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B.S., M.A., PhJX, S.T.M. 

Published by 

318-324 WEST 39TH STREHT 



Published September 1950 



This work is not an attack on Hinduism. It is not 
meant to inflame American citizens by pointing to a for- 
eign menace. Nor is it a defense of Hinduism. Nor is 
it a defense of Christianity or anything else. It is simply 
a study of the amazing adventure of an Eastern faith in 
a Western land. Accordingly, it is not a collection of 
curious or sensational anecdotes about a few of the many 
Hindu swamis and yogis visiting these shores, but an ac- 
count of the serious impact on American life of Hindu 
philosophy and culture especially in the form of organized 

Several years of study and teaching in India have some- 
what prepared me to write on Hinduism in America. For 
expert help in this modern study I am grateful especially 
to Professor Hervey D. Griswold, formerly of the Panjab 
University, Lahore, who guided my researches in Hin- 
duism, and to Professor Herbert W. Schneider, of Columbia 
University, New York, who advised me concerning the 
subject and form of the book. I wish also to thank the 
many accomplices who kindly answered my questions by 
letter, and several Hindu friends in New York, who gave 
me every possible encouragement. 


New York, April 1930. 


In the imagination of the great majority of Americans, 
foreign missions has been an altogether one-sided affair. 
Taking for granted the superiority of Christianity, they 
have pictured the Christian movement as going out to 
overspread the world. 

To thoughtful minds, it has long been obvious that 
there would soon come a time when the great Eastern 
religions, sure of the superiority of their spiritual life over 
the mechanized living of the Western world, would come 
to us with the deep conviction that they were the heralds 
of the world's true gospel. 

Mr. Thomas's book, so far as I know, is the first thor- 
oughgoing treatise setting forth with patient research both 
the direct and the indirect invasion of Western thought 
by Hinduism. The book makes dear, what it has long 
been evident would sometime be inevitable, that there can 
no longer be a sharp distinction between the so-called 
"home" and "foreign" fields in religion. Christianity is 
at work in India and Hinduism is at work in the United 
States. There is no possibility of Indian religion escaping 
the influence of Jesus Christ, and there is no possibility 
of American religion escaping the influence of the great 
Indian faiths. 

Mr. Thomas's book therefore is of primary importance, 
and it is to be hoped there will be a popular understanding 
and appreciation of its significance. 




INTRODUCTION, by Harry Emerson Fosdick 9 




1. The Background of Vedanta. 2. The Meaning of 

Vedanta. 3. Sankara Vedanta. 4. Ramanuja Vedanta. 


I. The Village Pet. 2. The Young Priest. 3. The 
Mad Saint. 4. The Cult Taster. 5. The Tireless 
Preacher. 6. A Little Child Shall Lead Them. 


1. The Ambitious Youth. 2. The Young Swami. 
3. The Son of Mother India. 4. The Oriental Orator. 
5. The Social Lion. 6. The Cult Founder. 7. The 
Conquering Hero. 8. The World Teacher. 



1. The Growth. 2. The Message. 3. The Adjust- 
ments. 4. The Methods. 5. The Members. 6. The 
Critics. 7. Group Practice. 8. Individual Practice. 



1. Out of India Into America. 2. The Message. 
3. The Methods. 4. The Members. 



1. Additional Hindu Cults. 2. Hindu Cultural Move- 
ments. 3. Learned Hindu Lecturers. 4. Popular 
Lecturers. 5. American Imposters. 6. Hindu Pro- 
fessors a'nd Students. 7. Oriental Cults of Partly 
Hindu OHgin. 8. American Cults of Partly Hindu 
OrigfflL T9. Hindu Influence on Western Thought. 
*l4//tne Modern Expansion of Hinduism. 



NOTES 259 



INDEX 291 



An old faith is now invading a new country. The new 
country is the United States of America. The old faith is 
Hinduism. The invasion began when the first Christian 
colonists from Europe set foot on the American continent, 
for there are traces of Hindu sentiment in both Catholic 
and Protestant creeds. As soon as students in America 
began to study Plotinus, Thomas Aquinas and Spinoza, 
Hinduism began to spread, and when Emerson and his 
like-minded friends received a generous hearing, Hindu- 
ism became more firmly established in America than in 
Europe. Theosophy, Christian Science and similar re- 
ligious movements further extended its sway, and when 
Hindu swamis and yogis themselves began to appear orx 
the horizon in robes of the color of this book-cover, Hindu- 
ism suddenly advanced in all its pristine glory. But the 
end of the invasion is not yet in sight, for apart from the 
swamis and yogis, a goodly throng of academic lecturers 
and organization directors are slowly but surely conduct- 
ing Hindu ideas into the very center of American culture. 

Of course Hinduism reminds us of Mahatma Gandhi 
and his inspired movements of "non-violent non-coopera- 
tion/' We should understand at the outset, however, that 
Hinduism in America has little to do with non-violent 
non-cooperation, for the non-violent part of his program 
Gandhi took over from the Sermon on the Mount and the 
ahimsa, or non-injury, practice of Buddhism and Jainism, 
while the non-cooperation part is the obvious political and 


economic weapon of a rebellious and disarmed people. 
Again, Hinduism reminds us of Katherine Mayo and her 
startling book Mother India. But the Hinduism that 
comes to America is no more a reflection of the culture 
portrayed by Miss Mayo than the Christianity carried to 
India by American missionaries is a reflection of free love, 
race riots and racketeering. As far as I have been able 
to discover, Hinduism appears in America in the following 

1. Hindu cults, such as the Ramakrishna movement, 
and the Yogoda Sat-sanga Society of America. 

2. Hindu cultural movements, such as the Threefold 
Movement, and the International School of Vedic and 
Allied Research. 

3. Learned Hindu lecturers, such as Tagore and 

4. Popular lecturers on practical Hinduism, such as 
"Super-Akasha Yogi Wassan," a Panjabi Hindu, and 
"Yogi Ramacharaka," an American. 

5. American impostors passing for Hindu popular lec- 
turers, such as "Prem Lai Adoris," and "Joveddah de 

6. Hindu professors and students in America. 

7. Oriental cults of partly Hindu origin, such as 
Buddhism and Sikhism. 

8. American cults of partly Hindu origin, such as 
Theosophy and Christian Science. 

9. Hindu influence on Western thought in such think- 
ers as Schopenhauer and Emerson. 

No doubt there are Hindu movements in America that 
I have not discovered, and even as I write new forms of 
American Hinduism may be arising. Every year sees the 
advent of new Hindu teachers of one kind or another. 
Certainly Hinduism is invading America wave after wave. 
Will it eventually overwhelm Christianity? Such is the 


claim of some of its champions. And this claim cannot 
lightly be set aside. If our view of the world is so changed 
by science and the law of evolution that the Heavenly 
Father of Christianity becomes a useless idol at best a 
harmless creation of religious imagination, and at worst a 
superstitious drag on progress then Hinduism, with its 
conception of vital evolutionary progress toward a divine 
goal, will be just the religion we need to keep us from 
atheism in a scientific age. Thus disillusioned Christians, 
and for that matter all modern men will finally see the 
truth of Hinduism, and eagerly seek its universal embrace. 
So reason the champions of Hinduism. 

And to orthodox Christians who shudder at this pros- 
pect, these Hindus are ready to explain that Hinduism is 
not a missionary religion, and makes no attempt to con- 
vert people to an exclusive sect or creed. So it should 
cause no alarm. Hinduism, they point out, is after all a 
word of Western coinage, whereas the proper term for 
their religion is Dharma, which simply means the univer- 
sal progressive principle of every man! To acknowledge 
the upward urge and divine goal of this principle, they 
say, is not to exchange Christianity for Hinduism, but to 
find a bigger and better Christianity. 

Whatever the outcome of Hinduism in America may 
be, we cannot understand it without a knowledge of cer- 
tain facts pertaining to the history of its past and present 
achievements. These facts I have endeavored to present 
in two ways: first, by means of a careful study of the two 
most imposing Hindu cults in America, namely, Vedanta 
and Yogoda; and second, by means of a brief survey of 
all the other Hindu movements. 

The study of Vedanta occupies chapters three to five, 
chapter three dealing with its patron saint in India, chap- 
ter four with its first missionary to America, and chapter 
five with its growth and expansion in the United States. 


The study of Yogoda occupies only chapter six. Vedanta 
has received more space than Yogoda because it has spent 
much more time in America, is more classic, orthodox and 
representative, and is perhaps the first modern missionary 
movement of any Eastern religion to the West. The facts 
here presented are based mainly on Hindu sources, and 
have been checked by the Hindu leaders themselves. The 
judgments I pass on these facts are intended to be sym- 
pathetic, yet critical and constructive. 

The survey of all the other Hindu movements occupies 
chapter seven. Several of these movements are very im- 
portant, more important perhaps than Vedanta or Yo- 
goda, but limited time and space forbids a more extensive 
treatment. In chapter eight, which is the last, I aim to 
present a brief resume of the causes and effects of the 
Vedanta and Yogoda movements in American life, and a 
brief opinion of the American prospects of the Hindu 
faith in general. 

Since the meaning of Hinduism in America cannot be 
grasped without some knowledge of Hinduism in India, 
I offer in chapter two a short account of classical Vedanta, 
the basic philosophy of Hinduism, which forms the gen- 
eral heritage of all Hindu movements in America, and not 
merely the heritage of the particular Ramakrishna move- 
ment which labels its American centers "Vedanta/' and 
which I also call " Vedanta 1 ' in order to pair it nicely with 
Yogoda. Furthermore, since this modern revival of classic 
Hinduism cannot be properly understood without some 
knowledge of modern India, I now set down a few facts 
about modern India that are relevant to our purpose* 

Hindu missionaries to America have come not from an- 
cient India, of course, but from modern India, and modern 
India is a child of East and West. In 1600, just before 


the Pilgrim Fathers set foot on the shore of America, the 
East India Company of London ventured forth to the land 
of India. It found an ancient and long-suffering people, 
inured to repeated invasions from the Northwest, but 
dimly remembering golden days of commerce, science, art 
and religion. This Western trading company gradually 
gained control over the whole land of India, and in 1858, 
after the Mutiny, yielded the government to the Crown. 

In 1857 the three great universities of Calcutta, Bombay 
and Madras were founded, modelled on the University of 
London. They did all their work in English. The estab- 
lishment of these and other institutions of higher learning 
marks the transition of young India from infancy to child- 
hood. In spite of their somewhat old-fashioned methods 
and paucity of Indian culture, creating a gap between the 
"national" and the "English Indian, the universities have 
served as a bridge between East and West whereon the 
Indian student catches the vision of freedom shining in 
English literature, and hastens to embody this vision in 
the organization of his country. With almost perfect com- 
mand over the English language, and familiarity with the 
best works of European literature and science, a small but 
increasing section of the population is moving in touch 
with the outer world so closely as to be keenly sensitive 
to every breath of Western thought and feeling. East and 
West have met, and never the twain shall part. 

In addition to Western education, the highly centralized 
British government has imposed on the oriental culture 
of India a modern system of manufacture and commerce, 
involving a well-paid civil and military service, trunk 
roads, railways, telegraph and postal services, law courts 
and hospitals. Partly because of this Western culture, 
partly in reaction against it, the movement of Indian na- 
tionalism has increased step by step until it has now taken 
on a world-wide significance. Young India is becoming 
of age. 


India may be divided into ten distinct language areas, 
two types of government democratic and monarchic 
and five religious communities: Hindu, Muslim, Christian, 
Sikh and Parsi. Moreover, we find lines of cleavage 
between the liberal North and the conservative South, 
between the priestly Brahmans and the insurgent non- 
Brahmans, between the complacent castes and the de- 
pressed outcastes, between the learned university gradu- 
ates and the illiterate peasants, and between the free- 
moving men and the more or less shut-in women. These 
lines, however, are being effaced as rapidly as age-long 
custom will permit. 

The religious development of modern India can best be 
understood as the reaction of her communities to the im- 
pact of Western Christianity. Toward the close of the 
eighteenth century, when the British power was rising in 
India, C. F. Schwartz of Germany established the Re- 
formed Church in the South, near Madras, while William 
Carey of England started the work of the Baptist Mission 
in the North, near Calcutta. To Hindus and Muslims 
alike they preached the gospel of salvation from sin 
through Jesus Christ, supported by the doctrines of one 
Book, one God, one Savior, and one Brotherhood. 

The Muslims as a rule turned a deaf ear to this appeal, 
for they also belonged to a dominant missionary minority. 
For six centuries in India they had spoken to command 
and not to obey. Moreover, they also had their doctrines 
of one Book, one God, one Prophet and one Brotherhood, 
which, as they firmly believed, had superseded the doc- 
trines of Christianity. Most of all, they were the world's 
fiercest propagandists, and would tolerate no defection 
from their creed. Hence only a very few of the most 
sensitive and courageous members of the Muslim com- 
munity dared leave the Crescent for the Cross. But these 
few became the pillars of the Church. 


While the Hindus likewise refused to break their age- 
long bonds of caste to join the Christian Church, they did 
not refuse to listen to the Christian message. They could 
afford to be more tolerant, for they were in the majority. 
Not merely for six centuries, but for thirty-six centuries or 
more had their religion flourished in India and developed 
an immense variety of forms. Like a vast banyan tree it 
had sent forth from its branches many aerial roots, each 
of which had grown down into the soil and become a new 
tree trunk sending forth in its turn new branches and new 
roots. So the Hindus listened. Many even read the Bible, 
translated by the arduous toil of scholarly missionaries. 
But for a long time they did not understand. The mis- 
sionaries had not yet learned to present the gospel from 
the Hindu point of view. But they refused to lose heart, 
and established the two great aids to preaching, namely, 
healing and teaching. 

The ministry of healing, with its hospitals, dispensaries 
and asylums, directly imparted the doctrine of Christian 
love even to the most hostile or degraded. It naturally 
made its greatest appeal to the Hindu outcastes, compris- 
ing over fifty millions of people, almost as many as in the 
whole Muslim community. When these dealers in filth 
and carion felt the healing touch of love, they were not 
slow to trust themselves to their benefactors. Especially 
in the heart-breaking times of famine, when the mission- 
aries laid aside their usual work to save the poor from 
starving, whole communities in great mass movements 
followed their village chiefs into the Christian Church. 

Here they have been welded into a powerful lever 
which is shaking the social structure of Hinduism. For 
note this fact: once an outcaste becomes a Christian, he is 
magically transformed from a despised Hindu untouch- 
able into a member of the ruling community, a fellow 
churchman of the King-Emperor. Moreover, a majority 


of the five million members of the Christian community, 
the third largest in India, have risen from the ranks of the 
outcastes. Roused by the fear of thus losing to the Chris- 
tians (and also to the Muslims) a huge section of their 
community, the Hindus are now striving to purify and 
take back into the fold of caste (or at least community) 
these long-neglected and long-suffering brothers. But once 
the barrier between caste and outcaste is demolished, what 
will become of the barriers betwen caste and caste? 

The ministry of teaching, with its schools and colleges, 
naturally made its greatest appeal to the upper-caste 
Hindus, who gladly sent their youths to drink at the 
spring of modern culture provided by Government and 
influenced by missions. Three results may be noted. 
First, a few of these Hindu intellectuals have become out- 
standing Christians. Second, a number of vigorous Hindu 
liberals have adopted on the basis of reason the ethics of 
Jesus and a monotheistic faith expressed by certain selec- 
tions from the Hindu scriptures. The great pioneer in 
this movement was Prince Ram Mohan Roy, who founded 
the Brahma Samaj, or Divine Society, just a century ago 
in Calcutta* Most of the Indian social reform of the past 
century has come from this "unitarian church" and its 
sympathizers, warmly supported by the Christian mission- 

A third result of the Government's more or less Chris- 
tian education has been to stimulate the orthodox Hindu 
communities to appreciate their own rich heritage and 
defend it against the invasion of Christianity. And it is 
chiefly from these orthodox communities that the Hindu 
missionaries to America have emerged. The Brahman 
pandits, whose business has ever been to treasure up 
India's sacred lore in their Sanskrit books and memories, 
had become so exclusive, that even the educated classes 
did not know their country's scriptures until Western 


orientalists Hke Max Miiller presented them in English, 
which after all was the all-Indian learned language of the 
Indian intellectual. This kind of research was taken up 
also by Indian scholars, trained in Western methods, but 
saturated with the spirit of the East from their childhood. 
Then with growing national self-respect the orthodox 
Hindu religious leaders began to delve into their own 
scriptures in order to find something to express their 
national character and to offset the Christianity brought 
to them by men of originally foreign culture and usually 
domineering ways. 

They did find something, which in the strange course 
of future events proved to be a weapon of spiritual aggres- 
sion as well as defense. But what was it they found? 
What is the character of the religious heritage of the 
Hindus? It is revealed in the dominant Hindu philosophy 
known as "Vedanta," which Hindu leaders are popular- 
izing in America today. This Vedanta, or Vedantism, will 
now be explained in the following chapter; but whoever 
is not especially interested in the ancient classical founda- 
tion of American Hinduism may pass directly to chapter 
three, where the story of Vedanta's invasion of America 
will begin. 




The oldest sacred scriptures of the Hindus are the four 
Vedas, a mass of hymns, chants and spells composed 
orally about 1300 to 800 B, c., during the time of the 
Aryan occupation of the Panjab. The hymns of the Rig- 
veda, the chief of the four, are for the most part vital 
prayers addressed to the powers of nature, such as Indra, 
the storm, and Agni, the fire. 

Very soon the philosophic quest for unity began. One 
way of unifying the gods was by identification. Just as 
the different tribes use different words to designate the 
same thing, so must there be Tad Ekam (that One), of 
which the various gods are but various names. 

The sages call that One in many ways, they call it Agni, Yama, 
Matarisvan. 1 

But this identification did not destroy the individuality 
of each god, which a worshiper might select from the 
heavenly substance, and praise for the moment as God 
absolute. This early distinction between the philosophic 
One and the popular Many is the key to Vedanta. 

The Aryans of this time were like the Greeks of Ho- 
mer's time: free, fresh, natural, wholesome and happy. 
Their gods were devas, or shining ones, and their life was 
strong and open. There was no hint of world sorrow, 
or desire to escape from life's problems. The system of 
caste, or hereditary class, had not yet been formed, and 


vegetarianism was not practiced. Beef eating was com- 
mon. Karma, or the chain of action, and sansara, or the 
cycle of birth and death, were conceptions not yet in- 
vented, and God was still made in the image of man. 

However, by the time of the Upanishads, or secret com- 
ments on the Vedas, breathed from master to disciple in 
the forest retreat about 800 to 600 B. c, the worldly joy 
of this vigorous culture had almost faded out. The dis- 
tinctions of color and occupation between the invading 
Aryans and the native Dasyus had developed into a set of 
four vamas, or orders, of (1) Brahmans, or priests and 
teachers, (2) Ksatriyas, or warriors and rulers, (3) Vai~ 
syas, or farmers and merchants, and (4) Sudvas, or serv- 
ants and toilers. This lowest order was composed of the 
dark-skinned aborigines, who were excluded from the rites 
of the "twice-born/' or three higher orders. At the time 
of Manu, the greatest Hindu lawgiver, near the Christian 
era, these orders solidified into strict castes and sub-castes. 

The dogma or principle of the "wheel of life/' named 
transmigration, palingenesis, metempsychosis, reincarna- 
tion, or rebirth, is absent from the Rigveda, but present in 
the Upanishads. The actions, deeds, or works of the soul, 
such as sacrificial rites, charity, austerity, and the general 
performance of social duty, which originally led it to com- 
plete salvation in the highest heaven, now merely chain 
it to the meaningless, monotonous cycle of rebirth. No 
matter how high up in the moral scale the soul may go, 
it is bound to come down again, for life is a Wheel. And 
no matter how desirable human intercourse in the world 
of nature may seem now and then, here and yon, its final 
monotony will steal away all zest. Thus life is no longer 
a thrilling adventure to be welcomed, but a dreary round 
to be renounced. Here is a basis for acosmism, literally 
"no-world-ism," the doctrine that the world is futile and 
unreal. To achieve salvation, we must be negative to the 


world, but positive to a realm above, in which the world 

The central task of the Upanishads is to point out the 
path from the world to this upper realm of "Reality." 

From the unreal lead me to the real. 
From darkness lead me to light. 
From death lead me to immortality. 2 

Contrary to the previous Vedic literature, the Upani- 
shads (which come at the end of the Vedas} show a dis- 
trust of "works'* and a trust in "knowledge." Hence the 
great effort to grasp the key of the universe, that one prin- 
ciple by which a knowledge of all things can be gained. 
Of what nature is the ultimate reality? On the answer 
to this leading question depends man's course of salvation. 
Like the Vedas on which they depend, the Upanishads 
teach a variety of doctrines, which may be grouped into 
three fundamental positions: a pantheistic monism, a vi- 
talistic dualism and an individualistic pluralism. These 
three inconsistent positions form the basis of later Ve- 
danta; for, as we shall see, when they are combined with 
an emphasis on the monism, we get the pantheistic acos- 
mism developed by Sankara, but when they are combined 
with an emphasis on the pluralism, we get the theistic 
determinism developed by Ramanuja. These are the two 
great classic forms of Vedanta (or Vedantism) , both of 
which appear in America, not only in the "Vedanta" 
movement, but in the "Yogoda" and other movements 
as well. 

It seems that the risis, or seers of the Upanishads, in 
seeking the key of knowledge to unlock the gate of sal- 
vation, did not want to explain the world so much as to 
explain it away. They themselves were not in the social 
world of industry, but apart from it; not low-caste men, 
but mosdy Brahmans, the exclusive possessors of religious 


learning, supported by the manual toil of the inferior 
orders of society. Their teachings were avowedly secret, 
and not meant for the masses, who had neither the mind 
to understand them nor the opportunity to carry them out. 
For the masses, the "lower," common-sense knowledge 
and the way of "works," or social and ceremonial duty, 
would have to suffice. 

But the masses were not content with a second-rate sal- 
vation. They cried out for the best, and their cry was 
heard. Two popular leaders arose with deeply pondered 
answers on their lips: Gautama Buddha, who preached 
salvation by the new morality of love and service to all 
mankind, and the unknown author of the Bhagavad Gita, 
or "Song Celestial," who fastened the sanction of Upani- 
shad teaching to the increasingly popular cult of loving- 
devotion to a God who was in mankind, to be sure, but 
essentially above and beyond. 

In Siddhartha Gautama Sakyamuni, born in the sixth 
century B. c., and later called the Buddha or Enlightened, 
a noble youth of warrior line of the Sakya clan near the 
border of Nepal in the Himalayas, the factor of an out- 
standing historic personality first enters the history of 
Hindu religion. The bitterness of war and plunder, the 
misery of old age, sickness, death, and poverty, and the 
monotonous futility of life in general, set forth in the 
law of karma and rebirth, had existed before Gautama, 
but never before had any seer brought these evils so 
vividly to the mind of his people. To the keen and sensi- 
tive nature of this original thinker, suffering is the over- 
powering f act of life. After prolonged meditation on the 
cause and cure of this evil, he becomes convinced of four 
basic truths: 

1. Individual life is suffering 

2. The origin of suffering is worldly desire 


3. Escape from suffering lies in freedom from this 

4. Freedom from this deske comes from right thinking 
and action 

Desire and thinking are one. Worldly desire causes 
suffering because we think the world is worthy, because 
we value what is transient and perishable. Since action 
springs from thinking, the pain of action can be cured by 
right thinking. We need neither priests nor austerity. 
We will renounce our cravings individually and of our 
own accord when once we realize the truth that all things 
are worthless. Man is an ever-changing stream of con- 
sciousness, while nature also is a continual process of 
change without abiding reality. With this knowledge, 
individuality will cease in Nibbana (the Buddhist N/f- 
vana) , a cool, calm state of ineffable joy, experienced even 
in this life. This is the doctrine of the * 'middle path" that 
seeks to avoid the extremes of self-indulgence and self- 

Buddhism taught two ways of uprooting sorrow and 
attaining this state of bliss: the Arhat ideal of individual 
renunciation and meditation, and the Bodbisattva ideal 
of social love and service, which overpasses the bounds of 
caste and takes all life into its embrace. This latter ideal 
resembles the Christian, but its background is considerably 
different. The Buddha himself was Ar&at, but, out of pity 
for the world, remained to teach it. This but shows the 
essential opposition between the two ideals of individual 
detachment and social sympathy. 

Then came the Bhagavad Gita, or the Lord's Song, 
some time perhaps between 200 B. c and 200 A. D. Like 
Buddhism, the Gita rejected austerity as a way of salva- 
tion, but unlike Buddhism, it was wise in its own genera- 
tion, and so refrained from preaching love for the world, 


or anything that smacked of the old-jashioned way of 
works discarded by the Upanishads. Yet it did preach 
love love for a personal God. Driven from the broad 
realm of social intercourse, love took refuge in the narrow 
province of private devotion. 

The Gita accepted completely the ways of knowledge 
(jnana) and meditation (yoga) laid down in the Upani- 
shads. But it made another contribution all its own: the 
way of bhakti, or "loving-devotion" to God, together with 
detached or meritless works, consituting a new kind of 
karma. The secret ways of knowledge and meditation 
may do for the exclusive Brahmans who have the time and 
mentality for such otherworldly practices, but they cannot 
benefit the toilers who live in the thick of the world and 
support the Brahmans, for they cannot possibly renounce 
the objects of sense. How can these commoners find sal- 

The Gita is an answer to this deep question. The com- 
mon man must work and love, but ordinary work and love 
will not do, for this only binds him more firmly to the 
wheel of action. Just here the popular worship of the 
divine hero Krishna makes its contribution. Let the com- 
mon man work not for the world, but for the Lord. Let 
him love not kin but Krishna. To achieve release a man 
must work without regard to the personal consequences 
of his deeds, without fear of punishment or hope of re- 
ward. He must learn not to be attracted by the attractive 
or repelled by the repellent, but envisage both as illusory 
manifestations of the adorable Lord. In the midst of tur- 
moil he must rest in the Lord of Peace, discharging every 
duty to the fullest, not because he seeks to benefit man- 
kind, but because his duty is to obey the eternal law of 

Prince Arjuna, a warrior by caste, appearing on the field 
of battle to vindicate his brother's title to the throne and 


free the land from oppression, feels a sudden pang, a 
sharp demand for peace on earth, when he sees kinsmen 
and beloved comrades in the ranks of both the opposing 
army and his own. How can he slay those to whom he 
owes the duty of honor and affection and trample on the 
sacred ties of kinship? Krishna, his divine charioteer, then 
tells him how. When duties conflict, caste duties must 
prevail, for they belong to Dharma, the very order of the 
universe. The warrior must fight. Identified with the 
Lord by devotion, he must enter the fray without hatred, 
and slaughter his kinsmen without remorse. Such action 
welds no bonds, and so the soul is free. 


Some time after the writing of the Bhagavad Gita, per- 
haps, the Vedanta Sutras were composed. The term Ve- 
danta is made up of two words, Veda (revelation) and 
anta (end), and literally means, "the end of revelation," 
or the final aim of the Veda. In this sense it has some- 
times been taken to include "the six systems of philoso- 
phy" based on the Upanishads, and even the Bbagavad 
Gita* More specifically, however, the term Vedanta re- 
fers to just one of these systems, embodied in the Vedanta 
Sutras, or Vedanta Aphorisms. As the only system that 
posits an absolute God, the Vedanta is the boldest and 
most characteristic form of Indian philosophy. 

Several thinkers who start from the Upanishads and 
Vedanta Sutras, such as Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhava, 
are often called Vedantins (or Vedantists), but I shall 
limit the term Vedanta to the positions of Sankara and 
Ramanuja, for only these two thinkers seek to maintain 
an absolute God. Aside from the Vedanta Sutras, which 
provided the systematic foundation for both of them, San- 
kara based his pantheistic acosmism chiefly on the mystic 
declarations of the Upanishadic sage Yajnavalkya, the 


renunciatory aspect of Buddhism, and the Gita's ways of 
knowledge and meditation, while Ramanuja's theistic de- 
terminism depends mainly on the individualistic Katha 
and Svetasvatara Upanishads, the old-fashioned Vedic 
way of merit-making "works," and the Gittfs way of 

Yet below their differences, Sankara and Ramanuja 
have many points in common. 

(1) Both were ardent defenders of the Hindu faith, 
and welcomed the doctrine of release from the wheel of 
life. That is, both depicted a universe in which every in- 
dividual soul with its subtle "causal body" containing the 
"seeds of action" repeatedly returns to rebirth in forms 
determined by the deeds of every previous life. The form 
of rebirth may be plant, animal or human, the subcon- 
scious self being retained. The human form, in turn, is 
divided into the four great castes which may not inter- 
marry or interdine, and the outcastes. And both main- 
tained that Sudras, or members of the lowest caste, are 
excluded from salvation in this life because they cannot 
be admitted to the study of the Vedas, lacking the initia- 
tion of the sacred thread common to the three higher 

(2) Both were Brahmans and natives of South India 
where Brahmans are much more exclusive than in the 
North. They alone studied the Vedas with satisfaction. 
While the three upper or "twice-born" castes were per- 
mitted the sacred study, only the Brahmans actually did 
so as a rule, since the others would find small use for such 
learning in everyday life. Such books as the Pancatantra 
show that the education given to princes was in many 
cases much more practical. As a result, the working out 
of philosophic theories became almost the exclusive task 
of a certain hereditary order. Since, moreover, this phi- 
losophy was especially directed to the elaboration of 


"Sruti" or Revelation, composed of early hymns, cere- 
monies and forest meditations, it was not especially con- 
cerned with industry, art, ethics, politics or science. India 
had indeed developed many sciences, such as medicine and 
mathematics, but these were not considered departments 
of religious philosophy; political and ethical precepts were 
laid down in the sastras, or law books, as divinely fixed 
once and for all, and did not evolve under despotic rule, 
while art and industry were manual labor beneath the 
function of a priest. Hindu philosophers were not merely 
an exclusive set: they even dealt with exclusive problems. 
(3) So we are not surprised to learn that Sankara and 
Ramanuja both rejected "sense-perception*' and 'logical 
inference" in favor of "scriptural authority" as the source 
of supreme knowledge, or the knowledge of God, which 
was considered a matter of experience or intuition. San- 
kara recognized intuition, or anubhava, as final only if 
based on the word and sanction of scripture. As for 
reason, it was held to be useless as a means of dealing 
with ultimate reality, for it cannot yield the "higher" 
knowledge, which is the experience of the "higher" God. 

The fact of everything having its Self in Brahman cannot be 
grasped without the aid of the Scriptural passage "That art 
thou." a 

Thus Sankara and Ramanuja were at bottom very much 
alike, for in life and thought they both emphasized the 
sharp distinction between the creative and the blissful 
God, between the laity and the priesthood, and between 
reason and revelation. 


Sankara, who was born in the very south of India about 
800 A. D., became in childhood a prodigy of Vedic lore. 
Rejecting the ways of the world at an early age, he turned 


sannyasi; wandered over India, preaching and disputing, 
and established four mathas, or monasteries, at the four 
points of the compass: Badarinath in the Himalayas to 
the north, Sringeri in the south, Puri in the east and Dva- 
raka in the west. From these monasteries would sally 
forth in good weather his order of preaching friars, or 
sannyasis like himself, to proclaim his message. In this 
organization he followed Buddhism. His monks were 
called dasnamis, or "Ten Named/* because each monk 
had for his surname one of ten names, such as Puri or 
Giri. Thus each name came to denote a suborder. On 
initiation into the order, every man would take a new 
first name standing for one of Sankara's main doctrines, 
and put on an ochre, saffron, or flame-colored robe, sig- 
nifying the fire of knowledge in which ignorance and im- 
purity are consumed. The color of the robe, still worn 
today by sannyasis, or swamis, is like the color of this 
book-cover. Castes also, along with property, ordinary 
clothes and family ties, were "burnt up" in this order of 
renunciation and meditation. But what did these friars 
preach? What was Sankara's system? 

Weary of the nihilistic doctrines spread abroad in India 
by Buddhism, the Hindu community longed for a return 
to Vedic authority. This meant a return to the Upani- 
shads, which by their own dictum had fulfilled the earlier 
parts of the Vedas. But what did the Upanishads teach? 
There was no common view. The Vedanta Sutras were 
comprehensive but cryptic. So an intelligible authority 
was the urgent need of the day. How to make the Upani- 
shads teach one main doctrine, then, is Sankara's great 
problem. And he solves it with a genius as subtle as rare. 
In the Upanishads he sees the "lower" Brahman known 
by the "lower" knowledge, and the "higher" Brahman 
known by the "higher" knowledge. 4 Taking this sharp 
distinction as his guide, he fixes the "higher" knowledge 


as the standard authority of infallible scripture, and treats 
the "lower" knowledge as an accommodation to men of 
lower position on the cosmic wheel. 

The "lower" knowledge gives us a creative, time-includ- 
ing God and the manifold regulations for ceremonial wor- 
ship and social duty enjoined by Hindu tradition. All this 
Sankara sanctions as a wise propagandist. The 'lower" 
knowledge is true indeed, but only relatively true. The 
"higher" knowledge gives us the God of formless bliss. 
In this bliss alone is full salvation, attained by the sanny- 
asi, the one that renounces the world to meditate on his 
"inner divine nature/' 

With this plan in mind, Sankara constructs his system. 
His first act is to lay down the proposition that object and 
subject, the "thou" and the "I," are absolutely distinct 
and cannot be identified in any respect. This is supposed 
to be self-evident. The subject is God, the object the 
world. The trouble with most men, says Sankara, is that 
they are unaware of this simple truth! They naively say, 
"I am cold," or, "I am hot," when in reality it is impos- 
sible for the self to be anything finite at all. For cold and 
heat are qualities of objects, whereas the self is the sub- 
ject, which is quite another thing. My body may be cold 
or hot, but I myself can be neither. 

This transference of the qualities of the object to the 
subject, says Sankara, is man's innate or natural error 
based on his cosmic forgetfulness of his original, quality- 
less Self. And since the subject is the only reality, as the 
Upanishads reveal, it is incorrect to think of the object as 
real in itself. Hence the world as we usually know it, 
is the result of ignorance, or avidya. It does not really 
exist as it appears to exist. Therefore it is illusion. In 
the dusk we see a snake. But as we approach, we find it 
a rope. The snake is an illusion, banished by knowledge. 
So with the world. 


As a matter of fact, Sankara's course was away from 
illusionism, and not toward it: all he desired was con- 
sistent authority. His spiritual grandfather Gaudapada 
had written a commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad 
to show that waking life is no more than a dream. But 
Sankara took great pains to point out the relative reality 
of the waking life compared to dreaming. The world, 
said he, is not a private, but a public illusion, and real 
for all practical purposes. Indeed, the illusion is pro- 
duced by God himself, the great Illusion-Maker. Hence 
the way of final salvation is the knowledge of God as the 
absolute Self, and the everyday world as illusion. 

The complete comprehension of Brahman is the highest end 
of man, since it destroys the root of all evil such as false knowl- 
edge, the seed of the entire process of transmigration. 5 

When vidya, or true knowledge, begins, then avidya t 
or false knowledge, ceases. Hence the two views of God, 
practical and intuitive, cannot possibly conflict, for they 
cannot exist in the same person at the same time. 

The man who has once comprehended Brahman to be the Self 
does not belong to this transmigratory world as he did before. 
He, on the other hand, who still belongs to this transmigratory 
world as before, has not comprehended Brahman to be the Self. 
Thus there remain no unsolved contradictions. 6 

Now, the comprehension of Brahman as the solitary 
Self demands private intuition as the completion of public 
authority. After the devotee is convinced of the scrip- 
tural verity "That art thou," he must also "realize" by 
inner experience that he truly is that Brahman. Even 
before a member of the faithful begins his sadhana t or 
"realization," he must form a stable character by means 
of common sense, practical logic, and the ordinary re- 
ligion of ceremony, works and duty. Thus the 'lower" 
knowledge has a distinct place as an educative agency for 
the "higher" knowledge. Then he must fit himself for 


the direct intuition of Sat-cit-ananda, or "Reality-con- 
sciousness-bliss," by traversing four stages: 

(1) Discrimination between God and the world; 

(2) Renunciation of the world, called sannyasa; 

(3) Six mental disciplines: 

(a) Restraint of the outer senses; 

(b) Restraint of the inner senses; 

(c) Retraction of the mind from the senses; 

(d) Fixation of the mind on the "Self"; 

(e) Indifference to pairs of opposites, such as cold and 
heat, gain and loss, pleasure and pain; 

(f) Complete trust in the scriptures and guru, or 

(4) Keen desire to escape all bondage. 7 

After the student is thoroughly trained in these four 
stages with their yoga practice, he is ready to follow the 
final three stages. 

(1) Learning the meaning of the text "That art thou" from 
a guru who has himself really experienced this truth. 

(2) Testing this truth by means of practical doubt and ex- 

(3) The final constant bliss of intuition. 8 

This final rapturous experience can never be communi- 
cated: it must be private. Indeed, according to Sankara, 
the Vedic texts do not even aim to implant truth: they 
merely direct our attention to it. Knowledge springs up 
in the mind "of itself" as a direct perception of the Eter- 
nal, in which all limitations vanish, and the soul obtains 
mukti f or liberation, here and now. 

That which is real in the absolute sense, immutable, eternal, 
all-pervading like akasa, exempt from all change, all-satisfying, 
undivided, whose nature is to be its own light, in which neither 
good nor evil, nor effect, nor past nor present nor future has 
any place, this incorporeal is called liberation. 

By taking mental discipline as one of the means of lib- 
eration, Sankara embraces the yoga practice as presented 


in the U panishads and developed in the classic system 
of Patanjali. 11 The word yoga means yoke. Thus yoga 
means the yoking, or restraint, of the senses. But if the 
yoking be taken as a way to God (in contrast to the posi- 
tion of the Sankhya system of philosophy), it comes to 
signify union union with God. Patanjali taught the raja- 
yoga or "kingly" way of restraint, as distinguished from 
the hatha-yoga and the mantra-yoga. The hatha-yoga is 
a system of bodily exercises for warding off diseases and 
making the body fit to bear with perfect calm all sorts of 
privations and strains. The mantra-yoga is a course of 
meditation on certain "mystic" syllables leading to the 
audition of certain "mystic" sounds. 

The raja-yoga, which of all these is the most important 
and the' system taught most in America, is a discipline of 
gradual restraint and final annihilation of all mental 
states for the sake of salvation. It tells how the senses 
may be withdrawn from the objects of sense, and reduced 
to stillness in the anta:karana, or inner central organ; 
and how this central organ in turn may be so wholly 
centered in the atman, or soul, as to lose itself in the bliss 
of "superconscious" unity. But this goal of deliverance 
can be reached only through a series of stages in which 
external aids play a large part. Various bodily attitudes, 
named asana, are prescribed, as well as the control of 
breathing by means of counting and holding the breath, 
and the fixation of attention on various parts of the body, 
such as the navel or the tip of the nose. All this is meant 
to reduce natural activity to a minimum. Sometimes tears 
flow from the eyes, the body becomes cataleptic, or as stiff 
as a piece of wood, and the devotee or yogi falls into 
yoganidra, the hypnotic sleep that precedes complete 
emancipation. One method that is useful in producing a 
state of death to the world and awaking to bliss consists 
in extending the tongue, bending it round, and inserting 


the tip into the opening of the throat, while gazing stead- 
fastly on the spot between the eyebrows. 

A development of Patanjali's method is the surtsabda 
(or "spirit word") yoga, built on to the more classic way. 
Before achieving his bliss, the yogi hears in his heart or 
throat or some other part of the body various sounds, 
such as the rolling of a drum, the roaring of the sea, the 
tolling of a bell, the hum of a bee or the singing of a lyre. 
These sounds are given tremendous, "cosmic" significance. 

When the yogi earnestly perseveres in the correct 
method, so we are told, he can both heal his body and 
employ marvelous powers such as making himself in- 
finitely small or invisible, swelling to an immense size so 
as to touch the moon with the tip of his fingers, or trans- 
porting himself anywhere by a simple act of will. His 
mind is so concentrated and intense that he can see 
through walls or read the minds of other men. He can 
look into the past or future, and hold converse with de- 
parted spirits. Yet we are told that the true yogi never 
uses these powers: they are mere distracting handicaps to 
his escape from the world and the attainment of heavenly 
peace. As the snake sheds its skin, so does the soul shed 
its body, and rest in the bliss of Brahman. 

Such is the outcome of Sankara's message to the faith- 
ful, to the orthodox sects he represents. Here his authority 
is intuition based on scripture. But his message to the 
heretical sects he opposes, such as Buddhism and the 
Sankhya position, must be couched in different terms and 
rely on a different authority. Since these sects do not 
accept the Vedanta revelation, he must convince them by 
reason alone he must meet them on the plane of the 
"lower" knowledge where they dwell. 

(1) When the Buddhists, for example, deny the sub- 
stantial self maintained by the Vedanta, Sankara must 
prove the substantial self exists. But how can he? How 


can anyone know the self exists, when knowledge (accord- 
ing to the common, traditional belief) is the apprehension 
of an object, and the self is not an object at all, but only 
the subject? Says Yajnavalkya, the knower cannot know 
itselj. Sankara himself raises this question, and replies 
that the subject is a necessary presupposition of all knowl- 

It cannot be denied, for of that very person who might deny 
it, it is the Self." 

Moreover, the Self, or God, is known intuitively. 

The existence of Brahman is known on the ground of its being 
the Self of everyone. For everyone is conscious of the existence 
of his Self, and never thinks "I am not." If the existence of the 
Self were not known, everyone would think "I am not." And 
this Self is Brahman. 13 

(2) Again, to convince the Sankhyas that the ultimate 
reality is intelligence or consciousness, Sankara proceeds 
to demonstrate that the efficient or material cause of the 
world is the Self, or Brahman. To show that Brahman 
is the efficient cause, he uses the argument for design. 

A non-intelligent thing, which, without being guided by an 
intelligent being, spontaneously produces effects capable of sub- 
serving the purposes of some particular person, is nowhere ob- 
served in the world. We rather observe that houses, palaces, 
couches, pleasure grounds, and the like things which according 
to the circumstances are conducive to the attainment of pleasure 
or the avoidance of pain are made by workmen endowed with 
intelligence. Now look at this entire world ... of which the 
most ingenious workmen cannot even form a conception in their 
minds, and then say if a non-intelligent principle is able to 
fashion it! 14 

To show that Brahman is the material cause, he uses 
the argument from causality. 

With regard to ether and air, the possibility of an origin has 
been shown. But in Brahman's case there is no such possibility; 
hence the cases are not parallel Nor does the fact of other 


effects springing from effects imply that Brahman also must be 
an effect; for the non-admission of a fundamental causal sub- 
stance would drive us to a regresstts in infimtum. And that 
fundamental causal substance which as a matter of fact is gen- 
erally acknowledged to exist, just that is our Brahman. 15 

The relation of God to the world is defined more pre- 
cisely in terms of substance and modes. 

The omniscient Lord of all is the cause of the origin of this 
world in the same way as clay is the material cause of jars and 
gold of golden ornaments. . . . 16 

In both these arguments, Sankara develops the genu- 
inely monistic strand of the Upanishads into a kind of 
theism. The Self, or God, is not distinct from the world 
(as in the dominant dualism), but its very substance or 
being. This is the 'lower" God, known by the "lower" 
knowledge. Here there is no basis for acosmism: God 
creates the world out of Himself with careful purpose. 
Again, it is the individual, living in the strife and change 
of the world that is "conscious of the existence of his 
Self," and never thinks "I am not/* This means that the 
ordinary man knows his Self, or God, without all the 
paraphernalia of renunciation and steps in meditation. 
As a matter of fact, when Sankara relies on reason, he 
is a monistic theist, but when he takes refuge in revela- 
tion, he is an acosmistic pantheist. And this he is funda- 
mentally, for as a defender of that particular faith known 
as Hinduism, he must take its scripture as final authority, 
and relegate reason to the comparative unreality of the 
"lower" knowledge. 


As Sankara in the ninth century fulfils the teachings 
of the Upanishadic sage Yajnavalkya, so does Ramanuja 
in the eleventh century fulfill the teachings of the Sveta- 
svatafa Upanishad and the Bhagavad Gita. And as San- 
kara was influenced by Buddhism, Ramanuja was influ- 


diced by the Alvars, or Visnuite saints, whose Tamil 
hymns of "loving-devotion" had voiced the aspirations of 
the masses that worshiped the god Visnu. So sings Yamu- 
nacarya, the spiritual grandfather of Ramanuja: 

Oh, fie on me, foul shameless wanton brute 
Craving the rank of servantship to Thee, 

Which lieth far, O God! beyond the chief 
Of saintliest souls, Brahman or Mahadeo! 
* # * 

Lord Madhva, whatever mine may be, 

Whatever I, is all and wholly Thine. 
What offering can I bring, whose wakened soul 

Seeth all Being bound to Thee for aye? 1T 

Like the Svetasvatara Upanishad these hymns express a 
sharp difference between God and the individual soul, as 
well as between God and the world. Finally, just as San- 
kara's chief opponent was the Sankhya, Ramanuja' s chief 
opponent was Sankara himself. Although Ramanuja also 
became a sannyasi, and toured South India preaching 
release, he was always a champion of the Visnu cult of 
divine grace which stressed the distinction between devo- 
tee and Lord. Early in life, so runs the legend, the will 
of God came to him in this verse: 

I am the supreme reality. My view is distinction. Self-sur- 
render is the unfailing cause of salvation, individual effort not 
being essential. Release will come in the end. . . , 19 

While both Sankara and Ramanuja are Vedantins, Ra- 
manuja is more moderate than Sankara. He does not 
perfect a device 20 to divide revelation into "lower" and 
"higher," but labors to harmonize all teachings in one 
doctrine. Rather than stand forth as an independent 
thinker, he follows a long tradition of Vedantic expositors, 
He agrees that salvation is release from karma and rebirth, 
and that release comes through knowledge, but he takes 
knowledge as meditation on the supreme, loving Person. 21 


Such knowledge is really bhakti, or "loving-devotion," in 
response to which God graciously reveals Himself, and so 
rewards the devotee. As the Bhagavad Gita says, 

To those who are constantly devoted and worship with loving- 
devotion I give that knowledge by which they reach me. 22 

Since this devotion can be cultivated only by certain defi- 
nite duties and ceremonies, 23 Ramanuja, unlike Sankara, 
makes good works integral to the knowledge of God. 

While God is the one and only reality, the basis of the 
origination, subsistence and reabsorption of the world, He 
is also a loving Person. Although Ramanuja was not 
original in treating ultimate reality as personal, he was 
indeed the first Hindu thinker to define a person clearly 
in common sense terms as one who has the power to 
realize his purposes. God alone is unconditionally a per- 
son, since He alone has complete power to realize His 
purposes. Man has only a limited amount of this power, 
and so is only conditionally a person. 

Following his favorite Upanishad, the Svetasvatara, Ra- 
manuja insists that Nature (prakriti) and individual souls 
(jivas) are substances in themselves. Souls are one with 
God not in being, but in kind. Individual souls are divine 
in nature, but are separate and distinct from the universal 
Soul, They are atomic; it is infinite. It creates; they only 
enjoy. Yet Ramanuja wants to keep monism. So he calls 
individuals "modes of God" in the sense that they come 
under his personal control. Accordingly they are mem- 
bers of the body of which God is the Soul. 24 

Any substance which a sentient soul is capable of completely 
controlling and supporting for its own purposes, and which 
stands to the soul in an entirely subordinate relation, is the body 
of that soul. , . , In this sense, then, all sentient and non-sentient 
beings together constitute the body of the Supreme Person, for 
they are completely controlled and supported by Him for His OWA 
ends, and are absolutely subject to Him. 25 


Thus Ramanuja, like Sankara, wants to make God both 
the material and the efficient cause of the world. But to 
Ramanuja, God is also the final cause. To Sankara, the 
creation of the world is God's playful illusion, utterly 
devoid of purpose; and karma, or work, has no integral 
connection with release from rebirth. But to Ramanuja, 
God creates all beings in order that as a reward for thek 
good works in the world, individual souls may enjoy 
eternal divine communion. 

While Ramanuja thus sees God in every way the cause 
of the world, he is yet careful to keep God free from the 
world and its evil. God is in the world but not of it. 
He is embodied, but not subject to the actions of the body, 
to the good and evil deeds of the world. He creates with 
purpose, to be sure, but only in play or sport, unattached 
to results. God never completely absorbs the world, he 
tells us: the world becomes subtle and gross in endless 
cycles, but remains ever distinct from God. How can the 
impure reveal the Pure? God has really two forms: a 
worldly form distinct from Him, and a heavenly body of 
His very own, which from time to time He incarnates, 
or thrusts into His worldly body, for the sake of His 
devotees. 26 

With the aid of these incarnations, the soul finally 
achieves communion with its Maker. Not the bliss of 
union, but the love of communion. However high the 
soul may rise, there will always be an "other" for it to 
cherish and adore. And since God is really separate and 
aloof from the world, the soul that would love Him eter- 
nally must also be separate from the world. For Rama- 
nuja there is no jwanmukti, no release in this life. The 
soul attains God only after exhausting all karma , and 
casting off the body entirely. 

While Sankara and Ramanuja thus differ in emphasis, 
they are yet alike in the main structure of their thinking, 


which is a dualism between God and the world. To be 
sure, they both get a spurious monism, Sankara by treating 
the world as unreal, and Ramanuja by linking it with God 
through God's power, but their basis remains dualistic 
These two dogmatic philosophers or theologians India's 
best are like two artists painting the landscape of the 
Upanishads. Ramanuja brings into prominence the broad 
green and red of "work" and 'loving-devotion/' Sankara 
suffuses the canvas with the white and yellow of "knowl- 
edge" and "meditation," but the outline and figures are 
the same. 

Both proclaim the monistic doctrine of substance and 
modes, but fail to maintain it in its purity to the end. 
Sankara virtually consigns it to the limbo of false knowl- 
edge, while Ramanuja vetoes it by calling God separate 
from the world. As a matter of fact, both thinkers are 
loyal to two dogmas. The first dogma is the "wheel of 
life," which demands that salvation be conceived as release 
from the world. The second dogma is the final authority 
of scripture, which imposes the difficult task of reconciling 
its contradictory doctrines of monism and dualism. 

These two dogmas, developed by a priestly caste aloof 
from science and industry in a land of glorious culture, 
yet inured to invasion, hardship and despotic rule, com- 
pose the framework of the Hindu religious tradition in- 
herited by the modern Hindu. This does not mean that 
his religion is limited to his Hindu heritage. Life is more 
than logic, and present religion more than a summary of 
past dogma. In practice, the modern Hindu may be 
strongly influenced by Western ideas. Yet the dearest 
way to trace the direction of a religious movement is to 
understand its definite past positions. We are now ready 
to study the more immediate source of the American 
"Vedanta" movement in Ramakrishna, the brilliant, Il- 
literate, naked saint of Bengal. 



The first Hindu cult in America was founded by Vive- 
kananda in New York in 1894, and Vivekananda's in- 
spiration came from Ramakrishna, a modest saint who 
never left India. The Hindu heritage did not come to 
Ramakrishna in books, for he was ignorant of both San- 
skrit and English as well as the higher literature of his 
native speech, Bengali. He was just a country lad, simple 
and singleminded. But his perfect piety and perfect art- 
istry, coupled with his contact with devotees of most of the 
Hindu sects, made him virtually an epitome of Hindu 
orthodoxy, plus a dash of tender love. In the words of 
"Mahatma'' Gandhi, 

The story of Ramakrishna Paxamahansa's 1 life is a story of 
religion in practice, . . . His sayings are ... revelations of his 
own experience. , . . In this age of scepticism Ramakrishna pre- 
sents an example of a bright and living faith which gives solace 
to thousands of men and women who would otherwise have 
remained without spiritual light. His love knew no limits. . . .* 

The life of Ramakrishna may be divided into five pe- 
riods, each with its own distinct character. 

(1) From his birth in Kamarpukur, Bengal, in 1836 * 
till he reached the age of seventeen, he lived the happy, 
carefree life of a talented village boy. 

(2) From his arrival in Calcutta in his seventeenth 
year until his twenty-third year, he assisted his brother 
Ram Kumar as a household and temple priest, and de- 
veloped a passionate worship for the goddess Kali. 


(3) From his twenty-third until his tfirty-fifth year, 
a period of twelve years, he strove with the utmost in- 
tensity and rigor to gain visions of Kali and other Hindu 

(4) From the time he fulfilled this desire and attained 
mental peace at the age of thirty-five, until his thirty- 
ninth year, he experimented with various religious ideals, 
including Islam and Christianity. 

(5) From 1875, when at the age of thirty-nine he met 
Keshab Chandra Sen, the leader of the Brahma Samaj, 
until his death in 1886 at the age of fifty, he devoted most 
of his time to teaching his many disciples. A section will 
now be devoted to each period. 


Our hero made a wise choice of parents. Although his 
Brahman forebears, named Chatterji, were poor in this 
world's goods, they were honest and generous. Their small 
village was far from the nearest city, yet on the road to 
the holy Puri, where Saint Sankara had founded his 
eastern monastery. The family had its idol, and the vil- 
lage had one too. The child was marked for religion. 

According to the story, his father's 4 function in concep- 
tion was fulfilled by both Visnu and Siva, the gods of the 
two great Hindu sects. While the father Khudiram was 
lodging in sacred Gaya 5 whence he had gone to offer 
barley balls to his ancestors, 6 he dreamed he was in the 
temple of Visnu beholding a luminous God enthroned, 
who spoke to him sweetly as follows: 

I am well pleased at your sincere devotion. I am born again 
and again to chastise the wicked and protect the virtuous. 7 This 
time I shall be born in your cottage and accept you as my father. 

While Khudiram was thus off in Gaya, his wife Chandra 
Devi, back in Kamarpukur, was also beholding a strange 


vision. One day, standing with her friend Dhani, a wo- 
man blacksmith, before the Siva temple next to her house, 
"she saw a flood of celestial light issue from the Lord 
Siva and dart towards her/' As the light entered her 
body, we are told, she fell down senseless. On regaining 
consciousness, she felt as if she were with child. In 
similar manner, so runs tradition, were the classic Hindu 
incarnations conceived: Rama, Krishna, Buddha, as also 

After the child was born, it is supposed to have slipped 
into an oven, and lain there without a cry, half covered 
with ashes. Perhaps this foretold a life of renunciation. 
The father rejected the "proper" zodiacal name, and called 
his son Gadadhar, one of the names of Visnu. Gadadhar 
Chatterji became Ramakrishna at the age of thirty-five 
when he passed through his initiation into sannyasa, and 
became a swami. 

The child grew to be a village favorite. When about 
six years old, he fell into his first trance at the unspeakable 
joy of seeing a flock of white cranes fly across a dark mass 
of wind-swept clouds. Later on, the death of his father 
convinced him of the impermanence and futility of the 
world. Already the seeds of Sankara's renunciation and 
rapture! He associated with Sankara's sannyasis, or with 
sadhus like them, and began to imitate their ways. Like 
Sankara, he was a prodigy of Hindu lore, solving a scrip- 
tural problem for the learned pandits at the tender age 
of ten. Playing truant with the village lads in good old 
Krishna style, he taught them amateur religious drama. 

Once while impersonating the God Siva in a village 
play, the character so filled his mind that he rose to 
ecstasy, and had to be carried off the stage. Owing to 
his amazing memory and fondness for acting, his mind 
became saturated with the stories of Hindu gods and 
heroes. He often imagined himself a gopi, or milkmaid, 


sporting with the divine young cowherd Krishna, and im- 
personated a woman so well as to deceive everybody. 
Both men and women enjoyed his graceful dancing, his 
clever merriment and jest. He enjoyed modelling images 
of the gods, and became an expert in this line. But in all 
his play he felt a sense of mission, and resigned himself 
to Rama, his household god. 


At the age of seventeen, Gadadhar joined his eldest 
brother Pandit Ram Kumar in Calcutta, and helped him 
perform his priestly duties. But he did not share his 
brother's concern for the family income, and stubbornly 
refused to attend school. "What shall I do with a mere 
bread-winning education?" he demanded, "I would rather 
acquire that wisdom which will illumine my heart, and 
getting which, one is satisfied forever." 8 True to his 
Hindu heritage and emotional temper, the boy wanted to 
fly the world. To prevent just such immature renunciation 
and social loss, the great lawgiver Manu had laid down 
the four stages of life, in which renunciation comes only 
after a man is old and grey and has already performed 
his social labors. But the youth Gadadhar had many a 
striking precedent in such saints as Gautama and Sankara. 

Two years later a wealthy Bengali lady named Rani 
Rasmani opened a palatial temple for the goddess Kali 
on the Hugli River at Daksinesvara, four miles north of 
Calcutta, and appointed Ram Kumar as chief priest. For 
all her wealth, the Rani was only a Sudra, or member of 
the lowest order of Hindu society, ancf so Gadadhar, like 
the pious Brahman he was, protested against this service 
of a low-caste woman. But he finally yielded to a decision 
by lot. Even then he refused to eat within the temple 
walls until his brother told him that no place on the banks 
of the sacred Ganges could remain "unclean/* 


Mathur Nath Biswas, the Rani's son-in-law and agent, 
fascinated by the artistic temper of Gadadhar, favored him 
with the request to assist his brother in the temple service. 
The youth consented only on condition that his nephew 
Hriday (who was about his own age) assume the burden 
of the work and responsibility. Gadadhar himself then 
took charge of the dressing and decorating of the image 
of Kali. 

All through his life, Sri Ramakrishna showed an utter disgust 
for service of any kind. Conquest of the cravings of flesh, and 
renunciation of wealth were, in his opinion, the sine qua non 
of divine realization. ... To engage one's mind to serve another 
is to divert a part of one's attention from the contemplation of 
God. . . . Besides, Sri Ramakrishna would often say that to accept 
service was to demean oneself. . . . 9 

The pious boy now had free rein to indulge in devotion, 
and he spent four precious years worshiping his mother 
Kali. This goddess, it seems, was originally a blood- 
thirsty female demon of an aboriginal tribe. But the 
Brahmans took her into the Hindu pantheon by making 
her the consort of Siva, who in his different aspects is the 
great ascetic, the eternal creator, the patron of outlaws, 
and the wild carouser. Kali is his sakti, or outpouring 
energy; she it is that makes him "dance." She is the 
mother of the universe, half humane, half terrible. Her 
image stands in the Temple of Daksinesvara. 

The Mother wears a gorgeous Benares cloth, and is decorated 
with ornaments from head to foot. From Her neck hangs a gar- 
land of skulls and round Her waist is a girdle of human arms 
made of gold. In Her lower left arm She holds a decapitated 
human head, also made of gold, and in the upper a sword. With 
Her lower right arm She is offering boons to Her devotees and 
with the upper one She says, Fear not! The skulls and the sword 
represent Her terrible side; and Her right arms offering boons 
and fearlessness bring out Her benignant side. She is both 
terrible and sweet just like Nature alternately destroying and 
creating. 10 


This is the Mother with whom our hero would eat and 
drink, talk and sing by the hour, till he became uncon- 
scious of the world. In spite of Gadadhar's further ad- 
ventures in religion, it seems that this goddess Kali re- 
mained as the dominant influence in his life. At a later 
time, his favorite disciple Vivekananda probably felt the 
same loyalty. In times of crisis, both would turn to this 
"Mother of the Universe* for comfort and guidance. And 
in so far as both Hindu teachers were affected by the wor- 
ship of this principle, at once terrible and humane, they 
would not be likely to spend much effort in making their 
environment more humane and less terrible. In other 
words, any moral effort would tend to be sporadic and 

In the state of devoted ecstasy to Kali, the boy priest 
would pass into that form of trance known as the classic 
samadhi, or union with the divine, according to the yoga 
practice based on Sankara's teaching. His body would 
become rigid, his pulse and heart beat imperceptible. 
Moreover, we are told that he had the power of inducing 
such a state in another at any time by means of a single 
touch. While uttering the various mantras, or sacred 
chants, he could "see and feel" those things that most 
priests can only "imagine/* 

Thus while chanting the mystic syllable rang which directed 
the priest to conceive a wall of fire around him, Sri Ramakrishna 
really felt himself in the midst of a circle of fire guarding himself 
and the place of worship from all evil influences. Again he could 
actually feel the mystic power called Kundalini or the "coiled 
up," rushing up from its place of rest at the lower extremity of 
the spinal column along the channel of Sushumna to what the 
Yogis call Sahasrara, or the thousand petalled lotus in the brain. 
He really visualized it passing through the six centres of the body 
in the spinal column. As it struck the "lotuses" of those centres, 
the hanging buds were turned into erect, full blown flowers. 11 


This ceremony of the Kundalini is described in the Tan* 
tras, or devotional manuals compiled from many sources 
some time before Sankara, and used chiefly by the Sakta 
cult of the Sivaite sect. 

At the death of his elder brother the priest, the boy 
went nearly mad with grief, and spent all his time praying 
to get a vision of the Mother. If She is really my Mother, 
he said to himself, She will come to me. But for a long 
time She did not come. Just as he was about to kill him- 
self with a ceremonial sword, the vision came: he plunged 
into an ocean of otherworldly consciousness whose shining 
billows kept rushing at him with a terrible noise, eager to 
swallow him up. After this he gained repeated visions 
both in trance and waking life. . . . He lost his individual 
impulses, and felt himself completely at the mercy of an 
outside impetuous force. Like other ecstatics who have 
wished to shirk service, he felt absolutely unable to per- 
form his sacred duties. Mathur Nath, acting for the temple 
owner, allowed this strange worship to continue, while the 
faithful Hriday took over all the work. 

Now that the youthful visionary had seen Mother Kali 
by following bhakti, or the path of loving-devotion, he 
craved to follow the same path to get a vision of Rama, 
the dutiful son and the hero-god of the great epic Rama- 
yana. Caring nothing for the fact that Kali is worshiped 
by the Sivaites but Rama by the Visnuites, the boy applied 
the same method to each the method of tears and tin* 
earthly yearning. From among the five bhakti relations 
between devotee and "Chosen Ideal," he now selected the 
relation of servant to master, called dasya, or service, and 
pictured himself as Hanuman, the monkey-god servant of 

By a constant meditation on the glorious character of Hanuman 
[he recalls] I totally forgot my personal identity. My daily life 
and style of food now strangely resembled those of Hanuman. 


I did not feign them, but they naturally came to me. I tied my 
cloth round the waist, hanging a portion of it in the form of a 
tail, and jumped from place to place instead of walking. I lived 
on fruits and nuts only, and these too I preferred to eat without 
peeling the skin. I passed most of the time on trees, and in a 
solemn voice used to call out, "Raghubir!" [a name for Rama]. 
My eyes too looked restless like those of a monkey, and what 
was most wonderful, I had an enlargement of the Coccyx by 
about an inch. It gradually resumed its former size after that 
phase of the mind had passed away on the completion of the 
course of discipline. In short, everything about me was more 
like that of a monkey than a human being. 12 

During this period of sadhana, or "realization/' the 
boy's health decayed. From time to time he suffered 
severe burning sensations over his skin, for which he knew 
no remedy. But one day a vision gave him relief from a 
six months* siege. A red-eyed black man, the "man of 
sin," came out of his body, reeling as if dead drunk. Soon 
after, there emerged a saintly ascetic of placid mien, wear- 
ing the saffron robe, who killed the black man with his 
trident. Alarmed at Gadahar's condition, his mother and 
brothers now took him home, and tried to cure him of his 
premature otherworldliness by marrying him off. The 
eccentric youth yielded to the usual marriage ceremony, 
but not to the usual marriage relation. His wife, who 
happened to be a child of five, 13 returned to her father's 
home, and never lived with her husband as a sex mate, 
although she came to him later as a disciple and clmrig 
to him loyally till the end. Since he would regard her 
only as his mother, she came to be called the Holy Mother. 


On his return to Daksinesvara, our hero was again 
seized with devotional madness. By again neglecting his 
duties he lost his position altogether, and betook himself 
to a nearby wood. Twelve years he spent in tempestuous 
meditation, and for the first six years, we are told, he got 


no sleep. His one fixed idea was to get rid of lust and 
wealth, so as to gain the power of beholding Mother Kali 
at will. After many weary years, the first person to under- 
stand him was a Brahmani nun, or sannyasini, who came 
and resided for some time in the temple. She had given 
up home and name, and was known only as "Bhairavi 
Brahmani, 5 * that is, a Brahman woman who worships the 
"Bhairavi," or "Fearful One/' who is Siva. Out of her 
vast mental storehouse of sacred lore she drew a cure for 
his madness. "The people are right/' she told him in 
effect, "You are indeed mad. But mad after God. It 
was the same with Chaitanya. 14 You are both incarna- 
tions of God!" 

She cured the burning of his skin with an application 
of sandalwood paste. A mother-and-son worship soon 
sprang up between them that relieved all his tension and 
trouble. Then she instructed him in yoga, that discipline 
of posture, breathing and attention aiming at "supercon- 
scious" detachment from the world. She also put him 
through the paces of the Tantras, those old manuals writ- 
ten for the worship of Kali by the Saktist cult. The 
main idea of this worship, we are told, 15 is to induce the 
struggling soul to look on all sense-objects as visible 
representations of the Lord, so that the soul's undue at- 
tachment to these things may be curbed. The common 
practice was to indulge in wine and women with the ut- 
most abandon. But the saintly Gadadhar, so his admirers 
declare, introduced an element of purity all his own, and 
passed through all tests unscathed. When he beheld a 
woman of the streets, she would only remind him of the 
"Divine Mother" in another form. Filthy words came to 
him only as a group of separate letters, each a symbol erf 
God. Besides, after inspecting the degraded practices 
of the Vallabha cult of the Visnuite sea, our hero con- 
cluded that a man may be engaged in some reprehensible 


form of sadhana or "realization," and yet progress spiritu- 
ally and ultimately attain the goal if only he is sincere. 16 
Thus, acording to this Hindu teacher, the only moral dis- 
tinction in life is between sincerity and insincerity, be- 
tween tears and no tears! 

Such things he learned from his Brahmani. But her 
greatest contribution to his cause was the open and valiant 
proclamation that he was an avatara or incarnation of 
God. This claim was later tested and verified by two 
famous Hindu pandits who saw in his mind and body 
the marks of divinity according to Hindu canons. From 
henceforth he was no longer the mad Gadadhar, but the 
incarnate Lord Visnu. And as such, his fame was spread 
abroad by hosts of visiting mendicant monks and strolling 
devotees. After the Bhairavi Brahmani helped her spiri- 
tual son with all she knew, she departed from his sight 
forever. But the son was still dissatisfied. He had 
not sucked enough milk from her spiritual breasts. He 
yearned for higher knowledge. 

As if in response to his longing, the "naked one" wan- 
dered in a tall, strong ascetic named Totapuri, who used 
a sacred fire but no clothing. After forty years of forest 
meditation, he had at last experienced God according to 
the "non-dualistic" Vedanta ideal of Sankara. 

Said Totapuri to the Lord Visnu incarnate, "You seem 
to be an advanced seeker after truth. Would you like 
to learn Vedanta?" 

"I don't know," was the reply, "It all depends on my 

"All right," said the naked friar, "go and ask your 
Mother." 17 

So the son went silently into the temple, and returned 
with Mother Kali's permission! Then the sage told his 
pupil that before commencing to learn Vedanta, he must 
have an intense desire for renunciation, he must be ini- 


dated into the sacred order of sannyasa. 18 This demand, 
of course, was just grist for Gadadhar's mill. Already he 
had renounced all but a loin-cloth, and he came out of 
the initiation with a loin-cloth plus a saffron robe. More- 
over, he got a new name Ramakrishna. Prostrating him- 
self before his guru or sacred teacher, the novice sat down 
to receive instructions. 

"Brahman," began the master, "is the only Reality, 
ever-pure, ever-illumined, ever-free, beyond the limits of 
time, space, and causation. Though apparently divided by 
names and forms through the inscrutable agency of Maya, 
that enchantress which makes the impossible possible, 
Brahman is really one and undivided. Because when a 
seeker is merged in the beatitude of Samadhi, he does not 
feel even a trace of time and space or name and form the 
products of Maya. Whatever is within the domain of 
Maya is unreal, leave it off. . . . Dive deep in the search 
for Self and . . you will realize your identity with 
Brahman, the Existence - Knowledge - Bliss absolute/* 19 
Then he urged his pupil to taste this bliss for himself by 
plunging into samadhi, or devoted trance. The pupil 
tried once and failed. For "the familiar, radiant form 
of the Divine Mother intervened/' Then he tried again 
and succeeded. Three days and nights he sat motionless, 
his body stiff, his face serene. 

"Is it really true?" asked Totapuri in breathless wonder, 
"Is it possible this man has achieved in a single day what 
took me forty strenuous years?" 20 

He then aroused his precocious pupil by sounding a 
holy mantra in his ear. Soon he departed from the temple, 
for he had no more to teach. Indeed he himself received 
instruction. Mother Kali, said Ramakrishna, is not an 
illusion but real, the very sakti, or forth-going power of 

When the Supreme Being is thought of as inactive creating, 
sustaining or destroying I call Him Brahman or P&rusha, the 
Impersonal God. When I think of Him as active -creating, 


caining and destroying I call Him Sbakti or Maya or Prakriti 
or the Personal God. . . . The Impersonal and the Personal are 
one. . . . You can't conceive a gem without its lustre. Such is 
the relation between Brahman and the Divine Mother. 21 

When left alone, the new sannyast attempted his 
new kind of trance. With what result? We are told 
that for six months he remained practically dead to the 
world, and came back to his senses only after a siege of 
dysentery that lasted another six months. 


Ramakrishna now felt peace of mind and breadth of 
view. He had reached his God by many different paths: 
by worshiping Kali of the Shivaites, Rama of the Vis- 
nuites, and Brahman of the Vedantins; by practicing yoga, 
bhakti and jnana, all by the way of trance. But here 
came Govinda Rai, a Hindu convert of the Sufi, or ecstatic 
sea of Islam, the religion of the Muslims, or Muhamma- 
dans. "Is not Islam also a path to God?" asked the saint, 
"Let me try it!" So he got initiated by Govinda, wore 
Muslim clothing, and ate his food in Muslim style. The 
cooking, however, was done by a Brahman. He was 
willing to eat beef, the food no orthodox Hindu will taste, 
but refrained at the earnest entreaty of Mathur "Babu," 
the owner of the temple, Says Ramakrishna: 

I used to repeat the name of Allah, wear my cloth in the 
fashion of the Muslims and recite the Namaz 22 regularly. All 
Hindu ideas being wholly banished from the mind, not only did 
I not salute the Hindu gods, but I had no inclination even for 
visiting them. After passing three days in that way, I realized 
the goal of that form of devotion. 23 

The goal he "realized" was the trance state. First he 
saw a radiant Person with a long beard and grave appear- 
ance, presumably Muhammad, and then his mind, passing 
through the realization of Brahman with attributes, was 
finally absorbed in Brahman without attributes. 24 


In like manner he tried Christianity. He read the Bible 
with his friend Sambhu Charan Mallik, 25 and loved to 
look at the picture of the Madonna and Child in the home 
of his friend Jadu Nath Mallik. The picture, we are told, 
overwhelmed his Hindu ideas and evoked a deep love 
for Christ. As in his trial of Islam, he fell into a trance 
after three days, and saw a vision. Beholding a divine- 
looking man with beautiful large eyes, he said to himself, 

This is the Christ who poured out his heart's blood for the 
redemption of mankind and suffered a sea of agony for their 
sake. It is none other than the Master-Yogin in eternal union 
with Godhead Jesus, the embodiment of Love! 26 

Then he felt Jesus enter his soul. Plunging into a 
trance, he realized his union with the Brahman with 
attributes. Thus was he convinced that Jesus Christ was 
an incarnation of the Lord. 

He also sympathized with the ideals of the Buddhists, 
Jains and Sikhs. On account of this wide range of spiritual 
interest, and the speed with which he supposedly absorbed 
the various ideals as they were presented to him, he came 
to regard himself as a divine incarnation whose achieve- 
ments were for the sake of others. His was the "Bodhi- 
sattva" ideal without the usual service. Hence, while 
he lived in union with God, and was free from all worldly 
desire, he was not free from the world itself: he would 
be born again and again to free others from the world 
until all were free. 

Since he had experienced ecstatic bliss by way of his 
ideals of several religions or cults, he concluded all reli- 
gions were true. Each system of doctrines, he believed, 
was a different path to the same God. And the three 
great systems of Hindu theology known as Madhava's 
dualism (dvaita), Ramanuja's "modified non-dualism" 
(visistad-vaita) and Sankara's "non-dualism" (advatia), 


are but three stages in man's progress towards the divine 
goal. Dualism, he believed, with its matter, music and 
idols, fits the ordinary man; "modified non-dualism," with 
its systematic range of thought, is for the man of intellect; 
but final "non-dualism," with its transcendence of all dis- 
tinctions, is best for the saint. 

The advatta is the last word about Realization. ... A man 
who has got absolute purity of mind naturally goes beyond 
action. He cannot work even if he tries to, or, the Lord does 
not allow him to work. 


In 1875 Ramakrishna met Keshab Chandra Sen, the 
leader of the Brahma Samaj, that Hindu-Christian reform 
society. The two men fell in love with each other. The 
simple saint was so struck with the modern leader's 
breadth and sincerity, that he told him he could enjoy 
divine bliss in spite of his interest in the world. And for 
all his modernism, Keshab's Hindu heart so glowed with 
reverence for one who had fully realized the Hindu ideal, 
that he followed him as his guru or sacred teacher. An act 
of world-wide importance. Just as the Bhairavi Brahmani 
introduced t>ur hero to Bengali Hindus, Keshab intro- 
duced him to English-speaking people in general. He 
welcomed him to the meetings of the Brahma Samaj, and 
published his fame abroad by conversations, speeches and 

Gripped by the saint's simple notion that all religions 
are equally true, Keshab announced himself as the divinely 
appointed leader of the "New Dispensation" in which 
all religions are one. But Keshad did not follow his gut u 
completely. The tolerant Hindu allowed everyone to fol- 
low his own religion without disturbing him in the least. 
Keshab, on the other hand, true to his critical Western 
training, set up one composite religion, apparently center- 


ing in the supremacy of Christ as the God-man. Yet he 
still clung to his master's Hindu view that religious ways 
are indifferent. "Our position/* he says, "is not that truths 
are to be found in all religions; but that all the established 
religions of the world are true/' 27 

While Ramakrishna thus modified the character of 
Keshab's endeavor, Keshab in return directed the flow of 
Ramakrishna's teaching into a new channel. Aroused 
by the reformer's interest in the saint of Daksinesvara, 
educated men from Calcutta began to go up the river to 
see him. And it was mostly from this company that the 
affectionate saint selected his little group of disciples that 
later preached his ideals to the world. For seven years, 
until his death in 1886, the new world-teacher talked al- 
most incessantly. All his life he wrote nothing, never 
having learned, but his disciples took down his sayings 
as they fell from his lips. Let us join the circle and hear 
the words of the master. 

Like unto a miser that longeth after gold, let thy heart pant 
after Him. 28 

What is the strength of a devotee? He is a child of God, and 
tears are his greatest strength. 

Knowledge and Love of God are ultimately one and the same. 
There is no difference between pure knowledge and pure love. 

A true devotee who has drunk deep of the Divine Love is like 
a veritable drunkard, and cannot always observe the rules of 

The soul enchained is, "man" (Jiva) and free from chains is 
"God" (Shiva). 

At one rime I am clothed, at another naked, so Brahman is 
at one time with attributes, and at another time without. 

Maya may be compared to a snake that is active and moving, 
while Brahman is like the snake absolutely still. . . . 

As one and the same material, water, is called differently by 
different peoples ... so the one Sat-chk-ananda, the Everlasting- 
Intelligent-Bliss, is invoked by some as God, by some as Allah, 
by some as Jehovah, by some as Hari, and by others as Brahman. 

Every man should follow his own religion. A Christian 


should follow Christianity, a Mahomedan should follow Maho- 
medanism, and so on. For the Hindus, the ancient path, the 
path of the Aryan Ejshis is the best. 

A truly religious man should think that other religions also 
are paths leading to truth. We should always maintain an atti- 
tude of respect towards other religions. 

The disciple should never criticize his Guru. He must im- 
plicitly obey whatever the Guru says. ... In the words of a Ben- 
gali couplet, 

"Through my Guru may visit tavern and still, 
My Guru is holy Rai Nityanand still." 

And so he speaks on and on to the increasing crowds 
of men and women that come to see him at the Temple 
of Daksinesvara. As a result of this incessant labor, he 
began to suffer from "clergyman's sore throat/* which 
later developed into cancer. He was taken to Calcutta 
by his loving disciples, and attended by the best physi- 
cians, who were men of Western training. They advised 
him to keep the strictest silence. But his childish, affec- 
tionate heart was wrung by the needs of his followers, 
and so he spoke on and on. Even when his throat almost 
dosed against liquid food, he continued his efforts with 
dauntless cheer till he passed into his last long samadbi, 
from which he never returned. 


As we ponder this amazing man, we are at once struck 
by his utter sincerity. To the best of his ability he prac- 
ticed what he preached. Of course, he could not practice 
renunciation completely. While he scorned the body and 
its needs, he trusted himself to physicians, whose life work 
is the body's care. While he worked up such a hatred 
of money that he would convulse at the touch of a coin, 
he was yet very pleased with the food and sweets his 
disciples got for money and at his own request! While 


he never grew tired of berating sex, his favorite religious 
cry was, Mother! And while he was praised as master 
of the art of attaining tranquillity, he would often worry 
and fret like a child, and pester his friends without mercy. 
Yet he acted in all faith and sincerity. 

The fact is, he was not a man of intellect, but a man 
of emotion. This is the key to his mesage. At the dawn 
of his life, his fond parents allowed their winsome boy 
to pursue Ms smiling, wayward course, undisciplined and 
unchecked by the stern demands of the world. Thus he 
grew up to be a kind of artist, but no kind of scientist. He 
was an imitator, an impersonator, a man of penetrating 
appreciation, a perfect instrument for any ideal or charac- 
ter. With equal ease, he could play mother or child, 
mistress or monkey. He would not strive to absorb the 
ideal, but fall a victim to seizure or "possession/* 

In temper or behavior he could be either male or female, 
but he always remained a child. When he left his own 
mother, he worshiped the Mother Kali. When she proved 
too elusive to give him peace, he found relief in the lap 
of the beautiful Brahmani, his adopted mother. After 
her departure he took his own wife as his mother, and 
prospered famously under her maternal care. He never 
really grew up, but remained in a state of "mother- 

Child that he was, he felt no sense of responsibility* 
He shuddered at the prospect of managing an estate, and 
even balked at his moderate priestly duties. He would 
rather use a soiled coverlet on his bed than take the 
trouble to get a clean one. He was unable to plan ahead, 
and loathed manual service of any kind. He failed to 
see any social problem. Passing a group of hungry vil- 
lagers one day, he had his rich disciples feed them, and 
then went his way serene and satisfied that all was well 
with the world. In reply to the plea of a Brahma Samajist 


for the education and social liberation of women, out 
pious friend exclaimed: "Go thou fool, go and perish in 
the pit that your women will dig for you!" 29 He failed 
also to make moral distinctions. He worshiped prosti- 
tutes without teaching them, praised a degraded cult with- 
out improving it, and used obscene language without any 
shame. One day he alone ate all the lunch of a party 
of four without any apology but the remark, "I'm satis- 
fied!" Another day he happened upon a group of wine- 
bibbers in a roadside tavern, and joyfully cheered them 
with cries of "Bravo! Excellent!" 

Such a responsive and childlike mind was eminently 
fitted to absorb with simple piety every Hindu ideal that 
came along. In this way our saint became in turn a 
Sivaite, Visnuite and Advaitin, a follower of yoga, bhakti 
and jnana, in short, an epitome of Hindu devotion. He 
held all cults to be true, because each one seemed to lend 
itself to his familiar trance, which as a typical Hindu he 
regarded as the highest "realization" of God. 

He could thus harmonize every Hindu cult with his 
simple logic of emotion because they were already in 
fundamental or structural accord. There is not an ortho- 
dox Hindu cult that does not regard the world as the 
result of an undesirable causal cycle, and reality as the 
realm of painless bliss. The highest good, then, is ob- 
viously some kind of escape from the world into bliss. 
Since the advaita or acosmistic pantheism of Sankara gives 
the simplest and most uncompromising presentation of 
this ideal, our simple and uncompromising devotee natu- 
rally gave this position first place in his esteem, and in his 
own unlettered way became a Vedantin. 

Indeed, it is impossible to harmonize advaita, or acos- 
mism, with other Hindu positions without giving it first 
place as the all-embracing whole of truth. For Sankara 
can explain all the other positions as true according to 


his "lower" knowledge of practical intellect, while his 
advalta rises above them in the "higher" knowledge of 
divine intuition. Thus in uniting Hindu positions, Rama- 
krishna was compelled to give first place to the teaching 
of Sankara. 

This teaching he regarded as "truth," and all other 
Hindu and non-Hindu cults, including Islam and Chris- 
tianity, as just "paths 1 ' to this truth. But this "truth" after 
all is only a part of the Hindu Dharma in general. It is 
the bliss of relief from the wheel of life, the freedom that 
follows law, the final stage of Dharma, or universal duty. 
Everyone has his cosmic caste, his position on the wheel 
of life, his svadharma, or individual duty. His place in 
society, determined by birth, is just an instance here and 
now of this $vadharma } and fixes the kind of cult he needs 
to progress towards the "truth." Hence, every man 
should follow the cult into which he is born. Otherwise, 
he will sidestep his dharma and spoil his karma. 

Now Dharma, according to the Hindu conception, is 
the absolute religion which includes both karma, or action, 
and "truth," or rest. In this one absolute religion there 
are many relative religions which help us in our progress 
towards the "truth." A relative religion may be called a 
sampradaya** or cult, a combination of margaj or path, 
with mata, or doctrine. When the Hindu saint says "every 
man should follow his own religion," for all are "paths 
leading to truth," he means by religion not Dharma of 
course, but sampradaya. He thinks of Sivaisni and Vis- 
nuism, Islam and Christianity as distinct sampradayas; but 
as for Dharma, that is religion itself. Not for one moment 
does our pious provincial think of this Dharma as just 
Hinduism, one of the eleven living religions of the world, 
noted for its dogma of release from the wheel of life; to 
him, this Dharma is cosmic fact. The law of gravitation 
may be questioned, but not Dharma! To the pious Hindu, 


Dharma is not a theory, an explanation, an interpretation, 
a dogma, a myth, a solution. It just is. 

If Dharma is all in all, then Islam and Christianity are 
of course only special paths of Hinduism in general, like 
the various Hindu cults in particular. Hence it was quite 
in keeping with our saint's own duty to try out his trance 
on these other paths. He did so, and found that he could 
get visions of the Prophet and Christ as well as of Kali 
and Rama. Both Hindu and non-Hindu cults he harmon- 
ized on the basis of Hindu Dharma. But in this way he 
learned nothing radically new from Christianity and 
Islam, and always remained within the pale of conserva- 
tive Hinduism. He ate his food in Muslim style, to be 
sure, but he employed a Brahman cook, and he never 
ate beef. He adored the picture of Jesus, but all his life 
he openly despised humble service. 

As a matter of f act, the Hindu ecstatic never had the 
opportunity of getting these two great world religions 
at first hand. The man who "initiated" him into Islam 
belonged to the Sufi cult which is Hindu-like in some of 
its views, and besides, he was a convert from Hinduism. 
His "Christian" tutors had love and respect for Jesus, 
but were likewise Hindu at heart, and most probably 
Hindu by community. The Muslim Sufi and Christian 
mystic both treasure the visionary trance, but so does the 
Hindu Bhakta. In sum, Ramakrishna experienced Islam 
and Christianity only in so far as they coincided with con- 
servative Hinduism. 

Yet the Christian stress on love, service and sacrifice, 
together with the Buddhist "Bodhisattva" ideal, must 
have encouraged the simple, childlike affection that was 
his by nature and nurture. And this human affection was 
further developed by his friendship with Keshab Chandra 
Sen, that Hindu lover of Jesus Christ. It was Keshab's 
example that made him admit a man could know God 


while still in the world a flat contradiction of Sankara, 
who said that the same man could not be in God and the 
world at the same time. And it was Keshab's enthusiasm 
that made him a teacher. Not by his own Hindu-minded 
investigation of Christianity, but by his contact with 
Christian culture did Ramakrishna come to place a certain 
Christian stress on Hinduism. Only when he began to 
teach did he begin to serve, and he served in this new 
way with utter self-sacrifice to the end. Only by his 
anxious parental love for his youthful disciples did he 
shake himself free from the Hindu notion that attachment 
to the world is bad, and lay stress on the immanence of 
God in man. It was this love that held those English- 
educated students who later spread his fame abroad in 
Western lands. 

As a strict Hindu, Ramakrishna stands today as a pro- 
test against modern education, material prosperity and 
Western intolerance. But he is more than a stria Hindu. 
He is a child. And of such is the Kingdom of Heaven. 
Even the rigors of ancient Hindu practice could not de- 
prive him of his simple, childlike love. This happy affec- 
tion, so fresh in the morning of his life, so clouded over 
at noon by ascetic practice, bloomed forth in his life's 
evening glow with a fragrance his followers could never 
forget. Ramakrishna is now the inspiration of a world- 
wide cult that preaches love and service as well as renun- 
ciation and meditation. 




Swami Vivekananda, who founded the Vedanta Society 
in America in 1894, was the favorite and foremost dis- 
ciple of Saint Ramakrishna. His original name was 
Narendra Nath, meaning "Lord of Men/' and his family 
the "lordly Dattas" from Simla, of the Kayastha caste, 
possibly of the Ksatriya, or warrior, order. His grand- 
father renounced the world soon after marriage. His one 
child, Visva Nath, became Narendra Nath's father, a. 
wealthy lawyer of the Calcutta High Court, who lived as 
fitfully as the wind that blows. "He was always at odds 
with life/' yet felt himself greater than the farce of it all. 
He took pride in his family, made himself a kingly and 
most surprising host, and lavished gifts on the poor. He 
sometimes read the Christian Bible and the Muslim poet 
Hafiz. His wife Bhuvanesvari was a queenly woman of 
power and reserve, who knew by heart whole passages 
from the old Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. 
She had two daughters, but like every Hindu mother, 
longed for a son! 

Once for a whole day she meditated on the God Siva 
in His character of "Lord of monks." His form is white 
with ashes, His matted locks covered with the spread hood 
of the cobra of wisdom. About His loins He wears a tiger 
skin, while above His head shines effulgent the new cres- 
cent moon. In Him the worlds move, yet, unconscious of 


all, he meditates in silence sublime. But in the evening, 
so the story runs, Siva slipped from His meditation, and 
took form in the longing mother even as her own son. 

Several months later, the boy was born in Calcutta on 
January 12, 1863, 1 the day of the harvest festival of 
"Mother Ganges" the sacred river. The child grew up 
self-willed and turbulent. Often would he "tear the fam- 
ily peace into shreds." He was a frightful tease, and made 
the most horrible faces. His mother kept two nurses over 
him constantly, but in spite of this (or because of it) she 
often had to duck his head under cold water to get him 
back to normal. He conceived a special fondness for 
sannyasis, or swamis, and would often embarrass his fam- 
ily by giving the holy beggars whatever they wished. His 
nights were strange indeed. He could never get to sleep 
without first merging in the big ball of light that rolled 
towards him. He attended an old fashioned Indian 
school, and there became a wild gang-leader. With his 
astounding memory, he naturally imbibed an immense 
amount of Hindu lore. In his high school, called the 
Metropolitan Institution, he was always first in his class, 
both in studies and pranks. 

In the University of Calcutta he kept up this record. 
At first he attended the Presidency College, the Govern- 
ment institution, but soon joined the "General Assembly's 
Institution," founded by the Scottish General Missionary 
Board, and now known as the Scottish Church's College. 2 
In his studies he showed a keen interest in philosophy and 
mathematics. But he was also a voracious reader of all 
kinds of current literature, a sweet singer of Bengali lyrics, 
and a winner in the art of fencing with the lathi, or staff. 
His friends remember him as imperious and self-conscious, 
a lion among the students, and defiant in thought. He 
was vehement, vigorous, untiring, and so we are told 
always successful in argument and debate. His ambition 


was to be a great orating lawyer, with power and wealth 
and influence over men. 

At that time, Keshab Chandra Sen, the Christ-loving 
leader of the Brahma Samaj, was the idol of young Cal- 
cutta. Under his spell Naren (short for Narendra Nath) 
felt the burden of caste and the ignorance of Indian 
women, and joined the progressive Samaj. 3 But he soon 
came to believe in a more conservative kind of reform, a 
gradual evolution by inner awakening. The idea of evo- 
lution was no doubt augmented by the .works of Herbert 
Spencer, who was then "all the rage." So he joined also 
a movement of young Bengalis who desired the unity and 
education of the great Indian masses, irrespective of caste, 
race or creed. 

One Sunday at a meeting of the Brahma Samaj, when 
our young hero was singing in the choir, the congregation 
was startled by the cry of "Naren!" and in the rear of the 
hall saw a stranger with only a cloth around his loins, 
and a pained expression on his face. Naren recognized 
Sri Ramakrishna, and hastened to meet him. 

"My boy! My boy!" exclaimed the saint, "Why have 
you not come to see me? I have been waiting in 
anguish. . . ." 4 

As the two left the hall, the lad wondered why this 
brain-sick old man had made such a fuss in meeting. He 
had met him first when his uncle had taken him to Dak- 
sinesvara, and had since humored the saint by calling on 
him now and then, but scorned his advaita teaching as so 
much atheism. 6 But one day came a miracle. As the mas- 
ter was deep in a trance of love, his foot touched the boy, 
and he too went off into ecstasy, seeing nothing but 
"God." Even after he got home to Calcutta, he was un- 
able to shake off his cofogtose state. The street cabs and 
himself seemed all of one stuff, and he nearly went under 
the horses' hoofs. 


After the miracle, a catastrophe. He had just passed 
his B. A. examination and entered law school, when he 
was overwhelmed by the news of his father's death. As 
with the young Gadadhar, this loss of a dear father made 
life seem more illusory. Besides, Naren's father had left 
his family very little money. From lordly comfort, his 
son was suddenly thrust into the direst poverty, and for 
years faced shame and starvation. Family disputes arose. 
While studying law, the would-be breadwinner went 
about looking for work. Day after day he would trudge 
over the hot streets with an empty stomach, but not even 
a loophole showed itself to his penetrating and anxious 
search. His heart sank. Bengal is fertile, but so are 
Bengalis. The country is overpopulated and many people 
undernourished. There is also an oversupply of univer- 
sity graduates. They have swarmed over India seeking 
clerical and educational posts, and still swarm into under- 
paid jobs in Calcutta. Naren was not the only "B. A." 

When the clouds were darkest, he fled from it all. 
Figuratively and liberally. He ran all the way to the 
Garden of Daksinesvara, and reached the master with 
torn garments, exhausted body and despairing mind. 
Prostrating himself before his guru he cried, "What shall 
I do? If you have power, then save me from this awful 
fate!' 16 

"Go, my boy," answered the saint, "Go to the temple 
there and pray to Mother! She will grant you whatever 
you ask!" 

The boy obeyed. When he returned, his face was 
transfigured. Henceforth he would be a swamil 


Once more the flight from the world! Once more the 
conviction of "illusion" that has dogged Hindu thought 


from the time of the Upanishads. A brilliant, ambitious 
youth reduced to starvation by the blows of circumstance, 
and then renunciation as the only alternative to crime or 
death or undignified labor. Renunciation, because the 
climate of India can support it. Renunciation, because of 
its now hoary sanction. 

No wonder this youth forever after called this world a 
hell! He was not used to being crossed in purpose. Like 
Gadadhar, his early home life had been one of playful 
and innocent license. Like his father, he was proud and 
fiery. And so he rebelled. 

Before him were the examples of his grandfather's re- 
nunciation, his father's scorn for the world, and the 
swamu he used to admire in childhood. And so he fled 
the world he could not conquer. Now at last he could 
appreciate the message of the master. His forsaken fam- 
ily? Oh, it managed somehow. 

Owing to his talent and mystic temper, the young 
recluse soon became Ramakrishna's foremost pupil. And 
when common devoted service to their master in his mor- 
tal illness sealed the bonds of love among the disciples, 
Narendra Nath became the leader of the little band. 
While he surpassed his fellows in otherworldly emotion, 
his reason kept them fairly sane. The master encouraged 
all this. "Making Narendra Nath the fit instrument for 
the propagation of his ideas, {he} entrusted to him the 
charge of his flock." 7 

An inner circle was formed consisting of those who 
would renounce the world completely and live at the 
country house at Baranagar practising devotion. In the 
outer circle would work the supporting laymen, or "house- 
holders." Then the master initiated the youths of the 
inner circle as monks, and the foundation was laid for the 
future Ramakrishna Mission in India, and the Vedanta 
Society in America. The old saint then plunged into 


samadhi and passed on from this life, his hair standing on 
end, his gaze fixed on the tip of his nose. 

Six of these sorrowing young swamis, weeping over the 
body of their beloved master in 1886, will go to preach 
to America: first Vivekananda (bliss of discrimination), 
whose name, as we know, was Naren; then Saradananda 
(bliss of wisdom) , the former Sarat; Abhedananda (bliss 
of unity) , the former Kali; Turiyananda (bliss of waking 
sleep), the former Hari; Trigunatita (transcendence of 
the three elements), the former Sarada; and Nirmala- 
nanda (bliss of purity), whose name was Subodh. But 
just now these boys are too bewildered to know what to 
do. Ecstasy mingles with pain. What nights they spend! 
Meditation, song, rapture and sorrow in turn fill their 
hearts. Sri Ramakrishna they treat as if still in the 

One night Vivekananda and another swami, walking in 
silent meditation in the garden, suddenly beheld a Shirk- 
ing Figure before them. .-Was it the master? Both saw 
it at once. Yes, it must be he. Before the others could 
come at their call, the Figure had vanished! But in its 
stead an inner Presence lingered, radiating power and 
bliss. Verily the glorified Ramakrishna moved among 

As they beheld their risen master even like the disciples 
of Jesus long ago, so also they had their Pentecost. In 
the quiet little village of Antpur, whither they had jour- 
neyed by bullock cart at the invitation of the mother of 
one of the boys, they gathered together in the open one 
starry evening before a raging big fire. They felt of one 
body, one mind and one soul, and all meditated on the 

After a while their leader filled the silence with the 
story of the Lord Jesus he had heard in his college days. 
The young monks lived with Jesus in imagination, and 


"adored Him even as they adored their own master," 8 
They saw His triumph and arrest, His sacrificial death 
and glorious resurrection. "The Pentecostal fire of the 
early Christians devoured their souls," and the names of 
Christ and Ramakrishna resounded on the midnight air. 
From this height of vision, Vivekananda charged his 
brothers "to become themselves Christs, to aid in the re- 
demption of the world/' And standing there in the light 
of the flames they took the vows of eternal sannyasa before 
God and one another. The Order was now definitely 
formed, the matha, or monastic order, of gurubhais, or 
teaching brothers. And they suddenly remembered it 
was Christmas Eve! 

Before retiring to the monastery at Baranagar, they all 
went on a pilgrimage to the famous Temple of Tarakes- 
vara Siva, where they worshiped the "Lord of monks/* 
At Baranagar again, life was ecstasy over-reaching ecstasy. 
Often a sankirtan, or chorus, would begin in the morning 
and go on till evening, everyone forgetting all thought of 
food and rest. "In their burning desire for God-vision, 
some one or another would think, as did Narendra, of 
giving up the body in prayopavesana, that is, starving 
oneself to death without rising from the meditation seat 
if the Goal was not reached." Yet they all did keep 
body and soul together, and lived by chance begging. 

What a strange mixture of Hindu asceticism and Chris- 
tian service, each pulling against the other! At last some- 
thing new under the sun? No, only primitive Buddhism 
revived in India after a lapse of twenty-four hundred years. 
Gautama, we recall, 10 preached both renunciation and 
service, but never reconciled the two ideals, with the re- 
sult that even today they divide the Buddhist world be* 
tween them. And now we have to deal with another 
compound or dual cult the Ramakrishna Order. Even 
its members admit this dualism. 


The Ramakrishna Order . . . fulfils the dual mission of <f $>V<* 
and Sevd } ; or to put in another way, to the immemorial Hindu 
ideas of the life of meditation and pure and retiring monastidsm, 
it has added the ideals of service and works of mercy; it also 
combines within it the dual ideal of personal freedom in the 
monastic order for the individual monk . . . with the principle 
of compact monastic brotherhood and organization as witnessed 
in the Western world. 11 

From their past Hindu heritage and present hard times, 
these Calcutta youths had welcomed the ideal of renun- 
ciation. From Ramakrishna' s contact with the Christian 
Bible and Keshab Chandra Sen, from their own unusual 
menial service to their master, and from Vivekananda's 
career in a Christian college they imbibed the ideal of 
service. But they did not reconcile the two ideals in their 
thinking. They just added one to the other, and let them 
lie there side by side unarticulated and unexplained. 

While Swami Vivekananda was convinced that "in 
India, the accumulated learning of the ages, divorced from 
the concrete value of the racial experience of the masses 
was meaninglessly abstract," he nevertheless held to this 
learning in the main. And while he believed the Gospels 
in so far as he understood them, he missed their main 
message, and would "vanquish" Christian missionaries 
"with a brilliance of logic all his own." He realized that 
India needed Christ to quicken her civilization, but on ac- 
count of his national pride, he refused to surrender to 
Christ any fundamental Hindu doctrine. As might be sup- 
posed, the favorite book of the order was the Bhagavad 

While some of the swamis remained socially at the 
monastery like Buddhist and Christian monks, others, in 
line with pure Hindu tradition, wandered nameless and 
alone over the length and breadth of their country, some- 
times on pilgrimages to sacred shrines, sometimes to soli- 


tary retreats. Youth must be served: like most boys they 
had the wanderlust, and like the German Wandervogel 
of today, they enjoyed their freedom from the stuffy bour- 
geois air of the modern city. After living with the group 
for about four years, the leader himself broke from his 
brothers in 1891, and wandered alone for two years, sight- 
seeing and brooding. 


Finally the swami wended his way towards Madras, a 
center of orthodox learning and culture. On the way he 
met a high government official who invited him to his 
home in the city. The news spread abroad: "An English- 
speaking Sannyasin has come!" Such was our hero ex- 
actly. The English in him preached mass education, social 
equality and national reconstruction to his bigoted broth- 
ers, but as a sannyasi, he clung to the main message of 
old Mother India. He had heard vaguely of a World's 
Parliament of Religions to be held in Chicago, America, 
some time in the year 1893, and longed to preach to the 
West. By a counter-offensive he would defend his native 
land from ruthless foreign invasion. To his friends in 
Madras he exclaimed: 

The rime has come for the Hinduism of the Rishis to become 
dynamic Shall we stand by whilst alien hands attempt to destroy 
the fortress of the Ancient Faith? . . . Shall we remain passive, 
or shall we become aggressive, as in the days of old, preaching 
unto the nations the glory of the Dharma? ... In order to rise 
again, India must be strong and united, and must focus all its 
living forces. To bring this about is the meaning of my sannyasa!^ 

And his friends saw with him the imperative need of 
preaching the Dharma .... Said they, "It must be done, 
Swamiji, and you are the man to do it. You will work 
wonders." Thereupon they went forth to raise subscrip- 
tions for the cause. Soon they collected in rupees the 


value of about a hundred and fifty dollars. But the swami 
grew fearful, and gave the money away to the poor till 
he could learn the will of Mother Kali. He waited for 

In the meantime, friends of his Madras friends begged 
him to come to the city of Hyderabad, the capital of 
Hyderabad, the largest native state in India, and one ruled 
by a Muslim. A message was sent ahead, and when he 
arrived, he was surprised to find five hundred admirers at 
the station. In a similar way, the Vedanta Society was 
later propagated in America. To vast assemblies and to 
individuals of rank and wealth including the Nizam or 
Muslim prince himself, the son of Mother Kali spoke of 
his mission to the West. The money was raised from the 
upper and middle classes, and in a dream the Mother gave 
her consent through the master. 

The Swami saw the figure of the Master walking from the 
seashore into the waters of the ocean, and beckoning him to follow 
Mm! He awoke. A great peace and joy filled Ms whole being; 
and Ms mind seemed to have been impressed with the authoritative 
word, "Go!*' . . . All Ms doubts . . . were cleared away . , . All 
Ms nervousness left Mm. 13 

On the last day of May, in 1893, with Mother Kali 
above him and Mother India behind him, Vivekananda 
sailed from Bombay for the Pacific Ocean and America. 
He sailed by the fastest line, in the first-class cabin, 
equipped with plenty of money and costly silk robes and 
turbans of various colors. For he was no longer a hum- 
ble, otherworldly ascetic, but the guru of a prince, and 
the spokesman of a nation. 

In July this son of India arrived in Chicago just in time 
to enjoy the World's Columbian Exposition with its mas- 
terful monuments of Western science and industry, and by 
the end of twelve days he had spent most of his money. 
Ramakrishna the master would not touch money; Viveka- 


nanda the disciple could not keep it. He was robbed and 
cheated at every step. His hotel was one of the best. 
Moreover, he discovered to his dismay that the World's 
Parliament of Religions would not open until September. 
To cap the climax, he learned that he was not registered 
as a delegate, and that the time for registration was past! 
He wondered why he had been foolish enough to listen 
to those sentimental schoolboys of Madras who fondly 
imagined that their swami had only to appear in America 
to be given his chance. So in despair, he turned to Bos- 
ton, a less expensive place, to Boston the Athens of 

On the train he met a delightful lady who welcomed 
him to her home in Boston. In this city of tolerance and 
culture he was befriended by J. H. Wright, Professor of 
Greek in Harvard University, who sent him back to Chi- 
cago with money and influence. To his friend the, chair- 
man of the delegate committee he wrote, "Here is a man 
who is more learned than all of our learned professors 
put together/' 14 Alas, our learned world teacher had 
little business about him! He lost his instructions, and 
had to spend his night of arrival in a big box in the rail- 
road yard. But luck was with him, for at daybreak he 
began to beg along tt millionaire*s row** on Lake Shore 
Drive. Again he met a delightful lady, and all was well. 
American ladies and American reporters, each in their 
own way, made the handsome oriental famous. 


And now the great Parliament of Religions is holding 
its first meeting. A new era has dawned. For the first 
time in the history of the world, the various faiths meet 
on a public platform on equal footing and in a friendly 
atmosphere to discuss what service each can render, what 
contribution each can make. Our hero is seated on the 


platform (at last!) with learned celebrities from far and 
near. The chairman, Rev. John Henry Barrows, D.D., 
the organizer of the congress, asks him to speak. 

"No, no, not now!" whispers the young man, abashed, 
"Let some one else speak." He has no notes or prepared 
address, and his Mother has given him no command. So 
the son sits dumb. Again and again he puts off his time 
to speak until at last, at five o'clock in the afternoon, the 
chairman rises and openly names Vivekananda as the next 
speaker. Mother or no Mother, he must speak now! In 
the magnificent hall he faces a yawning audience, worn 
out by masses of manuscripts. Confused hesitation. Then 
a beginning: "Sisters and Brothers of America. . . ." 

At once the house shakes with deafening applause as in 
a political convention. The splendid oriental has spoken 
in such sweet friendship! Encouraged, the son of India 
goes on: "It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise 
in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you 
have given us. I thank you in the name of the most 
ancient order of monks in the world. I thank you in the 
name of the mother of religions, and I thank you in the 
name of the millions and millions of Hindu people of all 
classes and sects." 15 

In this first address, our speaker pleads for a tolerance 
that will accept all religions as true. "I belong to a re- 
ligion," he cries, "into whose sacred language, the San- 
skrit, the word exclusion is untranslatable. I am proud to 
belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and 
the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth/' 
At a later meeting, in violation of the rules of the congress 
that no speaker should in any way reflect on others, he 
sneered at Christian missionaries for wanting to help 
Hindus by spiritual teaching. "If they want to help our 
people," he shouted, "why don't they send them some- 
thing to save their starving bodies?" 16 Like his master, 


Vivekananda was not a man of science, but a man of 
emotion. 17 


Immense crowds flocked to hear the son of India, and 
the chairman wisely put him last on the program to hold 
the audience through the weary round of manuscript read- 
ing. Said an American newspaper, "This man, with his 
handsome face, magnificent personality and wonderful 
oratory, is the most prominent figure in the Parliament/' 18 
Everytime he was to speak, 'ladies, ladies everywhere 
filled the great auditorium." 19 Before and after his ap- 
pearance on the platform he was beset by hundreds of 
these charming persons who almost fought with each other 
as at a bargain counter, to get a chance to be near him 
and shake his hand. 

Now why was he so popular, especially with the ladies? 
First, because of his superb bearing and attire. The 
princely raiment his rich friends lavished on him in India 
did not fail in its mission. We read in a newspaper of 
that time, "His finely poised head is crowned with either 
a lemon-colored or a red turban, and his cassock . . . belted 
in at the waist, and falling below the knees, alternates 
in a bright orange and rich crimson." 20 The social lion 
judiciously varied his costume. At another date, "he was 
attired in Oriental garb, consisting of a scarlet robe of 
soft cloth, which reached below the knees, bound round 
the waist with a crimson girdle. On his head was a tur- 
ban of white silk which set off to advantage the swarthy 
complexion of his cleanly shaven face." 21 

Besides his dress, several causes contributed to our 
hero's popularity in America: his winsome personality, 
his Bengali fluency as a speaker, his command of English, 
his wise silence on some points, and his sincere reverence 
for Christ. Moreover, as a striking oriental, he excited 


curiosity, of which Americans have such an abundant 
supply. Any great novelty attracts attention. Crowds 
would flock to see a tatooed savage, stone hatchet in hand, 
going through a war dance. The princely swami if we 
can still call him a swami was the first real Hindu many 
Americans had seen, and the first missionary from the 
East to the West. About him spread the fascinating 
aroma of oriental mystery. He appealed also to cranks 
and charlatans who supposed they had found in him a 
proper tool to forward their interests. 22 

Yet the basis of his popularity was deeper than all this. 
Here was a man with a great heart who opened up new 
vistas of expanding life and religion to thousands. In 
him they saw a symbol of international fellowship, espe- 
cially with the lovely and loving land of India, and felt a 
release from the stuffy chambers of familiar dogma. They 
thrilled to discover a new and exhaustless spiritual treas- 
ure which would ennoble their own religious life. Here 
was something savoring of ancient oriental wisdom, yet 
refreshingly new! 

So doors swung wide open to him wherever he chose to 
go. Finally, in response to an insistent demand for his 
message, he went on a special tour from coast to coast, 
lecturing and teaching, a strenuous work that lasted two 
years after the close of the parliament. He met with 
friendliness everywhere he appeared even among the 
orthodox clergy. His musical voice, boyish frankness, sur- 
prising generosity and simple genius made him at home 
with all. Like his master, he could mingle with women 
as one of them, for he was himself too feminine to regard 
them otherwise than as sisters and mothers. 23 And his 
rapturous addresses held ever a charm for the ladies. 

Wherever he went, he went as a guest. In Detroit for 
about four weeks he was the guest of Mrs. John J. Bagley, 
the cultured widow of the ex-Governor of Michigan. Then 


he spent two weeks as the guest of the Hon. Thomas W. 
Palmer, president of the World's Fair Commission, for- 
merly a senator, and also minister to Spain. When not 
traveling in answer to invitations from far and near, he 
was often in the home of Mr. George W. Hale of Chicago. 
After giving a series of lectures in the Unitarian Church 
at Detroit in February, 1894, he visited Chicago, New 
York and Boston. 

During the midsummer months he spoke at the ' 'Green- 
acre Conferences." Sarah J. Farmer, a New England spin- 
ster, spent a fortune organizing an institution at Green- 
acre Inn, Eliot, Maine, that would continue the study of 
faiths inaugurated by the great Parliament of Religions. 
There the swami expended Vedanta philosophy to a gr ow 
of earnest students sitting on the ground in oriental f asn- 
ion under a venerable tree known as "The Swamfs Pine." 
Miss Farmer's conferences became famous through the 
School of Comparative Religions conducted there by the 
late Dr. Lewis G. Janes, who was long the gifted and 
liberal president of the Brooklyn Ethical Society. 24 


After lecturing in Brooklyn at the Ethical Society, the 
swami established himself in New York in rooms of his 
own, and started his regular work. Thus was the Vedanta 
Society in America "founded in 1894." He announced 
classes and lectures free of charge, supporting himself and 
his work by the money he had gained in lecturing. Miss 
S. E. Waldo of Brooklyn, who was later initiated into the 
order as Sister Haridasi, describes his first classes as 

It was just an ordinary room on the second floor of a lodging 
house. The classes grew with astonishing rapidity and as the little 
room filled to overflowing it became very picturesque. The Swami 
himself sat on the floor and most of his audience likewise. The 


marble-topped dresser, the arms of the sofa and even the corner 
washstand helped to furnish seats for the constantly increasing 
numbers. The door was left open and the overflow filled the 
hall and sat on the stairs. And those first classes! How intensely 
interesting they were! 25 

And what did the swami teach? Just the old fashioned 
"knowledge" and "meditation" of India, the jnana-yoga 
and the raja-yoga, aiming at the suppression of the body 
and the exaltation of the "spirit." 26 

By June 1895 the swami had placed his work on a solid 
foundation. He had constant support from wealthy and 
influential followers, whose gifts went into the work. 
Thus encouraged, our preacher dreamed of further con- 
quest, and "decided that the whole Western world should 
hear the Light of Asia and the glory of the Indian 
Dharma" 27 So he pondered a trip to England. Said he, 
"Organization has its faults, no doubt, but without that 
nothing can be done/' 28 Yet he often felt worried and 
exhausted. "I long, oh I long for my rags, my shaven 
head, my sleep under the trees, and my food from beg- 
ging/* 29 It is hard to be a genuine swami in America! 

To get some help and relief, our novice at toil planned 
to initiate some of his followers into ff sannyasa" and let 
them carry on the work. He already had good material in 
Madame Marie Louise and Herr Leon Landsberg, and 
soon they became renouncers of the world. Said the New 
York Herald: 

The Swami Abhayananda is a Frenchwoman, but naturalised 
and twenty-five years a resident of New York. She has a curious 
history. For a quarter of a century she has been known to 
liberal circles as a materialist, socialist. . . . Twelve months ago 
she was a prominent member of the Manhattan Liberal Club. 
Then she was known in the press and on the platform as Mme. 
Marie Louise, a fearless, progressive, advanced woman, whose 
boast it was that she was always in the forefront of the battle and 
ahead of her rimes. The second disciple is also an enthusiast 
With that skill which Vivekananda shows in all his dealings 


with men, the Hindu has chosen his first disciples welL The 
Swami Kripananda, before he was taken into the circle, and 
took the vows of poverty and chastity, was a newspaper man, 
employed on the staff of one of the most prominent New York 
papers. By birth he is a Russian Jew, named Leon Landsberg, 
and, if it were known, his life history is probably as interesting 
as diat of Swami Abhayananda. 30 

From what I have discovered of the Vedanta Society 
today, I conclude that it still deals in "interesting" per- 
sonalities, mostly of foreign extraction, men and women 
mostly women that have done rebellious thinking in 
youth. Among others devoted to the oriental teachings 
were Mrs. Ole Bull 81 (wife of the celebrated violinist and 
Norwegian nationalist), Dr. Allan Day, Professors Wy- 
man and Wright, Dr. Street, and many clergymen and 
laymen of note. Sarah Bernhardt, the famous French 
actress, and Madame Calve, the celebrated singer, became 
the swami's ardent admirers. Mr. and Mrs. Francis Leg- 
gett and Miss J. MacLeod, New York society leaders, be- 
came his most intimate friends and helped him in many 
ways. Members of the Dixon Society became his cham- 
pions, and Nicolas Tesla declared the Sankhya cosmogony 
had something to offer modern science. Dr. Paul Carus 
had been the swami's companion in lectures for the Par- 
liament of Religion's Extension. 

Almost exhausted on account of his work of organiza- 
tion, our hero accepted a friendly invitation, and went to 
Percy, New Hampshire, for a period of rest in the silence 
of the pine woods. But his eager disciples prevailed on 
him to teach them at Thousand Lake Park, on the largest 
island in the St. Lawrence River. There the swami with 
his inspired talks fulfilled and surpassed the hopes of his 
rapturous feminine devotees. But this sort of thing was 
not restful enough, so he took to the ocean, sailing for 
Europe in the middle of August, 1895. He travelled on 


the Continent, and in England was the guest of Miss Hen- 
rietta Muller and of Mr. E. T. Sturdy, both lovers of 
Hindu lore. There he met an Englishwoman by the name 
of Miss Margaret Noble, who later became the famous 
Sister Nivedita. While he was doing popular speaking 
in London, a cry for help came from his American 
disciples, and he returned. 

After three months' absence, Vivekananda arrived 10 
New York in December, 1895, in excellent spirits. With 
Swami Kripananda, the former Mr. Landsberg, he now 
opened a center in Thirty-ninth Street. They occupied 
two spacious rooms which could accommodate as many as 
one hundred and fifty persons. The lady who had prom- 
ised him help was hindered in giving it, but the Hindu 
leader was not discouraged. He now began to preach 
work and devotion, the karma-yoga and bhakti-yoga. 
When he first came to America as a raw ascetic, he 
preached intuition and meditation, the jnana and raja 
yogas. Now that he had gained some experience as a 
Western minister, he exalted the notion of work. In 
New York he lectured in Hardeman Hall, Madison 
Square Garden, and the auditorium of the People's 
Church. The Metaphysical Society in Brooklyn and in 
Hartford, Connecticut, gave him an eager hearing, while 
Ella Wheeler Wilcox kept sweet during bank failures by 
gazing on the Hindu "jewels of truth." Dr. Street be- 
came Swami Yogananda. 32 

In Detroit our hero started a successful class which 
he turned over to Swami Kripananda while he went and 
harangued the Harvard Athenians on the Unknown God. 
The professors liked his stress on unity, but thought he 
served them more emotion than intellect. We are told he 
rejected a chair of Eastern philosophy at that celebrated 
university because he was a sannyasi. Perhaps there were 
other reasons. He consolidated his work and prepared 


to return home to India. First he issued his teachings 
in book form. Then he named his original class, The 
Vedanta Society of New York. And finally he decided 
to bring Swami Saradananda from India to America, writ- 
ing him to come to London at once as the guest of Mr. 
E. T. Sturdy. 

Exhausted once more, partly by hard and unusual work 
and partly by the fair and unfair criticism of Christian 
missionaries and ministers, the son of India set off for his 
motherland, on April 15, 1896. He stopped in England 
to strengthen the work, and remained till the end of the 
year. He was overjoyed to find there his gurubhai, or 
brother monk, Saradananda, and sent him to New York 
in June. While in Europe, Vivekananda had a "beautiful 
time" hobnobbing with Paul Deussen and Max Miiller. 
He sent to India for Swami Abhedananda, who came and 
took charge of the London center. Then bidding his 
friends a fond farewell, he steamed away, and arrived at 
Ceylon January 15, 1897. 


The swami had felt "the overwhelming difficulties he 
had met with in presenting Hinduism to an aggressively 
self-conscious Christian public/* 33 but he consoled himself 
by crying aloud, India will hear me! What are the West- 
ern nations! My own India will receive me in triumph! 
So he was quite ready for the exuberant celebration that 
actually occurred on his arrival, but he may have been a 
bit surprised to learn from the chairman of the reception 
committee that his three years' work had laid all humanity 
under obligation to India. This was only the beginning. 
The ovations accorded him along his triumphal march 
from Ceylon's palms to Himalaya's pines were tremendous. 
Bands, flowers, garlands, arches, flags, cheers, processions 
and receptions sang his praise. At a Columbo temple, 


the returning conqueror was received with shouts of "Jai, 
Maha Devi" or "Victory, great god!" The notion was 
abroad among the people that their spokesman had dem- 
onstrated to the West the superiority of Hinduism over 

Soon the swami came to believe it himself, as far as we 
can judge from his speeches. With all its boasted civiliza- 
tion, he declared, Christianity is only a collection of scraps 
from the Indian mind a very patchy imitation. 

Today, when religion in the West is only in the hands of 
the ignorant, and the knowing ones look down with scorn upon 
anything belonging to religion, here comes the philosophy of 
India . , . where the grandest philosophical facts have been the 
practical spirituality of the people. 

The eyes of the whole world are now turned towards this land 
of India for spiritual food, and India has to work for all the 
races. Here alone is the best ideal for mankind, and western 
scholars are now struggling to understand this ideal. . , . 

This is the land from whence, like tidal waves, spirituality 
and philosophy have again and again marched out and deluged 
the world, and this is the land from whence once more such 
tides must proceed in order to bring life and vigor into the 
decaying races of mankind. 

Before ten years elapse a vast majority of the English people 
will be Vedantic 

I helped on the tide of Vedanta which is flooding the world. 84 

Truth is stranger than fiction, and if the truth must be 
told, our hero's work in India produced far greater re- 
sults than his work in America, for in 1897 he established 
in India that splendid and far-reaching institution of serv- 
ice known as the Ramakrishna Mission. Like a Buddhist 
that believes in both renunciation and service, he com- 
bined otherworldliness and constructive power; and if he 
was a Hindu to America, he was a Christian to India. 
Coming back to his own people as a veteran Westerner, 
he at once set about organizing regular work. The orig- 
inal monastery was moved to Alambazar, and Swami 


Brahmananda was appointed president of the order. Then 
the monastery was moved again in 1899 and permanently 
located near Calcutta at Belur, 35 on the right bank of 
Mother Ganges the river so sacred to the heart of Sri 
Ramakrishna in the beautiful and spacious premises that 
Swami Vivekananda secured for his fellow monks as thek 
own abode and the final resting place of the master's 

Another monastery was opened at Mayavati oa the 
Himalayas, near Almora. Others came later, but the one 
at Belur remained the center of all the work. In these 
abodes the young students, or brahmacaris, and the older 
monks, or sannyasis, are trained in renunciation and serv- 
ice. The very year Vivekananda arrived home, there was 
widespread famine in India. With courage and resolu- 
tion, he managed to collect funds for relief, and organize 
a number of enthusiastic followers at several centers to 
save the famine-stricken people from an untimely death. 
Mass education, especially the novel education of girls 
and women, was also dear to his heart, and he made great 
strides in this line. 36 

When he had left England for India, there was an un- 
derstanding between Sister Nivedita and Miss Henrietta 
Miiller her friend, that they would soon help the swami in 
educational work for India's women. A year later, the 
sister followed him to India as Miss Miiller's guest, and 
having made a tour with Vivekananda and some of his 
brother monks, she settled in Calcutta and began her work, 
adopting the customs of the most rigid Hindu life. She 
soon found a place in the public thought of her adopted 
land, and made a name for herself in the world at large 
both as an author and as a public-spirited Indian. She 
is immortalized by her picturesque books, The Web of 
Indian Life, The Master as 1 Saw Him, Cradle Tales of 
Hinduism, and Kali the Mother. 


In less than two years Vivekananda's health again gave 
way. In July, 1898, he wrote from Almora, "The way Is 
long, the time is short, evening is approaching. I have 
to go home soon. ... I feel my task is done." 87 He was 
advised to go to Britain and America for a change. He 
went, and the faithful Sister Nivedita went with him. He 
took along, also, Swanii Turiyananda to assist him in the 
work. In England he stopped only a fortnight, and 
pushed on to America, reaching New York on August 
26, 1899- On that very afternoon, the two swamis went 
to stay with Mr. and Mrs. Leggett in their beautiful coun- 
try home in the Catskill Mountains. The sister joined 
them later. 

While Vivekananda was in India, Saradananda had 
been working in America, making his chief center New 
York, but lecturing also in Montclair, Boston, Cambridge, 
Memphis and other cities. In 1897 Swami Abhedananda 
had come from England to help him, finding the new 
world richer soil for the Hindu seed, and together they 
incorporated the Vedanta Society at New York in 1898. 88 
But Saradananda returned to India when Vivekananda 
came over to America this second time. After a fort- 
night's stay in New York and its environs, the leader, leav- 
ing Turiyananda to hold the fort, set out for Southern 
California, that Mecca of strange cults, and remained there 
for over six months. In Los Angeles he was soon pressed 
into work, and delivered a series of lectures in Blanchard 
Hall, at the Amity Church, and in ordinary public halls. 
He also went into Pasadena as the guest of the Universal- 
ist Church and the Shakespeare Club, lecturing on "Christ, 
The Messenger," and "The Way to the Realization of a 
Universal Religion." In Los Angeles he spent nearly a 
month at the chief center of the "Home of Truth." He 
discovered that, of all Americans, Californians are spe- 
cially fit to understand the faja-yoga of intuitive medita- 


tion, which he labelled "Applied Psychology." In the 
north, several Vedanta centers were formed in San Fran- 
cisco, Oakland and Alameda, with Mr. C F. Patterson as 

Since the work was prospering so rapidly, the leader 
wrote for Turiyananda to come out to California after 
Abhedananda had returned from his own preaching tour 
to relieve Turiyananda at New York. Before he left 
California, Vivekananda received through the generosity 
of Miss Minnie C Boock the munificent gift of a large 
tract of land, 160 acres in extent, as a place of retreat for 
Vedanta students. It was a charming place, surrounded 
by forests and hills, and only twelve miles from the fa- 
mous Lick Observatory. To this Santi Asrama, or "Peace 
Retreat," came Swami Turiyananda with twelve students, 
whom he trained in meditation and the austere monastic 
life of India. After sweet communion with his California 
disciples, and a stay in Detroit at the home of Mrs. Green- 
stidel, whose daughter, as Sister Christine, later helped 
Sister Nivedita in India, the tired leader returned to New 
York, and departed from America forever on July 20, 

After passing through Paris, he returned to his beloved 
India almost used up. Like his master, he had little sense 
of limitation; he could not say "No" to an appeal. So he 
kept on working. A third monastery was founded, in 
Madras, and service centers were formed in Madras, 
Benares and the Murshidabad district of Bengal. He was 
deeply impressed with the need for work and self-sacrifice. 
He would not lecture, but did all he could to set men to 
the labor of love. Yet in the midst of it all, the swami 
would seek his times of quiet freedom. At such a time, in 
the Belur M.atha, or Monastery, he entertained his friend 
Jules-Bois, a young French poet. Says the poet: 

From a small skiff on the Ganges, Calcutta receded into the 


distance, and finally the Math [or Madia] came Into sight, all 
white in the midst of a grove of palm trees, the trident of its 
pagoda rising high above the pleasant terraces. 

Vivekananda stood on the threshold. His first words were: 
"I am free, my friend, free again. I have given away everything. 
In the poorest country of the world, I am the poorest man. But 
the house of Ramakrishna is rebuilt, and his spiritual family 
there finds shelter." 41 

The poet looked about him and saw the beauty of India, 
with its fresh green fields under a burning sun, ponds like 
mirrors which a goddess might have dropped in her flight, 
and the arms of the Ganges embracing the earth. He 
went inside and saw the hermit's simple cell, and was sur- 
prised to find that the poorest man on earth yet retained 
some American furniture including rocking chairs, and 
a library in which Herbert Spencer and Ralph Waldo 
Emerson were prominent. Said the swami unasked: 

What you others call a dream is for us the only reality. Cities, 
luxuries, the marvels of material science, we have awakened 
from that brutal dream by which you are still enthralled. We 
close our eyes, we hold our breath, we sit under the kindly shade 
of a tree before the primitive fire, and the Infinite opens its doors 
to us and we enter into the inner world which is the real one. ss 

A bell sounded, and they leaned out of the cell window. 
Under a big tree the monks sat in a circle round their fire 
and the trident of Siva decked with garlands, and swung 
their bodies in monotonous rhythm while one of their 
number pierced the silence with a strident, quavering song 
that soared like a joyful lamentation. Behind, in the 
sacred stables, the cows lifted their venerable heads. 

In 1902, on the Fourth of July, the missionary to Amer- 
ica breathed his last, and his weary body was consumed 
in the sacred fire. 

What we want is action, not speech, said Vivekananda, 


and spoke seven volumes full. "What is their gist? Our 
Hindu's first conviction is that all religions are true. 

Be brave and sincere, then follow any path with devotion, and 
you must reach the Whole, 40 

Each religion is a narrow path leading to the open mead- 
ow of the undifferentiated Absolute. So it is futile to 
force a fellow-man into your particular path. Reduced to 
clear outline, the argument runs as follows. God is the 
only reality. The world is quite separate from God* 
Hence the world is unreal. Now the function of religion 
is to give men true happiness. But if the world is unreal, 
true happiness can only mean escape from the world into 
God. Hence every religion must somehow provide a path 
from the world to God. Hence any religion is ultimately 
as true as any other religion. 

Such is the old Hindu dogma which is being preached 
with increasing conviction as Hinduism seeks to defend 
itself against the doctrines of Muslim or Christian suprem- 
acy. If all religions are equally true, then all the evan- 
gelical preaching of dogmatic Christian missionaries is 
both futile and false, and Hinduism, which proclaims the 
equality of all religions, is on that very account, the only 
true religion! So says the Vedantist in America. But as 
a chain is no stronger than its weakest link, this argument 
is no stronger than the premise that God is quite separate 
from the world. This premise, it seems, is a dogma aris- 
ing from certain circumstances in Indian life and civiliza- 
tion that made the world appear burdensome, undesirable 
and futile. If we glory in the world as a field for creative 
endeavor, we shall not be likely to accept the dogma that 
the world is futile and hence quite separate from God. 
But if not separate, then just how is the world related to 

Taking Sankara's monism rather than his dualism, we 


may call God the substance whose modes comprise the 
world. Here we find no separation between God and the 
world, but a practical unity. On this basis, the relation of 
one religion to another would appear quite different. God 
is the only reality. The world is a system of practical 
distinctions in God. Hence the world is real. Now the 
function of religion is to give men true happiness. And 
if the world is real, true happiness can only mean a cer- 
tain control of practical distinction. Hence the truth of 
any religion is measured by the extent to which it enables 
its followers to enjoy true happiness in the control of the 
world. Accordingly, while all religions may spring from 
God, and thus have a common foundation or fundamental 
unity, they are not therefore equally true, for they obvi- 
ously differ in the measure of control they afford. 
Our Hindu's next conviction is the divinity of man. 

Know you are the Infinite, then fear must die. Say ever "I and 
the Father are one." 41 

This identity of man with God can be interpreted in two 
different ways according to the relation conceived between 
God and the world. If the world is conceived monistically 
as a system of practical distinctions in God, then man is 
already one with God even while living in the world of 
practical distinctions, in the world of good and evil, of 
righteousness and sin. When he hears religion telling 
him he is one with God, he will then regard sin not from 
the point of view of the finite brute, as an unexplainable 
state of misery, but from the point of view of the infinite 
God, as God's judgment on certain kinds of acts for the 
sake of improving action in general. Thus sin, like eml, 
is a valuable and universal tool of criticism, an instrumen- 
tal concept that distinguishes between good and better in 
conduct, and bids us choose the better. Clearly, the proper 
use of the concept of sin is necessary for human progress 
or creative achievement. 


But if the world be conceived dualistically as a system 
of practical distinctions that are unreal, or irrelevant to 
God, then, as Sankara says, man is one with God only 
when he somehow rids himself of all practical distinctions, 
such as good and evil, righteousness and sin. As a child 
of both West and East, Vivekananda seems to waver some- 
where between these two views. In monistic mood he 

Ye are the Children of God, the sharers of immortal bliss, 
holy and perfect beings. Ye divinities on earth, sinners? It 
is a sin to call man so; it is a standing libel on human nature. 42 

Here the swami administers a just rebuke to those who 
claim to be children of God and yet sinners. If man is 
essentially a child of God, that is, of the nature of God, 
he cannot be essentially a sinner. He must be "made in 
the image of God." Some of his acts may be reckoned 
sinful, but these are opposed to acts that are righteous. 
Man himself, then, is neither a saint nor a sinner, but a 
"child of God" doing both good and evil according to 
the accepted standard of judgment. 43 The swami's domi- 
nant mood, however, is not monistic but dualistic, a mood 
in which he holds that man is one with God only when 
he is oblivious to all distinctions, including those of 

The rest of Vivekananda's teachings stick together in a 
common historical culture, for which they serve as apolo- 
gies. Hinduism, he says, is true in every detail. The re- 
formers are mistaken. In trying to uproot the weeds of 
pernicious custom, they are also tearing up the precious 
wheat of culture. Hindu civilization, he points out, is 
the flower of Hindu religion, and so must be true and 
spiritual, beautiful and good in every fiber of its being. 
Since Western scholars altogether fail to understand it, 
their criticism is utterly worthless. As for the comments 
of Christian missionaries, they are wickedly slanderous. 


This spiritual nation must teach the world in the pres- 
ent as in the past. To this end it must shake itself free 
from the degrading dominion of Western nations, with 
their gross materialism and selfish sensuality* Every 
Hindu must awake and do all in his power to defend his 
religion and civilization from the poison of Western in- 
fluence. Yet the Hindu, he concedes, will find Western 
methods and education most useful. He must even give 
up his horror of meat and become a beef eater if necessary 
in order to grow strong enough to build up once more 
a flourishing civilization on the soil of India. 

In this willful logic of emotion, renunciation of the 
world works out into nationalism and political rebellion. 44 
The exaggerated praise of India and condemnation of the 
West coming from Swami Vivekananda, Sister Nivedita 
and others was an important influence leading to the 
anarchist movement in Bengal, and the more recent drives 
for "Civil Disobedience" which Manmohandas Karam- 
chand Gandhi, the saintly politician, has been organizing 
on a nation-wide scale. Of course, Swami Vivekananda 
was no politician. All he did was to arouse his country- 
men to toil for India. But his religious doctrine of whole- 
sale condemnation for the West was to the ordinary 
Hindu a sacred sanction that smoothed the way for anar- 
chy and "non-cooperation/* 

Vivekananda's exposition of Hinduism is fourfold. All 
the cults of the world, he says, are only different examples 
of the four paths prominent in the history of Hindu doc- 
trine. To each path, or way of restraint, he devotes a book, 
compiled from shorthand notes taken of his speeches. His 
chief books are thus Jnana Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, 
and Karma Yoga. These works are perhaps more widely 
read among the students of India, especially of Bengal, 
than any other religious books. 45 In his Jnana Yoga he 
aggravates the ilhisionism of Sankara with a Buddhistic 


and even a Schopenhauerian pessimism. In view of our 
many desires and few satisfactions, he calls the world 

At best it is the hell of Tantalus, and nothing else. Here we 
are with strong impulses and stronger ideas for sense enjoyments, 
and nothing outside to fill them. . . . Unhappiness is the fate 
of those who are content to live in this world, born as they are. 
A thousandfold unhappiness is the fate of those who dare to 
stand forth for truth and for higher things and dare to ask for 
something higher than mere enjoyable brutish existence here. 46 

For this world there can be no explanation, says the 
teacher, but "the Vedanta can show a way out! 9 All our 
troubles come from the craving for individuality. But let 
us rather be indifferent to the pain and sorrow of ourself 
and others. "Millions come and go every minute. Who 
cares? Why care for the joys and vicissitudes of this little 
world?'* 47 Let us rather enjoy the bliss of the solitary 

His Raja Yoga simply points the "way out." All the 
orthodox systems of Hindu philosophy have one goal in 
view, the liberation of the soul. The raja-yoga is the most 
elaborate and refined classic method of reaching this goal. 

According to the Raja-Yogz, the external world is but the gross 
form of the internal, or subtle. The finer is always the cause, 
the grosser the effect. So the external world is the effect, the 
internal the cause. In the same way external forces are simply 
the grosser parts, of which the internal forces are the finer. The 
man who has discovered and learned how to manipulate the 
internal forces will get the whole of nature under his control. 
The Yogi proposes to himself no less a task than to master the 
whole universe, to control the whole of nature. He wants to arrive 
at the point where what we call "nature's laws" will have no 
influence over him, where he will be able to get beyond them all. 
He will be master of the whole of nature, internal and external. 
The progress and civilization of the human race simply means 
controlling this nature. 48 


In Ms Bbakti Yoga our thinker attempts to reconcile 

to the divine abstract unity those who are emotionally in- 
clined. "He wishes to direct the love which normally 
expends itself on particular objects towards the supreme 
objects, or God, and so to increase the intensity of devo- 
tion that the Object remains no longer an Object, but 
becomes a Subject the Universal Subject, one with, or 
absorbent of, all particular subjects. An intense wave of 
feeling may be able to reach what reason or even intel- 
lectual intuition may not be able to secure/* 49 At the very 
beginning of the book he says: 

Bhakti-Yoga is a genuine real search after the Lord, a search 
beginning, continuing and ending in Love. One single moment 
of the madness of extreme love to God brings us eternal free- 
dom. 50 

Bbakti is the smoothest and easiest path of all. We 
begin where we are. We are not called on to renounce 
anything at first. But as our love to God becomes more 
and more intense, we gladly give up all objects for the 
love of the one Subject, so that in the end, the bliss of 
bhakti is the same as the knowledge of jnana. "There is 
really no difference/' he says, "between the higher knowl- 
edge and the higher bliss." 51 

Thus the jnana, raja and bhakti yogas are all practically 
the same. Vivekananda himself sees the need of recon- 
ciling this renunciation with ordinary human life with its 
pressing duties and social affairs, but in spite of his con- 
tact with Christianity and his knowledge of Buddhism, he 
does nothing more than hark back to the "Bhagavad Gita 
for the material of his Karma Yoga. He preaches service 
as a part of karma, or work, but not Christian or Buddhist 
service, not service with the motive of love. We must 
work for work's sake, without any motive, ideal or reward. 
We may call this "work for God/' but must remember 
that God himself has no motive but idle play, and is unat- 


tached to the world. In short, we work because we have 
no capacity to renounce the world. There are two ways 
to obtain release, says the teacher, the negative way of 
"meditation/* and the positive way of "work." 

The negative way is the most difficult. It is only possible to 
the men of the very highest exceptional minds and gigantic 
wills. . . . But such people are very rare; the vast majority of 
mankind chooses the positive way, making use of all the bon- 
dages to break through these bondages. This is also a kind 
of giving up, only it is done slowly and gradually, by knowing 
things, enjoying things, and thus obtaining experiences, and 
knowing the nature of things until the mind lets them all go 
at last and becomes unattached. 52 

This is the Gita with a dose of the Tantras. By blowing 
the bubble bigger, and bigger, we shall soon burst it, and 
realize it is only a bubble. Service is not for the world, 
but for ourselves. We must not try to patch up the world, 
but get beyond it. Social reform is mere "social 

Our world teacher is patently Hindu, and his philoso- 
phy is Hindu dogma in Western dress. If we would know 
how Hinduism develops when it really takes root beyond 
India, we must pass beyond the conservative Vivekananda. 




The following notice appeared in the New York Times 
announcement of Religious Services for Sunday, September 
23, 1928: 


Founded by Swami Vivekananda, 34 W. 71st. 
11 A. M. "The Existence of Soul." 

Speaker, Swami Bodhananda. 
3 P. M. "Vedanta in Everyday Life/' 

Speaker, Swami Gnaneshwarananda. 

The name of the afternoon speaker, meaning "Bliss of 
the Lord of Knowledge," is spelled Jnanesvarananda in 
the normal English transliteration of the Sanskrit, and 
should be pronounced Gyaneshwar-ananda. Eager to 
learn what practical message a preacher of the generation- 
old movement of Vivekananda wished to deliver to Amer- 
ica in 1928, I went to hear about "Vedanta in Everyday 
Life." The Society's place of worship is a brown stone 
and red brick house of four stories and basement, situated 
just west of Central Park, in a region notable as a home 
for various cults, such as Christian Science and Theosophy. 
As I drew near I noticed a bronze tablet near the door: 






Above It was a painted wooden sign: 


11 A. M. SUNDAYS 3 P. M. 

I ran up the steps and rang the bell. The door opened 
at once. I walked in, and met the Dutch superintendent, 
who told me that, the main floor of the Vedanta house is 
devoted to public meetings, while the two swamis live 
elsewhere in the building. 

I entered the long parlor to the right, and met Swami 
Bodhananda, dressed in neat black clericals. As I turned 
to take my seat, I noticed that the glass doors of the square 
back parlor were open, so that the two rooms together 
made a small public hall. Since the pulpit stood at the 
far end of the back room, the audience faced the rear. 
About twenty-five worshipers were present, mostly 
women. Sitting down in the dead stillness, I noticed a 
sign with the single word, SILENCE. The rooms were 
dark and handsome, tastefully furnished, and dimly 

On the wall behind the pulpit hung a painting of 
Swami Vivekananda. To the left was a large French win- 
dow covered over with heavy curtains of golden cloth. 
To the left of the window, in the corner, stood a kind of 
altar bearing a small framed photograph which I rightly 
judged to be of Ramakrishna, the master of Vivekananda. 
His likeness was honored with vases of flowers, burning 
candles, and fuming incense. Looking around to the left, 
I saw in the long parlor a large bookcase containing about 
a thousand books, which I later discovered to be mostly 
the works of Western Idealists. 

Just then Swami Jnanesvarananda entered and mounted 
the one-step platform supporting the pulpit. A young 
man, rather short, with a pleasant face. He wore a shin- 


ing golden robe. With folded hands he spoke in solemn 

"Let us all try to meditate on our inner divine nature." 

Silence. Broken by the swamf s resonant voice in a 
quaintly appealing Sanskrit chant. Then a prayer in Eng- 

"May that One who is called Siva by the Shiv- 
aites, Visnu by the Visnuites, Brahman* by the Vedantins, 
Allah by the Muslims and God the Heavenly Father by 
the Christians, inspire our hearts with love for all man- 
kind. Peace! Peace! Peace!" 

The swami then announced his subject and began to 
preach with lucid statements and apt illustrations. The 
substance of his sermon may be presented as follows: 

What is Vedanta? It can be set forth in three proposi- 

1. Reality is universal Love, the underlying unity 
manifested in all variety. To realize this Love within the 
heart is literally Veda-anta, the goal of knowledge. If 
you know the One, you know the many. Brahman alone 
is. This is a rational, philosophic creed. 

2. The world is illusion. All the variety of manifesta- 
tion is nothing but appearance. Only the Cause exists. 
In themselves effects are unreal. In reality they are iden- 
tical with the Cause. 

3. The individual "I/' or ego, that we feel within us 
is always identical with the ultimate principle. The self 
is the same as Reality. 

Now success in life, or the practical application of Ved- 
anta, consists in living in accordance with this intellectual 
conviction. Your lives will then realize the ideal. Siddhi, 
or practical success, comes from Sadbana, or instrumental 
theory. Convinced of the truth of Vedanta, you must 
enter the conflict of daily life, fighting without misgiving, 
struggling with assurance of victory. 


In realizing Vedanta there are three levels of conduct. 
The first and highest is pure passivity. When convinced 
you are Brahman, the nameless, birthless, qualityless, sexless 
principle., you feel the conflicts of daily life utterly vanish. 
You do not harmonize these conflicts, for to you they simply 
do not exist. If you don't do anything at all, how can you 

The second level is desireless activity. If you cannot 
maintain the first level, then try the second. At the first 
level, you believe reality is one without difference. This is 
''non-dualism/' At the second level, you belive reality is 
One with difference. This is "modified non-dualism." In 
your daily behavior according to this conviction you must 
try to realize you are a part of the big mechanism of the 
entire world, and accept all actions in yourself and others 
as the will of the Lord. 

The third level is obedient activity, If you cannot main- 
tain the second level, try the third, in which you accept 
the "dualistic" belief that you are separate from the Lord. 
You will then try to do what the Lord tells you, even 
though your nature may be quite unsteady and frivolous. 
But the devotee that is perfectly steady can attain the high- 
est level of pure passivity wherein the world becomes il- 

After the sermon, one of the members took up the offer- 
ing. The coin I dropped into the basket compared un- 
favorably with its burden of paper money. The swami 
then gave his announcements: 

"After the political elections, three classes will 
be formed this year as usual, each to meet once a 
week at eight o'clock in the evening: on Tuesday, the 
class on the Bhagavad Gita; on Thursday, the class in 
meditation; and on Friday, the class for the study of San- 
skrit. Only the class on the Gita is open to the public; 
the others are for members only. On the table near the 


door are various books for sale in which you may study 
Vedanta more deeply. You may see either of the swamis 
at any time by making an appointment beforehand." 

The meeting closed with another period of silence, 
Sanskrit chant and English prayer. I then sought the 
book table. Most of the books were by Swami Viveka- 
vanda and Sister Nivedita. A few were by swamis who 
continued Vivekananda's work in America, the present 
Swami Bodhananda among them. As I left the place of 
meeting no one rushed over to shake my hand, tell me 
he was glad to see me, offer me literature, or ask for a 
subscription. Not the busy cordiality of an American 
Protestant Church, but the quiet ak of an Indian retreat 
prevailed. I introduced myself to the preacher of the 
afternoon, and made an appointment, remembering to 
pronounce his name Gyaneshwar-ananda. 

The appointed day found us sitting together in the 
bare front parlor. The swami looked and acted like a 
gentleman, and was dressed in the conventional American 

"Swamiji," I began (;/ is the usual term of respect), 
"when you chant in Sanskrit, what do you say?*' 

"The English prayer that follows is a free translation 
of the chant. I use Sanskrit because it is the sacred lan- 

"Another question. Vivekananda and Tagore and 
others repeatedly speak of realizing God. But how can 
we real-ize or make real what is Reality itself?" 

"Oh, the trouble is in the translation. Perhaps ex- 
perience is a better word. We realize an idea about God, 
but God Himself we experience." 

"Very good. Tell me now why you call your religion 
rational. Is it not based absolutely on the authority of 
scripture, namely the U ' panishadsl" 

"Yes, but it's rational in the sense that the authority 


of scripture is verified by the intellectual intuition of each 
individual worshiper. The scripture only points out the 
way to God. You yourself find it true or rational when 
you experience it." 

"That's a curious use of the word rational," was my 
reply, "and moreover, I can't see that it's scientifically 
rational to believe the world is illusion. And yet you 
consider this the highest level, don't you?" 

"Well yes, but it may not be the highest level for you. 
It doesn't matter which level you choose and practice, if 
only you do it sincerely." 

"Then how can you say one level is higher than 

"Theoretically it may be higher, but practically all 
levels are equally good. You see philosophy is theoreti- 
cal and hence universal, but religion is practical and hence 
individual* Since individuals differ in native capacity, 
certain individuals need one kind of religion, while others 
need another kind." 

"But if you don't regard one religion as better than 
another why do you come over to America to preach?" 

"Merely to show the eternal principles underlying all 
religions. As Swami Vivekananda declared in his famous 
address at the World's Parliament of Religions at Chica- 
go in 1893, we want to make Hindus better Hindus, Mus- 
lims better Muslims and Christians better Christians." 

"Your society, then, helps Christians to do better work 
in their churches?" 

"As a matter of fact, very few of our members come 
from the churches. They are usually dissatisfied with 
Christianity when they come. We present their own reli- 
gion in a new way that appeals to them. They seldom 
join up with the churches, because they get so much help 
here. But they may be Christians without going to church, 
I myself claim to be a Christian." 


"Then in America you are actually making Christians 
by means of the Vedanta Society! Is this your missionary 

"Our goal is simply to fill all America with the spirit 
of Vedanta, which is the spirit of the eternal, universal 
religion of understanding and tolerance." 

"How do you propose to infuse this spirit of tolerance 
among us?" 

"By disclosing the four yogas, or methods of each and 
every religion: (l) jnana, or knowledge, (2) raja, or 
the best kind of meditation, (3) bhakti, or loving devo- 
tion, and (4) karma, or work. Swami Vivekananda has 
written a book on each yoga." 

"Yes, so I noticed when I glanced at your book table. 
And I suppose you stress the method of meditation above 
all others as the most suitable cure for the complexity, 
hurry and tension of our American life. I notice you 
have a whole class devoted to this method alone." 

"Yes, and besides, we want to rid Americans of the 
idea that Hindu meditation is something hypnotic, oc- 
cult or magical, full of visions and trances. But we stress 
meditation mainly because it provides the key for the 
other methods. The knowledge that this world is illu- 
sion, the devotion to God for His own sake, and the 
ability to work without any interest in the fruits of your 
work are all developed by the practice of meditation, 
which brings the peace of samadhi, or union with God. 
We should enjoy this samadhi in the workaday world, but 
we can cultivate it best in private, just as we should go 
off to a place where the water is smooth and shallow when 
we want to learn to swim." 

I left Swami Jnanesvarananda feeling that I understood 
at least this much about the Vedanta Society. It was 
here in America to make us peaceful and tolerant Chris- 
tians by means of a meditation free from magic. Imagine 


my surprise when I attended a meeting of the meditation 
dass at a later date, and overheard the following remark 
from one of the members as we all were leaving: 

'These swamis are wonderful! They have more knowl- 
edge in a little finger than we have in a whole hatful! 
Just think! Every letter means something by itself by 
knowing them all we could control the elements of the 
universe! "Where is Jesus Christ now? Dead already 
gone to nothing. These Hindus have the only true reli- 
gion in the world!" 

All this with a German accent. Is this effusion a re- 
sult of the tolerant, non-magical teaching of the swamis? 
After all, does Vedanta supply the universal principles 
of all religions? Or does it merely supply the underlying 
principles of Hinduism, which does indeed presume to 
regard other religions as various practical cult-forms of 
itself? The latter is the clear impression we get from 
Ramakrishna, ensconced in his native India. But does 
Hinduism presume as much in America? A careful study . 
of the Vedanta movement in its actual practice and teach- 
ing will help us to answer this and other perplexing ques- 


American Vedantism is a tree of which the seed was 
Vivekananda. The seed was planted in American soil 
by the Parliament of Religions, and the sprouting plant 
cultivated by wealthy Americans, especially women of 
leisure, as in the case of many other cults. Whereas 
Christian missions to India are inspired and supported 
mainly from the home base, this Hindu mission to Ameri- 
ca was originally inspired and is now supported by the 
field in which it operates. 

How has the tree developed? How has the American 
soil and gardening directed the Hindu plant? How far 


has the growth adapted Itself to American ideals and 
methods? Does Vedanta entice people away from the 
churches or dampen missionary ardor? Is it widening or 
narrowing the gap between East and West? 

When Vivekananda sailed away from America for the 
last time in 1900, he left Swami Turiyananda at San 
Francisco on the western seaboard, and Swami Abheda- 
nanda balancing him at New York. 1 But just two years 
later, in the same year that Vivekananda fell to earth like 
a spent rocket, Turiyananda returned to India weak and 
nervous. Apparently these two men were exhausted by 
preaching the raja-yoga of perfect peace and control. Per- 
haps this yoga cannot bring lasting peace in the midst of 
toil. Perhaps the karma-yoga of incessant, impersonal 
toil fails to suit the man of high hopes and keen sensibili- 
ties, the man of charming personality. Or perhaps Amer- 
ican life is a bit too varied and strenuous for the old 
Hindu methods in general. 

In any case, a fresh worker was sent out from the East 
to preach in the West: Swami Trigunatita, who took 
the place of Turiyananda in Los Angeles, San Francisco 
and the nearby Santi Asrama. Soon the centers grew and 
asked for another swami, so in 1904 Saccidananda (bliss 
of reality and knowledge) came over and took charge of 
the Los Angeles Center. Meanwhile, Swami Nirmala- 
nanda arrived in 1903 at New York to help Abhedananda. 
But he lasted just three years in America, going back to 
his motherland after a siege of pneumonia in the winter 
of 1906. Abhedananda, however, not only held his 
ground in New York but also opened up a center in 
Pittsburgh. Since Trigunatita in San Francisco was like- 
wise expanding his work, three swatnis sailed in 1906 
from Belur to ALmerica, Prakashananda (bliss of radiance) 
to San Francisco, Paramananda (bliss of the highest) to 
New York, and Bodhananda (bliss of intelligence) to 
take charge of the new center in Pittsburgh. 


In 1909 Paramananda 2 set forth from New York and 
established a center in Boston, where the valiant leader 
Vivekananda had won his first triumph in 1893, and dur- 
ing the summer he gave his first course of lectures at the 
Greenacre Summer Conference, where both the leader and 
Swami Saradananda had delivered addresses. Then he 
formed a branch in Washington, placing it in charge of 
an American convert called Sister Devamata (holy 
mother). Taking advantage of this new source of help, 
the swami set out for India in 1911, lecturing on the way 
in Germany and at Stratford-on-Avon during the Shake- 
speare festival there. By Christmas he was back in Boston. 
Then for three successive summers he toured Europe, hold- 
ing classes in Germany, France, Switzerland and Italy, and 
starting a branch in Geneva. 

In the meantime, Abhedananda also left New York, 
retiring in 1912 to an asrama of 370 acres at West Corn- 
wall, Connecticut, in the foothills of the Berkshires; and 
Bodhananda was called from Pittsburgh to take his place. 
Nine years later, Abhedananda went back to his native 
land after a long and fruitful period of service in Ameri- 
ca, pleasantly interrupted by about ten visits to Europe 
during the summer vacations. 

We turn now to the western seaboard just in time to 
see Saccidananda sail for home in 1913, and Trigunatita 
pass away from this life a year later. To replace these 
losses, Prakashananda set out for India and returned with 
two more swamis, Prabhavananda (bliss of lordship) to 
share his work in San Francisco, and Raghavananda (bliss 
of Rama) to help Bodhananda in New York. Thus Los 
Angeles was left without a swami, but not for long, be- 
cause in 1915 the enterprising Paramananda, hindered by 
the War from making his usual summer visit to Europe, 
journeyed westward in America, lecturing by invitation at 
Minneapolis and San Francisco, and in 1916 reestablished 


the work in Los Angeles by forming a permanent center 
there, with radiations in Santa Barbara, San Diego, Long 
Branch, Pasadena and other points in southern California. 
In the spring of 1918 he met with surprising success in 
Seattle, and lectured in Tacoma and Portland as welL 
In the spring of 1919, visits to Louisville, Cincinnati and 
Gallup, New Mexico, added fresh centers in interest. 

Six years later, in 1925, some of those who heard him in 
Portland asked for a permanent swami to guide them, 
and received Prabhavananda from San Francisco. So the 
next year, in 1926, Paramananda went to India and 
brought back two more swamis, Dayananda (bliss of 
pity) for San Francisco, and AkMananda (bliss of the 
whole) to help in the Boston center. The next year, in 
1927, a veteran named Madhavananda, who had edited 
the English Life of Sri Ramakrishna and published the 
Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, came to replace 
Prakashananda, who had passed on to the next life. In 
the same year Raghavananda in New York suffered a 
nervous breakdown and was replaced by Jnanesvarananda 
(bliss of the lord of knowledge), who spells his name 
Gnaneshwarananda. In July 1929 Prabhavananda went 
from Portland, Oregon, to Hollywood, California, the 
capital of the cinema world, and Vividishananda was called 
from India to take his place in Portland. Just after Chris- 
mas in 1929, Jnanesvarananda was sent from New York 
to open up a center in Chicago, the city of Vivekananda's 
great triumph in 1893. In the near future another swami 
may be summoned from India to shepherd a group in St. 
Louis aroused by the lectures of Prabhavananda. 

In all, there have been seventeen Ramakrishna swamis 
in America, but never more than eight at a time, the 
number reached in 1929. 8 Their movement is not one big 
society with an all-American organization and central of- 
fice, but just a number of centers operated by local Ameri- 


can officers and funds. Unlike Christian missionaries in 
India, the swamis do not control their centers, but are 
really Hindu guests who have gladly accepted the invita- 
tions of their American hosts. Guests do not control their 
hosts. The relation is simply one of friendship. So too 
the centers do not control their swamis, but the leading 
swami of each center is directly responsible to the Rama- 
krishna Matha, or Monastic Order, at Belur near Calcutta. 

This matha, we know, was founded in 1886 4 and incor- 
porated in 1899 5 as a dual order of renunciation and serv- 
ice. But the service side was soon embodied in the Rama- 
krishna Mission, founded in 1897 6 and incorporated in 
1909 7 as a separate organization responsible to the Matha, 
which then specialized in renunciation. Although Ve- 
danta centers have appeared from time to time in Western 
countries such as Switzerland, Argentina and Australia, 
the Ramakrishna movement is now flourishing in only two 
countries, India and the United States of America. 8 And 
whereas most of the Indian centers are now specializing in 
social service, such as relief work, mass education and vil- 
lage organization, all of the American centers, responsible 
as they are to the Matha and not to the Mission, 9 have 
confined themselves to the teaching of conservative Hindu 
doctrines. While India is getting more of the Christian- 
like side of Vivekananda's dual religion of renunciation 
and service, America is getting only the stricdy Hindu 
side. 10 

What does this mean? It means that of all the coun- 
tries of the world including India itself, the United States 
offers the most fertile soil for the growth of conservative 
Hindu ideals. Why? In the first place, these ideals are 
more novel to America than to India and many other coun- 
tries, and so more appealing. England, again, is not so 
willing to listen to India, because of their master-and- 
servant relation. On the European continent looms the 


language barrier, for most educated Indians speak only 
English besides their native tongues. Moreover, these 
continental countries, unlike rich America, cannot provide 
the funds required to bring the swamis aE the way from 
India. Finally, America is not only the land of religious 
freedom, but also the land of religious seeking, for its 
background is Protestant and pioneer. 

Moreover, since the Ramakrishna movement is in many 
ways more conservative than other Hindu movements, 
such as the Arya Samaj and Brahma Samaj, the Americans 
that accept its ideals become, curiously enough, more 
strictly Hindu in their beliefs than many Hindus in India, 
And this tendency is increased by the fact that Americans 
are generally aggressive, single-minded and wholehearted 
in whatever they do, so that when they join a Hindu move- 
ment, they often want to be more specifically Hindu than 
the swamis themselves, and whereas the swamis are toler- 
ant of Christianity, their converts often despise the pit 
from which they were digged, and become violently anti- 
Christian. Partly because of this disposition of many 
American converts, Hindu beliefs have not adapted them- 
selves very much to the dominant beliefs of America. But 
of course there has been some adaptation. How much, 
let us now seek to discover. 


In New York today Swami Bodhananda delivers sub- 
stantially the same message that Swami Vivekananda de- 
livered in the same city over a generation ago. And his 
censure of popular Christianity is even keener. The doc- 
trine of original sin, he declares, is a lie, and the worst sin 
in the world. Why do Christians allow their ministers 
to insult them by calling them sinners? Perhaps because 
the biggest sinners are supposed to have the best chance 
for salvation! But we are really gods, not sinners. We 


must not beg for salvation, but demand it as our spiritual 
birthright, and then proceed to remove the darkness of 
Ignorance* Whatever we think, that shall we become. 
So if we think we are sinners, we will indeed become sin- 
ners, but if we think we are divine, we shall really become 

Salvation, moreover, comes not by vicarious atonement 
but by individual realization. Each soul itself must pay 
the price for its salvation, and work out its destiny alone. 
Gautama Buddha, says the swami, had knowledge of at 
least five hundred past lives, yet he did not presume to 
come from God to save men. In his great pity for hu- 
manity, he saw not sin but misery. Hence the claim that 
Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God who saves 
all men is simply a conceit. In short, salvation is not an 
involution from without, but an evolution from within, an 
individual, spiritual evolution. 

The West, continues the swami, is torn between two ex- 
tremes, the Christian dogma of creation out of nothing, 
and the scientific dogma of evolution out of matter. But 
Vedanta chooses the golden mean by teaching a spiritual 
evolution, in which the same soul gradually purifies itself 
by successive reincarnations. If we have only one birth 
and one death, how can God be at once wise and benevo- 
lent and just? Would such a good God create men with 
unequal opportunities and endowments, if they had only 
one chance in the world? Would He send men to eternal 
punishment for temporal sins? And why should the 
Christian believe in eternal life after death if he does 
not believe in eternal life before birth? This conception of 
immortality, as Schopenhauer says, is an infinite stick 
with only one end! The ordinary Christian says, "I have 
a soul to be saved in Heaven bye and bye/' but the Hindu 
says, "I am a soul, and Heaven is here and now within 
me." Yet in spite of all his fallacies, the Christian wants 
to force his views on others. But the Hindu knows that as 


every individual must have his own kind of food, so too 
he must have his own kind of religion, or svadharma. Ac- 
cordingly, he is broad and tolerant. 

But how can you attack another religion, Swamiji, and 
yet claim to be tolerant? 

I am tolerant, 11 replies the swami, in allowing every- 
body freedom to follow his own religion, but I am intoler- 
ant when I find insincerity and hypocrisy in the name of 
religion, when I find a gap between profession and prac- 
tice, and in this I follow all the divine masters, including 
Jesus who condemned the Pharisees. 12 

Swami Jnanesvarananda, a younger monk, is less 
polemic and more illustrative. While he holds to all 
the conservative Vedanta doctrines, he dresses them up 
to appeal to an American audience. Here are a few ex- 
amples. Religion, he says, is a response of the soul to the 
stimulus of God. The soul is the motor-car driver whose 
car is the body. Vedanta brings success in everyday life. 
It is a rational religion, because based on experience. 13 
The world is a vast mechanism controlled by God. AH 
the world is God, just as all the images on the motion pic- 
ture screen are light. 

The young swami even uses ideas that if carried out to 
their logical conclusion would revolutionize the Hindu 
position. The Bliss of Brahma he calls the Love of the 
Heavenly Father. Is our preacher aware of the road he 
travels? It is a road that leads from ascetic, individualistic 
renunciation to harmonious, socially-minded creation. 
Again, he says that God creates the world as an obstacle 
for His struggle and delight. Play may be struggle, to be 
sure, and the Hindu holds that God creates in play or 
lila, but there is considerable difference between the pur- 
poseful play, or joyous work, of Christian romanticism, 
and the purposeless play, or idle magic-making, of classi- 
cal Hinduism. Which does the swami mean? Finally, 
he tells us that life's highest good is not desirelessness, 


but absolute control over selfish desires. If such preach- 
ing should be fully developed, it might make the Ve- 
danta movement as much Christian as Hindu. 

Is it likely, however, that such preaching will be de- 
veloped? Will Vedanta ever adjust itself to American 
life? Let us consider this possibility on the basis of a 
survey of adjustments of Hindu convictions to Western 
culture made successively by the three most influential 
swamis of the movement: Vivekananda, Abhedananda, 
and Paramananda. 


Vivekananda went so far as to accept Western values, 
but he interpreted them according to Vedanta. For ex- 
ample, the West values science. So the swami says in 
effect, "Religion must submit to scientific investigation. 
What can judge between the claims of holy books and 
codes? Only the light of reason." Then comes the in- 
terpretation. "Vedanta, with its utmost generalization, 
is the completely rational religion/' 14 Again, Western 
idealism values democracy, and fights against privilege. 
So the bold Hindu joins the fray. "Break down privi- 
lege!" he cries, then adds a few words for Vedanta. 

Once a gigantic attempt was made to preach Vedanta ethics, 
and . . . those years were the best times for that nation. I 
mean, the Buddhistic attempt to break down privilege. Some 
of the most beautiful epithets addressed to Buddha that I remem- 
ber are, 'Thou the breaker of castes, destroyer of privilege, 
preacher of equality to all beings." 15 

Finally, the West values Christianity. So what does 
the swami do here? He attempts to show that as an orien- 
tal religion, Christianity is only a form of Hinduism. 

The Vedas are ... the oldest sacred books in the world. No- 
body knows anything about the time they were written or by 
whom. The religion of the Vedas is the religion of the Hindus 
and the foundation of all oriental religions. 10 


Since the keystone of Christianity is Christ, the swami 
must give him a special interpretation. 

"The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but the 
Son of Man hath not where to lay his head." That is what 
Christ says is the only way to salvation; he lays down no other 
way. ... He had no family ties ... no sex ideas ... no other 
thought except that one, that he was a Spirit, a disembodied, 
unfettered, unbounded spirit. 17 

Such was Vivekananda's way of preaching, which must 
have given him a feeling of solid satisfaction, for in his 
naive freedom from historical detail, he was not much 
bothered by the fact that the classic Yedanta goal is not 
rational but mystically non-rational, that the Buddhistic 
attempt to break down privilege was at first aimed pre- 
cisely at such cults as Vedanta, that Christianity is not 
simply a form of Hinduism, and that Christ never said 
the only way to get saved is to wander poor and homeless. 
The first swami to visit America was a bold, well-meaning, 
lovable impressionist. 

Paying more attention to history and his field of opera- 
tion, Swami Abhedananda did more than his leader to ad- 
just Vedanta to Western culture. Rather than overpower 
by flashing oratory, he seeks to convince by sweet reason- 
ableness and a vast array of new and picturesque facts. 
His case for vegetarianism, for example, makes a strong 
appeal on its own merits. Again, he argues with a show 
of reason, that if we accept the Christian Bible as revealed 
of God we must then accept all bibles. Unlike Viveka- 
nanda, 18 he does not scorn spiritualism as a cheap Ameri- 
can product competing with the measureless penetration 
of the Hindus, but simply states that for all his conversa- 
tion with spirits through Western mediums, he has 
learned nothing, and so regards them as earth-bound and 

He even reinterprete his message to suit Western de- 


mands. Whereas his master Ramakrishna scorned the 
body and works of healing, this swami sympathizes with 
Christian Science, and encourages the study of healing 
power. What this American cult is striving to do, he 
says, Vedanta has already mastered. 19 Moreover, in his 
treatment of the doctrine of reincarnation, he is very theo- 
sophic and modern, rejecting the notion of the god-man- 
beast-plant wheel of life from which escape is desirable, 
and stressing the creative, evolutionary, purposeful aspects 
of the soul's cosmic peregrinations. Finally, his handling 
of the doctrine of "work" is quite Western. Like Rama- 
nuja, combining the Gita rule of unselfish devotion with 
the early Vedic idea of purposeful work for reward, he 
takes the "duties and work of our daily life as a means to 
a higher end," and declares that "all good or unselfish 
works bring as their results peace, good health, prosperity 
and happiness in the end/' 20 This kind of work is a far 
cry from the utterly disinterested and result-despising 
duty proclaimed as the highest path in the Bhagavad Gita 
and in the Karma Yoga of Vivekananda. 

In Swami Paramananda, however, we see a return to 
conservatism. Instead of sweeping history, science and 
Western religion like Abhedananda to find illumination 
and expansion for his Hindu convictions, he dwells for- 
ever on the cultivation of the Dinner," or "spiritual," life 
by the methods taught in the Gita. In his magazine Mes- 
sage of the East, his associate, Sister Devamata, speaks 
of escape from the wheel of life; the Brahman Sarada- 
nanda now back in India praises work done without any 
desire for name, fame, material benefit or future reward; 
and the veteran Ramakrishnananda, also in India, main- 
tains that life is the struggle of spirit against matter. 

Thus the historical development of Vedanta teaching 
in America does not show any one steady trend of adjust- 
ment towards American culture. In Abhedananda and 


Jnanesvarananda we notice considerable adaptation, but in 
Paramananda and Bodhananda not so much. To be sure, 
Paramananda teaches die congenial devotion and work 
rather than knowledge and meditation, but here he stops. 
It is not easy to tell what the future may bring, but unless 
the basis of propaganda be definitely shifted from Hindu 
Dharma^ to individual reason or life's present needs, 
we are not justified in predicting much more adjustment. 
And as for the past, we must still maintain that apart 
from social customs, certain Americans have proved them- 
selves good old-fashioned Hindus. 

The contrast between the Hindu conservatism of the 
Ramakrishna Matha in America, and the Hindu liberalism 
of the Ramakrishna Mission in India appears even more 
striking when we note the remarkable adjustment of Hindu 
ideals to Western culture now taking place in the work 
of the Mission in India. Dr. S. L. Sarkar, for example, 
in addressing the great Ramakrishna Convention at Belur 
in 1926 embraces not only the Buddhist and Christian 
ideal of service motivated by love, but also the Christian 
and Ramanuja conception of God's joy in purposeful 

In studying the subject of organization we get many a valuable 
suggestion from the creation of the world and evolution of man- 
kind. In creating the world God has given Himself up and 
His joy lies in it. This joy in creation, through sacrifice, He 
has imparted to all those who want to build or create. The 
painter, the sculptor, the poet, the philosopher, the scientist, 
the monk and the householder all find delight in their respec- 
tive creations, and creations connote sacrifice on the part of the 
person concerned. The more rigorous the sacrifice, the happier 
the result. Thus self-sacrifice must be the basis on which the 
real work of village organization should rest. 

We find there are two types of work; work impelled by a mere 
sense of obligation and work inspired by love. Of the two 
the latter is more effective, and produces real joy. The Rama- 
krishna Mission has shown good example of the latter kind, 


inspired as it is by its noble motto "For the liberation of the 
self and for the good of the many/' Here "the service to 
others" becomes identified with "service to one's own self." . . . 
In doing an act of service, one must not be actuated by a sense 
of obligation alone, but one should be stimulated by a spirit of 
love and self-sacrifice. "Moksha" is the experience of joy de- 
rived from the hardship of sacrifice. What else can be the 
meaning of Moksha? 22 I have given . . . the philosophy of 
service. It is the idea of Ananda (joy) which impels a man 
to sacrifice all his comforts for the sake of others. 23 


Turning back to America, let us now attempt to dis- 
cover whether the monks of the Matha have adjusted 
their methods to American culture any more than their 
message. The old-fashioned Indian methods employed 
by the teaching friars, such as personal instruction, pri- 
vate classes, and birthday celebrations with an offering 
and distribution of prasada, or blessed flowers, fruits and 
sweetmeats, are carried over to America, and Western 
methods also adopted, such as Sunday preaching services 
and newspaper notices, public classes and paid member- 
ship, reading rooms and circulating libraries, the sale of 
books and magazines, and the distribution of bulletins and 
magazines to libraries, colleges and universities. 

In several ways, however, the American advance of the 
movement is limited. In the first place, the training of 
the monks at Belur as brahmacans and sannyasis fits 
them more for meditation than organization, and while 
most of the swamis that come to America are graduates of 
Indian universities, especially the University of Calcutta, 
they do not care enough for American life to adopt its 
ways. In the second place, following Vivekananda, the 
monks come only as guests, having no funds 24 of their 
order for the work, and so can advance no faster than 
the demand for their services stimulated by literature or 


friendly contact. In the third place, the supply is not 
even as great as the modest demand. In St. Louis, for 
example, an interested group has the desire and the funds 
for a swami, but the swami in question is unwilling to 
come out from India because of his interest in training 
genuine monks. In the fourth place, finally, the swamis 
fail to use either of the two methods necessary for spread- 
ing any religious work in America, (l) prominent ad- 
vertising or (2) community cultivation. 

In view of the conservatism of both message and 
method, we are not surprised to discover that the influence 
of the Ramakrishna movement in America, outside its 
membership and local following, is scarcely perceptible, 
and its membership is generally on the decline. In 1906 
there were 340 members in the whole country, but in 1916 
only 190. And membership does not necessarily mean 
conversion. By 1926 25 ten members had been added, 
owing perhaps to the increase of swamis and new centers. 
But on the whole, from its inception until the present, 
the movement shows a marked decline in local interest, 
and after 1906 a decline in membership levelling into 
stagnation. The failure to expand is probably due first 
to the wearing off of novelty, and second to the retire- 
ment of Swami Abhedananda, who was willing to adjust 
himself to American institutions in both message and 
method. His Vedanta Bulletin, for example, had a cir- 
culation of over 3000 copies, 300 of which were sent free 
to libraries and student organizations. 

However, the principle cause of Vedanta stagnation in 
America is the master R.amakrishna himself. Scorning 
the body, he put his stamp of disapproval on mental heal- 
ing, and so prevented the movement from developing in 
a popular way along the line of such cults as Christian 
Science. Shunning wealth, he madt the order minimize 
the value of great funds of its own. And with his old- 


fashioned Hindu conviction that the disciple will always 
come to the master, so that the master need not go out 
and preach, he limited aggressive propaganda. It was 
really not so much the Hindu Ramakrishna that sent 
Vivekananda to America, as English education, Indian na- 
tionalism and liberal Christianity. For Swami Jnanes- 
varananda says today, "I will sing my song here whether 
crowds listen or no/* and Swami Bodhananda feels that 
as far as membership goes, the Vedanta movement in 
America is never likely to prosper. In the spirit of the 
ancient Upanishads, he says, "Vedanta does not appeal to 
the masses. And as for me, I shall never compromise its 
truth to make it popular* Even if the masses flocked to 
my door, I would still continue the intensive cultivation 
of the individual," 


If Vedanta does not appeal to the masses, then to what 
kind of people does it appeal? Swami Vivekananda, we 
remember, was supported by men and women of wealth 
and influence; but according to his biographers, he 
preached to rich and poor alike, and the accounts of con- 
temporary newspapers, 26 as well as the judgments of 
contemporary leaders of American opinion, 27 indicate that 
his followers can best be classified, not by financial in- 
come, but by mental disposition. They were intellectual, 
odd, and venturesome; religious liberals, social rebels and 
cultural faddists. But that was over a generation ago. 
What kind of people are Vedanta members at present? 

I have attempted to answer this question by means of 
personal acquaintance and questionnaire letters, 28 and now 
set down the results of my study. Since I cannot claim in- 
formation from more than one fifth of the members, my 
observations will apply only to this limited group com- 
prising probably the most devoted members. In just this 


group, then, most of the members arc native Americans, 
with a sprinkling of English, Germans, Swedes and Jews. 
Their ages run from 35 to 70, with an average of 48. 
Two-fifths are unmarried, and more than three-fourths 
of the group are women. Most of the women are oc- 
cupied at home, but some of the single women have high 
clerical positions. No one occupation is dominant among 
the men, their work ranging from "manual" to "mental." 
More than half of the group come from Protestant homes, 
while the rest, half come from parents who confess no 
religion, and almost half from Catholic parents. Several 
inherit the Christian Science tradition. So far the group 
seems fairly normal. There are very few men and young 
people to be sure, but perhaps men and young people 
are not apt to volunteer to fill out questionnaires. The 
census shows in the whole movement no more than twice 
as many women as men. 

Now, however, we come to some eccentricities. Of 
those who came from religious homes, about two-thirds 
strayed away from the church of their parents into other 
cults even before they had heard of Vedanta, and of these, 
many changed their connection several times. For ex- 
ample, one Unitarian became an Episcopalian, then 
dropped out of the Church altogether, then took up in 
turn New Thought, Christian Science and Theosophy be- 
fore coming to rest in Vedanta. If we add to this num- 
ber those who had no church to begin with, we find that 
almost all of the group were religious wanderers, rest- 
less souls who passed through many "borderland" cults 
till they found Vedanta. And half of the few church 
members who joined the Hindu cult without wandering, 
have now left their churches, in spite of the fact that 
Vedanta demands no severing of former church connec- 
tion, and even claims to support all cults and sects. It 
seems that the estimate of the character of Vedanta ad- 


herents in the time of Vivekananda still holds today in the 

Now what do our pilgrims find in Vedanta that they 
missed in former churches and cults? In other words, 
what are the causes of their conversion? Half of them 
find a broadening of outlook that brings sweet tolerance 
and appreciation of all religions. A few find for the 
first time a personal religion of experience and practice, 
a few enjoy its otherworldly emphasis, while the rest feel 
relief in giving up their old, perplexing doctrines such 
as the sinfulness of man, the necessity of faith, the vica- 
rious atonement, an extra-cosmic God, Christ the only in- 
carnation, the need for conversion, Bible "myths" and the 
exclusive claims of Christianity. 

Then after devoting themselves to this Hindu cult, 
what do our pilgrims come to? Do they worship Christ 
and read the Bible with a Vedanta interpretation, or do 
they find other leaders and books to guide them? In 
other words, what are the effects of their conversion? 
Only a few give first place in their estimation to Christ 
and the Bible. The vast majority prefer Hindu books 
and leaders although the names of Emerson and Lincoln 
are prominent, and the Imitation of Christ is a favorable 
book. One-third look to Ramakrishna or Vivekananda as 
the supreme human model, while not a few love their 
own swami the best. 

Thus the Ramakrishna cult in America performs a dual 
function. In a few cases it takes nominal Christians and 
enlarges their views, and Swami Jnanesvarananda is right 
when he says that his cult presents Christianity to Chris- 
tians at least to some Christians in a new and appealing 
way. 29 But in most cases, it takes stray seekers for 
truth without any definite tradition, and leads them into 
Hinduism as their first vital religion. While Vedanta is 
indeed not a sect, with hard and fast lines of distinction, 


it cannot, on the other hand, be called an impartial, uni- 
versal religion that keeps everyone in his own tradition of 
worship. It is just one cult among others more tolerant 
and broad than many, it is true but still a particular 
cult, a magnetic center of influence that slowly but surely 
draws some kinds of people from indifference and nominal 
Christianity into Hinduism. In this way, the protestation 
that all cults are equally true, made by Hinduism in India 
as a defence against the conversion of nominal Hindus 
to Christianity, becomes in America a subtle instrument 
for the conversion of nominal Christians to Hinduism, for 
it is precisely the Hindu method of broad generalization 
that entices certain doubting and creed-bound Christian 
rebels into the capacious Hindu fold. 

As a bit of tangible evidence that American Vedanta 
is not merely a kind of Christian interpretation but a spe- 
cial Hindu cult, stands the San Francisco Vedanta So- 
ciety's Hindu Temple 30 on the southwest corner of Web- 
ster and Filbert Streets, erected as "the first Hindu temple 
in the whole Western world" August 21, 1905, under the 
auspices of the Ramakrishna Mat ha in India. It is a splen- 
did three-storied structure in Hindu style adapted to 
American building material. In the beautiful auditorium 
appears a large picture of Christ sitting in the yoga pos- 
ture. Above the main roof of the building rise several 
picturesque Hindu cupolas, one serving as a small con- 
servatory and another as a special temple to the god Siva. 
Inside this little temple are displayed a number of Hindu 
utensils and religious symbols in brass and wood and 


Alarmed at this "Hindu Invasion of America," Mrs. 
Mabel Potter Daggett, among others, 31 sounded a vibrant 
note of warning to Christian men and women in the 


Hampton Columbian Magazine Issue of October, 1911, 
which found an echo in Current Literature, The Mission- 
ary Review, and The Literary Digest. This Christian de- 
fender of the faith sees American Vedantism as just a 
part of a great oriental invasion, and points to the Bud- 
dhist temple at Seattle, the Krishna temple at Los An- 
geles, 32 the Zoroastrian temples at Chicago and Lowell 
(Massachusetts) as startling evidence. And what is the 
result of it all, she asks. Futility at best, but here and 
there insanity! 

Miss Sarah J. Farmer, 33 you remember, who gave a 
fortune for the study of oriental religions at Greenacre 
Inn what became of her? She is in the insane asylum at 
Waverly, Massachusettes, says Mrs. Daggett. And Mrs. 
Ole Bull, 34 who died in 1911, bequeathing several hun- 
dred thousand dollars to the Vedanta Centre her will 
was set aside by the courts on the ground of mental in- 
capacity and undue influence. Then the wife of a col- 
lege president renounced her home with the words, "My 
husband and children are no more to me than any others 
equally deserving of regard. My religion teaches me that 
I am free to seek the perfect life alone." 35 And finally, 
a club woman of national repute is said to be a physical 
wreck through the practice of yoga and the study of oc- 
cultism. 36 The danger to American women, says Mrs. 
Daggett, lies not so much in the worship of images such 
as little brown Buddhas and little jade Krishnas al- 
though this is bad enough but in the worship of men, 
their Hindu gurus, or swamis. After a certain swami has 
finished his devotions, his female devotees bow eagerly to 
kiss his sandalled feet. 

What shall we say of these strictures? Is Hinduism 
really dangerous for America? First of all, we must 
remember that women have been known to go insane 
over other creeds than Hinduism, and perhaps men also! 


So even if these reports are true, It is hard to tell just 
what they indicate with regard to the relative risks and 
dangers involved in Hinduism. I have heard Hindu rites 
in America called "awful mysteries/' but I have also read 
that the Christian rites of the Lord's Supper in the Roman 
Empire were supposed to be loathsome by those who 
knew them not. Having myself partaken of the Lord's 
Supper, a communion restricted to Christians, I report 
nothing harmful therein; and having also attended a Hin- 
du meditation class, confined to members of the society, 
I report that I escaped unharmed, and even benefited by 
the period of relaxation. But whether the yoga practice 
of the Ramakrishna movement contains subtle dangers or 
not can best be discovered by a faithful study of the 
yoga presented by Vivekananda in his book Raja Yoga, 
and taught by his present day followers in their meditation 


"Each soul," says Vivekananda, "is potentially divine. 
The goal is to manifest this divine within, by controlling 
nature, external and internal. 37 Do this by work, or 
worship, or psychic control or philosophy, by one, or more, 
or all of these and be free/' 38 Thus the goal of life is 
the liberation of the soul. As for the methods of this at- 
tainment, "work" is karma-yoga, "worship" is bhakti- 
yoga f "psychic control" is raja-yoga, while "philosophy" 
is jnana-yoga. It is the raja-yoga of phychic control that 
is studied and practiced in the meditation classes of the 
various Vedanta centers as the key to the other yogas f 
says Vivekananda: 

Raja-Yoga is divided into eight steps. The first is Yama 
non-killing, truthfulness, non-steaHng, continence, and non-re- 
ceiving of any gifts. Next is Niyama cleanliness, contentment, 
austerity, study, and self-surrender to God. Then comes Asana, 
or posture; Pranayama, or control of Prana; Pratyahara, or re- 


straint of the senses from their objects; Dhafana, or fixing the 
mind on a spot; Dhyana, or meditation; and Samadhi t or super- 
consciousness. 89 

In the weekly class of about fifteen members in the 
New York Society, we are first told to relax the body 
and empty the mind completely. Each worshiper is to 
imagine he is the absolute passive witness of the world of 
action, including his body, quite apart from himself. Then 
follow six "Steps in Meditation/' 40 

(1) Guru-pranama, or Salutation to the Masters. Here 
each one may invoke the blessing of his special savior, or 
all the saviors at once. The swami chants a Sanskrit man- 
tra, or holy affirmation, and then tells us to imagine we 
are charging the machinery of the body with electricity. 
We may think of this electricity as a spiritual energy 
emanating from the divine masters. 

(2) Asana-suddhi, or Purification of Posture. Here 
we are told to sit at ease, but quite erect, with the spine, 
neck and head in one straight line. We breathe deeply 
with a slow and measured rhythm. The swami chants 
again, and then tells us to imagine a holy circle, a pro- 
tecting wall 41 of divine elements surrounding and keep- 
ing us from all harm. 

(3) Bhuta-suddhi, or Purification of the Subtle Body 
Elements. This is accomplished by meditation on the as- 
tral upward progress of the Kundalinif* or serpent-pow- 
er, from the fire at the bottom of the spine through the 
six successive lotus flowers of the Susumna, or spinal canal, 
until it merges in the "Infinite Divine Consciousness" of 
the sahasrara, or thousand-petalled lotus, of the brain. 
All of these elements, of course, are not physical, but "as- 
tral/* As the swami gives us the cues, we imagine the 
serpent power mounting, lotus after lotus, supposedly 
feeling an exaltation and sublimation of our now stimu- 
lated animal nature. 


(4) Ista-dhyana and Manas-puja, or Meditation on 
the Ideal Person and Worship with the Mind. Now I 
am supposed to call up in my mind an image of the god 
or ideal person I most revere, the most lovely figure I 
know it may be Siva, Kali, Rama, Krishna, Ramakrishna, 
Vivekananda, Jesus, Spinoza, my mother, wife or sweet- 
heart and mentally exchange loving offerings as if my 
beloved were actually present in form. Again the San- 
skrit chant, and again the silent worship. 

(5) Asirvad, or Blessing. Now that we have reached 
the peak of spiritual joy and love, let us not be selfish, 
but send out to all beings, whether plant, animal or hu- 
man, spiritual blessings, or vibrations of love and best 
wishes. Again the chant and the worship. 

(6) Atma-samarpana, or Self Dedication. To escape 
all trace of selfishness, we now dedicate the fruit of our 
holy exercises to the deity. 

These devotions are intended to occupy one third of 
the hour. During the next third the swami lectures on 
Vivekananda* s Raja Yoga, and the final third is reserved 
for questions and answers. The group meditation prac- 
tised in class is of course sketchy and incomplete. It con- 
tains only two of the eight steps mentioned by Viveka- 
nanda, and deals with the Kundalini only in rapid outline. 
In the privacy of the home, especially in a small sacred 
room, or domestic temple, reserved for the purpose, one 
is supposed to practice with greater persistence and in 
greater detail. This greater detail, especially in regard 
to the control of the breath, and meditation on the Kunda- 
lini, i$ elaborated in Vivekananda's book, and explained 
by the local swamis. 


Breath control is not an end in itself, but the means 
of rousing the Kundalini to begin its upward progress. 


But what Is the Kundalini, and why should It go up? In 
the first place, you will never discover its path by dis- 
secting the human corpse, as Swami Dayananda Saras- 
vati, the founder of the Arya Samaj, once tried to do. It 
is purely astral, that is, psychic, occult, mystic, imaginary, 
autosuggestive, we are told, I suppose if everyone imag- 
ines it in the same way, it may be called a real, or public, 
object like a mermaid, a nightmare, or a volt. 

The Kundalinij then, is astral fire, or lurid light, in 
the form of a serpent. It is perhaps what Freud would 
call the libido, the surplus animal energy of man. Unless 
it be aroused, man is dull and apathetic, but once aroused 
it makes him fiery and passionate until it can be controlled 
and directed into the higher, more intellectual centers of 
human activity. In other words, man's infinite potential 
power must be made first kinetic and then sublime. The 
jiva, or individual life, must unite with the Siva, or uni- 
versal life. Man must rise to God in the exalted intuition 
of "That art thou," (God art thou), the consciousness 
of Buddhahood or Christhood, the "realization" of abso- 
lute existence, knowledge and bliss, in short, samadbi. So 
speaks the swami, but confesses he has never attained 

You feel tired and listless because your Kundalini, or 
* 'coiled one," is coiled up true to its name in a tight little 
spring down below. If you are a disciple of Ramakrishna, 
what do you do? First you sit down in proper form to 
meditate. Early evening, like early morning, is auspi- 
cious. Then you rouse your serpent-power by breathing. 

Why breathing? The connection is this. The fiery 
serpent lies coiled at the base of a nadi, or tube, of light 
called the smumna, running vertically through the center 
of the spinal cord. In this cord on each side of the 
susumna is another tube, the ida on the left, and the 
pingala on the right. These three tubes are openly con- 


nected at their base, but the susumna is temporarily closed 
near the bottom by the dormant Kundalim, which pre- 
vents the Prana, the cosmic breath, or elan mtal, from 
rising In It. By breathing, you force the breath against 
the Kundalini from below, and rouse it to ascend. As 
It ascends it not only sublimates the personality, but also 
makes way for the Prana to come up after, causing an 
inflow of universal power. 43 

First you close the right nostril, and breathe in through 
the ida (or left tube) up to capacity in four seconds, 
counting mentally with the sacred sound tf Om" Then 
you close both nostrils, and hold your breath for sixteen 
seconds, allowing It to press on the Kundalini from below. 
Then you close the left nostril, and breathe out through 
the pmgala in eight seconds. Then you repeat the whole 
process over and over again, breathing deeply with equal 
periods according to the rhythm 1:4:2 as, for example, In 
4:16:8 seconds. When you become adept, you can in- 
crease the duration of each count, holding the breath four 
minutes, let us say. Concentration of attention aids the 
power of breath. After enduring repeated stresses, the 
channel of susumna finally opens, and the Kundalini 
begins to rise* 

Now before it reaches the top, it must shoot through 
six astral nerve centers conceived as lotus flowers hang- 
ing at intervals from the inner side of the spinal channel. 
This main process is called the sat-cakra-bheda, or liter- 
ally, "six-circle-shooting/' As you meditate on the soft 
pale light of the Kundalini f it rushes up the susumna, 
striking in turn each hanging lotus bud, tossing it into 
an erect, full blown flower, and passing on upward 
through its center. 44 By this time you are feeling fit and 
spry, entirely rid of your bodily and mental fatigue. 

Do not presume, however, that you have reached the 
goal, for the goal is nothing less than "superconscious" 


bliss. If you practice long enough with sufficient intense 
persistence, they say, you may at certain levels experience 
wonderful visions, and gain control over a variety of 
occult powers, but unless you continue to meditate stead- 
fastly until the Kundalini strikes the blissful sahasrara, or 
thousand-petalled lotus in the brain, your devotion will 
not be crowned with spiritual success. 

The normal person who has his brute nature of eating, 
drinking and reproducing fairly well under control can 
imagine that the Kundalini when aroused rises without 
delay through the three baser lotuses of animal nature, 
and pierces the fourth lotus opposite the heart in the 
plane of fiery ambition. Then if the mind be filled with 
the ideal of truth and peace and control over emotions, 
this uncoiled serpent may shoot up and pierce the fifth 
lotus opposite the medulla oblongata. An expansion of 
peaceful sentiment will raise it to the sixth lotus in the 
pineal gland opposite the eyebrows, and in rare cases 
persistent meditation will cause it to strike the sahasrara, 
and fuse the individual with the universal in the blissful 
state of samadhi, or waking sleep. Even after the state 
has passed away its effects will persist in everyday life 
as a sense of peace and power. 45 

I have met no one who says his Kundalini has ever 
struck the sahasrara. The swamis of the New York 
Vedanta Society make no such claim. However, one of 
the faithful members, by driving his Kundalini up through 
the first lotus has gained relief from the temptation of 
"women/* and now feels the peace and joy of private sex- 
sensation that seems not to drain but enhance his vitality. 
But this "wonderful" realization only spurs him to greater 
efforts to raise the serpent above sex altogether into the 
realms of finer, more spiritual delight. This novice in 
raja-yoga is the odd one of his family, away from his home 
and country, unmarried, and compelled to drudge for his 


daily bread. His main relief and enjoyment comes from 
this practice of yoga before the peaceful idol and amid the 
fragrant incense of the temple of his neat little bedroom. 

Another Vedanta adherent, also away from home and 
country, is a somewhat younger man of more reflective type 
who takes truth wherever he can get it, and who prefers 
study to marriage on a small salary. He finds that raja- 
yoga enables him to control his stray thoughts and fiery 
temper, and helps him secure peace, and efficiency in his 
business life. He has no desire to renounce the world, 
but would like to attain perfection in self-control in the 
six months mentioned by Vivekananda. Still another 
wanderer from abroad, a successful business man whose 
race suffered religious persecution in the "old country" 
when he was a child, finds in the mystic vision and practice 
of Hinduism such freedom, health and joy that the world 
seems ever like springtime. His insight "makes all things 
new." In spite of his prematurely stooped shoulders and 
white hair, he is happy with his wife and children, and 
although he smokes over a hundred cigarettes a day, he 
feels healthy, wears light clothes in cold weather, works 
hard, and devotes much time to the study of books on 

One member confessed he suffered a heart attack while 
spurring on his KundaUni, but this was due to his failure 
to consult his swami. Vivekananda expressly states that 
students who wish to practice the raja-yoga "are especially 
and earnestly reminded that, with few exceptions, Yoga 
can only be safely learned by direct contact with a 
teacher/* 46 This however leads us to inquire whether 
the implicit obedience to the teacher demanded by Hindu- 
ism from the days of the Upanishads is not in itself a 
danger. In so far as the devotee is immature such prac- 
tice cannot be justly condemned if the character of the 
teacher is above reproach. But who can judge the char- 
acter of the teacher? He may be a saint with very eccen- 


trie ideas. In fairness to the swamis, however, it must 
be said that the members seem to be more responsible 
than they are for retaining this ancient custom! 

The yoga practice as it now stands is opposed to the 
spirit of modern science, for its whole ancient background 
of theory is magical and ascetic. A practice is magical 

(1) when it seeks to work in a realm above nature, or 

(2) when it is secret or limited to a select few. Now on 
die basis of classic Hindu philosophy, Vivekananda 47 
posits two realms, one of which is psychical, inner and 
subtle, while the other is physical, outer and gross. The 
subtle, he says, is the controlling cause of the gross. The 
yogi seeks to control nature, or the gross realm, by work- 
ing in the subtle realm of the mind above nature. More- 
over, he tells us that "Yoga fell into the hands of a few 
persons who made it a secret, instead of letting the full 
blaze of daylight and reason fall upon it. They did so 
that they might have the power to themselves." 48 Thus 
the classic yoga practice is magical according to both parts 
of the definition. 

With his admiration for modern science, Swami Jnan- 
esvarananda would like to "rid America of the idea that 
Hindu meditation is something hypnotic, occult or magi- 
cal," 49 but he will have a hard time doing it unless he 
changes his view of reality as sharply divided into "outer" 
and "inner." According to this teaching, the inner, or 
subtle, realm is the Prana, or cosmic energy, which mani- 
fests itself inside the body as the power of breathing. By 
controlling our breathing, says the Hindu leader, we may 
learn to control the cosmic breathing, or Prana, and thus 
come to master all nature. Says Vivekananda: 

The knowledge and control of this Prana is really what is 
meant by Pranayama. This opens to us the door to almost un- 
Hmited power. Suppose, for instance, a man understood the 
Prana perfectly, and could control it, what power on earth would 


not be Ms? He would be able to move the sun and stars out 
of their places, to control everything in the universe, from the 
atoms to the biggest suns, because he would control the Prana, 
This is the end and aim of Pranayama. When the Yogi becomes 
perfect there will be nothing in nature not under his control. If 
he orders the gods or the souls of the departed to come, they 
will come at his bidding. All the forces of nature will obey 
him like slaves. When the ignorant see these powers of the 
Yogi they call them miracles. 

The Yogis say that behind this particular manifestation there 
is a generalization. Behind all particular ideas stands a general- 
ized, an abstract principle; grasp it, and you have grasped 
everything. Just as this whole universe has been generalized, 
in the Vedas, into that One Absolute Existence, and he who 
has grasped that Existence has grasped the whole universe, so 
all forces have been generalized into this Prana 3 and he who has 
grasped the Prana has grasped all the forces of the universe, 
mental or physical. He who has controlled the Prana has con- 
trolled his own mind, and all the minds that exist. He who has 
controlled the Prana has controlled his body, and all the bodies 
that exist, because the Prana Is the generalized manifestation of 

We see sects in every country who have attempted the control 
of Prana. In this country there are Mind-healers, Faith-healers, 
Spiritualists, Christian Scientists, Hypnotists, etc., and if we 
examine these different bodies, we shall find at the back of each 
this control of the Prana, whether they know it or not. If you 
boil ail their theories down, the residuum will be that. It is the 
one and the same force they are manipulating, only unknowingly. 
They have stumbled on the discovery of a force and are using it 
unconsciously without knowing its nature, but it is the same as 
the Yogi uses, and which comes from the Prana?** 

I confess I have never had the privilege of attending 
any of these exhibits of mental power, nor can I testify to 
the exercise of the various powers mentioned specifically 
in Patanjalf s Raja Yoga, on which Vivekananda bases his 
amazing statements: clairvoyance, the understanding of 
animal speech, mind reading, invisibility, supernormal 
strength, television, telescience, walking on water or 
thoins, iEumination, telaudition, levitation, alternation of 


size, extreme endurance, control of involuntary organs, 
surpassing speed, broad intuition, fine discrimination, im- 
perturbability, personal isolation, and others. 

Here we have an enormous mass of enormous claims. 
What shall we say about them? Shall we throw them all 
overboard as so much obsolete fiction? Such procedure 
would accord nicely with a certain modern temper, but 
would it be scientific? On account of the dualism and 
secrecy of the old-fashioned yoga, these astounding asser- 
tions have persisted up till now in all their bold entirety. 
When they meet the monism and publicity of modern 
science, they will be welcomed, tested, criticized and 
appraised. How much of their substance will remain? 

Just now it is hard to tell, for modern scientific investi- 
gation of mental capacity is still in its infancy. Perhaps 
group hypnotism is one of the chief explanations of the 
yogi's wonders. No doubt many beliefs are based on noth- 
ing more substantial than clever frauds. Again, the very 
concentration employed by the yogi produces a simple 
uncritical state of mind in which any bit of imagination 
is felt with the force of the utmost truth and reality. Cer- 
tainly I shall believe I can touch the moon with the tip 
of my finger if for a long while I persist in thinking noth- 
ing else, just as when I am on the operating table and 
almost overcome with anaesthetic I may be convinced that 
the whole universe is pervaded by the odor of ether. Any 
event will seem true if unchecked by any other. All of 
science and philosophy is just the criticism of events orig- 
inally taken as self-evident truths. 

Yet for all our hard-headed slashing at reported won- 
ders, there will most likely remain a solid core of sig- 
nificant and unusual powers that can be developed by 
anyone who has a certain capacity, knows the method, and 
is willing to take the time. One of the chief obstacles in 
the way of sifting the yoga practice for genuine achieve- 


ment Is that those who know most about ic arc me 
reluctant to divulge their knowledge, perhaps on account 
of pride, bashfulness, exclusiveness, or the justifiable de- 
sire to prevent the spread of half-knowledge and mis- 
guided popular enthusiasm which would foster all degrees 
of trickery and deception. Moreover, the true yogi is not 
supposed to use his powers. Another difficulty In learn- 
ing about yoga at first hand Is the excessive amount of 
time, patience, self-discipline and strenuous practice It 
requires. To practice yoga In addition to regular work 
Is to burn life's candle at both ends. 

For example, the celebrated Hindu inventor, Sfrankar 
A. BIsey, D. Sc ? Ph. D. (whose first name in classic trans- 
literation is Sankara), tells me that he used to practice 
yoga in youth, and gained the power to read the mind in 
a very simple, mechanical way, but only after a severe 
course of diet, fasting and mental training. Consequently, 
in the words of a friend writing in the East-West maga- 
zine, 51 "he found It impracticable to carry out such Yoga 
practices any further while giving his attention to govern- 
ment service/* With his Hindu lore, his knowledge of 
magician's tricks, his long residence in the West, and his 
scientific habit of mind, Dr. BIsey Is eminently fitted to 
conduct research into yoga in cooperation with Western 
scientists for the benefit of the modern man, and we may 
hope that some day he will find leisure enough to turn 
his attention to this fascinating problem. 

Now the raja-yoga as presented to us by Vivekananda 
Is not only magical but also ascetic. Above the two 
realms of this world is a third the absolute, potential 
realm of akasa.* 2 Here we have a double dualism a 
dualism between mind and body, and a dualism between 
the world of mind and body and the posited reality of the 
passive and solitary self. 

Beyond the vibrations of matter in Its gross and subtle 


aspects, beyond motion there is but One. . . . Modern physics 
. . . has demonstrated that the sum-total of the energies in the 
universe Is the same throughout. It has also been proven that 
this sum-total of energy exists In two forms. It becomes poten- 
tial, toned down, and calmed, and next it comes out manifested 
as all these various forces; again it goes back to the quiet state, 
and again it manifests. Thus it goes on evolving and Involving 
through eternity. 53 

Here we see an attempt to Identify "kinetic energy" 
with the cosmic Prana, the goddess Kali and the 'lower" 
Brahman; and "potential energy" with the infinite akasa, 
the god Siva and the "higher" Brahman. This combination 
of Herbert Spencer and Hindu cosmology reminds us of 
Zeno and Plotinus. How much science is there in this 
persistent view? 

As we look back over the spread of the Ramakrishna 
movement, what difference can we note between its In- 
dian and American development? In the first place, as 
we have already seen, 54 the social service of the Rama- 
krishna Mission is not carried on in America, while the 
preaching of the Ramakrishna Matha is kept up in both 
countries. In India, the swamis of the Matha may either 
wander alone or share the work of the monastery, but in 
America they never lose touch with society. In their 
native land all the monks are garbed in the saffron robes 
of renunciation, but in the West, except when preaching, 
they dress even as you or I. These are matters of land and 
custom. But has there been any adjustment of message 
and method? 

We know that Swami Abhedananda made a few ac- 
commodations to American institutions, and Swami Jnan- 
esvarananda adapted his preaching to American ideas 
mostly in form, but somewhat In substance also. How- 
ever, no radical adjustment has taken place. The methods 
are still based on the notion that the pupil will seek out 
the teacher, and the message still includes the idea that 


the world Is Illusion. As in India, so In America, the 
function of the Mat ha Is (1) to harmonize religious tra- 
dition and (2) to preach the peaceful old Hindu Dbafma. 
We notice two kinds of people among the converts to 
Vedanta of the Ramakrisfana type: the few who remain 
in their original churches with broader and more tolerant 
views, and the many who plunge into Vedanta to find 
peace for their restless souls. 

If we stop here, however, we miss the most important 
point of all, for in the Ramakrishna movement the influ- 
ence of East on West is not so great as the Influence of 
West on East. The work of the Ramakrishna Mission in 
India Is far more extensive, and certainly more fruitful in 
Its practical results than the work of the Ramakrishna 
Matha In both India and America, And the Mission, as 
we have seen, Is a growth of the Christian spirit and Amer- 
ican methods grafted on to Hindu stock. Getting his 
Christian spirit from his Alma Mater and the Brahma 
Samaj, and his training in organization from America, 
VIvekananda went back to India and started a movement 
that has won universal esteem for its unusually devoted 
and effective service. 



One day a friend gave me a pamphlet bearing this title: 

Descriptive Outline of 

A system for Harmonious and Full Development 

of Body, Mind and Soul 

A Practical, Scientific Technique of Concentration 
and Meditation Leading to Conscious Contact 

with Inner Divine Forces 

A Method of Recharging the Body, Mind and Soul 

Batteries from Inner Cosmic Energy 

as Taught by 


of India 

Swami Dhirananda, MA., Associate 
Ninth Edition 
Published by 

Los Angeles 

On the inside of the front cover is this advertisement: 

Scientific Healing Affirmations. This book has become a world- 
wide inspiration. These affirmations have been used at SwamTs 
Healing Meetings and thousands have been healed and liberated 
from body, mind and soul inharmonies. Scientific Explanation 
and Unique Methods of Healing for different types of mind. 50c 

Psychological Chart. 9th Edition. A practical and helpful chart 
for Analyzing Human Nature and Conduct. A Psychological 
Mirror. Highly recommended by many University Professors. 50c 

Songs of the Soul. Intuitional Poems, inspired thru spiritual 


realization. Includes "Vision of Visions" from the Bhagavad 
Gita. For Chanting, Meditation, and Soul Revelation. "We 
mark in some poems the power of Milton, in others the imagery 
of Keats, and in all the philosophic depth of the Oriental 
Sages." $1. 50. 

Science of Religion. Douglas Grant Duff Ainslee writes: "This 
small book is the clue to die universe. Its value is beyond esti- 
mation in words, since between these narrow covers is to be 
found the flower of the Vedas and Upanishads, the essence of 
Patanjali (foremost exponent of the Yoga philosophy and 
method), and the thought of Sankara (greatest mind that ever 
dwelt in mortal body!), placed for the first time within reach 
of the multitude." $1.50. 


Philosophic Insight, by Swami Dhirananda. Unique philosoph- 
ical exposition of the ideal and real in life. It embodies in essay 
form die deepest Oriental thought. Its elevating message pre- 
sented in a strictly psychological way is intensely gripping. $1.25. 
Sheet Musk (for Piano). "Songs of Brahma," 35c. "My Soul 
is Marching On," 20c. 

Pasted on the blank page opposite this list of books are 
a couple of dull yellow slips bearing the following 

Enclosed please find my personal check (or money order) for 
$25.00, for which please send me the twelve Lessons of the 
Yogoda Correspondence Course. With these I will receive free 
a set of five books by Swami Yogananda, and also one year's 
subscription to the East-West Magazine. 

In enrolling myself as a student, I declare on my honor that: 

(1) I will practice the Yogoda lessons to the best of my 
ability, and 

(2) I will keep the Yogoda lessons for my own personal 
use and knowledge unless otherwise permitted. 

On the inside of the back cover is pasted and folded a 
light-green four-page leaflet containing testimonials to 
Swami Yogananda given by certain members of his 
Yogoda classes in several large cities of the United States. 
Finally, on the outside of the back cover, the following 
advertisement may be seen: 


Published by Swami Yogananda 


A New Illustrated Non-Sectarian Magazine devoted to the 
Spiritual, Psychological, Artistic and Cultural aspects of all Civili- 
zations, especially the Oriental, with special reference to their 
bearing on Present-Day, Practical Life. Articles dealing with 
Spiritual Realization, Hindu Psychology, Practical Metaphysics 
and the Truth-Offerings of East and West. 

25c a Copy 
509 Fifth Avenue New York, R Y. 

About one-half of the 80 page pamphlet is devoted to 
photographs and descriptions of Swami Yogananda and 
his work, including many glowing testimonials of news- 
paper writers, physicians and famous Yogoda students, 
Luther Burbank and Madame Galli-Curci among them. 
The other half is devoted to an explanation of his system 
tending to arouse a keen desire to take his Correspondence 

Yogoda, says the swarni on page 18, is the method of 
giving harmony to the individual. "The word Yogoda 
is derived from Yoga, meaning harmony or equilibrium, 
and da, that which imparts. Hence Yogoda means that 
particular system whose proper use can impart harmony 
and equilibrium, to all the forces and faculties that operate 
for the perfection of body, mind and soul/* Here the 
swami is reinterpreting the classic yoga f which teaches the 
annihilation of mental activity, Sat-sanga is the society 
that practices the method of Yogoda. Since sat means 
truth, and sanga fellowship or society, the word Sat-sanga 
means fellowship with truth, or The Truth Society. 

The swamf s explanation of his method abounds in such 
terms as electricity, vibration and evolution; will, concen- 
tration and meditation; consciousness, subconsciousness 
and superconsciousness; immanence, divinity and revda- 


tion. He is American in both the terseness of his style 
and the exuberance of his claims. He speaks in words of 
popular science, and supports his statements by Hindu 
lore and verses taken from the Bible. All his teachings 
in the course described imply the notion that each human 
body is connected by will with a divine cosmic conscious- 
ness, or infinite energy. 

In concentration, or the focussing of attention on vari- 
ous parts of the body during exercise, the will can infuse 
them with the healthful energy it draws from the cosmic 
source of supply. The first part of the course deals with 
this concentration, which the swami claims is his own in- 
vention. In meditation, or the focussing of attention on 
the cosmic energy itself, the will can merge itself with the 
divine. This second part is said to be adapted from the 
ancient Hindu yoga for the use of the modern West. The 
third and final part is devoted to various practical sug- 
gestions culled from East and West for the improvement 
of personality. The swami scorns neither medicine nor 
exercise; he simply wishes to supplement and direct these 
aids to health by force of will. 

Aroused by these rich promises and two urgent follow- 
up letters, I managed to obtain the Correspondence Course 
and complete set of books, as well as all the copies of the 
East-West magazine. The Psychological Chart is pub- 
lished in the form of a pamphlet with a pale-green cover, 
while all the other bits of literature are small books that 
shine forth in covers of brilliant orange or saffron, the 
same color as the sannyasfs robe The magazine is of 
ordinary size, with an attractive cover showing the two 
hemispheres and the lotus-and-eye symbol of Yogoda. 
The paper is excellent, and the thirty odd pages profusely 
illustrated with photographs. Soon after, I received a 
little folder with the swami's picture and this announce- 


Fellowship of Faiths 

in cooperation with 


(The Hindu Religious Association) 

Three Lectures 
by Swami Yogananda 

Preceded by Music 

Interpretative Plays or Pictures 


229 West 48th Street, West of Broadway 

On January 14, 21, 28 at 8:15. 

I attended the first lecture, which was on The Meta- 
physical Unity of Hinduism and Christianity. The 
t Union Auditorium" I discovered to be the Union Meth- 
odist Episcopal Church. This small church was comfort- 
ably filled at least the main floor with women and a 
sprinkling of men, some of whom were Hindus. After a 
brief organ recital, the chairman, the Reverend Eliot 
White, a certain Episcopal rector, offered a prayer for the 
sense of unity among men, and then introduced Mr. Kedar 
Nath Das Gupta of the Fellowship of Faiths, who read a 
short drama of love and faith called Savitri. Then the 
chairman urged the formation of a group sufficiently inter- 
ested in the play to provide an audience and cast for its 
actual performance. He also advertised Yogananda's 
books and the Calamus, a London quarterly of the Three- 
fold Movement. He held in his hand the first number, 
from which he read an editorial by the Reverend Will 

Calamus, says the editor, is the name for the common 
pond-weed chosen by Walt Whitman as the symbol of 
comradeship. It also means pen, the pen of mutual appre- 
ciation more powerful than the sword. Out of the cala- 
mus, finally, is made the calumet or peace pipe of the 
American Indian. Thus the Calamus magazine shall pro 


mote the unity of mankind. The Threefold Movement 
works for human unity through the League of Neighbors, 
for cultural unity through the Union of East and West, 
and for spiritual unity through the Fellowship of Faiths. 

Then Swami Yogananda was introduced as an Indian 
lecturer, writer and philosopher. As he rose from his 
seat in the audience to mount the platform, several persons 
in the audience rose also, perhaps out of gratitude for 
some benefit conferred by Yogoda, perhaps in honor of 
the spirituality of the East, perhaps in accord with the 
Indian pupil's respect for his master. The swami is short 
and plump, with a striking face. His raven hair hung 
over his shoulders in wavy locks even longer than usual 
among Bengalis and he wore the vivid orange robe over 
Ms Western attire. His first act was to read one of his 
own poems, which he called "The Royal Sly Eluder," a 
record of his personal search for God in ocean, tree and 
sky, a search which ended in hearing God's voice within 
the soul, calling out "Hello, playmate, here am I!" The 
swamf s voice was loud and clear, his pronunciation good. 
He then began his demonstration of the "metaphysical 
unity of Hinduism and Christianity/* Out of the playful 
popular presentation, I derived the following argument; 

There are two methods of understanding the sacred 
scriptures of any religion. The one is inference based on 
seme-perception, the other is intuition. The method of 
sense breeds conflict and misunderstanding among differ- 
ent religions, while the method of intuition brings appre- 
ciation and unity. Intuition means experience, ^realiza- 
tion," simple feeling. For example, let us take first the 
doctrine of God. Intuition reveals that both Hinduism 
and Christianity worship one God only, conceived vari- 
ously as Father, Mother, Friend, Lover and so on. Of 
course, Hinduism often worships God by the use of idols* 
But does not Christianity have its "flagolatry"? If Hindu- 


ism has its castes, does not Christianity have its denomina- 
tions? Will the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury 
exchange pulpits? 

Or take the doctrine of creation, continued the lecturer. 
By intuition we can find Hindu teaching in the book of 
Genesis. If we use the method of sense and inference, we 
notice a contradiction between the first and second verses 
of the first chapter of Genesis. "In the beginning God 
created the heaven and the earth," says verse one; but 
verse two says, "The earth was without form and void . . . 
and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." 
That is, the earth was not yet created. But by the method 
of intuition, we understand clearly that verse one refers 
to God's creation of the world in idea, whereas verse two 
refers to God's creation in gross matter. 

In like manner, the Eastern philosopher declared that 
the Christian scriptures teach the Hindu doctrines of 
karma and reincarnation. The doctrine of the Trinity too, 
he said, is fundamentally the same in both scriptures. Ac- 
cording to Hinduism, God was at first a great Spirit living 
all alone. Bored with this monotony, he then projected 
from Himself a vast ball of vibration. He then penetrated 
the ball, filling every particle with His presence. This is 
the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Only the terms are 
different. The original great Spirit is God the Father, the 
ball of vibration is the Holy Ghost, while the spirit in the 
ball is the "Christ-Consciousness." 

It seems that the swami is seeking to explain Christianity 
in the light of the supposedly deeper knowledge of Hin- 
duism, Like Ramakrishna and his followers he is using 
Hinduism as a basis for the reconciliation of all faiths, 
like the Theosophical Society, he regards Hindu lore as 
the source of the esoteric, or essential, truths that underlie 
the exoteric, or literal, truths of Christianity. The 
preacher of the evening surely had his audience with him 


at least its audible members. Clearly they felt in Mm 
a source of truth and comfort, inspiration and stimulation. 
They nodded assent to his pronouncements and laughed 
heartily at his jokes, especially when he called Christian 
preachers "spiritual victrolas" and proclaimed that Chris- 
tianity was suffering from ''theological indigestion/* 

Yogananda closed his address with the famous Hindu 
stress on the "inner" life. At a certain time of year, he 
told us, the little musk deer goes mad after a certain 
fragrance wafted to its nostrils. It rushes hither and yon 
to find the source of it, and often perishes from over- 
exertion, never knowing that the odor delectable came 
from its own navel. Likewise, we in the West frantically 
look for God outside, but fail to look within, where He 
really can be found. 


Swami Yogananda (bliss of yoga), like Swami Vive- 
kananda (bliss of discrimination) , was drawn to America 
by a Christian congress. Like his forerunner also, he re- 
ceived his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University 
of Calcutta, He is likewise a Vedantist, but not a fol- 
lower of Ramakrishna, and not a member of the Puri 
group of Sankara's monastic order. He daims to belong 
to the Gin group, and considers a Bengali yogi called 
Babaji, or "Great Father," the "Supreme Master of the 
Yogoda Sat-sanga movement in America and India/* 1 
Although this master is Swami Yogananda's spiritual 
great-grandfather, he is still living, and his disciples claim 
he is several hundred years old. 

But BabajYs disciple Sri Syama Charan Lahiri Mob* 
saya did not wish to live so long, and although appar- 
ently in good health he deliberately took leave of his body 
forever, while his cirde of pupils were pleading with 
htm to remain on earth. Anniversary celebrations are now 


conducted. This Lahki Maharaja, as he is called, was 
known In India as a great yogi 2 who developed that part 
of Patanjali's Raja Yoga known as the kriya-yoga? which 
means the strict control of the body, mind and soul, the 
study of ways of liberation, and the surrender of "fruits 
of works" to God. Its plan of salvation Is very much like 
that of the Bhagavad Git a, teaching one to be "calmly ac- 
tive and actively calm/' Yogananda's parents were 
Lahlri's disciples. Lahiri was not a swami or celibate, 
but a married saint and yogi, who "found God in the jun- 
gle of city life and taught others how to find God there/* 
Outward renunciation with inward craving, he declared, is 
as bad as Indulgence. What the world needs Is modera- 
tion. Whereas the West suffers from too much material- 
ism, the East suffers from too much spirituality. The 
golden mean Is best, the practice of balance by meditation. 
Srimath Swami Sri Yuktesvara Gzriji, initiated as a 
sannyasi by Babajl and as a yogi by Lahiri, was likewise a 
man of power, influence and balance, and the guru, or 
master, of Yogananda. As his title indicates, he Is a mem- 
ber of the Gin group of the monastic order founded by 
Sankara. From this Yuktesvara came the inspiration and 
command for the spread of Yogoda Sat-sanga in America, 
Even as Vivekananda In his university days neglected his 
classes and books to be with Ramakrishna, his master, so 
did Yogananda before his Initiation slip away from study 
to enjoy the fascinating personality of his master Yuktes- 
vara. Says Swami Yogananda today: 

It took me a long time to understand my master and Ms 
miraculous power, though I had close contact with him. I have 
seen miracles, and of all the wonderful things witnessed, I shall 
declare to the world that I secured my A.B. degree through his 
miraculous power. I used to always visit and stay with him, and 
neglected my college work so much that I hardly knew where 
my college books were. Two days before the university examina- 
tion, I told my master I wasn't going to appear at the examina- 


tion. He just changed suddenly and said, "Then all my relau 
tions with you cease this Instant/' He Insisted and said, "All I 
ask of you Is to appear at the examination." He declared I 
would pass even though I had not studied. I agreed reluctantly, 
thinking I would write about his teachings In the answer paper 
to questions on the writings to Shakespeare, I just agreed 
literally to carry out his behest. 

Next day he asked me, at first gently, then vehemently, to go 
to a certain friend of mine and ask certain questions of him every 
morning of all those days that my A.B. examination lasted. This 
Calcutta University A.B. degree, In some respects, is more diffi- 
cult to obtain than a Harvard A.B. degree. There is so much 
Injustice and difficulty set In the path of those being examined. I 
did as my master told me; and strange to say, whatever questions 
this friend of mine unconsciously told me to prepare for, I found 
those very questions In my examinations. 

After tie first day I declared to the world that I was going to 
pass, and when I received the A.B. degree, my parents and 
friends, who had given up all hopes about the success of my 
college life, told me I had performed a miracle. That is why 
I am fond of putting the A.B. after my name in all my books 
and articles. The A.B. title reminds me of this singular experi- 
ence. When I questioned my master, Sri Yukteshwar Giriji, he 
just replied that faith, works, and knowledge of supermental law 
can work miracles, where physical efforts of man fail. 

My master Is still living in flesh and blood in India, and I 
dare not tell all the wonderful things I have seen. This much 
I can say: throughout the whole western world I have not found 
a single one like him. . . . Americans who are good listeners and 
love real progress now ought to go deeper than mere listening 
to the philosophical message of India's spiritual science. They 
should learn the technique by which the super-miracles of the 
mind can be understood, and the higher laws applied to make 
life not only financially successful, but blissful in every way. 4 

Yoga technique, financial success and all-around bliss is 
the swami's message in a nutshell, wMch was fairly well 
outlined before he ever came to America. And in India 

a university degree means financial success much more 
than in America. Whereas Vivekananda's life was a series 


of fitful turns, Yogananda's has been a steady develop- 

While still in India, the swaml was Impressed by the 
ideal of popular education along the lines laid down 
centuries ago by Hindu saints and fisis, or wise men. 

In 1917 he made an impassioned appeal for establishing a 
Residential School in India for boys where they could receive not 
only the ordinary intellectual training but also the knowledge of 
leading the practical spiritual life and unfolding their own Inner 
powers for lasting happiness and success in life. One of the 
noble princes of India, the Honorable Maharaja Sir Manindra 
Chandra Nundy Bahadur, of Kasimbazar, Member of the Im- 
perial Council, Government of India, responded to the Swami's 
appeal by offering one of his palaces and other surrounding 
buildings, situated at Ranchi, in Bengal, and possessing spacious 
grounds and suitable country environment, for use In establishing 
such a school The Maharaja . . . also offered to finance the in- 
stitution until ... it could be self-supporting. 

Accordingly, on March 22, 1917, the Brahmacarya Vidyalaya 
. . . opened its doors with a modest enrollment of seven pupils. 
At the end of the first year the repute of the school had spread 
so far that there were hundreds of applicants for admission. . . 
Only ,300 were accepted, . . . Much of the class work is done out 
of doors. An agricultural course Is given and gardening is one 
of the occupations of the boys. . . . Industrial and commercial 
training is given in tailoring, spinning, book-binding, cane-work, 
modelling, typing, bookkeeping, etc. The boys are taught hygiene, 
nursing, and first aid work. The regular school subjects are 
taught. . . . There are story classes ... for the younger children, 
and dramatic and debating societies for the older boys. Excursion 
outings to distant places form part of the regular routine, to en. 
courage love for natural beauty and to accustom the body to bear 
exertion and fatigue. 

But the chief distinguishing feature of the school is individual 
attention received by each student and the close study made of 
Ms nature and possibilities by his trained teachers, who record 
the general character and psychological development and learning 
of each child in a chart originated by Swami Yogananda for that 
purpose. The students are divided in groups not according to 
age and Intellectual progress, but according to individual moral 


and spiritual growth. . . . They are made to avoid all luxuries 
and wrongly conceived ideas of happiness. Each student keeps a 
record of his own changing tendencies, and is taught to make it 
his own business to be better. . . . The atmosphere of harmony, 
service and happiness is remarked by all visitors to the Institu- 
tion, which is being conducted during Swami Yogananda's ab- 
sense by the capable Swami Satyananda. . . . Two other smaller 
Schools similar to the one at Rancfai have been opened at Puri 
and Bankura in Bengal. 5 

The swami's method in America is just an outgrowth and 
adaptation of this enterprising, all-round method of edu- 
cation. Unlike Vivekananda, he seeks to meet a need 
rather than preach a dogma. 

In 1920 Yogananda came to America as the delegate 
from India to the Pilgrim Tercentenary Anniversary In- 
ternational Congress of Religious Liberals in Boston, 
Massachusetts, held under the auspices of the Unitarian 
Church. 8 TTiinMng this Congress wanted something 
theoretical and profoundly Hindu, the swami did not ex- 
plain his educational methods or yoga technique, but spoke 
on "The Science of Religion/' a work which had already 
been published in India, and was later elaborated and 
printed in book form in America. While in Boston, how- 
ever, he learned something very practical. Coming into 
contact with various American cults such as Christian 
Science and New Thought, he began to. admire their ef- 
ficient methods of propaganda. At the same time, he was 
convinced that they were teaching only smatterings of the 
truth that Hinduism possessed as a whole. So he con- 
ceived the idea of combining his genuine Hindu message 
with American methods, and stayed in the new land to 
teach. Before he had departed from India, his father, 
who had undertaken the expenses of the long journey, had 
said to him, "When do you expect to return?** The son 
had replied, "In about four months if the Americans 
don't need me." But as events turned out, many Ameri- 


cans did seem to need his message, as in the case of 

Vivekananda, and so he stayed. 

Through the financial assistance of his father and the enthusi- 
asm of a few devout students, the Swami started a small Sat-Sanga 
(fellowship of truth) Center in Boston. He lectured before 
many clubs, colleges and associations. A small summer-school 
was established near Waltham for students, mainly through the 
cooperation of Sister Yogamata. The work grew and Swami sent 
for his beloved associate, Swami Dhirananda, to come to America. 
. . . Swami came to New York in 1923, aided by Dr. M. W. 
Lewis of Boston, and in one lecture at the New York Town Hall 
sowed the seed of interest in his work. He was invited by the 
management of the Pennsylvania Hotel to become their guest, and 
he gave lectures and weekly classes there. 

Swami marvelled to find a great hunger for spiritual knowledge 
among the New Yorkers, who are considered to live under a very 
material environment. He had many distinguished students, in- 
cluding Mr. Alvin Hunsicker, President of the Standard Textile 
Products Company of New York, and employer of 15,000 men, 
and Mr. J. W. Mott of the Traymore Hotel, Atlantic City, both 
of whom have helped the Swami in his work. Mrs. G. F. Ham- 
man, Mrs. E. Klotz, and Mr. E. C. Crowiey were also instru- 
mental in spreading the mesage of Yogoda. 

In early 1924 Swami visited Philadelphia and spoke there in 
the Public Library to a capacity house, from which several hun- 
dred were turned away. He left a large and enthusiastic class 
in Philadelphia, including Mr. Leopold Stowkowski, the inter- 
nationally known conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He 
received great cooperation from Mrs. E. Richdale (a friend of 
India), Dr. Wilson, Mr. and Mrs. Eynon, and others, Swami 
felt every city to be like a big human mind that vibrated differ- 
ently. New York said, "How much have you got?*' Boston said, 
"How much do you know?" Philadelphia said, "Who are you?*' 
One Philadelphian did actually ask this question of Swami and 
lie replied: "I come from a very high family headed by the 
Almighty Father/* 7 

In connection with this work, and in pursuance of his 
plan to adopt American methods, Yogananda published 
his captivating promotion booklet Yogoda, which gave 
the prospectus of his class and correspondence courses. 


About this time he was fortunate enough to secure the 
services of a devoted and effective American secretary, and 
he felt an inner call to extend the work further. In his 
mind's eye he saw the West, and especially Los Angeles, 
swept by his teachings. 

Accordingly, he started out to cross the continent in a Maxwell 
automobile, accompanied by Mr. Rashid and two students. . . . 
By leisurely travelling and camping, the Swami managed to see 
and study America and Americans very closely, and enjoyed each 
moment of the trip. . . . Swami spoke to a cultured audience of 
3,000 people in the Denver City Auditorium, where the city 
organist played "The Song of India" when the Swami entered 
for the lecture. A large class of Yogoda students was formed 
with the helpful cooperation of Mrs. R Simmons, Mrs. Tedrow 
and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The city of Denver vibrated to Swami 
the love for Nature, health-giving life, and the great personality 
of Judge Ben Lindsey. Swami met Judge and Mrs. Lindsey, and 
they became good friends and studied Swami's Yogoda System. 

After traveling through Colorado Springs and Yellow- 
stone Park, he sailed to Alaska and then returned to Seat- 
tle where he spoke to large audiences. Mrs. C W. Wiley 
and Mr. and Mrs. A. Willatsen helped to arrange for a 
large and enthusiastic Yogoda class. 

Proceeding to Portland, Swami lectured to huge crowds at die 
Multnomah Hotel and had a large class of students. Mrs. Kloh 
of the Portland Metaphysical Library and Mr. and Mrs. C P. 
Scott were among those who aided materially in helping Swami 
to spread his message. In Portland for the first rime Swami gave 
his public divine healing meeting and prayer affirmations which 
have proved so popular everywhere. 

In connection with these meetings he wrote and published 
his booklet Scientific Healing Affirmations. 

In late October, 1924, Swami and his staff of three young men 
reached San Francisco, and lectures were given to packed houses 
in the Scottish Rite Auditorium. Classes of several hundred stu- 
dents were given in San Francisco and Oakland. Finally, in 


January, 1925, Swami arrived at his goal and final destination of 
Los Angeles. The Great Divine Power seemed to have aroused 
the whole city to receive the message of Yogoda, for truly Los 
Angeles gave Swami a royal and hearty welcome. Clubs, col- 
leges, societies, educational centers, churches and newspapers ex- 
tended to him every courtesy and Swami's days were filled to 
overflowing with engagements to speak, write, and be interviewed 
everywhere. Then, when the free lectures began at the Philhar- 
monic Auditorium . . . thousands were turned away each night. 
Swami gave several classes and had about 1,500 students, who are 
among the most loyal followers of the Yogoda Course and also 
of a Special Advanced Course which the Swami gave in Los 
Angeles for the first time in America. 

One day during his Los Angeles stay, one of his students casu- 
ally mentioned Mount Washington, Swami's soul was strangely 
stirred at the mention of this place and suggested that they drive 
up there on the following day. When he entered the grounds 
of the Mount Washington Hotel site, he strolled about, and then 
touching the bars surrounding the tennis court, he exclaimed to 
his companions, "This place feels like ours!" . . . Through the 
kind and willing cooperation and donations of his thousands of 
students throughout America, this property was purchased for the 
American Headquarters of Sat-Sanga and Yogoda. The Hon. 
James McLachlan, Mr. W. C. Bramhain and Mr. P. Rogers 
helped greatly in the detailed legal end of acquiring the property. 
On Easter Morning, Swami gave a beautiful and impressive Sunrise 
Easter Service on Mount Washington. After Los Angeles, Swami 
took a short vacation to view the unrivalled grandeur of the 
Grand Canyon of the Colorado, and then proceeded to Long 
Beach and San Diego where he met with great response, then 
on to Fresno, and then a second series of lectures and classes in 
San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. He spent September, 1925, 
in Spokane, Washington. . . . Everywhere the message of Yogoda 
has aroused . . . attention and has been supported by leading 
citizens of each city where the Swami has lectured. 

With Swami Dhirananda holding down the main cen- 
ter of Yogoda at Mount Washington, Swami Yogananda 
felt free to tour the country from coast to coast with his 
message of the balanced life, and during the next three 
years he visited in turn Chicago, Rochester, Cleveland, 


Pittsburgh, New York, Detroit, Gncinnati, Washington, 
Buffalo, Minneapolis and St. Paul, and then Philadelphia, 
Boston and New York again. He was not able to start 
classes in New York, he says, on account of the high cost 
of halls and advertising. Before he would enter any city, 
a small staff of devoted voluntary workers, headed by his 
secretary, would go before him and prepare the way by 
advertising in papers and on billboards, and arranging 
for meetings in clubs, liberal churches and similar institu- 
tions. Then the swami himself would arrive a distin- 
guished metaphysician, educator, lecturer and poet from 
India and give a series of free lectures on India, religion 
or the art of living. For example, in Buffalo he lectured 
to the Rotary Club on "How to Recharge Your Business 
Battery Out of the Cosmos/ 9 

After the lectures would come free healing meetings. 
Men and women of wealth would become interested and 
help to organize classes in private homes, hotels or halls, 
as in the case of Vivekananda. In spite of the fee of 
twenty-five dollars or perhaps because of it many of the 
classes were large, but the contagious personality of the 
swami would effectively dominate the group and put it 
through the Yogoda system of physical, mental and spir- 
itual development. In the midst of the enthusiasm and 
gratitude aroused by the success of the classes, the swami 
would appoint a local committee to carry on the work 
under a more or less gifted local leader who would be 
instructed by the swami personally, and later directed and 
encouraged by letter. Some leaders would give their serv- 
ices free. Others would be supported by the group. If 
in a year's rime everything went well, the swami would 
allow a Yogoda Sat-sanga Center to be established with 
more or less permanent officers, rules, and places of 

In addition to this "Traveling University" of Yoga- 


nanda and his disciples, there has been developed at Los 
Angeles the "Correspondence University" of the Yogoda 
Course, which is announced by the ten cent booklet 
Yogoda, sold with the aid of several high-pressure follow- 
up letters on ochre, or "sannyasa-colored," paper for twen- 
ty-five dollars or less, 8 and presented in three parts: the 
"Tissue-Will System of Physical Perfection/' the "Scien- 
tific Technique of Concentration and Meditation/* and 
the "Art of Material and Spiritual Success." In enrolling 
himself as a student, the novice pledges himself to earnest 
practice and obedient secrecy. This injunction of secrecy 
is to prevent an unqualified or commercial teacher stealing 
the system. The student understands that he may write 
to the Yogoda Main Center for further instruction of 
personal guidance. 

The beautiful magazine East-West, published under 
Yogananda's ownership and control, supplies the binding 
twine of information and inspiration that holds together 
the twenty-five thousand Yogodans scattered over the 
United States in groups and as individuals. True to its 
name, this magazine culls its literary gems from both East 
and West, in striking contrast to Paramananda's Vedanta 
monthly, the Message of the East, which is also true to its 
name in propagating only Eastern culture. Whereas the 
Message of the East abounds in Hindu stories, quotations 
from the mystics of various lands and ages, Bengali hymns, 
Krishna tales and commentaries on the Upanishads, the 
colorful and copiously illustrated East-West tells you what 
Mussolini says about science and religion, how an Amer- 
ican student held his breath for fourteen minutes, why a 
certain Silesian miner can run needles through his flesh 
without injury, and that Zaro Aga of Constantinople, 
who has been married ten times, has just celebrated his 
one hundred and forty-sixth birthday. It publishes edi- 
torials by Yogananda, and concerns itself with American 


problems such as yellow journalism and the crime wave. 
It delves into the borderland between science and the 
occult, reviews "inspiring new books," and offers poems 
and pictures from East and West. And revelling in a 
little multitude of "Yogoda Notices and Announcements," 
it keeps alive the apostolic zeal of this new American cult. 
Literary contributions by members are encouraged as a 
testimony to the place Yogoda is making for itself in the 
hearts of the American people. One student offers this 
fruit of his inspiration: 

I am a Yogodan 

I believe in a god of the medulla oblongata 
I seek to unite East and West 
I would recharge the batteries of my life, 
Bathing my soul's beauty beneath cosmic rays. 9 

And another bursts into song with a hymn to the tune of 
"Oh Paradise": 

Yogodal Yogoda! 

Thou art my joy, my stay, 
Thou cheerest me, thou leadest me 

Through every joyous day! 10 


In his address before the Unitarian Congress of Re- 
ligious Liberals at Boston in 1920, Swami Yogananda de- 
livered a pure Hindu message based on a work published 
in India, and later published in America in amplified form 
as The Science of Religion, inscribed to his great Hindu 
patron, the Maharaja of Kasimbazar. The final end of 
all beings, says the swami in pure Vedanta style, is bliss, 
or the negation of pain. Through a great blunder, how- 
ever, we confuse bliss with happiness, and so in our ignor- 
ance desire happiness with its pain rather than absolute 
bliss without pain. The intellect will not rid us of this 
fatal mistake, but in the intuition of "all in One and One 


in all" a glorious vision of light appears, and we know 
by Inner feeling that the bliss of the self is God, the goal 
of life. There is no value in the finite, in life itself; it Is 
only a means to the infinite. 

Now there are four fundamental methods, continues 
our Vedantist, "that will free the Ever-Blissful, Spiritual 
self from Its baneful connection and identification with the 
transitory body and mind, thus causing it to permanently 
avoid pain and attain Bliss, which constitutes Religion/' 11 
The Meditation Method is better than the Intellectual and 
Devotional Methods, he says, but not so good as the final 
"Organic, Scientific Method/' 12 The Meditation Method, 
to be sure, induces a state of "conscious sleep" in which we 
axe free from the disturbance of the voluntary organs, but 
It fails to free us from the disturbance of the organs that 
are "involuntary and internal/' 

This complete freedom can be accomplished only by the 
"Organic, Scientific Method," says Yogananda. "I set it 
down here from my own experience. I can say it will be 
, found to be universally true. The practice of it is far more 
purely blissful than the greatest enjoyment that any of our 
five senses or the mind can afford us. I do not wish to 
give any one any other proof of its truth than is afforded 
by his own experience. The more one practices it with 
patience and devotion, the more one feels intensely and 
durably fixed in Bliss. Owing to the . . . bondage of the 
body for how many ages we know not ... it will require 
patient practice for a long, long time/' 13 

Our swami and yogi then explains the conditions of 
practice. "The brain Is the supreme electrical Power 
House" of the body. Out of this brain supply is dis- 
charged the "Prank Current," or "Life-Electricity," 
through the six main centers of the nervous system: the 
medulla, and then the ce'rvical, the dorsal, the lumbar, the 
sacral and the coccygeal centers. These centers, in turn, 


"discharge electricity to the different efferent and afferent 
nerves." Now if the Self wishes to shut out the disturb- 
ing reports of bodily sensation, it need only draw back the 
electric flow "from the nervous system as a whole to the 
seven main centers" where it is "experienced in the form 
of light." This can be accomplished by "magnetizing the 
spinal column" by the concentration of attention, "the 
great director and distributor of energy." When the at- 
tention has succeeded in withdrawing the energy, the Self, 
or Spirit, is freed from its contact with the body and mind. 
"Death will then be under our control; for when we think 
this bodily house is unfit and broken, we shall be able to 
leave it of our own accord." 14 

Since the attainment of painless bliss is the universal 
goal, says the swami, and magnetizing the spinal column 
is the best way to reach this goal, the problem of compara- 
tive religion is solved. "If to abolish the sense of want 
and attain Bliss is Religion, . . . everyone in the world is 
trying to be religious, and can seek to be more completely 
so by adopting the proper means. There is no distinction 
here of caste or creed, sect or faith, dress or clime, age or 
sex, profession or position. For this Religion is Universal. 
If you said that all the people of the world ought to accept 
the Lord Krishna as their God, would all the Christians 
and the Mahomedans accept that? . . . But if you say, 'Oh, 
my Christian, Mahomedan and Hindu Brethren, your 
Lord God is Ever-Blissful Conscious Existence/ will they 
accept this? Can they possibly reject it? Will they not 
demand Him as the only One who can put an end to all 
their miseries?" 19 

Let us ask the swami one question. If you admit that 
as a matter of f act most people seek happiness and not 
bliss, on what ground, Swamiji, do you claim that every- 
one really seeks bliss and not happiness? 

On the ground, replies the swami, that bliss is a kind of 


happiness. It is unceasing happiness, whereas ordinary 
happiness is fitful. Sorely if a person wants happiness at 
all, he will want unceasing happiness even more. Happi- 
ness is the absence of pain. It is present when desire is 
satisfied, to be sure, but only because the desire has been 
removed, not because it has been fulfilled. It is present 
twice as strong when there is no desire at all. Bliss, or 
unceasing happiness, is the native state of the soul. When 
desire comes, it disturbs this state and causes misery. 
When the desire is removed, the misery is relieved, and 
we have a state called happiness, but since the pain of 
former desire still lingers, it is only half -happiness. Com- 
plete happiness, or bliss, comes only when there is no 
desire at all. 

Thus we are asked to believe that happiness is the ab- 
sence of pain, and desirelessness the native state of the 
soul. This is the fundamental creed of the "Universal 
Religion" offered by the swarni. If we doubt this creed, 
we are asked to put it to the test of experience. Do not 
doubt whether sugar is sweet, says the swami. Taste it. 

But here lies the difficulty. The test will require "pa- 
tient practice for a long, long time/* A life might be 
consumed perhaps several lives just in making the test. 
Furthermore, suppose the test is successful, and bliss be 
attained. How can we tell this bliss is God? How do we 
know there is not a better experience to be discovered by 
another test? The swami does not condemn action only 
desire. Perhaps we could all agree that peaceful action 
is true happiness. But would this mean absence of desire? 

Now the belief that God is painless bliss is a Hindu 
dogma or principle. Holding this dogma to be actually 
universal, the swami therefore believes that every sacred 
scripture must teach it. The Christian Bible, then, as one 
of the world's sacred scriptures, must have a fundamental 
Hindu meaning. Since the literal meaning is obviously 


not Hindu, there must be another and deeper meaning that 
is Hindu. Its real meaning must be hidden, esoteric, al- 
legoric, intuitive. Thus Swami Yogananda, like Dr. 
Annie Besant and others, proceeds to deal freely with 
Christian scripture according to his own rules of interpre- 
tation or exegesis. Every passage, he says, has three mean- 
ings; the physical, the moral and the spiritual The spir- 
itual, of course, is final. Let us see how the swami uses 
Ms method. 

"Unless ye have lifted up the Son of man, ye cannot 
enter into the kingdom of God." 13 This saying the swami 
attributes to Christ. "The Son of man," he says, means 
the body, and the saying as a whole means that "unless 
we can transcend the body and realize ourselves as spirit, 
we cannot enter into the kingdom or state of that Uni- 
versal Spirit." 16 Again, when Saint Paul said, "I die 
daily/' he meant that he knew "the process of controlling 
the internal organs and could voluntarily free his Spiritual 
self from the body and mind/* 17 And finally, "the mystery 
of the seven stars of Revelation" means "the seven star-like 
centers" of the cranium and spine. 18 

The source of Yogananda's view of Reality lies in the 
Upanishads, while the source of his "Organic, Scientific 
Method" of attaining Reality lies in the Raja Yoga of 
Patanjali, especially in its kriya-yoga as developed by 
his master's master, Lahiri Mahasaya. He differs from 
Vivekananda in not mentioning the karma-yoga in The 
Science of Religionj in dividing the raja-yoga into the 
"Meditation Method" and the "Scientific, Organic Meth- 
od," and in declaring that one method is the best. This 
best or "Scientific, Organic Method" with its "seven main 
centers" of * 'nervous electricity" is based on our old 
friend the Knnddini, with its seven "lotuses," or astral 
nerve centers, which was added to the raja-yoga in India 
some time after the seventh century. 19 Yogananda,, tin- 


like Jnanesvarananda, does not insist that the nerve centers 
are astral. Indeed, we get the impression they are physi- 
cal. The Ojas, or infinite power in the brain, mentioned 
by Vivekananda in his Raja Yoga 2 is conceived by Yoga- 
nanda in modern terms as "the supreme electrical Power 

Such was his message to America when he arrived 
fresh from India. To this message he still clings, but his 
emphasis has shifted. Owing partly to his shift of func- 
tion from delegate to preacher, and partly to the influence 
of busy American life, he no longer stresses the "baneful 
connection" of the Spirit with the "transitory body and 
mind, but insists on the karma-yoga of the Git a, which Is 
active calm and calm activity. And owing to his admira- 
tion for the practical methods of Christian Science and 
New Thought, especially in the work of healing, he has 
adapted his own system of "bodily, mental and spiritual 
development" to the art of healing as practiced in his 
"healing meetings" and presented In his booklet Scien- 
tific Healing Affirmations. Here he seeks to show that 
"Life Electricity" (Prana), or "Omnipresent Cosmic Vi- 
bratory Intelligent Energy," or simply God, is the only real 
source of health. 

Drags, medicine, massage, spinal adjustment or electrical treat- 
ment all help to bring back the lost harmonious condition of the 
cells by chemicalization of the blood or stimulation of certain 
tissues. These are external methods that sometimes assist the 
life energy to effect a cure. But they have not the power to act 
on a dead body, whence the life energy has vanished, for there 
Is nothing In a dead man that can utilize the properties of medi- 
cine or electrical currents. Without the life energy, medicines, 
etc., cannot have any healing effect on the human body. Hence 
it can be seen that it is the life energy alone that can effect a 
cure; all external methods of stimulation can only co-operate 
with the life energy and are powerless without it. 21 

The Power of Cosmic Consciousness is greater than the power 
of your mind or the mind of others. Thus you should seek its 


aid alone. But this does not mean you should make yourself 
passive, inert or credulous, or that you should minimize the power 
of your mind. Remember God helps those that help themselves. 
He gave you will power, concentration, faith, reason and common 
sense to help yourself in your bodily or mental affections. You 
must use them all as you seek the Divine help. . . . Always during 
affirmations or prayer vibrations feel that you are using your own 
but God-given power to heal yourself or others. Always believe 
that it is not God only but yourself also who, as His beloved 
child, tries to employ His-given will, reason, etc., to react on the 
difficult problems of life. A balance must be struck between the 
old idea of wholly depending on God, and the modern way of 
sole dependence on the ego, 22 

During the different affirmations, notice should be taken of 
the physiological centers where the attention should be directed 
L e.j the heart is the center where feeling is concerned, the 
medulla is the source of energy, and the will proceeds from the 
spot in the center of the forehead. Attention is unconsciously 
directed to those centers, e. g. } when we feel, the attention is 
centered in the heart and we feel it to the exclusion of all other 
parts of our bodies. "We want to cultivate a conscious power 
over the direction of attention to the centers of thought, will and 
feeling. 255 

Before starting to affirm, always free the mind of all worries 
and restlessness. Choose your affirmation and repeat it first 
loudly, then softer and more slowly, until your voice becomes a 
whisper. Then gradually affirm it mentally only, without moving 
even the tongue or the Hps. Affirm mentally until you feel that 
you have merged into deep unbroken concentration, not uncon- 
sciousness, but conscious continuity of uninterrupted thought. 


Make us little children, O Father 

Even as Thy Kingdom contains such. 

Thy love in us is perfection 

Even as Thou art whole, so are we holy. 

In body and mind we are healthy 

Even as Thou art, even as Thou art. 

Thou art perfect, 

We are Thy children. . . . 

Thou art everywhere, 


In my heart, in my brain 
In my eyes, in my face 
In my limbs and all. 

Thou dost move my feet 

They are whole, they are whole. 

My calves and thighs 

They are whole, for Thou art there. 

My thighs are held by Thee 

Lest I fall, lest I fall. 

They are whole, for Thou art there, 

They are whole, for Thou art there. . . . 

Let me feel 

Thy loving thrill, Thy loving thrill, 

Thou art my Father 

I am Thy child. 

Good or naughty 

I am Thy child. 

Let me feel Thy healthy thrill, 

Let me feel Thy wisdom's will 

Let me feel Thy wisdom's will. 


Thou art my Father 

Success and joy 

I am Thy child 

Success and joy 

All the wealth of this earth, 

All the riches of the universe 

Belong to Thee, belong to Thee. 

I am Thy child 

The wealth of earth and universe 

Belongs to me, belongs to me. . . . 

I have everything, I have everything 

I am wealthy, I am rich 

I have everything, I have everything 

I possess all and everything 

Even as Thou dost, even as Thou dost, 

I possess everything, I possess everything. 

Thou art rny wealth, 

I have everything. 24 


The swami's harmony of Hindu and Western notions 
appears also In his Correspondence Course In practical 
concentration and meditation, which Is Ms most important 
contribution to American life. First let us consider the 
Hindu notions. In the ''Scientific Technique of Concen- 
tration and Meditation," the "concentration'* may be 
traced to the raja-yoga's dbarana, or the fixation of the 
mind on one thing at a time In order to free it from dis- 
traction, while the "meditation" may be traced to Its 
dhyana, or the fixation of the mind on some divine mani- 
festation. His favorite v/ord "contacting/* as In the slo- 
gan "contacting Cosmic Consciousness/' comes from the 
phrase "making samgama on/' which means combining 
concentration, meditation and trance to penetrate any 
given object. This Is how "wonderful powers" arise. 25 
And when he tells us to charge the body with Prana, or 
"Inner Cosmic Energy/ 1 he Is taking over the vitalistic 
dualism of the Upantshads. 

The aim of the old-fashioned yogi is to devote all his 
energy to the practice of withdrawing from the body and 
mind into a transcendent realm of visions and motionless 
bliss. In like manner, the swami advises his pnplls to eat 
meat substitutes, to eat only twice a day If sedentary, and 
to fast one day a week. Since matter Is only illusion, he 
says, eventually we shall learn to live without food, like a 
certain Indian woman near Ranchi, Bengal, who has not 
eaten anything for forty years, so he claims. The sex life 
also should be sublimated, he urges, even between man 
and wife, until the spiritual union In love becomes a sub- 
stitute for the sex union. The pledge of secrecy exacted 
from each student goes back to the pre-Buddhistic times of 
"secret sessions/* or "upanishads," between master and 
disciple, while his use of mystic Identifications as in the 
statement that the "sound of many waters'* of Revelation 
is the same as the "rolling, roaring Om" also goes back 


to the Upanisbads. In addition to the primary Yogoda 
Course, there is the "Advanced Course," which deals with 
comparative religion by the "spiritual" allegorical method, 
and the still higher "Initiation Course" called the "Auxili- 
ator/* which deals with the KundalinL 

At the same time, the course shows many Western at- 
titudes. The original strenuous practice of yoga was in- 
tended to free the soul from the body and mind, and 
Vivekananda only followed an old-fashioned rule when 
he cautioned his students, "Do not practice when the body 
feels lazy or ill, or when the mind is very miserable and 
sorrowful." 26 But since Yogananda has adopted the mod- 
em aim of healing the body and mind, and not escaping 
them, he especially prescribes his system for all kinds of 
illness and depression, and personally conducts healing 
meetings. Like many other religious leaders today, the 
swami wants to be scientific and philosophic. So he says 
he agrees with Professor Millikan that all reality is vibra- 
tion, spirit differing from matter only in its higher rate. 
Although he tells us to "contact" Life-Energy in the old- 
falhioned way, he also tells us to turn in the opposite 
direction, and charge the body with Life-Energy. And 
after we have become filled with God, we should go about 
helping others to overcome their troubles. Without serv- 
ing God in this way, he says, we will never know Him. 27 

The Yogoda Course, then, is not merely a yoga practice, 
but a special combination more or less applicable to East 
and West. As Yogananda says, it is unique in its com- 
bination of breathing, muscular tension and attention. He 
might also have added, "suggestion" and advice. He 
hopes to introduce this course into churches and schools 
all over the world, to increase the power of attention in 
the rational control of life. On this point of control the 
East and West can agree, but seem to differ with respect 
to the end of control, the West stressing creation, the old 
East renunri Aftnn ^ 


The swaml does not stop with teaching autosuggestion. 
Combining East and West again, he uses suggestion on his 
disciples in the form of a spiritual radio. In the East- 
West Magazine we find this Yogoda announcement: 


Every morning at seven o'clock Swami Yogananda sends a 
Divine Healing Prayer Vibration to his students and all who 
ask his help in healing and liberating themselves from physical 
or mental disease or the spiritual suffering of ignorance. Anyone 
who wishes to awail himself of this help, which the Swami is 
happy to extend to all, may write to the Los Angeles headquar- 
ters, briefly stating the nature of his or her trouble. 29 

The result in one case is a poem by a grateful and 
rapturous devotee: 


With hands elate, 

My heart was lifted up 

In prayer to the Great Spirit, 

That I might receive 

The blessing of my Master, 

Garnered in the treasurehouse 

Of cosmic Love 

Then, like a stream of molten gold, 
There flowed to me sudi treasure, 
As ne'er in fabled tales was told 

Of riches without measure. 

And still it flowed, until at last 
My heart overflowed with gratitude 

To God, and to His Servant Blest, 
Who sent me this Beatitude. 30 

Wondering whether seven o'clock referred to the swa- 
mfs time or to the devotee's time, I asked for official in- 
formation, and received the reply that the healing message 
starts by the swami's time, but remains vibrating perma- 


nendy in the atmosphere, so that the devotee can be sure 
of results whenever he or she tunes In. 31 The message 
must be repeated daily to keep the vibrations strong, fresh 
and adaptable. 

In every way possible Yogananda makes a combination 
of East and West. In addition to morning meditation, he 
recommends the devotional study of the Bible. But Ms 
followers are urged to read other bibles besides the Chris- 
tian, such as the Bhagavad Gita, the Imitation of Christ, 
Shakespeare, Emerson, Walt Whitman, Francis Thomp- 
son, or Tagore. In the Bible, he says, read just one verse 
a day and try to feel it. We need less study and more 
meditation. But the Bible is not above other books, and 
Jesus, of course, is just one savior among many. "Spiritual 
truth is one: interpreted by Christians it is called Chris- 
tianity; by Hindus, Hinduism; and so forth/' S2 

In all his work the swami is careful to announce that 
his movement is East-West and universal, and does not 
interfere with anyone's traditional religion. The ideal of 
the Society, he says, is only "universal scientific propa- 
ganda/' Whoever becomes a true Yogodan need not re- 
nounce his church, but may simply call himself a Metho- 
dist Yogi or a Unitarian Yogi or a Roman Catholic Yogi 
or a Christian Science Yogi or a Jewish Yogi or a Muslim 
Yogi or some similar name. The truth of Yogoda, he 
continues, lies not in any special creed, but in the common 
intuitive, ineffable experience of its devotees, just as blind- 
folded people can unite in enjoying the taste of an orange. 

Our swami has even dabbled in the "social gospel," 
although it cannot be said that he connects it with his 
teaching on meditation or devotion, or puts it at the heart 
of his message. Indeed, every literary attempt at social 
reform seems to be inspired by some special interest 
Judging from his own statements in print, 83 his worthy 
editorials "Yellow Journalism versus Truth" and "Spirim- 


aHzing the Newspapers" were stimulated by newspaper 
misrepresentations of himself and his India. His concern 
with immigration reform was apparently due to the fact 
that the United States laws worked against the individual 
plans and national pride of his countrymen. Naturally, 
he wanted a test based on quality, not race. Even Jesus 
Christ, he said, would have been excluded as an Oriental, 
His attention to the crime wave in America not only sug- 
gests measures of control but also operates as a counter- 
blast to an American woman's exposure of the worst side 
of India, while Ms interest in American educational prog- 
ress affords a nice opportunity for such a defense of Hin- 
duism as this: 

In Indk the ideal of continence and self-control is taught in 
every house down to the lowest and most illiterate. There is 
more immorality in any large American city than in the whole 
length of India today. 84 

Yogananda's eclectic spirit shines best in the realm of 
general religious culture. He learns as he teaches, he 
practices give and take. The celebration of Easter, Thanks- 
giving and Christmas is not neglected at the Mount Wash- 
ington main-center, nor is the Western Santa Claus omit- 
ted from Christmas. Lincoln's birthday is utilized as 
"Gardening Day/' and the Center itself has its birthday 
party with cake and candles. Our swami even welcomes 
American missionaries to India, especially those like 
Henry Ford! On the other hand, he often regales Ms 
admirers with Indian musk which he plays on four dif- 
ferent Indian instruments, and publishes many oriental 
gleanings in his magazine. When Walter Hampden's 
presentation of The Ught of Asia failed, he wrote an edi- 
torial in defence of this drama, and he likewise advertised 
the reincarnation-teaching play called The Ladder pro- 
duced for about two years at a loss of millions of dollars 
by Mr. Edward B. Davis, a Texas oil magnate. 


The universality of the swamfs selections can be clearly 
seen in his treatment of immortality. His first solution of 
the problem, of course, is the doctrine of reincarnation, 
to which every orthodox Hindu clings as a description 
of his Dharma, or eternal cosmic duty. In spite of his 
many Western beliefs, our Hindu teacher is willing to 
defend this doctrine in what he admits is its most fatalistic 

Even though we are tied to this wheel of cosmic birth and 
death, even though no end is in sight, yet there is a way of 
escape for us. All religions point die path. Through knowl- 
edge, through non-attachment, through selflessness, through the 
fire of meditation on spiritual reality, the seeds of all karma may 
be roasted, may be reduced to ashes, and thus the soul may be 
liberated from the otherwise eternal Wheel of Necessity. 35 

To demonstrate the universality of this "cosmic truth," 
the swami tells us it is potent in the heritage of the West. 
In trying to make all scriptures teach Hinduism he relies, 
as we have seen, on the allegorical method of exegesis. 
In trying to make all philosophy teach Hinduism he inter- 
prets history as follows: 

Aristotle and Plato, both of whom have contributed very large- 
ly to Western thought, very decidedly believed in Reincarnation, 
and so did Socrates. The Jewish faith thoroughly approved this 
belief. The early Gnostics and practically all the Christian 
fathers, up to the fifth century, accepted it and wrote elaborately 
about it. The doctrine slipped out of the European mind during 
the Dark Ages. 30 

Not content with this attempt at historical proof, the 
swami claims that reincarnation has actually been verified 
by ecstatic yogis whose cosmic memories have recalled 
definite events of their past lives. Suppose I am a genuine 
yogi. Suppose also I happen to know nothing about 
Abraham Lincoln in this life. But after a trance I reveal 
certain facts to my friends, who are then convinced on 


historical evidence that these facts belong only to the life 
of Lincoln. According to the swami, this would prove 
that in one of my past lives I was Abraham Lincoln. 37 

Verification aside, the Hindu claims for the doctrine 
of reincarnation many virtues. These claims may be com- 
bined into three main arguments. The moral argument 
deals with justice. If according to karma } or the law of 
cause and effect in moral acts, the individual soul is re- 
sponsible for the deeds done in its past reincarnation, 
then it is responsible for its present condition, and so God 
is relieved of all injustice due to present inequality of 
individuals in rank and circumstance. 38 

The religious argument deals with immortality. If we 
believe in necessary immortality, we must logically admit 
not only a never-ending individual life after death, but 
also a never-beginning individual life before birth. If the 
soul is eternal, it cannot possibly begin at one point of 
time, such as the birthday of the body. 39 

The scientific argument deals with individual indiffer- 
ences. Take the case of genuine twins growing up to- 
gether under the same circumstances. What can explain 
the striking difference in their character? Only the theory 
that the soul of the one is eternally distinct from the soul 
of the other, says the Hindu. And this means reincarna- 
tion. 40 

Hence Swami Yogananda's first solution of the problem 
of immortality is the doctrine of reincarnation, a solution 
that must be expected from any Hindu. But when he 
wants to comfort his beloved flock with regard to the 
"Mystery of Life and Death," he uses quite novel notions 
gathered from Professors J. C. Bose, Millikan and Lovett 
Evans, and then paints a picture of Heaven a social 
Heaven, mind you that might possibly be conceived by 
Saint Ramanuja, Emanuel Swedenborg and Sir Oliver 
Lodge working together as a committee on the after-life. 


Nothing is said about returning to an earthly body in the 
next life. 

Death above all else is a transition to a better land a change 
of residence. The wise man who has opened his spiritual eye 
finds that the death of the earthly life gives him a new beginning 
in another supernal life. On this earth seeing we see not a 
fluoroscope can show the bones of the fingers which the eye 
cannot see. We do not see the cords of light blue, violet, aqua* 
marine, orange, yellow, white, which bind the atoms and the 
earth together. We hear the gross noise of the world and a few 
sweet melodies and nothing more. . . . 

In the mellow light of the other world, the wise perceive the 
inner sides of stars, stones, living beings, corpses, dust, iron, 
gold, earth, planets, dazzling with Infinite brilliancy. Every 
object which we perceive has two sides the gross ugly outer 
side present before the physical eyes, and the inner, most beautiful 
side revealed to the eye of wisdom. The crude brick revealed 
by the physical eyes appears to be like a garden of electrons, when 
viewed through the spiritual eye. Human beings with skeletons, 
ugly sinews and red blood appear as beautiful many-hued living 
beings made of visible mellow materialized love. . . . 

Everything talks there silently. The roses talk to the souls 
with the language of spirit. . . . The gentlest earthly flower the 
lily, violet, drunk with gross sunlight is not allowed to tread 
the sanctity of that fair garden of the gods. The mortal, enslaved 
by oxygen and sunlight, gorged with material food, faints at the 
delicate airless atmosphere of that divine supernal region. . . . 
Souls in that region do not encase themselves in bundles of bones 
with fleshly covers. They carry no frail, heavy frames to collide 
and break with other crude solids. ... No bacteria, no thirst, 
no selfish desires, no heartaches, no lust, no pain or sorrow, nor 
boisterous fleeting joy, no accidents, shattering bones and skulls, 
and no excruciating pain of parting, can ever visit there. , . . Why 
pity the dead? In wisdom they pity us. 41 

Thus Swami Yogananda is all-embracing in his toler- 
ance and desire to harmoni2e. In this he is not heretical, 
but typically Hindu; for the Hindu theologian, as we 
have seen in the case of Sankara, wants to take in every- 
thing and drop out nothing. When Yogananda first came 


to America he stressed the way of "knowledge" like Vive- 
kananda, but after staying a wMle he began to stress the 
way of "work/ 1 As a yogi he still insists on the raja-yoga, 
but in his preaching he relies less on Sankara and more 
on the Bhagavad Gita. He has shifted from renunciation 
to resignation. It seems that in Yogananda a portion of 
ancient Indian history is being enacted again before our 
eyes, only on a world-wide scale. He is the reincarnation, 
as it were, of the author of the Bhagavad Gita. He takes 
his Upanishad heritage and adapts it not to the hard- 
working people of India, this time, but to the hard- 
working people of America. He preaches sweet resigna- 
tion not to caste duties this time, but to modern business 
methods and financial ambition for success. As Viveka- 
nanda, figuratively speaking, was a Buddhist, Yogananda 
is a Stoic of the more joyous and progressive kind, 42 a 
Stoic saturated with Hindu bliss and American optimism. 
With his genius for organization, Swami Yogananda 
has put his message into systematic form, which I now 
present as the last word on the subject. 


1. Universal all-round education, and establishment of educa- 
tional institutions for the development of man's physical, mental 
and spiritual natures. 

2. Contacting Cosmic Consciousness the ever-new, ever-existing, 
ever-conscious Bliss-God through the scientific technique of con- 
centration and mediation taught by the Masters of all ages. 

3. Attaining bodily health through the "Yogoda" technique of 
recharging the body-battery from inner life-energy. 

4. Intelligently maintaining the physical body on unadulterated 
foods, including a large percentage of raw fruits, vegetables and 

5. Physical, mental and spiritual healing. 

6. Establishing, by a scientific system of realteation, the absolute 
basic harmony and oneness of Christianity, Hindu Yoga teach- 
ings, and all true religions. 


7. Serving all mankind as one's larger Self. 

8. Demonstrating the superiority of mind over body, and of soul 
over mind. 

9. Fighting the Satan of Ignorance man's common enemy. 

10. Establishing a spiritual unity between all nations. 

11. Overcoming evil by good; overcoming sorrow by joy; over- 
coming cruelty by kindness. 

12. Realization of the purpose of life as being the evolution 
from human consciousness into divine consciousness, through in- 
dividual struggle. 

13. Realization of the truth that human life is given to man to 
afford him opportunity to manifest his inner divine qualities, 
and not for physical pleasure nor selfish gratifications. 

14. Furthering the cultural and spiritual understanding between 
East and West, and the constructive exchange of the distinctive 
features of their civilizations. 

15. Uniting science and religion through the study and practical 
realization of the unity of their underlying principles. 43 


Aside from the saffron robe, worn only on ceremonial 
occasions, the dim lighting, soft music and incense of his 
meetings for worship, and his tours of personal instruc- 
tion, the swami has only himself to show that he is a 
Hindu teacher, as far as methods are concerned. Unlike 
the Vedanta Centers, his movement is centered not in 
India, but in a well-knit, nation-wide organization called 
the Yogoda Sat-sanga Society of America, of which he is 
the president. 44 It is governed by a national committee 
which includes Mr. J. Harold MacDowell, a Cleveland 
architect who built the Cleveland Auditorium, and Mr. 
Alvin Hunsicker of New York, prominent in the textile 
industry. The attorney is Judge John F. Hylan, former 
Mayor of New York. Since the Society is incorporated 
under the laws of Jersey City, New Jersey, the swarni is 
responsible to his master in India only spiritually, not 


The main center of the Society is at Mount Washington, 
Los Angeles, formerly in charge of Swami Dhirananda, 
but now in charge of Swami Yogananda himself. 45 Each 
of the twelve centers in America 46 is well organized with 
a governing body and a religious leader who has been 
personally trained by the master, and has signed a pledge 
of loyalty. He is not considered an independent Yogoda 
teacher, but just a teaching disciple. Three of these local 
leaders are Hindus: Brahmacan (or Student) Nerod at 
Los Angeles, Brahmacari Jotin at Washington, both Ben- 
galis, and Pandit (or Sanskritist) Upadeshak at Cleve- 
land, a Panjabi. These Hindus and some other local 
leaders are supported by the local centers, while other 
leaders give their services free. Some of the centers are 
incorporated. Unlike the Vedanta societies, each center 
is not independent, but a local branch closely connected 
with the main center through legal responsibility, corre- 
spondence, and the travels of master, secretary and staff. 

We have noticed that the Vedanta centers have done 
neither intensive community cultivation nor extensive ad- 
vertising. The Yogoda Society does both. The main 
center at Mount Washington is very much like an Amer- 
ican church in its methods. The Free Lectures on Sunday 
are the preaching services, and a Sunday School is added. 
The Wednesday Class is the prayer meeting. The Helpers 
Association is the Ladies' Aid. There is also a Candy 
Department that specializes in cactus candy, no doubt 
inspired by Luther Burbank, one of the staunch Yogodans. 
Plans for the enrollment and training of more teachers 
have been announced. 

The Society is supported by fees from the Yogoda 
Classes and Corespondence Courses, by voluntary monthly 
payments on pledges to the main center, and by free gifts. 
The institution of a two dollar national membership fee 
is being considered. From time to time the swami receives 


personal gifts, such as a typewriter. He maintains himself 
partly by money sent from India by his parents and partly 
by one-quarter of the total income from the classes and 
courses, giving three-quarters to the Society. The mem- 
bers are encouraged to give towards the support of the 
swamis' schools in India. 

In order to release the swami from all commercial work 
so that he can devote more time to "spiritual" meditation 
and the propagation of the Correspondence Course, the 
"Yogoda Publishing Company" has been organized by 
Mr. Harry F. Sieber, a Yogodan and former bank presi- 
dent. The company is incorporated in Pennsylvania, the 
original ten thousand dollars in cash having been supplied 
by the Philadelphia Yogoda members. It plans to dis- 
tribute its stock of two kinds among Yogoda members 
broadly, and to have the stockholders of each center ap- 
point their own representative as a director. While the 
company is to acquire by purchase from Yogananda all 
his writings and publishings, the control of the voting 
stock is to be held by the swami himself. 

Extensive advertising is carried on by the swamfs re- 
peated city visits and lectures previously announced in 
every feasible way by his staff, by the Yogoda booklet, 
classes and courses, by letters, by the East-West magazine, 
for which a special binder is sold, by books and three 
pieces of sheet music for the piano, Song of Brahma, My 
Soul is Marching On, and Om Song. The American love 
of insignia is not overlooked. The main center puts out 
Christmas cards decked with Yogoda symbols, sentiments 
and mottoes. For one dollar a member may purchase the 
gold-plated, orange~and-blue-enamelled Yogoda pin with 
the Yogoda emblem. This emblem appears also on the 
front cover of the magazine. It signifies "the single spir- 
itual eye of meditation, the prank star door through which 
we must enter to find Cosmic Consciousness, taught by the 
Yogoda method of meditation." 


Swami Yogananda himself Is the biggest advertisement 
for the Society, in spite of a newspaper announcement that 
"Swami Yogananda keeps himself in the background/' 
His face appears in newspapers and on billboards, in some 
of his books, and several times in his magazine. Every 
Yogoda class has its photograph; the class-members are 
seated while the swami stands well in the foreground. 
On one Fourth of July a large notice board at the entrance 
of the Mount Washington grounds displayed a life sized 
picture of the swami beside his message to America. The 
organization arranges for photographs of the swami play- 
ing one of his four musical instruments or conversing 
with some American notable such as Governor Fuller of 
Massachusetts or President Cooiidge. The swami attracted 
notice when he prescribed a meatless diet for Cooiidge to 
keep him cool! For two dollars any member may pur- 
chase a beautiful framed photograph of his or her beloved 
master. It is clear that Swami Yogananda is even more 
American in method than in message. 

The greatest difference between Vedanta and Yogoda 
lies in method. The Vedanta swamis are still Hindus, 
while Swami Yogananda, as it were, is a naturalized 
American. The Vedanta swamis had to use American 
methods to some extent in order to endure at all, but 
Yogananda plunged into them completely. Both move- 
ments are confined to the cities even the "peace retreats" 
are for city dwellers but Yogananda has learned how to 
work the cities. How can this striking difference best be 

(1) Yogananda's master Yuktesvara was not as ascetic 
as Vivekananda's master Ramakrishna. From his married 
and city-dwelling master Lahiri he had learned the life 
of balance, the Stoic rule of the Bhagavad Gita, and this 
he passed on to his disciple, who was thus prepared to 
accept the world, to do in Rome as the Romans do. 


(2) Yogananda himself has a different personality 
from Vivekananda. Not only is he less ascetic he is also 
less impetuous and moody. He felt no great frustration, 
crisis and sudden conversion, but developed his religious 
life slowly and steadily from early youth. He was thus 
more fit for the grind and responsibility of organization 

(3) Yogananda arrived in America a generation after 
Vivekananda,, and thus found a more tolerant and liberal 
nation which had learned something of India and had 
accustomed itself to support a considerable number of 
unorthodox cults. 

(4) Yogananda attended a religious congress that was 
more congenial than the one attended by Vivekananda. 
He was not forced to defend his message against a host 
of world-wide religions, but simply encouraged to explain 
it before a group of appreciative liberals. He felt the 
spirit of cooperation, and learned the methods of success- 
ful American cults. 

(5) Yogananda was fortunate in securing the services 
of an efficient American secretary soon after the beginning 
of his work, and he came on the scene after Los Angeles, 
the hotbed of novelty, had grown tremendously. He did 
not bother about Europe or India, but settled down to 
"conquer" America. 

(6) Yogananda, unlike Vivekananda, was a yogi by 
nurture as well as nature when he arrived in America, and 
thus met its shocks and strains with the methodical tech- 
nique of relaxation drilled into him by his* master. He 
keeps his health even when deprived of sleep, and so can 
stand the strain of nation-wide organization. He has now 
developed the movement so that he can give more time 
to writing and spiritual training. He expects soon to 
publish a work which will serve as the Yogoda textbook, 
and a new book on prayer according to a modified yoga 


method has just appeared (1930), entitled Whispers 
From Eternity, and proclaimed as "a completely fresh 
analysis of the bewilderment in which multitudes of the 
present generation find themselves ... a gateway to the 
art of consciously contacting God/' 

All these factors enabled Yogananda to adapt Ms work 
to American conditions more closely than Vivekananda. 


To Yogoda students as well as to members of the 
Ramakrishna movement I sent out questionnaire letters. 
But on account of the larger numbers of Yogodans, the 
reports are much less reliable statistically, covering only 
about two per cent of the entire membership. 47 Yet they 
can show which way the wind blows, and provide some 
comparison between the Vedanta centers and the Yogoda 
Society. If we omit the New York Vedanta Society, and 
the Buffalo and Minneapolis Yogoda centers, where na- 
tives of other lands are to be expected, both movements 
appeal chiefly to ordinary white Americans of Anglo- 
Saxon tradition, some of them descendents of original 
settlers. The average age of the members responding is 
practically the same in both movements, although several 
of the Yogodans are under thirty-five, the lowest age of die 
Vedanta group. Indeed, the more American methods and 
breezy personality of Yogananda would be apt to draw 
youth as well as age. 

As in the Vedanta group, the women of the Yogoda 
group outnumber the men three to one, but in the Yogoda 
Society as a whole, judging from the faces in the numerous 
clear photographs of the large Yogoda classes, the pro- 
portion is only two to one, the same as in the Vedanta 
movement according to the Census. Thus both Hindu 
movements show an unusually large, though not alarming, 
percentage of women. This is to be expected in most 


religious bodies. The occupations of both men and women 
show nothing unusual professional service, housekeep- 
ing, clerical work and small business bulking more largely 
than manual labor. Perhaps Yogoda attracts more teach- 
ers, lawyers and medical men than Vedanta. Both move- 
ments clearly operate in the great middle class, as do the 
Protestant churches. 

In the Vedanta group about three-fourths of the mem- 
bers had orthodox parents, but in the Yogoda group, 
nearly all. And while with Vedanta only a few of these 
have remained in the churches, with Yogoda at least one- 
third of them have done so. Moreover, in the Yogoda 
group the percentage of religious wanderings or chronic 
"seekers," is lower. Yet in both groups those who have 
been wandering truth-seekers outnumber those who have 
dropped into Hinduism by chance. It seems that on the 
whole, Yogoda is much closer to the traditional Christian 
Church than Vedanta, a point which is not surprising, in 
view of the deliberate effort of Yogananda to adapt his 
Hindu teaching to American methods and sentiment* 

In many respects the reasons for conversion are the 
same in both groups with some, a progressive broaden- 
ing of outlook; with others, a solution of perplexing prob- 
lems of creed. Many in the Yogoda group claim that the 
swami's teaching makes them better church members. 
Many delight in Yogoda's universal tolerance and love, 
and its teaching of optimism and divine immanence. But 
the vast majority become earnest Yogodans because of the 
"wonderful" bodily, mental and spiritual benefits they 
gain from its practice of concentration and meditation. 
In Yogoda much more than in Vedanta it is the clean-cut, 
definite and systematic practice that converts people and 
absorbs their leisure time and energy. Only two of the 
fifty-one Yogodans reported less than a half-hour daily 
practice, while many practice two hours a day and attend 


several meetings a week. Some devote all their spare time 
to Yogoda, which in a few cases amounts to three hours 
a day. It is not hard to see where Yogoda makes its 
strongest appeal. 

The testimonials of those healed in the swamfs meet- 
ings* classes or courses compare favorably with those of 
Unity or the work of the Angelus Temple.* 48 Every issue 
of the East-West rings with the witness of fresh grateful 
devotees. Suffering humanity is cured of eyestrain, nerv- 
ousness, stomach trouble, tobacco* fear, stiffness, and many 
other ailments due to strain, worry, doubt, distraction or 
lack of exercise. One person says the swami has removed 
the cork from the botde of life to let in God's truth. An- 
other says the Bible is now understood as never before. 
A third exclaims that Yogananda has done as much good 
as Jesus, a fourth that he must be a reincarnation of Jesus. 
And so on. Says Luigi von Kunits, Conductor of the New 
Symphony Orchestra of Toronto, "Yogoda has done and 
is still doing for me all that is claimed for it; youthful 
energy that spurns fatigue, an almost complete immunity 
from sickness and disease, intellectual alertness, steady 
firmness and decision in willing and acting, a truly re- 
markable quickening of ... memory, and a constantly 
progressing calmness and mental tranquillity/' ** 

So much for the causes of conversion. Now for some 
of its effects. In the minds of one-fourth of the group, 
Swami Yogananda fills the place of the ideal person, 
while Jesus Christ remains the supreme savior of a bit 
larger number. This comparative loyalty to Jesus makes 
a sharp contrast with the indifference shown by Vedanta 
adherents. However, a plurality of the Yogoda group 
worship no one savior above another, but have many 
favorites such as Luther Burbank, Albert Einstein, Thomas 
Edison, Henry Ford, Bernard Shaw, Abraham Lincoln, 
Manmohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Rabindra Nath Ta- 


gore, Charles Fillmore, Stanley Jones, Walt Whitman, 
Dhan Gopal Mukerji, L. Adams Beck, Ralph Waldo 
Trine, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Marie Coreili, Helen 
Petrovna Blavatsky, and Annie Besant. Many Yogodans 
delight in works that are oriental and occult. 

In the Vedanta group two kinds of people are prom- 
inent: those who have just broadened their views, and 
those who have adopted the Vedanta cult as their very 
own. We meet with the same two kinds in Yogoda, with 
the addition of a third, which is still actively Christian. 
Thus in the Yogoda Sat-sanga Society of America we have 
three classes: orthodox Christians, pure Yogodans, and 
spiritual pilgrims who have wandered through the "bor- 
derland" cults, such as Theosophy, Christian Science, New 
Thought and Unity. Both Vedanta and Yogoda have 
much in common with these American cults, but Vedanta 
harks back to conservative Hinduism, while Yogoda leans 
forward toward liberal Christianity. 



The position of the Vedanta and Yogoda cults in Amer- 
ican Hinduism, and the importance of this Hinduism for 
American religion in general is not fully evident from the 
intensive study of these two cults alone. Hence a wider 
observation is necessary. While I do not claim to know 
the number and extent of Hindu movements in this coun- 
try, and have neither the time nor the money to make a 
systematic study of them all, I shall now set down briefly 
what I know about all the movements that have come to 
my notice, according to the ninefold classification pre- 
sented in Chapter I. This will make nine sections. The 
tenth and final section of this chapter will be devoted to 
the world-wide cultural background of the advance of 
Hinduism towards the United States. 


Baba Bharatf s Krishna cult, which in America is now 
either defunct or very quiet, seems to be the oldest in 
America after Vedanta. In 1904 a book called Shree 
Krishna, the Lord of Love, written by Baba Premananda 
(bliss of love) Bharati, was published by the Krishna 
Samaj at New York. It seems that the Baba, or great 
father, as he is called, stayed in America for about five 
years, perhaps from 1904 until 1909- According to Dr. 
Robert E. Speer, he was formerly a hill hermit in Tibet. 
Coming to Los Angeles, he established a Radha-Krishna 
temple there, and later claimed over five thousand fol- 



lowers. He declared that he preached the eternal Hindu- 
ism unadulterated by the West. Yet strange to say, this 
pure orientalism, in his opinion, is just the principle that 
makes intelligible the dominant religion of the West. At 
a farewell meeting presided over by a former minister of 
the Gospel, he declared: 

It has been my privilege these five years to preach to you your 
own Christ, even as much as my god Krishna. I came not here 
to thrust my religion upon you, but to help you to understand 
your own God and your own religion. If I have talked of 
Krishna and of the Vedas and Hindu philosophy it was only to 
illuminate the teachings of your own Christ, to present him 
before you In the limelight of the Vedas, and the X-ray of our 
own scientific philosophies. 1 

Here we have the familiar Hindu endeavor to accept 
Christ, but only according to Hindu standards; and the 
usual Hindu dalm that Hindu philosophy is scientific, 
although it was systematized before the age of modern 

Yogi Hari Rama is another religious teacher who vis- 
ited America for only a brief period, and then went back 
to India never to return. He began his work here In 1925 
and departed forever on September 1st, 1928, leaving his 
Benares League, which embraces several centers in the 
big cities, with national headquarters at 133 West 42nd 
Place, Los Angeles, California. Like Yogananda, he com- 
bined some harmless social and theological sentiment with 
his yoga teaching, for his professed aims were to further 
communal and international brotherhood, and to build up 
in our hearts "Christ's love for all and everything in the 
universe/* * He stressed everything "spiritual" nothing 


His lectures dealt with the control of the Pfana, or Slan 
vital, by the "science" of breathing In order to master dis- 
ease; with concentration and meditation for vitalizing any 
part of the body; and with the mystic and occult powers 
of the "Great Masters 1 ' of India. Like Yogananda again, 
he gave more than one course, in ascending levels. The 
Beginners Course taught the healing of self and others by 
the control of food, and the awakening of the "Christ- 
consciousness" by the control of the optic nerves. The 
Advanced Course taught how to awaken the KundalinL 
It referred to the Mosaic law and other tenets familiar to 
the West. These courses were printed in outline form. 
He also published a book containing a list of food com- 
binations useful for "spiritual" development, recipes for 
bodily ailments, and exercises for bodily defects. 

In this way Yogi Hari Rama, more or less like every 
other swami and yogi in the United States, sought to 
mingle with Western tradition the Eastern lore of the 
Tantra manual and the raja and hatha disciplines. 

Very similar is the teaching of Deva Ram of 232 East 
Erie Street, Chicago, in spite of the fact that the adver- 
tisement of his Correspondence Course gives no hint of 
attempts at interpretation in terms of Western religion. 
Like Yogananda also, he claims that his lectures are prac- 
tical, non-sectarian, and do not interfere with any religion. 
The courses of ten lessons, "gifts of the Great Sages of 
India for the good of all Humanity/* is published in the 
form of a booklet which can be purchased for twenty-five 
cents. It aims to inculcate physical, mental and "spiritual" 
development, and deals with the "Subtle Spiritual Cen- 
ters" of the body, presumably the lotuses of the Kundalini. 
Here I shall let the announcement-folder speak for itself. 



(Path to New Life) 

Correspondence Course 


Brahmin Philosopher and Metaphysician 

President and Director APPLIED YOGA INSTITUTE 



Spiritual-Will Control of Cosmic Divine Energy for Highest 
Physical and Mental Perfection. 

Yogi Technique of Concentration and Meditation for Spiritual 

How to maintain the Highest Rhythm of METABOLISM and 
CIRCULATION in all parts of the body. 

Higher Law of Transmutation and Conservation of Vital Life 
Fluid for Rejuvenation and Regeneration of Body. 

Conscious Control and direction of Life Energy for the Har- 
monious natural functioning of the Ductless Glands, thus Elim- 
inating the infirmities and Debilities of advancing age and insure 
Everlasting Youth. 

A folder entitled "YOGESSAR" announces lectures by 
Swami Bhagwan Bissessar of Ajodhya, India, in the Junior 
Pioneer Association Building in St. Paul, Minnesota, be- 
ginning May 15, 1929. This swamf s American address is 
P. O. B. 3, Oakland, California, and his folder presents 
him to the American public as follows: 

SWAMI BHAGWAN BISSESSAR was born of High Caste Hindu 
Parents of Aryan descent. When a boy he was sent to England 
to be educated and attended Eton College and Oxford University. 
Several years later the Swami made a trip around the world for 
the sole purpose of studying the religions, the philosophies and 
the mode of living of the various nations. This gave him a broad 
and tolerant view of life and a keen understanding of the world's 
peoples. He then went up into the Himalayan Mountains, 
where he spent years at the feet of the Masters, studying and 
absorbing the Ancient Wisdom of India. 

At the completion of his studies he was given the title "Swami 


Bhagwan Bissessar," which means a Spiritual Teacher of God, and 
was sent out to teach humanity the way to NIRVANA. After re- 
maining in India for some time he received the call to come to 
the Western World and impart his own interpretation of the 
Eastern and Western philosophies, having combined them in 
what he calls "YoGESSAR." 

This "noted Hindu metaphysician/' this "Distinguished 
Yogi Philosopher and Hindu Psychologist, called the 
Foremost Philosopher of Asia by the American Press," 
teaches, as might be expected, the way of "spiritual" real- 
ization, which is intended to give "health, youth, success 
and happiness." His lectures and private classes in the 
jnana and raja yogas deal with such subjects as Prana and 
karma, eating and breathing, relaxation and sleep, and 
the easy acquirement of wealth. His tuition fee is twenty- 
five dollars. 

One cannot refrain from wondering how the swami rec- 
onciles the way to Nirvana with the way to easy wealth. 
And it seems strange that a swami, or one who has sup- 
posedly renounced all property, should teach others how 
to get it. But the old Hindu custom is for each man to 
stick to his function regardless of another. Thus the 
swami may stick to his wealth-renouncing, and the man 
of the world may stick to his wealth-getting, and each may 
encourage the other to be true to his own duty, or sva- 
dharma. But can a swami living in America actually 
be a wealth-renouncer? 

In 1917 a young Madrasi Hindu known as His Holiness 
Srimath Swami Omkar established his Santi Asrama in the 
Totapalli Hills of southeastern India after clearing a fifty- 
acre spot of jungle with much strenuous toil. This Peace 
Retreat, which can be reached by mail at Santi Asrama 
Post, Godavari District, Madras Presidency, South India, 


was founded in memory of Swami Rama Tkatha, a Hindu 
mystic of considerable Christian understanding, who grad- 
uated from Forman Christian College, Lahore, taught 
mathematics there, and later made a preaching tour of 
America. To Omkar' s Retreat came men and women of 
various faiths to find rest for body and mind among the 
beautiful shade trees and fruit trees of the garden, and 
the Santi Mission which preserves the Retreat also runs a 
children's secular school and publishes works on the spir- 
itual life, including Peace, "an English Monthly Journal 
of Life, Light and Love/* and Santi, a monthly magazine 
in the Telegu language. 

In 1923 the first American branch of the Indian Asrama 
was established in Philadelphia under the name of Sri 
Mariya Asrama. Its president is Sister Mariya lona, its 
secretary Brahmacari (or student) Suryananda, and its 
latest address 1928 North 6 1st Street, Philadelphia. Per- 
haps Swami Omkar can now be reached at this place. An- 
other branch is the Peace Center at 1111 South Alvarado 
Street, Los Angeles. Among the swami's pamphlets for 
sale at this center are My Creed, Meditation, Christ the 
Savior, Do You Want God, Daily Prayers, Tears Divine, 
The Coming of the Master, Are You Preparing for the 
Crucifixion, Christmas Tidings, Outcaste, The Divinity of 
Man, and Mother America. 

As a swami, Omkar is a follower of the first swami, 
Sri Sankaracarya, the great Hindu theologian whose name 
is often abbreviated to Sankara. As an admirer of Swami 
Rama Tiratha, Omkar is somewhat familiar with Chris- 
tianity. Accordingly, he selects those aspects of Christian 
teaching which coincide with the teaching of Sankara, 
especially Christ's feeling of oneness with God, humanity 
and the world, and his universal love and pity. In his 
leaflet Message of Niagara Falls, Omkar hears the mighty 
cataract speak to him as follows: 


Dear child of God, my message to you ... is ... to pour 
out all that you have ... in a continuous and never-ending flow 
of service. ... As an image of God, you can afford to give . . 
infinite love and eternal peace. Peace and Love are your own 
Birthright. Do not withhold these precious gifts like a miser. 
Share all your perishable and imperishable riches with the whole 
of humanity. Drown the world in peace and joy. Bathe hu- 
manity in health and glory. ... I give because I cannot keep. 
Behold how the whole world gazes at me ... in awe and ad- 
miration. How beautiful is the giver. So, my sweet brother, 
be a giver of peace, love, harmony, bliss and glory. . . . 

likewise in his Daily Prayers, the swami suggests the 
following passage for meditation: 

I will shower flowers of hope and love wherever I go. Help 
me to cheer, to encourage, to strengthen, to uplift ... the down- 
trodden with Thy blessings. Above all, allow me to recognize 
nothing but Thee in every face I meet. Let me realize that in 
serving others I am serving Thee and Thee alone, for Thou art 
the all-pervading and all-interpenetrating Life, Light, and Love. 

Thus Omkar appreciates the similarity between Jesus 
and Sankara owing to Sankara's so-called lower belief in 
God as the ground of the world. But at the same time he 
follows Sankara in the so<alled higher belief in God as a 
transcendent realm of bliss wholly unattached to the 
world, which is thereby considered illusion. In his pam- 
phlet Do You Want God he cries, "Let us feel that God 
alone is the only Reality, and all else is mere delusion." 
In like manner he denounces all sects and creeds, and 
exalts private meditation as the simple, silent "realization" 
of God conceived as a state of "superconsciousness/* 
which in common with many Hindu preachers in America 
he calls <t Christ<onsciousness." In like manner also he 
interprets the resurrection of Christ as a leap beyond the 
world of name and form, with all its distinctions of good 
and evil. In his pamphlet Afe You Preparing /of the 
Crucifixion he cries: 


O dear beloved ones! How can I attempt or succeed in de- 
scribing or expressing the Glory of this Christ-consciousness? In 
this exalted state there are neither the blamed nor the biamer. . . . 
Here there are neither forms nor names. ... It is a state of 
Changeless Peace. 

But the swami comes back to the world of good and 
evil when he blames Miss Mayo for blaming Mother 
India. In his booklet Mother America he writes: 

Here is our sister Mayo . . . engaged in ruthlessly wounding 
the feelings of three hundred and twenty millions of calm, for- 
bearing and undefending Indians, and in singing lullabies to 
herself for so doing. She is doing harm not only to the Indian 
nation but to all lovers of India and Truth both in the East and 
in the West . . . inestimable harm to the whole world. . . . She 
had no love in her heart; hence she could find none lovable. She 
came with a repulsive spirit, and the same condition greeted her 
eye wherever she went. 

Now I am not blaming Swami Omkar for blaming Miss 
Mayo. Nor am I blaming Miss Mayo for blaming Mother 
India. I am simply pointing out the swami's loyalty to 
Sankara and the Upanishads whereby he holds two dif- 
ferent conceptions of God, the "higher" conception in 
which "there are neither the blamed nor the biamer/' and 
the "lower" conception in which blaming may be con- 
sidered a just and creative act, as when Sankara blames the 
Buddhists for unsettling the minds of the people. Accord- 
ing to the "higher" conception Swami Omkar does not 
blame Miss Mayo: according to the "lower" conception he 
does blame her. Whether the contradiction here be real 
or apparent, the swami makes no attempt to explain it. 
In short, what Swami R. S. Narayana of Lucknow says 
about Omkar's booklet Meditation (in the Foreword) 
may be said about Omkar's whole preaching: "Without 
caring in the least for language or logic ... he has freely 
given vent to the free flow of his inner feelings. . . ." And 
these feelings are sweet feelings of love. It is love for 


India that leads him to blame Miss Mayo: how can love 
remain Indifferent? 

Yogi Ramacharaka teaches a system that is none the less 
Hindu because he happens to be an American named Wil- 
liam Walker Atkinson. 3 His books, which deal with most 
of the yogas and with much oriental occultism, are obtain- 
able at the "Yogi Publishing Society/' 80 North Clark 
Street, Chicago. 4 Many of these teachers of wisdom from 
abroad are more than lecturers, and yet can hardly be 
called founders of new cults. Even the cults they repre- 
sent cannot be called cults in the full sense. A fairly new 
religious form seems to be developing In America; some- 
thing in between a sacred community and a secular audi- 
ence, which might be called a supplementary cult, or a 
religious class that appeals chiefly to chronic "seekers." 

The Dharma Mandal, or "Aryan Religious Associa- 
tion," organized by Kedar Nath Das Gupta, a Bengali of 
long residence in London and New York, features less 
lecturing and class work, and more worship and enter- 
tainment. I can describe the aims and methods of the 
association no better than by herewith presenting its con- 


1. This Society shall be called DHARMA MANDALA 
Association for the cultivation of Dharma. 

(a) "Dharma is that which promotes spiritual growth and 
evolution and leads to the realization of the unsurpassable Good, 
the Supreme Worth.'* 

(b) Dharma is Religion as spiritual endeavor without the 
necessary acceptance of a religious "creed." 

(c) Dharma is practical Philosophy which satisfies reason and 
enables Man to attain full Self-realization, divine Perfection and 


unconditional spiritual Freedom while still living here on earth, 
(d) Dbarma is in complete harmony with Science in so far 
as Science is ascertained truth, not mere speculation. 

2. The objects of the Dbarma Mandala shall be: 

(a) To promote life's onward march and uttermost fulfil- 
ment by the realization of the Supreme End of all human en- 

(b) To meet the spiritual requirements of those that are dis- 
satisfied with dogmatic forms of religion and religious "creeds." 

(c) To meet the spiritual needs of Hindus outside of India, 
including followers all of Aryan Paths such as the Vedic, the 
Puranic and the Tantric, as well as the Jaina, the Buddhist, the 
Sikh, the Brahmo and any others originating from Aryan life and 

(d) To bring about a better mutual understanding, sympathy 
and co-operation between the Aryan forms of Dharma and all 
other endeavors for the spiritual advancement of Man. 

3. The means to be pursued for the carrying out of the afore- 
said objects shall be religious services, rites, ceremonies, social 
and religious plays, fairs and festivals, spiritual instruction and 
guidance of a special and personal kind and other practices of 
Dkarma; as well as all forms of educational activity conducive 
to Dharma and to the growth of mutual understanding, sympathy 
and co-operation among aspirants to spiritual development in all 
races of mankind. 

4. The membership of the Dharma Mandala shall be open to 
anyone in sympathy with its objects. 

5. No one is required to renounce his particular form of 
religion to be a member. 

The significance of this movement for America lies in 
the fact that it tends to bring Hindus and American 
Theosophists even closer together than they are at present. 
The brief history of the association is given by Mr. Das 
Gupta as follows: 

The inaugural meeting of the Dbarma Mandal was held in 
America at Carnegie Hall in New York on June 23rd, 1928, 
and in England at the Grotrian Hall in London on November 
llth, 1928. Since then several meetings were organized very 
successfully in London and New York and were highly appre- 
ciated by the large congregation. 


Endorsers in India, include 

His Holiness Shri Shankaracharya Dr. Kurtkoti of Bombay; 

Swami Gnanananda of Benares; 

The Maharajah Sk Pradyot Coomar Tagore of Bengal; 

Shrijut Jugal Kishor Birla of Calcutta. 
Extracts from "The Times of India," February 4, 1929: 

"A public meeting was held at Girgaum, Bombay, on Thurs- 
day night, January 31st, under the presidentship of His Holiness 
Shri Shankaracharya Dr. Kurtkoti to inaugurate a home and a 
foreign mission to propagate the Vedic Dharma. 

"Dr. Kurtkoti in his introductory speech said that it was essen- 
tial to coordinate the secular and spiritual life of society at home 
and abroad through the medium of the Vedic Dharma. The first 
step in this direction was to organize a mission in India with 
branches in London, Paris and New York. Several persons, in- 
eluding princes and prominent among them, Sir Tukoji Rao 
Holkar of Indore, had offered their services for this work." 

The first number of the magazine Dharma, managed 
and edited by Mr. Das Gupta, Suite 829, 152 West 42nd 
Street, New York, aims to "present India from India's 
own point of view/* the view in which the divine appears 
everywhere, the view that Rabindra Nath Tagore de- 
scribes as follows: 

There sounded a voice in the ancient forest-shade of India 

reclaiming the presence of a soul in the burning flame, in the 
owing water, in the breathing life of all creatures, in the un- 
dying spirit of Man. Those men who awoke in the world's 
early surprise of light were free and strong and fearless, crossing 
the barriers of things in joy and meeting the One in the heart 
of the AIL 

Perhaps the most impressive form of cultural Hinduism 
in America at present is the Threefold Movement. One 
day I decided to pay a visit to its sponsor, Mr. Kedar Nath 
Das Gupta, who had arranged for Yogananda's lectures 
at the Union Methodist Episcopal Church at the beginning 
of 1929. I had already met this Hindu promoter at the 


first lecture, and having received a cordial invitation to 
visit him, went to his office at 152 West 42nd Street, New 
York. This address I found to belong to the Knicker- 
bocker Building, in view of Times Square. The Threefold 
Movement uses two rooms on the eighth floor. Mr. Das 
Gupta, I discovered, is the same man who organized the 
Dharma Mandal: he is promoting both a cult and a cul- 
tural movement. He is just past middle age, with^ gray 
hair and a rotund figure, a man of benevolence and simple 

"When did you start the Threefold Movement?" I en- 
quired, getting down to business. 

"Over twenty years ago, I dreamed a wonderful dream/' 

"In Calcutta?" 

"Yes. Struck with the fact that in spite of her variety 
of communities, castes and cults, India has a common 
background of culture, I dreamed that all the world, with 
its various nations and races, might some day live and 
move in cultural unity. So first of ail I joined my country- 
men in the fight for svaraj, or self-rule. For I realized 
that world unity depended on mutual freedom and respect. 
We saw we couldn't get rid of British rule until we had 
first got rid of our economic slavery. So in 1902 we strove 
for svadesi, or home industry. We vowed hand on heart 
not to sell our souls to the luxury of the West, but to keep 
happy with the khaddar, or coarse cotton cloth spun and 
woven in our native land. Encouraged by Rabindra Nath 
Tagore, I opened a svadesi store, and became Secretary of 
Industrial Exhibits in Calcutta. I even sailed to London, 
to establish there a market for our goods. But at that 
time I was young and inexperienced. The big British 
capitalists soon killed my little business." 

"What then?" 

"I began to give lectures on India, and present our 
classic dramas, such as Kalidasa's masterpiece Sakuntala 


and Sudraka's The Little Clay Cart. Also Tagore's lyrical 
plays, and Savitri, an adaptation of my own. Here was a 
chance for me to help India and advance world unity at 
the same time. In the field of culture, at least, the British 
were approachable. So in 1910 I founded my Indian Art 
and Drama Society/ which in 1912 became The Union 
of East and West/ I laid down the rule that all contro- 
versy whether political or religious must be avoided. My 
society was like a green bamboo. It could be made into 
a flute of praise, but not a stick of censure/* 

"But what brought you to America?" 

"In 1920 1 met Tagore in London. He told me America 
was wonderful, and urged me to go there with him. I 
scraped up all my money and went. I was now convinced 
that the stage was the most effective way of presenting 
truth. I engaged the Garrick Theatre and put on one of 
Tagore's plays. Alas, I lost eight thousand dollars. But 
the cultural success was worth it! Then I got permission 
through Margaret Anglin to use the Frazee Theatre free. 
Later I said to myself, Look at all the church auditoriums 
going to waste on weekdays! I went to John Haynes 
Holmes. He allowed me to give in his newly recon- 
structed church building two performances of Buddha, 
adapted from Edwin Arnold's Light of Asia. Likewise, 
William Norman Guthrie let me use the auditorium of 
St. Mark's in the Bouwerie, and Rabbi Wise put the hall 
of the Free Synagogue at my disposal." 

"How did you manage the stage settings?" 

"Well, I came to realize that such accessories only 
obscure the profound message of the play. So bit by bit 
I gave them up, till I surpassed Ben Greet in this direc- 
tion. Sometimes I even gave up costumes. But costumes 
in a garden make the best effect. I once produced a play 
in George Gray Barnard's Cloister." 

"But when did you start the Threefold Movement?" 


"It came about in this way. In 1924 I met Charles 
Frederick Weller, who was running the 'League of Neigh- 
bors* in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He is a great social 
worker. His aim is to help the stranger within the gates, 
whom you Americans call 'the dirty foreigners/ Weller 
and I decided to join our two movements and also create 
a third the 'Fellowship of Faiths' based on a principle 
too seldom put into practice, the principle of appreciation. 
Brotherhood is more than mere peace or tolerance, and in 
my opinion, it can be encouraged best by art by sacred 
songs, dances, and the drama. I appealed to the minis- 
ters. The response was surprising. We opened centers 
in New York, Philadelphia and Boston. Also in London 
and Dublin/* 

"Where do you get your money?" 

"Mostly from wealthy individuals. We also make a 
general appeal." 

I thanked my kind informant, and departed to study the 
literature he gave me. 

The message of the Threefold Movement is quite sim- 
ple: mutual appreciation of East and West. It stands for 
"the Realization of Peace and Brotherhood through Un- 
derstanding and Neighborliness uniting people of all 
Races, Religions, Countries, Classes and Conditions not 
merely by Preaching but by Practice by building Bridges 
of Mutual Appreciation across the Chasm of Prejudice/* 
It has "no creed to 'put over/ no institution. It does not 
seek to change or weaken anyone's traditions or convic- 
tions. It enables individuals and groups to enlarge their 
own souls by appreciating unfamiliar neighbors through- 
out the world. By understanding and serving his country 
as a whole, a citizen becomes more useful to his native 
town. Similarly, an American Christian will the better 
serve his own nation and his church by also appreciating 
the people of other creeds and countries/* Both National 


Prosperity and International Peace are essentially spiritual. 
The Threefold Movement seeks to develop a conscious- 
ness of unity adequate to the jacf of unity created by 
modern means of communication. 

The methods of the Threefold Movement are likewise 
patent to the Western mind. The organization is federal 
and democratic, including ''Committees of One Hundred*' 
in fourteen cities of nine countries, namely, New York, 
Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore, Chicago, 
London, Dublin, Paris, Geneva, The Hague, Berlin, 
Peking and Calcutta. At present the main center is in 
New York where the general executives, Mr. and Mrs. 
Welier and Mr. Das Gupta, carry on their work. The 
Rev. Robert Norwood, D.D., is the president of the New 
York Committee, while the chairmen of other committees 
are, for example, the Rev. Joseph Fort Newton, D.D., in 
Philadelphia, and Sir Francis Younghusband in London. 

This organization seeks to work with others without 
overlapping or competition. It is not a Hindu sect, and 
it has no cult. It presents its message through settlements, 
churches, colleges, the Young Men's Christian Association 
and similar institutions. "It is not a machine but a move- 
ment." Its publications include bulletins, reports, Mes- 
sages, newspaper contributions, and a bound book by Dr. 
Alfred W. Martin, entitled The Fellowship of Faiths. For 
one of the Messages Das Gupta has compiled a "Fellow- 
ship of Worship which includes prayers, hymns and 
poems selected and adapted from Western poets and the 
scriptures of the world. For example, one hymn is 
"Akbar's Dream,*' a paraphrase of Tennyson's poem by 
Will Hayes. It begins: 

Of each fair plant the choicest blooms I scan, 
For of the garden of the King I'm free 

To wreathe a crown for every Mussalman, 
Brahman and Buddhist, Christian and Parsee. 


Another method of work is the production of classical 
plays of the Orient, such as the Hindu Sacrifice by Tagore, 
with Hindu music and dancing, and The Cnmson Camel- 
lia, a Japanese drama acted in English by Japanese players, 
with Japanese music. Exhibitions of Eastern arts and 
crafts have been organized in England and America, and 
neighborhood service has been rendered to needy individ- 
uals, especially bewildered foreigners. 

In four years, meetings have been held on an average of 
about one a day, with a total attendance of about 100,000. 
These meetings include select dinners, mass meetings, 
festivals and popular lectures such as "Pictures of Hindu 
Life" by Dhan Gopal Mukerji, and "Glimpses of Chinese 
Manners and Customs" by Dr. Inming C. Suez, the Chi- 
nese Consul General. In Chester, Pennsylvania, under the 
auspices of the League of Neighbors, a large hall, deco- 
rated with flags of many nations, was filled with peqple 
of various communities in picturesque national costumes. 
An outstanding annual event is "Peace Week," observed 
in May with large cosmopolitan gatherings. 

In London, England, one of the meetings of the Fellow- 
ship of Faiths gathered together in common "Tributes to 
Christianity" notable representatives of eight different 
faiths, including: 

1. Dr. A. D. Jilla, a Zoroastrian 

2. Abdul Majid, a Muslim 

3. the Maharajadhiraja Bahadur of Burdwan, a Hindu 

4. the Hon. Dr. W. A. de Silva, a Buddhist 

5. Sir A. Conan Doyle, a Spiritualist 

6. Rabbi Moses Gaster, a Jew 

7. Dr. Annie Besant, a Theosophist, and 

8. Dr. F. W. Norwood, a Christian 

The intellectual character of the Threefold Movement 
may well be described by selecting a few of the statements 
purporting to express what the Movement "has learned": 


The real conflict is not between France and Germany, or East 
and West, or between any other nations, but between the forward- 
moving idealists in each country and their own backward-looking 

Culture is a potent means of unifying people of divergent 
races, languages and religions as illustrated in the cultural unity 
... of the peoples of India . . . who differ extremely in religion, 
race and language. 

Unity cannot be achieved through enforced or attempted uni- 
formity. Increasing differentiation is God's and nature's way of 
life. Each must cherish that consciousness of unity which is 
enriched by free variety and differences. 

Consciousness is the determinant of external facts and forces. 
The internal, the unseen, the mental-emotional-spiritual faculties 
in every man enable him to create anything be can conceive and 
hold faithfully in consciousness not only personal health and 
prosperity but social relationships and conditions, local, national 
and international. 

The International School of Vedic and Allied Research, 
if not so demonstrative at present as the Threefold Move- 
ment, is perhaps even more venturesome in its ideal, which 
is nothing less than complete Western appreciation of 
Aryan culture. Its motives are the desires of Easterners 
to promote their ancient culture in the West, and the 
desires of Westerners to enlarge their vision and profit by 
the culture of the East. Its methods are purely academic. 
The Director is Pandit Jagadish Chandra Chatterji, and the 
Secretary Dr. George C O. Haas, an American Sanskrit 
scholar with a deep appreciation of Hinduism. 

The pandit and his co-worker feel that the truths of 
Hinduism and other eastern systems of thought have not 
had a fair chance in the West. Until now Hinduism, for 
example, has crept in unbidden, and masked by such 
movements as Theosophy and New Thought. Or it has 
been stored away in American Hindu cults such as Ve- 
danta and Yogoda that have only a weak connection with 


the dominant concerns of the West as a whole. Accord- 
ingly, these scholars are adopting methods calculated to 
weave Hindu ideals into the very fabric of Western cul- 
ture and education. 

In the mind of the West until now, they say, Hindu 
notions have been rare and curious specimens from a 
strange land, carefully labelled and stowed away in libra- 
ries by Western scholars, many of whom have never been 
to the East nor understood the meaning of the concepts 
they handle. Accordingly, the aim of the friends of 
Eastern culture must be to furnish Western universities 
with genuine professors of Aryan learning, that is, schol- 
ars who shall be able to present Eastern learning from the 
standpoint of the East. 

So Pandit Chatterji and his colleagues have created the 
International School of Vedic and Allied Research, with 
centers in America, Europe and India. The Executive 
Council of the American Section is composed of well- 
known university men such as John Dewey, John H. 
Finley, Stephen R Duggan, Paul Munroe, and William E. 
Hocking. Its president is Charles Rockwell Lanman, Pro- 
fessor Emeritus of Sanskrit, Harvard University. The 
president of the British Section is the Marquess of Zetland, 
while the temporary president of the All-India Committee 
is Mr. M. R. Jayakar. 

The Director of the whole School, of course, is Pandit 
Chatterji. The title of pandit proclaims him a Hindu 
Sanskrit scholar of the ancient orthodox way. He studied 
in the Government Sanskrit College, Calcutta, and ob- 
tained from the Bharata Dharma Maha-Mandala, or All- 
India Religious Association, Benares, the title of Vidya- 
Varidhi, which means Ocean of Learning. He received a 
degree also at Cambridge University, England. He was 
formerly Director of Oriental Research and Archaeology of 
Kashmir, and Chief of the Department of Religious Ad- 


ministration and Education of Baroda. Finally, he is the 
author of several books, including Hindu Realism, which 
presents the metaphysk of the Nyaya-Vaisesika School in 
a form intelligible to the modern reader. 

In support of its position that the mutually comple- 
mentary nature of the cultures of East and West is of 
vital and practical interest, the School has announced four 
definite aims: 

1. The establishment of educational relations and exchange 
scholarships as between the universities of America, Europe and 
the East, especially India. 

2. The development of a wider interest in the languages and 
literatures of Vedic origin and affinity as an aid to general culture 
and in particular to humanistic studies. 

3. Systematic studies in Vedic, Indo-European (Aryan), 
Sumerian, Semitic, Hittite and other "West- Asiatic" and allied 
subjects, in the light of the latest archaeological discoveries. 

4. Continued archaeological research in Armenia and other 
places where such discoveries have already been made or may be 
made in the future. 

A special department corresponds to each of these aims. 

1. The Department of Educational Exchange and Re- 
lations aims to equip both Easterners and Westerners with 
Eastern lore. Western universities that at present do not 
offer courses in Oriental studies will be urged to do so, 
those that do offer them will be requested to include them 
in general courses for the Bachelor of Arts degree, while 
those that go this far will be encouraged to prepare their 
teachers to impart Eastern culture with a sympathetic un- 

Hindu students will come to the West to study Western 
science, sociology and methods of research with a view to 
making an accurate study of Hindu thought from an ap- 
preciative standpoint. To this end an Indian University 
is being planned for America, and another for Europe. 
Western students will be sent to India to study Hinduism 


in 'living contact with Hindu scholars." To this end an 
American University is being planned for India "like the 
American universities at Peking, Cairo and other centers 
in the Orient/* This means that the funds and teachers 
will come chiefly from America. The International School's 
American university in India "is to be housed in the well- 
known palatial building known as Radha Vilas, situated 
directly on the banks of the Ganges, opposite the palace 
of the Maharaja of Benares and close to the Benares 
Hindu University/' 

2. The Department of Vedic, Indie and Indo-European 
Studies and Research aims to bring before the public eye 
in the West the whole mass of Hindu lore in all its orig- 
inal garb and meaning. To this end many massive en- 
cyclopedic works will be produced, and a special effort 
made to exhibit Hindu philosophy as the practical search 
for ct a state of unlimited bliss and enlightenment," as a 
body of doctrine in harmony with Christianity, and as 
"the fulfilment of Western thought/' Moreover, the 
School has announced three courses, which will be given 
as soon as a sufficient number of students have registered 
for them: 'Introduction to Hindu Philosophy" by Director 
Chatterji, and "Sanskrit" and "Readings in the Upani- 
shads" by Professor Haas. 

3. The Department of Allied Studies and Research 
aims to make a detailed investigation of the possible 
points of connection between the Hindu Aryans and the 
more Western races like the Semites. Why, for example, 
do the childhood stories of Krishna and Christ have so 
much in common miraculous birth, slaughter of the in- 
nocents, and so on? 

4. The Department of Archaeological Research aims 
merely to carry on the field work required by the third 

The School will include a bureau for supplying infor- 


mation about the East, and also a reference library. Two 
numbers of its quarterly Journal have already appeared, 
published by the India Institute Press, Times Building, 
New York, where the School has its main office. "All 
persons who are interested in the work of the School and 
desire to participate in its benefits, while at the same time 
assisting it in carrying out its plans, are invited to become 
members of the India Institute." 

Many of the proposals that are to be realized in the 
School were advanced by Professor Lanman in his presi- 
dential address before the American Oriental Society in 
1920. The following quotation will give in a nutshell the 
attitude of the Eastern and Western promoters of this and 
similar institutions supporting the advance of Hinduism 
in America: 

The business of us Orientalists is something that is in vital 
relation with urgent practical and political needs. The work 
calls for co-operation, and above all things else, for co-operation 
in a spirit of mutual sympathy and teachableness. . . . India with 
her great learning is eager to adopt modern methods to make 
that learning available to her own sons and to us, and is ready 
to join hands with us of the West in order to make her spiritual 
heritage enrich our too hurried life. 5 

Another cultural movement is the Hindustan Associa- 
tion of America, Inc., 500 Riverside Drive, New York, 
which aims to ease the way for young Indians to come and 
study in America, and to promote Indian culture. Its de- 
clared purpose is to interpret India to America and Amer- 
ica to India. To this end, literary and social gatherings 
are arranged, bulletins 6 published, and an official monthly 
circulated, entitled The Hindustanee Student, of which the 
editor is a young Bengali by the name of Hemendra Kisore 
Rakhit. Of course, Hindustan means India, and India is 
not wholly Hindu; yet in numbers and age of culture 


the Hindus are dominant, as well as by far the most plenti- 
ful in America, so that any all-India movement, especially 
in America, is apt to be mainly Hindu, and so can be 
included in our study. 

A cultural movement similar to the Hindustan Asso- 
ciation, but working among the public at large instead of 
chiefly among students, is the India Society of America, 
Inc. The director, Hari G. Govil, whose office at present 
(1930) is in the Times Building, New York, is a Hindu 
of the Vaisya caste, and hails from the city of Bikanir in 
the country of Rajputana, West India. At the National 
Hindu University, Benares, Govil read for the Bachelor 
of Science degree, and in 1920 carne to America to enter 
the Boston Institute of Technology. Meeting difficulty 
here, he began to study electrical engineering in the Col- 
lege of the City of New York. But the need of making 
a living was so pressing that he was forced to abandon his 
technical career, and work at odd jobs including lecturing 
and manual labor. Of these two kinds of work, the lec- 
turing proved to be the more fruitful, for many Americans 
were interested in what he had to say about India. 

Thus Govil turned from the study of engineering to 
the teaching of Hindu culture. Encouraged by the grow- 
ing group of India enthusiasts, he published the first issue 
of his bimonthly Oriental Magazine in 1922. Out of the 
interest created by this magazine grew the India Society, 
founded in 1924 and incorporated in 1925. The purpose 
of this society is "to promote cultural relations between 
India and America/' and its methods also are cultural, 
for while it desires to promote Indian independence, it 
seeks to exclude all political and sectarian controversy. 
Like Jagadish Chandra Chatterji of the International School 
and Hamendra Kisore Rakhit of the Hindustan Associa- 


tion, Govll deprecates all religious propaganda whether 
Christian or Hindu on the ground that it excites animosity 
and interferes with the deeper exchange of culture which 
Is the best way of promoting freedom, peace and brother- 
hood among the nations of the world. The honorary presi- 
dent of the Society is Ananda K. Coomaraswamy; the 
president, J. T. Sunderland, D.D. The Advisory Council 
includes Upton Close (Joseph Washington Hall), Sidney 
L. Gulick, Jane Addams, Huth St. Denis and Heywood 
Broun. The record of the Society up to date may now be 
presented in its own words: 


Through its mastery of physical science, America holds the key 
to power in the world without through the knowledge of the 
inner forces, India holds the key to the world within. Just as 
America represents the highest achievement of the scientific West, 
India represents the lofty spiritual achievement of the East. 

For the unity of mankind and its fullest harmony, the intel- 
lectual and spiritual aristocracy of America and India should 
unite in an effort to attain to a more sympathetic understanding 
of each other. 

Towards this end, the India Society of America has undertaken 
to establish the first India Center in America to promote cultural 
relations between India and America. . . . 

The India Society of America was founded by Hari G. Govil 
in 1924 and sponsored by such distinguished men and women 
as Prof. Edwin R. A. Seligman, Columbia University; Oswald 
Garrison Villard, editor of The Nation; Prof. John Dewey, 
Columbia University; Prof. William R. Shepherd, Columbia 
University; Dr. Alfred W. Martin of the Society for Ethical 
Culture; Rev. Dr. John Haynes Holmes, minister of the Com- 
munity Church; and Rev. Dr. J. T. Sunderland of the Uni- 
tarian Church. . . . 

Out Object 

In 1925 the India Society was chartered under the laws of 
the State of New York as a membership corporation with the 
following purpose: 

To promote a broader and more intelligent understanding be- 


tween the peoples of India and America through the study and 
appreciation of India's art, literature, philosophy and culture; 

To disseminate a more accurate knowledge of the Hindu 
people, their lije, ideals and aspirations. 


During the five years of its existence the Society has success- 
fully carried on its work of interpreting India to America 
through various activities which may be briefly summed up as 

The Society has arranged lectures on Hindu art, literature, 
philosophy, religion, science and contemporary life of India by 
prominent authorities and leaders, among whom may be men- 
tioned: Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy, Dr. and Mrs. James H. 
Cousins, Rev. C. F. Andrews, Mme. Sarojini Naidu, Prof. S. 
Radhakrishnan, Prof. Surendra Nath Das Gupta, Pandit Jagadish 
Chandra Chatterji, Dhan Gopal Mukerji, Prof. Herbert Adams 
Gibbons, Prof. Robert Morss Lovett, Prof. Harry F. Ward, and 
Dr. Jagadisan M. Kurnarappa. 
Social Gatherings and "Receptions 

Special functions have been arranged in honor of distinguished 
visitors from India to give an opportunity to members and friends 
of the Society to make personal contact with some of the out- 
standing personalities of India. 
Art Exhibitions 

The Society, in cooperation with the Corona Mundi Inter- 
national Art Center and the American Federation of Arts, spon- 
sored the first Exhibition of Modern Hindu Paintings in New 
York City, with a lecture on Renaissance In Hindu Art, by Hari 
G. Govil, Director of the Society. Under the joint-auspices of 
the India Society and the Art Alliance of America, another Ex- 
hibition of Modern Hindu Art, consisting of water-color paint- 
ings by contemporary artists of India and brought by Dr. Jajnes 
H. Cousins, was arranged at the Art Center, accompanied by 
lectures on The Art and Culture of India, by Dr. James H. 
Cousins. The Society also introduced to American art lovers, the 
Exhibition of Heerameneck Collection of Rare Asiatic Art at the 
American Art Galleries with an illustrated lecture on The Art 
of India, by Dr. Ananda Coomaraswamy, Hon. President of the 
India Society. 

The Society represented India at the First Oriental Exposition 


held In New York Qty In 1927-1928 and arranged an India 

Hindu Pilms 

With the cooperation of the India Society, the premiere show- 
ing of The Light of Asia, produced in India by an all-Hindu 
cast and portraying the life of Buddha, was given at Carnegie 
Hal! by the Film Arts Guild. 

Shiraz, another film made in India with an all-Hindu cast re- 
counting the romantic tale of the creation of the world-famous 
Taj Mahal, was also presented with the cooperation of the India 

The Society arranged India programs of lectures and musical 
recitals over the broadcasting stations WEAF and WJZ . . . 
station WGL . . . and other stations. . . . More than thirty pro- 
grams have been broadcast. . . . 

The Society has published informative literature on India for 
free distribution among members, public libraries and educational 
institutions. The following monographs . . . may be secured by 
writing to the Secretary: India and America by Dr. Ananda 
Coomaraswamy, The Marriage of East and West by Claude Brag- 
don, The Western Discovery of the Orient by Dr. Louise M. 
Keuffner Avery, India's Place in the World's Civilization by J. T. 
Sunderland, East and West by Rabindranath Tagore. 

The Society has a selected collection of books on India and 
Asia available to members. New books are constantly being 
added. The Society has presented significant books imported 
from India to the important libraries in America. 
First India Conference of America 

As an outstanding achievement, the Society organized the First 
India Conference of America, held in New York Qty during the 
three weeks from October 4th to November 5th, 1928, to present 
a comprehensive survey of India's life and thought, art and 
culture. The Conference opened with the First Exhibition of 
Modern Hindu Paintings. A recital of Hindu instrumental and 
vocal music was included in the program. More than 50 lectures 
were delivered from the platform and more than 25 over the 
radio. The Conference aroused great interest and received much 
favorable comment in the press. Many prominent speakers from 


India and America participated. Mme. Sarojini Naidu, co-worker 
of Mahatma Gandhi and formerly president of the Indian Na- 
tional Congress, made her first New York public appearance at 
the Conference. 


As the outcome of the round-table discussions of the First India 
Conference of America, it was decided at the annual meeting held 
in January, 1929, that in view of the growing interest in India's 
art and culture and in the work of the India Society, definite steps 
be taken to establish ... the India Center, where all the activities 
of the India Society will be concentrated. 
Endowment Fund 

In line with this general resolution of opening a Hindu Center 
for the cultivation of cultural relations between India and the 
United States it was decided to raise an Endowment Fund of 
$300,000 in India and America to finance the purchase of the 
building and to create a Permanent Endowment Fund to sustain 
the work and enlarge the program of the Society. 


The six-story building at 334 Riverside Drive, near 106th 
Street, New York City, has been purchased for the India Center. 
The location of the building is ideal in every respect. 


After thorough alterations, for which Frederick Kiesler, the 
noted Viennese architect, has been engaged, the premises of the 
India Center will provide the following facilities: 

(a) for holding lectures and other functions. 

(b) to present Hindu films to depict a true picture of the life 
and customs of India. Arrangements are being made to 
import Hindu films directly from India for this purpose. 

(c) Hindu dramas and musical recitals will be presented oc- 
casionally. Negotiations are being made to invite a group 
of Hindu musicians from India to demonstrate this art of 
India that is so little known in this country. 

Art Gallery 

There will be a permanent exhibition of the contemporary and 
classical art of India paintings, sculpture, wood-carving, metal- 
works and bronzes, textiles and prints, and other handicrafts of 
India. Parts of this exhibition will be circulated all over the 
country through important art centers. 


Conference Rooms and Lounge 

These will provide all the facilities of a social and intellectual 
center for the members and friends of the Society. 
Library and Reading Room 

The Center will contain a comprehensive reference library of 
books on India and Asia. . . . Magazines and newspapers from 
India, Asia and Europe will also be made available. 
Studio Apartments 

The Center will also provide living-quarters through its six 
one-room apartments, equipped with all modern facilities. . . . 
Visiting professors, scholars and business men, as well as tourists 
from India, will find an ideal home at the India Center. 

A well-appointed eating-place will be opened in the building, 
where both American and Hindu dishes will be served. 
International Institute of Hindu and Buddhist Culture 

The purpose of the Institute will be: (a) To coordinate the 
activities of the various learned societies and institutions all over 
the world in the study and appreciation of India's culture; (b) 
To provide for scholarships and fellowships for exchange of pro- 
fessors and scholars between India and America; (c) To arrange, 
in cooperation with other institutions, courses of study in Hindu 
and Buddhist art, literature, philosophy, science and history; (d) 
To encourage the study of Hindu and Buddhist culture in the 
universities of America. 
American Cultural Expedition to India 

Members of the Society have often approached the Director 
with the suggestion of conducting a party of American friends 
to the heart of India and to interpret her life and thought. A 
group of more than a dozen is already formed as the nucleus of 
the party. In order to make the party comprehensive in its 
interests, it has been decided to include a few more members 
such as artists, writers, journalists, photographers and students 
and professors who are capable and willing to approach India 
with an unbiased mind. The party is expected to start in No- 
vember, 1930, for a period of from six to eight months. 

This "Passage to India" would mean a tour round the world 
going via Europe and returning via the Pacific. The party will 
visit the various cultural centers in India such as Tagore's Inter- 
national University at Shantiniketan, Gandhi's Satyagrah Ashrama 
at Sabarmati, Bose's Science Institute, Calcutta, Brahma- Vidya 


Asharam at Adyar, Benares and other important cities and historic 
sites of India. 

The tour will be conducted by Hari G. Govil with the co- 
operation and supervision of the American Express Company. 

This tour will be similar to the fourth Far East Cul- 
tural Expedition conducted by Upton Close, leaving 
Seattle July 2, 1930, and returning to America by way of 
Siberia and Russia after having visited South America and 
the islands of the Pacific. In 1927 began Govil's new 
series of the Oriental Magazine, which includes Bertrand 
Russell, Count Keyserling, Anatole France, Rabindra Nath 
Tagore and the well-known Gandhi among its contribu- 
tors. In October 1930, will be held the Second India 
Conference of America, most probably in the new India 
Center. For the International Institute of Hindu and 
Buddhist Culture there has been arranged a series of 
lectures by Kalidas Nag, Ph.D., Secretary of the Greater 
India Society, Calcutta, an institution very much like the 
India Society of America; A. E. (Charles Russell), the 
Irish poet; T. L. Vaswani, M.A., Principal of the Na- 
tional University in Karachi; V. R. Kokatnur, Ph.D., a 
Hindu chemist in New York; Felix Valyi, a Swiss writer; 
A. K. Coomaraswamy, and H. G. Govil. 

Representing Indian nationalism in its political aspect 
is the American branch of the Indian National Congress, 
called the India Freedom Foundation, of which the Di- 
rector is S. N. Ghose, whose office is at 31 Union Square, 
New York. Just how much political propaganda may lie 
hidden in other Hindu movements in America is from the 
nature of the case hard to telL I have discovered none, 
and have made no attempt to do so. But whatever may 
be the influence of Indian political leaders on these move- 
ments, there is naturally at this rime of political crisis in 


India a very sensitive national consciousness among In- 
dians in America. 


As early as 1886, a certain Mr. Joshee 7 lectured before 
Theosophical societies in America. How learned or 
scholarly he was I do not know, but he is the first Hindu 
teacher in America of whom I have record. In 1905, 
about twenty years later, Paul Ramanathan, who was not 
a Christian although his first name was Paul, delivered 
a lecture on "The Spirit of the East contrasted with the 
Spirit of the West" at the BrooklynJnstitute of Arts and 

Two years previous to this came Swami Rama Tiratha, 
a Brahman from the Panjab, about whom we have copious 
information. He arrived at San Francisco at the dose of 
the year 1903. As the steamer reached the harbor, he 
was standing on deck calm and luminous in his flame- 
colored robe, amid the surrounding hustle and bustle of 
landing. No one would have taken him for the university 
professor he was a teacher of mathematics, if the truth 
be told. 

"Where is your luggage?" inquired an American fellow- 

"Rama keeps as much as he can carry himself," was 
the serene reply. 

"Have you any money?" 


"Are you landing here?" 


"Then you must have some friends to help you." 

"Yes, there is one." 

"Who is he?" 

"You!" breathed Rama, touching his companion's 


An electric touch that produced results. This man took 
care of the swami during his whole stay in America, and 
later wrote of him: "He is a torch of knowledge hailing 
from the Himalayas. Fire cannot burn him, steel cannot 
cut him. Tears of ecstasy flow from his eyes, and his very 
presence gives new life/ 1 8 

Such was Swami Rama. His message was simple, but 
deep, for his soul was fed by Christian love and service 
as well as by the Hindu feeling and conviction, "I am 
God/' In Forman Christian College, Lahore, he con- 
sumed his body at the altar of Western learning, and then 
grew strong and robust on the diet of Vedanta assurance 
and yoga body building. To India his message was patri- 
otism and reason, the abolition of caste and the adoption 
of modern education. 

Accept not a religion because it is the oldest. . . . The latest 
innovation, if it can stand the test of Reason, is as good as the 
fresh rose, bedecked with sparkling dew. . . . 

Accept ... a religion on its own merits. Examine it your- 
self. Sift it. 

Renunciation does not require you to go into the . . . forests 
... to strip yourself of all clothing. ... To realize God, have 
the Sannyasa spirit, i. e., entire renunciation of self-interest, 
making the little self absolutely one with the great self of Mother 

To America his message was peace, and confidence in 
the self as God. It is useless to send Christian missionaries 
to India, he insisted. Just let the Hindu come to America 
for modern education, and then return. 

Cultivate peace of mind, fill your min J with pure thoughts, 
and nobody can set himself against you. That is the Law. . . . 

Have you a doubt as to your own Divine Self? You had 
better a bullet in your heart than a doubt there. . . . The whole 
Universe serves one as his body, when he feels the Universal 
Soul as his very Self. 10 

In all and above all, Rama Tiratha was a universal 


Rama brings you a religion which is found in the streets . . . 
written upon the leaves . . . murmured by the brooks . . . 
whispered in the winds . . . throbbing in your own veins and 
arteries; a religion which concerns your business and bosom; 
a religion which you have not to practice by going into a par- 
ticular church only; a religion which you have to practice and 
live in your everyday life, about your hearth and in your dining 
room, everywhere you have to live that religion. 11 

# # * 

After Swami Rama, came Rabindra Nath Tagore, 12 an- 
other uniter of East and West, who made flying trips to 
the United States in 1910, 1917 and 1921. He expects to 
come again soon. Poet of joy and love and play, a man 
of ceaseless activity and variety of effort, shifting back and 
forth like Tolstoy from public to private life, plunging 
through political and social reform into education and 
religious peace, observant and critical, sweeping in praise 
or blame, blurred by popularity, rejected in his native 
province of Bengal, but accepted by the world, a champion 
of freedom for women and for subject races, Tagore him- 
self is his message. 

The poet is no exact philosopher his mind is too sen- 
timental and glancing. Nor is he bound by Hindu or 
Christian tradition. He once repelled the suggestion that 
he had been directly influenced by Christian thought when 
he wrote Gitanjalz by saying that he had never read the 
Bible. In similar vein, he once dubbed the ordinary Hindu 
doctrine of transmigration a "fairy-tale." And this from 
a Brahman! He frowns alike on the methods of Christian 
missions, and the custom of Hindu caste. Tagore is just 
Tagore, and his message is no more strictly Hindu than 

his life. 

* * * 

In 1909, the year before Tagore's first visit, another 
Brahman received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 
sociology at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. His 


name was Shridhar Venkatesh Ketkar, and he hailed from 
a western part of India called Maharastra. Encouraged 
by the favorable reception of his dissertation on Hindu 
caste, he wrote another book called Hinduism: its Forma- 
tion and Future. He did it by himself, without the critical 
help of his teachers. 

This Brahman does not preach to America he just de- 
scribes the future of Hinduism. Hitherto it has regarded 
cultured Westerners as Barbarians like the outcastes and 
the jungle tribes. From now on, however, it will take 
them into its fold. Under the pressure of Islam and 
Christianity it will develop a national brotherhood of 
"Indianism" without forming a new religion. On this 
basis, it will proceed to conquer the world with its cul- 
ture. 'The work for the future for Hinduism to perform 
is the creation of a manava-dharma, a common tradition 
for the whole world." 13 Of this common tradition, the 
Brahmans will be the priests. Already they are virtually 
world-teachers their universal Dbarma, or eternal re- 
ligion, is the basis for all particular cults or temporal 
religions such as Hindu sectarian devotion and Christian- 
ity. But their teaching will not be universally accepted 
until the West prepares itself intellectually to appreciate 
the higher philosophy of the Hindus. 

# # # 

After Shridhar Venkatesh Ketkar the sociologist, came 
Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan the philosopher, and in 1926 
delivered the Haskell Lectures 14 in the University of Chi- 
cago. He spoke somewhat as a preacher proclaiming a 
gospel, somewhat as a lawyer defending a case. The 
Hinduism he advocated was not the orthodox Hinduism' 
of the pandits, nor yet the reformed Hinduism of the 
Brahma Samaj, but something between the two. He 
seemed to be interpreting the substance of dassic Hindu- 


Ism according to certain familiar conceptions of Christian- 
ity and Western idealism. 

In his lectures the doctrine of rebirth is scarcely men- 
tioned, while karma is presented as the "embodiment of 
the mind and will of God/' an instrument for effecting 
divine mercy and forgiveness. The sannyasi of India, that 
wandering, saintly mendicant, is pictured as a solicitous 
charity worker, whose aim is "not to free himself from the 
cares of outward life/' but to "suffer and sacrifice and die'' 
for mankind. His renunciation is not detachment from 
the world as is commonly supposed, but "attachment to 
the finite as the embodiment of the infinite. 15 Yet Radha- 
krishnan also calls the sannyasis "solitary souls who have 
not any personal attachment/' 16 

Even caste, which Tagore and the West denounce as the 
bane of Indian life, is to Radhakrishnan really a model 
for imitation, if properly understood. For there are only 
four ways of dealing with a conquered race. Three of 
these are bad: slaughter, enslavement, and absorption by 
intermarriage. Only the way of caste-organization is good, 
for this preserves individuality with peace, and prevents 
a degrading fusion of blood. But he omits the fact that 
caste did not prevent this fusion in India. Even the code 
of Manu allowed the fair Brahman to have four wives, 
one of whom could be a Sudra, or dark-skinned person. 

Amid the "flow of strife and opinions" Radhakrishnan 
finds one firm foundation for his teaching, "since every 
form of Hinduism and every stage of its growth is related 
to the common background of Vedanta." 17 In the spirit 
of universalism, the professor declares, "The Vedanta is 
not a religion, but religion itself" 18 This religion is true 
in itself ineffable, incomparable, sublime. It is not 
dogma but experience, beyond the reach of reason to con- 
demn. In brief, it is the reality of the mystics, and mystics 
ate all alike. "Judged by the characteristic religious ex- 


perience, St. John and St. Paul have not any material 
advantage over Plotinus and Sankara." 19 This ineffable 
reality is perfection, and perfection is inactive, unhistor- 
ical, unknowable. Such wise agnosticism prevents in- 
tolerance and heresy-hunting. 

To attain moksa, or salvation, in this perfection, you 
may believe anything you please, so long as you strictly 
follow certain prescribed rules of conduct, bound together 
in Dharma, or right action. Freedom comes only through 
law. For the individual this law means the four stages 
of life, in which he becomes first a student, then a house- 
holder, then a hermit, and finally a wandering beggar. 
For society this law means caste. In Hinduism, then, you 
may believe what you please, if only you do what Vedanta 

In 1926 again, the same year that Radhakrishnan lec- 
tured in the University of Chicago, Surendra Nath Das 
Gupta, his colleague in the University of Calcutta, and a 
Brahman of Bengal, delivered the Harris Lectures 20 of 
Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Like 
Radhakrishnan, he presents Hinduism as fundamentally a 
non-rational mysticism, "a view which considers reason to 
be incapable of discovering or of realizing the nature of 
ultimate truth . . . but at the same time believes in the 
certitude of some other means of arriving at it." 21 The 
* lower" mysticism is worldly and magical, but the 
"higher" is "directed to the liberation of the spirit and the 
attainment of the highest bliss/* 22 

Another Bengali Brahman, who in spite of conservative 
protests married into another caste in Hyderabad, South 
India, is Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, India's foremost woman. 


A peerless orator, once president of the Indian National 
Congress, a distinguished poetess, and a tireless worker 
in the cause of social and political freedom, she came in 
1929 at the request of the Feakins Lecture Bureau to lec- 
ture in America with the avowed purpose of interpreting 
India's womanhood and national aspiration, in order to 
weld a bond of fellowship between East and West. 

In the Fall of the same year, Harindra Nath Chatto- 
padhyaya came to America as a "cultural ambassador from 
Young India." He Is the youngest brother of Mrs. Naidu, 
and like his sister, he writes poetry that has received the 
admiration of many, including Rabindra Nath Tagore and 
Manmohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Like his sister, also, 
he toured the country under the Feakins Lecture Bureau, 
Times Building, New York. He is a musician and a play- 
wright as well as a poet, and is a vital force in the Hindu 
art renaissance. His Farewell Address at the Town Hall 
Club, April 15, 1930, was on "The New Theatre Move- 
ment In India." 

These lecturers have gone back to their work in India, 
but many of their compatriots are still in America today. 
On Hollywood Boulevard 23 in Los Angeles, Jogdesh 
Misrow, a fourth Bengali Brahman, is holding forth on 
karma and rebirth and other topics dear to the Hindu 
mind. Dhan Gopal Mukerji, likewise a Bengali Brab- 
man, lecturing here and there on Hindu drama, jungle life 
and other interesting topics for the Feakins Lecture Bu- 
reau, is telling delightful stories culled from Oriental lore, 
praising the position of Hindu women, and denouncing 
the West for its greed. Harendra Nath Maitra, a sixth 
Bengali Brahman, in his book Hinduism: the World Ideal 


offers his native culture complete as a balm for the wounds 
of the world. Says he: 

In studying Western civilization I have felt that there is some- 
thing wanting. This something India has. I can express the 
distinction in one sentence. India looks within; the West without. 
It was the uttering of the Great Teacher who is known in the 
West that the Kingdom of God is not without but within. The 
real crux is there. To find out that wtihm is the basis of India's 
civilization; and that, I boldly state, must be basis of the World- 
ideal, The West is mad for the outer. She has sought the help 
of science not to gain life, but death. . . . She must learn medi- 
tation. 24 

Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, of Ceylon, Curator of the 
Oriental Department of the Museum of Fine Art in Bos- 
ton, also looks askance at Western civilization. Opposite 
the titlepage of one of his books, called The Dance of 
Siva, is the plate of a bronze figure with two legs and four 
arms, executing a whirling, elaborate dance. The figure 
is symbolic, and replete with meaning. It is the image of 
Siva, the God of primitive, rhythmic energy, who with 
Visnu divides the honors of popular Hindu devotion. 
Says Coomaraswamy: 

Amongst the greatest of the names of Siva is Nataraja, Lord 
of Dancers, or King of Actors. The Cosmos is His theatre, there 
are many different steps in His repertory, He Himself is actor 
and audience 

"When the Actor beateth the drum 

Everybody cometh to see the show; 

When the Actor collecteth the stage properties 

He abideth alone in His happiness." 

Whatever the origins of Siva's dance, it became in time the 
clearest image of the activity of God which any art or religion 
can boast of. 35 

But the activity of God, according to the dominant 
Hindu position, is only on the surface. There is another 


and deeper phase of the divine rhythm, and this is God's 
passivity. After the dance is over, the Actor abides still 
and alone. In reality, God is the bliss of solitary repose. 
It is this passive oneness that lies in the background of 
Hindu art as India's only contribution to the world "her 
philosophy." This philosophy "is equally the gospel of 
Jesus and of Blake, Lao Tze, and Rumi but nowhere else 
has it been made the essential basis of sociology and edu- 
cation." 26 The result is Hindu society, which appears to 
many "infinitely superior to the social order which we 
know as 'modern civilization'." 27 

According to this Hindu view, the history of Western 
progress, with its achievements in science and industry, is 
nothing more than the dance of Siva, a bit of activity that 
must come to an end, an illusion that will ultimately 
vanish. 28 

However much the Brahmans in thek mature wisdom 
believed in renunciation, says Coomaraswamy, they had 
no desire "to impose the natural asceticism of age upon 
the young," and so tolerated all kinds of self assertion in 
men of lower rank. From this tolerance arose the Hindu 
social order with its reincarnation and caste. The doctrine 
of reincarnation is just "an artistic or mythological repre- 
sentation" of the fact that the souls of men vary in age, 
irrespective of the age of the body. Young souls revel in 
action, but wise old souls prefer repose. By natural law 
according to this preference, each soul is nearly always 
born into its own befitting environment, and thus becomes 
a member of a certain caste, low for the young soul, high 
for the old soul. "To those who admit the variety of age 
in human souls, this must appear to be the only true 
communism." ** 

This cooperative scheme of Hindu life, the only hope 
of the world, is now unfortunately the victim of material- 
istic competition and exploitation. 


The rapid degradation of Asia is thus an evil portent for the 
future of humanity, and for the future of that Western social 
idealism of which the beginnings are already recognizable. , . . 
There will come a time when Europe will not be able to fight 
Industrialism, because this enemy will be entrenched in Asia. . . . 
What has to be secured is the conscious cooperation of East and 
West for common ends ... for if Asia be not with Europe, she 
will be against her, and there may arise a terrible conflict, eco- 
nomic, or even armed, between an idealistic Europe and a mate- 
rialized Asia. 30 

Rama Krishna Lall is a young ''Hindu metaphysician" 
who began his lecturing career in America by utilizing 
vacation periods while studying in Cornell University, 
Ithaca, New York, from 1927 to 1929. At present (1930) 
he is delivering lectures under the Emilie Sarter Lecture 
Management, New York, some of his titles being: 'India, 
Her Virtues and Her Handicaps/* "India's Contribution 
to World Civilization," "India in Transition," 'The 
Youth Movement in India/' and "The Hindu Way of 
Life." In expounding the Hindu way of life, he passes 
over from the mere description of culture to the definite 
teaching of religion and philosophy, and is thinking of 
expanding this side of his work by starting a "Dharma 
Center" in New York. While he is an adept in pro- 
ducing illusions of mind reading and other works of 
wonder for the sake of entertainment, he does not pose 
as a supernatural seer, but presents his Hindu message on 
its own merits. 

Like many other Hindu lecturers in America, Lall is a 
product of East and West, for in his native city of Alla- 
habad in the "United Provinces," North India, he sat at 
the feet of his revered guru, or Hindu religious tutor, 
during all the years he attended the elementary school and 
the high school conducted by the American Presbyterian 
Mission. But he does not vacillate between two religious 


positions: he Is a thoroughgoing Hindu with a knowledge 
of Christianity. Later extensive travels, including sojourns 
in British Guiana and New York City, where he landed 
in America in 1924, did not shake his faith in his original 
religion and culture; and while he worships Christ as an 
outstanding moral teacher and artist in parable along with 
other "masters" of his country, he regards the intricate 
theories and exclusive claims of the intolerant sort of mis- 
sionaries as a bit of hypocrisy. The main source of re- 
ligious illumination, he feels, Is his own India, which has 
contributed much in the past, including the lure which led 
to the discovery of America, and will contribute more in 
the future along the spiritual line. 

Hari Das Mazumdar, another young Hindu, who in 
1928 received a fellowship in Sociology in the University 
of Wisconsin, at Madison, Wisconsin, is also lecturing in 
America, and has written a book entitled Gandhi the 

Shri Vishwanath Keskar, like Shridhar Venkatesh Ket- 
kar, is a Brahman from Maharastra. He came to America 
in October, 1929, and at present (1930) is staying at the 
Roerich Museum (a huge building including apartments) , 
Riverside Drive and 103rd Street, New York. Here he 
received me in the quiet manner of the classic East, and 
kindly gave me his story, which I now set down. While 
he is a university man, he represents no university or 
academic institution. He speaks only for himself, lives 
on private funds, and demands no fees for his lectures. 

Graduating from the Poona College of the Bombay 
University, he spent five years at the National Hindu Uni- 
versity at Benares teaching philosophy of East and West. 


But studying rather than teaching was his main interest 
at that time. So he left Benares and wandered about the 
country, visiting all the universities in India and Burma. 
Then feeling the urge to develop a more profound inner 
life, he retreated to the lofty Himalayas, where he engaged 
in private meditation for a period of about five years. 
This part of his life must remain a closed book to the 
public. His next step was to visit a multitude of holy 
places including monasteries and secret abodes. All this 
he did to prepare himself to be an accomplished teacher 
of religion and philosophy. After filling the office of 
principal of a large high school in Poona for nine years, 
he steamed away from Bombay in April 1929, traveled in 
Europe and Britain for several months, and then came to 

Piles of manuscripts embodying the results of his re- 
searches and reflections are waiting to be printed. And 
the call is about to come, for the inner voice has sounded. 
Everything goes according to the plan of this inner voice. 
No haste, no waste. No hurry, no worry. All is calm 
and serene. One of the forthcoming books will deal with 
personal experiments on "different planes of life and mat- 
ter/* Another will describe "great teachers and masters 
who are not to be found in the schools." Another will 
go into psychoanalysis. Others will treat culture and 
civilization, the purpose of man, the fundamentals of 
education, and the problem of sex. 

In his youth Professor Keskar was a skeptic. Like Des- 
cartes he resolved to accept nothing on authority. But 
on the basis of experience and intuition he has reached a 
position of "scientific insight and religious fervor" which 
supports the following message for the world. Science is 
good and true, but limited. Art is beautifying, glorifying, 
but likewise limited. A harmonious adjustment is needed, 
and this is supplied by religion and philosophy, which are 


really one and the same. The greatest need at the present 
time is for religion as a sweet harmonizing influence, 
religion without exclusive creeds or dogmas. Every reli- 
gious cult, such as Visnuism, Sivaism, Judaism or Chris- 
tianity, has a place to fill in the cosmic Dharma, or uni- 
versal religion, which the West labels Hinduism. Vis- 
nuism contributes devotion; Sivaism, discipline; Judaism, 
law; Christianity, sacrifice; and so on. But Hinduism 
gives them all a common goal in the final bliss of super- 
material activity of soul. 

Four prepared lectures on "Spiritual Synthesis*' present 
this message. Another four lectures deal with the Bhaga- 
vad Gita, and yet another four with the philosophy of 
art. The names and places of his lectures may be illus- 
trated by the following samples. "The Message of the 
Gitef 9 at the Vedanta Society, "Christ the Master" at 
Union Theological Seminary, and "The Fundamentals of 
Spiritual Life' at the Rosicrucian Society, all in New 
York. Then "The Spirit of India*' at the Howard High 
School in Wilmington, Delaware, and "Education" at 
Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania. Professor Kesker ex- 
pects to lecture also before Rotary Clubs and Ethical Cul- 
ture and Psychical Research societies. 

"Super Akasha Yogi Wassan" is the self-styled name 
of an uneducated Panjabi who seeks to convince gaping 
crowds of the superior merits of a cultivated solar- 
plexus. 31 Mr. Wassan's title alone is a sufficient index 
to the character of his teaching. To the great Sankara, 
Akasa signified the ultimate reality or bliss. Our yogi is 
just above this ultimate! There are a few other popular 
Hindu teachers lecturing here and there in America. K. 
D. Shastri is the author of a book entitled Hindu Sexology 
in Spiritual Development, published by a certain Indo- 
Aryan Publishing Company in Minneapolis in 1917, and 


R. S. Gherwal is responsible for the book The Great Mas- 
ten of the Himalayas, published in 1927 at Great Falls, 
Montana, by a firm called The Public Drug Company. 
Then there are certain very popular Hindu lecturers in- 
deed, the famous Hindu "fakirs" who sometimes make a 
living on the American vaudeville stage by "mind-read- 
ing" or other "wonder-working" stunts. 32 

However, popular lectures on Hinduism, especially in 
its practical aspects, are not confined to Hindus. A num- 
ber of Americans have also learned the art. "Oom the 
Omnipotent" is the self-styled Hindu name of Peter A. 
Bernard, of New York City and Nyack, New York. 
According to Charles Wright Ferguson, 33 he was formerly 
a professional baseball player. Swami Yogananda says 
"Oom" was once a barber, has been to India, does not 
pose as a native Hindu, and teaches hatha-yoga and a bit 
of the tantra practice. "Prince Ram Maharaj" S4 is an- 
other American "Hindu," who claims to have come from 
Tibet after enduring twenty years of hardship attending 
his initiation into Hinduism. He has announced his in- 
tention of establishing a Hindu center in Los Angeles. 
Baba Bharati also came from Tibet to Los Angeles. The 
"Great Masters" of the Theosophical Society likewise live 
in Tibet. Perhaps some day they too will come to Los 

These Americans often go so far as to establish novel 
Hindu cults as in the case of Yogi Ramacharaka. 35 Ameri- 
ca seems to be an exceedingly fertile field for the sowing 
of Hinduism. And we must remember that certain Ameri- 
cans, by virtue of their complexion, are naturally equipped 
to play the role of a popular Hindu teacher. We have 
heard of Hindu "fakirs" let us now turn our attention 
to Hindu "fakes." 



Swami Yogananda tells me that "Prem Lai Adoris," 
whatever else he may be, Is not a Hindu. Let us take 
another case. The astute Joe Downing 36 of coal-black 
visage and some small town in Illinois appeared in 1918 
on Keith's vaudeville circuit under the name of "Joveddah 
de Raja/' an opulent nomenclature smacking of Roman 
divinity, French nobility and Hindu royalty all in one. 
With his wife, "Princess Olga," he did a "mind-reading" 
act. Circulating in the audience, for example, he would 
take a gentleman's ten-dollar bill, look at it intently, and 
then miraculously pass on its serial number to Princess 
Olga on the stage, who would at once proclaim it to 
the mystified onlookers. The couple worked hard at this 
trick, practicing their code on motor-car license plates 
while traveling. 

In 1926 the princely Joveddah, now a profound "phi- 
losopher and psychologist," began broadcasting words of 
Oriental comfort and wisdom from radio stations in New 
York and environs, such as WHN, WPCH and WMCA. 
In one year he received over eighty thousand letters from 
wistful and eager admirers. No doubt he had genius. 
He charged fifty dollars for six lessons by correspondence 
or four lectures delivered in person. He engaged a pri- 
vate secretary a mere youth in college to conduct the 
correspondence course and answer the yearning letters. 
Taking his apprentice to Brentano's bookstore, Joveddah 
bought him eighty dollars worth of cheap books on love, 
marriage and fortune telling, and bade him go to work. 
The boy worked with a will, knowing full well that he 
held in his hands the fate of many a tender maiden. Soon 
the master was prosperous, and the apprentice content 
with his share of the loot. Alas! The police and the 
prince did not see eye to eye in what constituted public 
welfare, and the prince had to move. 


Is Joveddah de Raja a part of American Hinduism? In 
a sense. To niany Americans, his dusky visage and ori- 
ental gear hold just as much of the "unfathomable mystery 
of the East" as if he were the genuine article. Like certain 
real Hindus, he puts a price on his lessons, and makes 
supernatural claims. Indeed, the supernatural runs like a 
thread through the Hindu fabric from beginning to end. Pro- 
fessor Surendra Nath Das Gupta of the University of Cal- 
cutta calls this the "lower" mysticism, defined as "an 
obscure and supernatural method by which in some un- 
accountable manner, miraculous feats may be performed 
or physical advantages reaped. . . ." 37 No doubt there 
are thousands of more or less wealthy Americans who are 
willing to part with a considerable portion of their money 
in order to reap the advantages of this kind of mysticism. 
Since Hindu charlatans in America are not sufficiently 
numerous to supply such an enormous demand, certain 
Americans themselves have begun to enter the lucrative 
trade. But this aspect of Hinduism in America belongs 
to America rather than to Hinduism. 


Aside from the leaders of religious and cultural move- 
ments, other Hindus have immigrated to America, of 
whom the professors and students are perhaps the most 
important from the point of view of the diffusion of Hin- 
duism. It seems that the first Hindu students arrived in 
California in 1901. Certain educational societies in India 
sent six more in 1904, and by 1908 the number had risen 
to seventeen. By now they are quite plentiful, especially 
in the great universities and on the coasts. Their influ- 
ence is exerted chiefly through conversations with Amer- 
ican students and more or less informal lectures in Church 
organizations and similar institutions^ 8 



Preaching in America these days are heralds of several 
oriental cults of partly Hindu origin. Sikhism was founded 
in the fifteenth century by the saintly Guru Nanak, a 
poetic Panjabi who attempted to harmonize the Hindu 
and Muslim communities in the worship of the universal 
God. The Sikh community, composed mostly of Hindus, 
was militarized by the tenth gum, Govind Singh, in the 
face of Muslim oppression. Since then Sikhism has been 
even more decidedly Hindu than Muslim, and until re- 
cently many Sikhs counted themselves as Hindus in the 
census. In 1927, Dr. Bhagat Singh Thind (Devotee Lion 
Thind) , a Sikh from Amritsar, the chief city of the Sikhs, 
gave in New York two courses of sixty lectures each, the 
first in September in the Hotel Majestic, and the second 
in November in the Pythian Temple. His announcements 
contain his photograph, which is quite striking, and the 
following caption: 

Master Course in the Teachings of the 


Sixty Free Lectures on Divine 




Author of Divine Wisdom, Vol. I 

Psychologist, Metaphysician and Divine of Amritsar, India 

Sixty Life-Instilling Lectures on the 

Practical Realization of the 

Eternal Truth for Every-Day Life and Life Eternal, and Ever 
Increasing Prosperity and Happiness 

For Harmony without Discord, Freedom without Bond, Reality 

without Illusion, Satisfaction without Striving, Love without 

Longing, and Life without Death 


As might be expected, he preaches the Hindu Dharma 
of karma and rebirth, saying, "You Choose Your Own 
Parents/' Like the Hindu yogi, he teaches "Scientific 
Breathing/* and gives a lecture on "Jazz Mania: Its 
Cause and Cure and the Psychology of Relaxation." He 
seems to accept the tantra doctrine of the seven planes of 
the Kundalini in announcing this title: * 'Seven Centres 
Is It Dangerous to Open Them?'* He also presents the 
famous Om, or Aum, "The Sacred Hum of the Universe." 
Like the Hindu he speaks of cycles of existence, and puts 
special emphasis on food and fasting. In his lecture, 
"Can We Talk with the 'Dead' and How?" he comes into 
contact with spiritualism, while in treating autosuggestion, 
the ductless glands and the science of colors, he comes 
into line with modern psychology. 

Like Swami Yogananda and other Hindu preachers, he 
conducts healing meetings, gives Christ an occult inter- 
pretation, believes in the "Transmutation and Conquest 
of Sex Energy," and proclaims "The Highest Technique 
of Concentration, Meditation and Spiritualization of Body, 
Mind and Soul." He seems to be making a deliberate 
attempt to Ajnericanize his teaching, at least in style. The 
main center of the Sikh movement in America is some- 
where in California, as might be expected, since Sikh 
immigrants are located there, and California is very re- 
ceptive to new cults. There is also a Sikh center in Van- 
couver, British Columbia, called the "Khalsa Diwan 

Buddhist propaganda is gently carried on from the 
"Ceylon and India Inn" at 148 West 49th Street, New 
York, which sells the magazine, the Maha-Bodhi and the 
United Buddhist World, a Monthly Journal of Interna- 
tional Buddhist Brotherhood, founded thirty-seven years 


ago by Anagarika H. Dharmapala, and still edited by him. 
On the outside of the issue for December, 1928 was pasted 
a subscription notice in red ink, with the appeal, "We 
want your support to Spread the Dharma." The present 
Buddhist preacher of the Maha Bodhi Society in New 
York is the Venerable Thera P. Vajiranana, who lectures 
on such topics as "Right Mindfuiness," and "The Buddha 
on Theocracy." 

Early in 1929 the Venerable Lord Abbott Tai Hsu, a 
fairly young and progressive Buddhist of the Mahayana f 
or more comprehensive sect, visited New York, making 
his center of operations the Chinese Institute, at 119 West 
57th Street. He said he was traveling in the interest of 
universal peace and happiness to find the elements of unity 
that would integrate the various cultures of the world. 
Buddhism, he declared, is unfortunately misunderstood in 
the West, else it would be accepted as the universal, per- 
fectly scientific and philosophic religion. It teaches kcwma, 
or the unchangeable law of cause and effect in the moral 
as well as the corporeal realm, and the ideal of happiness 
in the best possible environment, to be won by the humane 
method of non-injury. In short, says the abbott, Buddhism 
gives complete intuitive wisdom for life. In achieving 
world happiness, the first step is to unite all Buddhist 
sects, and then unite Buddhism with other religions. Even 
now plans are afoot for an "International Institute for the 
Study of Buddhism." 

In 1901 there appeared in America a certain preacher 
who called himself Ottoman Zar-Adusht Hannish, and 
claimed to have come direct from Tibet and the mysteries 
of the Dalai Llama. Since this Llama is the head of the 
Buddhist order in Tibet, Mr. Hannish seems to have some 


connection with Buddhism, and hence with Hinduism. 
Someone suspected he was once a typesetter on the Mount 
Deseret News in Salt Lake City. 39 But in spite of that 
handicap, he launched his oriental movement, and with 
the help of Marie Elizabeth Ruth Hilton, the wife of Dr. 
G. W. Hilton of Lowell, Massachusetts, began to teach a 
special art of breathing and a very ethereal diet of rose 
leaves and other delicate vegetables, presumably intended 
to rid the soul of all material dross. 

This new religious leader was eclectic: he included in 
his practical instruction the daily adoration of the sun and 
the worship of Ahura Mazda, the supreme Lord of the 
Zend-Avesta, the Zoroastrian Bible. The main temple of 
this cult, called Mazdaznan, is on Lake Park Avenue, 
Chicago, a lesser one is on the Hilton lawn in Lowell, 
while ground has been consecrated for a third in Montreal, 
Canada. In 1912 the movement claimed fourteen thou- 
sand followers in thirty cities of the United States of 
America, and in Canada, South America, England, Switzer- 
land and Germany. 

One Sunday afternoon in the season of 1929-1930, I 
attended a Mazdaznan meeting in a small parlor of the 
Hotel McAlpin, Broadway at Thirty-fourth Street, New 
York. In addition to listening to a lecture, the little con- 
gregation of men and women practices relaxation of body 
and mind by means of a series of loosening exercises to 
the accompaniment of piano music and group singing. 
The jolly, lilting tunes are found in the special hymn book. 
Most of the members seem to be from Continental Europe. 
According to the "Standard Health Rules" of Mazdaznan, 
meat should be avoided, and fruits and vegetables should 
be eaten at different meals. The kind of food required 
by any individual depends on whether his "temperament 
and basic principle" is "intellectual," "spiritual" or "phys- 
ical." This classification seems to correspond to the sattva, 


rajas and tamas principles mentioned in the Bhagavad 

I noticed from the hymn book that Mazdaznan draws 
on Hinduism directly, as well as indirectly through Bud- 
dhism and Zoroastrianism. And the Hindu type of Islam 
is also a source. Since all of these religions are dualistic, 
it is only natural that Mazdaznan should be dualistic, 
making a sharp distinction between Matter and Intel- 
ligence. One article of the "Mazdaznan Confession" 

I confess all the painful in matter to be the result of obstinacy 
on the part of substance through its processes of creations and 
evolutions, declining to yield to the peaceful operations of intelli- 
gence, thus introducing repulsion and impelling resistance. 

Yet the Hindu-like monistic conviction of the identity 
of the soul with God is also prominent, as can be seen 
from the first part of the "Mazdaznan Affirmation'*: 

I am all in One individually and one in All collectively; 
I am present individually and omni-present collectively; 
I am knowing individually and omni-scient collectively; 
I am potent individually and omni-potent collectively; 

Individually I am in Part, collectively I am the Whole; 
Individually I am Di-verse, collectively I am Universe; 
Individually I am Limited, collectively I am Unlimited; 
Individually I am Begotten, collectively I Beget. 

The following selections from the "Mazdaznan Declara- 
tion of Freedom" will show its dependence on Hinduism: 

Mazdaznan declares that the lower walks of life are repetitions 
of past incarnations called into existence through processes of 
reincarnation and transmigration prompted by pre-natal influence 
and inherited tendencies which in man constitute the cause for 
contention and struggle, thereby retarding progression. 

Mazdaznan declares that the Infallible Plan of Salvation lies 
in the Application of Means of Purification leading unto Regen- 
eration, with the first step essential unto Salvation from Ancestral 


Ties through the efficacy of rhythmic Prayers and Songs breathed 
on the breath . . . filling the heretofore unclaimed tissues and 
energies with Galama, the centralizing life principle. . . . 

Mazdaznan declares to be the oldest and most comprehensive 
Educational System of Individual-Collective Thought, embracing 
as it does every Essential Truth embodied in the Aryan or Zend 
race, substantiated through Ainyahita, revealed through Zara- 
thustra, approbated and declared by Jesus, founded upon Genesis, 
and borne out by the Science of Evolution. . . . 

Whoever is interested in the Mazdaznan cult may send 
ten cents for literature to the Mazdaznan Press, P. O. Box 
1854, Los Angeles, California. 

Sufiism and Baha'iism are two other oriental cults in 
America that exhibit certain Hindu traits, and may have 
some historical connection with Hinduism through Per- 
sian Islam. Although both these movements are usually 
regarded as Muslim sects, they are considerably different 
from orthodox Islam, and perhaps more Hindu than Mus- 
lim in temper. 

Sufiism was brought to America in the Fall of 1910 by 
Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan of Baroda, India, who traveled 
in America from coast to coast until the Spring of 1912, 
when he returned to India. He passed away in 1927. The 
movement is now established in about eight centers in 
America, with the main-center at San Francisco, which is 
the place of residence of the head officer, Murshid Rabia 
A. Martin. The New York office is at 10 West 84th 
Street. The American branch of Sufiism is controlled by 
Americans, some of whom, at least, have assumed oriental 
names and titles. This esoteric cult claims to be unique 
in its openness to all truth, and its universal adaptability 
to all conditions of men in all times and places by virtue 
of its all-embracing tolerance. In view of the claims of 
Vedanta, Yogoda, Theosophy and other cults to be unique 


in their universality it seems that Sufiism shares its 
"uniqueness" with quite a number of like-minded move- 

# * # 

Baha'iism also is one of these "uniquely" universal 
movements. It is especially akin to Sufiism, because its 
founder was a Persian Muslim of the Shiite sect which in 
Persia is dominated by the Sufi movement. The Baha'i 
cult first appeared in America in 1893, when it was repre- 
sented at the Parliament of Religions at Chicago by a 
Christian missionary who had come in contact with it in 
Persia. But it began to flourish in America only after the 
advent of Abdul Baha in 1912. The present Guardian of 
the movement is Shogi Effendi, who lives at Haifa, Syria. 
He is quite young, being Abdul Baha's grandson. In the 
United States there are many Bahal centers. The secre- 
tary of the National Board has his main office at 119 West 
57th Street, New York, while a huge temple is being built 
on the shore of Lake Michigan. The New York center, 
under the leadership of Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, has formed 
"The New History Society/' which meets at the house of 
Mrs. Lewis Stuyvesant Chanler, 132 East 65th Street. 

* * # 

Now Sufiism and Baha'iism are more or less connected 
with Hinduism through Gnosticism, Neo-Platonism and 
Buddhism, all of which give evidence of Hindu teaching. 40 
In particular, it seems that the seven Neo-Platonists ex- 
pelled from Athens by the Emperor Justinian when he 
closed the Platonic Academy in 529 were welcomed to the 
Persian court by the broad-minded Nowshirwan the Just, 
the last of the Sassanian kings, 41 Moreover, we are told 
that this great patron of letters commanded Hindu pandits 
to translate many philosophical works from Sanskrit into 
Pahlavi. 42 Since the triumph of the Safawids in 1500 


brought to the Persian throne a line of Sufi saints, it is 
quite posible that Sufiism, and later Baha'iism, have been 
distinctly influenced by these Hindu works. 


Theosophy, of course, is more Hindu than Christian, 
in spite of its origin in a land of Christian tradition. In 
1877, two years after the Theosophical Society was 
founded in New York, 43 Madame Helen Petrovna Bla- 
vatsky, its leading spirit, published her Isis Unveiled, in 
which she presented some bits of Hindu lore. But this 
was only the beginning of Hinduism in Theosophy. 
Madame Blavatsky soon left America with her "Theo- 
sophical Twin*' Colonel Henry Steel Olcott, and reached 
Bombay in June, 1879. The teachings of the "Twins" 
now became much more distinctly Indian, based on the 
Society's fundamental dogma of the Great White Brother- 
hood, or occult lodge of supernormal, supertransmigratory 
divine masters, or adepts, in the trans-Himalayan fastness 
of Tibet. 44 From age to age, as reckoned by Hindu chro- 
nology, these masters supply mankind with esoteric wis- 
dom through chosen agents Madame Blavatsky, of 
course, being the one selected for this age. 

Yet Theosophy did not become thoroughly Hindu till 
the advent of Mrs. Annie Besant, who succeeded Madame 
Blavatsky as the spiritual guide of the movement. Since 
1893 Mrs. Besant has spent most of her time in India, and 
is virtually a naturalized Hindu. Since 1906 she has been 
president of the Society, of which the main center is not 
New York but Adyar, Madras. The new leader has lec- 
tured repeatedly in every part of India, making the defense 
and exposition of Hinduism her chief theme, and can point 
with pride to the Central Hindu College which she helped 
to found in Benares in 1898, an institution modelled on 
the lines of a Christian missionary college, but giving 


Hindu religious instruction. 45 Thus Theosophy early in 
its career changed its diet from American Spiritualism to 
fairly pure Hinduism, and is now more Hindu perhaps 

than Yogoda. 

# # # 

Christian Science, unlike Theosophy, looks at first 
glance like a pure American product, founded in the little 
town of Lynn, Massachusetts in 1875 by Mrs. Mary Baker 
Eddy, 46 a woman who had never ventured out of America, 
and whose Science and Health } published the same year, 
was advanced as a key to the Christian Scripture. Yet when 
we read this Christian Science Bible we find that it out- 
Sankaras Sankara with its doctrine of cosmic illusion! 47 
Since spirit is the only reality, and matter is opposite to 
spirit, the belief in matter is only an "error of mortal 
mind." Sankara had the common sense to explain the 
illusory world of matter as the magic of God, real and 
independent of mortal mind, but Mrs. Eddy, quite above 
common sense, sees the world of matter as dependent on 
mortal mind, and mortal mind itself an illusion without 
any clear origin. 

Is this similarity between Hindu illusionism and Chris- 
tian Science due to similar response to similar need, or to 
some historical transmission of teaching? If we read the 
Yogoda East-West magazine, we find light on the subject, 
for in the issue of May- June, 1926, in his article "Chris- 
tian Science and Hindu Philosophy/* Swami Yogananda 
has turned on the searchlight. The current editions of 
Science and Health contain no Hindu references, but in 
the older editions, which the Christian Science Church has 
deliberately withdrawn from publication, references to 
Hindu teachings are quite clear and distinct. Says Yoga- 

It may be of much interest to many Christian Scientists to 
learn that the great founder of their faith, Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy, 


was a student of the Hindu Scriptures. This fact is shown by 
her quotations from them in her Science and Health up to the 
33rd edition. We find in this edition 48 the following excerpts 
from Sir Edwin Arnold's translation of Bhagavad-Gitai 

"Never the Spirit was born; the Spirit shall cease to be never; 
Never the time it was not; End and Beginning are dreams! 
Birthless and deathless and changeless remained! the Spirit for- 

Death hath not touched it at all, dead though the house of it 

Edwin Arnold's Translation of Bhagavad-Gtia. 

Again, Mrs. Eddy makes reference in the same chapter to 
another translation of Bhagavad-Gita. 4 * On page 259 of the 
33rd edition, she says: 

"The ancient Hindu philosophers understood something of this 
Principle, when they said in their Celestial Song, according to an 
old prose translation: 

" The wise neither grieve for the dead nor for the living. I 
myself never was not, nor thou, nor all the princes of the earth; 
nor shall we ever hereafter cease to be. As the soul, in this 
mortal frame, findeth infancy, youth, and old age, so in some 
future frame will it find the like. One who is confirmed in this 
belief is not disturbed by anything that may come to pass. The 
sensibility of the faculties giveth heat and cold, pleasure and pain, 
which come and go and are transient and inconstant. Bear them 
with patience; for the wise man, whom these disturb not, and to 
whom pain and pleasure are the same, is formed for immor- 
tality/ " 

Both these quotations from the Bbagavad-Gita, or Song Celes- 
tial, which contains the essence of the Vedas, or the Hindu Bible, 
are to be found in Mrs. Eddy's 7th chapter on "Imposition and 
Demonstration." This whole chapter has been omitted from 
later editions of Science and Health; That is why many Christian 
Scientists are not aware that their great leader Mrs. Eddy was 
familiar with Hindu thought, and in her bigness did not hesitate 
to acknowledge it in print. . . . 

In this article my purpose is to show not only that the doctrine 
of "mind over matter'* had been worked out by the Hindus prior 
to the birth of Christian Science, and that the similarity of the 
message of Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy and the principles of Hindu 
Vedanta is quite evident, but that the Hindus and Christian 


Scientists will find mutual benefit and will add to their knowledge 
of the power of mind by a combined study of the Bhagavad-Gtia 
and the Vedanta of the Hindus, and Mary Baker Eddy's Science 
and Health. 

Furthermore, Mrs. Eddy must have imbibed some of the 
teachings of the New England Transcendentalists 51 who 
made their influence widely felt through books, magazines 
and newspaper articles. Bronson Alcott, who was one of 
them, attended her services. Now most of the Transcen- 
dentalists, like Emerson, Alcott, and Thoreau, were pro- 
foundly influenced by Hinduism, with its spirit of breadth 
and tolerance and unity. 

Says Pratap Chandra Mazumdar, "The character of 
Emerson shines on India serene as the evening star. He 
seems to some of us to have been born in India/' 52 At 
the early age of nineteen, Emerson could find nothing 
better to express his conception of God than a passage 
taken from Sir William Jones* translation of Narayana. 5 * 
At twenty-seven he wrote to a friend, "In the sleep of the 
great heats there is nothing for me but to read the Vedas, 
the Bible of the tropics. . . . Nature makes a Brahmin of 

me." 54 

When Emerson was fifty-two years old, his dear friend 
Thoreau received forty-four volumes of Hindu literature 
as a gift from a friend in England. To this store of Hin- 
duism, Emerson doubtless had access, and two years later 
his famous Song of the Soul, or Brahma, appeared in the 
first number of the Atlantic Monthly. The first two verses 
are sufficient to reveal two messages of the Bhagavad Gita. 

If the red slayer thinks he slays, 
Or if the slain thinks he is slain, 
They know not well the subtle ways, 
I keep, and pass and turn again. 

Far or forgot to me is near; 
Shadow and sunlight are the same, 


The vanished gods not less appear, 
And one to me are shame and fame. 

Emerson's "Over-Soul" is a translation of the Sanskrit 
Paramatman, He regarded matter as the negative, and 
mind as the positive pole of this universal Spirit. Perhaps 
this is where Mrs. Eddy got her notion of mind and matter 
as plus and minus electricity. Emerson repeats both the 
monism and the dualism of the Upanishads: he sees man 
both one with the Universal Spirit, and different from the 
material organization. 55 

The world seems very simple and easily dispatched. . . . There 
are but two things, or but one thing and its shadow. . . . Cause 
and Effect, and Effect itself is worthless if separated from Cause. 56 

This is precisely the way that monism combined with 
dualism in the Upanishads to produce acosmism, includ- 
ing illusionism. 57 And when Emerson gives us his poem 
called Maya, history repeats itself. 

Illusion works impenetrable 

Weaving webs innumerable, 

Her gay pictures never fail, 

Crowds each other, veil on veil. 

Charmer who will be believed 

By man who thirsts to be deceived. 58 

Thus through Mary Baker Eddy and Ralph Waldo Emer- 
son, Christian Science is closely linked to Hinduism. 

Unless we dig still deeper, however, we do not get to 
the bottom of Hindu influence on Christian Science. In 
1861 Mrs. Mary Baker Patterson, who later became Mrs. 
Eddy, was cured of nervous depletion and stormy hysteria 
by Phineas Parker Quimby, a wandering healer whose 
practice was based on a strange conviction. 59 After re- 
ceiving treatment for some time, the patient took this con- 
viction and developed it along her own lines into the cult 
now flourishing as Christian Science. 60 

Quimby's conviction was that health and sickness de- 


pend largely on the patient's belief. This was his own 
conclusion, which he reached by keen observation while 
practicing the mesmerism he had learned as a youth from 
Charles Poyen, a Frenchman who had come to America 
in 1836. 61 Now mesmerism goes back through Mesmer 
and the Nancy school of Charcot, Janet and Coue to the 
Swiss doctor Paracelsus in the fifteenth century, who be- 
lieved in an all-pervading vital magnetic fluid directed by 
the indwelling spirit, which could be used by the well to 
cure the sick. 62 

This sounds like the Prana, or Cosmic Energy, pro- 
claimed by Yogananda and other swamis and yogis today. 
Has Paracelsus any connection with Hinduism? His char- 
acteristic doctrines may be traced to Neo-Platonism, 63 of 
which the chief representative was Plotinus, the Alexan- 
drian philosopher of the third century after Christ. Stu- 
dents of Plotinus know that his system stands nearer the 
Vedanta than any other Western system, including that 
of Schopenhauer. The similarity between Plotinus and 
the Bhagavad Gita is quite striking. An historical con- 
nection between Plotinus and India is suggested in many 
ways, especially by the treatise of Bardesanes on the In- 
dian "Gymnosophists," or nsis and yogis, a treatise used 
by Porphyry, who was the intimate companion of Plo- 

tinus. 64 

Christian Science, of course, is first and foremost an 
American movement, based on the personal experience of 
its founder, who was typical of many nervous Americans, 
and also on the personal conviction of Quimby, which was 
the conviction that belief largely determines health. But 
it seems clear also that Christian Science has certain his- 
torical connections with Hinduism through Mrs. Eddy's 
use of the Gita, through New England Transcendentalism, 
and through the very indirect influence of a certain Hindu 
view on Quimby. 


The first New Thought 65 Society with a regular leader 
and organization was established as the "Church of the 
Higher Life" at Boston in 1894, the same year that Swami 
Vivekananda founded the New York Vedanta Society. 66 
New Thought soon showed its hospitality to Hinduism by 
inviting Swami Abhedananda to speak at its second con- 
vention, held at New York in 1900. 67 Such a gesture is 
only natural in view of the fact that this young cult, even 
more than Christian Science, owed its birth to Quimby, 
the American herald of spiritualistic mesmerism, and 
Emerson, the American herald of transcendental panthe- 
ism. 68 Mrs. Eddy and the Dressers were the outstanding 
members of Quimby's little group of disciples, 69 but Mrs. 
Eddy soon branched out for herself, and Quimby .passed 
away, leaving the Dressers and their friends moving at a 
slow pace until Charles M. Barrows adopted Emerson as 
the father of the movement. The words of the Concord 
sage have now become the unofficial Bible of the New 
Thought Church, A booklet called Emerson's Conception 
of Truth has been compiled by Henry Richardson Thayer, 
who explains that "not a word of Emerson's has been 
changed or added to, but widely separated sentences have 
been brought together. 1 * 70 

Thus New Thought contains some very old elements 
which can be traced partly and indirectly to the Upani- 
shads by way of Quimby and Emerson. And what applies 
to New Thought applies also to "Divine Science," or 
"Practical Christianity/' which is just that form of New 
Thought developed mainly in the west of the United 
States. 71 

The Unity School of Christianity, founded at Kansas 
Qty in 18997 2 seems to be connected with Hinduism on 
account of the broad and tolerant attitude of its founders, 


Charles and Myrtle Fiilmore. As Mrs. Fillmore lay musing 
one night on what name would symbolize their "sympathy 
for all movements helping in the uplift of humanity/* she 
thought of the word "Unity," which suggested not only 
the oneness of man with God, but also the oneness of all 
religions. 73 These, of course, are primarily Hindu con- 
ceptions. By 1899 these principles had been preached by 
Emerson and Vivekananda, and it is very likely that since 
its foundation Unity has absorbed Hinduism in yearly in- 
creasing measure from Theosophy, Christian Science, New 
Thought, and the Hindu cults themselves. 

Says Charles Wright Ferguson, "According to its own 
claims, Unity sprang into being quite independently of all 
cults and with equal independence reached maturity. But 
its stuff is too closely akin to the stuff of Nautilus"* and 
Orison Swett Marden 75 to be mistaken in identity. It was 
undoubtedly joined by an umbilical cord to New Thought, 
and sired by Christian Science. Over in New England 
Mother Eddy had already published several editions of 
Science and Health. ... By the time Unity arose Mrs. Eddy 
had fairly well demonstrated that she could cure disease 
by 'philosophy, and Warren Felt Evans 76 had begun to 
give the world his commentaries on the work of Quimby. 
It is obvious that the teaching of the Fillmores partakes 
largely of both the unwieldy and amorphous body of 
doctrine known as the New Thought and the solidly con- 
trived dogmas of Christian Science/* 77 Unity's doctrine of 
reincarnation in itself is enough to make its members 
eligible for Das Gupta's Dharma Mandal. 

The Liberal Catholic Church is not a cult of American 
origin. And of course it does not come originally from 
Hinduism. But it may just be mentioned here as a cult 
which is now established in America as well as in En#- 


land, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Holland and 
Java, and which is now connected with Hinduism through 
the Theosophy of its presiding bishop, Charles W. Lead- 
beater. As Theosophy turned from American Spiritualism 
to Hinduism, it seems that this strange church is now 
turning from Dutch and English Catholicism to Theos- 
ophy. 78 

* * * 

In addition to these well-organized American cults, there 
must be scores of independent American lecturers in the 
large cities of the United States strongly influenced by 
Hinduism. Any one of these lecturers is a potential or 
actual cult leader, as for example George Edwin Burnell, 
the teacher of "The Absolute Truth," whose Book of 
Axioms may be purchased at the Good Year Book Shop, 
at Broadway and Forty-second Street, New York, in the 
George Cohan Theater, downstairs. 

# # # 

Thus we see that Theosophy, Christian Science, New 
Thought, Unity, and other systems, all originating in 
America, are more or less Hindu in character and con- 
nection. American Hinduism, then, may be said to em- 
brace both Hindu and Hindu-like movements. Further- 
more, if traces of Hinduism can be found in Plotinus and 
other Western thinkers, America must be indirectly learn- 
ing some Hinduism in its colleges, seminaries and univer- 
sities, in spite of the fact that Hinduism as such is studied 
very little in the West, and less in America than in 
Europe. In view of this fact, let us now endeavor to 
understand American Hinduism more fully, to see it as 
a part of the vast vague Hinduism that seeps into Western 
culture first through Plotinus and later through trans- 
lations of the Vedanta works themselves. 



Piotinus is the main early source of Hindu-like teaching 
for the West. Dissatisfied with Stoicism, Epicureanism, 
Scepticism and Eclecticism, he harked back to the ancient 
glories of Greece and India, and crowning Plato's Idea 
of the Good with the Hindu Absolute above all good and 
evil, he developed a mystic plan of salvation. Piotinus 
was a fellow townsman of Origen, the first great Christian 
theologian. Both were immersed in the oriental atmos- 
phere of Alexandria, and attended the lectures of Am- 
monius Saccas. According to Dean Inge, "Origen at- 
tempted to do for Christianity very much the same that 
Piotinus attempted to do for paganism." 79 According 
to Wilhelm Windelband, "Neoplatonism and Christianity 
had a community of purpose and a common origin. Both 
were scientific systems that methodically developed a re- 
ligious conviction and sought to prove that this conviction 
was the only true source of salvation for the soul needing 
redemption." 80 Both systems were Platonic. Yet the heart 
of the one was Hebrew, while the heart of the other was 

For six centuries after his earthly life, Piotinus molded 
the mysticism of the West, and even today Idealism de- 
pends on him for its distinction between body and mind, 
for he stamped the vague term "spirit" as pure immate- 
riality. In the Eastern Empire, says Thomas Whittaker, 81 
"Greek ecclesiastical writers such as Nemesius (fl. 450), 
who had derived their culture from Neoplatonism, trans- 
mitted its refutations of materialism to the next age. In 
the West, St. Augustine, who . . . was profoundly in- 
fluenced by Platonism . . . performed the same philosoph- 
ical service." Throughout the Dark Ages, the task of 
replenishing the faintly burning lamp of culture was 
handed on by men of Plotinian cast the moralists 
Boethius and Macrobius, the fervent, mystical author of 


f 'Dionysws" and the bold Scotus Erigena. Thomas 
Aquinas himself, the greatest philosopher of the Middle 
Ages, and the official source of Roman Catholic theology 
today, absorbed Plotinus not only directly through 
"Dionysius" but also indirectly through Augustine, Eri- 
gena and Anselm, the Plotinian psychology, and the sys- 
tem of Aristotle worked over by the latest school of 
Neo-PIatonism. 82 We should not be surprised to find 
Hindu-like dualism in the creeds of Christendom, both 
Catholic and Protestant, owing to the dominant influence 
of the "angelic doctor." And if we find the strain in 
Dante, it may possibly be traced to Proclus, and through 
him, indirectly to the Upamshads. 

The rise of Humanism, which threw off the shackles of 
Scholasticism and ushered in the Renaissance, was accom- 
panied by a return to Plato, studied for his own sake, and 
read through the eyes of the Neo-Platonists. In philo- 
sophic expression Bruno always falls back on Neo-Platonic 
terms. Nor did the modern scientific upheaval dim the 
luster of Plotinus in the eyes of certain thinkers, for his 
own interest in science and keen distinction between spirit 
and matter left him peculiarly available to scientific men of 
the idealistic type. Thus, the Cambridge Platonists felt 
they could adopt the corpuscular physics as not incom- 
patible with "the true intellectual system of the universe," 
and Descartes could view the world as a vast machine, 
while saving God and the soul in the realm of absolutely 
immaterial spirit. On the other hand, the monism of 
Spinoza, 83 which seems to have come indirectly from a 
certain element implicit in Hinduism, provides a basis for 
modern science, especially in its philosophic mood. 

In spite of his modern regard for the test of experience, 
and his official Christian viewpoint, Bishop Berkeley, it 
seems, found in the ancient "pagan" Plotinus hints to- 
wards the solution of the ultimate problems he had first 


proposed to settle by developing Locke's position. With- 
out imitating the detail of Plotinus, the Platonic English 
poets from Spenser to Shelley, as well as the Romanti- 
cists and Neo-Christians of Germany lived and moved in 
his atmosphere of pure spirituality. The simple German 
mystic Jacob Boehme., 84 who seems to have received his 
bold doctrines from a humble neighboring rabbi deeply 
imbued with the Qabbala, was the last Western thinker to 
depend on Hinduism only by way of Plotinus. With 
Schelling and Hegel, Vedanta and Hindu thought in gen- 
eral began to be directly and assiduously studied in the 
leading universities of Germany. 

Friedrich Schleiermacher, with his definition of religion 
as the feeling of utter dependence on the Infinite, and 
Christian F. Krause, with his doctrine of the immanence 
of all things in God, must have been influenced somewhat 
by Vedanta by way of Schelling and Hegel. 85 Says Fried- 
rich Schlegel, "The Indians possessed a knowledge of the 
true God, conceived and expressed in noble, clear and 
grand language. . . . Even the loftiest philosophy of the 
Europeans, the idealization of reason, as set forth by the 
Greeks, appears in comparison with the abundant light 
and vigor of oriental idealism, like a feeble spark in the 
full flood of the noonday sun/' 86 

Arthur Schopenhauer felt the influence of Vedanta 
through the work of Anguetil Duperron, a French traveler 
who obtained in 1775 a manuscript of a Persian transla- 
tion of the Upanishads. This he translated into French 
and also into Latin, and in 1801 and the following years, 
the Latin version was published under the title of Oup- 
nek'hat) L e., Sacretum Tegendum, meaning "Deep Mys- 
tery." This unusual piece of work .was neglected till 
Schopenhauer took it up and told the West that "the an- 
cient Hindus may have had perhaps more to say about 
philosophy and fundamental truths than many of our mod- 


ern writers." 87 In the preface to the first edition of his 
World as Will and Idea he tells the reader that the dis- 
covery of the Upanishads is the greatest privilege of the 

The Indian air surrounds us, the original thoughts of kindred 
spirits. . . . And oh, how thoroughly is ... the mind washed 
clean of all early engrafted Jewish superstitions, and of all phi- 
losophy that cringes before these superstitions. ... In most of the 
pagan philosophical writings of the first Christian centuries, we 
see the Jewish theism which as Christianity was soon to become 
the faith of the people shining through, much as at present we 
perceive ... in the writings of the learned, the native pantheism 
of India, which is destined sooner or later to become the faith 
of the people. 88 

Sir William Jones, one of the first Sanskrit scholars of 
the West, says of Hinduism, "It is impossible to read the 
Vedanta . . . without believing that Pythagoras and Plato 
derived their sublime theory from the same fountain with 
the sages of India/' 88 Friedrich Max Miiller, who used to 
be the Nestor of Western Sanskrit scholars, was drawn 
to the Upanishads while attending the Berlin lectures of 
Schelling, who used "rapturous language' * about these 
Hindu works. Says Miiller, "The earliest of these Upani- 
shads will always maintain a place in the philosophic 
literature of the world among the most astounding prod- 
ucts of the human mind." 89 Says Victor Cousin, the French 
educator and philosopher, "When we read the poetical 
and philosophic monuments of the East, especially of 
India, we discover there many a truth, and truths so pro- 
found, contrasting so favorably with the results of Euro- 
pean genius, that we are constrained to bend the knee 
before the philosophy of the East and to see this the native 
land of the highest philosophy/ 1 90 

Of considerable significance is the direct and potent 
influence of Plotinus on the modern revival of mysticism 
in the West in such persons as Dean Inge, Evelyn Under- 


hill and Ruf us M. Jones, and especially in Henri Bergson, 
whose stimulating conception of creative evolution is a 
unique combination of the pragmatism developed by 
William James and the vitalistic mysticism developed by 
Plotinus. Like Plotinus and Sankara, Bergson defines a 
sharp dualism between spirit and matter. Bergson's con- 
ception of life encased in matter is like the Upanishad 
illustration of the razor in its case to describe the relation 
of soul to body. In Hinduism the relation of the Param- 
atman, or universal soul, to the jivatman, or individual 
soul, is compared to the relation between a river and its 
rills. The same analogy is used by Bergson to relate the 
elan vital to the individual. And in Bergson the pragma- 
tism of James is reversed in accord with the contemplative 
ethic of Hinduism and Neo-Platonism. We must strive 
to see in order to see, he says, and no longer to see in 
order to act. 91 

Thus Hinduism comes to America indirectly through 
the classic philosophy taught in American institutions of 
higher learning, and directly through American writers 
and poets such as Emerson, Thoreau and Walt Whitman. 
Even Muslim, Christian, Sikh and Parsi lecturers coming 
from India, including Christian missionaries, contribute to 
the spread of Hinduism in America. American professors 
of Sanskrit and oriental studies are not necessarily en- 
thusiasts for Hinduism, but now and then they become 
lecturers and writers on Hindu subjects, and from this 
position may pass over into the work of organizing an 
American cult more or less influenced by Hindu religion 
or culture, as in the case of Dr. George C. O. Haas, who 
is a co-leader with Miss Beulah E. Thompson in the Uni- 
versal Spiritual Church, Hotel Biltmore, New York, 
which holds meetings on Sundays at 8:15 P. M, 



In various ways, then, Hinduism has impressed itself 
on American life: on miracle-loving people through Hindu 
"fakes" and "fakirs/* on individual religious truth-seekers 
through the Vedanta movement, the Yogoda Society, and 
other Hindu and Hindu-like cults, on cultural liberals 
through the Threefold Movement, and on students, teach- 
ers and scholars through the International School, learned 
lecturers, cultural organizations and certain Western phi- 
losophers and poets. Outside of America, moreover, 
Hindu missionaries are teaching and preaching their re- 
ligion in both Eastern and Western countries. In India a 
certain "Hindu Missionary Society" 93 has been formed 
on these three principles: 

1 . He who calls himself a Hindu is a Hindu. 

2. Any person wishing to come into Hinduism may be ad- 
mitted into its fold. 

3. The religious status of all Hindus is the same. The 
Vedas and the Sanskars, including the Sacred Thread, hitherto 
confined to the three "twice-born" castes or orders are now free 
for all. Caste, food, dress and other outward forms are to be 
considered not religious but merely social matters. 

A certain J. S. Rao writes in the Hindustan Revieiv, 
Allahabad, "The Western frame of mind is so peculiarly 
promising for the reception of Indian ideas," that "it will 
be our own mistake if we do not make India the teacher 
of the West as it has already been of the East." 93 He is 
jubilant over the recent success of Hinduism, and sees 
Christianity in the throes of death. Its dogmas, he thinks, 
cannot withstand the scientific theory of evolution, while 
its claims to finality cannot be maintained in view of the 
modern study of religion. Hinduism, on the other hand, 
is fit to be the world religion, for it stands for culture 
rather than for dogma. Its principles of reincarnation and 
karma support the belief in a just and merciful God, 


while its repeated incarnations reveal more divine love 
than the single incarnation of Christianity. 

Hindus never tire of insisting that they have principles, 
whereas other religions have only dogmas. It is true they 
eschew dogmas in the sense of detailed historical docu- 
ments sanctioned by majority vote to bind the beliefs of 
future generations. But dogmas in the sense of hoary and 
authoritarian rules of belief and practice uncritically ac- 
cepted and devoutly obeyed, they both cultivate and propa- 
gate. They do not shrink from embracing new ideas, but 
they are loath to give up the old. As Sir Charles Eliot 
says, "the guiding principle of the Brahmans has always 
been not so much that they have a particular creed to 
enforce, as that whatever is the creed of India, they must 
be its ministers." 94 And now that India is awaking to 
modern civilization, this principle is simply being extended 
to include all countries and races. Hitherto the Brahmans 
have been the preceptors of India. They now desire to 
teach the world. 

This desire, moreover, is not confined to the Brahmans. 
Just as the range of Hinduism is being extended from 
India to the world, the privilege of teaching this sup- 
posedly universal religion is being extended from the 
Brahmans to the lower orders. Says Manmohandas 
Karamchand Gandhi, commonly called Mahatma, or 
Great Soul, a Hindu who is not a Brahman, "Why should 
you self-styled whites get it into your heads that Chris- 
tianity is your special largesse to distribute and interpret? 
You have made a mess of it yourselves. As a matter of 
fact, Christ was originally Asiatic, as were all the founders 
of religions, and I think we understand him much better 
than you do. We would have thanked you for bringing 
his gospel before us had you not mingled it so much with 
your Western culture, dress and machinery. We will go 
on and present the true Christ to India/ 1 S5 And practicing 


what he preaches, Gandhi has ordered the New Testa- 
ment read in all Svaraj schools. Like most of his coun- 
trymen in America, he will teach all religions with a 
Hindu interpretation. 

This modern expansion of Hinduism is just a part of 
the great modern awakening of Asia. Although the other 
oriental religious leaders do not so often pose as world 
teachers, they nevertheless have a world outlook, and wish 
to propagate their own culture while absorbing the culture 
of the West. The Venerable Lord Abbott of Zojo, a pro- 
gressive Buddhist of Japan, said in a public interview that 
it was a good thing for the leaders of various religions to 
meet often and discuss common problems, and the of tener, 
the better. He supports the Shukyo Komvakei, an organi- 
zation for Buddhist-Shinto-Christian fellowship. The Y. 
M. C. A. and the Y. W. C. A. have their Buddhist paral- 
lels in Japan. Buddhist churches, conference organiza- 
tions and Sunday schools have been formed, and the chil- 
dren sing Christian tunes to words such as "Buddha loves 
me, this I know. . . ." Imitating the Red Cross in the 
West is the "Red Swastika Society" of China and the 
"Red Crescent" in Turkey. 96 

A world-wide struggle for cultural influence is now 
taking place. The West has sent missionaries to the far 
away "heathen'** lands, foreseeing and preparing for the 
day when India and China would become Christian, only 
to evoke a strong reaction of Eastern propaganda. Each 
community cries, "We have the universal religion!" Per- 
haps India is in the van of oriental religious imperialism 
because she has lived in the British Empire, and her intel- 
lectuals have learned a world language. 

As oriental countries in the recent past furnished good 
soil for the sowing of Western culture because of their 
material helplessness and subjection, so America today 
offers good soil for the sowing of Eastern culture because 


of its growing liberalism. The enlarged conception of 
the universe presented by the telescope and the micro- 
scope, electrical research and mathematical progress, the 
advancing verification of the doctrine of evolution, the 
growth of Biblical criticism and comparative study of 
religions, the new psychology with its study of instinct, 
dreams, suggestion and the "occult/* the increasing prag- 
matic and the eclectic habits of philosophy, the growing 
social unrest and the migration of populations all these 
movements have tended to break down the original dog- 
matism and provincialism of American religious life. 97 

The American churches themselves are becoming more 
rational, social and spiritual. 98 The original Protestant 
idea of freedom in worship is working out to its logical 
conclusion. At first freedom meant only freedom for a 
particular church to be intolerant, sectarian and dogmatic. 
Tt is now coming to mean freedom for the individual to 
join or start whatever cult he pleases. The authority of 
Church and Bible are challenged, and for many, only the 
individual remains as the final ground and judge of reli- 
gion. If the Hindu movements in America today are a 
part of the age-long Hindu influence on the West and a 
part of the modern awakening of Asia, they are also a 
part of American liberalism. To a large extent, Hindu- 
ism in America is American Hinduism. 



In order to trace the adjustment of Vedanta and Yo~ 
goda to American life we must begin with the swamis in 
India. Before Vivekananda came to America, he was 
half Sankara Hindu and half dilute Christian.* His Chris- 
tianity came to him from his college and the Brahma 
Samaj. His Hinduism came to him at birth (or before), 
and he followed Sankara after meeting Ramakrishna. In 
spite of his portion of Christianity, he did not cling to any 
reformed or liberal Hindu group, but merely held an 
advanced position among the conservatives. And as a 
monk he was a Hindu of the strictest and most medieval 
type, seeking to escape the world by condemning it as 
illusion. Vivekananda was indeed a strange mixture. 
As a modern preacher he was conservative, but as a me- 
dieval monk he was liberal. Thus when he came to 
conservative Madras, he created quite a stir by preaching 
such liberal ideas for a monk! 2 

Before Yogananda came to America, he was one-third 
Sankara monk, one-third practical yogi, and one-third 
University of Calcutta graduate, all dominated by the 
Bhagavad Glta. Thus instead of wavering between San- 
kara renunciation and Christian creation like Vivekananda, 
he held to the Gita, which teaches in the main a kind of 
Stoic or Ramanuja resignation. 3 

Neither of the swamis came to America on their own 
initiative. Nor were they sent out by the spontaneous 
act of any Hindu organization. Each came as a delegate 



to a religious congress inspired and organized by liberal 
Christians. 4 Thus the presence of Hinduism in America 
in the form of purely religious organizations is due pri- 
marily to the desire of certain American Christians for 
deeper and wider knowledge of the world's religious 
thought. The Hindu preachers in the United States are 
not so much missionaries as "inductionaries." The stimu- 
lus is American, the response Hindu. 

But even the response is strongly influenced by Chris- 
tianity and Western culture. In sending Vivekananda to 
America, the Hindu enthusiasts at Madras did not send 
a monk of the old fashioned type to represent their reli- 
gion before the world. They sent a man with modern 
education, a command of English, and a spirit of freedom 
and expansion, all of which traits are primarily due to 
the British Government and Christian Missions. 5 Yoga* 
nanda likewise possessed these typically Western virtues. 

And again, why is it that most of the Hindu preachers 
and teachers in America are Bengalis from the vicinity 
of Calcutta? Because that locality was the first and fore- 
most in India to feel the influence of Government and 
Missions. Calcutta is so Western that, unlike most other 
cities of India, it has no "native" section, and Bengalis 
are famous for their prominence in government positions 
throughout the country. They might be called the na- 
tional westernizers of India. Thus the response of Cal- 
cutta to the stimulus of Chicago in 1893 and Boston in 
1920 was the West returning to the West bearing gifts 
of Eastern treasure. The swamis come to America be- 
cause of Christianity and Western culture rather than 
because of Hinduism of Eastern culture. We see a re- 
bound of the West on itself, and furthermore a second re- 
bound of the West on the East in the work of the Rama- 
krishna Mission, which was organized by Vivekananda 
only after his experience in America. 6 


If now we ask why the swamis stayed in America after 
they came, the answer is somewhat different. Western 
Christianity is not as responsible for the founding of 
Hindu cults in America as it was for the coming of their 
founders. The driving power in both cults seems to come 
mainly from those Americans who were already turned 
toward Hinduism by American cults of partly Hindu 
origin. 7 This is especially true of Vedanta, while Yogoda 
relies on two other groups also liberal Christians and 
pure converted Yogodans. 8 

But whoever may be their supporters, these Hindu cults 
persist in America only because they make some contribu- 
tion to American religious life. In the Vedanta move- 
ment it seems to be mainly the peace that comes from 
sympathy, tolerance and breadth of view, while in the 
Yogoda Society it seems to be mainly the practice of body- 
building and relaxation by means of calisthenics, concen- 
tration and meditation. 9 Aside from this main teaching, 
the wealth of Hindu lore proves attractive to many. 10 
Whatever effect these cults have on American culture in 
the ecclesiastical, political, industrial and social realms is 
not direct but indirect, coming through individual in- 

Yogananda, however, has the desire if not the present 
means to deal with such human problems as immigration, 
the crime wave and sensational journalism, and hopes to 
introduce his educational methods into churches and 
schools. 11 Vivekananda, on the other hand, had little 
social or even historical interest. Since his share of Chris- 
tianity was not needed in America, he preached his share 
of Sankara Hinduism, with the result that the members 
of the Vedanta, or Ramakrishna, movement in America 
today are on the whole more medieval and otherworldly 
than all of the liberal and many of the conservative Hindu 
groups in India itself. 12 


Now in making these contributions to American life, 
how have our Hindu cults adjusted themselves? As to 
message, we cannot expect them to revise their creeds 
deliberately, for the Hindu assumes he has no creeds, and 
possesses all doctrines to begin with. He does not care 
so much to preach any special doctrine as to be the special 
preacher of whatever doctrine he can understand. 13 And 
so far, the contacts of American Hindu cults with genuine 
Judaism and Christianity have not been serious enough to 
yield any profound understanding of these more Semitic 
religions. On the supposition that India is the "Mother 
of Religions/' the Hindus seek to embrace the various 
elements common to all religions as children of Hinduism, 
while the distinctly Jewish or Christian elements they 
either overlook or interpret according to dogmatic Hindu 
principles. 14 

In the presentation of the message, however, we notice 
a decided shift of emphasis from Sankara to the Bhagavad 
Gita, from renunciation to resignation, from knowledge 
and meditation to devotion and work, in short, from 
escape from the world to escape from anxiety. Vivekanan- 
da used to tell us that we live in a hellish world, and that 
the quicker we deny it, the better. But his follower Para- 
mananda proclaims today: "God is One . . . We are all 
children of that One, and we cannot serve and love that 
One unless one love makes us include all his children 
east, west, north, south, everywhere. To uphold this unity 
is the chief aim of this work/' 15 At first Yogananda used 
to tell us how to extract the Spirit from the baneful body. 
But now he tells us how to invigorate the body with 
cosmic electricity. He may formally believe in escape, but 
he actually teaches control. If the esthetic Plotinus had 
been given the work of running the Roman Empire and 
could have kept his health while doing it, would he not 
have become more like Marcus Aurelius? In the same way, 


the demands of organization and the environment of 
American industry have made Vivekananda and especially 
Yogananda more Stoical and even somewhat Christian. 

Again, we see the Hindu preachers grappling with 
Western science and philosophy. At least, they talk more 
glibly about science than scientists and more deeply about 
philosophy than philosophers. And whatever their inter- 
pretation of religion may be, it is completely scientific and 
philosophic, so they say. 16 Perhaps this use of Western 
thought as a means of presenting an Eastern message will 
some day radically modify the message itself. Even now, 
however, the Yogoda Society, unlike the Vedanta move- 
ment, is making a deliberate attempt to reconcile the cul- 
tures of East and West, and has accumulated a wealth of 
inspiration and practice. 17 In this society, the Hindu 
Kundalini traverses the seven stars of Revelation in the 
Christian Bible, the Fourth of July is a fine day for a 
Hindu sermon, while the Heavenly Father in His warmth 
of love hobnobs with a divine principle as cool as a glass 
of distilled water! 

It is in the realm of method, however, that the differ- 
ence between the two movements is most striking. 18 In 
the Vedanta centers, the swamis sing their song, and those 
come to listen who will. But the Yogoda Society means 
business. It not only preaches "the Gospel of Getting 
On/* but has also developed the art of getting on through 
high-pressure advertising and the community church. It 
literally proclaims its message from the housetops by us- 
ing the radio. And when the physical radio is inadequate, 
it resorts to the "spiritual" radio. The Vedanta centers 
are guided only by swamis and sisters, but the Yogoda 
Society with its national organization is built to endure 
even if all the swamis and brahmacaris should retire to 
India, for most of the local leaders are American, and the 
Yogoda textbook will soon be published. The Vedanta 


movement in America has proved itself a true branch of 
the Ramakrishna monastic order in India that seeks re- 
nunciation, or escape from the world, but the Yogoda 
Society, with its carefully planned organization, seeks to 
control even the future. 

The Ramakrishna movement will most likely abide by 
itself in America as long as sufficient wistful Americans 
exist to support the kindly and sweet-tempered swamis 
that supply them with inner peace. But the Yogoda So- 
ciety who knows what it will do? For it both supplies 
and creates a demand. Seeking to penetrate Western 
culture, it adopts American forms and methods, which 
may gradually modify the message itself until it becomes 
a kind of New Thought, and the Hinduism called to 
America in the twentieth century by the Unitarian Con- 
gress joins the Hinduism introduced to America in the 
nineteenth century by the Unitarian Emerson. 

In general, there are three main reasons for the persis- 
tence of these and other Hindu cults in America. First, 
their claim of universal authority is both novel and su- 
preme, and consequently very impressive. While the 
Roman Catholic Church claims absolute dogmatic author- 
ity, it cannot deny that it springs from a single historical 
person, who lived less than two thousand years ago. But 
the dogma presented by the Hindus is supposed to be 
nothing less than a complete and universal summary of 
all possible religious principles existing from the begin- 
ning of time the world over. It thus seems all-embracing, 
all-tolerant, and all-supreme. 19 Hence we can readily 
accept it without critical effort. We can enjoy "universal 
scientific and philosophic truth" without being scientists 
or philosophers ourselves. We can attain religious satis- 
faction without the trouble of thinking out a special way 


of life. We need not strive to search for the best, for 
the best is regarded as all religion in general, and each 
religion in particular as it suits our individual need. This 
leads us to a second reason. 

Their cultivation of the individual rather than society 
fits in nicely with the American post-war mood of reaction 
from social idealism, and most likely helps to account for 
the rapid increase in Yogoda membership. The practice 
of concentration and meditation, a religious duty so simple 
that anyone can perform it, helps to relieve the spiritual 
depression caused by the collapse of fond hopes for man- 
kind, and provides an obviously sane and modest outlet 
for religious fervor. Sacrificial devotion to social service 
and reform, or strenuous inquiry into political, economic 
and domestic problems may or may not be wise or pos- 
sible so runs the feeling but self-culture is undoubtedly 
good. This contemporary leaning towards the renuncia- 
tion of the turbulent world of public affairs is naturally 
encouraged by the dualistic, or ascetic, side of classical 
Vedanta. 20 

Finally, their insistence on the essential oneness of the 
individual with God is universally satisfying. 21 This 
monistic side of classical Vedanta is in itself neither ascetic 
nor deterministic, and it supports rather than opposes the 
Western stress on science and social personality. While 
it becomes pantheistic if God be conceived as impersonal, 
it becomes theistic if God be conceived as personal. Hence 
it is quite suitable for the typical Western life of creation. 
On this account, we are not surprised to discover in the 
adjustment of Hinduism to the creative culture of America 
an increasing emphasis on the monistic conviction of the 
oneness of the individual and society with God, and a 
decreasing emphasis on the dualistic tradition of escape 
from the world. 22 This movement from a world-denying 
to a world-affirming position, which is fitful and slow in 


the Ramakrishna cult, is more steady in many other Hindu 
orders in America, and glaringly rapid in the Yogoda 

The most rapid movement of all, however, is found in 
the clean-cut work of A. K. Mozumdar, 23 an independent 
Christian of Hindu race and tradition, who has preached 
here and there in America for about twenty years. While 
Mozumdar's teaching is popular, it has unusual historic 
significance, for it shows us what happens when a thinker 
immersed in Hindu lore completely accepts a world-affirm- 
ing position. What happens is an identification of the 
Hindu conception of a divine universal Self with the 
Hebrew conception of a divine creative Power. To Mo- 
zumdar the ultimate God is not uncreative Bliss, as in 
the view of Sankara, but creative Power, as in the Hebrew 
tradition. Yet this creative Power, he declares, is the same 
as the universal Self. Here the universal Self, we should 
note, is not a finite Ideal, as in Greek philosophy, but 
the infinite Substance of the world. 

Mozumdar makes this synthesis on the basis of his faith 
in Jesus Christ. Whether Jesus was historically influenced 
by Hinduism, as many Hindus contend, we cannot at pres- 
ent determine, but what makes him more than an ordinary 
Hebrew prophet in his life and teaching is precisely the 
Hindu-like conviction, expressed as well as possible within 
the limits of Jewish conceptions, that God is the universal 
Self, or the personal Substance of man. Elaborating the 
same conviction, Spinoza declares that the God of creative 
Power is also the thinking Substance of man and the 
universe. While the synthesis of Jesus is implicit and 
popular, the synthesis of Spinoza is explicit and technical. 

Like Spinoza, Mozumdar worships Jesus as the supreme 
religious genius. Like Spinoza again, he feels both Hindu 
and Hebrew influence. And like Spinoza in the third 
place, he accepts the monistic philosophy of modem sci- 


ence instead of the dualistic philosophy of ancient Greece. 
Unlike Jesus, both Spinoza and Mozumdar are explicit in 
their Hebrew-Hindu synthesis, but like Jesus and unlike 
Spinoza, Mozumdar uses a popular instead of a technical 
method, for he preaches, teaches and performs faith-heal- 
ing. While his lectures, classes, lessons and correspond- 
ence courses subordinate the Hebrew interest in social 
justice to the Hindu interest in meditation and concentra- 
tion, his philosophical position as revealed in his nu- 
merous pamphlets and books on "The Messianic World 
Message'* is definitely Christian and opposed to many 
traditional Hindu conceptions, such as the equal value of 
all great religious geniuses, the illusory nature of the 
world, and the postponement of final salvation till the end 
of the cosmic process. Says he: 

Jesus's teaching is the greatest and simplest revelation of God, 
and is different from other teachings of Truth. ... He came 
to teach us that the human expression is not an illusion . . . 
but ... a vital reality. . . . Instead of following a specific path 
to realize God, you let God direct your life. ... It need not 
take you millions of years to dispel millions of years* accumulated 
darkness. It will take but a flash of light from God to light your 
entire mental life. 24 

Yet his Christian teaching is unusual because it rejects 
the traditional Greek dualism in favor of Hindu monism. 

If man thinks and acts, is not the thinker . . . and actor . . . 
God? ... If God is All-Life . . . then all lives are God. . . . 
The Creative-power is the very nature of the Being of the Crea- 
tor; hence the Creative-power is God. . . . Life is the Creator, 
and It will never be reduced to the level of Its own creation. 
The creature will forever be ensouled with the Creative-activity, 
and move and act according to the inner impulse of the Creator. 
... By thinking with the mind of the One Life, you become 
conscious of being the Thinker. ... At the back of your every 
action you should find Yourself. . . . You are spirit and there- 
fore spiritual. . . . The Permanent Substance is underneath all 
forms. The forms are made of the Everlasting Substance. This 
knowledge sets a man free. . , , 25 


American religion, with its dualistic Greek notion of an 
ideal God up in heaven and an actual man down on earth, 
has come to a fork in the road. To the left lies a path 
trod by atheists, secularists, humanists and others, who 
seek to exalt man by getting rid of this sort of God. To 
the right lies a path trod by Hindus, Theosophists, Chris- 
tian Scientists and others, who seek to exalt man by sup- 
porting him with a belief in his divine nature. The mod- 
ern age has little use for the traditional dualism between 
the natural and the supernatural, and is moving towards 
pluralism on the one hand and monism on the other, to- 
wards the path of less religion and the path of more re- 
ligion. Hinduism comes to America to point out the 
path of more religion. 


The Sanskrit words in the Index are spelled and marked ac- 
cording to the usage of the American Oriental Society. The 
reader unfamiliar with Sanskrit may avoid the most noticeable 
mistakes in pronunciation by pronouncing a as the u in up, a as 
the a in arm, c as c b, e as the e in jete, s and j- as sh, and th as 
/. Proper names of modern Hindus are spelled as they usually 
appear in English, while the letters are marked for pronunciation. 



1. Muller, Six Systems of Indian Philosophy, p. 41, tr. Rigveda I, 

2. Hume, Thirteen Principal Upanishads, p. 71, tr. Brihad-Aranyaka 
Upanishad 1.3.28. 

3. &wfW J500&T of the East, v. 34, p. 23; Sankara's comment on 
Vedanta Sutras 1.1.1. For most of my treatment of Sankara and Rama- 
nuja I am indebted to M. H. Harrison's dissertation, Monism and Plur- 
alism in the Upanishads, Faculty of Philosophy, Columbia University, 

4. Maitri 6.22, and Mundaka 1.1.4. 

5. Sacred Books of the East, v. 34, p. 14; Sankara's comment on 
Vedanta Sutras 1.1.1. 

6. The same, v. 34, p. 43; comment on V. S. 1.1.4. 

7. Sankara, Vivekacudamani, verses 18-27; comment on Vedanta 
Sutras 1. 

8. Sankara's comment on Brihadaranyaka U pants had 2.4.5. 

9. Radhakrishnan, Indian Philosophy, v. 2, p. 636; quotation from 
Sankara's comment on Vedanta Sutras 1.1.4. 

10. Katha 6.10-11; Maitri 6.18-29. 

11. Garbe, article "Yoga" in Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, 
v. 12, p. 831; Das Gupta, Yoga as Philosophy and Religion, p. vii; 
Sankara's comment on Vedanta Sutras 2.1.2. 

12. Sacred Books of the East, v. 34, p. 37; Sankara's comment on 
Vedanta Sutras, 1.1.4. 

13. Sankara's first comment on V. S. 1.1.1. 

14. Sacred Books of the East f v. 34, p. 365; comment on V. S. 2.1.1. 

15. The same, v. 38, p. 20; comment on V. S. 2.3.9- Cf. v, 34, p. 
290. This argument was not original with Sankara, as also the one from 
design, and he did not place primary reliance on them; but for all that, 
he did accept them. 

16. The same, v. 34, p. 290. 

17. Barnett, The Heart of India, p. 42-43. 

18. The pluralistic theism of the Katha and Svetasvatara Upanishads 
is probably an outgrowth of the old Vedic polytheism transformed by 
the pantheism of the early Upanishads, yet without getting rid of 

19. Radhakrishnan, Indian Philosophy, v. 2, p. 666. 

20. Ramanuja gives the term avidya no technical status. To him, 
even error is a kind of knowledge of the real, and may be corrected by 
further knowledge of the same kind. 

21. Thus God is an object of knowledge who can be defined In 
positive terms. 

22. Bhagavad Gita 10.10. 

23. To Vedic rites are added traditional Visnuite practices such as 
abstention from all but ceremonially dean foods, freedom from attach- 
ment to desire, repetition of scriptural passages, and virtuous behavior, 
including service to others. 


260 NOTES 

24. Sacred Books of the East, v. 48, p. 135-40; Ramanuja's comment 
on Vedanta Sutras 1.1.1. Cf. p. 370: comment on V. S. 1.4.10; and p. 
566: comment on V. S. 2.3.42. 

25. The same, v. 48, p. 424; comment on V. S. 2.1.9. 

26. The same, v. 48, p. 240; comment on V. S. 1.1.21. 


1. Paxamahansa means literally "great goose," but as a name of 
Visnu, it means "divine." It is a rare title, and higher than the usual 
"sri," or "honorable." 

2. Madhavananda, Life of Sri Ramakrishna, p. vii. 

3. Following Madhavananda, whose edition is based on the most 
complete Bengali Life. 

4. Swami Saradananda, author of the most authentic Life (in Ben- 
gali), claims on the evidence of women friends of the mother, Chandra 
Devi, that the father Khudiram was away from his wife for about a year 
before the child was born. 

5. Not Buddha-Gaya, but the more ancient Visnu-pada-Gaya of the 
Hindus, about seven miles to the south. 

6. In the Sraddba, or "faith," ceremony. 

7. The famous saying of Krishna, Visnu f s avatarz or incarnation. 

8. Madhavananda, Life of Sri Ramakrisbna $ p. 68. 

9. The same, p. 92. 

10. The same, p. 102-3. 

11. The same, p. 98-99- 

12. The same, p. 124-25. 

13. The bethrothal of a five year old girl is not unusual in India. 

14. Krishna Chaitanya was a young Bengali ascetic of the sixteenth 
century who founded a new sea for the worship of Krishna and Radha, 
Krishna's favorite mistress, and won his success by an emotional tempest 
of devotion. 

15. Madhavananda, Life of Sri Ramakriskna, p. 192. 

16. The same, p. 179. 

17. The same, p. 257. 

18. See above, p. 34. 

19. The same, p. 260. 

20. The same, p. 263. 

21. The same, p. 278. 

22. The famous prayer the Muslim offers towards Mecca regularly 
five times a day. 

23. The same, p. 283. 

24. The same, p. 283. 

25. The same, p. 338. 

26. The same, p. 340. 

27. Farquhar, Modern Religious Movements in lndia t p. 57; quota- 
tion from the Sunday Mirror, Calcutta, Oct. 23, 1881. 

28. This and the following aphorisms are selected from Miiller's 
Ramakrishna t Gupta's The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, and Abhedananda's 
Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna, 

NOTES 261 

29. Madhavananda, Lije of Sri Ramakrishna, p. 371. 

30. See Dr. Ketkar's explanation below, p. 208. 


1. Following Virajananda, Life of Swami Vivekananda, p. 29. 

2. The same, p. 105. 

3. The same, p. 203. 

4. The same, p. 210. 

5. Madhavananda, Lije of Sri l&tmakrishna, p. 445. 

6. Virajananda, Lije of Swami Vivekananda, v. 1, p. 112. 

7. Madhavananda, Life of Sri Ramakrishna, p. 723. 

8. Virajananda, Lije of Swami Vivekananda, v. 2, p. 25. 

9. The same, v. 2, p. 25. 

10. See above, p. 26. 

11. Virajananda, Lije of Swami Vivekananda, v. 2, p. 21. 

12. The same, v. 2, p. 241-42. 

13. The same, v. 2, p. 251. 

14. The same, v. 2, p. 279. 

15. See Nash, The Message and Influence of Swami Vivekananda, p. 
742, and Madhavananda, Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda t v. 1, 
p. 1. Beautiful! But how true? Vivekananda was initiated as a monk 
by his master Ramakrishna, his master in turn by the monk Totapuri, 
who followed Sankara's teaching. Sankara lived in the ninth century 
after Christ. In the very same country of India, Gautama Buddha had 
established an order of monks in the sixth century before Christ, a full 
fifteen hundred years before Sankara. Vivekananda was speaking for 
Hinduism, not Buddhism. Then how could he speak in the name of 
"the most ancient order of monks in the world"? Indeed, how could 
he speak as a Hindu monk at all, after living in palatial hotels, sporting 
gaudy finery, and eating of all things beej? (See Christian Literature 
Society, Swami Vivekananda and His Guru, p. xxv.) And how can 
India be called the mother of religions, when she produced only four 
of the eleven religions of the world, and of these four Buddhism is hers 
no longer, while Jainism and Sikhism are offshoots of Hinduism? 

16. See Reed, Hinduism in England and America f p. 170, and 
Madhavananda, Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, v. 1, p. 18.' 
The answer is, of course, that Christian missionaries have done, and 
are doing, and want to do wonders to save the starving bodies of 
India's poor, so often neglected by high caste Hindus. The majority 
of the five million Christians in India have come from those who were 
saved by missionaries in times of famine. And Christian missionaries 
have blazed the trail not only in mass education, but also in mass 
medical relief, establishing vast numbers of hospitals and dispensaries 
with money from America. 

17. He practiced "wish-thinking." In all his preaching he pre- 
pared no addresses or notes. Says J. N. Farquhar, "he had no his- 
torical conscience whatsoever." See Farquhar, Modern Religious Move- 
ments in India, p. 204. Our Hindu speaker did his best without the 
facts. The teacher had called on him. He was not prepared, but 
he had to recite. So he bluffed. And the bluff worked, for the 
audience on the whole was more ignorant than he. 

18. Nash, Message and Influence of Swami Vivekananda, p. 744-45. 

262 NOTES 

19. Christian Literature Society, Swami Vivekananda and His Guru, 
p. iv. 

20. The same, p. iv. 

21. The same, p. iv. 

22. The same, p. vi. 

23. Virajananda, Life of Swami Vivekananda, v. 2, p. 359. 

^ 24. About Greenacre see the same, v. 2, p. 353; Daggett, in Mis- 
sionary Review, v. 35, p. 211, and Ingersoli, in Arena, v. 22, p. 484. 

25. Virajananda, Life of Swami Vivekananda, v. 2, p. 356. 

26. The same, v. 2, p. 370-77. See above, p. 34-36. 

27. The same, v. 2, p. 381. 

28. The same, v. 2, p. 382. 

29. The same, v. 2, p. 382. 

30. The same, v. 2, p. 379. The swami himself revealed some- 
what the kind of people that flocked to hear him when he declared, 
"Scarcely could I go to a meeting or society, but 1 found three quar- 
ters of the women present had turned out their husbands and children. 
It is so here, there, and everywhere." From the Brakmavadin, 1897, 
p. 251. 

31. The same, v. 2, p. 379. See also Daggett, Missionary Review, 
v. 35, p. 211. 

32. Not to be confused with the Hindu leader of the Yogoda Sat- 
sanga Society, who has the same name. 

33. Virajananda, Life of Swami Vivekananda, v. 3, p. 86. 

34. For all these statements see Christian Literature Society, Swami 
Vivekananda and His Guru, p. ii-iii; quotations from Vivekananda, From 
Columbo to Almora, Seventeen Lectures, p. 12, 13, 25, 32-34, 47, 203. 

Sceptical of Hindu boasts about America, Dr. Wilber W. White, 
Secretary of the College Y. M. C, A. of Calcutta, wrote a letter to 
many prominent men and women in America, asking for information. 
The replies were unanimous in affirming that to the main body of Ameri- 
cans, Swami Vivekananda was at most a passing fad, leaving no perma- 
nent impression. Some of the writers had only vaguely heard of him. 
Others admitted he had made converts, but not from Christianity. Said 
Rev. B. Fay Mills, a lecturer and evangelist of New York: 

"Swami Vivekananda made a very pleasant impression on Ameri- 
cans at first. I am afraid some of it was dissipated later. He did 
not produce a ripple in the stream of Christian thought and progress, 
Except for a mild curiosity to see how far Hindu dogmas might be 
strained to suggest Christian ethics, I do not know that he produced 
any effect on American Christian thought and practice." 

Said Dr. Lyman Abbott of Brooklyn, editor of the Outlook: 

"We have in the United States, especially in the great cities, con- 
siderable numbers of people who flock to see and hear the latest 
curiosity whether in art, music, literature or religion. From these 
classes Swami Vivekananda has gathered considerable audiences, 
especially in Boston and Chicago." 

Henry Watterson, editor of the Courier-Journal of Louisville, Kentucky, 
saw in the Hindu boast good material for an editorial. Said he: 

"That our readers may not be misled, it is necessary to explain 

NOTES 263 

that Swami Vivekananda is not ... a tropical fruit or ... an idol, 
or an insect, but the title and name of a person who is supposed to 
have set on foot the conversion of the United States to Vedantism, 
or some other sort of Indian religion. . . . Possibly some hundreds 
of people have professed to believe in Hinduism, but these are not 
converts. They are mere dilletanti, who, having grown weary of 
a course of hypocritical adherence to Christianity, are seeking some 
new diversion and possible social distinction by professing conver- 
sion to a religion whose tenets they no more understand than they 
comprehend the religion which they have renounced. . . . 

"Even if these few hundred men and women were in deadly 
earnest, it would not signify anything whatever. So many converts 
may be easily commanded in this country for any fantastical scheme 
under the name of religion that any one chooses to invent. There is 
an arrant fakir out in Illinois who claims to be Jesus Christ, who 
has captured a number of people by his transparent lies, and is 
running a harem which he calls Heaven, giving out that the chil- 
dren born there have the Holy Ghost as their father. That many 
of his disciples are in earnest is evinced by the fact that they have 
surrendered their property to him, and work for him like slaves. 
In various other parts of the country there are similar fakirs, teach- 
ing all sorts of follies, and devoutly believed in by small bands of 
foolish men and women, who accept their confident statements as 
divine revelations." 

35. Virajananda, Lije of Swam? Vivekananda, v. 2, p. 15; Farquhar, 
Modern Religious Movements in India, p. 202. 

36. This zeal for social welfare seems to have come from Christianity, 
not from his master Ramakrishna, who always felt a disgust for service. 

37. Nash, The Message and Influence of Swami. Vivekananda, p. 753. 

38. Information supplied by Swami Bodhananda in person. 

39. Bois, The New Religions of America, Porum, v. 77, p. 419-20. 

40. Virajananda, Lije of Swami Vfoekananda, v. 2, p. 392. 

41. The same, v. 2, p. 393. 

42. Madhavananda, Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, v. 1, 

p- 9 - 

43. Vivekananda has no justification in either Vedanta or Christianity 
for calling men "divinities". This is a rare kind of polytheism. He 
seems here to have made a weird combination of Hindu pantheism and 
Western personalism. 

44. Farquhar, Modern Religious Movements in India, p. 357. 

45. Urquhart, Pantheism and the Value of Life, p. 472. 

"~46. The same, p. 475; quotations from Vivekananda, Jnana Yoga, 
p. 67. 

47. The same, p. 476; quotation from Vivekananda, Science and Phi- 
losophy of Religion, p. 122. 

48. Madhavananda, Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, v. 1, p. 
133. (Raja Yoga). 

49* Urquhart, Pantheism and the Value of Lije, p. 477. 

50. The same, p. 477; quotation from Vivekananda, Bhakti Yoga, 

P . i. 

264 NOTES 

51. The same, p. 479; quotation from the same, p. 95. 

52. The same, p. 482; quotation from Vivekananda, Karma Yoga, 
p. 134. 


1. The information about the growth of the Vedanta Movement was 
obtained from Swami Bodhananda personally. See Vedantists in America 
by S. Bose in Modern Review, Calcutta, March, 1930, v. 47, no. 3, 
p. 309- 

2. The information about Paramananda is obtained from his own 
little Boston pamphlet, The Vedanta Centre. 

3. See Directory for addresses. 

4. See above, p. 70. 

5. See above, p. 84. 

6. See above, p. 83. 

7. Ramakrishna Math and Mission Convention, 1926, p. 235. 

8. The same, p. 285-88, showing that no centers outside these two 
countries were represented at the great Belur Conference in 1926. 

" 9. The same, p. 287; cf. p. 238. 

10. See above, p. 70, 84. 

11. This statement comes from Swami Bodhananda personally. 

12. In the light of this answer we can now understand that intoler- 
ant, anti-Christian remark of a Vedanta member. (See above, p. 102.) 
He evidently assumed that the worthy Swami was attacking Christianity, 
when he was only attacking hypocrisy in the name of Christ. Moreover, 
his bigoted background must have kept him bigoted even after his con- 
version to Hindu ideals. But perhaps the simplest explanation is that 
intolerance will arise whenever dogma meets dogma. For all his sup- 
posed Hindu tolerance, the great Sankara pounced on the Sankhya posi- 
tion, and Ramanuja tried his best to make mincemeat of Sankara. 

13. But the experience of God, curiously, is conceived as super- 

14. Madhavananda, Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, v. 1. 
p. 365-81. 

15. The same, v. 1, p. 423-24. 

16. The same, v. 1, p. 45-46. 

17. The same, v. 4, p. 141. 

18. The same, v. 4, p. 263. 

19. Vedanta Monthly Bulletin, v. 1, p. 129; "Healing Power of 

20. The same, v. 1, p. 115. 

21. In reply to the question, "What books do you consider sacred?" 
one of the swamis answered, "First the Upani shads, then the Gita and 
Puranas, then the sayings of Ramakrishna, then the works of Vive- 
kananda". He did not mention the Christian Bible or any other non- 
Hindu book, although he claims to accept all religions as true. This 
indicates the actual dogmatic basis of the Ramakrishna cult in India and 

22. The classical meaning of Moksha is liberation from the fetters of 
the world and absorption into transcendent bliss. 

23. Ramakrishna Math and Mission Convention, p. 207-08. 

24. Support comes from Sunday offerings, a membership fee of $15 

NOTES 265 

a year, and free individual donations to the work and the swamis, who 
keep no accounts, but claim to take just enough for their modest needs. 

25. United States Census, 1926, "Vedanta Society," p. 5. 

26. Quoted in Virajananda, Life of Swami Vivekananda, v. 2 and 3. 

27. See above, ch. 4, note 34. 

28. According to the principle of critical ownership of any religious 
traditions, I joined the New York Vedanta Society, and became ac- 
quainted with the two swamis and several of the members and adherents. 
Then I sent out about 20 questionnaires to each of the five American 
centers, including New York, receiving 37 replies in all, from New 
York 6, San Francisco 7, Boston 11, and Portland (Oregon) 13. Owing 
to the pre-occupation of one of the swamis, no reply came from Los 
Angeles. Here is the questionnaire: 

(1) Name and address (optional). 

(2) Country of birth. (3) Age. (4) Sex. (5) Married? 
(6) Nationality or race. (7) Occupation. 

(8) Parents' religion (specify denomination). 

(9) Of what church were you ever, or are you still, an active 

(10) How did you happen to become interested in Vedanta? 

(11) Are you a member of any Vedanta society? 

(12) About how much time and energy do you devote to Vedanta? 

(13) In the light of Vedanta what system of belief or practice 
have you felt constrained to give up? 

(14) What persons or books in all the world have appealed to you 

(15) What methods of Vedanta do you use? Jnana, Raja, Bhakti 
or Karma? 

29. See above, p. 100. 

30. Information from picture postcards published by the San Fran- 
cisco Society. See also Drury, in Missionary Review/ v. 44, p. 281-83. 

31. See especially the work of another American woman, E. A. Reed, 
Hinduism in England and America, in which Mrs. Daggett's reports are 
reflected, and Hinduism warmly denounced. 

32. Most likely the work of Baba Bharati. 

33. See above, p. 78. 

34. See above, p. 80. 

35. Daggett, in Missionary Review, v. 35, p. 214. 

36. Literary Digest, v. 45, p. 64. 

37. See above, p. 92. 

38. Madhavananda, Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, v. 1 
p. 119. 

39. The same, v. 1, p. 137. 

40. Prepared by Swami Jnanesvarananda. 

41. This is the wall, or rang, that Ramakrishna used to visualize so 
vividly. See above, p. 48. 

42. The rite of the Kundalini is not. mentioned in the classic Raja 
Yoga of Patanjali, and I find no evidence that it was advocated by 
Sankara, although he may have known it, for the Tantra works of the 
Saktist cult in which it is found may have been extant in his time. He 
did, however, accept the rite of Pranayama, developed on the basis of 

266 NOTES 

Patanjali, 1.34. See Vivekananda's comment in the Complete Works. 
... p. 139, 223. 

43. This rather mechanical combination of Prana and Kundattni indi- 
cates their separate origin. Each is supposed to be an infinite power! 

44. See above, p. 48. Each lotus has its special name, number, loca- 
tion, color, number of petals, shape of central opening, and presiding 

45. The information in this paragraph was obtained from Swami 
Jnanesvarananda personally. It applies to the system as practiced at the 
present time. 

46. Madhavananda, Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, v. 1, 
p. 123. 

47. See above, p. 92, also Vivekananda's Raja Yoga, chapter on 

48. Madhavananda, Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, v, 1, 
p. 134. 

49. See above, p. 101. 

50. The same, v. 1, p. 148-50. 

51. January-April, 1927, p. 15. 

52. Vivekananda, Raja Yoga, beginning of Chapter III. 

53. Madhavananda, Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda } v. 1, 
p. 152. 

54. See above, p. 106. 


1. From the East-West Magazine, November-December, 1928, p. 15- 
16. The information contained in this whole chapter has been checked 
by Swami Yogananda in person, just as the chapter on the Ramakrishna 
movement was approved by Swami Bodhananda. 

2. East-West, September-October, 1927, p. 20. 

3. See Vivekananda, Raja Yoga, ch. 2, verse 1, and comment. 

4. East-West, January-April, 1927, p. 5. 

5. East-West, first issue, November-December, 1925. The chart used 
is now published in America as Psychological Chart. Another school has 
now been established at Gidni, Bengal. 

6. The report of this Congress the seventh is recorded in the book, 
New Pilgrimages of the Spirit. 

I. This and the following quotations are from East-West, November- 
December, 1925, p. 7-11. 

8. The Swami wants it understood that this fee is used mainly to 
support the work, and is not a fixed amount, no one being denied the 
privilege of the course on account of poverty. 

9. East-West, January-April, 1927, p. 43. 

10. The same, May- June, 1927, p. 14, 

II. Yogananda, The Science of Religion, p. 60. 

12. The same, p. 72. 

13. The same, p. 73-76. 

14. The same, p. 80. 

15. The same, p. 49. 

16. The same, p. 60-61. Verses similar to this sentence appear in 
the Bible in John 3:14 and 12:32. 

NOTES 267 

17. The same, p. 73. 

18. The same, p. 82. Cf. article of Nicolai Husted in East-West, 
May-June, 1928, p. 6, where the allegorical method is used in its 
"moral" form. 

19. See above, ch. 5, p. 122-27 and note 42. 

20. Chapter 5. 

21. This notion goes back to the Chandogya Upanishad. "When the 
life has left it, this body dies. The life does not die." See above, p. 32. 
The same notion is very prominent in Plotinus. 

22. Pages 10-11, 

23. Page 37. Note the adoption of modern psychological terms. 

24. Pages 40, 42-43, 44-47, 53-54. 

25. Vivekananda, Raja Yoga, ch. 3, verse 4 and comment. Here the 
word is not samgama but samyama. See above, p. 122, 129. 

26. The same, ch. 1, verses 30-31. 

27. According to the old-fashioned method, we would know God 
perfectly by contacting Him. The idea of knowing God only by serving 
Him seems to be an American addition. 

28. The^ Swami wants it understood that he is willing to give his 
course free in any educational institution that will pay its expenses. For 
other methods of concentration and healing, see Barrett, Man: His 
Making and Unmaking, f. 108. Until the Swami defines his aim with 
more single-minded consistence, Western educational institutions may not 
care to consider his system. I have tried the course, and found it helpful 
in several ways, especially in improving the quality of sleep by previously 
inducing a state of mental peace, and in offering new ways of "sugges- 
tion". But while I accept elements out of it, its lack of united appeal 
deters me from accepting it as a whole. 

29. East-West, January-April, 1927, p. 34. 

30. The same, May-June, 1927, p. 11. 

31. Theosophy has a similar theory. Cf. Vivekananda Raja Yoga 
ch. 3, verse 18. 

32. East-West, September-October, 1926, p. 5. 

33. The same, January-February, 1928, p. 3. 

34. Dale Stewart in East-West, September-October, 1927, p. 10. 

35. East-West, March-April, 1926, p. 24. 

36. The same, p. 20. 

37. While the facts of the yogi's trance experience need not be 
doubted^ the hypothesis of reincarnation is at last as doubtful as the 
hypothesis of disembodied spirits to explain the "manifestations" studied 
by the Society for Psychical Research. It is always possible to account 
for the facts in other ways. Yet the spiritualistic hypothesis may be, 
in certain cases, the simpler, more fruitful and picturesque. 

38. Here the dualism between God and the soul in ptactical life is 
quite striking. 

39- The doctrine of reincarnation, however, is not the only explana- 
tion for the pre-existence of the soul. 

40. Modern science does not admit that the circumstances are exactly 
the same, and claims great significance for apparently trifling differences 
at the start. 

41. East-West, November-December, 1928, p. 5-7. The teachings 
of the swami on some other subjects come from sources still wider 

268 NOTES 

apart. At the beginning he said in line with American tradition that 
he believed in "common sense education, free from all mysticism," but 
now he teaches "Contacting Cosmic Consciousness." He accepts the 
Gtia doctrine of meritless works, yet preaches "reincarnation till free- 
dom is won through merit." (East-West March-April, 1926, p. 21.) 
With Sankara he states that true religion transcends all cults, creeds 
and ceremonies, yet in line with American procedure he is busy establish- 
ing a new cult with non-compulsory creeds such as "the medulla oblon- 
gata is the mouth of God" (East-West, September-October, 1927, p. 7), 
and technical ceremonies such as facing "North or East" while practic- 
ing meditation. (Scientific Healing Affirmations, p. 42.) 

He believes in the solitary spiritual Self, yet gives his support to 
the utilitarian dogma, "the greatest good for the greatest number." 
After telling us in Western fashion that pain is one of man's best friends, 
because it warns him of danger, he insists on the Eastern teaching that 
"pain is a man-made Delusion," for "the consciousnes of man is made 
of God and is pain-proof." (East-West, May-June 1928, p. 4.) With 
the East he says we know God only by meditation; with the West, we 
know God only by service. 

42. Swami Dhirananda, the associate and disciple of Swarni Yoga- 
nanda, holds less to Schopenhauerian renunciation and Stoic resignation, 
and more to Hegelian evolutionism. Demand great things, he says to 
America in his Philosophic Insight. No demand is too great to be ful- 
filled if you are fit for it. Great men not only make demandsthey 
exist to create new and fresh demands. Not wealth, but vanity is bad. 
The business man is of the same caste as the preacher. But remember 
that Soul is All, the base and atmosphere of success. The good things 
of the world cannot be enjoyed without the "sauce" of the higher knowl- 
edge of the Soul. So reverence the Soul that crowns your activity with 
success. Expand into the Universal Soul, be broadminded, tolerant, 
liberal, appreciating even where you cannot agree. 

Then he apologizes for the law of karma, and seeks to heal the long- 
standing dualism between this formal law and the formless God. The 
rigid law of cause and effect whether in nature or man, he says, is no 
bar to our trust in the Soul. Although 75 per cent of our conduct may 
be due to past cause and effect, 25 per cent is in our own power of 
free will which is moved by final causes. The motive of Eternal Good 
that is embodied in the Cosmic Law is in every atom, and in us too. The 
universal reason is always ready to save its own property, the world. As 
the past is within the Soul, so is the future. The fascination of the 
unknown is only the fascination of progress in self-discovery, the growth 
and blossoming of our own unknown into the known. This Self-develop- 
ment is the reason for evolution. 

43. Yozoda, p. 47. 

44. This information about methods was obtained from Yogananda 
in person, as well as from official literature. 

45. Brahmacari Nerod is the resident teacher. 

46. There is a center in Scotland and in Mexico, and there are three 
Brahmacarya Residential Schools for Boys in Bengal. In Washington 
there are two centers, one of which is "Afro-American." A list of cen- 
ters is given in the Directory. 

47. Yogananda claims about 25,000 Yogoda students of all kinds. 

NOTES 269 

In the 12 American centers, however, his secretary estimates about 3,000 
contributing members, from among whom I received 50 replies: from 
St. Paul 1, Detroit 1, Washington 3, Pittsburgh 3, Cincinnati 5, Phila- 
delphia 6, Minneapolis 7, Boston 7, Buffalo 17, and one from the New- 
ark group, making 51 in all. Three centers did not respond, one be- 
cause it failed to receive the letters. The questionnaire is as similar as 
possible to the one for Vedanta. See above, ch. 5, note 28. 

48. Ferguson, Confushn of Tongues, p. 317-18. 

49. Yogoda, middle insert. 


1. See Daggett, Missionary Review, v. 35, p. 210-14; Literary Di- 
gest, v. 45, p. 64. 

2. Information supplied by Miss Stephanie M. Worletsek, president 
of the Benares League at St. Paul, and secretary of the Yogessar Class 
at St. Paul, 670 Charles Street, St. Paul, Minnesota. 

3. See Ferguson, Confusion of Tongues, p. 312, 

4. See Book List, Chapter V. 

5. General Prospectus, N. Y., 1928, p. 3-4. 

6. Special Bulletin No. 3, A List oj Current Hindu Books on 
India, is a valuable bibliography. 

7. Ellinwood, Homiletic Review, v. 28, p. 497. 

8. Natesan, G. A., ed., Ramanand to Ram Tirath, p. 244. Wording 

9- The same, p. 251-54. Italics mine. 

10. The same, p. 254. 

11. The same, p. 255. 

12. See Thompson, Rabindranath Tagore, and Maitra, S., "Rabindra- 
natb and Bergson," in the Calcutta Review, May 1926, p. 189-205. 

13. Ketkar, Hinduism: Its Formation and Puture, p. 157. 

14. See his similar Upton Lectures, delivered in Manchester College 
Oxford, and published as The Hmdu View oj Life. 

15. Radhakrishan, The Hindu View oj Life, p. 79 

16. The same, p. 91. 

17. The same, p. 22. 

18. The same, p, 23. Italics mine, 

19. The same, p. 34. 

20. Published as Hindu Mysticism. 

21. The same, p. 17. 

22. The same, p. viii. 

23. At 6039: in the Nelson Evans Studio. 

24. Maitra, Hinduism: the World Ideal, p. vii. 

25. Coomaraswamy, The Dance oj Siva, p. 56. 

26. The same, p. 1. 

27. The same, p. 2. 

28. This is consistent with the classic view that the world itself 
is illusion. 

29. The same, p. 12. 

30. The same, p. 16. 

31. Ferguson, Confusion of Tongues, p. 308-12. 

32. The New York Times of May 6th, 1929, on page 27 mentions 

270 NOTES 

such a one by the name of Hernam Singh, possibly not a Hindu, but a 

33. Confusion of Tongues, p. 302, 312. 

34. From a certain green-colored Los Angeles newspaper of about 
March 7, 1929. 

35. See above, p. 185. 

36. Information obtained from his former private secretary. 

37. Das Gupta, Hindu Mysticism, p. vii. 

38. For immigration in general see the American Review of Re- 
'views, v. 37, p. 604-05, May 1908; R. K. Das, Hindustani Workers on 
the Pacific Coast, Berlin, W. de Gruyter and Co., 1923; California 
State Board of Control, California and the Oriental, Sacramento, Calif. 
State Printing Office, 1920; R. E. Chase and Sakharam Ganesh, The 
Eligibility of Hindus for American Citizenship, Los Angeles, Printed by 
Parker, Stone and Baird Co., 1926; G. Mukerji, "The Hindu in America," 
Overland, (n. s.), v. 51, p, 303-08, Ap.; E. M. Wherry, "The Hindu 
Immigrant in America," Missionary Review, v. 30, p. 918, Dec., 1907. 
One of the Hindu professors is S. L. Joshi, Professor of Comparative Re- 
ligion and Hindu Philosophy at Dartmouth. Another is Sudhindra Bose, 
Professor in the State University of Iowa. 

39. Literary Digest, July 13, 1912. 

40. Nicholson, "Sufiism," ERE, v. 12, p. 11. 

41. Sykes, History of Persia, v. 1, p. 459. 

42. Dhalla, Zoroastrian Theology, p. 358. 

43. Farquhar, Modern Religious Movements in India, p. 218. 

44. The same, p. 227. 

45. The same, p. 271. 

46. Atkins, Modern Religious Cults and Movements, p. 132. 

47. According to A. K. Swihart, a research student in Columbia 
University in 1929, Mrs. Eddy's doctrine is like Sankara's illusionism, 
only more extreme. 

48. Page 234. 

49. Ypgananda's statements have been checked by Swihart, who finds 
no error in them. Mrs. Eddy's second reference is to p. 35-36 of Wil- 
kin's translation of the "Bhagvat'Geeta" (ch. 2, verses 14-16), London, 
1785. References are found to appear in editions 19, 20, 23 and 26, 
the only editions available in the New York Public Library, and so 
may very likely be found in all editions up to the 33rd, as Yogananda 

50. Page 7. 

51. See Bellwald, Christian Science and the Catholic Faith, p. 68-70. 

52. Christy, "Emerson's Debt to the Orient," Monist, v. 38, p. 43. 

53. The same, p. 47. Here spelled "Narayena." 

54. The rame, p. 45. 

55. The same, p. 56. 

56. The same, p. 63. 

57. See above, p. 24, 28-29, 32. 

58. The same, p. 61. 

59. Atkins, p. 125. 

60. The same, p. 128. 

61. Ferguson, Confusion of Tongues, p. 163. 

62. Atkins, p. 108-09. 

NOTES 271 

63. Weber, History of Philosophy, p. 266. 

64. Rawlinson, Intercourse between India and the Western World, 
p. 142-43. Cf. p. 138, 140-41. 

65. See also Harding, Prabuddha Bharata, Calcutta, March, 1928, 
article "Vedanta and Christian Science/' and March, 1929> article "Ve- 
danta and New Thought." 

66. Curiously, Theosophy and Christian Science were also founded 
simultaneously, in the year 1875. 

67. Atkins, p. 225-26. 

68. The same, p. 223. 

69. The same, p. 224. 

70. Ferguson, p. 158. 

71. Atkins, p. 223. Ferguson, p. 168. According to the U. S. 
Census of "Religious Bodies of 1926, Divine Science in that year had 22 
churches with 3,466 members, who contributed $158,000 for the sup- 
port of the work, including $11,000 for benevolence. Seventeen of 
the churches reported Sunday Schools. 

72. Ferguson, p. 216. 

73. The same, p. 217. 

74. The Nautilus magazine has been published since 1896 from 
Holyoke, Massachusetts by Mrs. Elizabeth Towne, a New Thought 
leader who defines New Thought after the manner of Vivekananda's 
definition of religion as "the fine art of recognizing, realizing, and 
manifesting the God of the individual." She writes such books as Just 
How to Wake up the Solar Plexus, Just How to Concentrate, and 
Just How to Cook Meals. 

75. Marden is also a New Thought leader who preaches the "Gos- 
pel of Getting On," and writes such books as The Victorious Lije, He 
Can who Thinks, He Can, The Victorious Attitude, Self Improvement, 
and Be Good to Yourself. See Ferguson, p. 174, and Atkins, p. 236. 

76. One of the followers of New Thought, associated with Quimb? 
and the Dressers. See Ferguson, p. 166, 169- 

77. The same, p. 217. 

78. Ferguson, p. 279-83. 

79. Inge, Plotinus f v. 1, p. 74, 109. 

80. Windelband, History of Ancient Philosophy, p. 365. 

81. See Whittaker, The Neo-Platonists, ch. 10, for this and the fol- 
lowing statements. 

82. See also Workman, Christian Thought to the Reformation, p, 
197, 221, 227, and Harnach, History of Dogma, v. 6, p. 179, 185. 

83. Spinoza was influenced by Bruno and Maimonides. 

84. Fluegel, Philosophy, Oabbala, Vedanta, p. 75. 

85. Weber, History of Philosophy, p. 587-88. 

86. Fluegel, p. 222; quoting Schlegel, Language and Philosophy, p. 

87. The same, p. 187. 

88. The same, p. 221; quoting Jones, Works, Calcutta ed., v. 1, p. 
20, 125, 127. 

89. The same, p, 191. 

90. The same, p. 222. 

91. See Aiyar, The Theosopkist, v. 35, p. 232. 

272 NOTES 

92. In the Missionary Review of the West, October 1917, p. 786. 
See also the Hindu Missionary, July 2, 1917 July 23, 1924, organ of 
reformed Hinduism, ed. by Gajanan Bhaskar Vaidya, c/o Vaidya Bros., 
Thakurdwar, Bombay. Society founded July 5, 1917. 

93. la the Literary Digest, "A Hindu View of Christian Defeat," v. 
46, p. 133. 

94. Hinduism and Buddhism, v. 1, p. 191. 

95. Quoted in Close, The Revolt of Asia, p. 252. 

96. See Close, The Revolt of Asia. 

97. See Atkins, Modern Religious Cults and Movements, ch. 2. 

98. Rowe, History of Religion in the United States, ch. 8-10. 


1. See above, p. 34, 70. 

2. See above, p. 73. 

3. See above, p. 142, 167, 176, 

4. See above, p. 73-75, 142-45. 

5. See above, p. 17, 20, 

6. See above, p. 83, 102, 106, 113, 133. 

7. See above, p. 117, 174, 228-36. 

8. See above, p. 176. 

9. See above, p. 118, 173-76. 

10. See above, p. 119, 176. 

11. See above, p. 160, 162-63. 

12. See above, p. 107, 113, 133- 

13. See above, p. 113, 166, 243. 

14. See above, p. 75, 111, 140, 155. 

15. Quoted in Bois, Forum, v. 77, p. 416. 

16. See above, p. 99-100, 109-12, 160, 164, 166. 

17. See above, p. 159-71. 

18. See above, p. 114-16, 172-76. 

19 In America, Leo C Robertson, for example, sees value in 
every step of Vedanta. In particular, he shows that its original mo- 
nism is not solipsistic, as many Westerners believe, but realistic. Ac- 
cording to the solipsist, what appears to be other finite selves like 
himself are in reality merely his experience. There are no other selves, 
only he exists. Now the Vedantist, in affirming the sole reality of the 
Atman, does not say that other selves are merely his experience, that 
there is naught beyond his present self and its experience, what he 
does is to identify himself with other selves, and even further with all 
else/' See the Monist, v. 26, p. 234. In his high estimate of Ve- 
danta Robertson seems to follow Paul Deussen, who is a well-known 
Vedanta enthusiast. While Max Miiller is not so devoted, he is gen- 
erous and somewhat uncritical in his sympathy. See his India, What 
Can It Teach Us? For an appreciative study of the meaning of Hind- 
uism as functioning in India itself, see J. B. Pratt's India and Its 
Faiths, ch. 21. 

20 Horatio W. Dresser, one of the founders of the New Thought 
movement, admits that Vedanta induces a desirable peace and tranquillity, 
but is quick to point out its failure to stress the values of purpose and 
personality on which Western culture in the long run so strongly insists. 

NOTES 273 

See "An Interpretation of Vedanta," Arena, v. 22, p. 489-508. W. S. 
Urquhart, in the final chapter of his book The Vedanta and Modern 
Thought, takes essentially the same position. The main value of 
Vedanta, he says, is to produce a feeling of "religious contentment" with 
its "emphasis on the community of nature between the human and the 
divine" (p. 222-23). But he laments Its negation of the positive 
characters of social personality, and agrees with Tagore that "Flight 
from the world is flight from God." (p. 230). 

21. William Tully Seeger admires Vedanta for its genuine monism, 
which he declares to be "the vital value of the Hindu God-idea". The 
"identity of the Universal God with the Monad," he contends, does not 
necessarily imply the loss of the self-consciousness of the one in the other, 
but simply shows that the humanist symbols of father and son cannot 
suffice for the person that has persisted in penetrating the heart of 
religion. "The religion of the Divine Self is sure to make its way, 
because it will, while upholding individualism, place it firmly upon a 
higher basis having nothing in common with selfish motives . . . and 
declare that every normally developed soul has the latent power to win 
and must win its own freedom, especially the freedom from the control 
of the 'natural man/ " See the Hibbert Journal, v. 5, p. 75-76, 84. No 
doubt an individualistic monism is implicit in Vedanta, but it seems that 
until the present it has never become explicit, on account of its persistent 
dualism. Either the monism swallows up the individualism as in San- 
kara, or the individualism rebels again the monism, as in Ramanuja. 

22. It is only this dualistic side of Vedanta that leads to "hazy mys- 
ticism and scientific futilty". The monistic side leads to scientific uni- 
versality and artistic loveliness. As Paul Carus says, the intrinsic gran- 
deur, beauty and truth of Vedanta lies in its claim that all is God, 
which Emerson made so famous and attractive. "God reveals Himself in 
hammer and anvil, in action and reaction, in energy of all kinds, in good 
and evil, in the aspiration of the worm that crawls in the dust, and in 
the heaven-inspired prophet who longs for the beyond that he beholds in 
his vision." See the Monist, v. 26, p. 299. S. P. Rice, of the Indian 
Civil Service, holds a similar critical view of Vedanta. While the 
religion dominant in Hindu philosophy has value, he says, it lacks de- 
tailed accuracy and motive power. See the Asiatic Re-view (n. s.), v. 19, 
p. 87-108. 

23. Address the Messianic Publishing Co., 1001 Armour Ave., Los 
Angeles, Calif., E. Schurra, editor, Tel., Capitol 1826, for a list of his 
books and other information. 

24. The Conquering Man, Los Angeles, Messianic Publishing Co., 
1001 Armour Ave., 1929, p. 58, 84 85, 22. 

25. The Life of Man, p. 1, 3, 7, 27, and The Conquering Man, 
p. 41. 


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Rau, M. S., and K. A. Aiyar. The Panchadasi of Vidyaranya. Srirangam 

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Sukhtankar, V. A. The Teachings of Vedanta According to Ramanuja. 

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Abhedananda, Swami. The Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna. N. Y., Vedanta 
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Miiller, F. M. Ramakrishna'. His Life and Sayings. N. Y., 1899. 

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Karma Yoga. N. Y., Baker and Taylor, 1901. 

My Master. N. Y., Baker and Taylor, 1901. 

[For complete works of Swami Vivekananda see Literature of the 

Ramakrishna Movement in Book List under Chapter V.) 


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"The Religion of the Hindus," Brahmavadin, VI, 363-374, 413-444. 

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Ashrama, 1907. 

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Philosophy and Oriental Occultism. Chicago, Yogi Publishing 
Society, 1904. 

The Hatha Yoga. Chicago, Yogi Publishing Society, 1904. 

Advanced Course in Yogi Philosophy and Oriental Occultism. Chi- 
cago, Yogi Publishing Society, 1905. 

A Series oj Lessons in Raja Yoga. Chicago, Yogi Publishing So- 
ciety, 1906. 

A Series oj Lessons in Gnani Yoga. Chicago, Yogi Publishing 

Society, 1907. 

The Hindu-Yogi Science oj Breath. Chicago, Yogi Publishing 

Society, 1909. 

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London, Luzac, 1914-1916. 2 Vols. 

Tantric Texts. Calcutta, Sanskrit Printing Depositories, 1913-1918. 

7 Vols. 


The Serpent Power. London, Luzac, 1919. 

Bodhananda, Swami. Lectures on the Vedanta Philosophy. N. Y., 
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bian, XXVII, 399-411. Also Current Literature, LI, 538-540; Mis- 
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of American Women," Literary Digest, XLV, 64. 

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XLIV, 281-283. 

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XXVIII, 400-406, 494-499. 

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Arena, XXIII, 212. 

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mans and Buddhists. London, Rider, 1925. 

Hartmann. Yoga Practice in the Roman Catholic Church. Chicago, 
Theosophical Press. 

Ingersoil, A. J. "The Swamis in America," Arena, XXII, 482-488. 

Madhavananda, Swarm. Alrnora (India), Advaita Ashrama. 

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Vivekachudamani of Sri Sankaracharya, 2d ed. 

Mukerji, A. P. The Doctrine and Practice oj Yoga. Chicago, Yogi 
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Spiritual Consciousness. Chicago, Yogi Publishing Society. 

Yoga Lessons. Chicago, Yogi Publishing Society. 

Natesan, G. A., ed. The Mission of Our Master. Madras, Natesan. 

Noble, M. E. (Sister Nivedita). Kali the Mother. London, Swann, 

Religion and Dharma. London, Longmans, 1910. 

The Master as I Saw Htm. London, Longmans, 1910. Also in 

Hibbert Journal, IX, 431-435. 
-The Web of Indian Life. London, Heinemann, 1914. 

Paramananda, Swami. Patanjali for Western Readers. Chicago Theo- 
sophical Press. 

Ramakrishna Math, ed. Ramakrishna Math and Mission Convention. 
Belur (Bengal, India), The Math, 1926. 

Reed, E. A. Hinduism in Europe and America. N. Y., Putnam, 1914. 

Saradananda, Swami. Sri Ramakrishna, the Great Master. Madras, 
Ramakrishna Math (Mylapore), 1920. 

Stray Thoughts in Religion and Literature. N. Y., Vedanta Society. 

Sinha, H. N. "Nadisodhana, or, The Purification of the Nerves," 
Brahmavadin (Madras), IX, 571-584, 627-637, 695-706, 

"Asuniyama, or, The Control of the Psychic Prana," Brahmavadin -, 

IX, 762-774; X, 17-31, 75-89, 148-157, 192-200. 

United States Census of Religious Bodies. The Vedanta Society. Wash- 
ington, Government Printing Office, 1928. 

Vishita, B. Practical Yoga. Chicago, Advanced Thought Publishing 

Waldo, Ellen, Vedanta Philosophy. N. Y., Vedanta Society, 1897. 

Wase, C. Inner Teaching and Yoga. Philadelphia, David McKay. 

Wells, A. A. True and False Yoga. Chicago Theosophical Press. 

Wood, E. Raja Yoga. Chicago Theosophical Press. 


Woodroffe, Sir J. G. (Arthur Avalon). Skakti and Maya. N. Y., 

Oxford University Press, 1917. 
Shakti, or, The World as Power. London, 1920. 

The Following Literature is for Sale at the San Francisco Vedanta 


Works of Swami Vivekananda 

Complete Works, 7 *. East f and West 

Raja-Yoga India and Her Problems 

Jnana-Yoga Mother India 

Bhakti-Yoga My Master 

Karma-Yoga Harvard Address (on Vedanta) 

Inspired Talks* Christ the Messenger 

Religion of Love Chicago Addresses 

Science and Philosophy of The Atman 

Religion The Cosmos 

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Realization and^ Its Methods Religion 

Study of Religion The Real and Apparent Man 

Thoughts on Vedanta Women of India 

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Philosophy of Work How to Be a Yogi 

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Divine Heritage of Man Nine Lectures 

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Unity and Harmony Divine Communion 

Way to the Blessed Life The Word and the Cross in An- 

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Philosophy of Good and Evil Christian Science and Vedanta 

Motherhood of God Why a Hindu Is a Vegetarian 

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Essential Doctrines of Hinduism Health 

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Inner Consciousness Universality of Vedanta 

Mystery of Human Vibration 
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Dynamic Religion Super-Conscious Vision 

Sub-Conscious Mind and Its Control Cosmology 
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An Indian Study of Life and Death Siva and Buddha 

Notes on Some Wanderings with Notes from an Eastern Home 

Swami Vivekananda Cradle Tales of Hinduism 

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Message of the East, the Vedanta taram-Babu St., 1897-date 

Monthly, La Crescenta (Los (monthly). 

Angeles Co., Calif.), Ananda Vedanta Kesari } Madras, Sri Ra- 

Ashrama, 1911-date. makrishna Math (Mylapore), 

Prabuddha Bharata (Awakened 1913-date (monthly). 

India), Calcutta, 182 A, Muk- 


Brahmavadin (The way of Brah- with the Vedanta Kesari 

man), Madras, 1895-date (fort- monthly in 1913). 

nightly: apparently merged The Pacific Vedantist, San Fran- 


Cisco, Vedanta Society, v. I Vedanta Magazine, the Monthly 

only, 1902. Bulletin, New York, Vedanta 

The Sfar of the East, Melbourne Society, v. 1-5, 1905-1909. 

(Australia), July, 1910-Dec, Voice of Freedom, San Francisco, 

1911; later, The Vedanta Uni~ Vedanta Society, v. 1-7, 1909- 

versal Messenger, Jan.-Dec, 1916. 


Barrett, E. B. Man, His Making and Unmaking. N. Y., Thomas Selt- 

zer, 1925. 

Gabrilowitsch, C. Why Be Nervous? N. Y., Harper, 1927, 
New Pilgrimages of the Spirit. Proceedings and Papers of the Pilgrim 

Tercentenary Meeting of the International Congress of Free Chris- 

tian and Other Religious Liberals held at Boston and Plymouth, 

Oct. 3-7, 1920. Boston, Beacon Press, 1923. 
Vivekananda, Raja Yoga, New York, Vedanta Society. 


The Following Literature is for Sale at the Yogoda Book Dept., 3880 

San Rafael Ave., Los Angeles: 

East-West Magazine 
Works by Swami Yogananda 

Yogoda, 1923; 9th ed, 1928. Songs of the Soul, 1925; 5th ed,, 

Scientific Healing Affirmations, rev. and enlarged, 1926. 

1924; 3rd ed,, 1926. Songs for Piano (Sheet Music), 

Psychological Chart, 1925; 9th Song of Brahma, My Soul Is 

ed., 1926. Marching On, Om Song. 

Science of Religion, 1924; 5th Yogoda Correspondence Course, 

ed., 1926. 1925; 2d printing. 

A Work by Swami Dhirananda 
Philosophic Insight, 2d ed., 1926. 
Works by Biahmacharee Nerode 

Teachings of the East On the Wings of Bliss 

Photographs of Swami Yogananda * 


Aiyar, K. N. "Professor Bergson and Hindu Vedanta," Theosophist 

(Madras), XXXV, 215-234. 
Atkins, G. G. Modern Religious Cults and Movements. N. Y., Revell, 

- * 
Baijnath, Lala. "Modern Hindu Religion and Philosophy," Transactions 

of the Ninth International Congress of Orientalists. London, 1892, 

I, 141-173. 
Bellwald, A. M. Christian Science and the Catholic Faith. N. Y., 

Macmillan, 1922. 
Buchanan, A. F. "The West and the Hindu Invasion," Overland (n. s.) 

LI, 308-313. 

Carrington. Higher Psychic Development. N. Y., Dodd, 1920. 
Cheyne, T. K. The Reconciliation of Races and Religions. London. 

Black, 1914. 
Christy, A. E. "Emerson's Debt to the Orient," Monist t XXXVIII. 



Close, Upton. The Revolt of Asia. N. Y., Putnam, 1927. 
Coomaraswamy, A. K. The Dance of Siva. N. Y., Sunwise Turn, 1918. 
Daggett, M. P. "The Heathen Invasion," Missionary Review, XXXV, 


Dasgupta, S. Hindu Mysticism. Chicago, Open Court, 1927. 
Dennett, Tyler. The Democratic Movement in Asia. N. Y., Association 

Press, 1918. 
Desai, S. A. "Brahma: the Central Doctrine of Hindu Theology," 

Hibbert Journal, X, 561-580. 

Dhalla, M. N. Zoroastrian Theology. N. Y., 1914. 
Dresser, H. W. A History of the New Thought Movement. N. Y., 

Crowell, 1919. 

Dutton, E. P., ed. The Theosophical Movement. N. Y., Dutton, 1925. 
Farquhar, J. N. A Primer of Hinduism. N. Y., Oxford University 

Press, 1912. 

The Crown of Hinduism. N. Y., Oxford University Press, 1915. 

Modern Religious Movements in India. N. Y., Macmillan, 1915. 

"The Greatness of Hinduism," Contemporary Review (London), 

XCVII, 647-662. 

Ferguson, C. W. Confusion of Tongues. N. Y., Doubleday, 1928. 
Fleming, D. J. Attitudes Towards Other Faiths. N. Y., Association 

Press, 1928. 

Fletcher, Ella. The Law of Rhythmic Breath. N. Y., Fermo, 1908. 
Fluegel, M. Philosophy, Qabbala and Vedanta. Baltimore, Fluegel, 


Gandhi, V. R. Indiefs Message to America. N. Y., Hicks, 1894. 
Ganesh, ed. Swami Ram Tirtha: His Life and Teachings. Madras, 

Ganesh, 1912. 2 Vol. 
Garland, Marie (An Anglo-Saxon Mother). Hindu Mind Training. 

London, Longmans, 1917. 
Harding, Madeleine. "Vedanta and Christian Science," Prabuddha 

Bharata (182A, Muktararn-Babu Street, Calcutta), March, 1928. 

"Vedanta and New Thought," Prabuddha Bharata, March, 1929. 

Harnack, A. History of Dogma. Tr. by Neil Buchanan. Boston, Little, 

1899. 7 Vol. 
Hume, R. E. "Hinduism and the War," American Journal of Theology, 

XX, 31-44. 
Inge, W. R. The Philosophy of Plotinus. N. Y., Longmans, 1918. 

2 Vol. 
Ketkar, S. V. The History of Caste in India. Ithaca (N. Y.), Taylor 

and Carpenter, 1909. 

Hinduism: Its Formation and Future. London, Luzac, 1911. 

Kilmer, W. J. The Human Atmosphere. N. Y., Rebman. 
Kingsland, W. Anthology of Mysticism and Mystical Philosophy. Lon- 
don, Methuen, 1929. 
Krishna Sastri, G. Democratic Hinduism. Poona (India), Oriental Book 

Supply Agency, 1921. 
Literary Digest, ed. "A Hindu Vision of Christian Defeat," Literary 

Digest, XLVI, 138. 
Macdonell, A. A. A History of Sanskrit Literature. London, Heine- 

mann, 1917. 
MacKenna, Stephen, tr. Plotinus. London, Medici Society, 1924-1926. 


Macnicol, Nicol. Christianity and Hinduism. N. Y., International Mis- 
sionary Council, 1928. 

Maitia, H. Hinduism: the World Ideal. N. Y., Temple Scott, 1922. . 

Martin, A. W. The Fellowship of Faiths. N. Y., Rowland, 1925. 

Marvin, F. A. India and the West. N. Y., Longmans, 1927. 

Massis, Henri. Defense of the West. Tr. by F. S. Flint. N. Y., Har- 
court, 1928. 

Radhaicrislinan, S. The Hindu View of Life. London, Allen and Unwin, 

'The Ethics of the Bhagavad Gita and Kant," International Journal 

of Ethics, XXI, 465-475. , _ . xr . cw 
"The Ethics of the Vedanta," International Journal of Ethics, XXIV, 


"The Vedantic Approach to Reality," Monist, XXVI, 200-231- 

"The Heart of Hinduism," Hihbert Journal, XXI, 5-19. 

"Hindu Dharma," International Journal oj Ethics, XXXIII, 1-22. 

Rawlinson, H. G. Intercourse between India and the Western World. 

Cambridge University Press, 1916. 
Rowe, H. K. The History of Religion in the United States. N. Y., 

Macmillan, 1924. . . 

Sarda, H. B. Hindu Superiority. Ajmer (India), Rajputana Printing 

Sarkar, B/K. "The Hindu View of Life," Open Court, XXXIII, 


Sen, N. N. The International Ideal Calcutta, 1902. 

Shastri, K. D. Hindu Sexology in Spiritual Development. Minneapolis, 
Indo-Aryan Publishing Co., 1917. 

Singh, Puran. The Story oj Swami Rama. Madras, Ganesh, 1924. 

Sircar, M. N. The System of Vedantic Thought and Culture. Univer- 
sity of Calcutta, 1925. 

Sundararama Aiyar, K. The Vedanta: Its Ethical Aspect. Srirangam 
(India), Sri Vani Vilas Press, 1923. 

Sykes, Sir Percy. A History of Persia. London, Macmillan, 1921. 2 Vol. 

Tagore, R. N. Sadhana. N. Y., Macmillan, 1913. 

Creative Unity. London, Macmillan, 1922. 

"Towards Unity," Sociological Review, XVI, 90-102. 

Thomas, F. W. "The Indian Ideas of Action," Proceedings of the 
Aristotelian Society (London), (n. s.) XVIII, 138-157. 

Thompson, E. J. Rab'tndranath Tagore: His Life and Work. N. Y., 
Oxford University Press, 1921. 

Vasu, S. C. A Catechism of Hindu Dharma. Allahabad (India), 
Panini Office, 1919. 

Vaswani, T. L, Sri Krishna, the Saviour of Humanity. Madras, Ganesh, 

The Aryan Ideal, Madras, Ganesh, 1922. 

Warman, E. B. Hindu Philosophy in a Nutshell. Chicago, McClurg, 

Weber, A. A History of Philosophy. Tr. by Frank Thilly. N. Y., 
Scribners, 1896. 

WJbittaker, Thomas. The Neo-Platonists. London, Cambridge Univer- 
sity Press, 1901. 


Workman, H. B. Christian Thought to the Reformation. N. Y., Scrib- 

ners, 1920. 
Windelband, Wilhelm. A History of Ancient Philosophy, 3d ed. Tr. 

by H. E. Cushman. N. Y., Scribners, 1910. 


Carus, Paul. "Vedantism, Its Intrinsic Worth and Vagaries," Modist, 
XXVI, 222, 298-307. 

Deussen, Paul. The System of the Vedanta. Tr. by Charles Johnson. 
Chicago, Open Court, 1912. 

Dresser, H. W. "An Interpretation of Vedanta," Arena, XXII, 489-500. 

Miiller, F. M. India, What Can It Teach Us? London, Longmans, 1883. 

Pratt, J. B. India and Its Faiths. N. Y., Houghtpn, 1925. 

Rice, S. P. 'The Hindu Outlook on Life," Asiatic Review (London), 
(n. s.) XIX, 87-108. 

Robertson, L. C. "The Conception of Brahma/' Monist, XXVI, 232-44. 

Seeger, W. T. "The Vital Value of the Hindu God-Idea," Hibbert 
Journal, V, 74. 

Urquhart, W. S. Vedanta and Modem Thought. N. Y., Oxford Uni- 
versity Press, 1928. 



New York 
Vedanta Society, 34 East 71 St. Swami Bodhananda in charge. 


The Vedanta Centre, 32 Fenway. Swami Paramananda in charge, as- 
sisted by Swami Akhilananda and Sister Daya. 

Providence, R. I. 
Vedanta Society, 381 Ives St. Swami Akhilananda in charge. 

Los Angeles 

Los Angeles Branch Centre, Music Art Studio Building, 233 South 
Broadway and 232 South Hill St., Rooms 427-428. Swami Paramananda 
in charge. 

Pasadena, Calif. 

Pasadena Branch Centre, 690 East Colorado St. Swami Paramananda 
in charge. 

Hollywood, Calif. 

Hollywood Branch Centre, 1946 Iver St. Swami Prabhavananda in 

La Crescenta, Los Angeles Co., Calif. 
Ananda-Ashrama (Joy Retreat). Swami Paramananda in charge. 

San Francisco 

Vedanta Society, in the Hindu Temple, 2963 Webster St. Swami 
Madhavananda in charge, assisted by Swami Dayananda. 

Portland, Ore. 

Vedanta Society, Wheeldon Annex, Tenth and Salmon Sts. Swami 
Vividishananda in charge. 


Vedanta Society, 4454 N. Racine Ave. Swami Gnaneshwarananda 
(Jnanesvarananda) in charge. 





Brahmacarya Residential Schools for Boys, located at Ranchi and 
Puri, Bengal, India. The Maharaja of Kasimbazar is the patron of the 
Ranchi School. 

Los Angeles, Calif. 

Mount Washington Centre, National Headquarters, Yogoda Sat-Sanga 
Society of America, 3880 San Rafael Avenue, Los Angeles, Calif. Phone 
Garfield 6406. 

Cleveland, Ohio 

Leader, Upadeshak Panditji, 6614 Carnegie Avenue. Phone Prospect 
3559- Thursday evening services at 507 Carnegie Hall. 

Boston, Mass. 
Leader, Dr. M. W. Lewis. Meetings at 543 Boylston Street. 

Cincinnati, Ohio 

Leader, Mr. Ranendra K. Das, 2559 Eden Avenue, Phone Avon 3186. 
"Weekly meetings at Hotel Sinton. 

Detroit, Mich. 

Leader, Countess Elektra Rosanka, 561 Book Building. Secretary, 
Mrs. Maude Emerson, 49 Orchestra Place. 

Minneapolis, Minn. 
Leader, Mrs. Jenova Martin, 2915 Lyndale Avenue, N. 

St. Paul, Minn. 
Leader, Mr. George A. Young. Business address, 344 Minnesota St. 

Pittsburgh, Pa. 
R. J. Logan, Secretary, 714 Ardmore Boulevard, Wilkinsburg, Pa. 

Washington, D. C. 

Leader, Brahmacari Jotin, A.B. Several meetings weekly at 1424 K. 
Street N. W. 

Washington, D. C. 

Afro-American Yogoda Sat-Sanga Association. Leader, Mrs. Minnie C, 
Mayo, 123 T. Street N. W. 

Buffalo, N. Y. 
Leader, Mrs. Anna Krantz, 419 Wohlers Avenue. 

Philadelphia, Pa. 

Dr. A. D. Williams, Leader. Meetings at 200 West Johnson Street, 


Yogoda Center of Progress; General Caly Mayor, in charge; Esq. Ave 
Coyoacan Y., Tacubaya, Col de Valle, Mexico, D. F. 


Yogoda Center of Progress. R. J. Calder, in charge. 14 Devon 
Square, Alloa, Scotland. 



The organization of Yogi Hari Rama, who has returned to India. 
133 West 42d Place, Los Angeles, Calif. 


President and Director, Sri Deva Ram Sukul, 232 East Erie St., 
Chicago, 111. 

The teaching of Swami Bhagwan Bissessar, P. O. B. 3, Oakland, Calif. 

(Aryan Religious Association) 

Director, Mr. K. N. Das Gupta, Peace House, Fifth Ave. at 110th 
St., New York. 


The Union of East and West, The League of Neighbors, and The 
Fellowship of Faiths. Executives, Mr. K. N. Das Gupta, Mr. and Mrs. 
C. F. Weller, Peace House, Fifth Ave. at 110th St., New York. 


Director, Pandit J. C. Chatterji, Times Building, New York. Secre- 
tary, Dr. G. C. O. Haas. 


General Secretary, Mr. Sudhir Bose, International House, 500 River- 
side Dr., New York. 

Director, Mr. H. G. Govil, Times Building, New York. 

Director, Mr. S. N. Ghose, 31 Union Sq., New York. 


Abhayananda, Sister, 80 

Abhedananda, Swarm, 69, 82, 
85, 103-04, 110-12, 115, 
132, 234 

acosmism, 23-24, 28, 38 

Addams, Jane, 199 

advaita, 55-56, 60, 61, 66 

A. E. (Charles Russell), 204 

Aged, 22 

ahimsa, 13 

Ainslie, Douglas Grant, 135 

aJkafa, 34, 131 

Alcott, Bronson, 231 

Allah, 57, 97 

Alvar, 39 

ananda, 114 

Ananda Asrama, 285 

Andrews, Rev. C. F., 200 

Anglin, Margaret, 189 

anta:karana, 35 

anubbava, 30 

Applied Yoga Institute, 180 

Aquinas, see Thomas Aquinas 

Arhat, 26 

Arjuna, Prince, 27 

Arnold, Sir Edwin, 230 

Arya Samaj, 107, 124 

asana, 35, 121 

asana-suddhi, 122 

asirvad, 123 

asrama, 104, 204 
Ananda Asrama, 285 
Santi Asrama, 86, 181 
Sri Mariya Asrama, 182 

Atkins, Gaius Glenn, 270-71 

Atkinson, William Walker, 
see Yogi Ramacharaka 

atma-samarpana, 125 

atman, 35 

avatar a, 52 

Avery, Dr. L. M. Keuffner, 201 
a, 32 

T&abaji, 141 

Bagley, Mrs. John J., 77 

Baha, Abdul, 227 

Bahalism, 226-28 

Baranagar, 70 

Barnard, George Gray, 189 

Barrows, Charles M., 234 

Barrows, Rev. John Henry, 75 

Beck, L. Adams, 176 

Benares League, 1 78 

Bernard, Peter A., see Oom 

the Omnipotent 
Bernhardt, Sarah, 80 
Besant, Dr. Annie, 155, 176, 

192, 228 
Bbagavad Gifa, 25-29, 38, 40, 

71, 93-94, 98, 112, 142, 

156, 167, 171, 217, 225, 

230-33, 246, 249, 259 
Bhagwan Bissessar, Swarm, 


bhakii, 27, 40, 49, 54, 60 
bhakti-yoga (method), 81, 93, 

101, 121, 152 

Bbakti Yoga (book), 91, 93 
Bbarata Dharma M.aba 

dala } 194 
Bharati, Baba Premananda, 

177, 218 

bbuta-'suddbi, 122 
Bhuvanesvari, 64 
Bisey, Dr. Shunker A., 131 
Blake, William, 213 
Blavatsky, Helen Petrovna, 

176, 228 
Bodhananda, Swarm, 95-9<5, 

99, 103-04, 107-09, 113, 


Bodhhattva, 26, 62 
Boock, Minnie C., 86 
Bose, Prof. J. C., 165, 203 
Bose, Prof. Sudhindra, 270 




Bragdon, Claude, 201 
Brahma Samaj, 20, 44, 56, 59, 

66, 107, 133, 186, 208, 


brabmacar't, 84, 114, 169, 268 
brahmacarya, 168 
Brahmacarya Vidyalaya, 144 
Brahma, see Brahman (God) 
Brahman (God), 30-31, 37, 

39, 53-55, 97, 132 
Brahman (member of priestly 

order) , see Brahmana 
Brahrnana, 18, 23-24, 27, 29, 

47/54, 205, 207, 209-10, 

215, 231, 242 
Brahrnananda, Swami, 84 
Brahmanl, Bhairavl, 51-52, 59 
Brahmavadin, 262 
Bramham, W. C, 148 
Broun, Heywood, 199 
Buddha, see Gautama Buddha 
Buddhism, 13-14, 26, 29, 36, 

38, 62, 70-71, 91, 93, 

113, 167, 186, 222-23 
Bull, Mrs. Ole, 80, 120 
Burbank, Luther, 136, 169, 175 
Burdwan, Maharajadbiraja 

Bahadur of, 192 
Burnell, Dr. George Edwin, 


Calamus (magazine, later 
named Appreciation) , 1 38 

Calve, Madame, 80 

Cams, Dr. Paul, 80, 273 

caste, 20, 23, 31, 46 

Catholicism, see Roman Cath- 

Chaitanya, 51, 260 

Chandra Devi, 44 

Chanler, Mrs. Lewis Stuyves- 
ant, 227 

Chatterji, Pandit Jagadish 

Chandra, 193-97, 200 
Chattop adhy ay a ( Chatter j I) , 

Harindra Nath, 211 
Christ, see Jesus Christ 
Christian missions, 18, 102, 

106, 206, 214, 247 
Christian Science, 13-14, 95, 

112, 115, 117, 129, 145, 

156, 162, 176, 229-33, 

235-36, 255 
Christianity, 14-15, 20, 44, 55, 

58, 61-63, 71, 75, 83, 88, 

90, 93, 100, 107-19, 133, 

139-40, 153, 162, 167, 

174, 176, 182, 199, 208, 


Christine, Sister (Miss Green- 

stidel), 86 
Close, Upton, 199 
College of the City of New 

York, 198 

Conan Doyle, Sir Arthur, 192 
CooJidge, President, 171 
Coomaraswamy, Dr. Ananda 

K., 199-204, 212-13 
Cornell University, 207, 214 
Cousins, Dr. and Mrs. James 

H., 200 
Crowley, R C., 146 

Daggett, Mrs. Mabel Potter, 

Daksinesvara, 47, 50, 57-58, 


Das, R. K., 270 
Das Gupta, Kedar Nath, 1 38, 

185-93, 255 
Das Gupta, Sureodra Nath, 

210, 220 
dasnami, 31 
dasya, 49 



Datta, 64 

Davis, Edward B., 163 
Day, Dr. Allan, 80 
Dayananda, Swaml, 105 
Dayananda SarasvatI, Swaml, 


Deussen, Dr. Paul, 82, 272 
Deva Ram Sukul, $rt, 179-80 
Devamata, Sister, 104, 112 
Dewey, Prof. John 
dharana, 121, 159 
dharma, 61. See also 

Dbarma, 15, 28, 61-62, 72, 

79, 113, 164, 185-87, 

208, 210, 214, 217, 222- 

223. See also manava- 


D karma (magazine), 187 
D harm a Mandala, 138, 185- 

87, 235" ' 
Dharmapala, Anagarika H., 

Dhirananda, Swaml, 134-35, 

146-48, 169 
dhyana, 121, 156 
Downing, Joe, see Joveddah de 


Dresser, Horatio W., 234, 272 
dualism, 24, 42, 55-56, 88, 97, 


Duggan, Prof. Stephen P., 194 
dvaita, 55 

Eddy, Mrs. Mary Baker Patter- 
son, 229-35 

Edison, Thomas, 175 

Einstein, Albert, 175 

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 13-14, 
87, 162, 176, 231-35, 
241, 251, 273 

Evans, Prof. Lovett, 165 

Evans, Warren Felt, 235 

Eynon, Mr. and Mrs., 146 

Farmer, Sarah J., 78, 120 

Fellowship of Faiths, see Three- 
fold Movement 

Ferguson, Charles Wright, 
218, 235 

Fiilmore, Charles, 176, 235 

Fillmore, Myrtle (Mrs. 
Charles), 235 

Finley, Hon. Dr. John H., 194 

Ford, Henry, 162, 175 

Forman Christian College, 
182, 206 

France, Anatole, 204 

Fuller, Governor, 171 

Gadadhar Chatter] I (original 
name of Ramakrishna) , 
see Ramakrishna 

Galli-Curci, Madame, 136 

Gandhi, Manmohandas Ka- 
ramchand, called Ma- 
hatma, 13, 43, 91, 175, 
202-04, 211, 215, 243-44 

Ganesh, Sakharam, 270 

Gaudapada, 33 

Gautama Buddha (Siddhartha 
Gautama Sakyamuni, 25, 
45-46, 70, 108, 110 

Gaya ( Visnu-pada-Gaya) , 44, 

Gherwal, R. S., 218 

Ghose, S. N., 204 

Gibbons, Prof. Herbert Adams, 

Girt, 31, 141-42 

Glta, see Bhagavad Glta 

Gitanjati, 207 

Gnaneshwarananda, Swarm, 
see Jnanelvarananda, 

Gnosticism, 227 

gopi, 45 

Govil, Hari G., 198-99, 204 

Govind Singh, Guru, 221 

Govinda Rai, 54 



Greenstidel, Mrs., 86 
Gulick, Dr. Sidney L., 199 
guru, 34, 53, 56, 58, 120, 214, 


guru-pranama, 122 
gurubhai, 70, 82 
Guthrie, Dr. William Norman, 


Haas, Dr. George C. O., 193, 

196, 241 

Hale, George W., 78 
Hampden, Walter, 163 
Mannish, Ottoman Zar- 

Adusht, 223 
Hanuman, 49 
Hari, 57 

Hari Rama, Yogi, 178-79 
HaridasI, Sister, 78 
Harriman, Mrs. G. F., 146 
hatha-yoga, 35, 179, 218 
Hayes, Rev. Will, .138, 191 
Heavenly Father, 15, 89, 97, 

109, 140, 250 
Hilton, Dr. G. W., 224 
Hilton, Marie Elizabeth Ruth 

(Mrs. G. W.), 224 
Hindu Missionary Society, 242 
Hindustan Association of 

America, Inc., 197-99 
Hindustanee Student, 197 
Hocking, Prof. William E., 

Holmes, Dr. John Haynes, 189, 


Hunsicker, Alrin, 146, 168 
Husted, Nicolai, 267 
Hylan, Judge John K, 168 

Ida, 124-25 

Inayat Khan, Pir-o-Murshid, 

India Freedom Foundation, 

Inc., 204 
India Society of America, Inc., 

Indra, 22 
International School of Vedic 

and Allied Research, 14, 

193-97, 242 
Islam (" 'Muhammadanism' ' ) , 

44, 54, 58, 61-62, 153, 

162, 208, 221, 226-27, 

ista-dhyana, 123 

Jadu Nath Mallik, 55 

Jainism, 13, 186 

Janes, Dr. Lewis G., 78 

Jehovah, 57 

Jesus Christ, 55, 57, 62, 69, 
70, 76, 102, 108-09, 111, 
118, 123, 155, 162-63, 
175, 178, 183, 196, 213, 
215, 217, 222, 226, 253 

jwa, 40, 57, 124 

jtvanmukti, 41 

jnana t 54, 60 

jnana-yoga (method), 79, 81, 
93, 101, 121, 152, 181 

Jnana Yoga (book), 91 

Jnanesvarananda, Swaml, 95- 
101, 105, 109, 113, 116, 
118, 128, 132, 156 

John, Saint, 210 

Jones, Dr. E. Stanley, 176 

Jones, Sir William, 231, 240 

Joshee (Joshi) , Mr., 205 

Joshi, Prof. S. L., 270 

Journal of the International 
School of Vedic and Al- 
lied Research, 197 

Joveddah de Raja, 14, 219-20 

Judaism, 162, 217, 240, 249, 

l 43-52, 59, 73, 123, 132 
Kalidasa, 188 
karma, 23, 25, 27, 39, 41, 61, 

93, 181, 209, 222-223, 




karma-yoga (method), 81, 

101, 103, 121, 155-56 
Karma Yoga (book), 91, 93, 

Kasimbazar, Hon. Maharaja 

Sir Manindra Chandra 

Nundy Bahadur of, 144, 


Kayastba, 64 
Keshab Chandra Sen, 44, 56- 

57, 62, 66, 71 
Keskar, Sbrt Vishwanath, 

Ketkar Dr. Shridhar Venka- 

tesh, 208, 215 
Keyserling, Count, 204 
khaddar, 188 

Khalsa Dlwan Society, 222 
Khudiram, 44 
Kloh, Mrs., 114, 147 
Klotz, Mrs. E., 146 
Kokatnur, V. R., 204 
Kripananda, Swaml, 80-81 
Krishna, popular form of Kris- 
na> " 27, 25-26, 120, 123, 

150, 153, 178, 196 
Krishna Samaj, 177 
kriya-yoga, 142, 155 
Ksatriya, 23, 64 
Kumarappa, Dr. Jagadisan M,, 


KundalM, 48-49, 123-37, 155, 
"*160, 179, 222, 250, 

Kurtkoti, His Holiness Sbri 

Swaml Shankaracharya 

Dr., 187 

Lahiri (Sri Syama Charan La- 
hiri Mabasaya) , called 
Maharaja, 141-42, 155, 

Lall, Rama Krishna, 214 
Landsberg, Herr Leon, see 
Swaml Kripananda 

Lanman, Dr. Charles Rock- 

well, 194, 197 
LaoTze, 213 
lathi, 65 
Leadbeater, Bishop Charles 

W., 236 
League of Neighbors, see 

Threefold Movement 
Leggett, Mr. and Mrs. Francis, 

80, 85 

Lewis, Dr. M. W., 146 
.Liberal Catholic Church, 235 
Lincoln, Abraham, 175 
Lindsey, Judge and Mrs. Ben, 

Louise, Madame Marie, see 

Swarm Abhayananda, 79 
Lovett, Robert Morss, 200 

MacDowell, J. Harold, 168 
MacLeod, Miss J., 80 
Madhava, 28, 55 
Maha Bodhi Society, 223 
Maha Dev (great god), 83 
Mahabbarata, 64 
Mahadeo (great god), 39 
Mahayana, 223 
Maitra, Harendra Nath, 211 
manas-puja, 123 
manava-dbarma, 208 
Manindra Chandra, see 

mantra, 48, 53 
mantra-yoga } 35 
Manu, 46, 209 
Marden, Orison Swett, 235 
marga f 61 
Martin, Dr. Alfred W., 191, 


Martin, Mursbtd Rabia A., 226 
mata, 61 
Matarisvan, 22 

matha, see Ramakrishna Matba 
Mathur Nath Biswas, 47, 49, 




maya, 54, 232 
Mayo, Katherine, 14, 184-85 
Ma2daznan > 224-26 
Mazumdar, Hari Das, 215 
McLachlan, Hon. James, 148 
medulla oblongata, 126, 


Miilikan, Prof., 160, 165 
MIsrow, Jogdesh, 211 
moksa, 114, 210 
monism, 24, 38, 42, 88, 252, 


Mother India, 72, 184, 206 
Mother India, 14 
Mott, J. W., 146 
Mozumdar (Mazumdar, A. K., 

Mukerji, Dhan Gopal, 176, 

192, 200, 211 
Mukerji, G., 270 
mukti, 34 

Miiller, Henrietta, 81, 84 
Mullet, Max, 21, 82, 240 
Munroe, Prof. Paul, 194 

, 124 

Nag, Dr. Kalidas, 204 
Naidu, Mrs. Sarojini, 200, 202, 


Nanak, Guru, 221 
Narayana, Swarm, 184 
Narendra Nath Datta( orig- 

inal name of Vivekanan- 

da), see Vivekananda 
Neo-Platonism, 237-38, 241 
Nerod (Niroda), Brahmacari, 


New Historical Society, 227 
New Thought, 17, 145, 156, 

176, 193, 234-36, 251 
Newton, Rev. Joseph Fort, 191 
Nzbbana, 26 

Nirmalananda, Swami, 69 
Nirvana, 26, 181 

Nivedita, Sister, 81, 84-86, 91, 


niyama, 121 
Noble, Margaret, see Nivedita, 


Norwood, Hev. Dr. Robert, 191 
Nyaya-Vaisesika, 195 

Ojas, 156 

Om, 125, 159, 222 

Omkar, His Holiness Srimath 

Swami, 181 

Oom the Omnipotent, 218 
Oriental Magazine, 198 

Palmer, Hon. Thomas W, 78 

Ptincatantra, 29 

pandit, popularized as pundit, 

* " 20, 45-46, 52, 227 
pantheism, 38, 252 
Paramananda, Swami, 103-05, 

110, 112-13, 150, 249 
Parafwatman, 232, 241 
Parliament of Religions, 72, 

74, 76, 80, 100, 102, 227 
Patanjali, 35-36, 129, 135, 

142, 155, 265-66 
Patterson, C. F., 86 
Paul, Saint, 155, 210 
Person (God), 39-40 
pin gala, 124 
Plotinus, 13, 132, 233, 236-39, 


pluralism, 24, 255 
Prabhavananda, Swami, 104-05 
Prabuddba Bharata, 271 
Prakashananda, Swami, 

prakriti, 40 
Praya, 125, 128-29, 132, 152, 

156, 233, 266 
pmnayama, 121, 128, 265 
prasvida, 114 

Pratt, Prof. James Bisset, 272 
pratydbara, 121 



ay o pave sana, 70 
em Lai Adoris, 14, 219 
Protestantism, 238, 248 
Pun, 31, 141 
Purusa (Person), 53 

Quimby, Phineas Parker, 

Radha-Krishna Temple, 177 

Radha Vilas, *196 

Radhakrishnan, Prof. Sarva- 
palli, 14, 208-10 

Raghavananda, Swami, 104 

raja-yoga (method), 81, 85, 
92-93, 101, 103, 121, 
126-27, 131, 152, 155-56, 
179, 181 

Raja Yoga (book), 91-92, 
121, 129, 142, 155-56 

rajas, 225 

Rakhit, Hemendra Kasore, 

Ram Kumar, 43, 46 

Ram Maharaj, Prince, 218 

Rama, 45-46, 49, 123 

Rama Tiratha, Swami, 182 ? 

Ramacharaka, Yogi, 14, 185, 

Ramakrishna (Sri Ramakrish- 
na Paramahansa), 43-64, 
66-71, 84, 96, 102, 115- 
16, 118, 123-24, 141-42, 
246, 260 

Ramakrishna Mat ha, 70, 86, 
106, 113-14,' 11 9, 133 

Ramakrishna Mission, 68, 106, 
113, 133, 247 

Ramakrishna movement, 70-71, 
83, 95-133, 173-76, 251 

Ramakrishna Order, see Ra- 
makrishna movement 

Rarnakrishnananda, Swami, 

Ramanathan, Paul, 205 
Ramanuja, Saint, 24, 28, 30, 

38-42, 55, 112-13, 246, 


R&mayana, 49, 64 
rang, 48 
Rao, J. S., 242 
Rashid, Mr., 147 
Rasmani, B&ni, 46 
rebirth, 25, 39, 164, 175 
reincarnation, see rebirth 
renunciation, 68, 160, 249, 251 
Rice, S. P., 273 
Richdale, Mrs. E., 146 
Rjgveda, 22-23 
fisis, 24, 72, 144, 233 
Robertson, Leo C, 272 
Rogers, P., 148 
Roman Catholicism, 117, 162, 

238, 251 
Rumi, 213 
Russell, Bertrand, 204 

Saccidananda (sat-cit-ananda) , 
Swarm, 103-04 

vadhana, 33, 50-51, 97 

sadhu, 45 

sahasvara, 48, 122-26 

Saint Denis, Ruth, 199 

Sakta, see Saktist 

Saktist, 49, 51 

sakti, 47, 53-54 

SaJkuntati, 188 

samadhi, 48, 53, 58, 69, 101, 
122, 124 

Sambhu Charan Mallik, 55 

samgama, 159 

savnpradaya, 61 

Sankara, Saint, 24, 28, 30-46, 
52, 55, 60-61, 90, 135, 
166-67, 182-84, 217, 
229, 246, 248-49, 253, 

Sankaracarya, see Sankara, Saint 

Sankhya, 35, 39 



sankirtan, 70 

sannyasa, 34, 45, 53, 72, 79, 

sannyast, 31, 39, 45, 54, 65, 

72, 81, 84, 114, 137, 142, 


sannyaszn, see sannyast 
sannyaszrii, 51 

sansara, 23. .$> tf/J0 rebirth 
sanskar, 242 
Sanskrit, 20, 97, 99, 123, 194, 

196, 227, 231, 240, 255 
Santi Asrama, 86, 181 
Saradananda, Swarm, 69, 82, 

85, 104, 112, 260 
Sarkir, Dr. S. L., 113 
sastras, 30 
Sastri, K. D., 217 
sat-cakra~bheda, 125 
'sat-cit-ananda, 34, 57, 152-54, 


sattva, 224 
Savttri, 138, 189 
Schopenhauer, Arthur, 14, 92, 

108, 233, 239 
Scott, Mrs. C. P., 147 
Seeger, William Tully, 273 
Self (God), 30, 33-34, 37, 

168, 206, 253-54, 273 
Seligman, Prof, Edwin R. A., 


seva, 71 

Shakespeare, William, 162 
Shaw, George Bernard, 175 
Shepherd, William R., 199 
stdabi, 97 

Sieber, Harry F., 170 
Sikhism, 14, 186, 221, 241 
Simmons, Mrs. F,, 147 
Siva, 44-45, 47, 51, 57, 64-65, 

71, 87, 97, 123-24, 212 
Sivaite, 49, 97 
Smith, Mr. and Mrs. 147 
Sohrab, Mirza Ahmad, 227 
Soul (God), 40 

Speer, Dr, Robert E., 177 
Spencer, Herbert, 66, 87, 132 
Spinoza, Benedict, 13, 123, 

238, 253-54 
sraddha, 260 
Sri Mariya Asrama, 182 
Sruti, 30 

Stowkowski, Mr. Leopold, 146 
Street, Dr., see Yogananda, 


Sturdy, E. T., 81-82 
Sudra, 23, 29, 46, 209 
Sudraka, 189 
Suflism, 54, 62, 226-28 
Sunderland, Dr. J. T., 199, 201 
Super-Akasha Yogi Wassan, 

14, 217 
surtsabda, 36 

Suryananda, Brahmacari, 182 
susumna, 48, 122, 124-25 
svadesi, 188 
svadharma, 61, 109, 181 
svawj, 188, 244 
stwamt, popular form of svami, 

13, 45, 65, 67, 120, 


Swarthmore College, 217 
Swihart, A. K., 270 

Tagore Rabindra Nath, 14, 99, 
162, 175, 187-88, 192, 
201, 203-04, 207, 209, 
211, 273 

Tai Hsu, Venerable Lord Ab- 
bott, 223 

tamos, 225 

Tantra, 49, 51, 94, 179, 186, 
218, 222, 265 

Tarake^vara Siva, 70. See also 

Tedrow, Mrs., 147 

Telsa, Nicolas, 80 

Tennyson, Alfred, 191 

Thayer, Henry Richardson, 234 

theism, 38, 252 



Theosophy, 13-14, 95, 117, 
140, 176, 193, 218, 226, 
228-29, 235-36, 255 
Thind, Dr. Bhagat Singh, 221 
Thomas Aquinas, 13, 238 
Thompson, Beulah E., 241 
Thompson, Francis, 162 
Thoreau, Henry David, 231, 

Threefold Movement, 14, 139, 

187-93, 242 
Totapuri, 51 

Towne, Mrs. Elizabeth, 271 
Trigunatlta, Swami, 103-04 
Trine," Ralph Waldo, 176 
Turiyananda, Swami, 69, 
85-86, 103-04 

Union of East and West, see 

Threefold Movement 
Union Theological Seminary, 

United States, 13, 15, 106, 

135> 247 
Unity School of Christianity, 

175-76, 234-36 

University of Bombay, 17, 215 
of Calcutta, 17, 65, 142, 246 
of Chicago, 208 
Upadeshak, Pandit, 169 
Upanishads, popular form of 
Upanisads, 23-25, 27-29, 
32, 34, 38, 68, 99, 116- 
17, 135, 155, 159-60, 167, 
184, 232, 234, 238-41, 

Brihad-Aranyaka, 259 
Cbandogya, 267 
Matin, 259 
Mandukya, 33 
Mundaka, 259 
Katha, 29, 259 
SvetaSvatara, 29, 38-40, 259 
Urquhart, W. S., 273 

Vaisya, 23 

Vajiranana, Venerable Thera 
P., 223 

Vallabha, 51 

Valyi, Felix, 204 

varna, 23 

Vaswani, T. L., 204 

Vedanta, see Vedantism 

Vedanta centers of the Rama- 
krishna movement, 15-16, 
21, 24, 64, 68, 73, 78, 85- 
86, 95-133, 168, 171, 
173-77, 193, 226, 234, 
242, 246, 248, 250 

Vedanta Sutras, 28, 259-60 

Vedantin, see Vedantist 

Vedantism, 21-42, 52, 92, 97- 
98, 102 } 109-10, 116, 206, 
209-10, 230-31, 233, 236, 
239, 252 

Vedantist, 28, 39, 60, 88, 97, 
141, 152 

Vedas, 22-24, 28.29, 110, 239, 
135, 178, 186, 230-231, 

vidya, 33 

Vidya-Vtiridbi, 194 

Villard, Oswald Garrison, 199 

visistadvaita, 55 

Visnu, 39, 44, 52, 97 

Visnuite, 39, 51, 97 

Vtvekaciidwnam, 259 

Vivekananda, Swami, 43, 48, 
64-94, 96, 99-107, 110- 
11, 114, 116, 118, 121, 
123, 127-29, 131, 141, 
73, 234-35, 2^6-50 

Vividishananda, Swami, 105 

Von Kunits, Luigi, 175 

Waldo, Miss S. E., 78 
Ward, Prof. Harry F., 200 
Weller, Rev. and Mrs. Charles 

Frederick, 190 
White, Rev. Eliot, 38 



Whitman, Walt, 138, 162, 

176, 241 

Wilcox, Ella Wheeler, 81 
Wiley, Mrs. C. W., 147 
Willatsen, Mr. and Mrs. A., 


Wilson, Dr., 146 
Wise, Rabbi Stephen S., 189 
World's Parliament of Reli- 
gions, see Parliament of 

Wright, Prof, J. H., 74, 80 
Wyman, Prof., 80 

Yajnavalkya, 38 

Yama, 22 

yama, 121 

yoga, 34, 36, 48, 51, 54, 60, 
119-21, 127-28, 130-31, 
136-37, 143, 145, 160, 
167, 172, 178, 180, 185, 
206. See also bhakti- 
yoga f hatha-yoga, jnana- 

yoga f karma-yoga, kriya- 
yoga, mantra-yoga, raja- 
yoga and surt sab da-yoga 

Yogamata, Sister, 146 

Yogananda, Swami, 134-76, 
218, 229, 246, 248-50 

Yogananda, Swami (Dr. 
Street), 81 

yoganidra, 35 

Yogessar, 180 

yogi 13, 35, 48, 55, 92, 129, 
141-42, 159, 233, 246 

yogin, see yogz 

Yogoda Sat-sanga Society of 
America, Inc., 14, 16, 24, 
134-77, 193, 226, 242, 
246, 248, 250-53 

Younghusband, Sir Francis, 

Yuktesvara (Srimath Swami 
Sn YukteSvara Gtrijt) 9 


1 36 368