Portal:Theosophy

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Theosophy portal

The logo for the Theosophical Society brought together various ancient symbols

Theosophy is an esoteric religious movement established in the United States during the late nineteenth century. It was founded largely by the Russian émigré Helena Blavatsky and draws its beliefs predominantly from Blavatsky's writings. Categorised by scholars of religion as part of the occultist current of Western esotericism, it draws upon both older European philosophies like Neoplatonism and Asian religions like Hinduism and Buddhism.

As taught by Blavatsky, Theosophy holds that there is an ancient and secretive brotherhood of spiritual adepts known as Ascended Masters, who—although found across the world—are centred in Tibet. These Masters are believed to have cultivated great wisdom and supernatural powers, and Theosophists believe that it was they who initiated the modern Theosophical movement through disseminating their teachings via Blavatsky. They believe that these Masters are attempting to revive knowledge of an ancient religion once found across the world and which will again come to eclipse the existing world religions. Theosophical groups nevertheless do not refer to their system as a "religion". Theosophy preaches the existence of a single, divine Absolute. It promotes an emanationist cosmology in which the universe is perceived as outward reflections from this Absolute. Theosophy teaches that the purpose of human life is spiritual emancipation and claims that the human soul undergoes reincarnation upon bodily death according to a process of karma. It promotes values of universal brotherhood and social improvement although does not stipulate particular ethical codes.

Theosophy was established in New York City in 1875 with the founding of the Theosophical Society by Blavatsky, Henry Olcott, and William Quan Judge. Blavatsky and Olcott relocated to India, where they established the Society's headquarters at Adyar, Tamil Nadu. Blavatsky described her ideas in two books, Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine. Blavatsky was repeatedly accused of fraudulently producing purportedly supernatural phenomena, often in connection with these "masters." Following Blavatsky's death in 1891, there was a schism in the Society, with Judge leading the Theosophical Society in America to secede. Under Judge's successor Katherine Tingley, a Theosophical community named Lomaland was established in San Diego. The Adyar-based Society was later taken over by Annie Besant, under whom it grew to its largest extent during the late 1920s, before going into decline.

Theosophy played a significant role in bringing knowledge of South Asian religions to Western countries, as well as in encouraging cultural pride in various South Asian nations. A variety of prominent artists and writers have also been influenced by Theosophical teachings. Theosophy has an international following, and during the twentieth century had tens of thousands of adherents. Theosophical ideas have also exerted an influence on a wide range of other esoteric movements and philosophies, among them Anthroposophy, the Church Universal and Triumphant, and the New Age.

Selected article

Helena Blavatsky
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (Russian: Еле́на Петро́вна Блава́тская) (12 August [O.S. 31 July] 1831 – 8 May 1891), an occultist and author, developed the spiritual philosophy of Theosophy, which she intended would express the universal religion of mankind. She co-founded the Theosophical Society, which gained her an international following. Born Helena von Hahn to aristocratic Russo-German parentage in Ekaterinoslav, Russian-controlled Ukraine, Blavatsky traveled widely around the Russian Empire as a child. Largely self-educated, she developing an interest in Western esotericism during her teenage years. According to her later claims, in 1849 she embarked on a series of world travels, visiting Europe, the Americas, and India. She alleged that during this period she encountered a group of spiritual adepts, the "Masters of the Ancient Wisdom", who sent her to Shigatse, Tibet, where they trained her to develop her own psychic powers.

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Annie Besant
Annie Besant (1 October 1847 – 20 September 1933) was a prominent British socialist, theosophist, women's rights activist, writer and orator and supporter of Irish and Indian self-rule. In 1867, Annie at age 20, married Frank Besant, a clergyman, and they had two children, but Annie's increasingly anti-religious views led to a legal separation in 1873. She then became a prominent speaker for the National Secular Society (NSS) and writer and a close friend of Charles Bradlaugh. In 1877 they were prosecuted for publishing a book by birth control campaigner Charles Knowlton. The scandal made them famous, and Bradlaugh was elected M.P. for Northampton in 1880.

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Gandhi
Theosophy is the teaching of Madame Blavatsky. It is Hinduism at its best. Theosophy is the Brotherhood of Man. … Jinnah and other Moslem leaders were once members of the Congress. They left it because they felt the pinch of Hinduism patronizing. … They did not find the Brotherhood of Man among the Hindus. They say Islam is the Brotherhood of Man. As a matter of fact, it is the Brotherhood of Moslems. Theosophy is the Brotherhood of Man.
Gandhi, (attributed)
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