What is The Theosophical Society?

The Theosophical Society was founded in 1875 by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott, to counter the then extreme polarisation of religions and science to narrow dogma and materialism. It was founded in New York but later set up its headquarters in India, on an estate at Adyar, just outside Chennai, formerly called Madras. In the 1920's the international president was Annie Besant, who is revered in India for her humanitarian work.

The Theosophical Society is a worldwide body whose primary object is Universal Brotherhood based on the realization that life, and all its diverse forms, human and non-human, is indivisibly One. The Society imposes no belief on its members, who are united by a common search for Truth and desire to learn the meaning and purpose of existence by engaging themselves in study, reflection, purity of life and loving service.

Theosophy is the wisdom underlying all religions when they are stripped of accretions and superstitions. It offers a philosophy which renders life intelligible and demonstrates that justice and love guide the cosmos. Its teachings aid the unfoldment of the latent spiritual nature in the human being, without dependence or fear.

The Theosophical Society is an international organisation dedicated to promoting knowledge of the unity of all life and encouraging the study of religion, philosophy and science, so we may better understand ourselves and our place in the universe. The Society admits members of any religion or school of thought, or none, who are united by their approval of the Society's objects (see below) and can join without giving up their respective beliefs. Various teachings and values expressed through the literature and activities of The Theosophical Society are offered for individual consideration and there is no doctrine or opinion which is in any way binding.

The Three Objects of the Theosophical Society

  1. To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour.
  2. To encourage the study of Comparative religion, Philosophy and Science.
  3. To investigate unexplained laws of Nature and the powers latent in the human being.

Approval of the Three Objects is the sole condition of membership of the Theosophical Society. Complete Freedom of Thought is basic to the Society's attitude. Within the vast body of ideas known as Theosophy no dogma, creed or specific belief is imposed.

Nevertheless, there is a body of teachings associated with Theosophy, mainly that expounded by its founders, derived from ancient teachings of Indian and western philosophy and the esoteric teachings of many religions. Later leaders of the Society elaborated on those ideas and not all members agree with all such writings. Many adherents of Theosophy adopt a vegetarian diet to minimise harm to other forms of life, but that is not a requirement of membership. The Society seeks to find the spiritual values common to all religions, and neither rejects nor recommends any religion or sect.

Since the original formation of the Theosophical Society, some branches separated from the organisation, usually because of disagreement with later interpretations and leaders. These bodies are today still separate, but much more harmoniously associated than when they separated. Our directory of Theosophical Societies includes links to those groups.

Another explanation of Theosophy:

The word "Theosophy" means"Divine Wisdom". It refers to the great truths which derive from the cumulative testimony of countless generations of sages and seers. It also provides a framework within which we may search for these truths to gain insight into the meaning and purpose of life.

Theosophy presents a world-view that emphasises the unity and interconnectedness of all life, the basic oneness of all species on earth and of all peoples. It is a philosophy to be understood, not blindly accepted. It is not a religion, though many of its concepts and ideas are found in all the major world religions. In one sense, Theosophy is religion itself, the essence of true religion. Its principles have been stated by seers and sages since the most ancient of time.

Hence Theosophy has been called the Ancient or the Ageless Wisdom, the Wisdom-Religion or the Wisdom-Tradition, the perennial philosophy.


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