Book of Dzyan

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The Book of Dzyan (comprising the Stanzas of Dzyan) is a reputedly ancient text of Tibetan origin. The Stanzas formed the basis for The Secret Doctrine (1888), one of the foundational works of the theosophical movement, by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky.

Madame Blavatsky's claims regarding the Book of Dzyan[edit]

Madame Blavatsky claimed to have seen a manuscript of the Book of Dzyan while studying esoteric lore in Tibet. She claimed this and other ancient manuscripts were safeguarded from profane eyes by the initiates of an Occult Brotherhood. The work had originally, according to Blavatsky, been written in the sacred language of Senzar. She wrote [1]

This first installment of the esoteric doctrines is based upon Stanzas, which are the records of a people unknown to ethnology; it is claimed that they are written in a tongue absent from the nomenclature of languages and dialects with which philology is acquainted; they are said to emanate from a source (Occultism) repudiated by science; and, finally, they are offered through an agency, incessantly discredited before the world by all those who hate unwelcome truths, or have some special hobby of their own to defend. Therefore, the rejection of these teachings may be expected, and must be accepted beforehand. No one styling himself a "scholar," in whatever department of exact science, will be permitted to regard these teachings seriously.

Max Müller and others have been skeptical. Max Müller is reported to have said that in this matter she was either a remarkable forger or that she has made the most valuable gift to archeological research in the Orient.[2]

The Book of Dzyan and the Buddhist Tantras[edit]

In other references Blavatsky claimed the Book of Dzyan belonged to a group of Tibetan esoteric writings known as the Books of Kiu-Te. Blavatsky wrote before a standard transcription of Tibetan into the Latin alphabet had been agreed upon; it took David Reigle some time to establish that she was referring to what modern scholars write as rGyud-sde, parts of a voluminous Buddhist corpus commonly referred to as the Tantras.[3] Other researchers have suggested a source in Chinese Taoism or Jewish kabbala.[4]

The Stanzas of Dzyan in the works of other authors[edit]

Supposed verses from the same "Stanzas of Dzyan" were later published by Alice Bailey in A Treatise on Cosmic Fire in 1925. Bailey claimed these verses had been dictated to her telepathically by the Tibetan Master Djwal Kul.

Ufologist Desmond Leslie drew heavily on the Stanzas of Dzyan in his writing,[5] and theorized that they had originally been produced on the lost continent of Atlantis.

Swiss author Erich von Däniken claimed to have explored some of the book's content and its alleged history, reporting unsourced rumours that the first version of the book predates Earth, and that chosen people who simply touch the book will receive visions of what it describes.[6]

References to the Stanzas exist in the fictional fantasy works of H. P. Lovecraft, for example in his short story "The Haunter of the Dark",[7] and have been expanded upon by other writers who have worked within the Cthulhu Mythos.[citation needed]

Criticism regarding the sources of the Stanzas of Dzyan[edit]

In her biography HPB: The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Blavatsky, Sylvia Cranston tackles the claim of plagiarism that was leveled by William Emmette Coleman (discussed in the paragraph below).[8] Her view, like Coleman's, is that HPB's plagiarism consisted of quoting primary sources, without acknowledging the secondary sources from which they came.

When The Secret Doctrine appeared, William Emmette Coleman of San Francisco “outraged by Madame Blavatksy’s pretensions of Oriental learning, undertook a complete exegesis of her works.[9][10] He showed that her main sources were H.H. Wilson’s translations of the Vishnu Purana; Alexander Winchell’s World Life: or, Contemporary Geology; Ignatius Donnely’s Atlantis: The Antediluvian World (1882); and other contemporary scientific and occult works, plagiarized without credit and used in a blundering manner that showed but skin-deep acquaintance with the subjects under discussion. She cribbed at least part of her Stanzas of Dzyan from the Hymn of Creation in the old Sanskrit Rig-Veda, as a comparison of the two compositions will readily show. Coleman promised a book that would expose all of H.P.B.’s sources including that of the word Dzyan.” [11]

Cranston states that a research assistant of hers took on the task of finding Coleman's alleged 70 passages that HPB plagiarized from World-Life, and could only find 6. Coleman himself, far from being an authority on occult material, was a clerk in the Quartermaster Department of the US Army. He was likely not an impartial judge, having written to Coues on July 8, 1890, "I emphatically denounced and ridiculed the theory of occultism, of elementary spirits, etc., before the Theosophical Society was organized [in 1875], and from that time to this I have strenuously opposed Theosophy all the time." [12] Coleman promised to publish a book that would "prove" his charges against Blavatsky regarding the Book of Dzyan; this book and its proof never appeared.[13] The reason Coleman's book never appeared is that “Coleman lost his library and his notes in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and died three years later, his book unwritten”.[14]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, Page xxxvii Stanzas, which are (...) said to emanate from a source (Occultism) repudiated by science;
  2. ^ Alvin Boyd Kuhn. Theosophy: A Modern Revival of Ancient Wisdom (New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, 1939), Chapter VIII, page 195.
  3. ^ David and Nancy Reigle. Blavatsky's Secret Books (San Diego: Wizards Bookshelf, 1999).
  4. ^ Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke. Helena Blavatsky (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2006).
  5. ^ Desmond Leslie & George Adamski: Flying Saucers Have Landed, London: Werner Laurie, 1953
  6. ^ Erich von Däniken. Gods From Outer Space (New York: Bantam Books, 1972), p. 137.
  7. ^ The Haunter of the Dark
  8. ^ Sylvia Cranston. H.P.B.: The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 1993), p. 379-387.
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ William Emmette Coleman, "The Sources of Madame Blavatsky's Writings", in Vsevolod Sergeevich Solov'ev, A Modern Priestess of Isis, Appendix C, pp. 353-366 (London: Longmans & Co., 1895). Available as a free download [2]
  11. ^ L. Sprague de Camp. Lost Continents: The Atlantis Theme in History, Science, and Literature (New York: The Gnome Press Inc., 1954; reprint: Dover Publications, 1970), pp. 57-58.
  12. ^ Cranston, op.cit. p 380, citing William Q Judge, The Esoteric She, reprinted in H. P. Blavatsky: Her Life and Work.
  13. ^ Sylvia Cranston. H.P.B.: The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 1993), p. 384.
  14. ^ L. Sprague de Camp. Lost Continents: The Atlantis Theme in History, Science, and Literature (New York: Dover Publications, 1954), p. 58.

References[edit]

  • Reigle, David and Nancy. Blavatsky's Secret Books. San Diego: Wizards Bookshelf, 1999. ISBN 0-913510-76-9 (also see [3]).

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]