The Theosophical Society in Myanmar


The earliest lodges in Rangoon (Yangon) were the Shwe Dagon Lodge, Irrawaddy Lodge and Rangoon Lodge (Olcott Lodge), all of which were chartered in 1885, their respective presidents were Moong Oon, Norman Duncanand, and V. Rathna Moodelliar. In 1902, these three lodges were integrated and registered as The Rangoon Theosophical Society under Act XXI of 1860 as a Literary, Scientific and Charitable Society. The Lotus Lodge was also established in Mandalay in the same year. These soon ceased to operate and in November 21, 1911, the 2nd International President, Dr. Annie Besant, accompanied by Krishnamurti with a large party, paid a visit to Myanmar (Burma) and the new lodges were established at Pyinmana, Hinthada and Bago including the Buddha Gosa Lodge in Moulmein (Maw La Myaing). Then all the former lodges were revived and by 1912 there were nine lodges which then qualified to form a section which was chartered on October 1, 1912. By 1936 there were twelve lodges and 167 members. During World War II theosophical activity virtually ceased, but seven lodges were subsequently revived. During the 1930’s the Section sponsored the Burma Educational Trust which ran schools for boys, girls and adults. The Section also sponsored the Burma Humanitarian League which worked for animal welfare.


Prior to World War II there was much support for the Theosophical Society because of the preponderance of those of the Buddhist faith who venerated the president-founder Henry Olcott who did so much to revive Buddhism in many parts of the world. Over the years several hundred Bhikkus joined the Society. In June 1942, the Japanese army was in occupation of Burma and the Theosophical Section and its schools were closed. After the war, seven lodges were reopened but eventually the government that assumed office was not sympathetic towards the Theosophical Society and theosophical activity again ceased. However, some inner core members of the society tried to revive the activities with a small nucleus of brotherhood at the only lodge left - Olcott Lodge, Yangon Theosophical Society. They gathered every weekend to meditate, conduct group studies and celebrate 5 major ceremonies in a low profile manner under many limitations. On the other hand, the rate of intellectual and spiritual evolution of the country was very slow because of vicious circles of poverty in general. Also, as the theosophical doctrines were far beyond our local languages, even the intellectual elite and most of the mediocre could not overcome their traditional prejudices and dogmas. Therefore, the only lodge in Myanmar nearly disappeared during that period. Fortunately, in 2010, the great changes of government policy waved its wand to activate the dying theosophical movement. There was a revival of the organization’s executive committee and the Esoteric Section was re-established. Weekend meditation and group study sessions resumed and classical and modern theosophical literature was translated  into colloquial Myanmar. The Yangon Theosophical Society Olcott Lodge is currently opening its way to consolidate with international TS organizations. 


General Secretaries:

(Note: Records, for reasons, explained above are incomplete, therefore the following list is an approximate one)


MaungThain Maung, 1912-14

A. Verhage, 1914-19

N. A. Naganathan, 1919-20

A. Verhage, 1920-22

M. Fraser, 1922-24

A. Verhage, 1924-25

U. Saw Hla Pru, 1925-28

N. A. Naganathan, 1928-1934

N. A. Naganathan, 1946 – 1947

U San Hla, 1948

U Po Lat, 1948 – 1952

Mr. C. R. N. Swami, 1953 – 1954

U Po Lat, (1955 – 1961)

U HlaMaung, (1962 – 1967)

Dr. Ba Thi, (1968 – 1971)

U Than Kyaing (1972 – 1974)

U Kyaw Sein, 1975 – 1976

U Aung, 1977 – 1981

U Soe Tint Aung, 1982 – 1985

U Chit Swe, 1986 – 1989

U Tin Nwe, 1990 – 2006

U Htay Myint, 2006 – to date


Compiled by Htay Myint


Address:      Yangon Theosophical Society, Olcott Lodge

                    102-104, 49th Street
                    Pazundaung Township


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