Re: The Three Objects
Dec 22, 1994 12:43 PM
The following is from Alan Donant
I took up Paul's suggestion regarding the three objects.
Following is the article he mentioned for the benefit of those
without access to The Theosophical Forum. The article *Our
Directives* was writen by Grace F. Knoche and published in
A STUDY OF THE EVOLUTION OF THE "OBJECTS OF THE T.S."
-- FROM 1875 TO 1891
INSPIRED by the conviction that the Theosophical Society was the
inevitable outgrowth of the spiritual demands of the century, its
Founders valiantly strove, without concealment or equivocation,
to "arrest the attention of the highest minds" in all fields of
thought: science, philosophy, religion, literature, psychical and
spiritualistic research, as well as Oriental philosophy.
Starting with one broadly inclusive purpose, the infant society
The objects of the society are, to collect and diffuse a
knowledge of the laws which govern the universe.1
Within two years, H. P. Blavatsky had published Isis Unveiled,
startling the Western world with its "striking peculiarities, its
audacity, its versatility, and the prodigious variety of subjects
which it notices and handles," as the New York Herald aptly
commented in 1877, further describing it as "one of the
remarkable productions of the century."
By the winter of 1878 a sufficiently wide crack in the moldy ma-
terialism of religious and scientific thought had been rent by
the Theosophical Society (not least of which was due to the
widespread acclaim of Isis) to enable the work in America to be
left under the protective care of William Q. Judge, then Counsel
to the Society, and soon to be elected Secretary of the Western
Division, with General Abner W. Doubleday being appointed
"President ad interim."
En route to India, H. P. B. and Colonel Olcott stopped in
London to visit the British Theosophical Society (later the
London Lodge), which included C. C. Massey, Rev. Stainton
Moses, and the eminent biologist Dr. Alfred Russel Wallace,
arriving in Bombay on February 16, 1879. Despite unprecedented
opposition from both governmental and missionary fronts,
President Olcott delivered a public address on March 23, at the
Frarnji Cowasji Hall, Bombay, "before a large and enthusiastic
audience which thronged the spacious Hall," the occasion marking
also a reorganization of the Society's officers with new By-laws
(or Constitution), the original one-inclusive objective being
amplified under Section viii into seven "plans" as follows:
(a)--To keep alive in man his belief that he has a soul, and the
Universe a God.
(b)--To oppose and counteract bigotry in every form, whether as
an intolerant religious sectarianism or belief in miracles or
anything super- natural.
(c)--To gather for the Society's library and put into written
form correct information upon the various ancient philosophies,
traditions, and legends, and, as the Council shall decide it
permissible, disseminate the same in such practicable ways as the
translation and publication of original works of value, and
extracts from and commentaries upon the same, or the oral
instructions of persons learned in their respective departments.
(d)--To seek to obtain knowledge of all the laws of Nature, and
aid in diffusing it, thus to encourage the study of those laws
least understood by modern people, and so termed the Occult
Sciences. Popular supersti- tion and folk-lore, however
fantastical, when sifted may lead to the dis- covery of long lost
but important secrets of Nature. The Society, there- fore, aims
to pursue this line of inquiry in the hope to widen the field of
scientific and philosophical observation.
(e)--To promote a feeling of brotherhood among nations; and
assist in the international exchange of useful arts and products,
by advice, infor- mation, and co-operation with all worthy
individuals and associations; provided, however, that no benefit
or percentage shall be taken by the Society for its corporate
(f)--To promote in every practicable way, in countries where
needed, the spread of non-sectarian Western education.
(g)--Finally, and chiefly, to encourage and assist individual
Fellows in self-improvement, intellectual, moral and spiritual.2
The official title of the Society was here, apparently for the
first time, announced as "The Theosophical Society or *Universal
Brother- hood*" (*italics* ours), the fourth Rule or By-law
itself opening with the words: "The Society being a Universal
Brotherhood . . ."-- eloquent testimony that at last the
original plan as conceived by Masters (vide Mahatma Letters, pp.
9, 17, 23-4, 252) could be publicly set forth as our basic
spiritual directive for the next hundred- year cycle.
On December 17, 1879, at the palace of H. H. the Maharajah of
Vizianagram, Benares, the General Council of the Society met to
revise again its By-laws, which after ratification at Bombay on
February 26 and 28, 1880, were circulated among the now rapidly
spreading T. S., whose centers ranged from Paris to Egypt,
Budapest to Ceylon, Odessa, Corfu and Manila to London and the U.
S. A.-- to say nothing of active branches in several parts of
India. Here again we note the pointing up of the Brotherhood
idea, Rule I now setting the keynote: "The Theosophical Society
is formed upon the basis of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity."
The alterations adopted in the seven "plans" were slight, but not
unimportant: (a) and (b)--changes or additions indicated by
(a)--"To keep alive in man *his spiritual intuitions.*" (b)--"To
oppose and counteract--*after due investigation and proof of its
irrational nature*-- bigotry in every form," (continue as
Though unaltered in wording, the reversal in order of plans (c)
and (e) placing (e) third, gives a subtle but persistent emphasis
on the directive of promoting "a feeling of brotherhood among
nations." (d) and (f) remain; while (g) receives stress by
(g)--Finally, and chiefly, to encourage and assist individual
Fellows in self-improvement, intellectual, moral, and spiritual.
But no Fellow shall put to his selfish use any knowledge
communicated to him by any member of the First Section; violation
of this rule being punished by ex- pulsion. And, before any such
knowledge can be imparted, the person shall bind himself by a
solemn oath not to use it to selfish purposes, nor to reveal it,
except with the permission of the teacher.3
At this period Active Fellows of the T. S. were considered as
fall- ing into three natural divisions, though no formalized
classification was publicly set forth until the opening meeting
at Bombay, or March 23, 1879.4
The General Council met again in February, 1881, and again
revamped the Rules of the Society, this time the seven "plans"
being condensed into four:
First--To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of
Humanity, the obvious philanthropic value of which must be beyond
dispute, while the esoteric significance of a union formed on
that plan, is conceived by the Founders, for reasons derived from
a study of Oriental Philosophy, to be of great importance.
Second--To study Aryan literature, religion and science, which
the Founders believe to contain certain valuable truths and
philosophical views, of which the Western world knows nothing.
Third--To vindicate the importance of this inquiry and correct
mis- representations with which it has been clouded.
Fourth--To explore the hidden mysteries of Nature, and the latent
powers of Man, on which the Founders believe that Oriental
Philosophy is in a position to throw light.5
It is of significant interest to note that the Three Sections
into which Active Fellows of the T. S. are divided is mentioned
here again in the Rules, but this time casually, Rule X stating
that the "adminis- tration of the two superior Sections need not
be dealt with at present in a code of rules laid before the
public"--this withdrawal from public notice presaging the
establishment seven years later of a formal Esoteric Section in
October, 1888. In succeeding By-laws reference to the higher
Sections is entirely omitted. The final streamlining into the
THREE OBJECTS used subsequent- ly by the T. S. (with minor
alterations) took place at the sixth anni- versary nominally
scheduled for November 17, 1881, but due to the extensive travels
in India of the Founders not celebrated until January 12,1882,
when the General Council announced its "Primary Objects" as
First--To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of
Humanity, without distinction of race, creed or colour.
Second--To promote the study of Aryan and other Eastern litera-
ture, religions and sciences and vindicate its importance.6
Third--To investigate the hidden mysteries of Nature and the
Psychi- cal powers latent in man.7
No further change was made in subsequent annual meetings until
December, 1886, when the Third Object was slightly modified,
including an interesting insert, making it read:
A third object, pursued by a portion of the members of the
Society, is to investigate unexplained laws of nature and the
psychical powers of man.
The form of the Objects continued without change until the
General Council meeting of December, 1888, 8 when minor but sug-
gestive alterations appear in the 1st and 3rd Objects as follows:
First: the inclusion of "sex, caste," so that the last phrase
reads: "without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or
color"--a far- sighted addition in view of the later Suffragette
activities in the West- ern hemisphere, and the abolition of
'untouchability' in the Eastern; Third: while remaining textually
identic since 1886, has the following paragraph added in
[The Fellows interested in this third object now form a distinct
pri- vate division of the Society under the direction of the
Corresponding Secretary] 9
H. P. B., sole head of the E. S. then one year old.
Organizational- ly separate from the T. S., the Esoteric
Section, nevertheless, was its vital heart, its raison d'etre.
This extra paragraph, however, did not appear more than this
once, being cancelled in session of the General Council at Adyar,
Madras, on December 27, 1890, the last annual meeting of the T.
S. before the passing of H. P. B.
The succeeding fifty odd years has seen a number of verbal
changes in the Objects; but the spirit of the original directives
has remained: the dissemination of Truth, strengthened by
insistence upon the formation of at least a nucleus of a
Universal Fraternity described by K.H. (M.L., p. 17) as the
"only secure foundation for universal morality . . . the
aspiration of the true adept."
1. Chapter II of the By-laws of the Theosophical Society,
published with the "Preamble," October 30, 1875. See September
1947 issue of THE THEO- SOPHICAL FORUM for text of Preamble.
2. "Principles, Rules, and By-Laws," pages ii-iii, of "The
Theosophical So- ciety or Universal Brotherhood," issued at
3. "Revised Rules of the Society," 1880, Bombay, page 9.
4. The following appears on page v of the "Rules of the
Society," issued March 23, 1879, and is quoted here for historic
"Of these, the highest is the First Section--composed exclusively
of initiates in Esoteric Science and Philosophy, who take a deep
interest in the Society's affairs and instruct the
President-Founder how best to regulate them, but whom none but
such as they voluntarily communicate with have the right to know.
"The Second Section embraces such Theosophists as have proved by
their fidelity, zeal, and courage, their devotion to the Society,
who have become able to regard all men as equally their brothers
irrespective of caste, colour, race, or creed; and who are ready
to defend the life or honour of a brother Theosophist even at the
risk of their own lives.
"The Third is the Section of probationers. All new Fellows are
on probation until their purpose to remain in the Society has
become fixed, their usefulness shown, and their ability to
conquer evil habits and unwarrantable prejudices demonstrated. "
5. "Rules of the Theosophical Society together with an
explanation of its Objects and Principles," as revised at Bombay,
February 17, 1881, p. 3, issued by Damodar K. Mavalankar, as
Joint Recording Secretary (for the Eastern Division, William Q.
Judge being Recording Secretary for the Western Division, of the
6. In 1885 the phrase "and vindicate its importance" was
dropped; the follow- ing words being added in the statement of
the Objects, Dec. 27, 1890: and to demonstrate their importance
7. "Report of the Proceedings of a Public Meeting . . . of
the Theosophical Society," Bombay, 12th January, 1882, page 5.
8. In The Key to Theosophy, ch. iii, published in 1889, H. P.
B. significantly slants this third object by adding the word
"spiritual," making it read: "To investigate the hidden mysteries
of Nature under every aspect possible, and the psychic and
*spiritual* powers latent in man especially (*italics* ours)
9. The Theosophist, Supplement, January 1889, p. 54.
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