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Myanmar (Burma), Theosophy in

The earliest lodges in Rangoon were the Shway Daigon, Irrawaddu and Rangoon, all of which were chartered in 1885, their respective presidents were Moong Oon, Norman Duncan and V. Rathna Moodelliar. These soon ceased to operate and in November 21, 1911, another lodge was established, the Buddhist Theosophical Society (TS) in Moulmein. The former lodges were revived and by 1912 there were nine lodges which then qualified them to form a section which was chartered on October 1, 1912. By 1936 there were twelve lodges and 167 members. During World War II theosophical activity virtually ceased, but seven lodges were subsequently revived. During the 1930’s the Section sponsored the Burma Educational Trust which ran schools for boys, girls and adults. The Section also sponsored the Burma Humanitarian League which worked for animal welfare.

Prior to the World War II there was much support for the Theosophical Society because of the preponderance of those of the Buddhist faith who venerated the president-founder Henry Olcott who did so much to revive Buddhism in many parts of the world. Over the years several hundred bhikkus joined the Society. On June 1942 the Japanese army was in occupation of Burma and the Theosophical Section and its schools were closed. After the war seven lodges were reopened, but eventually the government that assumed office was not sympathetic toward the Theosophical Society and theosophical activity again ceased. However, at the time of writing (2002), a more permissive posture on the part of the government has seen the reopening of a lodge in Rangoon.

General Secretaries:

(Note: Records, for reasons explained above, are incomplete, therefore the following list is an approximate one)

Maung Thain Maung, 1912-14 A. Verhage, 1914-19 N. A. Naganathan, 1919-20 A. Verhage, 1920-22 M. Fraser, 1922-24 A. Verhage, 1924-25 U. Saw Hla Pru, 1925-28 N. A. Naganathan, 1928-1934 U San Fla, 1948 U Po Lat, 1960 U Hla Maung, 1966 Dr. Ba Thi, 1968-1970 U Kyaw Sein, 1976

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