Theosophy and the Society in the Public Eye
Recent Periodical References to Notable Persons and Theosophy
John Algeo –USA
H. G. Wells and H. P. Blavatsky
H. G. Wells
The New York Times (May 8, 2011) includes a review of a new book on survival after death: The Immortalization Commission: Science and the Strange Quest to Cheat Death, by John Gray (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). The reviewer, Clancy Martin, a professor of philosophy at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, writes: “[H. G.] Wells’s great fantasies charged the batteries of mystically inclined intellectuals like Madame Blavatsky, G. I. Gurdjieff, P. D. Ouspensky and especially [Maxim] Gorky.” It is clear that Professor Martin is not a historian because that statement is chronologically impossible. Blavatsky’s life dates are 1831 to 1891; H. G. Wells’s are 1866 to 1946, and he did not begin to publish until 1895, four years after HPB died, so any influence of Wells on Blavatsky is an impossibility. The reverse, influence of Blavatsky on Wells, is, however, a distinct possibility. Even a philosopher should be able to distinguish properly between a cause and a consequence.
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Gandhi and Theosophy
The New Yorker magazine (May 2, 2001) includes an article on Mohandas Gandhi, “The Inner Voice: Gandhi’s Real Legacy,” by Pankaj Mishra, in which the author writes: “Gandhi was not only the most prolific of modern thinkers . . . but also the most globalized and ecumenical . . . . After trying vainly to turn himself into an English gentleman he was initiated into Hindu philosophy by a Russian Theosophist.” The identity of the putative “Russian Theosophist” is unstated.
Other sources indicate that Gandhi was introduced to Theosophy and Indian philosophy (via Edwin Arnold’s poetic version of the Gita, The Song Celestial) by Archibald and Bertram Keightley, an uncle and nephew pair who were only a year apart in age and were therefore mistakenly identified by Gandhi as brothers. Gandhi became an affiliate of the Blavatsky Lodge, London, and met HPB, HSO, and Annie Besant there.
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