International President Election
Apr 21, 2008 08:58 PM
To: Secretaries of All Sections
Let me first introduce myself. I am a member of the Theosophical Society
living in the United States. The first inkling of the President Election was
when I received a letter from Bro. Betty Bland, President(Secretary) of the
US Section in which she tried to get my support for the election of Bro.
John Algeo due to her perceived senile condition of Bro. Radha Burnier and
the letter was mailed on plain paper with her home address (implying that
she is sending it in her personal capacity.) This was surprising since in my
long membership over half-century, I have never received such a solicitation
from the Section Secretary (President) ever.
Some days later, I read a message on the Internet e-mail list theos-L, a
message from Pedro Oliveira detailing some of the things that happened in
Adyar soon after the call for nominations were mailed out to Secretaries of
Sections. The message laid out in detail the canvassing and electioneering
that went on during that time even before the sections received the official
call for nominations. Obviously these went on behind the back of our
President Bro Radha Burnier.
I agree with Pedro that the election has been compromised due to what
happened. In Political circles, end justifies means, so long as you do not
violate any law or rules or regulations and do not get caught. We, those
exposed to Theosophical doctrines and principles are expected to live and
uphold highest moral and ethical standards and if we do not, then we are
starting on a slippery slope and the TS as we know it can be fatally
injured. I do not want to see it happen.
I have provided below the text of Pedro's message and we would be doing a
great favor to all members if the details are provided to them so that when
they exercise their votes, the would have full details of the events that
took place during the nomination process so that the members can use their
judgment in casting the ballot. While rules many not permit this be done
with the ballots, it can be done by mailing the details in a separate
envelope mailed at the same as the ballots.
I am submitting to your kind consideration and appropriate action.
M K Ramadoss
Also listed at the end is the response from Bro. Radha Burnier which you may
already have received.
Those who are interested in reading the messages exchanged on the Internet,
can find them in two mailing lists; THEOS-TALK@YAHOOGROUPS.COM AND
Pedro Oliveira's Message Posted on Internet
Below is my personal response to Betty Bland's accusatory email
message against Radha Burnier. While Radha's letter was sent, by
ordinary mail, in her personal (not official) letterhead, to all
General Secretaries in the TS, Bland's email message was sent to the
former as well as to dozens of individuals worldwide, including some
in Australia and New Zealand.
To the Members of the Theosophical Society
As in a recent email message the National President of the TS in
America, Betty Bland, has accused Mrs Radha Burnier of
electioneering, I am compelled to present my testimony of serious
facts that happened at Adyar, the International Headquarters of the
TS, last December. I hereby take full and personal responsibility for
what I state.
On 18 December 2007 Mary Anderson, International Secretary, issued,
under the Rules of the TS, a call for nominations for the office of
President. I understand that a number of such letters were hand
delivered immediately to those members of the General Council who
were at Adyar at that time.
After arriving at Adyar on 14 December 2007 to take part in the
International Convention, I soon became aware of rumours that a few
resident workers there were planning to write a letter to the members
of the General Council, not only about their perception of Mrs
Burnier's health but also about who they supported as a candidate in
the upcoming election. A long-time resident at Adyar told me
personally that one of the members of this group read out to her on
the phone the text of the proposed letter. She mentioned to me that
she told the person concerned that she did not want to have anything
to do with such a letter.
On 23 December 2007, while checking my messages at an Internet cafe
outside the compound, there was a message forwarded to me by Ricardo
Lindemann, National President of the TS in Brazil. It contained a
message from Elvira Carbonell, dated 19 December 2007, who was at
that time assistant to the International Secretary, Mary Anderson,
addressed him as "Dear General Council member, Mr Lindemann". What
was rumour had become a reality. I understand that the same letter
was sent to many other Council members by two other residents at
As it can be seen from dates mentioned above, Ms Carbonell's letter
was sent by email on the day after the official nomination papers had
been sent out by Ms Anderson. As the nomination papers were sent by
regular mail to the overwhelming majority of General Council members
living overseas, such letter, sent by electronic means, would be
likely to reach many of them before the official papers were received
by regular mail.
Below, I reproduce some passages from Ms Carbonell's letter in
italics, followed by a few comments. The full text of her letter is
reproduced at the end of this letter.
"Since there has been uncertainty about the state of our President's
health and our Vice-President's willingness and ability to accept
nominations for the upcoming Presidential election, several of us at
Adyar feel the need to write to the members of the General Council to
share the following information."
While at Adyar in December 2007 I had several visits with the
President. I found her to be in good spirits, cheerful, energetic,
aware that her memory for names was faulty at times, but in good
health. This is also the opinion of her doctors. At the opening of
the Convention, on 26 December, she read out her Presidential Address
for around one and a half hours, standing before the assembled
delegates. Dr Duzan Zagar, Organising Secretary for the TS in
Slovenia and who is a medical doctor, neurologist and psychiatrist,
visited the President during his stay at Adyar in December 2007, saw
her recent test results and declared that she was in good health. She
had had a stroke in November 2006. Therefore in the light of expert
medical advice Ms Carbonell's comments on the President's health at
that time were uncalled for, inappropriate and manipulative, for they
represented a blatant attempt to unduly influence the opinion and
decision-making process of the General Council members.
It is important to note that, through his silence, the Vice-
President, Dr John Algeo, tacitly approved mention of his intentions
in Ms Carbonell's letter and as a result allowed himself to be
presented as willing to accept nominations for the office of
President even before the great majority of Council members residing
overseas would have received their nomination papers! The statement
in Ms Carbonell's letter used the authority of the position of Vice-
President of the Theosophical Society to unduly, inappropriately and
unethically attempt to influence members of the General Council, the
governing body of the TS. Her letter, therefore, compromised the
"We have learned that our Vice-President has been asked if he will
accept nominations, and have confirmation from him that although he
is not eager to run for President, he will do what seems to be in the
best interest of the Society when the time comes, and he will accept
nominations. We have also received confirmation from him that he
feels Adyar has to remain the international Headquarters of the TS,
for both practical and symbolical reasons."
The above paragraph presents further clear evidence that the Vice-
President, Dr Algeo, not only knew of this action of Ms Carbonell but
definitely condoned it. I understand that at the General Council
meeting at Adyar, on 25 December 2007, when Ms Carbonell's letter was
read out by the President, the Vice-President remained noticeably
silent. Ms Cabonell's letter thus presented elements of a political
platform for the Vice-President as a candidate in the Presidential
election when the great majority of the General Council members would
not have received their nomination papers. Such action violates the
universal principle of free and fair elections which is enshrined on
the Rules of the TS.
In the light of the above considerations Mrs Radha Burnier, about
whom some presumptions were made in Ms Carbonell's letter to some
General Council members, of necessity, as is her right, has had to
state her position and her intentions in relation to the forthcoming
election for international President.
(Below is the letter of Elvira Carbonell to Ricardo Lindemann,
National President of the TS in Brazil and General Council member of
the Society, received on 19 December 2007 by email.)
Dear General Council member, Mr Lindemann:
Since there has been uncertainty about the state
of our President's health and our
Vice-President's willingness and ability to
accept nominations for the upcoming Presidential
election, several of us at Adyar feel the need to
write to members of the General Council to share
the following information.
Many of us at Adyar are concerned that our
President will be putting an unnecessary burden
on herself and her prospects for continued
recovery if she runs for another term. Because of
our deep regard for her and the Society, we would
like to see her live as long as possible as a
wise counsel and guide to whoever gets elected as
the next President of the Theosophical Society.
We have learned that our Vice-President has been
asked if he will accept nominations, and have
confirmation from him that although he is not
eager to run for President, he will do what seems
to be in the best interest of the Society when
the time comes, and he will accept nominations.
We have also received confirmation from him that
he feels Adyar has to remain the international
Headquarters of the TS, for both practical and
We hope that others who are qualified and have
the best interest of the Society at heart will
make themselves available as nominees in a
non-adversarial spirit, as having several
candidates on the ballot will ensure a wider
choice of experience and abilities, which can
only benefit our Society.
Ms Elvira Carbonell
Theosophical Society, Adyar, India
Bro. Radha Burnier's Response
This is to inform you that I have received 14 nominations from General
Secretaries etc, who represent a totality of 17,037 votes. Dr John Algeo has
received 21 nominations, representing a totality of 10,685 votes.
I think we need younger people to be in charge of the Society's work and
that they have to stay in Adyar. Dr. Algeo who is around 78, does not like
the climate here, nor can he leave the United States for more than a short
time, in view of his wife's condition. I believe that if elected he intends
to work largely from America through e-mail and video conversations.
It is necessary to have the right candidates for the officers of the
Theosophical Society. I believe that Mrs Linda Oliveira and her husband, and
some members from Britain , etc., will be coming to Adyar shortly, to stay
and work here.
You know very well that since Col. H.S. Olcott, all Presidents have lived at
Adyar, and this was not merely a matter of their convenience. Adyar has been
considered as a Spiritual Centre. From here the work of the Society can best
send forth the power and blessing of the Elder Brethren. Such programmes as
the International Convention and the School of the Wisdom, which are
features of Adyar attract many members from around the world. Many of these
members are able to return to their lodges with a greater understanding of
the purpose of the Society and the work of the Founders.
In my view it would not be a good thing to have somebody live in the United
States and run Adyar by proxy. Adyar should be maintained as a living
Headquarters for reasons which are obvious to those who know the history of
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