Ascended Master is a term first used by by Baird T. Spalding in 1924 in his series of books, "The Life and Teachings of the Masters of the Far East" . The concept was originated by Helena P. Blavatsky in the 1870s, referring to these beings as Mahatmas. At first she talked about them privately, but the knowledge about the Mahatmas became more and more public. The idea of Ascended Masters was adopted by people who had had a connection with the Theosophical movement, such as Alice BaileyHelena Roerich, and Manly P. Hall. The Ballards and the Prophets used the names and portraits of the Theosophical Mahatmas for their Ascended Mastersand later many other New Age organizations used this concept of Ascended Masters. Many people assume that Mahatmas abd Ascended Masters are the same. The Theosophists claim there are differences

It is  generally believed that Ascended Masters are enlightened beings who once lived on earth, attained mastery over the limitations of the material planes, ascended and reunited with God .  An Ascended Master has become God-like and a source of spiritual guidance to all. According to these teachings, they remain attentive to the spiritual needs of humanity, and act to inspire and motivate its spiritual growth. They are considered part of the Spiritual Hierarchy of Earth, and members of the Great Brotherhood of Light, also known as the Great White Lodge, Great White Brotherhood, or Universal White Brotherhood.

Alice Bailey in 1919, severed her links with the Theosophical Society and began writing books she described as being telepathically dictated to her by Djwhal Khul whom she referred to as "The Tibetan" (later associated with the initials D.K.).  According to Alice Bailey  there are sixty Masters of the Ancient Wisdom, defined as beings who have attained Ascended Mastership, with Djwhal Khul in a pivotal role as the master who telepathically dictated the many esoteric teachings in Baileys' books.

Godfrey Rey King, (Guy Ballard) a former student of Theosophy, in 1930 was allegedly contacted during a hike on California’s Mount Shasta by a mysterious nonphysical character. This figure identified himself as one of the Theosophical Mahatmas, the eighteenth-century occultist known as the Comte de St. Germain. He charged Ballard with the task of transmitting the lessons of “the Great Law of Life,” giving rise to what became called “the I AM movement.” Ballard and his wife Edna soon gained a wide following with their version of St. Germain’s teachings, creating the Saint Germain Foundation in 1932. The I AM movement reached its heyday in the late 1930s; Guy Ballard’s death in 1939, combined with subsequent legal challenges, including a suit launched by the federal government alleging postal fraud, caused it to diminish. The organization continues to exist today, but keeps a low profile  

Mark Prophet 1958  A former student of the Saint Germain Foundation, claimed he was commissioned by “the Ascended Master El Morya” to transmit the teachings of the Great White Brotherhood through an organization called the Summit Lighthouse. Upon Mark Prophet’s death in 1973, leadership of the organization was taken over by his wife, Elizabeth Clare Prophet, revealed, by taking "dictations" from them, the names of many dozens of additional Ascended Masters that were previously unknown.  She changed its name to the Church Universal and Triumphant. In 1999, Prophet retired from her activities with the church; she died in 2009   

Some of the better known Ascended Masters:

Enoch  3000 BC  (In the Bible) which says, God took him. This is usually understood to mean that he was translated.  The  I AM people say that he is an Ascended Master.

Osiris   2600 BC  (Egyptian Book of the Dead, etc. ) He dies by one of various means and through the work of Isis and other gods, he is brought back to life, long enough to beget a son by Isis. Osiris's revival is apparently not permanent, and after this point in the story he is only mentioned as the ruler of the distant and mysterious realm of the dead.  Egyptians believed that they, too, could emulate Osiris's restoration to life and rule over the realm of the dead. overcome death as Osiris had. By worshipping him and receiving the funerary rites, virtuous people could reach the highest level of the afterlife. For some reason he is unreckonized by the New Age groups.

Sanat Kumara. 1200 BC also known  as the "Lord of the World", or Ahura Mazda  The I Am group declared him an ascended master in 1937.He is thought by them to be head of  Divine Council.

Elijah 850 BC  The Bible says, that the Prophet Elijah was translated without seeing death and taken to heaven. “Behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. II Kings 2.  The I AM people say (2007) that he is an ascended master. 

Gautama Buddha 500 BC The death of Buddha is not clear, but it generally accepted that he had attained enlightenment (i.e. masterhood) and that his death was voluntary. Today millions of followers pray to him for deliverance.  In 1953 I Am declared him an ascended master and the first of several Buddha Ascended Masters.

Jesus 33 AD   We all know the story. Previous incarnation as Joshua, overshadowed by the Christ Consciousness.

St Germain 1710 Compte St. Germain has been variously described as a courtier, adventurer, charlatan, inventor, alchemist, pianist, violinist and amateur composer, but is best known as a recurring figure in the stories of several strands of occultism - particularly those connected to Theosophy and the White Eagle Lodge, where he is also referred to as the Master Rakoczi or the Master R and as one of the Masters of the Ancient Wisdom, is credited with near god-like powers and longevity. Some sources write that his name is not familial, but was invented by him as a French version of the Latin Sanctus Germanus, meaning "Holy Brother." He was known as 'Der Wundermann' -- 'The Wonderman'. He was a man whose origin was unknown and who disappeared without leaving a trace  Some say he was  Francis Bacon in a previous incarnation

Master  Morya: A Rajput Prince. Occupied Akbar's body in a previous incarnation.

Kuthumi (Koot Hoomi La Singh): of Kashmir origin, studied at Oxford in 1850. Was Pythagorus in a previous incarnation

Hilarion:. Was St. Paul and is now in a Cretan body

Maha chohan: Also known as the Lord of Civilization, Chief of the Masters

Paul the Venetian:..Was also the painter Paul Veronese

Serapis:(Serapis Bey).. He works with the Deva of Evolution

 

Today, largely as a result of the I AM movement and the Prophets’ activities, the idea of the Ascended Masters is prevalent in the New Age.