The Vahan (periodical)

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Masthead of first issue

The Vahan was a periodical published at the HPB Press in London from 1890 to 1920. It was subtitled, "A Vehicle for the Interchange of Theosophical News and Opinions." Initially, the editors were H. P. Blavatsky and Walter R. Old, but in August 1891, after her death, G. R. S. Mead took over.

It was first issued by the Council of the British Section of the Theosophical Society, December 1890 to July 1909; then taken up by the Theosophical Society in Great Britain, August 1909 to April 1910. From May 1910 to 1919 it was the organ of the Theosophical Society in England and Wales. The journal was also known as Theosophy in England and Wales.

Name

The first lines printed on December 1, 1890 explained the name:

Why the Vahan?

Because, the word means a Vehicle. In Theosophical metaphysics this term denotes a basis, something, as a bearer, more substantial than that which it bears; e.g., Buddhi, the spiritual Soul, is the Vahan of Atmâ -- the purely immaterial principle. Or, again, as in physiology, our brain is the supposed physical vehicle or Vahan of superphysical thought.

Thus, this little fortnightly paper is destined to serve as the bearer of Theosophical thought, and the reorder of all Theosophical activities.

Availability

Even it its early days, issues could be difficult to find. When Thomas Moore Johnson wrote to G. R. S. Mead asking for back copies, Mead responded, "I am afraid that it is almost hopeless to find back numbers of the early volumes of the Vahan; they have not been kept."[1]

The Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals has indexes to the 1890-1891 issues and also for some August 1891-1920 issues

A Swiss Anthroposophical website has posted beautiful scans from April 1896 through September 1908:

The American Theological Libraries Association microfilmed a complete run of the periodical through the cooperative efforts of the Henry S. Olcott Memorial Library and Alexandria West Library. The ATLA has been digitizing all its films, but access is allowed only by subscription.

Notes

  1. G. R. S. Mead letter to Thomas Moore Johnson, dated 21 November, 1902. Quoted in Patrick D. Bowen and K. Paul Johnson, editors, eds. Letters to the Sage: Selected Correspondence of Thomas Moore Johnson Volume One: The Esotericists (Forest Grove, OR: The Typhon Press, 2016), 254.