History of the
The Theosophical Society was founded on November 17th 1875 in New York By Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Colonel Henry Steel Olcott and Willian Quan Judge and others. Headquarters were later established in Adyar, India.
Brief Chronology of the Theosophical Society
This is where it began
The Mott Memorial Hall, New York
On November 17th 1875
1877 Isis Unveiled, written by H.P. Blavatsky, is published.
1878 On July 8, H P Blavatsky became a naturalized citizen of the United States..
Colonel Henry Steel Olcott and H.P. Blavatsky set off for India.
1879 Olcott and H.P. Blavatsky arrive in India. Olcott and H.P. Blavatsky start the Publication of "The Theosophist".
1881 Publication of The Occult World, written by A.P. Sinnett.
1883 Publication of Esoteric Buddhism, written by A.P. Sinnett.
1884 Charles Webster Leadbeater joins the Theosophical Society and travels to India at the order of the Master. The Inner Group of the London Lodge is formed.
1885 H.P. Blavatsky returns to Europe. "Man-Or Fragments of Forgotten Truth", by Mohini Chatterji and Laura Holloway was published.
1886 William Quan Judge starts the magazine, The Path.
1887 W. Q. Judge writes a letter to H.P. Blavatsky asking her to start a group with the purpose of esoteric instruction.
1888 The Secret Doctrine, written by H.P. Blavatsky, is published. The existence of the Esoteric School is publicly announced.
1889 Annie Besant, a high profile free thinker and social reformer, joins the Theosophical Society after reading the Secret Doctrine and meeting H.P. Blavatsky. H.P. Blavatsky publishes
1889 - 1890 Mohandes K Gandhi is introduced to H P Blavatsky and Annie Besant in London but declines to become a regular member of the Theosophical Society. However, during the following year the Society’s influence lead him to read Theosophical and religious literature including Edwin Arnold's The Song Celestial (the Bhagavad Gita) and The Light of Asia.
1890 T. Subba Row dies.
1891 H P Blavatsky dies in London on May 8th which becomes celebrated as White Lotus Day and Colonel Henry Steel Olcott takes over as President. Annie Besant and W.Q. Judge become joint Outer Head of the Esoteric Section.
Colonel Henry Steel Olcott
1894 Start of the argument between W. Q. Judge on the one hand and Olcott and Besant on the other on the authorship of some Mahatmic letters received through W.Q. Judge.
1895 The American Section secedes. W. Q. Judge is its president until his death
The American break with Adyar is by no means unanimous; 75 lodges resign from the Adyar Theosophical Society and elect W Q Judge as president. 26 lodges remain in the Adyar Theosophical Society under the leadership of Alexander Fullerton.
1896 W. Q. Judge dies.
The American Theosophy Group which remains part of the Adyar lineage is now known a The Theosophical Society in America and establishes its headquarters at Wheaton Illinois.
W Q Judge’s breakaway group, led by Katherine Tingley moves its headquarters from New York to Pasadena in 1900 and becomes known as the Theosophical Society, Pasadena. This becomes a separate Theosophical lineage with groups worldwide under a different series of leaders: Katherine Tingley, Gottfried de Purucker, Colonel Arthur L. Conger, James A. Long and Grace F. Knoche.
William Quan Judge
1900 Annie Besant receives a letter by Mahatma Koot Hoomi.
1902 Annie Besant invites Rudolf Steiner to form a German Section of the Theosophical Society.
1904 Robert Crosbie, a supporter of W Q Judge and now leaves the Theosophical Society, Pasadena.
1907 Olcott dies. Annie Besant voted president of the Theosophical Society (Adyar)
A 1907 article assessing the early
progress of the Theosophical Society
1909 Robert Crosbie forms the United Lodge of Theosophists with its headquarters in New York. This becomes another Theosophical lineage with groups worldwide.
1909 Leadbeater discovers Jiddu Krishnamurti on the
private beach that formed part of the Theosophical headquarters in Adyar. Krishnamurti and his family had been living in the headquarters for a few months before this discovery. Krishnamurti was to be the vessel for the indwelling of the coming "World Teacher" that many Theosophists were expecting. This new teacher would, in the pattern of Moses, Buddha, Zarathustra (Zoroaster), Christ, and Muhammad divulge a new dispensation, a new religious teaching. Many Theosophists were unhappy about this move.
1911 Formation of the "Order of the star in the East", in dedication to the "World Teacher" (i.e. J. Krishnamurti)
1912 J. Krishnamurti is made the head of the "Order of the star in the East". J. Krishnamurti's father starts custody battle against Annie Besant. The fight ends when in 1914, J. Krishnamurti is 18 years old and no longer a minor by Indian law. Rudolf Steiner is expelled from the Theosophical Society (Adyar), because he refuses to have as members of his German section, people who are also members of the "Order of the Star of the East". Most of the German Section leaves with him and form the Anthroposophical Society.
The issue of Krishnamurti threatens to split the Society further over the next twenty years.
1917 Annie Besant demanded Home Rule for India and suffered internment for it from June to September 1917. There are protests around the world and the order is lifted by order of British Home Secretary. Interment notices were also served George Arundale and B P Wadia.
1919 Jalianwala Bagh Massacre, Amritsar:- Troops commanded by a British Officer kill 379 and wound 1200. This leads to a distancing of Mohandes K Gandhi from Annie Besant and effectively ends Annie Besant’s hopes of a British India Commonwealth.
Rukmini Devi Arundale
1904 - 1986
1920 Future International President, George S Arundale marries Rukmini Devi. She is 16 at the time of the marriage and goes on to become a major player in the Theosophical Society’s affairs.
1923 This year is the high point for the “Order of the Star of the East” with a well supported convention in Vienna as part of the 1923 European Theosophical Society Congress.
George S Arundale and Rukmini Devi Arundale visit
Cardiff Theosophical Society in 1924
1925 Rudolf Steiner dies.
1926 Conflicts over Krishnamurti come to a head in January as members are called upon to embrace the New World Religion. Members resign and the possibility of a split in the Society emerges as some Lodges threaten to break away.
The Daily Sketch of January 14th 1926 reports concerns in India that Krishnamurti’s request that followers make the sign of the cross will lead to trouble on the streets.
1928 A P Warrington becomes Vice-President of the Society
1929 J. Krishnamurti, now aged 33, dissolves the "Order of the star of the East".
1930 J.J. van der Leeuw writes "Revelation or Realization".
1931 P.W. Bowen creates or reveals the Bowen Notes on study of the Secret Doctrine. The effect of this publication have yet to be fully assessed.
Dr George S Arundale
1933 Annie Besant dies. George Sidney Arundale voted president of the Theosophical Society (Adyar).
1934 C W Leadbeater dies.
G S Arundale Broadcasts his Diamond Jubilee Message on
All India Radio in 1935
The Theosophy Stand at the 1938 Empire Exhibition in Scotland
Empire Exhibition, Scotland 1938 (unofficially known as the
British Empire Exhibition, Glasgow) was an international exposition
held at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, from May to December 1938.
The Exhibition was intended to mark fifty years since Glasgow's
first great exhibition, the International Exhibition (1888) held at
Kelvingrove Park. It also offered a chance to boost the economy
of Scotland, recovering from the depression of the 1930s.
Despite 1938 being one of the wettest summers on record,
the Exhibition attracted 12 million visitors.
1945 Dr. Arundale dies. Jinarâjadâsa elected president of the Theosophical Society (Adyar).
Nilakanta Sri Ram
1953 Jinarajadasa dies and Nilakanta Sri Ram elected president of the Theosophical Society (Adyar).
1955 Rukmini Devi Arundale becomes Vice President of The International Vegetarian Union (IVU) at their World Congress in Paris and holds the position for 31 years until her death in 1986.
1973 Nilakanta Sri Ram dies and John Coats elected president of the Theosophical Society (Adyar).
John B S Coats
1980 Radha Burnier is voted president of the Theosophical Society (Adyar). She is the daughter of Nilakanta Sri Ram
Rukmini Devi Arundale 1904 -1986
1986 Rukmini Devi Arundale dies aged 82. Despite serious health problems in her later years, she always refused to be treated with medication that had been tested on animals.
She was the aunt of International President Radha Burnier
1989 The Scandinavian break with the Adyar Theosophical Society begins. The Danish Theosophical Society voted in August 1989 for the creation of an independent Teosofisk Forening (Theosophical Union). Other lodges were integrated in this organisation. In November 1997 the name was changed to Theosophical Association Scandinavia (TAS). In August 2004 ten theosophical organisations from Denmark and Norway founded in Aarhus the Teosofisk Netværk or Teosofisk Nettverk (Theosophical Network)
1992 The Theosophical Society in Canada (Canadian Federation) breaks with Adyar. In 1995 there is a further division. The lodges in Edmonton and Calgary separate from the TS in Canada and form the independent Edmonton Theosophical Society. The remaining lodges in the Canadian Federation revert back to Adyar and change their name later to the Canadian Theosophical Association..
2005 The Secret Gateway by Ed Abdill is published. This is a modern introduction to Theosophy making it accessible to a new and wider audience.
2006 Theoversity is founded. This is an ongoing Theosophical Study Programme founded by Edi Bilimoria of the Camberley Lodge of the Theosophical Society in England. Edi has been a student of Theosophy for over 30 years and the Theoversity is a cutting edge study initiative making an invaluable contribution to the Theosophical Movement. The project is very well supported.
2008 Radha Burnier re-elected in the 2008 Adyar Presidential election. This follows a bitter campaign in which elements within the leadership attempted to replace one member one vote with a system of appointment by the ruling General Council in which the general membership get no say. Rumours of the formation of a breakaway international Theosophical society persist for many years in the aftermath of this election along with doubts about the need to retain the headquarters at Adyar.
The Candidates Radha Burnier & John Algeo
Tekels Park is a 50 acre woodland park in Camberley, Surrey, England which was purchased for the Theosophical Society in England in 1929. Tekels Park has been the home of many Theosophical Groups including Camberley Lodge, the Esoteric Section, the Retreat Society and the Liberal Catholic Church.
Tekels Park has formed a sanctuary for wildlife and concerns are raised over the fate of the Tekels Park Deer. Although UK law gives Deer protection against cruelty, they are not a protected species and could be slaughtered. Part of Tekels Park is designated a Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI) but this also offers no statutory protection.
2010 February; Insight Magazine ceases publication. The Theosophical Society in England announces that Insight Magazine is to cease publication and to be replaced by a free journal to be distributed to members and the public. Some members complain that this membership benefit was withdrawn after annual subscriptions had been paid.
2011 Theoversity is scrapped by the Theosophical Society in England. No reason is given for this and Theoversity activities cease without warning despite the considerable support that the project has had.
2012 The Theosophical Society in England withdraws from the European Federation of the Adyar Theosophical Society.
Jan 2013 Leading and high profile Theosophical Society in England member, Edi Bilimoria resigns from the Society after 30 years membership. He sends an open letter to Adyar outlining his grievances against the Theosophical Society in England leadership.
Edi Bilimoria was founder of the Theoversity project.
May 2013 Tekels Park Family Evicted – The Theosophical Movement is shocked to learn that a family, who had been resident on the Tekels Park Estate for many years, were evicted from their home because a Tekels Park Estate director wanted to live in their house. Members of the National Council of the Theosophical Society in England were not told about the eviction.
October 31st 2013 Death of Radha Burnier after 33 years as International President. CVK Maithreya and Tim Boyd are chosen as candidates in the subsequent presidential election.
December 2013 Despite the forthcoming presidential election only 20 out of over 60 national sections are represented at the 2013 Adyar International Convention. This is a drop down from the 28 sections represented in 2010. Rumours of a breakaway society now re-emerge and it is noted that the Theosophical Society in England unusually do not attend the convention and that greetings are sent from the United Kingdom rather than from the existing Adyar sections in the UK.
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Concerns are being raised about the fate of the deer and other wildlife and there has been no comment on this issue from Tekels Park Estate Limited, who manage the Park on behalf of the Adyar based Theosophical Society in England.
Tekels Park is sanctuary for animal wildlife including deer, foxes, squirrels, badgers and stoats, and for birdlife including sparrowhawks, woodpeckers, tawny owls and many more. There are many species of trees including 3 types of redwood, ginkgo, eucalyptus, red oak, tall magnolias and lebanese cedars.
Madeleine Leslie-Smith, a long-term resident of Tekels Park wrote 'A personal recollection' in 1996. She commented: 'Tekels Park is in reality a mini Nature reserve ... It is up to us to preserve it from encroachment so that it may increasingly become a centre of Peace and dynamic spirituality'
In an ominous development in May 2013, a family with two children of school age were evicted from their home in Tekels Park because a senior Theosophical Society in England wanted their house for himself.
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