H. P. Shastri (1882–1956)’s Theosophical movement in the modern Far East
In 1919, the society chose Shanghai to establish its first official branch in the Far East. The first president of the Shanghai branch was Hari Prasad Shastri (1882–1956), an Indian professor, Sanskrit scholar, and Raja Yoga proponent. Shastri came to Shanghai in 1918 on Dr. Sun Yat-Sen (1866–1925)’s invitation. Before moving to Shanghai, Shastri taught at the Tokyo Imperial University and Waseda University during 1916-1918. While in Japan, Shastri was also in touch with Paul Richard (1874–1967), the French Indophile and esotericist, and sometime associate of the Theosophical Society. After moving to Shanghai, he was not only active in the Theosophical movement, but also endeavored in promoting the ideal of Asian Unity. In 1924, Shastri established the “Shanghai Pan-Asian Society” in Shanghai with Japanese intellectuals. We may see that Shastri’s residence in the Far East during 1916-1929 was connected with Japanese Pan-Asianism groups; however, if we examine his works in depth, we find that the origin of his movement was related with Theosophy as well.
In this paper, I will like to examine Shastri’s movement about China, India, and Japan by paying attention to his Theosophical background.