Dec. 1964, American Theosophist, p. 287-290
"No Religion Higher than Truth"
I much regret to find in the july 1964 issue of The American Theosophist,
in an article by Hugh Shearman criticizing Mr. E.L. Gardner's booklet
"There is no religion higher than truth," a comment denying
Mr. Gardner's statement that it was Mr. Leadbeater, not Mrs. Besant, who
discovered Krishnamurti. I wish to inform Mr. Shearman and the readers of
his article that it was Mr. Leadbeater who made the discovery. Mr.
Leadbeater was the source of the proclamation of the coming of the
World Teacher, bur Mrs. Besant made the proclamation later with full confidence
in him. In this matter Mr. Gardner was perfectly correct.
Having been present on the occasion of the "discovery" of Krishnamurti,
I am in a position to give a direct eye-witness account of the matter. I
am not trusting entirely on memory, as I still have with me a large collection
of notes, among which is my article "Ten Thousand Hours with Mr. Leadbeater,"
written and published in a theosophical sectional magazine while he was still
alive. There is also the very abbreviated account of the incident which
was presented in my old out-of-print book unfortunately entitled (by the
publishers in London), Is This Theosophy? I have, in fact, a large
collection of notes and cuttings on this and kindred subjects, weighing no
less than 30 pounds - a mine of information which may possibly be sorted
and edited by someone after my death.
Let me now proceed, then, to the defense of my old friend, Mr. E.L. Gardner,
and what he has written in his pamphlet "There is No Religion Higher than
Truth", every bit of which I think I can endorse - remarking incidentally
that he is quite possibly the oldest living Theosophist, aged 94, and has
all along, since 1907, been very active in the movement in England.
Mr. Leadbeater came to Adyar from Italy early in 1909. Already at Adyar,
I soon came to know him well and helped him to clear up his arrears of correspondence
- some hundreds of letters from all over the world, mostly asking for occult
assistance, which he freely gave, refusing outright the offers of considerable
money gifts in this connection, which were occasionally made. We used to
work together at his desk or table - as the case might be - up to as much
as fourteen hours a day, perhaps an average of ten or twelve. In the evening,
after 5:00 p.m., we used to knock off for an hour or so and go to swim in
the Bay of Bengal. After a while, a group of boys began to come and watch
us, and a little later they joined us in the water, at the invitation of one
of our group of four, which included Mr. J. van Manen from Holland, who was
an old friend of Mr. Leadbeater's, and a young South Indian Brahmin graduate
of Madras University named Subrahmanyam Aiyar, who had a room near mine in
the Indian Quadrangle at Adyar.
One evening, Mr. Leadbeater, on our return to his room after our swim,
told me that one of the boys had a remarkable aura. I asked which one, and
he said it was the boy named Krishnamurti. I was surprised, for I already
knew the boys, as they had been coming to me and to Subrahmanyam in the evenings
to help in connection with their school home work, and it was evident that
Krishnamurti was not one of the bright students. Then Mr. Leadbeater told
me that Krishnamurti would become a great spiritual teacher and a great speaker.
I asked, "How great? As great as Mrs. Besant?" He replied, "Much greater."
And shortly after that he said that Krishnamurti would be the vehicle for
the Lord Maitreya, the coming Teacher, who had inspired Jesus. He was directed
to help in training the boy for that purpose, which would be fulfilled, he
told me, "unless something goes wrong." This I want to emphasize, in justice
to Mr. Leadbeater. He wrote Mrs. Besant, who was then abroad, telling her
of his "discovery." The following is an extract from his letter to her, dated
september 2, 1909
"Naraniah's children are very well behaved, and would cause
us no trouble; van Manen and I have taught some of them to swim, and have
also helped the elder with English composition and reading ... It seems to
me that if we are to have the karma of assisting even indirectly at the bringing
up of one whom the Master has used in the past and is waiting to use again,
we may as well at least give him a chance to grow up decently."
Later, the plan did go wrong in his eyes.
We may now return to the development of Krishnamurti's education. Krishnamurti's
father came to Mr. Leadbeater one day in great distress. I was present. He
said that the boy had been treated very roughly at school. It was true that
he was a very dreamy boy and therefore not good at his lessons, but this
cruelty was really unbearable. Mr. Leadbeater's advice was simple: "Take him
away from the school."
This was not practical, the father replied, since the schools were registered
by the government and if the boy did not pass through this Government system
he could not afterwards take up any of the traditional occupations of the
literary classes - government service, the law, medicine, engineering, teaching,
Mr. Leadbeater, obviously much troubled, then said, "But anyhow you cannot
allow that cruelty to go on. And it is all the worse in the case of such
a sensitive boy."
Regarding Krishnamurti as one who was destined to become a great spiritual
teacher, Mr. Leadbeater then added that if the father liked he would write
to Mrs. Besant and ask her interest in the boy's career. She might probably
arrange for him to be educated in England later on - the desire of the heart
of many Indian fathers for English education brought in its train considerable
economic and social advantages in those days. In the meantime, he and his
friends would see that Krishnamurti did not lack private tuition, pending
Mrs. Besant's return.
The father accepted this solution of his difficulty, and the result was
that Krishnamurti and his younger brother, Nityananda, became constant members
of our party. Several people volunteered to give them private tuition, two
subjects falling to my lot.
The following is an extract touching on this subject, from a letter from
Mr. Leadbeater to Mrs. Besant dated October 14, 1909:
Naraniah has had a providential difference of opinion with
his schoolmaster, who seems to have been utterly inefficient, so the two
boys in whom He is most interested are at present at home, and I am utilizing
the opportunity to have them taught as much English as possible, taking them
myself when I can spare the time, and getting Clarke, Wood, Subramania and
others to assist ... When you are here I shall be bolder, and can do more
of what He wishes.
In Mrs. Besant's reply to Mr. Leadbeater's letters, and with reference
to his trouble, she approved of the arrangement that had been made and, on
her return to Adyar from abroad, she accepted legal guardianship of the two
Some months later Mrs. Besant went to pay visits at several places in
the north of India, including a long stay in Benares, where she had a bungalow
of her own near the Central Hindu College, in the management of which she
was one of the most prominent figures. She took the two boys with her, to
give them experience. There were then frequent gatherings and meetings in
Mrs. Besant's bungalow, in which Krishnamurti was caused to play a prominent,
though characteristically simple and gentle part. It was at those meetings
that various movements which culminated in "The Order of the Star in the
East" were born.
While Mrs. Besant was still in Benares, I had occasion to make a trip
into the Telugu country for about a week. I arrived back in Adyar in the
early evening and immediately went over to Mr. Leadbeater's room, as usual
- a new apartment, upstairs, to which he had comparatively recently moved.
He was typing away on his little Blickensderfer. He looked up with a greeting,
continued typing for a few minutes, and then finished with a flourish and
an air of great satisfaction. He gathered his papers together while rising
from his roll-top desk, and came over to the square table in the center of
the room where he usually sat to work. He put the typewritten manuscript into
my hands and told me it was Krishnamurti's first book, and that he was surprised
at such early publicity.
Krishnamurti had made a great impression upon some members of the staff
and some senior students of the Central Hindu College, particularly the
then principal, Mr. G.S. Arundale. Some of them had been at meetings in
the evenings in Mrs. Besant's bungalow, and at these he had been answering
questions for them, and giving them something from the notes which he had
made of his morning memories. The notes had now been put together, and here
was the result, a little book. Would I take it home with me and tell him
- Mr. Leadbeater - in the morning what I thought of it?
The Introduction began: "These are not my words; they are the words of
the Master who taught me." Next day I delivered my opinion - a delightful
little book, but extremely simple. Would the instructions contained in it
be sufficient to bring one to the "Path proper," to the "First Initiation,"
which Mrs. Besant had described in her books? Yes, said Mr. Leadbeater, more
than that; if completely carried out, these instructions would lead one to
I remarked that there were one or two curious things about the manuscript.
It was very much in Mr. Leadbeater's own style, and there were some sentences
which were exactly the same as in a book of his which we had already prepared
for the press. He told me that he wished indeed that he might have been able
to write such a book himself. As to the sentences I mentioned, he said he
had usually been present when Krishnamurti was being taught in his astral
body by the Master; he remembered these points and had made use of them in
meetings of Theosophists, and so I had noted them down and had incorporated
them into the material of his book, The Inner Life. As to style, he
said, it was but natural that he himself should have adopted something of
his own Master's style after himself being taught by him for so many years.
I prepared the little book for the press and it was duly published, after
Mrs. Besant's return from Benares, under the title which she gave to it:
At the Feet of the Master.
It created a sensation, and practically a new cult within the Theosophical
Society, in view of its containing the actual instructions of one of the
Masters, and being the output of a child who was to become in effect the very
incarnation of the Masters of Masters Himself.
Mr. Leadbeater did not publicly proclaim these facts. Though he was the
first to see and say that Krishnamurti would be the vehicle for the coming
of Christ, with the reservation already mentioned ("unless something goes
wrong," which I on the spot put down in writing), he left all the proclaiming
to Mrs. Besant. As I have indicated, he informed Mrs. Besant by letters
of his findings and afterwards did as she wanted. He was in fact anxious
to avoid publicity and quite anxious when formal groups were established
to assist in the preparation. It was not his own desire that there should
be any proclamation until Krishnamurti had finished his education. However,
Mrs. Besant did proclaim it.
I hope that it is now clear that it was Mr. Leadbeater who "found" Krishnamurti
and announced his destiny, and that Mrs. Besant later "proclaimed" the event
and promoted the project with conviction and enthusiasm.
She told me afterward that she had an arrangement with Mr. Leadbeater.
She accepted his clairvoyance as if it were her own and he loyally supported
her decisions as to what to do. Later, especially when in Europe in 1925,
she made pronouncements of great import. She said that the coming of the
Lord was near at hand and that he had chosen twelve disciples, seven of whom
she named. This time, she said, the apostles were to be prepared for him
in advance and would also help to prepare the way for his coming. This news
reached Mr. Leadbeater in Sydney while I was sitting with him. He was visibly
distressed, as he did not believe in it, and said to me, "Oh, I do hope she
will not wreck the Society!" He knew that she had been taking statements
from others as well as himself. Still, Mr. Leadbeater kept to his contract
loyally and did not let this out in public, except on one occasion, when
he was caught by surprise in a question meeting. It was only after Mrs. Besant
was so ill as to be unable to carry out her daily work as President -
which I used largely to carry out under her direction, as I was then Recording
Secretary of the Society, and used to go to her almost daily for this business
- that Mr. Leadbeater became at all active in what may, for brevity's sake,
be called theosophical politics. The announcement of the twelve apostles
was only one of several statements which he told me were wrong and were due
to her impulsive eagerness. I need not give details here.
So, on item 1 of the "refutations" of Mr. Gardner, I wish to add
my testimony that he was perfectly correct. I may add that his "unconscious
kriyashakti" theory is undoubtedly correct also. I have found and physically
confirmed its operation in many clairvoyants who were coloring what they
saw, or in some cases what they thought they saw, being affected by their
own desires, though sincerely unaware of the process in themselves. Some
people have such strong "visualisation" that sometimes, even when they do
actually obtain something quite correctly by clairvoyance or by intuition,
they are likely to embellish it from their own subconscious mind and cannot
distinguish it from actual seeing or hearing. It was on this ground that
Mr. Gardner wrote that the Lord Maitreya and the Masters "with whom Mr. Leadbeater
was on such familiar terms" (note this qualification made by Mr. Gardner)
were his own thought creations - though with no intention to deceive, he
believed. This second item of Mr. Shearman's criticism of Mr. Gardner's booklet
is only an expression of opinion - deeply considered in a "forty years' perspective."
I can testify that the lives of Alcyone - with the exception of one in which
Mrs. Besant collaborated - were the work of Mr. Leadbeater alone, mostly
written down by me while he was looking and talking and answering my incidental
questions. I too came to the conclusion that Mr. Leadbeater then, and on
many other occasions, was largely "seeing his own thought-forms," and this
not merely on theory, but on material evidences - again too much to mention
even briefly here.
The third item taken up by Mr. Shearman relates to Mrs. Besant's shutting
off of her psychic powers in 1912. This does not bear on the present question,
as there was no hard and fast evidence in this matter.
The fourth item of Mr. Shearman's criticism relates to The Mahatma Letters
to A.P. Sinnett, later published, and especially to Letter No. 10. That
letter was inconsistent with Mr. Leadbeater's master-image. My personal
contribution on this point is that Mrs. Besant certainly had a copy of the
Mahatma Letters - at least all those concerning teachings and therefore
including Letter No. 10. This I know because, in 1909, she lent them to me
to read, with the proviso that I must not take them out of her room. I did
not see a set among Mr. Leadbeater's papers and books, but I believe he was
familiar with them, as he had worked closely in London with Mr. Sinnett,
to whom most of the original letters belonged. No. 10 was, however, only
a copy made at Simla in 1882, as the original belonged to Mr. A.O. Hume.
But Mr. Leadbeater never did regard that Letter No. 10 as reliable,
and after the Letters were published, he quite often spoke of the book in
my hearing as "that abominable book."
So, on all counts, I can say that there are no grounds for condemning Mr.
Gardner's views. They are an expression of very ripe, thoughtful and honest
study, which he is surely entitled to put before his collegues in a Society
which is concerned with "No religion higher than Truth." Mr. Gardner, too,
is now entitled to "a valiant defense of those who are unjustly attacked,"
and I am glad to do it, mostly from my own direct knowledge, although sorry
to have to do it.
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