Helena P. Blavatsky was born H elene Petrovna von Hahn on August 12, 1831 (new style calendar), in Ekaterinoslav, now Dnepropetrovsk, Russia. Her father, Peter von Hahn, a captain in the horse artillery of the Russian army, was a direct descendent of Count von Rottenstern-Hahn of Mecklenburg, Germany, who had emigrated to Russia in the previous century.
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Her mother, Helena Andreyevna von Hahn, was a highly regarded novelist. She wrote under the pen name of Zenaide R. or Zeneide R-Va and was called the George Sand of Russia by Belinsky and other literary critics who regarded her as one of the principal founders of the women’s liberation movement.
In 1842 Helena Andreyevna died when she was only twenty-seven years old, but with her literary reputation already well established. She realized early how rebellious, how courageous and brilliant her eleven-year old daughter was. On her deathbed she stated that perhaps it was just as well that she was dying for she would be spared seeing what befell little Helena. “Of one thing I am certain,” she was quoted as saying. “Her life will not be as that of other women, and she will have much to suffer.” Her words proved all too prophetic.
After her mother’s death, little Helena went to live with her maternal grandparents, the Fadeefs, first in Saratoff and later in Tiflis. Madame Nadejda Fadeef, the aunt whom Helena deeply loved, wrote about her in later years:
From her earliest childhood, she was unlike any other person. Very lively and highly gifted, full of humor, and of most remarkable daring; she struck everyone with astonishment by her self-willed and determined actions … It was a fatal mistake to regard and treat her as they would any other child. Her restlessness and very nervous temperament, one that led her into the most unheard of, ungirlish mischief … Her passionate love and curiosity for everything unknown and mysterious, wierd and fantastical, and foremost of all, her craving for independence and freedom of action – a craving that nothing and nobody could control; all this combined with an exuberance of imagination and wonderful sensitiveness …
When nearly seventeen, she married General N.V. Blavatsky who admitted to being fifty but was more probably close to seventy.
In three weeks time she fled this unconsummated marriage, abondoned Russia, and spent ten years in Central Asia, India, South America, Africa, and Eastern Europe.
She had always seen the form of a tall Hindu man near her, helping her whenever she was in danger, and in London she saw Him in person for the first time. Countess Wachtmeister wrote in her Reminiscenses of H.P. Blavatsky:
“When she was in London, in 1851, with her father, Colonel Hahn, she was one day out walking when, to her astonishment, she saw a tall Hindu in the street with some Indian princes. She recognized him as the very same tall, commanding figure she had seen often as a child.
“Her first impulse was to rush forward and speak to Him, but He made her a sign not to move, and she stood as if spellbound while He passed on. The next day she went to Hyde Park for a stroll … alone … Looking up, she saw the same form approaching her, and then her Master told her that He had come to London with the Indian princess on an important mission, and He was desirous of meeting her personally, and He required her cooperation in work He was about to undertake. He then told her how the Theosophical Society was to be formed, and that He wished her to be the founder. He gave her a slight sketch of all the troubles she would have to undergo, and also told her that she would have to spend three years in Tibet to prepare her for her most important task.
“After three days serious consideration and consultation with her father, H.P.B. decided to accept the offer made to her, and shortly afterwards left London for India.”
Although she reached Tibet earlier, it was not until 1864 that she was able to stay long enough to receive the necessary training from Him: Master Morya.
Finally, after many more exciting visits to several countries, she set out for America to bring the teaching of the Ancient Wisdom to the world once again.
In 1874, she met Colonel Henry Steele Olcott, and it was with his collaboration that the marvelous philosophy of the Ancient Wisdom began to be published. Isis Unveiled appeared in the fall of 1877 in New York. H.P.B. received her United States citizenship in 1878. At the end of 1888, her magnum opus, The Secret Doctrine, was published, and The Key to Theosophy followed in 1889.
On May 8, 1891, in London, this magnificent woman died. Her eventful life continues to be a great inspiration to all students of the Ancient Wisdom the world over. Biographies of her life and reminiscences of her by friends and relatives continue to be published and are read everywhere with increasing interest. However, biographies just show her personality traits. Powerful as they were, they were overshadowed by her tremendously developed beingness. A highly developed being can tame the most flamboyant personality and use it to penetrate into and express the higher mind, the intuition, and still higher levels of beingness. Her true greatness, then, was the high level of her beingness, or Soul qualities, and the ability to express the great truths here on the physical plane perceived by that very beingness for the benefit of all mankind.
What were these great truths which she sacrificed all to express? What philosophy did she give us that was so profound and useful for humanity that today thousands of students still eagerly study?
Out of many important contributions, the most important one was the revelation of the existence of the Masters of Wisdom. They are advanced Souls who, through self-sacrificing service, intense striving, and great thought, have conquered the physical plane. She revealed that these rare and glorious Beings, the Elder Brothers of humanity, really exist. Starting as ordinary human beings, they have raised themselves to such a height of achievement, of great beingness, that they have actually entered consciously the fifth, or divine, kingdom in nature. She further revealed that from this high point of achievement, these Elder Brothers of humanity are working ceaselessly for the benefit of mankind and helping all those who are struggling and sacrificing to raise themselves up also! In addition, she taught a small part of their great knowledge about the beginnings of our world and about the appearance of the various kingdom on earth, including the human kingdom.
In the core of each human being there is a latent divinity, a Christ Consciousness, waiting to be unfolded to lead man on to his divine destiny. Because man was late in his development, as alluded to in The Secret Doctrine, he has always had teachers helping him. This help has always consisted, one way or another, in helping him to find the keys to the unfoldment of his innate divinity and to see for himself that he is a part, an inseparable part, of the divine purpose. When he discovers this by raising his beingness to the divine realms and thus experiences that divinity directly, he will no longer need earthly teachers. Because his conscious penetration of divinity will allow him to experience every aspect of nature and her laws, he will know, by experience, where his rightful place is in the nature of things. Those Who already accomplished this banded together, forming the Spiritual Hierarchy to help the rest of the human race reach the same goal. They still teach, helping everyone who is ready to break the bonds of material limitation. It is the human being, each individual one, who has to do the work. There are no “free rides.” The Plan of the Hierarchy has basically two objectives; to teach humanity to liberate itself from matter, superstition, glamor and illusion, and to help humanity find its purpose as administrators of the will of God here on earth.