Arthur Lillie

From Theosophy Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Arthur Lillie (1831-?) was a soldier in the British Army in India. While there, he became a Buddhist. He wrote several books on religion but they were poorly received by scholars since were full of mistakes. His book Buddha and Early Buddhism (1881) attracted the attention of Spiritualists because in it he stated: "the Buddhist belief is permeated by what I have described as a distinctive, a peculiar note of Modern Spiritualism—the presence and guardianship of departed spirits."

Against Theosophy

Early Theosophical leaders and chelas took exception of Mr. Lillie's claims in his books, more particularly in his Buddha and Early Buddhism. For example, Master K.H. wrote to A. P. Sinnett:

Do not lose sight of Lillie's "Buddha and Early Buddhism" when you write [Esoteric Buddhism]. With its host of fallacies, unwarranted assumptions and distortion of facts and even Sanskrit and Pali words, this snobbish volume had nevertheless the greatest success with Spiritualists and even mystically inclined Christians. I will have it slightly reviewed by Subba Row or H.P.B. furnishing them with notes myself.[1]

Mme. Blavatsky criticized this book in several publications. The chela Dharani Dhar Kauthumi published a critical review entitled "Remarks and Thoughts on Buddha and Early Buddhism" in The Theosophist (February 1884, pp. 125-129). The article includes some editorial notes that may come from Master K.H. Mr. Sinnett also exposed some of Mr. Lillie's misunderstandings in his book Esoteric Buddhism.

All this, in addition to his sympathy for Spiritualism, made of Mr. Lillie an enemy of Theosophy. He wrote a pamphlet entitled Koot Hoomi Unveiled; or, Tibetan "Buddhists" versus the Buddhists of Tibet and the book Madame Blavatsky and Her "Theosophy".

In the August 3, 1883 issue of the Spiritualist journal Light, Mme. Blavatsky refuted Lillie's letters to that journal, and to his pamphlet, Koot Hoomi Unveiled. She clarified her knowledge of John King.[2][3]

Online resources



Additional resources

  • Remarks and Thoughts on Buddha and Early Buddhism by Dharani Dhar Kauthumi, The Theosophist Vol. V, No. 5(53), February, 1884, pp. 125-129. It includes some editorial notes that may come from Master K.H..
  • Koot Hoomi Unveiled; or, Tibetan "Buddhists" versus the Buddhists of Tibet by Arthur Lillie. London: The Psychological Press Association, 1884. 24 pp.
  • Observations on Mr. Lillie's "Koot Hoomi Unveiled" by the President of the London Lodge of the Theosophical Society, London, 1884.


  1. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 104 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), ???.
  2. Mary K. Neff, The "Brothers" of Madame Blavatsky (Adyar, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1932), 86-87.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VI (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1989), 271.