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The main argument of this article is that Annie Besant's Bhagavad-Gita translations can be interpreted as epistemological strategies aimed at providing evidence of her authority by means of proving her insight into occult knowledge. This article is an extended written version of a paper presented at the ESSWE6 conference in Erfurt, Germany. The overall theme of the conference was "Western Esotericism and Deviance". Because of the overall theme of "deviance," the article discusses "deviance" as an analytical category and asks how and whether the deviance category might be used in research on the Theosophical Society. In the second section, the main thesis of the article is stated. In the third section, this thesis is discussed in more depth by reviewing Annie Besant's Bhagavad-Gita translations and some reviews written about them in Theosophical journals.

In: Esotericism and Deviance


The theoretical framework presented in this article makes it possible to understand religions as constantly changing networks of actors and infrastructures that incorporate, modify, discard, and reformulate numerous “elements” in terms of specific conceptualizations often rooted in concrete contexts of application, and “structures,” i.e., larger conceptual contexts such as evolution, cosmogonies, or anthropological views of humanity, in a necessary ongoing creative process.

Such a process, and the usefulness of the tool, will be illustrated in this article through discussion of the work of Robert T. Browne, particularly his book The Mystery of Space. To date, research has assumed that Browne derives all of his theory from Theosophy. By applying the above theoretical framework and situating Browne’s work within a broader network of discourses, the article challenges this conclusion and is able to paint a more complete picture. This illustrates the usefulness of the analytical tool presented.

Open Access
In: Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society