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Costa Rica, Theosophy in

After approximately a decade of studying theosophy in the house of Tomás Povedano y de Arcos, an artist of Spanish origin and member of the Theosophical Society (TS) in Spain, a group of people interested in becoming members of the Theosophical Society formally bonded together on March 27, 1904, which, a few months later, became the first Theosophical Lodge, the “Virya Lodge of Costa Rica,” chartered on June 1, 1904. Its founders were Carolina de Povedano, Cinta P. de Field, Mercedes Montalto, Walter J. Field, Francisco Conejo G., José Monturiol, Pedro Diego Povedano, Tomás Povedano and Federico Gólcher.

The foundation of the Virya Lodge in 1904 makes Costa Rica one of the first countries in the American continent to open its doors to the Theosophical Society and to have a “Center” (as the headquarters in San José were then called by the founders) to use in their work.

In the beginning, this lodge was under the administration of the South-American Section, with its headquarters in Argentina. Later on, in 1905, it became part of the Cuban Section.

As early as 1903, Henry Steel OLCOTT, President of the Theosophical Society, during his visit to Havana, Cuba, had expressed his desire that the Lodge in Costa Rica, as well as any other Lodge from any other Spanish-speaking country in the vicinity of the Gulf of Mexico, become part of a future Section in Cuba. This Section was established on June 4, 1905, during the “First Annual Convention of the Cuban Section,” after the inclusion of Virya Lodge, which completed the minimum number needed to form a section.

In 1927 a “Presidential Agency” for Costa Rica was authorized, which would include Central America and Colombia. This led to the formation of the Central American Section in 1929, which included the lodges from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Since 1977, the administrative organization for Costa Rica again reverted back to a Presidential Agency, which included the following lodges: Virya (1904), Shakti (1938) and Dharma (1974), as well as the Rasur Study Group (2000). The lodges have their meetings in the headquarters, in San José, and the Study Group in Cartago.

Other Lodges which had been founded in Costa Rica were the Dharana Lodge, in San José, on February 14, 1910; the Sirio Lodge, in Alajuela; the Estrella de Oriente Lodge, in San Ramón (Alajuela); and more recently (1974) the Sadhana Lodge, in Heredia, and the KH Lodge, in Alajuela. But for different reasons, all of them eventually discontinued.

The Virya Lodge, whose Constituent Charter was authorized and signed by the first President of the Theosophical Society, Col. Henry Steel Olcott, began its work on propaganda and its meetings with great difficulties and amidst a hostile environment created and sustained by the Catholic clergy. However, in spite of this, it has kept the Theosophical flag up in Costa Rica, and is still functioning today. The life and thoughts of many of its members have had a great influence on the fields of education, arts and politics in Costa Rica.

The Shakti Lodge was founded on October 3, 1938, initially as a Lodge for young people, as suggested by Dr. C. JINARĀJADĀSA, then International President of the Theosophical Society. Some of its members promoted the study of other spiritual currents in Costa Rica, like the Baha’i faith and Zen Buddhism; for many years there were activities of The Round Table and the St. Michel Center, but which ceased eventually. Every year a Wesak Day Celebration ceremony was held.

The Dharma Lodge was founded on March 24, 1974, after numerous interested people participated in the Introductory Courses of Theosophy and preferred to stay together as a new Lodge.

The Rasur Study Group has been actively working in Cartago city since year 2000.

Publications. For many years the Virya Magazine was published as a means of disseminating theosophical teachings, as well as topics related to philosophy and current thought. Initially it was a publication of the TS in Costa Rica, and later of the Central-American Section. After it ceased publication, the Central-American Section’s Newsletter took its place for a few years. Currently, the Upasika Newsletter is published every three months.

Group for Young People. This was created by young members, especially those from Virya and Shakti Lodges, and functioned between 1970 and 1974.

Introductory Course. This course has been regularly conducted since 1972, given twice a year, and each consisting of 16 lessons, one hour long, once per week.

Summer School. For the last twenty years the Summer School has been organized once per year, between March and April, during the Holy Week (Easter) holidays.

Other courses and activities. The lodges regularly organize courses and workshops on theosophical topics with emphasis on practice and self-transformation (such as on The Secret Doctrine, The Voice of the Silence, At the Feet of the Masters, and Meditation). Special activities for members include a weekly Healing Service, Meditation for Peace and a study of the Mahatma Letters.

In the past, the TS in Costa Rica has helped in the activities of other spiritual movements, such as the Liberal Catholic Church (which ceased activities many years ago, and whose Bishop was the Bro. José Basileo Acuña who was once Director of the School of Wisdom in Adyar), Freemasonry (founded by Bro. Acuña in 1919), and the Order of the Star which was later dissolved by J. Krishnamurti. It has also contributed to the reactivation of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which is still active, and with the creation of the University for Peace.

In the first days of the Theosophical Society in Costa Rica, a “School of Arts and Crafts” was founded and was active for some time. It was meant to be a means for poor children and young people who could not pay their studies to learn a trade, and the teachers (TS members and sympathizers) voluntarily donated their work. Also, outstanding women theosophists contributed greatly on the fight for the right of women to vote and for the improvement of the condition of women.