The year 1891 is to mark an era in the Theosophical Society. The General Secretary desires to announce that with the consent of the Executive Committee he will begin this month the work of the ORIENTAL DEPARTMENT in order to carry out more effectually than ever before the second object of the Society - the investigation of Aryan and other religions, sciences, and literature. It is purposed to procure articles or translations relating to eastern religions, philosophies, literature, folk-lore, social customs and observances from competent Hindus, Parsees, and other Asiatic members and persons. These will be issued in pamphlet form monthly or oftener as funds allow, and will be distributed free to all Branches and members-at-large in good standing.
An extension of this scheme includes the employment of pandits - scholars - in India and elsewhere as soon as the funds come to hand. It is obvious to anyone who will inspect the cash book that our funds will not now permit of the enlargement of this scheme, but it could be put into extensive operation at once if members would give more than the small fee required by the Constitution. Through this Department the General Secretary hopes to be able to furnish a fund of valuable and interesting information such as cannot be otherwise obtained except at great expense for books and other means of study. It is certain that what little has been said to our people by interested missionaries and travellers has been very wide of truth in respect to the people of Asia, their manners, customs, literature, and social life. Indeed, but little can be got from Asiatics by such agents, and it is believed that only through our Society the real truth may be reached. Such a general and correct knowledge of distant people, all brothers of the human family, will do much to enlarge the boundaries of our thoughts, to abate race prejudice, and in all ways tend to strengthen the feeling of brotherhood which it is the aim of the Theosophical Society to arouse. Nor is there any reason why the T.S. should not be a great Asiatic investigating Society.
Any one desiring to aid the Society in this work can do so by making donations to the General Treasury, as the Executive Committee has passed an order that the general fund may be used for this purpose in addition to the items of rent, clerk hire, Forum and Branch paper printing to which it is now devoted.
William Q. Judge
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This Department of our work was set on foot in the U.S. with the object of bringing about a closer union between East and West by giving our American members a more complete knowledge of India than they could otherwise obtain. The example has been followed in Europe, where the new European Section has started a similar activity.
In order to make the work more uniform, the European Convention directed its Secretary to endeavor to have the American Oriental Department act n concurrence with the European, and this will no doubt be done. As the General Secretary here has been enabled to secure the services of a pundit in India, it will be easy to transmit to Europe paper matrices of the matter set up here, and the Blavatsky Press can cast metal stereos so that the two issues may correspond.
As the Adyar Oriental Library is gradually growing in importance, that may also be regarded is a part of our Oriental work, and it is purposed to utilize it as much as possible. Indeed, if circumstances had permitted it, the pundit secured for us would have resided there so that it might be made the central office for this branch of the Society's activity. But all this will come in time. With such great distances between us it is difficult to perfect our system quickly, and racial differences of method have also delayed us slightly in the beginning. As time goes on, all defects will be corrected and greater efficiency acquired.
Nor should our members judge the Oriental Department by the issues already published, for they have been necessarily hurried and somewhat imperfect in form. Indeed, there are so many difficulties to overcome that some time must elapse before ever thing will be running smoothly. Our funds as yet will not permit the employment of an American with the ability and time to thoroughly examine each issue so as to find and correct every error in style, fact, or transliteration and translation of words. As the General Secretary's entire time is already engrossed, as well as that of his staff, mistakes will creep in because of the ease with which words in a foreign language, carelessly indited, may be misunderstood. But as we have not yet claimed to be orientalists, any slurs cast upon the Department can be easily passed aside. Time, which proves all things, will prove this enterprise to be of use and value, or will show the necessity of giving it up. The latter contingency is not regarded as possible.
William Q. Judge