Theosophy Chakras 1696
Theosophy Chakras 1696

Introduction articles in Theosophy

This page is a guide to the Modern Theosophy -site, for those new to the Theosophical Movement. You will find introductory articles in theosophical thinking, on the Theosophical Society and links to pages on this site which are good to start with. Like the whole website, this page is organized by subject.

Karma & Reincarnation

Theosophical Society / Theosophy

History of the Theosophical Society

Starting 1875, New York

The Theosophical Society was started by a group of 16 people in New York, 1875. They were mostly interested in Spiritualism and the theories behind the phenomena. Many of those present had a background in the Western Esoteric tradition. They were Freemasons, mediums and practical occultists.

Among those present three went on to keep the flame alive: H.P. Blavatsky, H.S. Olcott and the youngster W.Q. Judge.

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky remains best known today. Her work The Secret Doctrine is still a classic and new age best seller. She is seen by historians of modern day spirituality as the founding mother of New Age spirituality. Many of the themes in that movement are present in her work:

  1. the unity of all
  2. reincarnation and karma
  3. clairvoyance and paranormal effects in general
  4. divination methods
  5. Life after death

H.S. Olcott was the president of the Theosophical Society till his death in 1908. He worked tirelessly for Eastern religions like Buddhism, Hinduism and even Zoroastrianism (the Indian Parsis). To this day he is remembered for his work for Buddhism, education and even journalism in Sri Lanka.

W.Q. Judge did not join Blavatsky and Olcott when they traveled to India in 1878. He stayed behind in the United States and only slowly became a prominent member. Among theosophists he is well known as a writer of articles and stories that popularize Blavatsky's ideas. Shortly before his death (and after Blavatsky's) there was a quarrel with Annie Besant and Olcott on one side and Judge on the other. This lead to the split of the Theosophical Society into several rival groups. The movement has never been united since.

Theosophical Movement FAQ: on the different Theosophical groups.

A theosophical chronology

Theosophical reflections

Jiddu Krishnamurti & Annie Besant

More theosophical controversy

Blavatsky was controversial in her day. She swore, smoked and knew how to stir up trouble.

Annie Besant was also no stranger to publicity. She was not only the most acclaimed speaker of her day - she was also a woman. That alone would have kept the papers writing about her. But there was more: She lost custody of her kids in a widely publicized divorce. From preacher's wife she turned atheist. She fought for contraception and the rights of factory workers: every step of her career was the talk of the town.

When this atheist turned theosophist, her very public explanation made heads turn. Had she finally lost her mind? Well, no. She had merely read Blavatsky The Secret Doctrine and had felt it to be the solution to many of her questions.

When she went to India, she started out merely a theosophical lecturer. Where Blavatsky and Olcott had been more interested in Buddhism, Annie Besant became interested in Hinduism. She taught herself Sanskrit and with the help of a Brahmin friend translated the Bhagavad Gita.

After Olcott passed on, she became president of the Theosophical Society. She also became very active in the fight for independence that the Indian people were starting to fight for.

With the help of C.W. Leadbeater, her colleague, she found and raised a young Brahmin boy: Jiddu Krishnamurti.

Together they would raise the boy to be the new 'world teacher'. This outraged Rudolf Steiner and ultimately caused him to quit the Theosophical Society.

Though Krishnamurti renounced the organization they founded for him (The Order of the Star of the East), he did become a world teacher. He traveled all over the world to give talks and meet people for the rest of his life.

This was a big disappointment to the people around him - as well as a scandal.

Yet the current president of the Theosophical Society, Mrs Radha Burnier, was a student of Krishnamurti's. It is her policy to learn from Krishnamurti what we can and to integrate that into theosophical life. Her article walking without crutches exemplifies the essence of Krishnamurti's teachings: ultimately each of us has to find truth, right living and love in our own hearts and minds. No one else can do more then point the way.

Inner Growth


The Theosophical Society and the paranormal

The Theosophical Society had always been a place where the paranormal was taken seriously. In the 19th century this focused around the Mahatmas. Early in the 20th century the TS branched out.

Aura's were discovered and investigated and sensationalist reports started coming in as well. One of these was later known as the Cottingley Fairy Photographs.