- BESANT, Annie
- (1847-1933)born of EVANGELICAL parents. She married a pious but dull clergyman whom she eventually divorced. Her religious PILGRIMAGE led from ANGLICANISM to ATHEISM, and from SPIRITUALIST to THEOSOPHIST. In England she was notorious for her affair with Charles BRADLAUGH and the promotion of radical causes, including birth control. After her CONVERSION to Theosophy she moved to India in 1889 where she established a number of educational institutions including the Central Hindu College of Banaras (1898) and the University of India (1907). She played an important role in agitating for Indian independence from British rule and was active in the Indian National Congress and was even elected its president. She proclaimed her adopted son Jiddu KRISHNAMURTI a new Messiah but he later repudiated this view. After the death of Helena BLAVATSKY, she became the president of the THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY. Her works includeThe Ancient Wisdom (1897) and The Religious Problems of India (1902).
Concise dictionary of Religion. 2012.