The Theosophical Society (Adyar)

History

G.J. Tillett’s Ph. D. Thesis: “Charles Webster Leadbeater,
1854-1934: A Biographical Study”
Impressions by Editor
21.11.2008

* * *

There is no doubt that G.J. Tillett’s Ph. D. Thesis: “Charles Webster Leadbeater, 1854-1934: A Biographical Study” is very precious source of data concerning the history of the Theosophical Society. It is very interesting reading of what could be possible called “Theosophical Pride and Prejudice” and what compels me to write down my impressions about this valuable and interesting work.

The most argued issue in the theosophical circles addressed by G. J. Tillett is for sure the assumption that C.W. Leadbeater was actually an evil sex pervert and Black Magician.

It is quite clear that C.W.L. himself confessed that he taught boys in his custody practices which were generally considered as immoral and that he has hidden this fact before boys’ parents. On the other hand the allegations that he was actually in physical contact with boys while introducing these and other even more sinister practices and rituals seems less certain as these accusations were made by people who might be viewed as weak witnesses as they have had some political or personal interest to persecute C.W.L. As these allegations were dismissed by judge in the only proceedings in the court as lies and by Australian police as not enough supported to be brought to the court they have not been proven as facts. Therefore, in my opinion, the truth on this issue remains hidden. But as with every new day new facts about the sinister and shocking rituals in which so-called “world elite” is involved in comes to the light also these allegations can not be lightly dismissed nevertheless how shocking they are.

But more then in C.W.L.’s personality and his wrongdoing I am interested in the implications of so-called “Leadbeater affair” on the T.S. and in the way how the Society coped with it.

Its seems that parents’ main motive to entrust their children to C.W.L. was their aspirations that boys and girls will enjoy an advanced “occult training,” whatever this means, and that this was part of the activities of the Esoteric Section as boys’ parents were in general, as seems, prominent members of this organization. We can come to this conclusion also because Annie Besant, Outer Head of the E.S., intended to expel from the E.S. all who had taken part in making the affair public.

Therefore it should have been normal that the problem would have been addressed and solved within this organization. But after the exchange of some letters between high officials of the E.S. in America and O.H. of the E.S. in which investigation and prompt action was demanded but didn’t meet appropriate response, the President of the American Section of the T.S. issued an official circular letter to all American members of the T.S. which dealt with the C.W.L.’s alleged immoral behavior. In that way he made the “affair” a matter of the T.S.

American members then began moves to have C.W.L. expelled from the T.S. Their representative met with the T.S. President Henry Still Olcott, the GS of the British Section and officials of C.W.L.’s mother Lodge. H.S.O. who according to the by-laws, should autonomously decide in this matter or bring it to the consideration of the General Council, instead appointed an ad hoc committee which invited C.W.L. to discuss the problem behind the doors. The outcome was C.W.L.’s resignation as special Presidential Delegate and as a member of the T.S.

What can be learned from this story? Firstly, that the T.S. and E.S. were closely linked organizations. Secondly, that the E.S. wasn’t able to solve an inner moral problem. Thirdly, that the E.S. transferred the problem to the T.S. which dismissed it in an unconstitutional way. In other words, the organization which should occupy itself primarily with the moral education of its members wasn’t able to address some basic ethical issues involved but transferred this hot chestnut to the T.S. which tried to get rid of it with as less public image damage as possible. Instead to address the problem of sex in an investigative manner and launch an overall discussion on this issue the E.S. and the T.S. tried to unsuccessfully sweep it under the carpet. With later C.W.L.’s return to occupy high positions in the E.S. and the T.S. these organizations only demonstrated that they tolerate immoral behavior, so that “Leadbeater affair” persists to inflame relationships in the T.S. and its relations with other theosophical organizations.

The second important issue is C.W.L.’s misinterpretation of his date of birth. It seems that it is well documented fact that he was born seven years later as he claimed. And as this fact is connected with his supposed first meeting with the Master this brings his whole interpretation of his relationships with Elder Brothers under the question. There are additional events in his early life, as presented by himself, which indicate overdeveloped imagination without serious connection with the reality and with the tendency to dramatize and glorify personal role in those events.

The third issue is C.W.L.’s clairvoyant abilities. I personally do not have special natural gifts on this field and neither any special interest to develop these faculties, so I can not comment C.W.L.’s claims on the basis of my own experience.

What now seems to be to some degree scientifically proven facts confirm C.W.L.’s important contribution on the field of normally invisible part of human nature - the structure of human aura and chakras. But it seems that farer from the physical plane the C.W.L.’s clairvoyant investigations went more they were influenced by above mentioned tendencies of his personal character. It seems that he tried to represent his subjective experiences and visions on higher planes as objective facts in the nature. It is true that he claimed that these visions were confirmed by other collaborators in these investigations but these claims do not reflect in the form and contents of his presentations. They were not represented in a form of some sort of scientific research and the names of collaborators were not mentioned. Instead they were offered as authoritative statements in a form of books.

But let me try to discover once again the implications of these C.W.L.’s claims on the T.S. and in the way how the Society confronted them. It seems that also these investigations were part of the “occult work” within the E.S. and part of the “occult training” of members of this organization. The results were then imposed to the members of the T.S. in a form of lectures and accepted as proven facts. The T.S. did not develop any special activities and scientific tools in regard to its third object: To investigate unexplained laws of Nature and the powers latent in man.

The fourth issue is certain combination of previous two, namely the C.W.L.’s relation to the Masters and his clairvoyant experiences. He presented, in my opinion, an imaginary Hierarchy of Masters and its influence on the affairs of the T.S. and world in general. And once again this work was going on within the E.S. and then presented to the members of the T.S. as proven facts.

One would expect that painful experience with the campaign of the “Coming of the World Teacher” will be enough instructive lesson for the T.S. to try to change the approach towards the E.S. and “revelations” and develop “experiential” scientific methods in realization of its objects but it seems that till the present times we didn’t find enough strength to abandon this ambiguous heritage.

But in my opinion it is not fair to attribute the whole guilt for such a situation to C.W.L. Namely, it was already H.P.B. who demanded from the members of the T.S. faith [1] in the existence of Masters and herself as Their Messenger. She certainly had a solid basis for such demands but most probably she didn’t realize the impact they will have on the operation of the T.S. She herself had to face the reaction in a form of accusations that she invented Them and forged Their letters. And when confronted with the fact that H.S.O. regarded this issue as a matter of personal belief of each member and that he attained that the Society will not be involved in such disputes in the court she formed the E.S. which should promote the esoteric teaching. As right at the beginning of the operation of the E.S. there were problems present in regard to the relation between the E.S. and the T.S. it was stressed that there was no official connection between them but nevertheless, in real life, H.P.B. maintained great influence on the T.S. matters and formed the European Section under her presidentship. In that way a model was formed according to which the Outer Head of the E.S. can arbitrarily evaluate (in HPB’s words) if the T.S. is loyal to the Cause and if not it can be shaken off as the dust from the feet. (More on Early History of the Esoteric Section)

The real relation between the E.S. and the T.S. and this model of acting was then exposed in the so-called “Judge Case” when W.Q. Judge and A. Besant fought for the position of the O.H. of the E.S. what finished as a split in the T.S.

During the rest of the H.S.O.’s TS presidentship period with A.B. as O.H. of the E.S. the co-existence of the E.S. and T.S. was probably the most peaceful in the whole history of the T.S. as H.S.O. safeguarded the constitutional platform of the T.S. while A.B. was aware of the influence the E.S. can impose on the T.S.

So, H.S.O. represented the constitutional platform of the Theosophical Society as following:

"The secret of the persistent vigour of the Society is that its platform is so drafted as to exclude all dogmas, all social contests, all causes of strife and dissension such as are begotten of questions of sex, colour, religion, and fortune, and make altruism, tolerance, peace and brotherliness the cornerstones upon which it rests … One objection which has been rather persistently urged ... is that while we profess to make fraternity our chief ideal we do nothing to practically illustrate it … These views are based upon a total misapprehension of the constitutional character of our Society. Its aim is to float ideas which are likely to benefit the whole world, to give clear ands just conceptions of the duty of man to man, of the way to secure peace and goodwill between nations, to show how the individual can secure happiness for himself and spread it around him by pursuing a certain line of conduct, and how ignorance, which has been declared by that great adept, the Buddha, to be the source of all human miseries, can be dispelled. One of its chief objects is to discover and expound the fundamental basis on which stand all religious systems and to make men divest themselves of every shadow of dogma so as to become tolerant and forbearing towards all men of other faiths than one’s own. It was never even dreamt that we should amass capital as a Society to organize societies of any kind, whether socialistic, religious or commercial, and I have set my face from the first against every attempt to make it responsible for the private preferences and prejudices of its members, repudiating in toto every procedure, however seemingly innocent in itself, which could be construed into a breach of our constitutional neutrality. The members of the French Section will recollect that quite recently I had to officially reprobate the passage of a resolution expressing the Society’s sympathy for the work of a Peace Society. Should we once begin this ill-advised departure from the neutral ground upon which we have grown and flourished, and express our collective sympathy with socialistic, temperance, vegetarian, anti-slavery, esoteric, masonic, political and charitable societies, we should soon fall into chaos; our resolutions of sympathy would soon become a drug in the market and all our present dignity would be sacrificed in gushes of uncontrolled sentimentality. It is hard for me to have to utter this word of warning, but I would rather a hundred times sacrifice the friendly opinion of my colleagues than keep silent while they, in their inexperience, are trying to drag our car to the crest of the slope at whose foot lies the chasm of ruin. … I hope you all understand that while I am defending the rights of the Society as a body, I have not the remotest wish or thought of interfering in the least degree with the liberty of the individual. Quite the contrary, I sympathize with and encourage every tendency in my colleagues to ally themselves in movements tending towards the public good. … Another complaint made is that we are responsible for the whole litter of little occult societies ... Needless to tell any of you older members, the Society is not only not responsible for these little centres of selfishness and superstition but they are abhorrent to its ideal ... The psychic faculty, like a sharp sword standing in the corner of a room, may be used for a good or an evil purpose. The possession of clairvoyance - whether retrospective or prophetic - clairaudience, the power to speak or write in unlearned languages, to move ponderable objects without touch, to read thought, to travel in the astral body, to precipitate pictures or writings upon paper or other material, to see and describe absent persons, etc., are no evidence whatever of purity or elevation of character or spiritual evolution. I have known persons rarely gifted in one or other of these respects who were immoral in habit and false in statement. Patanjali specially warns us to avoid at all costs the following of these perverting psychical powers into the side paths which lead the pilgrim away from the straight road that runs towards the top of the mountain of spiritual development. They are but the spawn floating on the surface of the water over which we must propel the bark of our higher self to arrive at the port of adeptship … I wish to impress upon your minds, that no more dangerous obstacle lies in the Upward Path than credulity. The first great lesson taught by the Adept Master to his pupil is to use his reason and common sense in all things; no teaching is to be taken as inspired, no teacher to be infallible. “Act” wrote a Master to me in the beginning of my pupilage, “as though we had no existence. Do your duty as you see it and leave the results to take care of themselves. Expect nothing from us, yet be ready for anything.” This was a life lasting lesson to me and I have acted upon it to best of my ability ever since. In the very early days I had the tendency of taking as almost unquestionable the teachings that I got through Madame Blavatsky: I was afraid not to follow blindly her instructions lest I might unwittingly be disobedient to the wishes of the Masters. But experience cured me of that and threw me back upon the exercise of my common sense, since which time I have had nothing to regret. I pass this lesson on to you beginners, in the hope that in the early stages of your career you may be willing to listen to the advice of an elder brother whose experience in psychical matters already dates back fifty-five years." (Republished from E.E. Wood's Election Manifesto.)

While A.B. represented the influence of the E.S. on the T.S. in a following manner:

“In the T.S. we have a curious mixture. The Exoteric Society is purely democratic - it is only fair to admit this fully. On the other side we have an Esoteric body which is practically autocratic in its constitution. … The existence of a secret body to rule the outer Society made the constitution of the T.S. a mere farce, for it was wholly at the mercy of the inner … All the differences that arose between the Colonel and myself were really on this point; he could not believe that I was serious in saying that I would not use the E.S. against him, but slowly he came to understand it … The greatest power will always be in the hands of the E.S., and not in the head of the Society … I know that I exercise a quite unwarrantable power. This is what makes some people say there should not be an E.S.T. But you cannot help its existence; you cannot say to members that they shall not join a secret Society, so there is no power in the society to say it shall not be; we must recognize the danger and try to neutralize it. At any time during the last fifteen years I could have checkmated the Colonel on any point if I had chosen, and I do not see how the Society can guard itself against that danger; it is impossible to neutralize the authority of one to whom thousands look up as to a spiritual teacher.” (Republished from E.E. Wood's Election Manifesto.)

But after H.S.O.’s passing (the only T.S. President, in my opinion, able to defend T.S.' constitutional platform), when A.B. became the President of the T.S. and at the same time maintained the position of the O.H. of the E.S., the problem she expressed in the above passage became acute. It seems that she wasn’t able to solve the problem which have became also her inner struggle - to guard the Society against the spiritual authority. By inviting C.W.L. (who she obviously regarded as such) back to the T.S. and E.S. she began to inwardly disrupt the constitutional platform and moral character of the T.S. The result of this move was that great part of the English Section left the Society. And with the introduction of other, more or less secret groups, she further damaged the T.S. for the result of these activities was that practically whole German Section and many members of others left the Society. And maybe the most illustrative description of A.B.’s behavior in that years was given by her collaborator Bhagavan Das who said that there were two wishes which determined A.B.’s behavior, “the wish ‘to save’ mankind, and the wish ‘to be regarded as a Saviour’ of the same.” (Read the Bhagavan Das’ Letter to the Editor of The British Commonwealth.)

But I think that it is not accurate to say that A.B. was completely under the influence of C.W.L. and that she didn’t try to maintain an autonomous stand in regard to the functioning of the T.S. G.J. Tillett, for instance, writes that in 1920 problems “had been causing gossip about Leadbeater, particular in the USA and in response she suspended the work of the E.S. there, issuing an ultimatum that Theosophists would either work with her and Leadbeater, or they would not work in the T.S. and the E.S. at all,” while the situation in the American Section was, in my opinion, far more complex and connected with the “Back to Blavatsky movement” and “Towards Democracy League” and election of new General Secretary in which A.B. showed quite democratic stand in declaring that she cannot interfere in the Section’s matters and for that purpose also dissolved the E.S. in America for one year. It has to be remembered also that during A.B.’s presidentship the General Council passed very important Declarations on Freedom of the Society and Freedom of Thought nevertheless how they were later actually poorly applied in practice. From the Ernest Wood’s words we can namely learn that C.W.L. acted also behind the A.B.’s back and used the E.S. and his influence for “political” purposes:

He said to me: “We must try to get our own people in as General Secretaries in as many countries as possible.” He wrote many letters hinting that certain persons were the best. I did not question his earnestness and sincerity, but I thought that he ought to have gone out and started a new society on his own lines, which were quite different from those for which the Theosophical Society was intended. But he won his way, on account of his extraordinary persistence. (Cited from E.E. Wood's Is this Theosophy?)

But a passage in G.J. Tillett’s work which has struck me most profoundly is the following:

“Krishna and Mrs. Besant, together with Jinarajadasa and his wife, traveled to India by ship in October.  Their shipboard accommodation was, as usual, first-class, and, again as usual, paid for by the wealthy Dr. Mary Rocke, whose money had been generously poured out for all sorts of Theosophical ventures, including the amphitheatre at Balmoral. Whilst the ship was passing through the Red Sea Dr. Rocke fell down a companionway, suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died. She was traveling second class, unable to afford for herself the luxury she provided for her occult superiors, and so was simply buried at sea without the others knowing about it. When, eventually, one of them went into the second class section call upon her, the news of her death [was] received. Krishna is very upset by it.” (Cited from G.J. Tillett's Charles Webster Leadbeater, 1854-1934: A Biographical Study)

I think that this passage more then any other reflects the sad situation in the T.S. and how regular members who financially and otherwise supported and support their theosophical leaders were and are treated.

The next similar issue well represented in G.J. Tillett’s work is quite common habit in the society which one would expect that it will be somehow absent in an organization like the T.S. It is a habit of calumny, of talking publicly and privately about a definite person in a quite different way. It seems that in the times of C.W.L. this habit has been developed into a special method for obtaining that one’s own views and statements will prevail.

When this method is used by a person who is regarded by others as a spiritual leader it is extremely efficient and at the same time extremely unethical. And it seems that C.W.L. have used it quite regularly in support of his theories, especially in regard to the “Coming of the World Teacher,” when things proved to go in other direction then that prophesied by him. More over, he used it to discredit opposing views and claims as expression of Dark Forces obsessing and misleading persons with different perspectives. Viewed as clairvoyant authority that allegedly has the ability to read other persons’ motivations and as being in constant touch with the Masters he efficiently used this unreasonable credulity to obtain and preserve his already mentioned political influence in the Society.

It seems that this method combined with the wish “to be regarded as a Saviour” (at least of the Society and “True Theosophy” if not of the whole world) is still forcibly present among the members of the E.S. and that it therefore continue to represent serious moral obstacle in the life of the T.S.

But, as mentioned, the E.S. was not the only activity which influenced the character of the T.S. To get the impression about the range of initiatives which were launched by the T.S., especially in the A.B. and C.W.L. period I republish here the material from J. Ransom’s book “A Short History of the Theosophical Society”:

ACTIVITIES UNDERTAKEN OR PROMOTED BY MEMBERS OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY         

(This is only a partial list, which may be added to by those undertaking the research, purely Theosophical interests have not been included, and they are mostly mentioned in the text of the History.)

1879. - Exhibition of Fine Arts. School of Industries established, Bombay. Aryan Temperance Society, Bombay.

1881. - First Buddhist School, Ceylon.

1882. - Aryan Forefathers Society founded, and establishes 5 Schools, 3 for boys, 2 for girls.

1883. - Schools established: 1 Anglo-Sanskrit, 1 Anglo-vernacular, 1 Hindu, 6 Night Schools for labourers, 7 Sanskrit, 4 Sunday, or Religious, 6 other Schools, 2 Girls’ Schools, etc.

1884. - Collections for Famine Relief. Homeopathic Dispensaries at Bombay and Bareilly. Vaidic Hospital, Lucknow. Schools: 10 Sanskrit, 2 Vaidic, 1 Night School, I Anglo-Sanskrit-Bengalee, and 3 other schools. Aryan Leagues of Honour (Boys).

1885. - Theosophical Publication Fund, for translations of Sanskrit and vernacular works into English. White Lotus Association, Lucknow. Hindu Prakasika Sabha, Maheswaran. Homoeopathic Dispensary, Jubbulpur. Sanmarga (Path of Truth) Sabha. Sanskrit Colleges at  Tallur and Vizianagram. 1 Sanskrit School, I Sanskrit College. 1 Hindu Girls School. 3 Sunday Schools for Hindu boys.

1886. - Adyar Library. English day school, Colombo. Hommopathic Dispensary, Hoshangabad. Hindu Janobanratha Sabha, 3 Sanmarga  Sabhas. 2 Sanskrit Schools. 3 Sunday Schools. Theosophical Cooperative Association.

1887. - Sanmarga Samaj, Bellary. BAl Sabha. 1 Buddhist School, Ceylon. 1 English School, Ceylon. 2 Charitable Dispensaries. Free distribution of food, blankets and medicines. Purity Alliance and Mitra Bilas, for Hindus and Mohammedans. Sabha for protection of cows. 6 Schools: boys, girls, and infants.

1888. - Free distribution of food and medicines. 1 Sanskrit School. 2 Vernacular Schools, Ceylon. Hindu Girls’ Schools.

1890. - Aryan Press, in charge of John M. Pryse (U.S.A.); Blavatsky Press, London, in charge of James Pryse. Bow Club for Working Girls, founded by H.P.B. Christo-Theosophical Society. 5 Buddhist Girls Schools. Wilhelmina Caterina Theosophical School, Amsterdam.

1891. - League of Theosophical Workers. Working Women’s Club, Bow, London. Theosophical Research Society. 3 Schools in Ceylon. Industrial School Kandy. Sanghamitta Girls’ School, Ceylon. Theo­sophical Research Society, Melbourne.

1892. - Lotus Circle, New York. 13 Schools, Sinhalese and vernacular, Ceylon. [555]

1893. - Hindu Boys Association. Lotus Club for Men, London. Washerwomen’s League, London. Creches, soup kitchens, sewing and debating classes, Sunday classes and Girls’ Guilds established. Musaeus School (and Orphanage) for Buddhist Girls, Colombo.

1894. - “Hands across the Sea,” International Correspondence League. Pariah Schools started by Col. Olcott. Young Men’s Arya Union, Calcutta. H.P.B. Sanskrit School, Jullundur.

1895. - Ananda Buddhist College. Many Buddhist Schools now established in Ceylon. Anglo-Sanskrit School, Bankipur.

1896. - Famine Relief Committees, India. Pariah School, Madras.

1897. - Kandy T.S. has 30 Schools. Ceylon has 105 Schools under The Society’s Supervision.

1898. - Central Hindu College, Benares. H.P.B. School, Madras.

1899. - Golden Chain. Damodar Free School opened.

1901. - Tiravallur School, Madras. Women’s Educational League, Adyar.

1902. - Universal Co- Freemasonry vigorously promoted by Mrs. Besant, and T.S. members.

1903. - Sanatana Dharma Examination, founded by D. M. Goculdas and K. M. Shroff.

1904. - Buddhist Young Men’s Union, Galle, Ceylon.

1905. - Schools at Delhi and Lahore affiliated. Olcott Panchama Free Schools incorporated.

1906. - Famine Relief Fund. Charity Dispensary, Srinagar. Jhansi Orphanage.

1907. - Adyar Dispensary. Association for Research in Mystic Tradition. Bureau of Theosophical Activities. Olcott Teachers’ Association.

1908. - Theosophical Order of Service. Sons of India. Daughters of India. Bureau of Theosophical Activities. Round Table.

1909. - Braille League. League against Vaccination, Vivisection, etc. Corespondence League, New York.

1910. - Order of the Rising Sun, India. Philosophic Society, Geneva.

1911. - Order of the Star in the East. Distressed Indian Students Aid Committee. Young People’s Association, Finland. Arts and Crafts Guild, New Zealand. Much educational work: - 6 new Buddhist Schools; total now 220; 4 new schools in Burma.

1912. - Temple of the Rosy Cross. Order of Theosophical Sannyasis. T. O. S. very active: Preparation League of Healers, Redemption [556] League, Humane Research League. League of St. Christopher, Prayer  League, Poor Children’s Clothing League, Education League, Servers of  the Blind, League for Daily Meditation, League of the Seven M’s, Java,  (Temperance). Friends of India. Science, Religion and Art Leagues, U.S.A. Imperial Services League of modern Thought, England.

1913. - Theosophical Educational Trust Incorporated. Order of World Peace, Holland. Esperanto League. League to Help the Women’s Movement. Guild of the Mysteries of God. Circle of Prayer. Peace, Education and Theosophical Propaganda Leagues, Belgium. Much Educational work, India and Ceylon. Brotherhood of Arts, later be­came International Fellowship of Arts and Crafts.

1914. - Theosophical Bank Ltd., Finland. Thinkers’ League of Sailors, England. Various Leagues, Java. Young Mens’ Indian Association.  Educational: 4 schools handed over to T. E. T., Burma; 5 new Buddhist Schools, Ceylon.

1915. - Arts League (Adyar). Theosophical Educational Society, U.S.A. Home Rule League, India. T. E. T. has 18 educational institutions under its control, India. Madanapalle College, India. Letchworth School, England. Madras Parliament formed by Mrs. Besant. League of Parents and Teachers. International High School for Philosophy, Amersfoort, Holland. First Red Cross Circle in N. S. W. Theosophical Fraternity in Education, Eng.

1916. - Brotherhood of Arts. Pioneer Movement (training for Service). Women’s College, Benares. The Young Age (help in hospitals, prisons, etc.). Theosophical Fraternity in Education, Eng. East End Reading Room, London. Workers Educational Union. House-holders’ War League of Thought. Liberal Catholic Church. Many Bureaux in U.S.A. T.O.S.  groups: Braille Postal Mission; Correspondence; Music; Mystic Drama; Prison work, etc. Inter-Collegiate Theosophical Club, U.S.A.

1917. - Fraternity of Art, France. Womens’ Indian Association. Servants of the Star. Brothers of Service. Society for the Promotion of  National Education. T.O.S. in Russia: Circle of Servers. Animal and  Bird Protection Association; Fraternity in Education, India. The Civil  Ambulance, started by F.T.S., and Civic Association, inaugurated by  F.T.S. Sydney. Lotus Bureau, U.S.A. Brackenhill Theosophical Home, England.

1918. - Bande Islam (under Theosophical influence): International School for Philosophy. Hindu University: College of Science in Madras, College of Agriculture in Adyar. S.P.N.E. and T.E.T. amalgamate. Boy Scout Movement in India, organised by Mrs. Besant. Press League, Australia. Theosophical School, Krotona, Calif. Vasanta Garden School. [557] New Zealand. Morven Garden School, Sydney. Britain and India League, England.

1919. - International Correspondence League. International Fraternity in Education, England. T.O.S. in Belgium, Leagues of Helping, 40 Groups. Theosophical Fraternity in Nursing, England. Order of Field Servers, U.S.A., to supply speakers for Lodges. Theosophical School  and College, Auckland, N. Z. Training College for Teachers, Adyar. Sydney, N.S.W. members actively foster Vegetarian Movement, Crema­tion Society, Health Society, Free Kindergartens. Belgium: The Theo­sophical Society joined with others to form Federation des Societies des Culture Morale. Theatre Arts Alliance. Krotona.

1920. - Society of the Starry Cross. Fellowship of Teachers. Karma and Reincarnation League, U.S.A. Rose-Cross Finnish Occult Society. Practical Idealists Movement, Holland.

1921. - T.O.S. many Groups in Europe, lava, etc. Political Clubs, India. New Education Fellowship.

1922. - Brahmavidyashrama opened; Theosophical Workers Co­-Operative Credit Society, Adyar.

1923. - Young Theosophist movement begins, India. T. S. Muslim League. T.O.S. now working in “22 additional countries.” Theosophen­heim established. Vienna.

1924. - Young Theosophists, India, inaugurate Health Week, Food Relief, First Aid to Pilgrims.

1925. - Theosophical World University. Educational Work in China, Besant School for Girls established. Theosophical Lyceum, Hilversum, Holland. Theosophical Home for Aged Gentlewomen, Brisbane Lodge. ­Bharata Samaj, Adyar.

1926. - 2GB established, Sydney. Fraternidade, Portugal. Australia-India League. Besant Academy for the People, China. Theosophical News Bureau, London. Association of Hebrew Theosophists. Youth  Movement, Ceylon.

1927. - International League of Theosophist Doctors. Theosophical Medical League.

1928. - China: 3 Theosophical Evening Free Schools for Boys, and a free vernacular school for Girls. Various movements for Temperance and for Intellectual Studies supported, Czechoslovakia. Women’s Welfare Trust. Kashmir.

1929. - “Advance Australia” News Service. Roumanian members support various public movements; and the same in Ceylon and Brazil.

1930. - The Guild of Australian Motherhood.

1931. - Adyar Baby Welcome. Support for Peace Movement, Mexico. Healing of Nations, Yugoslavia.

1932. - Medical Group for Healing, Poland. Humanitarian League, Rangoon. “Peace Week” in Geneva. Pemitram Tjahja (Friends of the  Light) to help poor people to understand Theosophy, Java. Bellamy Club, Holland and S. Africa. Native Welfare, S. Africa. Medical Group for Healing, Poland. Humanitarian League, Burma.

1933. - Brotherhood Federation. Society for Radio Propaganda, Holland, Greater America Plan, U.S.A.

1934. - Besant Memorial School, Adyar. Children’s Circle and Ladies’ Club, Helsinki.

1935. - L’Entre’aide Theosophique, France. First Animal Welfare Society, Japan.

1936. - International Academy of the Arts, Adyar. Youth Movement, Italy. Theosophical Radio Station, Luz de Valle Lodge, Colombia. Livraria Encyclopedica Internacional, Brazil, to promote translation of Theosophical literature.

1937. - Philippine Theosophical Institute.

All these activities show enormous work done by members of the Theosophical Society and the impact it had on the society at large. But on the other hand they show how the T.S. to large extent alienated from its constitutional platform and declared objects as expressed by H.S.O., so that we nowadays find ourselves in the situation which we could possibly define as the “identity crisis”.

For this reason there are many theosophists who claim that influence of C.W.L. and A.B. was so harmful for the T.S. that their work should be wholly rejected. But how can we reject the history? We can not; but we can learn something from it to not continue to make same mistakes.

C.W.L. and A.B. would not be able to achieve such authoritative position in the T.S. if there have not been present in the T.S. an institutional defection in the form of the E.S. which institutionalized their authoritative role. And they could not achieve such influence in the T.S. if there have not been present among the members of the E.S. and T.S. some tendencies which allowed their “unhealthy” influence to flourish. What are these tendencies? Well, there are at least some which can be enumerated: the tendency to believe instead to explore and understand; the tendency to not take the responsibility but to transfer it to the leaders; the tendency to become “someone”, possibly something more then other fellows, and so on.

And we can see that mentioned institutional defection and tendencies are still present in the T.S. and that they perpetuate the same problems which were present in the time of C.W.L. and A.B. And there are still present in the T.S. numerous activities which digress the Society from its constitutional frame and its objects and purpose of existence. Let us remind about the objects and purpose of the T.S.:

1. To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, caste or color.
2. To encourage the study of Comparative Religion, Philosophy and Science.
3. To investigate unexplained laws of Nature and the powers latent in man.

“For our doctrines to practically react on the so-called moral code, or the ideas of truthfulness, purity, self-denial, charity, etc., we have to preach and popularize a knowledge of Theosophy.”

Is the work of the T.S. really dedicated to the study of Comparative Religion, Philosophy and Science and to the investigation of laws of Nature and the powers latent in man, to the development and adoption of scientific methods for this study, to the research of social environment and to the best methods for the promotion of theosophy in specific circumstances, and so on, and so on (Read also I.K. Taimni: Principles of Theosophical Work)? Are we really forming the nucleus of brotherhood? Do our doctrines really influence the world when we ourselves have serious problems with morality? Do we really preach and popularize knowledge of Theosophy to the needed extent?  
 
It seems that we simply do not understand to what kind of Society we have joined!

It is often claimed that works of C.W.L. and A.B. are decisively harmful and that the T.S. should cease to promote and sell them. Beside the fact that the T.S. has quite little influence in this respect and that these works will be promoted and sold anyway till they will find the response of readers, I personally think that there is much valuable in these works. They were at least dedicated to the study of Comparative Religion, Philosophy and Science and to the investigation of laws of Nature and the powers latent in man, and until the T.S. will not produce equally influential literature in these fields based on the new scientific discoveries they will only witness our incapability to make a step forward.

In The Key toTheosophy HPB wrote that the future of the Theosophical Society would:

“depend almost entirely upon the degree of selflessness, earnestness and devotion, and last, but not least, on the amount of knowledge and wisdom possessed by those members, on whom it will fall to carry on the work, and to direct the Society after the death of the Founders. … I do not refer to technical knowledge of the esoteric doctrine, though that is most important; I spoke rather of the great need which our successors in the guidance of the Society will have of unbiased and clear judgment. Every such attempt as the Theosophical Society has hitherto ended in failure, because, sooner or later, it has degenerated into a sect, set up hard-and-fast dogmas of its own, and so lost by imperceptible degrees that vitality which living truth alone can impart.”

Anton Rozman


[1] It was brought to my attention that the sentence: “Namely, it was already H.P.B. who demanded from the members of the T.S. faith in the existence of Masters and herself as Their Messenger,” does not reflect the actual state of affairs and that therefore, as HPB herself said: “Belief in the Masters was never made an article of faith in the T.S.”, the choice of the word “faith” seems inappropriate and should be substituted with the word “belief”. But, as J. J. Van der Leeuw stated in his paper Revelation or Realization: "More serious even than the indifference of the modern world with regard to the movement is the conflict within it. I am not speaking about a conflict between personalities; these do not matter. The conflict is one between different standpoints, views of life. I would define these as the conflict between revelation and realization. This conflict has been inherent in the theosophical movement from its inception, and has become acute since 1925." (Added: 23. 04. 2009)

Last update: April 2009
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