articles are reproduced from the November 2011 Newsletter to members.
Non-members may or may not be able to relate to the contents.
About T. S.
The following letter was written in Feb. 1881 by
Damodar K. Mavalankar, who was an important figure in the early days
of the T.S. He was a chela of the Mahatma K. H. and eventually
joined the Master in Tibet permanently.
A. P. Sinnett, who was sincerely interested in the
welfare of the T.S., had asked for some suggestions. This letter
contains Damodar’s suggestions which reflect the thoughts of the day and
are equally valid today, as we celebrate our 136th anniversary.
With reference to the Rules and Organization of the
Society, I beg to make the following suggestions. The points I urge,
appear to me very necessary as I have had conversation with many Natives
and have a claim to know the Hindu character better than a foreigner
A general impression
appears to prevail that the Society is a religious sect. This impression
owes its origin, I think, to a common belief that the whole Society is
devoted to Occultism. As far as I can judge, this is not the case. If it
is, the best course to adopt would be to make the entire Society a
secret one, and shut its doors against all except those very few who may
have shown a determination to devote their whole lives to the study of
Occultism. If it is not so, and is based upon the broad Humanitarian
principle of Universal Brotherhood, let Occultism, one of its several
Branches, be an entirely secret study. From time immemorial this sacred
knowledge has been guarded from the vulgar with great care, and because
a few of us have had the great fortune to come into contact with some of
the custodians of this invaluable treasure, is it right on our part to
take advantage of their kindness and vulgarize the secrets they esteem
more sacred than even their lives? The world is not yet prepared to hear
truth about this subject. By placing the facts before the unprepared
general public, we only make a laughing stock of those who have been
kind to us and have accepted us as their co-workers for doing good to
humanity. By harping too much upon this subject, we have made ourselves
in a measure odious in the eyes of the public. We went even to such an
extent that, unconsciously to ourselves, we led the public to believe
that our Society is under the sole management of the Adepts, while the
fact is that the entire executive management is in the hands of the
Founders, and our Teachers give us advice only in rare exceptional cases
of the greatest emergency. The public saw that they must have
misapprehended the facts, since errors in the Management of the Society
— some of which could have been very well avoided by the exercise of
ordinary common sense — were from time to time exposed. Hence they came
to the conclusion that
(1) Either Adepts do
not exist at all; or
(2) If they do, they
have no connection with our Society, and therefore we are dishonest
(3) If they have any
connection with the Society, it must be only those of a very low degree,
since, under their management, such errors occurred.
With the few noble exceptions who had entire confidence
in us, our Native Members came to one of these three conclusions. It is
therefore necessary in my opinion that prompt measures should be adopted
to remove these suspicions. For this, I see only one alternative: — (1)
Either the entire Society should be devoted to occultism, in which case
it should be quite as secret as the Masonic or the Rosicrucian Lodge or,
(2) Nobody should know anything about occultism except those very few
who may have by their conduct shown their determination to devote
themselves to its study. The first alternative being found inadvisable
by our “Brothers” and positively forbidden, the second remains.
Another important question is that of the admission of
Members. Until now, any one who expressed a desire to join and could get
two sponsors was allowed to come into the Society, without our enquiring
closely what the motives in joining were. This led to two evil results.
People thought or pretended to think that we took in Members simply for
their Initiation Fees on which we lived; and many joined out of mere
curiosity, as they thought that by paying an Initiation Fee of Rupees
Ten, they could see phenomena. And when they were disappointed in this,
they turned round on us, and began to revile our CAUSE for which we have
been working and to which we have pledged our lives. The best way to
remedy this evil would be to exclude this class of persons. The question
naturally arises how can this be done, since our Rules are so liberal as
to admit every one? But, at the same time our Rules prescribe an
Initiation Fee of Rupees Ten. This is too low to keep out the curiosity
seekers, who, for the chance of being satisfied, feel they can very well
afford to lose such a paltry sum. The fee should therefore be so much
increased that those only would join who are really in earnest. We need
men of principle and serious purpose. One such man can do more for us
than hundreds of phenomena-hunters. The fee should in my judgment be
increased to Rs: 200 or Rs: 300. It might be urged that thus we might
exclude really good men who may be sincere and earnest but unable to
pay. But I think it is preferable to risk the possible loss of one good
man than take in a crowd of idlers, one of whom can undo the work of all
the former. And yet, even this contingency can be avoided. For, as now
we admit some to membership, who appear especially deserving, without
their paying their own fees, so could the same thing be done under the
Respectfully submitted for the consideration of Mr.
Sinnett, under the direct orders of Brother Koot Hoomi.
Damodar K. Mavalankar.
The letter was received by A. P. Sinnett with the
following comments by the Master K. H.
exception of fee — too exaggerated — his views are quite correct. Such
is the impression produced upon the native mind. I trust, my dear
friend, that you add a paragraph showing the Society in its true light.
Listen to your
and oblige once more, your’s
Today the Theosophical Society faces much the same
dilemma as to whether to freely admit members or to exercise some
discretion for “it is preferable to risk the possible loss of one
good man than take in a crowd of idlers, one of whom can undo the work
of all the former”. The danger is more real than ordinarily
We shall be celebrating the
136th anniversary of the founding of The Theosophical Society
on Saturday, November 12 at 5 p.m. at the lodge. Let us
rejoice together. We will also be presenting Diplomas of Fellowship to
the new members. Please take note of this important date in your diary
and try to attend as we join the rest of the theosophical world in
observing this significant occasion.
34th Edition of A
Course in Theosophy & Meditation
The 34th edition of A
Course in Theosophy & Meditation originally scheduled to
commence on 17 November 2011, has been postponed to 5 March 2012.