The Adyar Society Should Abandon the
Pre-Nazi Ideas of Besant and Leadbeater
 
 
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
 
 
 
An Andean woman and her child, in Peru
 
 
 
“The white race must be the first to stretch
out the hand of fellowship to the dark nations,
to call the poor despised ‘nigger’ brother. This
prospect may not smile to all, but he is no
Theosophist who objects to this principle.”
 
[The Maha-Chohan, in “Letters from the Masters
of the Wisdom”, transcribed by C. Jinarajadasa,
TPH, Adyar, India, 1973, First Series, Letter 1, p. 4.]
 
 
 
“…Last and worst came what were
called the half-breeds or half-castes – a
mixed race which seemed as mixed races
sometimes do, to combine all the worst
qualities of both its parents stocks.”
 
[Charles W. Leadbeater, in “The Perfume of
Egypt”, TPH, Adyar, India, 1978, Chapter I, p. 11.]
 
 
 
The soul of Brazilian nation is multicultural and mixed-race. Miscegenation is the key factor in the formation of the country. Brazilians are proud of their multi-national origins. José Bonifácio, who led the independence of the country in the early 1820s, wrote: 
 
“We do not see differences or distinctions in human family:  we will treat as Brazilians the Chinese and the Portuguese; the Egyptian and the Haitian, the Sun-worshipper and the Muslim.” [1] 
 
Born in the 16th century, Brazilian nation is young.  For centuries, people from all over the world have been welcome in the country. Its society shows the rich diversity of human nature, and racism is considered a crime according to article 5, paragraph XLII, of the 1988 Federal Constitution.  How then could the anti-brotherly racial theories defended by Charles W. Leadbeater and Annie Besant be implicitly accepted, or not vehemently rejected, in Brazilian theosophical circles?   
 
There is nothing more democratic (in the sense of the brotherhood of all beings) than the original teachings of modern theosophy. The Masters taught: 
 
“The white race must be the first to stretch out the hand of fellowship to the dark nations, to call the poor despised ‘nigger’ brother.”
 
The first object of the theosophical movement, created in New York in 1875, is to form the nucleus of a universal brotherhood without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color. However, after the death of Helena Blavatsky in 1891, the original proposal of the movement was abandoned by Annie Besant and her colleagues.
 
As time passes, the number slowly grows of people who rediscover true theosophy. One of the tasks which remain to be completed in this direction is the identification, examination and discarding of the erroneous concepts and doctrines created by Besant and  Leadbeater, many of which still circulate in theosophical associations and mislead  thousands of readers in different nations.    
 
Among the tenets of the pseudo-esoteric doctrine created by Besant and Leadbeater, one of the most unfortunate  is the idea that spiritual leaders must be considered unfailing individuals, and that they must concentrate all political power in their hands. This style of leadership emerged in the esoteric movement right after Henry Olcott’s death. 
 
The shamefully popelike power of individuals who were supposedly “infallible” anticipated in the theosophical movement the external dominance of political doctrines like Fascism, created by Benito Mussolini, and “National Socialism”, formulated by Adolf Hitler. Such political movements were based in fake doctrines defending the existence of “superior” and “inferior” human beings. They flourished in the 1920s and 1930s, with the discreet blessings and protection of the Vatican -, the main source of anti-Semitism and of attacks against Theosophy. 
 
The authoritarian theory of “absolute” leaders constitutes one among many distortions of the original teachings of theosophy. The “racial theories” fabricated by Charles W. Leadbeater are another “counterfeit currency” circulating in esoteric circles since the first decades of  20th century.
 
A false clairvoyant who was considered a rogue by Mohandas Gandhi [2], Charles Leadbeater astutely avoided Police investigations in Australia. Duly expelled from the Theosophical Society in 1906, he regained the “occult” control of the Society as soon as Henry Olcott, the honest president-founder, died in February 1907. 
 
It is a fact that Ms. Radha Burnier (1923-2013), who was the President of the Theosophical Society between 1980 and 2013, never defended the veracity of Leadbeater’s books. She did not do that in public, nor in private talks. In the 1990s, a long-standing Brazilian theosophist told Ms. Burnier she could not accept Leadbeater as a theosophical author. She explained her reasons for that. Ms. Radha gave her a one-sentence answer:   
 
“It is OK, but you do not need to make a scandal about that.”  
 
Such an official policy of cover-up became ineffective. No one can deceive everybody all the time.  While justice and truthfulness may be slow in prevailing, they always do so according to the Law.     
 
The question is not limited to unmasking a literature falsely presented as theosophical, and which defends points diametrically opposed to esoteric philosophy.
 
A whole vision of the theosophical movement, and a complicated power-structure are inspired by the fake clairvoyance of Leadbeater and Besant.
 
Preaching Racism in the Name of Theosophy
 
In his work “The Perfume of Egypt” (TPH, India, 1978, 265 pp.) Charles Leadbeater shows how proud he is to have killed in his youth a number of black people and indigenous people in Brazil. In reality, such feats never took place, although C. W. Leadbeater and C. Jinarajadasa described them as “real events”.
 
The fact that the main narrative of the book “The Perfume of Egypt” is the product of an unbalanced imagination gives no legitimacy to its contents. The long story entitled “Saved by a Ghost” is full of racial prejudices. It praises at every moment the practice of violence against “inferior races”. Even if presented as a work of fiction, the book is racist and anti-Theosophical.  
 
A more detailed examination of “The Perfume of Egypt” can be found in another article.[3] We will see here what the fake clairvoyant wrote about indigenous peoples in his book Man Visible and Invisible”.  
 
Its chapter XV is dedicated to the peoples which Leadbeater calls “savages”. Defending the idea that all individuals of indigenous nations are evil persons and have no wisdom or noble feelings, the author writes:  
 
“When we apply the information contained in Chapter XIII to the consideration of the mind-body of a primitive man (…), certain facts about the man at once become obvious. Although on the whole it is a very poor and undeveloped mind-body, yet some progress has already been made. The dull yellow at the top indicates a certain amount of intellect, but also shows by the muddiness of the color that it is applied exclusively to selfish ends.” [4]
 
No one could say such ideas are theosophical. Let us compare these words to the profound richness of the spiritual and theosophical tradition belonging to the indigenous nations of the three Americas.
 
H. P. Blavatsky wrote long articles on the wisdom traditions of the Andean nations in South America, which she personally visited in the 1850s. H.P.B. also wrote that the Masters and Disciples living in the Himalayas work in close cooperation with the Masters and Disciples of indigenous nations in the three Americas, and are often their intimate personal friends in spite of geographical distances. Such Initiates have subtle and telepathic means of communication.[5] 
 
Ignoring the idea of universal brotherhood and the notion of a wisdom that belongs to all nations, Leadbeater ascribes to Native Americans an intrinsic moral inferiority. In his insane description of what would be the aura of the “savages”, he proceeds: 
 
“The devotion denoted by the grey-blue must be a fetish-worship, largely tinged with fear, and prompted by considerations of self-interest, while the muddy crimson on our left points to a commencement of affection which must as yet be principally selfish also. The band of dull orange implies pride, but of quite a low order; while the large dash of scarlet expresses a strong tendency to anger, which would evidently blaze out upon very slight provocation.”
 
Convinced that such wording was not enough, Leadbeater goes on in his discourse on the aura of our brothers and sisters of indigenous nations:
 
“The broad band of dirty green which occupies so great a portion of the body shows forth deceit, treachery and avarice – the latter quality manifesting itself in the brownish tint which is observable. At the bottom we notice a sort of deposit of mud color, suggesting general selfishness and the absence of any desirable quality. It is just that absence of any well-defined higher quality which makes us certain that, in turning to the corresponding astral body (…), we shall find it almost entirely uncontrolled.”
 
Working as a forerunner of the racial theories of Nazism and Fascism, the false clairvoyant goes on:
 
“Accordingly, we see how enormous a proportion of this vehicle of desire is occupied exclusively by sensuality, proclaimed by the very unpleasant brown-red (…). Deceit, selfishness and greed are conspicuous here, as might be expected, and fierce anger is also implied by the smears and blots of dull scarlet. Affection is scarcely indicated at all, and such intellect and religious feeling as appear are of the lowest possible kind.”
 
A few lines after that, Leadbeater refers to citizens of white skin as “us”, right after saying that indigenous individuals are “unpleasant”:
 
“A very unpleasant person altogether; yet every one of us has passed through this stage, and by the experience gained in it we have been enabled to rise out of it to something purer and nobler.” [6]
 
During the historical periods of slavery and colonial domination, racist theories were used as propaganda tools to justify the domination and massacre of Native Peoples around the world. Such genocides were promoted by the “superior nations” often in the name of Jesus Christ.
 
What Leadbeater did in his books is therefore nothing new. He wrote in the colonial period, and adapted to his “clairvoyance” the old racist prejudices used by colonial powers.  
 
As a result, it is only natural that the Society led by Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater was against the movement for India’s independence, which Mahatma Gandhi had created. For the same reasons, the Adyar Theosophical Society stopped showing the mistakes of conventional religions and started adopting their empty rituals, instead.   
 
In an attempt to give legitimacy to old illusions, C. W. Leadbeater made a “pioneer work” in opening a road to the racial theories of Nazism. He pretends to clairvoyantly compare the aura of the average member of indigenous peoples to the aura of the “ordinary white man”:
 
“The low type of green in the mental body of the undeveloped man (which denotes deceit very strongly tinged by avarice and selfishness) required for its vibrations a type of matter denser and coarser than that needed by the scarlet of anger. The decidedly better green which is exhibited in the mental body of the ordinary man needs for its vibration matter of a type somewhat less dense than the scarlet (…). The green has now advanced to the suggestion of a certain amount of versatility and adaptability, rather than deceit or cunning.” [7]
 
These ideas of racial superiority are unacceptable in themselves, and also against the Law in many countries since the defeat of Nazism in the 1940s.  They attack the essence of the theosophical movement, whose starting point and main goal is the idea of a brotherhood among all nations.
 
One of the letters from the Masters of the Wisdom says: 
 
“Under the dominion and sway of exoteric creeds, the grotesque and tortured shadows of Theosophical realities, there must ever be the same oppression of the weak and the poor and the same typhonic struggle of the wealthy and the mighty among themselves . . . It is esoteric philosophy alone, the spiritual and psychic blending of man with Nature, that, by revealing fundamental truths, can bring that much desired mediate state between the two extremes of human Egotism and divine Altruism, and finally lead to the alleviation of human suffering.” [8]
 
The two Mahatmas who participated more directly in the foundation of the theosophical movement were dark-skinned Indians, then called “niggers” and considered “inferior” by the European colonizers.
 
In the globally integrated world of 21st century, racist and pre-Nazi ideas like those of Besant and Leadbeater must be shown as such and abandoned. Their destiny is the same as the other illusions fabricated by these two authors. Meanwhile the original teachings of theosophy slowly spread. There are signs already of a new impulse and a rebirth of the authentic theosophical effort. 
 
NOTES:
 
[1] “Projetos Para o Brasil”, José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva, a volume compiled and edited by Miriam Dolhnikoff, Cia. das Letras, SP, Brazil, 1998, 371 pp., see p. 176.
 
[2] See the article “Mahatma Gandhi and Theosophy”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline. The text is available in our associated websites.
 
[3] See in our associated websites the article “Leadbeater Diz Que Matou Brasileiros” (“Leadbeater Says He Killed Brazilian Citizens”).  
 
[4] “Man Visible and Invisible”, by C. W. Leadbeater, Quest Book Edition, TPH, USA,  1971, see p. 77. The 1971 edition “updates” and falsifies the original text, trying to avoid its grossest forms of racism. However, enough evidence of racism remains in the book.  
 
[5] See “Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A.P. Sinnett”, TUP, 1973, 404 pp., p. 85, Letter XXXV.
 
[6] “Man Visible and Invisible”, C. W. Leadbeater, Quest Book Edition, TPH, pp. 78-79.
 
[7] “Man Visible and Invisible”, by C. W. Leadbeater, Quest Book Edition, TPH, Adyar, India, 1971, see pp. 82-83.  
 
[8] “Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom”, transcribed and compiled by C. Jinarajadasa, TPH, Adyar, India, 1973, Second Series, Letter 82, p. 157. 
 
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On the role of the esoteric movement in the ethical awakening of mankind during the 21st century, see the book “The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline.  
 
 
Published in 2013 by The Aquarian Theosophist, the volume has 255 pages and can be obtained through Amazon Books.
 
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