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How the Theosophical Movement Died: Adepts Break Ties, The Judge Case, and Olcott’s Decision

The idea of the “mahatmas,” and their secret brotherhood was abused by later leaders of the T.S. to establish new authorities. Ties were broken, due to a sense of betrayal, and the Society schisms.

The men originally associated with H.P.B. broke their ties with the T.S.:

“Yet, to those Theosophists, who are displeased with the Society in general, no one has ever made to you any rash promises; least of all, has either the Society or its founders ever offered their “Masters” as a chromo-premium to the best behaved. For years every new member has been told that he was promised nothing, but had everything to expect only from his own personal merit. The theosophist is left free and untrammeled in his actions. . . . no harm in trying elsewhere; unless, indeed one has offered himself and is decided to win the Masters’ favors. To such especially, I now address myself and ask: Have you fulfilled your obligations and pledges? Have you, . . . led the life requisite, and the conditions required from one who becomes a candidate? Let him who feels in his heart and conscience that he has, — . . . let him, I say, rise and protest. . . . I am afraid my invitation will remain unanswered.” (William Quan Judge, The Path, Vol. 1, 260-1, Dec. 1886)

Then it begins, with K.H. reminding H.S. Olcott, in his growing distrust, that the movement’s life is directly tied to H.P.B., their agent or emissary. In the Old Diary Leaves of Henry S. Olcott, Vol. 3., pg. 91, this letter is given as a brief extract, but this full publishing of the letter of August 1888, would have shown context during their conflicts:

Pablo Sender stated that —

“In an attempt to save the Society, Olcott proposed to redi­rect its activity and publications, dropping all mention of phenomena, the occult, and the Masters, to work on the less controversial field of comparative religion, phi­losophy, and science. (…) Koot Hoomi, said that although this move was well-calculated to save the physical integrity of the Society, it would kill its soul.” (Pablo Sender, The Esoteric School of Theosophy, Quest Magazine 101. 3, Summer 2013, pg. 100-104)

K.H. told H.P.B. in a letter on the Theosophical Society and Olcott:

“Olcott (…) wants to know why? Because the Society has liberated itself from our grasp and influence and we have let it go – we make no unwilling slaves. He says he has saved it? He saved its body, but he allowed through sheer fear, its soul to escape, and it is now a soulless corpse, a machine run so far well enough, but which will fall to pieces when he is gone. Out of the three objects the second alone is attended to, but it is no longer either a brotherhood, nor a body over the face of which broods the Spirit from beyond the Great Range. His kindness and love of peace are great and truly Gautamic in their spirit; but he has misapplied that kindness. (…) This is his (Olcott’s) sin. (…) In our sight there is no crime worse than ingratitude and injustice.” (K.H., Letters from The Masters of the Wisdom, Second Series, Letter no. 60)

In the letter, of Feb. 1882, on the forlorn hope, K.H. threatens that the status of the Society is at a peril, and they will subside out of public view. At a time of inner conflict, when either William Quan Judge or Besant were going to lead the T.S., was Judge unjustly treated?

In another letter between H.P.B. and Richard Harte, a temporary editor of The Theosophist, London, September 12, 1889, H.P.B. states that:

Blavatsky signals a betrayal afoot in India summed up in an 1890 letter, as she had drifted from the Adyar Theosophical Society. Helena Blavatsky begins shifting her last work towards the Theosophical Movement in Europe in the West, and leaves to England, pondering on the positive results of her mission.

“Their [the adepts] chief desire was to preserve the true religious and philosophical spirit of ancient India; to defend the Ancient Wisdom contained in its Darshanas and Upanishads against the systematic assaults of the missionaries; and finally to reawaken the dormant ethical and patriotic spirit in those youths in whom it had almost disappeared owing to college education. Much of this has been achieved by and through the Theosophical Society, in spite of all its mistakes and imperfections. (…)And let me say at once, to avoid misconception, that my only reason for accepting the exoteric direction of European affairs, was to save those who really have Theosophy at heart and work for it and the Society, from being hampered by those who not only do not care for Theosophy, as laid out by the Masters, but are entirely working against both, endeavouring to undermine and counteract the influence of the good work done, both by open denial of the existence of the Masters, by declared and bitter hostility to myself, and also by joining forces with the most desperate enemies of our Society.” (Helena P. Blavatsky, Why I Do Not Return to India, 1890)

This issue is dealt with more in-depth in the following article, Theosophy and Freemasonry


  1. The Theosophical Society did not die.I’m a member of it for last 60 yeares.Still it’s light guides me throuh the.lonely sea of life.


    • Thank you for commenting. I must say in all honesty, while I understand what it has done for you, and me still being somewhat distant but involved with the Society by even writing and promoting its ideas, I say, that as a movement with its once potential and stature, that status and mystique is dead. I think the point was demonstrated here, though others may freely dispute it. By realizing the truth, one could find the flaws of such an organization and fix it. Hoping others could see it that way.


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