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The Theosophical SocietyAn organization formed to advance the spiritual principles and search for Truth known as Theosophy
The Theosophical Society was founded in New York City, USA, in 1875 by Helena Blavatsky, Henry Steel Olcott, William Quan Judge and others. Its initial objective was the investigation, study and explanation of mediumistic phenomena. After a few years Olcott and Blavatsky moved to India and established the International Headquarters at Adyar, Madras (Chennai). There, they also became interested in studying Eastern religions, and these were included in the Society's agenda. After several iterations the Society's objectives have evolved to be:
In addition to the stated objectives, as early as 1889 Blavatsky purportedly had told a group of Theosophical students that the real purpose of establishing the Society was to prepare humanity for the reception of the World Teacher when he appeared again on earth. This was repeated again more publicly by Annie Besant in 1896, five years after Blavatsky's death. In Blavatsky's own writings, the only reference to a similar idea indicated that it would not be for at least a century.
Schisms:After Helena Blavatsky's death in 1891, the Society's leaders seemed at first to work together peacefully. This did not last long. Judge was accused by Olcott and Annie Besant of forging letters from the Mahatmas; he ended his association with Olcott and Besant in 1895 and took most of the Society's American Section with him. The original organisation led by Olcott and Besant remains today based in India and is known as the Theosophical Society - Adyar. The group led by Judge further splintered into a faction led by Katherine Tingley, and another associated the Judge's secretary Ernest Temple Hargrove. While Hargrove's faction no longer survives, the faction led by Tingley is today known simply as the Theosophical Society, but often with the clarifying statement, "international headquarters, Pasadena, California". A third organization, the United Lodge of Theosophists or ULT, in 1909 split off from the latter organization, and various small splinter groups began to take shape including the Palmers Green Theosophical Lodge under the leadership of Thomas Neumark-Jones which was influential among British New Liberal intellectuals.
In 1902, Rudolf Steiner became General Secretary of the German/Austrian division of the Theosophical Society. He maintained a Western-oriented course, relatively independent from the Adyar headquarter led by Besant and Olcott. After serious philosophical conflicts, primarily on the spiritual significance of Christ and on the status of the young boy Krishnamurti (see below), most of the German and Austrian members split off in 1913 and formed the Anthroposophical Society. The latter remains very active and influential today and has branches in almost all western communities, including the US and Canada.
Copy of Theosophical Society's foundation act:
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