August 11, 1831 ― May 8, 1891


White Lotus Day is always May 8th. On that date, in 1891, “H. P. B.” passed from the body which she had used for nearly sixty years. In her will, made several years previously, she had asked that her friends assemble on the anniversary , her death, to read from the Bhagavad-Gita and Light of Asia, and to speak together of Theosophy. So it is that, ever since, May 8th has been a day of wondrous meaning to all Theosophists, when they seem to feel near and potent the magic of her presence; when they re-dedicate themselves to the Cause of Theosophy, brought to the modern world by the Messenger from Masters of Wisdom—H. P. B. On the first anniversary day at the Headquarters of the Theosophical Society, at Adyar, the decorations in her honor were of the White Lotus, then abundantly in bloom. Col. Olcott, the life-President of the Society, then so named the day by this sacred symbolic flower.

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky was born in Russia, in 1831, at midnight hour of August 11-12. She was of noble family, and her child hood was spent on large estates in the country, where she had much freedom to roam and to ride horseback. Her mother had died when Helena was very young, so that her education was conducted by governesses, who taught her, among other things, to speak French and English. It was possible also for her to travel, not only with her father and his regiment, but with her uncle, who took her over the Ural mountains at the age of fifteen. She studied music in Paris and was most accomplished at the piano, as well as in drawing. While in London on one occasion, now being twenty years of age, she met one who had been known to her very clearly in her dreams since early childhood. It was he to whom she afterward referred as her Master—he who had taught her all she knew, and made her what she was.

From this time on, her life had one, single purpose—to fit herself for the work which lay ahead. She travelled all over the world, and alone, in most dangerous places—on the great plains of Russia, on the sandy wastes of the Sahara, on the lonely stretches of Mongolia. She crossed the wide prairies of America by covered wagon to the Pacific coast; she was in Canada and in Texas and in South America. ‘Why these travels were undertaken, one can readily imagine, when he reads her first great book—Isis Unveiled. All the time she was learning by observation and by experience what was to give to her work much of value and of importance. It was in India, however, where, she says, she was taught by the adepts— the sages of the Orient—and to whose existence she first bore witness before the world.

Up to 1873, much preparatory study and work went on. In June of that year she was in Paris when word came to her from her “chiefs” to proceed at once to America. Her preparations were very hurried; she had little more money than would cover the expenses of the journey; but the boat was about to sail from Southampton, England, when H. P. B. saw on the deck a poor peasant woman, with her two children, weeping, while a boat’s officer tried to explain to her, as H. P. B. then discovered, that her tickets—to take her to her husband in America—were bogus. The woman had been cheated by some rascally agent.

H. P. B.’s pleadings were in vain, but there was one thing she could manage for the little family to sail. She exchanged her one first- class ticket for four steerage tickets. Thus did H. P. B. come to New York City, and for several months—until money came from Russia—this noblewoman supported herself by making neckties!

In the following year, 1874, she met Col. Olcott. Early in 1875, Mr. Judge came to her. By now it was clear that she was working to help the Spiritualists understand that truth and explanation were better than just “seeing things,” and that, moreover, their practices were very dangerous. H. P. B. met all the notable people of the time, in New York City. In these days, they thronged her apartment in Irving Place, and never after tired of talking of this remarkable woman—of her knowledge, of her charm, of something which made her different from everybody else. That she could perform “miracles,” some knew. To Col. Olcott and Mr. Judge she showed many marvels in demonstration, of the higher laws she understood. In 1877, Isis Unveiled was published—a book which was to be found in the library of every scholar of that time, and a book which was to estrange the Spiritualists from her, for the remainder of her life. But she had found what she sought in the United States (of which she became a citizen) and in 1878 left with Col. Olcott for India, stopping on her way in England, to forward the Theosophical Society there.

Both H. P. B. and Col. Olcott had difficulty at first in getting a foothold in India. They were suspected of being spies! But, finally, this difficulty was straightened out; the Theosophist Magazine was started in 1879, in Bombay, and scholars of many religious sects flocked to hear their own religions discussed by H. P. B. in the light of Theosophy. The First Object of the Society—to form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood — was worked out in India, the land of many rigid sects and creeds, by means of the Second Object — to study ancient religions, philosophies, and sciences, and to demonstrate the importance of such study.

The Second Object was far more regarded in India than the Third Object — To investigate the unexplained laws of nature and the psychical powers latent in man. The Third Object was more highly regarded in Europe, while the First Object made greatest appeal in America.

H. P. B. remained in India until April, 1885, after which she resided first in Italy, then Germany, then Belgium, and finally came to London in 1887. Here she founded the Magazine Lucifer, and here, at 19 Avenue Road, was built the first Theosophy Hall, as she named it. Here she met the distinguished men and women of all Europe—poets, writers, statesmen, philosophers, scientists. It was during this time she wrote The Secret Doctrine, The Key to Theosophy, The Theosophical Glossary, and The Voice of the Silence. Here in London she gathered around her earnest and able young Theosophists and taught them how to apply Theosophy in their daily living with each other, as also how to work for Theosophy. She taught them, above all, how to follow the Path of Self-Knowledge—how to “Follow,” as she said, “not me, nor my path, but follow the Path I show—the Masters who are behind.” It was from London she wrote each year till 1891 to the Conventions of American Theosophists her great “Five Messages.”

Some of H. P. B.’s pupils have told how incessantly she worked, and oftentimes in spite of illness. The forces used by her were too mighty for an ordinary healthy body to endure, and she drove it to the utmost that her work should not fail to be completed. She was up and at her desk at seven o’clock in the morning; often the lunch provided her went untouched, because she would not stop her work. After dinner, were always people to interview, when there were not meetings of the Lodge. She was incessantly writing—letters, articles for the Magazines, as well as her books—nor should it be forgotten that all this writing was in her own hand!

In April of 1891 occurred an epidemic of influenza in the household at Avenue Road, which struck H. P. B. She was very seriously ill, but seemed to be recovering, so that on May 6th she walked into the sitting-room, and was at her desk for a few moments even the night before she died. This great event occurred on Friday, May 8th, at 2:25 P. M., and left stricken the whole Theosophical world. For while H. P. B. had many enemies, because of her outspoken truths, because of the mission hers to destroy superstition and sow broadcast the great ideas of Theosophy, there were other thousands who loved her for her never-failing kindness and sympathy; thousands who recognized in her a teacher and friend; thousands who were grateful to her that she brought Theosophy once more into the world of men.

Said Mr. Judge: Her aim was to elevate the race. Her method was to deal with the mind of the century as she found it, by trying to lead it on step by step; to seek out and educate a few, who, appreciating the majesty of the Secret Science and devoted to “the great orphan Humanity,” could carry on her work with zeal and wisdom.

That H. P. B. saw into the future of the world is now very clear; that she saw what would be the fate of Theosophy is also clear. Once she wrote to Mr. Judge of a vision she had had of the Theosophical Societies. She said:

“I saw a few earnest reliable Theosophists in a death struggle with the world in general, with other—nominal but ambitious—Theosophists. The former are greater in numbers than you may think, and they prevailed, as you in America will prevail, if you only remain staunch to the Master’s programme and true to yourselves.”

H. P. B. left the clearest of directions in her books and articles, and in her Convention Letters, for living the Theosophical life; that is, for being “true to yourselves.” As in The Key to Theosophy, she said, “Theosophist is who Theosophy does,” she never tired of showing that Theosophy is for every day and every hour and everywhere. The following are her words:

“Theosophists are of necessity the friends of all movements in the world, whether intellectual or simply practical, for the amelioration of the condition of mankind. We are the friends of all those who fight against drunkenness, against cruelty to animals, against in justice to women, against corruption in society or in government, although we do not meddle in politics. We are the friends of those who exercise practical charity, who seek to lift a little of the tremendous weight of misery that is crushing down the poor. But in our quality of Theosophists, we cannot engage in any one of these great works in particular. As individuals we may do so, but as Theosophists we have a larger, more important, and much more difficult work to do.”

“The function of Theosophists is to open men’s hearts and understandings to charity, justice, and generosity, attributes which be long specifically to the human kingdom and are natural to man when he has developed the qualities of a human being. Theosophy teaches the animal-man to be a human-man; and when people have learned to think and feel as truly human beings should feel and think, they will act humanely, and works of charity, justice, and generosity will be done spontaneously by all.”

“The only man who is absolutely wrong in his method is the one who does nothing; each can and should cooperate with all and all with each in a large-hearted spirit of comradeship to forward the work of bringing Theosophy home to every man and woman in the country.”

“After all, every wish and thought I can utter are summed up in this one sentence, the never-dormant wish of my heart, ‘Be Theosophists, work for Theosophy!’ Theosophy first, and Theosophy last; for its practical realization alone can save the Western world from that selfish and unbrotherly feeling that now divides race from race, one nation from the other; and from that hatred of class and social considerations that are the curse and disgrace of so-called Christian peoples. Theosophy alone can save it from sinking entirely into that mere luxurious materialism in which it will decay and putrefy as civilizations have done. In your hands, brothers, is placed in trust the welfare of the coming century; and great as is the trust, so great is also the responsibility.”

So, H. P. B. came for the world—not just to form a Theosophical Society! She came to open the way to the practical realization of the Brotherhood of all men; to help on men’s mental and moral improvement, and thus to better even their material surroundings and conditions. Her last words were: “Keep the Link unbroken. Let not my last incarnation be a failure.” Then, let us follow the Path she showed!

May 8th 2005      WHITE LOTUS DAY

   HPB - An Allegory of Manifestation

             [From an old Sanskrit Manuscript:]

 "Toward the close of Pralaya (the intermediate period between

two "creations" or evolutions of our phenomenal universe), the

great IT, the One that rests in infinity and ever is, dropped its

reflection, which expanded in limitless Space, and felt a desire

to make itself cognizable by the creatures evolved from its

shadow. The reflection assumed the shape of a Maharaja (great King).

Devising means for mankind to learn of his existence, the

Maharaja built of the qualities inherent in him a place, in which

he concealed himself, satisfied that people should perceive the

outward form of his dwelling.  But when they looked up to the

place where stood the palace, whose one corner stretched into the

right infinitude, and the other into the left infinitude--the

little men saw nothing;  the palace was mistaken by them for

empty space, and being so vast remained invisible to their eyes.

 Then the Maharaja resorted to another expedient.  He determined

to manifest himself to the little creatures whom he pitied--not

as a whole but only in his parts.  He destroyed the palace built

by him from his manifesting qualities, brick by brick, and began

throwing the bricks down upon the earth one after the other.

Each brick was transformed into an idol, the red ones becoming

Gods and the grey ones Goddesses;  into these the Devatas and

Devatis--the qualities and the attributes of the Unseen--entered

and animated them.

 -----            HPB commented:

 The outward form of idolatry is but a veil, concealing the one

Truth like the veil of the Saitic Goddess.        [Isis I vi]

 Only that truth, being for the few, escapes the majority... Yet,

while for the great majority the space behind the veil is really

impenetrable...those endowed with the "third eye" (the eye of

Siva), discern in the Cimmerian darkness and chaos a light in

whose intense radiance all shape born of human conception

disappears, leaving the all-informing divine Principle, to be

felt--not seen;  sensed--never expressed.

 This allegory shows polytheism in its true light and that it

rests of the One unity, as does all the rest...The direct [ and

the ] refracted rays of one and the same Luminary.  What are

Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, but the triple Ray that emanates

directly form the Light of the World ?

 The three Gods with their Goddesses are the three dual

representations of Purusha the Spirit, and Prakriti--matter;  the

six are symbolized by Svayambhuva the self-existence,

unmanifested Deity.  They are only the symbols personifying the

Unseen Presence in every phenomenon of nature."

 Source:  Note of HPB on Idolatry, 

    Blavatsky:  COLLECTED WORKS,  Vol. 7, p. 272-4

 "...founded his dwelling" show clearly that in Kabala, as in

India, the Deity was considered as the Universe, and was not, in

his origin, the extra-cosmic God he is now."              SD I 92 fn

 “I am the Ego seated in the Heart of all beings. 
I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all existing things.”  --  Krishna

            BHAGAVAD GITA

"...while the T S movement of today was distinctly under the care

of the Adepts, it was not the only one through which effect was

sought to be made on the race-thought and ethics, but that in

many different ways efforts were constantly put forward ...she

insisted that the T S wears the badge...of the Eastern and

Ancient Schools...the old and united Lodge of Adepts ...[It would

be reasonable to say]...that Brotherhood has the knowledge and

power... to use every agency which is in touch with humanity."

            WQJ, Articles, Vol. I, p. 244

 "...for those who have studied in the right way plenty of proof

has been offered;  for others that proof exists within themselves.

The former class has had tangible evidence in the way of letters

and appearances of the Adepts before their eyes;  the latter

concluded long ago that the Masters are necessities of

evolution... in the West the idea of the existence of the Adepts

and of Their connection with our movement was first brought

forward in this century and in our Society by H.P.Blavatsky, who,

consistently throughout her career, has declared that the

Adepts--whom she was pleased to call her Masters--directed her to

engage in this work and have always helped and directed her

throughout...  They have adopted the T S as one of Their agents in

this century for disseminating the truth about man and

nature...Their motive is to help the moral--and hence external --

progress of humanity, and their methods to work from behind the

scenes by means of agents suited for the work...the agency is not

restricted to one person, but that all sincere lovers of truth

are used to that end, whether they know it or not...the personal

effort put forth by the members will not account for the

spread-ing of the movement...As the Masters exist, so They help

us;  and as we deserve, so will They repay."

            (WQJ, Articles, Vol. II, pp.  79-80)