Theosophical Encyclopedia


Originating in Persia (modern Iran) in the nineteenth century, the Bahai Faith’s central figure was Mirza Hoseyn Ali Nuri (1817-92), a member of the Persian nobility, who was known as Bahaullah (or Baha Allah), a title that means "The splendor of God." The term "Bahai" means "follower of the splendor." Bahaullah’s mission was heralded by Siyyid Mirza Ali-Muhammad (the Bab) who began teaching in Shiraz in 1844 about the imminent emergence of a divine prophet foretold in all scriptures. Consequently the Bab and thousands of his followers were martyred at the urging of militant orthodox forces.

In response to the seeds of expectation that had matured through the revelation of the Bab, Bahaullah, who had been among the Bab’s ardent admirers, in 1853 confided to his followers and proclaimed publicly in 1863 that he was the prophet foretold by the Bab. In the years until his 1892 death in Akka, Palestine, Bahaullah produced a great number of treatises on mystical, spiritual, social, and ethical subjects, which he presented as divine revelations. The purpose of his revelation, he stated, was to provide the divine guidance required for humanity's spiritual and social well-being as it comes of age as a global society.


Bahai Temple in New Delhi, India

Bahai Beliefs. The premise of the Bahai faith is a path toward unity. Bahais acknowledge a divine purpose to creation and the existence of a creator who remains infinitely beyond the comprehension of man and thus essentially unknowable. Whatever knowledge we possess of the divine has been "dispensed" from that ultimate source by a series of prophetic figures, including the few known to history: Adam, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Abraham, Moses, Christ, Muhammad, and most recently the Bab and Bahaullah. This view of religious history as "progressive revelation" acknowledges the role of each of the revealed religions in the development of civilization, upholds the divine station of prophets and attributes to human error and folly the divisions and conflicts that have emerged in their names.

Read more: BAHAI FAITH


An Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol of life or immortality, the ankh, from an Egyptian word for “life, soul,” is also called crux ansata (Latin for “cross with a handle [by which Egyptians gods were depicted as carrying it]”). Much imaginative speculation has been given to the origin of the symbol, which remains unknown.


An ankh-like symbol () was also used in ancient Mycenae and Cyprus and became the symbol for both copper and the goddess Aphrodite, both associated with Cyprus, and hence for the feminine (as distinct from the Mars-like sign for the masculine). It was also used by Coptic Christians instead of the Latin cross.

Blavatsky offers an interpretation of the ankh as "the man crucified in space of Plato." She sees the circle or handle as a human head (CW 10:59). In Isis Unveiled (2:557) she alludes to depictions of Krishna “holding the cruciform ankh and the chakra.”

In modern use, the ankh is a symbol of power and wisdom in neo-pagan and New Age groups or simply a lucky charm or a decoration in general use.


The Center of the Esoteric School of Theosophy in Australia, the Manor is a large private house situated in Mosman, Sydney, Australia. It overlooks picturesque Sydney Harbor and is surrounded on two sides by a national park. The building is spacious with side verandas and large rooms.

The Manor in the 1920s

The Manor was built about 1912 by a Mr. Bakewell, who owned a brick and tile factory. He had built it as a residence for his family; but, to his disappointment, the family did not wish to use the house as he had intended. A group of Theosophists lived in Mosman and some surrounding suburbs in the early 1920s. One of them, Lucius Van Gelder, had an idea for an experimental community to make life more "reasonable, cheaper, and more useful" for the families and individuals concerned. It was suggested that the group occupy the house built by Bakewell. Charles Leadbeater, a prominent Theosophist of the day and a bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church, arrived in Sydney about this time. He recognized the house's possibilities as a community home and declared his willingness to come and live there himself. Consequently, a three-year lease was signed; and on August 3, 1922, several people moved in. Leadbeater, who became the focus for the community, invited Van Gelder to assume the task of managing it; and the residence became known as "The Manor."

Read more: MANOR, THE

Conger, Arthur Latham (1872-1951)

Conger was born in Akron, Ohio, on January 30, 1872. At 18 he entered Harvard and while there discovered Theosophy. He joined the Theosophical Society (TS) on June 16, 1892, and was admitted into the Esoteric Section by William Q. Judge in 1894. After he graduated from Harvard, his parents insisted he enter the Episcopal Theological Seminary at Cambridge as a candidate for Holy Orders, when he was 22, but his Theosophical views were not tolerated, and he chose to leave rather than give up Theosophy. He went to work at the international headquarters of the Theosophical Society in New York City then under the direction of Katherine Tingley, becoming her first private secretary. In 1897 he was elected an officer of the newly formed International Brotherhood League, a Theosophical organization to work with prisoners, the less fortunate, and children. In January 1898, the Universal Brotherhood was formed as an umbrella organization for the Theosophical Society and the International Brotherhood League. Conger was one of the original signatories of the new constitution along with Basil Crump, A. E. Neresheimer, Robert Crosbie, and Joseph H. Fussell, to name a few.

Read more: Conger, Arthur Latham (1872-1951)

Cagliostro, Alessandro Conte di (Giuseppe Balsamo) (1743-1795)

A well-known occultist of the 18th century. His life is shrouded in myth and conflicting reports; he is regarded by some as a charlatan and by others as an Initiate of a high degree. The Encyclopaedia Britannica (1970 Ed.) brands Cagliostro a charlatan and adventurer. Helena P. Blavatsky (CW XII:79-88) disagrees most strongly with such a verdict, claiming him to have been a wonderful and highly accomplished person. She lays much of the blame for the evil reputation he suffers on Carlyle.

Read more: Cagliostro, Alessandro Conte di (Giuseppe Balsamo) (1743-1795)

Butlerov, Alexander Michailovich (1828-1886)

Outstanding Russian chemist whose work confirmed the classical theory of chemical structure. Butlerov was interested in Spiritualism and wrote against the materialistic tendencies of the science of his time.

Helena P. Blavatsky considered Butlerov the greatest chemist of his time. In one of her letters referring to the opinion of one of the Mahatmas about William Crookes, she wrote:
"Master says, there is no one higher than him [Crookes] in chemistry in England, nor elsewhere except Butlerov who is dead. But then Butlerov spoiled his brains by Spiritualism" (Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett, p. 226).

Read more: Butlerov, Alexander Michailovich (1828-1886)

Cook, Sidney Albert (1887-1965)

Vice-President of the international Theosophical Society and President of the American Section, Cook was born in England on May 18, 1887, and joined the Theosophical Society in 1914. He became a naturalized American citizen, was elected to the National Board of Directors, and appointed as National Treasurer before serving as President of the American Section (1931-1945) and international Vice-President (1946-1960) under C. Jinarajadasa and Nilakanta Sri Ram.

Read more: Cook, Sidney Albert (1887-1965)

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