V. Theosophical Society International Convention Lectures (1894-1931)

Honoring the anniversary of the Theosophical Society, offered yearly in December at various locations in India, and published in book form the following year. Annie Besant was the preferred speaker. Each series examines a single theosophical question from a variety of perspectives, often building on the subject of the previous year. These lectures are the backbone of Besant’s teaching, demonstrating her evolution as a theosophist and social thinker.

[Separate lecture titles listed, with dates and locations, when available. Year of publication reflects first edition, except as noted. TPS indicates Theosophical Publishing Society: London; Benares (now Varanasi), India; and/or New York. TPH indicates Theosophical Publishing House (sometimes listed as Theosophist Office): Adyar, Madras (now Chennai), India. Other publishers as noted. Many of these books have gone through numerous editions. A few are still in print. Some are available online.]

1894 The Building of the Kosmos and Other Lectures. 1) The Building of the Cosmos, pt. I: Sound ; 2) The Building of the Cosmos, pt. II: Fire; 3) Yoga [reprinted in 1935 as part I of Adyar Library Pamphlet Series, nos. 201-202]; 4) Symbolism. December 27-30, 1893: 18th Annual Convention of the Theosophical Society, Adyar, Madras, India. TPS.

1895 The Self and Its Sheaths. 1) The Self and Its Sheaths; 2) The Body of Action; 3) The Body of Feeling; 4) The Object of the Sheaths. December 25-28, 1894: 19th Annual Convention, Adyar. Theosophist Office (TPH).

1896 The Path of Discipleship. 1) First Steps; 2) Qualifications for Discipleship; 3) The Life of the Disciple; 4) The Future Progress of Humanity. December 27-30, 1895: 20th Annual Convention, Adyar. Theosophist Office (TPH).

1897 Four Great Religions. 1) Hinduism; 2) Zoroastrianism; 3) Buddhism; 4) Christianity. December 1896: 21st Annual Convention, Adyar. TPS. [Also published as separate pamphlets in later decades; collected in 1966 Seven Great Religions.]

1899 Evolution of Life and Form. 1) Ancient and Modern Science. 2) Functions of the Gods. 3) Evolution of Life. 4) Evolution of Form. December 1898: 23rd Annual Convention, Adyar. Theosophist Office (TPH). [Link is to the 2nd ed. of 1901.]

1900 Avataras. 1) What is an Avatara?; 2) The Source of and Need for Avataras; 3) Some Special Avataras; 4) Shri Krishna. December 1899: 24th Annual Convention, Adyar. TPS.

1901 Ancient Ideals in Modern Life. 1) The Four Ashramas; 2) Temples, Priests, and Worship; 3) The Caste System; 4) Womanhood. December 1900: 25th Annual Convention, Benares, India. TPS.

1902 The Religious Problem in India. 1) Islam; 2) Jainism; 3) Sikhism; 4) Theosophy. December 1901: 26th Annual Convention, Adyar. TPS. [Also published as separate pamphlets in later decades; collected in 1966 Seven Great Religions.]

1904 The Pedigree of Man. 1) The Spiritual Pedigree; 2) The Physical Pedigree; 3) The Intellectual Pedigree; 4) The Human Races. December 1903: 28th Annual Convention, Adyar. TPS. [The 2nd ed. of 1908 includes an appendix: Notes on The Pedigree of Man by A. Schwarz, with foldout charts.]

1905 Theosophy in Relation to Human Life. 1) Theosophy in Relation to Religion; 2) Theosophy in Relation to Sociology; 3) Theosophy in Relation to Politics; 4) Theosophy in Relation to Science. December 1904: 29th Annual Convention, Benares. TPS.

1906 Hints on the Study of the Bhagavad-Gita. 1) The Great Unveiling; 2) As Yoga Shastra; 3) Methods of Yoga--Bhakti; 4) Discrimination and Sacrifice. December 1905: 30th Annual Convention, Adyar. TPS. [Link is to the 3rd ed. of 1925.]

1907 The Wisdom of the Upanishads. 1) Brahman Is All; 2) Ishvara; 3) Jivatmas; 4) The Wheel of Births and Deaths. December 1906: 31st Annual Convention, Adyar. TPS.

1908 An Introduction to Yoga. 1) The Nature of Yoga; 2) Schools of Thought; 3) Yoga as Science; 4) Yoga as Practice. December 27-30, 1907: 32nd Annual Convention, Benares. TPS.

[1908 The Opening Cycle. Lecture of December 30, 1908: 32nd Annual Convention: Adyar. Unpublished. [Actual convention lecture series by Lilian Edger: Gleanings from Light on the Path.]

[1909 Two lectures: 1) Mysticism and Occultism [unpublished]; 2) The Work of the Theosophical Society in India [published in 1909 as Adyar Popular Lectures Pamphlet Series, no. 8; collected in 1917 The Birth of New India]. December 1909: 33rd Annual Convention, Benares. [Actual convention lecture series by Bhagavan Das: The Laws of Manu in Relation to Theosophy.]

[1910 Two Lectures: 1) The Opening of the New Cycle (December 1910), from Theosophist (April-May 1911) [also published as Adyar Popular Lectures Pamphlet Series, no. 16; 2) The White Lodge and Its Messengers (January 1, 1911), from Theosophist (June 1911) [also published as Adyar Popular Lectures Pamphlet Series, no. 17; reprinted in 1931 as Adyar Library Pamphlet Series, no. 149]. 35th Annual Convention, Adyar. [Actual convention lecture series by George S. Arundale: The Growth of National Consciousness in the Light of Theosophy.]

1912 The Ideals of Theosophy. 1) Introduction; Brotherhood Applied to Government; 2) Brotherhood in Education and Criminology; 3) Tolerance and Knowledge; 4) The Perfect Man. December 27-30, 1911: 36th Annual Convention, Benares. Theosophist Office (TPH).

1913 Theosophy and the Theosophical Society. 1) Theosophy or Paravidya; 2) Theosophy: The Open Road to the Masters; 3) Theosophy: The Root of All Religions; 4) The Theosophical Society: Its Meaning, Purpose, and Functions. December 27-30, 1912: 37th Annual Convention, Adyar. TPH.

[1913 Indian Social Reform. 1) The Past of the Caste System. 2) The Present of the Caste System; 3) The Place of Theosophy in India (Adyar Bulletin, March-April, 1913); 4) United India. December, 1913: 38th Annual Convention, Benares. Lectures 1, 2, and 4 unpublished.]

1916 Theosophy and Life’s Deeper Problems. 1) God; 2) Man; 3) Right and Wrong; 4) Brotherhood. December 1915: 40th Annual Convention, Bombay, India. TPH.

1917 Duties of the Theosophist. 1) The Duty of the Theosophist to Religion; 2) The Duty of the Theosophist to Society; 3) The Duty of the Theosophist to his Nation and Humanity. December 1916. 41st Annual Convention, Lucknow, India. TPH.

1919 Problems of Reconstruction. 1) Religious Reconstruction; 2) Social Reconstruction; 3) Political Reconstruction; 4) Educational Reconstruction. December 1918: 43rd Annual Convention, Delhi, India. TPH.

[1919 The Duty of the Theosophical Society. December 1919: 44th Annual Convention, Benares. Unpublished.]

1921 The Great Plan. 1) Introductory; 2) Evolution of Our Solar System, According to Religion, Science, and the Akashic Records; 3) A Solar System Evolving: Chains and Rounds, Manus and Bodhisattvas; 4) Conclusion. December 1920: 45th Annual Convention, Adyar. TPH.

1922 Theosophy and World Problems. 1) Theosophy and World Problems. [Remaining lectures by C. Jinarajadasa, J. Krishnamurti, and George S. Arundale]. December 1921: 46th Annual Convention, Benares. TPH.

1923 The Real and the Unreal. 1) Your World and Ours, pt. I; 2) Your World and Ours, pt. II. [Remaining lectures by George S. Arundale and C. Jinarajadasa.] December 1922: 47th Annual Convention, Benares. TPH.

[1923 Theosophy the Interpreter. 1) Theosophy as the Interpreter of Religion. [Remaining lectures by  C. Jinarajadasa, and others]. December 1923: 48th Annual Convention, Benares. Unpublished.]

1925 Theosophy as the Basic Unity of National Life. 1) The Real and the Unreal in a Nation’s Life [also published as pamphlet]. [Remaining lectures by J. Krishnamurti, Lady Emily Lutyens, and C. Jinarajadasa.] December 1924: 49th Annual Convention, Bombay, India. TPH.

1926 The Three World Movements: The World Religion; the World University; the World Government, by the Restoration of the Mysteries. 1) The Basic Truths of the World Religions; 2) The Activities of the Coming Half-Century. [Remaining lectures by C. Jinarajadasa, C. W. Leadbeater, J. Krishnamurti, and others.] December 1925: 50th Annual Convention, Adyar. TPH.

[1928 The New Civilisation. 1) The Work of the Manu. [Remaining lectures by C. W. Leadbeater, George S. Arundale, Srimat Rukmini Devi, C. Jinarajadasa.] December 1927: 52nd Annual Convention, Adyar. Unpublished.]

1930 Theosophy, Past and Future. 1) The Past and Future of the Theosophical Society. [Remaining lectures by C. Jinarajadasa, C. W. Leadbeater, and others.]  December 1929: 54th Annual Convention, Adyar. Besant’s lecture appeared in Adyar Theosophist (February 1930). TPH.

1931 The Future of the Theosophical Society. 1) The Future of the Theosophical Society. [Remaining lectures by C. Jinarajadasa, Ernest Wood, and others]. December 1930: 55th Annual Convention, Benares. TPH. [Besant’s lecture also appears as Adyar Library Pamphlet Series, no. 151.]