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Sons of India

An organization founded by Annie BESANT in Benares (now Varanasi) on October 1, 1908, with her as its Chief. Its purpose was the “training of men and women into noble citizenships, and of building up the coming generation in true piety and patriotism” (Josephine Ransom, A Short History of The Theosophical Society, TPH Adyar, 1938, p. 378). It was governed by a Supreme Council, the members of which could have a group of advisers or Councillors, called a Consistory. A Councillor could, in turn, choose men (called Knights) who would form a Chapter or Lodge under the guidance of Wardens. The Officers of the order, in addition to Besant, were M. B. Rane, Recorder; G. S. Arundale, Editor of a magazine, The Sons of India; and Laxmi Narayan, Almoner. When papers concerning the order were submitted to Lord Minto, the Viceroy of British India (1905-1910), he approved the idea as “sound” and hoped the principles upon which it was based would prove permanent. The pledge of the Order was as follows:

I promise to treat as Brothers Indians of every religion and every province.

I promise to make Service the dominant Ideal of my life.

And therefore:

To seek the public good before personal advantage;

To protect the helpless, defend the oppressed, teach the ignorant, raise the down-trodden;

To choose some definite life of public usefulness and to labor thereon;

To perform every day at least one Act of Service;

To pursue our ideals by law-abiding methods only;

To be a good citizen of my municipality or district, my province, the Motherland, and the Empire.

To all this I pledge myself, in the presence of the Supreme Lord, to our Chief, our Brotherhood and our Country, that I may be a true Son of India.

The organization had a counterpart for women called Daughters of India which had a similar pledge.

Mrs. Besant traveled all over the country forming Lodges of the Order and securing for it support from prominent Indians. A report of its activities first appeared in the Annual Report of The Theosophical Society in 1908. By 1911, it reported 41 Lodges and 157 officers located mainly in India with one in Burma (now called Myanmar). It started a Night School for the Servants at the Central Hindu College (now called Benares Hindu University) as well as a Day School for poor boys. The organization no longer exists today, but it is interesting to compare the pledge of the Order with the later political movement of non-cooperation with the British Indian Government that resulted, ultimately, in India Independence and its separation from Pakistan.


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