Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Annie Besant

British Social Reformer, Indian Independence Leader, Theosopher

"Never forget that life can only be nobly inspired and rightly lived if you take it bravely and gallantly, as a splendid adventure in which you are setting out into an unknown country, to meet many a joy, to find many a comrade, to win and lose many a battle."

"Man is created by thought; that which he thinks upon in our life becomes in another."

"Never forget that life can be nobly inspired and rightly lived if you take it bravely and gallantly, as a splendid adventure in which you are setting out into an unknown country, to meet many a joy, to find many a comrade, to win and lose many a battle."

"A common religion is not possible for India, but a recognition of a common basis for all religions, and the growth of a liberal, tolerant spirit in religious matters, are possible."

"A people can prosper under a very bad government and suffer under a very good one, if in the first case the local administration is effective and in the second it is inefficient."

"After a study of some forty years and more of the great religions of the world, I find none so perfect, none so scientific, none so philosophic, and none so spiritual as the great religion known by the name of Hinduism. The more you know it, the more you will love it; the more you try to understand it, the more deeply you will value it"

"A prophet is always much wider than his followers, much more liberal than those who label themselves with his name."

"A myth is far truer than a history, for a history only gives a story of the shadows, whereas a myth gives a story of the substances that cast the shadows."

"Against the teachings of eternal torture, of the vicarious atonement, of the infallibility of the Bible, I levelled all the strength of my brain and tongue, and I exposed the history of the Christian Church with unsparing hand, its persecutions, its religious wars, its cruelties, its oppressions."

"After death we live for some time in the astral world in the astral body used during our life on earth, and the more we learn to control and use it wisely now the better for us after death."

"Among the various vernaculars that are spoken in different parts of India, there is one that stands out strongly from the rest, as that which is most widely known. It is Hindi. A man who knows Hindi can travel over India and find everywhere Hindi-speaking people."

"All men die. You may say: 'Is that encouraging?' Surely yes, for when a man dies, his blunders, which are of the form, all die with him, but the things in him that are part of the life never die, although the form be broken."

"As a man may be born with a mathematical faculty, and by training that faculty year after year may immensely increase his mathematical capacity, so may a man be born with certain faculties within him, faculties belonging to the soul, which he can develop by training and by discipline."

"An accurate knowledge of the past of a country is necessary for everyone who would understand its present, and who desires to judge of its future."

"As the heat of the coal differs from the coal itself, so do memory, perception, judgment, emotion, and will, differ from the brain which is the instrument of thought."

"As civilisation advances, the deities lessen in number, the divine powers become concentrated more and more in one Being, and God rules over the whole earth, maketh the clouds his chariot, and reigns above the waterfloods as a king."

"At the solemn moment of death, every man, even when death is sudden, sees the whole of his past life marshalled before him, in its minutest details. For one short instant the personal becomes one with the individual and all-knowing ego. But this instant is enough to show to him the whole chain of causes which have been at work during his life."

"Better remain silent, better not even think, if you are not prepared to act."

"Beauty is no dead thing. It is the manifestation of God in nature. There is not one object in nature untouched by man that is not beautiful, for God's manifestation is beauty. It shines through all His works, and not only in those that may give pleasure to man."

"Britons are good, though often brutal, colonists where they come into relations with entirely uncivilized tribes whose past is so remote as to be forgotten. But they trample with their heavy boots over the sensitive, delicate susceptibilities of an ancient, highly civilized and cultured nation, such as India."

"Belief in karma ought to make the life pure, strong, serene, and glad. Only our own deeds can hinder us; only our own will can fetter us. Once let men recognize this truth, and the hour of their liberation has struck. Nature cannot enslave the soul that by wisdom has gained power and uses both in love."

"But no one can eat the flesh of a slaughtered animal without having used the hand of a man as slaughterer. Suppose that we had to kill for ourselves the creatures whose bodies we would fain have upon our table, is there one woman in a hundred who would go to the slaughterhouse to slay the bullock, the calf, the sheep or the pig?"

"Continents may break up, continents may emerge, but the human race is immortal in its origin and in its growth, and there is nothing to be afraid of, even if the foundations of the earth be moved."

"Control of the tongue! Vital for the man who would try to tread the Path, for no harsh or unkind word, no hasty impatient phrase, may escape from the tongue which is consecrated to service, and which must not injure even an enemy; for that which wounds has no place in the Kingdom of Love."

"Celibacy is not natural to men or to women; all bodily needs require their legitimate satisfaction, and celibacy is a disregard of natural law."

"Clairvoyants can see flashes of color, constantly changing, in the aura that surrounds every person: each thought, each feeling, thus translating itself in the astral world, visible to the astral sight."

"Death cannot touch the higher consciousness of man ... it can only separate those who love each other so far as their lower vehicles are concerned; the man living on earth, blinded by matter, feels separated from those who have passed onwards, but ... there is no such thing as Death at all."

"Debating clubs among boys are very useful, not only as affording pleasant meetings and interesting discussions, but also as serving for training grounds for developing the knowledge and the qualities that are needed in public life."

"Death consists, indeed, in a repeated process of unrobing, or unsheathing. The immortal part of man shakes off from itself, one after the other, its outer casings, and - as the snake from its skin, the butterfly from its chrysalis - emerges from one after another, passing into a higher state of consciousness."

"Death is but an aspect of life, and the destruction of one material form is but a prelude to building up of another."

"Empty-brained triflers who have never tried to think, who take their creed as they take their fashions, speak of atheism as the outcome of foul life and vicious desires."

"'Easter' is a movable event, calculated by the relative positions of sun and moon, an impossible way of fixing year by year the anniversary of a historical event, but a very natural and indeed inevitable way of calculating a solar festival. These changing dates do not point to the history of a man, but to the hero of a solar myth."

"Even the outer God must hide, ere the Inner God can manifest; the cry of agony of the Crucified must be wrung from the tortured lips; My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me? precedes the realization of the God within."

"Every form, not being the whole, must, of necessity, be imperfect; less than the whole, it cannot be identical with the whole, and being less than the whole and, therefore, imperfect by itself, it shows imperfection as evil, and only the totality of a universe can mirror the image of God."

"Every person, every race, every nation, has its own particular keynote which it brings to the general chord of life and of humanity. Life is not a monotone but a many-stringed harmony, and to this harmony is contributed a distinctive note by each individual."

"Everyone knows the beautiful story of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac. How this noble father led his child to the slaughter; how Isaac meekly submitted; how the farce went on till the lad was bound and laid on the altar, and how God then stopped the murder, and blessed the intending murderer for his willingness to commit the crime."

"Everything which is of strife makes the vision of the truth more difficult; everything which tends to controversy makes the grasping of the truth harder. The spirit of man should be like a lake unruffled by wind or storm. Under such conditions a lake will reflect perfectly the mountains which are around it and the sky above it. With an unruffled surface it will give a perfect reflection of these. If the wind sweeps over it or the storm ruffles it, its reflections are disturbed; they are not clear. The images will be seen, but not clearly. And so it is with the division of light and the human spirit. If the spirit is ruffled, then the Divine Image cannot mirror itself thereon."

"For centuries the leaders of Christian thought spoke of women as a necessary evil, and the greatest saints of the Church are those who despise women the most."

"Evil is only imperfection, that which is not complete, which is becoming, but has not yet found its end."

"For all the practical purposes of Yoga, the man, the working, conscious man, is so much of him as he cannot separate from the matter enclosing him, or with which he is connected. Only that is body which the man is able to put aside and say: "This is not I, but mine.""

"'God' is always the equivalent of 'I do not know.'"

"For though I was then kneeling beside her bed, heretic and outcast, the heart of me was religious in its very fervor of repudiation of a religion, and in its rebellious uprising against dogmas that crushed the reason and did not satisfy the soul. I went out into the darkness alone, not because religion was too good for me, but because it was not good enough; it was too meagre, too commonplace, too little exacting, too bound up with earthly interests, too calculating in its accommodations to social conventionalities."

"hell never came into my dreamings except in the interesting shape it took in Paradise Lost. After reading that, the devil was to me no horned and hoofed horror, but the beautiful shadowed archangel, and I always hoped that Jesus, my ideal Prince, would save him in the end."

"God is immanent in every atom, all-pervading, all-sustaining, all-evolving; He is its source and its end, its cause and its object, its centre and circumference; it is built on Him as its sure foundation, it breathes in Him as its encircling space; He is in everything and everything in Him."

"I have ever been the queerest mixture of weakness and strength, and have paid heavily for the weakness."

"I hold that alcohol itself is essentially a destructive, mischievous agency, and therefore its use ought to be entirely opposed, entirely renounced, as of no benefit in the economy of the human body."

"I often think that woman is more free in Islam than in Christianity. Woman is more protected by Islam than by the faith which preaches monogamy. In AI Quran the law about woman is juster and more liberal."

"I ask no other epitaph on my tomb but 'SHE TRIED TO FOLLOW TRUTH."

"I was a wife and mother, blameless in moral life, with a deep sense of duty and a proud self-respect; it was while I was this that doubt struck me, and while I was in the guarded circle of the home, with no dream of outside work or outside liberty, that I lost all faith in Christianity."

"I will suggest that the great aim of our education is to bring out of the child who comes into our hands every faculty that he brings with him, and then to try to win that child to turn all his abilities, his powers, his capacities, to the helping and serving of the community which is a part."