TS - Universal Brotherhood
Feb 10, 1998 10:23 PM
by M K Ramadoss
In a book by Alice Leighton Cleather titled "H.P. Blavatsky - Her Life and
Work for Humanity" there is an interesting chapter on Universal
Brotherhood. Cleather was a pupil of HPB and was one of the members of the
Inner Group HPB formed. I think in the context of the discussion on
Universal Brotherhood, some may find it interesting.
Foundation of the Universal Brotherhood
Movement in India.
H. P. B. and Colonel Olcott arrived in England from New York on New Year's
Day, 1879, stopping a short time in London to see the members of the
British Theosophical Society (afterwards called the London Lodge) and some
leading Spiritualists and Egyptologists. On January 19, they left for
Bombay, passing through several terrific gales, in the midst of which we
find H. P. B. writing in her diary:=97" Night of tossing and rolling... Oh
for the Land! Oh for =20
India and Home !"
In his Incidents in the Life of Madame Blavatsky (Chapter IX, 1st Edition,
1885), Mr. A. P. Sinnett writes:=97" Her Theosophic Mission appears to have
had India as its objective point from the outset," that she " came to India
to plant the Theosophical Society in the soil where it was destined chiefly
to flourish." How could one doubt that the Trans-Himalayan Masters of
Wisdom had India in view " from the outset " in their great effort for the
rehabilitation of Buddhism=97real Buddhism, the Bodhidharma of the Archaic
Ages taught by all the Buddhas ? This effort is peculiarly significant at
the close of the first five thousand years of the Kali Yuga, and
approximately two thousand five hundred after Gautama Buddha's
Enlightenment and Renunciation of Nirvana (the Trans-Himalayan Tradition).
How, I say, could one doubt this when one reads the Maha Chohan's Letter,
written in 1880 ? This, however, will be dealt with later on. At present we
are concerned with the arrival of H. P. B. at Bombay in February 1879, and
the activities Immediately following.
It was while they were at Bombay that she and Colonel Olcott became
acquainted, at first through correspondence, with Mr. Sinnett, then Editor
of the Pioneer. It was to him and to Mr. A. O. Hume, a Revenue official at
Simla, that the Letter from the Maha Chohan, above mentioned, was written.
We come now to the founding by H. P. B. of the Theosophist, " a monthly
journal devoted to Oriental Philosophy, Art, Literature, and Occultism."
The first number appeared on October I, 1879; but to read Colonel Olcott's
account in Old Diary Leaves it might be supposed she had little or nothing
to do with it. I feel that, in justice to H. P. B.'s memory, I must place
on record my condemnation of the whole tone which Colonel Olcott uses in
writing of his great colleague; of the petty feelings shown, and the
baseless and unworthy insinuations, throughout his four volumes. To call
them " The True History of the Theosophical Society " is preposterous; it
is a case of Hamlet without the Prince. Good man, tireless and devoted
worker as he undoubtedly was, Colonel Olcott's egotism was quite beyond the
-normal; consequently he was incapable of understanding the real H. P. B.
How different might have been the subsequent history of the Society had he
been able to bring himself to listen more often to her advice ! But he did
not possess that true humility which would have enabled him to recognise
her as immeasurably his superior in the occult sense; although, as we have
already seen, -he became her pledged pupil before they left America.
In the first number of the Theosophist there is much of extreme
importance, germane to my present purpose; e.g. in her editorial " What is
Theosophy ? " H. P. B. says:=97" Theosophy is, then, the archaic Wisdom- the
esoteric doctrine once known in every ancient country having claims to
civilization." It is followed by one entitled " What are the Theosophists ?
" In it H. P. B. speaks of the Society being established " upon the footing
of a Universal Brotherhood," showing that with their arrival in India the
time had come to make this a cardinal principle of the Society. Only two
months later, in December, at Benares, the constitution was entirely
remodelled and established on a purely esoteric basis. H. P. B. publishes a
full account of it in the Theosophist for April, 1880, under the
significant new double title:
THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY OR
Beneath are the words:=97" Formed at New York, U. S. of America, October 30=
1875; " but, as I showed in Chapter I, the New York Society did not concern
itself with Brotherhood at all. Next follow:=97" Principles, Rules, and
Bye-Laws, as revised in General Council at the meeting held at the palace
of H. H. the Maharajah of Vizianagram, Benares, 17th December, 1879."
The most notable and vital features of this new Constitution, formulated
in and for India, are the following:=97
" Formed upon the basis of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity," there was
a General Council, and the President was " himself subject to the authority
of a Supreme Council representing the highest section." This section being,
as we shall see further on, confined to " Initiates in Esoteric Science and
Philosophy " (i.e., the Masters), it is evident that the Society in its new
form was to be under Their direct control. This is a very important point,
as showing that the intention was to place India once again under the
spiritual guidance of her ancient Rishis.
The declared plans were:=97
(a) " To keep alive in man his spiritual intuitions."
(b) " To oppose and counteract . . . bigotry in every form, whether as an
intolerant religious sectarianism, or belief in miracles or anything
c) " To promote a feeling of brotherhood among nations . . . '
d) " To seek to obtain knowledge of all the laws of Nature . . . and Occult
(e) " To gather for the Society's library . correct information upon the
various ancient philosophies, traditions, and legends.... "
(f) " To promote . . . non-sectarian education."
(g) " Finally and chiefly, to encourage and assist individual Fellows in
self-improvement, intellectual, moral, and spiritual." The necessary
instruction was to be given by members of the " First Section " (i.e., the
Masters) under " a solemn oath not to use it for selfish purposes, nor to
reveal it, except with the permission of the teacher."
The Society was divided into three Sections:=97
The First was " composed exclusively of proficients or initiates in
Esoteric Science and Philosophy."
The Second consisted of those who " have become able to regard all men as
equally their brothers, irrespective of caste, colour, race, or creed; and
who are ready to defend the life or honour of a brother Theosophist even at
the risk of their own lives."
The Third was the " Section of Probationers," who were divided into
"Active, Corresponding, and Honorary." They were " on probation, until
their purpose to remain in the Society " had " become fixed, their
usefulness shown, and their ability to conquer evil habits and
unwarrantable prejudices demonstrated."=20
It is evident, therefore, that this section was intended for candidates
for Chelaship, and that promotion to the Second Section implied that the
candidate was "accepted" by the Members of the First. This purely Esoteric
basis for the whole Society was interfered with by Colonel Olcott's
exoteric objections and activities. When H. P. B. finally had to leave
India in 1885 (again owing to this attitude of his in failing to support
her in refuting the Madras Missionary attack), she revived it as the "
Esoteric Section," at London, in 1888.
A very important clause, in view of the political activities of the
present T. S. in India, under Mrs. Besant, was the following:=97
" The Society repudiates all interference on its behalf with the
Governmental relations of any nation or community, confining its attention
exclusively to the matters set forth in the present document...."
H. P. B. had already struck this note very forcibly in the Theosophist for
October, where, speaking of the Society's programme, she writes:=97
" Unconcerned about politics: hostile to the insane dreams of Socialism
and Communism, which it abhors [Italics mine - A.L.C.] - as both are but
disguised conspiracies of brutal force and selfishness against honest
labour; the Society cares but little about the outward human management of
the material world. The whole of its aspirations are directed towards the
occult truths of the visible and invisible worlds. Whether the physical man
be under the rule of an empire or a republic concerns only the man of
matter. His body may be enslaved; as to his Soul he has the right to give
the proud answer of Socrates to his Judges. They have no sway over the
inner man. Such is the Theosophical Society, and such its multifarious aims
and objects.... "
In a " true history " of the T. S. this very important Constitution ought
to have been fully recorded; but not even the barest mention is to be found
in Old Diary Leaves. Colonel Olcott devotes several chapters of vol. 2 to
the events at Benares, when H. P. B. and he were the guests of the
Maharajah; but, as usual, they are mostly minor matters, entertainments,
and affairs in which he was the leading figure. H. P. B. only comes in when
she satisfies his craze for phenomena. It was ever her custom to give him
the limelight, and he took full advantage of it. That there must be some
reason for this extraordinary omission is certain. It may be that what he
flippantly called " the brotherhood plank " being now introduced was not
agreeable to him. Certainly he would be likely to object to the occult
character imparted to the new T. S. He invariably showed an entire want of
comprehension of such matters and undisguised indifference (not to say
contempt) for anything " occult " or " esoteric." This fatal lack in his
make-up rendered him quite unable to appreciate the formation of the T. S.
OR U. B. on an esoteric basis with the Masters as the Supreme Council and
First Section, and H. P. B. as Their accredited Agent and Representative.
On February 11, at Bombay, he records a quarrel with H. P. B. because he "
flatly refused " to cancel a trip to Ceylon and stay to help her with the
Theosophist. " A Master visited her on the 19th ": and as a result, on the
25th they came to an agreement to " reconstruct the T. S. on a different
basis, putting the Brotherhood idea forward more prominently, and keeping
the occultism more in the background . . . " The inference is obvious:
Colonel Olcott had evidently made various objections to the new
Constitution drawn up at Benares: we may therefore fairly conclude that in
the form published in April it had been modified somewhat, because at the
end are the words:=97" Revised and ratified by the Society at Bombay,
February 26 and 28, 1880."
A word on H. P. B.'s real relation to the T. S. should here be said. It
has been shown that she was specially trained for her work and told by her
Master that she would have to form " a Society." In a private letter to Mr.
W. Q. Judge, written about 1887, she says=97 " I am the Mother and the
Creator of the Society; it has my magnetic fluid . . . Therefore I alone
and to a degree, Olcott, can serve as a lightning conductor of Karma for
it. I was asked whether I was willing, when at the point of dying=97and I
said, Yes=97for it was the only means to save it. Therefore I consented to
live -- which in my case means to suffer physically during twelve hours of
the day =97 mentally twelve hours of the night, when I get rid of the
physical shell . . ." Although given somewhat out of its proper place, I
quote it here to show that whatever the "President-Founder " (as he always
liked to be called) may have believed, and whatever subsequently became the
commonly accepted opinion among members of the T. S. generally, H. P. B.,
and she alone, was its " Creator." She voluntarily accepted its Karma and,
as we shall see, she " bore the cross " of its failures and mistakes.
If, then, in 1887, H. P. B. alone could " save " the Society, the obvious
inference is that when she finally did go in I89I, it was because the
further efforts she made had been in vain, and that it had been proved
impossible to carry the Society safely through into the 20th century, as
its Founders, the Masters, had wished to do. As she herself wrote in I886
in the December number of the Path (the official organ of the American
Section):=97 " Unless radical r forms in our American and European Societies
are speedily resorted to, I fear that before long there will r main but one
centre of Theosophical Societies and Theosophy in the whole world=97namely,
in India; on that country I call all the blessings of my heart. All my love
and aspirations belong to my beloved brothers, the Sons of old Aryavarta -
the Motherland of my MASTER." Needless to add, these " radical reforms"
were not carried out; and H. P. B. once more raised her warning voice, in
the first number of the English Vahan:-- " We say to-day to all:=97' If you
would really help the noble cause=97you must do so now; for a few years more
and your, as well as our, efforts will be in vain ' . . . We are in the
very midst of the Egyptian darkness of Kali Yuga -- the ' Black Age,' the
first 5,000 years of which=97 its dreary first cycle=97is preparing to close=
the world between 1897-8. Unless we can succeed in placing the T. S. before
that date, on the safe side of the spiritual current, it will be swept away
irretrievably into the Deep called ' Failures' and the cold waves of
oblivion will close over its devoted head. Thus will have ingloriously
perished the only association whose aims, and rules and original purposes
answer in every particular and detail=97if strictly carried out=97to the
innermost fundamental thought of every great Adept-Reformer=97 the beautiful
dream of a Universal Brotherhood of Man."
Alas ! these words proved only too tragically prophetic, and the T. S.,
but three short years after the death of its Founder, was rent in twain by
mutual quarrels, jealousies and absolutely unbrotherly conduct. From that
hour, and owing to this failure to carry out in practice the cardinal
principle of Brotherhood, the T.S. " failed "=97 failed completely as a
living, spiritual Force in the world. Subsequent history but conclusively
proves the truth of my assertion: For had the Society successfully
accomplished its mission in the world, the Great War would not have been
possible, and the whole fate of humanity would have been changed. The fact
that H. P. B. herself, not long before her death, foresaw, with prophetic
insight, the future; foresaw the world-ruin and desolation which must
inevitably follow upon the rejection of true Theosophy, is clearly proved
by the fine concluding words of her leader in the May Number of Lucifer,
1889: " If Theosophy prevailing in the struggle, its all-embracing
philosophy strikes deep root into the minds and hearts of men, if its
doctrines of Reincarnation and Karma, in other words, of Hope and
Responsibility, find a home in the lives of the new generation, then indeed
will dawn a day of joy and gladness for all who now suffer and are outcast.
For real Theosophy is Altruism, and we cannot repeat it too often. It is
brotherly love, mutual help, unswerving devotion to Truth . . . But if not,
then the storm will burst, and our boasted western civilization and
enlightenment will sink in such a sea of horror that its parallel History
has never yet recorded."
And who is there among the more thoughtful and intelligent who will not
see in the Great War, the Russian Revolution, and the ever-increasing
intensity of the terrible struggle between Capital and Labour, symptoms of
the coming cataclysm which H. P. B. here foretells.
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