Who wrote The Secret Doctrine?

H.P. Blavatsky Artwork

The article titled An Invitation to The Secret Doctrine gives an introduction and comprehensive overview of “The Secret Doctrine,” H.P. Blavatsky’s master work which is the Book of Theosophy. The articles Golden Keys to The Secret Doctrine and Human Evolution in The Secret Doctrine may also be found useful, along with other explanatory articles listed on the Articles page, such as Theosophy: The Ancient Wisdom.

The purpose of the present article is simply to present a number of important statements from the Mahatmas – Masters of Wisdom – relating to the true authorship of that book. It was not merely written by HPB herself, nor was it inspired or dictated to her by a chela of the Master Koot Hoomi known as Djwhal Khul, as has been falsely asserted by certain individuals.

Djwhal Khul or D.K. was only a chela (disciple) “of the first degree” according to both HPB and Damodar K. Mavalankar and thus not a Master. He did not even take his very first initiation until the 1880s (see “Damodar and the Pioneers of the Theosophical Movement” p. 202 and “The Letters of H.P. Blavatsky to A.P. Sinnett” p. 12). He did not dictate any books or writings of HPB or anyone else. This is just a lie – one of many – of Alice Bailey, who claimed that “The Secret Doctrine” had been dictated to HPB by D.K. – who she claimed was her own inspirer – so as to then be able to “correct” and “revise” (i.e. distort, misquote, mangle, and suppress) the teachings of “The Secret Doctrine” in her own books, purportedly on the authority of the same Master.

The Master K.H. certified that “The Secret Doctrine” was written by himself and the Master Morya, along with the one they called their “Direct Agent” and “Brother” HPB, who they also sometimes referred to as “Upasika,” a Buddhist term meaning “female disciple.” It was, as he put it, a “triple production.”

H.P. Blavatsky writing "The Secret Doctrine" in London.
H.P. Blavatsky writing “The Secret Doctrine” in London.

There are three main Mahatma Letters regarding the authorship of “The Secret Doctrine” and also a fourth, albeit largely unknown, in which it’s briefly mentioned.

The one we quote from first is from a letter from the Master K.H. to Col. Olcott, which had suddenly materialised on the table in Olcott’s cabin while he was on board a ship headed for London during the period that “The Secret Doctrine” was being written. This important letter is referred to and quoted from at greater length at the start of the new article Col. Olcott’s Disloyalty to H.P. Blavatsky. After saying various things about HPB, the Master says:

“I have also noted your thoughts about the ‘Secret Doctrine’. Be assured that what she has not annotated from scientific and other works, we have given or suggested to her. Every mistake or erroneous notion, corrected and explained by her from the works of other theosophists was corrected by me, or under my instruction. It is a more valuable work than its predecessor, an epitome of occult truths that will make it a source of information and instruction for the earnest student for long years to come.”

(“Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom” First Series, Letter 19, p. 51)

Then the German Theosophist Dr Hubbe Schleiden, who was sceptical about “The Secret Doctrine” being written or inspired by the Masters themselves, received a letter from the Master K.H. which included a note from the Master M. on the other side of the page:

“I wonder if this note of mine is worthy of occupying a select spot with the documents reproduced, and which of the peculiarities of the “Blavatskian” style of writing it will be found to most resemble? The present is simply to satisfy the Dr. that – “the more proof given the less believed”. Let him take my advice and not make these two documents public. It is for his own satisfaction that the undersigned is happy to assure him that The Secret Doctrine when ready, will be the triple production of M, Upasika and the Doctor’s most humble servant. – K.H.”

“If this can be of any use or help to Dr. Hubbe Schleiden – though I doubt it – I, the humble undersigned Fakir certify that the “Secret Doctrine” is dictated to Upasika partly by myself and partly by my Brother K.H. – M.”

(“Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom” Second Series, Letter 69, p. 126-127)

In his article “Authorship of The Secret Doctrine,” written and published in 1893, two years after HPB had passed away, William Q. Judge quoted the above message to Hubbe Schleiden and wrote “A year after this, certain doubts having arisen in the minds of individuals, another letter from one of the signers of the foregoing was sent and reads as follows. As the prophecy in it has come true, it is now the time to publish it for the benefit of those who know something of how to take and understand such letters. For the outsider it will all be so much nonsense.”

Mahatma Letter - Koot Hoomi - Secret Doctrine

This “other letter” he referred to had been sent direct to him and in the article he quoted the part from K.H. but avoided publishing what the Master M. had written at the end of the letter, as it related to Hubbe Schleiden, who at the time was still living. Part of this letter is shown in the photo above and the full text is as follows:

“The certificate given last year saying that the Secret Doctrine would be when finished the triple production of Upasika, M and myself was and is correct, although some have doubted not only the facts given in it but also the authenticity of the message in which it was contained. Copy this and also keep the copy of the aforesaid certificate. You will find them both of use on the day when you shall, as will happen without your asking, receive from the hands of the very person to whom the certificate was given, the original for the purpose of allowing you to copy it; and then you can verify the correctness of this presently forwarded copy. And it may then be well to indicate to those wishing to know what portions in the Secret Doctrine have been copied by the pen of Upasika into its pages, though without quotation marks, from my own manuscript and perhaps from M, although the last is more difficult from the rarity of his known writing and greater ignorance of his style. All this and more will be found necessary as time goes on but for which you are well qualified to wait. – K.H.”

“The Dr. will be in the same rut for many years. Go on and fear nothing. I am beside you when you least expect it. No, this is not my personal style – the latter in a language you could not read – Yes right, the whole age transits – Particulars not given. M.”

This other photograph is of a letter sent by the Master M. to William Judge in either 1892 or early 1893 and includes the phrase “As said by me in S.D.” – again indicating his direct role in the authorship of that book. This letter is from after HPB had passed away, which was in 1891, but there’s no information or record available of how Judge received the letter, i.e. whether it was through the post or whether it materialised in his room or was transmitted through another person.

“Heliodore” referred to in the letter is a name that was given to Annie Besant, whoMahatma Letter to William Quan Judge from the Master Morya at the time of this letter was still on the right path. She did indeed end up going to India for the first time in 1893, as the letter predicted, and there fell under the influence of orthodox Brahmins who had always been opposed to HPB and the Theosophical Movement and who took advantage of her innate pride and vanity, particularly through G.N. Chakravarti. We need not go into this matter here but it is dealt with more thoroughly in other articles such as Col. Olcott’s Disloyalty to H.P. Blavatsky, William Q. Judge’s “New Era of Western Occultism” and The Final Mahatma Letter.

“Brave soldiers need neither orders nor constant encouragement. Pursue the lines laid down long ago and “we will look out for results.” As said by me in S.D. Atma is Karma, so all results flowing from sincere work will be right, if you are detached. I have spoken to Heliodore in the West, and she may go to India in ’93. Be wise and prudent, and expect nothing for this is an age of darkness. Thou my Son cannot be too careful. Beware of the “iron rule.” You are to sow seed. Pay all your attention to that and force not the growth. Be ever gentle with the rebellious disciples in your care as we with you. Blessings. M.”

When HPB began the writing of “The Secret Doctrine” she was living in seclusion in Europe, assisted in her ill health by her friend Countess Wachtmeister. In her book “Reminiscences of H.P. Blavatsky and The Secret Doctrine,” Wachtmeister relates many of the fascinating and astounding phenomena and occurrences that occurred around and through HPB during this period. The whole book is worth reading but we quote here from just a few pages:

“There was one occurrence which impressed me very strongly with the conviction that she was watched and cared for by unseen guardians. It was continuously repeated over a long period. From the first night that I passed in her room, until the eve of our departure from Wurzburg, I heard a regularly intermittent series of raps on the table by her bedside. They would begin at ten o’clock each evening, and would continue, at intervals of ten minutes, until six o’clock in the morning. They were sharp, clear raps, such as I never heard at any other time. Sometimes I held my watch in my hand for an hour at a stretch, and always at ten-minute intervals the rap would resume with the utmost regularity. Whether HPB was awake or asleep mattered nothing to the occurrence of the phenomenon, nor to its uniformity.

“When I asked her for an explanation of these raps I was told that they were an effect of psychic telegraph, which linked her in communication with her Teachers, and that the chelas might watch her body while her astral left it. …

“One night this lamp was burning after the clock had struck one. I could not sleep, and, as I judged by HPB’s regular breathing that she was asleep, I rose, gently walked round to the lamp, and turned it out. … I had extinguished the lamp, and was going back, when it flamed up again, and the room was brightly illuminated. I thought to myself – what a strange lamp, I suppose the spring does not act, so I put my hand again on the spring, and watched until every vestige of flame was extinct, and, even then, held down the spring for a minute. Then I released it and stood for a moment longer watching, when, to my surprise, the flame reappeared and the lamp was burning brightly as ever.

“This puzzled me considerably, and I determined to stand there by that lamp and put it out all through the night, if necessary, until I discovered the why and wherefore of its eccentricities. For the third time I pressed the spring and turned it down until the lamp was quite out, and then released it, watching eagerly to see what would take place. For the third time the lamp burned up, and this time I saw a brown hand slowly and gently turning the knob of the lamp. Familiar as I was with the action of astral forces and astral entities on the physical plane, I had no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that it was the hand of a chela, and, surmising that there was some reason why the lamp should remain alight, I returned to my couch. But a spirit of perversity and curiosity dwelt within me that night. I wanted to know more, so I called out, ‘Madame Blavatsky!’ then, louder, ‘Madame Blavatsky!’ and again ‘Madame Blavatsky!’ Suddenly I heard an answering cry – ‘Oh, my heart! my heart! Countess, you have nearly killed me;’ and then again, ‘My heart! my heart!’ I flew to HPB’s bedside. ‘I was with Master,’ she murmured, ‘why did you call me back?’ I was thoroughly alarmed, for her heart fluttered under my hand with wild palpitation.

“I gave her a dose of digitalis, and sat beside her until the symptoms had abated and she had become calmer. Then she told me how Colonel Olcott had once nearly killed her in the same way, by calling her back suddenly when her astral form was absent from her body. She made me promise that I would never try experiments with her again, and this promise I readily gave, out of the fullness of my grief and contrition for having caused her such suffering.” (p. 33-35)

And then later, during a period when HPB was very ill and on the verge of death:

“When I opened my eyes, the early morning light was stealing in, and a dire apprehension came over me that I had slept, that perhaps HPB had died during my sleep – died, whilst I was untrue to my vigil. I turned towards the bed in horror, and there I saw HPB looking at me calmly with her clear grey eyes, as she said, ‘Countess, come here.’ I flew to her side. ‘What has happened, HPB. You look so different from what you did last night?’

Reminiscences of H.P. Blavatsky and The Secret DoctrineShe replied, ‘Yes, Master has been here; He gave me my choice, that I might die and be free if I would, or I might live and finish The Secret Doctrine. He told me how great would be my sufferings and what a terrible time I would have before me in England (for I am to go there); but when I thought of those students to whom I shall be permitted to teach a few things, and of The Theosophical Society in general, to which I have already given my heart’s blood, I accepted the sacrifice’.” (p. 62)

The following is an excerpt from the chapter “About The Secret Doctrine” and was written by William Judge for Countess Wachtmeister’s book:

“The day that it was finished was warm and pleasant, and in the middle of the afternoon she suddenly grew absorbed once more. The air of the room at the same time was below freezing point, judging by sensation, and I remarked on the fact. It was not a change of the weather at all, but seemed to blow out from HPB as if she was an open door of some huge refrigerating store. I again drew her attention to it and said, “It feels as if a door was open on the Himalaya Mountains and the cold air was blowing into this room.” To this she replied, “Perhaps it is so,” and smiled. …

“Speaking to those who know and believe that HPB was all the time in communication with the Masters in their retreats somewhere on the globe, I can say that a series of consultations was held among them as to what should go into The Secret Doctrine, and that it was plainly said that the book was to be done in such a manner as to compel the earnest student to dig out many profound truths which in a modern book would be announced specifically, and included in the regular course. It was also said, from the same source, that this age, being a transition one in all respects, that full revelations were not for this generation. But enough was to be given out in the manner described, and plainly, to make it substantially a revelation. All students, then, who are in earnest will do well not to pass carelessly over the pages of any part of the book.

“That is all I can say on the subject of the writing of this wonderful book. I only wish it were more, and can but blame myself that I was not present at a time when, as I know now, greater opportunity was offered than at any other period for inner knowledge of the writers, seen and unseen, of The Secret Doctrine.”

In spite of the knowledge of the existence of these various letters and accounts, however, HPB’s reminder on p. 300 of “The Key to Theosophy” is still important: “All Theosophical books must be accepted on their merits, and not according to any claim to authority which they may put forward.”

“The Secret Doctrine” must stand or fall on its own inherent merit, legitimacy, value, and worth – or lack of it, if the reader perceives it in that way.


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