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HPB - Collected Writings Volume I (1874-1878)
Collected Writings VOLUME I
[This Preface applies to the entire Edition of H. P. Blavatsky’s Collected Writings, and not to the present
volume only. Together with the Acknowledgments which follow, it was published for the first time in
Volume V of the present Series, issued in 1950.]
The writings of H. P. Blavatsky, the chief Founder of the modern Theosophical
Movement, are becoming with every day more widely known.
They constitute in their totality one of the most astounding products of the creative
human mind. Considering their unequalled erudition, their prophetic nature, and their
spiritual depth, they must be classed, by friend and foe alike, as being among the
inexplicable phenomena of the age. Even a cursory survey of these writings discloses
their monumental character.
The best known among them are of course those which appeared in book form and
have gone through several editions: Isis Unveiled (New York, 1877), The Secret
Doctrine (London and New York, 1888), The Key to Theosophy (London, 1889), The
Voice of the Silence (London and New York, 1889), Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge
(London and New York, 1890 and 1891), Gems from the East (London, 1890), and the
posthumously published Theosophical Glossary (London and New York, 1892),
Nightmare Tales (London and New York, 1892) and From the Caves and Jungles of
Hindustan (London, New York and Madras, 1892).
Yet the general public, as well as a great many later theosophical students, are hardly
aware of the fact that from 1874 to the end of her life, H. P. Blavatsky wrote incessantly,
for a wide range of journals and magazines, and that the combined bulk of these scattered
writings exceeds even her voluminous output in book form.
The first articles written by H. P. B. were polemical in nature and trenchant in style.
They were published in the best known Spiritualistic journals of the day, such as the
Banner of Light (Boston, Mass.), the Spiritual Scientist (Boston, Mass.), the
Religio-Philosophical Journal (Chicago, Ill.), The Spiritualist (London), La Revue
Spirite (Paris). Simultaneously, she wrote fascinating occult stories for some of the
leading American newspapers, including The World, The Sun and The Daily Graphic, all
of New York.
After she went to India, in 1879, she contributed to The Indian Spectator, The Deccan
Star, The Bombay Gazette, The Pioneer, The Amrita Bazaar Pâtrika, and other
For over seven years, namely during the period of 1879-1886, she wrote serial stories
for the well-known Russian newspaper, Moskovskiya Vedomosty (Moscow), and the
celebrated periodical, Russkiy Vestnik (Moscow), as well as for lesser newspapers, such
as Pravda ( Odessa ), Tiflisskiy Vestnik ( Tiflis ), Rebus (St. Petersburg), and others.
After founding her first theosophical magazine, The Theosophist (Bombay and
Madras), in October, 1879, she poured into its pages an enormous amount of invaluable
teaching, which she continued to give forth at a later date in the pages of her London
magazine, Lucifer , the shortlived Revue Théosophique of Paris, and The Path of New
While carrying on this tremendous literary output, she found time to engage in
polemical discussions with a number of writers and scholars in the pages of other
periodicals, especially the Bulletin Mensuel of the Société d’Études Psychologiques of
Paris, and Le Lotus (Paris). In addition to all this, she wrote a number of small
pamphlets and Open Letters, which were published separately, on various occasions.
In this general survey no more than mere mention can be made of her voluminous
correspondence, many portions
of which contain valuable teachings, and of her private Instructions which she issued
after 1888 to the members of the Esoteric Section.
After 25 years of unremitting research, the individual articles written by H. P. B. in
English, French, Russian and Italian, may be estimated at close to one thousand. Of
special interest to readers is the fact that a considerable number of her French and
Russian essays, containing in some cases teachings not stated anywhere else, and never
before fully translated into any other language, are now for the first time made available
in English.
For many years students of the Esoteric Philosophy have been looking forward to the
ultimate publication of the writings of H. P. Blavatsky in a collected and convenient
form. It is now hoped that this desire may be realized in the publication of the present
series of volumes. They constitute a uniform edition of the entire literary output of the
Great Theosophist, as far as can be ascertained after years of painstaking research all
over the world. These writings are arranged in strictly chronological order according to
the date of their original publication in the various magazines, journals, newspapers and
other periodicals, or their appearance in book or pamphlet form. Students are thus in a
position to trace the progressive unfoldment of H. P. B.’s mission, and to see the method
which she used in the gradual presentation of the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom,
beginning with her first article in 1874. In a very few instances an article or two appears
out of chronological sequence, because there exists convincing evidence that it was
written at a much earlier date, and must have been held unprinted for a rather long time.
Such articles belong to an earlier date than the date of their actual publication, and have
been placed accordingly.
Unless otherwise stated, all writings have been copied verbatim et literatim direct from
the original sources. In
a very few cases, when such source was either unknown, or, if known, was entirely
unprocurable, articles have been copied from other publications where they had been
reprinted, apparently from original sources, many years ago.
There has been no editing whatsoever of H. P. B.’s literary style, grammar or spelling.
Obvious typographical errors, however, have been corrected throughout. Her own
spelling of Sanskrit technical terms and proper names has been preserved. No attempt
has been made to introduce any uniformity or consistency in these particulars. However,
the correct systemic spelling of all Oriental technical terms and proper names, according
to present-day scholastic standards, is used in the English translations of original French
and Russian material, as well as in the Index wherein it appears within square brackets
immediately following such terms or names.*
A systematic effort has been made to verify the many quotations introduced by H. P. B.
from various works, and all references have been carefully checked. In every case
original sources have been consulted for this verification, and if any departures from the
original text were found, these were corrected. Many of the writings quoted could be
consulted only in such large Institutions as the British Museum of London, the
Bibliothèque Nationale of Paris, the Library of Congress, Washington, D. C., and the
Lenin State Library of Moscow. In some cases works quoted remained untraceable. No
attempt was made to check quotations from current newspapers, as the transitory nature
of the material used did not seem to justify the effort.
Throughout the text, there are to be found many footnotes signed “Ed.,” “Editor,” " Ed .,
Theos.,” or “Editor, The Theosophist”; also footnotes which are unsigned. It should be
distinctly remembered that all these footnotes are H. P. B.’s own, and are not by the
Compiler of the present volumes.
All material added by the Compiler—either as footnotes
*See explanatory Note on page 442.
or as explanatory comments appended to certain articles—is enclosed within square
brackets and signed “Compiler.” Obvious editorial explanations or summaries preceding
articles or introducing H. P. B.’s comments are merely placed within square brackets.
Occasionally brief sentences appear which are within square brackets, even in the main
body of the text or in H. P. B.’s own footnotes. These bracketed remarks are evidently
by H. P. B. herself, although the reason for such usage is not readily apparent.
In a very few instances, which are self-evident, the Compiler has added within square
brackets an obviously missing word or digit, to complete the meaning of the sentence.
H.P. B.’s text is followed by an Appendix which consists of three sections:
(a) Bibliography of Oriental Works which provides concise information regarding the
best known editions of the Sacred Scriptures and other Oriental writings quoted from or
referred to by H. P. B.
(b) General Bibliography wherein can be found, apart from the customary particulars
regarding all works quoted or referred to, succinct biographical data concerning the less
known writers, scholars, and public figures mentioned by H. P. B. in the text, or from
whose writings she quotes. It has been thought of value to the student to have this
collected information which is not otherwise easily obtainable.
(c) Index of subject matter.
Following the Preface, a brief historical survey will be found in the form of a
Chronological Table embodying fully documented data regarding the whereabouts of H.
P. B. and Col. Henry S. Olcott, as well as the chief events in the history of the
Theosophical Movement, within the period covered by the material contained in any one
volume of the Series.
The majority of articles written by H. P. Blavatsky, for both magazines and newspapers,
are signed by her, either with her own name or with one of her rather infrequent
pseudonyms, such as Hadji Mora, Râddha-Bai, Sañjñâ, “Adversary,” and others.
There are however, a great many unsigned articles, both in Theosophical journals and
elsewhere. Some of these have been included because a most careful study by a number
of students thoroughly familiar with H. P. B.’s characteristic literary style, her
well-known idiosyncrasies of expression, and her frequent usage of foreign idiom, has
shown them to be from H. P. B.’s pen, even though no irrefutable proof of this can be
advanced. Other unsigned articles are mentioned in early Theosophical books, memoirs
and pamphlets, as having been written by H. P. B. In still other cases, clippings of such
articles were pasted by H. P. B. in her many Scrapbooks (now in the Adyar Archives),
with pen-and-ink notations establishing her authorship. Several articles are known to
have been produced by other writers, yet were almost certainly corrected by H. P. B. or
added to by her, or possibly written by them under her own more or less direct
inspiration. These have been included with appropriate comments.
A perplexing problem presents itself in connection with H. P. B.’s writings of which
the casual reader is probably unaware. It is the fact that H. P. B. often acted as an
amanuensis for her own Superiors in the Occult Hierarchy. At times whole passages
were dictated to her by her own Teacher or other Adepts and advanced Chelas. These
passages are nevertheless tinged throughout with the very obvious peculiarities of her
own inimitable style, and are sometimes interspersed with remarks definitely emanating
from her own mind. This entire subject involves rather recondite mysteries connected
with the transmission of occult communications from Teacher to disciple.
At the time of his first contact with the Masters, through the intermediation of H. P. B.,
A. P. Sinnett sought for an explanation of the process mentioned above and elicited the
following reply from Master K. H.:
“. . . Besides, bear in mind that these my letters are not written, but impressed, or precipitated, and
then all mistakes corrected....
“. . . I have to think it over, to photograph every word and sentence carefully in my brain, before it
can be repeated by precipitation. As the fixing on chemically prepared surfaces of the images formed
by the camera requires a previous arrangement within the focus of the object to be represented, for
otherwise—as often found in bad photographs—the legs of the sitter might appear out of all proportion
with the head, and so on—so we have to first arrange our sentences and impress every letter to appear
on paper in our minds before it becomes fit to be read. For the present it is all I can tell you. When
science will have learned more about the mystery of the lithophyl (or litho-biblion), and how the
impress of leaves comes originally to take place on stones, then 1 will be able to make you better
understand the process. But you must know and remember one thing—we but follow and servilely
copy Nature in her works.”*
In an article entitled “Precipitation”, H. P. B., referring directly to the passage quoted
above, writes as follows:
“Since the above was written, the Masters have been pleased to permit the veil to be drawn aside a
little more, and the modus operandi can thus be explained now more fully to the outsider . . . .
“. . . The work of writing the letters in question is carried on by a sort of psychological telegraphy;
the Mahatmas very rarely write their letters in the ordinary way. An electro-magnetic connection, so to
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