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Key People:Rukmini Devi ArundaleKatherine Augusta Westcott TingleyHelena BlavatskyAnnie BesantHenry Steel Olcott...(Sjust how more)Related Topics:New spiritual movementOccultismReligious movement...(Show more)

Theosophy, occult activity originating in the 19th century with roots that have the right to be traced to primitive Gnosticism and also Neoplatonism. The term theosophy, derived from the Greek theos (“god”) and also sophia (“wisdom”), is mostly interpreted to mean “divine wisdom.” Forms of this doctrine were organized in antiquity by the Manichaeans, an Iranian dualist sect, and also in the Center Ages by two teams of dualist heretics, the Bogomils in Bulgaria and also the Byzantine Empire and also the Cathari in southerly France and also Italy. In modern-day times, theosophical views have been held by Rosicrucians and also by speculative Freemasons. The worldwide New Period motion of the 1970s and also ’80s originated among independent theosophical teams in the UK.


The miscellaneous develops of theosophical speculation have actually specific widespread qualities. The initially is a focus on mystical endure. Theosophical authors hold that tbelow is a deeper spiroutine truth and also that straight contact via that reality can be established via intuition, meditation, revelation, or some other state transcfinishing normal humale consciousness. Theosophists likewise emphadimension esoteric doctrine. Modern theosophists insurance claim that all world religions contain such an inner teaching, and much attention is devoted to deciphering the definition covert in sacred messages. In enhancement, most theosophical speculation reveals a fascination via superherbal or various other extrasimple cases and with the success of higher psychic and also spiroutine powers. Theosphists maintain that knowledge of the magnificent wisdom gives accessibility to the mysteries of nature and also humankind’s inner significance. Finally, theosophy display screens a characteristic preference for monism (see pluralism and also monism)—the check out that fact is constituted of one principle or substance, such as mind or soul. Although theosophists acknowledge the basic distinctions in between the phenomenal human being and also a greater spiritual truth and in between the huguy and the magnificent, which argues dualism, the majority of theosophists also affirm an overarching, all-encompassing unity that subsumes all differentiation. Associated via their monism are the ideas that God is utterly transcendent and imindividual, that development is the product of spiroutine emacountries from God, and that humans are sparks of the divine trapped in the product civilization that desire to return to their spiroutine home.


The modern theosophical activity was born via the founding of the Theosophical Society in New York City in 1875 by Helena Petrovna Blavatskies (1831–91), Henry Steel Olcott (1832–1907), and also William Quan Judge (1851–96). A Russian aristocrat, Blavatskies immoved to the USA in 1873 after many type of years of travel and also examine in Europe and the Middle East. Olcott, an American lawyer, newspaperman, and also student of spiritualism—a 19th-century activity based on the belief that the living can call the dead—soon fell under her guide and also came to be the society’s president in 1875. They moved to India in 1878, ultimately settling in Adyar (near Madras), which still serves as the worldwide headquarters of the society. Branch cultures were established throughout India and also in the major cities of Europe and North America. A second company, the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society, was established in London in 1888 to exercise occultism and also to facilitate the motion of the society’s members to a greater level of consciousness. Blavatsky additionally created the two-volume Isis Unveiled (1877), The Secret Doctrine, also in two quantities (1888), and various other functions that are known as timeless expositions of theosophical doctrine.

The fundamental goals of the Theosophical Society are enunciated in the so-dubbed Three Objects:

to develop a nucleus of the global brotherhood of humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or colour; to encourage the examine of comparative religious beliefs, philosophy, and also science; and to investigate undefined laws of Nature and the powers latent in humans.

In pursuing these missions, the society has actually been a major conduit for Eastern teachers relocating to the West and a starting allude for many type of occult teachers and also movements.

Although the movement delighted in some at an early stage success, it suffered after Blavatsky ended up being the focus of a significant dispute. She asserted to be in regular contact through a brotherhood of Great Masters, or Adepts, who, she asserted, had perfected themselves and were directing the spiritual advancement of humanity. In 1884 a former employee and also confidant accprovided her of faking the extraordinary phenomena that accompanied the reception of some messages from the Masters. That insurance claim was investigated by William Hodgchild, a member of the Society for Psychical Research in London, who concluded that the accusations were true. His report blunted the development of the Theosophical Society for the rest of Blavatsky’s life.

In spite of this setback, Blavatsky ongoing to make converts. While in England also in 1897, she met the influential British atheist leader Annie Besant (1847–1933), that converted to theosophy and also inserted her organizational and also oratorical skills at the society’s disposal. When Blavatskies passed away 4 years later on, Besant thrived her as head of the Esoteric Section. Judge, that had led the American branch of the culture while Blavatskies and also Olcott were in India, felt slighted at Besant’s appointment and led the Amerideserve to branch out of the worldwide body. After Judge’s death in 1896, Katherine Tingley (1847–1929) thrived to the management of the Theosophical Society in America. At her instigation, the Amerideserve to headquarters were transferred to Point Loma (San Diego) in The golden state, where a large neighborhood flourished for nearly 50 years. Tingley’s successor, Gottfried de Purucker (1874–1942), looked after the sale of the home and the movement of the society’s headquarters to a Los Angeles suburb. This branch of the movement consequently declined, and also, at the end of the 20th century, only a couple of chapters remained.

Olcott kept unbasic regulate over the worldwide motion in the decade adhering to Blavatsky’s fatality. At Olcott’s death in 1907, he was succeeded as president by Besant, that led the international society for the following quarter century. Throughout this time the society proficient its greatest success, and Besant made it welcome in India by her support of Indian nationalism and also her beginning of many schools. She traveled and lectured extensively and authored numerous publications and short articles, which contain helpful introductions to theosophical idea.

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Among Besant’s cshed associates was the Rev. Charles Webster Leadbeater. Impressed by the aura he viewed from Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895–1986), an obscure Indian youth, Leadbeater persuaded Besant that Krishnamurti was the coming World Teacher, the messianic figure proclaimed by the Esoteric Section. Besant educated and supported Krishnamurti and in the 1920s toured the human being via him, however in 1929 Krishnamurti all of a sudden resigned from his designated function and damaged via the society. Membership plunged, and the organization never before went back to its previously toughness. Krishnamurti began a career as an independent writer and teacher. In 1930 he made the initially of a number of annual tours via India, the United States, and Europe, wbelow his publications and lectures became rather popular; he likewise established a number of colleges. His teachings are kept and disseminated by the Krishnamurti Foundation, which has actually branches throughout the world.