Theosophical Encyclopedia

Historical Photos from the Surendra Narayan Archives (Adyar Archives) – the young Jiddu Krishnamurti

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Jaishree Kannan, Officer in Charge of the Archives, kindly invites you to come in and have a look around ... the photo series is published at the end of the biographical sketch

Jiddu Krishnamurti (May 11, 1895 – February 17, 1986) was an author and lecturer on spiritual and philosophical subjects who had a major impact on Twentieth Century thought. He was "discovered" as a child in India by Charles W. Leadbeater, who prophesied that the then sickly and almost illiterate boy would become a great religious leader. From that point Krishnamurti and his younger brother Nitya were raised and educated by Theosophists at the Theosophical Society based in Adyar, Chennai, India. The Order of the Star in the East was established, to promote the idea that Krishnamurti was going to be the "vehicle" of the "World Teacher" or Maitreya. Eventually Krishnamurti rejected the title, disbanded the organization, but spent the rest of his life speaking around the world to all kind of people about a spiritual life based on awareness, inquiry, and freedom.


Krishnamurti was often referred to by his friends as "Krishna", "Krishnaji", and "K". His very early writings were published under his "star name," Alcyone.

Read more: Historical Photos from the Surendra Narayan Archives (Adyar Archives) – the young Jiddu...

More glimpses of the history of Young Theosophists

Arni Narendran – India

The  International Theosophical Youth Centre ( ITYC) Adyar

A Rainbow in the Sky

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In the early seventies I was living in an apartment by the sea on Elliots Beach at Adyar in the city of Madras, now known as Chennai. The Beach was famous in my day as a parking Bay for motorized caravans travelling by road from Scandinavia and the hinterland of Europe to Australia via Port Kelang in Malaya.

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A famous landmark at Elliot Beach

These caravan Serais were bartering spots for emerging “New Age” music that was not available in the city.  On the far end of Elliot Beach was a huge sylvan stretch of land within an enclosure, which was the International Headquarters of the Theosophical Society, standing on the southern banks of the Adyar River meeting the Bay of Bengal on the Coramandel coast. For years I would pass by the gates of the Theosophical Society on my way to college downtown, oblivious of its existence until a chance meeting with an Australian writer and music composer, Bro. Peter Glasson.

TE A 4 Peter Glasson December 25 2013 Photo by Zoe Rehbein

Peter Glasson

Dear Peter, who sadly passed away in Brisbane in 2020, opened a new pathway in my life which to this day continues to  illumine my world: the Light of Ancient Wisdom. He introduced me to the fascinating world of Theosophy through a book that he presented to me – The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett- on 6th November 1974.

Read more: More glimpses of the history of Young Theosophists

Glimpses of the history of Young Theosophists


We are all delighted with the founding or, if you wish, the reinitiating of the World Federation of Young Theosophists (WFYT) during an event that recently took place at the International Theosophical Centre in Naarden, the Netherlands. To read about that important event click HERE.

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Young Theosophists at the International Theosophical Centre in Naarden, the Netherlands, June 2022

Over the past many decades Young Theosophists have been ever active, especially during the presidency  of John Coats who in the seventies of the last century went out of his way to make room for the at that time new generation, in order to give them the opportunity to go deeper into Theosophy as workers for Theosophy, thus developing themselves.

Together with Jaishree Kannan in Adyar and Janet Kerschner at Olcott in Wheaton we have tried to shed some light on the rich history of the Young Theosophists. Well this ain’t an easy task for many a reason but this chapter on Theosophical Encyclopedia is a very first attempt. 

This is a big and difficult topic to research, difficult because of inconsistency in the naming of the youth groups. Children and teenagers were always a focus of the TS, certainly back into the 1890s with Lotus Groups and Round Table. The Young Theosophists came into existence at the Vienna Congress in 1923, according to the 1937 Year Book (page 172-173)  and at the 1935 Diamond Jubilee, the World Federation of Young Theosophists was established with Rukmini Devi as President (page 165). The latter was frequently referred to as the "Youth Federation," but it seems to be the same as Young Theosophists. In 1962, John Coats took over from Rukmini.

Our presentation here on Theosophy Forward the e-Magazine is far from complete, but at least it is a start. Any additional information or further assistance is more than welcome.

Read more: Glimpses of the history of Young Theosophists


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[James A. Santucci][1]

Research requirements demand access to primary sources, especially if the scholar wishes a more accurate understanding of the history of the Theosophical Society.  “Rosicrucianism” helped launch H. P. Blavatsky’s public career in occultism with the publication of her response to this article, “A Few Questions to ‘HIRAF’,” described by Blavatsky as her “first Occult Shot.”  Included with HIRAF’s article is the “Announcement” of the publication, presumably written by the editor of the Spiritual Scientist, E. Gerry Brown, but which may have been partially or wholly written by Henry S. Olcott if we accept the statement of the Compiler of the first volume of the Blavatsky: Collected Writings.[2]   It is curious that the Announcement cites HIRAF as a lone individual when in fact the article was written principally by three authors, William E. S. Fales, Frederick W. Hinrichs, and William M. Ivins.  In addition to these two individuals, James C. Robinson, and Charles Frederick Adams comprise the remaining two, forming the acrostic HIRAF by employing the first letters of their last names: [H(inrichs), I(vins), R(obinson), A(dams), and F(ales)].  All were engaged in the legal profession; none were expert chemists, none lived in the Orient for an extended period in order to study Hermetic philosophy or to visit “noted Brahmins and their holy places” as was claimed in the Announcement.  Nor was the article the work of serious scholars on the subject; it appeared to have been more “as a joke than in earnest”[3] that arose out of a conversation during one of their soirees, perhaps emerging out of Ivins’ and Fales’ association with Blavatsky when they represented her in a lawsuit involving her participation in the ownership of a farm on Long Island.  It was during the trial (April 26 to June 1, 1875) that Ivins, Hinrichs, and Fales, knowing of Blavatsky’s interests in occultism, apparently took it upon themselves to discuss various esoteric subjects with her.[4]  Shortly thereafter, the decision was made during the soiree to write an article on esotericism.  The result, in large part due to the editorial skill of Fales, was an article he named “Rosicrucianism.”  The following is a summary of the some of the main points of the article:

1)  Modern science has shed some light on the mystery of life by suggesting that no force—be it in the form of light, heat, electricity, and magnetism—is ever annihilated. Furthermore, force and matter are interrelated: “assuming either as the cause, one of the others will be the effect.” 

2)  “Dynamic conservation” is the law that permeates the universe, directing “the movements of the stars.” 

3)   All force—whether in the past, present, future—is part and parcel of  “the dead unknown.” [4] 

4)   From “the ultimate essence have sprung or evolved the countless varieties and concatenations of force and matter, all interdependent, and all cognate with the unknown centre.  Such is the discovery of the “godless science of the latter-day enquirers.” 

5)   Such is the teaching of the “oriental” philosophers, who add however, that the universe originates from God, is God; in other words, God is but the “combined forces and laws manifested in the great universe.”  In other words, science is only discovering what has already been known to the ancients. 

6)   Such pantheism is discussed in the emanations of Pythagoras and Plato, as well as in the teachings of Zarathushtra and Zarathushtrism, of the Vedas and Brahmanism, of the Mishna and Gemara and “Mosaism,”, in the Old and New Testaments, of Gnosticism, of Manichaeanism, of Christianity, of Islam, of the Alchemists, Cabalists, and Rosicrucianists up to Spencer through Hegel, and Van Hartmann. 

7)   The “nursing-mother of all later intelligence” was ancient Egypt. 

8)   The prime purpose of the article, however, is to emphasize the role of Rosicrucianism and Rosicrucianists, who are regarded, respectively, as the lost wisdom and the apostles:  “To regain this treasure, long lost by humanity, we must study the seers who gathered it, gem by gem, and coin by coin. Of that web, from the looms of the Nile, the power is Ain-Soph,—the Cabala is the gospel, and the Hermetics or Rosicrucians the apostles and the masters.” 

9)   The last part of the article discusses the gnosis or wisdom of the Rosicrucians.  For the novice, the “all-world” is threefold: comprising God, humanity, and nature, or super-mundane  emanations, microcosm, and macrocosm. 

10)   The evolution of life moves from macrocosm to microcosm. 

11)   The levels of the microcosmic life are the illusive or ignorant (the “microcosmic bud”), those who are partially aware, that is, who are somewhat aware of the self and other (the “microcosmic flower”), and those who reach the highest life (the “microcosmic fruit”), “half-realized in a few grand types, Christ; Buddha, and perhaps Khoung-fou-tsee (Confucius).” 

12)  The adept or the one who reaches the highest wisdom perceives the truth as One and as a set of complementary unions. The authors proclaim: “the all-world is two-fold,—flux and reflux.  The one is justice, truth, courage, power; the Other, mercy, love, ‘altruism’, in the latter-day tongue. 

13)  To the novice and adept alike, “The Rosicrucian becomes and is not made.” 

It is hoped that these observations will shed more light on Blavatsky’s response in her “A Few Questions to ‘Hiraf’.” 




Historical Photos from the Surendra Narayan Archives (Adyar Archives) – CHARLES WEBSTER LEADBEATER


The archives at sunset ...

[Note from the editor: With great pleasure I dedicate this photo series to a man who might have caused some controversies in the Theosophical world, but who was most definitely a part of the early history of the movement. Notably outside the TS Adyar, theosophists who are affiliated with other streams maintain a certain opinion about him,  caused by and based on hearsay, misinformation and prejudice. Opinions, ideas, convictions and ultimately beliefs even, ought to be based on thorough and impartial research. This series is not put together to “convert” those Leadbeater critics to followers of his works, but it is set up to encourage them to  acquire objective, well-written, and well-documented information about this eminent theosophist, in order to look at his life and what he left us from at least another perspective. In this context I especially want to point at Pedro Oliveira’s  book Leadbeater Speaks, of which the PDF version is attached to this unique series of photos.]  


Read more: Historical Photos from the Surendra Narayan Archives (Adyar Archives) – CHARLES WEBSTER LEADBEATER

Historical Photos from the Surendra Narayan Archives (Adyar Archives) - George S. Arundale

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A part of the fully renovated and modernized Surendra Narayan Archives

George Sydney Arundale (1878–1945) was an English Theosophist, educator, writer, and editor. He served as the third President of The Theosophical Society based in Adyar, India from 1934 to 1945.

Early years and education

George Sydney Arundale was born on December 1, 1878 in Surrey, England, the youngest child of the Reverend John Kay, a Congregational minister. His mother died at childbirth, and George was adopted by his aunt, Francesca Arundale. Miss Arundale joined the Theosophical Society in 1881 and often welcomed Madame H. P. Blavatsky to her home at 77 Elgin Crescent, Notting Hill, London. George became a member in 1895 and joined the London Lodge. A. J. Hamerster recounted the affection that both HPB and Colonel Olcott had for the boy:

Read more: Historical Photos from the Surendra Narayan Archives (Adyar Archives) - George S. Arundale

Excerpt from “Personal Recollections of Sir Richard Francis Burton

Excerpt from “Personal Recollections of Sir Richard Francis Burton, K.C.M.G., F.R.S., F.R.G.S.”

(Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly, Vol. XXXIV, No. 5 [November 1892], pp. 572–574)

A. L. Rawson

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Sir Francis Richard Burton (1821-1890)


[The following is an excerpt that appeared in Theosophical History XVIII, no. 3-4 (July-October 2016): 190–94. It includes a brief episode in Madame Blavatsky’s early life wherein Rawson and Sir Richard Burton meet a “pretty young (grass) widow,” i.e., a “married woman whose husband is absent from her” (OED). The event took place in Egypt, between the latter part of 1852—following Rawson’s release from jail[1]—and May 1853—when Burton left Cairo for Mecca.  In an email dated December 31, 2016, Mr. Deveney remarks:

We know two facts here: Rawson got out of jail in New Jersey in mid-1852 (June) and Burton left Cairo for Mecca in May 1853.  So, this little snippet, if it occurred, took place in that period.  It’s funny that Rawson insists that he had by the time he encountered Burton in Cairo already been to Mecca—where he learned H.P.B. had preceded him.  He was certainly a busy beaver and careful to one-up Burton. 

In reading through all of Rawson’s pieces on H.P.B. it’s hard to determine what he actually thought about her and what he was trying to portray her as.  He certainly was under no illusions about her or her “powers”, but he seems at great pains to try not to utterly call her, flat-out, a phony.  He also was very careful to show that, whatever she was, he was greater! 

Rawson’s piece is very disjointed and reads like some editor cut a lot out: H.P.B. just appears, without introduction, and there are loose ends everywhere: who was her “Russian friend” and was it a man or woman?  Was she in the group that went around Cairo after the séances at Shepheard’s Hotel?  The visit to the snake charmer is obviously the same as that described in Theosophical Occult Apology, in which Rawson is obviously the young American artist. 

This complete article appears on pages  565–576 of Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly.

James Santucci, Editor of Theosophical History]

Read more: Excerpt from “Personal Recollections of Sir Richard Francis Burton

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