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Geoffrey Farthing on Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater

Jan 25, 2003 09:48 PM
by D. H. Caldwell " <>

Geoffrey Farthing on Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater

Annie Besant 

In the latter years of H.P.B.'s life a significant event was that 
Annie Besant was welcomed with open arms into the Theosophical 
Society by H.P.B. who saw in her an exceptional and able helper. She 
was later admitted to H.P.B.'s Inner Group of twelve. 

A reference to Annie Besant in The Mahatma Letters indicates that she 
was known to the Masters; however, there is no reference to her ever 
becoming a chela, although she did receive in 1900 what seems to be 
an authentic letter from the Masters. There is no other evidence, 
apart from her own inferences, that she had any contact with them. 

Had Annie Besant been a chela her 'magnetization' by Chakravati, 
ostensibly to 'align her principles', described in an eye witness 
statement (1895) by Dr Archibald Keightly, would have severed any 
relations she may have had with her Master. 

After H.P.B.'s death Annie Besant let it be inferred, in assuming 
the "Outer Headship" of the E.S., that she was in touch with the 

She also introduced Co-Masonry into England and associated it with 
the Theosophical Society, which, however, had been founded quite 
independently of any other organization. All international Presidents 
since have, however, held high office as Co-Masons. 

H.P.B. expressly stated that 'we do not meddle in politics ... ' yet 
Annie Besant's prime interest in India was political. 

This is not in any way to say that she did not do an immense amount 
of good in establishing schools and colleges and altering social 
practices, but these activities are not specifically theosophical. 

Politics aims to change systems for the benefit of people; Theosophy 
aims to change people themselves for the long-term benefit of 
humanity itself. 

It is undeniable that in the early years of her membership of the 
Society,' Annie Besant was a powerful voice in the cause of Theosophy 
and its dissemination. This seems to have been foreseen by H.P.B. 

However, from the time of her 'magnetization' by Chakravati, it 
appears that, possibly still under his influence, she to a large 
extent espoused Hinduism. This is evident in her later writings to 
such a point that a major reference to Theosophy in the Encyclopedia 
Britannica is under the heading of Hinduism. 

Apart from Chakravati there is not much doubt that Annie Besant was 
later also much influenced by C.W. Leadbeater. He obviously prevailed 
upon her in the matter of the Liberal Catholic Church and in the 
Krishnamurti incident. 

C. W. Leadbeater 

C.W.L. joined the Society in 1883. He did not, unlike Annie Besant 
receive a welcome from H.P.B., nor was he admitted to her Inner 

He was given some instruction by a regular chela at Adyar for a 
period and developed his clairvoyance but there is no reference that 
this relationship continued. 

He did receive a reply to his early communication with the Masters 
but there is no corroborative evidence that he ever had any more 
contact with them after these introductory letters. 

It also came to light that his veracity is much in question: his 
statements, for example, about his age, his family in South America, 
and his implying that he had been to Oxford as an undergraduate were 
discovered later to be false. 

In the light of what the Master K.H. said about God, religion and the 
priestly caste in Mahatma Letter X, had Leadbeater been a chela he 
could never have allied himself with the Liberal Catholic Church and 
certainly he could never have allowed himself to be made a Bishop and 
thereafter always dress as such. The Masters had said "Our chief aim 
is to deliver humanity of this nightmare ... etc. " (A personal God 
of Theology) (M.L.X, 2nd and 3rd editions). 

This is important in the light of C.W.L.'s later claims of an 
intimate and continued relationship with not only one but a number of 
Masters, even up to the highest in the Hierarchy from whom he claimed 
periodically to have received instruction in such matters as the 
upbringing of Krishnamurti. 

In the light of some of these supposed contacts e.g. Comte St 
Germain, Jesus, etc. the association of the Liberal Catholic Church 
with the Society was justified. 

However, both the Church and the CoMasons were representative of past 
dispensations. They both had their roots in ceremonial magic, the 
practice of which H.P.B. did not endorse on account of the possible 
dangers involved. In a letter which Damodar wrote to Sinnett, Masonry 
and Rosicrucianism were specifically forbidden (M.L. Old Edition No. 
142A, Chronological No. 14A). 

During the founding of the Society it had been proposed that the 
Society might become Masonic. This was specifically decided against. 
Other behavior of the then leaders is also questionable. 

In view of H.P.B.'s sundry comments about Masonry (into which she was 
admitted on account of her knowledge of it, but never 
formally 'initiated'), having lost its secrets, how came it that the 
Leaders of the Society not only espoused Co-Masonry but the Egyptian 
Rite which C.W.L. together with a colleague in Australia had devised 
and which is still widely practiced by some members in the E.S.? 

Quoted from:

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