Citation: Reigle, David. Blavatsky's work Isis Unveiled , published in , was never intended to unveil Isis, the Egyptian goddess who represents the mysteries of nature. Blavatsky had given this book to the printer with the title The Veil of Isis. But after printing had commenced, it was found that this title had already been used elsewhere.
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Citation: Reigle, David. Blavatsky's work Isis Unveiled , published in , was never intended to unveil Isis, the Egyptian goddess who represents the mysteries of nature.
Blavatsky had given this book to the printer with the title The Veil of Isis. But after printing had commenced, it was found that this title had already been used elsewhere. So a new title had to be found quickly. The publisher suggested Isis Unveiled, and Blavatsky had little choice but to agree Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled , introduction, The book that came out as Isis Unveiled was intended not to unveil the mysteries of nature, but to make known to the world the existence of a once universal Wisdom Religion, now hidden from view.
The symbolical Isis, the Wisdom Religion, is indeed veiled, since it had been lost to the world for long ages, but it exists! This startling news caused so much excitement that the first printing of copies sold out in ten days Olcott, What is the Wisdom Religion? It is described by Blavatsky in her later book, The Secret Doctrine , as the universally diffused religion of the ancient and prehistoric world Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine , 1:xxxiv. Further, all the presently existing religions and philosophies originate from it.
When this is recognized, the divisive walls that separate one group of people from another crumble. The fact of the existence of the Wisdom Religion was brought out to help achieve this, in keeping with the first object of Blavatsky's Theosophical Society, to promote universal brotherhood. In making known to the modern world for the first time the existence of the once universal Wisdom Religion, Blavatsky had a twofold task. She had first to show that science did not have all the answers, that the ancients had knowledge of things not yet discovered by science.
This she did in volume 1 of Isis Unveiled. She had also to show that religion in its separativism had ceased to meet humanity's needs, but that these separate pieces come together in the one archaic Wisdom Religion. This she did in volume 2. Throughout both volumes of Isis Unveiled she cited book after book written by ancient authors from all over the world, showing on their part a knowledge of the teachings of the now lost Wisdom Religion.
In this way she showed that although this knowledge had become lost, partly through the religious fervor of followers of separative religions, and partly through being withdrawn by its custodians to safeguard it from such sectarians, it was once common knowledge. But it had for many centuries been carefully hidden away. So how did Blavatsky learn of the existence of the once universal Wisdom Religion, hidden so well for so long?
She had gone to the East in search of wisdom and found certain individuals who were its custodians. But Blavatsky was not the only person to travel to the East in search of wisdom.
Why did she find the Wisdom Religion when others did not? It would seem rather that its custodians found her. The custodians of the Wisdom Religion make up a secret brotherhood centered in Tibet and India. Two members of the Tibetan brotherhood were Blavatsky's primary teachers, called in Theosophical writings the Mahatmas K.
Koot Hoomi and M. The great fourteenth-century Tibetan teacher Tsong-kha-pa, who reformed Tibetan Buddhism and founded the Gelugpa order, is said to have also reformed the secret Tibetan brotherhood who are the custodians of the Wisdom Religion.
Among his reforms of the latter is an injunction to make an attempt to enlighten the Western barbarians during the last quarter of each century CW Hitherto, we are told, each such attempt had failed. Then came the attempt in The Mahatma K.
After nearly a century of fruitless search, our chiefs had to avail themselves of the only opportunity to send out a European body upon European soil to serve as a connecting link between that country and our own. Barker, Thus it was the custodians of the Wisdom Religion who found her, and then allowed her to find them. After receiving instruction from them, Blavatsky founded the Theosophical Society in She then wrote Isis Unveiled , which was published in In this way she made known to the modern Western world for the first time the existence of the Wisdom Religion, still preserved in the East.
She was entrusted with the task of bringing out a portion of its teachings, for which she used the term "Theosophy. It is thus a pioneering work, a work which paved the way for the much fuller installment given in her later work, The Secret Doctrine. In bringing out something altogether new, Isis Unveiled had to devote much space to tearing down and clearing away existing beliefs that stood in the way of the acceptance of the new teachings.
The existing beliefs, as said before, were, first, that modern science had all the answers, when in fact it was limited to physical reality alone; and, second, that religion had the whole truth, when in fact it had only pieces. Thus much of Isis Unveiled was devoted to showing the inadequacies of science and religion, and comparatively little of it was devoted to giving out new teachings, other than the very fact of their existence. An exposition of the new teachings as such was to come later.
Those who have studied The Secret Doctrine should therefore not expect to find in Isis Unveiled the same kinds of things they found in The Secret Doctrine. Isis Unveiled is quite different. In order to get a perspective on what one will find in Isis Unveiled , it may be useful to review some of the comments on it made by the author and her teachers.
Blavatsky writes: "It was the first cautious attempt to let into the West a faint streak of Eastern esoteric light" CW The author was made to hint and point out in the true direction, to say what things are not , not what they are. Barker, 45; emphasis here and in other quotes is from the original. Many are the subjects treated upon in Isis that even H.
Not only was Blavatsky not permitted to give clear details, she had to express what she could give out in a language that was foreign to her. She informs us:.
I could understand when I read it, but could hardly speak the language. Until I had never written one word in English. CW ; cf. Therefore she submitted the manuscript of Isis Unveiled to her coworker Colonel Olcott to correct her English.
They worked together on this, rewriting all but the passages which had been dictated to her by her teachers. Thus she says:. It is to him [Olcott] that I am indebted for the English in Isis. The language in Isis is not mine; but with the exception of that portion of the work which, as I claim, was dictated , may be called only a sort of translation of my facts and ideas into English. CW , However, Olcott was not then in a position to correct errors of doctrine that Blavatsky was oblivious to because of her lack of fluency with English.
CW Indeed, Olcott could not correct what he did not understand, and Blavatsky could not express what she understood. I am [at] 47th St. New York writing Isis and His voice dictating to me. In that dream or retrospective vision I once more rewrote all Isis and could now point out all the pages and sentences Mah.
This situation necessarily led to mistakes in Isis Unveiled. One that was soon to catch up with her was her usage of the term "God. It was while most anxious to solve these perplexing problems that we came into contact with certain men, endowed with such mysterious powers and such profound knowledge that we may truly designate them as sages of the Orient.
To their instructions we lent a ready ear. They showed us that by combining science with religion, the existence of God and immortality of man's spirit may be demonstrated like a problem of Euclid. For the first time we received the assurance that the Oriental philosophy has room for no other faith than an absolute and immovable faith in the omnipotence of man's own immortal self. The latter, they said, can never be demonstrated but by the former.
Man-spirit proves God-spirit, as the one drop of water proves a source from which it must have come. When writing Isis Unveiled , Blavatsky was unaware of the connotations of the word "God," and therefore used it when she actually meant the impersonal and universal principle known in Hinduism among Advaiti Vedantins as Parabrahman.
My mistake was that throughout the whole work [ Isis Unveiled ] I indifferently employed the words Parabrahm and God to express the same idea. A few years later the problem with the use of the term "God" emerged. In two Englishmen living in India, A. Sinnett and A. Hume, had begun a correspondence with Blavatsky's two teachers, the Mahatmas M. The two Englishmen then wrote about the heretofore hidden or occult teachings of the Mahatmas based on these letters.
Hume had in written a "Preliminary Chapter" headed "God" intended to preface an exposition of occult philosophy. Neither our philosophy nor ourselves believe in a God, least of all in one whose pronoun necessitates a capital H.
Our doctrine knows no compromises. It either affirms or it denies, for it never teaches but that which it knows to be the truth. Therefore, we deny God both as philosophers and as Buddhists. We know there are planetary and other spiritual lives, and we know there is in our system no such thing as God, either personal or impersonal.
Parabrahm is not a God, but absolute immutable law. Hume's chapter had added "God" to their philosophy, which the Mahatma regarded as a very serious problem, saying:. If he publishes what I read, I will have H.
A different kind of problem arose because, as noted above, Blavatsky could not give out Theosophical doctrines in their completeness in when Isis Unveiled was published.
In this book she taught the threefold constitution of a human being: body, soul, and spirit. When the Theosophical teaching on the sevenfold constitution of a human being was brought out four years later, she was accused of contradiction.
But as the Mahatma K.
Isis Unveiled: A Perspective
Between September 17 and October 16, , Mme. Blavatsky was visiting with Professor and Mrs. Hiram Corson in Ithaca, New York for about three weeks. Their son Eugene Corson reported that,. She spent her time at her desk, writing, writing, writing most of the day and way into the night, carrying on a huge correspondence by long letters.
Isis Unveiled: A Master-Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology , published in , is a book of esoteric philosophy and Helena Petrovna Blavatsky 's first major work and a key text in her Theosophical movement. The work has often been criticized as a plagiarized occult work, with scholars noting how Blavatsky extensively copied from many sources popular among occultists at the time. The work was originally entitled The Veil of Isis , a title which remains on the heading of each page, but had to be renamed once Blavatsky discovered that this title had already been used for an Rosicrucian work by W. Isis Unveiled is divided into two volumes. Volume I, The 'Infallibility' of Modern Science , discusses occult science and the hidden and unknown forces of nature, exploring such subjects as forces, elementals , psychic phenomena , and the Inner and Outer Man. It follows the Renaissance notion of prisca theologia , in that all these religions purportedly descend from a common source; the ancient "Wisdom-Religion".