In 1867 H.P.B. began to try to form some kind of organization
which would present the great "Truths" to the public. In the United States
of America Spiritualism had, since 1847, aroused great public interest. H.P.B.
at once espoused its cause. Colonel Henry Steel Olcott, a man of considerable
worldly position, was deeply interested in the Spiritualistic phenomena which
were startling the materialistically-minded world of those days. The strange
phenomena at the Eddy Homestead attracted such great attention that a newspaper
sent him to report on them. There he and H.P.B. met to begin a lifelong comradeship.
In New York these two and others, notably William Q. Judge, after several meetings
formed a society which they resolved to call The Theosophical Society. After
some preliminary meetings Colonel Olcott's Inaugural Address was given on 17
November 1875. This date was chosen as the birthday of the Society. The Colonel
was elected as President, H.P.B. as Corresponding Secretary (a title that died
with her), and Mr. Judge as Counsel. The Objects of the newly formed Society
were “to collect and diffuse a knowledge of the laws which govern the
universe”. In the Preamble to the By-laws, statements were made which
have ever since consistently affected the whole policy of the Society. They
ran: “Whatever may be the private opinions of its members, the Society
has no dogmas to enforce, no creed to disseminate. It is (not) formed to serve
as the foe or friend of any sectarian or philosophic body. Its only axiom is
the omnipotence of truth, its only creed a profession of unqualified devotion
to its discovery and propaganda. In considering the qualifications of applicants
for membership, it knows neither race, sex, colour, country nor creed.” This
last sentence was soon changed (1878) into an expression of the ideal of aiding “in
the institution of a Brotherhood of Humanity … of every race”.
In 1879 the First Rule was: “The Theosophical Society is formed upon
the basis of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity.” The Second Rule
stated that: “The whole Society is under the special care of one General
Council and of the President of the Theosophical Society, its Founder, who
is himself subject to the authority of a Supreme Council representing the highest
Section of the Society.” In 1888 those members interested in the Third
Object and who were under H.P.B.’s direction formed a distinct, private
and “esoteric” division of the Society with the formation of the
Esoteric Section. In 1896 the Three Objects of the Society were worded in the
way now so familiar to us all:
1. To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, caste or colour.
2. To encourage the study of Comparative Religion, Philosophy and Science.
3. To investigate unexplained laws of Nature and
the powers latent in man.
Last update: January 2009