Theosophical Society

Theosophical Society

Swastika, Star of David, Ankh and Ouroboros symbols.] The Theosophical Society was the organization formed to advance the spiritual principles and search for Truth known as Theosophy.



The Theosophical Society was founded in New York City, USA, in 1875 by H.P. Blavatsky, Henry Steel Olcott, William Quan Judge and others. Its initial objective was the investigation, study and explanation of mediumistic phenomena. After a few years Olcott and Blavatsky moved to India and established the International Headquarters at Adyar, Madras (Chennai). There, they also became interested in studying Eastern religions, and these were included in the Society's agenda. By 1889 when Blavatsky wrote "Key to Theosophy," the Society's objectives had evolved into

# "To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity without distinction of race, colour, or creed."
# "To promote the study of Aryan and other Scriptures, of the World's religion and sciences, and to vindicate the importance of old Asiatic literature, namely, of the Brahmanical, Buddhist, and Zoroastrian philosophies."
# "To investigate the hidden mysteries of Nature under every aspect possible, and the psychic and spiritual powers latent in man especially." (p. 39, "Key to Theosophy")

In addition to the stated objectives, as early as 1889 Blavatsky had told a group of Theosophical students that the real purpose of establishing the Society was to prepare humanity for the reception of the World Teacher when he appeared again on earth. This was repeated again more publicly by Annie Besant in 1896, five years after Blavatsky's death. [Krishnamurti: The Years of Awakening, Mary Lutyens (John Murray) 1975, p.12]


After Helena Blavatsky's death in 1891, the Society's leaders seemed at first to work together peacefully. This did not last long. Judge was accused by Olcott and Annie Besant of forging letters from the Mahatmas; he ended his association with Olcott and Besant in 1895 and took most of the Society's American Section with him. The original organisation led by Olcott and Besant remains today based in India and is known as the Theosophical Society - Adyar, while the faction led by Judge is today known simply as the Theosophical Society, but often with the clarifying statement, "international headquarters, Pasadena, California". A third organization, the United Lodge of Theosophists or ULT, in 1909 split off from the latter organization, and various small splinter groups began to take shape including the Palmers Green Theosophical Lodge under the leadership of Thomas Neumark-Jones — which was influential among British New Liberal intellectuals.Fact|date=February 2007
In 1902, Rudolph Steiner became General Secretary of the German/Austrian division of the Theosophical Society. He maintained a Western-oriented course, relatively independent from the Adyar headquarter led by Besant and Olcott. After serious philosophical conflicts, primarily on the spiritual significance of Christ and on the status of the young boy Krishnamurti (see below), most of the German and Austrian members split off in 1913 and formed the Anthroposophical Society. The latter remains very active and influential today and has branches in almost all western communities, including the US and Canada.

Controversy / Racial Beliefs

Blavatsky argued that humanity had descended from a series of "Root Races", naming the fifth root race (out of seven) the Aryan race. The Root Races were evolutionary stages, each new Root Race being more evolved than the previous one. She thought that the Aryans originally came from Atlantis, [The Secret Doctrine, the Synthesis of Science, Religion and Philosophy, Vol.II, p.249] , who were part of the fourth Root Race. The Aryan Root Race was only one more step in the evolutionary progress and it would eventually be superseded by a more spiritual Root Race, the sixth. She believed that Semitic peoples were later Aryans who have become "degenerate in spirituality and perfected in materiality." [The Secret Doctrine, the Synthesis of Science, Religion and Philosophy, Vol.II, p.200] However, she did not encourage any feeling of superiority by any person or race, spreading the idea of the common origin and destiny of all humanity, and establishing the principle of universal brotherhood as the First Object of the Theosophical Society: "To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity without distinction of race, colour, or creed." [The Key to Theosophy, Section 3, "The Objects of the Society"] . Thus, she declares "Theosophists, collectively, respect the Bible as much as they do the sacred scriptures of other people, finding in it the same eternal truths as in the Vedas, the Zend-Avesta, the Tripitakas, etc." [Collected Writings, Vol. XII, p.341]
Guido von List (and his followers such as Lanz von Liebenfels) later took up some of Blavatsky's ideas, mixing her ideology with nationalistic and fascist ideas; this system of thought became known as Ariosophy. Ariosophy, like Theosophy, had relied on intellectual expositions of racial evolution. The Thule Society preached Aryan supremacy and acted to achieve it. It provides the final link between occult racial theories and the racial ideology of Hitler and the emerging Nazi party." [ cite journal|title=Hitler's Racial Ideology: Content and Occult Sources.|journal=Simon Wiesenthal Center Annual|date=1986|first=Jackson|last=Spielvogel|coauthors=David Redles|volume=3|issue=|pages=|id= |url=|format=|accessdate=2007-08-22 ]


In 1909, C.W. Leadbeater, one of the leaders of this movement, proclaimed J. Krishnamurti, an adolescent Hindu boy, as the vehicle for a new indwelling of Maitreya Buddha.Fact|date=July 2008 Krishnamurti's family had relocated to live on the site of the Theosophical Society headquarters in Adyar India in January 1909, a time when Annie Besant was the head of the organization in India.

By 1925 J. Krishnamurti had began his movement away from the organization, and in 1931 he disavowed his status and left the Theosophical Society altogether. He spent the rest of his life as an independent spiritual teacher, though he remained on friendly terms with some individuals of the Theosophical Society.

Related individuals and organizations

These people and groups claim origins or association with the Theosophical Society, its branches or leaders. Note that many of those listed are highly controversial in terms of their relation to Theosophy.
* Agni Yoga Society
* Anthroposophy
* Arcane School (Alice Bailey)
* Annie Besant
* Charles Webster Leadbeater
* Order of the Temple of the Rosy Cross
* Church Universal and Triumphant
* Hugh Dowding
* Anna Kingsford
* J. Krishnamurti
* James Cousins
* U.G. Krishnamurti
* Liberal Catholic Church
* New Acropolis
* I AM Activity
* Elizabeth Clare Prophet
* Rudolf Steiner
* The Temple of the People
* Share International
* Warren Prall Watters
* Brother XII
* The Temple of The Presence
* The Bridge to Freedom

ee also

* Ascended Masters
* Order of the Temple of the Rosy Cross
* Theosophical Society of the Arya Samaj
* Arya Samaj
* Religion and mythology
* Aryan_race - Theosophy


Further reading

*Bruce F. Campbell: "Ancient wisdom revived, a history of the Theosophical movement". University of California Press, Berkeley 1980, ISBN 0-520-03968-8.
*Michael Gomes: "The dawning of the theosophical movement". Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton 1987, ISBN 0-8356-0623-6.
*Henry Steel Olcott: "Old Diary Leaves, Part 1". Kessinger, Whitefish 2003, ISBN 0-7661-3336-2. (Reprint von 1895)
*Peter Washington: "Madame Blavatsky's Baboon". Schocken Books, New York 1995, ISBN 0805210245.

External links

* [ - Online Books on Theosophy T.S. SOUTHERN AFRICA]
* [ - Online Most Important Books on Theosophy and the Theosophical Society]
* [ Theosophical movement 1875 - 1950] (39ff.)
* [ "Esoteric World of Madame Blavatsky"]
* [ Modern Revival of Ancient Wisdom] (pp. 58ff.)
* [ Beginnings of the TS]
* [ H.P. Blavatsky and The Theosophical Society]
* [ The Original Programme of the Theosophical Society]
* [ FAQ on the Theosophical movement]
* [ Historical background of The Theosophical Society]
* [ The Theosophical Society UK]
* [ Skeptics Dictionary entry on Theosophy]

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