Light on the Trans-Himalayan Occultists and Origins of Kabbalism – an echo of Lost Chaldean Wisdom

“I have never boasted of any knowledge of Sanskrit, and, when I came to India last, in 1879, knew very superficially the philosophies of the six schools of Brahmanism. I never pretended to teach Sanskrit or explain Occultism in that language. I claimed to know the esoteric philosophy of the trans-Himalayan Occultists and no more. (…) I have tried to prove it by rendering the technical terms used by the Tibetan Arhats of things and principles, as adopted in trans-Himalayan teaching (and which when given to Mr. Sinnett and others without their Sanskrit or European equivalents, remained to them unintelligible, as they would to all in India)—in terms used in Brahmanical philosophy. I may have failed to do so correctly, very likely I have, and made mistakes—I never claimed infallibility (…)” (Helena P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, Vol. VII, pp. 347)

“Now, there is only a very small number of people in the West who know that it [an anterior tradition to the Vedas and Chaldean] isn’t merely subjective or imaginative (…) that it corresponds to a universal truth.”—Mirra Alfassa on Theon. (Mother’s Agenda, November 4, 1958)

Theosophy is in serious need of revisiting by scholars. It is this intriguing passage we must begin with and relate to “Did Helena Blavatsky Studied with the Druzes of Lebanon,” concerning the origins of esotericism and the secret colleges of the priest-philosophers — the true implications of their knowledge, which underlies every ancient traditional cult in every old nation. Due to the clandestine nature of the endorsers of the Theosophists, which we may never know about fully, we have ample clues to go on, based on their own words, about their origins or historical connections:

“The religion of the Druses is said to be a compound of Judaism, Mahomedanism and Christianity, strongly tinged with Gnosticism and the Magian system of Persia. Were people to call things by their right names, sacrificing all self-conceit to truth, they might confess things otherwise. They could say, for instance, that Mahomedanism being a compound of Chaldeism, Christianity and Judaism; Christianity, a mixture of Judaism, Gnosticism and Paganism; and Judaism, a wholesale Egypto-Chaldean Kabalism, masquerading under invented names and fables, made to fit the bits and scraps of the real history of the Israelite tribes—the religious system of the Druses would then be found one of the last survivals of the archaic Wisdom-Religion. It is entirely based on that element of practical mysticism of which branches have from time to time sprung into existence. They pass under the unpopular names of Kabalism, Theosophy and Occultism. Except Christianity which, owing to the importance it gives to the principal prop of its doctrine of Salvation had to anathematize the practice of theurgy—every religion, including Judaism and Mahomedanism, credits these above-named branches. Civilisation having touched with its materialistic all-levelling, and all-destroying hand even India and Turkey, amid the din and chaos of crumbling faiths and old sciences, the reminiscence of archaic truths is now fast dying out. It has become popular and fashionable to denounce “the old and mouldy superstitions of our forefathers”;–verily even among the most natural allies of the students of theurgy or occultism…” (Helena P. Blavatsky, Lamas and Druses, Theosophist, June, 1881)

Jewish Kabbalism—the distorted Echo of Lost Chaldean Wisdom

The argument of H.P. Blavatsky, is that the Jewish Kabbalistic doctrine is the distorted echo of lost Chaldean Wisdom, and its wisdom was gathered from Mesopotamia, and is now nationalized under the Jewish system. The estrangement of the Jews, she argues, concerns this secret doctrine; and she traces the construction of monotheism, which confused the ancient theology. In numerous articles, she goes to great lengths to demonstrate what and which schools became dominant in the Jewish tradition. The Jewish system possesses four keys of the seven dialects of the Mysteries. Most notable is their system of sacred measures. Mathematics, apart of this, is a vital component to the study of the mysteries. When Sir Isaac Newton and other non-initiates have through their own efforts, discovered this, their colleagues regarded them as mad, and it equally drove them to obsession. While the Churches held that Babylonian, Egyptian, and Chaldean tradition are the “mother of all idolatrous religions,” H.P.B. argues in “The Eastern Gupta Vidya and the Kabalah,” that:

  • The Books of the Torah are not the original Books.
  • The ten “lost tribes” is a myth and invention of the Rabbis.
  • The Talmudists entirely disfigured the Books of Moses.
  • The Jews adopted the Chaldean phonetic tongue.
  • The Samaritans and others of the present Books repudiate it.
  • The Jews mutilated the Books and Laws and have no real access to the occult cosmogony and laws of such a Moses.
  • The Kabbalah is a distorted echo of lost Chaldean Wisdom
  • The Hebrew system does not contain all the keys to the mysteries, through which their doctrines are elaborated upon and rendered into the language of mythology.

T. Subba Row on the Origins of the Secret Doctrine of the Jewish Kabbalists

The Tamil occultist, T. Subba called “Theosophy” the “Aryan Chaldeo-Tibetan” doctrine, or Universal Wisdom-Religion, which he says is identical with the esotericism of the Jewish Kabbalists:

“. . . Probably the Aryan (we shall for the present call it by that name) and the Chaldeo-Tibetan esoteric doctrines are fundamentally identical and the secret doctrine of the Jewish Kabalists merely an offshoot of these.” (T. Subba Row. Jan. 1882. The Āryan-Arhat Esoteric Tenets on the Sevenfold Principle in ManThe Theosophist, Vol. III, No. 4, pg. 93)

“Nothing, perhaps, can be more interesting now to a student of occult philosophy than a comparison between the two principal doctrines above mentioned. Your letter seems to indicate two divisions in the Chaldeo-Tibetan doctrine: (1) that of the so-called Lamaists; and (2) that of the so-called Arhats (in Buddhism, Arahats, or Rahats) which has been adopted by the Himalayan or Tibetan Brotherhood. What is the distinction between these two systems? Some of our ancient Brahmanical writers have left us accounts of the main doctrines of Buddhism and the religion and philosophy of the Arhats—the two branches of the Tibetan esoteric doctrine being so called by them. (…)

It is now very difficult to say what was the real ancient Aryan doctrine. If an enquirer were to attempt to answer it by an analysis and comparison of all the various systems of esotericism prevailing in India, he will soon be lost in a maze of obscurity and uncertainty. No comparison between our real Brahmanical and the Tibetan esoteric doctrines will be possible unless one ascertains the teachings of that so-called “Aryan doctrine,” . . . and fully comprehends the whole range of the ancient Aryan philosophy. Kapila’s “Sankhya,” Patañjali’s “Yoga philosophy,” the different systems of “Sâktya” philosophy, the various Agamas and Tantras are but branches of it. There is a doctrine though, which is their real foundation and which is sufficient to explain the secrets of these various systems of philosophy and harmonize their teachings. It probably existed long before the Vedas were compiled, and it was studied by our ancient Rishis in connotation with the Hindu scriptures. It is attributed to one mysterious personage called Maha.* . . .

The Vedas were perhaps compiled mainly for the use of the priests assisting at public ceremonies, but the grandest conclusions of our real secret doctrine are therein mentioned. I am informed by persons competent to judge of the matter, that the Vedas have a distinct dual meaning—one expressed by the literal sense of the words, the other indicated by the metre and the Svara which are, as it were, the life of the Vedas. . . . Learned Pundits and philologists, of course, deny that Svara has anything to do with philosophy or ancient esoteric doctrines. But the mysterious connection between Svara and light is one of its most profound secrets.

Now it is extremely difficult to show whether the Tibetans derived their doctrine from the ancient Rishis of India, or the ancient Brahmans learned their occult science from the adepts of Tibet; or again whether the adepts of both countries professed originally the same doctrine and derived it from a common source.† If you were to go the Śramana Balagula and question some of the Jaina Pundits there about the authorship of the Vedas and the origin of the Brahmanical esoteric doctrine, they would probably tell you that the Vedas were composed by Rakshasas (a kind of Demon) or Thytyas, and that the Brahmans had derived their secret knowledge from them.” (T. Subba Row, The Aryan-Arhat Esoteric Tenets on the Sevenfold Principle in Man, Collected Writings, pp. 400-402; see The Theosophist, Vol. III, No. 4, January, 1882, pp. 93-95)

Notes on Some Āryan-Arhat Esoteric Tenets

It is out of the question to begin an argument here to prove the origin of the aborigines of Tibet as connected with one of the three great races which superseded each other in Babylonia, whether we call them the Akkadians (invented by F. Lenormant), or the primitive Turanians, Chaldees and Assyrians. Be it as it may, there is reason to call the Trans-Himâlayan esoteric doctrine Chaldæo-Tibetan. And, when we remember that the Vedas came—agreeably to all traditions—from the Mansarova Lake in Tibet, and the Brâhmans themselves from the far north, we are justified in looking on the esoteric doctrines of every people who once had or still have them, as having proceeded from one and the same source, and to thus call it the “Âryan-Chaldæo-Tibetan” doctrine, or Universal Wisdom Religion. “Seek for the Lost Word among the hierophants of Tartary, China and Tibet,” was the advice of Swedenborg, the seer.” (H.P. Blavatsky, Notes on Some Āryan-Arhat Esoteric Tenets, Appendices I)

“As no statements contained in the records of the Secret Doctrine of the East are regarded as of any value by the world in general, and since, to be understood by and convince the reader, one has to quote names familiar to him, and use arguments and proofs out of documents which are accessible to all, the following facts may perhaps demonstrate that our assertions are not merely based on the teachings of Occult Records.” (The Eastern Gupta Vidya and the Kabalah. Collected Writings, Vol. 14, pg. 172.)

The Secret Doctrine from the Druze to the Skálds

We will have to say, we are not satisfied with the myths, but to seek the truths underlying them.

“It would be worse than useless to publish in these pages even those portions of the esoteric teachings that have now escaped from confinement, unless the genuineness and authenticity – at any rate, the probability – of the existence of such teachings was first established. Such statements as will now be made, have to be shown warranted by various authorities: those of ancient philosophers, classics and even certain learned Church Fathers, (…) The writer will have to give historical and trustworthy names, and to cite well-known authors, ancient and modern, of recognized ability, good judgment, and truthfulness, as also to name some of the famous proficients in the secret arts and science, along with the mysteries of the latter, as they are divulged, or, rather, partially presented before the public in their strange archaic form. (…)” (Helena Blavatsky. 1888. The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1: Introductory. pp. xxxviii-xxxix.)

“This accounts for the necessity under which the writer has laboured to be ever explaining the facts given from the hoariest Past (…) by evidence gathered from the historical period. No other means was at hand, at the risk even of being once more charged with a lack of method and system. The public must be made acquainted with the efforts of many World-adepts, of initiated poets, writers, and classics of every age, to preserve in the records of Humanity the Knowledge of the existence, at least, of such a philosophy, if not actually of its tenets.” (Helena Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, pg., xlv.)

The sole advantage which the writer has over her predecessors, is that she need not resort to personal speculations and theories. For this work is a partial statement of what she herself has been taught by more advanced students, (…) The writer (…) believes in the ancients, and the modern heirs to their Wisdom. And believing in both, she now transmits that which she has received and learnt herself to all those who will accept it.” (Helena Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, pg. vii, xxxvii)

Blavatsky spends most of her introductory outlining, exactly where we may be able to look in source material for the teachings we find so obscure, from China to Mongolia. From the Druids, to the Skalds, to the most obscure of Islanders and Tribes, Theosophists sought to demonstrate the inter-continental nature of the mystery-tradition throughout the ancient world, as William Q. Judge states in hopes:

Mirra Alfassa on Max Théon’s Knowledge 

Théon was a Polish Jewish Kabbalist, and was the one who taught Blavatsky the Kabbalah, according to Mirra Alfassa. Max Théon (his pseudonym) was also a political idealist, who sought a political system that empowered the virtuous and wise, similar to Plato.

Mirra Alfassa

Mirra Alfassa says a number of interesting things about our Kabbalist friend, with whom Blavatsky was acquainted, in relation to Light on the Trans-Himalayan Occultists and Origins of Kabbalism: An echo of Lost Chaldean Wisdom. In this letter, the occultist Mirra Alfassa known as the Mother, speaking on Sri Aurobindo, states that there are ideas Théon taught, and when pressed, often stated, that his knowledge comes from some intimation with a system that antedated the Chaldean and Kabbalist, and Vedic.

Masato Tojo’s Theosophy: A Modern Revival of the Simorghian Culture posits that the modern Theosophical system is a reconstruction of tradition, known to the Indo-Iranians.

“The popular Lamaism, when compared with the real esoteric, or Arahat Buddhism of Tibet, offers a contrast as great as the snow trodden along a road in the valley, to the pure and undefiled mass which glitters on the top of a high mountain peak.” (Helena P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, Vol. IV, pp. 14-15.), she says. Both her and T. Subba Row meant by naming Theosophy, ‘Neo-Budhism’ and the “Aryan Chaldeo-Tibetan doctrine”— a revival of a historical archaic Wisdom-religion (Magism, or the MYSTERIES), which is actually a SCIENCE:

The ancient Aryan (Indo-Iranian) religion which Blavatsky reconstructed and thought to be is a religion before Hindus and Iranians separated. It is the Magi-brahmin’s religion from which Hinduism, Buddhism, Esoteric Zoroastrianism were born to propagate to Chaldea, Egypt, Greece and Rome. (…) To this category (Semitic Religions) belong Egyptian polytheism, Babylonian polytheism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Blavatsky thought Kabbalah (Chaldean Esotericism) was born from syncretism of Babylonian polytheism and esoteric Zoroastrianism. Christianity was born from syncretism of Chaldean Kabbalah and Judaism. (…). She thought Semitic religions are friendly to Aryan religion except Islam. She thought Islam (Sunnite) is a sort of reaction to the Aryan religion’s propagation, and Shi’ism is a counter reaction to the reaction (Sunnite Islam).” (Masato TOJO, Theosophy: A Modern Revival of the Simorghian Culture, pg. 10)

What is this universal Wisdom-religion, identified with Chaldeism, Hermeticism, Indo-Tibetan Philosophy, and Zoroastrianism?

Though the fundamental doctrines of Occultism and Esoteric philosophy are one and the same the world over, and that is the secret meaning under the outward shell of every old religion—however much they may conflict in appearance—[since each] is the outcome of, and proceeds from, the universal WISDOM-RELIGION—the modes of thought and of its expression must necessarily differ. There are Sanskrit words used—”Jiva,” for one—by trans-Himalayan adepts, whose meaning differs greatly in verbal applications, from the meaning it has among the Brahmins in India.

I have never boasted of any knowledge of Sanskrit, and, when I came to India last, in 1879, knew very superficially the philosophies of the six schools of Brahmanism. I never pretended to teach Sanskrit or explain Occultism in that language. I claimed to know the esoteric philosophy of the trans-Himalayan Occultists and no more. What I knew again, was that the philosophy of the ancient Dwijas and Initiates did not, nor could it differ essentially from the esotericism of the “Wisdom-religion,” any more than ancient Zoroastrianism, Hermetic philosophy, or Chaldean Kabbala could do so. I have tried to prove it by rendering the technical terms used by the Tibetan Arhats of things and principles, as adopted in trans-Himalayan teaching (and which when given to Mr. Sinnett and others without their Sanskrit or European equivalents, remained to them unintelligible, as they would to all in India)—in terms used in Brahmanical philosophy. I may have failed to do so correctly, very likely I have, and made mistakes—I never claimed infallibility (…) In my writings in The Theosophist I have always consulted learned and (even not very learned) Sanskrit-speaking Brahmans, giving credit to every one of them for knowing the value of Sanskrit terms better than I did. The question then is not, whether I may or may not have made use of wrong Sanskrit terms, but whether the occult tenets expounded through me are the right ones—at any rate those of the “Aryan-Chaldeo-Tibetan doctrine” as we call the “universal Wisdom-religion.” (see Re-Classification of Principles; Helena P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, Vol. VII, pp. 347-348.)

The mysterious, hitherto unknown doctrines in the Theosophical system, was seen by some, and certainly its own proponents as the revival of the Wisdom-Religion of anterior Buddhas and Intelligences:

Furthermore, the records we mean to place before the reader embrace the esoteric tenets of the whole world since the beginning of our humanity, and Buddhistic occultism occupies therein only its legitimate place, and no more. Indeed, the secret portions of the “Dan” or “Jan-na” (“Dhyan”) of Gautama’s metaphysics—grand as they appear to one unacquainted with the tenets of the Wisdom Religion of antiquity—are but a very small portion of the whole. The Hindu Reformer limited his public teachings to the purely moral and physiological aspect of the Wisdom-Religion, to Ethics and MAN alone. Things “unseen and incorporeal,” the mystery of Being outside our terrestrial sphere, the great Teacher left entirely untouched in his public lectures, reserving the hidden Truths for a select circle of his Arhats. The latter received their Initiation at the famous Saptaparna cave (the Sattapanni of Mahavansa) near Mount Baibhâr (the Webhâra of the Pali MSS). . . Thus the reader is asked to bear in mind the very important difference between orthodox Buddhism—i.e., the public teachings of Gautama the Buddha, and his esoteric Budhism.” (Helena P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, xx.)

“Many prefer to call themselves Buddhists not because the word attaches itself to the ecclesiastical system built upon the basic ideas of our Lord Gautama Buddha’s philosophy, but because of the Sanskrit word “Buddhi” — wisdom, enlightenment; and as a silent protest to the vain rituals and empty ceremonials which have in too many cases been productive of the greatest calamities. Such also is the origin of the Chaldean term Mage.” (K.H., The Mahatma Letters, Letter no. 85, December 7, 1883)

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