportunity to do what Karma now impels and compels me to do: to besiege the Portals of Destiny and to open a way into the Mysteries, because the members, through the life-work of our beloved K.T., are now ready to hear and therefore to receive what I can give them – an opportunity of incalculably splendid promise which neither H.P.B. nor W.Q.J. nor even K.T. had.”

We will refrain from passing any comment on all this and let the reader form his or her own conclusions.

It is enough to know that de Purucker held the private belief and assertion, revealed in “The High Country Theosophist” magazine half a century after his passing, that Katherine Tingley was a greater and higher occultist (esotericist) than HPB. If this be so, why is it that both the Pasadena and Point Loma Societies have deliberately allowed all of her writings to go out of print and stay out of print, with the exception of a small number of articles and passages which have been carefully edited and republished in the form of two or three small books?

If anyone be in doubt as to whether Tingley was indeed more advanced and spiritually higher than HPB, we advise them to do their own independent research by finding out as much as they can about her nature and activities – from all sources, not only Point Loma and Pasadena ones – as well as reading all that they can find of her writings. Then compare and contrast all this with the nature, work, and teachings of H.P. Blavatsky and decide for yourself. Do not allow yourself to be swayed by the confident tone of assumed authority that pervades much of de Purucker’s statements. The majority of the Point Loma and Pasadena Theosophists have been thus swayed and their organisations and work have shrunk and become permanently stunted as a result.

It’s also important to know something else about him, which has remained widely unknown even amongst his followers and supporters, past and present. This is the fact that he privately informed certain of his followers that he was actually a Tibetan chela (disciple) of the Masters and that he had taken up residence in the de Purucker body when the original Gottfried de Purucker died at the age of seven in 1881, whereupon the young boy’s body suddenly revived thanks to its new occupant.

The story and the account – which can be read in de Purucker’s own words by clicking here – is strikingly similar to William Judge’s account of how he (Judge) had also died and been officially declared dead from a prolonged illness at seven years old, only for the Judge body to be revived as the result of an Indian rajah taking up residence in it in order to do spiritual work in the Western world.

Although this similarity does not preclude either the possible truth or definite sincerity of de Purucker’s beliefs about himself, it is curious and questionable why, if a specially chosen Tibetan chela from the Trans-Himalayan Brotherhood, he ended up introducing new aspects into Theosophical teaching which have no valid basis or support in the teachings of Blavatsky and the Masters, despite his insistence that there was no actual contradiction or difference. Some of these will be mentioned shortly.

In light of his statements which we have already quoted and those which follow, it is difficult to view his “Tibetan chela” claim in any other light than that of a further attempt to attain and maintain authority, prestige, and power amongst his close colleagues and associates.

Such suggestive and subtly self-promoting remarks as the following can be found all through de Purucker’s work, imbuing himself with an air of occult mystery and esoteric secrecy: “I am very sorry indeed to find myself so often in a position which makes me appear to do what the Lord Buddha said he himself did not do: “Holding back as in the fist, knowledge that should be given out.” But I cannot do otherwise sometimes, because I have no right to tell the whole truth about everything on every occasion that I speak.”

Such remarks as these tend to become slightly nauseating after a time but, feeling or claiming himself to be inwardly an Eastern disciple of the Mahatmas themselves and specially chosen for a mission of greater potential than HPB ever had (!), their reason becomes apparent.

It is quite well known in Theosophical circles that de Purucker placed emphasis on the need for union and unity amongst Theosophists and the various different Theosophical organisations and associations. He initiated a “Fraternization Movement” which is sometimes praised today by people who tend to whitewash, overlook, or simply not know about his actual aims and intents for such Theosophical fraternisation.

His seventh general letter, dated 11th July 1930, makes it clear:

“The fundamental cause of the trouble and distress in the other Theosophical Societies … is that none, outside of our own, recognizes and follows a responsible Teacher and Leader. … The great need of the Theosophical Movement, as contrasted with any Theosophical Society, is a living pulsating Heart, and an esoterically trained Mind, such Heart and Mind united in a Teacher and Leader whom all can trust. … The lack of such a spiritual Head accounts for the actual existence of these various Theosophical Societies, …

“Were all the Theosophical Societies to recognise one common Head as Leader and Teacher, my conviction is that all these troubles and intestinal difficulties and squabbles and the internecine war that is so frequently waged among them, would vanish as mists before the Sun. … Of course this is but one way of expressing the fact … of an esoteric succession of authorised and capable Teachers and Leaders.”

He had earlier written, in the fifth letter, that –

“Following instructions that have been given to me in very definite form, it is my duty to tell you that the time has now come when every true and devoted Theosophist should work toward a unification of the various, more or less scattered, and, in some cases, alas, antagonistic Societies of the general Theosophical Movement. Our own Constitution is so broad in its foundations and in spirit is so esoteric, … that I do believe that it is a model instrument under which every devoted believer in Theosophical teachings can work, no matter to what Theosophical Society he may belong.

“Comradeship, brotherhood, unity, union, combined efforts, and the sense of Theosophic solidarity, belong to the distinctive spirit of the new Theosophical Era into which we of the T.S. are now entering. …

“Addressing myself, therefore, specifically and directly to my own beloved F.T.S., I will tell you the following: Any member of any other Theosophical Society can become a Fellow of the T.S. under our Constitution and under my leadership, without of necessity feeling that he or she must resign from the other Theosophical Society in which he first saw the gleams of Theosophical Light. …

“Our Constitution is broad enough, I believe, to satisfy anyone. Our ideals are they of the original Theosophical Society of our beloved H.P.B.; our methods, as far as we can put them into operation at the present time, are identic with those of our beloved H.P.B.; and as regards policy, my policy and that of my great-hearted Predecessor Katherine Tingley, are identic, without a hair’s breadth of variation from that followed by H.P.B., under the command of her great Teachers.”

Purucker’s call for fraternisation and unification was for unification under HIM and HIS Society, with HIM as the “responsible Teacher and Leader whom all can trust,” “the spiritual Head,” and “one common Head.” Not surprisingly, neither this nor his gracious and generous offer that “any member of any other Theosophical Society can become a Fellow of the T.S. under our Constitution and under my leadership, without of necessity feeling that he or she must resign from the other Theosophical Society in which he first saw the gleams of Theosophical Light” were very appealing or inviting to other Theosophists and were thus almost entirely ignored and rejected.

Theosophists in general do not “crave” and “long for” a “Theosophical Leader and Teacher whom they can trust.” But de Purucker, caught up in and blinded by his own grandiose delusions of occult successorship, felt otherwise, as evidenced in these rather ridiculous words:

“There are Theosophists belonging to different societies in the world today who are heart-hungry for Theosophic truth, and for Theosophic guidance. They crave, they long for, a Theosophical Leader and Teacher whom they can trust; …

“The stream of Inspiration and Holy Light flows even now with undiminished intensity … Those who have ears to hear, let them hear. … Oh my beloved Theosophists! Take heed and listen well! You can drink at these Pierian Springs still, if such is your wish.”

The following is an excerpt from Part 10 of a series of articles titled “Aftermath” which appeared in “Theosophy Magazine,” the monthly publication of the United Lodge of Theosophists in September 1935:

“When one comes to an examination of the voluminous writings of Dr. de Purucker it will be found that, like Mrs. Besant, what he has to say does not lead the student and inquirer from himself to H.P.B. and her Theosophy, but the other way about. Like Mrs. Besant he does not irrigate, he floods the field sown by H.P.B.

“Ostensibly, for example, the Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, originally a course of lectures to the Point Loma “E.S.”, purports to interpret and render more comprehensible for “average” minds, H. P. Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine. Few take note that if H.P.B. was what Dr. de Purucker admits her to have been, she should have been amply competent to say for herself what she had to say and as she wished it said. In this, as in his other books, notably his Occult Glossary, Dr. de Purucker has done two things to which attention should be called. He repeatedly goes outside what H.P.B. recorded as the message of Theosophy to the Western world; he repeatedly misconceives her own presentations. Bluntly, his presentation of her Theosophy, and his presentation of his Theosophy, cannot be relied upon in the one case, nor substantiated from her writings in the other.

“Moreover, given Dr. de Purucker’s Fundamentals to study, what inquirer could by any possibility determine that what is presented as H.P.B.’s Theosophy is hers and not his – and vice versa? Fundamentals, and other similar books necessarily take precedence over the original teachings with those persuaded that their author is the Successor of H.P.B., the living Messenger of the Masters. Otherwise, what is the occasion for either? The book is, manifestly, an attempt on Dr. de Purucker’s part to “work out a complete system of thought” from The Secret Doctrine of H.P.B. – whereas, she herself says that that work itself is no more than “a select number of fragments” of the “fundamental tenets.”

“Those interested have but to read with attention the Preface to The Secret Doctrine, to note that, like the writings of Mrs. Besant and numerous others, those of Dr. de Purucker must in effect but pander to and increase the appetite for “further revelations”, and of necessity lead away from any real study of The Secret Doctrine itself. Nor was that work ever intended for the “average” mind, but for genuine students of Occultism – as H.P.B. herself warns in the book itself. Her other writings, and those of Mr. Judge, afford ample material for “average” as well as “superior” minds, but the published matter in the Point Loma as in the Adyar society shows that, “Successors” and believers together, they have failed to heed the closing words in the second volume of The Secret Doctrine.

“Practically all of the literature of those societies shows plainly that the writers are not students of the Theosophy of H.P.B., but consciously or unconsciously work to substitute themselves, their revelations and interpretations, for the great Messenger and the Theosophy she gave her life to record and teach.

“More flagrant still is Dr. de Purucker’s Occult Glossary. The last work of H.P.B. was her own Theosophical Glossary. Is Dr. de Purucker’s book a supplement or a substitute? Will this work and its still more ambitious edition to follow, direct students to H.P.B.’s Glossary or away from it? The questions answer themselves.”

In the February 1936 issue of “The O.E. Library Critic,” the independent Theosophist H.N. Stokes published a quite lengthy review of de Purucker’s new book “The Esoteric Tradition.” Amongst other things he made the following comments:

“Dr de Purucker’s first work, Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy – a much better one, in my estimation, than the present book – had the basic fault of failing to draw a visible line between what is taught by recognized authorities on the Ancient Wisdom, such as The Secret Doctrine of H.P. Blavatsky and The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett and what originated in the lucubrations of the learned author himself. It was severely criticized and I think rightly, for presenting views as part of the Esoteric Philosophy apparently in conflict with what The Secret Doctrine teaches. While this was in part explained by the author’s proclivity to reform the English language by using terms in another sense than the commonly accepted one and that used by the writer in question, in other cases the differences could not be disposed of so easily. In short, one was always disposed to amend the title to read Fundamentals of G. de Purucker’s Esoteric Philosophy.

“Here the case is the same – and more so. As said above, anyone may present his own views, original, perhaps. But the word “Tradition” does not mean that. “Tradition” means distinctly something handed down, whatever its value and the weight of its authority may be. Dr de Purucker fails most signally to distinguish between the real tradition and his own personal opinions. There is no way to separate what the Sages, the Mystery schools, the ancient scriptures, have stated, and what is his personal view, thought out by himself, or perhaps, in his opinion, derived from some supernatural source of inspiration. Consequently the reader is unable to tell what came down through the ages and what dates no further back than Point Loma. References are few, and mostly to church fathers or to Greek or Roman writers; there are listed in the index but 24 references to H.P. Blavatsky and eight to The Mahatma Letters. Everywhere he restricts himself to saying “The Esoteric Tradition teaches”, and often without a shadow of evidence that the Esoteric Tradition teaches anything of the sort. In fact, it is reasonably clear that in some cases the Esoteric Tradition teaches nothing of the kind. …

“The author naturally devotes much space to the discussion of what he calls “Karman” – his term for the common English word “Karma” which, by the way, is not even honored with mention in his index. Suffice it to say that he simply walks over H.P.B. and the Mahatmas, drowns their plain statements with a flood of words, and treats with pity and condescension (p. 58, note) “the one or two otherwise excellent Theosophists” who believe that the Masters and H.P.B. knew what they were talking about when they maintained the existence of “unmerited suffering”. In Dr de Purucker’s conceptions of this great law I find one of the most striking examples of a specifically Puruckerian, and therefore Point-Lomian, Esotericism.

“I am sorry to express my lack of sympathy with some of what the learned author propounds as Esoteric Tradition, and my belief that not a little of it is nothing of the sort, but is a product of his own mind. I see no reason in hesitating in asserting that until he comes forward with definite evidence distinguishing what is really traditional from what is not, but which simply forms part of the “new truths” he has promised, to which not even H.P.B. had access, the book is to be placed in the same class as Leadbeater’s Man: Whence, How and Whither or Alice Bailey’s Cosmic Fire, though it is unquestionably superior to these in many respects. It is undoubtedly educative; it is thought-provoking as well as temper-provoking; it will inspire with high moral ideals if one is not drowned in “esoteric” details, and it is at times highly suggestive and may clarify some obscure points in The Secret Doctrine. But it should not replace this as a text book, which there is danger of its doing amongst those who want to be led. It should be read only by those who are not too prone to regard its author as inspired or as having access to facts not hitherto given out, a claim for which not the slimmest evidence has been given. It should be read only by those who are ever ready to ask, when an assertion is made, whether there is any real evidence that it corresponds either with fact or with tradition. …

“Students of The Secret Doctrine may be disposed to question Dr de Purucker’s view that evolution is a process extending to infinity, rather than a cyclic process returning into itself only to start over on the same level, and that Parabrahm, or the Absolute, is not really the finality, but just one of many many stages, but by no means final and that the evolutionary process goes on throughout eternity, ever higher and higher. They will question whether he is not overdoing the matter of infinities, up, down, north, south, east and west, and whether it is really true that every atom of the billions in a speck of dust, or an incomprehensible something associated with it, is going to develop into a god, into a Parabrahm, a super-Parabrahm, and to continue doing so world without end, a process which should certainly result in time in a horrible glut, crowding and elbowing of gods. Some will ask whether it is really true that there are multitudinous inhabited planets in our solar system which are on a lower plane of materiality than our earth, yet invisible to us (p. 378), and if so, whether they are subject to gravitation and why they give no evidence of existence in planetary perturbations. These are interesting questions, and unless one is prepared to face them at every step and to refuse to accept such statements without evidence on the mere assertion of the writer, and unless one is ready to admit that there is much we – even the author – cannot understand in our present stage of evolution, it would be better to read the book in the same spirit as he would read Milton’s Paradise Lost – as a superb work of imagination.”

In fairness and justice to G. de Purucker, we must state that his teachings and writings were certainly immeasurably closer and more similar to those of H.P. Blavatsky than were those of the self-proclaimed “Leaders” and “Spiritual Heads” connected with the Adyar Theosophical Society, such as Annie Besant, C.W. Leadbeater, and those Adyar Theosophists who eventually went on to form their own organisations, such as Alice Bailey. He did, however, introduce numerous alterations, additions, and distortions, whilst all the time insisting that these were only apparent and falling back on his self-assertion of esoteric authority to prevent too much in the way of challenges or questions.

Ten of these, although there are quite a lot more, are the following:

#1. His teaching that there are many Absolutes, which is a contradiction in terms, since the Absolute is by its very definition the One Ultimate Reality and the statement occurs right at the beginning of “The Secret Doctrine” that “There can be neither two INFINITES nor two ABSOLUTES in a Universe supposed to be Boundless.”

#2. His teaching that man’s Seven Principles are in fact Seven Monads, which although true from the perspective that everything can be considered a “monad” of sorts, is nevertheless unnecessary and confusing when it comes to gaining a clear and accurate understanding of the Theosophical teaching about the human constitution, since in our constitution the Monad by its very definition is the primary, ultimate unit, and refers solely to the conjunction of Atma-Buddhi in the human constitution, the seventh and sixth Principles.

#3. His taking literally of the symbolically descriptive term “animal soul” for the Kama principle in man and teaching that the individual’s Kama principle is in fact a Monad which in the distant future will become an actual animal.

#4. His definition and explanation in “Studies in Occult Philosophy” of what the Manasaputras or Solar Angels are, which is entirely at odds with the teaching in “The Secret Doctrine” on this subject even though he maintained that everything he taught was in accordance with “The Secret Doctrine.”

#5. His teaching that Brahman and Parabrahman are not one and the same thing but that Parabrahman is higher than Brahman and means “Beyond Brahman.” In fact it means “Beyond Brahmā ” and also “Supreme Brahman,” not implying that there is a supreme Brahman and a less supreme Brahman, but that Brahman IS the Supreme. Brahman and Parabrahm (or Parabrahman) are synonymous terms belonging to Hindu philosophy and are used by HPB and the Masters in the same sense in which Hinduism uses them, which was apparently misunderstood or disagreed with by de Purucker.

#6. His teaching that the Atman is something individual for each person and can be spoken of in terms of “my Atman” and “your Atman,” something which HPB expressly criticises and denies in “The Key to Theosophy” and “The Secret Doctrine Dialogues” and which is also a misinterpretation of a Hindu philosophical term. More about what the Atman really is can be read in Atman – The Higher Self.

#7. His teaching that there is nothing inherently sacred or special whatsoever about OM or AUM, despite HPB’s teachings and also the teachings of Hinduism and Buddhism regarding it as the Sacred Word.

#8. His incorporation of HPB’s private “Esoteric Instructions” – which were never meant for publication by any means – into his public teachings and writings and attempting to expand upon them and provide many further additions to them, thus showing a lack of appreciation or respect for HPB’s clearly expressed wishes and the sacredness of the pledge of secrecy.

#9. His teaching that humanity is still only in the 4th sub-race of the 5th root race, whereas “The Secret Doctrine” and the other original teachings of Theosophy make it extremely clear and state specifically that we are in the 5th sub-race and that the 6th sub-race will begin to take form in the not too distant future.

#10. His claim that the higher esoteric teaching follows the pattern and system of the number 12 rather than 7, with there actually being 12 sacred planets, 12 kingdoms of nature, 12 classes of Monads, 12 globes in a planetary chain, and more besides.

Supporters of de Purucker will hark back to his claim of having the unique ability and authority to issue “teachings of a far deeper and more esoteric kind than those which were issued even by H.P.B. or by W.Q.J., or by our Beloved, Katherine Tingley … an opportunity of incalculably splendid promise which neither H.P.B. nor W.Q.J. nor even K.T. had,” and will see in this both an excuse and an authorisation for what we consider the distortions, additions, and alterations which he wrought upon the original and genuine teachings of Theosophy.

As is shown clearly in the article The Closing Cycle, the very real restrictions of Cyclic and Karmic Law are such that the Masters are only able and permitted to give out further teachings from the Gupta Vidya – the Secret Doctrine itself – during the closing quarter of each century, i.e. the last 25 years, such as from 1875-1900. This is of course objected to by many Theosophists, who seem unable to realise that they are thus objecting to the Masters themselves. Purucker, too, objected to it.

“It is futile, it is even childish,” he said, “to point to an occasional statement here and there, made by H.P.B. or by Judge, to the effect that no Master of Wisdom will be sent to the western world until the last quarter of the Twentieth Century – if even then.”

As remarked in “Theosophy Magazine”: “If it is “childish” to call attention to these “occasional statements here and there”, how much more “childish” were H.P.B. and Judge in making those statements. Dr. de Purucker appears to have no faintest conception that these “occasional statements” are integral with all other statements of the true Teachers; that Theosophy is a coherent philosophy, not a collect to be recited, nor a collection of ideas which each may vary, amend, reject or accept at his own sweet will and pleasure. What conception can Dr. de Purucker have of the Law of Cycles as applied to the periodic, orderly re-appearances of the Great Teachers and the Great Teaching? On no single subject have the Masters, H.P.B. and Judge laid such stress as this which Dr. de Purucker, like Mrs. Besant and other rival “Successors”, dismiss as “childish” – or alters to suit his own occasion.”

The problem is that the vast majority of Point Loma and Pasadena Theosophists place much more emphasis on G. de Purucker and his teachings than on HPB and hers, despite obviously having a genuine reverence and respect and deep appreciation for HPB, which is more than can be said for the majority of Adyar Theosophists, some of whom are distinctly and malevolently anti-Blavatsky. The reason this is a “problem” is because it has resulted in many of those Theosophists reading and studying de Purucker’s works over and above those of HPB, naively believing them to be perfect and accurate representations and interpretations of her teachings – just as de Purucker claimed – whereas in fact this is most definitely not the case.

If one attends one of the Pasadena Society’s study classes in Germany (they no longer have any meetings in the USA), one will be given de Purucker’s “Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy” to study, not anything by HPB or WQJ. Visit one of the Society’s meetings in the Netherlands and you will be introduced to de Purucker’s “The Esoteric Tradition,” mentioned above, and his “Golden Precepts of Esotericism,” a purportedly “devotional” book which many Pasadena and Point Loma Theosophists rate even more highly than “The Voice of the Silence,” translated by HPB from the actual Book of the Golden Precepts.

Go along to one of the meetings of the Point Loma Society in the Netherlands, Germany, or Sweden, and the texts being studied will be the same as those just referred to, but perhaps along with de Purucker’s “Studies in Occult Philosophy” or “In the Temple.”

William Judge, although highly regarded and respected, is pushed into the background. HPB, greatly revered, is nevertheless viewed as having prepared the way for de Purucker and her own teachings always made subservient to his, no matter the discrepancies or contradictions. It is Gottfried de Purucker and Katherine Tingley who are the leading lights for these particular Theosophists and there is no mistaking this. So be it.

We invite our readers to compare the character, nature, claims, pronouncements, and activities of G. de Purucker with those of Robert Crosbie, founder of the United Lodge of Theosophists in 1909. There is an article on the site titled The Man Who Rescued Theosophy which may be of some interest. In that article, we made the statement that “To this day, the ULT is the only branch of the Theosophical Movement which continues to present, promulgate, and promote the original, unaltered, and undistorted teachings of genuine Theosophy, or in other words, Theosophy as it was originally given to the world by the Masters and the only one who They ever called their “Direct Agent” – H.P. Blavatsky.”

Again, we ask no-one to take our word for it but to discover for themselves whether what we say is true or not.

As to whether we personally consider the teachings and books of G. de Purucker to be reliable, trustworthy, recommendable, and properly representative and in harmony with the original Theosophical teachings presented by H.P. Blavatsky and the Masters, the answer is simply and evidently “no” and we are sad to say it.

~ ~

There are further articles on our site relating to G. de Purucker and his teachings, including Purucker Says The Absolute Was Once a Man, “The Divine Plan” by Geoffrey Barborka – A Review, and The Point Loma & Pasadena “Successorship” Claim Exposed.

See also:

The Question of G. de Purucker – A Reply to A Reply

10 thoughts on “The Question of G. de Purucker

  1. This statement is in error:
    “Why is it that both the Pasadena and Point Loma Societies have deliberately allowed all of her [HPB’s] writings to go out of print and stay out of print, with the exception of a small number of articles and passages…”

    Both KT & GdP kept HPB in print, both in book form and through their periodicals since 1909, when the Pt. Loma 1st edition of the SD came out. Similarly, her Voice, Key etc.

    1. The passage quoted is referring to Katherine Tingley, not HPB:

      “It is enough to know that de Purucker held the private belief and assertion, revealed in “The High County Theosophist” magazine half a century after his passing, that Katherine Tingley was a greater and higher occultist (esotericist) than HPB. If this be so, why is it that both the Pasadena and Point Loma Societies have deliberately allowed all of her writings to go out of print and stay out of print, with the exception of a small number of articles and passages which have been carefully edited and republished in the form of two or three small books?”

      It is not denied that Tingley and de Purucker published the works of both HPB and William Judge, although it also cannot be denied that many of such publications, when not edited or abridged, contained unnecessary insertions and additions of self-promoting material from Katherine Tingley, presenting herself as world leader of the Theosophists, etc. The Point Loma edition of “The Secret Doctrine” was not an exact reproduction of the original, hence the ULT having to bring about the photographic facsimile of the original edition in 1925 when sufficient funds had been amassed.

      1. Yes, my reading was careless, KT was meant. But KT’s occult status was not based on her literary skills or output, but her personal teaching, community building and insight into what aspirants needed. Further, all of her major speeches in book form are still available online at both Pasadena TS and Pt Loma TS. The latter (and perhaps the former) will publish KT’s books when workers and funds become available.

  2. Re: #5 above; this is an original typo in Lucifer: ” In fact it means Beyond Brahmā ” The hat or macron over the last ‘a’ makes it equal to the creator god Brahmā. It should be simply Brahma, the impersonal principle.

    1. HPB’s own definition of Parabrahm in “The Theosophical Glossary” p. 248 says:

      “Parabrahm (sk.). “Beyond Brahmā”, literally. The Supreme Infinite Brahma, “Absolute” – the attributeless, the secondless reality. The impersonal and nameless universal Principle.”

      If this is a typographical mistake, then the frequency of such mistakes in regard to the subject of Parabrahm/Parabrahman and its meaning is such that one is forced to conclude that it’s no mistake at all.

      G. de Purucker taught that Parabrahman or Parabrahm means “Beyond Brahman”. But no-one can say that this is the view of either Theosophy or Hinduism. For one thing, “Para” does not always translate as meaning literally “beyond” and for another thing, “Parabrahm” and “Parabrahman” have always been exactly synonymous with Brahman (i.e. “Brahma neuter” to use the somewhat old fashioned way of expressing it) in Eastern philosophical terminology.

      HPB never says anywhere that Parabrahm means “Beyond Brahman.” She views the “Para” in “Parabrahm” as meaning “Supreme” and “Infinite.” This is the way the Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism views the term Parabrahm. If one reads the Upanishads and the writings of Vedantin philosophers and yogis, one finds Brahman and Parabrahman used perfectly synonymously and interchangeably.

      When HPB uses any Hindu terms in a different sense from how they are generally used and understood in Hindu philosophy, she usually says so and explains it. She doesn’t do so with Parabrahm and I believe the reason is because she uses it the same way as the Hindus do.

      The “Theosophical Glossary” entry for Brahman on p. 62 defines Brahman in the same way as it defined Parabrahm:

      “Brahma (Sk.). The student must distinguish between Brahma the neuter, and Brahmā, the male creator of the Indian Pantheon. The former, Brahma or Brahman, is the impersonal, supreme and uncognizable Principle of the Universe from the essence of which all emanates, and into which all returns, which is incorporeal, immaterial, unborn, eternal, beginningless and endless. It is all-pervading, animating the highest god as well as the smallest mineral atom.”

      Also, in the Index volume to “The Secret Doctrine” published in 1997 by Theosophical University Press, the compilers have recognised the terms “Parabrahm,” “Parabrahman,” “Brahman,” “Brahma” (without the accent) and “Brahma (neuter)” to be all identical and have listed the references to each of these terms under the one heading.

      In the entry for Kalahansa in “The Theosophical Glossary” (p. 169) HPB specifically equates Brahma (i.e. the neuter, Brahman) with Parabrahm, writing of the former as “Brahma (or Parabrahman).”

      HPB wrote in various places about how Western Orientalists of her era often confused and mixed up Brahman and Brahmā in their translations of Hindu scriptures and texts.

      In Chapter 10 of his rendition of the Bhagavad Gita, William Judge provides a definition in a footnote of what “Parabrahm” means, after Arjuna says “Thou art Parabrahm!” to Krishna. His footnote says that the definition of “Parabrahm” is “Beyond Brahmā.”

      On p. 11 of “An Epitome of Theosophy” he says that Brahman means “the impersonal Parabrahman.”

      One more quote to support the position expressed in this article is from p. 2 of “Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge”:

      “The IT is, in the Hindu philosophy, Parabrahm, that which is beyond Brahmā, or, as it is now called in Europe, the “unknowable.””

  3. Brahma is identical to Brahman, the impersonal principle. Brahmaa with a macron is the deity. There are several typos like this in HPB’s writings. Even the Glossary entry you quote makes the clear distinction, with no typo: ““Brahma (Sk.). The student must distinguish between Brahma the neuter, and Brahmā, the male creator…” Pay attention to the context and one can usually see which was meant, the principle or the deity.

    1. “Brahma is identical to Brahman, the impersonal principle. Brahmaa with a macron is the deity.”

      I am aware of that and haven’t said anything to the contrary, either in the article or in these comments. We are in perfect agreement about the meaning of Brahma, Brahman, and Brahmaa. Where it seems we differ is on the question of whether Brahman (i.e. Brahma neuter) is simply another term for Parabrahm/Parabrahman. G. de Purucker says that Parabrahm is beyond BrahmaN, whilst such a notion is different from what HPB and William Judge say. As I showed in my previous comment, HPB repeatedly clearly states – and in such a manner that it can’t merely be dismissed as constantly repeated typographical errors – that Parabrahm is “beyond Brahmā” i.e. beyond Brahmaa but not beyond BrahmaN.

      It may seem to some like a minor and ultimately very inconsequential thing to argue about, in the whole scheme of things, but it is just one of numerous “doctrinal” points where de Purucker contradicts and varies from HPB.

  4. When I was younger doctrinal points bothered me much and I tried to resolve them; not to mention, get a clear intellectual grasp of Parabrahm, the One etc. Now, approaching 70 years, I understand the actually ineffable nature of the One principle. Not merely indescribable, but requiring an awareness far beyond what we normally use.

  5. Just came across this article, it is quite informative. Never knew much about this GDP person. Thanks for sharing.

    I was more compelled to comment on the comments below, as I too had gotten distracted by a side issue. I probably will not offer anything new, or that which hasn’t been said before, however…

    The whole Brahmaa/Brahma thing seems to cause confusion in some students not familiar with some fine rules of Samskrit grammar. Generally, Brahman/ Brahma seem to be a general name unless otherwise noted by context or affixed word. Examples will be shown below

    1)The affix परम् (param) ” ___ being prior…”
    2) Brahma might be translated to ” ___ (which is) prior to Brahma i.e., the Manifest.”
    3) Brahma is derived from the verb root Bṛh which indicates : growing, increasing, expanding, sounding, dividing, discharging, emitting, pouring fourth.

    Para (param used when declined) does not denote any object whatsoever. I understand it to be simply a vague idea. It is a word used in association with to another. So essentially this word Parabrahma(n) is abstract, as it should be. It cannot refer to a physical or mental object, as that would be limiting the Absolute, nor could it even convey a tangible concept, as this would also be limiting. Even the english word ‘Absolute’ is beyond all thought when deeply investigated. One must wonder if the mind can even “conceptualize” homogeneity.

    So, philosophically understanding the word: Parambrahman as ___ which does not have an object of association regarding the manifest cosmos. Of corse, if one were to understand that Para (पर) is the qualifying word suggesting at the (Abstract) Brahman (a generic title) via the use of Brahma – contextually know as the Symbol of the Manifest Universe.

    The emphasis appears to be on the affix, para. This draws our minds to ” ___ which is beyond the thing qualified.” Hence it is a “negative word” used only to vaguely hint at which cannot be associated with concrete terminology or idea. Thoughts, ideas, and concepts are objects. Nothing can be literally said about Parabrahman; “the attributeless, the secondless reality…one absolute Reality which antecedes all manifested, conditioned, being. This Infinite and Eternal Cause-dimly formulated in the “Unconscious” and “Unknowable” of current European philosophy-is the rootless root of “all that was, is, or ever shall be.” It is of course devoid of all attributes and is essentially without any relation to manifested, finite Being.”

    I’ll give a simple grammatical examples found in the Bhagavadgita [4.4] regarding the usage of Para(m) (पर or as we will see परं )

    । अपरं भवतो जन्म परं जन्म विवस्वतः । – Later is Thy birth prior is the birth of Vivasvat”

    Para (Declined optionally like a pronoun in nom. voc. pl., and abl. and loc. sing. when it denotes relative position) can take numerous meanings, but it appears, as far as I’ve seen, to be in direct relation to the following word, hence (परं जन्म) prior birth (of Vivasvat).

    Another example of the Brahma (ब्रह्म) can be found in the 14th discourse, 4th sloka:

    मम योनिर्महद्ब्रह्म … My womb Great Brahma
    Notice the spelling (mama yonirmahadbrahma; yonih mahat brahma)…

    माहद्ब्रह्म- mahadbrhma- The Great Brahman, Manifest Brahma etc. It isn’t Brahmaa as the actual sanskrit text reads Brahma, but we must know this to be the Brahmaa as context tells us that we are referring to the Manifest Brahma- the “alleged creator…exists periodically in his manifestation only, and then again goes into pralaya.” Technically, in this sloka we see “mahat brahma” the Great Brahman- i.e., Brhamaa.

    Other texts is it the Hiranyagarbha Brahma. Again, ‘The Brahman of the Golden Womb,” another qualification of Brahma.

    Also sloka 3 of the 8th discourse:

    3. अक्षरं ब्रह्म परमं … etc etc…

    ब्रह्म- Brahma is ‘qualified’ by the word अक्षरं- Imperishable. Thus “That Imperishable-Brahma is Supreme (परमं).

    Again, these are just simple thoughts. The idea is to use what is conveyed through symbolism, not by literal definitions. I’ve never read GDP, so I have no idea how he is using the term. All I can say, if it is in regards to “a thing of concrete definition denoting a vague sense of objective existence” it is probably doing some injustice to the intuitive growth of the student.

    Some things are best left abstract, undefinable, unknowable. There is no word of “Parabrahman” because a word denotes a thing to be known. However, the abstract concept which is vaguely denoted by the symbolic meaning of Parabrahman must be realized. This is my personal understanding.

    1. Thank you for your interesting and informative comment.

      You said: “I’ve never read GDP, so I have no idea how he is using the term. All I can say, if it is in regards to “a thing of concrete definition denoting a vague sense of objective existence” it is probably doing some injustice to the intuitive growth of the student.”

      You may like to read the new article “Purucker Says The Absolute Was Once a Man” to get a picture of how he used and defined such terms:

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