Fragments of Occult Truth (article)

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The Fragments of Occult Truth is a series of articles published in The Theosophist in the early 1880's. Allan Octavian Hume and Alfred Percy Sinnett wrote the articles based upon teachings they received from H. P. Blavatsky and the letters written by Mahatmas K.H. and M. These articles are replies to letters written by Australian Theosophist William H. Terry about the Spiritualistic phenomena and the occult explanation of them.

History and authorship

The first three "Fragments" were written by A. O. Hume, without signing them, and published in The Theosophist on October 1881, March 1882, and September 1882. To verify Hume as the author, we can turn to the correspondence of H. P. Blavatsky with A. P. Sinnett. She wrote to him in August 1882, while reviewing materials that had been submitted for the September 1882 issue of The Theosophist. She refers to the third "Fragment" as being the work of Hume.[1] There is evidence of Hume's work within the third "Fragment," which has mentions of "Mr. Sinnett." On page 308, section 5, Hume writes of "my experience given in the last 'Fragments of Occult Truth,'" confirmng that the second "Fragment" was written by Hume rather than Sinnett.

The first article in the series marks the first time that the seven-fold constitution of human beings was publicly taught in Theosophical literature. The information came from teachings that Hume and Sinnett were receiving from the Mahatmas, as well as conversations with H. P. Blavatsky, who stayed as a guest of Hume in Simla for a couple of months at the time. In 1895 G. R. S. Mead wrongly assigned them to Mme. Blavatsky, publishing them in the book A Modern Panarion.

After the third of the unsigned articles, authorship transferred from Hume to Sinnett. The later installments of the "Fragments" were written by Mr. Sinnett and signed by him as "A Lay-Chela" (authorized by Mahatma K.H. in Letter 68 (Barker No. 16)). They were published in The Theosophist on October and November 1882, and March, April, and May 1883. Most of the information in these articles was later used by A. P. Sinnett in his book Esoteric Buddhism. H. P. Blavatsky confirmed his authorship in a letter to A. P. Sinnett, writing that "I have your 'Evolution of Man,'” referring to the fourth "Fragments" article.[2]

On November 1882 an article entitled "Occult Fragments and the Book of Khiu-Te" was written by "N.D.K.---, F.T.S.", commenting upon the teachings of the first "Fragment". This has been ascribed by some to Mme. Blavatsky, but "N.D.K." refers to N. D. Khandalavala.

On March 1883, following the sixth installment of the Fragments, there is an "Appendix to 'Devachan'" consisting of five notes (from A to E) without stating the author. In Letter 104 (Barker No. 25) KH writes, "Hence — my orders to a chela to reproduce in an Appendix to your article extracts from this letter and explanations calculated to disabuse the reader..." Much of the Appendix is verbatim from this letter.

Misconceptions of the true value of such terms as "Spirit", "Soul", "individuality", "personality", and "immortality" (especially) — provoke wordy wars between a great number of idealistic debaters, besides Messrs. C.C.M. and Roden Noel. And, to complete your Fragment without risking to fall again under the mangling tooth of the latter honourable gentleman's criticism — I found it necessary to add to devachanAvitchi as its complement and applying to it the same laws as to the former. This is done, with your permission, in the Appendix.[3]

On May 1883 (p. 202) Franz Hartmann wrote the article "Devachan (Explanations of Fragments of Occult Truth)" and on July of that year there was an anonymous article "Karma (An Appendix to Fragments of Occult Truth)" which has been assigned to Mme. Blavatsky.

Series summary

Article Title (linked to PDF) Author Month, year Volume, issue number Pages
1 Fragments of Occult Truth A. O. Hume October, 1881 Vol. 3 No. 1 (No. 25) 17-22
2 Fragments of Occult Truth A. O. Hume March, 1882 Vol. 3 No. 6 (No. 30) 157-160
3 Fragments of Occult Truth A. O. Hume September, 1882 Vol. 3 No. 12 (No. 36) 307-314
4 The Evolution of Man A. P. Sinnett October, 1882 Vol. 4 No. 1 (No. 37) 2-5
5 The Evolution of Man - continued A. P. Sinnett November, 1882 Vol. 4 No. 2 (No. 38) 46-48
6 Devachan A. P. Sinnett March, 1883 Vol. 4 No. 6 (No. 42) 131-135
7 The Human Life Wave A. P. Sinnett April, 1883 Vol. 4 No. 7 (No. 43) 161-164
8 The Progress of Humanity A. P. Sinnett May, 1883 Vol. 4 No. 8 (No. 44) 194-195

Other digital versions

Related materials


  1. H. P. Blavatsky letter to A. P. Sinnett. August 1, 1882. Barker’s transcription published as letter 6 in The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett, 8–9.
  2. H. P. Blavatsky letter to A. P. Sinnett. September 17, 1882. Barker’s transcription published as letter 18 in The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett, 37.
  3. Letter 104, page 25.