I can understand why you are confused about the Besant/Leadbeater claims.
Sep 26, 2004 09:41 AM
by Daniel H. Caldwell
Thanks for your email.
I can understand why you are confused and I
suggest that you try to work your way through
the morass of claims.
The students you mention are no doubt sincere
but for reasons best known to them, they do not
want to acknowledge the glaring differences between
what Besant & Leadbeater wrote as compared to what
you find in the writings of Blavatsky and the
Mahatmas. Apparently they will ignore the obvious
and even try to denigrate in subtle ways Blavatsky.
I post below a statement that may help you work
your way thru the confusion.
Thanks for writing and if I can help you in further
studies, let me know.
Blavatsky & the Mahatmas VERSUS Besant & Leadbeater
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
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 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
BLAVATSKY STUDY CENTER
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