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Charles Webster Leadbeater 1854-1934 
A Biographical Study
by Gregory John Tillett
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Chapter 20: The Dissolution of the Order

          Krishna travelled to England in May, 1927, accompanied by Mrs Besant, after his American visit, during which he had received a massive press coverage in which he was erroneously hailed as an Indian prince, and a graduate of Oxford, as well as one who had more lives than the average man could have expected, and the Christ returned to earth. [1]    The press, despite their romantic misinterpretations of the young Indian's role, were favourably impressed by his quiet and pleasant manner, and amazed that the Messiah, as they called him, could wear plus-fours or play golf.

          From London, Krishna travelled to Paris, where he spoke at a meeting of the ES.   This speech marked the beginning of his abdication of the carefully defined role of Vehicle for the World Teacher;  in future he conformed less and less to the expectations of his mentors, and more and more to the feelings of his heart.  He shocked the devout Theosophists in Paris by suggesting that the Masters were "only incidents", thereby questioning the whole basis of the TS and the ES. [2]

          In Sydney, George Arundale had launched into a number of schemes for "Theosophising" Australia, including the establishment of a radio station in a building in the


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grounds of The Manor.  This was known by the call-sign 2GB (for Giordano Bruno) and served to broadcast Leadbeater, Theosophy and the LCC to Sydney, together with items of news supporting the concept of the Coming and the new Root Race emerging in Australia.

          One item of news it didn't broadcast was the publication in the journal of the Reincarnation and Karma Legion in the USA of a statement by Dr Weller Van Hook rescinding the enthusiastic support he had given to Leadbeater during the "troubles" of 1906.   Van Hook had produced a series of letters on the subject of Leadbeater's teachings, and claimed the letters were dictated verbatim by one of the Masters.  He now declared that:

          "It will be recalled that some years ago Mr C.W. Leadbeater made public statements that he had given certain teachings on the subject of sexual relations to certain boys in his acquaintance.  The undersigned, as a physician, a little later caused to be published in good faith a statement that he believed the teachings referred to were given solely with the purpose and motive of aiding the recipients in their spiritual progress.  The undersigned now states that he has not, for some years, been able to continue in this belief, but


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thinks that there were also other motives involved... He regrets his former statement, which was erroneously but honestly made and publishes this correction solely in the interest of the truth." [3]

          Van Hook then stated, oddly enough, that "His belief in the lofty position of the personage referred to has never wavered," apparently a reference to the Master who was supposed to have dictated the letters.  Van Hook joined the list of those close associates of Leadbeater who rejected him in later years. [4]

          In June, Theosophists from all over the world flocked to Ommen for the Star Camp.   Arundale returned to Europe from Australia, and showed every sign of renewing his work as a vehicle for revelations, having temporarily escaped from the restraining influence of Leadbeater.

          Krishna addressed the gathering at Castle Eerde on the theme of "Liberation", and implied, as he had done at the ES meeting in Paris, that the Masters and all other gurus were unnecessary because there was a direct way to truth which each individual had to find for himself.  He also dismissed the idea of a spiritual elite - not a comforting statement for the many members of the spiritual elite who


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sat listening to him - renounced any suggestion that he would provide liberation for anyone who wasn't prepared to achieve it for himself, and questioned the need for authorities in spiritual matters.  His whole address was disturbing, to say the very least.  The overwhelming majority of his audience was accustomed to rely upon external authorities for leadership in spiritual matters, and for announcements as to their progress on the Path.

          Mainly as a result of Krishna's address, the Order of the Star in the East was reorganized, and Lady Emily and Rajagopal drew up new objects:

          "1. To draw together all those who believe in the presence in the world of the World Teacher.  2. To work for Him in all ways for His realization of His ideal for humanity.  The Order has no dogmas, no creeds or systems of belief.  Its Inspiration is the Teacher, its purpose to embody His universal life." [5]

          The name was changed on June 28th to The Order of the Star.  It was a statement that the World Teacher had arrived, though not as Leadbeater and Mrs Besant had predicted.

          On August 1st the Star Camp began, and the


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following day Krishna spoke on "Who Brings the Truth?".  In this address he further considered the role of the Masters, suggesting that they had no objective existence in the sense in which Leadbeater and his followers understood them.  They were mental images, shaped by belief and imagination.

          "When I was a small boy I used to see Sri Krishna, with the flute, as he is pictured by the Hindus, because my mother was a devotee of Sri Krishna.... When I grew older and met with Bishop Leadbeater and the Theosophical Society, I began to see the Master K.H. - again in the form which was put before me, the reality from their point of view - and hence the Master K.H. was to me the end.  Later on, as I grew, I began to see the Lord Maitreya.  That was two years ago and I saw him constantly in the form put before me... Now, lately, it has been the Buddha." [6]

          Krishna began developing the idea of "the Beloved", a mystical rather than an occult presence, which was beyond the mental definitions:

          "To me it is all - it is Sri Krishna, it is the Master K.H., it is the Lord Maitreya, it is the Buddha, and yet it is beyond all these forms.  What


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does it matter what name you give?" [7]

          He realized that he knew himself to be one with the Beloved, though he knew that this did not conform with the plans and images of his followers.

          What you are troubling about is whether there is such a person as the World Teacher who has manifested Himself in the body of a certain person, Krishnamurti;  but in the world nobody will trouble about this question. [8]

          He emphasized that he could only be vague in his description of what had happened, since it was essentially beyond language.  But he knew that they must seek the truth for themselves, not relying on any external authority - especially not upon him - to provide it for them.

          "Until now you have been depending on the two Protectors of the Order [Mrs Besant and Leadbeater] for authority, for someone else to tell you the Truth, whereas the Truth lies within you." [9]

          He had, effectively, renounced the role for which Leadbeater had prepared him.


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          Mrs Besant, Wedgwood and Jinarajadasa arrived the following day;  Krishna has asked Mrs Besant not to come to hear him speak, pleading shyness, but in fact fearing that his address would have shocked and upset her.  After the Star Camp, from August 7th to 12th, which was followed by a special meeting for those who had organized the camp, Krishna went to Switzerland and then to Paris, and finally to London to be with Mrs Besant for the 80th birthday.  She had been upset by stories of Krishna's address to the special meeting after the Star Camp - which she had not attended - at which he had said that he'd never read a Theosophical book in his life, since he couldn't understand the "jargon", and was critical of all the TS lectures he'd ever heard. [10]

          In Sydney, meanwhile, The Australian Theosophist, was revived and under Leadbeater's direction, was enthusiastically publishing details of his every activity.   The majority of its articles were written by him.  Those that weren't tended to be about him.  Ernest Wood wrote an article of praise entitled "The Man Who Loves All the Time", J.J. van der Leeuw described "Bishop Leadbeater as a Teacher", and Muriel Chase considered "Our Beloved Teacher".  This article recalled the sufferings to which Leadbeater had been subjected, and reinterpreted history in the best style of


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Theosophical apologists:

          "The bishop has been through the storms which resulted in the splitting into two parts of the Theosophical Movement in Australia.  He has been subjected to every possible indignity, his perfect purity had been the butt of a thousand miserable insinuations and cruel suggestions.  The story dates back to the attacks made upon him in 1906.  Somewhere about that time, some parents had brought to him a boy with a very bad habit, and had asked him if he could do anything to help.  Bishop Leadbeater - he was Mr Leadbeater then - cured the boy, but it took time, and it is from this grossly misinterpreted case that the whole of the subsequent trouble has arisen." [11]

          Increasing distance from the events produced some remarkable versions of them amongst Leadbeater's followers;  his enemies, meanwhile, endeavoured to ensure that the truth, or at least their versions of it, was not forgotten.

          In August, when Krishna had been shattering the faith and hope of Star members at Ommen, Leadbeater had been considering the spirits of the air during his first aeroplane flight.  He travelled from Brisbane to Toowoomba in


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a small, single-engined plane, and was pleased to note that

          "The air spirits seemed to hail us with riotous joy;  they clustered around us and circled at our prow just as I have often seen dolphins behave round the bows of steamers." [12]

          These creatures of the air were very friendly, although higher up, above the plane, were others of immense size, "curiously sullen in appearance", almost sulky, who were less happy about this intrusion into their domain.

          In between lecture engagements, LCC services, Co-Masonic meetings, ES gatherings, talks to his pupils at The Manor, and a continuing correspondence, Leadbeater was busy writing for The Theosophist and The Australian  Theosophist, on such diverse subjects as "How To Protect Ourselves from Undesirable Influences", "Australia as an Example to the Rest of the World", "How to Shed Force", and solving a problem which had long bothered orthodox theologians, "What is the Sin Against the Holy Ghost?".  He was also working on another of his mammoth volumes, The Other Side of Death, and broadcasting regularly over 2GB.  The local Popular Radio Weekly described him as having "an ideal radio voice", and his radio programmes led to extensive correspondence.


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          Krishna and Mrs Besant, together with Jinarajadasa and his wife, travelled to India by ship in October.  Their shipboard accommodation was, as usual, first-class, and, again as usual, paid for by the wealthy Dr Mary Rocke, whose money had been generously poured out for all sorts of Theosophical ventures, including the amphitheatre at Balmoral.  Whilst the ship was passing through the Red Sea Dr Rocke fell down a companionway, suffered a cerebral haemorrhage and died.  She was traveling second class, unable to afford for herself the luxury she provided for her occult superiors, and so was simply buried at sea without the others knowing about it.  When, eventually, one of them went into the second class section call upon her, the news of her death [was] received.  Krishna is very upset by it. [13]

          When she reached India, Mrs Besant made some definite statements about the World Teacher to the waiting -?-ess who met her:  she declared that the Coming had been virtually accomplished.  This stimulated a response from Arundale, who disagreed with her.  Leadbeater, who also disagreed with her, was less direct in his manner.   He had already commented that

          "Another and very wonderful department of her (Mrs


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Besant's] work has been to train and to take care of the vehicle of the World Teacher... Now, she is reaping the reward of that care and is watching with joy the unfoldment of the bud which she has nurtured, the blossoming of the flower whose fragrance will fill the world." [14]

          But Leadbeater was privately critical of Krishna, expressing the wish that he would "go away and leave us alone to go on with our work".

          In November, 1927, Leadbeater departed for Adyar and the TS Convention, stopping in Melbourne and Perth for the usual round of TS, ES, LCC, Star and Co-Masonic functions.  He completed the writing of The Other Side of  Death during the journey, and arrived at Adyar on December 4th.  Despite his misgivings, he was friendly towards Krishna, as Krishna wrote to Lady Emily on December 8th:

          "I had a long talk with him for an hour & a half.  He agrees with me to an astonishing extent.  He asked me what I felt like & I told him there was no Krishna - the river & the sea.  He said yes, like the books of old, its all true.  He was very nice & extraordinarily reverential." [15]


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          However, privately, Leadbeater was already declaring that "The Coming has gone wrong", and rejecting the announced initiations, the Apostles and the messages supposedly coming from the Lord.  The Convention theme was "The New Civilization".  Mrs Besant spoke about "The Work of the Manu", and Leadbeater "The Role of Occultism";  both were subjects considered as completely unimportant by Krishna.

          After a visit to Calicut, Krishna returned to Adyar for the Star Day on January 11th, the anniversary of his First Initiation.  He attended a meeting at which he spoke, as did Mrs Besant and Leadbeater;  both declared that Krishna was the Teacher.  Krishna himself was in considerable pain and discomfort at this time as his "process" had recommenced, and he was yet again disappointed that Leadbeater could not offer any explanation, only commenting that it must be "part of the work".  Leadbeater and his party, including Jinarajadasa, Dick Balfour-Clarke, and Dr and Mrs Adrian Vreede, left for Sydney in January, 1928.

          Leadbeater began the year with another new enthusiasm:  the discovery of a new member of the Occult Hierarchy.  This time, perhaps marking his new attitude to women, it was a Woman, the World Mother.  Mrs Besant initiated public discussion about this personage when on March 25th, the traditional Christian festival of the


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Annunciation, she preached a sermon in the Liberal Catholic church at Adyar.  She declared it to be "World Mother Day", and announced that the World Mother, whose Indian name was Lakshmi Devi, had long ago appointed Rukmini Arundale to be her special representative on earth. [16]  Mrs Besant compiled a special invocation to the World Mother:

          "We bow in homage and adoration

          To the Glorious and Mighty Hierarchy

          The Inner Government of the World,

          And to its exquisite Jewel,

          The Star of the Sea, the World Mother." [17]

          The formal introduction of the World Mother took place in The Theosophist for June, 1928, which included not only Mrs Besant's account and her appointment of March 25th as "World Mother Day", but a letter from Leadbeater noting that he had been aware of these matters all along.  He devoted a whole series of articles in The Australian  Theosophist to "The World Mother as Symbol and Fact". [18]   Later editions of The Masters and the Path contained extensive details of the World Mother.

          "Students should understand that a great department of Motherhood exists, and has an important place in the Inner Government of the World. Just as the


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Manu is the head of a great department which looks after the physical development of races and sub-races, just as the Bodhisattva is the head of another which attends to religion and education, so is the great Official who is called the Jagat-Amba, or World Mother the head of a department of Motherhood.  Just as the Lord Vaivasvata is at present filling the office of the Manu, and the Lord Maitreya that of the World-Teacher, so is the great Angel who was once the mother of the body of Jesus filling the post of World Mother." (19]

          The apparent complication in the reference to the "Angel who was once the mother of the body of Jesus" relates to Leadbeater's theory about the development of Mary, known in traditional Christian thought as the Blessed Virgin Mary, after her death.  He claimed that she had been a most highly evolved being, and had, after death, been offered various exalted positions, but chose instead to change her line of evolution from the human to the angelic, thereby ceasing to be a human being, and becoming an angel instead.  Thus, the traditional Catholic ascription of "Queen of the Angels" was occulty literally true.  And in her new role, she was appointed to the office of World Mother, having at her command "vast hosts of angelic beings".  She was especially


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concerned with motherhood, the birth of children and human suffering, and at the birth of every child her representative was present.

          The World Mother was also caused "considerable anxiety" by having to provide suitable incarnations for highly developed egos, and this concern was aggravated because

          "Not understanding the wonderful opportunity which their sex gives them, women desire to be free from the restraints of marriage in order that they may ape the lives and the actions of men, instead of taking advantage of their peculiar privileges.   Such a line of thought and action is obviously disastrous to the future of the race, for it means that many of the better-class parents take no part in its perpetuation, but leave it entirely in the hands of the more undesirable and undeveloped egos." [20]

          These arguments, suggesting that highly evolved people should have many children, seem to contradict Leadbeater's previous eccentric approach to women in general, and to marital relations in particular, and one is led to wonder why the many doubtless highly evolved parents in the


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Theosophical movement did not produce large families following his logic.

          Various Indian newspapers had picked up "Mrs Besant's New Fad", as their headlines read, and Krishna wrote to Leadbeater expressing alarm at this revival of one of Arundale's messages at Huizen in 1925, when he had announced that Lady Emily and Dr Rocke had been appointed to lead an Order of Women.

          "I hear Amma [Mrs Besant] has proclaimed Mrs Arundale as the representative of the World Mother etc.  I hear also that I am dragged into it all.  It is the work of George, with his messages, the outcome of his fertile brain.  His machinations are innumerable." [21]

          Krishna was also interviewed by New India, and declared:

          "It is nonsense to talk of a woman-deity and a man-deity." [22]

          Less reverent critics were speculating on what would be next:  World Teacher and World Mother, with World University and World Religion, perhaps to be followed by World Father and World Infant?  Leadbeater was annoyed at


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the eccentric extremes to which Mrs Besant had taken the concept of the World Mother, although this was, essentially, annoyance that one of his ideas was being taken up by others.  He had already established a small group of girls at The Manor who were to work for the World Mother, and had them wearing blue robes and opal rings, which were to serve as a "focus of the influence which She will pour out".   Since all the girls came from the Dutch East Indies, they were known as "The Seven Virgins of Java". [23]

          Leadbeater's ideas tended to be put into operation quietly, and without the undesirable glare of critical publicity.  Mrs Besant, under the influence of Arundale and away from Leadbeater's direction, tended to extremes of publicity and fantastic public statements.  But, as always, he would never contradict or correct her publicly, however critical he was of her in private.

          In May, the first, and only, issue of The World Mother magazine appeared.  It included "The New Annunciation" by Mrs Besant, and a statement that the World Mother Movement worked in a -?-tion with the World Teacher Movement, and that Rukmini Arundale had been chosen to lead it.  The Coming Age, it declared, was the Age of Motherhood.  The issue concluded with poems to the World Mother written by Mrs Arundale. [24]


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          All the fuss, however, was short-lived.  The Seven Virgins were directed into Masonic work by Leadbeater, The World Mother folded, "World Mother Day" was forgotten, and even Leadbeater, whose first book on the subject had been based on an interview with the World Mother herself, found other interests. [25]  One Theosophical commentator suggested that the temporary movement had been developed as "an offset against Krishnamurti's smashings", even though it "appeared still-born". [26]

          Krishna had been traveling in Europe, continuing his message of self-reliance in the search for Truth, and questioning the need for external authorities.  The conflict between the TS authorities and Krishna was growing, and although he was concerned that Mrs Besant should not be hurt, Krishna was determined that he would not change his views to suit the others.

          On October 21st Mrs Besant, following Krishna further that anyone could have expected, closed the ES throughout the world. [27]  When told of this, Leadbeater flew into a rage, and said:  "The woman must be mad". [28]  Mrs Besant had been elected President of the TS for the fourth time the previous July, with a seemingly overwhleming vote of 20,880 for and only 128 against;  however, 21,787


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members had not voted, presumably feeling it was unnecessary since she was the only candidate.  Her position seemed unchallengeable, and so she could close the ES, declaring Krishna to be the one Teacher who ought to be allowed to teach as he wanted.

          Leadbeater responded, as always indirectly, in The Australian Theosophist, with an article entitled "Our Chief and Krishnaji".  It was clearly an attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable.

          "There has been a tendency lately among some of our members to worry themselves quite unnecessarily about what they call discrepancies between the doctrines enunciated by Krishnamurti and the Theosophy which they have been studying for some years... I have persistently urged our brethren not to waste their time in accentuating points of diversity but rather to try to understand and to synthesize, because by doing so we shall aid and not retard the progress of humanity, in which we are all alike interested." [29]

          He developed a notion which was to become, for a time, the explanation for the differences between Krishna and the Theosophy of Leadbeater and his followers:  there were two


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paths, one for the occultist, and one for the mystic.

          "The path of the occultist and the path of the mystic are equally pronounced departures from the ordinary winding road, both of them shortcuts to the glory of the mountain-top.  They are twin paths;   and which of them a man takes will depend upon his natural disposition and characteristics - his type in short." [30]

          Yet, if Krishna was teaching the mystic path, and Leadbeater was teaching the occult, he did not resolve the problem of the World Teacher's position.  Did he teach the occult or the mystic? or was the Coming no more?

          Yet at Christmas, 1928, Leadbeater said in his message to the Australian Theosophists;

          "Christmas cannot but remind us of the second Coming of the Lord to which His Church has so long been looking forward - the Coming which many of us believe to have already taken place in the occupation of the body of Mr Krishnamurti." [31]

          He then went on to defend ceremonies against the criticism of Krishna.  But, if Krishna was occupied by the World


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Teacher, it would have seemed more appropriate to obey his instructions, thereby giving up ceremonial, rather than to challenge them, and continue with the LCC and Co-Masonry.

          Leadbeater began 1929 with a series of sermons at St Alban's every Sunday night at 7.00 p.m. on a subject that had proved one of his favourites, and certainly one of his most popular:  death and life beyond death.  He spoke about the nature of death, life after death for the average man, the developed man and the child.   He explored purgatory, heaven and hell, and considered rebirth.  This was all duly reported in St Alban's Monthly Paper, the March, 1929, issue of which also included an article by Harold Morton, Leadbeater's current secretary, assuring readers that despite the questioning stimulated by Krishna's teachings, there was "no need for doubt".  Somehow it seemed that Leadbeater and his disciples could reconcile Krishna's rejection of the church and its elaborate ceremonial with their belief that it had a vital part in the Coming.  They appeared to believe that sometimes Krishna was speaking "ex officio!" as it were, and sometimes - notably when he challenged their beliefs - he was speaking as the man, Krishna.  Considering events which were to follow later in the year, it was an ill-timed assurance.

          The Australian Theosophical Convention was held


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in Sydney over Easter, 1929, and showed its true penitence for the sins of Mr Martyn and his followers by passing yet another resolution of gratitude to Leadbeater, carried by unanimous acclamation.  The theme of the Convention was "Patriotism", with Bishops Leadbeater and Arundale exhorting Australians to love their country since "we must have a united and coherent Australia before we can Theosophize Australia".  Arundale noted that "anarchy, lawlessness, have far too much sway" and called on members to work harder to produce an ideal society in the Antipodes, since he knew "as a glorious certainty the great destiny which lies ahead of [it] in the Plan unfolded by the Hierarchy".

          The Convention established a Literary Bureau and a Press Agency for supplying "patriotic and Theosophic" material to newspapers, and took over The Australian Theosophist from Leadbeater, who had previously published it by private subscription, as virtually his personal journal.  The usual round of associated activities complemented the meetings of the TS:  an Order of Service conference, a conference on the work of the World Mother led by her representative, Mrs Arundale, Co-Masonic meetings and Liberal Catholic services.

          Delegates were taken on a guided tour of The Manor, and visited the "famous metal-lined room" which


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Leadbeater had vacated preparatory to his departure for India.  It was to be turned into a Temple.  Leadbeater had been requested by Mrs Besant to return to India permanently;  her health was failing, and she was finding the strain of administering the TS a great burden.

          Leadbeater left Sydney on April 20th, accompanied by a party of some thirty people, including four Liberal Catholic priests, Dr and Mrs Vreede and Dick Balfour-Clarke.  The tour began in Java, and moved to Batavia.  Throughout the Dutch East Indies LCC services and Co-Masonic meetings were held, and Leadbeater addressed TS, ES and Star gatherings.  Glowing reports of the tour were published in The Australian Theosophist.  Australians were told they could be consoled for the loss of Leadbeater by the appointment of Arundale to take "charge of the Occult Centre in the Southern Hemisphere", that is, The Manor, and by Leadbeater's undertaking that he would henceforth "energize Sydney from the inner plane". [32]

          The O.E. Library Critic reviewed Leadbeater's move with its usual cynicism, and wondered why he needed to take two hundred pieces of luggage with him.  It launched into a savage send-up of the LCC, including irreverent references to "Bishop Bedheater," author of Science of the Excrements, Physical Aids to Astral Vision and Sex Hygiene


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for Boys, "Bishop Avondale", who had written Why I Married  the World Mother, and "Bishop Edgwood", to whom was attributed Glimpses of a Modern Sodom, Practical Uses for  Choirboys and Buggery and Humbuggery in the Church. [33]

          In August, Krishna had travelled to the Star Camp at Ommen.  The camp opened on the 2nd in what Mary Lutyens described as "an atmosphere of tension and expectancy".  The following day, before an audience of more than three thousand people, including Mrs Besant, and with thousands of Dutch people listening by radio, Krishna dissolved the Order of the Star.  This represented a denial of everything held dear by Leadbeater and Mrs Besant, and was a clear criticism of them, their teachings and their occult claims.

          Krishna began:

          "I maintain that truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect.  That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally.  Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organised;  nor should any organization be formed to lead or coerce people along any particular path.   if you first understand


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that, you will see how impossible it is to organize a belief.  A belief is purely an individual matter and you cannot and must not organize it.   If you do, it becomes dead, crystallized;   it becomes a creed, a sect, a religion, imposed on others." [34]

          He knew that many of his followers would not accept his statement and would continue to "organise Truth":

          " ...you will probably form other Orders, you will continue to belong to other organisations, searching for Truth.  I do not want to belong to any organization of a spiritual kind... If an organization be created for this purpose, it becomes a crutch, a weakness, a bondage, and must cripple the individual and prevent him from growing, from establishing his uniqueness, which lies in the discovery for himself of that absolute, unconditioned Truth." [35]

          He openly rejected the idea of occult advancement and denied that he had any disciples:

          "How men love to be different from their fellow-men, however ridiculous, absurd and trivial


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their distinctions may be!  I do not want to encourage that absurdity.  I have no disciples, no apostles, either on earth or in the realm of spirituality." [36]

          And, above all, he repeated his rejection of external authority in spiritual matters.

          "You are accustomed to authority, or to the atmosphere of authority which could think will lead you to spirituality.  You think and hope that another can, by his extraordinary powers - a miracle - transport you to this realm of eternal freedom which is Happiness.  Your whole outlook on life is based on that authority." [37]

          And he concluded:

          "For two years I hare been thinking about this, slowly, carefully, patiently, and I have now decided to disband the Order, as I happen to be its Head.  You can form other organisations, and expect someone else.  With that I am not concerned, nor with creating new cages, new decorations for those cages.  My only concern is to set men absolutely, unconditionally, free." [38]


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          In the International Star Bulletin he went even further:

          "You want to go along in the same old way, to have your Masters, your gurus, your worships, your rites, your ceremonies and to reconcile all these things with what I am saying.... You must be of no god, of no religion, of no sect;  bow down to no authority, past or present, for all authority is unproductive... Please, I mean everything I say:  don't go away afterwards and say:  'He does not mean that;  he means us to work for this particular church, or for that particular religion, or for these particular things.'  Those are excuses because you cannot find the Real." [39]

          The Australian Theosophist reported the dissolution of the Order of the Star with a singular lack of interest or emotion, and moved onto a story on "Bishop Leadbeater's Grand Tour", datelined Semarang, July 5th, 1929.  It was full of the Church, the TS, Co-Masonry and the Round Table.   Leadbeater was reported ordaining a priest, consecrating a Masonic Temple, admitting some new Knights, confirming some children and "solemnly blessing" a new TS building.  All this undoubtedly of much greater interest to


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his readers than the momentarily distressing news that Krishna was not playing out his role.

          The journal saw the year out with a continuing series on "the grand tour", and Leadbeater's movements through south east Asia suggest remarkable energy for his age.   He travelled through the Dutch East Indies to Singapore and Saigon, then on to Cambodia and Siam, with the inevitable rounds of TS, LCC, Round Table, ES and Co-Masonic activities wherever he went.

          He finally arrived at Adyar on November 23rd, and was met by Bishops Bonjer and Pigott. [40]  Bishops Cooper and Wedgwood were expected, as were Krishna and

Jinarajadasa.   Less than two months after Krishna's dissolution of the Order, Mrs Besant had re-opened the ES, and declared that she was the Outer Head, with the Master M as the Inner Head. [41]  The ES would be limited to the Raja  Yoga discipline, and members were expected to believe in and study Krishna and his teachings, despite the fact that this in itself was in contradiction to those teachings.   They were required to be vegetarians, non-drinkers, abstaining from tobacco and sex outside marriage, as well as keeping "clean and cultivated", studying and meditating for one hour a day, and cultivating the habit of silence.


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          Krishna went to Adyar in October, 1929, with Mrs Besant.  He was awaiting with interest the reaction of Leadbeater to his actions, and wrote to Lady Emily on December 12th:

          "I suppose they will get together at Adyar & say my personality is in the way, limitations, etc.  I am interested to see what C.W.L. does.  They are out for my scalp & it will be fun.  In 1925 it was C.W.L. who was ga-ga & now Amma [Mrs Besant]." [42]

          Lady Emily had written to him recounting a meeting she had had in London with Wedgwood shortly after the dissolution;  he told her that Mrs Besant was "non conpos" and was incapable of telling when the Master was speaking through Krishna and when Krishna was speaking personally, although Wedgwood claimed that he could always tell the difference.  He had prepared several booklets to explain away the problems seemingly created by Krishna's attitude, although he did not believe Krishna had ever fulfilled the role of World Teacher. [43]

          The TS Convention was held between December 23rd and 27th.  It was a return to the things of the past, and the programme reflected the change that had taken place since


--- 780 ---

Krishna's dissolution of the Order.  Co-Masonry, the LCC, the ES and the Round Table all featured prominently, and Arundale was no longer obliged to celebrate the Eucharist just off the TS property, as he had been at the 1928 Convention when Mrs Besant forbade any ceremonial work.

          Leadbeater spoke on "The Two Paths", and Mrs Besant on "The Value of Masonry".  Both were clear rejections of Krishna's call to the "pathless land" where Truth could not be organized, and where there were no distinctions between men, and no need for "decorations" for "cages".  Neither Mrs Besant nor Leadbeater could yield their positions of esoteric power to follow the philosopher they had created.  Leadbeater was saying clearly to his close associates "The Coming has gone wrong", and claimed that Krishna's ego had got in the way, becoming an obstruction preventing the Lord from occupying the Vehicle prepared for him.  It was clear to Leadbeater that he and Mrs Besant had done all in their power to "Prepare the way of the Lord and make his paths straight", as they had been instructed by the Masters.  The fault and the failure lay in Krishna, who, by wilful rejection of the scheme they had placed before him, had prevented the World Teacher from coming again to earth. [44]

          Leadbeater dutifully attended some of the talks


--- 781 ---

Krishna gave.   Sometimes he fell ostentatiously asleep, and on other occasions declared in stage-whispers, "He talks more nonsense every day."  He warned those of his pupils who had accompanied him to Adyar that they must not take Krishna's teachings at face value, but must listen very critically. [45]

          Leadbeater declared in his Convention address:

          "There are, then, two paths to the mountain top, these two methods of the unfolding of the Divine Spirit in man;  they have always existed, and I suppose they always will.  It seems wise to accept that fact, and not to dispute about it or be troubled by it... It does not matter very much that the man who follows one of them should condemn or despise his neighbour who follows the other." [46]

          It was clear, however, that Leadbeater held that his path - the occult path - was superior.  He was openly hostile to Krishna, and hardly spoke to him.

          Krishna wrote to Lady Emily on December 26th:

          "They are too hopeless.  C.W.L. tells Mrs Raja [Jinarajadasa's wife] that the Coming has gone


--- 782 ---

wrong & down he goes to the meeting & there 'our Krishnaji' is in prominence.  So the game goes on.  Amma says to me & at meetings, that I am the World Teacher & says she will go on with the ceremonies, etc... etc!  I spoke very strongly last Sunday & she was rather upset.  She treats the people like children & they remain children." [47]

          Mrs Besant was openly reverential to Krishna - indeed, more so than before - but she could not surrender her old ideas as he demanded and was torn between the loyalty she felt towards him, and the loyalty she felt to Leadbeater and the "old Theosophy".  Leadbeater could neither relinquish his occult authority and status, nor bring himself to publicly admit what had happened, nor even to attempt to explain it away.

          This in itself created problems for the Theosophists who looked to their leaders for guidance and explanation.  As one eminent member of the TS wrote:

          "Unfortunately the leaders of the Society seem in this case to have fallen behind many of the members, for they show an amazing reluctance to face the collapse of the elaborate myth of 1925.  Their reputation as occult investigators, even as

honest reporters of observed fact, has been sadly shaken by this curious mental evasion which has characterized the public utterances of many of them since 1927." [48]


--- 783 ---

          Leadbeater presided over the Third General Episcopal Synod of the LCC at Adyar on January 17th, when the majority of the Church's bishops were present at Adyar for the TS Convention.  Amongst the matters discussed by Leadbeater, Wedgwood, Cooper, Bonier and Pigott was the central issue of Krishnamurti and the World Teacher.  Leadbeater had requested the Synod to define the Church's attitude to "the manifestation of its Head, the Christ, the World Teacher, through the body of Mr Jiddhu Krishnamurti" [49], since the Bishops had included in the official Statement of Principles, Summary of Doctrine and Table of Apostolic Succession for 1926 the following paragraph:

          "Jesus the Christ was a manifestation in the outer world of a great Being in the inner worlds, sometimes called the World-Teacher, Who is the special epiphany and embodiment of the Second Person of the ever Blessed Trinity, Who, 'although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but one Christ...'  The World-Teacher connotes an office in the Hierarchy of those 'just men made perfect' Who


--- 784 ---

form the spiritual government of our world, part of His especial work being the teaching and enlightenment of the occupants of the world.  He Who in Christianity is called the Christ is thus the Head of all faiths, ever pouring out His blessing upon the world for its helping and upliftment, and coming out into the world in each successive age or dispensation to re-proclaim the essential truths of religion and morality in a form suited to the age.  The state of the world is such that His near advent may confidently be expected." [50]

          The Bishops had also included a declaration that the Church accepted the "Basic Truths of Religion" initially put out for the World Religion, but then converted into the Fellowship of Faiths, of which it had been a member.

          However, the Bishops at Adyar now issued the following statement:

          "Many questions have been asked in regard to the Coming of the World Teacher.   The General Episcopal Synod has taken into careful consideration the widely divergent opinions held and expressed by various members of the Church, not only as to the


--- 785 ---

fact of the Coming, but as to its nature and extent;  and it feels strongly that it has no right to impose a belief upon its members, but must maintain its universal policy of granting them perfect freedom to hold their own individual convictions upon this matter as upon all others;  so that in its official capacity it must remain all-inclusive and must therefore take an attitude of strict neutrality.  It has therefore withdrawn from the Summary of Doctrine any mention of the World-Teacher, and has modified those Collects in the Liturgy which speak of the physical return of our Lord, so that they now refer to the awakening and progressive unfoldment of the Christ in the human heart." [51]

          This statement bore the signatures of Leadbeater, Wedgwood, Cooper, Pigott, and Bonjer.  The other Bishops of the Church - Arundale, who was at Adyar but did not attend for some reason, Vreede in the Dutch East Indies, Thomson of New Zealand, and Walker of South Africa - voted by proxy in support of the statement.

          Now that the Coming, as understood by Leadbeater, had not happened, and the young Indian Vehicle had turned into a wholly secular and somewhat irreligious philosopher,


--- 786 ---

the adventist theme had to be removed.  The bishops were probably relieved to move on to other matters which Krishna would have regarded as of supreme unimportance:  the use of consecrated churches, the requirement for gold braid on vestments, and rubrics for the ordination of priests.

          But, as Bishop Pigott was later to recall, there were many within the LCC, both clergy and laity, who were profoundly disillusioned by what had happened.

          "We believed that the Lord would actually come and speak to us and to the world and guide and direct our efforts for the helping of mankind after the cataclysm of the Great War.  There was something real about the hope.  Our leaders, we felt (and many of us still feel) had caught something extremely real and important and conveyed to us as well as they could what they seemed to know.  But it did not happen." [52]

          The O.E. Library Critic with its usual acid style suggested that Leadbeater

          "having played his part in the conception and acted as midwife to Mrs Besant at the birth of the World Teacher Idea, has now turned about and is


--- 787 ---

vigorously employed in eviscerating his offspring." [53]

          The same journal reported that Leadbeater had suffered "a serious mental collapse" at Adyar, when he suddenly began talking irrationally during a lecture, and had to be taken to his room. [54]  But, whatever the truth of this story, he was able to depart for Australia at the end of February, 1930, and arrived in Sydney on March 13th, when a local newspaperman described him as being "in a shaky condition". [55]

          The Australian Theosophist, however greeted his return with undisguised joy:

          "His presence will quicken the life of every member, the whole of the national life of Australia, for he is a king among men and he radiates in amplest measure the power of the Highest." [56]

          Leadbeater presided at the Australian Convention at Easter, and delivered the Subba Rao Lecture on "Theosophy and Patriotism", enjoying the inevitable motion of greeting and gratitude to "our great Elder Brother, Bishop Leadbeater".


--- 788 ---

          In April, Leadbeater issued his major declaration on Krishnamurti, the Coming and associated "problems", and it was widely published.  He declared that Krishna had to say things which were not entirely true, to adopt a position of almost fanatical extremism so that he might

          "strike hard enough to make the necessary imprecisions upon a pacydermatous public.   Krishnaji is not speaking primarily to you and me - men who have accustomed ourselves for years to think of higher things, who realize something of the relative importance of the inner life;  he is aiming at the average unawakened entity whose thoughts centre chiefly around horse-racing, prize-fighting, football, business or pleasure;  he must find a phraseology which will penetrate a fairly solid wall." [57]

          Leadbeater declared that he had heard the World Teacher speak through Krishna on several occasions, and claimed that "Krishnaji himself assures us he is the World Teacher".  However, he went on to elaborate the two paths idea, and to declare that only a few years previously the World Teacher "ordered the formation of the Liberal Catholic Church".  Ceremonies, he said, were not necessary in themselves but were useful.   There were many presentations of truth, but


--- 789 ---

only one Truth.

          In June, Leadbeater travelled to Europe to join Mrs Besant, Krishna and Jinarajadasa and to attend the Congress of the European National Sections, known as the Geneva Conference, which he addressed on "The Future of the Theosophical Society", a subject not as brightly optimistic as it might have been, given the rapid decline in membership which followed Krishna's dissolution of the Order of the Star.

          Mrs Besant's talk rather belatedly warned of the dangers of "crystallization" in the TS, of the establishment of a "Theosophical orthodoxy".   Following her, Dr J J van der Leeuw launched an energetic attack on the fact of both crystallization and orthodoxy.  Recalling the promise of the Coming and the conflict between that promise and the words of Krishna, he declared that all the Society's problems were the product of "revelations", "definite messages from unseen authorities".   Unless it shook off the "element of revelation, the TS had no future.  Given the presence of the main spokesmen for all the latter-day Theosophical revelations - Leadbeater and Wedgwood - it was a pointed attack on the basis of all the Society held to be true.   If revelation was the problem of the TS, then those men were its problems too. [57]


--- 790 ---

          Wedgwood responded by suggesting that he agreed with much of van der Leeuw's criticism, but seemed to imply that it was not his revelations that had caused the problems.   The following day Leadbeater spoke.  He also opposed crystallization and orthodoxy, he said, and agreed that revelation could be a problem.  But, like Wedgwood, he implied that it was never his revelations that were problematic.  He took refuge in one of his old arguments:  only those who could see as he could see could argue with what he saw.  And, he might have added but didn't, those who saw differently were clearly not really seeing at all and had, like Dr Rudolf Steiner, wandered from the Path.

          Marie Hotchener, another vehicle for revelations, was the only speaker to explicitly defend both seers and their revelations.

          "I ask Dr van der Leeuw where would our society have been had not visible and invisible revelations from unseen 'Authorities' been given to H.P.B., and later leaders.   It was such a revelation which caused Krishnaji to be 'discovered,' protected and educated by Dr Besant and Bishop Leadbeater.... Thousands upon thousands of people in all parts of the world have been


--- 791 ---

helped through the revelations from the invisible Master that were given to Krishnaji at that time." (581

          Finally, van der Leeuw returned to respond, quite defensively and with a degree of revision of his earlier remarks.  It was clear that his criticisms, however historically justified, had found few supporters at Geneva. [59]

          The Congress was followed, from July 29th to August 7th, by the Ommen Camp - it could hardly now be called a Star Camp, the Star having unexpectedly set.  Mrs Besant and Leadbeater stayed at the Castle as guests of Krishna, whilst the other two and a half thousand people attending were housed in tents.   Each day they trooped to a huge tent to hear Krishna give his morning talks, and in the evening to hear him speak at the camp fire.   The complex organization of the whole gathering was under the management of Rajagopal. [60]

          Leadbeater left Ommen And travelled to France, where, in Toulon, he was met by Wedgwood, Kollerstrom and Theodore St John.  Prior to the Geneva Conference, he had travelled through Europe, lecturing, celebrating in Liberal Catholic churches, and undertaking Masonic duties.  He


--- 792 ---

visited Marseilles, Milan, Venice, Budapest, Vienna, Cracow, Warsaw and Berlin, and then Amersfoot where he attended the Dutch Section convention.  From there he had gone on to Amsterdam and Paris, and then flown to Geneva for the Conference.  Now he went to Wedgwood's occult centre at Huizen, where he stayed throughout the month of August to rest and recover after his exhausting itinerary.

          Wedgwood showed him the work that was being done at Huizen, about twelve miles from Ommen, under the special direction of the Master The Count.  The two bishops joined in consecrating two new Liberal Catholic Bishops, John Cordes and Ernest Nyssens, in which they were assisted by Pigott and Bonjer.  Leadbeater was not especially impressed by what Wedgwood was doing;   he had come to regard Wedgwood with a degree of suspicion.  Huizen, however, had been proclaimed to be one of the three world Occult Centres, together with Adyar and Sydney.  Each was said to have its own special characteristics and work, and to be the special project of different Masters.

          The Manor was the Centre for the Southern Hemisphere, and the "representative on the physical plane of Shamballa";  its focus was a "highly magnetized Temple."  The Centre was protected by a special angel, some fifteen feet high, about which Leadbeater and one of his pupils, Harry


--- 793 ---

van Gelder, wrote an interesting account in The Australian, Theosophist. [62]

          Huizen was the Centre for Europe, under the special patronage of the Master The Count, and with ceremonial as its special work.  Adyar was the "Flaming Centre", the centre of it all.  Two subsidiary Centres were begun at Ojai, in California, and at Tekels Park, in Camberly, Sussex, in England, although these were never credited with the occult status of the original three.

          From Ommen, Leadbeater travelled on to London, where he addressed the Convention of the English Section, after receiving an "ovational welcome".  His subject was "Theosophy and the Theosophical Society".  Throughout his travels in Europe the problem of Krishna continued to trouble Theosophists, who sought Leadbeater's advice.  Leadbeater declared that the TS remained of vital importance in the world, the instrument of the Masters who founded it.  Krishna's views were simply his opinions, his Path.  Although Krishna had made statements contradicting those made by Leadbeater or Mrs Besant, Leadbeater suggested that it was more useful to seek the truth in both sets of statements, rather than to waste time arguing about the differences.

          The effect of the continuing controversy,


--- 794 ---

uncertainty and disappointment on Mrs Besant was considerable.  According to one of her associates at the time, E.L. Gardner, Mrs Besant intended to make a statement of her realization that she had been misled about the Coming, and told Gardner of this when he had an interview with her in 1930.

          "Mrs Besant broke down before making the declaration she intended and died.  The shock of finding her fears (a two year build up) all confirmed, killed her." [63]

          Although Gardener would not commit the full details to writing, it seemed that Mrs Besant had decided that Leadbeater had merely been seeing the creations of his own mind;   she was shattered to think that she had gone along with him, and horrified at the effect of her support." [64]

          Membership of the TS reflected the disillusionment within the Society.  In the ten years between 1929 and 1938 the TS as a whole dropped in membership by 33.8%.  The American Section fell by 43.1%, the British by 33.9%, the Australian by 29.1% and the Indian by 39.6%. [65]   But between 1927 and 1931, 66.5% of the membership had been lost." [66]


--- 795 ---

          While Leadbeater and his colleagues were traveling through Europe, their American brethren could enjoy reading a detailed account of Leadbeater's cats in the Theosophical Messenger.  At that time he owned eight of them, led by an "individualized Tom" over whose otherwise fierce and unfriendly nature he exercised an almost hypnotic control.  Leadbeater believed that cats could be individualized, that is, separated from the group soul of the animal kingdom, and gradually prepared to receive promotion into the human kingdom.  As few of his cats ever had endearing natures, some of his associates were led to ponder what sort of human beings they would make when reborn out of feline form.

          Apart from individualizing his chosen group of cats, Leadbeater was busy planning new work to replace the now shattered ideals of the Coming.  He could never have agreed with Krishna, who mused:

          Life has no philosophy,

          No cunning systems of thought.

          Life has no religions,

          No adorations in deep sanctuaries.

          Life has no gods,

          Nor the burden of fearsome mystery.... [67]


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Charles Webster Leadbeater 1854-1934 
A Biographical Study
by Gregory John Tillett
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