A 2012 Open Letter to the President of the Adyar Society
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
The main building of the headquarters of the Adyar Society, in India
The following text is part of a series of letters
addressed by students from several countries to
Ms. Radha Burnier (1923-2013), regarding the need for
ethics and justice in the way the theosophical movement
deals with its past, and learns lessons from its mistakes.
Mrs. Radha Burnier
The Theosophical Society,
Adyar, Chennai 600 020
Brazlândia, 12 April 2012.
Dear Mrs. Burnier,
Fraternal greetings from Brazil.
I’m glad to write you this year about the dynamic unity and living dialogue we seem to need in the theosophical movement. Brotherly unity must be based on a common search for truth. Its true foundation includes frankness, justice, and ethics.
There are by now a few signs announcing the possibility of a new springtime for the theosophical movement as a whole, which must include the Adyar Society.
As you know, one or two followers of Mr. Vladimir Soloviof created an almost unprecedented crisis in your Society in the 2007-2011 period. They are much calmer now from a political viewpoint: your own moderate political leadership seems to be stronger since the second semester of 2011.
Such a renewed scenario in 2012 is good news for the entire theosophical movement. There can be no actual separation between the various theosophical schools of thought. Therefore the movement can have no one slandering the Founders in the name of any theosophical publishing house or association. Respect for truth and for each other is a practical principle to be followed everywhere. We are all essentially one. We have no popes and no bishops. No frauds are “eternal” or “sacred” among us; and it is our duty to show them all for everyone to see.
In order to experience the occult unity existing among all theosophists and to promote the living of universal brotherhood while actively searching for truth, one must renounce personal attachment to such sad illusions like personal power or corporate interests. This is an often uncomfortable, yet unavoidable challenge: it is also a key to the future.
We can illustrate the point with a historical fact or two.
It was in August 1925 that Mrs. Annie Besant, after having many a personal talk with the King of the World, with the Manu of present humanity, with her favorite “Lord Christ” and all sorts of imaginary individuals, finally announced to her closest associates that she herself, and Mr. Leadbeater, Mr. Arundale and several others, were all Adepts, id est, Masters of the Wisdom. A detailed narrative of this extraordinary event can be found at the book “Life and Death of Krishnamurti”, by Mary Lutyens (Krishnamurti Foundation India, 1990, pp. 53-58).
If we go back some thirty years from that memorable occasion in 1925, we can see Annie Besant skillfully organizing in 1895 her political campaign against William Judge. While accusing Judge of “forging messages from the Mahatmas”, Mrs. Besant, however, was taking part in mesmeric and mediumnistic “séances” at the London Lodge of the T.S., and talking to “Masters” in meetings presided by her new close associate Mr. Alfred Sinnett, who candidly reveals the facts in his Autobiography.
Should we, Mrs. Burnier, make believe such events never happened?
Of course not. In theosophy, there are no political aims higher than truth.
Does it make any sense, then, for anyone to try and sustain the old “conspiracy of silence” around the life and work of William Judge?
Of course not. Unlike Annie Besant and other Adyar leaders in the 1895-1934 period, William Q. Judge never lost his common sense. He was one of the main founders of the movement in 1875. He never had absurd “talks to Masters”. He never created a Catholic Church within the movement. He never made a Circus of the movement by theatrically announcing the return of a Christ. He always kept loyal to the original teachings of Theosophy. He led an ethical life to the end. His numerous writings have great practical value in the 21st century.
The Adyar Society is extremely important and valuable to the movement. As a result, it cannot be left for any indefinite length of time under the spell of illusions of whatever kind.
As one who has for decades felt respect and admiration for your dedication to the Theosophical Cause, I would like to submit a suggestion or two to your kind consideration.
Let’s accept, if you please, the need for renewing the movement on the basis of respect for truth.
The 21st century is a time to aim at the sacred potentialities of ethics in the common theosophical effort.
Let’s think of the year 2075 and beyond from a truthful point of view. Let’s acknowledge the farces, follies and mistakes of pseudo-theosophy. May we look ahead in a constructive way. It’s no good denying History.
We must get rid of those false rituals based on talks to imaginary Masters. Let’s take into consideration that no fraud can deceive everyone, all the time. Let’s choose sincerity instead of forgery and do justice to William Judge and H. P. Blavatsky.
It is within our reach to celebrate a non-bureaucratic view of the theosophical movement, as proposed, for instance, in Judge’s article “The Theosophical Movement”. Let’s remember that even a poor dialogue, once it is frank and sincere, is better than no dialogue and healthier than false courtesy. Let’s try and accelerate the process by which both the Adyar TS members and the associates of other theosophical groups can renew their ever challenging commitment to truth, while gradually liberating themselves from blind routine and ritualistic conditioning.
Your father, Mr. N. Sri Ram, took a few cautious yet real steps in the right direction.
He was the first Outer Head of your Esoteric School to stop having imaginary contacts with Masters. You have followed his example in this.
He firmly supported the publication of H.P. Blavatsky’s Collected Writings and other books of authentic theosophy. Among them, one finds “Damodar and the Pioneers…”, by Sven Eek, a book which also does justice to William Judge.
During the 1966 World Congress of your Society, N. Sri Ram firmly opposed the practice of tampering with theosophical literature. The unfortunate editorial policy of tampering with books - first inaugurated by Annie Besant in the 1890s through her edition of “The Secret Doctrine”- was in 1966 again openly defended by various U.S.A. ritualistic leaders of the Adyar TS. You must remember the occasion, for you were there yourself, and you shared your father’s view of the challenge. The discussion about that was duly documented by him in the pages of “The Theosophist”.
Life unceasingly renews itself. Other steps and new measures need to be taken in the 21st century toward the goal of placing truth and ethics above politics and ritual in our movement. Progress in that direction depends not only on you, but also on all earnest students around the world, whether they belong to any theosophical association or to none of them.
You, Mrs. Burnier, certainly deserve thanks and congratulations for having done your best since 1980 and before. It is believed, however, that you can do much more in the right direction. It should not be too difficult to follow the trajectory adopted by your father and take new strong steps ahead, thus going further away from falsehoods and towards common sense.
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
Caixa Postal 5111,
CEP 72.705-970 Brasília, DF, Brazil.
On the role of the esoteric movement in the ethical awakening of mankind during the 21st century, see the book “The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline.
Published in 2013 by The Aquarian Theosophist, the volume has 255 pages and can be obtained through Amazon Books.