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The West Turns Eastward: Madame Blavatsy and the Transformation of the Occult Tradition

Abstract

Madame Blavatsky provided the inspiration behind the Theosophical Society, probably the leading occult society of the twentieth century and one of the first western religious groups to show an interest in eastern religions. This essay examines, first, the way in which Madame Blavatsky transformed the occult tradition in response to the Victorian crisis of faith, and, second, the interpenetration of her occultism with her particular interpretations of Buddhism and Hinduism. The resulting discussion helps to show how a particular view of India and Indian religions took hold in the west.

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