Order of the Star in the East
The Order of the Star in the East (OSE) was an organization established by the leadership of the Theosophical Society (Adyar), India, from 1911 to 1927. Its mission was to prepare the world for the expected arrival of World Teacher, known as Lord Maitreya in Theosophical circles.
Order of the Rising Sun
On January 11, 1911, George S. Arundale formed The Order of the Rising Sun to draw together those in India who believed in the near coming of a great spiritual teacher and prepare public opinion to receive him. At the same time a quarterly magazine printed at Adyar called The Herald of the Star was started.
Order of the Star in the East
A few months after The Order of the Rising Sun was formed, Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater made of this Order an international movement and renamed it as The Order of the Star in the East, with J. Krishnamurti as its head.
Order of the Star
The Order of the Star was a successor to the OSE. It was formed in June 1927, after what many regarded as the manifestation of the World Teacher. Krishnamurti's close associate and friend D. Rajagopal served as the Chief Organizer.
The renamed order had two stated objectives:
- - To draw together all those who believe in the Presence of the World Teacher in the world.
- - To work with Him for the establishment of His ideas.
Relationship of the Order to the Theosophical Society
The Order of the Star in the East under its various names was founded by prominent leaders of the Theosophical Society. It was a surprising development to members, and unwelcome to many who questioned its cult-like qualities.
An example was published in the "Questions Answered" section of the American Section's journal. The response was written by Mr. Leadbeater:
- Q. Do you regard it as important that members of the T. S. should join the Order of the Star in the East when (say) they feel they are not from their own studies acquainted with the grounds of expectation of the coming of the Great World-Teacher?
- A. Certainly. If they are not by their own study acquainted with the grounds for such expectation, they should study more. All T. S. members should join, because they alone can bring knowledge and reason to bear on the subject where others can only bring a feeling. And even if they cannot grasp it intellectually, they should still join, because the President is the one chosen to be the Outer Head for this organization in the world. As members of the T. S. have followed her in other things, they should be able to follow her in this too. C. W. L.
Charles Leadbeater was unequivocal in expecting members to embrace the Order based purely on his own experience and understanding of the World Teacher, and on the authority of President Annie Besant. This ran counter to the principles of intellectual freedom and responsibility on which the Society was founded.
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The OSE movement held Star Camps in The Netherlands and in Ojai, California. Joseph Ross wrote about the latter in "Star Camp Congress 1928".
During a Camp of the Order of the Star at Ommen, on August 3, 1929, Krishnamurti made a speech dissolving it.
Among other things, Krishnamurti said:
I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organised; nor should any organisation be formed to lead or coerce people along any particular path...
Truth cannot be brought down, rather the individual must make the effort to ascend to it. You cannot bring the mountain-top to the valley...
If an organisation be created for this purpose, it becomes a crutch, a weakness, a bondage, and must cripple the individual, and prevent him from growing, from establishing his uniqueness, which lies in the discovery for himself of that absolute, unconditioned Truth...
I am concerning myself with only one essential thing: to set man free. I desire to free him from all cages, from all fears, and not to found religions, new sects, nor to establish new theories and new philosophies...
You are all depending for your spirituality on someone else, for your happiness on someone else, for your enlightenment on someone else; and although you have been preparing for me for eighteen years, when I say all these things are unnecessary, when I say that you must put them all away and look within yourselves for the enlightenment, for the glory, for the purification, and for the incorruptibility of the self, not one of you is willing to do it. There may be a few, but very, very few. So why have an organization? ...
"How many members are there in it?" That is the first question I am asked by all newspaper reporters. "How many followers have you? By their number we shall judge whether what you say is true or false." I do not know how many there are. I am not concerned with that. As I said, if there were even one man who had been set free, that were enough...
But those who really desire to understand, who are looking to find that which is eternal, without beginning and without an end, will walk together with a greater intensity, will be a danger to everything that is unessential, to unrealities, to shadows. And they will concentrate, they will become the flame, because they understand. Such a body we must create, and that is my purpose. Because of that real understanding there will be true friendship. Because of that true friendship–which you do not seem to know–there will be real cooperation on the part of each one. And this not because of authority, not because of salvation, not because of immolation for a cause, but because you really understand, and hence are capable of living in the eternal. This is a greater thing than all pleasure, than all sacrifice...
For two years I have been thinking about this, slowly, carefully, patiently, and I have now decided to disband the Order, as I happen to be its Head. You can form other organizations and expect someone else. With that I am not concerned, nor with creating new cages, new decorations for those cages. My only concern is to set men absolutely, unconditionally free.
Reactions to dissolution
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- Information for Inquirers Extract from an Order of the Star in the East pamphlet at Katinkahesselink.net
- "C W Leadbeater, Annie Besant, Krishnamurti - Theosophy UK". Footage of Annie Besant, C. W. Leadbeater, and J. Krishnamurti in mid-1920s, found in the archives of The International Theosophical Centre, Naarden, Netherlands. Available from Theosophy World Resource Centre.
- C.W.L. [Charles Webster Leadbeater], "Questions Answered" The Messenger 3.6 (November, 1915), 180.
- Joseph Ross, "The Ojai Star Camp (1928)" posted by in a blog post Craig Walker August 18, 2011. Ojai History blog. Accessed December 20, 2019.
- Truth is a pathless land at J. Krishnamurti Online