In the late 1890s and early 1900s a number of centers belonging to the Oriental Esoteric Society were established on at least three continents, specifically in the cities of Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Washington DC. Although the total number is not known, twenty-seven were said to be in existence by 1908 when the Oriental Esoteric Center of France (Paris) was established. The Centers were all set up by the General Inspector of the Supreme Council of the Initiates of Thibet, Dr. Alberto de Sarâk, the Count de Das. Sarâk was a controversial figure, a former Theosophist expelled by the President, Henry S. OLCOTT in 1892 (Old Diary Leaves IV 515-16), viewed by some as a confidence man who traveled extensively spreading his version of esotericism. Whatever his failings, he nonetheless attracted a number of notable individuals connected to esotericism to his organization, such as the President of the Oriental Esoteric Center in Paris, F. Charles Barlet; the founder of the Fraternitas Rosicruciana Antiqua and one-time theosophist, Arnoldo Krumm-Heller and the French occultist (and also President of the O.E. Center in Paris), Dr. Gerard Encausse (Papus).
Among the objects of the Oriental Esoteric Society, two are especially significant: (a) to “form a chain of universal fraternity based upon the purest altruism, without hatred of sect, caste or color” and (b) “study the Occult Sciences of the Orient and . . . develop those psychic powers which are in man and his environment.” Two courses of study offered: (1) the exoteric or preparatory for new members and (2) the esoteric for more advanced members. The courses were presented both at the Centers as well as through correspondence. Because many of the members of the various centers were former theosophists or came into contact with Theosophical teachings, it is not surprising that some similarity existed between the two. Dr. Sarâk himself, though antagonistic to the Theosophical Society and Olcott, nevertheless wrote highly of Helena P. Blavatsky giving her sole credit as the person responsible for introducing the “pure teachings of Supreme Occult Science” to the West.
L’Etoile d’Orient. Number l (January 24, 1908). (Official Organ of the Centre Esoterique Oriental de France (Paris).
Olcott, Henry S. Old Diary Leaves: The History of the Theosophical Society. Fourth Series, 1887-92. Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1910 (Third Printing, 1975).
Oriental Esoteric Center of the United States of America, A Corporation, et al. Plaintiffs, vs. Henry N. Stokes, Defendant. Supreme Court of the District of Columbia. Equity No. 31,317.
The Radiant Truth. Number 1 (November 24, 1902). (Official Organ of the Esoteric Cente, Washington).
Santucci, James. “H. N. Stokes and the O.E. Library Critic,” (Theosophical History, I/6 (April 1986): 129-139.
Santucci, James. “H. N. Stokes’ Early Contact with the Theosophical Society.” Theosophical History II / 1 (January 1987): 4-22.
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