Imagining the East
The Early Theosophical Society
- ISBN: 9780190853884
- Published By: Oxford University Press
- Published: January 2020
The Theosophical Society (est. 1875 in New York by H. P. Blavatsky, H. S. Olcott and others) is increasingly becoming recognized for its influential role in shaping the alternative new religious and cultural landscape of the late nineteenth and the twentieth century, especially as an early promoter of interest in Indian and Tibetan religions and philosophies. Despite this increasing awareness, many of the central questions relating to the early Theosophical Society and the East remain largely unexplored. This book is the first scholarly anthology dedicated to this topic. It offers many new details about the study of Theosophy in the history of modern religions and Western esotericism.
The essays in Imagining the East explore how Theosophists during the formative period understood the East and those of its people with whom they came into contact. The authors examine the relationship of the theosophical approach with orientalism and aspects of the history of ideas, politics, and culture at large and discuss how these esoteric or theosophical representations mirrored conditions and values current in nineteenth-century mainstream intellectual culture. The essays also look at how the early Theosophical Society's imagining of the East differed from mainstream 'orientalism' and how the Theosophical Society's mission in India was distinct from that of British colonialism and Christian missionaries.