Some thoughts on Future of TS outside India
Mar 20, 2009 10:38 PM
Some thoughts on Future of TS outside India
Founding of TS and move to India:
While TS was founded in New York in 1875, soon it was moved to India. It was
not a simple business decision taken by HPB and HSO. They moved to India and
started building TS on the orders of the Inner Founders, who were able to
see far into the future. HSO, a very pragmatic and worldly wise man, knew
very little about hard living and travel conditions in India and had no idea
of what future was in store, except the utmost confidence and trust in the
judgement of the Inner Founders. When we look at the continued growth of TS
in India, it looks like the Founders were correct in their foresight.
Current Status of TS
After 134 years, we see a unique trend. TS membership in India is
progressively growing and now the largest Section. On the other hand, the
membership statistics outside India is pitiful. In most countries outside
India, it is either going south or stagnant for years. The current
membership in the US, is about the same as it was in 1920s. In a couple of
sections, not a single new lodge was chartered in last 50 years. If this
trend continues, it is possible that Sections in the West may disappear in
the coming decades. So it is very critical we need to carefully look at the
conditions surrounding TS.
Fundamental Needs for Growth
Due to the autonomous nature of the lodges and sections, the vibrancy and
growth of membership solely depends on the leaders at lodge and section
level. It is more so at the section level. The First Object of TS is
Universal Brotherhood. The motto of TS is - There is No Religion Higher Than
Truth. Any future growth is going to depend on how deeply rooted are the
actions and activities of the leadership on these two key factors.
Events during last year
The TS has been going through a crisis during the past year. We need to look
at them and their implications for the future.
The election started with a surprise bang. Members were told by several
section leaders in the West that Radha Burnier is sick, both mentally and
physically and hence she should not be elected. At first, it was believed by
the members since they trust their section leaders and hold them in high
regard. Lo and behold, soon it was not proven to be true. Three independent
doctors from two continents (one a highly regarded long time member and the
General Secretary of a European Section) declared her fit both mentally and
physically. But this was not communicated to the membership by the section
leaders who tried to defeat her on health ruse. This was the first strike on
the credibility of these section leaders.
When members felt that the election issue is behind us and we can all go
forward with propagating theosophy, next bombshell came. A secret plan was
developed by a small group of GC members to disenfranchise all members and
seize the power of appointment of the president by a small group of GC
members. It was crafted in greatest secrecy and the intention was to get it
quickly approved in the December meeting of GC and surprise all the members.
Not even members who live and work at Adyar, Wheaton and other National
Centers were aware of it. They all learnt about it on the Internet. You can
imagine the course events would have taken if we did not have Internet and
the plan discovered in time. You can imagine the reaction of the membership
worldwide on this power grab attempt.
Next came certain allegations by the losing candidate on the election
process in India. When the Indian Section challenged them, the response was
silence. When allegations are made against the largest section, one expects
verifiable evidence to back up the allegations. We expect this even in
normal situations among people who are not exposed to theosophy and
The next major event was the GC meeting in December. It was extra-ordinary
in that there were two decisions in which the President had to cast the vote
to break the tie. This clearly demonstrates that there are two factions and
of course no one will talk about the membership of the factions. If the
division was based on substantive reasons, those who opposed the motions and
caused the tie should take the membership into confidence and openly air
their reasons so that members can understand and make up their own mind.
Instead there is silence. One wonders why?
After the GC meeting, again there were allegations of election and other
irregularities by some GC members. So far we have not seen any solid
evidence of wrong doing to buttress these allegations. Also one GC member
stated "The personal agendas of one or two people involved and the
connections between them need close examination.". Since these are serious
comments on obviously well-known long-time members, in all fairness, more
definitive facts should be forthcoming to buttress the comments. Today we
have not seen any. Why?
Impact of the above events on the future of TS outside India
The two key pillars of the TS are the First Object - Brotherhood and Motto -
There is No Religion Higher Than Truth. Many members join the TS, attracted
by the above two pillars. In the light of the above events, many open minded
members have lost trust in their leaders.
Today, most Western countries have easy access to Internet. Anyone can
google any topic or person and find out a lot of information
instantaneously. Current young generation do google when they are interested
in any topic. Googling TS is going to reveal all of the above events and
personalities involved. And this is going to lead them to confusion and will
make them wonder what is going on. How do you reconcile the pillars and the
actions of leaders. So this leads to the simple question how do you go about
fixing the trust issue and without doing so, it is going to be almost
impossible to expand membership? I do not have a simple answer; I wish I
It is for each one of us to think about and come up with ideas for the
growth of TS in the coming decades. If it means we need to get new younger
leaders, so be it.
THERE IS NO RELIGION HIGHER THAN TRUTH
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