The Failings of Annie Besant’s Pro-Israel and Jewish Nationalist Advocacy
It is no surprise, that Besant an advocate for Hindu nationalism and independence also spoke glowingly in the same manner about Israel, however her support is entirely built on her enthusiasm for her mission of the “World Teacher.” Buddhist revivalist Anagarika Dharmapala and Mohandas Gandhi, whom had respect for H.P. Blavatsky, however distrusted Charles W. Leadbeater, and described Mrs. Besant as a “spiritualistic acrobat” and “diplomat.”
It is exactly the enthusiasm that first attracted me to her writings, but then I began to notice unmistakable differences and patterns in her writings, as well as in Charles Leadbeater.
If we understand her nationalist vigor and passion, e.g., why she would view Muhammad as a Prophet and “one of the great messengers of the Supreme,” we would see, this is some type of Theosophism with her own Angelology:
“According to this view, the Founders of the great religions are members of the one Brotherhood . . . As Theosophy of old gave birth to religions, so in modern times does it justify and defend them.” (Annie Besant, Ancient Wisdom, pp. 3 and 5)
“(…) the Guardians of humanity (…) From time to time, one of them comes forth into the world of men, as a great religious teacher, to carry on the task of spreading a new form of the Eternal Verities, a form suitable to a new race or civilization. Their ranks include all the greatest Prophets of the Faiths of the world, and while a religion lives one of these Great Ones is ever at its head, watching over it as His special charge.” (Annie Besant, The Masters, pg.. 79, Krotona edition)
Theosophists before her did not hold to such a view of the religions as progressive forms of revelation from God, nor did they hold that the so-called founders of Religions are Messengers all apart of a single secret Brotherhood. The religions are imperfect, and are the result of human error, according to Blavatsky.
After Blavatsky’s death, leadership was won over by the newly brought-over Annie Besant against the favored but snubbed William Q. Judge (co-founder of the Theosophical Society), accused of forging letters. The situation was a clear subversion of the Theosophical Society, “under deluding influences,” a letter warned to Mrs. Annie Besant (see Part of the Last Letter to Annie Besant).
Annie Besant, to whom we have commonly been skeptical and critical was allied with the Jewish Theosophists and Zionists, once stating as usually with her long-winded romanticist oration:
“Step forward, then brothers, and take your rightful place among the Nations. Israel has a future and a work to accomplish therein.” (see The Jewish Theosophist, 1927)
The Jewish Theosophist Magazine Issues, IAPSOP, 1926-1932.
While having nothing against a Jewish Theosophist at all, we must tell the truth. The Jewish Theosophists, called the Association of Hebrew Theosophists were perceived as a new Jewish sect of theosophists with headquarters at Adyar, India in 1927 in a Jewish Telegraph.
The principles of the Jewish Theosophical group were:
- To study Judaism in the light of Theosophy and Theosophy in the light of Judaism;
- To spread Theosophical teachings among Jews and;
- To undertake any other activity which could aid in the realization of the objects of the Association.
Great, perfectly fine, but in an address to the welcome of the Hebrew Theosophists, Besant speaks of the return of the “World-Teacher” (i.e., J. Krishnamurti).
“I am very glad to welcome the association; it would indeed be splendid if some of the nation which ignorantly rejected the World-Teacher when He came to them, using the body of a Jewish disciple as His vehicle, should welcome Him on His return two thousand years later. Who knows what Word He may have for the ancient people to whom He came on His previous visit, when He manifested Himself in Palestine? Will He lift them up again among the nations of the world? St. Paul looked forward to such a revival of his people. and likened it to “life from the dead.” (see Theosophists Create New Jewish Sect: May 3 Jewish Telegraphic Agency Mail Service.)
This isn’t Theosophy, and it sounds disrespectful. The failings of Annie Besant’s pro-Israel and Jewish nationalist advocacy is revealed to be built on her and Charles W. Leadbeater’s Christo-Theosophical messianic beliefs.
The Wikipedia page on Theosophy ignorantly describes a “Blavatskyan Theosophy.” It speaks of doctrinal debate and dispute between Theosophists, and labels those critics of later influences, as I am doing, as adherents of “Theosophical orthodoxy.”
Wiki article, Neo-Theosophy states:
“The term Neo-Theosophy is a term, originally derogatory, used by the followers of Blavatsky to denominate the system of Theosophical ideas expounded by Annie Besant and Charles Webster Leadbeater following the death of Madame Blavatsky in 1891. This material differed in major respects from Blavatsky’s original presentation, but it is accepted as genuinely Theosophical by many Theosophists around the world.”
Those many Theosophists were and remain wrong.
Neo-Theosophy, or Pseudo-Theosophy is not used by mere followers of Blavatsky, who coined the term herself. We have to use it, because of the obvious differences. A blind enthusiast who eats all the literature without proper discrimination is a more suitable foot-soldier for a fundamentalist Bible cult, not a Theosophical Association.
Certain Theosophists have also attempted to justify their pro-Zionism and pro-Israeli sentiment by using the writings of Helena P. Blavatsky, concerning Jewish tradition and philosophy. There is in Zionism a demarcating line. Zionism is the ethnic nationalist philosophy, but Jews who disagreed with Zionism divide orthodox Judaism from Zionist political ideology. When a student asks, “what does politics have to do with Theosophy, or these spiritual things!” they must be showed history like this.
It is profane to perpetually read that nauseating millenerian habit in C.W.L. and A.B.’s writings, speaking of the coming of the “Lord”!
For more information, see From Theosophical Society to Bizarre Quasi-Catholic Anti-Blavatsky Cult? and Annie Besant’s Life, and Influence in Theosophy.