Purucker, Hobart Lorentz Gottfried de
Hobart Lorentz Gottfried de Purucker, a prominent American
theosophical author and leader, was the son of a pastor of
the German Reformed church. He was born January 15, 1874,
in Suffern, New York. He grew up in parsonages in several
states and also as a youth lived in Geneva, Switzerland, where
his father moved to become chaplain of the American church.
He attended the Collège de Genève for a short time but returned
to the United States during his eighteenth year. After
a period of wandering, he settled in San Diego, California,
where he discovered the Theosophical Society. He met the
leader of the American Theosophists, William Q. Judge, and
became an assistant to Judge’s successor, Katherine Tingley.
In 1903 Purucker moved to Point Loma, California, where
Tingley had established a theosophical community.
Purucker served as Tingley’s personal secretary, and in 1911
he assumed additional duties as editor of the Theosophical Path,
the group’s periodical. His years of work were acknowledged
in 1929 when he succeeded Tingley as head of the society. He
soon began a second periodical, the Theosophical Forum. He also
took over Tingley’s role as spokesperson of the society and
began to give public lectures, which were later collected into
some of his more popular books. The early 1930s were his most
productive literary period. He completed Questions We All Ask
(1930–31); Theosophy and Modern Science (1930); Golden Precepts
of Esotericism (1931); Fundamentals of Esoteric Philosophy (1932);
and The Esoteric Tradition (1935).
World War II presented a significant challenge to the community
at Point Loma, which was located on Pacific coastal
property adjacent to a major U.S. naval facility. The location
was a vulnerable position should Japanese forces reach the
West Coast, which many felt to be a real possibility at the time.
That threat and the financial problems being experienced by
the group led Purucker to close the community and sell the site.
He died September 27, 1942, just a few weeks after new headquarters
were established in Covina, California.
Following his death, the society published a variety of
Purucker’s writings, including Studies in Occult Philosophy (1945)
and Dialogues with G. de Purucker (1948). Purucker’s work is not
very well known, because the branch of the society over which
he presided has dwindled in size through the last half of the
twentieth century.
Purucker, Gottfried de. Dialogues with G. de Purucker. 3 vols.
Covina, Calif. Theosophical University Press, 1948.
———. The Esoteric Tradition. 2 vols. Point Loma, Calif.
Theosophical University Press, 1935.
———. Fundamentals of Esoteric Philosophy. London Rider,
———. Questions We All Ask. 4 vols. Covina, Calif. Theosophical
University Press, 1930–31.

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