Theosophical Encyclopedia

Theosophy and the Theosophical Societies - part 5 (2020 version)


By Dr. James Santucci

Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies

California State University

Fullerton, CA 92834-6868

Theosophy 420 z 9 HQ PART 5 TTS

Yet another look at Headquarters Building, with the well-known River Bungalow visible on the right.

Photo: © Richard Dvořák   

Theosophy 420 z 10 HPB 5



The first magazine of the Theosophical Society, The Theosophist, was initiated with the October 1879 issue in Bombay under the editorship of H.P. Blavatsky. The periodical, published at the international headquarters in Adyar, Chennai, continues to this day and is the official organ of the international President of the T.S. (Adyar).

Read more: Theosophy and the Theosophical Societies - part 5 (2020 version)


TE Shinto 320 2

The word “Shintō” is a Japanese pronunciation of Chinese shen dao (the way of the shen or ancestral spirits); in Japanese it is usually taken to mean “the way of the gods.” The Japanese name is kami no michi, “the way of the kami,” which distinguishes it from the island nation’s other major faith, Buddhism. Shint¯ in Japan is the worship of Kami (sing. and pl.), deities whose lineage goes back to prehistoric times when they were patrons of places, communities and above all of the clans (uji) that were the major units of early Japanese society. Myths of these deities are preserved in two of Japan’s oldest books, the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Things, 712 CE) and the Nihonshoki (Chronicles of Japan, 720 CE). They tell of the descent from heaven of the Japanese primal parents, Izanagi and Izanami, of their generation of the islands and gods of Japan, of various vicissitudes of the gods in the Kamiyo or “Divine Age” of a divine council convening in the River of Heaven, and finally of the descent of the ancestors of the imperial house from heaven to earth.

Read more: Shinto

Historical Photos from the Surendra Narayan Archives (Adyar Archives) - Mary Anderson


 Entrace of the Arcives at sunset © Marja Artamaa

Note from the editor # 1 : Mary Anderson (1 November 1929 – 14 April 2020) was an outstanding Theosophist and held various positions in the TS-Adyar. She traveled extensively through many parts of the world, lecturing or conducting courses. Mary was the embodiment of dedication, humbleness, kindness and above all Love.

Read more: Historical Photos from the Surendra Narayan Archives (Adyar Archives) - Mary Anderson


TE 2 Aura 220

The term “aura” is often used to describe the flow of energy from an object or living thing. Subtle bodies or vehicles comprising any living thing may extend their influence beyond the limit of the physical form and be seen by clairvoyants. Clairvoyants claim to see up to five of these around a human form. Of these the so-called “health-aura” is said to be the most dense. In some cases this is probably PRANA, or life-energy. Some clairvoyants claim to be able to determine the emotional and health condition of a person by the appearance of their aura.

Read more: Aura


TE d Immortality

From earliest times the belief in the immortality of the “soul” has been widespread, both among primitive societies and the more sophisticated. This issue can be found debated in the Katha UPANISAD, “This doubt that arises, consequent on the death of a man — some saying, ‘It exists,’ and others saying, ‘It does not exist’ — I would know this, under your instruction.” (I.i. 20) PLATO took the view that since the soul exists, its nature must be indestructible and therefore immortality is a fact in Nature.

Read more: Immortality

The Objects of The Theosophical Society

TE b Theosophical Society x


The objects of the Theosophical Society (TS) underwent several revisions since its founding. At a meeting of the newly formed society in New York, October 30, 1875, the following statement was made:

The title of the Theosophical Society explains the objects and desires of its founders: they “seek to obtain knowledge of the nature and attributes of the Supreme Power, and of the higher spirits by the aid of physical processes.” In other words they hope, by going deeper than modern science has hitherto done, into the esoteric philosophies of ancient times they may be enabled to obtain for themselves and other investigators, proof of the existence of an “Unseen Universe,” the nature of its inhabitants if such there be, and the laws which govern them and their relations with mankind. Whatever may be the private opinions of its members, the society has no dogma to enforce, no creed to disseminate. It is formed neither as a Spiritualistic schism, nor to serve as the foe or friend of any sectarian or philosophic body. Its only axiom is the omnipotence of truth, its only creed a profession of unqualified devotion to its discovery and propaganda. In considering the qualifications of applicants for membership, it knows neither race, sex, color, country nor creed. (J. Ransom, Short History of the TS)

Read more: The Objects of The Theosophical Society

Historical Photos from the Surendra Narayan Archives (Adyar Archives) – Radha Burnier

RSB 2 a 120

Radha Burnier (née Radha Sri Ram) (November 15, 1923 – October 31, 2013) was the seventh international president of the Theosophical Society (Adyar). Having taken office in 1980, she was the longest standing president of the organization (33 years).

Early life and education

Radha S. Burnier, respectfully called "Radhaji", was born in Adyar, Chennai, India, on the grounds of the Theosophical Society (Adyar) on November 15 , 1923, into a Theosophical family. She was the daughter of Mr. Nilakanta Sri Ram, who was the fifth international president of the organization, and Srimati Bhagirathi, who was also an active member of the Society. Although she was born a Brahmin, her family did not follow the exclusivist customs attached to their caste but adhered to the Theosophical ideal of universal brotherhood.

Read more: Historical Photos from the Surendra Narayan Archives (Adyar Archives) – Radha Burnier

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