Home » Blog » 2024 » January » Blavatsky's back: the Secret Doctrine, Part 1


Written by Graham on Monday 29th January 2024.

Mme. Blavatsky's most voluminous work in the development of Theosophy was her Secret Doctrine, a sprawling opus which Blavatsky claimed was based on a Tibetan secret tradition, the Stanzas of Dzyan. It almost certainly wasn't.

Here is an introduction on what is said on the subject of Atlantis in the first volume ("Cosmogenesis") and in the introduction to the second, "Anthropogenesis" - wherein Atlantis was the home of the fourth of Blavatsky's so-called "root races," with Plato's island representing but the latest smidgen of land from the ancient continent.

Volume I. Cosmogenesis.

Part II. The Evolution Of Symbolism.

Section VII. The Days and Nights of Brahmâ.


One thing is to be especially noted by the scholar who studies the Hindû religion from the Puranâs. He must never take the statements found therein literally, and in one sense only; and those especially, which concern the Manvantaras, or Kalpas, have to be understood in their several references. Thus these Ages relate, in the same language, to both the great and the small periods, to Mahâ Kalpas and to Minor Cycles. The Matsya, or Fish Avatâra, happened before the Varâha or Boar Avatâra; the allegories, therefore, must relate to both the Padma and the present Manvantara, and also to the Minor Cycles which have occurred since the reäppearance of our Chain of Worlds and the Earth. And as the Matsya Avatâra of Vishnu and Vaivasvata's Deluge are correctly connected with an event that happened on our Earth during this Round, it is evident that, while it may relate to pre-cosmic events, pre-cosmic in the sense of our Cosmos, or Solar System, it has reference, in our case, to a distant geological period. Not even Esoteric Philosophy can claim to know, except by analogical inference, that which took place before the reäppearance of our Solar System, and previous to the last Mahâ Pralaya. But it teaches distinctly, that after the first geological disturbance of the Earth's axis, which ended in the sweeping down to the bottom of the seas of the whole Second Continent, with its primeval races - of which successive Continents, or "Earths," Atlantis was the fourth - there came another disturbance owing to the axis again resuming its previous degree of inclination as rapidly as it had changed it: when the Earth was indeed once more raised out of the waters - as above, so below, and vice versâ. There were "Gods" on Earth in those days; Gods, and not men, as we know them now, says the tradition. As will be shown in Volume II, the computation of periods, in exoteric Hindûism, refers to both the great cosmic and the small terrestrial events and cataclysms, and the same may be demonstrated in respect to names. For instance, the name Yudishthira - the first king of the Sacae or Shakas, who opens the Kali Yuga Era, which has to last 432,000 years, "an actual king who lived 3,102 years b.c." - applies also to the Great Deluge, at the time of the first sinking of Atlantis. He is the "Yudishthira, born on the mountain of the hundred peaks, at the extremity of the world, beyond which nobody can go" and "immediately after the flood." We know of no "Flood" 3,102 years b.c., not even that of Noah, for, agreeably with Judæo-Christian chronology, it took place 2,349 years b.c.

Section XI. Demon est Deus Inversus.


The first War happened in the night of time, between the Gods and (A)-suras, and lasted for the period of one Divine Year. On this occasion the Deities were defeated by the Daityas, under the leadership of Hrâda. But afterwards, owing to a device of Vishnu, to whom the conquered Gods applied for help, the latter defeated the Asuras. In the Vishnu Purâna no interval is found between the two Wars. In the Esoteric Doctrine, however, one War takes place before the building of the Solar System; another, on Earth, at the "creation" of man; and a third War is mentioned as taking place at the close of the Fourth Race, between its Adepts and those of the Fifth Race; that is, between the Initiates of the "Sacred Island" and the Sorcerers of Atlantis. We shall notice the first contest, as recounted by Parâshara, and endeavour to separate the two accounts, which are purposely blended together.

Part III. Addenda. On Occult And Modern Science.

Section XVI. The Zodiac and its Antiquity.


This reminds one strongly of our Seven Races of men, and of the eighth - the "animal man" - descended from the later Third Race; as also of the successive submersions and destruction of the continents which finally disposed of almost all that Race. Says Iamblichus:

The Assyrians have not only preserved the memorials of seven-and-twenty myriads of years [270,000 years], as Hipparchus says they have, but likewise of the whole apocatastases and periods of the Seven Rulers of the World.

This is as nearly as possible the calculation of the Esoteric Doctrine. For 1,000,000 years are allowed for our present Root-Race (the Fifth), and about 850,000 years have passed since the submersion of the last large island - part of the continent of Atlantis - the Ruta of the Fourth Race, the Atlanteans; while Daitya, a small island inhabited by a mixed race, was destroyed about 270,000 years ago, during the Glacial Period or thereabouts. But the Seven Rulers, or the seven great Dynasties of the Divine Kings, belong to the traditions of every great people of antiquity. Wherever twelve are mentioned, they are invariably the twelve signs of the Zodiac.

Volume II. Anthropogenesis

Preliminary Notes on The Archaic Stanzas, and the Four Pre-Historic Continents.


Therefore, in view of the possible, and even very probable confusion, that may arise, it is considered more convenient to adopt, for each of the four Continents constantly referred to, a name more familiar to the cultured reader. It is proposed, then, to call the first Continent, or rather the first terra firma on which the First Race was evolved by the divine Progenitors:

I. The Imperishable Sacred Land.

The reason for the name is that it is stated that: this "Imperishable Sacred Land" never shared the fate of the other Continents, because it is the only one whose destiny it is to last from the beginning to the end of the Manvantara throughout each Round. It is the cradle of the first man and the dwelling of the last divine mortal, chosen as a Shishta for the future seed of humanity. Of this mysterious and sacred land very little can be said, except, perhaps, according to a poetical expression in one of the Commentaries, that the "Pole-star has its watchful eye upon it, from the dawn to the close of the twilight of a Day of the Great Breath."

II. The Hyperborean.

This will be the name chosen for the second Continent, the land which stretched out its promontories southward and westward from the North Pole to receive the Second Race, and comprised the whole of what is now known as Northern Asia. Such was the name given by the oldest Greeks to the far-off and mysterious region, whither their tradition made Apollo, the Hyperborean, travel every year. Astronomically, Apollo is, of course, the Sun, who, abandoning his Hellenic sanctuaries, loved to annually visit his far-away country, where the Sun was said to never set for one half of the year. "Ἐγγὺς γὰρ νυκτός τε καὶ ἤματος εἰσι κέλευθοι," says a verse in the Odyssey.

But historically, or better, perhaps, ethnologically and geologically, the meaning is different. The land of the Hyperboreans, the country that extended beyond Boreas, the frozen-hearted God of snows and hurricanes, who loved to slumber heavily on the chain of Mount Rhipæus, was neither an ideal country, as surmized by the Mythologists, nor yet a land in the neighbourhood of Scythia and the Danube. It was a real Continent, a bonâ fide land, which knew no winter in those early days, nor have its sorry remains more than one night and day during the year, even now. The nocturnal shadows never fall upon it, said the Greeks; for it is the "Land of the Gods," the favourite abode of Apollo, the God of light, and its inhabitants are his beloved priests and servants. This may be regarded as poetized fiction now; but it was poetized truth then.

III. Lemuria.

The third Continent, we propose to call Lemuria. The name is an invention, or an idea, of Mr. P. L. Sclater, who, between 1850 and 1860, asserted on zoological grounds the actual existence, in prehistoric times, of a Continent which he showed to have extended from Madagascar to Ceylon and Sumatra. It included some portions of what is now Africa; but otherwise this gigantic Continent, which stretched from the Indian Ocean to Australia, has now wholly disappeared beneath the waters of the Pacific, leaving here and there only some of its highland tops which are now islands. Mr. A. R. Wallace, the Naturalist, writes Mr. Charles Gould:

Extends the Australia of Tertiary periods to New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, and perhaps to Fiji, and from its marsupial types infers a connection with the northern continent during the Secondary period.

The subject is treated at length elsewhere.

IV. Atlantis.

Thus we name the fourth Continent. It would be the first historical land, were the traditions of the Ancients to receive more attention than they have hitherto. The famous island of Plato of that name was but a fragment of this great Continent.

V. Europe.

The fifth Continent was America; but, as it is situated at the Antipodes, it is Europe and Asia Minor, almost coëval with it, which are generally referred to by the Indo-Aryan Occultists as the fifth. If their teaching followed the appearance of the Continents in their geological and geographical order, then this classification would have to be altered. But as the sequence of the Continents is made to follow the order of evolution of the Races, from the First to the Fifth, our Âryan Root-Race, Europe must be called the fifth great Continent. The Secret Doctrine takes no account of islands and peninsulas, nor does it follow the modern geographical distribution of land and sea. Since the day of its earliest teachings and the destruction of the great Atlantis, the face of the Earth has changed more than once. There was a time when the delta of Egypt and Northern Africa belonged to Europe, before the formation of the Straits of Gibraltar and a further upheaval of the Continent entirely changed the face of the map of Europe. The last serious change occurred some 12,000 years ago, and was followed by the submersion of Plato's little Atlantic island, which he calls Atlantis after its parent continent. Geography was part of the Mysteries, in days of old. Says the Zohar:

These secrets [of land and sea] were divulged to the men of the secret science, but not to the geographers.

The claim that physical man was originally a colossal pre-tertiary giant, and that he existed 18,000,000 years ago, must of course appear preposterous to admirers of, and believers in, modern learning. The whole posse comitatus of Biologists will turn away from the conception of this Third Race Titan of the Secondary Age, a being fit to fight successfully with the then gigantic monsters of the air, sea, and land; so his forefathers, the ethereal prototypes of the Atlantean, had little need to fear that which could not hurt them. The modern Anthropologist is quite welcome to laugh at our Titans, as he laughs at the Biblical Adam, and as the Theologian laughs at the former's pithecoid ancestor. The Occultists and their severe critics may feel that they have pretty well mutually squared their accounts by this time. Occult Sciences claim less and give more, at all events, than either Darwinian Anthropology or Biblical Theology.

Nor ought the Esoteric Chronology to frighten anyone; for, with regard to figures, the greatest authorities of the day are as fickle and as uncertain as the Mediterranean waves. As regards the duration of the geological periods alone, the learned men of the Royal Society are all hopelessly at sea, and jump from one million to five hundred millions of years with the utmost ease, as will be seen more than once during this comparison.

Take one instance for our present purpose - the calculations of Mr. Croll. Whether, according to this authority, 2,500,000 years represent the time since the beginning of the Tertiary Age, or the Eocene period, as an American geologist makes him say; or whether again Mr. Croll "allows fifteen millions since the beginning of the Eocene period," as quoted by an English geologist, both sets of figures cover the claims made by the Secret Doctrine. For assigning as the latter does from four to five million years between the incipient and the final evolution of the Fourth Root-Race, on the Lemuro-Atlantean Continents; one million years for the Fifth, or Âryan Race, to the present date; and about 850,000 since the submersion of the last large peninsula of the great Atlantis - all this may have easily taken place within the 15,000,000 years conceded by Mr. Croll to the Tertiary Age. But, chronologically speaking, the duration of the period is of secondary importance, as we have, after all, certain American Scientists to fall back upon. These gentlemen, unmoved by the fact that their assertions are called not only dubious but absurd, yet maintain that man existed so far back as in the Secondary Age. They have found human footprints on rocks of that formation; and furthermore, M. de Quatrefages finds no valid scientific reason why man should not have existed during the Secondary Age.

Sir Graham