BLAVATSKY, Helena Petrovna (née Hahn, Russian Jelena Petrovna Blavatskaja, née Gan). Ekaterinoslav (now Dnipro in Ukraina) 12.8.1831 — London 9.5. 1891. Russian Noblewoman, the Founder of the Theosophical Society. Born in Ukraina as daughter of colonel Peter Hahn, of a noble family of Mecklenburg settled in Russia. Married at 17 a husband of 60 (Nikifor V. Bl., an officer), but left him after a few months. Travelled widely in Europe, America and Asia. With small success tried to enter Tibet via Nepal and, in 1855, via Kashmir, claimed to have studied many years in Tibet. After further travels in India settled in 1873 in New York for six years and became naturalized as American. In 1875 founded there the Theosophical Society together with colonel Olcott, with whom she came to India in 1879 and settled down in Adyar near Madras. After having been severely criticized in Indian press, she came to Europe and spent her last years in London.
The authenticity of her Indian and Tibetan “wisdom” has been repeatedly shown false, based on a small collection of works by early Western scholars, but still piously believed by many Theosophists.
Publications: Isis Unveiled. 1-2. 1877; The Voice of Silence. 1885; The Secret Doctrine. 1-3. 1888; and other works purportedly founded on Indian and Tibetan secret lore.
Sources: Buckland, Dictionary; Enc. Brit. 15th ed; *Wikipedia (long article with several pictures); *C. Haas: “Madame Blavatsky, Max Müller und die göttliche Weisheit des alten Indien”, H. Brückner & K. Steiner (ed.), 200 Jahre Indienforschung – Geschichte(n), Netzwerke, Diskurse. Wb. 2012, 181-196.
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