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Alexandra David-Néel
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 10/16/19



Alexandra David-Néel
Alexandra David-Néel in Tibet, 1933
Born Louise Eugénie Alexandrine Marie David
24 October 1868
Saint-Mandé, French Empire
Died 8 September 1969 (aged 100)
Digne, France
Nationality Belgian and French
Known for Writing on Tibet

Alexandra David-Néel (born Louise Eugénie Alexandrine Marie David; 24 October 1868 – 8 September 1969) was a Belgian–French explorer, spiritualist, Buddhist, anarchist and writer.[a][b][c] She is most known for her 1924 visit to Lhasa, Tibet, when it was forbidden to foreigners. David-Néel wrote over 30 books about Eastern religion, philosophy, and her travels, including Magic and Mystery in Tibet which was published in 1929. Her teachings influenced the beat writers Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, the populariser of Eastern philosophy Alan Watts, and the esotericist Benjamin Creme.


Early life and background

Alexandra David-Néel as a teenager, 1886

She was born in Saint-Mandé, Val-de-Marne, only daughter of her father, Louis David, a Huguenot Freemason, teacher (who was a Republican activist during the revolution of 1848, and friend of the geographer/anarchist Elisée Reclus), and she had a Belgian Roman Catholic mother. Louis and Alexandrine had met in Belgium, where the school teacher and publisher of a republican journal was exiled when Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte became emperor. Between the penniless husband and the wife who would not come into her inheritance until after her father would die, the reasons for disagreements grew with the birth of Alexandra.

In 1871, appalled by the execution of the last Communards in front of the Communards' Wall at the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris, Louis David took his daughter of two years, Eugénie, future Alexandra, there to see and never forget, by this early encounter of the face of death, the ferocity of humans. Two years later, the Davids emigrated to Belgium.[4]

Since before the age of 15, she had been exercising a good number of extravagant austerities: fasting, corporal torments, recipes drawn from biographies of ascetic saints found in the library of one of her female relatives, to which she refers to in Sous des nuées d'orage, published in 1940.[5]

At the age of 15, spending her holidays with her parents at Ostende, she ran for and reached the port of Vlissingen in the Netherlands to try and embark for England. Lack of money forced her to give up.[6]

At the age of 18, she had already visited England, Switzerland and Spain on her own, and she was studying in Madame Blavatsky's Theosophical Society. "She joined various secret societies – she would reach the thirtieth degree in the mixed Scottish Rite of Freemasonry – while feminist and anarchist groups greeted her with enthusiasm... Throughout her childhood and adolescence, she was associated with the French geographer and anarchist Elisée Reclus (1820–1905). This led her to become interested in the anarchistic ideas of the time and in feminism, that inspired her to the publication of Pour la vie (For Life) in 1898. In 1899, she composed an anarchist treatise with a preface by Elisée Reclus.
Publishers did not dare to publish the book, though her friend Jean Haustont printed copies himself and it was eventually translated into five languages."[7]

According to Raymond Brodeur, she converted to Buddhism in 1889, which she noted in her diary that was published under the title La Lampe de sagesse (The Lamp of Wisdom) in 1986. She was 21 years old. That same year, to refine her English, an indispensable language for an orientalist's career, she went to London where she frequented the library of the British Museum and, moreover, made the acquaintance of several members of the Theosophical Society. The following year, back in Paris, she initiated herself to Sanskrit and Tibetan and followed different instructions at the Collège de France and at the Ecole pratique des hautes Etudes (practical school of advanced studies) without ever passing an exam there.[8] According to Jean Chalon, her vocation to be an orientalist and Buddhist originated at the Guimet Museum.[9]

1895–1904: Opera singer

At the suggestion of her father, David-Néel attended the Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles (Royal Conservatory of Brussels), where she studied piano and singing.[10] To help her parents who were experiencing setbacks, David-Néel, who had obtained a first prize for singing, took the position of first singer at the Hanoi Opera House (Indochina) during the seasons 1895–1896 and 1896–1897 under the name Alexandra Myrial.[d]

She interpreted the role of the Violetta in La Traviata (by Verdi), then she sang in Les Noces de Jeannette (by Victor Massé), in Faust and in Mireille (by Gounod), Lakmé (by Léo Delibes), Carmen (by Bizet), and Thaïs (by Massenet). She maintained a pen friendship with Frédéric Mistral and Jules Massenet at that time.[12]

From 1897 to 1900, she was living together with the pianist Jean Haustont in Paris, writing Lidia with him, a lyric tragedy in one act, for which Haustont composed the music and David-Néel the libretto. She left to sing at the opera of Athens from November 1899 to January 1900. Then, in July of the same year, she went to the opera of Tunis. Soon after her arrival in the city, she met a distant cousin, Philippe Néel, chief engineer of the Tunisian railways and her future husband. During a stay of Jean Haustont in Tunis in the Summer of 1902, she gave up her singing career and assumed artistic direction of the casino of Tunis for a few months, while also continuing her intellectual work.[12]

1904–1911: Marriage

On 4 August 1904, at age 36, she married Philippe Neél de Saint-Sauveur,[13] whose lover she had been since 15 September 1900. Their life together was sometimes turbulent but characterized by mutual respect. It was, however, interrupted by her departure, alone, for her third trip to India (1911–1925) (the second one was carried out for a singing tour) on 9 August 1911. She did not want children, aware that the charges of motherhood were incompatible with her need of independence and her inclination for education.[5] She promised to Philippe to get back to the conjugal domicile in nineteen months: but only fourteen years later, in May 1925, did the two spouses meet again, separating after some days, David-Néel having come back with her exploration partner, the young Lama Aphur Yongden, whom she would make her adopted son in 1929.[14][5]

However, both spouses started an extensive correspondence after their separation, which only ended with the death of Philippe Néel in February 1941. From these exchanges, many letters by David-Néel remain, and some letters written by her husband, many having been burnt or lost on the occasion of David-Néel's tribulations during the Chinese Civil War, in the middle of the 1940s.

Legend has it that her husband was also her patron; the truth is probably quite different. She had, at her marriage, a personal fortune[15] and in 1911, three departments helped her to finance an educational trip. Through the embassies, she sent her husband proxies in order for him to manage her fortune.

1911–1925: The Indo-Tibetan tour

Arrival in Sikkim (1912)

Alexandra David-Néel traveled for the second time to India to further her study of Buddhism. In 1912, she arrived at the royal monastery of Sikkim, where she befriended Maharaj Kumar (crown prince) Sidkeong Tulku Namgyal, the eldest son of the sovereign (Chogyal) of this kingdom (which would become a state of India), and traveled in many Buddhist monasteries to make her knowledge of Buddhism more perfect. In 1914, she met young Aphur Yongden in one of these monasteries, 15 years old, whom she would later adopt as her son. Both decided to retire in a hermitage cavern at more than 4000 meters above sea level in northern Sikkim.

Sidkeong, then the spiritual leader of Sikkim, was sent to the meeting with Alexandra David-Néel by his father, the Maharaja of Sikkim, having been told about her arrival in April 1912 by the British resident at Gangtok. On the occasion of this first encounter, their mutual understanding is immediate: Sidkeong, eager for reformation, was listening to Alexandra David-Néel's advice, and before returning to his occupations, he left behind the Lama Kazi Dawa Samdup as a guide, interpreter and professor of Tibetan.
After that, Sidkeong confided in Alexandra David-Néel that his father wished for him to renounce the throne in favor of his half-brother.[16][17]

Meeting with the 13th Dalai Lama in Kalimpong (1912)

Lama Kazi Dawa Samdup accompanied Alexandra David-Néel to Kalimpong, where she returned to meet with the 13th Dalai Lama in exile. She received an audience on 15 April 1912, and met Ekai Kawaguchi in his waiting room, whom she would meet again in Japan. The Dalai Lama welcomed her, accompanied by the inevitable interpreter, and he strongly advised her to learn Tibetan, an advice she followed. She received his blessing, then the Dalai Lama engaged the dialogue, asking her how she had become a Buddhist. David-Néel amused him by claiming to be the only Buddhist in Paris, and surprised him by telling him that the Gyatcher Rolpa, a sacred Tibetan book, had been translated by Phillippe-Édouard Foucaux, a professor at the Collège de France. She asked for many additional explanations that the Dalai Lama tried to provide, promising to answer all her questions in writing.[18]

Stay at Lachen (1912–1916)

In late May, she went to Lachen, where she met Lachen Gomchen Rinpoche, the superior (gomchen) of the town's monastery, with the improvised interpreter M. Owen (E. H. Owen), a reverend who replaced the absent Kazi Dawa Samdup.[19] In Lachen, she lived for several years close to one of the greatest gomchens of whom she had the privilege to be taught, and above all, she was very close to the Tibetan border, which she crossed twice against all odds.

Lachen village in 1938

Lachen is a town in North Sikkim district in the Indian state of Sikkim. It is located at an elevation of 2,750 metres [9,000 ft.]. The name Lachen means "big pass". The town is being promoted as a tourist destination by the Sikkimese government. The town forms the base to the Chopta Valley and Gurudongmar Lake. An annual yak race, the Thangu is held here in summer.

Buddhist Holy Lake -Gurudongmar Lake

Gurudongmar Lake is one of the highest lakes in the world and in India, located at an altitude of 5,183 m (17,000 ft),[1] in the Indian state of Sikkim.[2] It is considered sacred by Buddhists, Sikhs and Hindus.[1] The lake is named after Guru Padmasambhava—also known as Guru Rinpoche—founder of Tibetan Buddhism, who visited in the 8th century.[2]

-- Gurudongmar Lake, by Wikipedia

Unlike other places in India, Lachen has its unique form of local self governance called the “Dzumsa”. Every household is a member of this traditional administrative system, this institution is in charge of governing and organizing activities within the village.

-- Lachen, Sikkim, by Wikipedia

In her anchorite cave, she exercised the methods of Tibetan yogis. She was sometimes in tsam, that is to retreat for several days without seeing anyone, and she learned the technique of tummo, which mobilized her internal energy to produce heat. As a result of this apprenticeship, her master, the Gomchen of Lachen, gave her the religious name of Yeshe Tome, "Lamp of Sagesse", which proved valuable to her because she was then known by Buddhist authorities everywhere she went in Asia.[20]

While she was in company of Lachen Gomchen Rinpoche, Alexandra David-Néel encountered Sidkeong again on an inspection tour in Lachen on 29 May 1912. These three personalities of Buddhism thus reunited reflected and worked together to reform and spread out Buddhism, as the Gomchen would declare.[21] For David-Néel, Sidkeong organized an expedition of one week into the high areas of Sikkim, at 5,000 meters of altitude, which started on 1 July.[22]

There is an epistolary correspondence between Sidkeong and Alexandra David-Néel. Thus, in a letter by Sidkeong written at Gangtok on 8 October 1912, he thanked her for the meditation method she had sent him. On 9 October, he accompanied her to Darjeeling, where they visited a monastery together, while she prepared to return to Calcutta.[23] In another letter, Sidkeong informed Alexandra David-Néel that, in March 1913, he was able to enter the Freemasonry at Calcutta, where he had been admitted as a member, provided with a letter of introduction by the governor of Bengal, a further link between them. He told him of his pleasure of having been allowed to become a member of this society.[24]

While his father was about to die, Sidkeong called Alexandra David-Néel for help, and asked her for advice in bringing about the reform of Buddhism that he wished to implement at Sikkim once he would arrive at power.[25] Returning to Gangtok via Darjeeling and Siliguri, David-Néel was received like an official figure, with guard of honor, by Sidkeong on 3 December 1913.[26]

On 4 January 1914, he gave her, as a gift for the new year, a lamani's (female lama) dress sanctified according to the Buddhist rites. David-Néel had her picture taken dressed this way, with a yellow hat completing the ensemble.[27][28]

On 10 February 1914, the Maharaja died, and Sidkeong succeeded him. The campaign of religious reform could begin, Kali Koumar, a monk of the southern Buddhism was called to participate in it, as well as Silacara (an Englishman) who was then living in Burma. Ma Lat (Hteiktin Ma Lat) came from that same country, Alexandra David-Néel was in correspondence with her, and Sidkeong had to marry her, Alexandra David-Néel becoming in fact the Maharaja's marriage counselor.[29]

While she was at the monastery of Phodong, the abbot of which was Sidkeong, Alexandra David-Néel declared to hear a voice announcing to her that the reforms would fail.[30]

On 11 November 1914, leaving the cavern of Sikkim where she had gone to meet the gomchen, David-Néel was received at Lachen Monastery by Sidkeong.[31] One month later, she learned about Sidkeong's sudden death, news that affected her and made her think of poisoning.[32]

First trip to Tibet and meeting with the Panchen Lama (1916)

On 13 July 1916, without asking anyone for permission, Alexandra David-Néel left for Tibet, accompanied by Yongden and a monk. She planned to visit two great religious centers close to her Sikkim retreat: the monastery of Chorten Nyima and Tashilhunpo Monastery, close to Shigatse, one of the biggest cities of southern Tibet. At the monastery of Tashilhunpo, where she arrived on 16 July, she was allowed to consult the Buddhist scriptures and visit various temples. On the 19th, she met with the Panchen Lama, by whom she received blessings and a charming welcome: he introduced her to his entourage's persons of rank, to his professors, and to his mother (with whom David-Néel tied bonds of friendship and who suggested to her to reside in a convent). The Panchen Lama bade and proposed her to stay at Shigatse as his guest, what she declined, leaving the town on 26 July, not without having received the honorary titles of a Lama and a doctor in Tibetan Buddhism and having experienced hours of great bliss.[e] She pursued her escapade at Tibet by visiting the printing works of Nartan (snar-thang) before paying a visit to an anchorite which had invited her close to the lake Mo-te-tong. On 15 August, she was welcomed by a Lama at Tranglung.[citation needed]

Upon her return to Sikkim, the colonial British authorities, pushed by missionaries exasperated by the welcome afforded David-Néel by the Panchen Lama and annoyed by her having ignored their ban of entering Tibet, thrust a notification of expulsion upon her.[f][34]

Trip to Japan, Korea, China, Mongolia, and Tibet

As it was impossible to return to Europe during World War I, Alexandra David-Néel and Yongden left Sikkim for India and then Japan. There she met the philosopher Ekai Kawaguchi who had managed to stay for eighteen months in Lhasa as a Chinese monk in disguise a few years earlier. David-Néel and Yongden subsequently left for Korea and then Beijing, China. From there, they chose to cross China from east to west, accompanied by a colourful Tibetan Lama. Their journey took several years through the Gobi, Mongolia, before a break of three years (1918–1921) at Kumbum Monastery in Tibet, where David-Néel, helped by Yongden, translated the famous Prajnaparamita.[5]

Incognito stay in Lhasa (1924)

In Lhasa in 1924.

Disguised as a beggar and a monk, respectively, and carrying a backpack as discreet as possible, Alexandra David-Néel and Yongden then left for the Forbidden City. In order not to betray her status as a foreigner, David-Néel did not dare to take a camera and survey equipment, she hid, however, under her rags a compass, a pistol, and a purse with money for a possible ransom. Finally, they reached Lhasa in 1924, merged with a crowd of pilgrims coming to celebrate the Monlam Prayer Festival.[35] They stayed in Lhasa for two months visiting the holy city and the large surrounding monasteries: Drepung, Sera, Ganden, Samye, and met Swami Asuri Kapila (Cesar Della Rosa Bendio). Foster Stockwell pointed out that neither the Dalai Lama nor his assistants welcomed David-Néel, that she was neither shown the treasures of lamasery nor awarded a diploma.[33] Jacques Brosse states more precisely that she knew the Dalai Lama well, but he didn't know that she was in Lhasa and she could not reveal her identity. She found "nothing very special" in Potala, of which she remarked that the interior design was "entirely Chinese-style".[g][37][38] Despite her face smeared with soot, her yak wool mats, and her traditional fur hat,[33] she was finally unmasked (due to too much cleanliness – she went to wash herself every morning at the river) and denounced to Tsarong Shape, the Governor of Lhasa. By the time the latter took action, David-Néel and Yongden had already left Lhasa for Gyantse. They were only told about the story later, by letters of Ludlow and David Macdonald (the British sales representative in Gyantse).[h]

In May 1924, the explorer, exhausted, "without money and in rags", was accommodated together with her companion at the Macdonald home for a fortnight. She managed to reach Northern India through Sikkim partly thanks to the 500 rupees she borrowed from Macdonald and to the necessary papers that he and his son-in-law, captain Perry, obtained for her.[40][41][39] In Calcutta, dressed in the new Tibetan outfit Macdonald had bought for her, she got herself photographed in a studio.[i]

After her return, starting at her arrival at Havre on Mai 10, 1925, she was able to assess the remarkable fame her audacity had earned her. She hit the headlines of the newspapers and her portrait spread in the magazines.[35] The account of her adventure would become the subject of a book, My Journey to Lhasa, which was published in Paris, London and New York in 1927,[42] but met with disbelief of critics who had a hard time accepting the stories about such practices as levitation and tummo (the increase of body temperature to withstand cold).[43]

In 1972, Jeanne Denys, who was at one time working as a librarian for David-Néel, would publish Alexandra David-Néel au Tibet: une supercherie dévoilée (approximately: Alexandra David-Neel in Tibet: trickery uncovered), a book which caused rather little sensation by claiming to demonstrate that David-Néel had not entered Lhasa.[43][44] Jeanne Denys maintained that the photograph of David-Néel and Aphur sitting in the area before the Potala, taken by Tibetan friends, was a montage.[45] She pretended that David-Néel's parents were modest Jewish storekeepers who spoke Yiddish at home. She went as far as to accuse David-Néel of having invented the accounts of her voyages and of her studies.[j]

1925–1937: The European interlude

Back in France, Alexandra David-Néel rented a small house in the hills of Toulon and was looking for a home in the sun and without too many neighbors. An agency from Marseille suggested a small house in Digne-les-Bains (Provence) to her in 1928. She, who was looking for the sun, visited the house during a rainstorm, but she liked the place and she bought it. Four years later, she began to enlarge the house, called Samten-Dzong or "fortress of meditation", the first hermitage and Lamaist shrine in France according to Raymond Brodeur.[5] There she wrote several books describing her various trips. In 1929, she published her most famous and beloved work, Mystiques et Magiciens du Tibet (Magicians and Mystics in Tibet).

1937–1946: Chinese journey and Tibetan retreat

In 1937, aged sixty-nine, Alexandra David-Néel decided to leave for China with Yongden via Brussels, Moscow and the Trans-Siberian Railway. Her aim was to study ancient Taoism. She found herself in the middle of the Second Sino-Japanese War and attended the horrors of war, famine and epidemics. Fleeing the combat, she wandered through China, by means of fortune. The Chinese journey took course during one and a half years between Beijing, Mount Wutai, Hankou and Chengdu. On 4 June 1938, she went back to the Tibetan town of Tachienlu for a retreat of five years. She was deeply touched by the announcement of the death of her husband in 1941.[k]

One minor mystery relating to Alexandra David-Néel has a solution. In Forbidden Journey, p. 284, the authors wonder how Mme. David-Néel's secretary, Violet Sydney, made her way back to the West in 1939 after Sous des nuées d'orage (Storm Clouds) was completed in Tachienlu. Peter Goullart's Land of the Lamas (not in Forbidden Journey's bibliography), on pp. 110–113 gives an account of his accompanying Ms. Sydney partway back, then putting her under the care of Lolo bandits to continue the journey to Chengdu. While in Eastern Tibet David-Néel and Yongden completed circumambulation of the holy mountain Amnye Machen.[48] In 1945, Alexandra David-Néel went back to India thanks to Christian Fouchet, French Consul at Calcutta, who became a friend; they stayed in touch until David-Néel's death. She finally left Asia with Aphur Yongden by airplane, departing from Calcutta in June 1946. On 1 July, they arrived at Paris, where they stayed until October, when they went back to Digne-les-Bains.[49]

1946–1969: the Lady of Digne

At 78, Alexandra David-Néel returned to France to arrange the estate of her husband, then she started writing from her home in Digne.

Between 1947 and 1950, Alexandra David-Néel came across Paul Adam – Venerable Aryadeva, she commended him because he took her place on short notice, at a conference held at the Theosophical Society in Paris.[50]

In 1952, she published the Textes tibétains inédits ("unpublished Tibetan writings"), an anthology of Tibetan literature including, among other things, the erotic poems attributed to the 6th Dalai Lama. In 1953, a work of actuality followed, Le vieux Tibet face à la Chine nouvelle, in which she gave "a certain and documented opinion" on the tense situation in the regions once visited by her.[38]

She went through the pain of suddenly losing Yongden on 7 October 1955.[4] According to Jacques Brosse, Yongden, seized by a strong fever and sickness, which David-Néel attributed to a simple indigestion, fell into a coma during the night[l] and died carried off by kidney failure according to the doctor's diagnosis.[51] Just having turned 87, David-Néel found herself alone. Yongden's ashes were kept safe in the Tibetan oratory of Samten Dzong, awaiting to be thrown into the Ganges, together with those of David-Néel after her death.[38]

With age, David-Néel suffered more and more from articular rheumatism that forced her to walk with crutches. "I walk on my arms", she used to say.[38] Her work rhythm slowed down: she didn't publish anything in 1955 and 1956, and, in 1957, only the third edition of the Initiations lamaïques.[4]

In April 1957, she left Samten Dzong in order to live at Monaco with a friend who had always been typing her manuscripts, then she decided to live alone in a hotel, going from one establishment to the next, till June 1959, when she was introduced to a young woman, Marie-Madeleine Peyronnet, who she took as her personal secretary.[38] She would stay with the old lady until the end,[4] "watching over her like a daughter over her mother – and sometimes like a mother over her unbearable child – but also like a disciple at the service of her guru", according to the words of Jacques Brosse.[38] Alexandra David-Neel nicknamed her "Turtle".

At a hundred years and a half, she applied for renewal of her passport to the prefect of Basses-Alpes.

Alexandra David-Néel died on 8 September 1969, almost 101 years old. In 1973, her ashes were brought to Varanasi by Marie-Madeleine Peyronnet to be dispersed with those of her adopted son into the Ganges.


In 1925, she won the Award Monique Berlioux of the Académie des sports. Although she was not a sportswoman in a strict sense, she is part of the list of the 287 Gloires du sport français (English: Glories of French sport).[52]

The series Once Upon a Time... The Explorers by Albert Barillé (dedicating twenty-two episodes to twenty-two important persons who have greatly contributed to exploration) honored her by dedicating an episode to her. She is the only woman who appears as a (leading) explorer in the entire series.

In 1991, American composer Meredith Monk's opera in three acts Atlas (opera) premiered in Houston. The story is very loosely based on the life and writings of Alexandra David-Néel and is told primarily through wordless vocal sounds with brief interjections of spoken text in Mandarin Chinese and English. An full-length recording of the opera, Atlas: An Opera in Three Parts, was released in 1993 by ECM Records.

In 1992, a documentary entitled Alexandra David-Néel: du Sikkim au Tibet interdit was released; it was directed by Antoine de Maximy and Jeanne Mascolo de Filippis. It follows the journey that Marie-Madeleine Peyronnet undertook in order to return a sacred statue to Phodong Monastery that had been given as a loan to Alexandra David-Néel until her death. In it, the explorer's life and strong personality are recounted, especially thanks to testimonials of people who had known her and anecdotes of Marie-Madeleine Peyronnet.

In 1995, the tea house Mariage Frères honored Alexandra David-Néel by creating a tea named after her in cooperation with the foundation Alexandra David-Néel.

In 2003, Pierrette Dupoyet created a show called Alexandra David-Néel, pour la vie... (for life...) at the Avignon Festival, where she outlined Alexandra's entire life.

In 2006, Priscilla Telmon paid tribute to Alexandra David-Néel through an expedition on foot and alone across the Himalaya. She recounted her predecessor's journey from Vietnam to Calcutta via Lhasa. A movie, Au Tibet Interdit (English: Banned in Tibet), was shot on that expedition.[53]

In January 2010, the play Alexandra David-Néel, mon Tibet (My Tibet) by Michel Lengliney was on view, with Hélène Vincent in the role of the explorer and that of her colleague played by Émilie Dequenne.

In 2012, the movie Alexandra David-Néel, j'irai au pays des neiges (I will go to the land of snow), directed by Joél Farges, with Dominique Blanc in the role of David-Néel, was presented in preview at the Rencontres Cinématographiques de Digne-les-Bains.

A literary award carrying the name of the Tibet explorer and her adopted son, the prix Alexandra-David-Néel/Lama-Yongden, has been created.

A secondary school carries her name, the lycée polyvalent Alexandra-David-Néel of Digne-les-Bains.

The class of 2001 of the conservateurs du patrimoine (heritage curators) of the Institut national du patrimoine (National Heritage Institute) carries her name.

The class of 2011 of the institut diplomatique et consulaire (IDC, diplomatic and consular institute) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development (France) carries her name.

An extension station of the Île-de-France tramway Line 3, located in the 12th arrondissement of Paris and close to Saint-Mandé, carries her name.


• 1898 Pour la vie
• 1911 Le modernisme bouddhiste et le bouddhisme du Bouddha
• 1927 Voyage d'une Parisienne à Lhassa (1927, My Journey to Lhasa)
• 1929 Mystiques et Magiciens du Tibet (1929, Magic and Mystery in Tibet)
• 1930 Initiations Lamaïques (Initiations and Initiates in Tibet)
• 1931 La vie Surhumaine de Guésar de Ling le Héros Thibétain (The Superhuman Life of Gesar of Ling)
• 1933 Grand Tibet; Au pays des brigands-gentilshommes
• 1935 Le lama au cinq sagesses
• 1938 Magie d'amour et magic noire; Scènes du Tibet inconnu (Tibetan Tale of Love and Magic)
• 1939 Buddhism: Its Doctrines and Its Methods
• 1940 Sous des nuées d'orage; Récit de voyage
• 1949 Au coeur des Himalayas; Le Népal
• 1951 Ashtavakra Gita; Discours sur le Vedanta Advaita
• 1951 Les Enseignements Secrets des Bouddhistes Tibétains (The Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects)
• 1951 L'Inde hier, aujourd'hui, demain
• 1952 Textes tibétains inédits
• 1953 Le vieux Tibet face à la Chine nouvelle
• 1954 La puissance de néant, by Lama Yongden (The Power of Nothingness)
• Grammaire de la langue tibétaine parlée
• 1958 Avadhuta Gita
• 1958 La connaissance transcendente
• 1961 Immortalité et réincarnation: Doctrines et pratiques en Chine, au Tibet, dans l'Inde
• L'Inde où j'ai vecu; Avant et après l'indépendence
• 1964 Quarante siècles d'expansion chinoise
• 1970 En Chine: L'amour universel et l'individualisme intégral: les maîtres Mo Tsé et Yang Tchou
• 1972 Le sortilège du mystère; Faits étranges et gens bizarres rencontrés au long de mes routes d'orient et d'occident
• 1975 Vivre au Tibet; Cuisine, traditions et images
• 1975 Journal de voyage; Lettres à son Mari, 11 août 1904 – 27 décembre 1917. Vol. 1. Ed. Marie-Madeleine Peyronnet
• 1976 Journal de voyage; Lettres à son Mari, 14 janvier 1918 – 31 décembre 1940. Vol. 2. Ed. Marie-Madeleine Peyronnet
• 1979 Le Tibet d'Alexandra David-Néel
• 1981 Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects
• 1986 La lampe de sagesse

Many of Alexandra David-Neel's books were published more or less simultaneously both in French and English.

See also

• Atlas, a 1991 opera loosely based on David-Néel's life and writings
• Buddhism in France
• Tulpa

Further reading

• Rice, Earl (2004). Alexandra David-Neel: Explorer at the Roof of the World.
• Middleton, Ruth (1989). Alexandra David-Neel. Boston, Shambhala. ISBN 1-57062-600-6.
• Norwick, Braham. (1976). "Alexandra David-Neel's Adventures in Tibet: Fact or Fiction?". The Tibet Journal. Vol. 1, Nos. 3 & 4. Autumn 1976, pp. 70–74.


1. "At the same time, she joined various secret societies – she would reach the thirtieth degree in the mixed Scottish Rite of Freemasonry – while feminist and anarchist groups greeted her with enthusiasm...In 1899, she wrote an anarchist treatise prefaced by the anarchist geographer Elisée Reclus. Frightened publishers refused, however, to publish this book written by a woman so proud she could not accept any abuses by the State, army, Church or high finance."[1]
2. "Mystic, anarchist, occultist and traveller, Louise Eugenie Alexandrine Marie David was born in Paris on the 24th of October 1868...In 1899, Alexandra composed an anarchist treatise with a preface by the French geographer and anarchist Elisée Reclus (1820–1905). Publishers were, however, too terrified to publish the book, though her friend Jean Haustont printed copies himself and it was eventually translated into five languages."[2]
3. "ALEXANDRA DAVID-NEEL, Daily Bleed Saint 2001–2008 First woman explorer of Tibet and its mysteries. Successively & simultaneously anarchist, singer, feminist, explorer, writer, lecturer, photographer, buddhist, architect, mail artist, sanskrit grammarian & Centenarian."[3]
4. "At last, in the autumn of 1895, Alexandra landed a ... 31 She spent the next two years touring French Indochina, now Vietnam, appearing in Hanoi, Haiphong, and elsewhere, while performing lead roles in such operas as La Traviata and Carmen"[11]
5. "In 1916 she again went into Tibet, this time at the invitation of the Panchen Lama [...]. He gave her access to Tashilhunpo's immense libraries of Buddhists scriptures and made every corner of the various temples accessible to her. She was lavishly entertained by both the Panchen Lama and his mother, with whom she remained a longtime friend. 'The special psychic atmosphere of the place enchanted me,' she later wrote. 'I have seldom enjoyed such blissful hours.'"[33]
6. "Alexandra David-Neel then returned to Sikkim with honorary lama's robes and the equivalent of a Doctor of Philosophy in Tibetan Buddhism. There she found herself slapped with a deportation notice by the British colonial authorities. They objected to her having ignored their no-entry edict in going across the border into Tibet."[33]
7. "Le palais du dalaï-lama dont la décoration intérieure, très riche en certains endroits, est entièrement de style chinois, n'a rien de très particulier."[36]
8. "Cependant, Alexandra commet à Lhasa même une imprudence qui faillit lui coûter cher, celle de se rendre chaque matin à la rivière pour faire un brin de toilette en cette période hivernale. Ce fait inhabituel intrigue une de ses voisines à un point tel qu'elle le signale au Tsarong Shapé (le gouverneur de Lhasa). Celui-ci, absorbé par des préoccupations plus importantes, allait, quelque temps plus tard, envoyer un de ses hommes pour procéder à une enquête lorsque la rumeur lui apprend qu'Alexandra et Yongden viennent d'arriver à Gyantsé. Le gouverneur en a aussitôt déduit que la dame se lavant tous les matins ne pouvait être qu'Alexandra. Cette histoire, Alexandra et Yongden ne l'ont connue que quelques mois après, par des lettres de messieurs Ludlow et David Macdonald, l'agent commercial britannique qui, à Gyantsé, a stoppé leur avance."[39]
9. "La famille Macdonald prête des vêtements et achète une nouvelle tenue tibétaine à Alexandra. C'est dans cette robe neuve qu'elle se fera photographier en studio, quelques mois plus tard à Calcutta."[40]
10. "The motives of this ill-tempered, anti-Semitic tract were made obvious by the author's insistence that Alexandra's parents had been modest shopkeepers and that they were Jewish and spoke yiddish at home" ... "Denys called her subject an actress and alleged that she was an impostor who invented the stories of her travel and studies."[46]
11. "Alexandra ne part plus à la découverte d'une philosophie ou d'un monde inconnus. Voulant conserver et affermir la place qu'elle a durement acquise, elle se rend à Pékin pour élargir le champ de ses connaissances sur l'ancien « taoïsme ». le séjour est envisagé pour plusieurs années, mais elle ignore encore combien. Les événements vont bouleverser le programme qu'elle avait établi et la précipiter sur les routes chinoises... / Le périple lui-même s'est déroulé sur une durée d'un an et demi, entrecoupé par des séjours prolongés à Pékin, au Wutai Shan, à Hankéou, et à Chengtu, avant de s'achever par cinq années de retraite forcée dans les marches tibétaines à Tatsienlou."[47]
12. "Dans la soirée, Yongden, pris d'un malaise, s'était retiré dans sa chambre. Au cours de la nuit, il avait été saisi d'une forte fièvre, accompagnée de vomissements. Ayant cru qu'il s'agissait d'une simple indigestion, Alexandra ne s'était guère inquiétée, mais Yongden était tombé dans le coma et on l'avait retrouvé, au matin, mort dans son lit. Le médecin accouru, diagnostiqua que Yongden avait succombé à une foudroyante crise d'urémie".[38]


1. Biography of Alexandra David-Néel at Archived 5 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine
2. "A Mystic in Tibet – Alexandra David-Neel" by Brian Haughton.
3. "1868 – France: Alexandra David-Neel lives, Paris." Archived 18 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine
4. Foster & Foster (1998), pp. vii–ix ('Chronology')
5. Brodeur (2001), p. 180
6. Reverzy (2001), p. 273
7. Brian Haughton, "A Mystic in Tibet – Alexandra David-Neel",; accessed 19 January 2018.
8. Brodeur (2001), pp. 180–82
9. Chalon (1985), pp. 63–64
10. Kuhlman (2002)
11. Alexandra David-Neel: Explorer at the Roof of the World – Page 24 Earle Rice – 2004.
12. Chalon (1985)
13. Désiré-Marchand (2009)
14. (fr) Biographie officielle d'Alexandra David-Néel (5e partie), on the site
15. (fr) Nico P., Alexandra David-Néel, exploratrice, féministe, anarchiste, Alternative libertaire, no 187, septembre 2009.
16. Chalon (1985), p. 199
17. Lama Kazi Dawa Samdup
18. Chalon (1985), pp. 196–197
19. Chalon (1985), pp. 195–201
20. Brodeur (2001), pp. 184, 187
21. Chalon (1985), p. 201
22. Chalon (1985), p. 202
23. Chalon (1985), pp. 205–206
24. Chalon (1985), pp. 224–225
25. Chalon (1985), p. 225
26. Chalon (1985), p. 228
27. Chalon (1985), p. 229
28. Désiré-Marchand (2009), pp. 198–199
29. Chalon (1985), pp. 230–31
30. Chalon (1985), p. 235
31. Chalon (1985), p. 242
32. Chalon (1985), p. 243
33. Stockwell (2003), p. 121
34. Chalon (1985), p. 249
35. Hélène Duccini, « La « gloire médiatique » d'Alexandra David-Néel », Le Temps des médias, 1/2007 (no 8), p. 130–141.
36. Alexandra David-Néel, Voyage d'une Parisienne à Lhasa.
37. Chalon (1985), p. 307
38. Jacques Brosse, Alexandra David-Neel, p. 195.
39. Biographie officielle d'Alexandra David-Néel (6e partie), sur le site
40. Désiré-Marchand (2009), p. 445
41. Chalon (1985), p. 310
42. Brodeur (2001), p. 182
43. Sara Mills, Discourses of Difference: An Analysis of Women's Travel Writing and Colonialism, Routledge, 2003, 240 p., en part. p. 123–150.
44. Brigitte Marrec, MCF Civilisation américaine, Université de Paris-X, Nanterre, Groupe F.A.A.A.M., 4 mai 2007, Présentation de l'ouvrage de Sara Mills: Discourses of Difference: an Analysis of Women's Travel Writing and Colonialism, p. 24.
45. Peter Hopkirk, Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Secret Exploration of Tibet, Kodansha Globe, 1995, p. 226.
46. Foster & Foster (1998)
47. Désiré-Marchand (2009), quatrième partie, « Des monastères chinois du Wutai Shan aux marches tibétaines : le voyage de 1937 à 1946 »
48. The Anye Machin peaks are considered to be the abode of the protector god Machin Pomri Archived 8 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine
49. Chalon (1985), pp. 418–419
50. Archives : Société théosophique de France – 4, square Rapp à Paris, 7e Arrondissement.
51. Chalon (1985), pp. 435–436
52. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 June 2015. Retrieved 10 April2016.[1][permanent dead link]
53. [2]


• Brodeur, Raymond (2001). Femme, mystique et missionnaire : Marie Guyart de l'Incarnation : Tours, 1599-Québec, 1672 : actes du colloque organisé par le Centre d'études Marie-de-l'Incarnation sous les auspices du Centre interuniversitaire d'études québécoises qui s'est tenu à Loretteville, Québec, du 22 au 25 septembre 1999. Presses Université Laval. ISBN 978-2-7637-7813-6.
• Chalon, Jean (1985). Le Lumineux Destin d'Alexandra David-Néel. Librairie académique Perrin. ISBN 2-262-00353-X.
• Désiré-Marchand, Joëlle (2009). Alexandra David-Néel, Vie et voyages: Itinéraires géographiques et spirituels. Arthaud. ISBN 9782081273870.
• Foster, Barbara; Foster, Michael (1998). The Secret Lives of Alexandra David-Neel: A Biography of the Explorer of Tibet and Its Forbidden Practices. New York, NY: Overlook Press. ISBN 1-58567-329-3. This book is based on extensive interviews with David Neel's secretary at Digne and reading her letters to her husband, now published as "Journal de voyage: lettres a son mari."
• Kuhlman, Erika A. (2002). A to Z of Women in World History. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 9780816043347.
• Reverzy, Catherine (2001). Femmes d'aventure : du rêve à la réalisation de soi. Odile Jacob. ISBN 9782738112163.
• Stockwell, Foster (2003). Westerners in China: A History of Exploration and Trade, Ancient Times Through the Present. McFarland. ISBN 9780786414048.

External links

• Official web site
• Works by or about Alexandra David-Néel in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
• A Mystic in Tibet – Alexandra David-Neel


Alexandra David-Néel
by Theosophy Wiki
Accessed: 10/16/19

Alexandra David-Néel (1868-1969) was a French explorer and writer, known particularly for her writings about Tibetan Buddhism. In 1892 she became a member of the Theosophical Society.

Early years

Louise Eugénie Alexandrine Marie David was born in Saint-Mandé, a suburb of Paris, on October 24, 1868.

Theosophical Society connections

In her early twenties she was introduced to Madame Blavatsky, whose esoteric ideas had a significant influence on Alexandra.[1] She formed a close allegiance with Annie Besant and joined the European Section of the Theosophical Society in London on June 7, 1892.[2] In 1893 she went to Adyar and spent much of the year there studying Sanskrit.[3]

In a 1941 letter to Theosophical Society President George S. Arundale, David-Neel sent "Greetings from Tibet":


When, in 1893, after having joined the T.S. I stayed at Avenue Road, London, I often heard my friends there say that to become a member of the T.S. is to bind oneself with a tie that is never broken. I think there is some truth in this opinion. Since then, events have brought me again and again in close relation with the T.S. I have made long stays in Adyar and in Benares and keep the best remembrance of my pleasant rooms in Blavatsky Gardens (Adyar), and in the European Quarters (Benares), and the happy days I spent there. Then when re-turning to France from Lhasa, I have had two books published by the “Edition Adyar” in Paris, and lectured several times at Square Rapp.

Now I am again in Eastern Tibet (Kham Province, under Chinese control). There, after having fully experienced in China, the horrors of the war, I think of the many members of the T.S. who are suffering on account of the European war, and I would like to send them, at the beginning of this year, my best wishes for their safety and welfare.

I would feel much obliged: if you would kindly convey these good wishes to those members of the T.S. with whom you are in touch and accept the same for yourself.

Yours sincerely,
12 January 1941[4]


Mme. David-Neel wrote at least 30 books, many published in both French and English simultaneously.

• The Lama of the Five-Fold Wisdom.
• Magic and Mystery in Tibet. 1929. Available from Theosophy World Resource Centre.

Online resources

• Occult - A Mystic in Tibet - Alexandra David-Neel at
• David-Neel, Alexandra (1868-1969) at Theosophy Forward
• Natal Chart of Alexandra David-Néel at Astro Databank
• "Alexandra David-Neél" biography at Project Gutenberg, sourced from World Heritage Encyclopedia.

Additional reading

• Earle Rice, Jr., Alexandra David-Neel: Explorer at the Roof of the World, (USA: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004)


1. Occult - A Mystic in Tibet - Alexandra David-Neel at
2. David-Neel, Alexandra (1868-1969) at Theosophy Forward
3. David-Néel, Alexandra at Astro Databank
4. Alexandra David-Neel, "Greetings from Tibet," The Theosophist 62.4 (April, 1941), 14.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Oct 16, 2019 8:32 am

Kazi Dawa Samdup
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 10/16/19



Kazi Dawa Samdup
Kazi Dawa Samdup and Walter Evans-Wentz photographed circa 1919.
Born 17 June 1868
Died 22 March 1922 (aged 53)
Residence Sikkim
Other names Kazi Zla-ba-bsam-'grub་
Education Bhutia Boarding School, Darjeeling
Known for
Notable work
A History of Sikkim,
The Tibetan Book of the Dead,
Tibet's Great Yogi Milarepa

"Lama" Kazi Dawa Samdup (17 June 1868 – 22 March 1922) is now best known as one of the first translators of important works of Tibetan Buddhism into the English language and a pioneer central to the transmission of Buddhism in the West. From 1910 he also played a significant role in relations between British India and Tibet.


Kazi Dawa Samdup was born in Sikkim on 17 June 1868. His father was Shalngo Nyima Paljor of the Guru Tashi clan. On the death of his mother, his father remarried and had three more sons and two daughters from his second wife.[1] Kazi Dawa Samdup's education began at the age of four learning the Tibetan script from his grandfather. In 1874 he joined the Bhutia Boarding School in Darjeeling where he impressed the headmaster Rai Bahadur Sarat Chandra Das. His Tibetan teacher was Ugyen Gyatso, a lama from the Pemayangtse monastery in West Sikkim.

After finishing school, he joined the service of British India as Chief Interpreter to the Commissioner of Raj Shahi Division and was posted to Buxaduar which was then part of Bhutan. During his stay in Bhutan, he became a pupil of a learned and ascetic lama, Lopen Tshampa Norbu (Slob dpon Mtshams pa Nor bu) d. 1916 of Punakha from whom he received initiation and instruction. Although he was interested in taking up a monastic life, at the request of his father, he married and later had two sons and a daughter.

When his father died he also became responsible for looking after his stepmother, and younger siblings. (Of the three younger half-brothers he took care of, the first would later become a lecturer of Calcutta University, the second would be the prime minister of the king, and the third, "Sikkim Mahinda", joined the Buddhist priesthood in Ceylon.[2] and was an important figure in the Sri Lankan independence movement, and a well-known Sinhala poet and author.)

The Chogyal of Sikkim at Darjeeling, 1911.

At that time the Chogyal of Sikkim, Sir Thutob Namgyal, was looking for a headmaster, who could teach both Tibetan and English, for the state Bhutia Boarding School for boys at Gangtok and Kazi Dawa Samdup was proposed for this post by the Crown Prince Sidkeong Tulku. He also undertook the compilation and translation of the Sikkim Gazette for the Maharaja.

In 1905, he accompanied the Maharaja of Sikkim to Calcutta for the visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

In 1910, he acted as interptetor to Sir Charles Bell and the 13th Dalai Lama during the later's visit to India.

In 1911 he accompanied the Maharaja of Sikkim to Delhi for the coronation Durbar of King George V.

In 1912 Sidkeong Tulku Namgyal entrusted his "confidante and spiritual sister" Alexandra David-Néel to Kazi Dawa Samdup to be her a guide, interpreter and teacher of Tibetan. He accompanied her to Kalimpong where she went to meet the 13th Dalai Lama on 15 April 1912. At that time they also met, in the waiting room, Ekai Kawaguchi from Japan.[3]

In 1914, he again acted as an interpreter and translator for Sir Charles Bell during the historic Simla Convention on the Indo-Tibet Border signed between India, Tibet and China.

In 1920, he was appointed teacher in Tibetan at the University of Calcutta.

Kazi Dawa Samdup died in Calcutta on 22 March 1922.

Work with W. Y. Evans-Wentz

Kazi Dawa Samdup is probably best known for his path-breaking translations of Tibetan texts which were later edited and published by W. Y. Evans-Wentz.

Partial bibliography

• A Tibetan Funeral Prayer. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, n.s. vol. 12 (1916), pp. 147–159. – Includes Tibetan text.
• An English-Tibetan Dictionary: Containing a Vocabulary of Approximately Twenty Thousand Words with their Tibetan Equivalents. Calcutta, The Baptist Mission Press, 1919.
— This dictionary is significant because it contains some Sikkimese and Dzongkha words as well as Tibetan.

With W.Y. Evans Wentz (editor):

• The Tibetan Book of the Dead[4]
— According to Matthew Kapstein, this is "without doubt the Tibetan work best known in the West and in the three-quarters of a century since its initial translation it has won a secure place for itself in the Religious Studies canon."
• Tibet's Great Yogi Milarepa [5]
• Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines[6]

With Sir John Woodroffe:

• Shrîchakrasambhâra Tantra: A Buddhist Tantra (Dem-chog Tantra). First published in 1918–1919. The title is misleading since it not in fact a translation of the Cakrasamvara Tantra – but is a translation of a Tibetan sadhana of Chakrasambhâra.

Unpublished Works:


• Alexandra David Neel (2004). Magic And Mystery in Tibet, 1932. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4179-7754-3.
• Samdup, Dasho P. "A Brief Biography of Kazi Dawa Samdup" in Bulletin of Tibetology
• Lama Kazi Dawa Samdup – at Rangjung Yeshe Wiki
• Taylor, Kathleen . "Sir John Woodroffe, Tantra And Bengal: An Indian Soul In A European Body?". Routledge, 2001, ISBN 0-7007-1345-X.
• Cuevas, Bryan J. "Hidden History of the Tibetan Book of the Dead". Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN 019530652X


1. Samdup, Dasho P. W. (2008). "A Brief Biography of Kazi Dawa Samdup (1868–1922)" (PDF). Bulletin of Tibetology. Gangtok, Sikkim: Namgyal Institute of Tibetology. 44 (1–2): 155–158. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
2. Ariyaratne, Sunil (1989). පූජිත ජීවිත (in Sinhala). Ministry of Culture, Education and News of Sri Lanka. pp. 155–160.
3. Middleton, Ruth (1989). Alexandra David-Neel. Boston, Shambhala. ISBN 1-57062-600-6.
4. Evans-Wentz, W. Y.; Samdup, Kazi Dawa. The Tibetan Book of the Dead (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press.
5. Evans-Wentz, W. Y.; Samdup, Kazi Dawa. Tibet's great yogi, Milarepa : a biography from the Tibetan: being the "Jetsun-Kahbum" or biographical history of Jetsun-Mi la repa, according to the late Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup's English rendering edited with introduction and annotations by W.Y.Evans-Wentz (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press.
6. Evans-Wentz, W. Y.; Samdup, Kazi Dawa. Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines: or seven books of wisdom of the great path according to the Late Làma Kazi Dawa-Samdup's English rendering (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Oct 16, 2019 8:45 am

Ekai Kawaguchi
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 10/16/19



Kawaguchi in 1899, by Zaida Ben-Yusuf

Ekai Kawaguchi just before leaving Japan c. 1891

Kawaguchi as Tibetan lama, Darjeeling.

In commemoration of Kawaguchi's visit to Nepal (Bodnath, Kathmandu)

Kawaguchi performing Tibetan ceremonies.

Ekai Kawaguchi (河口慧海 Kawaguchi Ekai) (February 26, 1866 – February 24, 1945) was a Japanese Buddhist monk, famed for his four journeys to Nepal (in 1899, 1903, 1905 and 1913), and two to Tibet (July 4, 1900–June 15, 1902, 1913–1915), being the first recorded Japanese citizen to travel in either country.[1][2]

Life and early journey

From an early age Kawaguchi, whose birth name was Sadajiro, was passionate about becoming a monk. In fact, his passion was unusual in a country that was quickly modernizing; he gave serious attention to the monastic vows of vegetarianism, chastity, and temperance even as other monks were happily abandoning them. As a result, he became disgusted with the worldliness and political corruption of the Japanese Buddhist world.[3] Until March, 1891, he worked as the Rector of the Zen Gohyaku rakan Monastery (五百羅漢寺 Gohyaku-rakan-ji) in Tokyo (a large temple which contains 500 rakan icons). He then spent about 3 years as a hermit in Kyoto studying Chinese Buddhist texts and learning Pali, to no use; he ran into political squabbles even as a hermit. Finding Japanese Buddhism too corrupt, he decided to go to Tibet instead, despite the fact that the region was officially off limits to all foreigners. In fact, unbeknownst to Kawaguchi, Japanese religious scholars had spent most of the 1890s trying to enter Tibet to find rare Buddhist sutras, with the backing of large institutions and scholarships, but had inevitably failed.[4]

He left Japan for India in June, 1897, without a guide or map, simply buying his way onto a cargo boat. He had a smattering of English but did not know a word of Hindi or Tibetan. Also, he had no money, having refused the donations of his friends; instead, he made several fishmonger and butcher friends pledge to give up their professions forever and become vegetarian, claiming that the good karma would ensure his success.[5] Success appeared far from guaranteed, but arriving in India with very little money, he somehow entered the good graces of Sarat Chandra Das, an Indian British agent and Tibetan scholar, and was given passage to northern India. Kawaguchi would later be accused of spying for Das, but there is no evidence for this, and a close reading of his diary makes it seem quite unlikely.[6] Kawaguchi stayed in Darjeeling for several months living with a Tibetan family by Das' arrangement. He became fluent in the Tibetan language, which was at that time neither systematically taught to foreigners nor compiled, by talking to children and women on the street.[7]

Crossing over the Himalayas on an unpatrolled dirt road with an untrustworthy guide, Kawaguchi soon found himself alone and lost on the Tibetan plateau. He had the good fortune to befriend every wanderer he met in the countryside, including monks, shepherds, and even bandits, but he still took almost four years to reach Lhasa after stopovers at a number of monasteries and a pilgrimage round sacred Mount Kailash in western Tibet. He posed as a Chinese monk and gained a reputation as an excellent doctor which led to him having an audience with the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso (1876 to 1933).[8] He spent some time living in Sera Monastery.[9]

Kawaguchi devoted his entire time in Tibet to Buddhist pilgrimage and study. Although he mastered the difficult terminology of the classical Tibetan language and was able to pass for a Tibetan, he was surprisingly intolerant of Tibetans' minor violations of monastic laws, and of the eating of meat in a country with very little arable farmland. As a result, he did not fit in well in monastic circles, instead finding work as a doctor of Chinese and Western medicine. His services were soon in high demand.[10]

Kawaguchi spent his time in Lhasa in disguise and, following a tip that his cover had been blown, had to flee the country hurriedly. He almost petitioned the government to let him stay as an honest and apolitical monk, but the intimations of high-ranking friends convinced him not to. Even so, several of the people who had sheltered him were horribly tortured and mutilated.[11] Kawaguchi was deeply concerned for his friends, and despite his ill health and lack of funds, after leaving the country he used all his connections to petition the Nepalese Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher Rana for help. On the Prime Minister's recommendation, the Tibetan Government released Kawaguchi's loyal Tibetan friends from jail.[1]

Reporting in Japan

When Kawaguchi finally returned to Japan he caused a sensation and an instant surge of interest in distant Tibet. His travelogue, quickly published based on talks he gave, shows his shock at the lack of hygiene amongst Tibetans, the filth of Tibetan cities, and by many Tibetan customs, including sexual practices, monastic immoderation, corruption and superstitious beliefs. On the other hand, he had great admiration for many Tibetans ranging from great religious and political leaders to common people and made many friends while he was in Tibet.[12] Ironically given Kawaguchi's faithful background, newspapers criticized his lectures to the public about Tibetan hygiene and sexual practices as being a hodge-podge of lowbrow humor and dirty stories unbecoming of a monk.[13]

Narita Yasuteru, a Japanese spy secretly dispatched to Tibet in the late 1890s, anonymously accused Kawaguchi of having never been there; this accusation was quickly debunked by the Japanese newspapers.[14] In fact, internal documents show that Narita himself had never reached Tibet on his expensive spy mission, making Kawaguchi the first person to have actually arrived there.[15]

Further travels

Partly as a result of hearing about the discovery of an Ashoka Pillar in 1896 identifying Lumbini as the birthplace of Gautama Buddha, he visited Lumbini with other Japanese pilgrims in 1912. He then returned to Tibet a final time in 1913. While his more mature narrative of this trip is mainly occupied with Japanese poems about the beauty of the land, he could not resist some final criticisms of the monks' lax attitude towards monastic rules.[16] He brought back to Japan a large collection of Tibetan scriptures, but had a lengthy and public dispute with the other pilgrims about who the Dalai Lama had intended to give them to, causing him to lose some face in the Buddhist world.[17] He did assist the German Theravada monk Nyanatiloka in the 1920s.

After this Kawaguchi became an independent monk, living with his brother's family for the rest of his life, and earning an income from scholarly publications. He refused to assist the military police when they sought intelligence on Tibet, and died in 1945.[18]

He was a friend of Mrs. Annie Besant, President of the Theosophical Society, who encouraged him to publish the English text of his book, Three Years in Tibet.[19] The Government of Nepal issued a postage stamp in 2003 commemorating Kawaguchi's visits to that country. He is also said to have planted two saplings of Himalayan Cicada trees (also called: Riang Riang; Ploiarium alternifolium), which he had brought back with him, near the gate of the Obaku-san Manpukuji Zen Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Kyoto, where he had studied as a young man.[20]

Buddhist Doctrinal Reformer

Kawaguchi was disturbed by the confusing messages of the main objects of veneration based on a pantheon of deities, spirits, historical and mythological figures. Instead he called for a return to veneration of Shakyamuni and lay-centered practice.[21]


1. "The First Recorded Japanese Visitor: Ekai Kawaguchi" - pdf file from the Japanese Embassy in Nepal. [1]
2. Hyer, Paul (1979). "Narita Yasuteru: First Japanese to Enter Tibet". Tibet Journal Vol. IV, No. 2, Autumn 1979, p. 12.
3. Berry 1989, p. 11-12
4. Okuyama 2008, pp. 215-7.
5. Berry 1989, p. 14
6. Hopkirk, Peter (1997): Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Secret Exploration of Tibet, pp. 150-151; 157. Kodansha Globe (Pbk). ISBN 978-1-56836-050-8.
7. Berry 1989, p. 26-7
8. Kawaguchi 1909, pp. 309-322
9. Kawaguchi 1909, pp. 323-328.
10. Berry 1989, pp. 169-200
11. Hopkirk, Peter (1997): Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Secret Exploration of Tibet, pp. 149, 154. Kodansha Globe (Pbk). ISBN 978-1-56836-050-8.
12. Berry (2005), pp. 37-45, 57.
13. Okuyama 2008, p. 208.
14. Berry 1989, pp. 250-251
15. Kimura 1981
16. Berry 1989, p. 292
17. Okuyama 2008, p. 222.
18. Berry 1989, p. 299
19. Kawaguchi, Ekai (1909): Three Years in Tibet, page vii. Reprint: Book Faith India (1995), Delhi. ISBN 81-7303-036-7
20. These are now grown into tall trees. From the Japanese embassy in Nepal [2]
21. Auerback, Micah L. (2016). A Storied Sage: Canon and Creation in the Making of a Japanese Buddha. University of Chicago Press. p. 4. ISBN 9780226286389. Kawaguchi recounted these details to illustrate the absurdity and disorder resulting from the lack of any single, unifying focus of devotion in Japanese Buddhism. His enumeration begins with deities inherited from India: transcendent, "cosmic" buddhas, and bodhisattvas, "wisdom-beings" who serve as compassionate saviors. The "Great Masters" whom he mentions each stand as the font of a different Buddhist denomination; in each case, the extraordinary life and works of the founder earned him a place as an object of devotion in his own right. The remaining "extreme cases" include a celebrated warrior of medieval Japan, along with lowly trickster animals, among a legion of Indian deities brought to Japan as part of the broader Buddhist pantheon.


• Berry, Scott: A Stranger in Tibet: The Adventures of a Wandering Zen Monk. Kodansha International, Tokyo, 1989. Also published as A Stranger in Tibet: Adventures of a Zen Monk by HarperCollins (1990) ISBN 978-0-00-215337-9.
• Berry, Scott. (2005). The Rising Sun in the Land of Snows: Japanese Involvement in Tibet in the Early 20th Century. Ardash Books, New Delhi. ISBN 81-87138-97-1.
• Hopkirk, Peter (1997): Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Secret Exploration of Tibet. Kodansha Globe (Pbk). ISBN 978-1-56836-050-8.
• Kawaguchi, Ekai (1909): Three Years in Tibet. The Theosophical Office, Adyar, Madras, 1909.
• Kimura, Hisao (1981). "Yasuteru Narita's Secret Mission to Tibet: His Failure to Enter East Tibet as Revealed in Diplomatic Documents". Journal of the Institute for Asian Studies.
• Okuyama Naoji (2008). "The Tibet Fever among Japanese Buddhists of the Meiji Era". In Esposito, Monica (ed.). Images of Tibet in the 19th and 20th centuries. Paris: Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient. ISBN 2855396581.
• Subedi, Abhi: Ekai Kawaguchi:The Trespassing Insider. Mandala Book Point. Kathmandu, 1999.

External links

• Brief description and photo of the Obakusan Manpuku-ji Temple
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Thu Oct 17, 2019 7:53 am

Silacara [John Frederick S. McKechnie]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 10/17/19



Sīlācāra Bhikkhu
Silacara, Rangoon, 1907
Title Bhikkhu
Born John Frederick S. McKechnie
October 22, 1871
Hull, Yorkshire, England
Died January 27, 1951 (aged 79)
Chichester, West Sussex, UK
Religion Theravada
Nationality United KingdomBritish
Occupation monk; translator; writer
Senior posting
Based in Burma

Sīlācāra Bhikkhu, October 22, 1871, Hull, Yorkshire, England — January 27, 1951, Chichester, West Sussex, UK), born and died as John Frederick S. McKechnie.[1] He became a Buddhist monk in 1906 and was one of the earliest westerners in modern times to do so.


There are two main sources about Sīlācāra's life. The first is the biography in a Sri Lankan edition of A Young People's Life of the Buddha, by an anonymous author, whose information about McKechnie's early life needs verification; the second is the autobiography of Nyanatiloka Thera, who mentions him several times.

According to the biography, McKechnie's father was the baritone singer Sir Charles Santley and his mother was Caroline Mavis, however, Charles Santley's two wives were called Gertrude Kemble and Elizabeth Mary Rose-Innes, and being a child of Charles Santley would have given him the surname Santley not McKechnie. So, unless he was an extramarital child, this information is incorrect.

According to the same biography, he worked as apprentice stock-cutter in a clothing factory until the age of 21, then he emigrated to America to work for four years on a fruit and dairy farm. Whilst back in Glasgow, he had read about Buddhism in a copy of the magazine Buddhism: An Illustrated Review, which he had found in the public library, and answered the advertisement of the magazine's editor Bhikkhu Ānanda Metteyya (Charles Henry Allan Bennett) who asked for an editorial assistant in Rangoon. After going to Burma, he first taught for a year in the Buddhist boys' school of Mme Hlā Oung, a rich Burmese Buddhist philanthropist.[2] It seems unlikely, however, that McKechnie, having been an apprentice in a clothes factory and a farm worker, was accepted as an editorial assistant for a magazine, taught at a school, and, after having become a Buddhist monk, translated and wrote books on Buddhism. So this information about his earlier employment might also be incorrect, and it seems more probable that he had received some kind of higher education during which he learnt German.

• The Word of the Buddha. An outline of the ethic-philosophical system of Buddha in words of Pali canon by Nyanatiloka. Translated from the German by Sāsanavaṃsa (= Sīlācāra). Rangoon: International Buddhist Society, 1907
• Die funf Gelübde. Ein Vortrag über Buddhismus von Bhikkhu Silacara. Translation of Panchasila: The Five Precepts by Vangiso. Breslau: W. Markgraf, 1912.
• Buddhism and Science, Author Paul Dahlke. Translation from the German by Bhikkhu Silacara. 1913

The Buddhist Boy school owned by Commissioner U Hla Aung and his wife Daw Mya May, and an English art teacher called Ward teaching there, is mentioned in other sources.[3]

In 1906 Nyanatiloka accepted McKechnie as novice (samanera) with the name Sāsanavaṃsa. He then stayed with Nyanatiloka and Ānanda Metteya at Kyundaw Kyaung, Kemmendine, Rangoon—a monastic residence in a quiet area that Mrs Hlā Oung had built for Ānanda Metteya and Nyanatiloka.[4]

In 1906 or 1907, he was admitted as bhikkhu into the Sangha by the Sayadaw U Kumāra, who had also ordained Nyanatiloka, and was given the new name Sīlācāra.[5][6] While a novice, he translated Bhikkhu Ñāṇatiloka’s The Word of the Buddha, from German into English. It was published in Rangoon in 1907.

In 1910 Sīlācāra intended to come to the Buddhist monastery Nyanatiloka planned to found near Novaggio, Lugano, Switzerland.[7]

In 1914 he stayed in Tumlong, Sikkim, near the Tibetan border. Alexandra David-Néel was also staying there when Nyanatiloka visited Tumlong.[8] One report states that Sīlācāra was in Sikkim on the invitation of the Maharaja to teach Buddhism.[9] A picture of Sīlācāra sitting on a yak, next to Sidkeong Tulku (the future Maharaja of Sikkim) and Alexandra David-Néel can be seen on the website of the Alexandra David-Néel Cultural Centre.

During World War I he probably stayed in Burma, as Nyanatiloka wrote a letter to him there in 1917.[10]

When Sīlācāra's health broke down due to asthma complicated with heart trouble, he disrobed on the advice of the German Buddhist Dr. Paul Dahlke and returned to England late in 1925. He assisted Anagarika Dharmapala at the Mahabodhi Society's British branch, lecturing and editing the British Buddhist. Due to health problems, he left London in 1932 for Wisborough Green, West Sussex to share the house ('The Kiln Bungalow') of Esther Lydia Shiel (née Furley) (1872-1942), the estranged wife of author M.P. Shiel and formerly the wife of William Arthur Jewson (1856-1914) (famous violinist and conductor). During this period, Sīlācāra was known simply as 'Fra'. He continued to write for Buddhist magazines in the UK, Sri Lanka, Burma, Germany, etc. Upon Esther Lydia's death (February 16, 1942) her house in Wisborough Green was sold, and Sīlācāra entered an old persons' home (Bury House) at Bury, West Sussex, where he stayed until his death in 1951.[11]


Sīlācāra was a prolific writer and translator, especially as a Buddhist monk, and his books and essays were reprinted in different editions. His articles were published in the Buddhism: An Illustrated Quarterly Review, The British Buddhist, Buddhist Annual of Ceylon, Maha-Bodhi, United Buddhist World, etc. He also translated from German works by Paul Dahlke and Nyanatiloka. At least one of his works was translated into German.

In his writings, Sīlācāra stresses the rational and scientific aspects of Buddhism.[12]


• ‘Buddhism and Pessimism’, Buddhism, II, 1, Rangoon, October 1905, pp. 33–47.
• The Word of the Buddha. An outline of the ethic-philosophical system of Buddha in words of Pali canon by Nyanatiloka. Translated from the German by Sāsanavaṃsa (= Sīlācāra). Rangoon: International Buddhist Society, 1907
• Lotus Blossoms, London: The Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1914. Third and Revised Edition, London: The Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1917? ((See p. 30 The Fruit of Homelessness 1917.) Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1914, 1968. Mentioned as being read in 1907, Christmas Humphreys, Sixty years of Buddhism in England (1907-1967) p. 3, London: Buddhist Society, 1968. Middle Way, Volume 74, p. 102.)
• Panchasila: The Five Precepts, Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1913. Mentioned as published as The Bhikkhu, Pancha Sila, The Five Precepts in Rangoon in 1911, in The Buddhist Review, Volumes 3-4, 1911, p. 79, Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland, London. Published in 1911 as Panchasila: The Five Precepts and To Those Who Mourn by Bhikkhu Silacara and C.W. Leadbeater, Rangoon, 1911.
• The Four Noble Truths, Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1922. Stated as already published by The Review of Reviews, Volume 48, 1913. [2]
• Die funf Gelübde. Ein Vortrag über Buddhismus von Bhikkhu Silacara. Translation of Panchasila: The Five Precepts by Vangiso. Breslau: W. Markgraf, 1912.
• The First Fifty Discourses of Gotama the Buddha, Breslau-London: Walter Markgraf, 1912–13, Munich 1924, Delhi 2005
• Buddhism and Science, Author Paul Dahlke. Translation from the German by Bhikkhu Silacara. 1913
• The Dhammapada, or Way of Truth, London: The Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1915
• The Noble Eightfold Path, Colombo: The Bauddha Sahitya Sabha, 1955. Originally published in The Theosophist, Volume 37, p. 14f. Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Society, 1916.
• The Fruit of Homelessness: The Sāmaññaphala Sutta, London: Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1917. [3]
• Dhaniya: A Pali Poem. Translated from the Sutta Nipata”, in Buddhist Review Vol. II., No. 2, London: The Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1917
• A Young People's Life of the Buddha, Colombo: W.E. Bastian and Co, 1927. Reprinted, 1953, 1995. [4]
• Kamma, Calcutta : Maha-Bodhi Society of India, 1950. Already mentioned in The Mahabodhi, Vol. 47, p.130, 1939.
• Buddhist View of Religion, Bauddha Sahitya Sabha, Colombo, 1946.
• Right understanding, Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, Sri Lanka, 1968, 1979. Reprinted from the Maha Bodhi, Oct.-Nov. 1967.
• An Actual Religion, Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, Sri Lanka, 1971
• Buddhism for the Beginner, Calcutta : Mahabodhi Society of India, 1952. Reprinted in The Path of Buddhism, Colombo 1955.


1. His probate records state the following: "McKechnie, John Frederick - Of Bury House, Bury, near Pulborough, Sussex, died 27 January 1951 in St. Richards Hospital, Chichester. Probate: London, 3 April [1951] to Gerald Arthur Jewson, stamp dealer. Effects: 274 pounds 18s 11d." See: (Click on "Wills and Probate, 1858-1996, then follow the prompts) - The information given above on John Frederick McKechnie appears on page 879 of the probate records for 1951.
2. Anonymous, A Biography
3. 'Hla Aung and Mya May arranged for the teachers and students to stay at their residence. They also allowed Ward to teach art at the Boys Buddhist School, which was owned by them.' See Wikipedia article Burma Art Club. Cf 'Generations of Myanmar Women Artists' by Daw Khin Mya Zin. [1](Retrieved 31.7.2011)
4. Bhikkhu Nyanatusita & Hellmuth Hecker, p. 29.
5. Bhikkhu Nyanatusita & Hellmuth Hecker, p. 29.
6. Anonymous, A Biography
7. Bhikkhu Nyanatusita & Hellmuth Hecker, p. 209.
8. Bhikkhu Nyanatusita & Hellmuth Hecker, p. 41-42.
9. Anonymous, A Biography
10. Bhikkhu Nyanatusita & Hellmuth Hecker, p. 230.
11. Anonymous, A Biography
12. Elizabeth June Harris, Theravada Buddhism and the British encounter : religious, missionary and colonial experience in nineteenth-century Sri Lanka, Oxon, 2006


• Anonymous, A Biography, in Bhikkhu Silacara, A Young People's Life of the Buddha, Colombo 1953.
• Bhikkhu Nyanatusita and Hellmuth Hecker, The Life of Nyanatiloka: The Biography of a Western Buddhist Pioneer Kandy, 2009.

External links

• Works by or about Sīlācāra at Internet Archive
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Thu Oct 17, 2019 8:12 am

Charles Henry Allan Bennett
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 10/17/19



Charles Henry Allan Bennett (8 December 1872 – 9 March 1923) was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. He was a close associate of author and occultist Aleister Crowley.

Bennett received the name Bhikkhu Ananda Metteyya at his ordination as a Buddhist monk and spent years studying and practicing Buddhism in the East. He was the second Englishman to be ordained as a Buddhist monk (Bhikkhu) of the Theravada tradition [1] and was instrumental in introducing Buddhism in England. He established the first Buddhist Mission in the United Kingdom.

Early life

Allan Bennett was born in London on 8 December 1872. His father, a civil engineer, died when he was still a boy. He was raised as a strict Roman Catholic by his mother; a faith which he had rejected whilst in his teens. There is reference to his having at least one sister. He was educated at Hollesley College and later at Bath, England. Upon leaving school, he trained as an analytical chemist and achieved some success in that field for he was invited to participate in an expedition to Africa by Dr. Bernard Dyer, chemist to the Corn Trade; however, he did not go in the end. His electrical knowledge was profound while still in his early twenties; this and his talent for experimental science, mathematics and physics would stay with him throughout his life.

Golden Dawn

Bennett was, along with George Cecil Jones, Crowley’s primary teacher during his days in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Bennett was educated at Hollesly College, and scraped by as an analytical chemist. Bennett was initiated into the G.D. in 1894, taking the motto "Iehi Aour" ("let there be light"). He was always very poor and tormented by illness, but still made a strong impression on other occultists of the time.

Bennett was one of the most brilliant minds in the order, and favored mysticism and white magic; he was almost wholly concerned with enlightenment rather than siddhis (magical powers). Bennett had high regard for Golden Dawn leader S. L. Mathers, and with him began working on a book of Hermetic Qabalah correspondences that Crowley would later expand upon as Liber 777.

Soon after meeting, Crowley invited Bennett to come stay with him, as Bennett was living in a dilapidated shared apartment. In return, Bennett trained Crowley in the basics of magic and tried to instill a devotion to white magic. Bennett was generally ascetic and sexually chaste, a marked contrast to Crowley’s libertine attitude. Nevertheless, he was an enthusiastic user of mind changing drugs (with which he treated recurrent asthma) and introduced Crowley to this aspect of his occult researches.[2] Crowley once remarked concerning Bennett’s powers: Bennett had constructed a magical wand out of glass, which he carried with him. Crowley himself stated it to look similar in appearance to a chandelier. As it so happened, Crowley and Bennett were walking along one day and came across a group of theosophists who were ridiculing the use of wands. "Allan promptly produced his and blasted one of them. It took fourteen hours to restore the incredulous individual to the use of his mind and his muscles."

Travel to Southeast Asia

At some time between 1889 and 1900, in his late twenties, Bennett traveled to Asia[3][4] to relieve his asthma, and to dedicate himself to Buddhism. First he traveled to Ceylon where he studied Hatha Yoga under the yogi Shri Parananda. He joined the Sangha and took the name Swami Maitrananda.[5] Later, in Burma, Bennett took the vows of a Buddhist monk, and assumed the name Ananda Metteyya, "Bliss of loving kindness." In 1902 Crowley came to visit him there and was instructed in Hatha Yoga. At this time both men were agreed as to the validity of Buddhist practices. In 1903 he founded the Buddhasasana Samagama or the International Buddhist Society in London, UK (not to be confused with the International Buddhist Society in British Columbia, Canada). Bennett later began a periodical called Buddhism: An Illustrated Review.

Periodical: Buddhism. Published for the International Buddhist Society, v. 1-2, no. 1. Rangoon, Burma, 1903-05. 8th. * OLWF

-- Bulletin of the New York Public Library, Volume 20


Some sources say that Bennett intended to travel to California due to health reasons. But with the outbreak of World War I and the denial of an immigration visa by the US, he found himself stranded, and forced to live in poverty and illness. He died on his native English soil at the age of 51, on 9 March 1923, buried at Morden cemetery. His lifelong friend and Buddhist writer, Dr Cassius Pereira, wrote: "And now the worker has, for this life, laid aside his burdens. One feels more glad than otherwise, for he was tired; his broken body could no longer keep pace with his soaring mind. The work he began, that of introducing Buddhism to the West, he pushed with enthusiastic vigour in pamphlet, journal and lecture, all masterly, all stimulating thought, all in his own inimitably graceful style. And the results are not disappointing to those who know."[6]


Allan Bennett was a pioneer, and without him, Buddhism would not have entered the Western world as it did. He wrote two books: The Wisdom of the Aryas (1923)(based in part on a series of discourses in Clifford Bax's studio in 1919 and 1920[7]) and The Religion of Burma (1911, reprinted in 1929 by Theosophical Publishing House as The Religion of Burma and Other Papers). Some of his addresses and papers are still intact and used today.


1. Batchelor, Stephen The Awakening of the West, p. 40.
2. Symonds p18
3. Humphries C, Ananda Metteyya: With Some Observations on the English Sangha, The Middle Way Nov 1972:133-136.
4. Crow J (University of Amsterdam), The Bhikku and the Magus, Conference 2008
5. Golden Dawn Biographies, Allan Bennett Archived 11 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine
6. D r Elizabeth J Harris, Ananda Metteya, the First British Emissary of Buddhism, The Wheel Publication No.420/422 1998 ISBN 955-24-0179-8. (She is citing The Buddhist, 28 April 1923, p.6.)
7. See page 290(Sec XX) of Inland Far, by Clifford Bax, 1925


• Brunton, Paul A Pioneer Western Buddhist.
• Crow, John L. The Bhikkhu and the Magus, Exploring Bennett’s Influence on Crowley.
• Crowley, Aleister. Confessions of Aleister Crowley, Chapters 27–33.
• Fernando, Tilak S. World Buddhist Foundation in London Celebrates the United Kingdom Buddhist Day.
• Free Encyclopedia of Thelema. Allan Bennett. Retrieved 5 March 2005.
• Harris, Elizabeth J. Ananda Metteya: The First British Emissary of Buddhism.
• Symonds, John. The Great Beast, London, 1951

External links

• Xristos, Fra. Petros(7=4) Allan Bennett (1872-1923).
• Order of the Golden Dawn Allan Bennett 1872 - 1923.


Allan Bennett
Accessed: 10/17/19





Alan Bennett (8th December 1872 – 9th March 1923)

Charles Henry – Allan Bennett was born in London on the 8th December 1872. His father, who was an engineer passed when he was still a young boy and was raised by his mother as a strict Roman Catholic. Like Crowley, Bennett suffered from severe asthma and would use a wide variety of drugs to combat it but it would haunt him his entire life which was unfortunately cut short when he died at the age of 51 due to a bowel obstruction.

In 1893 Bennett joined the Theosophical Society which he was a member of until 1895. In 1894 he also took initiation in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, taking the motto Frater Iehi Aour which means “let there be light.” He left a profound impression upon his superiors in the Order and within a year’s time would enter the Golden Dawn’s Second Order. Shortly thereafter (in 1898) Crowley joined the Golden Dawn and it is here that the two first met.

At the time Bennett struggled financially and lived in sub-par conditions. So Crowley invited Bennett, who he was very much drawn too – to live with him. Bennett would agree and hence began there long and fruitful friendship.

A couple of years later Bennett would travel to Southeast Asia, primarily in the hope that it would improve his health but also to study Buddhism. He moved to Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka) to study Yoga under the Yogi Shri Parananda. Crowley visited him several times during this period and Bennett would introduce Crowley to a number of practices.


It was during one of these visits that the two went for an extended retreat to practice Yoga together and Bennett came to the conclusion that Buddhism was indeed his calling. In December Bennett relocated to Burma in order to become a novice within Theravada Buddhism and by February of 1902 Bennett took his Bhikkhu ordination which made him the second Englishman ever to become a Theravada monk. At his Ordination he assumed the name Ananda Maitreya (meaning “Bliss of loving kindness”) but would later change it to the Pali version, Ananda Metteyya. (Matteya being a future incarnation of Buddha).


Just after his ordination Crowley would again visit and the two discussed how they could bring Buddhism to the west. Crowley fondly recollects this visit in his “Confessions”. These visits and Bennett’s instructions would serve as a catalyst in Crowley’s spiritual development


Bennett then went on to establish the International Buddhist Society, the Buddhasasana Samagama, in 1903. He began to publish pamphlets and a quarterly journal in English speaking countries with the goal of establish a Buddhist Sangha in England. In April of 1908 he returned to England to do just this and helped establish the Buddhists Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Bennett would eventually publish two books The Religion of Burma (1911) and The Wisdom of the Aryas (1923).


Though not officially a member of A∴A∴ as we know it Bennett would significantly influence Crowley’s thinking not just in regard to Buddhism but also in regard to Yoga, Pranayama and several other meditative practices whose techniques Crowley continued to utilize and teach throughout his life. Notably, Crowley’s teachings in regard to the Magical Memory stem from what Bennett taught Crowley during this period.

Crowley also included one of Bennett’s essays, “The Training of the Mind” in the Equinox Vol 1 no. 5 and would expand upon Bennett’s Qabalistic dictionary Sepher Sephiroth which is now listed as an official publication of the A∴A∴ given in Class B.


In his essay “The Training the Mind” Bennett describes how meditation can cultivate Right Concentration. However, what few people know is that Bennett did not write this essay for inclusion in the Equinox – Instead it was originally published in as a pamphlet for Bennett’s organization, the International Buddhist Society in 1908 and was entitled “On the Culture of Mind” which Crowley simply renamed and published in the Equinox, clearly demonstrating that Crowley still highly regarded these teachings.

For further reading on Allan Bennett, please visit our Library.


Allan Bennett
by George Knowles
© George Knowles September 9, 2016



The name of Charles Henry Allan Bennett is little known today, but during his time he was an accomplished highly regarded British occultist. He was an early member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and a one time friend, teacher and mentor to the infamous Aleister Crowley. Allan Bennett later abandoned Western occult traditions in favour of Eastern mystery traditions. In the early 1900’s he travelled to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) then on to Burma (now Myanmar) where he became ordained a Buddhist Monk. He founded the International Buddhist Society in 1903, and did much to introduce and promote Buddhism to the West, particularly here in the United Kingdom.

Allan Bennett was born in London in on 08th December 1872. His father, a civil and electrical engineer, passed away while he was still young and so he and a sister were raised by his mother, a strict Roman Catholic. From a very early age Bennett suffered frequently with acute asthma, an affliction that would leave him debilitated for weeks on end, during those periods while his mother worked and struggled to support the family, his sister would stand in for her taking care for him. His sister later emigrated and went to live in California, USA.

Bennett’s early educated began at the Colonial College in Hollesley Bay, Suffolk, then later continued in Bath, Somerset, where he showed a marked propensity for scientific research, particularly in the fields of electricity and chemistry. After leaving school he first trained as a chemical analyst and later in 1894 was employed briefly by Dr. Bernard Dyer, an International Analyst and Consulting Chemist based in London who worked as an official analyst to the London Corn Trade. That same year Bennett was invited to participate in a scientific expedition to Africa, but this he declined do, due mainly to his continuing ill health.

The chronic asthma that plagued him throughout his life also prevented him from holding down a permanent job, as half of the time he was heavily doped up on a rotation of prescribed drugs, such as: opium, cocaine, morphine and chloroform, courses of which often left him debilitated recovering in bed. While he was also an accomplished research electrician and conducted experiments on a variety of his own electronic inventions, none of these proved successful enough to provide an adequate living. This meant that for most of his early adult life he lived close to poverty living in London’s cheap and dingy slum districts of Southwark and Lambeth.

During his youth and into his teens Bennett was raised a devout Roman Catholic, but at the age of 16 as his keen scientific mind and quest for new research expanded, so to did he seek to expand his growing sense of spirituality. He therefore rejected Catholicism as incompatible with science in favour of the more arcane philosophies and theologies of the Western occult traditions and Eastern mystical religions of Hinduism and Buddhism. He also studied Spiritualism and other esoteric practices.

To quote from Aleister Crowley his later friend and student, at the age of 18 Bennett read Edwin Arnold’s poem “The Light of Asia” (published 1897, an early translation of a Buddhist text), which had a profound influence on his later life, for at that time Buddhism was little known in the West. He had also made a study of Hinduism, and once while practising a yogic form of breath control and trance meditation, he gained “Shivadarshana”, which Crowley describes as: “.... an extraordinarily high state of yogic attainment.” During the trance he is said to have experienced a blissful communion with Shiva, the Hindu god of Yoga, and resolved to dedicate the rest of his life to recapturing similar states of communion.

Aleister Crowley

As he continued to explore alternative religions and spiritualities, Bennett joined two of the UK’s leading occult organisations. On the 24th March 1893, he joined the “Theosophical Society”, co-founded by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Colonel Henry Steel Olcott in 1875, an occult philosophical society based on Eastern religious mysticism and theology. Through the Society he attended courses and lectures on yoga, mediation, consciousness and reincarnation, while at the same time studying Blavatsky’s “The Secret Doctrine”. The Society also had a strong connection to Buddhism, as both the co-founders had declared themselves Lay-Buddhists in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1880.

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

Colonel Henry Steel Olcott

The second important organisation he joined was the “Hermetic Order of Golden Dawn”, founded in 1888 and based on Western esoteric teachings such as the Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism - spelt variously as Cabbala or Qabalah), Astrology, Alchemical symbolism, Geomancy and the Tarot. When Bennett joined in February 1894 he was initiated into the first/outer Order as a Neophyte, taking the motto: “Voco” (Latin for “I call”). Just a year later on the 22nd of March 1895 he was raised to Adeptus Minor in the higher second/inner Order taking the motto: “Iehi Aour” (Hebrew for “Let there be light”). There he joined S.L. MacGregor Mathers and Dr. William Wynn Westcott, two of the original three ruling Chiefs and co-founders of the Order. The third Dr. William Woodman had passed away on the 25th February 1892.

S.L. MacGregor Mathers

Dr. William Wynn Westcott

Dr. William Woodman

Bennett quickly gained a reputation as a powerful Magus and Cabalist matching the magical abilities of S.L. MacGregor Mathers, who had created most of the Order’s teachings and rituals. Crowley tells a story of how Bennett had a special wand (called a blasting rod):

“He used to carry a ‘lustre’ - a long glass prism with a neck and a pointed knob such as adorned old-fashioned chandeliers. He used this as a wand. One day, a party of theosophists were chatting sceptically about the power of the ‘blasting rod’. Allan promptly produced his and blasted one of them. It took fourteen hours to restore the incredulous individual to the use of his mind and his muscles”.

When not doped up on medications (see use of drugs above) Bennett had one of the most brilliant magical minds in the Order, but he favoured mysticism rather than magical powers and was mostly concerned with enlightenment. However, Bennett had a high regard for the Order’s main magical Chief - S.L. MacGregor Mathers, and being mostly out of work due to ill health, began working with Mathers collating and editing material for the Order’s curriculum, including much of the Hermetic Cabbala correspondences that Aleister Crowley later expand upon in his book “Liber 777.”

Crowley first met Bennett in February 1899 after he (Crowley) had joined the Order on the 18th November 1898, and states his first impression of Bennett was that he possessed: “.... a tremendous spiritual and magical force.” Soon after their first meeting, Crowley learned that Bennett was living in a dilapidated shared apartment, and so invited him to stay at his luxury flat at 67/69 Chancery Lane. They’re Bennett began to teach Crowley the basics of ritual magick and yoga. Crowley goes on to describe Bennett as:

“Allan Bennett was tall, but his sickness had already produced a stoop. His head, crowned with a shock of wild, black hair, was intensely noble; the brows, both wide and lofty, overhung indomitable piercing eyes. The face would have been handsome had it not been for the haggardness and pallor due to his almost continuous suffering.

Despite his ill health, he was a tremendous worker. His knowledge of science, especially electricity, was vast, accurate and profound. In addition he had studied the Hindu and Buddhist scriptures, not only as a scholar but also with the insight that comes from inborn sympathetic understanding.

I did not fully realise the colossal stature of that sacred spirit; but I was instantly aware that this man could teach me more in a month than anyone else in five years.”

Lehi Aour came to stay with me and under his tuition I made rapid progress. He showed me where to get knowledge, how to criticize it and how to apply it. We also worked together at ceremonial Magick; evoking spirits, consecrating talismans, and so on.

Toward the end of 1899 Bennett’s health became so bad that many of his friends feared for his life and recommended he leave England for a warmer climate to convalesce and recuperate. Crowley who had ample funds would have been more than happy to pay for such a move, but was restrained believing that Bennett would have declined such an offer and take offence. While the magical community deemed sharing his flat and hospitality acceptable, for Bennett to accept monetary funding for such a move, might be seen as accepting payment for magical knowledge, and that was unacceptable. Instead Crowley persuaded a wealthy ex-mistress outside of the magical community to donate £100 to fund his move when he was ready.

By this time Bennett was leaning more and more toward Buddhism and the practice of yoga, but was becoming increasingly disillusioned by Mathers’ apparent antagonism toward “Orientalism”. The Golden Dawn was also in a shambles with membership declining as schisms over leadership threatened to break it apart. So with all that going on and now having funding in place for him to make a move, Bennett decided to go and dedicate the rest of his life to Buddhism. Early in 1900 he boarded ship and set sail for Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

After his arrival in Ceylon Bennett spent his first six months in Kamburugamuwa, Matara, recuperating while studying Pali (the sacred language of Buddhism) under the Ven. Weragampita Revata, an elderly Sinhalese monk. As his health improved, so he was also able to give up most of the drugs he had been using in England, but then needing work to support himself, he moved to Kandy where he became a tutor to the son of the Hon. Ponnambalam Ramanathan, the Solicitor-General of Ceylon. There Ramanathan, who was also a well known yogi by the name of Sri. Parananda began to instruct him in the techniques of Hatha Yoga, such things as the Asanas (physical postures) and Pranayama (breathing techniques for meditation).

In July 1901, Bennett presented his first lecture on Buddhism entitled “The Four Noble Truths” to the Hope Lodge of the Theosophical Society in Colombo. It was here that he first met Dr. Cassius Pereira (later the Ven. Kassapa Thera) who was so impressed by his lecture; he became a life-long friend and supporter.

During World War I, in 1915 commercial-ethnic rivalry erupted into a riot in Colombo against the Muslims, with Christians participating as much as Buddhists. Fearing an uprising the inexperienced British colonial Governor of Ceylon Sir Robert Chalmers declared Martial Law on 2 June 1915 and on the advice of Inspector General of Police Herbert Dowbiggin began a brutal suppression of the Sinhala community by giving orders to the Police and the Army to shoot any one who they deemed a rioter without a trial, it is said the numbers of Sinhalese killed this way were thousands. Many local leaders, that included D. S. Senanayake, D. R. Wijewardena, Arthur V. Dias, Dr. Cassius Pereira, Dr. W. A. de Silva, F.R. Dias Bandaranaike, H. M. Amarasuriya, A.H. Molamure were imprisoned and Captain D.E.Henry Pedris, a militia commander, was shot for mutiny.

A memorandum was drafted at a secret meeting held at the residence of E. W. Perera, initiated by Sir James Peiris and presided over by Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan. Before presenting it to his majesties government, the support of the British members of parliament and the press in England had to be obtained. Sea voyage was dangerous due to the presence of German submarines, which attacked ships and destroyed them. Abandoning a promising career at the Bar, E. W. Perera undertook the task of going over to England by obtaining permission saying he was going to do some research in the British museum. To his advantage, the British treated him as a scholarly Christian Barrister rather than a national patriot. He was accompanied by George E. de Silva. In England, he was joined by Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan and later by Sir D.B Jayatilaka and they presented the memorandum to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, pleading for the repeal of martial law and describing the atrocities committed by the Police led by Dowbiggin. The mission was a success. The British government ordered the release of the leaders who were in detention. Several high officials were transferred. A new Governor, Sir John Anderson was sent to replace Sir Robert Chalmers with instructions to inquire and report to His Majesty's Government. E. W. Perera's effort was greatly appreciated and he was thereafter referred to as the Lion of Kotte.

-- E.W. Perera, by Wikipedia

A shortly time later while on a trip to Ceylon, Aleister Crowley paid him a visit and they shared a house together in Kandy called ‘Marlborough’. There Bennett taught him more advanced techniques of yoga and meditation in preparation for Ritual Magic. By this time his own yogic attainments were impressive and he was able to meditate for days at a time in Padmasana, the so-called “lotus posture,” which according to Crowley is extremely difficult to master. Crowley records one incident that happened in Kandy:

“When Allan was meditating, it was my duty to bring his food very quietly (from time to time) into the room adjoining that where he was working. One day he missed two successive meals and I thought I ought to look into his room to see if all was well. I must explain that I have known only two European women and three European men who could sit in the attitude called Padmasana, which is that usually seen in seated images of Buddha. Of these men, Allan was one. He could knot his legs so well that, putting his hands on the ground, he could swing his body to and fro in the air between them. When I looked into his room I found him, not seated on his meditation mat, which was in the centre of the room at the end farthest from the window, but in a distant corner ten or twelve feet off, still in his knotted position, resting on his head and right shoulder, exactly like an image overturned. I set him right way up and he came out of his trance. He was quite unconscious that anything unusual has happened. But he had evidently been thrown there by the mysterious forces generated by Pranayama.”

Crowley also notes that Bennett fed leeches every morning with his own blood, and could control their ability to penetrate his skin by controlling his breathing, or vital prana (“life force” or “life energy”)

By the end of 1901 Bennett determined to become a Buddhist monk and join a Sangha (a Buddhist monk community), but felt that Ceylon was not the right place for him to do so. Instead he traveled to Akyab (now Sittwe), located on the west coast of Burma (now Myanmar), and on the 12th December 1901 gave up all his personal possessions and joined the Theravada tradition of monks at the Buddhist monastery of Lamma Sayadaw Kyoung. There he received ordination as a sramanera (a novice) Bhikkhu (a male monastic monk) from Dr. Moung Tha Nu, taking the name Ananda Maitreya, later he changed his last name to Metteyya (a Pali meaning for “bliss of loving kindness”).

Crowley again visited Bennett in February 1902 and refers to him dressed in robes as: “.... seeming to be of gigantic height compared to the diminutive Burmese.” He also commented on the return of his troubling asthmatic affliction, and how his health had once again deteriorated due to a lack of proper medical attention and the damp cold air of his pre-dawn alms rounds. Bennett was determination to carry out the strict rules of the monastery, and as a new monk would not break any of the daily routines and accepted practices despite his increasing ill health.

Just six months later on the 21st May 1902 Bennett received upasampada (higher ordination as a full Bhikkhu) from the Ven. Sheve Bya Sayadaw, making him just the second person from the United Kingdom ever to be fully ordained as a Buddhist monk. He was now known as the “Venerable” (Ven.) Ananda Metteyya. The first person was an Irish-born Japanese Buddhist called Charles Pfoundes, born Charles James William Pounds to Irish Anglican parents in the South East of Ireland in 1840. In 1889 Pfoundes, led a Buddhist mission to London as a representative of the Japanese “Buddhist Propagation Society” founded in 1887, and after spending three years there promoting Buddhism, returned to Kobe, Japan in 1892, never again to return to Europe. He died there in 1907.

Charles Pfoundes

Following his higher ordination as a full Bhikkhu, Bennett (now the Ven. Ananda Metteyya) gave a speech to the assembled monks outlining his future goals and his mission to spread knowledge about Buddhism in the West. More particularly he wanted to create a Sangha in his home country England, UK. Bennett was later promoted to syadaw (a Pali word for a senior monk or abbot of a monastery) thus receiving the veneration of many devout Buddhists and acquiring a reputation as a distinguished holy man. Later he moved to another monastery in Rangoon (now Yangon in Myanmar), located about two miles from the city centre from where he began to plan his mission.

This is possibly (though not confirmed) where he moved to, the Shwezedi Monastery, a famous Theravada Buddhist monastery and one of the oldest in the world, which includes a gilded stupa known as the Great Dagon Pagoda.

In 1903 Bennett founded the “Buddhasasana Samagama” or “International Buddhist Society” with the aim of consolidating Buddhists all around the world. At the first meeting of the Society held on the 15th March 1903, the constitution and rules were implemented and officers elected. Bennett as Ven. Ananda Metteyya appears in the printed prospectus as the General Secretary, with Dr. E. R. Rost, a Westerner and member of the Indian Medical Service, as the Hon. Secretary. Later he produced a periodical called: Buddhism - An Illustrated Quarterly Review, edited by Bhikkhu Ananda Metteyya, the first volume of which was published on the 15th September 1903. While initially intended as a quarterly publication, only six issues of the Review were published between 1903 and 1908, this due mainly to his continuing health problems and apologies for delays appear in almost every issue.

Image Image
The first issue of Buddhism - An Illustrated Quarterly Review dated 15th September 1903

Thanks to donations from local Burmese people, issues of the Buddhism Review were sent out free to between 500 and 600 libraries across Europe and quickly established an intellectual readership. Through this Bennett was able to set-up a network of international contacts and scholars from all around the world who not only contributed to the Review, but also kept him up-to-date on latest developments in science, scholarship and politics effecting Buddhists in other countries. The International Buddhist Society also made ground with official representatives in Austria, Burma (Myanmar), Ceylon (Sri Lanka), China, Germany, Italy and America.

On the 03rd November 1907 a group of lay-Buddhists in England, UK, founded the “Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland”, and at it’s first meeting on the 26th November elected a Pali scholar T.W. Rhys-Davids as it’s President. This paved the way for Bennett to return to England on a visit and launch his mission to spread word about Buddhism in the West from his home country. Bennett arrived in England for a six-month visit on 23rd April 1908 accompanied with a number of supporters, then returned to Burma on the 02nd October, which was all the time allotted for his Mission.

During his visit and despite his frequent bouts of asthmatic incapacity, Bennett did much to grow membership in the Society by giving a considerable number of talks, lectures and presentations about Buddhism around the country, including one on the 10th June to the Blavatsky Lodge of the Theosophical Society. Many of his lectures were later reprinted as pamphlets, promoting Buddhism far and wide. One such entitled “The Training of the Mind” was also re-published in The Equinox, Aleister Crowley’s main magazine and the vehicle for his own religious teachings ‘Thelema’.

During his visit, Crowley had tried to rekindle his friendship with Bennett, which had dwindled as each travelled along separate spiritual paths. Since their last meeting in Burma in 1905, and while travelling across the China/Burma border, Crowley had experienced a powerful samadhi (a state of intense concentration achieved through meditation, which in yoga is regarded as the final stage at which union with the divine is reached). This had proved a catalyst to Crowley’s further spiritual work, and he had moved on rejecting Buddhism in favour of his own Hermetic Tradition called Thelema. Bennett however would have nothing to do with it, and is quoted as saying: “No Buddhist would consider it worthwhile to pass from the crystalline clearness of his own religion to this involved obscurity”. What caused their initial falling out is not known, but it is clear through his own autobiography that Crowley maintained a deep respect for his early teacher and mentor.

After Bennett returned to Burma where the climate was better than that of England, the régime of his monastic lifestyle continued to cause him difficulty. First, tradition dictated he could only eat before noon each day, which generally kept him physically weak. Secondly, he routinely ventured out into the cold damp air at 06am each morning to collect alms, which only exasperated his continuing asthmatic condition. Despite these difficulties he was adamant in maintaining the strict rules imposed by the monastery and continued to write and promote Buddhism worldwide.

In Burma for instance aided with the support of others, he was successful in getting Buddhism taught in schools as a main-line religion equal to Catholicism, and in 1911 published his first book on Buddhism called The Religion of Burma (1911, reprinted in 1929 by the Theosophical Publishing House as The Religion of Burma and Other Papers). He also, whenever he could, he would travel to give talks, presentations and lectures wherever he was invited. In May 1912 he travelled back to Sri Lanka where his long-time friend and supporter Dr. Cassius Pereira (later known as Ven. Kassapa Thera) was opening a new Hall dedicated to the teachings of Buddha, and which he named Maitriya Hall in Bennett’s honour. At the inauguration of the Hall, Pereira records that Bennett gave “several inspiring addresses.”

Dr. Cassius Pereir

Maitriya Hall

Bennett had hoped to return to England within two and half years and continue his mission to set up his own Sangha, but this was not to happen. Indeed his health had continued to deteriorate. To further complicate matters, in December 1913, Dr. E. R. Rost performed two operations on him to remove gallstones, although the operations were successful, they did little to improve his general health. As a result his doctors advised him to change his régime or leave Burma for a more suitable climate. After talking things through with his sister in the United States, it was decided then that he should leave the Sangha at the monastery and travel to sunny California where she could better take care of him.

Arrangements were made for him to meet his sister in the following year in England while she was there visiting with friends, and then travel back with her to California. So in May 1914 Bennett, who had just been awarded the appellation of Thera (a Pali word for Elder), disrobed and returned to England to meet up with his sister. Their plan then was to board a ship in Liverpool on the 12th September and travel on to California. However when they arrived, the ships Doctor refused to allow him on board, stating his health was so bad the American authorities would not allow him a landing permit on health grounds. His sister therefore travelled on without him.

Bennett, now an ex-Buddhist, was left stranded, sick and with no place to live or stay, he therefore had to call on the charitable help of the Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland, the same he had previously helped to promote on his last visit to England. Fortunately one member of the Liverpool Branch of the Society, a doctor, was able to take him in and for the next two years accommodated him and provided what medical care he needed.

By this time WW1 was escalating across Europe and as England continue to send troops into the conflict, austerity measures to support them deepened. As a result, the doctor in Liverpool could no longer afford to keep Bennett and so he returned to his old cheap accommodations in the slum areas of Southwark and Lambeth in London.

There he lived on supported by charity and donations received from friends in the British Buddhist Society, and other Buddhist overseas, particularly those in Burma and Sri Lanka who had heard about his plight.

Although at one stage his asthma attacks were occurring almost on a daily bases, by the winter of 1917 he was sufficiently improved as to give a series of six lecture presentations on Buddhism to a private selected audience gathered in the studio of Clifford Bax (a well known socially connected London writer, journalist, editor, playwright, poet and lyricist). Perhaps inspired by the lecture series, which were well received, when not incapacitated by his affliction, for Bennett they marked a return to his mission work, that of spreading and promoting Buddhism throughout the West and particularly in England.

Clifford Bax circa 1916

In 1918 he once again began to contribute to the Buddhist Review, which after his last visit to the UK in 1908, and being unable to manage his original Buddhism Review, the Society of Great Britain and Ireland had taken it over, renamed it slightly and continued to produce it as the main voice and vehicle of Buddhism worldwide. Later in 1920 he reassumed his role as the main editor of the Review, began speaking at meetings organised by the Society, and also became actively involved in their future plans.

But time was beginning to run out for Bennett as his health again deteriorated. The January 1922 edition of the Buddhist Review was to be the last that he edited, indeed it was also the last that was published. His final act was to see the publication of his new book containing the six lectures he had given during the winter of 1917/18. These he had extended with an additional large introduction to Buddhism, and an essay on Transmigration, thought to be one of the most difficult of Buddhist teachings to make clear to the Western mind. The new book called The Wisdom of the Aryas, was published just two months before he died.

Allan Bennett died of an intestinal blockage at around 05.00pm on the 09th March 1923, he was just 51 years of age. At the time of his death he is reported to have been living in poverty in a single rented room in a multi occupied property at 90 Eccles Road, Clapham Junction. With no money of his own to afford a proper burial, and to save him from a pauper’s grave, a donation was received from Sri Lanka (most likely from Dr. Cassius Pereira) to purchase a plot in Morden Cemetery, South London. Members of the Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland held a funeral service, which was officiated and prepared by Francis Payne, a convert from his earlier 1908 mission in England. After the service, flowers and incense were placed on the grave by a large gathering of other assembled members. Sadly however, no gravestone was ever erected in memorandum, so it remains today an unmarked grave.

90 Eccles Road, Clapham Junction

Morden Cemetery, South London (views today)

While no doubt the Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland who had looked out for Bennett’s well-being through his final years and organised his funeral service, would have received many tributes and condolences about the sad passing of their leader. One such that stands out and best sums-up their loss was written by his long-time friend and supporter in Sri Lanka, Dr Cassius Pereira, who wrote:

“And now the worker has, for this life, laid aside his burdens. One feels more glad than otherwise, for he was tired; his broken body could no longer keep pace with his soaring mind. The work he began, that of introducing Buddhism to the West, he pushed with enthusiastic vigour in pamphlet, journal and lecture, all masterly, all stimulating thought, all in his own inimitably graceful style. And the results are not disappointing to those who know.”

May he rest in peace.


The Confessions of Aleister Crowley - edited by John Symonds & Kenneth Grant 1969 (my edition Bantam Books 1971). ... ry/18.html ... allan.html ... an_Bennett ... irca-1903/

Plus so many others, way too many to mention.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2019 8:50 am

George Cecil Jones
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 10/18/19




George Cecil Jones, Jr. (10 January 1873 – 30 October 1960),[1]) was a British chemist, occultist, one time member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and co-founder of the magical order A∴A∴. According to author and occultist Aleister Crowley,[2] Jones lived for some time in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England, working at a metallurgy there.

Association with Aleister Crowley

Born in Croydon, Jones was educated at City of London School, Central Technical College and Birmingham University. He was the son of George Cecil Jones, Sr.[1] He studied analytical chemistry at Central Technical College in South Kensington and Birmingham University and became employed in the profession upon graduation. On 12 July 1895 he became a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. He is perhaps best known for the pivotal role he played in the life of British Aleister Crowley, stoking Crowley's youthful enthusiasm for magick. Jones introduced Crowley to the Golden Dawn, which Jones was a member of, going by the Latin magical motto Volo Noscere. On 25 January 1905, he married Ethel Melinda Baker at Balham. She was the sister of Golden Dawn member Julian Levett Baker, who had introduced Crowley to Jones. In 1906 Jones and Crowley would found the A∴A∴, taking some of the lessons from their experiences with the Golden Dawn as well as the teachings of Crowley's The Book of the Law, and incorporating them into their new order, which Crowley would head.

Jones would also contribute to Crowley's book of essays on and references for Qabalah, 777 and other Qabalistic writings. In 1911 he unsuccessfully sued a newspaper, the Looking Glass, for libellously associating him with Crowley.[3]

Little is known about his life except for his roles in the history of the Golden Dawn and as a friend and associate of Crowley. He retired as a chemist in 1939. In the 1950s Jones and his wife were living at 14 Elphinstone Road, Hastings. His wife died on 4 January 1952 at Hastings. He died on 30 October 1960 at St. Helens Hospital in Hastings. They had at least two children: Eileen Cecil Jones (b. 1906) and George Alan Jones (b. 1910).[4][5]


1. Who's Who in Science, 1913
2. Crowley, Aleister: The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, pg. 172
3. 'King's Bench Division. The Equinox. Jones v. The Looking Glass Publishing Company (Limited) and Others', The Times, 27 April 1911.
4. Van-Asten, Barry (20 March 2014). "George Cecil Jones". The Voice of Fire, Vol. I. No. 4. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
5. Davis, Sally (16 September 2014). "George Cecil Jones". Retrieved 7 February 2015.


• Aleister Crowley: His Contribution to the Western Mysteries
• Aleister Crowley in the Desert
• Crowley, Aleister: The Confessions of Aleister Crowley. Penguin, ch. 19, 20, 67, 76
• Sutin, Lawrence: Do What Thou Wilt. St. Martin's Press, 2000
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2019 8:59 am

Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 10/18/19



Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
Rose Cross of the Golden Dawn.
Alpha et Omega
Stella Matutina
Isis-Urania Temple
Formation 1887
Extinction 1903
Type Magical organization
Headquarters London
United Kingdom
Chiefs of the Second Order
William Wynn Westcott (1888-1897)
Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers (1897-1903)

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (Latin: Ordo Hermeticus Aurorae Aureae; or, more commonly, the Golden Dawn (Aurora Aurea)) was a secret society devoted to the study and practice of the occult, metaphysics, and paranormal activities during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Known as a magical order, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was active in Great Britain and focused its practices on theurgy and spiritual development. Many present-day concepts of ritual and magic that are at the centre of contemporary traditions, such as Wicca[1][2] and Thelema, were inspired by the Golden Dawn, which became one of the largest single influences on 20th-century Western occultism.[3][4]

The three founders, William Robert Woodman, William Wynn Westcott and Samuel Liddell Mathers, were Freemasons. Westcott appears to have been the initial driving force behind the establishment of the Golden Dawn.

The Golden Dawn system was based on hierarchy and initiation like the Masonic lodges; however women were admitted on an equal basis with men. The "Golden Dawn" was the first of three Orders, although all three are often collectively referred to as the "Golden Dawn". The First Order taught esoteric philosophy based on the Hermetic Qabalah and personal development through study and awareness of the four Classical Elements as well as the basics of astrology, tarot divination, and geomancy. The Second or "Inner" Order, the Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis (the Ruby Rose and Cross of Gold), taught magic, including scrying, astral travel, and alchemy. The Third Order was that of the "Secret Chiefs", who were said to be highly skilled; they supposedly directed the activities of the lower two orders by spirit communication with the Chiefs of the Second Order.


Cipher Manuscripts

Main article: Cipher Manuscripts

Folio 13 of the Cipher Manuscripts

The foundational documents of the original Order of the Golden Dawn, known as the Cipher Manuscripts, are written in English using the Trithemius cipher. The manuscripts give the specific outlines of the Grade Rituals of the Order and prescribe a curriculum of graduated teachings that encompass the Hermetic Qabalah, astrology, occult tarot, geomancy, and alchemy.

According to the records of the Order, the manuscripts passed from Kenneth R. H. Mackenzie, a Masonic scholar, to the Rev. A. F. A. Woodford, whom British occult writer Francis King describes as the fourth founder[5] (although Woodford died shortly after the Order was founded).[6] The documents did not excite Woodford, and in February 1886 he passed them on to Freemason William Wynn Westcott, who managed to decode them in 1887.[5] Westcott, pleased with his discovery, called on fellow Freemason Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers for a second opinion. Westcott asked for Mathers' help to turn the manuscripts into a coherent system for lodge work. Mathers in turn asked fellow Freemason William Robert Woodman to assist the two, and he accepted.[5] Mathers and Westcott have been credited with developing the ritual outlines in the Cipher Manuscripts into a workable format.[7] Mathers, however, is generally credited with the design of the curriculum and rituals of the Second Order, which he called the Rosae Rubae et Aureae Crucis ("Ruby Rose and Golden Cross" or the RR et AC).[8]

Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers in Egyptian setup performing a ritual in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

Founding of first temple

In October 1887, Westcott claimed to have written to a German countess and prominent Rosicrucian named Anna Sprengel, whose address was said to have been found in the decoded Cipher Manuscripts. According to Westcott, Sprengel claimed the ability to contact certain supernatural entities, known as the Secret Chiefs, that were considered the authorities over any magical order or esoteric organization. Westcott purportedly received a reply from Sprengel granting permission to establish a Golden Dawn temple and conferring honorary grades of Adeptus Exemptus on Westcott, Mathers, and Woodman. The temple was to consist of the five grades outlined in the manuscripts.[9][10]

In 1888, the Isis-Urania Temple was founded in London.[9] In contrast to the S.R.I.A. and Masonry,[10] women were allowed and welcome to participate in the Order in "perfect equality" with men. The Order was more of a philosophical and metaphysical teaching order in its early years. Other than certain rituals and meditations found in the Cipher manuscripts and developed further,[11] "magical practices" were generally not taught at the first temple.

For the first four years, the Golden Dawn was one cohesive group later known as "the Outer Order" or "First Order." An "Inner Order" was established and became active in 1892. The Inner Order consisted of members known as "adepts," who had completed the entire course of study for the Outer Order. This group of adepts eventually became known as the Second Order.[citation needed]

Eventually, the Osiris temple in Weston-super-Mare, the Horus temple in Bradford (both in 1888), and the Amen-Ra temple in Edinburgh (1893) were founded. In 1893 Mathers founded the Ahathoor temple in Paris.[9]

Secret Chiefs

Main article: Secret Chiefs

In 1891, Westcott's alleged correspondence with Anna Sprengel suddenly ceased. He claimed to have received word from Germany that she was either dead or that her companions did not approve of the founding of the Order and no further contact was to be made. If the founders were to contact the Secret Chiefs, apparently, it had to be done on their own.[9] In 1892, Mathers professed that a link to the Secret Chiefs had been established. Subsequently, he supplied rituals for the Second Order, calling them the Red Rose and Cross of Gold.[9] The rituals were based on the tradition of the tomb of Christian Rosenkreuz, and a Vault of Adepts became the controlling force behind the Outer Order.[12] Later in 1916, Westcott claimed that Mathers also constructed these rituals from materials he received from Frater Lux ex Tenebris, a purported Continental Adept.[13]

Some followers[who?] of the Golden Dawn tradition believe that the Secret Chiefs were not human or supernatural beings but, rather, symbolic representations of actual or legendary sources of spiritual esotericism. The term came to stand for a great leader or teacher of a spiritual path or practice that found its way into the teachings of the Order.[14]

Golden Age

By the mid-1890s, the Golden Dawn was well established in Great Britain, with over one hundred members from every class of Victorian society.[6] Many celebrities belonged to the Golden Dawn, such as the actress Florence Farr, the Irish revolutionary Maud Gonne, the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, the Welsh author Arthur Machen, and the English authors Evelyn Underhill and Aleister Crowley.

In 1896 or 1897, Westcott broke all ties to the Golden Dawn, leaving Mathers in control. It has been speculated that his departure was due to his having lost a number of occult-related papers in a hansom cab. Apparently, when the papers were found, Westcott's connection to the Golden Dawn was discovered and brought to the attention of his employers. He may have been told to either resign from the Order or to give up his occupation as coroner.[15] After Westcott's departure, Mathers appointed Florence Farr to be Chief Adept in Anglia. Dr. Henry B. Pullen Burry succeeded Westcott as Cancellarius—one of the three Chiefs of the Order.

Mathers was the only active founding member after Westcott's departure. Due to personality clashes with other members and frequent absences from the center of Lodge activity in Great Britain, however, challenges to Mathers's authority as leader developed among the members of the Second Order.[16]


Toward the end of 1899, the Adepts of the Isis-Urania and Amen-Ra temples had become dissatisfied with Mathers' leadership, as well as his growing friendship with Aleister Crowley. They had also become anxious to make contact with the Secret Chiefs themselves, instead of relying on Mathers as an intermediary.[17] Within the Isis-Urania temple, disputes were arising between Farr's The Sphere, a secret society within the Isis-Urania, and the rest of the Adepti Minores.[17]

Crowley was refused initiation into the Adeptus Minor grade by the London officials. Mathers overrode their decision and quickly initiated him at the Ahathoor temple in Paris on January 16, 1900.[18] Upon his return to the London temple, Crowley requested from Miss Cracknell, the acting secretary, the papers acknowledging his grade, to which he was now entitled. To the London Adepts, this was the final straw. Farr, already of the opinion that the London temple should be closed, wrote to Mathers expressing her wish to resign as his representative, although she was willing to carry on until a successor was found.[18] Mathers believed Westcott was behind this turn of events and replied on February 16. On March 3, a committee of seven Adepts was elected in London, and requested a full investigation of the matter. Mathers sent an immediate reply, declining to provide proof, refusing to acknowledge the London temple, and dismissing Farr as his representative on March 23.[19] In response, a general meeting was called on March 29 in London to remove Mathers as chief and expel him from the Order.[20]


In 1901, W. B. Yeats privately published a pamphlet titled Is the Order of R. R. & A. C. to Remain a Magical Order?[21] After the Isis-Urania temple claimed its independence, there were even more disputes, leading to Yeats resigning.[22] A committee of three was to temporarily govern, which included P.W. Bullock, M.W. Blackden and J. W. Brodie-Innes. After a short time, Bullock resigned, and Dr. Robert Felkin took his place.[23]

In 1903, A. E. Waite and Blackden joined forces to retain the name Isis-Urania, while Felkin and other London members formed the Stella Matutina. Yeats remained in the Stella Matutina until 1921, while Brodie-Innes continued his Amen-Ra membership in Edinburgh.[24]


Once Mathers realised that reconciliation was impossible, he made efforts to reestablish himself in London. The Bradford and Weston-super-Mare temples remained loyal to him, but their numbers were few.[25] He then appointed Edward Berridge as his representative.[26] According to Francis King, historical evidence shows that there were "twenty three members of a flourishing Second Order under Berridge-Mathers in 1913."[26]

J.W. Brodie-Innes continued leading the Amen-Ra temple, deciding that the revolt was unjustified. By 1908, Mathers and Brodie-Innes were in complete accord.[27] According to sources that differ regarding the actual date, sometime between 1901 and 1913 Mathers renamed the branch of the Golden Dawn remaining loyal to his leadership to Alpha et Omega.[28][29][30][31] Brodie-Innes assumed command of the English and Scottish temples, while Mathers concentrated on building up his Ahathoor temple and extending his American connections.[29] According to occultist Israel Regardie, the Golden Dawn had spread to the United States of America before 1900 and a Thoth-Hermes temple had been founded in Chicago.[27][29] By the beginning of the First World War in 1914, Mathers had established two to three American temples.

Most temples of the Alpha et Omega and Stella Matutina closed or went into abeyance by the end of the 1930s, with the exceptions of two Stella Matutina temples: Hermes Temple in Bristol, which operated sporadically until 1970, and the Smaragdum Thallasses Temple (commonly referred to as Whare Ra) in Havelock North, New Zealand, which operated regularly until its closure in 1978.[32][33]

Structure and grades

Much of the hierarchical structure for the Golden Dawn came from the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia, which was itself derived from the Order of the Golden and Rosy Cross.[34]

First Order

• Introduction—Neophyte 0=0
• Zelator 1=10
• Theoricus 2=9
• Practicus 3=8
• Philosophus 4=7
• Intermediate—Portal Grade

Second Order

• Adeptus Minor 5=6
• Adeptus Major 6=5
• Adeptus Exemptus 7=4

Third Order

• Magister Templi 8=3
• Magus 9=2
• Ipsissimus 10=1

The paired numbers attached to the Grades relate to positions on the Tree of Life. The Neophyte Grade of "0=0" indicates no position on the Tree. In the other pairs, the first numeral is the number of steps up from the bottom (Malkuth), and the second numeral is the number of steps down from the top (Kether).

The First Order Grades were related to the four elements of Earth, Air, Water, and Fire, respectively. The Aspirant to a Grade received instruction on the metaphysical meaning of each of these Elements and had to pass a written examination and demonstrate certain skills to receive admission to that Grade.

The Portal Grade was an "Invisible" or in-between grade separating the First Order from the Second Order.[35]

Known or alleged members

• Sara Allgood (1879–1950), Irish stage actress and later film actress in America
• Charles Henry Allan Bennett (1872–1923), best known for introducing Buddhism to the West
• Arnold Bennett (1867–1931), British novelist[36]
• Arthur Edward Waite (2 October 1857 – 19 May 1942) Mystic
• Edward W. Berridge (ca. 1843–1923), British homeopathic physician[1]:148–149
• Algernon Blackwood (1869–1951), English writer and radio broadcaster of supernatural stories[37]
• Anna de Brémont, American-born singer and writer.[38]
• Dario Carpaneda (1856 - 1916) Italian occultist and esotericism professor at the University of Lausanne.
• Paul Foster Case was not an original member of the Golden Dawn, but was a member of the successor organization, Alpha et Omega. He was an American occultist
• Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), author of Sherlock Holmes, doctor, scientist, and spiritualist.[39]
• Aleister Crowley (1875–1947), occultist, writer and mountaineer, founder of his own magical society.
• Florence Farr (1860–1917), London stage actress and musician[37]
• Robert Felkin (1853–1925), medical missionary, explorer and anthropologist in Central Africa, author
• Dion Fortune was not an original member of the Golden Dawn, rather a member of the offshoot Golden Dawn order the Stella Matutina. Dion Fortune Founded the Society of Inner Light.
• Frederick Leigh Gardner (1857–1930), British stock broker and occultist; published three-volume bibliography Catalogue Raisonné of Works on the Occult Sciences (1912)[40]
• Maud Gonne (1866–1953), Irish revolutionary, actress.
• Annie Horniman (1860–1937), British repertory theatre producer and pioneer; member of the wealthy Horniman family of tea-traders[37]
• Arthur Machen (1863–1947), leading London writer of the 1890s, author of acclaimed works of imaginative and occult fiction, such as "The Great God Pan", "The White People" and "The Hill of Dreams". Welsh by birth and upbringing.
• Gustav Meyrink (1868–1932), Austrian author, storyteller, dramatist, translator, banker, and Buddhist
• E. Nesbit (1858–1924), real name Edith Bland; English author and political activist
• Israel Regardie was not a member of the original Golden Dawn, but rather of the Stella Matutina, which he claimed was as close to the original order as could be found in the early 1930s (when he was initiated). Regardie wrote many respected and acclaimed books about magic and the Golden Dawn Order, including The Golden Dawn, The Tree Of Life, Middle Pillar, and A Garden of Pomegranates.
• Sax Rohmer, novelist, creator of the Fu Manchu character
• Charles Rosher (1885–1974), British cinematographer
• William Sharp (1855–1905), poet and author; alias Fiona MacLeod
• Pamela Colman Smith (1878–1951), British-American artist and co-creator of the Rider-Waite Tarot deck
• Bram Stoker[41][42] (1847–1912), Irish writer best-known today for his 1897 horror novel Dracula
• John Todhunter (1839–1916), Aktis Heliou Irish poet and playwright who wrote seven volumes of poetry, and several plays
• Violet Tweedale (1862–1936), author.
• Evelyn Underhill (1875–1941), British Christian mystic, author of Mysticism: A Study in Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness
• Charles Williams (1886–1945), British poet, novelist, theologian, and literary critic
• W. B. Yeats (1865–1939), Irish poet, dramatist and writer.

Contemporary Golden Dawn orders

While no temples in the original chartered lineage of the Golden Dawn survived past the 1970s,[32][33] several organizations have since revived its teachings and rituals. Among these, the following are notable:

• The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Inc.
• The Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn
• The Fellowship of the Golden Dawn
• Golden Dawn Collegium Spiritu Sancti
• Golden Dawn Universum
• Golden Dawn Ancient Mystery School
• The Ordo Stella Matutina
• Sodalitas Rosae+Crucis et Solis Alati
• Orden Hermética de la Aurora Dorada
• Ordem Esotérica da Aurora Dourada no Brasil
• Hermetic Society of the Golden Dawn
• August Order of the Mystic Rose
• Order of the Golden Dawn in the Outer

See also

• A∴A∴
• Hermeticism
• Tattva
• Tattva vision


1. Colquhoun, Ithell (1975) The Sword of Wisdom: MacGregor Mathers & the Golden Dawn. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.
2. Phillips, Julia (1991) History of Wicca in England: 1939 - present day. Lecture at the Wiccan Conference in Canberra, 1991.
3. Jenkins, Phillip (2000) Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History, pg. 74. "Also in the 1880s, the tradition of ritual magic was revived in London by a group of Masonic adepts, who formed the Order of the Golden Dawn, which would prove an incalculable influence on the whole subsequent history of occultism." USA: Oxford University Press.
4. Smoley, Richard (1999) Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions, ppg 102-103. "Founded in 1888, the Golden Dawn lasted a mere twelve years before it was shattered by personal conflicts. At its height it probably had no more than a hundred members. Yet its influence on magic and esoteric thought in the English-speaking world would be hard to overestimate." USA: Quest Books.
5. King, 1989, page 42-43
6. King, 1989, page 47
7. Golden Dawn researcher R. A. Gilbert has found evidence which suggests that Westcott was instrumental in developing the Order's rituals from the Cipher Manuscripts. See Gilbert's article, From Cipher to Enigma: The Role of William Wynn Westcott in the Creation of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, from Carroll Runyon's book Secrets of the Golden Dawn Cypher Manuscripts.
8. Regardie, 1993, page 92
9. King, 1989, page 43
10. Regardie, 1993, page 11.
11. King, 1997, page 35
12. King, 1989, page 44
13. King, 1989, page 46
14. Penczak, Christopher. Spirit Allies, p. 27. Red Wheel/Weiser Books. ISBN 1-57863-214-5
15. King, 1989, page 48
16. Raine, Kathleen (1976) [1972]. Liam Miller (ed.). Yeats, the Tarot and the Golden Dawn. New Yeats Papers. II (second ed.). Dublin: Dolmen Press. p. 6.
17. King, 1989, page 66
18. King, 1989, page 67
19. King, 1989, page 68-69
20. King, 1989, page 69
21. Melton, J. Gordon, editor, Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, v. 2 p. 1327, Gale Group, 2001 ISBN 0-8103-9489-8
22. King, 1989, page 78
23. King, 1989, page 94
24. King, 1989, pages 95-96
25. King, 1989, page 109
26. King, 1989, page 110
27. Regardie, 1993, page 33
28. King, 1971, p. 110-111
29. King, 1989, page 111
30. "The Golden Dawn ceased to exist by that name after October, 1901, replaced by Mathers' Alpha et Omega and the London group’s Order of the Morgan Rothe. No longer associated with the SRIA after 1902, Mathers continued to oversee a few temples until his death, when his wife, Moina, assumed supervision." Samuel Liddel MacGregor Mathers biography, Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon, February 26, 2001
31. Golden Dawn Time Line, Chic Cicero and Sandra Tabatha Cicero, Llewellyn Encyclopedia
32. Gilbert, R. A. Golden Dawn Companion. Aquarian Press, 1986. ISBN 0-85030-436-9
33. Llewellyn Encyclopedia: "Golden Dawn Time Line"
34. The masonic career of A.E. Waite by Bro. R. A. Gilbert
35. Golden Dawn Research Center - What is the Golden Dawn?
36. Regardie, 1982, page 16
37. Regardie, 1982, foreword - page ix
38. Moyle, Franny (2011). Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs Oscar Wilde. Hachette UK. p. 118. ISBN 9781848544611.
39. ... iritualism
40. "Frederick Leigh Gardner", Biographies: Fringe freemasons, Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon (Freemasons) web site. Retrieved November 2008.
41. Ravenscroft, Trevor (1982). The occult power behind the spear which pierced the side of Christ. Red Wheel. p. 165. ISBN 0-87728-547-0.
42. Picknett, Lynn (2004). The Templar Revelation: Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ. Simon and Schuster. p. 201. ISBN 0-7432-7325-7.


• Fra. A.o.C. (2002). A Short Treatise on the History, Culture and Practices of The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Retrieved August 3, 2007.
• Armstrong, Allan & R. A. Gilbert, eds. (1997). Golden Dawn: The Proceedings of the Golden Dawn Conference, London - 1997. Hermetic Research Trust.
• Cicero, Chic and Tabatha Cicero (1991). The New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications. ISBN 0-87542-139-3
• Colquhoun, Ithell (1975). Sword of Wisdom: Macgregor Mathers and the Golden Dawn. Neville Spearman. ISBN 0-85435-092-6.
• Denisof, Dennis. "The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn." BRANCH: Britain, Representation and Nineteenth-Century History. 2013. ... -1888-1901.
• Greer, Mary K. (1994). Women of the Golden Dawn. Park Street. ISBN 0-89281-516-7.
• Greer, Mary K. & Darcy Kuntz (1999) The Chronology of the Golden Dawn. Holmes Publishing Group. ISBN 1-55818-354-X
• Gilbert, Robert A. (1983). The Golden Dawn: Twilight of the Magicians. The Aquarian Press. ISBN 0-85030-278-1
• Gilbert, Robert A. (1986). The Golden Dawn Companion. Weiser Books. ISBN 0-85030-436-9
• Gilbert, Robert A. Golden Dawn Scrapbook - The Rise and Fall of a Magical Order. Weiser Books (1998) ISBN 1-57863-037-1
• Howe, Ellic (1978). The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: A Documentary History of a Magical Order 1887-1923. Samuel Weiser. ISBN 0-87728-369-9.
• Jenkins, Phillip (2000) Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-512744-7
• King, Francis (1971). The Rites of Modern Occult Magic. New York: Macmillan Company. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 76-158-933
• King, Francis (1989). Modern Ritual Magic: The Rise of Western Occultism. ISBN 1-85327-032-6
• King, Francis, ed. (1997). Ritual Magic of the Golden Dawn: Works by S. L. MacGregor Mathers and Others. Destiny Books. ISBN 0-89281-617-1
• Kuntz, Darcy, ed. (1996). The Complete Golden Dawn Manuscript. Introduction by R.A. Gilbert. Deciphered, Translated and Preface by Darcy Kuntz. (Golden Dawn Studies No 1.) Holmes Publishing Group. ISBN 978-1558183254
• Regardie, Israel, et al., eds. (1982). The Golden Dawn. Llewellyn Publications. ISBN 0-87542-664-6
• Israel Regardie|Regardie, Israel, et al., eds. (1989). The Golden Dawn: A Complete Course in Practical Ceremonial Magic. Llewellyn. ISBN 0-87542-663-8
• Regardie, Israel (1993). What You Should Know About the Golden Dawn (6th ed.). ISBN 1-56184-064-5
• Runyon, Carroll (1997). Secrets of the Golden Dawn Cipher Manuscripts. C.H.S. ISBN 0-9654881-2-8
• Smoley, Richard (1999). Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions. Quest Books. ISBN 978-0-8356-0844-2
• Suster, Gerald (1990). Crowley's Apprentice: The Life and Ideas of Israel Regardie. Weiser Books. ISBN 0-87728-700-7
• Wasserman, James (2005). The Mystery Traditions: Secret Symbols and Sacred Art. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books. ISBN 1-59477-088-3

External links

• The Golden Dawn FAQ (original from 1990s Usenet groups)
• The Golden Dawn Library Project
• Golden Dawn entries in Llewellyn Encyclopedia
• Golden Dawn Tradition, by co-founder Dr. W. Wynn Westcott
• Photocopies and the translation of the original Cipher Manuscripts
• Lots of GD material on display in Yeats exhibition including Ritual Notebooks.
• The Golden Dawn Roll Call
• Golden Dawn at Curlie
• Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn: Biographies of Members
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2019 9:13 am

Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 10/18/19



Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers
Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, in Egyptian costume, performs a ritual of Isis in the rites of the Golden Dawn
Born Samuel Liddell Mathers
8 or 11 January 1854
Hackney, London, England
Died 5 or 20 November 1918 (aged 64)
Residence Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk
Nationality British
Alma mater Bedford School
Occupation Occultist
Known for Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
Spouse(s) Moina Mathers
Parent(s) William M. Mathers

Samuel Liddell (or Liddel) MacGregor Mathers (8 or 11 January 1854 – 5 or 20 November 1918), born Samuel Liddell Mathers, was a British occultist. He is primarily known as one of the founders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a ceremonial magic order of which offshoots still exist today.

Early life

Mathers was born on 8 or 11 January 1854 in Hackney, London, England. His father, William M. Mathers, died while he was still a boy. His mother, whose maiden name was Collins, died in 1885. He attended Bedford School, subsequently working in Bournemouth, Dorset, as a clerk, before moving to London following the death of his mother.

His wife was Moina Mathers (née Mina Bergson), sister of the philosopher Henri Bergson.


Mathers added the "MacGregor" surname as a claim to Highland Scottish heritage, although there is little evidence of such in his family background. He was a practising vegetarian, or (according to some accounts) vegan, an outspoken anti-vivisectionist, and a non-smoker. It is known that his main interests were magic and the theory of war, his first book being a translation of a French military manual.[2] He became more and more of an eccentric towards his later years, as was noted by W. B. Yeats.[3]


Mathers was introduced to Freemasonry by a neighbour, alchemist Frederick Holland, and was initiated into Hengist Lodge No.195 on 4 October 1877. He was raised as a Master Mason on 30 January 1878. In 1882 he was admitted to the Metropolitan College of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia as well as a number of fringe Masonic degrees. Working hard both for and in the SRIA he was awarded an honorary 8th Degree in 1886, and in the same year he lectured on the Kabbalah to the Theosophical Society. He became Celebrant of Metropolitan College in 1891 and was appointed as Junior Substitute Magus of the SRIA in 1892, in which capacity he served until 1900. He left the order in 1903, having failed to repay money which he had borrowed.[4]

Upon the death of William Robert Woodman in 1891, Mathers assumed leadership of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. He moved with his wife to Paris on 21 May 1892.[3] After his expulsion from the Golden Dawn in April 1900, Mathers formed a group in Paris in 1903 called Alpha et Omega (its headquarters, the Ahathoor Temple).[5] Mathers choosing the title "Archon Basileus".[6]


Mathers was a polyglot; among the languages he had studied were English, French, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Gaelic and Coptic, though he had a greater command of some languages than of others. His translations of such books as The Book of Abramelin (14thC.), Christian Knorr von Rosenroth's The Kabbalah Unveiled (1684), Key of Solomon (anonymous 14thC.), The Lesser Key of Solomon (anonymous 17thC.), and the Grimoire of Armadel (17thC.), while probably justly criticised with respect to quality, were responsible for making what had been obscure and inaccessible material widely available to the non-academic English speaking world. They have had considerable influence on the development of occult and esoteric thought since their publication, as has his consolidation of the Enochian magical system of John Dee and Edward Kelley.


In addition to many supporters, he had many enemies and critics. One of his most notable enemies was one-time friend and pupil Aleister Crowley, who portrayed Mathers as a villain named SRMD in his 1917 novel Moonchild. According to Crowley's memoirs, The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, Mathers was in the habit of ostensibly playing chess matches against various pagan gods. Mathers would set up the chessboard and seat himself behind the white pieces, with an empty chair opposite him. After making a move for himself, Mathers would then shade his eyes and peer towards the empty chair, waiting for his opponent to signal a move. Mathers would then move a black piece accordingly, then make his next move as white, and so forth. Crowley did not record who won.

Earlier, Crowley wrote in his Confessions that: "As far as I was concerned, Mathers was my only link with the Secret Chiefs to whom I was pledged. I wrote to him offering to place myself and my fortune unreservedly at his disposal; if that meant giving up the Abra-Melin Operation for the present, all right."[7]


Mathers died on 5 or 20 November 1918 in Paris. The manner of his death is unknown; his death certificate lists no cause of death. Violet Firth claimed his death was the result of the Spanish influenza of 1918. While this seems likely, few facts are known about Mathers's private life and thus verification of such claims is difficult.

See also

• The Book of Abramelin
• Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
• List of occultists
• Mathers table
• William Robert Woodman


1. Nevill Drury, The Dictionary of the Esoteric, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 2004, p. 208.
2. S. L. MacGregor Mathers, Practical Instruction in Infantry Campaigning Exercise, Translated from the French ( London: City of London Publishing Co., 1884); cited in Christopher McIntosh, The Rosicrucians: The History, Mythology and Rituals of an Occult Order, page 111 (second revised edition, Crucible, 1987). ISBN 978-1852740252
3. William Butler Yeats, The Collected Works of W.B. Yeats, Volume III: Autobiographies, pages 452–453 (edited by William O'Donnell and Douglas N. Archibald, New York: Scribner, 1999 edition). ISBN 0-684-80728-9
4. History of the SRIA, T M Greenshill, MBE, published 2003
5. "Samuel Liddel MacGregor-Mathers", accessed 17 February 2007.
6. John Michael Greer, The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies and Hidden History, page 28 (HarperElement, 2006). ISBN 978-0-00-722068-7
7. Crowley, Aleister. The Confessions of Aleister Crowley. p. 194.

External links

• Biography from
• Biography from the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn
• Biography from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Inc.
• The Truth about S.L. MacGregor Mathers

Works at the Internet Sacred Text Archive

• The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage
• The Kabbalah Unveiled
• The Key of Solomon The King
• The Lesser Key of Solomon
• The Tarot

Published Works

• 2018 — The Tarot — Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers Edition by Eduardo Filipe Freitas ISBN 1986104028
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Fri Oct 18, 2019 11:05 am

Ananda Metteyya [Charles Henry Allan Bennett]: The First British Emissary of Buddhism [Excerpt]
by Elizabeth J. Harris
Secretary for Inter-faith Relations for The Methodist Church in London. She holds a doctorate in Buddhist studies from the University of Kelaniya and co-produced the recent BBC series, "The Path of the Buddha".
Collected Wheel Publications, Volume XXVII: Numbers 412-430
by Y. Karunadasa, Susan Elbaum Jootla, John D. Ireland, Ananda W.P. Guruge, Elizabeth J. Harris, Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano, Ashin Ottama, Bhikkhu Nanamoli



Chapter 1: Ananda Metteyya: A Dedicated Life

His face was the most significant that I have ever seen. Twenty years of physical suffering had twisted and scored it: a lifetime of meditation upon universal love had imparted to it an expression that was unmistakable. His colour was almost dusky, and his eyes had the soft glow of dark amber … Above all, at the moment of meeting and always thereafter, I was conscious of a tender and far-shining emanation, an unvarying psychic sunlight, that environed his personality.1

Clifford Bax, artist and dramatist, wrote these words after meeting Ananda Metteyya in 1918. A sick man incapacitated by asthma for weeks at a time, he was then wearing the clothes of a lay person and had reverted to his civilian name, Allan Bennett. Yet, ten years earlier, as the Venerable Ananda Metteyya, he had led the first Buddhist mission to England from Burma. The Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland had been formed to prepare the way for him.

See e.g. Harris (1998). The Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland (BSGBI) was  founded by T. W. Rhys-Davids and others in November 1907 solely in anticipation of Bennett‘s  arrival and the BSGBI is similarly regarded as the first of its kind.

-- The First Buddhist Mission to the West: Charles Pfoundes and the London Buddhist mission of 1889 – 1892, by Brian Bocking, University College Cork; Laurence Cox, National University of Ireland Maynooth; and Shin‘ichi Yoshinaga, Maizuru National College of Technology

Bennett, in fact, was the second British person to take on the robes of a Buddhist monk and his influence on Buddhism in Britain in the first decades of the twentieth century was deep.

Even within his own lifetime Allan Bennet
was a controversial figure. In 1894, he joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a society concerned with spiritual growth through esoteric knowledge. He gained a reputation as a magician and a man of mystery, which was not completely shaken off even when he embraced Buddhism several years later. In the early years of the twentieth century, he was much praised by Western Buddhists. Yet, as time passed, he became more and more marginalized as asthma took an ever deepening grip on his life, leading to dependency on drugs. By 1916, his case is described as a “sad” one by The Buddhist Review, published by The Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1917-18, he managed to give a series of lectures and when he died in 1923, he was the acting Honorary Secretary of The Buddhist Society. Yet, his final years were marked by poverty. Clifford Bax wrote in the conclusion of his 1918 article:

As a Buddhist, he was an alert and powerful personality: as Allan Bennett, a poor man, dwelling unknown in London, he was a sick creature prematurely old. As he was putting on his overcoat, I heard Meena Gunn saying, “Why it’s riddled with moths,” and Bennett responding, “They’re such pretty little things,” and Meena continuing, “Some day we must get you a new one: this coat is too full of holes,” and Bennett answering, shy of his pun, “But, you see, I’m supposed to be a holy man.”2

Bennett was buried without a memorial stone in Morden cemetery. His lifelong friend, Dr. Cassius Pereira, wrote:

And now the worker has, for this life, laid aside his burden. One feels more glad than otherwise, for he was tired; his broken body could no longer keep pace with his soaring mind. The work he began, that of introducing Buddhism to the West, he pushed with enthusiastic vigour in pamphlet, journal and lecture, all masterly, all stimulating thought, all in his own inimitably graceful style. And the results are not disappointing to those who know.3

Allan Bennett was a holy man. His writings reveal sensitivity, conviction, and passionate concern that Buddhism should grow in the West. He combined a poetic imagination, a scientific mind, and a deep concern for justice and peace. He was also able to make the Buddhist path live, not so much through lectures as through the written word. In this study, I seek to make his thought come alive. I look at his life and place him in historical perspective. Then I probe his view of the world and his interpretation of Buddhist doctrine. I show how his thought developed through the trauma of the First World War, and finally I discuss the relevance of his writings today.

Of course, it is impossible to re-create the thought of Ananda Metteyya with authenticity two generations after he died. I rely mainly on what he published in England and Burma, a few personal letters, and the impressions of his contemporaries in Sri Lanka and the West. Furthermore, no biographical writing is objective. It reflects the biographer’s character as much as it portrays the person written about. Allan Bennett, or Ananda Metteyya, will elude any attempt to pin him down. He was a man of his time, born when the British Empire was at the height of its power and the wish to probe new religious pathways was gripping many young minds. Yet, I believe the message he strove to share is still relevant. A probe into his life not only uncovers forgotten history but can give inspiration to the present.

The Search for Truth

In piecing together the biography of Allan Bennett, I am heavily indebted to the writings of two of his closest friends: Aleister Crowley and Dr. Cassius Pereira (later Ven. Kassapa Thera).4 Bennett’s relationship with Crowley was not lifelong. It began when Bennett was more interested in esoteric mysticism than Buddhism and petered out as Crowley sank deeper and deeper into study of the occult. The friendship with Pereira was based on a more solid foundation, that of commitment to Buddhism. They met on Bennett’s first visit to Sri Lanka in 1900 and the relationship continued when Bennett went to Burma. Alec Robertson5 told me that Ven. Kassapa had told him he had had such a close rapport with Bennett that the two could communicate by telepathy. Each knew the other’s thoughts, even at a distance.

Allan Bennett was born in London on the 8th December 1872. His father, a civil and electrical engineer, died when Allan was young. Cassius Pereira claims he was adopted by a Mr. McGregor and kept this name until McGregor died, a fact repeated to me by Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitreya.6 Yet, it is possible that his mother was still in contact with him, since Crowley refers to him being brought up by his mother as a strict Catholic.7 His education was in Bath after which he trained as an analytical chemist. He was eventually employed by Dr. Bernard Dyer, a public analyst and consulting chemist of international repute who was based in London as an official analyst to the London Corn Trade at the time of Bennett’s association with him.8

Information about Bennett’s early years is sketchy. What is available suggests that he was a sensitive and serious young man who became alienated from Christianity both because it seemed incompatible with science and because he could not square the concept of a God of love with the suffering he saw and experienced. The asthma which plagued him throughout his life seems to have begun in childhood. As a young man, it prevented him from holding down a permanent job. Together with his family circumstances, this meant that he was at times desperately poor. Suffering, therefore, was part of his life from an early stage. Crowley, in fact, wrote of him, “Allan never knew joy; he disdained and distrusted pleasure from the womb.”9

If Bennett distrusted pleasure, he certainly didn’t distrust the search for truth and goodness. This seems to have informed his life from youth. Nineteenth century developments in science gripped him, particularly in the areas of chemistry and electricity, and scientific metaphors permeate his writing. Science meant far more to him than technical knowledge. He linked it with the search for truth about the human being and human consciousness. In his youth particularly, it was intertwined with his religious quest. After rejecting Roman Catholicism, he turned first to Hinduism and Buddhism. In 1890, at the age of eighteen, he read Edwin Arnold’s poem, The Light of Asia. Some say he became a Buddhist at this point but this is doubtful. The poem certainly had a profound influence on him but it was part of a larger exploration which included Hindu literature as well. Both Cassius Pereira and Aleister Crowley refer to him practicing yogic forms of breath control and meditation at this time, a practice closer to Hinduism than to Buddhism. Pereira thought these exercises might have exacerbated his asthma. Crowley refers to him experiencing, at eighteen, Shivadarshana, which Crowley describes as an extraordinarily high state of yogic attainment. “It is a marvel that Allan survived and kept his reason,” Crowley remarked, but he also claimed that Bennett had told him that he wanted to get back to that state.10

In addition, Bennett was also being drawn both into Theosophy and spiritualism, psychology and Western esoteric mysticism. Spiritualism entered Britain in the mid-nineteenth century, based on the conviction that there was a spirit world which could be contacted by clairvoyants. It became linked with interest in alchemy, magical invocations, and esoteric or secret knowledge. Helena Blavatsky, one of the founders of Theosophy, for instance, claimed she was in contact with mahatmas, masters in the spirit world. Significant for Bennett was the creation of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1889 by William Wynn Westcott and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers.11 At first his members were little more than spiritual philosophers, interested in such things as astrology, alchemy, mysticism, and the kabbalah – esoteric practices connected with Judaism. Later, magical rituals were developed and practiced. Bennett joined in 1894. He took the name Iehi Aour, Hebrew for “let there be light,” and rapidly became an important member, respected for his psychic powers.

At this point most of the available information about Bennett comes to us through the eyes of Aleister Crowley, who joined the order in 1898. Crowley’s first impression of him was that he possessed “a tremendous spiritual and magical force.”12 He finds him living in a tiny tenement – “a mean, grim horror”13 – and says of his appearance:

Allan Bennett was tall, but his sickness had already produced a stoop. His head, crowned with a shock of wild, black hair, was intensely noble; the brows, both wide and lofty, overhung indomitable piercing eyes. The face would have been handsome had it not been for the haggardness and pallour due to his almost continuous suffering.

Despite his ill-health, he was a tremendous worker. His knowledge of science, especially electricity, was vast, accurate, and profound. In addition, he had studied the Hindu and Buddhist scriptures, not only as a scholar, but with the insight that comes from inborn sympathetic understanding.

I did not fully realize the colossal stature of that sacred spirit; but I was instantly aware that this man could teach me more in a month than anyone else in five years.14

An unpublished manuscript by Crowley cited by Kenneth Grant adds more:

We called him the White Knight, from Alice in the Looking Glass. So lovable, so harmless, so unpractical! But he was a Knight, too! And White! There never walked a whiter man on earth. He never did walk on earth, either! A genius, a flawless genius. But a most terribly frustrated genius.15

Crowley also claimed that he was known all over London “as the one Magician who could really do big-time stuff,”16 and in two places he recorded an incident when Bennett used a wand to render motionless a sceptic who doubted its power.17

By the year 1899, therefore, Bennett was deeply interested in the religious heritage of the East. He was appreciated as a gentle person who would be loathe to harm anyone. (Crowley was later to write that he was, “the noblest and the gentlest soul that I have ever known.”18) He was widely read and had practiced some forms of meditation, probably using yogic methods of breath control and trance-inducement. He felt an affinity to Buddhism and had been influenced particularly by The Light of Asia. He was also interested in Western esoteric practice and magic and had discovered that he possessed certain psychic powers. Asthma had already made deep inroads into his health. He was knowledgeable about the latest scientific discoveries and optimistic about science’s potential.

In 1900, Bennett travelled to Sri Lanka, the cost of his passage raised by Crowley.19 It was an attempt to save his life. His friends feared he would die unless he was sent to a warmer climate. Crowley also hoped that Bennett would spread Western esoteric lore in the East. He did not. Crowley’s hopes were ironically twisted. Bennett turned away from the emphases of the Order of the Golden Dawn, became a Buddhist monk, and eventually brought Buddhism to the West, convinced that it was Buddhism alone which could meet the religious crisis there.

In Sri Lanka

Bennett spent between one and two years in Sri Lanka. He learnt Pali, developed his meditation practice, and delivered his first sermon on Buddhist doctrine. All the evidence suggests this period was a turning point. His asthma improved. He gave up the cycle of drugs he had found so necessary in England.20 Most of all, he found a focus for his religious quest.

Bennett began by spreading his exploratory net quite wide. According to Cassius Pereira, he went to Kamburugamuwa and studied Pali for six months under an elder Sinhalese monk. But the end of six months, he could converse in it fluently – “Such was the brilliance of his intellect,” Pereira adds.21 Yet, he did not restrict himself to Buddhism. Crowley, who visited him, claimed that he learnt much about the theory and practice of yoga from the Hon. P. Ramanathan, the Solicitor-General of Ceylon, a Tamil gentleman who engaged Bennett as a private tutor for his son. Crowley’s descriptions of Bennett show a person experimenting with different practices. According to Crowley, for instance, Bennett could, with a breathing trick, release leeches from his arm, having purposely fed them.22 He could also enter such a deep state of trance-like meditation through his breathing exercises that his whole body could be upturned without him realizing it.23 Pereira confirms this. He later wrote that Allan had taught him much about meditation at this time. He had thought it was all Buddhist in origin but later realized that it also contained “mystic Christian, Western ‘occult,’ and Hindu sources.” His conclusion was that Bennett’s knowledge was then “vague, wonder seeking, and really only played about the fringe of a truly marvelous avenue for study and practice.”24

So, was Bennett merely a person who selected what he wanted from a variety of sources? The Order of the Golden Dawn certainly did this. Yet in Sri Lanka another process was at work. Bennett gradually came to see that eclectic experimentation with psychic power and the development of iddhi was a mundane accomplishment, divorced from true wisdom or liberation. Theravada Buddhism gained the upper hand. According to Crowley:

Allan had become more and more convinced that he ought to take the Yellow Robe. The phenomena of Dhyana and Samadhi had ceased to exercise their first fascination. It seemed to him that they were insidious obstacles to true spiritual progress; that their occurrence, in reality, broke up the control of the mind which he was trying to establish and prevented him from reaching the ultimate truth which he sought. He had the strength of mind to resist the appeal of even these intense spiritual joys.25

In July 1901, Bennett gave his first Buddhist address before the Hope Lodge of the Theosophical Society, Colombo. His subject was the Four Noble Truths. For the young Cassius Pereira it was a turning point which directed him towards his eventual renunciation.26 Almost certainly, Bennett, by this time, was speaking from the depths of his own conviction that renunciation, as a committed Buddhist, was the only path for him. During his visit Crowley concluded that, in spite of his experimentation, “Allan was already at heart a Buddhist. The more he studied the Tripitika, ‘the three baskets of the law’ … the more he was attracted.”27

Bennett decided to become ordained in Burma. Crowley’s writing suggests that Bennett saw Burma as a place where the Sangha was in a purer state than in Sri Lanka.28 Bennett was disillusioned, for instance, by such practices as “devil dances” …


and the Kandy Perahera.29

Other accounts do not mention Bennett’s reason for leaving Sri Lanka but it is certain that he left realizing that the path of magic, psychic power, and esoteric lore was inadequate. In all his later writings he condemned it.30 The message of the Four Noble Truths became uppermost.

In Burma

On 12th December 1901, Allan Bennett was ordained a novice at Akyab in Arakan, Burma. The name he took was the Venerable Ananda Maitreya. Later he changed the second name to the Pali, Metteyya. At Akyab, he continued his Buddhist studies, supported by Burmese lay people. Pereira and Crowley mention one Dr. Moung Tha Nu, the resident medical officer, as one of these.31 Six months later, on 21st May 1902, he received upasampada, higher ordination, under the Venerable Sheve Bya Sayadaw. Crowley visited Ananda Metteyya in February 1902 and it is again interesting to see through his eyes. He refers to Allan, in robes, as seeming to be “of gigantic height, as compared to the diminutive Burmese” but claims, “The old gentleness was still there.”32

Unfortunately, Crowley also referred to the return of Ananda Metteyya’s asthma. He puts it down to the cold air of the pre-dawn alms rounds and shares a wish that “sanctity was not so incompatible with sanity.”33 As a new monk, Ananda Metteyya would not have wanted to have broken any of the accepted practices.

The next time Crowley visited Burma, Ananda Metteyya was in Rangoon. He went there soon after his higher ordination and stayed in a monastery about two miles from the city. Two interesting points emerge from Crowley’s writing: the suspicion of the British authorities, who imagined political dangers when Europeans “thought Burmese beliefs better than their European equivalents.”34 and the fact that Ananda Metteyya’s health was still not good because of lack of proper medical attention and “his determination to carry out the strict rules of the Order.”35

Yet, it was from Rangoon that Ananda Metteyya began to plan what he had come to see as his life’s mission – bringing Buddhism to the West. The first step was the forming of the Buddhasasana Samagama, an international Buddhist society which aimed at the global consociation of Buddhists. Its first meeting was on 13th march 1903. Ven. Ananda Metteyya took the role of General Secretary. The Honorary Secretary was Dr. E.R. Rost, a Westerner and member of the Indian Medical Service.36 Buddhism - An Illustrated Quarterly Review was launched, edited by Ananda Metteyya, the first volume appearing in September 1903.

The six issues of Buddhism which were published between 1903 and 1908 -- it soon became evident that it could not be a quarterly review -- give much information about Ananda Metteyya's priorities. His vision was missionary and international. The aims of the journal, as set out in the first issue, were:

Firstly, to set before the world the true principles of our Religion, believing, as we do, that these need only to be better known to meet with a wide-spread acceptance among the peoples of the West -- an acceptance which, if manifested in practice, would in our opinion do much to promote the general happiness -- Secondly, to promote, as far as lies in our power, those humanitarian activities referred to in the latter portion of THE FAITH OF THE FUTURE37 and, Thirdly, to unite by our Journal, as by a common bond of mutual interest and brotherhood, the many Associations with Buddhist aims which now exist.38

From Rangoon, Ananda Metteyya maintained a network of international contacts and kept abreast of developments in science, Buddhist scholarship, and politics in Buddhist countries. By 1904, the journal was being sent free to between 500 and 600 libraries in Europe on the condition that each copy be left on the Reading Room table until the next was received. 39. Burmese donations made this possible. The Buddhasasana Samagama gained official representatives in Austria, Burma, Ceylon, China, Germany, Italy, America, and England. The articles published were drawn from scholars worldwide. Ananda Metteyya's comments embraced all his interests, religious, scientific, and political. He could write about the life of philosopher-scientist Herbert Spencer, discoveries concerning the origins of life at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge,40 and research on the dangerous effects of alcohol.41 Since Sri Lanka is also mentioned in every edition of Buddhism, it is obvious that Ananda Metteyya remained in close contact with the country and he went back there at one point. Pereira records that he gave "several inspiring addresses from the Maitriya Hall."42

During these years, two men who eventually became better known than Ananda Metteyya joined him. The first was J.F. McKechnie. Inspired by Ananda Metteyya's article on Nibbana in the first issue of Buddhism, he wrote to him in 1904 to offer his services in business management free. He was accepted. Once in Burma, he learnt Pali and took on far more than business management as his book reviews in the October 1905 issue of Buddhism reveal. By 1908, he was Ven. Silacara. Then, by the beginning of 1905, Ven. Nyanatiloka was also staying with Ananda Metteyya. Nyanatiloka or Anton Gueth was born in 1879 in Wiesbaden, Germany. He was ordained in Burma in 1903, after a period of exhausting travel which had included Sri Lanka. Ananda Metteyya facilitated his return to Sri Lanka to learn Pali,43 a return which sealed the future for Nyanatiloka. He spent almost all his monk's life there, and at his death was given a state funeral.44

The Mission to England

Health continued to elude Ven. Ananda Metteyya. This was one reason why the publication of Buddhism became erratic. Apologies for delays due to illness appear in almost every issue. Yet, his ailment was not serious enough to prevent him from commencing the first Buddhist mission to Britain. Ananda Metteyya had entered the Order “chiefly with the object of eventually forming a Sangha in the West.”45 His life was inspired by the conviction that the West had only to understand the message of Buddhism to embrace it. He was convinced the West was ready. Yet, the first step in this process was not an unqualified success.

Ven. Ananda Metteyya arrived in England on 23rd April 1908 with some of his most faithful supporters, Mrs. Hla Oung, her son, and his wife. He remained until 2nd October of the same year, “the time allotted to the Mission,” according to Christmas Humphreys.46 The Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland, formed in preparation for the mission the previous November, welcomed him eagerly.

See e.g. Harris (1998). The Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland (BSGBI) was  founded by T. W. Rhys-Davids and others in November 1907 solely in anticipation of Bennett‘s  arrival and the BSGBI is similarly regarded as the first of its kind.

-- The First Buddhist Mission to the West: Charles Pfoundes and the London Buddhist mission of 1889 – 1892, by Brian Bocking, University College Cork; Laurence Cox, National University of Ireland Maynooth; and Shin‘ichi Yoshinaga, Maizuru National College of Technology

Ananda Metteyya himself told a Rangoon paper on his return that he was highly gratified with the visit47 but the response of some of his British supporters was different. Disappointment comes across, for instance, in the account later written by Christmas Humphreys. The positive, according to Humphreys, was this:

He was then thirty-six years of age, tall, slim, graceful, and dignified. The deep-set eyes and somewhat ascetic features, surmounted by the shaven head, made a great impression on all who met him, and all who remember him speaking of his pleasing voice and beautiful enunciation. It seems that his conversation was always interesting; and in his lighter moments he showed a delightful sense of humour, while his deep comprehension of the Dhamma, his fund of analogy from contemporary science, and power and range of thought combined to form a most exceptional personality.48

Humphreys continues to explain that by “correspondence and constant interviews” Ananda Metteyya collected around him a body of scholars who supported the mission and that he “formally admitted into the fold of Buddhism all who wished to be received.” Yet, the negative side of the mission included: the difficulties supporters faced in ensuring Ananda Metteyya could follow the Vinaya rules; the uncomprehending and sometimes ribald laughter leveled at his orange robes in the streets; the uncharismatic nature of Ananda Metteyya’s public speaking style; and his frequent ill-health. Ananda Metteyya was understandably unwilling to compromise when it came to handling money, eating after noon, or sleeping in the same house as a woman. This meant he could not journey alone, his programme had to allow for a meal before noon, and the team needed two houses. For a small group of supporters, this was perhaps more than they had bargained for.49

As for his communication skills, in private conversation, he was probably engaging and impressive. Humphreys declares that “he was popular wherever he went.”50 Yet, in public speaking, he seems to have been self-effacing, avoiding eye contact by keeping his eyes cast down on a prepared script, from which he deviated little. Such an attitude would have been the norm for a monk in Burma, but for those who had enthusiastically hoped for a flowering of Buddhism in Britain, his inability to engage with his audience would have been disappointing, perhaps even embarrassing. The deterioration of his health must also have caused serious concern.

There can be no doubt, however, that the young Buddhist Society was strengthened by Ananda Metteyya’s visit because it attracted enthusiastic scholars. It also sealed a friendship with Burma which was to prove invaluable in terms of financial support in the years ahead. The Buddhist Review, the organ of the newly-formed Buddhist Society, was able to say in 1909 that he left behind him “golden opinions and the friendship and respect of all who had the privilege of meeting him.”51

Years of Crisis

Ven. Ananda Metteyya hoped that he would return to England in two and a half years to establish a permanent Buddhist community in the West.52 This was the next step in his mission plan. The hope died. He remained in Burma until 1914. During 1909, records show that he was still mentioned with much respect at The Buddhist Society in Britain. For instance, he and his colleagues were congratulated for pressing successfully for Buddhism to be taught in schools in Burma.53 The 1911 mission was anticipated. Yet, as time passed, he was mentioned less and less. Ven. Silacara’s name began to arise more often than his in The Buddhist Review. In 1912, Ananda Metteyya appeared in the Minutes as having sent many copies of his book, The Religion of Burma, to the Society as a present54 but when bringing a bhikkhu to England was discussed later in the year55 he was not mentioned. It was Ven. Silacara who was eventually considered.56 By 1914, Ananda Metteyya’s mission was remembered with respect but he was no longer considered a possible future missionary.

One reason for this silence, of course, was his health. According to Cassius Pereira, his health began to fail rapidly on his return to Burma, with gallstone trouble superimposed on his chronic asthma. “He was operated on twice,” Pereira wrote, “and on the urgent advice of his doctors, he reluctantly decided to leave the Order where he had now attained the seniority of Thera or Elder.”57 Pereira did not give a date for this. In 1912 and 1913, The Buddhist Society was still referring to him as Ven. Ananda Metteyya,58 but it is possible that he had already disrobed by this time. In 1914 doctors in Burma pressed him to leave the country if his life was to be saved. His Burmese friends, therefore, sent him to England where he was to meet up with his sister, who had come from America to lead him back to her home in California. A passage from Liverpool was booked but the ship’s doctor refused Bennett permission to board because he feared the American authorities would deny him a landing permit on health grounds. His sister travelled without him. Bennett, now a lay person, was left to the mercy of British well-wishers.

From this point onwards, Allan Bennett’s story was a sad one. A member of the Liverpool Branch of The Buddhist Society, a doctor, took him in and gave him incessant medical care. During the First World War his sister came back from America but she stayed with friends and could not look after her brother. For the doctor’s family, the financial and emotional burden of having a chronically sick, prematurely old person in the house was great. Mrs. Hla Oung, offered 10.00 pounds a year towards maintenance but it was not enough. At this point an anonymous group of well-wishers were forced to write to The Buddhist Review in 1916 appealing for money to save Bennett from being placed “in some institution supported by public charity.”59 His asthma attacks were occurring now more than once a day.

Help did come, from overseas as well as Britain. Yet, Bennett’s final years were far from comfortable. The First World War, which killed a generation of young people in the trenches of France, had a profound effect on him, as it did on many sensitive Westerners. It drove him into deep introspection about the human condition, the sustainability of Western culture, and the contribution of Buddhism. There was also the ever present awareness that his health had prevented him from realizing his hopes for Buddhist outreach in Britain. Yet, the very trauma of the war eventually impelled him into writing and speaking again. In the winter of 1917-18, he was persuaded by Clifford Bax to give a series of papers to a private audience in Bax’s studio. These were later published as “The Wisdom of the Aryas, just two months before his death.

Then, on Vesak Day (May) 1918, Bennett gave to The Buddhist Society what Christmas Humphreys called “a ‘fighting speech’ which aroused the listening members to fresh enthusiasm.”60 It marked a return to active work. He opened by reminding his listeners that it was ten years since his mission to Britain, “the first Buddhist Mission which for over ten centuries had been sent forth from any Buddhist country.” He reported with sadness that the parent body of The Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland, the Buddhasasana Samagama, had completely broken up, and he referred to the war as “the opening of an era of well-nigh universal calamity and woe.”61. He went on to tackle the central question of how the “priceless treasure of the Law” could offer solace, strength, and clear vision even when “it appears that all our world is rocking about us to its fall.” The wider content of his talk I will deal with later. What is important here is that Allan Bennett returned to active work in Britain. He seems to have been helped financially by friends in Britain and Sri Lanka. Cassius Pereira refers to Clifford Bax and Dr. C.A. Hewavitarana as patrons.62

According to one account, Bennett moved to London in 1920.63 Although he was incapacitated for weeks at a time, he took over the editorship of The Buddhist Review from D.B. Jayatilaka, who returned to Sri Lanka. He spoke at meetings organized by the Buddhist Society and became actively involved in the Society’s plans. His conviction that Buddhism offered hope for the West remained unshaken, as his first editorial in 1920 made clear:

These facts, we consider, justify us in our conclusion that in the extension of this great Teaching lies not only the solution of the ever-growing religious problems of the West; but even, perhaps, the only possible deliverance of the western civilization from that condition of fundamental instability which now so obviously and increasingly prevails.64

By 1922, however, Allan Bennett was dying. The January 1922 edition of The Buddhist Review was the last that he edited and indeed the last that was published. Before his death he was reported to have lived at 90 Eccles Road, Clapham Junction. His financial situation was grave, but help continued to come from Dr. Hewavitarana and probably Cassius Pereira. He died on 9th March 1923. A Buddhist funeral service was prepared by Francis Payne, a prominent Buddhist and convert from the 1908 mission, who was present when he died. Dr. Hewavitarana cabled money from Sri Lanka to buy a grave in Morden Cemetery in South London. Humphreys wrote that “flowers and incense were placed on the grave by members of the large gathering assembled, and so there passed from human sight a man whom history may some time honour for bringing to England as a living faith the Message of the All-Enlightened One.”65

Travers Christmas Humphreys, QC (15 February 1901 – 13 April 1983) was an English barrister who prosecuted several controversial cases in the 1940s and 1950s, and later became a judge at the Old Bailey. He also wrote a number of works on Mahayana Buddhism and in his day was the best-known British convert to Buddhism. In 1924 he founded what became the London Buddhist Society, which was to have a seminal influence on the growth of the Buddhist tradition in Britain.

-- Christmas Humphreys, by Wikipedia

No gravestone has ever been placed on Allan Bennett’s grave. This could have been due to suspicions which continued to surround his name after his death. For instance, Bennett never completely outlived his reputation as a magician and a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn. The young Buddhist Society was keen to dissociate itself from anything esoteric. Allan Bennett’s involvement as a young man with a movement which was controversial and his early friendship with Aleister Crowley, by then a known occultist, would have been cause enough for suspicion. It is significant that several articles during his lifetime took pains to stress that he was not a man of “mystery”, that he had rejected that part of his past. “It is necessary to say this, since some attempts have been made to surround him with mystery. There is no more mystery attending the Bhikkhu Ananda Metteyya than any other person,” an editorial of The Buddhist Review stated in 1909.66 Clifford Bax said something similar in 1918: “At first glance I realized that he never could have played at being a man of mystery.”67

Ven. Ananda Metteyya rejected the path of “mystery” as a hindrance to the goal. It was not “mystery” and magic which taxed his mind but two quite different aspects of life: the search for truth and the pain within human existence. He brought the sensitivity of the poet and the mind of the scientist to this. Yet, he occasionally shared a conviction that there was a power, an energy, which moved to goo and which could be used by humans on their way to liberation. This could mistakenly have struck some Western Buddhists as touching the theism they had rejected. As for his friendship with Aleister Crowley, it ended as Ananda Metteyya travelled further and further from the path Crowley chose. His influence on Crowley was great but ultimately Crowley chose to reject it.

Another reason for suspicion might have been his illness. Throughout his life, he was reliant on dependency-creating drugs such as cocaine, opium, and morphine, no doubt first prescribed by a doctor, although by the end of his life some of the dangers were known and new remedies were being tried. The consequence, however, could have been times of hallucination, giving the appearance of the “mystery” with which some linked him. The truth is that it was an injustice to a person who, in his writing, communicated the message of the Buddha with a poetic sensitivity and a scientific directness which still speaks to us today.



1. Clifford Bax, “Ananda Metteyya” in The Middle Way, Vol. 43:1, May 1968, p. 23.

2. Ibid., p. 27.

3. The Buddhist, 28th April 1923, p. 6.

4. Dr. Cassius Pereira was a prominent Sri Lankan Buddhist. Together with Ven. Narada, Dr. W.A. de Silva, and Hema Basnayake, in 1921 he founded the Servants of the Buddha, an organization which provided a forum for English-speaking Buddhists to discuss the Dhamma. At the age of 65 he was ordained with the monastic name Kassapa, receiving both novice ordination and higher ordination on the same day. Throughout his life, he was an influential exponent of Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka, stressing its rationality. His father built Maitriya Hall (Lauries Road, Bambalapitiya), which was named after Ananda Metteyya.


It is early Saturday evening and the Galle Road at Bambalapitiya is a comfortable cacophony of weekend activity but a turn into Lauries’ Road, finds the Mettaramaya; an escape from the noisy sights and sounds. The temple this evening is a peaceful hum of activity as a few individuals make their way past the stupa to the back, where stands a chapel- a building one would hardly expect to see in a temple.

If such a sight caused surprise in the mind of the casual observer, it clearly didn’t bother the men and women who removed their shoes at the entrance and stepped inside; a practice that has been taking place for close to a century as they prepared for the weekly meeting of the society of ‘The Servants of the Buddha’.

“In my personal view it goes to real Buddhist philosophy,” explains Mrs. Jayakuru who had joined the society in the early 90s. More of a forum rather than a typical “bana” or sermon, meetings take place every Saturday at 4.30 p.m. “We go through the minutes of the previous session and then meditate for about five minutes,” clarifies Dr. Kosala De Silva, President of the society. A guest speaker either from the clergy and laity conducts the session. For the members, it is comprehensive and allows them to question the Dhamma and share their views and opinions- all in English.

With a history that has witnessed many events such as birth of the country’s independence and two world wars, the walls of the Maitri Hall, as the chapel is known have always provided its visitors with a spiritual escape while offering them the freedom and liberty to examine Buddhism from a layman’s point of view.

Established almost 40 years after the acclaimed publication “The Light of Asia” by Sir Edwin Arnold, KCIE CSI, the study of Buddhism in English built a bridge between the East, the West and Buddhism. With interest in the doctrine spreading across America and Europe over the next few decades, an Englishman -- Allan Bennett was ordained as a Bhikkhu in Ceylon, believed to have been only the second Englishman to take the robes. As Ven. Ananda Metteyya, he had a vision of teaching the Dhamma in English especially in Anglicised schools as Buddhism was not part of the school curriculum at that point.

Having heard Ven. Ananda give a sermon, Dr. Cassius A. Pereira, LMS (Cey), LRCP (Lond) embraced Buddhism. Ordained as Bhikkhu Kassyapa of the Vajiraramaya Temple, he worked diligently toward the spread of the Dhamma and together with Ven. Rambukwelle Siddhartha Thera, Ven Narada Maha Swaminwahanse and a few others formed the Servants of the Buddha Society in 1921, becoming its first president.

Since its inception the society has attracted the clergy and laity, scholars and even those of different faiths.

Over the years little has changed within the society. The medium of communication remains English. In fact the Servants of the Buddha is believed to be one of the only Buddhist societies in Sri Lanka to conduct their meetings exclusively in English. While introducing Buddhism to schools was a primary objective, Dr. De Silva believes that conducting sessions in English may have been done to create a sense of familiarity among English speaking Colombo of the colonial ’20s.

Another, if not the most atypical feature of the society is in the hall itself. The Maitri Hall located at the back of the Mettaramaya with long open doors familiar to a classical church building, has a chapel-like atmosphere, complete with a high ceiling, pews and even an altar. Softly lit, one feels quite at home seated in one of the pews, feet touching the cold cement floor. The building is rustic and simple. A small vestry of sorts adjoins the hall, where two cupboards make up the humble ‘library’ with books dating back to the last century. “The building itself captures attention,” adds a member, and yes, it is in need of repair.

For Dr. De Silva little has changed since he can remember. Although he joined only about three and a half years ago the Servants of the Buddha is a society linked to him from his childhood. “My father used to come for meetings, even from Panadura,” he reminisces. Having attended Dhamma school as a child, his father’s spiritual influence was deeply rooted within young Kosala, who would later on become a keynote speaker at many a meeting, before becoming a member, and more recently the society’s president.

Mrs. Jayakuru joined the society during her late husband‘s period as President. “We have a lot of professionals -- lawyers, doctors, engineers, even naval officers,” she explains, as to the diverse group of people who make their way to the Maitri Hall with a thirst of knowledge and maybe even inner peace.

Retired teacher Badra Yatamagamuwa who has been attending meetings for the past 30 years still doesn’t call herself a member per se. She comes for the opportunity to listen and learn, she says, and some speakers go “straight to the heart”.

The weekly meetings attract around 20 to 25 people, while they do see bigger crowds especially young people coming in on Vesak poya day.

On the last Saturday in July when the Sunday Times dropped in, the meeting was devoted to one and a half hours of meditation. Not everyone was able to remain in full concentration, and some waited till the end to ask questions and discuss their own doubts with Prof. Rajah De Alwis, the guest speaker for the day. All in an atmosphere of calm that seems to characterise the society.

-- A Spiritual Escape, by Pumima Pilapitiya, The Sunday Times

5. Alec Robertson, a prominent exponent of Buddhism, has been linked with the Servants of the Buddha since 1948, since 1970 as its President. He was a close associate of Dr. Cassius Pereira.

6. Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Thera was born in 1896 and entered the Bhikkhu Sangha in 1911, gaining higher ordination in 1916. During his life, he has earned international renown as a scholar and spiritual leader. Still alive and in good health at the time this publication goes to press (1998), he was one of the few people I met during my research having first-hand memories of Ananda Metteyya’s era.

7. The Confessions of Aleister Crowley: An Autohagiography, eds. John Symonds & Kenneth Grant (Penguin (Arkana), Harmondsworth, U.K., 1989), p. 180.

8. Kenneth Grant, The Magical Revival (Frederick Muller Ltd., London, 1972), p. 82n.

9. Confessions, p. 234.

10. The Magical Revival, p. 85.

11. See R.A. Gilbert, The Golden Dawn: Twilight of the Magicians. A Concise history, drawing on new material from privately printed and manuscript sources, of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (The Aquarian Press, Wellingborough, UK, 1983); Ellic Howe, The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: A Documentary History of a Magical Order (The Aquarian Press, Wellingborough, UK, 1972); Kenneth Grant, The Magical Revival.

12. Confessions, p. 178.

13. Ibid., p. 179.

14. Ibid., p. 181.

15. The Magical Revival, p. 82.

16. Ibid., p. 85.

17. See Confessions, p. 180; The Magical Revival, p. 85.

18. Confessions, p. 234.

19. Ibid., pp. 181-82.

20. In the late 1880s, the remedies prescribed by doctors for asthma included cocaine, opium, and morphine. Bennett was heavily dependent on them in Britain. See Confessions, p. 180; James Adam, Asthma and its Radical Treatment (Henry Kimpton, London, 1913), which advises the use of cocaine and, with restrictions, morphine; A.C. Wootton, Chronicles of Pharmacy (MacMillan & Co. Ltd., London, 1910), which affirms the beneficial effects of laudanum, an opium-based drug, in a variety of ailments; John C. Thorowgood, Asthma and Chronic Bronchitis (Bailliere Tindall and Cox, London, 1894), which recommends arsenical cigarettes, cocaine, cannabis, and morphine together with less toxic drugs.

21. The Buddhist, 28th April 1923, p. 6.

22. Confessions, p. 247.

23. Ibid., p. 246.

24. Dr. Cassius A. Pereira, “Why do I renounce the World?” Ceylon Daily News, Vesak Number 2491 (1947), (Colombo, Sri Lanka), p. 67.

25. Confessions, p. 249.

26. See “Why do I renounce the World?”, p. 67.

27. Confessions, p. 237.

28. Ibid., p. 237.

29. Ibid., p. 250.

30. See Buddhism, Vol. 1:4, pp. 677-68, where Ananda Metteyya justifies representation of the first International Freethought Conference because Buddhism is opposed to all supernaturalism; Buddhism (Vol. 1:1), p. 27, where Buddhism is divorced from the esoteric.

31. See The Buddhist, 28th April 1923, p. 6; Confessions, p. 271.

32. Confessions, p. 270.

33. Ibid., p. 271.

34. Ibid., p. 462.

35. Ibid., p. 464.

36. For further information about Rost see Christmas Humphreys Sixty Years of Buddhism in England (1907-1967) (The Buddhist Society, London, 1968).

37. "The Faith of the Future" mentions arbitration instead of warfare; equality between the sexes; humane treatment of criminals.

38. Buddhism: An Illustrated Quarterly Review, Vol. 1:1, pp. 63-64.

39. Ibid. Vol. 1:3, p. 473.

40. Ibid. Vol. 1:3, pp. 503ff.; Vol. 2:1, p. 119.

41. Ibid., Vol. 1:3, p. 515.

42. The Buddhist, 28th April 1923, p. 6.

43. Unpublished letter from Ven. Ananda Metteyya to Dr. Cassius Pereira (Forest Hermitage, Kandy, Sri Lanka).

44. William Peiris, The Western Contribution to Buddhism (Motilal Barnasidass, Delhi, 1973), p. 139.

45. The Buddhist Review, Vol. 9, 1917, p. 184.

46. Humphreys, Sixty Years of Buddhism in England, p. 7. It is unlikely that Ananda Metteyya came to England intending to stay on permanently and that failure sent him back to Burma. More probably, his visit was intended to begin a process that would eventually produce an indigenous monastic Sangha in the West.

47. Ibid., p. 7.

48. Ibid., p. 6.

49. See also Sandra Bell, “British Buddhism and the Negotiation of Tradition,” paper given at a symposium on “The Invention and Re-Invention of Tradition” held at St. Mary’s College, 22-24 September 1994. Bell writes, “Those middle classes and upper class late Victorian Londoners who chose to support the activities of Ananda Metteyya were, despite his British origins, faced with alien forms of behavior to which they had difficulty in adapting.”

50. Christmas Humphreys, “Ananda Metteyya,” in The Middle Way, Vol. 47, 1972, p. 133.

51. The Buddhist Review, Vol. 1, 1909, p. 3

52. Ibid., p. 3.

53. Minute Book, December 3rd, 1909 (The Buddhist Society, London).

54. Ibid., April 4th, 1912.

55. Ibid., November 1st, 1912.

56. Ibid., December 23rd, 1914.

57. The Buddhist, 28th April 1923, p. 6.

58. See Minute Book, April 30th, 1912; March 14th, 1913; December 9ths, 1913 (The Buddhist Society, London).

59. The Buddhist Review, Vol. 8, 1916, pp. 217-19.

60. Humphreys, Sixty Years, p. 14.

61. The Buddhist Review, Vol. 9, p. 141.

62. The Buddhist, 28th April 1923, p. 6

63. Kenneth Mullen, “Ananda Metteyya: Buddhist Pioneer” in The Middle Way, Vol. 64, 1989.

64. The Buddhist Review, Vol. 10, pp. 186-87.

65. Humphreys, Sixty Years, pp. 16-17.

66. The Buddhist Review, Vol. 1, 1909, p. 3.

67. Clifford Bax, “Ananda Metteyya” in The Middle Way, Vol. 43:1, p. 23.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Curuppumullage Jinarājadāsa
by Theosophy Wiki
Accessed: 10/19/19



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C. Jinarājadāsa

Curuppumullage Jinarājadāsa (16 December 1875 – 18 June 1953), was a Sri Lankan scholar, lecturer, and writer who served as the fourth President of the Theosophical Society based in Adyar, Chennai, India from 1945 to 1953. An accomplished linguist, he traveled extensively for fifty years as an international lecturer, speaking in English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese, as well as Sinhalese and Tamil. He was known to his wide circle of friends as "Raja", "Brother Raja", or "CJ".

See also Jinarājadāsa writings.

Early years and education

CJ as a young man

Mr. Jinarājadāsa was born on December 16, 1875 in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) of Sinhalese Buddhist parents in a town about fifteen miles (24 km) south of the capital city, Colombo. The name Curuppumullage indicates a person "Curuppu" living in the house or town of Mullage. The surname Jinarājadāsa can be interpreted in various ways, but is a combination of three words: jina (winner), raja (king), and dāsa (servant).

His association with Theosophy began at the age of thirteen when, as one of the first students of Ananda College, he met C. W. Leadbeater. Brother Raja wrote of that year:

There was a certain day for me in November 1889, when I was thirteen when my feet were "washed in the blood of the heart." That day the Master received me as his chela.[1]

He wrote more of this event in his book Christ and Buddha.

The following year, A. P. Sinnett asked Mr. Leadbeater to return from India to England to tutor his son Denny and George Arundale, Leadbeater brought Raja with him. The three boys were close in age: Raja was born in 1875, Denny in 1877, and George in 1878. Jinarājadāsa met Madame Blavatsky for the first time. For two years, Raja and Leadbeater lived in the Sinnett household, but after that they moved into tiny quarters supported by Leadbeater's work giving English languages to foreigners. Raja attended classes to prepare for university.[2]

On March 14, 1893 he became a member of the Theosophical Society through the London Lodge, and 1894 was admitted into its Inner Group where he "was present at the intimate and informal gatherings of the Group which were held on most Sunday mornings in Mr. Sinnett's library for discussion."[3]

In 1896, Raja was admitted to St John’s College, Cambridge, and four years later took his Degree in the Oriental Languages Tripos. He also studied Law, and was coxswain of the College boat in the rowing team. He then went back to Ceylon where he became Vice-Principal (1900-1901) of Ananda College in Colombo. In 1902 he returned to Europe to study literature and science at the University of Pavia, Italy. In 1904 he went to America, where he began his career as an international lecturer of the Theosophical Society.[4]

Influences on C. Jinarājadāsa

In 1928, Mr. Jinarājadāsa spoke of some major intellectual influences on his life:

There are four great writers of the West who have influenced my thinking very profoundly. One is Richard Wagner. It was his ethical conception of life, linked to his marvellous creations, that made a profound impression on me. Another is Plato. As far as the West is concerned, ever since Plato wrote, wherever there is any kind of philosophical thought which deals with civilization or tries to understand the principles of art, every political writer and every exponent of art has more or less to follow Plato's trail... The third great writer is Dante, whom I consider the greatest poet humanity has yet produced... The supreme value of Dante is that he is utterly unique, so far as I know as always rising with his poetic art to the plane of the Buddhi. Whatever he says has a quality of intuition about it which is not characteristic of many other great poets...

The other writer is Ruskin. I well remember the great revolution which took place in my whole attitude toward life when I began to receive the volumes of Ruskin which Bishop Leadbeater sent to me in 1900. He had always been an admirer of Ruskin and he was brought up in the tradition of looking at Ruskin as someone very great indeed. When I received those volumes, there was that exhilaration which you yourself doubtless experienced when you came across Theosophy. It was a revelation... He emphasized the thought that the laws that should govern human life are not the ordinary laws of supply and demand as stated in the schools but that the primary factor in economic life is the human being, not as a producer but as a spiritual being who has an eternal destiny.... Ruskin refused to acknowledge that theology as such was separate from life, or that political economy was not as necessary to the salvation of the soul as any kind of prayers...[5]

A. P. Warrington with Jinarâjadâsas


In 1916, Mr. Jinarājadāsa married Miss Dorothy M. Graham, an English member who founded the Women's Indian Association with Margaret Cousins.

Theosophical work

During the administration of Annie Besant, Brother Raja served as Vice President of the Society, from 1921 to 1928, during the presidency of Annie Besant. For a few years beginning in 1934, he was Head of The Manor, Mosman, Sydney, Australia.[6]

He was one of the founding members of the Order of the Brothers of Service, along with his wife Dorothy and Fritz Kunz. In 1934 he succeeded C. W. Leadbeater as Outer Head of the Esoteric Section.

Mr Jinarâjadâsa was editor of The Theosophist for three periods of time. Annie Besant turned over that responsibility when she was interned for three months in 1917, and again in 1931-33 during her last illness. He resumed the editorship during his term in office as President of the Society from 1946–53.


Travels as international lecturer
Because of his deep knowledge of Theosophy, his inspiring personality, and his proficiency in English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese, Raja was much in demand as a lecturer. The first speaking tour was in 1904 in the United States of America. He presented lectures at annual conventions of the international Society in 1914, 1917, 1921, and many times afterward.

In 1930, Brother Raja was asked to deliver the Blavatsky Lecture. His topic was "The Personality of H. P. Blavatsky".

This is a partial listing of his lecture tours: TO BE ADDED

Adyar library and archives

During the years 1930-1932 and 1935, Mr. Jinarâjadâsa served as director of the Adyar Library and Research Centre. TO BE EXPANDED

He was highly engaged in organizing the archives of the Society, and in publishing materials found there. TO BE EXPANDED


Following the death of George Arundale,Mr. Jinarâjadâsa ran unopposed for election to the presidency. He took office as President of the Society on February 17, 1946 and served until 1953, when he resigned due to illness. His successor was N. Sri Ram.

According to his official biography:

As President, during the post-war years, Brother Râjâ, as he was affectionately called, was very concerned about Adyar as it was affected by a shortage of workers, military occupation of the ocean frontage and consequent public traffic through the estate. He did his best to free Adyar of all its entanglements and restore it to its earlier serenity, as the centre of Theosophical thought and the symbol of the unity of the Society, and preserving its international character.

In 1949 Jinarâjadâsa founded the School of the Wisdom at Adyar, for the study of Theosophical teachings in depth as given in the textbooks, but primarily because a student knowing these things could with widened vision ‘sit in the centre’ of his own being and ‘enjoy clear day’ in his understanding of the world of men and affairs. The School was also to devote its studies to the thoughts of the great and the affairs of men in the larger sense through historical time. Its yearly sessions attract students from several countries to this day. He tried to make the Headquarters once more a centre for students and gradually reorganized the estate for that purpose. Jinarâjadâsa could always present his thoughts with clear and delicate appreciation of the pictures his words would create in the minds of his readers.[7]

Other accomplishments:

1949 - Led an appeal by scholars to the new nation of India "to accord Sanskrit the honored position which belongs to it" as a foundational source of spiritual and practical wisdom.[8]


Other activities

Brother Raja was fond of the American sport of baseball:

Base Ball originated in America. It was introduced into India by Mr. Jinarajadasa, who took with him on his return from this country a supply of bats, balls, gloves and rule books, and as always his work has taken root. We have a letter from Mr. Felix Layton, the Head Master of the Besant Theosophical School at Adyar, stating that that team has won the Madras Schools' Base Ball Championship. In other respects, also, the school is doing well.[9]


Final letter to Boris de Zirkoff

Final years

Memorial service in Olcott Library

Ashes scattered in Fox River

The strains of his travels took a toll on his health. In a 1946 letter to James Perkins he wryly commented on the hot climate of Adyar, India:

If only Adyar would cool off 20° between day and night we would manage quite well. As to my stay in Bangalore, the one who worked hardest was Elithe [Nisewanger, his secretary], because I gave several lectures and talks and she took them all down. The skin irritation stopped with 10° cooler than Adyar, but by compensation to equalize karmic debits, knees and particularly my left shoulder (I am left handed) got going. However, all these ups and downs are part of the order of the day.[10]

On February 17, 1953, suffering from diabetes and heart disease, Mr. Jinarājadāsa resigned from the presidency of the Society after one term in office. He was the only President who declined to stand for re-election, and in February of that year Nilakanta Sri Ram became his successor.

CJ had committed to a lecture tour of the United States. When he reached the headquarters of the American Section, he became ill. On June 10th he wrote a final letter to his longtime friend Boris de Zirkoff describing his heart attacks. Despite the earnest efforts of Dr. Henry A. Smith, other doctors, and the staff to help him, Mr. Jinarājadāsa passed away on June 18, 1953. A memorial service was held in the library, and all of his ashes were scattered on the Fox River by James S. Perkins, Kathrine Perkins, Helen Zahara, Caroline Tess, and Geoffrey Hodson, according to Brother Raja's specific instructions. A very detailed account of his final days was written by Mr. Perkins.[11]

A few years before his death, he composed an epitaph for himself:

He loved children, the sea,
Beethoven, Wagner’s Ring, the
Hallelujah Chorus, and his
Gospel was Ruskin.[12]


C. Jinarājadāsa was one of the foremost Theosophical writers. A list of his works is in a separate article, Jinarājadāsa writings.

In 1913 he was awarded the Subba Row Medal for his extensive contributions to Theosophical literature.

Articles are indexed in the Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals. Over 1600 articles are listed under the name Jinarājadāsa. Searching under CJ will result in a lengthy list that includes work by Charles Johnston, a Sanskrit scholar who was married to Madame Blavatsky's niece, and who was also known the same initials. Within the results list, the articles by Mr. Jinarājadāsa will include those in the periodicals: The Adyar Bulletin, The American Theosophist, The Australian ES Bulletin, The Herald of the Star, The Messenger, Sishya (The Student)], The Theosophic Messenger, The Theosophist, and World Theosophy. Articles by Charles Johnston appear in Theosophical Quarterly, Theosophy, The Path, and The Irish Theosophist.

Awards and honors

In 1913, Mr. Jinarājadāsa was awarded the Subba Row Medal for his contribution to Theosophical literature. A grove was planted at the Olcott campus with a plaque and stone bench. A Raja Commemorative Fund was established to support travel expenses of lecturers.

Photo gallery

CJ with Ensor and Yarco, Theosophical Messenger, March 1911

CJ in tent in Chicago, summer 1911.

CJ as Fire Guard in World War II London. Image from TSA Archives.

CJ with Sidney Cook, on Olcott campus, 1930s or 1940s.

Additional resources


• "C. Jinarajadasa" by Surendra Narayan. This article was originally published in Quest 93.6 (November-December 2005): 228-229.
• C Jinarajadasa 1875-1953 Memorial Program.


• Jinarajadasa Collection in


• Theosophy UK C Jinarajadasa from the Theosophical Society in Nottingham and Leicester. Audio file on YouTube with photos.
• Occult Commentaries by C. W. Leadbeater, G. S. Arundale & C. Jinarajadasa

Social media

• Curuppumullage Jinarajadasa on Facebook.


1. C. Jinarājadāsa, The "K. H." Letters to C. W. Leadbeater (Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1941), 56.
2. C. Jinarājadāsa, The "K. H." Letters," 68.
3. C. Jinarājadāsa, The "K. H." Letters," 74.
4. "Jinarajadasa, Curuppumullage," The Theosophical Year Book, 1938. Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 189.
5. C. Jinarājadāsa, "Ruskin - A Herald of the New Age," The American Theosophist 34.11 (November, 1946), 245-247. Taken from unrevised notes of a lecture given in 1928.
6. "Jinarajadasa, Curuppumullage," The Theosophical Year Book, 1938. Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 189.
7. "C. Jinarājadāsa (1875–1953)", TS Adyar Web Page. Available at TS Adyar Web page.
8. "To Lovers of Sanskrit," The American Theosophist 38.1 (January, 1050), 23).
9. "Base Ball Championship at Adyar," The American Theosophist 28.5 (May, 1940), 117.
10. C. Jinarājadāsa letter to James S. Perkins, July 30, 1946. James S. Perkins Papers. Records Series 08.06. Theosophical Society in America Archives.
11. James S. Perkins to Dr. P. W. Van den Broek [at The Manor]. August 9, 1953. James S. Perkins Papers. Records Series 08.06. Theosophical Society in America Archives.
12. "C. Jinarājadāsa (1875–1953)," Theosophical Society, Adyar web page.
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