Root races are stages in human evolution in the esoteric cosmology of theosophist Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, as described in her book The Secret Doctrine (1888). These races existed mainly on now-lost continents. Blavatsky's model was developed by later theosophists, most notably William Scott-Elliot in The Story of Atlantis (1896) and The Lost Lemuria (1904). Annie Besant further developed the model in Man: Whence, How and Whither (1913). Both Besant and Scott-Elliot relied on information from Charles Webster Leadbeater obtained by "astral clairvoyance". Further elaboration was provided by Rudolf Steiner in Atlantis and Lemuria (1904). Rudolf Steiner, and subsequent theosophist authors, have called the time periods associated with these races Epochs (Steiner felt that the term "race" was not adequate anymore for modern humanity).
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- The Theosophical ideas on race were fanciful and are best forgotten, but they did not imply any need for extermination, nor (unlike the ideas of contemporaneous biologists) for eugenic experiments, and in any case no one ever showed that they were invoked by the planners or commanders of Treblinka. It is defamatory nonsense to say that Theosophy "led to" Nazi racial policies.
- Elst, K. (2010). The saffron swastika: The notion of "Hindu fascism". p 838
- In the case of Theosophy, a movement suppressed by the Nazi regime, its mere use of the term "race", as in the "seven root races", is now held against it, but is actually sharply distinct from Nazi racism... the key concept of "root races", though sufficient proof of "racism" for mediocre calumniators, is not a division of mankind in races, unequal or otherwise... Theosofascism-monger René Zwaap [claims:] "That doesn't alter the fact that the Aryan doctrine was a key concept in Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine."... I don't think too highly of the Theosophical doctrine, both laborious and confused, but in such clashes my sympathies are with the rank-and-file Theosophists, who are hurt by Mr. Zwaap's calumny and make humble attempts to set the record straight.
- Elst, K. (2010). The saffron swastika: The notion of "Hindu fascism". p 906 ff