Initiates of Theosophical Masters

By K. Paul Johnson

Subjects: Esotericism And Gnosticism
Series: SUNY series in Western Esoteric Traditions
Paperback : 9780791425565, 255 pages, July 1995
Hardcover : 9780791425558, 255 pages, August 1995

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
The Initiates
Prologue: Initiation in Theosophical History

PART ONE: Patriotic Chelas

Hodgson's Mistake
Pilgrimage to Darjeeling
Proving the Masters' Existence
The Coulombs and the SPR
Endings and Beginnings
The Tragedy of Babaji
Chelas and the Raj

PART TWO: The Secret World of Jamal ad-Din

Muhammad 'Abduh
Heretics and Infidels
Enemies of the Shah
Edward Granville Browne
'Abdu'l Baha and Theosophy
The Shaykhi Legacy

PART THREE: Dharma Heirs

Anagarika Dharmapala
Ukhtomskii and Dorzhiev
George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff
The Lubovedsky Mystery

PART FOUR: The Great White Sisterhood

Lady Hester Stanhope
Isabelle Eberhardt
Alexandra David-Neel
Alice Leighton Cleather
Annie Besant
Initiated Women
Occult Succession


Examines the careers of the most distinguishes disciples of the Theosophical Masters profiled in The Masters Revealed, including George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, Alexandra David-Neel, Anagarika Dharmapala, and Isabelle Eberhardt.


The author examines the careers of the most distinguished disciples of the Theosophical Masters. He begins by examining the concept of initiation promoted by the Theosophical movement's founders. Each section investigates a separate category of initiates, focusing consecutively on Hindus, Muslims, Bahais, Buddhists, and the Western female occultists.

More than just a study of Theosophy, this book explores many related developments in political and religious history. Among the figures it illumines in new ways are Anagarika Dharmapala, Alexandra David-Neel, George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, and Isabelle Eberhardt. Its approach brings needed objectivity and balance to a topic too long mythologized by cultists and ignored by scholars.

K. Paul Johnson is the author of The Masters Revealed: Madame Blavatsky and the Myth of the Great White Lodge, also published by SUNY Press.


"Johnson is always interesting to read and the topic is central to the spiritual history of the twentieth century. " --Jocelyn Godwin

"What I like most about the book is that Johnson is covering new territory. Moreover, he is grounding Theosophical claims in actual history. There is no question in my mind that Johnson's studies--this one in particular--will become the benchmark by which other works in Theosophy will be appraised. " -- David Christopher Lane

"This is a valuable exploration of the spiritual impact of Theosophy on individual seekers and activists. The author largely avoids the well-trodden areas such as the Irish literary renaissance, and the early Krishnamurti saga, to follow new trajectories, such as the detailed Gurdjieff-Blavatsky comparison. " -- Leslie Price