[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

Letter to John Algeo

May 08, 2008 01:43 PM
by prmoliveira

Dear John,

Is well known that Radha Burnier nominated you for the position of 
Vice-President of the TS three times: in 2001, 2004 and 2007. 
Nominating the same person three times for such an important position 
implies a great deal of trust in the person thus nominated. Even 
after suffering a stroke in November 2006, and having recovered from 
it, she still chose to nominate you as the Vice-President of the 

I was very relieved, and reassured, when I received the MESSAGE FROM 
THE VICE-PRESIDENT, which you kindly sent, electronically, on 24 
February 2007, to all General Secretaries, Presidential 
Representatives, Organising Secretaries plus a number of individual 
members around the world. This information was important not only 
because it came from our Vice-President but also because you had met 
with and talked to Radha at Adyar a little more than a month after 
her stroke. I reproduce the relevant part of your message:

"As you have doubtless heard, the President had a light stroke in 
November. It did not affect her body or her mind except for a slight 
and temporary memory loss with respect to names. Her doctor predicts 
a full recovery, which will take several months. At present she is 
progressing nicely and doing very well. She attended all the major 
meetings during Convention, although she let others do some of the 
speaking and presiding that she normally does. She has taken a short 
time off (which she well deserves) to recuperate, free from the 
demands on her at headquarters, but she is now back at Adyar and 
attending to business. While I was at Adyar in December and January, 
I had extensive discussions with her about Theosophical business 
around the world, and she is on top of all the facts and her judgment 
is as sharp as ever. The outlook is very favorable for a full 
recovery. The Adyar staff responded in exemplary fashion during 
convention, and all went very well indeed."

When I arrived at Adyar, last December, something had changed for I 
soon became aware that some workers there were preparing to send out 
a letter to the members of the General Council, both about Radha's 
health as well as informing them that you had agreed to accept 
nominations for the office of President. Later on I was able to 
obtain a copy of Elvira Carbonell's letter to a General Council 
member. The letter, dated 19 December 2007, clearly indicates that 
you had accepted to be a candidate even before the official 
nomination papers had reached the great majority of General Council 
members residing overseas. As you know, I did protest at Elvira's 
letter in my own letter to the General Council, saying that it "is a 
clear attempt to interfere with the constitutional election for 
President of the TS." 

After the nomination phase was over, signs of a wider and active 
campaign in your favour started to appear. On 29 March 2008, Mme. 
Maxence Ondet, Secretary to the French TS Board, sent out a letter to 
all TS members in France. She says, among other things, that Radha, 
after the stroke, was "unable to speak for at least a month and [it] 
deprived her of a large part of her memory.  Her recovery was slow 
and incomplete, especially as far as short term memory and recall of 
names are concerned.  In conversation, she no longer understands 
anything but short and simple sentences." If we compare Mme. Ondet's 
statements to your abovementioned report about Radha's condition the 
discrepancies in the French letter become self-evident. 

Mme. Ondet went on to say that those present "at the Convention at 
Adyar in December 2007 noticed with sadness and embarrassment the 
great difficulty with which she delivered her principal Convention 
address, an address that was wandering and repetitive, and showed a 
weakened mind or brain damage." The same letter states that "she no 
longer writes speeches; someone does them for her.  Since the stroke, 
the editorials of the international magazine 'The Adyar Theosophist' 
are no longer written by her."

While at Adyar, last December, I visited Radha almost everyday for a 
period of almost eighteen days and can therefore attest that the 
above description of her condition is utterly false. I also saw 
proofs of an upcoming issue of The Theosophist on the coffee table in 
her living room. She reads every article that is submitted for 
publication. As a matter of fact, the table was full of theosophical 
magazines and books, the same way it was when I used to visit her 
when I worked at Adyar more than twelve years ago. Although you, Mary 
Anderson and Surendra Narayan wrote the "On the Watch-Tower" notes in 
The Theosophist for the first few months last year, Radha resumed 
writing them in May and we can again see her own style in the 
magazine which she edits.

The closing paragraph of Mme. Ondet's letter is even more revealing 
(italics mine):

"For sure, we loved Radha.  We probably still do.  And this has 
perhaps nothing to do with her mental state.  Even so, we think that 
the destiny of the Theosophical Society would be even more shaken if 
Radha were to take on a fifth term of office.  We therefore invite 
you to reflect seriously before the forthcoming election which will 
be crucial for the future direction of the Theosophical Society.

Most fraternally,"

What is there of fraternal in this most unkind, biased and untruthful 

What has shocked, and continues to shock, many of us is that the 
President of the Theosophical Society is the subject of an immoral 
and utterly unbrotherly attack by the executive body of a National 
Society, and yet members world wide have not heard a word from their 
Vice-President about it. Your continued silence raises many 
questions: do you object to the immoral attacks at the President 
which distort, disfigure and blatantly lie about her real condition 
which you saw at Adyar soon after the stroke and which now has been 
confirmed by her doctors? Do you consider appropriate, as our Vice-
President, for the executive body of a National Society to issue such 
a letter as Mme. Ondet's to all its members on the eve of their 
voting in the international election?  

Then we saw Betty Bland's letter of 11 April 2008 sent to thousands 
of members of the American Section. In it she says: 

"Radha seems to be recovering physically from the stroke she suffered 
over a year ago, but, given her age, she stills has periods of low 
energy and her memory is inconsistent. While I have a deep respect 
for the wonderful service she has given to the Society and feel that 
she can continue to be useful as a wise elder, it is for the good of 
the whole that the leadership pass smoothly to John Algeo, who 
currently serves as the international Vice-president." 

She concludes her letter by encouraging members to see your personal 
website, which since 23 April 2008 has a Hindi webpage in 
its "Theosophical" page, and adds: "I hope you seriously consider 
this information when casting your vote."

In an election with only two candidates, does not Betty's letter come 
across as visible electioneering in your favour? Has she the right to 
condition or influence the choice of the American members in an 
election? When some of your supporters say that you are not 
campaigning, is not Betty's letter an active and widespread campaign 
on your behalf that hurts the freedom and fairness of the most 
important election in the TS? I am aware of Radha's letter to the 
General Secretaries, which was sent by ordinary mail. She had the 
right of reply after being misrepresented and placed into 
disadvantage by Elvira's letter which was sent a day after the 
official nomination papers were issued by the International Secretary 
at Adyar.

Given your continued silence I have no reasons to believe that you 
will address the questions I have asked you in this letter. But as a 
member I needed to tell you, personally, that the actions of your 
supporters have cast a thick cloud over the electoral process as they 
have violated cherished and time-honoured principles of our Society. 
And your continued silence is disappointing and disturbing.

Those of us who have followed your serialized studies on The Voice of 
the Silence, which are being published by Radha in The Theosophist, 
cannot help but remember one of the poignant verses in that great 
book: "Sow kindly acts and thou shalt reap their fruition. Inaction 
in a deed of mercy becomes action in a deadly sin. Thus saith the 
Sage." (II, 135)

Radha, as a legitimate successor of Col. Olcott in the office of 
President, deserves much more respect and courtesy than your 
supporters have dispensed to her in this election. The Theosophical 
Society is now poorer because of their actions which have desecrated 
the institution of the Presidency and what it stands for. 

I just could not remain silent.

With sincere sadness,


[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application