B P Wadia - A biography Part 3 of 7
Feb 23, 1998 06:49 PM
by M K Ramadoss
Continued from Part 2 of 7:
He further spoke of his finding that W.Q.Judge had been wronged in the
period of 1894-96 by those in the T.S. who had attacked him on flimsy and
The 18 page pamphlet he issued stated :--
TO ALL MY FELLOW THEOSOPHISTS
AND MEMBERS OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY
A statement by B. P. Wadia
His letter of July 18th 1922 to Mrs. Annie Besant as President of the TS,
and the General Council.
A letter of explanation about the divergence from HPB's Theosophy and the
Original Program by the TS; how he had found the ULT which was dedicated
His letter of resignation dated 18th July 1922 addressed to the General
Secretary of the Indian Section TS resigning from the Indian Council and
the T S.
After his resignation he returned to Los Angeles. As an associate of the
ULT, he worked thereafter for Theosophy in company with that body of
students dedicated to the promulgation of original Theosophy as it was to
be found in the writings of H. P. Blavatsky and W. Q. Judge.
Oct. 1st 1922
In response, the T S, Adyar, issued : "An Open Letter to Mr. Wadia" by J.
Nityananda and J. Krishnamurthi. This was reprinted by Krotona, Hollywood
in America, Oct. 1st 1922 and circulated to the American T S membership.
Many members of the T S all over the world who were interested in HPB's
Theosophy as she taught it, separated themselves from the T S and became
associates of the ULT.
This influx of new associates necessitated the formation of a number of new
ULT Lodges in the Eastern seaboard of America: New York; Philadelphia,
Pa.; Washington, D.C.; also several Study Groups were formed in other
towns : Reading, Pa.; Chicago, Ill., some of these later became Lodges.
A period of intensive education into the principles and fundamentals of
Theosophy ensued. The impersonal practical work of teaching and spreading
pure Theosophy, using the ULT methods, began for these new lodges and new
associates. Mr. Wadia and other older students of the Los Angles Lodge
threw themselves in to this work, and spent long months in various new
centers that had been formed, so the work flourished. But the need for
Lodges, so associates could meet for mutual study and work went beyond
America and soon Lodges were formed in London, England (1925); Paris,
France (1928); Amsterdam and The Hague, Holland; Antwerp, Belgium, and
Writing about the period from 1925 to 1928, we have these notes written by
one of his co-workers: -
"Those who have known him in those early days felt the power and thrust of
his will to work for the Great Lodge through the ULT.
As it was essential to make a clean break with "Adyar Theosophy," he
adopted an almost rigid attitude of exclusion to their works and writings.
He advised students to concentrate on what Theosophy was, in terms of the
actual wording used by HPB, WQJ and the Masters. He used to say that we
ought to devote all our energies to that, the rest was unessential and was
of interest to "just the present incarnation" and as such it would be
"lost" when this personality "died." The other, Theosophy, was for "all
time." And, that was where we ought to be placing our efforts.
His work was to consolidate those old students of Judge and of the TS who
desired to get back to the study of original Theosophy, and meld them with
the new students who desired to learn, and had no background in Theosophy.
A series of intensive study classes was started. Exercise and criticism
for those who wanted to learn to do platform-work was instituted. He
prepared and used for the Guidance of ULT Platform Workers a number of
points they had to apply if they wish to work in that way for ULT."
In New York, the U.L.T. used a large auditorium on the ground floor of the
"Hotel des Artistes," at 1 West 67th ST., just off the Central Park, and
near Columbia University campus. Meetings were held on Sunday: Theosophy
School before noon, and a public lecture in the evening. Wednesday evening
Study Class, Question and Answer Meeting; Friday: Ocean of Theosophy
Study Class and then a Practice Class for new students and those who
desired to do platform work. Other meetings were held during the week.
Mr. Wadia conducted one of the Theosophy School Classes. Transcripts of 5
years of his work in this class exist.
Students would meet in the evening, informally, several times a week at
individual homes, to discuss Theosophy and various aspects of the work.
This developed a large-hearted camaraderie and was an active manifestation
of an active brotherhood which gathered in all ULT associates.
Mr. Wadia, working at the New York Lodge had an office in the building and
a large volume of correspondence was handled. Students from England came
over to the New York Lodge to familiarize themselves with the program ULT
had evolved of methods of work.
ULT associates from Europe: France, Belgium, Holland, Sweden, Denmark,
Switzerland, etc., visited New York for the same reason, so methods of
study and of promulgation of Theosophy were learned that could be used in
their own ULT Lodges being soon were opened in England, France, Holland and
Belgium. It was a whirlwind time when everything seemed to be happening at
once, and the great influence to learn and promulgate spread over all those
who served as the "seeds" around which future ULT Lodges and ULT work for
the future would grow and flourish.
The photographic plates needed to reprint The Secret Doctrine, Isis
Unveiled, and A Key to Theosophy, were prepared and in this way the
original writings in their pristine form were again made available for
students. This was one of the most important things done. HPB's major
works could be again studied in unedited original.
Mr. Wadia always held that it was dangerous to approach the study of The
Secret Doctrine through the use of an "abridgment." Any such "filter,"
however impersonal and good, inevitably set up some "barriers" between HPB
and the student.
He also held that Isis Unveiled ought to be first studied and read. Its
contents formed the most valuable introduction to Theosophy and to The
Secret Doctrine. The Secret Doctrine then, ought to be approached slowly
and following a steadily held determination, it ought to be read slowly,
and time should be taken to comprehend what was read. It ought to be read
a few pages a day, notes should be taken of the subjects covered, and
gradually one should build up one's own reference books on the subjects
covered in various places. Some held that HPB had "flitted" from subject
to subject, apparently at random, but a careful study showed that there
always was a cogent reason for those abrupt changes of subject. This
reason ought to be looked for.
The enthusiasm, intensity of study, of learning and practicing Theosophy,
inspired by Mr. Wadia in the period between 1922 and 1928, seems to
parallel the period when Mr. Judge worked between 1886-1896 in New York as
a center and influenced Theosophical growth in the rest of America.
Margaret Thomas, for instance was inspired to prepare and publish Theosophy
or Neo-Theosophy so students could compare the differences made in
presenting Theosophy by Mrs. Besant and Mr. Leadbeater, writers for the T
S, after the death of HPB, and Mme. Blavatsky's original writings.
Many articles for Theosophy magazine were written by BPW, and he used to
say that several writers for that magazine were like brothers, one could
write the first part of an article and the other finish it and no
discernible change in style or handling. Or they would share the burden of
writing a series of articles, each writing alternately. Certainly he had a
unique rapport with those ULTers in Los Angeles who bore the
responsibilities that Mr. Crosbie had passed on to them. It is there and
in consultation with those students, that the plans were laid to return HPB
Theosophy to Europe and India, to open a ULT Lodge in London, Paris and
later in Bombay were worked out. Thus it was hoped the three areas
(America, India and Europe) where HPB had laid foundations would be revived
and original Theosophy would be again made available there.
New York work followed that which had proved successful in Los Angeles:
lectures, the answering of all questions, study classes, a library was
started, and the lending of the more expensive books to students was
provided for. The conduct of Theosophy School was at first a training
ground for those who would be teachers, and weekly reviews were made of the
work done by all teachers, co-teachers and reporters in turn. A meticulous
and constant attention to all details of the work was supervised and
carried out by him, so that within the brief space of 4 years a cadre of
capable and knowledgeable volunteer students arose.
Other Lodges were started on the East Coast of the US: Washington,
Philadelphia, Reading, and several Study Classes were all attended to;
they adopted and used the same pattern of intensive study and application,
and attracted the attention of individuals who were interested in Theosophy
to the focus of purposive, constructive work.
Periodically Mr. Wadia used to take trips, visiting Lodges on the East
coast and then swing back to the Los Angeles area, visiting San Diego, San
Francisco and Lodges clustered in between those cities. Visiting senior
students from Los Angeles would then come to the East Coast and work with
the several Lodges there. There was a constant give and take that cemented
the brotherhood in the common work.
When Mr. Wadia mentioned his intention to take HPB's original teachings,
using the ULT work and method to India and establish ULT in Bombay as such
a basis, several students became enthusiastic about this. Preparations
were made each on their own, but in collaboration with others to sail for
Bombay, so as to reach India towards the end of l928. There, they planned
to spend the next few months locating a suitable place to hold meetings,
and also make residential arrangements for themselves and another group of
student workers that was to follow, coming with Mr. Wadia early in 1929.
Along with BPW, several New York students intended to come. Later on, Mr.
T. L. Crombie of London planned to help in the editing when the magazines
were to be started.
In the establishment of the ULT in Bombay and the individual conduct of
those students from America and Europe who offered their help, Mr. Wadia
laid stress on the need for the most correct of personal demeanors by those
who would support and work closely with him in there, as local customs were
quite different from those prevailing in the countries of their birth. He
made it clear that there would have to be a molding of the private life of
the visitors to fit and agree with the cultural customs of the Indians,
rather than with those of the "ruling British" and other "whites,"
including Americans, who, in business or as missionaries, when living in
India had adopted an aloof attitude of life from the Indians, an attitude
borrowed from the British rulers of that conquered country.
London saw the inauguration of the ULT Lodge there on November 17th, 1925.
A group of seven of BPW's friends from his Adyar days had resolved on this
and established study classes, a library, and a regular monthly schedule of
meetings. The Bulletin of the London ULT began publication in 1930.
In London Mr. Trevor Barker, an old acquaintance of BPW, had already
published The Mahatma Letters to A.P.Sinnett. In regard earlier to
publishing this, Mr. Barker had written Mr. Wadia and told him of his
intention of printing those letters. Mr. Wadia replied that he did not
think it was advisable to do that. Mr. Barker disregarded this advice and
went ahead and had them published. Later when he met Mr. Wadia in London,
he is said to have again asked: "Did I do right in publishing them ?" To
this BPW answered: "You should not have published them, but I am glad that
you did it." At that time he was engaged in a fresh project, the editing
of H.P.Blavatsky's Letters to A.P.Sinnett.
A group of students active in France and in Paris wanted to take advantage
of Mr. Wadia's visit to establish their own ULT in Paris. Their Lodge was
founded and the first meeting held on September 21st 1928. Since 1925,
under the inspiration of Mr. Wadia, two members of the T S in France who
had left it, feeling dissatisfied, and they had started a monthly magazine
named Theosophie. The duties of editing the monthly, and later on,
translations into French of Theosophical books was done. HPB and WQJ's
writings were published.
Prior to the end of 1928, together with Mr. T. L. Crombie Mr. & Mrs. Wadia
visited the Netherlands in October, staying at the home of Mr. T. F. Vreede
near The Hague. He had been instrumental in bringing back pure Theosophy
as presented by the ULT in that town and in Amsterdam. BPW gave a number
of talks and conducted study classes.
Between January and the end of April 1929, Mr. Wadia lectured for the
London ULT at the Victoria Hall, Bloomsbury, to packed audiences (300 +).
The London Lodge was then housed in rented premises in a building a couple
of blocks from Marble Arch. [ During the 2nd World War, that building was
bombed, a large number of books were destroyed, and while temporary repairs
enabled meetings to be continued, it was apparent that the London Lodge
would have to seek for new premises. When a building was purchased at 62
Queen's Gardens, near Paddington Station, the Lodge made its move.] The
London Branch of the Aryan Path magazine (begun in 1930) worked out of the
building; and in the floor devoted to the Library, meetings were held for
the London Branch of Indian Institute of World Culture (started in 1945 in
Bangalore, India by Mr. Wadia).
In March 1929, Mr. and Mrs. Wadia were in London. They were visited by
many students from Europe. They, in turn, visited a number of the ULT
Lodges there before beginning their trip to India. A ULT Study Group was
started in Amsterdam under the inspiration received by some of its
residents from their visits and talks with him. The Antwerp Lodge was
inaugurated on November 17th 1956. Lodges were also started in Amsterdam
and The Hague.
Bringing original and pure Theosophy back to India, was next. Those
students who had gone ahead, had established themselves there, and had
found a suitable hall for meetings in the "Fort" the business district of
south Bombay, at 51 Esplanade Rd., Flora Fountain. They had located a
suitable residential complex at 17 Bomanji Petit Rd. in Malabar Hill, 4
miles away, where apartments were available for all those who were coming.
The Wadias had a small detached bungalow in the same compound. Mr. and
Mrs. Wadia landed in Bombay on May 31st, 1929 just before the monsoon rains
of that season arrived.
The Bombay branch of the ULT was opened on November 17th 1929. The
inaugural meeting found the ULT hall full and overflowing. Mr. Wadia was
well known and soon Sophia Wadia, an excellent speaker was also
appreciated. Speaking engagements asked for by various social and communal
groups poured in, asking them to lecture on Theosophy or on some aspect or
other of the ancient tenets of that faith. As the reputation of the ULT
grew, so did the regular membership, and Study Classes, Question and Answer
Meetings, a Theosophy School for children on Saturday afternoon kept
everyone busy most of the week. The Library was kept open for the public
every day except Sunday from 10.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
1930 - The Aryan Path
January 1930 saw the first issue of The Aryan Path (the noble path)
magazine, supported by articles and editorials, by Mr. Wadia and Mr.
T.L.Crombie, who acted as sub-editor. Mme. Wadia allowed her name to used
as "Editor." Mr. Wadia was of the opinion that the future of Theosophy in
its presentation to the world would be, in one way, through the work of the
future writers and poets of the world. Accordingly he and Sophia Wadia had
earlier became members of the International P.E.N. Club. They organized
its Indian chapter and maintained offices for it, a monthly magazine called
The Indian P.E.N. was started.
1930 -- The Theosophical Movement Magazine
November 17th 1930 saw the issuing of the first number of The Theosophical
Movement. All articles were unsigned therein, except those that had been
written by H.P.B., W.Q.J. or others who had made signed contributions in
the older Theosophical magazines.
A publishing program was started in Bombay, to reprint articles and the
shorter texts written by HPB and WQJ. These were issued in both book and
A large, house was purchased for the Wadias and several other active
families of associates to live in. It was located at the foot of Malabar
Hill, on the shore of the Arabian Sea facing the West. Some 20 ULTers
lived in "Aryasangha" for 25 years in great harmony and friendliness. The
Wadias occupied the upper floor of the main building, and whenever some
visitor came, or some event of theosophical significance presented itself,
associates from all over the area were always invited to come. Many
important persons, prominent in the Movement, were thus met, and important
events occurred in which Mr. Wadia arranged that we could participate.
In 1938 a sister Lodge of the Bombay ULT was opened in Matunga, about 11
miles to the north of the original Bombay ULT. The reason for this was
that a number of students living there desired a permanent Study Class and
meeting hall. Mr. Wadia gave the inaugural talk there. Two weekly
meetings and a public library were maintained there.
After the death of Mr. Crombie, the original co-editor of The Aryan Path,
Dr. Eleanor M. Hough and others assisted Mr. Wadia in his editing task for
this magazine. Mme. Wadia continued to lend her name to it as its "Editor"
until it ceased publication, soon after Mr. Wadia's death. [See T. L.
Crombie - Friend of India by Ethel Beswick, published, Bombay, Nov. 1958.]
In 1941 equipment was bought to set up a printing press for the Bombay
U.L.T. One of the students, an experienced printer, who lived in Baroda,
some 260 miles North of Bombay, offered to equip the "Sadhana
(responsibility) Press," so that the three magazines and other theosophical
books could be printed reliably and without strain.
Continued in Part 4 of 7
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