COLONEL HENRY STEEL OLCOTT(BORN. AUGUST 2, 1832,ORANGE, N.J. U.S.A., DIED. FEBRUARY 17, 1907, ADYAR, MADRAS( CHENNAI ), INDIA)
“OH, EAST IS EAST, AND WEST IS WEST,
AND NEVER THE TWAIN SHALL MEET.
TILL EARTH AND SKY STAND PRESENTLY AT
GOD’S GREAT JUDGEMENT SEAT”.
(Rudyard Kipling, English poet, novelist, Nobel Prize winner)
THE WEST MEETS THE EAST – THE EAST-WEST CONFLUENCE:
Colonel Henry Steel Olcott, an American lawyer and philosopher founded the Theosophical Society in New York City in 1875 along with Russian-born religious mystic Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, William Judge and others. He became the first president of the Theosophical Society. In 1878 he and Blavatsky visited India. The two settled there in 1879 and in 1882 established the permanent headquarters of the Theosophical Society at Adyar, Madras. Theosophy incorporates aspects of Buddhism, Hinduism and Christian esotericism. His acceptance by and influence on the Buddhists was far reaching. Identified with Eastern philosophical thought, he also helped revive Hindu philosophy. A Pandit conferred on him the sacred thread of the Brahmin caste.
Olcott dedicated his energies to fraternal understanding and the search for truth. He referred to theosophists as “original searchers after spiritual knowledge”. In his farewell message he expressed the wish ” to impress on all men on earth that ‘there is no religion higher than Truth’ and that in the Brotherhood of Religions lies the peace and progress of humanity.”
Upon his death at Adyar, Madras, India in 1907, Olcott was succeeded as president by Ms. Annie Besant, a social reformer and Indian independence leader. She had visited my home town Rajahmundry twice and had established ‘Divya Gjyan Samaj'(Divine Wisdom Assembly) building at Alcot Gardens. The teachings of the Theosophical Society emphasized human service, a spiritual evolutionism and the role of suprahuman masters of Wisdom(“ADEPTS”).
The natives of my home town Rajahmundry still honour the memory of Colonel Olcott. The residential community of ‘ ALCOT GARDENS ‘ has derived its name from “OLCOTT”. (Kindly review the comment posted .)
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Danavaipeta Municipal High School, Rajahmundry, East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh, India,
S.S.L.C., Class of March, 1961.