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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Indo-Pacific Federation of The Theosophical Society

A federation of branches of the Theosophical Society (TS) that include all Asian countries from Pakistan eastward, Australia, New Zealand and nearby Pacific islands.

The Indo-Pacific Federation had its beginnings when the Australian Section under the leadership of its then General Secretary, Helen Zahara, sponsored a conference known as the Indo-Pacific Conference which was held at Westbourne Guest House, Wallacia (a country town 40 miles from Sydney) from December 31, 1959, to January 8, l960. A number of distinguished overseas visitors from the Indo-Pacific region were present including Gool Minwalla (Presidential Agent for the TS in Pakistan — the Lord Mayor of Sydney gave a reception for her at the Town Hall), Mr. Soemardjo (General Secretary of the TS in Indonesia and also a prominent member of the Boy Scout Association — after the conference he was guest of the New South Wales Boy Scouts’ Association and was also interviewed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission for their special program “Scope”), Miss Clarice Gregory (General Secretary of the TS in New Zealand), and Madame Nguyen-thi-Hai (General Secretary of the TS in Vietnam — she was accompanied by Madame Do-thi-Thoa).

It was the first time an international theosophical conference had been planned in this part of the world and such was its success that it was anticipated it would be the first of many such conferences. The following one was scheduled to take place in Jogjakarta, Indonesia, but the political situation in that country became so critical that the matter was postponed indefinitely. It was not revived until after Elaine Murdoch became General Secretary of the Australian Section in 1973. One factor was the premature death a month earlier of Helen Zahara whose brainchild the Indo-Pacific Conference was. She had just visited countries in the Indo-Pacific area, especially Malaysia and Indonesia, and spoke passionately about the conditions of theosophists living there, explaining how isolated they felt from the rest of the theosophical world and how they missed contact with theosophical visitors and theosophical literature; the only books available were in English and therefore unfamiliar to those who did not know the language. This made a deep impression on Elaine Murdoch and she resolved to visit those countries en route to Adyar in 1974 and was able to meet members in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Colombo.

A preliminary conference was held in Kuala Lumpur in January 1976 immediately after the Centenary Convention in Adyar. This well-attended and successful conference endorsed the suggestion to form an Indo-Pacific Federation and Bro. S. Narayanan (Presidential Agent for the TS in Malaysia) as a lawyer was asked to draw up a draft constitution which would be circulated for consideration and discussion.

The inaugural conference of the Indo-Pacific Federation was held in Jogjakarta on August 4-6, 1978, and attended by a large contingent from Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, New Zealand and Australia. John Coats, as international president of the TS chaired the gathering.

The 3 objects of the Federation are:

  1. To promote the 3 objects of the TS.
  2. Extend the work of the TS in the Indo-Pacific area.
  3. Strengthen the bonds and stimulate cooperation among member societies in the region.

The Federation was seen as an instrument for mutual sharing and enrichment. The initial geographic range of the Federation was from Pakistan to Fiji with no north/south limit. The Constitution stipulated that each member country contribute 1% of the national dues to finance the new Federation, although this contribution would be waived if a particular country could not afford it.

The new constitution was discussed and with slight modifications adopted and John Coats as Chairman looked at his watch and announced that the Indo-Pacific Federation had come into existence at precisely 10:30 am on August 6, 1978. Federation conferences were held every three years in the following places: Manila (1983), Karachi (1985), Perth (1988), Auckland (1992), Adyar (1994), Kuala Lumpur (1997), Sydney (2001) and Singapore (2004), Manila (2007), Adyar (2010), Bail (2013), Auckland (2016). The Federation has promoted and facilitated cooperative programs and projects among the country-members, such as visitations by lecturers, scholarships in the Australian School of Theosophy, donation of theosophical books, Theosophical Order of Service (TOS) sponsorships, etc.

The following served as Presidents of the Federation:

Elaine Murdoch - 1978 - 1983

S. Narayanan - 1983 - 1985

Diana Kynaston - 1986 - 1988

S. Narayanan - 1988 - 1991

Vicente Hao Chin, Jr. - 1991 - 2001

Pedro Oliveira - 2001 - 2007

John Vorstermans - 2007 - 2016

Gerard Brennan - 2016 -

 

E.M./V.H.C.

 

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