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HandWiki. Theosophical Society. Encyclopedia. Available online: https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/37072 (accessed on 15 June 2024).
HandWiki. Theosophical Society. Encyclopedia. Available at: https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/37072. Accessed June 15, 2024.
HandWiki. "Theosophical Society" Encyclopedia, https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/37072 (accessed June 15, 2024).
HandWiki. (2022, November 29). Theosophical Society. In Encyclopedia. https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/37072
HandWiki. "Theosophical Society." Encyclopedia. Web. 29 November, 2022.
Theosophical Society
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The Theosophical Society was an organization formed in the United States in 1875 by Helena Blavatsky to advance Theosophy. The original organization, after splits and realignments, (As of 2011) has several successors. Following the death of Blavatsky, competition within the Society between factions emerged, particularly among founding members and the organisation split between the Theosophical Society Adyar (Olcott-Besant) and the Theosophical Society Pasadena (Judge). The former group, headquartered in India , is the most widespread international group holding the name "Theosophical Society" today.

collapsible theosophical blavatsky

1. History

1.1. Formation

Notes of the meeting proposing the formation of the Theosophical Society, New York City, 8 September 1875. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1158449
The Society's seal incorporated the Swastika, Star of David, Ankh, Aum and Ouroboros symbols. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=2023939

The Theosophical Society was officially formed in New York City , United States, on 17 November 1875 by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Colonel Henry Steel Olcott, William Quan Judge, and others.[1] It was self-described as "an unsectarian body of seekers after Truth, who endeavour to promote Brotherhood and strive to serve humanity." Olcott was its first president, and remained president until his death in 1907. In the early months of 1875, Olcott and Judge had come to realize that, if Blavatsky was a spiritualist, she was no ordinary one.[2] The society's initial objective was the "study and elucidation of Occultism, the Cabala etc."[3] After a few years Olcott and Blavatsky moved to India and established the International Headquarters at Adyar, in Madras (now Chennai). They were also interested in studying Eastern religions, and these were included in the Society's agenda.[4] After several iterations the Society's objectives evolved to be:

  1. To form a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or colour.
  2. To encourage the study of comparative religion, philosophy, and science.
  3. To investigate the unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in man.

Sympathy with the above objects was the sole condition of admission to the society. The Society was organized as a non-sectarian entity. The following was stated in the Constitution and Rules of the Theosophical Society

ARTICLE I: Constitution

4. The Theosophical Society is absolutely unsectarian, and no assent to any formula of belief, faith or creed shall be required as a qualification of membership; but every applicant and member must lie in sympathy with the effort to create the nucleus of an Universal Brotherhood of Humanity
[…]
ARTICLE XIII Offences
1. Any Fellow who shall in any way attempt to involve the Society in political disputes shall be immediately expelled.
2. No Fellow, Officer, or Council of the Theosophical Society, or of any Section or Branch thereof, shall promulgate or maintain any doctrin[e ]as being that advanced, or advocated by the Society.[5]

The Society reformulated this view in a resolution passed by the General Council of the Theosophical Society on December 23, 1924.[6]

Seal of the Theosophical Society, Budapest, Hungary. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1318557

1.2. The Hidden Masters

One of the central philosophical tenets promoted by the Society was the complex doctrine of The Intelligent Evolution of All Existence, occurring on a cosmic scale, incorporating both the physical and non-physical aspects of the known and unknown Universe, and affecting all of its constituent parts regardless of apparent size or importance. The theory was originally promulgated in the Secret Doctrine, the 1888 magnum opus of Helena Blavatsky.[7] According to this view, humanity's evolution on earth (and beyond) is part of the overall cosmic evolution. It is overseen by a hidden spiritual hierarchy, the so-called Masters of the Ancient Wisdom, whose upper echelons consist of advanced spiritual beings.

Blavatsky portrayed the Theosophical Society as being part of one of many attempts throughout the millennia by this hidden Hierarchy to guide humanity – in concert with the overall intelligent cosmic evolutionary scheme – towards its ultimate, immutable evolutionary objective: the attainment of perfection and the conscious, willing participation in the evolutionary process. These attempts require an earthly infrastructure (such as the Theosophical Society) which she held was ultimately under the inspiration of a number of Mahatmas, members of the Hierarchy.[8]

1.3. Schisms

Main building of the Theosophical Society in Adyar, India, 1890. https://handwiki.org/wiki/index.php?curid=1490794

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 then prominent Theosophist 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. The group led by Judge further splintered into a faction led by Katherine Tingley, and another associated with Judge's secretary Ernest Temple Hargrove. While Hargrove's faction no longer survives, the faction led by Tingley is today known as the Theosophical Society 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.

In 1902, Rudolf Steiner became General Secretary of the German-Austrian division of the Theosophical Society. He maintained a Western-oriented course, relatively independent from the Adyar headquarters.[9][10] After serious philosophical conflicts with Annie Besant and other members of the international leadership on the spiritual significance of Christ and on the status of the young boy Jiddu Krishnamurti (see section below), most of the German and Austrian members split off in 1913 and under Steiner's leadership formed the Anthroposophical Society, which then expanded to many other countries.

The English headquarters of the Theosophical Society are at 50 Gloucester Place, London. The Theosophical Society in Ireland [3], based in Pembroke Road, Dublin, is a wholly independent organisation which claims to have received its charter directly from Helena Blavatsky. The original group contained (among others) George William Russell (A. E.) poet and mystic, and the leadership role later fell to Russell's friend P. G. Bowen, (author and teacher of practical occultism) and later still to Bowen's long time student Dorothy Emerson. The current leadership of this group were students of Emerson. The independent Dublin organisation should not be confused with a similarly named group affiliated to Adyar which is based in Belfast but claims an all-Ireland jurisdiction.

2. The "World Teacher"