Leadbeater and the Movement 1906 - 2006
Apr 04, 2006 07:08 AM
by carlosaveline cardoso aveline
C. W. LEADBEATER’S FIRST SCANDAL
AND THE FUTURE OF THE MOVEMENT
One hundred years ago, in April 1906, a scandal exploded like a bomb in the
Adyar Theosophical Society.
It was the first of the sex scandals involving children, created by C. W.
Henry Olcott was alive and presided the Society. The Adyar T.S. Historian
Josephine Ransom reports in her book “A Short History of the Theosophical
Society” that the process started in February, when the director of the
Adyar Esoteric Shool in the USA, Mrs. Dennis, wrote a letter to Annie
Besant, the head of the School denouncing Leadbeater for immorality.
In the letter, Mrs. Dennis said:
1) Leadbeater was “teaching boys given into his care demoralizing personal
2) Leadbeater was “doing this with deliberate intent and under the guise of
occult training or with the promise of an increase of physical manhood”.
3) Leadbeater “had demanded, at least in one case, promise of utmost
In April 1906 the issue came to the hands of Olcott and the investigation
started. Confronted with the facts, Leadbeater confessed : the
pseudo-clairvoyant was “teaching masturbation” to young boys.
Annie Besant then said she entirely disagreed with Leadbeater’s “advices”
and “teachings” to the boys. Preparatory steps were taken for the expelling
of Leadbeater from the Society. The process would start from his own
theosophical Lodge. The presidential delegate in charge of the issue, Mr.
R.A. Burnett, took a clear position, as Josephine Ransom reports:
“If Mr. Leadbeater agreed to resign all connection with the Adyar Society
and its work, it was understood the prosecution before his Lodge would not
be pressed: if not, his expulsion from the Society was called for.” (2)
The false clairvoyant resigned from the Theosophical Society. C.
Jinarajadasa, who defended Leadbeater’s innocence, was led to resign too.
Mr. Henry Olcott started to deliver public talks about “The Dangers of
Psychism”, an obvious warning about what had happened to C. W. Leadbeater.
But for some reason, weeks later, H. Olcott got gravely ill and the
karmic tide changed.
As soon as Olcott died, in February 1907, Leadbeater disciples invented some
messages from the Mahatmas suggesting his innocence, and he came back to
the Theosophical Society. With him, came back the sex scandals.
Several influential members then abandoned the Society. But Besant depended
on Leadbeater’s “clairvoyance” to stimulate her own fancies that she was an
initiate and that Adyar was in contact with the Masters. She needed him,
and soon Leadbeater was visiting physical plane houses and cities in Mercury
and Mars; examining Martian extensive agriculture; and describing its
politics and culture.
Here on earth, Leadbeater started preparing the young boy Jiddu Krishnamurti
to be “Lord Christ”. He announced that this new Messiah would end all wars
in the 20th century. Every armed forces would be dissolved, since Julius
Caesar would reappear together with the Christ to create a world government.
Leadbeater said this was absolutely sure – after all he had full contact
with, and frequently talked to, “Lord Christ” in person.
Most of such absurdities are in Leadbeater’s books. This is the reason
why many of his books have been silently disappearing from bookstores since
What do the present-day Adyar authorities think about this? Anyone who talks
about C.W. Leadbeater to Mrs. Radha Burnier will observe the president of
the Adyar TS does not actively defend him as a person, nor as an author,
and much less as a “clairvoyant”. Ms. Radha does not defend Leadbeater
publically or in private. She only recomends to the questioners – “not to
make too much noise about this”.
Such has been the policy since the 1930s. This “selective silence” in fact
expresses a subtle denial of reality and a disrespect for actual facts which
but conceals a lack of courage to face them in an open way.
In the first decade of the 21st century, it is too late to go on with this.
There are better things to do.
Both the Adyar TS and the theosophical movement as a whole have a lot to
gain from the acceptance of true facts. Key, positive lessons will be
learned when people calmly examine the incredible mistakes of the
Besant/Leadbeater period. There is no reason to keep on with a policy of
denial. After all, we all know that there is no religion, or corporate
interest, higher than Truth.
Far from being “defeated”, by accepting the facts of History the Adyar
Society will only expand its horizons and rediscover the importance of
Truthfulness. It will get rid of rituals, rites and the false clairvoyance
that led to them. It will be able once more to study and live the real
Theosophy of H.P.B. and the Masters. This may happen in a few decades,
What about the rest of the movement? As Adyar improves, many of the
difficulties of the non-Adyar groups and institutions will disappear. The
reason for this is that the movement is only one, and its inner magnetic
field is the same. No “separation” is possible at the occult level.
On the other hand, Adyar must not be seen as a scapegoat. Common sense says
that Adyar is far from having the monopoly of mistakes in the movement.
Everyone must improve. No one owns truth.
An active co-responsibility for the future of the movement belongs to each
and to all of us, whether we are independent theosophists or members and
associates of this or that organization.
Best regards, Carlos Cardoso Aveline.
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(1) “A Short History of the Theosophical Society”, by Josephine Ransom,
TPH, first edition 1938, first reprint 1989, 589 pp., see p. 356.
(2) “A Short History of the Theosophical Society”, p. 358.
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