B.P. Wadia's life after leaving the T.S.
and joining the ULT
Many members of the T S all over the world who were interested in H.P. Blavatsky's Theosophy as she taught it, separated themselves from the TS and became associates of the ULT. This influx of new associates necessitated the formation of a number of new ULT's in the Eastern seaboard of America: New York; Philadelphia, Pa.; Washington, D.C.; and several Study Groups were formed in other towns : Reading, Pa.; Chicago, Ill., some of which later became Lodges.
A period of intensive education into the principles and fundamentals of Theosophy ensued. The impersonal practical work of teaching and spreading pure Theosophy, using the ULT methods, began for these new lodges and new associates. Mr. Wadia and other older students of the Los Angles Lodge threw themselves in to this work, and spent long months in various new centers that had been formed, so the work flourished. But the need for Lodges, so associates could meet for mutual study and work went beyond America and soon Lodges were formed in London, England (1925); Paris, France (1928); Amsterdam and The Hague, Holland; Antwerp, Belgium, and elsewhere.
Those who have known him in those early days felt the power and thrust of his will to work for the Great Lodge through the ULT. As it was essential to make a clean break with "Adyar Theosophy," he adopted an almost rigid attitude of exclusion to their works and writings. He advised students to concentrate on what Theosophy was, in terms of the actual wording used by H.P. Blavatsky, WQJ and the Masters. He used to say that we ought to devote all our energies to that, the rest was unessential. This special emphasis, study and self-discipline would provide the food for Devachanic mediation over the work each individual had done in their "present incarnation," and as such, any other study would be "lost" when this personality "died." The other, pure H.P.Blavatsky theosophy, was for "all time." And, that was where we ought to be placing our efforts.
His work was to consolidate those old students of Judge and of the TS who desired to get back to the study of original Theosophy, and meld them with the new students who desired to learn, and had no background in Theosophy. A series of intensive study classes was started. Exercise and criticism for those who wanted to learn to do platform-work was instituted. He prepared and used for the: Guidance of ULT Platform Workers. This consisted of a number of points they had to apply if they wish to work in that way for ULT.
In New York, the U.L.T. used a large auditorium on the ground floor of the Hotel Des Artistes, at 1 West 67th ST., just off Central Park, and near to Columbia University campus. Meetings were held on Sunday: Theosophy School before noon, and a public lecture in the evening. Wednesday evening Study Class, Question and Answer Meeting; Friday: Ocean of Theosophy Study Class and then a Practice Class for new students and those who desired to do platform work. Other meetings were held during the week.
Mr. Wadia conducted one of the Theosophy School Classes. Transcripts of 5 years of work in such NY T. School classes exist. Students would meet in the evening, informally, several times a week at individual homes, to discuss Theosophy and various aspects of the work. This developed a large-hearted camaraderie and was an active manifestation of brotherhood in action, gathering all ULT associates together. Mr. Wadia, working at the New York Lodge had an office in the building and a large volume of correspondence was handled. Students from various European Countries (England, France, Belgium, The Netherlands) came over to familiarize themselves with the program ULT had evolved of methods of work in New York, so that they could then take them back for use in the London Lodge that had been planned. Lodges were planned to soon be opened in France, Holland and Belgium. It was a whirlwind time when everything seemed to be happening at once, and the great influence spread over all those who served as the "seeds" of future ULT Lodges and ULT work for the next 50 years.
In 1925 one associate contributed $ 25,000.00 for the photographic plates needed to reprint The Secret Doctrine. This was one of the most important things done, as it permitted H.P. Blavatsky's major work to be studied in its unedited original.
Mr. Wadia always said that it was dangerous to approach the study of The Secret Doctrine through the use of an "abridgment." Any such "filter," however impersonal and good, inevitably held up "barriers" between H.P. Blavatsky and the student.
He held that Isis Unveiled ought to be first studied and read. Its contents formed a valuable introduction to Theosophy and to The Secret Doctrine. The Secret Doctrine then, ought to be approached slowly and following a steadily held determination to read and take the time to comprehend gradually what was read, it ought to be read a few pages a day, notes should be taken of the subjects covered, and gradually one should build up one's own reference book on the subjects covered in various places.
The enthusiasm and the intensity of study and of learning and practicing Theosophy, inspired by Mr. Wadia in the period between 1922 and 1928, probably equaled those of the time of Judge during the years 1886-1896 in New York and the rest of the USA. Margaret Thomas, for instance was inspired to prepare and publish her "Theosophy or Neo-Theosophy" so students could compare the differences made to Theosophy by writers for the T S, like Mrs. Besant and Mr. Leadbeater, after the death of Mme. Blavatsky.
Many articles for Theosophy magazine were written by B.P. Wadia, and he used to say that Mr. John Garrigues and he were like two brothers, one could write the first part of an article and the other finish it and no discernible change was noticeable. Or they would share the burden of writing a series of articles, each writing alternating articles. Certainly he had a unique rapport with those in Los Angeles who bore the responsibilities Mr. Crosbie had passed on to them. It is there and in consultation with the Los Angeles students that the plan to return H.P. Blavatsky's theosophy to India, and to open a Lodge of the ULT in Bombay was worked out.
When Mr. Wadia let some of his more intimate friends know that it was intention to bring the ULT method to India and establish in Bombay a basis from which to spread HPB's pure Theosophy, several students became enthusiastic about this. Preparations were made each on their own, but in collaboration with each other to arrange to get Wadia to India towards the end of l928. There they planned to spend the next few months locating a suitable place to hold meetings, and also make residential arrangements for themselves and another group of student workers that was to come with Mr. Wadia early in 1929. Along with BPW, Miss Virginia Beadle and Miss Sophia Camacho, both of New York, intended to come. Later on, Mr. T. L. Crombie of London planned to come and help in the editing when the magazines were to be started. Mr. and Mrs. TenBroeck of Los Angles and Donald Townsend also decided to go.
The two young, unmarried ladies (Virginia Beadle and Sophia Camacho) had decided to help in the effort for the revival of HPB's original Theosophy in India, and they planned to travel and live together; chaperoning each other, so to say. Mr. Wadia laid stress on the need for the most correct of personal demeanors by those who would support and work closely with him in India for the ULT effort of bringing HPB's Theosophy there. He made it clear that there would have to be a molding of the private life of the visitors to fit and agree with the cultural mores and customs of the Indians, rather than with those of the "ruling British" and other "whites," including Americans, in business or as missionaries, who, when living in India had adopted an aloofness from the Indians, borrowed from the attitude adopted by the British when in India, as a kind of "privileged group."
In New York most of the Sunday lectures were taken by Mr. Wadia, or by visitors from Los Angeles. He also handled the "Answering of Questions" meetings on Wednesday. As students developed knowledge and capacity, they took over the burden of handling many aspects of the ULT Lodge work, and sound principles were given a secure practical foundation.
A Library was started, and the lending of the more expensive books to students was also undertaken. The conduct of Theosophy School was at first a training ground for those who would be teachers there, and weekly reviews of the work was done by all teachers, co-teachers and reporters in turn. A meticulous and constant attention to all details of the work was supervised and carried out by him, so that within the brief space of 4 years a cadre of capable and knowledgeable volunteer students arose.
The other Lodges started in the East Coast of the US: Washington, Philadelphia, Reading, and several Study Classes were all attended to; they adopted and used the same patterns of intensive study and application and drew the attention of individuals who were interested in Theosophy to the focus of joint and purposive, constructive work.
Periodically Mr. Wadia used to take trips, visiting Lodges on the East coast and then swing back to the Los Angeles area, visiting San Diego, San Francisco and Lodges clustered in between those. In London some of those prominent in Theosophical work were met, including Mr. Trevor Barker, who had at that time had already published The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett. He was actively engaged in editing H.P. Blavatsky's Letters to A.P. Sinnett. He and Miss Virginia Beadle fell in love and were married.
This brought about a change in the plans of Miss Sophia Camacho, who was determined to go to India as she had promised. Mr. Wadia and she discussed this matter, and they decided that a "marriage of convenience" would be the best method to employ, it being understood from the outset that working for Theosophy was the sole bond between them, and that Mr. Wadia lent her the protection of his name so that the original plan would go forward, and so that her valuable help could still be made available in India. On this basis they were married in London in 1928.
In regard to the publishing of The Mahatma Letters: Mr. Trevor Barker had earlier written Mr. Wadia and told him of his intention of printing those letters. Mr. Wadia replied that he did not think it was advisable to do that. Mr. Barker went ahead anyway, and had them published. Later when he met Mr. Wadia in London, he is said to have asked: "Did I do right in publishing them ?" To this BPW answered: "You should not have published them, but I am glad that you did it."
September 21st 1928 Paris ULT
A group of students active in Paris wanted to take advantage of Mr. Wadia's presence to establish their own ULT in Paris. Their Lodge was founded and the first meeting held on September 21st 1928. Since 1925, under the inspiration of Mr. Wadia, two members of the T S in France who had left it, feeling dissatisfied, started a monthly magazine named Theosophie. Mr. Louis Revel took on the duties of editing the monthly, and later on, of books also published - translations of HPB and WQJ writings. Mr. M. Girardet assumed and arranged for the necessary financial support. A Compagnie Theosophique SA was started at that time. Mrs. Sophia Wadia was one of the original directors. [Mrs. Sophia Wadia was fluent in French, Spanish and English, she had a marvelous, almost photographic memory and was a fine speaker. Mr. Wadia used to say that he would write an article or a speech, she would read it, and then could reproduce it almost exactly as prepared. ]
1928 found Mr. and Mrs. Wadia on their way from London to India, and together with Mr. T. L. Crombie. In October they first visited the Netherlands staying at the home of Mr. T. F. Vreede near The Hague. He had been instrumental in bringing back pure Theosophy as presented by the ULT to that town and to Amsterdam. B.P. Wadia gave a number of talks and conducted study classes.
Between January and the end of April 1929, Mr. Wadia lectured for the London ULT at the Victoria Hall, Bloomsbury, to packed audiences ( 2,300 +) The London Lodge was then housed in rented premises in a building a couple of blocks from Marble Arch. In March 1929, Mr. and Mrs. Wadia were in London, they also were visited by many students from the European continent. They, in turn, visited a number of the ULT Lodges there before beginning their trip to India. A ULT Study Group was started in Amsterdam under the inspiration received by some of its residents from their visits and talks with him. The Antwerp Lodge was inaugurated on November 17th 1956. Lodges were also started in Amsterdam and The Hague.
Bringing original and pure Theosophy back to India, was next. Those students who had gone ahead, had established themselves there, and had found a suitable hall for meetings in the "Fort" of Bombay at 51 Esplanade Rd., Flora Fountain (now the center of the business district). They had located a fine residential complex at 17 Bomanji Petit Rd. in Malabar Hill 4 miles away, where apartments were available for all. The Wadias had a small detached bungalow in the same compound. Mr. and Mrs. Wadia landed in Bombay on May 31st, 1929 just before the monsoon rains arrived.
November 17th 1929 Bombay ULT
The Bombay branch of the ULT was opened on November 17th 1929. The inaugural meeting found the ULT hall full and overflowing. Mr. Wadia was well known and soon Sophia Wadia's oratory was appreciated. Speaking engagements from various social and communal groups poured in, asking them to lecture on Theosophy or on some aspect or other of the ancient tenets of that faith. As the reputation of the ULT grew, so did the regular membership, and Study Classes, Question and Answer Meetings, a Theosophy School for children on Saturday afternoon kept everyone busy most of the week. The Library was kept open for the public every day except Sunday from 10.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
1930 - The Aryan Path
January 1930 saw the first issue of The Aryan Path (= the noble path) magazine, supported by articles and editorials, by Mr. Wadia and Mr. T. L. Crombie, who acted as sub-editor. Mme. Wadia loaned her name to be used as "Editor." Mr. Wadia was of the opinion that the future of Theosophy in its presentation to the world would be, in one way, through the writers and poets of the world. Accordingly he and Sophia became members of the International P.E.N. Club. (3) They served the P.E.N. in organizing its Indian chapter and maintaining its offices and a monthly magazine called The Indian P.E.N.
1930 - The Theosophical Movement - A History of the Theosophical Movement
November 17th 1930 saw the issuing of the first number of The Theosophical Movement. All articles were unsigned therein, except those that had been written by H.P.B., W.Q.J. or others who had made signed contributions in the older Theosophical magazines. Dr. Eleanor M. Hough, a ULT student from the Washington D.C., Lodge came to Bombay in March 1931. She was the author of The History of the Cooperative Movement in India, published by Oxford University Press. She became active as its sub-editor, under Mr. Wadia.
A large, older house had been purchased for the Wadias and several other active families to live in. It was located right on the Arabian Sea facing the West at Malabar Hill. Some 20 ULTers in various families lived in "Aryasangha" for nearly 25 years in great harmony and friendliness. The Wadias occupied the upper floor of the main building, and whenever some visitor came, or some event of theosophical significance presented itself, associates from all over the area were always invited to come. Many important persons were thus met, and important events occurred in which Mr. Wadia arranged that we could participate in. The Aryasangha property was eventually sold in 1957 to partly defray the cost of erecting Theosophy Hall, for the ULT activities and some residential arrangements for active members. It now stands: a seven storied building in the "Fort" at 40 New Marine Lines.
In 1938 a sister Lodge of the Bombay ULT was opened in Matunga, about 11 miles to the north of the original Bombay ULT. The reason for this was that a number of students living there desired a permanent Study Class and meeting hall. Mr. Wadia gave the inaugural talk there. Two weekly meetings and a public library were maintained there.
After the death of Mr. T. L. Crombie, the original co-editor of The Aryan Path, Dr. Eleanor M. Hough and others assisted Mr. Wadia in his editing task for this magazine. Mme. Wadia continued to lend her name to it as its "Editor" until it ceased publication, soon after Mr. Wadia's death (1957). (4)In 1941 equipment was bought to set up a printing press for the Bombay U.L.T. One of the students, an experienced printer, who lived in Baroda, some 260 miles North of Bombay, offered to equip the "Sadhana (responsibility) Press" there, so that the three magazines and other theosophical books could be printed reliably and without strain.
1940 - 1945 The Second World War
During the 2nd World War, that building was bombed, a large number of books were destroyed, and while temporary repairs enabled meetings to be continued, it was apparent that the London Lodge would have to seek for new premises. A new Lodge building was purchased at 62 Queen's Gardens, near Paddington Station. The London Branch of the Aryan Path magazine (started in 1930) worked out of this building; and in the floor devoted to the Library, meetings were held for the London Branch of Indian Institute of World Culture (started in 1944 in Bangalore, India by Mr. Wadia).
May 1941 Sadhana Press, Baroda
Miss Mabel Lithander, one of the senior associates of the Bombay ULT established herself in Baroda to assist in this work. From the month of May 1941 the magazines were published from that address. The Baroda Study Group of the ULT began its work at that time. Work continued there until February 1954 when the W. Q. Judge Press was opened in Bangalore. The magazines were published from the new address thereafter. Sadhana Press in Baroda was ultimately sold to Baroda University to become the base for the Baroda University Press. Miss Lithander, retired to the Nilgiri summer home of the Wadias: Gurumandir, in Ootacamund. She died there May 5th 1958.
1942 was the time of the second World War. Students of ULT suddenly found themselves transferred by their offices to new locations. A number of them drew to themselves others who became in their turn students of Theosophy, and U.L.T. STUDY GROUPS were formed in their homes in New Delhi (which in l960 became a Lodge ), Calcutta, Poona, Baroda, and Madras.
August 12th 1942 Bangalore ULT
On the 12th of August 1942, the Bangalore Lodge of ULT was opened in response to the needs of students there. A building was purchased for this purpose: "Maitri Bhavan" (Abode of Friends) at 15, Sir Krishna Rao Rd., Basavangudi, Bangalore 4. It houses a central hall for regular meetings, lectures, and study classes; a library devoted to Theosophical reference books; and also residential quarters for visiting students. It conducts a publishing program that is complementary to, and in harmony with that which the Bombay Lodge runs. In this work it has reprinted the many pamphlets that make the articles of HPB and WQJ available to students at low cost following the pattern adopted earlier by the Los Angeles Lodge.
August 11th 1945 - The Indian Institute of Culture (IIWC)
In 1945 on August 11th, the Indian Institute of Culture was started by Mr. Wadia, with Dr. L. S. Doraiswamy as its first Secretary. This was to be an extension of Theosophical work, in line with the 2nd Object of the modern Theosophical Movement. This brought eminent persons from many countries who were visiting India to Bangalore to lecture; and it also served as a forum for prominent Indian specialists to lecture on their investigations and findings. It was formally opened by H. H. the Maharajah of Mysore. It houses a large library, sponsors many regular programs of talks, musical recitals, seminars. And, it has a substantial publishing program of books, transactions and pamphlets in addition to its regular monthly bulletin.
Some years later over an acre of land was acquired at No. 6, North Public Square Rd. for the IIWC Institute, and buildings were erected. These include a lecture hall, the Wm. Q. Judge Hostel for students, a library, and other buildings. All activities of the I.I.W.C. were thereafter conducted there. In 1959, following Mr. Wadia's death ( Aug. 20th l958 ), North Public Square Road was renamed by the Bangalore Municipality and citizenry: B. P. Wadia Road.
The William Quan Judge Cosmopolitan Home was opened -- a place where students could live inexpensively while studying at local educational institutions. The chief aim in this regard, was to promote intercultural exchange and universal brotherhood with no distinctions of any kind being made. Every evening in the main hall of the Hostel a devotional meeting was held with readings from the texts of the great world philosophers and prophets.
February 18th 1955
On the 18th of February 1955 Mr. Wadia laid the corner stone for the present home (Theosophy Hall ) of the ULT in Bombay at 40 New Marine Lines. 328 persons were in attendance. In doing this, he used this invocation:
"We lay this Foundation Stone to the Glory of the Great Architect of the Universe, Vishwa-Karman, whose Hidden Light is vibrant in every speck of Matter making each a shining spark. May His Blessings be upon it.
"We invoke the Power of His Wise Master Builders, Their Cunning Craftsmen, and Their Obedient Servants.
"May the Blessing of the Holy Ones and of Their Servant H. P. Blavatsky, her colleague William Q. Judge and his devotee Robert Crosbie, Founder of the U.L.T., be upon it and upon the Temple to rise above it.
"We declare this Foundation Stone well and truly laid."
November 9th 1957
November 9th 1957, in Bangalore, saw the opening of the New Hall of the Indian Institute of Culture by the Maharajah of Mysore, (he was also Mysore State's first Governor in Independent India) at 6 North Pubic Square Rd. in the Basavangudi quarter of Bangalore. At that time Mr. Wadia, who welcomed the Maharajah, renamed the Institute so that it now included the word: "world" : -- "The Indian Institute of World Culture."
November 17th 1957
On November 17th 1957 Theosophy Hall in Bombay was inaugurated at 6.15 p.m. by Mr. Wadia. The auditorium and balcony built to accommodate 500 was overflowing and people stood in the aisles. Over 700 were counted. ULT associates from all over India and several foreign countries came for the event. The building houses on two floors the main auditorium, above are two floors devoted to the ULT offices and the Reference Library -- ( over 100,000 books and pamphlets available ). The Indian P.E.N. has a floor devoted to its offices. On the top two floors are apartments for active students who work at the Lodge.
August 11th 1958
August 11th 1958 was to be the Foundation Day lecture at the IIWC. It was to be given by Mr. Wadia, who had been ill for some days. He had prepared a magnificent talk under the title: Our Soul's Need (later reprinted). He began reading it, but his voice grew weaker, and he turned the reading over to Mrs. Sophia Wadia, who finished reading it, while he waited in a chair at the back of the auditorium. A typed copy of this had earlier been mailed to Bombay, where on the same day at 4.30 p.m. a number of students gathered in the Library to read it. (The Library room at the Bombay Lodge is used for meetings of the Bombay Branch of the IIWC.)
August 20th 1958
August 20th 1958, early in the pre-dawn of Bangalore, the intimate friends of Mr. Wadia were called to assemble around him, He was dying . The time was 2.20 a.m. He knew that he was approaching death and desired to speak to them of the future.
He spoke of the changes that the cycles had brought to him. He reviewed some past incidents in his life. His first meeting with the Master in the "Brahma-Vishnu-Siva Cave" in 1907; his vision of HPB early during his stay in Adyar (November 18th 1918), whichtwo events he said had inspired his life. He indicated that there would be changes now, and that responsibility would thenceforth have to be shared among those who had been near to him, and who would survive him.
After this meeting, a number of students left reports on what they remembered hearing, differing somewhat as to actual content. The main ideas are reported here. It was not until that evening, that he actually passed away. The time of the death of his body was 7.17 p.m. His friends met immediately after the event and read from the devotional books he loved: the Bhagavad Gita, The Voice of the Silence, and Light of Asia. Cremation was the next morning at Chamrajpet, a suburb of Bangalore.
As is customary, in the early dawn of the morning following a cremation, two ULT students went to the cremation ground to collect the ashes in earthen jars so that they could be later scattered in the Cauvery river, some 80 miles away. They both stated, that they had noticed on arrival, that there was a very distinct and penetrating odor of sandalwood in and around the ashes of Mr. Wadia's pyre. These were collected in jars and taken by car to the banks of the Cauvery river, at the island of Seringapatnam. There at the southern tip of the island ashes were poured into the great river.
August 28th 1958 there was a Memorial Meeting at the IIWC at which a number of his friends and admirers made speeches in his honor. His death was noticed in all the major newspapers of the country. The Indian Institute of World Culture in Bangalore, and its branches in Bombay, London, and elsewhere, hold Memorial Meetings each year on August 20th in honor of Mr. B.P.Wadia, at which his work is recalled and reviewed.
(3) Dallas writes about the P.E.N.: "It is the International club of "P" for Play-writes, Poets, "E" for Editors, Essayists, and "N" for Novelists. Mr & Mrs. Wadia were among the first members of the International PEN Club, and supported the PEN Club. They soon formed an Indian chapter of it. And began publishing the Indian P.E.N. It was active, I believe, until Mme. Wadia's death. I do not know if it still continues. A Monthly Magazine was issued with literary news named The Indian P.E.N. Mme. Sophia Wadia and My Mother, Mrs. Elizabeth TenBroeck were traveling together in 1939 (as I remember) and were in Barcelona attending the International P.E.N. Conference when the 2nd world War broke out."
(4) See T. L. Crombie, Friend of India, by E. Beswick.