N. Sri Ram
International President of
the Theosophical Society
N Sri Ram
1889 – 1973
Born on the
country-wide educational movement organized by Annie Besant.
an important role in awakening the young Indians of the day to their heritage
and responsibilities as future citizens of a free
Among the ardent assistants who worked under her inspiration, unconcerned about worldly success and security, was Sri Ram. After his initial work as a teacher, he engaged in a voluntary lecture programme for Theosophy and Home Rule. He was also active under Dr Besant's aegis in the labour union movement, demanding proper treatment for workmen at a time when poor labourers had no protection against exploitation.
While he was
Assistant Editor of the daily New
Though he incurred the wrath of orthodox society, he was firm in abandoning meaningless conventions and superstitious customs not consonant with the principles of Theosophy. Sri Ram's theosophical career included various terms as Treasurer, Recording Secretary and Vice-President of the Society. More than one President leaned upon him for assistance in carrying out his duties and passed on to him problems and questions which came up. He was fully familiar
with all the aspects of the work of the Society when he himself was elected to the office of the President.
passed away on
Few knew that he gave away generously of the little he had. Like Annie Besant, he had known hard times and his heart went out readily towards those who were in need. His life was so simple, one may say austere, that when requests came
for mementoes after his passing, it was hard to comply with, for he possessed little. I remember giving him an extra pen, keeping in mind the writing he had to do, but within a few weeks it was in the hands of someone else.
The impact of his thought on the T.S. was great, but people hardly knew that a change was being brought about for he could accomplish much without seeming to do so. He emphasized the need to consider all questions for oneself, avoiding dogmatic decisions and attachment to non-essentials. Pronouncements of an occult nature taken earlier as matters of belief became under his influence matters to be considered with common sense. He did not encourage belief or rejection, for when facts are not verifiable wisdom calls for the withholding of judgement. Though it was not his custom to criticize or condemn people for faults or failings, he was neither sentimental nor lacking in insight. He observed the quirks and characteristics of people with discriminating awareness, infused with kindly humour and deep understanding. He acted with consideration in all situations, trivial or important.
While correcting proofs, he would carefully substitute words to fit into the space made by deletions, to make the work easier for the Vasanta Press. His corrections were always clear and legible, for he would not impose a burden on
compositors who did not know English. On the last day of his earthly life, when he was informed that he had had a heart attack, his immediate concern was that it would cause trouble to others.
took place at Adyar during his twenty-year Presidency. It was then that the
present building of the Adyar Library and Research Centre was constructed and
the library shifted from the headquarters building where it was originally
housed by Colonel Olcott. The Vasanta Press too found
a new home in
His method of working was never to command. He attracted co-operation and loyalty from his colleagues by making them feel a sense of closeness. He was like an elder brother in their midst; in fact, quite a few called him 'Anna', which in this part of South India means 'elder brother'. Everyone could go to him freely with his problems or requests; he was the most approachable of persons.
Though he had a heavy burden to carry he never gave anyone an impression of being too busy or hard-pressed. The life of such a person of peace, wisdom and simplicity will be remembered long in the Society even by those who did not have the opportunity to come into personal contact with him, for it has had far-reaching effects on the course of theosophical history.
Cardiff, Wales, UK, CF24 – 1DL
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