Bishwa Nath Singh
Let us remember one who was born in 1847,in London whose deep involvements ranged from trade unionist and philanthropist, to feminist leader and Fabian socialist.! By 1889, there was scarcely any modern reform in England for which she had not worked, written, spoken or suffered. An orator and writer with inspired temperament, her convictions drew others to the Indian independence cause and it is said that George Bernard Shaw considered her Britain's greatest orator. One who largely responsible for the upbringing of the world renowned philosopher K. Krishnamurti, having started the Home Rule League in India and playing a large part in reviving the country's glorious cultural heritage. During key period in the history of modern India, she had attended the 1914 session of the Indian National Congress and had the honor to preside over it in 1917. She was none else than Aninie Besant .It’s high time that we must remember her very fondly and pay our respectful homage to her great towering personality who will be remembered for ever.
(Photo of Aninie Besant who was philanthropist, to feminist leader and Fabian socialist of repute)
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Bishwa Nath Singh :
Annie Besant was born in Clapham, in London, in United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on October I, 1847. Her father, William Page Wood, was half-Irish and half-English. Her mother, Emily Morris Wood, however, was of pure Irish des...cent. She had very specifically mentioned in her own autobiography that the Irish tongue is music to her ear and the Irish nature dear to her heart .She was a prominent Theosophist, women's rights activist, writer ,thinker, orator and supporter of Irish and Indian self rule. She was married at the age of nineteen to Frank Besant but separated from him over religious differences. Moving to London, she became a prominent speaker for the National Secular Society and writer and a close friend of Charles Bradlaugh. In 1877 they were prosecuted for publishing a book by one who was Birth Control Champion and Compaigner Charles Knowlton. The scandal made them famous and Bradlaugh was elected MP for Northampton in 1880.She got grossly involved with Union organizers including the Bloody Sunday demonstration and the London matchgirls strike of 1888 and a leading speaker for the Fabian Society and the (Marxist) Social Democratic Federation and was elected to the London School Board for Tower Hamlets, topping the poll even though few women were qualified to vote at that time.She had joined the Theosophical Society in May 1889 and became Madame Blavatsky’s devoted pupil and helper. She became a prominent worker in the Society and after the death of Col. Olcott in 1907. In 1877 Annie Besant was arrested for selling birth control pamphlets in London's slums. This helped to liberalize public attitudes though it cost her custody of her daughter. In response, she attained a science degree at London University. In 1888 she led the Match Girls' Strike that opened people's eyes to the cruel, unsafe labor environment of unskilled female factory workers. By then she had converted herself to Theosophy. She became its European, and finally, worldwide head. She was deeply interested firstly in Freemasonry during her early life in India. Her friends, Francesca and George Arundel, who shared her theosophical interests, took her to Paris to be initiated. Annie's sheer strength of character, in conjunction with her personal charisma, was chiefly responsible for the quick uptake of our Order in the U.K. This enthusiasm soon spread to India, Australia, Canada, South Africa and elsewhere around the world. Her explanation of the purpose of Freemasonry was suitably unequivocal: "The International Order of Co-Freemasonry Le Droit Humain is not dogmatic. It works simply searching for the Truth. In Lodges, discussions concerning social and religious questions cannot in any case give more than explanations to members and enable them to do their duties as Freemasons with a better understanding".Her interest in Theosophy grew and her interest in left wing politics waned. She came to India on November 16,1893 to attend the Annual Convention of the Theosophical Society at Adyar in Madras .She traveled to India and in 1898 helped establish the Central Hindu College in India. which later formed the nucleus of the Benares Hindu University In 1902 she established the International Order of Co-Freemasonry in England and over the next few years established lodges in many parts of the British Empire.In 1908 Annie Besant became President of the Theosophical Society and began to steer the society away from Buddhism and towards Hinduism and which position she held till her death on September 21,1933.She also became involved in politics in India, joining the Indian National Congress. When war broke out in Europe in 1914 she helped launch the Home Rule League to campaign for democracy in India and dominion status within the Empire which culminated in her election as President of the India National Congress in late 1917. After the war she continued to campaign for Indian independence until her death in 1933. After making Madras her home, Annie Besant founded a weekly newspaper Commonweal in January 1914. In June the same year she purchased the Madras Standard and renamed it New India, which, thereafter, became her chosen organ for her tempestuous propaganda for India’s freedom. She named this freedom "Home Rule" for India. In August 1917 she was made the President of the Calcutta Session of the Indian National Congress. In 1917 she established the Indian Boy Scouts’ Association and this was united to the International Movement according to Sir Robert Baden Powell’s request in 1921. She was made Honorary Commissioner for India and in 1932 was awarded the Order of the Silver Wolf—the greatest honor that the Scout Movement could offer. In 1917 she started the Women’s Indian Association to which she gave her powerful support. Her health began to give way slowly. She lived most of her final years of her life in India. After campaigning brilliantly for Home Rule, she died on September 20, 1933 at the age of eighty five at Adyar in Madras Presidency, of India .She herself desired as her epitaph only the simple words "She tried to follow Truth".On her passing away, our motherland had lost a most distinguished personality who was known for being accredited Theosophist, Women’s Right Activist, Writer and Orator of repute Though, she had died over seventy seven years ago in Pre-independence era, but the flame of love, devotion ,kindness and truthfulness lit by her are still being kept alive as her legacy by her great followers and admirers spread round the world. Let us join to pay our respectful homage and floral tribute to her whose memories will always remain alive in our heart!
.Anand Prakash Sing:
an idea is a future vision