Jun 18, 1997 11:11 PM
by Tom Robertson
While at the library of the Seattle lodge today, I did some reading on
the Leadbeater scandal. Contrary to what I had believed, this had
nothing to do with Krishnamurti, but primarily with 2 other teenage boys.
The following are quotes from what I read today, interspersed with some
comments of mine:
> From: "100 YEARS OF THEOSOPHY," pages 37 to 43
"The full sequence of events is reviewed by Mrs. Josephine Ransom, in her
"Short History of the Theosophical Society,""
Does anyone have this book?
"Mrs. Besant, while still not supporting Leadbeater in the teaching he
had given a number of young boys, was outspoken in defense of the concept
that the Society could not impose a moral code binding on all and each of
[By the end of 1908,] "Mrs. Besant had submitted a letter to the
membership reviewing the situation, and on majority vote of the General
Council, Leadbeater was reinstated to membership."
>From "LIVES IN THE SHADOW WITH J. KRISHNAMURTI"
Page 24: "In the four years before Krishna’s arrival at Adyar, Leadbeater
had won high acclaim for his American lecture tour, only to fall from
grace due to a charge of moral misconduct. This put a strain on
Leadbeater’s friendship with Mrs. Besant and forced his resignation,
under pressure, from the society. Today it seems likely that he was a
victim of his times, for he believed the pressure of sexuality on young
boys and girls was increased by ignoring the subject and refusing to talk
about it. He objected to the orthodox view that thoughts do not matter
as long as they do not become overt, and he wrote explicitly about the
ameliorating effects of masturbation in ridding the mind of such
thoughts. He felt that not to do so could lead to more serious
consequences, quoting St. Paul that it is best to remain celibate but it
is better to marry than to burn. Leadbeater concluded in his best style
that the ‘average doctor cannot see the horrible astral effects of
"When Mrs. Besant became President of the Theosophical Society in 1907,
she gradually warmed to Leadbeater again. She even took up cudgels in
his defence, stating that he had been wronged by her and the society."
Page 50: [At the Theosophical Convention at Sydney in 1921 or 1922,] "All
the previous immorality charges were rehashed. All, according to
Krishna, were lies. He did not waver in his defence. With Nitya’s
support, Krishna upheld absolutely Leadbeater’s purity, although he would
make no such commitment to his clairvoyance. Some years before, Mrs.
Besant’s doubts about Leadbeater had been just the reverse."
> From: "THE LAST FOUR LIVES OF ANNIE BESANT"
Page 93: "Was C. W. Leadbeater a "sex pervert," as his many enemies both
within and without the Theosophical Society regarded him, or a
misunderstood, maligned, pure-hearted martyr, as his many friends -
chiefly within the Society - called him? There is a mass of
contradictory testimony on both sides, but it is fairly safe to say that
if the situation had arisen three or four decades later than it did,
after the liberation of conceptions of sexual practices and sexual
morality had occurred, there would have been far fewer cries of shocked
outrage and probably little more than a few raised eyebrows. At least it
must be admitted even by Leadbeater’s enemies that he stuck doggedly and
apparently sincerely to his theories and principles, and that he never
admitted any shame or even embarrassment over his conduct."
Page 95: "The distraught Annie Besant, trapped between two loyalties,
decided in favour of the older and stronger. On 26 February 1906, she
answered Mrs. Dennis [who was accusing Leadbeater] from Shanti Kunja,
accepting Leadbeater’s explanation, and pointing out how unfair it was to
condemn a man unheard, on the accusations of two confused boys."
Page 95: "Annie, now committed to the defence of her friend, maintained
that the whole thing was a malicious misinterpretation..."
Page 96: "She knew through her and his mutual meetings with Master K. H.
that her colleague could do nothing 'evil-minded.'"
The impression I am left with after reading all of this, some of which is
contradictory, is that Mrs. Besant basically trusted and supported
Leadbeater in what he did with the boys, but had some misgivings about
the effects it would have on his reputation and, by association, her
reputation and that of the society. I agree. What he did may have
lacked tact, but it was not child abuse.
[Back to Top]
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application