HELENA PETROVNA BLAVATSKY (1831-1891), Russian theosophist, was born at Ekaterinoslav, on the 31st of July (O.S.) 183 ',the daughter of Colonel Peter Hahn, a member of a Mecklenburg family, settled in Russia.
She married in her seventeenth year a man very much her senior, Nicephore Blavatsky, a Russian official in Caucasia, from whom she was separated after a few months; in later days, when seeking to invest herself with a halo of virginity, she described the marriage as a nominal one.
During the next twenty years Mme Blavatsky appears to have travelled widely in Canada, Texas, Mexico and India, with two attempts on Tibet.
But the appearance of Home's Lights and Shadows of Spiritualism (1877) had a prejudicial effect upon the propaganda, and Heliona P. Blavatsky (as she began to style herself) retired to India.
P. Blavatsky (q.v.), in connexion with Colonel H.
Now, in order to discern this underlying truth in the various and apparently conflicting world creeds, appeal was made to a "Secret Doctrine," and "Esoteric Teaching," which Madame Blavatsky proclaimed had been held for ages as a sacred possession and trust by certain mysterious adepts in occultism, or "Mahatmas," with whom she said she was in psychical as well as in direct physical communication.
There are, moreover, numerous passages in the sacred books of the East, especially those of the Buddhists, which warn the student against the assumption that "magical" performances of any kind are to be regarded as proving the truth of the performer's teaching; and indeed it must be owned in justice to the theosophists that similar warnings are to be found scattered throughout their writings; while even Madame Blavatsky herself was wont to expatiate on the folly of accepting her "phenomena" as the mark of spiritual truth.
If theosophy were to be judged solely by the published revelations of this "Secret Doctrine" it would hardly be deserving of serious consideration; for, as suggested in the separate article on Madame Blavatsky, the revelations themselves appear to have been no more than a crude compilation of vague, contradictory and garbled extracts from various periodicals, books and translations.
It was an article of faith with her disciples that the outward and visible Helena Petrovna Blavatsky was on certain occasions the vehicle of psychic powers of transcendent spiritual import.
Blavatsky, founded schools at Benares, and was elected president of the Theosophical Society in 1907.
Soon after the death of Madame Blavatsky a split in the society was brought about by Mr Wm.