May 16, 1997 09:14 AM
by M K Ramadoss
There have been some discussion in the past on cancellation of national
charters by the International President. One such incident which was
mentioned was the cancellation of the German Section's Charter during the
time of Steiner. The cancellation was done when Annie Besant was the
International President. What puzzled me was that having read much about
Besant, I could not understand why she cancelled the charter since a
decision of this nature is not something trivial and is not something done
without some serious fundamental reason. Finally, I found an answer. A
letter just published in the Quest Magazine of June 1997 explains. I am
quoting the letter in full.
Regarding Steiner and Krishnamurti
I apologize for this very late response to an item in the Spring 1995
issue of the Quest. I was browsing through the back copies and spied an item
I must have missed the first time around. I refer to Kevin Korody's review
of Richard Leviton's book "The Imagination of Pentecost: Rudolf Steiner and
Contemporary Spirituality." The review states that Steiner "broke from the
Theosophical Society when Annie Besant becan speaking of new world teacher
and when Steiner's own clairvoyant insights seemed to contradict certain
Theosophical concepts" (89). That is simply a reversal of what took place
and ought not to pass unchallenged.
In the early 1910s, a number of individuals wrote to Besant from Germany
complaining that they were excluded from membership in the Theosophical
Society because of their support for Krishnamurti. They had been told by the
German Section that they could not be members of the Order of the Star in
the East (an organization supporting Krishnamurti) or the Esoteric School
and at the same time of the German Section of the Theosophical Society.
Furthermore, the German Section expelled members who belonged to the Order
of the Star.
Annie Besant wrote to Steiner querying these matters, but did not receive
a satisfactory reply. When the only result of a further approach was that of
defiance, Annie Besant, by direction of the General Council, in March 1912
withdrew the charter of the German Theosophical Society. The conditions of
membership in the Theosophical Society instituted by the followers of
Steiner were in flat contradiction of the dominant principle of the Society
which states, in effect, that there is no teaching that is binding on any
member of the Society and that sympathy with the objects is the only
requirement of membership.
Thus, in fact, Steiner did not resign from the Theosophical Society; he
was expelled along with all those who supported his dogmatic stand. The
course of events were the result, not of a conflict of opinions or beliefs,
but a failure on the part of the German Section under Steiner's General
Secretaryship, to allow freedom of belief. All the correspondence relating
to this event may be found in various issues of the Theosophist during the
Philip S Harris
Director, The Theosophical Retreat
Mt. Helena, Western Australia
It is very refreshing to see that the issue was out in the open and was
published in the Theosophist.
Some time ago, when the American Section was amending their by-laws, the
question of cancellation of the Charter of Canadian Section and other
Sections in Europe came up during discussions on theos-l.
What is intriguing is that I have not seen anything published on the
background of these nor have I seen any of the members of the General
Council have taken any trouble to inform the membership as to what is going on.
The question that arises in my mind is when Annie Besant was able to put the
facts out in the open and make membership understand the why of the decision
made by the General Council, why the same thing is not done now when the
cancellation occurred in more than one section.
When bright light shines on the facts, the true situation/problem becomes
very clear and obvious for everyone to see. Once again, it is my hope that
one of these days we will know the facts.
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