Theosophical Society of the Arya Samaj

From Theosophy Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Theosophical Society of the Arya Samaj of Aryavarta (or sometimes "of India") was the name of the Theosophical Society from May 1878 until March 1882, during its association with the Arya Samaj founded by Svāmī Dayānand Sarasvatī.

Association with the Theosophical Society

In 1877, the Arya Samaj was founded in July at Lahore. A member and President of the Bombay Branch of the new organization, Hurrychund Chintamon, wrote to Col. Olcott in New York. To the colonel, the Arya Samaj seemed to be a Hindu Theosophical Society. In February, 1878, Olcott offered T.S. membership diplomas to Hurrychand and to the Swami, and also established a Bombay Branch of the Theosophical Society.[1]

On May 22, 1878, the Recording Secretary of Theosophical Society, A. Gustam, sent a letter “To the Chiefs of the Ârya Samâja,” advising them that the Council of the T.S. has accepted their proposal to unite with them. The Society altered its own title to: “The Theosophical Society of the Arya Samaja of India.”

Col. Olcott wrote:

Our Council, in May, 1878, passed a vote to unite the two societies and change the title of ours to “The Theosophical Society of the Arya Samaj.” This was notified to the Swami, and in due time he returned to me the draft of a new Diploma (now before me as I write) which I had sent him, signed, as requested, with his name and stamped with his own seal. I had this engraved, issued it to a few members who wished to enlist under the new scheme, and put forth a circular reciting the principles under which we intended to work.[2]

However, when, in early August of that year the Colonel received the Rules of the Arya Samaj, he was disappointed:

I received from India an English translation of the rules and doctrines of the Arya Samaj, made by Pandit Shyamji Krishnavarma, a protégé of the Swami’s which gave us a great shock—gave me, at least. Nothing could have been clearer than that the Swami’s views had radically changed since the preceding August. . . . It was evident that the Samaj was not identical in character with our Society, put rather a new sect of Hinduism — a Vedic sect accepting Swami Dayânand’s authority as supreme judge as to which portions of the Vedas and Shâstras were and were not infallible. The impossibility of carrying out the intended amalgamation became manifest, and we immediately reported that fact to our Indian colleagues. The Theosophical Society resumed its status quo ante; and H. P. B. and I drafted and the Council put out two circulars, one defining what the Theosophical Society was, the other (dated September, 1878), defining a new body, the “Theosophical Society of the Arya Samaj of Aryavart,” as a bridge between the two mother societies, giving in detail the translation of the A. S. rules, etc., and leaving our members perfectly free to join the “link-society”, as I called it, and comply with its by-laws, or not.[3]

According to Josephine Ransom, the relationship was revised after Col. Olcott received the rules:

Out of the revision emerged three organisations: (1) The Theosophical Society - the Parent Society; (2) The Arya Samaj; (3) The "link-Society" between them This "link-Society" had few members and by about 1880 died out as futile. Anyone belonging to that belonged also to the other two, but The Theosophical Society and the Arya Samaj reverted to separate organisations under their own respective heads.[4]


The definitive break came early in 1882. The Swami publicly attacked the Founders as being converts to Buddhism, and not supporters of the Vedas. The July, issue of The Theosophist is filled with letters and articles about the Swami's accusations. The two organizations completely severed ties.[5]


  1. Josephine Ransom, A Short History of the Theosophical Society (Adyar, Chennai, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1938), 115-116.
  2. Henry Steel Olcott, Old Diary Leaves First Series (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1974), 397.
  3. Henry Steel Olcott, Old Diary Leaves First Series (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1974), 397-398.
  4. Josephine Ransom, 120.
  5. Josephine Ransom, 121.