The Question of the Reliability of the Clairvoyant Observations of CW Leadbeater

The reader will find assembled below texts which have been used to deal with the question of the reliability of the clairvoyant observations of CW Leadbeater. The first two contain the severest criticism I was able to locate. The third contains Leadbeater's reply to one of these.

First Set -- from U.G. Krishnamurti:  A Life by Mahesh


3. Life amongst Theosophists

28th of August, 1991, 5:50 a.m. I am in London. ... The place where U.G. and I lived in London is situated opposite 33 Ovington Square. This is the place from where Mr. C. Jinarajadasa, the Head of the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society, who later became its President, wrote to U.G. who was then in India:
12th July, 1940
Dear Brother,
I can only reply briefly to your letter of appreciation and enquiries.

It is excellent that you should have the ideals which you have of being of service, but you can work out a great part of the problem before you in the light of the many teachings which you find in Theosophy. Regarding the matter of your desiring to find a Teacher, I might here quote the answer which the Master K.H. gave to the late Bro.C.W.L., who asked that question of the Master in 1883:

'To accept any man as a chela does not depend on my personal will. It can only be the result of one's personal merit and exertions in that direction. Force any one of the 'Masters' you may happen to choose; do good works in his name and for the love of mankind; be pure and resolute in the path of righteousness (as laid out in our rules); be honest and unselfish; forget yourself but do remember the good of other people--and you will have forced that 'Master' to accept you.'

The hymn of Frances Havergel is often used by me to explain to my hearers certain aspects of the great ideal.

When I return to India and I can meet you, I can give you further advice. In the meantime, look within yourself for the guidance which you think you need. You will find that if you are in a quiet state of meditation, with a feeling of aspiration, some suggestion will come in the matter of helping others. Put it into operation even if the result seems not noticeable. But remember the teaching of the Gita that you must have no thought of fruit or reward, but act righteously because that is a law of your being, or because it is an offering from your heart to God.
Yours sincerely,
C. Jinarajadasa
Jinarajadasa returned to India toward the end of 1940. He opened the facility built by U.G.'s grandfather for the use of the Andhra Theosophical Federation as its Headquarters. He stayed with U.G.'s family in their home for two days. This was in January 1941.

That Summer, U.G.  worked in C.W.Leadbeater's personal library, rearranging his books for almost three months. He had always wondered how Leadbeater wrote about the past lives of Krishnamurti published under the title, Lives of Alcyone. When U.G. looked at the collection of books Leadbeater had in his personal library, he said to himself, 'He has read all the ancient histories of practically every civilization in the world. No wonder he could fit Krishnamurti's past lives into these histories.' That confirmed his scepticism about Leadbeater's powers of clairvoyance which he was credited with by the members of the Theosophical Movement.  As a child U.G. sat in front of Leadbeater every day expecting that he would clairvoyantly see some spiritual potential in him.  To his disappointment, Leadbeater never showed any such recognition.

Be that as it may, the opportunity of working in this library brought U.G. and Jinarajadasa close to each other. Every now and then Jinarajadasa used to walk into the library, talk to U.G. about the contents of the rare books and recommend them to him.

U.G.'s early life, according to him, in no way resembled the life story of a saint.   U.G. himself says he was never a good student either in high school or in college. He never passed any examination on the first attempt. Throughout his college years, however, he received letters of support from Dr. Arundale, the President of the Theosophical Society.  These letters offered encouragement and sympathy.
10th of July, 1939
Thank you for your letter dated July 8th. I quite realize that examinations are a very great nuisance, and are indeed of extremely little worth. But one has to go through them for the sake of equipment from the standpoint of the outer world.

We were very glad to have you here in the Office and hope to see you again when  you are next in Madras.
 
 
10th February, 1940
I myself certainly have high hopes for you, and I am always glad to see you at Adyar. I do hope you will pass your examinations successfully.
 
 
20th May, 1940
I am so sorry you have failed in your examination again. Some of us are not really fit for examinations. We can do other and better things, and if you have an income which will suffice, then why should you not follow your own inclinations and study along your own lines. For my own part, I should not think it is necessary for you to have a university career.
23rd October, 1940
I am very delighted to hear that you have passed the examination. This is very good news. I offer you my very affectionate congratulations.
U.G. offers the following remarks on his college education:
Although I was a student with the lowest grades, barely passing grades, I was admitted into the Philosophy Honors class at Madras University. These courses were primarily for brilliant students. Though I wasn't brilliant, the professor of Philosophy needed students. There were only four students in the class. So, he admitted me. Because of my lack of interest in the studies, he always joked that he had four-and-a-half students in his class. I never attended any mid-term examinations, let alone the final ones. My report card revealed nothing but absenteeism.

One day the Principal sent for me and confronted me with my last report card. I had struck off the 'Parent or Guardian' entry and signed it myself. The Principal said that I should get the signature of my grandfather. If I failed to do so, he would fine me twenty-five rupees. I said that wouldn't hurt anybody and that I could write a check immediately for that amount drawn on the Imperial Bank of India (the bank for Government agencies and rich people). The Principal asked me, 'Why are you attending this college, then?' I said, 'For want of a better occupation.' He was not impressed. He insisted that I should still produce the report card duly signed by my grandfather. Luckily for me and unfortunately for him, the principal died of a heart attack the next day.
 
U.G. comments on the value of political sages and experts:
During those years I lived in Adyar most of the time, the headquarters of the Theosophical Society, and worked for Dr. Arundale as one of his personal assistants. My job was to read newspapers and periodicals from all over the world and choose articles of permanent interest for him to read at a later date.

It was during that time I discovered the Time Magazine. (I continued to read it from cover to cover for 50 years and enjoyed its style and coverage of world events.) That was when I discovered that there is no such thing as objectivity and an unprejudiced view of human affairs. Those were the War years. The Magazine used to arrive six months behind schedule. But we followed the course of events of the war from day to day through the B.B.C. and the daily newspapers.

I can say without hesitation that I have learned precious little from either spiritual or secular teachers.
In 1946 Jinarajadasa was elected President of the Theosophical Society, and U.G. the Joint General Secretary of the Indian section. U.G. occupied that position for three years and when that office was eventually abolished, he became a national lecturer for seven years. In this capacity, he spoke at almost every college in India.  He then went to England, Ireland, Europe and North America on an extensive lecture tour. He spoke at the annual convention of the Theosophical Society in England, presided over by Mr. Jinarajadasa.

It was when he was in England, in May 1953, that he met Jinarajadasa for the last time. It is ironical that the beginning and the end of U.G.'s association with the Theosophical Society took place in 33 Ovington Square, Knightsbridge, London. This is what Jinarajadasa said to U.G.:
I have heard about your reactions with reference to the Theosophical Society and Krishnaji--how critical you have become of everything and everybody! I should like to know your exact viewpoint and would certainly like to discuss it with you. I suggest that you contribute a series of articles in the Theosophist. You can very freely criticize anybody--the President, the General Secretaries, and anybody else, in support of your position. Such articles would be welcome in order to maintain absolute freedom on the platform of the Theosophical Society. It is only by such frank and free expression of opinions that organizations can retain their vigor and vitality. If you feel that the Theosophical Society should be closed down, say so in the articles. Let the members know it and let them begin to think. I feel that I at any rate will be greatly benefited.
Yet, in response to this, U.G. told him of his intention to resign his membership from both the Theosophical Society and its Esoteric Section. Jinarajadasa was disappointed.  He said that he was leaving soon for the United States and that he would be back in India before the end of the year. He wanted to discuss the matter further with U.G. then. But he died in America in July, the same year.

U.G.  continued his lecture tour for the Theosophical Society in Europe. At Oslo, he addressed the One World Movement. At a German Summer School at Rendsberg, he was the guest of honor and gave a course of lectures on "Man, Nature and Reality". At the invitation of the General Secretary of the Council of the Theosophical Society in Europe, which was celebrating its Golden Jubilee, he attended the Council meetings and addressed them on Indian ideals of life and thought.

In case you missed it, here is the "severely critical passage":

When U.G. looked at the collection of books Leadbeater had in his personal library, he said to himself, 'He has read all the ancient histories of practically every civilization in the world. No wonder he could fit Krishnamurti's past lives into these histories.' That confirmed his scepticism about Leadbeater's powers of clairvoyance

Second Set -- from The Occult Review for 1923

In the London journal `The Occult Review` for the year 1923, there can be found a series of articles and letters to the editor, running to perhaps 24 items, appearing from January to October, which dealt more or less forcefully with the question of the accuracy of the clairvoyant faculty of CW Leadbeater.

Although these items are to be found in a context of other articles and letters to the editor (Ltte) examining the accuracy of the clairvoyant reports (or "claims") of Rudolf Steiner, HP Blavatsky, & Annie Besant, I have left such aside for the purposes of this article.

Part 1: A list of the 24 items:

Part 2: Verbatim Extracts, wherein it should become plain to the contemporary reader what worried whom in 1923: {remarks in curly braces are mine} -

Extracts from items 1, 2, and 19:





END


Acknowledgements




TPH Twilight Archive

HTML validation by:

W3C online validation service for HTML 4.0



set in HTML 4.0 in December 2000
Last updated Dec 12 2000