Occult adepts who are supposed to have reached a superhuman
stage but have elected to remain on Earth and guide seekers
after wisdom. The founding and guidance of the Theosophical
Society was supposed to be due to the activity of
hidden Masters or Mahatmas living in remote Tibet. Since the
idea of the Masters and their Great White Brotherhood has
been popularized, numerous groups such as the several Alice
Bailey groups, the I Am Movement, and the Church Universal
and Triumphant, now advocate a relationship to the Masters.
Much of Western occultism derives from romantic concepts
of adepts with magical powers, but in Hinduism, mystical
awareness of God-realization is considered superior to paranormal
feats, and to the Hindu pupil, the Master is his guru,
or spiritual teacher. The term Mahatma is used to indicate a
special guru or ‘‘great soul,’’ and Maharishi or Maharshi denotes
a great sage of transcendental wisdom. Another Sanskrit term
Paramahansa (literally ‘‘greatest swan’’) is given to a very exalted
The primary Masters claimed by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky,
one of the founders of Theosophy, were Koot Hoomi Lal
Singh (usually signing letters ‘‘K.H.’’), the Master Morya
(known as ‘‘Master M.’’), Master Ilarion or Hilarion (a Greek),
Djual Khul (or ‘‘D.K.’’), and the Maha Chohan.
Jinarajadasa, C. The Early Teachings of the Masters. Chicago
Theosophical Press, 1925.
Johnson, Paul. In Search of the Masters Behind the Occult Myth.
South Boston, Va. The Author, 1990.
Leadbeater, Charles W. The Masters and the Path. Adyar,
India Theosophical Publishing House, 1925.