Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.



The Myth of the "Missing" Third Volume ofThe Secret Doctrine
by Daniel H. Caldwell


Part 2

MANUSCRIPT VOLUME ONE
AND THE WURZBURG MANUSCRIPT

Writing only six years after the events he describes, Bertram Keightley tells us that upon her arrival in London in May, 1887, Madame Blavatsky "placed the whole of the so far completed MSS. [of The Secret Doctrine] in the hands of Dr. [Archibald] Keightley and myself....We both read the whole mass of MSS.--a pile over three feet high--most carefully through" (in Reminiscences of H. P. Blavatsky and The Secret Doctrine, by Countess Constance Wachtmeister et al., Quest edition, 1976, p. 78; also cited in Boris de Zirkoff's "Historical Introduction" to The Secret Doctrine, "Collected Writings" edition, I, 41).

Bertram goes on to say that this original manuscript was divided into three parts or volumes:

  • Volume I: History of some great Occultists

  • Volume II: Evolution of Cosmos

  • Volume III: Evolution of Man

Bertram's reference to "the whole of the so-far completed MSS." is, of course, to the original Secret Doctrine manuscript, written during the period 1884 through April, 1887, which was in HPB's own handwriting.

What were the arrangement and contents of Volume I--the volume dealing with the history of some great occultists, which Bertram and Archibald Keightley read in May, 1887?

In a letter dated September 23, 1886 (only eight months before the Keightleys read the three volumes in London), HPB wrote to Colonel Henry S. Olcott:

I send you the MSS. of Secret Doctrine.....Now I send only 1st volume of Introduct. Section.... There are in the 1st Introductory Vol. Seven Sections or Chapt. and 27 Appendices, several App. attached to every Section from l to 6, etc. Now all this will make either more or at any rate one volume and it is not the S.D. but a Preface to it.... Now, it is so arranged that the Appendices can either go as attached to the Sections or be taken out and placed in a separate Vol. or at the end of each.... If you take out the App. then there will not [be] 300 pages printed in Int. Sections, but they will lose in interest. [quoted in de Zirkoff , SD Intro., 30-1]

This manuscript to be sent to Colonel Olcott was not the original manuscript in HPB's own handwriting but a copy made by Countess Constance Wachtmeister and Mrs. Mary Gebhard. This "lst volume" manuscript is part of the "Wurzburg Manuscript" now preserved in the Archives of the Theosophical Society, Adyar, Madras, India.

(For those interested in the Wurzburg Manuscript, most of Volume I of the manuscript was published serially in the pages of The Theosophist August 1931 and October 1932 to November, 1933; vol.52, pt.2, pp. 601-7; vol.54, pt. l, pp. 27-36, 140-50, 265-71, 397-401, 538-42, 623-8, and pt. 2, pp. 9-14, 137-43, 263-6, 391-5, 505-9, 633-7; vol. 55, pt. 1, pp. 12-6, 143-6. Also consult the index to CW XIV for more excerpts from the manuscript. The Stanzas of Dzyan as found in Volume II of this manuscript have been published as the "Stanzas in the Wurzburg Manuscript," pp. 514-20 in Volume III of The Secret Doctrine, the "Collected Writings" edition, Adyar, 1978; Wheaton, 1993. Also see p. 34 in de Zirkoff's "Historical Introduction" to the S.D. for a facsimile of a page from the Wurzburg Manuscript. This page gives one of the Stanzas of Dzyan. Microfilm copies of the "Wurzburg Manuscript" exist; I have consulted the microfilm while researching this subject.)

Volume I of the Wurzburg Manuscript consists of only five sections and one appendix. See the accompanying Table for the contents of Volume I of the Wurzburg Manuscript. HPB's letter to Olcott (quoted above) indicates that the extant Wurzburg Manuscript is incomplete and probably represents only a third of the original first volume of The Secret Doctrine.

How does HPB describe the subject matter of her original Volume I? In her letter of July 14, 1886, to Olcott, she gives the following information:

Now I will send to your care and on your responsibility the "Preface to the Reader" and the 1st chapter of the Secret Doctrine proper. There are 600 pages and more of foolscap as an Introductory Preliminary Book, showing the undeniable historically proven facts of the existence of Adepts before and after the Christian period, of the admission of a double esoteric meaning in the two Testaments by Church Fathers, and proofs that the real source of every Christian dogma rests in the Aryan oldest MYSTERIES during the Vedic and Brahmanic period, proofs and evidence for it. In a fortnight I will send you the Preface and 1st Chapter. [quoted in de Zirkoff , SD Intro., 28-9]

In this letter, HPB is describing not only the contents of the original first volume of The Secret Doctrine but also the contents of the extant Wurzburg Manuscript. As early as March 3, l886, in a letter to A. P. Sinnett, HPB described the contents of this same first volume of The Secret Doctrine:

I have finished an enormous Introductory Chapter, or Preamble, Prologue, call it what you will; just to show the reader that the text as it goes, every Section beginning with a page of translation from the Book of Dzyan and the Secret Book of "Maitreya Buddha" Champai chhos Nga (in prose, not the five books in verse known, which are a blind) are not fiction.

I was ordered to do so, to make a rapid sketch of what was known historically and in literature, in classics and in profane and sacred histories--during the 500 years that preceded the Christian period and the 500 y. that followed it: of magic, the existence of a Universal Secret Doctrine known to the philosophers and Initiates of every country and even to several of the Church fathers such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen and others, who had been initiated themselves.

Also to describe the Mysteries and some notes; and I can assure you that most extraordinary things are given out now, the whole story of the Crucifixion, etc. being shown to be based on a rite as old as the world--the Crucifixion on the Lathe of the Candidate--trials, going down to Hell etc., all Aryan.

The whole story hitherto unnoticed by Orientalists is found even exoterically, in the Puranas and Brahmanas, and then explained and supplemented with what the Esoteric explanations give. [Letters of H.P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett, ed. A. T. Barker, 195; also cited by de Zirkoff in SD Intro., 26]

Boris de Zirkoff and Geoffrey Barborka (SD Intro., 68-70) believe that this March letter describes material no longer extant. There are reasons for a contrary view. De Zirkoff (69) says that HPB in her letter of March 3 describes "an enormous Introductory Chapter" and that "every Section thereof is said to begin with 'a page of translation from the Book of Dzyan.'" This, I believe, is a mistaken interpretation of what HPB wrote and was quoted just above:

I have finished an enormous Introductory Chapter, or Preamble, Prologue, call it what you will; just to show the reader that the text as it goes, every Section beginning with a page of translation from the Book of Dzyan and the Secret Book of "Maitreya Buddha" Champai chhos Nga (in prose, not the five books in verse known, which are a blind) are not fiction.

The key to understanding this passage is the phrase "the text as it goes," which refers, I believe, to the main text in the second volume of The Secret Doctrine (dealing with cosmogony), in which every section begins with a page of translation from the Book of Dzyan. In other words, HPB had written an enormous "Introductory Preliminary Book," "Introductory Chapter, or preamble, prologue, call it what you will" (Volume I) in order to show the reader that the main text in Volume II on cosmogony was "not fiction." Then HPB goes on to explain what was in that original first volume: "I was ordered. . .to make a rapid sketch of what was known."

Boris de Zirkoff (in SD Intro., 69) says Geoffrey Barborka points out that HPB's "Prologue" is not the "Introductory" (or any other section) in Volume I of The Secret Doctrine as published in 1888. That is true. But what is HPB referring to in her letter? Missing text no longer extant? No, what she is talking about is Volume I of the Secret Doctrine manuscript (as described in her letters of 1886, as partially found in the extant Wurzburg Manuscript, and as read by the Keightleys in May 1887). Boris de Zirkoff continues:

It is also important to remember that H.P.B.'s description of this material in her letter to Sinnett does not tally with any of the miscellaneous material gathered together and published in l897 under the rather misleading title of 'Secret Doctrine, Volume III.'

However, as far as I can ascertain, HPB's description to Sinnett of her "enormous Introductory Chapter" does tally quite well, not only with the 1897 volume, but also with the contents of Volume I of the Wurzburg Manuscript. For example, "the Crucifixion on the Lathe of the Candidate" is covered in the Wurzburg Manuscript [CW l4: 261-2, "The Trial of the Sun Initiate"]. The "lathe" was also specifically mentioned in Volume III, published in 1897, but those pages also contain a gap in the manuscript. Annie Besant says: "There is a gap in H.P.B.'s MS." (Vol. III, 1897 ed., 272). L.H. Leslie-Smith later provided the missing part from the Wurzburg Manuscript [Quest edition of Vol. III, titled Esoteric Writings, 466-7]. But what happened to the original page in HPB's handwriting that was missing from the 1897 volume and constituted "a gap"? I suggest that this page somehow got disconnected from the manuscript of the third volume but was found and published as a "Fragment" in Lucifer, August 1896 [CW 7: 275-6]. Also the "whole story of the Crucifixion, etc., being shown to be based on a rite as old as the world-the Crucifixion on the Lathe of the Candidate-trials, going down to Hell etc.," about which HPB wrote in her letter to Sinnett, is also covered in the 1888 Secret Doctrine 1: 543, 559, 558, 560-2.

Therefore, HPB's description of an "enormous Introductory Volume" does not indicate "lost material," as de Zirkoff and Barborka believed. Instead, HPB's description is of her original Volume I manuscript. The same material can be found in Volume I of the Wurzburg Manuscript and in Volume III of 1897.

So far we have determined, based upon HPB's own words, that the original first volume consisted of seven sections and twenty-seven appendices. We have also estimated that the extant Volume I of the Wurzburg Manuscript gives us the text of approximately one-third of the original Volume I that the Keightleys read in May, 1887. Can we determine the contents of the rest of this Volume I?

Following is a partial list of material not extant in the Wurzburg Manuscript but probably to be found in the original Volume I manuscript in HPB's own hand-writing:

1. In CW 14: 342, HPB wrote: "turn to the 'Appendix' of this INTRODUCTION and read On Jesuits and their Policy." The Collected Writings editors have added a footnote: "Untraced under this title. Possibly re-titled Theosophy or Jesuitism?; see B.C. W., IX."

2. In CW 7: 190, HPB wrote: "explained in our Appendices on 'Egyptian Magic' and 'Chinese Spirits' (Secret Doctrine)." The Collected Writings has two contradictory editorial notes on these two articles (7: 104 and 190-91).

3. In CW 7: 226, HPB says: "I have tried to explain and have given the collective and individual opinions thereon of the great philosophers of antiquity in my Secret Doctrine." In an editorial note, de Zirkoff says: "By turning to pages 234-240 of the Volume [III] published in 1897. . . the student will find a brief essay on 'The Idols and the Teraphim.'" That essay is precisely the material spoken of by HPB in her comment just quoted.

4. In Volume II of the Wurzburg Manuscript, dealing with the Stanzas of Dzyan and HPB's commentaries thereon, the following reference is found: "(See 'A Mystery about Buddha,' App. to Sect. VI.)" I interpret this to mean that the article "A Mystery about Buddha" was an appendix to section six of the first volume of the Secret Doctrine manuscript of 1886-1887. The original Volume II (dealing with the Seven Stanzas of Dzyan and HPB's commentaries) had numerous appendices, at least seventeen, if not more. These appendices are not extant in the Wurzburg Manuscript but are referred to by HPB in the course of her commentaries. For example HPB wrote: "See Divine Dynasties, App. XII" or "App. VII, 'Primordial Substance'," and so on.

5. Another reference to the contents of the original Volume I is possibly made in Volume II of the Wurzburg Manuscript, where HPB refers to "App. In Prel. Sect. 'Kuan-Shai-Yin'."

All these references give us some indication as to what additional material was in the original Volume I of the Secret Doctrine (1886-1887).

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