[First Published October, 31, 2017. Updated and Edited, Feb, 26, 2018] On controversies, workers’ strikes, lack of democracy and transparency in Theosophical Society in a decade-long struggle for theosophists, inside and outside the Society.
Brotherhood between Theosophists today means—‘Don’t criticize me, or I’ll revoke your membership’? It seems the Theosophical Society is mired in legal troubles, and controversy regarding the International President’s overruling term limits, since the Adyar Society is registered under Societies Registration Act of Tamil Nadu (limiting term limit to three years).
Have Section members become to any degree apathetic to the real situation of the Theosophical Society, and what goes on at Adyar and in the American Section? This is especially in regards to the lawsuits against the Adyar Section, and Tim Boyd (the International and American Section President)?
From the Yahoo talk Groups, one comment states on the lawsuits toll:
“…Those of us who have been members for many decades still remember days when filing a law suit against TS was unthinkable. The leaders ran TS with such high level of fairness and justice that the thought of suing TS never entered in any members’ thought. Today, with en masse kicking out members with no transparency is shocking. While legally kicking out may be justified by the army of lawyers, morally it is unacceptable as confirmed by the advise Olcott got. Let us give some credit to the Adepts who launched theosophy movement to spread Brotherhood so that world would see a happier future. The few self sacrificing committed theosophists still around will soon attract the attention of growing idealistic young who get their information thru Google, Facebook and Twitter.” (Written Brief & Update on Situation with S. Ramu…)
“…TS and its leaders are working at diametrically opposite policies compared to that of the Inner Founders. Inner Founders were looking to encourage anyone showing least potential to spread brotherhood. But today’s TS leaders have gone on a binge to secretly kick out dedicated life members. We know of it because the victims have gone to the courts to get justice. And TS had to resort to hired lawyers to defend their stand. What a pity.” (TS Membership World Wide is Down as usual – Convention Attendance is also Down)
The membership of the International Theosophical Society is greatly declining.
“As of 2013, the [Anthroposophical] Society has approximately 52,000 members. Formal branches of the Society have been established in 50 countries, and smaller groups are active in 50 further countries. About 10,000 institutions base their work on anthroposophy, including schools, farms, medical practices, and communities for the handicapped.” (History of the Anthroposophical Society from 1990 until today)
This is the Anthroposophical Society, in comparison to the Theosophical Society around 25,000 members. The Theosophical Society management is accused of being directionless, not organized, etc., but this depends, and yes it is an issue. It definitely seems to lack focus, and aesthetic that suits Theosophy to connect to culture and tradition of people, and according to nation. We are nationalist and cosmopolitans, and therefore, the Theosophical Society should be expressing this on the local level.
I get readers from Romania, Denmark, Brussels, Poland, South Africa, United States, etc. There is so much that could be, and should be done with an organization supposedly accumulating new wealth.
I am told, that Tim Boyd is said to be undemocratically holding his seat as the Society’s President, exceeding his term limits. The internal issue between democracy and authoritarianism in these type of organizations, especially Spiritualist and Theosophical ones have frequented history over the past two centuries and more, counting mere human experience in business generally.
New terms at Adyar were drawn up not so long ago, that essentially amount to not being able to have any influence in the Theosophical Society, without being old, an ass-lick, or a high member (a Co-Mason in garbs and robe).
The subverted condition of the Theosophical Society still exists, while people like us, or Dr. Veeravalli Raghavan, Krishnaphani (a long time member that was kicked out of the Theosophical Society), involved in lawsuits with the Society are ignored by the Society. However, this Theosophical Society is generating new wealth, and keeps its organizational plans secret from the members, which has complicated the issue. A lack of leadership is obviously a problem in the society, and the young are not encouraged, or trained to lead organizationally. The leadership fails to manage online persona and business reach, and the message of the Society is too broad. Many organizations like that provide what Theosophists only broadly suggest may be in their plans.
The interests of the members have no concern within the Adyar Theosophical Society’s hierarchical system, and if the American Section is also under it by the same President, then we can draw no other conclusions about the leadership.
The Theosophical Society, we say, as told to the editor of Theosophy News, has degenerated into a cult. If it has not, then show that it is not. Cults engage in similar actions and attitudes. Due to the internet, we are capable of reaching many people, but because there is no strong internet bond, or connection between the members of that Society, and one is disfavored from criticizing its direction, no improvements may amount from the fact, the Theosophist is incapable of drawing the same following and influence we see among similar organizations. There appears to be no real efforts, except in accruing wealth.
The Theosophical Society’s website, e.g., asks you to make a Lifetime Payment, equal to one incarnation for $1,500. We argue, that the Theosophical Society’s $30 and $60 membership fee is not worth it. Spending $60 a year for membership in exchange for underwhelming monthly pamphlets akin to the Watchtower Jehovah Witnesses on Karma, Reincarnation, and Love is hardly the idea H.P.B. and her colleagues had in mind.
Yet, the membership is the only gateway to retake the Theosophical Society, except for the complication of the Society’s new terms and its current broken, or undemocratic election process. This should not distress you. It should anger you, and call you to action, because the membership is getting older, not younger, and they are boring the youth to death, or the few that come excited with high hopes. Expectations must be met. This thing about a $1,500 one incarnation membership fee is laughable.
I have seen chain emails, and known about certain controversy between the sections of the Society. Now, I am kept out of the loop, but there is information to be found. Are the unsettled lawsuits against the Theosophical Society the ravings of jealous and trolling past members, or is the disgust too much, as seen in the past with a few other notable bloggers who decided to entirely quit, and give up on Theosophy and the Society?
Rather than address it to me as one with the answers, what would be your solution? I am curious. Also, if you are a member, have you ever experienced a most untheosophical encounter with another member, or (so-called) high member? Is there anything you have seen within this organization and the lodges internationally that is opposite of the original purposes, and indications, or examples of failing management?
In a concerned posting on the theos-talk and theosophy.net message board by M.K Ramadoss of Theosophy News, it is stated, regarding the issue with an estate, the Damodar Gardens:
Adyar Day 2018
While many of us are distracted with issues relating to the Presidential election, the President’s term of office, the monetary irregularities in the renovation, the absence of the President and Vice-President at Adyar and issues, a surreptitious scam is secretly brewing on the horizon, which will bring irreparable losses and grave danger to The Theosophical Society Estate at Adyar.
It is learnt that the General Council members have been insufficiently informed of the plans to alienate a part of the estate — Damodar Gardens which is worth about US$235 million. Land at Adyar is priciest in Chennai.
Damodar Gardens was the gift of one theosophist, Mr. Schwartz, who was the Treasurer of The Theosophical Society. Besant Theosophical High School and Krishnamurti School have successively occupied it, as they were like-minded institutions with strong Theosophical connection.
After a protracted process of negotiations, consultations and legal intervention, Krishnamurti School, is vacating in May 2018. The main reason for asking Krishnamurti School to vacate was that The Theosophical Society wishes to use the premises for its own purposes. The Olcott Education Society had plans and commenced work on the Vocational Training Centre for under-privileged, particularly from the Olcott Memorial High School.
In the meanwhile, it is learnt there has been a gradually developing friendship between Tim Boyd and one of the families of the TVS automobile industrial group. The group runs the TVS Education Society (TVSES) with schools in parts of South India. The schools are well run but are not definitely on the lines of Theosophical education.
They belong to a for profit segment that is fast developing in India called the Education industry. The TVSES has apparently convinced Tim Boyd that he should part with the estate on a long term basis, which in effect under Indian Law is a deemed sale.
No one has been consulted officially on this decision, except for an unscheduled mention by Tim Boyd in December, 2017 General Council meeting at Adyar. No reasons were given except that the TVSES has been chosen to run a vocational training centre and an international school concurrently. Details are fuzzy – sale, or a lease or a gift or an exchange. It is also learnt that a survey of the estate has been scheduled, anticipating General Council’s approval.
This is an appeal to all well meaning theosophists and more particularly the members of the General Council to raise the following questions on the alienation of property with such secrecy and haste. Clearly Tim Boyd is answerable to the membership on each:
- What is the role of The Theosophical Society and the Olcott Education Society in this new venture?
- Why was the TVSES chosen for such an expensive proposition, involving a large sum of money by way of property of The Theosophical Society, without considerable deliberation by the General Council on different alternatives for use of the land by The Theosophical Society for philanthropic purposes?
- Section 5 of the international rules and regulations requires a four month notice for any resolution to be passed and proper reasons to be given supporting the proposal. Why was this not done when the agenda was circulated?
- Section 21(c) concerning a power of attorney for the disposal of the Adyar Estate calls for a clear three-fourths majority of the entire General Council to authorize the President to proceed with sale, gift, exchange, mortgage or other form of disposal/alienation. How can it be minuted that the General Council gave an approval when there was neither a proposal nor a ballot to pass the resolution?
- Why was the proposal not sent to members of the General Council (present and absent) with proper notice, as required by the rules, to enable them to vote, in person, in writing or by proxy.
- How does the TS propose to handle queries from government bodies on whether more land is available for other use? This is a high likelyhood considering the attempts to sell and lease land by the TS administration, which will attract undue attention and negative publicity.
- Why have the General Council members not been informed of the following details:-
- The terms and details of the arrangement (number of years)
- The nature of the arrangement/agreement – lease/gift/sale/exchange
- The size of deposit (if it is a lease) and whether it makes financial sense for such a large property and the risk of losing it.
- The monthly lease amount (if it is a lease) and whether it makes financial sense for such a large property and the risk of losing it.
- Why have schools been mentioned in the minutes, as we have only one school.
- Will any money be paid outside India?
- Would the agreement include an undertaking that principles of Theosophical education will be incorporated.
- Would the curriculum avoid vivisection of animals in science subjects, serving of non-vegetarian food on the campus, etc. (meat, fish, fowl etc.)
- As it is proposed to have a vocational training centre and also an international school which is probably for very rich children, what are the measures to be taken to make the venture more inclusive and the fees more affordable.
- The details and extent of the construction proposed on the premises by the TVSES which will eventually give them more right to continue without vacating the premises and which will also affect the campus that is green.
It may be concluded that the administration is setting on a dangerous course in making this illegal and expensive move.
The decision is entirely yours to act on this with urgency.
M K Ramadoss
“NIGHT BEFORE LAST I WAS SHOWN A BIRD’S EYE VIEW OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETIES. I SAW A FEW EARNEST RELIABLE THEOSOPHISTS IN A DEATH STRUGGLE WITH THE WORLD IN GENERAL AND WITH OTHER – NOMINAL AND AMBITIOUS – THEOSOPHISTS. THE FORMER ARE GREATER IN NUMBER THAN YOU MAY THINK, AND THEY PREVAILED – AS YOU IN AMERICA WILL PREVAIL, IF YOU ONLY REMAIN STANCH TO THE MASTER’S PROGRAMME AND TRUE TO YOURSELVES.AND LAST NIGHT I SAW (…) THE DEFENDING FORCES HAVE TO BE JUDICIOUSLY – SO SCANTY ARE THEY – DISTRIBUTED OVER THE GLOBE WHEREVER THEOSOPHY IS STRUGGLING WITH THE POWERS OF DARKNESS.” (HELENA BLAVATSKY, LUCIFER MAG., JUNE, 1891, or see HELENA P. BLAVATSKY’S BIRD’S EYE VIEW, 1891)