Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies


The Great Way of Former Heaven: a group of Chinese secret religious sects

Marjorie Topley

This paper discusses certain aspects of an esoteric, secretly organized, religion in China called Hsien-t‘ien Ta-tao (or Hsien-t‘ien Tao) ‘The Great Way of Former Heaven’ (or ‘The Way of Former Heaven’). It is based mainly on material discovered in Singapore during 1954–5.

The name Hsien-t‘ien Tao has been recorded elsewhere as that of a Chinese ‘sect’. Evidence suggested that it might have links with several other groupings but the exact nature of connexion was obscure.