The Theosophist - January 1891.
1. The title of this Society, which was formed at New York,
United States of America, on the 17th of November 1875, is the “Theosophical
2. The Theosophical Society is an International Body.
3. The objects of the Theosophical Society are:
First - To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour.
Second - To promote the study of Aryan and other Eastern literatures, religions, philosophies and sciences, and to demonstrate their importance to Humanity.
Third - To investigate unexplained laws of Nature
and the psychic powers latent in man.
4. The Theosophical Society is absolutely unsectarian, and no assent to any formula of belief, faith or creed shall be required as a qualification of membership; but every applicant and member must lie in sympathy with the effort to create the nucleus of an Universal Brotherhood of Humanity.
5. The Society does not interfere with caste rules, nor other social observances, nor with politics, and any such interference in its name is a breach of the constitution. The Society is not responsible for the personal opinions of its Fellows.
1. The Fellows of the Theosophical Society are either Active,
Corresponding, or Honorary. Corresponding Fellows are persons of distinction
and learning, who are willing to furnish information of interest to the Society.
Honorary Fellows are persona eminent for their contributions to Theosophical
knowledge, or for their services to Humanity. All other Fellows are classified
2. Admission to the grade of Corresponding or Honorary Fellow shall rest with the President; but the Councils of Sections may submit to the President for approval the names of persons whom they consider worthy of that honor. Neither of these two classes have the status or responsibilities attaching to Active Fellowship.
3. Fellowship in the Society is open to all persona without distinction of sex, race, creed, caste or colour; but no ward, and no person under eighteen, shall be admitted without the consent of their legal guardians.
4. Every application for membership must be made on a form duly authorized by the executive of the Society, and must be endorsed by two Active Follows of the Society and signed by the applicant.*
5. In a country where a Section exists, applications must be forwarded to the General Secretary; in all other cases to the President.
6. All applications for Fellowship shall be filed at the Head-quarters of the Society, after being duly registered by the General Secretary of the Section receiving them.
7. No dignity or privilege shall be conferred upon, nor any obligation accepted from, any Fellow of the Theosophical Society, that conflicts with any of the Rules of the Society, or is contrary to the spirit of its Constitution.
8. Any diploma, certificate, dignity, privilege, or obligation issued or accepted, in contravention to these Rules, shall be necessarily null and void.
Branches and Sections
1. For the convenience of administration the Fellows of the
Society are organized into local Branches** and territorial Sections.
2. A Branch is constituted by the issue of a Charter, which must be recorded at the Head-quarters of the Society, signed and sealed by the President and countersigned by the Corresponding Secretary of the Society and by the General Secretary of the territorial Section, if any, in which the proposed Branch is located.
3. No Charter shall be issued to less than five applicants, who must be Active Fellows.
4. No Branch shall be obliged to accept any Fellow as a member who has not been duly elected by the Branch, and who has not agreed to abide by its Bye-laws, but every Fellow of the Society residing within the territorial limits of a Section is, ipso facto, a member of that Section, and within the jurisdiction of Us Council, unless a special exception for valid reasons is made by the President.
5. No Fellow shall be on the roll of active members of more than one Branch at once.
6. A person may be an Active Fellow of the Society without joining any Branch: such person will be classified as “Unattached.”
7. A territorial Section may be formed by the President of the Society, who shall prescribe the limits of its jurisdiction, upon the application of not less than seven chartered Branches within that territory.
8. All Branches and unattached Fellows within its geographical limits shall be subject to its jurisdiction.
9. Each Section shall have autonomous jurisdiction within its pre-scribed geographical limits, subject to the terms of the Constitution and Rules of the Society, as herein prescribed.
10. Each Section shall have the power of making its own Laws and Bye-laws and of fixing its own Entrance Fees, Dues and Subscriptions. Provided always that such Laws and Bye-laws do not conflict with the Objects and Rules of the Theosophical Society herein contained, and that no objection is made by the President within thirty days after his receipt of a copy of the same from the General Secretary of the Section. The General Secretary shall forward to the President, within seven days of their adoption, copies of the Constitution, Rules and Bye-laws of his Section and of any alterations thereof, under registered cover.
11. No Constitution, Rule, or Bye-Law of a Branch shall be valid until confirmed by the President, or by the General Secretary of the Section in which such Branch is situated, who shall be ex-officio the agent of the President.
12. The executive officer of each Section shall be a General Secretary, to be chosen annually according to the Rules of the Section.
13. He shall be ex-officio a Secretary of the Theosophical Society, and as such shall be the only official agent of communication between his Section and the President of the Society.
14. The General Secretary shall forward to the President annually, on or before the 1st day of November, a brief report of the work, receipts and expenses of the Section during the year, and a list of the names and addresses of all who have joined, left, deceased or been expelled during the preceding twelvemonth. He shall at once notify the President of the issue of a Charter to any new Branch.
1. The Society shall have a President, a Corresponding Secretary,
a Vice-President, ex-officio Secretaries, a Recording Secretary, a Treasurer
and an Assistant Treasurer. The office of Vice-President shall rank next after
that of Corresponding Secretary during the tenure of office of the present
2. The right of the President-Founder, Colonel H.S. Olcott, to hold the office of President of the Theosophical Society for life, is recognised and re-affirmed.
3. The similar right of Madame H.P. Blavatsky, as co-Founder, to bold the office of Corresponding Secretary for life, is likewise recognised and re-affirmed.
4. The office of Corresponding Secretary shall not be filled when left vacant by the present incumbent; but it may be revived at any time by the unanimous vote of the Sections in favour of a specified individual. In such case the new incumbent shall not hold office for more than seven years without re-election.
5. The Vice-President has no administrative function beyond those by Rule herein provided, except in case of the death or resignation of the President, in which event the functions of the latter shall devolve upon him until a new President is elected.
6. The office of President shall become vacant by reason of any of the following causes: Resignation; Death; or under Rule 2, Art. VI.
7. The resignation of a President shall be addressed to the Vice-President, who shall at once communicate it to the General Council; such resignation to take effect according to its terms.
8. The President shall have, the right to appoint his successor, and also to fill a vacancy in the office of Vice-President; subject, however, in cither case, to ratification by a two-thirds majority vote of the Sections. And it shall be the duty of the General Secretaries of Sections to communicate to, the President the decision of their respective Sections within three calendar months after receiving from him notice of the said appointment or appointments. Should the nominee or nominees fail to obtain the required two-thirds Vote of ratification, the President shall make a new nomination.
9. Should the office of President become vacant without a nomination having been made under the preceding Rule, then the Vice-President shall enjoy the same rights, and may offer himself as a candidate.
10. The Recording Secretary and Treasurers of the Society shall be appointed by the President and hold office during his pleasure; but such appointments shall become void by a majority vote of the Sections, which, shall be taken by the President upon the written demand of the General Secretary of any Section.
1. The general control and administration of the Society
is vested in a General Council, consisting of the President, Corresponding
Secretary, Vice-President and General Secretaries of Sections.
2. The business of the General Council may be conducted by correspondence; all questions to be decided by a majority of votes, as communicated to the President, who shall have a casting vote in case of a tie. The names of Sections voting for or against any proposal shall be communicated by the President to the General Secretaries together with the decision of the Council.
1. The President shall be the chief Executive Officer of
the Society. He shall have discretionary powers in all matters not herein specifically
provided for, and be responsible for their exercise and for the due performance
of his duties to the General Council from which he derives his authority.
2. The President may be deprived of office, at any time, for cause shown, by a three-fourths vote of the General Council; provided, however, that opportunity has been given him to disprove any charges brought against him before the General Council. Such charges to be sent in duplicate to the President and Vice-President.
3. Upon receiving a copy of such charges, the Vice-President shall at once forward to each other member of the General Council a copy thereof, together with a copy of the defence offered by the President, and take their votes thereon. And it shall be the duty of every member of the Council to communicate his vote to the Vice-President within thirty days of the receipt of such communication. Pending the issue of the above proceedings the executive powers of the President shall vest in the Vice-President.
4. The same procedure shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to the case of the Vice-President.
5. The President shall be the custodian of all the archives and records of the Theosophical Society.
6. The President for the time being shall be one of the Trustees and Administrators of the Society for all real-estate, funds, un-invested monies, and other property of all kinds, of which the society as a whole is or shall at any time become possessed.
7. The President shall be the Court of Final Appeal in disputed questions arising between Fellows, or in or between Branches or Sections. But all differences between Branches or Fellows must, in the first instance, be submitted for settlement to the Council of the Section, appeal being resorted to only in exceptional cases, or when the Council of the Section is unable to decide the case.
8. The President shall have the power to delegate any one or more of his powers to persons chosen by himself, and shall fill pro tem all vacancies that occur in the offices of the Society.
Charters and Diplomas
1. All Charters, whether of Sections or of Branches, and
all Diplomas of Fellowship, shall draw their authority from the President,
as the Executive of the General Council, and may be cancelled by the same authority.
2. The local administration of the Sections and Branches shall be vested in their respective officers, according to the terms of their charters.
3. The Branches shall enjoy complete internal self-government, pro-Tided that, they do not infringe the Constitution, nor contravene the Rules of the Society, or of the Section to which they belong.
4. Every application to the President for a Charter for a Section or a Branch, shall contain an undertaking on the part of the applicants that the said Section or Branch will abide by the Rules of the Society.
5. Every application for a Charter for a Branch shall be signed by at least five active Fellows of the Society. Such application, if for a Branch within the limits of any Section, must be addressed to the General Secretary of that Section: in other cases, to the President of the Society, who shall exercise his discretion as to the issue of the Charter.
1. The Head-Quarters of the Society are established at Adyar,
2. The Head Quarters and all other property of the Society, including the Adyar Library, the Permanent and other funds, shall continue to be vested in the President as Trustee for the Society, until such time as the Trust Deed ordered by the Convention of. December 1890 shall have been duly executed.
I. The legitimate objects of expenditure shall be:
The maintenance of Head-quarters, including repairs and improvements to the property.
The support and extension of the Adyar Library.
Wages of employes.
Purchase of books.
Office and travelling expense.
And such other worthy objects as may from time to time present themselves.
2. Any surplus income, over and above a reasonable provision for current working expenses, and such other disbursements as may be provided for by these Rules, shall be invested by the Trustee in Government or other first-class securities, and added to the Permanent Fund, inaugurated by order of the Convention of 1883.
1. The accounts of the Society shall be audited yearly by
a qualified Committee appointed by the President.
Fees and Dues
1. It shall be the duty of each Section to contribute as
liberally as its circumstances allow towards the maintenance of the Executive
Staff and the upkeep of Head-quarters.
2. The fees payable towards the support of the Executive Staff by Branches not comprised within the limits of any Section are as follows; For Charter ? 1; for each Diploma of Fellowship 5 Shillings; for the annual-subscription of each Fellow 2 Shillings.
3. Unattached fellows not belonging to any Section or Branch shall pay an annual subscription of 5 shillings to the Head-Quarters.
1. Each Section shall bold an annual Convention for legislative
and social purposes at such time and place as may be prescribed in the Rules
of the Section.
2. The President shall also have the power to convene meetings at discretion.
1. Any Fellow who shall in any way attempt to involve the
Society In political disputes shall be immediately expelled.
2. No Fellow, Officer, or Council of the Theosophical Society, or of any Section or Branch thereof, shall promulgate or maintain any doctrines being that advanced, or advocated by the Society.
3. Any Fellow of the Society accused of slandering another Fellow; or of willfully offending the religious feelings of any other Fellow at any meeting of any Branch or Section; or of being guilty of gross misconduct; or any Fellow convicted of any offence under the Penal laws of the country he inhabits, involving moral turpitude, shall be given an opportunity to defend himself, at a special meeting of such Branch or Section; and on being found guilty, or failing to make valid defence, the Executive of the Section may, if deemed expedient, expel such fellow, notifying the President of the fact that his name may be removed from the register of Fellows; provided, however, that the accused shall have the right of appeal to the President whose decision shall be final; and pending the President’s decision his rights of membership shall be suspended.
1. The present Constitution and Rules of the Theosophical
Society shall remain in force until amended by a full two-thirds vote of the
2. Should any proposed alteration lack only one vote of the requisite two-thirds majority, the President may in his discretion cast the additional vote required.
3. Any proposal for the alteration or amendment of the Constitution and Rules of the Theosophical Society must, in the first instance, be communicated to the President in writing, who shall within 30 days transmit the same with his remarks thereon to the General Secretaries of the Sections.
4. No alteration nor addition to the Rules of the Theosophical Society shall be made without four month’s previous notice having been given to the General Secretary of each Section of the proposed alteration or addition, who shall at once ascertain the opinion thereon of his Section and report the same to the President.
5. All previous Rules of the Theosophical Society are hereby repealed, and all Rules or By-Laws of Sections or Branches which conflict with these Rules are hereby declared illegal and invalid.
1. It shall be competent to the President to affiliate any Society with the
Theosophical Society at his discretion.
Note. - The following have already been affiliated:
(i.) The Sanskrit Sabha of Benares, with Pandit Bapu Deva Shastri as President.
(ii.) The Literary Society of Benares Pandits, with Pandit Rama Misra Shastri, Professor of Sankhya, Benares College, as its President.
(iii.) The Hindu Sabha, founded by M. R. Ry. A. Sankariah Avergal, B.A., Naib Dewan of Cochin .
At a Bharat Mahamundala (Convention) of orthodox Pandits and other friends of Hindu Religion and Sanskrit Literature, convened at Haridwar, 30th May 1887, the following Resolutions were unanimously adopted: -
Resolved, - That this Sabha unanimously records its appreciation of the selfish and efficient aid given by the Theosophical Society to the cause of our national religion during the past ten years throughout India, and in disseminating in distant countries a knowledge of the teachings of our holy sages.
Resolved, - That this Sabha earnestly recommends all Princes and others favourable to Hindu religion (Sanatana Dharma) to assist the Society as much as possible to make the Adyar Library as useful and powerful a national undertaking as its projectors intended that it should be.
Signed by the Members of the General Council: -
H.S. OLCOTT, P. T. S. ,
SHAMA CHARAK BHATTA, Delegate N. E. Section of India.
BERTRAM KEIGHTLEY, Special Delegate American, British, and European Sections.
B. NABASINGA BOW, Delegate, Southern Section.
J. BOWLES DALY, Gen. Sec. Ceylon Section.
J. K. DAJI, Gen. Sec. Central Indian Section.
PANDIT GOPI NATH, Gen. Sec. N. W. Section, India.
I. Shorthand notes were taken of the various interesting and instructive Lectures which were delivered before the Convention, and arrangements will be made for their publication.
II. The appointment of Commissioners to act during the President's furlough does not carry with it the right of interference with the duties or work of General Secretaries of Sections as defined in the Revised Rules of the Society, or with the special powers by me conferred upon H. P. Blavatsky in a recent order.
H. S. OLCOTT, P. T. S.
Adyar, 7th January 1891.
Last update: August 2009