Golden Jubilee Convention

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In 1925, the Theosophical Society (Adyar) celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Theosophical Society in New York by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Henry Steel Olcott, William Quan Judge, and others.

Innovations at the convention

C. Jinarājadāsa wrote of several innovations introduced at the Golden Jubilee Convention. The Bhārata Samāj group performed its new Pūja ritual and opened its new temple on the grounds at Adyar. The Buddhist Shrine was another new structure

At the suggestion of Jiddu Krishnamurti, each day of the Convention commenced with recitation of Prayers of the Religions, a custom that has continued through the years. In addition, CJ arranged to redecorate the Great Hall at headquarters with symbols of the world's religions. He said:

Another innovation of Mr. Krishnamurti that has definitely "caught on" in India is the brief commemoration of all the religions usually called "The Prayers of the Religions". The day he arrived with Dr. Besant I was in the Great Hall, where scaffoldings were up and the workmen were putting the new symbols of all the religions in place of some meaningless ones which had been placed there by Colonel Olcott. There was one special niche where there was a beautiful marble statue of two children by Miss Henny Diderichsen of Copenhagen. While we had in four niches figures in rilievo of Jesus Christ, Gautama Buddha, Shri Krishna and Zoroaster, there was nothing for Islām in the Hall. As Islām forbids any image and as none has ever existed of the Prophet Muhammad, I determined to put in the niche, where there was this statue of the children, a beautiful arabic inscription concerning the Koran which appears in the edition published by the Ahmadiya Movement of Lahore. This inscription was enlarged to the required size, cut out in plaster board and a Muslim plasterer employed to place the inscription.

As the party arrived from England and were met in the Hall, I pointed out to Dr. Besant and Mr. Krishnamurti my innovations in the Hall, making the Hall representative of the chief religions, living and extinct. Then suddenly Mr. Krishnamurti made the suggestion: Won't it be a good idea to begin each day of Convention with the prayers of all the religions?" This was on November 25. As the Master K. H. had in 1883 desired that there should be a Buddhist shrine at Adyar, and had sent a donation, I jumped at Mr. Krishnamurti's suggestion. I had little time to organize what was necessary and obtain from the various communities in India the necessary brief prayers. These were reprinted in the original languages with an English translation opposite. The pamphlet was ready for Convention. This ceremony of the Prayers of the Religions has made a profound impression on all in India as showing the brotherhood existing among the religions and the reverence by Theosophists towards them all. It is the first invariable function at all Theosophical conventions and Federations in India. Of course only a member of a particular religion repeats the prayers of his religion. The brief ceremony is also used at the assembly in the morning in certain Theosophical schools.

In addition, then to the very striking Bhārata Samāj ritual initiated by Mr. Krishnamurti, his stay at Adyar during the Jubilee Convention of 1925 is commemorated also by this most significant observance, "The Prayers of the Religions".[1]

Another innovation at the Jubilee was the Invocation of Annie Besant, known as "O Hidden Life." It is recited at the conclusion of the Prayers of the Religions.

Account of U. G. Krishnamurti

U. G. Krishnamurti was seven years old when he attended the Jubilee. He later wrote this account:

On the 29th December 1925, the Golden Jubilee function took place in Adyar. It was a regal affair. Scores of people from all over the world participated in the celebration with great fervor. It was here that U.G. saw and heard J. Krishnamurti speak for the first time. As an orator, Krishnamurti did not impress U.G. On the stage the man stammered and struggled for words. Compared to Annie Besant (whose oratory, according to U.G., could make inanimate objects pulsate with life), Krishnamurti was a 'pygmy'.

The next evening, on Elliot Beach in Adyar, as U.G. was wading in the water, collecting shells, he saw Krishnamurti taking a walk with some admirers. For an instant, the two Krishnamurtis' eyes met. Krishnamurti moved away from the crowd. He joined U.G. and began helping him collect shells. I wonder whether U.G. had the slightest inkling then of the part Krishnamurti would play in his life in the years to come.[2]

Notes

  1. C. Jinarājadāsa, Foreword to Bhārata Samāj Pūja, (Adyar, Madras, India: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1948), 6-7.
  2. Bhatt, Mahesh. U. G. Krishnamurti: A Life. Penguin India, 2001. Quoted online at TheWell.com.