Gandhi & Theosophy

Last week I attended a lecture given by Rajmohan Gandhi the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. Promoting his new book, Gandhi: The Man, His People, and the Empire, Rajmohan shared about some lesser known historical facts about his grandfather and about their personal relationship.

The lecture was sponsored by the Theosophical Society. In the 12 years I’ve lived in the area, I’ve never been on the campus of the society located on Main Street in Wheaton. It was a fascinating visit – one which prompted my further research into the origin and tenets of Theosophy. Although claiming to be dogma free, theosophists hold firmly to a doctrine of religious philosophy and metaphysics originating with Helena Petrovna Blavatsky [1831-1891].

The society is headquartered in a large old mansion which is architecturally interesting, filled with odd paintings, photos, sculptured busts of former leaders, and owns a sweet and musty smell – like that of my great-grandmother’s house. Honestly…it’s a little creepy.

The people were friendly and invited us back to their “multi-faith” prayer meeting as well as other lectures. Future lectures by authors maybe – but I’m going to pass on any ‘religious’ activities.

Here’s the good news. While making the visit, my head didn’t explode nor did I see any weird apparitions squeezing through cracks in the walls. Attending the event did two things. For one, it helped me understand a little more about the life of Mahatma Gandhi – a man who remains a significant and popular historical figure. At the same time, it provided me some first hand experience and insight to an organization which which promotes a variation of ancient Gnosticism and has had a serious influence on what many refer to as “new age” thinking. 

One final note of irony – while theosophists claim tolerance of all relgions, according to his grandson, when guest speaking at a large Theosophical meeting, Mahatma Gandhi was asked to be quiet and sit down when the leader, Annie Besant, did not care for what Ganhdi was saying.

3 Responses to “Gandhi & Theosophy”

  1. 1 Larry Eisner
    April 29, 2008 at 3:30 am

    HAHAHA!!! I’ve found your site so I can now fill it with my commentary as well! 🙂

    Seriously, however… I find these kinds of things VERY helpful, informative, and quite enlightening. But of course, not in the way they are often intended.

    It seems that every time I get to hear an atheist viewpoint or a Buddhist or Hindi, or whatever view on the world, it only seems to strengthen my own convictions on the righteousness and verity of Christ and his assertions. And I struggled with this for quite some time… was it only because I was “on this team” and I wanted to root for it? Was it some misplaced pity on those “unknowing and lower fools” that I was listening to?

    Perhaps at times, if I admit these things to myself… But more often than not it simply was like this beacon of light that helped show what was really true.

    (By the by, you should know, if you do not by now, that I’m a big fan of ellipses…)

    That seeing these other viewpoints kept me from being in this little distanced box that kept everything at arm’s length… That immersing myself (logically and intellectually) into this set of views and ideas helped shove away the refuse piled on top of my claims… Those things that I asserted without justification or without proper support. Those things that weren’t “battle-tested”, where I had no idea if the idea would support itself in the face of adversarial dialogue. Being in conversations with people of differing beliefs and oppositional doctrines helped solidify my own.

    And that’s pretty cool.

  2. 2 rkollbocker
    April 29, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    Sometimes as Christians we don’t investigate or listen to other belief systems in fear we may deceived or lured away from our own. Unfortunately this leaves us rather ignorant and isolated. As you suggest, engaging those who believe differently forces us to solidify our own faith. The truth should set us free – not imprison us in fear of others. Of course, with that said, discernment is necessary. Thanks for your thougths. BTW…I like ellipses too.

  3. 3 Melissa
    April 30, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    That’s so interesting that you went to the Theosophical Society! Thanks for telling us about your visit.

    My personal feeling on ellipses is a bit vague…

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re: the random-ness

Husband. Father. Senior Pastor of Parkview Community Church in Glen Ellyn, IL.

Ok...so you've located the place where I put down my random thoughts. The key word here is random: music, sports, art, food, books, news, spiritual musings, weird stories, etc. I'm especially interested in how everyday experiences of life intersect with the ancient stories of Scripture. Thanks for reading.
April 2008
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Thoughts gone by

"No problem can withstand the assault of substantial thinking." Voltaire



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