Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Three Lives of a Hungarian General

“Zoltán Álgya-Pap was the only Hungarian general in the Second World War who received the coveted gold medal for extraordinary courage in face of enemy fire.” The December issue of Budapest’s The Hungarian Review carries an account of a relatively unknown Theosophist, Zoltán Álgya-Pap, who played an important part in translating and transcribing unpublished Blavatsky material held in the archives at the headquarters Theosophical Society at Adyar, India.

Born in Budapest in 1895, he enlisted in the Austro-Hungarian army at age of 19, moving up the ranks. In 1947 a Soviet court sentenced Álgya-Pap to 25 years of hard labour for commanding troops. In 1955 he was suddenly released and received political asylum in the Netherlands.

He met N. Sri Ram, president of the Theosophical Society, who invited him to serve as an archivist in the Society’s headquarters in Adyar, India, south of Madras now known as Chennai. His knowledge of languages came in handy, especially the Russian he picked up as a POW. Ram entrusted him to translate and systematise Blavatsky’s vast trove of notes and correspondence, much of it in her first two languages, Russian and German. Promoted as senior archivist, Álgya-Pap received kudos for his sensitive handling of the Blavatsky papers. He was also named to a key position in the theosophical hierarchy. His title was not communicated to non-members but it had to do with ceremony and magic that Madame Blavatsky summed up as “the seventh ray”.

Zoltán Álgya-Pap died in 1987, at age 92, in The Hague, the Netherlands, in an old-age home maintained by Theosophists. He had been a member of the Theosophical Society since 1936. Some of his work can be seen in the transcriptions from Blavatsky’s scrapbook in the first volume of the Blavatsky Collected Writings series.

Charles Fenyvesi, who met Zoltán Álgya-Pap in India in the 1960s, gives his story in “The Three Lives of a Hungarian General – He Received his Highest Honours from Mystic India,” which can be read here.

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