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Is TS a Money Making Concern?

May 29, 1997 07:05 AM
by M K Ramadoss


In the light of the discussions we had over the last couple of days, I
chanced to look at Key to Theosophy and surely enough the money issue was
discussed by HPB. I am posting the relevant pages. They were extracted from
TUP's on line publication of Key to Theosophy. Hope re-visiting the book is



ENQUIRER. Agreed. Well, have either of the Founders, Colonel H. S. Olcott or
H. P. Blavatsky, ever made any money, profit, or derived any worldly benefit
from the T. S., as some papers say?

THEOSOPHIST. Not one penny. The papers lie. On the contrary, they have both
given all they had, and literally beggared themselves. As for "worldly
benefits," think of the calumnies and vilification they have been subjected
to, and then ask the question!

ENQUIRER. Yet I have read in a good many missionary organs that the entrance
fees and subscriptions much more than covered all expenses; and one said
that the Founders were making twenty thousand pounds a year!

THEOSOPHIST. This is a fib, like many others. In the published accounts of
January, 1889, you will find an exact statement of all the money ever
received from any source since 1879. The total received from all sources
(entrance fees, donations, etc., etc.) during these ten years is under six
thousand pounds, and of this a large part was contributed by the Founders
themselves from the proceeds of their private resources and their literary
work. All this has been openly and officially admitted, even by our enemies,
the Psychic Research Society. And now both the Founders are penniless: one,
too old and ill to work as she did before, unable to spare time for outside
literary work to help the Society in money, can only write for the
Theosophical cause; the other keeps labouring for it as before, and receives
as little thanks for it.

ENQUIRER. But surely they need money to live?

THEOSOPHIST. Not at all. So long as they have food and lodging, even though
they owe it to the devotion of a few friends, they need little more.

ENQUIRER. But could not Madame Blavatsky, especially, make more than enough
to live upon by her writings?

THEOSOPHIST. When in India she received on the average some thousand rupees
a year for articles contributed to Russian and other papers, but gave it all
away to the Society.

ENQUIRER. Political articles?

THEOSOPHIST. Never. Everything she has written throughout the seven years of
her stay in India is all there in print. It deals only with the religions,
ethnology, and customs of India, and with Theosophy -- never with politics,
of which she knows nothing and cares less. Again, two years ago she refused
several contracts amounting together to about 1,200 roubles in gold per
month; for she could not accept them without abandoning her work for the
Society, which needed all her time and strength. She has documents to prove it.

ENQUIRER. But why could not both she and Colonel Olcott do as others --
notably many Theosophists -- do: follow out their respective professions and
devote the surplus of their time to the work of the Society?

THEOSOPHIST. Because by serving two masters, either the professional or the
philanthropic work would have had to suffer. Every true Theosophist is
morally bound to sacrifice the personal to the impersonal, his own present
good to the future benefit of other people. If the Founders do not set the
example, who will?

ENQUIRER. And are there many who follow it?

THEOSOPHIST. I am bound to answer you the truth. In Europe about
half-a-dozen in all, out of more than that number of Branches.

ENQUIRER. Then it is not true that the Theosophical Society has a large
capital or endowment of its own?

THEOSOPHIST. It is false, for it has none at all. Now that the entrance fee
of l and the small annual due have been abolished, it is even a doubtful
question whether the staff at the head-quarters in India will not soon be
starved to death.

ENQUIRER. Then why not raise subscriptions?

THEOSOPHIST. We are not the Salvation Army; we cannot and have never begged;
nor have we ever followed the example of the Churches and sects and "taken
up collections." That which is occasionally sent for the support of the
Society, the small sums contributed by some devoted Fellows, are all
voluntary donations.

ENQUIRER. But I have heard of large sums of money given to Mdme. Blavatsky.
It was said four years ago that she got Pounds 5,000 from one rich, young
"Fellow," who went out to join them in India, and 10,000 from another
wealthy and well-known American gentleman, one of your members who died in
Europe four years ago.

THEOSOPHIST. Say to those who told you this, that they either themselves
utter, or repeat, a gross falsehood. Never has "Madame Blavatsky" asked or
received ONE PENNY from the two above-named gentlemen, nor anything like
that from anyone else, since the Theosophical Society was founded. Let any
man living try to substantiate this calumny, and it will be easier for him
to prove that the Bank of England is a bankrupt than that the said "Founder"
has ever made any money out of Theosophy. These two calumnies have been
started by two high-born ladies, belonging to the London aristocracy, and
have been immediately traced and disproved. They are the dead bodies, the
carcases of two inventions, which, after having been buried in the sea of
oblivion, are once more raised on the surface of the stagnant waters of

ENQUIRER. Then I have been told of several large legacies left to the T. S.
One -- some 8,000 -- was left to it by some eccentric Englishman, who did
not even belong to the Society. The other -- 3,000 or 4,000 -- were
testated by an Australian F. T. S. Is this true?

THEOSOPHIST. I heard of the first; and I also know that, whether legally
left or not, the T. S. has never profited by it, nor have the Founders ever
been officially notified of it. For, as our Society was not then a chartered
body, and thus had no legal existence, the Judge at the Court of Probate, as
we were told, paid no attention to such legacy and turned over the sum to
the heirs. So much for the first. As for the second, it is quite true. The
testator was one of our devoted Fellows, and willed all he had to the T. S.
But when the President, Colonel Olcott, came to look into the matter, he
found that the testator had children whom he had disinherited for some
family reasons. Therefore, he called a council, and it was decided that the
legacy should be refused, and the moneys passed to the legal heirs. The
Theosophical Society would be untrue to its name were it to profit by money
to which others are entitled virtually, at any rate on Theosophical
principles, if not legally.

ENQUIRER. Again, and I say this on the authority of your own journal, the
Theosophist, there's a Rajah of India who donated to the Society 25,000
rupees. Have you not thanked him for his great bounty in the January
Theosophist for 1888?

THEOSOPHIST. We have, in these words, "That the thanks of the Convention be
conveyed to H. H. the Maharajah . . . for his promised munificent gift of
Rupees 25,000 to the Society's Fund." The thanks were duly conveyed, but the
money is still a "promise," and has never reached the Headquarters.

ENQUIRER. But surely, if the Maharajah promised and received thanks for his
gift publicly and in print, he will be as good as his promise?

THEOSOPHIST. He may, though the promise is 18 months old. I speak of the
present and not of the future.

ENQUIRER. Then how do you propose to go on?

THEOSOPHIST. So long as the T. S. has a few devoted members willing to work
for it without reward and thanks, so long as a few good Theosophists support
it with occasional donations, so long will it exist, and nothing can crush it.

ENQUIRER. I have heard many Theosophists speak of a "power behind the
Society" and of certain "Mahatmas," mentioned also in Mr. Sinnett's works,
that are said to have founded the Society, to watch over and protect it.

THEOSOPHIST. You may laugh, but it is so.


ENQUIRER. These men, I have heard, are great Adepts, Alchemists, and what
not. If, then, they can change lead into gold and make as much money as they
like, besides doing all kinds of miracles at will, as related in Mr.
Sinnett's "Occult World," why do not they find you money, and support the
Founders and the Society in comfort?

THEOSOPHIST. Because they did not found a "miracle club." Because the
Society is intended to help men to develop the powers latent in them through
their own exertions and merit. Because whatever they may or may not produce
in the way of phenomena, they are not false coiners; nor would they throw an
additional and very strong temptation on the path of members and candidates:
Theosophy is not to be bought. Hitherto, for the past 14 years, not a single
working member has ever received pay or salary from either the Masters or
the Society.

ENQUIRER. Then are none of your workers paid at all?

THEOSOPHIST. Till now, not one. But as every one has to eat, drink, and
clothe himself, all those who are without any means of their own, and devote
their whole time to the work of the society, are provided with the
necessaries of life at the Head-quarters at Madras, India, though these
"necessaries" are humble enough, in truth! (See Rules at the end.) But now
that the Society's work has increased so greatly and still goes on
increasing (N. B., owing to slanders) in Europe, we need more working hands.
We hope to have a few members who will henceforth be remunerated -- if the
word can be used in the cases in question. For every one of these Fellows,
who are preparing to give all their time to the Society, are quitting good
official situations with excellent prospects, to work for us at less than
half their former salary.

ENQUIRER. And who will provide the funds for this?

THEOSOPHIST. Some of our Fellows who are just a little richer than the rest.
The man who would speculate or make money on Theosophy would be unworthy to
remain in our ranks.

ENQUIRER. But you must surely make money by your books, magazines, and other

THEOSOPHIST. The Theosophist of Madras, alone among the magazines, pays a
profit, and this has regularly been turned over to the Society, year by
year, as the published accounts show. Lucifer is slowly but steadily
ingulfing money, never yet having paid its expenses -- thanks to its being
boycotted by the pious booksellers and railway stalls. The Lotus, in France
-- started on the private and not very large means of a Theosophist, who has
devoted to it his whole time and labour -- has ceased to exist, owing to the
same causes, alas! Nor does the New York Path pay its way, while the Revue
Theosophique of Paris has only just been started, also from the private
means of a lady-member. Moreover, whenever any of the works issued by the
Theosophical Publishing Company in London do pay, the proceeds will be
devoted to the service of the Society.

ENQUIRER. And now please tell me all you can about the Mahatmas. So many
absurd and contradictory things are said about them, that one does not know
what to believe, and all sorts of ridiculous stories become current.

THEOSOPHIST. Well may you call them "ridiculous!"


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