Analysis of the ‘Würzburg Manuscript’ of The Secret Doctrine (1888)
Officially published in 1888, The Secret Doctrine was a project began by HPB. From as early as 1885-86, we find a partial or portion of the manuscript when she stayed in Germany and Belgium this time, called the “Würzburg Manuscript.” In studying how The Secret Doctrine was written, we see the modern example of a work with deliberate literary devices put in place. The high metaphysics of Occult Philosophy is not made to confound the student, but with its understanding comes development and vice versa. Nevertheless, it is not only the learning of Blavatsky, but the collective knowledge of her colleagues, that assisted her, and the knowledge she claims supposedly of initiates, far higher than herself that led to its completion.
So, it is interesting to read this manuscript of the text in its unfinished form to get a backdrop of how it was put together.
This Würzburg Manuscript was meant to reach India to be reviewed and corrected by Indian theosophist, Tallapragada Subba Row. This partial manuscript is a copy of the original, and was published by Eastern Press in 2014.
According to Constance Wachtmeister (Reminiscences of H.P. Blavatsky and The Secret Doctrine, 1893, pg. 91.), originally, Blavatsky intended the first volume to be an introduction of the history of some great Occultists. Bertram and Archibald Kneightley advised that she move that content into a third volume.
She was encouraged to arrange the two volumes in natural order of exposition, beginning with the evolution of the cosmos.
The two volumes are arranged:
- evolution of the cosmos;
- evolution of man.
These volumes contain a cosmogony and elaborate system of ethics and religious philosophy, which comprises the knowledge of a claimed archaic Science, occupied and figured by generations of initiated seers (The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1., 1888., pg. 272).
The remnants of a once universal Wisdom-Tradition was claimed to be knowledgeable to, and in the hands of adepts, which even involve the origins of language. One of these involved the Trans-Himalayan brotherhood. I explained that there were other brotherhoods claimed to be in Egypt (Hilarion Smerdis, Serapis Bey and the Legend of the “Brotherhood of Light” and Luxor), South America, etc., at the time, that were in communication, indicating some kind of federation.
The wisdom of Juli’s great metaphysics is still in this case a small portion of the whole Wisdom-Religion of antiquity. This brings us to the mysteriously secret text called the Book of Dzyan, from where Seven Stanzas are given, and this text was said to be written in the secret sacerdotal language of the Initiates of this system termed Senzar.
Senzar, “a tongue absent from the nomenclature of languages and dialects with which philology is acquainted” (The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, 1888., pg. xxxvii), is “the mystic name for the secret sacerdotal language or the “Mystery-speech” of the initiated Adepts, all over the world.” (Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary, pg. 295).
It is said, the actual “Book of Dzyan” was recorded in this now lost sacred language.
Is the mystery-language a phonetic language? It is not.
One small archaic folio is mentioned, and called The Book of the Secret Wisdom of the World, while the Book of Dzyan is described as the first of fourteen volumes of commentaries on it. The language it is recorded in is described as being words, i.e., in phonetic form, and inflectional like Sanskrit. Yet, it is also said, that the folios contain a symbolic language. Senzar is stated to be the first language of the “fifth-root period.”
Further, Senzar is referred to as “ancient Sanskrit,” “the root of the Sanskrit,” and “the direct progenitor of the Vedic Sanskrit.”
David Reigle is a scholar, as well as John Algeo, whom have dealt closely with this case specifically. The term Dzyān refers to “mystic contemplation,” or the meditative state; and is noted to come from the Sanskrit jhāna or dhyāna (ध्यान ). Its pronunciation is said as 禪 (dʑjen) is pronounced in the Middle Chinese, like john /dʒɒn/ in the English with a z.
A view of the published manuscripts and additional research gives us clues into many things about its production for those like David and Nancy Reigle, and other researchers tracing the origins and ideas of the Dzyān.
1. David Reigle, Senzar: The Lost Sacred Language
2. The Secret Doctrine Wurzburg Manuscript PDF link.
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