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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Order of The Brothers of Service, The

A subsidiary organization of the Theosophical Society (TS) formed on April 7, 1917, for the purpose of preparing a group of committed men and women to help the work of the Theosophical Society. The membership were classified as Brothers, Novices, Probationers, Lay Brothers and Associates. The Order was headed by a Brother Server, then held by Annie Besant. The secretary was C. JINARĀJADĀSA, while the Treasurer was Bahmanji P. WADIA.

A Brother of the Order was one who had taken the vows of renunciation, obedience and service, and had agreed to transfer all his properties to the Order. Lay Brothers donated one-tenth of what they earned, while Associates gave voluntary donations. The declared objectives of the Order were as follows:

1. To work in the cause of educational, social, political and religious reform;

2. To help in the preparation for the near coming of the great World-Teacher, and to spread the teachings through precept and example during His presence in our midst and after His departure;

3. To spread the teachings given to the world through the Theosophical Society, and to advocate, both by precept and example, the practice of such teachings in daily life;

4. To prepare certain of its members, suited therefor by temperament, capacity and opportunity, for a specially ordered life of Renunciation, Obedience and Service;

5. To do all such things as are incidental or conducive to the attainment of the above objects or any of them.

In its first year it had 17 brothers, 2 novices, 36 probationers, 44 lay brothers, and 2 associates. Thirteen of the Brothers offered their services to the educational work in India, 2 to theosophical work, one to Star work, and 2 to social organizations.

The pledge of a Brother was:

“I pledge myself to seek no gain and no advancement in worldly-circumstance while I am a member of the Order.
“I pledge myself not to accept money gifts for my own personal use.
“I pledge myself to live a life of renunciation, obedience and service.”

As of 1920, the order consisted of 19 Brothers, 5 Novices, 61 Probationers, 71 Lay Brothers, and 30 Associates. By 1930, however, the Order suffered financial difficulties due to the diminishing of contributions from Lay Brothers and Associates. This became a heavy drain to Annie Besant who supplied the deficit year by year. Thus the Order was restructured such that the Brothers no longer received allowances, and all the grades of the Order — Brothers, Novices and Lay Brothers — were absolved from their pledges. No new members were afterwards admitted. While it was not dissolved, the Order virtually became dormant.

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