Parallel Columns: What Does This Mean?
by Daniel H. Caldwell
H.P.Blavatsky wrote about the main body/text of "The Voice of the Silence":
"THE following pages are derived from 'The Book of the Golden Precepts,' one of the works put into the hands of mystic students in the East. The knowledge of them is obligatory in that school, the teachings of which are accepted by many Theosophists. Therefore, as I know many of these Precepts by heart, the work of translating has been relatively an easy task for me. . . . The work from which I here translate forms part of the same series as that from which the 'Stanzas' of the Book of Dzyan were taken, on which the Secret Doctrine is based. . . . The original Precepts are engraved on thin oblong squares; copies very often on discs. . . . The Book of the Golden Precepts -- some of which are pre-Buddhistic while others belong to a later date -- contains about ninety distinct little treatises. Of these I learnt thirty-nine by heart, years ago. To translate the rest, I should have to resort to notes scattered among a too large number of papers and memoranda collected for the last twenty years and never put in order, to make of it by any means an easy task. Nor could they be all translated and given to a world too selfish and too much attached to objects of sense to be in any way prepared to receive such exalted ethics in the right spirit. . . . Therefore it has been thought better to make a judicious selection only from those treatises which will best suit the few real mystics in the Theosophical Society, and which are sure to answer their needs. . . . In this translation, I have done my best to preserve the poetical beauty of language and imagery which characterise the original. How far this effort has been successful, is for the reader to judge. -- 'H.P.B.' " Quoted from: http://voiceofthesilence.net
William Emmette Coleman in his article titled "The Sources of Madame Blavatsky's Writings" challenged Blavatsky's version. He wrote:
"The Voice of the Silence, published in 1889, purports to be a translation by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky from a Thibetan work. It is said to belong to the same series as the Book of Dzyan, which is true; as, like that work, it is a compilation of ideas and terminology from various nineteenth-century books, the diction and phraseology being those of Madame Blavatsky. I have traced the sources whence it was taken, and it is a hotch-potch from Brahmanical books on Yoga and other Hindu writings; Southern Buddhistic books, from the Pali and Sinhalese; and Northern Buddhistic writings, from the Chinese and Thibetan, - the whole having been taken by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky from translations by, and the writings of, European and other Orientalists of to-day. In this work are intermingled Sanskrit, Pali, Thibetan, Chinese, and Sinhalese terms, - a manifest absurdity in a Thibetan work. I have traced the books from which each of these terms was taken. I find embedded in the text of this alleged ancient Thibetan work quotations, phrases, and terms copied from current Oriental literature. The books most utilised in its compilation are these: Schlagintweits Buddhism in Thibet, Edkins'ss Chinese Buddhism, Hardys Eastern Monachism, Rhys Davidss Buddhism, Dvivedis Raja Yoga, and Raja Yoga Philosophy (1888); also an article, "The Dream of Ravan," published in the Dublin University Magazine, January, 1854, extracts from which appeared in the Theosophist of January, 1880. Passages from this article, and from the books named above, are scattered about in the text of the Voice of the Silence, as well as in the annotations thereon, which latter are admitted to be the work of Blavatsky. Full proofs of this, including the parallel passages, will be given in my work on theosophy; including evidence that this old Thibetan book contains not only passages from the Hindu books quoted in the article in the Dublin Magazine, but also ideas and phrases stolen from the nineteenth-century writer of said article. . . . " [First published in A Modern Priestess of Isis by Vsevolod Sergyeevich Solovyoff, London, Longmans, Green, and Co., 1895, Appendix C, pp. 353-366. Reprinted by Blavatsky Study Center/Blavatsky Archives at: http://www.blavatskyarchives.com/colemansources1895.htm]
Now in light of the above, compare and contrast the material in the two columns below. Carefully compare the wording of the text in the same color in the two columns.
Do these examples give us any insight into how the text of the "Voice of the Silence" originated?
|From HPB's THE VOICE OF
THE SILENCE, pp. 9-11, 17-18
Let not thy "Heaven-born," merged in the sea of Maya, break from the
Universal Parent (SOUL), but let the fiery power retire into the inmost
chamber, the chamber of the Heart (23) and the abode
of the World's Mother (24).
Then from the heart that Power shall rise into the sixth, the middle region, the place
Before thou set'st thy foot upon the ladder's upper rung, the ladder of the mystic sounds, thou hast to hear the voice of thy inner GOD* in seven manners.
[*The Higher SELF.]
The second comes as the sound of a silver cymbal of the Dhyanis, awakening the twinkling stars.
The next is as the plaint melodious of the ocean-sprite imprisoned in its shell.
And this is followed by the chant of Vina (26).
The fifth like sound of bamboo-flute shrills in
It changes next into a trumpet-blast.
The last vibrates like the dull rumbling of a thunder-cloud.
The seventh swallows all the other sounds. They die, and then are heard no more.
When the six (27) are slain and at the Master's feet are laid, then is the pupil merged into the ONE (28), becomes that ONE and lives therein.
[Also compare HPB's endnotes 23 thru 32 with the material in the Theosophist, Feb.
1880, pp. 86-87.]
The light from the ONE Master, the one unfading golden light of Spirit, shoots its effulgent beams on the disciple from the very first. Its rays thread through the thick dark clouds of matter.
Now here, now there, these rays illumine it, like sun-sparks light the earth through the thick foliage of the jungle growth.
[Also compare HPB's endnotes 23 thru 42 with the material in the Theosophist, April.
1880, p. 176.]
|From an article in THE
THEOSOPHIST, Jan. 1880, pp. 86-87 [See
He takes a turn with the wind, if he walk,
the second is twice as loud as the first,
the third like the sound of a
the sixth like the sound of the 'tal',
the seventh like the sound of a bamboo flute placed near the ear,
the eighth like the sound of the instrument pahaoujd struck with the hand,
the tenth like the rumbling of a
At each of these sounds the ecstatic passes through various
states until the tenth when he becomes God. [p. 87]
From article by Ruttun Chund Bary in
Theosophist, April 1880, 175-176. [See:
It is in the tenth stage called Samadhi that Hiranimyagarbha,
that eternal and unfading light, which until then penetrated its rays only now and then through the thick cloud
of matter, breaks in upon the Yogi in its full brightness
and glory, and absorbs him. [p. 176]