James H. Cousins

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James Henry Cousins (July 22, 1873- February 20, 1956) was an Irish writer, poet, playwright, actor, critic, editor, and educator who with his wife Margaret Cousins was active in the Theosophical Society based in Adyar, India.

Cousins was significantly influenced by the teachings of Madame Blavatsky and G. S. Russell's ability to reconcile mysticism with a pragmatic approach to social reforms. He had a life-long interest in the paranormal and acted as reporter in several experiments carried out by William Fletcher Barrett, Professor of physics at Dublin University and one of the founders of the Society for Psychical Research. He also wrote widely on the subject of Theosophy and in 1915 Cousins travelled to India with the voyage fees paid for by Annie Besant the President of the Theosophical Society (Adyar).

Early life

Role in Irish literary revival

Work in education

Indian friends called him by the high title "Kulapathi," a term used in ancient Indian educational systems to indicate a man who supervised 10,000 people.[1] G. Venkatachalam summarized his life:

My Irish teacher and friend Kulapathi James Cousins, is another good soul whom it has been my privilege to know for nearly a quarter of a century. He may not be a profound pundit in learning, a great classical scholar or even a master-poet, but he certainly is a man of sterling character, high-mindedness and pure life. His snow-white head, clear blue eyes, chubby round face of fine texture and Irish smiles, all proclaim the purity of his life and thoughts.

His other weaknesses—if weaknesses they be—pale into insignificance before this white radiance of his life. He is slightly pedantic, it is true (and most teachers are); he is egotistical in a way (and that most men cannot help being); a trifle selfish (a common factor in all men); but he has also, at other times, risen to heights of sacrifice and unselfishness, as when he deliberately chose to work in India and for Indians on a paltry pittance, refusing with scorn tempting offers from China and America. His claim to fame will rest not on what he has done for Indian art and culture but on his intuitive and synthetic wisdom, with which he has tried to mould his life and that of his students.[2]

Theosophical Society involvement

Later life


James Cousins wrote poetry, essays, and books, and edited periodicals. Sometimes he used the pseudonyms Mac Oisín and the Hindu name Jayaram.

  • James H. Cousins and Margaret Cousins. We Two Together. Madras: Ganesh and Co, 1950. Joint autobiography.

Additional resources


  1. Suvarna Nalapat, Education in Ancient India: Valabhi and Nalanda Universities Kottayam: D C Books, 2012. Electronic book available at Google.
  2. G. Venkatachalam, My Contemporaries (Bangalore: Hosali Press, 1966), 323.