Order of the Star in the East
Organization promoting the teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti
as a World Teacher. The Order was developed by Theosophical
president Annie Besant in July 1911, as an international
movement, extending the scope of the Order of the
Rising Sun (founded seven months earlier). The Star in the
East had been founded
‘‘. . .out of the rapidly growing expectation of the near coming
of a great spiritual Teacher, which is visible in many parts
of the world today. In all the great faiths at the present time,
and in practically every race, there are people who are looking
for such a Teacher; and this hope is being expressed quite naturally,
in each case, in the terms appropriate to the religion
and the locality in which it has sprung up. It is the object of the
Order of the Star in the East, so far as is possible, to gather up
and unify this common expectation, wherever and in whatever
form it may exist, and to link it into a single great movement
of preparation for the Great One whom the age awaits.’’
The Order expanded with the assistance of active branches
of the Theosophical Society. A junior Order of the Servants of
the Star was established for members under twenty-one years
of age. Membership in the Theosophical movement peaked in
the late 1920s.
Order Under Attack
Attacks by the Indian newspaper The Hindu, revived the
Hodgson Report scandal of the Society for Psychical Research.
The report alleged fraud by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
and sex scandals involving Charles W. Leadbeater and
young boys in 1906. However, in spite of the attacks, the OSE
survived. In 1911, Krishnamurti was claimed to be ‘‘the chosen
Vehicle of the Lord Maitreya-Bodhisattva-Christ.’’
In October 1912, J. Narayniah, the father of Krishnamurti,
and his brother, started legal proceedings against Besant for
the guardianship of the two boys. Narayniah claimed that because
of Leadbeater’s influence, Besant was unfit to have custody.
The case was heard two years later in Madras, the judge
concluded that charges of sexual immorality against Leadbeater
in relation to Krishnamurti were unfounded. However, he
also ruled that Leadbeater was not a suitable person to associate
with children, Besant should no longer have custody, and the
boys were to become wards of the court. After an appeal court
upheld this decision, Besant appealed to the Privy Council in
England, and in May 1914, the original judgment was reversed.
Meanwhile, Katherine Tingley, head of the American
branch of the Theosophical Society also attacked Leadbeater,
Besant, and the OSE, declaring that ‘‘Krishnamurti is a fine
chap who has been hypnotized by Mrs. Annie Besant, and is
really an unwilling follower.’’
In 1912, American members of the Esoteric Section of the
Theosophical Society (Adyar) formed a school and community
named ‘‘Krotona’’ (‘‘the place of promise’’) in the Hollywood
Hills. Krotona was similar to the community Tingley had developed
at Point Loma (San Diego). The complex included a temple,
vegetarian cafeteria, metaphysical library, and experimental
center. Disciples invented ‘‘stereometry,’’ a threedimensional
geometric alphabet, involving a structure
weighing three tons and using redwood. After an internal conflict
concerning money, the property was sold and the group
relocated to the Ojai Valley, a desert in California. Krishnamurti
moved Besant to Ojai in hopes of reviving the health of
his brother who was suffering from tuberculosis. His brother
did not recover but Krishnamurti made Ojai his American
headquarters.
On January 23, 1927, Besant announced the arrival of the
World Master and that a new utopian colony would be set up
in Ojai. Subscriptions were requested to establish a $200,000
Happy Valley Foundation, covering 465 acres and comprising
temples, an art center, places for worship and meditation, and
a playground for Greek games.
During his world lecture tours, Krishnamurti was favorably
received by his followers. However, in June 1927, he gave a
speech that disturbed believers in the Vehicle of the Great
Teacher. Krishnamurti suggested that Masters and other gurus
were superfluous and there was a more direct route to the truth
within every individual. Meanwhile, the objectives of OSE were
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revised as follows ‘‘1. To draw together all those who believe
in the presence in the world of the World Teacher. ’’2. To work
for Him in all ways for His realization of His ideal for humanity.
‘‘The Order has no dogmas, no creeds or systems of belief. Its
inspiration is the Teacher, its purpose to embody His universal
life.’’
On June 28, 1927, the name of the Order was changed to
the Order of the Star, implying the World Teacher had ‘‘arrived,’’
but on August 1, Krishnamurti gave an address on
‘‘Who brings the truth’’ In this speech, he claimed the Masters
had no objective existence—they were mental images shaped
by belief and imagination. Krishnamurti stated ‘‘What you are
troubling about is whether there is such a person as the World
Teacher who has manifested Himself in the body of a certain
person, Krishnamurti.’’ He believed the truth must be sought
inside each individual rather than relying on an external authority
such as himself. In effect, he renounced the role of
World Teacher as defined by Besant and Leadbeater. The following
day, at the Star Camp at Ommen, The Netherlands, Krishnamurti
reiterated this message.
The Order of the Star was formally suspended in 1929.
However, Krishnamurti continued to teach as an independent
teacher and drew followers throughout his life. Many of his
speeches were transcribed and published as books.
From time to time, the messianic concept of a coming World
Teacher was similar to that of the Lord MaitreyaJesus. The
concept continued to find support from various theosophical
teachers such as Alice A. Bailey and was revived as one theme
within the New Age movement by Bailey student Benjamin
Creme. In 1982, the Order of the Star was revived similar to
its earlier form by a group in Britain.
Sources
Jayakar, Pupul. Krishnamurti A Biography. San Francisco
Harper & Row, 1986.
Lutyens, Mary. Krishnamurti The Years of Awakening. New
York Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1975.
Mills, Joy. 100 Years of Theosophy A History of the Theosophical
Society in America. Wheaton, Ill. Theosophical Publishing
House, 1987.