The Word of Master Petar Danov
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Name of collection
- The Word of Master Petar Danov
Provenance and cultural activities
The collection is a valuable source of knowledge about a religious and philosophical doctrine of great cultural influence – the Christian esoteric school known as the Universal White Brotherhood – developed in Bulgaria in the early 20th century by the highly educated Petar Danov / Beinsa Douno (1864–1944).
Upon return to Bulgaria in 1895 after 7 years of study in the USA (1888-1895), Petar Danov settled in Varna and founded in 1897 together with other spiritual scholars and public figures the Society for the Elevation of the Religious Spirit of the Bulgarian People, later known as the Synarchic Chain (1906) and the Universal White Brotherhood (1922). The society held annual meetings in different cities throughout the country as well as in the mountains. From the beginning of the twentieth century to the Balkan Wars, Petar Danov travelled throughout Bulgaria, gave public lectures, and took anthropometric measurements, part of his phrenological research, a common pseudo-scientific pursuit at the time. thinking. After the end of the First World War in 1918 the number of followers grew rapidly across the country and in 1922 Danov opened what was called an Esoteric School in Sofia, which he called the School of the Universal White Brotherhood. Danov, known as "Master Beinsa Douno", gave approximately 3700 lectures between 1914 and 1944. His speeches were recorded by stenographers and published in series (e.g. the series Power and Life). Because of Danov’s anti-war activities, during the First World War, he was forced to move from Sofia to Varna as his teachings were attributed with “weakening the spirit of the soldiers at the front”.
His teachings were open to all regardless of ethnicity or religion. However, because of his critique of the hierarchy of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church (BOC), Petar Danov was excommunicated in 1922 on charges of “sectarianism and occultism”.
In the 1920s the residential community Izgrev [Sunrise] was established. Many followers started building nearby and it soon became the centre of a large spiritual community. The annual conventions of the spiritual community were characterized by a number of practices, including prayer, meditation, breathing, and “paneurhythmy” – a series of exercises consisting of melody, text, and body movements.
The collection contains the books of over 4,000 lectures by Petar Danov / Beinsa Douno and is of great importance for the preservation and understanding of the spiritual movement’s ideology and history.
The collection also shows the attitudes of the state towards the community. A follower of Petar Danov – Colonel Lyubomir Lulchev – became an advisor to Boris III, Tsar of Bulgaria. The interest and support of the monarch contributed to the growth of the movement. Immediately after World War II and the establishment of the new power, Lyubomir Lulchev was sentenced to death by the so-called People's Court and was executed (February 1, 1945).
The communist government officially declared/proclaimed "respect for religious rights and freedoms", but the main goal was the prevention of religious belief and the establishment of atheism. The regime targeted religions based on state interests. The Universal White Brotherhood had an unclear legal status: it was registered in 1948 as a religious community, but it was not a legal entity. Thus, in practice, the organization led a semi-legal existence. The property of the Brotherhood, as well as private property of its members, were confiscated (1948), the printing house closed, the printing machine and other publishing tools confiscated (1950). At the end of the 1950s, "over 50 tons of reactionary literature by author P. Danov from the entire country was seized", part of which was sent to the Central State Archive, but part of which was destroyed. In 1958, as part of another State Security operation against religion, a “financial audit” of the “Danovist sect” was used as an argument for its closure as a "faith community" (see featured item, Top Secret). In the 1970s, the Izgrev settlement in Sofia was destroyed, and the Embassy of the USSR was built in its place; only Danov’s grave was preserved. Communist power consistently strived for the control and suppression of religion. State Security agents had infiltrated religious structures throughout the country. Religion was ridiculed while atheism was propagated in schools. Although religious faith was not explicitly banned, a large amount of "research", which "evidenced" the reactionary nature of religion and its incompatibility with socialism was conducted. Powerful social stigma was attached to personal expressions of religious beliefs by official structures and mass media.
Despite the difficult conditions, the White Brotherhood movement gained new followers. The annual summer conventions/meetings in the mountain region of the Seven Rila Lakes were continued, although it was known that they were attended by agents of Department Six of State Security, responsible for the observation of Bulgarian intellectuals and religious and spiritual communities. During the period of state socialism, the talks of Peter Danov were not published, and his texts were disseminated underground.
After the political change of 1989, the Esoteric Christian "White Brotherhood" was registered by the Department of Ecclesiastical Matters at the Bulgarian Council of Ministers as a denomination with structures in different cities in Bulgaria. There are differing opinions about the ideology of the movement, and it has been criticized for its esoteric racism and Slavic messianism. There is a tendency to dogmatize the teachings of Petar Danov, in addition to the deification of his personality (Slavov, 2010). The Universal White Brotherhood is present throughout Europe, North and South America, Asia, and Australia.
This collection of valuable antique and rare publications was developed thanks to the efforts of Hristo Vatev. The collection has been developed with materials entirely collected voluntarily. The collection’s website has been translated into Russian, German, English, Italian, French, and Spanish by volunteers and is supported by donations. The collection allows one to trace the beginnings of Petar Danov’s thoughts and ideology, and to follow the complex path of this religious/mystical/philosophical movement through different political eras.
The collection has been used widely by those interested in the history of religious movements in addition to followers of Petar Danov.
The statistics for the interactive website "petardanov.com" demonstrate how active its community is – it has more than 1700 registered users and more than 32000 comments. Additionally, the official Facebook page has more than 980 likes (March 2018).
Description of content
The collection contains original books including first editions of Petar Danov, published between 1915 and 1950; archive videotapes and photographs; photocopied pages of handwritten and printed lectures; numerous materials on the history of the White Brotherhood; and a wide number of scanned books, magazines and newspapers published during and after Petar Danov’s time. The collection was digitized and uploaded in 2010 and has been maintained and expanded by volunteers.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 500-999
- photos: 500-999
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 500-999
- video recordings (including oral history recordings): 10-99
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Slavov, Atanas 2010. Izgrevat. Kam svetskata biografia na Petar Danov. Heliopol. Kulturna asotsiatsia Beinsa Duno. ISBN 978-954-578-249-7
Author(s) of this page
- Kasabova, Anelia Dr.
Slavov, Atanas 2010. Izgrevat. Kam svetskata biografia na Petar Danov. Heliopol. Kulturna asotsiatsia Beinsa Duno.
Vatev, Hristo, interview by Kasabova, Anelia Dr., . COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection