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Anagarika Dharmapala and Gandhi Distrusted Charles Leadbeater and Besant

Anagarika Dharmapala was a Buddhist revivalist from Sri Lanka, who founded the Maha Bodhi Society May, 31, 1891. He was also an active member of the Theosophical Society. Dharmapala provides his insight into the controversies in the history of the organization known as the Theosophical Society.

Upon reading about the Masters from Alfred P. Sinnet’s book, The Occult World, Anagarika Dharmapala wrote:

“I surrendered my life to them and silently pledged to lead the chela [disciple] life. HPB helped me much in my effort. . . . She wrote to me to follow the light that is within me. I have strictly followed her advice, and am glad to testify to her wonderful powers of mystic illumination.” [theos. encylopedia]

Passage quoted from Dharmapala on Besant and Leadbeater:

“In 1922, writing to Alice Leighton Cleather (who had been one of the 12 specially chosen members of HPB’s esoteric Inner Group in London at the end of her life), he remarked:

“C.W.L. and A.B. are spiritualistic acrobats. They know the diplomacy of necromancy; but they succeed. In 1907, I attacked them furiously; but as I say they are diplomats and they know what way to go to get hold of the people who desire for occult studies. … Col. Olcott loved power more than truth. He feared A.B. … Theosophy of C.W.L. and Besant is a travesty of the doctrine taught by H.P.B. In 1900 I wrote in my diary that the 3rd Vol. of the S.D. was a fabrication of A.B. She is clever and managed to do what she willed. … Every attempt should be made to warn true Theosophists of A.B.’s & C.W.L.’s writings. The latter is a necromancer and a diabolical liar.”

A 1925 letter from Dharmapala to the English Buddhist and Theosophist Christmas Humphreys shows the former’s increasing concern and despair over what was happening in the Theosophical Society:

“Mrs A.B. I am afraid will eventually destroy the work of H.P.B. and the Masters. The T.S. will become under her management a Christian sect, and bishops, deacons etc. will rule the T.S. Brotherhood will disappear. Ambition, pride, the desire to rule will control the minds of those members and they will degenerate.”

As any impartial history of the Theosophical Movement plainly shows, this is more or less exactly what happened. Dharmapala was by no means alone in voicing such sentiments and warnings. For over a century, thousands of Theosophists from all branches of the Movement have been doing the same.

Even Mahatma Gandhi wrote,

“I do not think that Mrs. Besant is a hypocrite; she is credulous and she is duped by Leadbeater. When an Englishman suggested to me to read Leadbeater’s ‘The Life After Death’, I flatly refused to do so as I had grown suspicious of him after reading his other writings. As to his humbug [i.e. fraud and deception], I came to know of it later.” (See Gandhi on Blavatsky and Theosophy)”

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