Agartha was created by “Saint Yves d’Alveydre” and appeared in Mission de l’Inde en Europe, Mission de l’Europe en Asie (Mission to India from Europe, Mission to Europe from Asia, 1885). Joseph Alexandre Saint-Yves, Marquis d’Alveydre (1824-1909) was a French thinker and mystic, similar to (if less influential than) Eliphas Lévi. Agartha is an ancient underground kingdom in Tibet.
The kingdom has a strange effect on outsiders: they either do not notice it as they travel through it, or they forget about it once they have seen it. Even so, there are many rumors about Agartha. It is said that its capital, Paradesa, holds the University of Knowledge, where the occult and spiritual treasures of mankind are guarded. Those in charge of these treasures are the Secret Masters, superior beings who are the spiritual leaders of humanity. They are in telepathic communication with enlightened humans around the world, who in turn try to spiritually uplift humanity until “the Anarchy which exists in our world is replaced by the Synarchy,” the proper system of government for all of humanity.
The capital is also home to an enormous gilded throne which is decorated with the figures of two million gods. It is only the combined good spirits of these gods which hold the world together, and if they are angered by a mortal, their wrath will descend upon the world, drying the seas and smashing the mountains into deserts. It is also said that Agartha holds the world’s largest library of stone books. Strange fauna inhabit Agartha, including sharp toothed birds, six-footed turtles, and human natives, who are born with forked tongues. The country’s guardians are the Templars of Agartha, a small but powerful army.
D’Alveydre and Mission to India From Europe was extremely influential upon the development of occultism in the late 19th century. Helena Blavatsky took several concepts from Mission to India From Europe for her teachings. The idea of the underground Tibetan city populated by enlightened “Masters,” the concept of “root races…destined to be supplanted by the next superior race,” and the idea of Atlantis as a superior civilization which had existed before the rise of Pharaonic Egypt were taken, in part or in whole, by Blavatsky from D’Alveydre.
However, the idea of Agartha was present before D’Alveydre’s work. The French philosopher and theologian Ernest Renan placed “Asgaard” [sic], the city of the gods in Norse mythology, in Central Asia in his Dialogues et Fragments Philosophiques (1871). In 1873 the French writer Louis Jacolliot, in his Le Fils de Dieu, described how he met a group of Hindu Brahmins in central Asia who told him the story of “Asgartha,” the 15,000 year-old city which was the source of Aryan civilization. Jacolliot expanded on Asgartha in a book later in the decade. In 1876 the English spiritualist (and one of the founders of the Theosophical Society) Emma Hardinge Britten wrote Ghostworld, or Researches into the Mysteries of the Occultism in which she expanded on Jacolliot’s idea of Asgartha, although the city was not mentioned by name. D’Alveydre drew heavily on Renan, Jacolliot, and especially Britten in his work.