after the model and on the lines of the Theosophical Society
Oct 24, 2011 04:44 PM
by Jeremy Condick
"His brochure of 216 pages, which has lately been published in the shape of a letter to J. ClarÃtie, is now having an immense success. By the end of September, hardly a week after its appearance, it had already reached its sixth edition. It treats of two great social difficultiesâthe question of divorce, and the right of women to participate in elections. This state of things is attributed by Dumas directly to the restriction of Womanâs Rights, to the state of legal slavery women have been subjected to for centuries, and especially to the marriage and anti-divorce laws. Answering the favourite objection of those who oppose divorce on the ground that its establishment would promote too much freedom in love, the author of Le Demi-Monde bravely pushes forward his last batteries and throws off the mask.
If a woman is unable to give up the idea of love altogether, let her prefer unions binding neither party to anything, and let her be guided in this only by her own free will and honesty.
Certainly the advocates of Womanâs Rights in England have never yet approached their subject from this point of view. Is the new method of attack likely to prove more effective than the familiar declamation of the British platform, or the earnest prosing of our own great womanâs champion, John Stuart Mill? This remains to be seen; but certainly for the most part the English ladies who fight this battle will be puzzled how to accept an ally whose sympathy is due to principles so frightfully indecorous as those of our present author." French view of womens rights. H. P. BLAVATSKY. http://www.blavatsky.net/blavatsky/arts/FrenchViewOfWomensRights.htm
Annie Besant (/ËbÉsÉnt/; nÃe Wood, 1 October 1847 â 20 September 1933) was a prominent British Theosophist, women's rights activist, writer and orator and supporter of Irish and Indian self rule.
She was married at 19 to Frank Besant but separated from him over religious differences. She then became a prominent speaker for the National Secular Society (NCS) and writer and a close friend of Charles Bradlaugh. In 1877 they were prosecuted for publishing a book by birth control campaigner Charles Knowlton. The scandal made them famous and Bradlaugh was elected Member of Parliament for Northampton in 1880.
In 1890 Besant met Helena Blavatsky and over the next few years her interest in Theosophy grew while her interest in secular matters waned. She became a member of the Society and a highly successful lecturer in Theosophy. As part of her Theosophy-related work, she travelled to India where in 1898 she helped establish the Central Hindu College, and in 1902 she formed the International Order of Co-Freemasonry in England. Over the next few years she established lodges in many parts of the British Empire. In 1907 she became President of the Theosophical Society.
She also became involved in politics in India, joining the Indian National Congress. When World War I broke out in 1914 she helped launch the Home Rule League to campaign for democracy in India and dominion status within the Empire. This lead to her election as president of the India National Congress in late 1917. After the war she continued to campaign for Indian independence and for the causes of Theosophy until her death in 1933. wikipedia.
London matchgirls strike of 1888:
Annie Besant had interested herself in the situation with her friend Herbert Burrows and had published an article "White Slavery in London" in her halfpenny weekly paper "The Link" on 23 June 1888. This had angered the Bryant & May management who tried to get their workforce to sign a paper contradicting it, which they refused to do. This led to the dismissal of a worker (on some other pretext), which set off the strike.
Initiated by the workers themselves, the strike started immediately and 1,400 women and girls seem to have been on strike by the end of the first day. The management immediately offered to reinstate the sacked employee, but the women then demanded other concessions, particularly in relation to the unfair fines which were deducted from their wages. A deputation of women went to the management but were not satisfied. By 6 July the whole factory had had to stop work, on which day about a hundred of the women went to see Besant and to ask for her assistance. It has often been said that she started or led the strike but this is not so. She knew nothing of it until the deputation called to see her and was at first rather dismayed by the precipitate action they had taken and by the number of women who were now out of work with no means of support.
A strike fund was set up and some newspapers collected donations from readers. The women and girls also solicited contributions. Members of the Fabian Society including George Bernard Shaw, Sidney Webb and Graham Wallas were involved in the distribution of the cash collected.
Meetings were held by the strikers and Besant spoke at some of them. Charles Bradlaugh MP spoke in parliament and a deputation of matchwomen went there to meet three MPs on 11 July. There was much publicity. The London Trades Council became involved. At first the management were firm, but factory owner Bryant was a leading liberal and nervous of the publicity. Besant helped at meetings with the management and terms were formulated at a meeting on 16 July, in accordance with which it was offered that fines, deductions for cost of materials and other unfair deductions should be abolished and that in future grievances could be taken straight to the management without having to involve the foremen, who had prevented the management from knowing of previous complaints. Also, very importantly, meals were to be taken in a separate room, where the food would not be contaminated with phosphorus. These terms were accepted and the strike ended. wikipedia.
In the 1890s Annie Besant became a supporter of Theosophy, a religious movement founded by Madame Blavatsky in 1875. Theosophy was based on Hindu ideas of karma and reincarnation with nirvana as the eventual aim. Annie Besant went to live in India but she remained interested in the subject of women's rights.
She founded the Central Hindu College at Benares (Varanasi) in 1898. And herself received a degree in Sanskrit literature, English literature and Indian history from this institution.
She continued to write letters to British newspapers arguing the case for women's suffrage (i.e. voting rights) and in 1911 was one of the main speakers at an important Suffrage rally in London. http://www.cardifftheosophy.uku.co.uk/Annie%20Besant%20Bio.htm
"The world in general and Christendom especially left for two thousand years to the regime of a personal God, as well as its political and social systems based on that idea, has now proved a failure. If Theosophists say: 'We have nothing to do with all this, the lower classes and inferior races [those of India for instance, in the conception of the British] cannot concern us and must manage as they can,' what becomes of our fine professions of benevolence, reform, etc.? Are these professions a mockery? and, if a mockery, can ours be the true path? . . . Should we devote ourselves to teaching a few Europeans, fed on the fat of the land, many of them loaded with the gifts of blind fortune, the rationale of bell-ringing, cup-growing, spiritual telephone, etc., etc., and leave the teeming millions of the ignorant, of the poor and the despised, the lowly and the oppressed, to take care of themselves, and of their hereafter, the best they know how? Never! Perish rather the Theosophical Society . . . than that we should permit it to become no better than an academy of magic and a hall of Occultism. That we, the devoted followers of the spirit incarnate of absolute self-sacrifice, of philanthropy and divine kindness as of all the highest virtues attainable on this earth of sorrow, the man of men, Gautama Buddha, should ever allow the Theosophical Society to represent the embodiment of selfishness, to become the refuge of the few with no thought in them for the many, is a strange idea." THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY: ITS MISSION AND ITS FUTURE Article by H. P. Blavatsky [AS EXPLAINED BY M. EMILE BURNOUF, THE FRENCH ORIENTALIST] By H. P. BLAVATSKY. http://www.blavatsky.net/blavatsky/arts/TheosophicalSocietyItsMissionAndItsFuture.htm
Indian National Congress http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_National_Congress
Lucifer, September, 1889. BCW XI. 1889.
4.2.2 The Arrival of the Theosophists
"This remarkable political body was planned by certain of our Anglo-Indian and Hindu members after the model and on the lines of the Theosophical Society." H.P.Blavatsky.
"We aroused the dormant spirit and warmed the Aryan blood of the Hindus, and one vent the new life made for itself was this Congress. All this is simple history and passes unchallenged." H.P.Blavatsky.
For the group interest, on Theosophy 'caring about the outward human management of the material world' or otherwise "Brotherhood". JPC.
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