H. P. Blavatsky’s Later Reception of Hindu Philosophy

Tim Rudbøg, PhD, Associate Professor
Copenhagen Centre for the Study of Theosophy and Esotericism
Department for Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies
University of Copenhagen, Denmark
e-mail: timrudboeg@hum.ku.dk


This article explores Helena Petrovna Blavatsky’s innovative use of Hindu Philosophy in “The Secret Doctrine” (1888). Read in connection with scholarship on Hindu philosophy at the time, it is shown how the use and assimilation of Hindu philosophy in “The Secret Doctrine” was done in accordance with a pre-established frame of the Esoteric philosophy. It is argued that “The Secret Doctrine”, as a textual product, can be regarded as an innovative product (re)constructing esotericism in a number of new ways: (1) in the sense that Hindu philosophy became of central relevance to the themes discussed in the work and thereby to the development of the modern occultism and theosophy, which the work facilitated; (2) in the sense that the identity of Esoteric philosophy itself was framed in direct relation to Hindu philosophy; and (3) in the sense that concepts from Hindu philosophy such as purusha and parabrahm were explored, reinterpreted, and adopted to be a part of the worldview expressed in “The Secret Doctrine”, which in turn became central to modern esotericism. The article also shows that while all the traditional six schools of Hindu philosophy are mentioned in one way or another in Blavatsky’s works, Sāmkhya and particularly Advaita Vedanta played the most significant roles in “The Secret Doctrine”.

Keywords: H. P. Blavatsky, Theosophy, Hindu philosophy, orientalism, esotericism, “The Secret Doctrine”, innovation


How to cite:
Rudbøg, T. (2022). “H. P. Blavatsky’s Later Reception of Hindu Philosophy.” Journal of Comparative Studies 15 (44), 60–79.