1885 - 1894
Annie Besant (1847–1933) had a wide reputation in Victorian England as a Freethinker. Breaking with tradition she left her husband Reverend Frank Besant in 1873 and alone began a career as a vibrant public speaker and pamphleteer. She was an ardent suffragette.
“There was a deep widening intensity, an imminent clarity of that otherness, with its impenetrable strength and purity. …Love is not a common thing but it was there in the hut with an oil lamp; it was with that old woman, carrying something heavy on her head… It was everywhere, so common that you could pick it up under a dead leaf or in that jasmine by the old crumbling house. But everyone was occupied, busy and lost. It was there filling your heart, your mind and the sky; it remained and would never leave you.
Only you would have to die to everything, without roots, without a tear. Then it would come to you, if you were lucky and forever ceased to run after it, begging, hoping, crying. Indifferent to it, but without sorrow; thought left far behind. And it would be there on that dusty, dark road.”
Indian National Congress founded
British seize Mandalay
Pasteur develops vaccine
Statue of Liberty given to
U.S. by France
Besant joins Fabian Society
and lectures for them
Blavatsky gets negative report
from Society for Physical Research
Annie Besant (1847–1933) had a wide reputation in Victorian England as a Freethinker. Breaking with tradition she left her husband Reverend Frank Besant in 1873 and alone began a career as a vibrant public speaker and pamphleteer. Besant championed organized labor by supporting a strike of match girls. She was an
ardent suffragette and joined the Fabian Socialist Society along with Sidney and Beatrice Webb, George Bernard Shaw and Ramsey McDonald.
As a young journalist she was asked to analyze The Secret Doctrine for London’s Review of Reviews. Turning the pages, she was “dazzled by what she read.” Within weeks Annie Besant made a lifelong commitment to Theosophy.
100,000 U.S. workers strike
for eight hour work day
Samuel Gompers founds
American Federation of Labor
Coca Cola invented
Pasteur developes rabies vacine
First Indian National Congress meets
Excerpt from “Sea of Faith” documentary about Annie Besant.
Tchaikovsky composes “Swan Lake”
Van Gogh: “Moulin de la Galette”
Queen Victoria celebrates Golden Jublee
Chiang Kai-sheck born
In 1888 Besant and Blavatsky met in London. In 1907, after the deaths of Blavatsky and Olcott, she became president of the Society. By 1909, before excited crowds, she was lecturing on “the coming world teacher.”
Eastman introduces Kodak camera
Slavery abolished in Brazil
Besant leads strike of
girls at Bryant and May’s factory
Blavatsky: The Secret Doctrine
Nicola Tesla builds electric motor-manufactured by Westinghouse
Questioner: Are you still as uncompromising as ever in your attitude towards ceremonies and the Theosophical Society?
Krishnamurti: Once you see an act to be wholly foolish, you do not revert to it. If you perceive deeply, as I did, the utter folly of ceremonies, then it can never again have any sway over you. No opinion, though it be of the many, no authority, though it be of tradition or of circumstances, can persuade differently one who has discerned its valuelessness. But as long as one does not see its significance completely, there is a going back to it. It is the same with regard to the Theosophical Society. The idea of organized belief, with its authorities, with its propaganda, with its conversion and exploitation, is to me fundamentally evil.
It is not important what I think about the Theosophical Society. What is important is that you shall find out for yourself what is true, what is the actual, not what you want the actual to be; and to comprehend the actual, the real, the true, without any doubt, you must come to it completely denuded of all want, of all desire for security or comfort. Then only is there a possibility of discerning that which is. But as most people are conditioned by want, by craving for security, for comfort, here and in the hereafter, they are utterly incapable of true perception.
Krishnamurti – Talk 3, Sarobia, Pennsylvania, 16 June 1936
“I would ask you to consider if it seems strange and so impossible that in our own days as aforetime, some mighty teacher should come into the world to uplift and to help. We are so apt, with all of our pride of intellect, and of nationality to deem ourselves too small to be blessed with the presence of a world teacher, and yet, if He has come before, under exactly similar conditions of a new type appearing on earth, why should this one be left out of the series and that which has been done before fail to our own generation?”
Dr. Annie Besant
Eiffel Tower completed in Paris
Besant meets Blavatsky in London
and converts to theosophy
Adolf Hitler born
Barnum and Bailey Circus
Mark Twain: A Connecticut
Yankee at King Arthur’s Court
The Myth and the Mystery
350 Sioux massacred at
Wounded Knee by U.S. troops
Leadbeater meets Besant
Global influenza epidemic
Rubber gloves used at John’s Hopkins Hospital for the first time
Annie Besant founded the Central Hindu College in 1898 and continued to devote herself to political work for India. In 1917 she became president of the Indian National Congress. Throughout her life she worked tirelessly for Indian independence.
Trans Siberian railway begins
Ibsen: “Hedda Gabler”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle writes
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Herman Melville (Moby Dick) dies
Gaugin moves to Tahiti
H.S. Olcott: Old Diary Leaves
Eugene Dubois finds skull of Java Man
Charles Webster Leadbeater (1847-1934) was a curate of the Church of England. He, too, was drawn to Blavatsky and joined the Theosophical Society in 1883, going with her to Adyar, India, the following year. After a stay of some five years he returned to England.
It was there that he met Annie Besant and they formed a close association. He and Besant worked closely together and seemed to compliment each other as Olcott and Blavatsky had done years earlier. They co-authored several books, delving into psychic phenomena and investigating past lives.
Ellis Island Office of Immigration opens
Debussy: “Afternoon of a Faun”
‘Gentleman Jim’ Corbett wins heavy
weight boxing title againist John Sullivan
C.W. Leadbeater had moved to India and was now living at Adyar, the Theosophical headquarters near Madras. Each day, he would stroll with a group of friends along the beach on the Bay of Bengal. It was there that the young Jiddu Krishnamurti was discovered.
Rare footage of CW Leadbeater, Annie Besant and Krishnamurti from the mid 1920’s before the dissolution of The Order of the Star – found in the archives of The International Theosophical Centre, Naarden, Netherlands.
U.S. annexes Hawaii –
Queen Liliuokalani deposed
Besant comes to India
Questioner: Since the Masters founded the Theosophical Society, how can you say that spiritual societies are a hindrance to man’s understanding? Or does this not apply to the Theosophical Society?
Krishnamurti: That is what every society, sect, or religious body declares. Roman Catholics have maintained for centuries that they are the direct representatives of the Christ. And other religious sects have similar assertions, only they use different names. Either their teaching is inherently true in itself, and so does not need the support of any authority, however great it is; or it can stand only because of authority. If it stands on any authority, whether of the Buddha, the Christ, or the Masters, then it has no significance. Then it merely becomes the means of exploiting people through their fears. This is constantly happening the world over: the use of authority to coerce people through their fear – which is called love or respect for a particular form of activity – or to found a religious organization. And you who want happiness, security, follow without thought and are exploited. You do not question the whole conception of authority. You submit yourself to authority, to exploitation, thinking that it will lead you to reality; but only greater confusion and misery await you. This question of authority is so subtle that the individual deceives himself by saying that it is his own voluntary choice to submit himself to a particular form of belief or action. Where there is want, there must be fear and the creation of authority with its cruelties and exploitation.
Krishnamurti – Public Talk 6, Ojai, California, 10 May 1936
Edison invents kinetoscope
(motion picture machine)
Olcott establishes free school
for untouchables in India
Sidney and Beatrice Webb: The History of Trade Unionism