World Congress of the Theosophical Society (Adyar)

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From time to time, the Theosophical Society based in Adyar holds a World Congress.

Annie Besant opening the First World Congress

First World Congress

The First World Congress was held in Paris, France, in 1921. Clara Codd wrote of Annie Besant's lecture: "When she spoke to the Sorbonne at the First World Congress we held in Paris, we all gave up our seats to accommodate the thronging French crowds, for Mrs. Besant spoke in French."[1]" B. P. Wadia spoke on Will the Soul of Europe Return? The Rapp Square headquarters building of the French Section was dedicated during this congress. Professor Jean Émile Marcault "was one of the outstanding features of the World Congress" in his excellent translations of speeches from French to English and English to French.[2]

Second World Congress

The Second World Congress was held in Adyar, Chennai, India, in 1925.

Poster for Third World Congress

Third World Congress

The Third World Congress was held at the Hotel Stevens in Chicago, United States, in 1929. Speakers included Annie Besant, George S. Arundale, Rukmini Devi Arundale, C. Jinarājadāsa, Geoffrey Hodson, Dorothy Jinarājadāsa, Clara Codd, A. P. Warrington, L. W. Rogers, and Mrs. C. W. Dykgraaf.

The meetings of the World Congress were held in the Ball Room of the Stevens Hotel. It was combined with the Convention of the American Section. As the United States is so far away, the only European delegate was the veteran Russian, Madame Kamensky...

Mr. Hodson was the star speaker after Dr. Besant, and the Congress and Convention closed as was the custom with the American Section in those days, with a huge banquet, at which everyone had to tell a story.[3]

Many of the speakers stayed after the congress to assist with the Summer School held in the new Wheaton headquarters. The published Proceedings of the school included transcribed lectures by Annie Besant, Max Wardall, Geoffrey Hodson, L. W. Rogers, and George Arundale.

Fourth World Congress

The Fourth World Congress was held in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1936. Clara Codd described that event:

This time we met in the Hall of the League of Nations, generously lent to us for the occasion. We each sat at a large table. Underneath it a disc cold be turned and ear phones were attached. There were eight points to which one could turn the disc, and at each one heard through the ear phones a current translation of the speech being delivered, in any one of eight languages. This was done by an interpreter sitting in a little booth under the stage, and speaking the translation into a telephone simultaneously with the speaker...

At Geneva I saw again some for my American friends. The American General Secretary, Mr. Sidney A. Cook, had brought over such a lovely blue and silver car that it attracted Swiss crowds wherever it was parked.[4]

Delegates gathering around N. Sri Ram at Kongresshaus, Salzburg

Fifth World Congress

The Fifth World Congress was held in Salzburg, Austria, in 1966. John B. S. Coats was the principal organizer of this congress.[5] Other participants were International President N. Sri Ram, Bhagirathi Sri Ram, James S. Perkins, Kathrine Perkins, Clara Codd, Felix Layton, Eunice Layton, Geoffrey Hodson, and Sandra Hodson.

Sixth World Congress

The Sixth World Congress, or Centennial World Congress, was held in New York City, United States, in 1975. It celebrated the centenary of the founding of the Theosophical Society, and was followed by major celebrations in London and Adyar. According to one observer, the lecture by Boris de Zirkoff called "The Dream that Never Dies," was "truly a high point of that week-long gathering."[6] That and many other centennial lectures were recorded and are available at the Henry S. Olcott Memorial Library.

Seventh World Congress

The Seventh World Congress was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1982.

Eighth World Congress

The Eighth World Congress was held in Brasilia, Brazil, in 1993.

Ninth World Congress

The Ninth World Congress was held in Sydney, Australia, in 2001.

Tenth World Congress

The Tenth World Congress was held in Rome, Italy, in 2010.

Eleventh World Congress

The Eleventh World Congress is scheduled for August 4-9, 2018, in Singapore.


  1. Clara Codd, So Rich a Life (Pretoria: Institute for Theosophical Publicity, 1956), 139.
  2. D. Graham Pole, "The T.S. in England and Wales" The General Report of the T. S 1921 (Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1922), 43.
  3. Clara Codd, So Rich a Life (Pretoria: Institute for Theosophical Publicity, 1956), 329-330.
  4. Clara Codd, So Rich a Life (Pretoria: Institute for Theosophical Publicity, 1956), 264-265.
  5. "John B. S. Coats: Biographical Sketch,"President's Inauguration, 1973 Reports of Speeches. Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973.
  6. Letter from Elwood and Alicia Schenck. Theosophia Tribute Issue 37.4 (Summer 1981), 9.

Additional resources

"World Congress, Theosophical" in Theosopedia