Arya Sangha or Assembly of the Wise

Fictitious Tibet: The Origin and Persistence of Rampaism

by Agehananda Bharati
Part III

Helena Blavatsky
Mme. Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine, a multivolume work, is such a melee of horrendous hogwash and of fertile inventions of inane esoterica, that any Buddhist and Tibetan scholar is justified to avoid mentioning it in any context. But it is precisely because serious scholars haven’t mentioned this opus that it should be dealt with in a serious publication and in one whose readers are deeply concerned with the true representation of Tibetan lore.

In other words, since Blavatsky’s work has had signal importance in the genesis and the perpetuation of a widespread, weird, fake, and fakish pseudo-Tibetica and pseudo-Buddhica, and since no Tibetologist or Buddhologist would touch her writings with a long pole (no pun intended, Blavatsky is a Russian name, the Polish spelling would be Blavatski), it behooves an anthropologist who works in the Buddhist and Tibetan field to do this job.

I don’t think that more than five per cent, if that many, of the readers of Lobsang Rampa-Hoskins’ work have ever heard about Blavatsky, but Lobsang Rampa-Hoskins must have read them, cover to cover or in excerpts--his whole work reeks of Blavatsky-isms and of course, he doesn’t quote sources--fakes never do. Long before Rampa, the whole range of quasi-mathematical spheres, diagrammatic arrangements, levels of existence of consciousness, master- and disciplehood, hoisted on a style of self-indulgent, self-aggrandizing rhetoric, was more or less created by Blavatsky.

Medieval Christian writers, the Hermetics and a large number of kindred thinkers and their products had indeed presented a wide vista of quasi-mathematical, impressionistic, imaginary structures; earlier, of course, Jewish mysticism with kabbalistic, Talmudic, and earlier medieval Rabbinical moorings might have set the example for the medieval Christian writings of this kind, unless the Christian writers were--or were also--inspired by whatever filtered through to them from the Greek and Hellenic esotericists, the Pythagoreans and a large number of neo-Pythagorean writings spread through the Hellenic world. Medieval Christian scholars did not read Greek, and whatever they did know about those esoteric systems they obtained through Latin translations.

Nobody knows to what degree Blavatsky was familiar with any of this. As an anthropologist, I believe in the perennial possibility of independent invention--people get similar ideas without necessary mutual communication or diffusion. Be that as it may, Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine and all the subsequent writings of the Esoteric section of the Theosophical Society, later on rechristened "Eastern" to forestall criticisms of mystery-monging and the pervasive tendency to identify the esoteric with the erotic, rested heavenly on such quasi-structural schemes.