Why is Theosophy called the “Aryan Chaldeo-Tibetan Doctrine”?

Despite certain conceptual elements some theosophical associates will characterise as Neo-Theosophy, in Theosophy: A Modern Revival of the Simorghian Culture, the document, by Masato Tojo, says something interesting. It asserts, that the modern Theosophical System is a reconstruction of the tradition, known to the Aryans.


Quotes are collated to figure out, what H.P. Blavatsky and T. Subba Row meant by naming Theosophy, ‘Neo-Budhism’ as a revival of an archaic Wisdom-religion, and the “Aryan Chaldeo-Tibetan doctrine”:

“The popular Lamaism, when compared with the real esoteric, or Arahat Buddhism of Tibet, offers a contrast as great as the snow trodden along a road in the valley, to the pure and undefiled mass which glitters on the top of a high mountain peak.” (Helena P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, Vol. IV, pp. 14-15.)

The ancient Aryan (Indo-Iranian) religion which Blavatsky reconstructed and thought to be is a religion before Hindus and Iranians separated. It is the Magi-brahmin’s religion from which Hinduism, Buddhism, Esoteric Zoroastrianism were born to propagate to Chaldea, Egypt, Greece and Rome. (…) To this category (Semitic Religions) belong Egyptian polytheism, Babylonian polytheism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Blavatsky thought Kabbalah (Chaldean Esotericism) was born from syncretism of Babylonian polytheism and esoteric Zoroastrianism. Christianity was born from syncretism of Chaldean Kabbalah and Judaism. (…). She thought Semitic religions are friendly to Aryan religion except Islam. She thought Islam (Sunnite) is a sort of reaction to the Aryan religion’s propagation, and Shi’ism is a counter reaction to the reaction (Sunnite Islam).” (Masato TOJO, Theosophy: A Modern Revival of the Simorghian Culture, pg. 10)

What is this universal Wisdom-religion, identified with Chaldeism, Hermeticism, Indo-Tibetan Philosophy, and Zoroastrianism?

Though the fundamental doctrines of Occultism and Esoteric philosophy are one and the same the world over, and that is the secret meaning under the outward shell of every old religion—however much they may conflict in appearance—[since each] is the outcome of, and proceeds from, the universal WISDOM-RELIGION—the modes of thought and of its expression must necessarily differ. There are Sanskrit words used—”Jiva,” for one—by trans-Himalayan adepts, whose meaning differs greatly in verbal applications, from the meaning it has among the Brahmins in India.

I have never boasted of any knowledge of Sanskrit, and, when I came to India last, in 1879, knew very superficially the philosophies of the six schools of Brahmanism. I never pretended to teach Sanskrit or explain Occultism in that language. I claimed to know the esoteric philosophy of the trans-Himalayan Occultists and no more. What I knew again, was that the philosophy of the ancient Dwijas and Initiates did not, nor could it differ essentially from the esotericism of the “Wisdom-religion,” any more than ancient Zoroastrianism, Hermetic philosophy, or Chaldean Kabbala could do so. I have tried to prove it by rendering the technical terms used by the Tibetan Arhats of things and principles, as adopted in trans-Himalayan teaching (and which when given to Mr. Sinnett and others without their Sanskrit or European equivalents, remained to them unintelligible, as they would to all in India)—in terms used in Brahmanical philosophy. I may have failed to do so correctly, very likely I have, and made mistakes—I never claimed infallibility (…) In my writings in The Theosophist I have always consulted learned and (even not very learned) Sanskrit-speaking Brahmans, giving credit to every one of them for knowing the value of Sanskrit terms better than I did. The question then is not, whether I may or may not have made use of wrong Sanskrit terms, but whether the occult tenets expounded through me are the right ones—at any rate those of the “Aryan-Chaldeo-Tibetan doctrine” as we call the “universal Wisdom-religion.” (see Re-Classification of Principles; Helena P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, Vol. VII, pp. 347-348.)

Its relation to the monotheistic religions:

“The religion of the Druses is said to be a compound of Judaism, Mahomedanism and Christianity, strongly tinged with Gnosticism and the Magian system of Persia. Were people to call things by their right names, sacrificing all self-conceit to truth, they might confess things otherwise. They could say, for instance, that Mahomedanism being a compound of Chaldeism, Christianity and Judaism; Christianity, a mixture of Judaism, Gnosticism and Paganism; and Judaism, a wholesale Egypto-Chaldean Kabalism, masquerading under invented names and fables, made to fit the bits and scraps of the real history of the Israelite tribes—the religious system of the Druses would then be found one of the last survivals of the archaic Wisdom-Religion. It is entirely based on that element of practical mysticism of which branches have from time to time sprung into existence. They pass under the unpopular names of Kabalism, Theosophy and Occultism. Except Christianity which, owing to the importance it gives to the principal prop of its doctrine of Salvation–(we mean the dogma of Satan) had to anathematize the practice of theurgy–every religion, including Judaism and Mahomedanism, credits these above-named branches. Civilisation having touched with its materialistic all-levelling, and all-destroying hand even India and Turkey, amid the din and chaos of crumbling faiths and old sciences, the reminiscence of archaic truths is now fast dying out. It has become popular and fashionable to denounce “the old and mouldy superstitions of our forefathers”;–verily even among the most natural allies of the students of theurgy or occultism…” (Helena P. Blavatsky, Lamas and Druses, Theosophist, June, 1881)

Indian scholar and Theosophist, T. Subba Row remarks that:

Probably the Aryan (we shall for the present call it by that name) and the Chaldeo-Tibetan esoteric doctrines are fundamentally identical and the secret doctrine of the Jewish Kabalists merely an offshoot of these. Nothing, perhaps, can be more interesting now to a student of occult philosophy than a comparison between the two principal doctrines above mentioned. Your letter seems to indicate two divisions in the Chaldeo-Tibetan doctrine: (1) that of the so-called Lamaists; and (2) that of the so-called Arhats (in Buddhism, Arahats, or Rahats) which has been adopted by the Himalayan or Tibetan Brotherhood. What is the distinction between these two systems? Some of our ancient Brahmanical writers have left us accounts of the main doctrines of Buddhism and the religion and philosophy of the Arhats—the two branches of the Tibetan esoteric doctrine being so called by them. (…)

It is now very difficult to say what was the real ancient Aryan doctrine. If an enquirer were to attempt to answer it by an analysis and comparison of all the various systems of esotericism prevailing in India, he will soon be lost in a maze of obscurity and uncertainty. No comparison between our real Brahmanical and the Tibetan esoteric doctrines will be possible unless one ascertains the teachings of that so-called “Aryan doctrine,” . . . and fully comprehends the whole range of the ancient Aryan philosophy. Kapila’s “Sankhya,” Patañjali’s “Yoga philosophy,” the different systems of “Sâktya” philosophy, the various Agamas and Tantras are but branches of it. There is a doctrine though, which is their real foundation and which is sufficient to explain the secrets of these various systems of philosophy and harmonize their teachings. It probably existed long before the Vedas were compiled, and it was studied by our ancient Rishis in connotation with the Hindu scriptures. It is attributed to one mysterious personage called Maha.* . . .

The Vedas were perhaps compiled mainly for the use of the priests assisting at public ceremonies, but the grandest conclusions of our real secret doctrine are therein mentioned. I am informed by persons competent to judge of the matter, that the Vedas have a distinct dual meaning—one expressed by the literal sense of the words, the other indicated by the metre and the Svara which are, as it were, the life of the Vedas. . . . Learned Pundits and philologists, of course, deny that Svara has anything to do with philosophy or ancient esoteric doctrines. But the mysterious connection between Svara and light is one of its most profound secrets.

Now it is extremely difficult to show whether the Tibetans derived their doctrine from the ancient Rishis of India, or the ancient Brahmans learned their occult science from the adepts of Tibet; or again whether the adepts of both countries professed originally the same doctrine and derived it from a common source.† If you were to go the Śramana Balagula and question some of the Jaina Pundits there about the authorship of the Vedas and the origin of the Brahmanical esoteric doctrine, they would probably tell you that the Vedas were composed by Rakshasas (a kind of Demon) or Thytyas, and that the Brahmans had derived their secret knowledge from them.” (T. Subba Row, The Aryan-Arhat Esoteric Tenets on the Sevenfold Principle in Man, Collected Writings, pp. 400-402; see The Theosophist, Vol. III, No. 4, January, 1882, pp. 93-95)

Elsewhere, Theosophy is termed, ‘Neo-Budhism,’ or the revival of the Wisdom-Religion of anterior Buddhas and Intelligences:

Furthermore, the records we mean to place before the reader embrace the esoteric tenets of the whole world since the beginning of our humanity, and Buddhistic occultism occupies therein only its legitimate place, and no more. Indeed, the secret portions of the “Dan” or “Jan-na” (“Dhyan”) of Gautama’s metaphysics—grand as they appear to one unacquainted with the tenets of the Wisdom Religion of antiquity—are but a very small portion of the whole. The Hindu Reformer limited his public teachings to the purely moral and physiological aspect of the Wisdom-Religion, to Ethics and MAN alone. Things “unseen and incorporeal,” the mystery of Being outside our terrestrial sphere, the great Teacher left entirely untouched in his public lectures, reserving the hidden Truths for a select circle of his Arhats. The latter received their Initiation at the famous Saptaparna cave (the Sattapanni of Mahavansa) near Mount Baibhâr (the Webhâra of the Pali MSS). . . Thus the reader is asked to bear in mind the very important difference between orthodox Buddhism—i.e., the public teachings of Gautama the Buddha, and his esoteric Budhism.” (Helena P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, xx.)

“Many prefer to call themselves Buddhists not because the word attaches itself to the ecclesiastical system built upon the basic ideas of our Lord Gautama Buddha’s philosophy, but because of the Sanskrit word “Buddhi” — wisdom, enlightenment; and as a silent protest to the vain rituals and empty ceremonials which have in too many cases been productive of the greatest calamities. Such also is the origin of the Chaldean term Mage.” (see A Philosophical School Based on the Hermetic Philosophy)

Jean Baptiste de Champaigne. 1672. Alexander the Great receiving news of the death by Immolation of the Indian Gymnosophists
Jean Baptiste de Champaigne. 1672. Alexander the Great receiving news of the death by Immolation of the Indian Gymnosophists
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