The Theosophical Society (Adyar)

An Unofficial Report of a Very Official Convention
By Preethi Muthiah

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Dear All,

The international Convention held between 26-31December 2009 is just over. Having attended it, I am now back in the School where I work and am noting down my impressions of the event, held annually at Adyar between the dates mentioned. The absence of many international delegates was noted and talked about by most delegates, including some of those from abroad. There were in all only 30 international delegates in 1300 delegates; so much so that it felt more like an Indian Section Convention with a few foreigners thrown in. Strangely too, there were not many delegates who are regular visitors to the Convention. Rather, we had many new faces and first-timers attending the last Convention.

At the opening of the Convention, there were, thus, very few representatives sitting on dais to bring greetings from their respective countries. Those who did included the following:

East and Central Africa - Bhupendra Vora (former GS of the Section)
Australia - Dara Tatray (General Secretary)
Belgium - Jan Jelle Keppler (General Secretary)
Brazil - Marcos de Resende (General Secretary)
England - Colin Price (National Lecturer and former GS)
India - S. Sundaram (General Secretary)
Italy - Antonio Girardi (General Secretary)
Finland - Markku Kemppi (Member)
Mexico - A member whose name I don’t recall
New Zealand - Aroon Parshotam (Member, Hamilton Lodge, NZ)
Norway - Agnes Gaasemyr (General Secretary)
Netherlands - Govert van der Wal (Member, Dutch Section)
Slovenia - Dusan Zagar (Presidential Representative)
Sri Lanka - Jayawardene (Member)
USA - Kusum Satapathy (She read out the greetings from Ms. Joy Mills of Krotona and Mrs. Betty Bland, General Secretary of the American Section)

One point to be noted is that even though other Sections like E&C Africa, Finland, Mexico, the Netherlands and Sri Lanka had members conveying the greetings from their countries, this same privilege was not given to any of the three Americans present for the Convention. This discrimination needs to end in my understanding. We have to learn to respect views contrary to our own.

To make up for the lack of numbers on the dais, Mrs. Burnier placed several ‘dummies’ - if I may call them that - on stage. These included DK Govindaraj, Helen Jamieson, HK Sharan and Sriram Panchu.

Another point to be noted was that those countries which had no members at Adyar did not send any greetings for the Convention and its success.

The Lecture sessions that make up the mornings and afternoons of the Convention were also fewer in number than in most years. With the exception of 28 December 2009, there were no afternoon lectures at 3:00 pm. This, to my understanding, was because there are as of now very few people Mrs. Burnier will give the privilege of addressing an audience to. The American Section, most of the European Section and any and every member from Sections that opposed her during the recent elections is now considered an outsider to the TS by the President. Thus, that privilege is now reserved for only those who are her staunch supporters. Going by the number of speakers available during the Convention of 2009, one might not be so wrong in assuming that the number of Mrs. Burnier’s supporters in the TS worldwide is dwindling.

Speakers from abroad included Colin Price (England), Dara Tatray (Australia), Bhupendra Vora (Africa/England), Linda Oliveira (Australia/Adyar), Marcos de Resende (Brazil). Speakers from India included Satish Inamdar (KFI), HK Sharan (National Lecturer), RC Tampi (National Lecturer), CA Shinde (National Lecturer). Two visiting dignitaries Mr. Guha and Prof. Kolhatkar delivered the Besant Lecture and the Theosophy-Science Lecture, respectively.

The Indian Section Convention had three speakers including Sunita Maitreya (Chennai), Shashwat (Ujjain) and Nitin ??? (Maharashtra).

The evening entertainment programs were all very nice, especially the one by children from an orphanage in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, India and the vocal music concert by Madhup Mudgal.

The Closing of the Convention was a comedy of errors. The first speaker, Dara Tatray, spoke at length about the growth of the animal population at Adyar. Then she mentioned that she has seen an improvement in the President’s health and is convinced that the President is recovering her old vigour. As a proof to this, she mentioned that one can see the President is getting back her old vigour because she recently criticized Dara for a mistake in an email Dara sent the President. I really wonder why no one thinks the President is well when she is not critical of one’s flaws.

And as if this was not enough, the President justified her stand in the closing speech she gave by speaking great words she does not - in daily life - live up to herself. She spoke of being brotherly towards those who do not think like one does. And then at the end of her speech, she declared the Convention closed, totally forgetting to ask the international Treasurer, Ms Keshwar Dastur, to give the Vote of Thanks, which is a customary and essential part of every Convention Closing. During the Vote of Thanks, on behalf of the President, the international Treasurer thanks all those departments and people who help the President manage the Estate on a day-to-day basis, as also her gratitude to those who help her with the Convention. This year that gratitude was sorely missed, as was the presence of our many international brothers and sisters.

Seeing all this, one wonders when the President is going to see the fact that if one resists life, a day will come when Life begins to resist oneself. That day has already arrived in the life of the President now. It is almost as if the President wanted to disprove Dara’s claim as to her returning vigour and mental health and so she forgot to announce the Vote of Thanks. Life’s ways are indeed strange, for She is now bent upon proving right the contention of John Algeo and his supporters when he stood against the President during the recent elections.

It was, all in all, a very empty Convention; though there were close to 1300 delegates. Roads looked deserted for some weird reason. The life that characterized every other Convention in the past was missing. It is as if the isolation of Adyar has begun, and She has begun to die away under the exclusive rule of the current ‘international’ President, knowing that as long as the President’s ego prevails, it is hopeless to wish for a truly international and brotherly atmosphere. This exclusivity the President practices so readily has to die and give way to the inclusivity that is inherent and implicit in the ideal of Brotherhood proclaimed in our First Object.

Fraternally,
Preethi

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Dear All,

It was recently brought to my attention that those people I mentioned as 'dummies' in my last email entitled "An Unofficial Report of a Very Official Convention" do actually take the chair on the dais at the Inaugural of the Convention, for it is a privilege given to all members of the GC.

I was not aware of this and, perhaps, owing to the fact that generally the dais is too full for one to notice who is or is not sitting there, which was truthfully speaking very empty this year, I assumed that they were "dummies".

My sincere apologies to DK Govindaraj, Helen Jamieson, HK Sharan, and Sriram Panchu. Also, to Mrs Radha Burnier and Linda Oliveira, to Kusum Satapathy. And most of all, to all of you who are recipients of my postings.

Many apologies for my ignorance and bless the member who brought this to my attention.

Fraternally
Preethi

Last update: January 2010
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