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