Helena Petrovna Blavatsky one of the founders of the, was a remarkable woman who has made a great impact on the thought of the Western world. In her own day, she was controversial because of her remarkable abilities of extrasensory perception, her forthright and outspoken nature, and her fearless attacks on hypocrisy and bigotry. Even today, she continues to be the center of curiosity and attention as the precursor of "new" ideas. Her great metaphysical knowledge is embodied in her literary work, which has directly or indirectly influenced inquiring minds all over the world.
Helena Blavatsky was born of a noble family in Russia. From earliest childhood she attracted attention with her ability to produce psychic phenomena at will. Yet she was not interested in such powers for their own sake, but for the principles and laws of nature that govern them. She became a student of metaphysical lore and traveled to many lands, including Tibet, in search of hidden knowledge. These were extraordinary travels for a lone woman in the nineteenth century. In the 1870s H. P. Blavatsky came to New York and, with Colonel H. S. Olcott, William Quan Judge, and others, formed the Theosophical Society in 1875.
In 1878 H. P. Blavatsky became an American citizen, the first Russian woman ever to do so. In 1879 she and Col. Olcott moved to India, and in 1882 they established the headquarters of the Theosophical Society at Adyar, near Madras. This remains the international headquarters for the Society, which is now established in fifty countries of the world. In 1885 H. P. Blavatsky went to Europe and settled in London, where she completed her magnum opus, The Secret Doctrine. Much of the knowledge in this book and her other writings was derived from Eastern teachers, with whom she came in touch early in life.
Through her many writings, H. P. Blavatsky-"Madame Blavatsky" or "HPB" as she came to be known-has shared some of her extensive knowledge of the philosophies and religions of the world, the wisdom of the East and the West, symbolism, metaphysics, esoteric philosophy, and the practical application of all these to life. She was a prolific writer, and newspaper and magazine articles on a variety of subjects flowed steadily from her pen. These works fill fifteen volumes of her fully indexed Collected Writings.
H. P. Blavatsky devoted her life to the service of humanity, to bringing the Wisdom of the ancients back into the awareness of her contemporaries. That Divine Wisdom, which she called Theosophy, inspires a compassion for the sufferings of our fellow human beings and a practical altruism that seeks not merely to alleviate the symptoms of misery, but to remove its cause: ignorance of our fundamental unity with all other beings. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky's life and works are directed entirely to that goal.
The first major book by H. P. Blavatsky was Isis Unveiled, in two volumes. It created a sensation when published in New York City in 1877; the first edition of 1,000 copies sold out in two days. Within seven months, three printings had been issued. The book has as its subtitle "A Master Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology." Volume 1 deals with claims of "infallibility" for science, while volume 2 deals with similar claims for religion. Both show that the Ancients had a wisdom that has been partly forgotten in our time.
The author moves from ancient Greek views on matter and force advanced by Pythagoras and Plato to the Kabbalistic religious philosophy developed by Jewish scholars from a mystical interpretation of the Scriptures. Blavatsky discusses mythological stories in many religious texts, aspects of magic, ancient Egyptian writings, classical philosophies, world religions, and a multitude of other subjects. In her preface, she states that the book is "a plea for the recognition of the Hermetic philosophy, the anciently universal Wisdom-Religion."
Blavatsky's greatest work is The Secret Doctrine. This book appeared in 1888 in two large volumes, the first concerned with cosmogenesis, the study of the origin and development of the universe, and the second with anthropogenesis, the study of the origins and development of humanity. This book continues in greater detail the themes set forth in Isis Unveiled, its subtitle, "The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy," expressing the aim of the work.
HPB made it clear that The Secret Doctrine was not written as a revelation but is rather a collection of fragments scattered throughout thousands of volumes embodying the scriptures of the great Asian and pre-Christian European religions and philosophies. Furthermore, she strongly rejected the dogmatic interpretation of any of her work. The reader is asked to study the ideas from this or any other source only in the light of common human experience and reason.
The Secret Doctrine outlines a vast scheme of evolution relating to the universe and to humanity, and to the unseen as well as the seen worlds of manifestation in which life is said to exist in thousands of forms.