Talk:Annie Besant

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Some minor improvements[edit]

I have made some minor improvements to this article by uploading a more flattering photograph, and doing some minor editing in the first paragraphs of the President and Home Rule Movement sections. I hope these improvements are agreeable to other editors of this page.RAmesbury (talk) 15:31, 9 December 2007 (UTC)


Does she really write a book titled "The life and teaching of Muhammad"? Could not find any reference or citation for that. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Sreejithsasikumar (talkcontribs) 14:09, 14 February 2013 (UTC)

Additional lapses[edit]

It should also be addressed that the section on her Early Life needs to be cleaned up. What is her background, when was she married, give birth, give birth to whom, where was she educated... This part is very off-the-cuff and not appropriate as an encyclopedic entry... These questions need to be addressed and answered and a more comprehensive and narrative account of her earlier years should be given...

As far as an encyclopedic contribution is concerned, this section is non-contributing. And yes, I too, thought her contributions to the Home Rule movement were substantial.

Stevenmitchell 10:13, 23 March 2006 (UTC)


The attribution to AB as being the first person to call Mohandras Gandhi "Mahatma" has no sourcing and goes against attributions which have been sourced: Mohandas_K._Gandhi#_note-24. I've removed this sentence until somebody can cite a source (and, even then, it should be be made NPOV by noting that there are competing claims). I hope nobody has a problem with that. Schroedinger's Mouse 18:00, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

Surprising lapses[edit]

It is surprising that the mention about her activities for Indian independence are next to nothing in this article. Home Rule Movement, Flag of India and Indian National Congress may be good places to start with. I am not including the information now as I do not want to tamper with the structure of the article as it stands. I hope that the editors working on this article on a regular basis would integrate the material. Else, I'd revisit the article some time later and try to re-organise it into sections. Thanks, --Gurubrahma 05:49, 6 November 2005 (UTC)

My reaction precisely echoed yours, and the contribution above it. I've tried to expand the earlier sections a good deal, being fairly clear about Besant's explicitly republican, secularist, Fabian and Marxist phases. I've also brought to the fore her concrete political contribution in her later years, particularly her Home Rule campaign, which was so important in steering Congress towards a more militant stance. I think the stuff about Theosophy could do with improvement through the addition of more detail, but it's not bad. The political stuff seemed almost a whitewash of someone who was very red. sjwells53@blueyonder.co.uk 19 May 2006

I just think that we haven't yet had an editor who was competent to address these issues, so please step forward. I myself am most interested in her work in Theosophy and also her genealogy, so I've been editing those sections. If one of you can do the whole Home Rule thing, go for it! Wjhonson 07:30, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

I believe that the problem of evaluating the contribution of Besant in this section has emerged because the first writer has used highly assertive lines about the role of the Indian National Congress. I have made two corrections. However, after reading again and again, I find that there was no need of commenting on the nature of the Indian National Congress(INA)as such as the INA was in 1909. Secondly, by identifying it as representing middle class in emphatic phrases, he had virtually given it a tone which is not historically true. There were leaders like Gopal Krishan Gokhle, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Feroze Shah Mehta, Lala Lajpat Rai, Surendarnath Banerjee who had already contributed a lot to give a shape and force to the INA and by 1909, it can not be called mere a debating forum. I intend to remove and rewrite the paragraph but desisted from doing so for sometime as I want to see the reaction of other editors. I must accept that there are some articles on Indian Independence Movement which can be rated as scholarly essays. I just wish that those who have written good essays on India on Wikipedia should join to rewrite the paragraph. One thing more, the whole essay develops as the biographical note of the personality. Somewhere the tilt is more towards projecting the role as leader of Theosophical society in India and her Irish origin. As a result, I find that by the time, her role in INC and Home Rule Movement is discussed, the steam and surge of the contents slows down. To substantiate my point, I propose that her attempt to start Home Rule Movement so that there could be year long activity for independence had induced leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, a stalwart in his own right and highly respected nationalist in Indian Freedom Struggle should have been included to show the influence of Annie Besant on the Indian Freedom Struggle. I hope I have conveyed my point by this one example. Sumir--Sumir 17:18, 4 September 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Sumir Sharma (talkcontribs)

Vandalism[edit]

72.136.39.180 has vandalized a series of talk pages including Annie Besant, Justin Besant, and Andrew Fox articles.

- This was done in an effort to correct the lies that chinamanjoe has been spreading through this site. Chinamanjoe has been spreading lies through wikipedia

Yofoxyman[edit]

User:Yofoxyman has vandalised this page repeatedly, continually reverting edits.

Disambiguation help[edit]

Can anyone help clarify what is meant by the term "masters" in this sentence: "After a dispute, where William Quan Judge, leader of the American section was accused of falsifying letters from the Masters, the American section split away."

Is "Master" meant as a form of address or honorific within the Theosophist Society? The word currently links to the Master disambiguation page and I am trying to link it to something more specific. Thanks - Aguerriero (talk) 13:50, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

Masters refers to hidden, mystical figures, who were believed to be in communication with, and to inspire and guide the Theosophical leadership. (stephjen Wells, 18/06/06)

Racism, in reference to South Africa[edit]

I've done some reading on Annie Besant and I believe that she is more controversial than she is made out to be on this page. Her conception of race is quite problematic, being a theosophist this is not surprising, and she certainly did not support all the races in South Africa. She addressed the Letchworth Garden City Summer School in 1921:

"In considering the problem of South Africa, let us realise that we have in our coloured races there people of entirely different types. We have the whole of those whom we can really call savages, some of them gentle, some warlike and turbulent, but none of them fitted for any form of citizenship…then there are the people who come over from India, who are Aryans…who belong to a highly civilised race and have the instincts of the civilised man and not those of the savage." Source: Besant, "Coloured races in the Empire" (Lecture), cited in Speeces and Writings of Annie Besant, 3rd edn, G A NAtesan & Co, Madras 1921, p. 131.


While I see your point about her being racist, I feel it is important to remember the historical context. The attitude she reveals in her abovementioned speech is definitely a racist attitude, by today's standards. Calling someone a 'savage' would not have been out of place in her society. Try to see beyond the values of our politically correct days and look at what she was saying. It seems to me that she is saying that South Africa was (and is) a mix of races who have different attitudes and aptitudes, and that these differences have an important effect on their society. I think she is trying to make a point about the difference between tribal societies and 'civilised' societies i.e. democracies. She is absolutely correct that the blacks in South Africa were not ready for the kind of society that the British and the Dutch tried to impose on them. Any race is seldom 'ready' to have another society's values imposed on them. The point she makes about the differences between the Indians and the Africans is a valid one. The Indians had had a lot more contact with other societies than the Africans had. India had been run by the Mongols and the Persians (among others) before the British turned up, so they were at least accustomed to encountering other races and other political systems. The Africans had no such experience. Consequentially the society that was imposed on them was extremely foreign to them. For these reasons I don't think that this is especially noteworthy in the overall scheme of her work.
By the way, please sign your posts so we know who made them. Even if it is just with your IP address if you don't have a user name.
Morgan Leigh 13:30, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

I dunno. Sounds to me like she's saying black people are savages who can't be civilised. Furthermore, while she might not have been considered racist by her peers at the time, it's still something that seems worth a mention.

196.209.17.19 22:26, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

Adyar, India or Adyar, Chennai, India?[edit]

should the reference to Adyar be as Adyar, Chennai, India? Chirag 20:27, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

Krishnamurti[edit]

J Krishnamurti went to become a celebrated spiritualist. His writings and recorded speeches show wisdom beyond his and human years. However, he was never perceived or acknowledged as a God-Man or emancipator. How his upbringing, thinking or maturing was impacted by Annie Besant and the reasons why they separated in thought or action needs to be elaborated.

Without shifting focus from Annie Besant and her contributions, can there be a bigger reference to J Krishnamurti and their curious relationship? {{unsigned}59.144.185.104|08:11, 27 August 2006 (UTC)}}

What is "curious" about their relationship? 65.88.88.126 (talk) 01:34, 10 December 2010 (UTC)
Ms. Besant's claims about the spiritual nature of Krishnamurti had at least one historically significant consequence. Although Krishnamurti later distanced himself from such claims (as has been mentioned), Ms. Besant's vocal standpoint on the matter was noticed by her German contemporary, Dr. Rudolf Steiner. Steiner at the time was the (formal) leader of the German Theosophical society. He remarked on more than one occasion, either directly or clearly indirectly, that Krishnamurti "could not possibly be the born-again Christ" [my paraphrasing]. Dr. Steiner's repeated, public remarks about Ms. Besant's claims about the spiritual status of Krishnamurti eventually led to the formal ouster of the entire German section of the Theosophical Society. The formality was spearheaded by Besant herself. (Conjecture: guess she didn't like Steiner's undermining her spiritual authority ? ) The ouster in turn, led - or at least contributed to - the emergence of Steiner's Anthroposophical movement, in which large numbers of the then former German Theosophists became directly involved. Steiner later complained in lectures (e.g. in Munich, 1913) about his and his associates treatment by Besant, et. al. at the time of their ouster.
It thus seems remiss that no mention is made here of these events --- that a major spiritual stream (Theosophy) should part in two, due to the direct influence of Besant. ( For documentation and substantiation, please refer to the Anthroposophical literature, see the "Gesamt Ausgabe" (Collected Works) of Steiner. ( Some of the material supporting this history is available only in German. ) Do you all think this material should be added to Besant's page ? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.178.213.199 (talk) 17:35, 22 April 2013 (UTC)

Also, ref. to Krishnamurti -- this (really quite excellent) entry on Mrs Besant rather soft-pedals the controversies surrounding Mr Leadbeater, and her peculiar and continuing support of him. He was accused repeatedly of molesting young boys, and for a time was drummed out of the Theosophical Society on those grounds. Mrs Besant saw to it that he was reinstated. Particularly in the case of Krishnamurti, with whom Leadbeater was accused of child rape, it would seem impolitic to associate them in this article without some acknowledgment that there were difficult issues. After all, Mrs Besant lost her own children in a not-dissimilar way to the circumstances under which Krishnamurti's parents lost him. I met and talked to Krishnamurti in 1969 in connection with a film at his compound in Santa Barbara, California, and brought up the subject of Leadbeater. He told me in no uncertain terms, and with uncharacteristic ill-temper, that he would never discuss that man. All of this has been a point of public discussion for some time, and I wonder if there ought to be a further unearthing of sources for an article that associates Mrs Besant, Mr Leadbeater, and Mr Krishnamurti. kentfx 10:16, 27 September 2007 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Kentfx (talkcontribs)

No, there ought not to be. First, the article has to be fixed, because it far from excellent. Secondly, this is not about Leadbeater. Third, you are biased. Accusations can exist in abundance, including the accusation of rape (eventually dropped by Krishnamurti's father during litigation). Proof doesn't exist - if you have any, feel free to add it to Leadbeater's page first. Fourth, his parents (actually his father) didn't "lose" Krishnamurti, it was a much more complicated affair. And it was also partly influenced (and financed) by a campaign from conservative pro-Independence Hindus who wanted to hurt Besant in order to advance their more militant nationalist viewpoint over her non-violent pro-Independence stance. Anyway, so you met K 55 years later, with literally a whole lifetime's worth of material to pick from between 1914 and 1969, and the burning question was about Leadbeater?! I guess whatever K did after his association with Leadbeater pales. No wonder he became upset after you called his bluff. But I have a couple of questions: how do you know that K's "ill temper" was uncharacteristic? Secondly, what "compound in Santa Barbara" was that? I am unfamiliar with any Krishnamurti-related properties in Santa Barbara. Can you enlighten us on that? Thanks!! 65.88.88.126 (talk) 02:09, 10 December 2010 (UTC)
I have long had this idea that when you think an article is no good you're supposed to fix it yourself. Perhaps I'm totally misled about this, but I always thought that was the point of a wiki.Sjwells53 (talk) 16:12, 10 December 2010 (UTC)
not necessarily. someone can have an opinion of an article or anything else without being obligated to do anything about it. it's called freedom of expression. if you think the article inferior AND care enough about the subject or your idea of "good" to make it better, go for it. anyway, IP 65's reply concerned mainly statements by Kentfx.216.194.24.4 (talk) 17:31, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

The Bharat Scouts and Guides[edit]

Scouting for native Indians was started by Vivian Bose, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, Pandit Hridayanath Kunzru, Annie Besant and George Arundale, in 1913. Chris 08:31, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

Religious adherence[edit]

Anne Besant was a Christian turned atheist turned Theosophist, not a adherent of Hinduism

So I have removed two catagories from the article ("Converts to Hinduism" and "English Hindus") RustDragon (talk) 21:16, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

Co-Freemasonry[edit]

I have added a section about Annie Besant's involvement in founding the British Federation of the International Order of Co-Freemasonry, Le Droit Humain, and her contributions towards making co-freemasonry more widely available across the globe.

Comason (talk) 20:50, 21 June 2008 (UTC)

This seems a good idea in itself, but I can't quite see why you inserted it at this point. I think it needs a bit of an overhaul to make it more encyclopedic in character and moving to a more appropriate spot chronologically.Sjwells53 (talk) 22:51, 21 June 2008 (UTC)

Should a point be made in this article though that co-Masonry isn't really Masonry. The official United Grand Lodge of England position is still that only men can be Masons. And since UGLE controls regular Anglo-American Masonry, then mainline Masonry at least doesn't recognize lodges that allow women to be members. So I think a point should be made in this article that Besant's Masonry isn't considered Masonic by the primary organization. --198.51.130.244 (talk) 08:17, 5 May 2010 (UTC)

Count of Saint Germain?[edit]

According to the article for the Count of Saint Germain, Annie Besant said she met him once. Although its most likely fabricated (or at least, Besant was led to believe she was talking to the count), shouldn't this be mentioned in the Besant article? --Ragemanchoo (talk) 03:08, 1 August 2008 (UTC)

There must be very few famous dead people Annie Besant didn't have the good fortune to meet. 203.129.46.247 (talk) 00:02, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

Islam[edit]

Does this section really serve a useful purpose. It's certainly worth summarising Besant's attitude to Islam somewhere in the article, because it's obviously germane to her Home Rule politics in India. But I don't see that a section consisting of just an extended quote really belongs here. I propose to summarise the content elsewhere and delete it if nobody puts up a good argument to the contrary.Sjwells53 (talk) 18:19, 14 March 2009 (UTC)

Pronunciation[edit]

Is the IPA version of her name in the first section correct? Taylor and others seem to think it's a z sound in the middle, which is a z in IPA too. It's derived from the word bezant, which was a Byzantine coin. Perhaps I'm wrong, so I'll await comment.Sjwells53 (talk) 10:17, 15 September 2010 (UTC)

More on her Secular Humanist/Socialist ties?[edit]

When I was downloading free books onto my eReader, I noticed a good number of her writings on secularism, humanism, freethought, and socialism--all from the 1870s, prior to her involvement with the Theosophical Society, Leadbeater and the Krishnamurti/Star of the East mess (which occurred in the early 20th C)--were available through Google books, which has been scanning old, out-of-print books into epub format and posting them on the web for free.

If there's interest in adding those links here, I can get them. I haven't yet read all of them, so can't offer a summary or review, but I've been involved with theosophy, freethought, secular humanism and democratic socialist/social democratic movements either in the past or currently so am pretty familiar with past history and current events in those movements. At one time, I did a good bit of research into the various offshoots from the Theosophical Society, which does seem to be a rather . . . um . . . volatile, dynamic organization. To be polite. Sdwahlen (talk) 09:17, 18 September 2010 (UTC)sdwahlen@yahoo.com

I think you should add whatever links you consider useful and important. Most of the activity on this page seems to come from people with a their own agenda re Theosophy, and there's been almost no significant movement on her tremendous importance to humanism, socialism and the labour movement in the UK since I greatly expanded and reshaped the page well over four years ago.Sjwells53 (talk) 14:46, 18 September 2010 (UTC)

Contradicts London Matchgirls Strike article[edit]

I cannot say which is correct, but the Wikipedia article on the London Matchgirls Strike states explicitly that Annie Besant did not start that action.Scorwin (talk) 13:55, 12 February 2011 (UTC)

User Yworo's deletion from this article[edit]

Yworo (talk · contribs) has deleted the category Dharmic writers from this article. First of all he shouldn't be doing this during the deletion discussion at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Templates_for_discussion/Log/2013_March_1#Template:Modern_Dharmic_writers , since removing links to the deletion discussion may have skewed it. Secondly, he should not base his decision on categories on the content of a wikipedia article, but on the life and writings of the person under question. May I suggest to him to start with reading the three Dharma lectures of 1898, and follow up with her numerous writings on each of the dharmic religions? --Trphierth (talk) 13:34, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

From WP:CAT: "Categorization of articles must be verifiable. It should be clear from verifiable information in the article why it was placed in each of its categories." In this case, a source should be provide that shows that the subject is generally considered a "Dharmic writer" by reliable sources. Thanks. Yworo (talk) 23:00, 9 March 2013 (UTC)
You should by now have learned the difference between wikipedia guidelines and wikipedia policies. The guidelines must be followed by common sense and by consensus.
I can find many Hindu writers who are not explicitly named and sourced as Hindu writers but who nevertheless are Hindu writers. For example, the article on Yogananda does not say and source that he is a Hindu writer, but he is in the category. --Trphierth (talk) 04:17, 10 March 2013 (UTC)