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TS Electioneering/Politiking

Jan 28, 1998 02:37 PM
by M K Ramadoss

Here is an excerpt I posted about a year ago. I am reposting as some may
find it interesting.


>Date: Sat, 1 Feb 1997 02:02:05 -0500 (EST)
>From: M K Ramadoss <>
>Subject: TS Elections - An Excerpt

The following is an excerpt from "Is This Theosophy?" by Ernest Wood which
gives a good account of how Arundale's election was electioneered/politiked.
Enjoy the msg.

GOOD-BYE, PROUD WORLD !  -- Ernest Wood

MY wife and I settled down from our wanderings in our little house at Adyar.
In 1930 I acted as Treasurer as well as Secretary, as in that year Mr.
Schwarz took a year's leave to visit Switzerland, his native land. In
correspondence with Dr. Besant, who went to Europe, I conducted the business
of the Society, held meetings and edited the Adyar Theosophist.

The Theosophist had been removed to America, because it could be carried on
better from there; but shortly afterwards the Adyar Theosophist was started
to replace it at Adyar, to satisfy a condition in Colonel Olcott's will.
When Bishop Leadbeater returned to live again at Adyar at the end of 1930,
not knowing that Dr. Besant had said in Chicago that the magazine had been
transferred to America by Master's orders, he brought forth a statement from
the Masters that it should be returned to Adyar, as it had never been their
desire that it should be removed from there.

I also found time to continue my Sanskrit studies for several hours every
day, reading with a number of pandits in succession the original source
books of all the principal darshanas (views) or schools of Hindu philosophy.
After what I had been through I was immensely impressed by the
straightforwardness and thoroughness of the Indian philosophers. Their very
quality of honesty makes them tedious reading for most people, but I could
conceive nothing more agreeable than their method, according to which each
writer collects together all the possible arguments against his own view and
systematically demolishes them, with argument and counter-argument, bringing
in every implication and side-issue that he can think of. No suppressio veri
here. Advocacy, yes, clear and decisive, but always the position that the
reader is to be the judge of truth, and is to be provided by the writer with
every bit of information or of thought which may bear on the subject.

It is curious that the very completeness of old Hindu thought has brought
about some apparent inactivity of the modern Hindus in that direction. India
is full of philosophers, but they do not rush into print with every new
thought that strikes them. They know that generally it is a very old
thought, and that it has already been well presented for those who are
sufficiently interested to take the trouble to read. And he who will not
take the trouble to read and think is not worth bothering about there can be
no kindergarten in philosophy.

I found something of the same attitude towards art in Athens. It was obvious
that the Greeks are still philosophers and artists. Yet they do not display
it. On visiting the museums in Athens I put to some friends the question: "
Why do you not do these things now ? "

The answer was: " Why should we ? We cannot improve upon these."

Thousands upon thousands of exquisite shapes continued their unwinking
millennial gaze at us from the shelves of the museums, and seemed to add a
conclusive note to the argument.

But my wife and I were not Greeks. We took the trouble to collect nearly
fifty specimens of Greek pottery to take back with us to India - what a
trouble, taking these as passengers' luggage through Cyprus, Palestine and
Egypt- some of them bought from village potters by the roadsides, some of
them ancient pieces from Athens and Kyrenia.

It was an unusual collection of things that we accumulated in our little
house at Adyar, for side by side with Greek and Oriental and South American
pottery and Buddhist sculpture there reposed my collection of paper weights
- stones from
everywhere, from the pyramids of Egypt and the bathing beach of Limassol, to
" the Chilliwack potato" and quartz from the Himalayas bearing shining
traces and sometimes more than traces of rare metals all picked up in
rambles in the wild.

Always fond of nature and of architecture, in the midst of
our groves of banyans and bamboos, and flowering trees and palms, I
decorated our house with Spanish and Greek gardens, with oriental patios and
fountains and tanks of goldfish. We brought the goldfish ourselves from
Cyprus by hand, and they gave us no little trouble on the way.

When we were trying to enter a train from Alexandria to go to Cairo the
Egyptian officials stopped us, saying: " No live stock allowed on the train."

We disputed whether goldfish were live stock or not, but a local friend knew
a better way, and after a little whispering in a corner the goldfish were
allowed to continue their journey, no one caring further whether they were
alive or dead, since certain small discs of life-supporting matter had gone
to enhance the life of its recipient. On the Italian boat from Port Said to
Bombay the authorities were good enough to furnish the goldfish with a
bath-tub, and on the train from Bombay to Madras they reposed in another
bath-tub in the bathroom without even the cognizance of the authorities.

Still, the most charming addition to our house was my wife's collection of
animals her tame mongoose and monkey, and her deer and peacock, for which I
made an enclosed Japanese garden, with proper artificial mountain, and
stepping-stones, and stone lanterns and statues, and an irregular pond
complete with red lacquered bridge and a fountain in the centre. With these
she refreshed herself in the intervals of her work for village schools and
trade unions and co-operative stores.

But I must not linger to detail these things. I will only say that the
mother mongoose probably saved my life on one occasion, when she pulled out
a big snake that was hiding in my bed and dispatched it on the floor. She
would play charmingly, too, pretending that my wrist was a snake and
performing her unique feat of coiling into a ball and jumping from the
middle of her back with the force of her uncoiling. She loved to sleep with
human company except when her babies came from time to time.

Mongooses never have more than two babies at a time, but once ours had
three. Someone else had a little baby mongoose and she happened to catch
sight of it. At once she pounced upon it and carried it away upstairs to a
little den which she had under the roof, and for some time thereafter she
ran about trailing three youngsters instead of two.

At the end of 1930 Dr. Besant returned from Europe in broken health, and
never recovered. Her memory with regard to material affairs had been failing
a little for some time. It was not unnatural at her advanced age - she was
eighty-five-and would not have seemed so pathetic had not a few devotees who
looked after her physically tried to hide the facts of her decline. She
spent her time in reading and quiet reflection, they announced, and was
really doing more work than ever before by radiating beneficial forces upon
the world. But the fact was she did not attend to the practical work any
more because she could not. The Society was carried on by the officers (the
Vice-President came over from America) and the Executive Committee.

The last business transaction I did for her was the purchase of a Ford car.
Three times she told me to buy it- twice after it had been bought. Before
completing the purchase I asked her if she had no objection to going about
in a Ford instead of a Rolls-Royce. Her reply was characteristic: " I shall
be proud to co-operate with Mr. Ford, even in this small way."

Afterwards, some devotees persuaded her that it was not dignified for her to
ride in a Ford. She called me: " I have decided not to buy that car." I
explained that it was already done.

"What do you mean," she demanded imperiously, "by buying a car without my
orders ? " She had forgotten. I had not the heart to tell her that her
memory was at fault. I apologized for the "misunderstanding," and by a
stroke of luck sold the car without loss the next day.

In I93I Dr. Besant made a new will. In it she directed that her living
quarters (the traditional residence of the President of the Society) should
as far as possible be left in their then condition, as a sort of shrine, and
put in the custody of the Outer Head of the Esoteric (Eastern) School of
Theosophy. This was quite contrary to her earlier character, and contrary to
the scrupulous regard which she had always had for the property of the
Society, for the E.S. was a separate organization, and she had always before
carefully distinguished it from the Society. From about that time her
strength gradually declined, without specific disease or pain, until she
died in the September of 1933 ~and was cremated with great pomp and ceremony
at Adyar.

A few years earlier I would have considered severance from Dr. Besant a
great calamity. Now it was a relief, for really Annie Besant had left us
years before. In these last years her few utterances were almost confined to
expressions of anxiety lest the Society become " crystallized." In the
Convention of I93I she appeared for a few minutes, and then for a brief
moment she recovered her former fire, and flung to us again the heroic
message that each should seek the divine within himself and never in any
external place or form.

That statement was of a piece with a birthday resolution which she had
written down on the preceding first of October: "I will patiently try to
tune my daily life into fuller harmony with that of the divine Master who
lives within my heart." It was quite contrary, in my opinion, to the outlook
and methods of the group led by Bishop Leadbeater, which grasped her name
for their activities and beliefs, and afterwards indeed went so far as to
claim the word Theosophy for these and deny it to the views of Krishnamurti
and others agreeing with him.

Krishnamurti unconsciously helped them in this, for he spoke often against "
your theosophy." Theosophy had become identified in his eyes with the
operations of what was really a sect, inasmuch as it claimed evolutionary
advantages (the modern equivalent of heavenly rewards) for those who
believed in it, and had " sufficient intuition " to follow and obey its leaders.

My own last conversations with Dr. Besant were saddening, they revealed so
intimately the pathos of all material greatness. She could speak only of the
" little fairies," and wonder why so many pretty little animals died so
young. Her loving heart was never impaired by her decline in other respects.
It shone all the brightier when she was released from material affairs. The
world overcame her. It broke her strength and her mind, but it could not
stain her heart, though it were betrayed by many a kiss.

Now commenced a painful period for me. As Secretary of the Theosophical
Society I had to call for nominations and to conduct the election to the
office of President  - a process which was to take nine months, since the
electors were scattered all over the world. Sure that if I were President
the Society would not be one thing in the proscenium and another behind the
scenes, many members requested me to accept nominations. I did so, and on
the same day resigned from the office of Hon. Secretary.

Only one other nomination came in - that of Bishop Arundale - and he had the
great advantage of me that he claimed to be the candidate wanted by Dr.
Besant and her Master, though she had left no evidence to that effect, but
had on the contrary repeatedly declined to express an opinion or do anything
that might influence the members with reference to her possible successor.

It had happened that seven years earlier she had accepted for a time an
occult statement made to her that Bishop Arundale was to be her successor,
and in two private and very affectionate letters to him (in which she said
she did not wish to miss any hint of the Master's desire) she mentioned it
said she thought he would make a splendid President and advised him to begin
some pre-electioneering in America. These old letters, with others, Bishop
Arundale gave to Mr. Jinarajadasa shortly before the death of Dr. Besant,
and Mr. Jinarajadasa circulated facsimiles of them as a first move in his
election campaign on behalf of his nominee, Bishop Arundale.

In reply to this some members who had been closely in touch with Dr. Besant
requested the President pro tem, Mr. A. P. Warrington, to prevent backstairs
propaganda by printing Dr. Besant's letters and also their own testimony to
her later views, in fairness to the electorate. But he declined to publish
anything more than the names of the candidates, and would not allow me a
statement of policy, even in the paid advertisement pages of the magazine.

We then had the extraordinary spectacle of a great worldwide Society
conducting its presidential election (which was of the nature of a
referendum on policy) with no statements published in the presidential
magazine - in which the business affairs of the Society had always
theretofore been published - and no publication of the electoral roll.

The Society was thus delivered into the hands of other organizations, for
Mr. Jinarajadasa had the advantage of possessing lists of active workers in
the Eastern School and other movements to whom to send out his circulars.
Those enthusiasts could be relied upon to do all the necessary propaganda
among the members of the Society all over the world.

Mr. Jinarajadasa followed up with one circular letter after another. With
reference to my memorial lecture on ``Dr. Annie Besant and the Theosophical
Movement " he circulated and supported an electioneering canard to the
effect that in it I had made a studied depreciation of her. He did not quote
a single word of the lecture nor allude to my refutation of the canard in
the Indian newspaper which first printed it. He misrepresented my policy,
ignoring my manifesto, and only one of the General Secretaries in various
countries who printed his letters gave me an opportunity to reply. At last
came a circular saying that supporters of Professor Wood - acting no doubt
under instructions - accused Dr. Besant of misuse of funds.     A French lady
had so written to him. He circulated her statement in lands as widespread as
Europe, India and       Australia, with his own testimony to Dr. Besant's
-  That was going too far. I insisted upon a public explanation, which was
ultimately forthcoming - too late, however, to repair the damage done.
Though I could forgive him for the harm repair the damage done. Though I
could forgive him for the harm done to my name among Theosophists and also
for thus depriving me of many votes, my regard for Dr. Besant made it
impossible for me to forget that some of this mud flung round the world
would surely stick to her.

Thus the election which ought to have been a courtly record of policy and
opinion - a manifestation of brotherhood in a society established "to form a
nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity" - degenerated into
something worse than any political election I have ever known. Alas, that
every experiment in brotherhood should fail, on reaching a modicum of
material prosperity.

Since Krishnamurti's announcement that he would have no disciples, and that
he disapproved the methods prevailing in the Society, there had been a
stream of resignations and lapses, which lost the Society 28,000 (out of
45,000) members in between and the time of the election. This decline was
not due to economic depression, as some thought; the biggest part of it took
place in the year of the boom, and besides, the Society had always
maintained its upward trend through previous depressions and wars.

The result of all these things was that I received less than five thousand
votes while my opponent scored more than fifteen thousand. It was a victory
for Bishop Leadbeater, who had at last attained practically full control
during Dr. Besant's illness though he himself, then at the age of eighty
seven, did not live to see the result of the election.

He was entirely sincere in wanting to guide things by his own psychic
experience. But in such an atmosphere psychic experiences were bound to come
to many people - and to conflict. One afternoon, as I was about to enter the
bathroom to wash my hands (I had been gardening) I was told by an inner
voice to go at once to the library. When I arrived there I found the Master
standing near the table, and the whole room throbbing - as it appeared to me
- with his aura. He thanked me, for himself and his colleagues, for what I
had done in connection with the election. I record. The true inwardness of
it I do not know. I am quite prepared to believe that a thought-form or
entity which can be created by a group of people, having psychic influence
but no intelligence of its own, can hover above all and impress each
sensitive person according to his own subconscious desire.

The new President, Mr. Arundale - he now dropped the use of his title of
Bishop outside the church activities, as he had announced his intention to
do - or Dr. Arundale, if we are to recognize the honorary degree conferred
upon him by the short-lived National University  wrote me that his
intentions were to pursue a thoroughly liberal policy. I could not
congratulate him on his election, considering the way in which it had been
conducted, but I wrote wishing him success in the liberal intentions
expressed in his letter to me.

But I saw no landing-place for the weary unwelcome foot of the white dove of
truth in the new interpretation of the Society's principle of tolerance:
"Thou shalt not find fault with a brother's views or activities." What a
convenience that sort of tolerance would be to lawbreakers in general, if
only it could be adopted in the outside world!

I learned to detest theosophical politics, with their hiding of everything
that does not redound to the credit of those in power, and their perpetual
circles of mutual admiration, but I was left with a high regard for the
theosophists scattered over the world as a lovable - albeit most innocent
and childlike body of people.

It is not here, nor is it there, that pure life or truth shall be found.
There are no secret passages to truth. No hocus-pocus of incantations, of
word or of the subtler word that is thought, can light or fan the central
fire. No establishment can establish it; no communications communicate.


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