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Reprint of A Modern Panarion by the Theosophy Company

by Daniel H. Caldwell

In 1981, the Theosophy Company (Los Angeles, California) decided to reprint A Modern Panarion:  A Collection of Fugitive
Fragments from the Pen of H.P. Blavatsky
.  This volume was first published in 1895 by The Theosophical Publishing Society, London, etc.

It was this same Theosophical Publishing Society which had also published the Third and Revised Edition of The Secret Doctrine in 1893. 

Concerning this edition of The Secret Doctrine, the Editors of Theosophy Magazine, in their 1925 book titled The Theosophical Movement 1875-1925:   A History and Survey, wrote:

"Any reader can compare the Original Edition of the 'Secret Doctrine' with the Third and Revised Edition, edited by Mrs. Besant and Mr. Mead.. . . the comparison will show more than forty thousand changes from the text of the Original Edition, ranging all the way from mere trivialities, through important alterations, to deliberate suppression . . . . (p. 569)

Research indicates that G.R.S. Mead was principally responsible for the editing of this 1893 SD edition.

I have reasons to believe that G.R.S. Mead was also responsible for the editing of A Modern Panarion.  The Theosophical historian Michael Gomes is also of this opinion.

Therefore, one might ask if Madame Blavatsky's articles in A Modern Panarion have also been subjected to Mead's editorial habit of "correcting", "altering" and "deleting"?

If one has access to H.P.B.'s original articles as published in The Theosophist, one can answer this question by simple comparison.

In the very last article printed in Modern Panarion, titled "Reincarnation in Tibet", the first paragraph (p. 497) reads:

"So little is known by Europeans of what is going on in Tibet, and even in the more accessible Bhutan, that an Anglo-Indian paper - one of those which pretend to know, and certainly discuss every imaginable subject, whether they really know anything of it or not - has actually come out with the following scrap of valuable information:"

Turning to The Theosophist, March 1882, p. 146, this paragraph reads:

"So little is known by Europeans of what is going on in Tibet, and even in the more accessible Bhootan, that an Anglo-Indian paper, - one of those which pretend to know, and certainly discuss every blessed subject, whether they really know anything of it or not, - actually came out with the following bit of valuable information: - "

The comparison shows certain differences.

Even Boris de Zirkoff's transcription of this paragraph in the H.P. Blavatsky "Collected Writings" series is more accurate than this.

The original article under consideration ends with these words from H.P.B.:

"The little that can be given out will be found in a paper on the 'Holy Lha' which we hope to publish in our next."

The editor of A Modern Panarion has deleted this sentence.

Unfortunately, there are even more differences in the rest of the article, including rearrangement of parts of sentences, etc.

On pp. 401-409 of A Modern Panarion, one will find the article "The Six-Pointed and Five-Pointed Stars."  Upon turning to the original publication of this article in The Theosophist, Nov, 1881, pp. 31-33, one finds that this article has been heavily edited.  For example, the original 1881 article has many words in italics and caps. Much of this has been changed in A Modern Panarion. There is at least one deletion also.

Many more examples of this editing in A Modern Panarion could be cited but the above examples will suffice.

It should also be noted that almost all of the articles (written by H.P.B. from 1874 to 1878) have different titles in A Modern Panarion.  The original titles have been deleted and new titles "invented".

In summary, a careful survey of this 1895 volume shows that G.R.S. Mead definitely edited H.P.B.'s articles. He deleted parts of H.P.B.'s original text and even changed various words and phrases. In fact, there are hundreds of such changes, deletions, etc.

In light of the above findings, it is unfortunate that the Theosophy Company (whose mission has been in part "to make available to students authentic reproductions [1] of all the Theosophical writings of H. P. Blavatsky") would decide to reprint, promote and sell A Modern Panarion.  

It is regrettable that, prior to the 1981 reprinting of this volume, the Theosophy Company publications committee did not take the time and effort to go to the original articles of H.P.B. and compare them with what was published in A Modern PanarionJust a few hours of comparison should have alerted the T.C. committee to the general observations I have partially outlined in this article.

I would hope that the current officials of the Theosophy Company might seriously reconsider their position in promoting and selling a volume of H.P.B.'s articles which have been "edited" (heavily in some parts) by G.R.S. Mead.

Also these "Mead edited versions" of H.P.B.'s articles are also reproduced on the World Wide Web at United Lodge of Theosophists, Phoenix, Arizona and at Blavatsky Net.

Inquirers and students of Madame Blavatsky's writings interested in reading H.P.B.'s articles as she originally published them can now purchase photographic facsimiles of most of the early issues of her two magazines The Theosophist and Lucifer.   See The Theosophist:   Reprints of H.P.B.'s First Magazine and Lucifer: Reprints of H.P.B.'s London Magazine.

[1] Italics added.

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