The Theosophical World / The Theosophical Worker (periodical)

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The Theosophical World, which changed title to The Theosophical Worker in 1939, was a monthly member newsletter of the international Theosophical Society based in Adyar, India. Published from 1936-1946 during the administration of George S. Arundale, it was advertised as "a monthly journal printed at Adyar giving the busy Theosophist 'news of the family everywhere.'"[1]

Publication History

First Issue

First Issue of The Theosophical World.

The inaugural issue of The Theosophical World (Vol. 1, No. 1, 17 January 1936) contains a thorough explanation of the publication's purpose in the initial article "From the President:"

I ASK for our enlargement of The Adyar News, to be called THE THEOSOPHICAL WORLD, a hearty welcome. We Theosophists are a veritable world—a world within a world, and if we are to spread the warmth of brotherhood throughout the larger world, then must we both generate and rejoice in the warmth of our smaller world.

We must be a happy family of friends, each treading his own way, but all treading the one Way which includes all ways—the Way of Friendship.

In THE THEOSOPHICAL WORLD we shall do all we can to promote the family spirit, giving news of the family scattered throughout the world, discussing family affairs, planning family ventures, considering family needs. We shall make a special feature of differences of approach to Theosophy, of interpretation of Theosophy. We shall draw special attention to the different ways in which Theosophy is presented to the public, and in which the interests of The Theosophical Society are promoted. We shall be very glad to receive NEWS of Sections, Lodges and individual members, with, of course, the proviso that we can only, save very exceptionally, publish news that is topical when we receive it.

But in THE THEOSOPHICAL WORLD everything must be short and very much to the point. All contributions should be of macrocosmic importance, of interest to the whole family, but be confined within microcosmic forms. THE THEOSOPHICAL WORLD is to be a little journal for the busy Theosophist, giving him news of the family everywhere, helping him to feel that The Theosophical Society is very much alive, but a journal which he has time to read, however busy he be—and in these days which Theosophist is not busy when the whole world has so great a need of Theosophy and The Theosophical Society ?

I should like to receive contributions—not more than a page of foolscap each—on the following subjects of general interest:

1. New Ways of spreading the teachings of Theosophy.
2. What should we mean by the Neutrality of The Society ?
3. A Lodge Problem and how we have overcome it.
4. The next step in Theosophical Propaganda.
5. A Lone and Lodge-less member at work.
6. Annual Dues versus Voluntary Contributions.
7. Theosophy's Worth to Christianity, to Hinduism, to Islam, to Buddhism, to Judaism, to Science, to Art,
to Philosophy, to Politics, to Industry, to Economics, to Education, to Business, etc.
8. Theosophy's Worth to those who, for whatever cause, are down and out.
9. Suggestions for New Pamphlets.
10. The Fundamental Principles of Theosophy.
11. Live Ways of interesting the general public and the individual inquirer.
12. Objections to Theosophy and answers to them.
13. Objections to The Theosophical Society and answers to them.
14. How to make Adyar more effective as the Heart of The Society.
15. How to make THE THEOSOPHICAL WORLD progressively attractive.
16. Personal Memories of H. P. B., of H. S. O., and of other of our older leaders.
17. Theosophical Anecdotes.
18. Press Clippings with Theosophical Flavours.

I shall be particularly glad to receive news from non-Sectionalized Lodges and from isolated members.

Please remember, everybody, that THE THEOSOPHICAL WORLD is your own particular personal and family journal, while The Theosophist will in future be dedicated to the needs and interests of the general public. And the first way to help The Theosophist in its new field is to increase its individual circulation and to present it to local Reading Rooms and Libraries.[2]

Title Change

At the outset of World War II, the last issue of The Theosophical World (Vol. 4, No. 3, March 1939) — which includes the subtitle The President's personal link with each member and Lodge of The Theosophical Society — contains an explanation of the title change in the initial article "The Theosophical Worker:"

OUR family journal from next month (April) will transform itself into The Theosophical Worker, constituting an integral part of The Theosophist in supplement form. This decision has been reached by the newly appointed Editorial Committee, whose objective in effecting this change is that we might be enabled to concentrate on the output of one fine journal, designed with especial care to be worthy of the great Centre from which it originates.

The Theosophical Worker, besides focussing its attention on the work and welfare of our family throughout the world, will endeavour to concert ways and means of bringing more intimately together Adyar and the individual member. Adyar, and the Spirit of Adyar, so imperatively needed today to restore balance, friendship and happiness in a world struggling in unsurpassed travail, will be the dominant notes sounded in its pages. And all effort will be made to spread as effectively and rhythmically as is possible this Spirit of Adyar to the circumference of our membership.

This Adyar feature in the journal will picture the day-to-day activities at Headquarters. For the Theosophical worker, whether attached to any specific area, or Lodge, or Section, or members at large, a department in capable and experienced hands will coordinate and disseminate ideas and methods of service originating both from the Centre and at any point between the Centre and the circumference.

Now that attention is being focussed on one journal, we are confident that members will support it in all possible ways. We hope that this amalgamation of the two journals, besides consolidating our energies and conducing to more intensive and extensive work, will be creative of even greater solidarity in our ranks, so that the great cause of Brotherhood that we, Theosophists, have pledged to serve at any cost in these hard and difficult times, may be achieved effectively.

The subscription price of The Theosophist, including its new supplement, The Theosophical Worker, will remain at 18/- per annum, as heretofore.[3]

There is continued explanation of the title change in the first issue of The Theosophical Worker (Vol. 4, Nos. 4-5, April-May 1939) in the initial article "Work Matters More" by The Editor:

ESPECIALLY in these days of darkness the world urgently needs the work of every Theosophist. Most of us have had years of study of Theosophy. A great moment has now arrived to apply it. So is it that in our title we emphasize THE THEOSOPHICAL WORKER rather than The Theosophical World.

The purpose of THE THEOSOPHICAL WORKER, while partly to help the whole of The Theosophical Society to be a very happy and brotherly family, is far more to act as a medium of exchange for suggestions whereby every member of The Society may become a better worker, both for The Society itself, and in the service of the whole world, beginning with his immediate surroundings, but far from ending with them.

Naturally, in such a journal the great Work Centre of The Society must have due prominence. Every member in every Section should have a clear idea of Adyar and of what Adyar is doing. I doubt if many members at all realize the tremendous workshop their International Headquarters is without intermission. In some Sections the Headquarters closes down for the holidays, or does not open on Sundays or festival occasions. Adyar is never closed for the holidays, nor does the work stop on Sundays. Activity is going on all the time throughout the year. THE THEOSOPHICAL WORKER must do everything possible to bring to the knowledge of members of The Society this high-pressure work of the Headquarters.

I hope that in every Section and in every Lodge there will be members who will make a special point of taking an active interest in THE THEOSOPHICAL WORKER, bringing it to the attention of every member, gaining for it subscribers, and sending to it notes of work they are doing, both within The Society itself and outside, so that everywhere, through the medium of THE THEOSOPHICAL WORKER, members may be stimulated to work more effectively. We shall be very glad constantly to be bombarded with practical ideas whereby, especially in these dark and disintegrating days, Theosophy and The Theosophical Society may, as far as possible, fulfil those expectations in which the great Givers of these two splendid gifts made offering of them to the world at the close of the last century for the new way the world was about to tread.

May I say that we had thought it desirable to unite THE THEOSOPHICAL WORKER with its elder brother The Theosophist, and this took place in the last issue. But more careful consideration has convinced us of the greater benefit of separation. Hence there will once more be two journals, each with its different, though common, purpose.[4]

"Work Matters More!" — with the addition of the exclamation point — became the initial article title in all issues through Vol. 5, No. 7, July 1940.

Final Issue

The final issue of The Theosophical Worker (Vol. 11, No. 3, March 1946) includes the following in "Our New President" By The Vice-President:

By the time this issue of The Theosophical Worker falls into the hands our readers, Brother C. Jinarajadasa will have been installed as President of the Theosophical Society.... Brother Jinarajadasa desires me to announce that the Theosophical Worker will be incorporated with The Theosophist, which will have a supplement of eight pages, in order to accommodate such news and reports as the Worker has been giving. The present issue of the Worker will be its last as a separate journal. The April number of The Theosophist will be the first to be issued along with the supplement. We hope that very many of those subscribers to the Worker, who have not been taking the Theosophist, will find it possible to subscribe to the premier organ of the Society, which has always been the chief medium of communication from Adyar to the Sections and members.[5]

Index to the periodical

This periodical is not represented in The Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals.


  1. "Publications and Importations, 1939-1940." Records Series 16 The Theosophical Press. Theosophical Society in America Archives. This advertisement appears on the back cover.
  2. “From the President.” The Theosophical World, 1:1 (17 January 1936), 1-2.
  3. “The Theosophical Worker.” The Theosophical World, 4:3 (March 1939), 65-6.
  4. “Work Matters More.” The Theosophical Worker, 4:4-5 (April-May 1939), 97-8.
  5. “Our New President.” The Theosophical Worker, 11:3 (March 1946), 27-8.