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Letter to the Members of the General Council, TS (Adyar)

Sep 29, 2008 10:22 AM
by Pedro Oliveira

Please see below the text of Mr Surendra Narayan´s letter to the 
members of the General Council of the Theosophical Society with 
International Headquarters at Adyar, Chennai, India. Mr Narayan was 
the International Vice-President of the TS from 1980 to 1995. He was 
also, for many years prior to that period, the Chairman of the Board 
of Direct Taxes in India. He is also the the author of the 
book "Life is for Living" (TPH Adyar).

I have not consulted Mr Narayan regarding the posting of this letter 
but decided to do so because it contains an important contribution 
and reflection for the current debate on the proposed changes of TS 
Rules. I am the sole responsible for its posting.

Pedro Oliveira

All members of the General Council and copy to Mr. John Algeo

Dear Friends,

I have just received copy of an email Circular letter dated 15th 
September from John Algeo addressed to General Council Members and 
interested Theosophists. It is from him and on behalf of two General 
Secretaries of National Societies and two additional members of the 
General Council, who were nominated by the President. The Circular 
letter takes the form of a fairly large questionnaire which relates 
mainly to making large-scale and substantive changes in the Rules 
and Regulations of the Theosophical Society. It seeks answers 
in `Yes' or `No' and adds that comments or additional changes for 
consideration can be added at the end. 

Practical common sense tells us that questions which involve 
substantive changes in the structure and functioning of the 
Theosophical Society cannot be answered in mere `yes' or `no'. These 
questions are not like the ones required to be answered in `yes' 
or `no' form in some tests for young applicants who aspire admission 
to some of the Schools of Business Administration or some specified 
courses of study in an University. Most questions included in the 
questionnaire need careful analysis and detailed comments.

The Rules and Regulations of the Theosophical Society were framed 
with great care and foresight by the Founders and, but for a few 
minor amendments from time to time, have well stood the test of time 
of over 125 years. There is absolutely no urgent need at this moment 
to hurriedly consider and make substantive and almost drastic 
changes therein.

It is most unfortunate that this past election of the President has 
caused so much misunderstanding and bitterness in some quarters. 
Even after some months have passed since the results were announced, 
one notices, with much pain, that the bitterness has not abated and 
Circular after Circular from John Algeo continue to come in the same 
spirit in a most unbrotherly way. Therefore, it would be most unwise 
and inappropriate to launch upon a scheme of making wide-ranging, 
substantive and substantial changes in the structure and functioning 
of the Theosophical Society.

Wisdom demands that time should be allowed to pass and hurt feelings 
allowed to subside. Let 2-3 years pass by before considering any 
changes in the Rules and Regulations of the Theosophical Society, 
particularly changes of the type envisaged in the questionnaire. 

One point I wish to mention here. I understand that there has been a 
wrong impression among some members that Radha Burnier has become 
office-greedy and does not want to leave the Presidential chair even 
after 28 years. According to my information, Mrs. Burnier offered to 
refuse nomination for herself for Presidentship both in 2001 and 
2008 elections and instead to support Presidentship for John Algeo, 
provided he, as President, agreed to generally reside in Adyar, 
which is the International Headquarters of the Society as per Rule 
26 of the Rules and Regulations. Both times, John Algeo declined to 
agree, for personal reasons. Presidents in the past from America and 
Europe ? Olcott, Besant, Arundale and Coats ? have stayed at Adyar 
even when air-conditioning facilities and expert medical care were 
not available, but both are now available in Chennai. A former 
International Treasurer even in the early 80s used to have air-
conditioning in her bedroom.

Membership of the Theosophical Society has been declining. Not only 
that, even among the members who are eligible to vote, one notices 
an apathy or disinclination to exercise their voting rights even in 
a `contested' election for Presidentship held after 28 years. And in 
the Theosophical Society in America, which has the second largest 
membership after India, out of a total membership of 4072, 2757 were 
eligible to vote but only 1234 members voted, besides 13 invalid 
votes. Can these be taken care of by amending rules?

The need is to try to infuse new life, zest, power and vibrance into 
our work for the objects of the Theosophical Society in the world as 
a whole. Annie Besant once wrote in an autograph book of young 
theosophist ? `Work so that the world may be the better for your 
living in it'. The stress is on helpful work, not on changing the 
Rules and Regulations for achieving that quality. In the Mahatma 
Letters to A.P. Sinnet, one of the letters stresses the need `to 
become blended into one universal feeling, the only true and holy, 
the only unselfish and Eternal one ? Love, an Immense Love for 
humanity ? as a Whole ! For it is "Humanity" which is the great 

I am now in 90th year of this life and my only interest is to see 
the Theosophical Society, by the combined efforts of its leaders and 
members the world over, working as a vibrant and cohesive body for 
the spiritual evolution of humanity. As "At the Feet of the Master" 
puts it:-

`God has a plan, and that plan is evolution. When once a man has 
seen that and really knows it, he cannot help working for it, and 
making himself one with it, because it is so glorious, so beautiful'.

With my best wishes and warm regards

Yours fraternally

Surendra Narayan

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