Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891), one of the founders of the Theosophical Society, was a remarkable woman who has made a great impact on the thought of the Western world. In her own day, she was controversial because of her abilities of extrasensory perception, her forthright nature, and her fearless attacks on hypocrisy and bigotry.
From earliest childhood she attracted attention with her ability to produce psychic phenomena at will. Yet she was not interested in such powers for their own sake, but for the principles and laws of nature that govern them. She became a student of metaphysical lore and traveled to many lands, including Tibet, in search of hidden knowledge. These were extraordinary travels for a lone woman in the nineteenth century.
In the 1870s H. P. Blavatsky came to New York, and with Col. H. S. Olcott and others, formed the Theosophical Society in 1875. In 1878 she became the first Russian woman ever to become an American citizen. In 1879, she and Col. Olcott moved to India, and in 1882 established the headquarters of the Theosophical Society at Adyar, near Madras. This remains the international headquarters today.
H. P. Blavatsky devoted her life to the service of humanity, to bringing the Wisdom of the ancients back into the awareness of her contemporaries. That Divine Wisdom, which she called Theosophy, inspires a compassion for the suffering of our fellow human beings and a practical altruism that seeks not merely to alleviate the symptoms of misery, but to remove its cause: ignorance of our fundamental unity with all other beings. HPB's life and works were directed entirely to that goal.