The Theosophical Society (Adyar)

Time to Shed a Mantle
By Preethi Muthiah

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Dear members of my small Theosophical Family,

I am at Adyar to attend the Convention. Respecting the wishes of the international President, Mrs Radha Burnier, I do not live on campus but outside in a hotel room booked for the purpose of my stay.

It is now a little over seven months since I publicly challenged her on 24 May 2009. Since that fortunate day, my life has seen many changes, learned many lessons, the most important of which is that we basically live in a very beneficent universe. Today, in the School where I work nestled in the Nilgiri Hills, I learn more about simplicity, about caring for the beneficent universe - more specifically the Earth and all Her resources - where blessings and miracles happen daily.

I have, in a sense, completed a full circle in this one year since the last Convention of 2008. At that time, Radhaji was an unquestionable authority - much like she is even today for most of her followers and supporters worldwide - for me. The beginning of the Convention fever - which starts sometime about late September each year - at Adyar brought a certain change in the energies of Adyar; energies I could not ignore; signs I could not fail to see. As is the case with anything that needs to be changed, my first reactions to these signs were of denial, of looking within me to see where they took root and to see if they were projections of some inner need or frustration. These energy-changes were different from those that preceded the announcement of the Presidential Election results, at which time one only felt the thoughts of Theosophists worldwide centered on Adyar.

In tune with these subtle energy changes of late September-early October, outer signs became manifest. The printer at the Editorial Office refused to function enough for us to print the issue of the Theosophist that contained the name of our new Vice President, Mrs Linda Oliveira. The ants on the campus took over the entire department, the computer on which the Theosophist is processed shut down completely. To top all of this, the relationship between Subha Nilakanta and myself came to a head. We somehow sorted everything out and commenced work on The Theosophist. Then comes the entire delegation of GC members from the world over; but strangely, not one of those who opposed the President during the recently held elections fell ill. The ones who could not attend the Convention were the recently elected Vice President, Mrs Linda Oliveira, and her husband, Pedro Oliveira. On Radhaji’s part, all her opponents - though gathered in great numbers to attend the Convention - were given no speeches to deliver during the Convention. Their articles submitted previously and pending for a while were not published in The Theosophist. An official opposition got taken to the personal level, and where the door to compassionate action was to be kept open, it was shut tight, unforgiving, unrelenting, personal in the extreme.

One mind which believed utterly in the integrity of the President, Radhaji, till then began to seek answers and took on the mantle that it revealed on and since 24 May 2009. On this fortunate day, I was shown a document by my beloved brother, Pedro Oliveira. This document was an ES paper requiring each member of that august body to vow their loyalty to the President unquestioningly, thus taking away from them their own right to intelligent thought and action, to the questioning and doubting that are an essential part of the spiritual journey. Prior to that moment, I had already approached the President (through the General Manager) with complaints about the favoritism and rule-breaking followed by Mrs Uma Nilakanta, Superintendent of Leadbeater Chambers. That complaint was ignored by the President, who eventually shifted me out of the department to the Editorial Office, for which I had approached Mr Pedro Oliveira, seeing that their need for a full-time typesetter was greater than Uma’s need for an assistant, who could be more useful in another department. The ignored complaint and the ES Form snowballed into my first email of 24 May 2009.

During the time from the end of December 2008 to the end of May 2009, I was inspired to write down and chronicle all my perceptions of this whole issue of the Great Divide in the TS. Several articles were written and modified, repeatedly; but what came out on 24 May 2009 had nothing to do with all the previous ones. It was fresh. It was powerful. The arrow for the shooting of which I had been prepared was ready to leave its bow. Since its publication, I have written 6 other messages to fellow members of the TS. During this time since 24 May 2009, I have interacted with members of the TS mostly via email; and I am now among them attending the international Convention of 2009.

As I sat listening to Dr Dara Tatray and Prof. CA Shinde making an exposition on Science and Spirituality on 28 December 2009, I received Intimation that it is time for me to shed this mantle that I have taken upon me, and to continue with my journey Homeward. In the shedding of this mantle, there are points that must be clarified; questions of old that must be answered and hopefully from the preceding two, pointers for the future will be revealed.

In answer to Mr S. Harihara Raghavan’s question during my Exit Interview on 25 May 2009 as to why I went public rather than taking that letter of 24 May 2009 to the President privately, I have to frankly acknowledge that this was the only way to catch her attention, to make her listen, as I am sure she has been for the past now seven months. Private complaints about Uma and Subha Nilakanta’s many misdoings have abounded since their entry into Adyar (1992 and 2001, respectively), and these have been ignored and/or glossed over completely by the President. It is my hope that now at least, she has done something to guide these younger souls on the Path they need to tread within the precincts of the TS.

The other reason for my going public lies in the public way in which the General Secretaries opposing her during the last elections were treated. My readers might agree or disagree with me in this - as you have every right to do so - but vengeance does not become the dignity of the international President of the TS. Her vengeance was there for all to see, as she denied those General Secretaries the privilege of either taking a Chair or, on the other hand, of addressing the congregated and assembled delegates to the international Convention. The message on Mrs Burnier’s side could not have been clearer. Of course, Adyar’s answer to Mrs Burnier was to take away from the President’s two stars that privilege as well. They (as stated earlier in this message) - Linda and Pedro Oliveira - lay too sick in hospital to attend the Convention or address the assembled delegates. Mrs Linda Oliveira, in effect, was too sick to attend her first Convention as Vice President of the TS.

Respecting the President’s wishes on 25 May 2009, I became from worker-resident-member of Adyar to member of the TS, who in the daily walk of her life, tries to impart to the 40 children placed in her care all she has learned at and through Adyar. And that is why I say ‘fortunate’ repeatedly when I refer to the events of my life the past 6 months, for in their company, my honesty meets theirs; my zest for life meets theirs; our fresh approach to life and living match; our inquiries meet and part and meet endlessly dialoguing with each other. Ours is a mutual journey into the mystery of Life; and into the heart of our own being. Ironically, even though this is one of the unwritten Objects of the TS, one hardly ever meets that kind of questioning, fresh mind filled with a zest for learning and understanding the deeper aspects Life is replete with.

At Adyar today, and in the TS worldwide, the Mirror of Contrariness has been shut and locked away. In the Mirror of Contrariness one can find etched out clearly one’s inmost desires, one’s weaknesses, one’s faults and one’s impurities, the seeing of which are so important to the purification of the Soul as it grows from imperfect humanity to perfect humanity to Adepthood and beyond. However, at present, only those whose mindset matches that of the President are welcomed. These are also the ones who will receive the President’s ‘compassion’, as she glosses over their mistakes and errors, ignores their faults and weaknesses. It is easy to be ‘compassionate’ to those whose ideas are similar to ours. In fact, there is no need for compassion there really, for openness to those who bring pleasure to oneself is natural. The ones that test are the ones that are contrary to our own. That was the ‘compassion’ one would have expected the President to possess as she met her ‘opponents’ during the last Convention of 2008.

As a wise friend of mine, who is a practicing Buddhist from Argentina , said upon listening to the reason why I live and work in Kodaikanal, ‘If they are right and you are wrong, then there must be compassion. If they are wrong and you are right, then there must be humility. If you look deeper, Preethi, you will find that both sides are half-right and half-wrong and you all need to be both humble and compassionate.’

Since my arrival at Adyar to attend this Convention of 2009, I have tried to look at myself through the mirror of these beautiful and poignant words. I acknowledge that my heart aches to reach out to Pedro, Linda and Radhaji — among many others — and hug them and embrace them, for I see them as extensions of myself. Just as I bathe myself everyday, I would like to bathe them too and cleanse them, if it were in my hands to do so. The Oneness we so often talk about in the TS is reflected in the faces of these who I am, at the moment from under the mantle, opposing. I am convinced that at heart we are One, though our minds or ideas may differ. I am convinced that these lesson patterns that are being instrumented through us are meant for all of us take the Movement forward; but, perhaps, more importantly, to help the President to learn the lesson of compassion to those who are of the Contrary Mind, but are placed under her by Life. This that the TS is going through now is the group karma that every member subscribing to the TS must face, and deal with. I see, also, my role and the mantle that was thrust upon me by Life for reasons we both are aware of, that very painful duty of being the critic, the one that says that the body of the TS needs a bath, for it has begun to stagnate into theories that sorely need to be put into practice, top-down.

We must, as my wise friend said, be both compassionate to and humble with each other. The meeting of the two minds of the TS cannot be along the continuum upon which we stand today, but at a higher or deeper level. The absence of members and Secretaries from most parts of Europe at this Convention does not bode well for the maintenance of a fraternal atmosphere. However, the treatment they receive from a President who chooses to ignore them or their plea, or viewpoints, is not an appropriate response either. Since the President has more power and authority than all the members of the GC put together, I am afraid, ‘the buck has to start with her’, as they say.

I have been praying for the door of the compassion resident within the President to open for those who are of the Contrary Mind. This mail is being sent out to everyone with the hope that we all still want One TS. And, if we all still want a Single TS, would you join me in my prayer that the Compassionate door of the President will open wide enough to allow those of the Contrary Mind to enter, that the faults and weaknesses she so easily forgives her allies will be also forgiven to those of the Contrary Mind?

On my part, I send out sincere apologies to all whose names I had to mention in my efforts to bring to light the various aspects of the President’s misadministration of the TS. In keeping with the Aquarian Age into which we have been ushered, we need to prove the credibility of our organization in order for it to survive to the coming Ages; for the Aquarian Age is characterized by the questioning mind, and the development and maturation of that mind as a consequence of that questioning. I would also like to mention here that I prefer the human being Radhaji to an idol Radha Burnier. In other words, Radhaji I love you for who you are and despite all your faults. My only concern with your faults is when they reflect the character of the TS and affect its functioning as an organizational whole.

As another New Year arrives, I wish the President allows herself to be humanized with compassion and humility, so that we remain the One we were always meant to be, and work together to usher in a new life into our old movement. At the moment, I stand at the doors of Mrs Burnier’s heart, knocking to see if there will be an answering response. I cannot change my viewpoint, which is guided by ideals of a Higher Order, but I embrace her with all my heart. I can widen and broaden my thoughts enough to include those of all the members of our little Theosophical family. The essential question to ask is: Can we as Theosophists go beyond the fetters of the mind that keeps us divided even today to the realm of the heart where we are, as we always were and always will be, united?

It is my hope that since I am but a child of 39, Radhaji will find it easier to forgive me, to make allowances and to be compassionate and appreciative of my different viewpoint. But, before you take on that step, Mrs Burnier, do remember that I will not enter alone. With me will enter all those of the Contrary Mind, for I am unwilling to enjoy for myself alone any privilege my fellow brothers in the TS cannot enjoy. This mantle was taken in order to bring the two poles - which are essentially one - together. Perhaps there are better ways to accomplish this, but given all the circumstances, my own limitations and my ideals, this is all I could do. And, as my Principal - Mr Brian Jenkins - says to the children’s Theater Groups at school, if you take on a part, play it convincingly. I hope I was a convincing Mirror, mirroring the different and diverse viewpoints added with my own understandings and comments.

To my brothers of the Contrary Mind, I have only one thing to say. I hope when Radhaji does open her heart, you will not enter bent upon finding faults with her, but look into the mirror of your own motives and the lessons you are here to learn through this. Please do show her the compassion she deserves; in so doing, there will be things which you will humbly have to account for … as do each of us (including the President and all her supporters) … At that point try to be compassionate to your own selves as well; compassionate enough to understand that you, as each one of us, are yet in the imperfect humanity stage, and need to be willing to forgive, to understand and to move on.

And now I willingly and with full awareness shed this mantle I had taken up, going my own way, bearing the results of this step taken solely under the guidance of Life, my Teacher and Guru. I am, as always, your most humble servant Radhaji, who could not keep quiet seeing the TS under your Presidency divided.

With much love and fraternal feeling,

Last update: December 2009
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