In 1909, noted Theosophist (and alleged pedophile) Charles Webster Leadbeater discovered the teenager Krishnamurti on the banks of the Adyar River in a wealthy Madras suburb. Convinced that here was the future ‘world teacher’—a vehicle for the messiah, in Theosophist lore—Leadbeater’s colleague Annie Besant became Krishnamurti’s guardian.Theosophy is a form of esoteric thought that seeks to understand human-divine connections through a mystical synthesis between ideas of Eastern and Western spiritualism. Besant became head of the Theosophical Society in Madras, British India and created the Order of the Star of the East (1911-1927) to prepare the world for Krishnamurti’s future teachings.
Lydia Walker is a doctoral student in the Department of History, Harvard University. She works on national separatist movements in South Asia and Southern Africa.