ANNIE BESANT, b. OCT.1 , 1847 , LONDON – d. SEPT. 20 , 1933 , ADYAR, MADRAS. THE CHARISMATIC ENGLISH WOMAN WHO MADE INDIA HER HOME.
Mylapore, Madras is my birth place. I am native of Rajahmundry. Ms. Annie Besant had visited Rajahmundry twice and opened a place of worship known as ‘DIVYA GJYAN SAMAJ’ to honour the memory of Colonel Henry Steel Olcott, the first President of Theosophical Society International at Adyar, Madras. This temple is located in Alcot Gardens, Rajahmundry.
THEOSOPHY – THE CULTURAL ENRICHMENT OF INDIA :
Theosophy is derived from the Greek ‘theos’; “God”, and ‘sophia’; “Wisdom”, and is usually translated as “Divine Wisdom”. Theosophy is based upon the principle that God must be experienced directly to be known at all. It lays emphasis on mystical experience. It claims that a deeper spiritual reality exists with which direct contact may be established through intuition, meditation, and revelation, by transcending man’s normal consciousness. It is held that knowledge of the ‘Divine Wisdom’ gives access to the mysteries of nature and man’s deeper being. It views that the ‘reality’ is constituted by one principle. Theosophists have affirmed an underlying all-encompassing unity that subsumes all differentiation. The Theosophical Society affirms the following objectives; 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; and 3. to investigate unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in man. The Society insists that it is not offering a new system of thought but it merely identifies certain universal concepts of God, nature and man that are known to wise men in all ages and that may be found in the teaching of all the great religions.
AN ENGLISH WOMAN IN INDIA :
Annie Besant after her conversion to Theosophy in 1889, traveled to Adyar, Madras and made India her home. She was active in educational and humanitarian work in India. She founded the Central Hindu College at Varanasi. Beginning in 1916, she became involved in the Indian independence movement and established the Indian Home Rule League. She was the president of the Theosophical Society from 1907 until her death in 1933. She wrote several books to promote understanding of theosophical belief. Her leadership gave Indians a sense of pride in that they were exporting ideas of importance to the West. The Theosophy movement has been a pioneering agency in promotion of greater Western acquaintance with Eastern thought.
DISCOVER ‘ THE STAR OF INDIA ‘ – THE SECOND COMING OF BUDDHA :
Jiddu Krishnamurti born into a Telugu speaking Hindu Brahmin family at Madanapalli in the present State of Andhra Pradesh was adopted by Annie Besant in 1909 when he was about 14 years old. She proclaimed that Krishnamurti is the vehicle of a coming World Teacher, reincarnation of ‘ Bodhisattva, “MAITREYA” the Second Buddha. She traveled in Great Britain and the United States with Krishnamurti whom she presented as a new Messiah. In 1911, she founded the ‘Order of the Star of India’ based on the claim that he was Buddha reincarnated. She was his legal guardian till 1921.In 1929, Krishnamurti dissolved this movement.
THE QUEST FOR TRUTH :
The keynote of Annie Besant’s varied activities was her unswerving loyalty to Truth. As she said, “She(Truth) may lead me into wilderness, yet I must follow her; She may strip me of all love, yet I must pursue her; though She slay me, yet will I trust in her; and I ask no other epitaph on my tomb but ‘she tried to follow Truth’ .”
Danavaipeta Municipal High School, Rajahmundry, East Godavari District, India,
S.S.L.C. CLASS OF MARCH, 1961.