The Theosophical Society (Adyar)

Whither Theosophy.
Whither Theosophical Society?
By Preethi Muthiah

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There is no spelling mistake in the title of this article. This article is an attempt to look at two branches of the TS and how they function and what characterizes them. These two branches are: the International Headquarters governed by the international President, Mrs Radha Burnier, at Adyar and the National Section of the TS in America governed by Mrs Betty Bland, National President, TSA.

One has to acknowledge that despite all her faults/weaknesses, Mrs Bland maintains several Burnierians in her administration of the TSA. These include Mrs Ananya S. Rajan who is a relative of Mrs Burnier and works on the Editorial Board of the Quest Magazine brought out by the TSA. On the other hand, in the administration of Mrs Burnier there is no place for a non- or anti-Burnierian. On 25 May 2009, just one day after I sent out my strong protest against the corruption practised and endorsed by Mrs Burnier, I was told by Mr Pedro Oliveira, Officer-in-Charge of the Editorial Office where I was then working, that I was no longer welcome to work in a department where Mrs Burnier’s articles and talks are published. Soon after that, the General Manager of the Estate informed me that my services were no longer required at Adyar and that I must therefore vacate the premises at the earliest.

The other staunch Burnierian is Pablo Sender, who to my understanding and knowledge, is treated at par with other workers and staff at the TSA. He continues his work for the TS, both in his administrative capacity and as a lecturer on topics theosophical, despite his pro-Burnierian stance and despite Mrs Bland’s opposition of the Burnier governance.

On the other hand, Mrs Burnier and her chelas, especially Pedro Oliveira, marginalize anyone with even a slight non- or anti-Burnierian disposition. Thus the very “impersonal” Mrs Burnier refused to even talk with Ms Mary Anderson once Mary had chosen Dr John Algeo for the next President before the recently held elections of 2008. As the time for declaring the results drew to a close, Mary was increasingly treated as though she were an outsider at Adyar. The President would not travel with her in the same car; every email Mary sent out was checked for content by Shailendra Agrawal; Mary was no longer given the privilege of speaking at the ES; and those who continued to maintain a friendly relationship with her were questioned, doubted, suspected. All this Mary braved for close to an year before deciding to leave Adyar for good, and it is only when Mary put up her papers that Mrs Burnier realized she could not replace her. And so Keith Fisher was called all the way from Australia to become the international Secretary. Mary to the last day of her stay at Adyar worked for the Cause, whether helping Keith take over as IS or editing articles for The Theosophist or Adyar Newsletter, braving every alienation Mrs Burnier could throw her way with a smile on her face and umpteen jokes to share.

Similar was the treatment given to Ms Idarmis Rodriguez, another committed worker at Adyar who managed the publication of the entire magazine section of the Theosophical Publishing House, the Masonic Office and the Esoteric Section. After her open support of the nomination of Dr Algeo and after Mrs Burnier won the elections, much of these duties were gradually eased out of Idarmis, such that she was left feeling unneeded and thus chose to leave Adyar and is currently working at the TSA.

Dolores, another anti-Burnierian-administration, committed worker of the TS leads a marginalized lonely life at Adyar today. If Pedro sees you talking to Dolores, he will surely find the time the next day to ask you what the conversation was about. I have often been a victim of Pedro’s “paranoia” in this regard as I continued to maintain my friendship with these three ladies despite their stand during the elections.

Dolores is no longer called upon to lecture on topics Theosophical, even though she is well-versed, well-read and has a deep and broad understanding of many subjects. She no longer has any post at Adyar. Mrs Burnier gives the excuse that she is ill and 80 years of age so she need not work so hard. But by that same count, Mrs Burnier is herself ill and 85 years of age; pro-Burnierian, Helen Jamieson has a sick husband to look after and is frail and forgetful and nearing 80 years of age; pro-Burnierian N. Muthuswamy in 90+, sick, unable to even stand for 5-10 minutes, and yet continues to hold office at the Masonic Office. It thus stands to reason that the reason Dolores has no office at Adyar is solely because she is anti-Burnierian-administration.

I stress the word administration in that last phrase because, to my knowledge and understanding, all the people thus far mentioned, have no problems with Mrs Burnier as a person, but only with the way she runs the TS and where she intends to take it with all her partiality towards her kith and kin and the corruption practised by them. But “impersonal” Mrs Burnier, so blinded by her personality and ego, cannot see the fact of this matter….or perhaps chooses not to.

During the international Convention of 2008, tempers ran high especially on the pro-Burnierian side. Govert van der Wal of the Dutch Section totally forgot the Theosophical ideal of tolerance and brotherhood and openly condemned Ms Kim-Dieu and co. for “daring to enter Adyar where they are no longer welcome”. His fanaticism was so high that he claimed he would not sit on the same table to share a meal with the anti-Burnierians.

Or take the case of Mrs Breda Zagar who walked up to me one afternoon to clarify if Mr Colin Price was on Kim Dieu’s side, solely because Colin and Kim were sharing a joke and reading something on Kim’s laptop. This Breda could not appreciate Preethi’s response that perhaps Colin, like myself, was neutral, had no sides and was supporting on the truth and the TS.

In most things I would agree with most people worldwide today in saying that the Americans, by and large, have got it all wrong. But where the administration of the TS is concerned, I have to acknowledge truthfully that the Americans have got it right for a change. Pro-Burnierians and Anti-Burnierians cohabit, cowork, coeducate at the TSA, while only Pro-Burnierians are welcomed into Adyar today. This Adyar is no longer the hallowed precincts the Mahatmas visited. Mrs Burnier and her chelas have and are redefining Theosophy, the TS, its characteristics and nature to mean everything HPB, HSO and the Masters of the Wisdom stood against.

Last update: August 2009
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