A LOOK AT THE 1900 LETTER
Sep 09, 2006 12:14 PM
A. BESANT MADE ALL THE MISTAKES AGAINST
WHICH SHE WAS WARNED BY THE 1900 LETTER
The “1900 Letter to Annie Besant” is rather controversial. Many do not accept its legitimacy.
Yet its text, especially those parts of it which were eliminated by C. Jinarajadasa in his edition of the letter, contain many severe and accurate warnings about future mistakes that Annie Besant should avoid. Now we can see she did not avoid them, at all.
The whole of the Letter is in agreement with the general perspective followed by HPB/Masters students in the decades that followed., especially by the ULT, after 1909. In no way the letter suggests the course of action actually followed by A. Besant.
Let’s compare what the full text of the 1900 Letter says, with what Annie Besant did. (1) The Letter statements are in capital letters:
1) “IS THE WORSHIP OF A NEW TRINITY MADE UP OF THE BLESSED M., UPASIKA AND YOURSELF TO TAKE THE PLACE OF EXPLODED CREEDS. WE ASK NOT FOR THE WORSHIP OF OURSELVES.”
In fact, in the following years the Adyar Society was transformed in a semi-Christian belief system, with a Masonry, a Catholic Church with its priests and Bishops, and even a new Christ of its own making. Dogmatic religions stopped to be criticized. The Masters were transformed in objects of emotional worship and blind belief.
2) “THE DISCIPLE SHOULD IN NO WAY BE FETTERED. BEWARE OF AN ESOTERIC POPERY.”
Annie Besant did exactly what the Letter’s author told her not to do. She created the illusion that the leaders of the Adyar Society were clairvoyant, and that they could consult the Masters at any time, thus being able to avoid making any mistakes. As we know, Popes are supposed (by their followers) to be infallible. The “logic result” of such a popish infallibility was that everyone should obey Annie Besant blindly. Thus an “Esoteric Popery” emerged, with its own “apostolic succession”.
3) THE INTENSE DESIRE TO SEE UPASIKA REINCARNATE AT ONCE HAS RAISED A MISLEADING MAYAVIC IDEATION. UPASIKA HAS USEFUL WORK TO DO ON HIGHER PLANES AND CANNOT COME AGAIN SO SOON.
By then, Annie Besant had started to create a collective expectation that H.P.B. was coming back as the little daughter of G. N. Chakravarti. In fact, that was the starting point for a neotheosophical version of the “myth of the divine child”.
The 1900 letter did grant some peace to HPB’s soul in its afterdeath process. The hysteria about her “Second Coming” was immediately abandoned. Yet the neochristian myth of the “divine child” would soon come back in a most unfortunate way through C. W . Leadbeater’s false clairvoyance, with the presentation of the boy Jiddu Krishnamurti as the future “Christ”. The consequences of such a myth of the “divine child” ended by bringing shame upon the Adyar Society and provoking several scandals of which C.W. Leadbeater was always the centre.
4) “YOU HAVE FOR SOME TIME BEEN UNDER DELUDING INFLUENCES.”
This includes the influences which had made Annie Besant persecute William Judge in 1894-95, that had made her join the mediumnistic group of Mr. Sinnett’s ‘inner circle’ (which promoted false contacts with the Masters), and that made her follow G. N. Chakravarti’s leadership.
5) “SHUN PRIDE, VANITY AND LOVE OF POWER.”
In the following years Annie Besant concentrated all power in her hands. She was the President of the T.S., the Head of the Esoteric School, the leader of Co-Masonic groups, the responsible for the Egyptian Rite, etc.
Yet she depended on C.W. Leadbeater’s “clairvoyance” to take every real decision. CWL dominated her because of her vanity and love for power.
6) “BE NOT GUIDED BY EMOTION BUT LEARN TO STAND ALONE. BE ACCURATE AND CRITICAL RATHER THAN CREDULOUS. THE MISTAKES OF THE PAST IN THE OLD RELIGIONS MUST NOT BE GLOSSED OVER WITH IMAGINARY EXPLANATIONS. THE E.S.T. MUST BE REFORMED SO AS TO BE AS UNSECTARIAN AND CREEDLESS AS THE T.S. THE RULES MUST BE SIMPLE AND ACCEPTABLE TO ALL.”
In fact, the T. S. was reformed so as to become so sectarian and blind as the E. S.T., and not the other way around.
Annie Besant did not learn to stand alone and used emotional worship to get more personal power.
The Adyar movement became a complicated, bureaucratic, ritualistic belief-system, under the cover of liberty of thought. As to the reference to the “errors of the old religions”, the sentence is a clear vindication of the “Prayag Letter”, a message from the Masters received through H.P.B., whose authenticity was publically denied by H. S. Olcott but which now is part of the “Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett” as edited by the Adyar TPH (Letter 134, non-chronological editions, or Letter 30, chronological edition). William Judge had openly defended the authenticity of that letter in his New York magazine THE PATH (March 1895, p. 430, and June 1895, p. 81). The 1900 Letter mentions the same idea and underlines the importance of discussing the mistakes of all dogmatic religions. Something which Besant and Leadbeater, of course, never did.
7) “WE NEVER TRY TO SUBJECT TO OURSELVES THE WILL OF ANOTHER. AT FAVOURABLE TIMES WE LET LOOSE ELEVATING INFLUENCES WHICH STRIKE VARIOUS PERSONS IN VARIOUS WAYS. IT IS THE COLLECTIVE ASPECT OF MANY SUCH THOUGHTS THAT CAN GIVE THE CORRECT NOTE OF ACTION.”
This is a precious bit of advice for the next decades and centuries. In 1900, it was also a prophecy. It was an announcement that the days of verbal and visual contact with the Mahatmas were over, but that an inner contact was still possible at a subtle level. These sentences were unduly despised by A. Besant, who preferred her own clairvoyant fancies about Initiations and verbal contacts with Masters. Right now, these same sentences may reveal to us the middle way between two equally mayavic extremes: one, the idea that the Masters are completely out of touch, or that they do not exist; the other, that they can be contacted in any visual or verbal way, or by lower personalities.
8) “MISLEADING SECRECY HAS GIVEN THE DEATH BLOW TO NUMEROUS ORGANIZATIONS. THE CANT ABOUT THE ‘MASTERS’ MUST BE SILENTLY BUT FIRMLY PUT DOWN. LET THE DEVOTION AND SERVICE BE TO THAT SUPREME SPIRIT ALONE OF WHICH EACH (2) ONE IS A PART.”
Annie Besant did exactly the opposite. She used misleading secrecy as a power-mechanism, and so she gave a death-blow to most of Adyar Society as a spiritual level. She used the names of the Masters to justify her fancies, and she exacted personal devotion from theosophists to herself, in the name of the Masters.
9) “YOU WILL HAVE TO LEAVE A GOOD DEAL OF YOUR EMOTIONS AND CREDULITY BEFORE YOU BECOME A SAFE GUIDE AMONG THE INFLUENCES THAT WILL COMMENCE TO WORK IN THE NEW CYCLE.”
Here the letter says, in an implicit yet clear way, that Annie Besant, as she was, could not be a safe guide. And she was not. The text also mentions “the new cycle”, which constitutes an internal evidence of its accuracy, since H.P.B. had positively written -- apparently “en passant” -- that the the new cycle, Aquarius Age, would start in that year of 1900. (3)
O o o O o o O o o O
Much more can be said about this controversial Letter. Yet a few things seem to stand clear:
1) That the 1900 Letter announces most mistakes Annie Besant would make in the 33 following years;
2) That the warning was not heard;
3) That anyone except a High Initiate would find it most difficult to foresee all such mistakes in such a stern and accurate way;
4) That being a “last farewell” letter, it was issued in 1900, during the inaugural moments of the Aquarius Age, and contains important hints for the movement as a whole in the decades and centuries ahead.
5) It is not coincidence that the full content of the letter was only discovered in 1987, during the following “end-of-century-effort”; and not by a member of the Adyar Society, but by an independent student. Even now, Adyar leaders can’t comment or discuss the full text of the Letter – it is too strong for them.
Best regards, Carlos Cardoso Aveline.
O o o O o o O o o O o o O o o O
(1) The letter as published by C. Jinarajadasa can be seen at the book “Letters From the Masters of the Wisdom”, First Series, Letter 46, pp. 99-100, TPH, Adyar, India, Sixth Printing, 1973. As to the complete text, it is in the magazine “Theosophical History”, London, October 1987, pp. 115-117. The full text was first published in “The Eclectic Theosophist” in September 1987 by Mr. Emmet Small, a long-standing coleague of Boris de Zirkoff. Boris most likely also considered the letter authentic.
(2) The word “each” has been ommitted, probably by mistake, in the text published in “Theosophical History”.
(3) See “Collected Writings of H. P. Blavatsky”, TPH, volume VIII, p. 174, footnote. It is part of the text entitled “The Esoteric Character of t he Gospels”.
O o o O o o O o o O o o O
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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