Annie Wood Besant
2nd President of the Society
Annie Wood Besant

(October 1, 1847 – September 20, 1933) A prominent Theosophist, women's rights activist, writer and
orator. After becoming a Member of the Theosophical Society she went to India for the first time (in 1893).

    Thereafter she devoted much of her energy not only to the Theosophical Society, but also to India's
    freedom and progress.  Many of her books are published and distributed by Quest Books.

Together with Charles Webster Leadbeater she investigated the universe, matter and the history of mankind
through clairvoyance. She was elected president of the Theosophical Society in 1907 upon the death of the
previous President,  Henry Steel Olcott.
Colonel Henry Steel Olcott
A Founder of the Theosophical Society
Colonel Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907), A  Founder and First President of the
Theosophical Society,  is well-known as the first prominent person of Western descent
to make a formal conversion to Buddhism. His subsequent actions as President of the
Theosophical Society helped Buddhism into a new renaissance. He is still honoured in
Sri Lanka for these efforts.

Olcott had grown up on his father's New Jersey farm. He was the Agricultural Editor of
the New York Tribune (1858–60), and sometimes submitted newspapers articles on
various other subjects.  After his service in the Civil War, he was admitted to the Bar in
New York City as a Lawyer.  With the rank of Colonel, he was Special Commissioner in
the U.S. War and Navy Departments (1863–66). He also published a genealogy of his
family that traced him back to Thomas Olcott, one of the Founders of Hartford,
Connecticut in 1636.

    Some of his newspaper articles covered the Spiritualist Movement. In 1874 while on location, writing a
    series of articles on the seances of the Eddy brothers of Chittenden, Vermont where he met Helena
    Blavatsky while  visiting the Eddy farm.

In September of 1875, Henry, Helena and others, notably William Quan Judge formed the Theosophical
Society. In December 1878, they moved the Headquarters of the Society to India, where it later was
established at Adyar. Olcott acted as adviser to the Committee....appointed to design a Buddhist flag.   
Blavatsky eventually went to live in London where she remained until her passing, but Henry stayed in India
and pursueing the work of the Society. The Theosophical Society built several Buddhist schools in Sri Lanka,
most notably Ananda College, Nalanda College, Dharmaraja College and Visakha Vidyalaya. After his death, the
Leadership of the Society evolved onto the shoulders of Blavatsky's protege Annie Besant.

Olcott Road, a major street in Colombo, has been named after him. A statue of him has been built in Maradana.
He is still fondly remembered by many Sri Lankans and especially the students of these schools who have
gone on to become Prime Ministers and industry leaders of the country.
There is no religion higher than Truth.

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