The Yugoslav Theosophical Society

Charter of the Yugoslav Theosophical Society, issued on the date 14. 09. 1925 by the President of the Theosophical Society, Dr. Annie Besant, referred to the following Lodges: “Harmony” (led by Prof. Jelisava Vavra), “Istina” (Mrs. Valerija Mayerhoffer), “Surya” (Mr. Josip Vavra), “Krishnaji” (Mrs. Vera Donkchinskaya), “Blavatsky” (Mr. Hinko Hinković), “Annie Besant” (Mrs. Mimica Vavra) and “Unity” (Mr. Milan Šoštarič). But it seems that all these Lodges weren’t actual operating on the date when the document was issued.

The Mother-lodge of the Yugoslav Theosophical Society was Lodge “Harmony” in Zagreb which was founded in 1924 and which gained for its work, in 1928, the apartment in Mesnička street 7/III. This place became the official Headquarters of the Society with quite extensive library (about 600 titles) and with the room, dedicated to the Branch of the LCC (Liberal Catholic Curch). Društvo progressively expanded with the foundation of new Lodges: “Blavatsky” led by Mr. Božidar Prikril, “Adyar-Besant” (established with the unification of the Lodge “Besant” and study center “Adyar”) led by Mrs. Sofija Kachnič, “Unity” in Karlovac, “Concord” in Čakovec, led by Mr. Milan Reichnig, “Brotherly love” in Križevci, led by Mr. Ivica Barlović and Lodges “Truth” and “East” in Belgrade, former led by Dr. Vojislav Kujundžić. But these two lodges weren’t much active. More alive was Lodge “Jaroslav Mudri” founded by Russian emigrants and which was part of the Russian Section of the Russian Theosophical Society outside Russia. In 1927 begun with its work the Lodge “Krishnaji” in Celje, led by Mr. Konrad Konec (priest of the LCC), which later on begun to publish its own magazine Rays of Truth. In 1931 there were founded in Zagreb the meditative Lodge “Sava”, led by Mrs. Milica Gradišnik, and Lodge “Christ”, led by Mr. Pavao Pučar and dedicated to the study of the Holy Scripture.

In 1932 the Yugoslav Theosophical Society had already 186 members; half of them were from Zagreb. The Society was promoting also a lot of other activities, such as “The Order of Service”, led by Mrs. Mila Šišić, the “Knights Circle”, a group of young theosophists with the motto: “Live a clean life, speak the truth, remove the evil and follow the King”, a group “World Mother”, led by Mrs. Marijeta Dimec, a group for the “Protection of animals”, quite active group for the “Arts and Crafts”, a group for the “Reduction of alcohol drinking”, the “Theosophical group for investigation”, the “Slavic culture group” which once a year organized the “Slavic day”, the “League for World Peace”, the “League of Constructive Thinkers”, the “League for Karma and Reincarnation”, a group for the “Abolition of Death Penalty” and the “Tourist group”.

In 1934 the Society became a member of the international “Society for the Psychical Research”. In that same year and in the year after there were founded Lodges “Rukmini”, led by Mr. Zvonimir Frlan, “Blavatsky-Besant” (out of Lodges “Adyar-Besant” and “Blavatsky”), “Arundale” in Bjelovar, “Besant” in Ivanovo selo, led by Mr. Tomo Matašin, and Lodge “Love” in Sušak. The total number of members raised to 237, while in 1937 the Yugoslav Theosophical Society already reached a number of 340 members.

In 1938 the Society organized a successful congress of the EFTS (European Federation of the Theosophical Societies), presided by the President of the Theosophical Society, Dr. G. S. Arundale.

In 1939 there was founded in Kragujevac the Lodge “Spring dream” for children, and revived the work in Ljubljana with the formation of the Lodge “Service”, led by Mr. Vladimir Komidar. That same year the Society changed its name into the Theosophical Society in Yugoslavia.

At the beginning of the year 1941 the members of the Russian Lodge “Jaroslav Mudri” in Belgrade joined the Theosophical Society in Yugoslavia and formed their own Lodge “Brotherhood”. But these Lodge was working, as all of the rest of the Society, only till the April 1941 when the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was attacked and occupied by Germany, Italy and Hungary and when ceased all the activities of the Society.

Before the war number of active members of the Society was 378, although the successive number of membership cards issued from the foundation of the Society reached the number of 538.

Between the years 1927 and 1941 the Society published a bimonthly magazine “Teozofija”. (More in: 10th Anniversary of the “Teozofija”.)

Though the Society lacked funds it managed to publish the following books and pamphlets: Theosophy and the Theosophical Society Intended for Those Who Seek the Truth, The Astral Plane and The Devachanic Plane by C. W. Leadbeater, Karma by Ivan Butković, At the Feet of the Master by J. Krishnamurti, the Voice of the Silence by H. P. Blavatsky and Light on the Path by M. Collins. Many translated works were published as typescripts and had a limited circulation.

The Society nurtured good relations with the authorities as the annual assemblies and congresses were regularly attended by the Chief of the Police Department in Zagreb and from where greetings were send to King and Prime Minister.

All the time there was operating within the Society also the “Inner School” (Esoteric School), led till 1938 by Prof. Jelisava Vavra and then on by Mr. Alojz Piltaver. Prof. Jelisava Vavra was also Head of the Co-Masonic Lodge.

More in Mrs. Milica Gradišnik’s article: Historijat Teozofskog Društva (Historical sketch of the Theosophical Society), Theosophical Worker, No.1/1947 and in her report to the Executive Committee of the Theosophical Society in SFR Yugoslavia in 1974: O osnutku Teozofskog Društva (About the foundation of the Theosophical Society).

This is fourth in the series of articles which tend to represent the history of the theosophical movement in Slovenia and former Yugoslavia. It is based on the presently available data and will be regularly updated with new recognitions where they come in our view. Therefore, readers are kindly asked to constructively collaborate in this representation with particulars known to them and which will further elucidate the history of the theosophical movement in Slovenia and former Yugoslavia.

Anton Rozman

Last update: January 2009
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