Deunov, Peter Konstantinov (1864-1944)
Deunov, Peter Konstantinov (1864-1944)
Peter Konstantinov Deunov, Bulgarian esotericist and founder of the White Brotherhood, was born on July 11, 1864, in Hadurcha (now Nikolaevka), Bulgaria, the son of an Orthodox priest. He received his elementary education locally, but went to secondary school in Varna and the American School of Theology and Science in Svishtov, from which he graduated in 1886. He taught school for two years before leaving for the United States, where he studied theology at Drew Theological Seminary and Boston University (both Methodist schools). After completing his course in 1893, he took a year of medicine before returning to Bulgaria in 1895.
Deunov had already decided upon his life work as an independent spiritual teacher. He prepared himself with five years of seclusion in study and meditation. In the United States he had encountered the Rosicrucians and was also conscious of the Bogomil heritage in his own land. His first book, Science and Education, appeared in 1896. The following year he had a mystical initiation experience and assumed the spiritual name by which he would be commonly known, Beinsa Douno. With only two students, in 1900 he organized the White Brotherhood. He also began to prepare lesson material offering a broad introduction to occultism. This was bolstered by material he received through his own meditations, the first such sets being published as the Seven Conversations with the Spirit of God and The Three Things, both issued in 1900.
In 1914 he proclaimed the advent of the Age of Aquarius and increasingly shifted his teaching activity to Sofia, the capital. It being wartime, his activities came under official scrutiny, and signs of tension with authorities appeared. In August of 1915, the annual meeting was disrupted and Douno expelled from the town in which it was held. In 1917, the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church pressured the authorities to have the brotherhood expelled from Sofia. Finally in 1922, in response to Douno's opening a School of the Great White Brotherhood in Sofia, the church excommunicated Douno and many of his followers.
Through the 1920s and 1930s, the brotherhood expanded and Douno continued to teach and write. Also, many of his lectures were taken down in shorthand and transcribed. He began a periodical, Wheat Grain, in 1924 and opened a center called The Sunrise, outside of Sofia in 1926. In 1934 he instituted a cycle of 28 exercises, body movements with accompanying music, which he called paneurhythmy.
In 1936 he was able to extend his work to the West, when a center opened in Paris. Douno continued to teach until his death in 1944. The emergence of a Marxist government would dampen the movement in the years after World War II (1939-45). The headquarters and printing press were taken over by the government for its own use. In 1957 all of Douno's books were confiscated. It was not until the 1970s that meetings began to be held again and the outward work of the order revived. Concurrently, Douno's teachings were revived in France and the United States. However, in the meanwhile, one of his students, Omraam Michael Aivanhov, who had been sent by Douno to France in 1937, organized a separate organization, now known as the Universal Great Brotherhood, to carry forward the teachings. Today, in the West, most people are aware of Douno through Aivanhov's movement.
Douno's Bulgarian followers have translated a number of his works into English, the first of which appeared in the 1960s. Most recently, they developed an extensive Internet presence anchored by the official site at http://www.vega.bg/~beinsa_douno/.
Douno, Beinsa. The Master Speaks: The Word of the Great White Brotherhood. Los Angeles: Sunrise Press & Books, 1970.
——. Reminiscences: Talks with the Master. Los Angeles: Sunrise Press, 1968.
——. The Teachings of Beinsa Douno: Pearls of Love. Glasgow: Beyond the Rising Sun Publications, n.d.