- What's your name, where are you from and how long you have been a member of the TS?
My name is Paurnamasi Pattnaik. I am from Bhubaneswar, Odisha which is located in the eastern part of India. I have been associated with the TS since my childhood and formally I became a member starting 2001.
- Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?
Yes, I am committed to Theosophy and very active in my Lodge and Federation. During the course of my journey, I have rendered services for the cause of theosophy and have supported it by taking up various posts in the lodge, at the Federation and Section level. Currently, I am the Secretary of Utkal Theosophical Federation, Odisha. I have been organizing Study classes, Youth Seminars, Lectures in Schools and Colleges, giving lectures and taking steps to spread the theosophical teachings in various parts of Odisha. I used to write articles for Odiya theosophical quarterly magazine (Viswadhara) and translate articles and books on theosophy in to Odia language. Besides, I am also working as the Secretary of Theosophy -Science Research Association (TSRA). The basic objective of the TSRA is to bring about a synthesis between science and spirituality which may reveal the unifying spiritual principles underlying both. Being the Secretary of the Zeera TOS group I am involved with various TOS activities.
- How did you first learn about theosophy or come in contact with the Society?
I was very fortunate to learn about theosophy since my childhood as I have come from a family with extensive theosophical background. My father Late Khageswar Rautray was an earnest student of Theosophy and was involved in TS and TOS for over five decades. Furthermore, many of my family members and close relatives have been associated with the TS activities for a long time. During the early seventies, TS meetings were often held at our house as there was no lodge in the city to conduct meetings. I had the privilege and joy of seeing and listening to all the theosophists. When I was in my teens, I started reading theosophical books from my father's small library where there were a number of Theosophical and spiritual books and pamphlets. The first book on theosophy that I read was BrahmaVidya written by Sis. Shailabala Mohapatra and The Text book of Theosophy written by C W Leadbeater. These books had a huge influence on me and fueled my ever-growing interest in Theosophy. There are several chapters in the book which fascinated me and inspired me a lot such as Karma, Reincarnation, Inner Government of the world, Man and his bodies and Life after death. Following those, I studied At the feet of the Master that helped me get rid of many of my inner conflicts related to superstition and inequality which were in prevalent in our society. Having brought up in a theosophical surrounding I devoted my life to Theosophy.
- What does Theosophy mean to you.
I believe that Theosophy is the pathway to inner transformation and a way of living. It solves the riddles of life with a dynamic, scientific and rational approach and gives satisfactory answers to the apparent injustice, sorrows and sufferings of the humanity. It reminds us of our common divine origin, the ONE INDIVISIBLE LIFE pervading all creation. Theosophy gives me full freedom to accept or reject any view and does not impose any authority's words. It gives me a definite direction to hasten my evolution by leading an altruistic life and puts before me a future whose beauty and grandeur are unlimited if I understand and work as per natural laws.
- What is your favorite Theosophical book and why?
It is difficult for me to restrict to one favorite book only. There are several theosophical books that are dear to me. The three classic gems of theosophy At the feet of the Master, The Voice of the Silence, Light on the Path. The Mahatma Letters to A P Sinnet, The Divine Plan written by Geoffrey Barborka, Practical Occultism by HPB, books of CWL, Annie Besant ,I K Taimni and Radha Burnier. Each of these books are unique and provides great insight on their own ways. However , since I have to pick one favorite book, I am inclined to select Practical Occultism because it conveys a very clear message on the difference between theosophy and occultism. It also contains precious guidelines to be followed in our daily lives for inner transformation and make oneself ready to climb in the ladder of evolution and to work for the humanity through love, compassion and self-sacrifice.
- What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS is facing at the moment?
Currently one of the biggest challenges is to spread theosophy among youth and general public. The new members and youth will be inspired to join the TS if there remains a harmonious coordination between the inner being and outer person of the existing members. There is an apt saying "A Theosophist IS as a Theosophist ACTS. Each member of the TS should endeavor sincerely to live theosophy in his or her daily life, leading by example hence, convincing the younger generation and common people to join TS. Another challenge is succession planning in Lodge level. Because lodges are the flaming center for dissemination of theosophy. Thus, steps should be taken to create dedicated theosophical members by giving proper training to the sincere and devoted members to facilitate the TS work.
- Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?
I wish this priceless wisdom should reach all nooks and corners of the world which would give a proper understanding of life to everyone so that they can live in perfect harmony in a spirit of true brotherhood and compassion for all living beings. A new world order will emerge with spiritual upliftment.
From the editor:
Opinions and ideas expressed in the mini-interviews are exclusively of those who are being interviewed. They don’t necessarily represent the ideas and opinions of the compilers of Theosophy Forward. The responses of the interviewees are not edited for content. Some contributors give short answers to the questions while others touch upon the subject more elaborately.