Charles W. Leadbeater

Other names: 

Charles Webster Leadbeater

Date of birth: 
16 Feb 1854
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
01 Mar 1934
Location of death: 
Perth, Australia

Charles W. Leadbeater was a former Anglican clergyman and a prominent member of the Theosophical Society, which he joined in 1883. In 1889, during his travels to India, he found Currupumullage Jinarajadasa, who he believed to be the reincarnation of his deceased younger brother. Leadbeater brought Jinarajadasa to England where he tutored him before Jinarajadasa gained admission into the University of Cambridge.

In 1910, Leadbeater 'discovered' Jiddu Krishnamurti in Adyar. Leadbeater believed that Krishnamurti was the reincarnation of the World Teacher/Messiah and drew him to the attention of Annie Besant, who took Krishnamurti and his brother under her wing. Before this, in 1906, Leadbeater had been charged with 'perversion' against young boys and had resigned from the Theosophical Society. The charges were never proved and when Annie Besant became President of the Society in 1907, she reinstated Leadbeater. Krishnamurti's father underwent a protracted custody battle against Besant and Leadbeater over the two boys, but eventually the Theosophists were able to assume total guardianship over the boys.

Leadbeater can be described as an observant traveller on the astral plane and wrote many books recounting his experiences. He and Besant collaborated to produce Occult Chemistry in which they used clairvoyance to examine atoms.

Published works: 

The Astral Plane (London: The Theosophical Society, 1895)

An Outline of Theosophy (London: The Theosophical Society, 1902)

Occult Chemistry (London: Theosophical Society, 1908)

The Inner Life (Adyar: Theosophical Society, 1910)

The Chakras (Illinois: Theosophical Society, 1927)

How Theosophy Came to Me (Adyar: Theosophical Society, 1930)

Secondary works: 

Lutyens, Mary, Krishnamurti: The Years of Awakening (New York: Avon, 1983)

Sinnett, A. P., The Early Days of Theosophy in Europe (London: Theosophical Publishing House, 1922)

Tillett, Gregory, The Elder Brother: A Biography of Charles Webster Leadbeater (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982)

Archive source: 

Theosophical Society Archives, Adyar, India