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Chronicler of Theosophy

Author RJ Kalpana Photo: M. Subhash

Author RJ Kalpana Photo: M. Subhash  

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R.J Kalpana chronicles the life of Rangampalli Jagannathiah who was one of the stalwarts of the Theosophical movement in India

Rangampalli Jagannathiah was one of the prominent members of the Theosophical movement in India. Coming from an orthodox Brahmin family, his journey to Atheism and then to Theosophy is noteworthy. He was also a social reformer, writer and a philanthropist at the time when India was still under the British rule. In memory of him, his great-granddaughter R.J Kalpana (she belongs to the fifth generation of the R. Jagannathiah family) have penned his biography under the title An Atheist Disciple – Biography of Rangampalli Jagannathiah (1852-1918) and compiled some of his writings in both English and Telugu - Rangampalli Jagannathiah - Collected Writings in English and Shri Rangampalli Jagannathiah Rachanalu - Telugu Vyasa Samputi. “He lived during a fascinating time; it was the time period of Rani Lakshmibai, the Sepoy Mutiny. When I came across his obituary in the papers and some of his writings, I thought of writing this book. I wanted to reintroduce him to the younger generations and extend his philosophy of life,” says RJ Kalpana who works as a consultant for Knowledge Management. Her works include Indian Literature – Feminism and Family, Feminism and Individual and Feminism and Sexual Politics.

Initially, R. Jagannathiah had joined the National Secular Society of London and was elected its Vice President along with Annie Besant. “In 1882 he argued the tenets of Theosophy with Helena Blavatsky on a public platform. By the end of the week-long debate, he turned a believer of Theosophy,” informs Kalpana. R. Jagannathiah was also the founder of the Bellary Sanmarga Lodge and was associated with Adyar Theosophical Society. The writer says bringing back to life the period and its lifestyle was a challenge. “Here was a man who wrote volumes using a quill and ink, it was an inspiring and humbling experience to chronicle his life,” she says.

Getting the chronology of events right was important, his personal journals and correspondence which have been preserved helped in the process. “His correspondence with the founders of the Theosophical Society like Helena Blavatsky and H.S Olcott is well documented and sources of information. Gathering all the facts and cross referencing them took a lot of time,” explains Kalpana. Proficient in 10 Indian languages and three languages, R. Jagannathiah’s original works are also available in English and Telugu.

R.J Kalpana will be next working on a novel and a book of short stories.



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Printable version | Dec 11, 2019 6:57:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/chronicler-of-theosophy/article3657416.ece

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