Annie Besant, founder of the TOS, in her later years

Young Annie Besant

Annie Besant

Let us judge our spirituality by our effect on the world. . . What are we here for, save to help each other, to love each other, to uplift each other?

- "Laws of the Higher Life"


That is what I want you to help me in, to make the world beautiful for others.

- Dr. Besant's last address, Headquarters Hall, December 24, 1931


It is not our words that influence people so much as our lives; our lives if they are unselfish, pure, loving and helpful are the best propaganda of theosophical ideas; for it is no good to talk theosophy unless we live what we talk.

- Dr. Besant's last address


The TOS in the Philippines has produced two posters about Annie Besant, the founder of the TOS. They can be downloaded here.

> Poster-1   24 x 36 inches or 610 x 914 mm  (2.8 Mb)

> Poster-2   24 x 36 inches or 610 x 914 mm  (2.7 Mb)


TOS History

In the Supplement to The Theosophist of February 1908, Annie Besant announced the creation of an organisation whose mission was – and is, more than a hundred years later – ‘to unite all who love in the service of all that suffers'.

A number of members of the T.S., feeling the wish to organise themselves for various lines of service, to actively promote the first object of the Society, I hereby constitute an order, to be called 'THE T.S. ORDER OF SERVICE'.

An early expression of the Order's aims was to:

  1. To minimise the sum of misery in the world;
  2. To forget self in working for others
  3. To eliminate selfishness and substitute love as the rule of the world;
  4. To live to the highest that is within us.

Within a few years, many TOS 'leagues' had sprung up under the Founder's inspiration (thirty-four in 1908 alone): Braille League, Esperanto League, League for Daily Meditation, League for the Abolition of Vivisection, League of Healers, Humane Research League, Prayer League, Poor Children's Clothing League, Education League, Temperance League, Religion and Art League, etc.

AB & match factory girls

Dr. Besant and her fellow Theosophists in fact pursued social reform through a multitude of forward-looking movements: The Order of the Sons and Daughters of India, the movement against child parentage, The Round Table, The Theosophical Education Trust Inc.,The Order of World Peace, Brotherhood of Arts, Workers' Educational Union, Animal and Bird Protection Association, and the Home Rule League, India.

A number of organisations started by TOS workers in England and elsewhere became independent and vigorous nat ional movements. Innumerable schools were started during Dr. Besant's presidency.

Appointed by Lord Baden-Powell to organise the Boy Scout Movement in India, Dr. Besant was awarded the 'Silver Wolf' in 1932 for her service to the movement.

All these movements were linked together in Mrs Besant's mind. As a person and as President, she sought constantly to rally those around her to uplift society.

In her Watchtower notes in The Theosophist of January 1918, Dr. Besant listed six tasks for members of the Theosophical Society. They were to 'penetrate the atmosphere with theosophical ideas, recast education, reform penology, raise labour from drudgery to creative joy, lift the disinherited classes and eliminate the double standard of morality between men and women'.

Members responded with enthusiasm and the work of the TOS steadily expanded during the 1920s and 1930s. Although the TOS is not as widely represented throughout the world as the TS, much work of social significance has been achieved over the decades, particularly in the fields of animal rights, anti- vivisection, theosophical education and parenting, ecology, healing, world peace, prison reform and opposition to capital punishment.

AB & Ghandi