International Theosophical Centre

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The International Theosophical Centre is a retreat and educational center located in Naarden in The Netherlands. It is affiliated with the Theosophical Society based in Adyar, Chennai, India. The Council of the Foundation, formerly called the Trust Board, has an appointed chairman. New Council members are appointed by the international President of the Theosophical Society.

Facilities

The centre is located on 17 hectares (41 acres) of wooded park land. These are some of its features:

  • Besant Hall, an auditorium that seats 150 people. It has a library of 10,000 volumes, mostly in Dutch and English.
  • St. Michael's House, lodgings and meeting rooms.
  • Ashrama, a prewar building for use of youth groups.
  • Arundale House, lodgings.
  • Crystal Hall, dining hall.
  • Crystal House, lodgings.
  • Chapel used by Liberal Catholic Church.
  • Atelier, a small building used by the Round Table.
  • Garden of Remembrance, on the site of the church that burned down in 1928.
  • Meditation garden.
  • Tennis court.

History

Mrs. Mary Van Eeghen-Boissevain originally owned the estate and the main house. In the early 1920s, she became a member of the Theosophical Society and became acquainted with J. I. Wedgwood and C. W. Leadbeater. Both were bishops in the Liberal Catholic Church

Mrs. Van Eeghen was greatly interested in this work. Soon a small chapel was built on the estate and consecrated on 29th September 1924. It was dedicated to the Archangel St. Michael and All Angels. Thereafter, services were held daily in the chapel. Mrs. Van Eeghen wanted to give the entire estate to Bishop Wedgwood for the work of the church, but he would not accept the gift. He had a wider end in view and wanted a Centre where different activities, all rooted in theosophy, would work together in a brotherly atmosphere in order to establish an instrument for the work of the Masters of Wisdom...

In 1925, George and Rukmini Arundale visited the Centre. Afterwards Dr. Annie Besant, then President of the Theosophical Society, came and while she was here, Mrs. Van Eeghen offered the whole of her beautiful estate, altogether nearly 41 acres and including the big house, to her for the service of the Masters. Dr. Besant accepted this offer in Their name. The offer was made and accepted formally on 25th July 1925. On 11th September 1925, the deed was signed at 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon and St. Michael’s Foundation was created on the same day for the administration of the estate. The Foundation had no official contact with the Theosophical Society.[1]

George S. Arundale and his wife Rukmini Devi Arundale played prominent roles in the history of the Naarden center:

In 1930, Dr. Arundale became the Head of the [International Theosophical] Centre at Naarden in the Netherlands, and remained so until 1934, when he became President of the Theosophical Society. Rukmini Devi succeeded him and was the Head of the Centre till she passed away in 1986. Although her chief activities were in India in the fields of art, education and animal welfare, she visited the Centre as often as she could, which was usually once a year. Rukmini Devi always took a broad view of theosophy in which the arts, animal welfare and vegetarianism were integrated in theosophy.[2]

Over the years the center expanded its activities, with a Lodge of the Theosophical Society; a Montessori school; a Lodge of Co-Freemasonry; the Order of the Star in the East; the Order of the Knights of the Round Table; Young Theosophists; a Healing group; and the World League of Motherhood.[3]
A large church was built in 1928, but disaster struck, and it was burned to the ground. During the Great Depression there were substantial financial difficulties, and during World War II the ITC was recast as a church center to delay confiscation by the Nazi regime. After the war, the grounds and buildings were in a deteriorated condition, but a group of Theosophists worked vigorously to restore the estate.

Publications

The ITC publishes a newsletter, the Centre News, that is available by email.

Additional resources

Notes

  1. Theosophy in Slovenia. "The International Theosophical Centre Naarden" at Theosophy in Slovenia website.
  2. Shakuntala Ramani, ed., Rukmini Devi Arundale: Birth Centenary Commemorative Volume (Chennai, India: The Kalakshetra Foundation, 2003), 189.
  3. Theosophy in Slovenia. "The International Theosophical Centre Naarden" at Theosophy in Slovenia website.