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Blavatsky & the Mahatmas VERSUS Besant & Leadbeater

Sep 16, 2004 04:04 PM
by Daniel H. Caldwell

In light of Anand Gholap's promotion of C.W. Leadbeater's
and Annie Besant's books on Theosophy almost to the total 
exclusion of H.P. Blavatsky's Theosophical books, 
inquirers and students of Theosophy might want to know
of the numerous differences between the original 
teachings given by Madame Blavatsky and the Mahatmas and
the later teachings of Mrs. Besant and Mr. Leadbeater.

The following estimations give the interested reader
some insight into the extent of the differences and
contradictions. See also list of links at the end of
this posting.

James A. Santucci, professor of religious studies at 
California State University (Fullerton) and editor 
of Theosophical History, has written:

". . . Annie Besant, the President of the [Adyar Theosophical] 
Society from 1907 to her death in 1933, and Charles Webster 
Leadbeater, arguably the most influential theosophical writer from 
the early years of the 20th century to his death in 1934, . . . were 
largely responsible for the introduction of new teachings that were 
often in total opposition to the Theosophy of [Madame H.P.] Blavatsky 
and her Masters. These teachings were designated by their opponents 
as Neo-Theosophy . . . or less often Pseudo-Theosophy. The 
differences between Theosophy and Neo-Theosophy are too numerous to 
mention in the context of this paper. . . . An extensive overview [of 
the differences] is given in . . . Theosophy or Neo-Theosophy by 
Margaret Thomas. . . . " 

Jerry Hejka-Ekins, a long-time student of Madame Blavatsky's 
teachings, has also commented:

"The earliest use of the term 'neo-theosophy' was used by F.T. Brooks 
around 1912 in a book called Neo Theosophy Exposed. . . . Around 
1924, Margaret Thomas published a book called Theosophy Versus Neo-
Theosophy: Part one compares Blavatsky's teachings to those of Besant 
and Leadbeater's by juxtaposing quotes from each party on various 
subjects, so that the thoughtful reader could easily discern the 
differences and contradictions. Part two published documents 
concerning the Leadbeater scandal, and part three publishes documents 
concerning the Judge case. . . . " 

In his book "Theosophy: A Modern Revival of Ancient Wisdom" 
(published 1930), Dr. Alvin Boyd Kuhn wrote in greater detail: 

"Certain schools of his critics assert flatly that he [C. W. 
Leadbeater] has only succeeded in vitiating her [H.P. Blavatsky's] 
original presentation [of Theosophy]. . . . . . . [Starting in the 
March 15, 1928 issue] The Canadian Theosophist, a magazine 
published . . . at Toronto, published a series of articles [excerpted 
from Margaret Thomas' Theosophy or NeoTheosophy?] in which parallel 
passages from the writings of Madame Blavatsky and the Mahatma 
Letters on one side, and from the books of Mrs. Besant, Mr. 
Leadbeater, Mr. C. Jinarajadasa, on the other, give specific evidence 
bearing on the claims of perversion of the original theories by those 
whom they call Neo-Theosophists. The articles indicate wide 
deviations, in some cases complete reversal, made by the later 
interpreters [Besant, Leadbeater, Jinarajadasa] from the fundamental 
statements of the Russian Messenger [Blavatsky] and her Overlords 
[the Mahatmas]." 

"The differences concern such matters as the personality of God, the 
historicity of Jesus, his identity as an individual or a principle, 
the desirability of churches, priestcraft and religious ceremonial, 
the genuineness of an apostolic succession, and a vicarious 
atonement, the authority of Sacraments, the nature and nomenclature 
of the seven planes of man's constitution, the planetary chains, the 
monad, the course of evolution, and many other important phases of 
Theosophic doctrine. This exhaustive research has made it apparent 
that the later exponents have allowed themselves to depart in many 
important points from the teachings of H.P.B." (pp. 330-331) 

K. Paul Johnson, librarian and author of three books on Theosophical 
history, has written:

"If we honestly consider what HPB or Olcott would have thought of the 
Adyar TS in the 1920s, I don't think there is any alternative to 
concluding that they'd have been horrified and regarded it as a huge 
betrayal of everything they stood for. There are so many warnings 
from both of them against the kind of atmosphere that Besant and 
Leadbeater imposed on the Society."

For detailed comparisons of the teachings, see:

Daniel H. Caldwell

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