Filed in History

The Mysterious Madame B.

David Guy on Mme. H.P. BlavatskyDavid Guy

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In 1880, in Sri Lanka, Blavatsky and Olcott performed the ceremony of “taking Pansil,” the five lay Buddhist precepts, also taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. “It was the first time the Sinhalese had seen one of the ruling white race treat Buddhism with anything approaching respect,” Rick Fields says, “and it was (as far as we have been able to discover) the first time that Americans had become Buddhists in the formal sense.” Anagarika Dharmapala, the great advocate of the Sri Lankan Buddhist revival, got his start in the Theosophical Society in Ceylon. He became a protégé of Madame Blavatsky’s and remained her loyal supporter for the rest of her life. The occultist Arthur Sinnett, supposedly under the influence of Koot Hoomi, wrote the important text Esoteric Buddhism.

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