The Theosophical Society in America

C. Jinarajadasa

By Surendra Narayan

Originally printed in the NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2005 issue of Quest magazine. 
Citation: Narayan, Surendra. "C. Jinarajadasa." Quest  93.6 (NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2005):228-229.

C. Jinarajadasa (C. J.) was the fourth international president of the Theosophical Society from 1945 to 1953. He was born and raised in Sri Lanka until he came into contact with his brother from a past life (said by some to be Bishop C. W. Leadbeater), who took him away from Sri Lanka to guide and help him to grow spiritually and become a dedicated worker for the Theosophical Society. As many know, the TS was founded by Colonel H. S. Olcott and H. P. Blavatsky, but the inner founders were two Masters of the Wisdom, with one of whom, as C. Jinarajadasa mentions, he had bonds of love and gratitude that extended from past lives and whom he regarded as an incarnation of love and power.

Since my parents were members of the Theosophical Society, I invariably accompanied them as a child and later in my college years to the annual conventions of the Theosophical Society at Adyar and Varanasi. There I used to observe and respectfully admire C. J. as a charming leader of the Society. He once came to north India on a lecture tour and wanted a young theosophist who knew Hindi (the language of that area) to accompany him. My eldest brother volunteered and, to his great delight, was chosen by C. J. for that glorious job. Thereafter, when C. J. visited our hometown, he readily accepted my father's invitation to come to our home for lunch. I felt thrilled to be so near him, for he was to me an embodiment of grace and goodwill. He seemed to radiate uplifting currents of bliss and benediction.

C. J. was a messenger of love and beauty and carried that message all his life through his writings and lecture tours around the world. He was a rich linguist and, through his fluency in Spanish and Portuguese, greatly expanded theosophical work in South and Central America. It is deeply touching to see a beautiful Theosophical Retreat Center in the countryside of Brazil named after C. J. (or Raja, as he was affectionately called).

In an attractive little booklet that he wrote for children in 1908 titled Christ and Buddha, C. Jinarajadasa mentions that "Thirty five years ago, Little Flower, two Great ones, the Right Hand and the Left Hand of Lord Maitreya, founded this, our Society. Then did the Lord Buddha give that glorious promise, that so long as three should remain in the Society loyal to its work, His Blessings would rest upon it." He then touchingly adds, "If it should ever come to three only to remain loyal, may you and I be two of them, Little Flower."

C. J. loved all life in all forms. He was always eager to help where help was needed. In this same little booklet C. J. mentions noticing a cat on a cold winter morning in London, starving and evidently left to fend for herself by some family that had moved away. At that time he was living in a room shared with another person, but seeing her miserable situation, he took her in and "she became the third member of our little manage." How much care and love he poured on her can be perceived in his account

Sometimes we would stay in our own grounds and there play. She would rush up to me and stop some ten feet off, with flashing eyes and swishing tail, and I would rush to catch her and just before I got to her she would give me a slip and dodge to one side. She would scramble up a tree and when I went under it she would jump on my shoulders and run off again in great glee . . .When I was out late, which happened to be often, whatever time I came in, I would find her waiting sphinx like, on a corner of the table, facing the door; then she would stand up against me, purring so loud.

After living with him for ten years, the cat died as a result of an operation for a tumor, and C. J. adds: "When she died, I felt that I had performed a task given to me, well and truly . . . I felt and feel that if in all other ways this life should be written down a failure by the Lords of Karma, in one thing I have succeeded—I have loyally and lovingly served one little soul."

C. J.'s love for all life was reflected in other ways too—teaching, guiding, and inspiring other people, particularly the young, to grow into better human beings—beings who are not selfish and self centered but who try to understand their own deeper spiritual nature and live by it. One can discover this connection in his booklet I Promise. Written for young disciples, it asks them to make four promises every day: to show bright looks, to speak brave words, to think joyous thoughts, and to do knightly deeds. "You must be like a window through which the light of the sun shines," is how he refers to bright looks. And "brave words are kind, and they are beautiful, and they are true." Joyous thoughts have, according to C. J., three qualities: purity, peace, and power. Referring back to the days of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table of sixth-century England, he describes knightly deeds as "deeds of protection, deeds which help people to abolish in themselves and in others laziness, cowardice, cruelty and ugliness." The booklet ends with the following inspiring "Song of the Sword and Shield":

I am the Sword, I defend the weak. In my Master's hand I shall not break, I am the Shield. To each in the strife Who behind me fights, I breathe new life. I am the Heart. I give asylum and understanding to all who come. I am the Soul. Mine the Sword and Shield. For men my brothers ever to wield.

In his approach to life, which C. J. said should be an expression of the pine spark within, love and beauty went together. Immensity of heart and perception of the pine principle that permeates all life reflect both love and beauty. And that beauty, he pointed out, was impressed upon even the physical forms of nature. In his book First Principles of Theosophy, one finds a chapter entitled "Nature's Message of Beauty" in which he mentions that "as the Logos builds, He builds in beauty, and all nature is His handiwork" and then adds "while the essential attribute of nature is beauty, yet that beauty has a framework of geometry. The old maxim of the Stoics 'God geometrizes' is full of truth as science delves into nature's mysteries."

Another source of inspiration is his book entitled The New Humanity of Intuition. Tracing evolution at the nonphysical level, C. J. begins with passion or emotion, proceeds to the mind which is still dualistic—you and me, or me and mine—and then to the next stage of consciousness, which begins to reflect itself in some as intuition. Intuition, he says, perceives unity and not pisiveness and proclaims the joy of loving and serving all without any distinction. The best definition of intuition, according to him, is the Christ principle. A human being with intuition "sees a unity of all that lives, a totality which is throbbing with life . . . always revealing new tenderness and new beauty." C. J. states that it is well known that women are more intuitive than men and lightheartedly refers to the age old wisdom in a Spanish proverb: "woman's advice is senseless as a rule; dare to reject it and be a great fool."

Yet C. J. gives a glimpse of a future in which all human beings would be more intuitive, in a later booklet entitled The War and After:

The demarcations which separate mankind into man and woman; into white or brown or yellow or black; into upper classes or lower classes; into Christians or Hindus or Buddhists, into Hebrews or Arabs . . . all these lines of pision are as the ridges which children build on the sands of the sea shore in their play; when the tide comes in, they vanish.

During one of C. J.'s lecture tours in America in 1953, he was taken ill. He passed over after a brief spell and was cremated near the campus of the Theosophical Society in America at Wheaton. The hallowed spot where his ashes are scattered can be found on the grounds of Wheaton.

In addition to being a linguist, an international lecturer, and a beacon for the TS and many young people, C. J. was also a poet. So I would like to end with one of his beautiful poems, which truly delineates his outlook on life:

Word that is true and voice that is kind, 

Thought that is just from a selfless mind; 

Help that is swift and hurt that is spared, 

Grief that is hid and joy that is shared. 

These be the flowers that I cull this day, 

Smiling at eve in thy hands to lay.


Surendra Narayan was the international vice-president of the Theosophical Society from 1980 to 1995. A popular theosophical lecturer throughout the world, Mr. Narayan is also author of various writings, including Life is for Living published by the Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar in 2001.