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Blavatsky’s Theosophical Masters – Real or Imagined?

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By Douglas Gabriel

The Masters and Avatars Series

Masters, according to Helena P. Blavatsky, are adepts who once lived on earth and could have chosen to retire to eternal bliss upon attaining the highest level of enlightenment and degree of perfection, but who instead remained in this world, directing their concern towards humanity. The Masters attempt to guide human beings on the evolutionary path, spurring them forward on the road towards unity. They live on the astral plane and are capable of doing extraordinary things, such as materializing in the form of earthly bodies. Ever since the time that Blavatsky encountered them in trance and spoke out about them they have been a central element in the esoteric tradition. The Masters mentioned below are the ones with whom Blavatsky was acquainted.

It is worth noting that Jesus is not among them. Although Jesus plays an important role in occult thought, he is not a Master like the others, according to Blavatsky. With Blavatsky there is no mention of an organized hierarchy of higher beings in the spheres or of Christ as one of these personalities. Nonetheless, her discussion of the Masters furnished the fundamental basis for further reflections about these beings. 

The Influence of Masters on H. P. Blavatsky

H. P. Blavatsky related first having met a Master in 1843, after a fall off a runaway horse in Asiatic Russia. There she was cared for by an extraordinary man who suddenly appeared and who disappeared just as suddenly. She afterwards saw him sporadically in visions. 

In 1851 she saw Master Morya in the company of some Hindu princes and from that time he maintained contact with her. In 1860 she met Master Hilarion. In 1868 Morya directed her to go to Tibet where she received instruction in Morya’s teaching in Shigatse for two years while living in the house of Master Kuthumi, along with Djwal Khul, a fellow pupil.

While in Egypt she met Master Serapis Bey and his brother Tituït Bey in 1870. She also encountered Master P. or the Venetian. According to her account, these Masters not only appeared in trance to her, but they actually materialized in her presence.

In 1874 she met H. S. Olcott and together they founded the Theosophical Society. In 1875 she wrote Isis Unveiled, most of it while in trance, aided therein by the Masters. 

In 1879 she left for India, meeting A. P. Sinnett in 1880. After some time Sinnett started to receive letters from the Masters, later published as the Mahatma-letters. Several other figures, such as W. Q. Judge and W. Hubbe-Schleiden, received similarly paranormal letters from the Masters. Others, like H. S. Olcott, C. W. Leadbeater, K. Damodar, S. R. Iyer, W. T. Brown and Annie Besant were even granted the privilege to meet a Master in material form.

A scandal erupted in 1884 in connection with Blavatsky’s contacts with the Masters and the letters. A report by Hodgson of the Society for psychic research proved to be devastating. Whatever the case may have been, no further letters were received from the Masters after 1884. But Blavatsky remained in contact with the two most important Masters, Morya and Kuthumi. In 1888 she wrote The Secret Doctrine, ordered and inspired to do so by the Masters.

Students of the Masters

Blavatsky and Henry Olcott were disciples of El Morya.  Blavatsky was clairaudiently given the general outline and overview of Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine by El Morya and Kuthumi, but the greater portion of her work was provided by Djwhal Khul through telepathic impression. She was virtually kept alive by El Morya for the last decade of her life as she suffered through numerous physical ailments.

When Isis was published, Vera Jelihovsky became very concerned about her sister Helena, who was writing in a manner that would have been impossible some years previously. She could not understand how Helena had acquired such knowledge. There were rumors that the source of knowledge was “sorcery”, and this terrified the family. Indeed, Vera wrote her sister imploring an explanation. Blavatsky answered:

“Do not be afraid that I am off my head. All that I can say is that someone positively inspires me… more than this: someone enters me. It is not I who talk and write: it is something within me, my higher and luminous Self that thinks and writes for me. Do not ask me, my friend, what I experience, because I could not explain it to you clearly. I do not know myself! The one thing I know is that now, when I am about to reach old age, I have become a sort of storehouse of somebody else’s knowledge. Someone comes and envelops me as a misty cloud and all at once pushes me out of myself, and then I am not “I” any more – Helena Petrovna Blavatsky – but someone else. Someone strong and powerful, born in a totally different region of the world; and as to myself it is almost as if I were asleep, or lying by not quite conscious, – not in my own body but close by, held only by a thread which ties me to it.” (Letters of HP Blavatsky, Letter I)

Blavatsky also described to her sister the process by which this ”somebody” inhabited her body. She explained that this duality had been taking place since the time when her leg had almost been amputated, when she had been completely healed by a negro, at the request of his “Sahib.” As she describes:

“He has cured me entirely. And just about this time I have begun to feel a very strange duality. Several times a day I feel that besides me there is someone else, quite separable from me, present in my body. I never lose the consciousness of my own personality; what I feel is as if I were keeping silent and the other one – the lodger who is in me – were speaking with my tongue.  But what’s the use of talking about it? It’s enough to drive one mad. I try to throw myself into the part and to forget the strangeness of my situation. This is no mediumship, and by no means an impure power; for that, it has too strong an ascendancy over us all, leading us into better ways. No devil would act like that. ‘Spirits’, maybe? But if it comes to that, my ancient ‘spooks’ dare not approach me anymore. It’s enough for me to enter the room where a séance is being held to stop all kinds of phenomena at once, especially materializations. Ah no, this is altogether of a higher order! But phenomena of another sort take place more and more frequently under the direction of my No. 2.” (Letters of HP Blavatsky, Letter I)

To her aunt Nadya, she reaffirmed both the cure and the duality that she was experiencing:

“When my leg had to be operated (they wanted to operate when the gangrene was developing), the “host” healed me. He was all the time standing near an old negro and he put a little white dog on my leg. Do you remember I wrote to you about this incident? Now he will soon take me and Olcott and several others to India forever, only we must first organize the Society in London. Whether he occupies some other bodies than mine, I do not know. But I know that when he is not here – sometimes for many days – I often hear his voice and answer him “through the sea”; Olcott and others also often see his shadow, sometimes it is solid like a living form, often like smoke; still more often not seen but felt.”

The successors to Olcott, Blavatsky, and the Theosophical Society were also sponsored and guided by Masters.  C. W. Leadbeater and Annie Besant were initiates though in the Ashram of Saint Germain. Helena Roerich was a disciple of El Morya. All of her writings were mentally impressed upon her by Morya with exception of The Call, which came from Maitreya. 

Alice Bailey joined the Theosophical Society in 1917 and soon entered the Esoteric Section in New York.  At that point she was contacted by the Tibetan Master Djwhal Khul, whose spiritual impulse was already behind the founding of the Theosophical Society of Blavatsky. Alice Ann Bailey was a disciple of Kuthumi but served as the voice of Djwhal Khul (The Tibetan) for 30 years from 1919 to 1949. Djwhal Khul was assisting his Master, Kuthumi, in the project. Much of Bailey’s time was spent in bed writing the telepathic dictations of Djwhal Khul. Later, he made it so that she could receive, clairvoyantly, his words lighted up on a tablet in her “mind’s eye,” and she dictated the teachings into a recorder to be transcribed later by a secretary.

The Masters and the Rays

Later followers of Blavatsky attributed streams of consciousness to each of the major seven masters.  Each ray embodies a specific quality that a particular master is well known to exhibit.

First Ray: Master El Morya

Second Ray: Master Koot Humi

Third Ray: Master Paul the Venetian

Fourth Ray: Master Serapis Bey

Fifth Ray: Master Hilarion

Sixth Ray: Master Jesus

Seventh Ray: Master Saint-Germain

The Masters divide themselves into groups according to the influence they exert on the Earth:

-Eastern/Oriental Masters: Morya and Koot Humi, are active throughout Asia to the Far East;

-Central Masters: Paul the Venetian, Serapis Bey, Hilarion, are active mainly in the center of the spiritual world, or in the Mediterranean basin;

-Western Masters: Jesus and Christian Rosenkreuz, also known as Saint Germain in his latest incarnation.

The Eastern Masters are the impetus behind the founding of the Theosophical Society. The Western Masters were present at the founding of the Anthroposophical Society. The Central Masters founded and coordinated the various mystery cults of the Mediterranean (the mysteries of Isis, Mithras, Eleusis, Dionysus and therefore indirectly Freemasonry).

The Rosicrucian Movement was born under the influence of four Masters: Master Morya for power, Master Kuthumi for wisdom, Master Saint-Germain for perseverance in the difficulties of daily life, Master Jesus for the intimacy of the soul of man.

Master and Ascended Masters

Blavatsky rejects the concept of Ascended Masters as an idea, calling it “an allegory as old as the world.”  The Masters of the Wisdom are not like the later versions called Ascended Masters, who are said to become Godlike, all-powerful beings beyond the laws of nature. Theosophical Masters even denied that such beings exist. Mahatma K.H. wrote: “If we had the powers of the imaginary Personal God, and the universal and immutable laws were but toys to play with, then indeed might we have created conditions that would have turned this earth into an Arcadia for lofty souls.”

Proponents of New Age Ascended Masters sometimes attempt to account for these discrepancies by claiming that when the Theosophical Society was founded most of the Theosophical Mahatmas were still “unascended Masters.” However, the Mahatma K.H. wrote: “We are not infallible, all-foreseeing ‘Mahatmas’ at every hour of the day.”  The highest adepts do help humanity, but only spiritually because they are constitutionally incapable of meddling with worldly affairs.

The Master El Morya

Morya is one of the “Masters of the Ancient Wisdom” within modern Theosophical beliefs. He is one of the Mahatmas who inspired the founding of the Theosophical Society and was engaged in a correspondence with two English Theosophists living in India, A. P. Sinnett and A. O. Hume. The correspondence was published in 1923 by A. Trevor Barker, in the book The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett.

H. P. Blavatsky originally described the existence of a spiritual master whom she considered her guru, and who went by, among other names, Morya. Blavatsky said that Morya and another master, Koot Hoomi, were her primary guides in establishing the Theosophical Society. Blavatsky also wrote that Masters Morya and Koot Hoomi belonged to a group of highly developed humans known to some as the Great White Brotherhood

William Quan Judge, the leader of the American Section of the Theosophical Society, stated privately that he had received letters from Morya and other Adepts. Annie Besant, head of the European Section and co-head of the Esoteric Section with Judge, had a visitation of a Mahatma, presumably Master Morya, to whom she was linked.

Morya’s earliest notable claimed incarnation is recorded by Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater  as having been the Emperor of Atlantis in 22,000 BC, ruling from his palace in the capital city, the City of the Golden Gates. According to the Ascended Masters teachings, some of the later incarnations that Morya is said to have had include: Melchior (one of the three wise men), Abraham, King Arthur of Camelot, Thomas Becket (Archbishop of Canterbury), Thomas More, Akbar (Mogul Emperor), Shams Tabrizi.

The Master Koot Humi

Koot Hoomi (also spelled Kuthumi, and frequently referred to simply as K.H.) is one of the Mahatmas that inspired the founding of the Theosophical Society. Little descriptive references to K.H. occur in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett and the writings of Mme. Blavatsky. Master K.H. is said to live in a house in a ravine in Tibet, near the house of Master Morya.

In 1881, Colonel Henry S. Olcott wrote to A. O. Hume: “I have also personally known Master Koot Hoomi since 1875. He is of quite a different, a gentler, type, yet the bosom friend of Master Morya. They live near each other with a small Buddhist Temple about midway between their houses.”

Blavatsky, in a letter to Mrs. Hollis Billings wrote: “Now Morya lives generally with Koot-Hoomi who has his house in the direction of the Kara Korum [Karakoram] Mountains, beyond Ladak, which is in Little Tibet and belongs now to Kashmire. It is a large wooden building in the Chinese fashion pagoda-like, between a lake and a beautiful mountain.” 

Apparently before being an Adept, Master Koot Hoomi visited Europe and studied in some of the Universities there. Blavatsky said that Mahatma K.H. “is a Kashmiri Brahman by birth . . . and has travelled a good deal in Europe.”  Master Morya refers to K.H. as “a fine scholar” who speaks English and French very well.

The Venetian

The Venetian (Venetian Chohan) is one of the “Masters of the Ancient Wisdom” in the teachings of Theosophy. He is regarded as the Master of the Third Ray as mentioned by The Theosophical author C.W. Leadbeater. Very little is known of the Ventian except that he lived in Cyprus for a time and then went on to Tibet.

The fragment on Karma, which follows Light on the Path, is from the Venetian Master, though also written down by Mabel Collins.

The Master Serapis Bey

Serapis Bey is regarded as the Chohan (or Lord) of the Fourth Ray.  C. W. Leadbeater wrote that Henry Steel Olcott was given occult training by Serapis Bey when his own master, Morya, was unavailable. A series of letters in the book Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, to Olcott from Serapis Bey encouraged Olcott to support Blavatsky in the founding of the Theosophical Society.

Serapis Bey is reported to have been incarnated as a high priest in a “Temple of the Sacred Fire” on Atlantis and later incarnated as: Pharaoh Amenhotep III, Leonidas of Sparta, Roman King Numa Pompilius, Confucius, Plato, Lucius Seneca, and Phidias

C. W. Leadbeater wrote that many artists are on the fourth ray of harmony and beauty, which Serapis Bey is said to oversee as Chohan. In the teachings of Alice Bailey, the fourth ray is called the ray of harmony through conflict and the ray of purity and discipline.

The Master Hilarion

The Master Hilarion is considered to be the Chohan (Lord) of the Fifth Ray. The Master Hilarion is believed to have been incarnated as the Apostle Paul of Tarsus and the Neo-Platonic philosopher Iamblichus.

In October, 1884, Helena Blavatsky made reference to Hilarion: “…an Eastern adept, who has since gone for his final initiation, who had passed, en route from Egypt to Tibet, through Bombay and visited us in his physical body. Why should this Adept be the Mahatma in question? Are there then no other Adepts than Mahatma Koot Hoomi? Every Theosophist at headquarters knows that I meant a Greek gentleman, whom I have known since 1860.”

She was referring to the Master known as Hilarion, Ilarion, and Hillarion Smerdis, who lived for some time on the island of Cyprus and collaborated with H.P.B. in the writing of her occult stories.

Theosophist C.W. Leadbeater wrote that the Master Hilarion’s primary influence is upon the scientists of the world.  In the teachings of Alice A. Bailey, the fifth ray, called by Alice A. Bailey the orange ray, which he is said to oversee, is called the ray of concrete science. Hilarion is said to assist the scientists and spiritual leaders of the world with the flame of truth and channels the spiritual energy of what is called in the Ascended Master Teachings the green ray or emerald ray.

In the introduction to Light on the Path, C. Jinaradasa says: “Early in the year 1885, the Master Hilarion caused to be written in English through “M.C.”, then a leading member of the London Lodge of the young Theosophical Society, the original thirty rules and the explanations given Him by His teacher in far off days. M.C. (Mabel Collins), a lady of much literary ability, had from past lives earned the privilege, and it fell to her lot to be a channel for a work the Master Hilarion desired to do for the world through The Theosophical Society. Each rule with its explanations was presented, in the form of a many dimensional concept, before the mind of M.C., who, then, in full waking consciousness, but nevertheless under the Master’s guidance, wrote down in English as we have them now.  Almost immediately after the publication of Light on the Path, the Master Hilarion once more gave to the world through M.C. some additional teaching, explanatory of what He had already given. This is the third element in the book and is printed in italics known as the “Notes.” 

There exists another work by M.C. written under the direction of the Master Hilarion, and reference is made to it by Him at the end of Part I of Light on the Path in these words: “Regard the three truths. They are equal.”  These three truths are in Chapter VIII of Book II of The Idyll of the White Lotus.

The Master Jesus

The Master Jesus is one of the Masters of the Ancient Wisdom in Theosophy and is the Master of the Sixth Ray. Theosophy does not recognize the Cosmic Being of Christ entering Jesus of Nazareth and therefore the Master Jesus is not an avatar.  Blavatsky is very clear about her differences with Christianity and speaks very little about the Master Jesus.  Below are some quotations of Blavatsky clarifying her distinctions between Jesus and Christ.

“Let these unfortunate deluded Christians know that the real Christ of every Christian is the Vach, the “mystical Voice,” while the man Jeshu was but a mortal like any of us, an adept more by his inherent purity and ignorance of real Evil, than by what he had learned with his initiated Rabbis and the already (at that period) fast degenerating Egyptian Hierophants and priests.” Letter to A.P. Sinnett

“Note well, “Christos” with the Gnostics meant the impersonal principal, the Atman of the Universe, and the Atma within every man’s soul – not Jesus.”   The Secret Doctrine Vol. 1, p. 132

The Christ of esoteric science is the Christos of Spirit – an impersonal principle entirely distinct from any carnalised Christ or Jesus.”  Footnote in response to the Abbe Roca’s Esotericism of Christian Dogma

“No true Theosophist” will ever accept the notion of an incarnated, bodily Christ or the “Second Coming” of such a being.  On Pseudo-Theosophy Those who believe that the Christ is a person or an entity are ignorant.” The Esoteric Character of the Gospels.

The Master Comte de Saint Germain

St. Germain (Prince Rakoczy) is a legendary spiritual master of ancient wisdom of unequaled reknown.  He has been claimed as the inspirer of many Theosophical and post-Theosophical writers. He has been variously described as a courtieradventurercharlatan, inventor, alchemist, pianist, violinist and composer. He is credited with near god-like powers and with longevity. It is believed that Saint Germain is one of the Masters of Wisdom among a group of beings Theosophists call the Great White Brotherhood.

Saint Germain is associated with the color violet, the jewel amethyst, and the Maltese cross.  He is also regarded as the Chohan of the Seventh Ray.  In the works of Alice A. Bailey, Saint Germain is called the Lord of Civilization, and his task is the establishment of the new civilization in the Age of Aquarius. He is said to telepathically influence people who are seen by him as being instrumental in bringing about this new age.

According to Theosophy and the Ascended Master Teachings, Saint Germain was incarnated as: St. Alban, Proclus, Sir Francis Bacon, Samuel, Hesiod, Plato, Saint Joseph, Merlin, Roger Bacon, Christopher Columbus, Shakespeare (Lord Bacon).

Rudolf Steiner as Master

Anthroposophists have different opinions about who Rudolf Steiner was in relationship to the masters. According to Judith von Halle and Hermann Keimeyer, Steiner was the last physical incarnation of the Master of Wisdom called “Serapis.”  According to Marie Steiner, he was the last physical incarnation of the Master Jesus. Still others (Herbert Wimbauer, Adolf Arenson and Heinz Eckhoff) consider him to be the Maitreya Buddha.

This article was created to help Theosophists, Anthroposophist and other interested people quickly access a summary of the Masters in relationship to the Theosophy of Blavatsky and her immediate followers.  The author does not claim that any of the above is true or factual, simply a compilation of what is generally accepted in the circles of Theosophy. Blavatsky’s words are the truest test we have of any connection she might have had with Masters. Truly, “they shall be known by their fruit”, is the best measure a reader has to determine the spiritual genesis of the sources of Theosophy and the inspiration of H. P. Blavatsky.


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    • Boo

      If you need to rely on someone else’s spiritual perceptions of how things work…your already sitting behind the eight ball. Why not go to God through your own prayer and get your answers from him directly. Either we’re all spiritual beings or not, if so I would assume we come equipped with all the materials to make that call ourselves. The chances of someone else making that call for you and relaying the message back to you is a crap shoot at best and riddled with all kinds of unintended consequences.

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