Murashov А. - Theosophy and Philately
Published in "Modern Theosophical Thought", 2020-2 (10)
This article is enlarged version of talk that was givven on Kemerovo Theosophical Conference in October 18, 2020, Russia
Translated from Russian by Natalya Murashova
in Russian: Мурашов А.Г. - Теософия и филателия
Sow the seeds, they will grow somewhere. This very thought has its effect in the case of spreading knowledge of theosophy.
Can postage stamps and envelopes as one of the ways to promote theosophical ideas be that starting point which could become an impetus to follow the way of nurturing the divine seed in a man?
I suppose we could answer this question in the positive on the condition that we can see the images of the things which are connected with the Theosophical Society and theosophical ideas on those stamps and envelops. That is the way to use the visual images to convey various ideas.
Everyone can get a stamp, stick it on the envelope and send a message to the most distant part of the world. Having seen the picture on the stamp the recipient of the letter might get interested in the event or a person depicted on the picture. And this can become a certain point in a search for the reasons of being and life values of a man.
Nowadays the quantity of issued stamps equals to approximately 100 000 copies. You can say that we have a free access to the Internet in many countries of the world, but there are still the places on our planet where its services are inaccessible though post services do their job. Besides every video or any other of the web resources or even a web-site can be removed. But the image of some historical event on a stamp is going to have a prolonged effect.
I would like you to follow my presentation which shows you the stamps and envelopes devoted to the Theosophical Society and its activities.
On picture 1 you can see a stamp showing the head-quarters of TS in Adyar (Chennai). It was issued before 1947 when Indian Independence Movement tried to put the end to the British rule in the country. Perhaps this might one of the first stamps on this topic.
On pic.2 there is a stamp cancelled with the seal of TS in 1936.
In the centenary year of functioning of TS a new stamp came out in India. It was issued on December, 20th in 1975. The centenary convention of the TS in Adyar was held that day. John Coats was the president of TS at this time. He believed firmly that the Society must reach out to the public and cooperate with allied organizations in order to further the cause of brotherhood and human development.
The emblem of TS is seen on the stamp surrounded by three coloured circles (pic.3). And there is the motto of the Society: “There is no religion higher than truth.”
We are all aware of the fact that people from Sri Lanka pay a great respect to H.S. Olcott. In 1967 a coloured stamp was issued in the country to commemorate Olcott’s 60th death anniversary. His contribution towards the revival of Buddhism in Ceylon is one of great significance as also his movement for popular education. The date of his first arrival to the island is seen on the stamp, it is May, 17th 1880, and his last visit to the country dates back to December,8th 1906.
One more stamp showing Colonel Olcott can be seen at pic.6, it was issued on May,17th 1980 to commemorate a centenary jubilee of his arrival to Sri Lanka., he was accompanied by H.P. Blavatsky at that journey that time.
These stamps show that people from Sri Lanka treasure the memory of this prominent theosophist, a close associate of H.P. Blavatsky.
In 1963 India issued a stamp dedicated to Annie Besant, the second International President of the Theosophical Society. She became the most brilliant exponent of Theosophy, both as orator and author. Annie Besant took an active part in Indian Independence Movement, established several schools for children in India and drew women into the movement wherever possible.
The next stamp shows J. Krishnamurti. The stamp was issued in India in 1987. Jiddu Krishnamurti is acknowledged all over the world as one of the most outstanding religious teachers of the modern age. The substantial part of his life is connected with TS and Annie Besant.
On the next picture (pic.9) there is a stamp with the image of George Sydney Arundale who was the third President of The International Theosophical Society from 1934 to 1945. He was a dynamic and inspiring leader, closely associated with Annie Besant in her many-sided work. The stamp was issued in the USA in 1937.
The next stamp on picture 10 is devoted to his wife Rukmini Devi Arundale. She established the International Academy of Arts in 1936 to revive and develop the ancient culture of India.
On the next pic.11 you can see the postcard issued in the USA by the Theosophical Society in America. The picture represents the head-quarters of this Society in Wheaton, Illinois State. The American theosophists have held their meetings here since 1940. There is a unique library there which comprises together the religious, philosophical, and spiritual books of the East and West, emphasizing the Ancient Wisdom tradition. It was founded in 1926 and named after Colonel Henry Steel Olcott.
When the Theosophical Order of Service celebrated its worldwide centenary in 2008, the Kenyan government issued a stamp in recognition of its hundred years of service (pic.12). The TOS Centennial postage stamp was officially launched on November, 17th in 2008 by the Kenyan Minister at a packed event held at the TS premises in Nairobi (pic.13).
The stamp tells about the assistance of the TOS to bring water to communities in the arid and semi-arid parts of Kenya. The TOS donated to put in a borehole, a water pump and a storage tank in one of the villages in 130km east of Nairobi. Shortage of water is a very serious problem in Kenya and it is being solved in different ways.
An envelope with the image of H.P. Blavatsky was issued in Russia in 2011 on the initiative of Siberian Roerich Society to commemorate her 180th birthday (pic.14). You can see this famous portrait of H.P. Blavatsky and a quotation from one of her writings: “I have pledged my word to help people on to Truth while living …”
A stamp depicting a portray of E.P. Blavatsky was issued by the Ukrainian theosophists as a souvenir stamp in 2016 (pic.15). It was devoted to the 185th anniversary of her birthday.
I hope that review of this short selection of stamps helped you find some new information about the TS. Will another postal stamp devoted to H.P. Blavatsky be issued soon? I hope so... Perhaps it may happen in Russia, or Ukraine, or India or in some other country. It is a well-known fact that water never flows under settled stones so we shall take certain steps in this direction.
Philately is only one way to popularize ideas, anyone can find his own way to convey theosophical point of view. This is necessary to unlock our own spiritual potential.