William Quan Judge

by | Jul 19, 2017 | Blog, Uncategorized

[cs_content][cs_section parallax=”false” style=”margin: 0px;padding: 45px 0px;”][cs_row inner_container=”true” marginless_columns=”false” style=”margin: 0px auto;padding: 0px;”][cs_column bg_color=”hsl(0, 15%, 88%)” fade=”false” fade_animation=”in” fade_animation_offset=”45px” fade_duration=”750″ type=”2/3″ style=”padding: 0px;”][cs_text]William Quan Judge (April 13, 1851 – March 21, 1896) was of Anglo – Irish descent and enjoyed fame as a founder of the Theosophical Society, which he led after co -founders Helena Blavatsky and Henry Olcott left the United States to travel abroad.

He became the General Secretary of the American Section of the Theosophical Society in 1884, with Abner Doubleday as President.

The epitome of the hard-working immigrant and the possibilities of the American Dream, he arrived from Dublin as a thirteen year old, but by twenty one years of age he had passed the New York state bar exam, specializing in commercial law.

An enquiring mind, and a thirst for knowledge drew him to Blavatsky. Although he appears to have been an implementer rather than an innovator his pivotal early role in the Theosophical Society, and its thinking, is beyond question.

He was among the seventeen people who formed the Theosophical Society in 1875, and when Olcott and Blavatsky left the United States for India, Judge stayed behind to manage the Society’s work while maintaining his commercial law practice.

Inevitably, without Blavatsky’s stardust and energy, the fortunes of the society began to wane. In 1876 while on a business trip to South America he contracted Chagres fever from which he never fully recovered compounding the difficulties of maintaining the Theosophical Society’s fortunes.

Blavatsky and Olcott’s work in India was controversial. Their efforts to revive Hinduism were not welcomed by either the evangelical Christians who had come with British colonisation or the British themselves.

In 1882 the international headquarters of the Society was established at Adyar, near Madras. This remains the headquarters for the Society, which is now established in fifty countries of the world. Such was their impact that judge followed them her out to India and Ceylon.

When Judge returned to America in 1875, the Society was moribund, prompting him to initiate his greatest personal achievement, when he launched “The Path”, an independent Theosophical magazine.

It transformed him, and the Society, for it showcased his abilities as a compelling, engaging writer. In his first editorial, he wrote: “It is not thought that utopia can be established in a day…Certainly, if we all say that it is useless…nothing will ever be done.

A beginning must be made and it has been made by the Theosophical society…Riches are accumulating in the hands of the few while the poor are ground harder every day as they increase in number…All this points unerringly to a vital error somewhere…What is wanted is true knowledge of the spiritual condition of man, his aim, and destiny…those who must begin the reform are those who are so fortunate as to be placed in the world where they can see and think out the problems all are endeavouring to solve, even if they know that the great day may not come until after their death.

“The Christian nations have dazzled themselves with a baneful glitter of material progress. They are not the peoples who will furnish the clearest clues to the Path…The Grand Clock of the Universe points to another hour, and now Man must seize the key in his hands and himself – as a whole – open the gate…Our practice consists in a disregard of any authority in matters of religion and philosophy except such propositions as from their innate quality we feel to be true.”

As his talent became more widely appreciated he wrote for other journals and published “The Ocean of Theosophy” in 1893.

His skills as a lawyer proving invaluable for making his case. His value in founding the Society became clear. For although he was not an original thinker, he was adept at conveying Blavatsky’s thoughts, and in so doing, “The Path” publiation became the vehicle for consolidating what the Society had already achieved, and expanding from it. He referred to his first encounter with Blavatsky, thus:

“It was her eye that attracted me, the eye of one whom I must have known in lives long passed away. She looked at me in recognition for that first hour, and never since has that look changed. Not as a questioner of philosophies did I come before her, not as one groping in the dark for lights that schools and fanciful theories had obscured, but as one who, wandering through the corridors of life, was seeking the friends who could show where the designs for the work had been hidden. And, true to the call, she responded, revealing plans once again, and speaking no words to explain, simply pointed them out and went on with the task. It was as if but the evening before we had parted, leaving yet to be done some detail of a task taken up with one common end; it was teacher and pupil, elder brother and younger, both bent on the one single end, but she with the power and knowledge that belong but to lions and sages.”

After Blavatsky died in 1891, Judge became involved in a dispute with Olcott, and British Theosophist and supporter of Indian Home Rule, Annie Besant, whom he considered to have deviated from the original teaching of the Mahatmas.

As a result, he ended his association with Olcott and Besant during 1895 and took most of the Society’s American Section with him. Despite being hounded by Besant’s followers, Judge managed his new organization for about a year until his death in New York City, in 1896.
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