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The Secret Doctrine, Bailey, Besant and Leadbeater

Nov 07, 1993 00:39 AM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins

Arvind Kumar

     Regarding your questions concerning THE SECRET DOCTRINE, I'm
answering your question in a historical manner, and in greater
detail than your original question suggests. My reasons for
doing this, is to build up some background that will be helpful
later on.
     Vols. one and two of THE SECRET DOCTRINE were the only ones
published. Blavatsky did promise the publication of vols. three
and four, but they never appeared. Various reasons have been
suggested for this. Some say that they were completed, but
withdrawn by the masters. Others suggest that H.P.B. herself
with held the volumes, because the world wasn't ready for these
teachings. The least sensational reason was given by Boris de
Zirkoff (Blavatsky's last living blood relative, who compiled
together all of Blavatsky's writings), who concluded that the
volumes were never completed. This, on the surface sounds
contradictory to Blavatsky's statement in THE SECRET DOCTRINE
that these volumes were *almost* completed. But de Zirkoff,
argues that "almost completed" to Blavatsky met that she had the
plan for them in her head, and perhaps had a small part of it
written. This would be consistant with the way she wrote ISIS
UNVEILLED, where the bulk of the book was written during the
typesetting and proofing stage. Based upon my own study of
Blavatsky, her personality, and the way she turned phrases in her
letters, and based upon the evidence of the unpublished writings
she left behind, I personally find de Zirkoff's explanation to be
the most plausible.
     In 1893, Annie Besant came out with a "third and revised
edition" of the first two volumes. The changes Mrs. Besant made
were extensive. Some U.L.T. students did a correlation between
the first and third editions, and reported an excess of 10,000
changes. Many are as trivial as correcting an obvious
typographical error, while others were more extensive, such as
editing in such a way as to change the whole meaning of
statements, or in some cases, editing out material altogether.
Of note in this editing process, is that she removed all
references to, and descriptions of the forthcoming 3rd and 4th
     On page xl of the original edition, H.P.B. does give an
overview of what we were to find in vol. III.: "In that volume a
brief recapitulation will be made of all the principal adepts
known to history, and the downfall of the mysteries will be
     In 1897, Besant published THE SECRET DOCTRINE vol. III. But
in light of Blavatsky's description of what this volume was to
contain, Besant's volume III is obviously not Blavatsky's
intended volume III. Besant says that the papers were "given
into my hands to publish, as part of the Third Volume of the
Secret Doctrine..."  She then goes on to explain that much of the
writing is confused, and cautions that "I cannot let them go to
the public without a warning that much in them is certainly
     An analysis of Besant's third volume shows that the bulk of
the papers "given into her hands," was for the most part
previously published material. Much of it is the E.S.
Instructions, but edited by Besant. In one case, it is an
earlier draft of a previously published article. However, there
are some sections which undoubtedly were intended to go into that
third volume.
     In 1938, These three edited volumes were republished at
Adyar, into a six volume work. Volume I was broken into two
volumes, as was volume two. Volume three became volume five, and
volume six became the index.
     By 1978, Boris de Zirkoff made an agreement with the
Theosophical Publishing House in Wheaton to reprint THE SECRET
DOCTRINE in its original forms, but with the addition of his
annotations. This was to be done with the understanding that the
six volume Adyar edition be allowed to go out of print, and the
material in Besant's "third Volume" be printed in its
chronological order in the Collected Writings. This agreement
was pretty much carried out, except that for some reason, Wheaton
reprinted the third volume in paper under the new title: THE
     Regarding the writings of Leadbeater and Besant. I think we
have come to a point, where I need to make some clarification,
before we go any further. I do not make the assumption that
Blavatsky, Besant and Leadbeater are in agreement in what they
teach. That includes emphases, definitions of terms, and the
teachings themselves. It is not only Besant and Leadbeater, but
I also do not make this assumption for Judge, de Purucker or
Crosbie. The reason for doing so is a simple matter of good
scholarship. I realize that in some circles, my position is very
unpopular, but substantial evidence has been gathered by a number
of students over the years, that more than justifies taking this
position. Therefore, I cannot accept on face value any
statements made by Besant or Leadbeater as being representative
of Blavatsky or of the Masters. If, however, you are arguing
that Bailey's teachings are partially or wholly based upon Besant
and Leadbeater, rather than Blavatsky and her teachers, then we
will have to shift our inquiry into another direction.
     I still look forward to your finding that citation in the
S.D. concerning someone coming in the 20th century. In reading
Occult books, I make a habit of making very brief (one or two
word) notations, with the page number, and organizing them
according to catagories. By the time I finish the book, I then
have a mini index of what I found to be the most important points
in that reading. I use the front and back inside covers, the fly
pages and whatever other blank areas I find. I also learned to
write very small. I recommend that you take up this practice, as
you will find it to be a great help when you want to look
something up. If you have an aversion to writing in books, you
can use separate sheets of paper.

Until later,

     Jerry Hejka-Ekins

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