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21. Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) was the foremost disciple of Ramakrishna and a world spokesperson for Vedanta. India's first spiritual and cultural ambassador to the West, came to represent the religions of India at the World Parliament of Religions, held at Chicago in connection with the World's Fair (Columbian Exposition) of 1893. His Chicago speech is uniquely Vedantic. Jawaharlal Nehru refers to this universal dimension of Vivekananda in his Discovery of India. “Rooted in the past, and full of pride in India’s heritage, Vivekananda was yet modern in his approach to life’s problems, and was a kind of bridge between the past of India and her present.”

 

Swami Vivekananda - spokesperson for Vedanta. India's first spiritual and cultural ambassador to the West.

(image source: Webmaster's personal collection of art).

Refer to Chitra Gallery.

***

The cyclonic monk from India” that is how delegates to the Parliament of Religions at Chicago in 1894 described Ramakrishna’s great disciple, Vivekananda. Romain Rolland, in his admirable biography of this “tamer of souls” refers to Vivekananda’s dominating personality in these words: “a great voice is meant to fill the sky. The whole world is its sounding-box…..Men like Vivekanada are not meant to whisper. They can only proclaim. The sun cannot moderate its own rays. He was deeply conscious of his role. To bring Vedanta out of its obscurity and present it in a rationally acceptable manner; to arouse among his countrymen an awareness of their own spiritual heritage and restore their self-confidence; to show that the deepest truths of Vedanta are universally valid, and that India’s mission is to communicate these truths to the whole world – these were the goals he set before himself.

(source: The Spirit of Modern India - Edited by Robert A McDermont and V. S. Naravane  p.6 - 7).

He said:

"From the high spiritual flights of the Vedanta philosophy, of which the latest discoveries of science seem like echoes, to the low ideas of idolatry with its multifarious mythology, the agnosticism of the Buddhists and the atheism of the Jains, each and all have a place in the Hindu's religion. 

God is the ever-active providence, by whose power systems after systems are being evolved out of chaos, made to run for a time, and again destroyed. 

This is what the Brahmin boy repeats every day:

"The sun and the moon, the Lord created like the suns and the moons of previous cycles." 

And this agrees with modern science.

(source: Hinduism - By Swami Vivekananda chapter: A Universal Religion p. 3)

Vivekananda said:  "The Vedas teach that the soul is divine, only held in the bondage of matter; perfection will be reached when this bond will burst, and the word they use for it is, therefore, Mukti - freedom, freedom from the bonds of imperfection, freedom from death and misery."

The Lord has declared to the Hindu in His incarnation as Krishna:

"I am in every religion as the thread through a string of pearls. Wherever thou seest extraordinary holiness and extraordinary power raising and purifying humanity, know thou that I am there."

(source:
Swami Vivekananda Paper on Hinduism  http://www.itihaas.com/modern/vivek-speech3.html).

For him India was synonymous with the spirit of religion. He said "If India is to die, religion will be wiped off the face of the earth." 

(source: A Call To The Eternal - By Swami Ashokananda  p. 78).

Swami Vivekananda in his essay, The Future of India

"It is the same India which has withstood the shocks of centuries, of hundreds of foreign invasions, of hundreds of upheavals of manners and customs. It is the same land, which stands firmer than any rock in the world, with its undying vigour, indestructible life. Its life is of the same nature as the soul, without beginning and without end, immortal; and we are the children of such a country."

(source: Hindutva is liberal - By A. B. Vajpayee - rediff.com).

Swami Vivekananda said about the Bhagavad Gita:

"No better commentary on the Vedas has been written or can be written."

(source: Gita, An Antidote For All Ills - Times of India). 

"Hinduism is the mother of all religions" - so wrote Swami Vivekananda.

“This is the ancient land, where wisdom made its home before it went into any other country… Here is the same India whose soil has been trodden by the feet of the greatest sages that ever lived… Look back, therefore, as far as you can, drink deep of the eternal fountains that are behind, and after that look forward, march forward, and make India brighter, greater, much higher, than she ever was.”

"Say it with pride : we are Hindus", is what Swami Vivekananda taught his fellow Hindus. 

(source: Ayodhya and After - By Koenraad Elst).

"Hindu Dharma is the quintessence of our national life, hold fast to it if you want your country to survive, or else you would be wiped out in three generations".

(source: Cry for a Hindu Nation - By V Sundaram - boloji.com).

Swami Vivekananda called upon his people to ‘rise, awake and acquire’ and reminded them that 

"Hindu religion does not consist in struggles and attempts to believe a certain doctrine or dogma, but in realizing not in believing, but in being and becoming."

(source: India Rediscovered - By Dr. Giriraj Shah p. 31  Abhinav Publications New Delhi 1975).

 

       

Swami Vivekananda: The fiery monk from the East who founded the Vedanta Society of America in 1894, was a champion of Mother India.

Watch Swami Vivekananda Introduces Hinduism in Chicago

The Hindu movement that he started became so successful in America, that Wendell Thomas wrote a book called, 'Hinduism Invades America" where he observes: "An old faith is now invading a new country."

Swami Vivekananda also claimed: "I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance."

"Say it with pride : we are Hindus", is what Swami Vivekananda taught his fellow Hindus. 

***

Vivekananda said if you want to do anything in India, do it with the re-establishment of dharma or its reawakening. In India the soil and the dharma (the upward aspiration) are one and the same, are body and soul.

(source: The Soul of India - By Satyavrata R Patel p. 206).

Swami Vivekananda, who founded the Vedanta Society of America in 1894, was a champion of Mother India. 

He had said: “The time 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!

(source: Hinduism Invades America - By Wendell Thomas  p. 64 - 72 published by The Beacon Press Inc. New York City 1930).

"By what strange social alchemy has India subdued her conquerors, transforming them to her very self and substance..... ? Why is it that her conquerors have not been able to impose on her their language, their thoughts and
customs, except in superficial ways?"

(source: The empire strikes back - By Suma Varghese - Free Press Journal December 5 1997).

"If one religion is true, then all the others must also be true. Thus the Hindu faith is as yours as much as mine."

(source: http://www.geocities.com/hindusoc/special/hindintr.htm).
 

Vivekananda's philosophy was one of pride in the past. " Look back, therefore, as far as you can, drink deep of the eternal fountains that are behind, and after that, look forward, much forward, march forward and make India brighter, greater, much higher than she ever was... We must go to the root of this disease and cleanse the blood of all impurities.”  

He had put immense faith in Hinduism:

"To my mind', our religion is truer than any other religion, because it never conquered. Because it never shed blood, because its mouth always shed on all, words of blessing, of peace, words of love and sympathy. It is here and here alone that the ideals of toleration were first preached. And it is here and here alone that toleration and sympathy become practical; it is theoretical in every other country; it is here and here alone, that the Hindu builds mosques for the Mohammedans and churches for the Christians.”

(source: Secularization of India…? - By S. Balasundar - Hindu voice). 

Religion is the main theme of India. Swami Vivekananda wrote:

"Each nation, like each individual, has one theme in life, which is its center, the principal note round which every note comes to form harmony....if one nation attempts to throw off its vitality, the direction which has become its own through the transmission of centuries, the nation dies....if one nation's political power is its vitality, as in England, artistic life is another and so on. In India religious life forms the center, the keynote of the whole music of life."

(source: Glimpses of Indian Culture - By Dr. Giriraj Shah p. 27). 

He proclaimed the non-dualistic "spirituality" of Vedanta as the metaphysical root and basis of universal tolerance and brotherhood, as well as of India's national identity.  

He said: 

“India alone was to be, of all lands, the land of toleration and of spirituality…in that distant time the sage arose and declared, ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti (He who exists is one; the sages call him variously). This is one of the most memorable sentences that was ever uttered, one of the grandest truths that was ever discovered. And for us Hindus this truth has been the very backbone of our national existence…our country has become the glorious land of religious toleration…The world is waiting for this grand idea of universal toleration….The other great idea that the world wants from us today….is that eternal ideal of the spiritual oneness of the whole universe…This is the dictate of Indian philosophy. This oneness is the rationale of all ethics and all spirituality.”

(source: Vivekanada's Complete Works  III, 186ff).

 

Lord Vishnu as Varaha avatar incarnation.

“India alone was to be, of all lands, the land of toleration and of spirituality. "I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance."

For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

***

"I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance.  

"We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a country which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all countries of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I remember having repeated a hymn from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: "As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee." .... 

(source: Swami Vivekananda's speeches - The World Parliament of Religions. Chicago Sept 11 1893).

22. Adi Shakaracharya (5th century BC) was undoubtedly an immortal spiritual leader who, by his matchless speculative daring, grand practical idealism, remorseless logic and stern intellectualism gave an interpretation of the mysteries of life whose influence is still great. 

Shankaracharya is a colossus of India's cultural history.  

He re-established the Swami order and, along with propounding Advaita (non-dual Brahman), his unequalled contribution to life in the country lies in providing a geographical as well as metaphysical definition to Hinduism. Adi Shankaracharya established mathas across the length and breadth of the country: Sringeri in the south, Dwarka in the west, Badrinarayan in the north, Govardhan, Puri, in the East. It is to his journeys that the Indic civilisation owes both its metaphysical continuity as well as its physical unity.

American historian Will Durant has written about him: 

"In his short life of thirty-two years Sankara achieved that union of sage and saint, of wisdom and kindliness, which characterizes the loftiest type of man produced in India. "

"Shanakara establishes the source of his philosophy at a remote and subtle point never quite clearly visioned again until, a thousand years later, Immanuel Kant wrote his Critique of Pure Reason."

(source: Story of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage - By Will Durant MJF Books. 1935. p 546 - 547). 

Sankara's philosophy is called Kevaladvaita or absolute monism which can be summed up thus. The Supreme Spirit or the Brahman is alone real and the individual self is only the Supreme Self and no other. Brahman is supreme intelligence, devoid of attributes, form, changes or limitations. It is self-luminous and all pervading and is without a second. The empirical world is unreal, an illusion born of ignorance. The jiva continues in Samsara only as long as it retains attachment due to ignorance or Maya. If it casts off the veil of Maya through knowledge or Jnana it will realize its identity with the Brahman and get merged into it.

(source: Main Currents in Indian Culture - By S. Natarajan p. 35 - 37).

Refer to documentary on Adi Shankaracharya (2003).

 

          

Shankaracharya is a colossus of India's cultural history. 

"In his short life of thirty-two years Sankara achieved that union of sage and saint, of wisdom and kindliness, which characterizes the loftiest type of man produced in India."

(image source: Sri Adi Sankara - kamakoti.org).

***

He is considered one of the foremost of India's mystic philosophers and religious thinker who developed Advaita Vedanta, a system of philosophical thought within Hinduism. Adi Shankaracharya was born during the time when Buddhism held somewhat of a sway in India, and the philosophy of Buddhism had come to be interpreted as a denial of God. Buddhism was Puritanical. And by banning drinking, dancing, singing and theatre, Buddhism sowed the seeds of opposition. Moreover, Hinduism was divided into various sects and the ritualistic practice had taken a predominance over actual philosophical practice. 

Adi Shankaracharya revived Sanatana Dharma. He effectively turned back the wave of Buddhism and Jainism and established Hinduism firmly in Bharat. His works on religion and philosophy pointed out the unique features of our ancient religion. Shankara, in his indisputable style, set out on a difficult mission and changed the outlook of the country and its people by revamping the vast hindu literature into simple easy to understand language.

The great genius of Adi-Shankaracharya led him to establish in the four corners of India, four principal seats of learning for propagating his teaching; at a time when he had revived the understanding of the people and established the true and eternal fundamentals of Vedic wisdom. 

(source: Introduction to Shankara - About.com).

 

The great genius of Adi-Shankaracharya led him to establish in the four corners of India, and established the true and eternal fundamentals of Vedic wisdom. 

Advaita Vedanta has been and continues to be the most widely known system of Indian philosophy, both in the East and the West. 

(image source: Sri Adi Sankara - kamakoti.org).

Refer to Bhaja Govindam - kamakoti.org.

***

Shri Shankara composed a number of hymns to foster the sense of devotion in the hearts of men and this is His greatest service. Bhaja Govindam is one among His many works and in this short garland of poems in praise of Lord Govinda (Krishna). 

Refer to Bhaja Govindam - kamakoti.org.

Advaita Vedanta has been and continues to be the most widely known system of Indian philosophy, both in the East and the West. 

The entire philosophy of Shankara can be summed up in the following statement: Brahma satyam, pagan mithya, jivo brahmaiva naparah (Brahman is real, the world is false, the self is not-different from Brahman). 

(source: Great Thinkers of the Eastern World - By Ian Philip McGreal Editor p. 214 - 215).

This is what he thought of the
Bhagavad Gita:

" From a clear knowledge of the Bhagavad-Gita all the goals of human existence become fulfilled. Bhagavad-Gita is the manifest quintessence of all the teachings of the Vedic scriptures." 

Karl Jaspers (1883-1969) the famous Austrian existentialist philosopher Regarding Shankara's commentary, once told Professor K. Satchidananda Murthy that, 'there is no metaphysics superior to that of Shankara.'

(source: Vedanta influence - vedanta.org). 

23. Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950) most original philosopher of modern India. Education in England gave him a wide introduction to the culture of ancient, or mediaeval and of modern Europe. He was described by Romain Rolland as ' the completest synthesis of the East and the West.'

He was a brilliant scholar in Greek and Latin. He had learned French from his childhood in Manchester and studied for himself German and Italian sufficiently to study Goethe and Dante in the original tongues. He passed the Tripos in Cambridge in the first class and obtained record marks in Greek and Latin in the examination for the Indian Civil Service. 

This is what Aurobindo said in his book, India's Rebirth (ISBN 2-902776-32-2)  p 139-140.

"Hinduism.....gave itself no name, because it set itself no sectarian limits; it claimed no universal adhesion, asserted no sole infallible dogma, set up no single narrow path or gate of salvation; it was less a creed or cult than a continuously enlarging tradition of the God ward endeavor of the human spirit. An immense many-sided and many staged provision for a spiritual self-building and self-finding, it had some right to speak of itself by the only name it knew, the eternal religion, Santana Dharma...." 

" The people of India, even the "ignorant masses" are by centuries of training are nearer to the inner realities, than even the cultured elite anywhere else" 

“The Gita is the greatest gospel of spiritual works ever yet given to the race." 

In his famous Essays on the Gita, Sri Aurobindo summed up the whole problem in these words: 

We will use only soul-force and never destroy by war or any even defensive employment of physical violence ? Good, though until soul-force is effective, the Asuric force in men and nations tramples down, breaks, slaughters, burns, pollutes, as we see it doing today, but then at its ease and unhindered, and you have perhaps caused as much destruction of life by your abstinence as others by resort to violence. Strength founded on the Truth and the dharmic use of force are thus the Gita’s answer to pacifism and non-violence. Rooted in the ancient Indian genius, this third way can only be practised by those who have risen above egoism, above asuric ambition or greed. The Gita certainly does not advocate war ; what it advocates is the active and selfless defence of dharma. If sincerely followed, its teaching could have altered the course of human history. It can yet alter the course of Indian history."

The Gita is, in Sri Aurobindo’s words, “our chief national heritage, our hope for the future.”

(source: The Gita in Today’s World - by Michel Danino - bharatvani.org).  Refer to Sri Aurobindo Ashram.org

 

Sri Aurobindo and Lokmanya Tilak.

(image source: sriaurobindo society).

***

Aurobindo says in his book Karmayogin

"Hinduism, which is the most skeptical and the most believing of all, the most skeptical because it has questioned and experimented the most, the most believing because it has the deepest experience and the most varied and positive spiritual knowledge, that wider Hinduism which is not a dogma or combination of dogmas but a law of life, which is not a social framework but the spirit of a past and future social evolution, which rejects nothing but insists on testing and experiencing everything and when tested and experienced, turning in to the soul's uses, in this Hinduism, we find the basis of future world religion. This Sanatana Dharma has many scriptures: The Veda, the Vedanta, the Gita, the Upanishads, the Darshanas, the Puranas, the Tantras:......but its real, the most authoritative scripture is in the heart in which the Eternal has his dwelling."

Aurobindo in his book, Letters, Vol. II wrote:

"The Hindu religion appears....as a cathedral temple, half in ruins, noble in the mass, often fantastic in detail but always fantastic with a significance - crumbling or badly outworn in places, but a cathedral temple in which service is still done to the Unseen and its real presence can be felt by those who enter with the right spirit."

(source: The Soul of India - By Satyavrata R Patel p. 60-61).

"That which we call the Hindu religion is really the Eternal religion because it embraces all others."

(source: The Wisdom of Hindu Gurus -Timothy Freke pg 56 ).

In a brilliant speech, Aurobindo equated the Indian land with Sanatana Dharma or Hindu religion which is but another name for the yearning of the Divine or the quest of the Spirit. He also said that in India religion and nationalism are one. India rises with religion, lives by it and will perish with it and to rise in religion is to raise India.

(source: The Soul of India - By Satyavrata R Patel p. 206).

"India of the ages is not dead nor has she spoken her last creative word; she lives and has still something to do for herself and the human peoples." 

(source:
India's Rebirth - By Sri Aurobindo Publisher: Mira Aditi ISBN 81-85137-27-7 p. 158). 

Aurobindo calls the commercial civilization of the West "monstrous and asuric (demonic)".

He pointed out: " ...the seers of ancient India had, in their experiments and efforts at spiritual training and the conquest of the body, perfected a discovery which in its importance to the future of human knowledge dwarfs the divinations of Newton and Galileo, even the discovery of the inductive and experimental method in Science was not more momentous..." 

(source: The Upanishads - By Sri Aurobindo vol. 12 p. 6).

" Spirituality is indeed the master key of the Indian mind; the sense of the infinitive is native to it. India saw from the beginning, - and, even in her ages of reason and her age of increasing ignorance, she never lost hold of the insight, - that life cannot be rightly seen in the sole light, cannot be perfectly lived in the sole power of its externalities. She was alive to the greatness of material laws and forces; she had a keen eye for the importance of the physical sciences; she knew how to organize the arts of ordinary life. But she saw that the physical does not get its full sense until it stands in right relation to the supra-physical; she saw that the complexity of the universe could not be explained in the present terms of man or seen by his superficial sight, that there were other powers behind, other powers within man himself of which he is normally unaware, that he is conscious only of a small part of himself, that the invisible always surrounds the visible, the supra-sensible the sensible, even as infinity always surrounds the finite. She saw too that man has the power of exceeding himself, of becoming himself more entirely and profoundly than he is, - truths which have only recently begun to be seen in Europe and seem even now too great for its common intelligence.

She saw the myriad gods, and beyond God his own ineffable eternity; she saw that there were ranges of life beyond our present life, ranges of mind beyond our present mind and above these she saw the splendors of the spirit. Then with that calm audacity of her intuition which knew no fear or littleness and shrank from no act whether of spiritual or intellectual, ethical or vital courage, she declared that there was none of these things which man could not attain if he trained his will and knowledge; he could conquer these ranges of mind, become the spirit, become a god, become one with God, become the ineffable Brahman."

' India is the meeting place of the religions and among these Hinduism alone is by itself a vast and complex thing, not so much a religion as a great diversified and yet subtly unified mass of spiritual thought, realization and aspiration." "Metaphysical thinking will always no doubt be a strong element in her mentality, and it is to be hoped that she will never lose her great, her sovereign powers in that direction..."

(source: The Renaissance in India - Shri Aurobindo  Arya Publishing House Calcutta. p. 10 - 55).

Maharshi Aurobindo points out, 

"Indian religion has always felt that since the minds, the temperaments and the intellectual affinities of men are unlimited in their variety, a perfect liberty of thought and of worship must be allowed to the individual in his approach to the Infinite."

(source: Hindutva is liberal - By A. B. Vajpayee - rediff.com).

He wrote this regarding Hindu culture:

"More high-reaching, subtle, many-sided, curious and profound than the Greek, more noble and humane than the Roman, more large and spiritual than the old Egyptian, more vast and original than any other Asiatic civilization, more intellectual than the European prior to the 18th century, possessing all that these had and more, it was the most powerful, self-possessed, stimulating and wide in influence of all past human cultures. 

(source: The Soul of India - By Satyavrata R Patel  p. contents).

Sri Aurobindo in a series of luminous essays called A Defense of Indian Culture, published in the Arya:

"Spirituality is the master key of the Indian mind. It is this dominant inclination of India which gives character to all the expressions of her culture. In fact, they have grown out of her inborn spiritual tendency of which her religion is a natural out flowering. The Indian mind has always realized that the Supreme is the Infinite and perceived that to the soul in Nature the Infinite must always present itself in an infinite variety of aspects. 

(source: The Vision of India - By Sisirkumar Mitra  p. 53 - 54).

Speaking of Christianity's claims to an exclusive and universal salvation, Sri Aurobindo in his book, India's Rebirth (ISBN 2-902776-32-2) page 141, says: 

"The aggressive and quite illogical idea of a single religion for all mankind, a religion universal by the very force of its narrowness, one set of dogmas, one cult, one system of ceremonies, one ecclesiastical ordinance, one array of prohibitions and injunctions which all minds must accept on peril of persecution by men and spiritual rejection or eternal punishment by God, that grotesque creation of human unreason which has been the parent of so much intolerance, cruelty and obscurantism and aggressive fanaticism, has never been able to take firm hold of the Indian mentality."

(source: India's Rebirth - By Sri Aurobindo (ISBN 2-902776-32-2) p 141).

24. Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888-1975) was one of the most profound philosophers of this century, author and educationalist. In 1926, he was deputed by Calcutta University as the university delegate to the Congress of the Universities of the British Empire. He was elected Fellow of the British Academy in 1940, first Indian to be thus honoured. After Independence, when Nehru decided to send Radhakrishnan to the Soviet Union as ambassador, many wondered how a scholar would deal with a dictator like Stalin. Not only did Radhakrishnan have a successful stint there, he also got along very well with Stalin. In December, 1964, Pope Paul VI visited India and made him Knight of the Golden Army of Angels, the Vatican’s highest honour for a Head of State. Radhakrishnan was also a professor of Eastern Religions at Oxford and later became the second President of free India.

He was widely admired as a master of the English language, a spellbinding orator, a dynamic leader, and a generous human being. Was India’s most eminent 21st century philosopher. He was brought up and educated in colonial India where Christian missionaries proclaimed Christianity to be the only true religion and portrayed Hinduism as being seriously defective. In his first published works,  Radhakrishnan defended the Hindu theory of karma and the ethics of Vedanta. In his lectures Radhakrishnan answered the many Christian critics of Hinduism by formulating his interpretation of the essence of Hinduism. Hinduism is a way of life rather than a dogmatic creed. Its foundation is spiritual experience. Through meditative practices, one has direct experience of the Absolute Spirit (Brahman). This experience brings home the unity of the individual self and the Absolute Self. Attaining one’s deepest self by losing one’s selfish ego becomes the supreme goal.

(source: Great Thinkers of the Eastern World - By Ian Philip McGreal,  Editor p. 279 - 280).

There were many interpretations of Hindu scriptures and philosophy, but Radhakrishnan was perhaps the first Indian philosopher to present to the world the deeper aspects of Indian philosophy. He was truly India’s cultural ambassador to the world. After listening to him, one English lady was prompted to say, "There is no need for us to send missionaries to India."

"My religious sense," he used to say, "did not allow me to speak a rash or a profane word of anything which the soul of man holds or has held sacred. The attitude of respect for all creeds, this elementary good manners in matters of spirit, is bred into the marrow of one’s bones by the Hindu tradition.’

(source: Dr S. Radhakrishnan - tribuneindia.com). 

"Hinduism is not just a faith. It is the union of reason and intuition that cannot be defined but is only to be experienced. Evil and error are not ultimate. There is no Hell, for that means there is a place where God is not, and there are sins which exceed his love. "

"In the history of the world, Hinduism is the only religion, that exhibits a complete independence and freedom of the human mind, its full confidence in its own powers. Hinduism is freedom, especially the freedom in thinking about God." 

"In the search for the supernatural, it is like traveling in space without a boundary or barrier." 

(source: Bhagavad Gita  -
By S. Radhakrishan pg - 55).

" A large part of the world received its religious education from India." In spite of continuous struggle with theological baggage, India has held fast for centuries to the ideals of spirit." 

(source:
Eastern Religions & Western Thought - By. Dr. S. Radhakrishnan p. 116).

"Hinduism is wholly free from the strange obsession of some faiths that the acceptance of a particular religious metaphysics is necessary for salvation, and non-acceptance thereof is a heinous sin meriting eternal punishment in hell."

(source: The Hindu View of Life - By S. Radhakrishnan  p. 28).

He noted that: "If the Upanishads help us to rise above the glamour of the fleshy life, it is because their authors, pure of soul, ever striving towards the divine, reveal to us their pictures of the splendors of the unseen. The Upanishads are respected not because they are a part of Sruti or revealed literature and so hold a reserved position but because they have inspired generations of Indians with vision and strength by their inexhaustible significance and spiritual power. Indian thought has constantly turned to these scriptures for fresh illumination and spiritual recovery or recommencement, and not in vain. The fire still burns bright on their altars. Their light is for the seeing eye and their message is for the seeker after truth." 

(source: The Principal Upanishads - By S. Radhakrishnan London: Allen & Unwin/ New York: Humanities Press. 1953, p. 18-19).

"Indian thought is an extraordinary mass of material which for detail and variety has hardly any equal in any other part of the world. There is hardly any height of spiritual insight or rational philosophy attained in the world that has not its parallel in the vast stretch that lies between the early Vedic seers and the modern naiyAyikas."

(source: Indian Philosophy, Volume I - By S. Radhakrishnan).

 

Indian religion never quite understood the idea of exclusive worship. Indian religious tradition admits all forms in which the single truth is reflected.

For more refer to chapter on Greater India: Suvarnabhumi and Sacred Angkor

***

Hinduism recognizes that each religion is inextricably bound up with its culture and can grow organically. While it is aware that all religions have not attained to the same level of truth and goodness, it insists that they all have a right to express themselves. Religions reform themselves by interpretations and adjustments to one another. The Hindu attitude is one of positive fellowship not negative tolerance."

Tolerance is the homage which the finite mind pays to the inexhaustibility of the Infinite. 

Therefore, according to the Bhagavad Gita, even those who worship other gods (anyadevatah), ancestral deities, elemental powers, if they do so with faith, then their faith is justified, for the Divine accepts every form conceived by the worshipper."

(source: Eastern Religions & Western Thought - By. Dr. S. Radhakrishnan  p. 335 and 310 - 319).

"Hinduism has come to be a tapestry of the most variegated tissues and almost endless diversity of hues."

" Hinduism is therefore not a definite dogmatic creed, but a vast, complex, but subtly unified mass of spiritual thought and realization. Its tradition of the God ward endeavor of the human spirit has been continuously enlarging through the ages."

(source: The Hindu View of Life - By S. Radhakrishnan p. 8-9).

"The truth suggested in the Vedas are developed in the Upanishads. We find in the seers of the Upanishads, an utter fidelity to every layer and shade of truth as they saw it. They affirm that there is a central reality, the one without a second, who is all that is and beyond all that is."

'From the time of the Rg Veda till today, India has been the home of different religions and the Indian genius adopted a policy of live and let live towards them. Indian religion never quite understood the idea of exclusive worship. Indian religious tradition admits all forms in which the single truth is reflected. Proselytism is discouraged. It is not God that is worshipped but the group or the authority that claims to speak in his name."

The attempts of the western powers to impose their culture on India through the Government and its educational institutions have stirred the huge inertia of the Indian people and ruffled the surface of Indian society, but deep down the immemorial tradition of India has not been greatly disturbed."

(source: East and West: Some Reflections - By S. Radhakrishnan p. 22 -42).

Hinduism according to him is not a religion, but a commonwealth of religions. “It is more a way of life than a form of thought….The theist and the atheist, the skeptic and the agnostic may all be Hindus if they accept the Hindu system of culture and life. Hinduism insists not on religious conformity but on a spiritual and ethical outlook of life…Hinduism is not a sect but a fellowship of all who accept the law of right and earnestly seek for the truth.”

(source: The Hindu View of Life - By S. Radhakrishnan p. 77).

"By what strange social alchemy has India subdued her conquerors, transforming them to her very self and substance..... ? Why is it that her conquerors have not been able to impose on her their language, their thoughts and customs, except in superficial ways?"

(source: The empire strikes back - By Suma Varghese - Free Press Journal December 5 1997).

"They (Ancient Hindus) measured the land, divided the year, mapped out the heaven, traced the course of sun and planets through the zodiacal belt, analyzed the constitution of matter, and studied the nature of birds and beasts, plants and seeds."

(source: The Story of Oriental Philosophy - By L. Adams Beck p. 10 - 13).

"The Gita appeals to us not only by its force of thought and majesty of vision, but also by its fervor of devotion and sweetness of spiritual emotion."

(source: Indian Philosophy, Volume I - By S. Radhakrishnan). 

"Hinduism represents an effort at comprehension and cooperation. It recognizes the diversity in man’s approach towards, and realization of, the one Supreme Reality. For it the essence of religion consists in man’s hold on what is eternal and immanent in all being.  

"For the Hindu, every religion is true, if only its adherents sincerely and honestly follow it. They will then get beyond the creed to the experience, beyond the formula to the vision of the truth.'

"Hinduism is not bound up with a creed or a book, a prophet or a founder, but is persistent search for truth on the basis of a continuously renewed experience. Hinduism is human thought about God in continuous evolution."

"Hinduism represents the spirit, the spirit that has such extraordinary vitality as to survive political and social changes. From the beginning of recorded history, Hinduism has borne witness to the sacred flame of spirit, which must remain for ever, even while our dynasties crash and empires tumble into ruins. It alone can give our civilization a soul, and men and women a principle to live by."

"Hinduism is an inheritance of thought and aspiration, living and moving with the movement of life itself."

"India puts spiritual values higher than others.

The Hindu realizes not only that all roads lead to the one Supreme, but that each one must choose that road which starts from the point at which he finds himself at the moment of setting out."

(source: Religion and Society - By S Radhakrishnan - p. 43 - 54). 

25. Julius Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967) Scientist, philosopher, bohemian, and radical. A theoretical  physicist and the Supervising Scientist for the Manhattan Project, the developer of the atomic bomb. Graduating from Harvard University, he traveled to Cambridge University to study at the Cavendish Laboratory. 

Oppenheimer acquired a deeper knowledge of the Bhagavad Gita in 1933 when, as a young professor of physics, he studied Sanskrit with Professor Arthur W Ryder (1877-1938) at Berkeley. 

The Gita, Oppenheimer excitedly wrote to his brother Frank Oppenheimer, was. 

“very easy and quite marvelous”.  

(source: Robert Oppenheimer Letters and Recollections  - By Alice K Smith and Charles Weiner p. 165).

Later he called the Gita “the most beautiful philosophical song existing in any known tongue.” He kept a well worn copy of it conveniently on hand on the bookshelf closest to his desk and often gave the book to friends as a present. 

(source: The Story of J Robert Oppenheimer - By Denise Royal St. Martin's Press New York 1969 p. 54).

He continued to browse in it while directing the bomb laboratory. After President Franklin Roosevelt’s death in 1945, Oppenheimer spoke at a memorial service at Los Alamos and he quoted a passage from the Gita. 

In later years, too, he would look back on the Bhagavad Gita as one of the most important influences in his life. 

In 1963, Christian Century magazine (May 15, 1963 p. 647) asked Oppenheimer to list the ten books that “did most to shape your vocational attitude and your philosophy of life.” 

It is significant that two of the ten works that Oppenheimer claimed as most influential were Indian (The Bhagavad Gita and Bhartrihari's Satakatrayam) and a third, The Waste Land by T S Eliot, alluded to the Hindu Scriptures, The Upanishads and The Bhagavad Gita and concluded with a Sanskrit incantation: Shantih, Shantih, Shantih.” 

He said: 

"Access to the Vedas is the greatest privilege this century may claim over all previous centuries."

He wrote:

"The general notions about human understanding… which are illustrated by discoveries in atomic physics are not in the nature of things wholly unfamiliar, wholly unheard of or new. Even in our own culture they have a history, and in Buddhist and Hindu thought a more considerable and central place. What we shall find [in modern physics] is an exemplification, an encouragement, and a refinement of old wisdom."

In this context it is worth emphasizing that India’s contribution of Buddhism to China (and other countries of the region) is by no means insubstantial. These civilizations would hardly exist without the Indian contribution in all aspects of culture— from science and technology, the arts, philosophy and spirituality.

(source: India as a Creative Civilization - By N. S. Rajaram).


Oppenheimer described the thoughts that passed through his mind when he witnessed the
first atomic  test explosion in 1945.

"
If the radiance of a thousand suns
Were to burst at once into the sky,
That would be like the splendor of the Mighty One...
I am become Death,
The shatterer of Worlds."

As the gigantic nuclear cloud mushroomed up to the stratosphere followed by a doomsday roar, Oppenheimer continued with the verses in which the Mighty One reveals Himself: 

"Death am I, cause of destruction of the worlds, matured and set out to gather in the worlds there"   -  (
Bhagavad Gita XI 12-32). 

Doctor Atomic is an opera by the contemporary minimalist American composer John Adams, with libretto by Peter Sellars. It premiered at the San Francisco Opera on October 1, 2005. The work focuses on the great stress and anxiety experienced by those at Los Alamos while the test of the first atomic bomb (the "Trinity" test) was being prepared. 

Oppenheimer read the Bhagavad Gita in the original Sanskrit, and in the aftermath of the blast reflected on the passage in which Krishna reveals himself as the Creator and Destroyer.

The Act II, scene iii chorus, borrowed from the Bhagavad Gita:

At the sight of this, your Shape stupendous, 
Full of mouths and eyes, feet, thighs and bellies,
Terrible with fangs, O master, 
All the worlds are fear-struck, even just as I am. 
When I see you, Vishnu, omnipresent, 
Shouldering the sky, in hues of rainbow, 
With your mouths agape and flame-eyes staring
All my peace is gone; my heart is troubled.

(source: Dr. Atomic Opera - By John Adams and A Survey of Hinduism - By Klaus K. Klostermaier. State University of New York Press. 1994. pg 109-110. The Eye of Shiva: Eastern Mysticism And Science - By Amaury de Riencourt p. 14). For more refer to chapter on GlimpsesX).

Then and there, Oppenheimer symbolized a most extraordinary conjunction - the juxtaposition of Western civilization's most terrifying scientific achievement with the most dazzling description of the mystical experience given to us by the Bhagavad Gita, India's greatest literary monument.

 

The Gita, Oppenheimer excitedly wrote to his brother Frank Oppenheimer, was “very easy and quite marvelous”.  

The Bhagavad Gita has influenced great Americans from Thoreau to Oppenheimer. Its message of letting go of the fruits of one’s actions is just as relevant today as it was when it was first written more than two millennia ago.

***

Oppenheimer's spontaneous conjunction of a Hindu mystical poem with a nuclear explosion was of great symbolic significance. Nowhere in Western literature could he have found an almost clinical description of mystical rapture that also fits the description of a nuclear explosion in the outer world. 

(source: The Eye of Shiva: Eastern Mysticism And Science - By Amaury de Riencourt  p. 14). For more refer to chapter on GlimpsesX).

"The general notions about human understanding...which are illustrated by discoveries in atomic physics are not in the nature of things wholly unfamiliar, wholly unheard of, or new. Even in our own culture, they have a history, and in Buddhist and Hindu thought a more considerable and central place. What we shall find is an exemplification, an encouragement, and a refinement of old wisdom."

(source: The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism - By Fritjof Capra  p. 18).


Colonel James Tod with a Hindu Pundit

(image source: A Concise History of the Indian People - By H G Rawlinson  p. 313).

***


26.
Colonel James Tod  (1782-1835) author of Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan: or the Central and Western Rajput States of India

"Where can we look for sages like those whose systems of philosophy were prototypes of those of Greece: to whose works Plato, Thales & Pythagoras were disciples? Where do I find astronomers whose knowledge of planetary systems yet excites wonder in Europe as well as the architects and sculptors whose works claim our admiration, and the musicians who could make the mind oscillate from joy to sorrow, from tears to smile with the change of modes and varied intonation?" 

(source: Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan: or the Central and Western Rajput States of India - By James Tod p. 608- 609). 

27. Sylvain Levi (1863-1935) French scholar, Orientalist who wrote on Eastern religion, literature, and history. Levi was appointed a lecturer at the school of higher studies in Paris (1886), he taught Sanskrit at the Sorbonne (1889-94) and wrote his doctoral dissertation, Le Théâtre indien ("The Indian Theatre"). 

In L'Inde et le monde ("India and the World"), he discussed India's role among nations. He wrote :

"From Persia to the Chinese Sea, 'from the icy regions of Siberia to the islands of Java and Borneo, from Oceania to Socotra, India has propagated her beliefs, her tales and her civilization." 

"She has left indelible imprints on one fourth of the human race in the course of a long succession of centuries. She has the right to reclaim in universal history the rank that ignorance has refused her for a long time and to hold her place amongst the great nations summarizing and symbolizing the spirit of humanity."  

(source: Discovery of India - By Jawaharlal Nehru p.200-210). Please refer to chapter on Suvarnabhumi and Seafaring in Ancient India and chapter on Glimpses XII  for more on India's influence).

"The multiplicity of the manifestations of the Indian genius as well as their fundamental unity gives India the right to figure on the first rank in the history of civilized nations. Her civilization, spontaneous and original, unrolls itself in a continuous time across at least thirty centuries, without interruption, without deviation. Ceaselessly in contact with foreign elements which threatened to strangle her, she persevered victoriously in absorbing them, assimilating them and enriching herself with them. Thus she has seen the Greeks, the Scythians, the Afghans, the Mongols to pass before her eyes in succession and is regarding with indifference the Englishmen - confident to pursue under the accidence of the surface the normal course of her high destiny."

(source: Eminent Orientalists: Indian European American - Asian Educational Services. p. 377-378).

"The Mahabharata is not only the largest, but also the grandest of all epics, as it contains throughout a lively teaching of morals under a glorious garment of poetry."

(source: Hindu Superiority - By Har Bilas Sarda p. 236).

28. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1887--1961) was a great German philosopher and a philosophical predecessor of the New England Transcendentalists. He wrote in his "lectures on the Philosophy of History." Hegel belongs to the period of "German idealism" in the decades following Kant. He wrote:

 “India has always been an object of yearning, a realm of wonder, a world of magic.”

"India is the land of dreams. India had always dreamt - more of the Bliss that is man's final goal. And this has helped India to be more creative in history than any other nation. Hence the effervescence of myths and legends, religious and philosophies, music, and dances and the different styles of architecture." 61

"India has created a special momentum in world history as a country to be searched for."

(source: A Survey of Hinduism - By Klaus K. Klostermaier. pg 17).

He was the first to proclaim that, alongside Greece and Germany, India had produced the greatest and most profound philosophers. And the great Hegel himself, who understood India far more profoundly, was to remark in his work on The Philosophy of History

"It strikes everyone in beginning to form an acquaintance with the treasures of Indian literature, that a land so rich in intellectual products and those of the profoundest order of thought..."

(source: The Soul of India - By Amaury de Riencourt p. 301).

"India as a land of Desire formed an essential element in general history. From the most ancient times downwards, all nations have directed their wishes and longings to gaining access to the treasures of this land of marvels, the most costly which the earth presents, treasures of nature - pearls, diamonds, perfumes, rose essences, lions, elephants, etc. - as also treasures of wisdom. The way by which these treasures have passed to the West has at all times been a matter of world historical importance bound up with the fate of nations." 

(source: Asia and Western Dominance - By K. M. Panikkar p. 21).

Hegel, in his Lectures on the Philosophy of History, says that " Persia is the land of light, Greece the land of grace, India the land of dream, Rome the land of empire." It is true of all cultures that the greatest gift of life is the dream of a higher life. 

(source: Towards a New World - By Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan p-37 ISBN 81-222-0087-7).

Hegel characterized India as a land which had exerted its world-historical influence in a passive manner, by being sought: "Without being known too well, it has existed for millennia in the imagination of the Europeans as a wonderland. Its fame, which it has always had with regard to its treasures, both its natural ones, and in particular, its wisdom, has lured men there. " 

(source: India and Europe - By Wilhelm Halbfass p. 2).

29. Solange Lemaitre author of several books, including Le Mystère de la mort dans les religions d'Asie and Râmakrishna et la vitalité de l'hindouism has observed:

"The civilization of India, at root purely religious, is only now becoming known in Europe; and as the mystery surrounding it is unveiled it emerges as one of the highest achievement in the history of mankind. By the very breadth of the outlook it affords on to the destiny of man the Vedic religion offers in abundance the spiritual experience that has inspired the Indian people since the dawn of their history. The vocation of India is to proclaim to the world the efficacy of religious experience."

There is more than a purely literal meaning to be found in the Vedas. This can be felt behind the poetic imagery of many hymns about the Creation and the Divine, in which certain lines sparkle like specks of gold in the opacity of their vein.

(source: Hinduism - By Solange Lemaitre p. 1-12).

30.
Alain Danielou a.k.a  Shiv Sharan (1907-1994), son of French aristocracy, author of numerous books on philosophy, religion, history and arts of India, including Virtue, Success, Pleasure, & Liberation : The Four Aims of Life in the Tradition of Ancient India. He was perhaps the first European to boldly proclaim his Hinduness. He settled in India for fifteen years in the study of Sanskrit. In Benaras Daniélou came in close contact with Karpatriji Maharaj, who inducted him into the Shaivite school of Hinduism and he was renamed Shiv Sharan. 

After leaving Benaras, he was also the director of Sanskrit manuscripts at the Adyar Library in Chennai for some time. He returned to Europe in 1960s and was associated with UNESCO for some years.He had a wide effect upon Europe's understanding of Hinduism. Danielou had been sharply critical of the Western-educated Congress leadership which led the country to Independence from British rule in 1947.  

Danielou said:

"The Hindu lives in eternity. He is profoundly aware of the relativity of space and time and of the illusory nature of the apparent world." 

Hinduism is a religion without dogmas. Since its origin, Hindu society has been built on rational bases by sages who sought to comprehend man's nature and role in creation as a whole. 

(source: Virtue, Success, Pleasure, & Liberation : The Four Aims of Life in the Tradition of Ancient India p. 9 and 154).

"Hinduism especially in its oldest, Shivaite form, never destroyed its past. It is the sum of human experience from the earliest times. Non-dogmatic, it allows every one to find his own way."  

wpe2F.jpg (5575 bytes)He also noted as early as 1947 that "the Egyptian myth of Osiris seemed directly inspired from a Shivaite story of the Puranas and that at any rate, Egyptians of those times considered that Osiris had originally come from India mounted on a bull (Nandi), the traditional transport of Shiva."  

(source: Arise O' India - By Francois Gautier Har Anand publisher  ISBN: 81-241-0518-9  p. 22).

Ultimate reality being beyond man's understanding, the most contradictory theories or beliefs may be equally inadequate approaches to reality. Ecological (as we would say today), it sees man as part of a whole, where trees, animals, men and spirits should live in harmony and mutual respect, and it asks everyone to cooperate and not endanger the artwork of the creator.

It therefore opposes the destruction of nature, of species, the bastardization of races, the tendency of each one to do what he was not born for. It leaves every one free to find his own way of realization human and spiritual be it ascetic or erotic or both. It does not separate intellect and body, mind and matter, but sees the Universe as a living continuum. 
"I believe any sensible man is unknowingly a Hindu and that the only hope for man lies in the abolition of the erratic, dogmatic, unphilosophical creeds people today call religions."

(source: contributed to this site by a reader).

 

Alain Daniélou was credited with bringing Indian music to the Western world.

(image source: alaindanielou.org).

***

While in Europe, Daniélou was credited with bringing Indian music to the Western world. This was the era when sitar maestro Ravi Shankar and several other Indian artists performed in Europe and America. During his years in India, Daniélou studied Indian music tradition, both classical and folk traditional, and collected a lot of information from rare books, field experience, temples as well as from artists. He also collected various types of instruments. He has written:  

"Under the name of Gandharva Vedas, a general theory of sound with its metaphysics and physics appears to have been known to the ancient Hindus. From such summaries: The ancient Hindus were familiar with the theory of sound (Gandharva Veda), and its metaphysics and physics. The hymns of the Rig Veda contain the earliest examples of words set to music, and by the time of the Sama Veda a complicated system of chanting had been developed. By the time of the Yajur Veda, a variety of professional musicians had appeared, such as lute players, drummers, flute players, and conch blowers."

(source: unknown).

Overwhelmingly convinced of the importance of culture and religion as presented by Hinduism, Alain Daniélou always considered himself a Hindu and, in his last interview, declared "India is my true home".  

In the recent supplement to his memoirs, he wrote "The only value I never question is that of the teachings I received from Shaivite Hinduism which rejects any kind of dogmatism, since I have found no other form of thought which goes so far, so clearly, which such depth and intelligence, in comprehending the divine and the world's structures".

(source: alaindanielou.org).

31. Erwin Schroedinger (1887--1961) Austrian theoretical physicist, was a professor at several universities in Europe. He was awarded the Nobel prize Quantum Mechanics, in 1933. During the Hitler era he was dismissed from his position for his opposition to the Nazi ideas and he fled to England. He was the author of Meine Weltansicht

Schrodinger wrote in his book Meine Weltansicht

“This life of yours which you are living is not merely apiece of this entire existence, but in a certain sense the whole; only this whole is not so constituted that it can be surveyed in one single glance. This, as we know, is what the Brahmins express in that sacred, mystic formula which is yet really so simple and so clear; tat tvam asi, this is you. Or, again, in such words as “I am in the east and the west, I am above and below, I am this entire world.” 

Schrodinger’s influential What is life? the physical aspect of the living cell & Mind and matter (1944) also used Vedic ideas. The book became instantly famous although it was criticized by some of its emphasis on Indian ideas. Francis Clark, the co-discoverer of the DNA code, credited this book for key insights that led him to his revolutionary discovery.  

According to his biographer Walter Moore, there is a clear continuity between Schrodinger’s understanding of Vedanta and his research: 

“The unity and continuity of Vedanta are reflected in the unity and continuity of wave mechanics. In 1925, the world view of physics was a model of a great machine composed of separable interacting material particles. During the next few years, Schrodinger and Heisenberg and their followers created a universe based on super imposed inseparable waves of probability amplitudes. This new view would be entirely consistent with the Vedantic concept of All in One."

He became a Vedantist, a Hindu, as a result of his studies in search for truth. Schrodinger kept a copy of the Hindu scriptures at his bedside. He read books on Vedas, yoga and Sankhya philosophy and he reworked them into his own words, and ultimately came to believe them. The Upanishads and the Bhagavad gita, were his favorite scriptures. 

According to his biographer Moore, “His system – or that of the Upanishads – is delightful and consistent: the self and the world are one and they are all. He rejected traditional western religious beliefs (Jewish, Christian, and Islamic) not on the basis of any reasoned argument, nor even with an expression of emotional antipathy, for he loved to use religious expressions and metaphors, but simply by saying that they are naïve. 

(source: The Wishing Tree - By Subhash Kak  p. 1 - 7).

In a famous essay on determinism and free will, he expressed very clearly the sense that consciousness is a unity, arguing that this "insight is not new...From the early great Upanishads the recognition Atman = Brahman (the personal self equals the omnipresent, all-comprehending eternal self) was in Indian thought considered, far from being blasphemous, to represent, the quintessence of deepest insight into the happenings of the world. The striving of all the scholars of Vedanta was, after having learnt to pronounce with their lips, really to assimilate in their minds this grandest of all thoughts."

Schrodinger wrote: 

“Vedanta teaches that consciousness is singular, all happenings are played out in one universal consciousness and there is no multiplicity of selves.” 

“the stages of human development are to strive for Possession (Artha), Knowledge (Dharma), Ability (Kama), Being (Moksha)” 

“Nirvana is a state of pure blissful knowledge.. It has nothing to do with individual. The ego or its separation is an illusion. The goal of man is to preserve his Karma and to develop it further – when man dies his karma lives and creates for itself another carrier.”

(source: What is life? the physical aspect of the living cell & Mind and matter - By Erwin Schrodinger  p. 87). Refer to What is Life? Published in 1944

He wished to see:

"Some blood transfusion from the East to the West" to save Western science from spiritual anemia." 

Schroedinger explicitly affirmed his conviction that
Vedantic jnana represented the only true view of reality- a view for which he was prepared even to offer Empirical proof.

(source: A Short Introduction to Hinduism - By Klaus K. Klostermaier p. 168).

"In all world," writes Schroedinger in his book My View of the World (chapter iv), "there is no kind of framework within which we can find consciousness in the plural; this is simply something we construct because of the temporal plurality of individuals, but it is a false construction....The only solution to this conflict insofar as any is available to us at all lies in the ancient wisdom of the Upanishad."

(source: My View of the World - By Erwin Schroedinger chapter iv).

Regarding mystical insights, Schrodinger tells us: "The multiplicity is only apparent. This is the doctrine of the Upanishads. And not of the Upanishads only. The mystical experience of the union with God regularly leads to this view, unless strong prejudices stand in the West."

(source: The Eye of Shiva: Eastern Mysticism and Science - By Amaury de Riencourt  p. 78).

 

Lord Agni

***

32. Nicola Tesla (1856-1943) the Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, and scientist,. Nikola Tesla, one of the most incredible inventors of all time, developed this Scaler technology in the early 1900's. Every major technology currently being used today was invented by Tesla including alternating current, television, radio, robotics etc. etc.

He used ancient Sanskrit terminology in his descriptions of natural phenomena. 

As early as 1891 Tesla described the universe as a kinetic system filled with energy which could be harnessed at any location. His concepts during the following years were greatly influenced by the teachings of
Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vivekananda was the first of a succession of eastern yogi's who brought Vedic philosophy and religion to the west.

After meeting the Swami and after continued study of the Eastern view of the mechanisms driving the material world, Tesla began using the Sanskrit words Akasha, Prana, and the concept of aluminiferous ether to describe the source, existence and construction of matter. 

(source: http://www.hinduism.fsnet.co.uk/namoma/life_swamiji/life_swamiji_tesla.htm).

33. Alistair Shearer has postgraduate degrees in literature, Sanskrit, and Indian studies. He has lectured for many prestigious institutions, including London University, the British Museum, and the Royal Academy of Arts. A teacher of meditation, Shearer leads cultural tours to the Indian subcontinent and has published ten books including The Hindu Vision: Forms of the Formless

He affirms:

"The Hindu understanding of the universe has often been misunderstood as bizarre and primitive."

"The Hindu imagery is in fact a sophisticated iconography conveying universal religious truths only now beginning to be understood in the West." 

(source: unknown).

34. Dr. Carl Sagan, (1934-1996) famous astrophysicist, in his book, Cosmos says:

"The Hindu religion is the only one of the world's great faiths dedicated to the idea that the Cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite, number of deaths and rebirths. 

It is the only religion in which the time scales correspond, to those of modern scientific cosmology. 

Its cycles run from our ordinary day and night to a day and night of Brahma, 8.64 billion years long. Longer than the age of the Earth or the Sun and about half the time since the Big Bang.  And there are much longer time scales still." 

There is the deep and appealing notion that the universe is but the dream of the god who, after a Brahma years, dissolves himself into a dreamless sleep. The universe dissolves with him - until, after another Brahma century, he stirs, recomposes himself and begins again to dream the great cosmic dream."

Carl Sagan further says:

"The most elegant and sublime of these is a representation of the creation of the universe at the beginning of each cosmic cycle, a motif known as the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva. The god, called in this manifestation Nataraja, the Dance King. In the upper right hand is a drum whose sound is the sound of creation. In the upper left hand is a tongue of flame, a reminder that the universe, now newly created, with billions of years from now will be utterly destroyed."  

These profound and lovely images are, I like to imagine, a kind of premonition of modern astronomical ideas." 

Sagan continues, "A millennium before Europeans were wiling to divest themselves of the Biblical idea that the world was a few thousand years old, the Mayans were thinking of millions and the Hindus billions"

(source: Cosmos - By Carl Sagan p. 213-214). 

In the episode entitled "The Edge of Forever" in the "Cosmos" television series, Carl Sagan visits India, and by way of introducing some of the bizarre ideas of modern physics, he acknowledges that of all the world's philosophies and religions those originating in India are remarkably consistent with contemporary scenarios of space, time and existence.

In his book Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science, he remarks:

"Immanuel Velikovsky (the author of Earth in Upheaval) in his book Worlds in Collision, notes that the idea of four ancient ages terminated by catastrophe is common to Indian as well as to Western sacred writing. However, in the Bhagavad Gita and in the Vedas, widely divergent numbers of such ages, including an infinity of them, are given; but, more interesting, the duration of the ages between major catastrophes is specified as billions of years. .. "

"The idea that scientists or theologians, with our present still puny understanding of this vast and awesome cosmos, can comprehend the origins of the universe is only a little less silly than the idea that Mesopotamian astronomers of 3,000 years ago – from whom the ancient Hebrews borrowed, during the Babylonian captivity, the cosmological accounts in the first chapter of Genesis – could have understood the origins of the universe. We simply do not know.

The Hindu holy book, the Rig Veda (X:129), has a much more realistic view of the matter: 

“Who knows for certain? Who shall here declare it?
Whence was it born, whence came creation?
The gods are later than this world’s formation;
Who then can know the origins of the world?
None knows whence creation arose;
And whether he has or has not made it;
He who surveys it from the lofty skies,
Only he knows- or perhaps he knows not."

(source: Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science - By Carl Sagan  p. 106 - 137).

35.
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) poet, author, philosopher, Nobel prize laureate. Tagore was deeply critical of the British Raj in India. He also made some statements to the press about the ghastly book by Katherine Mayo called Mother India, which was then a huge bestseller in the U.S. Mayo's book offers that other old myth of India: poor, backwards, savage.  Tagore's aim was criticize an unjust practice (colonialism) and an international system (the League of Nations) which was thoroughly unsympathetic to the plight of colonized people in Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

He described the Vedic hymns as: 

"A poetic testament of a people's collective reaction to the wonder and awe of existence."

India harmonized rural life and urban life. She was no blind worshipper of urbanization like the west of today. 

Tagore says well in his book, Sadhana:

"The civilization of ancient Greece was nurtured in the city walls. In fact, all the modern civilization have their cradles of brick and mortar, The walls leave their mark deep in the minds of men...Thus in India it was in the forests that our civilization had its birth, and it took a distinct character from this origin and environment. It was surrounded by the vast life of nature and had the closest and most constant intercourse with her varying aspects...His aim was not to acquire but to realize, to enlarge his consciousness by growing into his surroundings. the west seems to take pride in thinking that it is subduing Nature as if we are living in a hostile world where we have to wrest everything we want from an unwilling and alien arrangement of things. This sentiment is the product of the city wall habit and training of mind. But in India the point of view was different; it included the world with the man as one great truth. India put all her emphasis on the harmony that exists between the individual and the universal....The fundamental unity of creation was not simply a philosophical speculation for India; it was her life object to realize this great harmony in feeling and in action."

India chose her places of pilgrimages on the top of hills and mountains, by the side of the holy rivers, in the heart of forests and by the shores of the ocean, which along with the sky, is our nearest visible symbol of the vast, the boundless, the infinite and the sublime. 

(source: Indian Culture and the Modern Age - By Dewan Bahadur K. S. Ramaswami Sastri  Annamalai University. 1956 p. 32-33).

"India has all along been trying experiments in evolving a social unity within which all the different peoples could be held together, while fully enjoying the freedom of maintaining their differences. The tie has been as loose as possible, yet as close as circumstances permitted. This has produced something like a United States of a social federation, whose common name is Hinduism."

(source: Hindutva is liberal - By A. B. Vajpayee - rediff.com).

In a letter to English painter, Sir William Rothenstein (1872 – 1945) of April 2, 1927, Rabindranath Tagore wrote:  

“In Hinduism, in our everyday meditation, we try to realize God’s cosmic manifestation and thus free our soul from the bondage of the limitedness of the immediate; but for us he is also an individual for the individual, working out through our evolution in time, our ultimate destiny.”  

(source: Rabindranath Tagore, Selected Poems – By William Radice 1985 p. 7-8).  

In later years Artist Rothenstein met up with Sir Rabindranath Tagore, and he was influential in getting his Gitanjali printed.

In religion his inspiration was derived from the Vedas and the Upanishads. Tagore pointed out that Indian civilization was a "forest civilization". The essential continuity of the culture was developed and preserved by families living in small communities close to nature. " The ancient Indians distrusted the pace and pomp of urbandom; they distrusted it strongly enough to resist central authority and conformism. He further predicted that: "India is destined to be the teacher of all lands." 

Tagore said of the quintessence of India's spiritual philosophy was :

" Santam, Sivam and Advaitam ( peace, goodness and Unity of all beings)." Rabindranath Tagore said that we Indians, can buy our true place in the world only with our inheritance, not with the inheritance of others.

Regarding the vitality of ancient India, Rabindranath Tagore has said: "To know my country one has to travel to that age, when she realized her soul and thus transcended her physical boundaries when she revealed her being in a radiant magnanimity which illumined the eastern horizon, making her recognized as their own by those in alien shores who were awakened into a surprise of life." He also said about the culture of Indonesia:  ' I see India all around me.' And in Indonesia, such words as 'sea' and 'ship' are recognizable for their Tamil roots.'

(Please refer to chapter on Suvarnabhumi - Greater India).

 

Rabindranth Tagore with Albert Einstein in New York.

'A mathematician and a mystic meet in Manhattan.'

***

"The fundamental Unity of Creation was not simply a philosophical speculation for India: it was her life object to realize this great harmony in feeling and in action."

(source: Our Heritage and Its Significance - By Shripad Rama Sharma p. 56).

In the quest of knowing the inner self, Tagore one of the greatest writers in modern Indian literature, has turned to Upanishads time and again. The Upanishads are based not upon theological reasoning, but on experience of spiritual life.

In the 6th episode of his “The Religion of ManRabindranath Tagore confesses how much he is indebted to the Upanishads

“ When I turn back towards the days of youth I feel how I have unknowingly followed the footsteps of my Vedic ancestors; how I have stared at the vastness of the sky and got inspiration to explore the truth; how I have gazed at the white clouds, those coconut trees in the quest to be one with Nature.”

Tagore is fascinated by the concept of "Brahma" and "Maya"- nature along with man are both expression of Brahma and are thus one; so Tagore felt a deep unity with nature. This is well reflected in the following verses from "Maya":

"That I should make much of myself and turn it on all sides, thus casting colored shadows on thy radiance ---such is thy Maya.

Tagore was so overwhelmed by reading Upanishads, he felt strongly that the teaching of the Upanishads is very much needed in the present age.

(source: Upanishads in the eyes of Tagore - By Suprata Chowdhary - swaveda.com).

 

The Khajuraho temple with erotic sculptures.

Not Puritanical - Vedic Indians were modern and open minded in their outlook - Sex was an art and was not associated with sin. Homosexuality was tolerated not condemned as they are in Abrahamic faiths.

Refer to chapter on Thoughts and Symbolism in Hinduism.

"Their (Indian philosophers) subtleties make most of the great European philosophers look like schoolboys." - T S Eliot.

***

36. T. S. (Thomas Stearns) Eliot (1888-1965) American-English Harvard educated poet, playwright, and literary critic, a leader of the modernist movement in literature.

Eliot was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1948. He drew his intellectual sustenance from the Bhagavad Gita. He considered it to be the greatest philosophical poem after Dante's Divine Comedy(source: Resinging the Gita)

Also, he kept a copy of The Twenty-eight Upanishads in his personal library for ready reference. (Among the books from Eliot's library now in the Hayward Bequest in King's College Library is Vasudev Lazman Sastri Phansikar's The Twenty-Eight Upanishads (Bombay: Tukaram Javaji, 1906).

Inscribed on the fly-leaf is the following note: Thomas Eliot with C.R. Lanman's kindest regards and best wishes. Harvard College. May 6, 1912.  At Harvard, Eliot studied Sanskrit and Pali for two years (1920-11), probably in order to acquaint himself with Indian philosophical texts in the original, for he later admitted that though he studied "the ancient Indian languages" and " read a little poetry," he was "chiefly interested at that time in philosophy." 

As early as 1918, Eliot reviewed for The Egoist an obscure treatise on Indian philosophy called Brahmadarsanam or Intuition of the Absolute by Sri Ananda Acharya. 

(source:
T. S. Eliot Vedanta and Buddhism - By P. S. Sri p. 10-11 and 126).

Eliot wrote in 1933: 

"Their (Indian philosophers') subtleties make most of the great European philosophers look like schoolboys." 

An unexpected remark from a man who devoted his career to a defense of the European tradition and who had studied under Bertrand Russell, Josiah Royce, R. G. Collingwood, Harold Joachim, and Henri Bergson

Consequent on his early exposure to Indic thought through Edwin Arnold's The Light of Asia, whether by chance or by personal bidding, Eliot resolved to go on a passage to India ("reason's early paradise" in the words of Whitman) and imbibe deep the native spring of the Vedas. 

The moral implications of the doctrine of Karma find a powerful evocation in the Murder in the Cathedral. The concept of the nature of true action that does not show any concern for the fruits of action is quite a rendition from the Bhagavad Gita.

(source: After Strange Gods - By T. S. Eliot and The making of Eliot - hindu.com). For more refer to The Hidden Advantage of Tradition: On the Significance of T. S. Eliot's Indic Studies

Over and over again, whether in The Wasteland, Four Quarters, Ash Wednesday or Murder in the Cathedral, the influence of Indian philosophy and mysticism on him is clearly noticeable.

In his poem 'The  Dry Salvages' 
Eliot reflects on Lord Krishna's meaning:

    " I sometimes wonder if that is what Krishna meant-
    Among other things - or one way of putting the same thing:
    That the future is a faded song, a Royal Rose or a lavender spray
    Of wistful regret for those who are not yet here to regret." 

He mentioned "Time the destroyer" (section 2), then summarized one of Krishna's points:

"And do not think of the fruit of action.
Fare forward...
So Krishna, as when he admonished Arjuna
On the field of battle,
Not fare well, 
But fare forward voyagers (section 3).

He refers to the Gita's central doctrine of nishkama karma, 'selfless endeavor.'  He also talks of the decomposition of modern civilization, the lack of conviction and direction, the confusion and meaninglessness of modern consciousness in his poem "The Wasteland." 

As Prof. Philip R. Headings has remarked in his study of the poet, "No serious student of Eliot's poetry can afford to ignore his early and continued interest in the
Bhagavad Gita." 

(source:
Dr. M. V. Kamath, The United States and India (1776-1976), (The Embassy of India, Washington, D. C., 1976) p. 56).

Eliot familiarized himself with parts of the Vedas and the Upanishads in the course of his graduate studies and used this knowledge as background for certain poetic and dramatic situations in his work. 

Of all the American writers who have drawn upon Indian sources T. S. Eliot was one who knew his sources first hand and not merely through translations by Western Orientalists.  

The Indian tradition in poetry and philosophy was perceived by Eliot as a vital force in world culture and he appropriated whatever was suitable for his own themes and purposes. The theme of draught and sterility in the Waste Land seems to be inspired by the Vedic myth of Indra slaying Vritra who had held up the waters in the heavens. In the "What the Thunder Said" section of the Waste Land we have the following lines:

" Ganga was sunken and the limp leaves
Waited for rain, while the black clouds
Gathered far distant, over Himavant, 
The jungle crouched, humped in silence.
Then spoke the thunder."

Then follows a sequential use of DA-Datta. What have we given? DA-Dayadhvam and DA-Damayata, which as he explains in the Notes are taken from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. The last line has Shantih shantih shantih. 

He says: "Two years spent in the study of Sanskrit under Charles Lanman, and a year in the mazes of Patanjali's metaphysics under the guidance of James Woods, left me in a state of enlightened mystification. A good half of the effort of understanding what the Indian philosophers were after - and their subtleties make most of the great European philosophers look like schoolboys - lay in trying to erase from my mind all the categories and kinds of distinction common to European philosophy was hardly better than an obstacle. 

"In the literature of Asia is a great poetry. There is also profound wisdom and some very difficult metaphysics...Long ago I studied the ancient Indian languages, and while I was chiefly interested at that time in philosophy, I read little poetry too; and I know that my own poetry shows the influence of Indian thought and sensibility."

On the influence of influence of the Bhagavad Gita, he felt "very thankful for having had the opportunity to study the Bhagavad Gita and the religious and philosophical beliefs, so different from (my) own with which the Bhagavad Gita is informed." 

(source: India in the American Mind - By B. G. Gokhale p. 120-21) India and World Civilization By D. P. Singhal Pan Macmillan Limited. 1993. Pg. 60-62).

37.
John Dobson, scientist and a teacher. His theories in physics and cosmology boldly break new ground and significantly challenge the scientific orthodoxy. He was featured in the PBS television series "The Astronomers". John Dobson is perhaps best known for his work in the design and construction of telescopes, however, as most telescopes made today use what is known as a "Dobsonian" mount. He discusses the apparitional nature of the universe and why we are fooled into viewing it in a Newtonian-mechanistic way.

"Can we, by now, square science with religion? In particular, can we square relativity and quantum mechanics with Swami Vivekananda's Advaita Vedanta? Since there cannot be two worlds -- one for the scientists and one for the mystics -- it must be that their descriptions are of the same world but from different points of view. Can we, from the vantage point of the Swami's Advaita (non-dualism), see both points of view? Swami Vivekananda said that science and religion would meet and shake hands. Can we see things from his vantage point? Since the notion of maya or apparition as the first cause of our physics is central to the swami's Advaita, I have chosen as  "The Equations of Maya". Can we find them in our physics? According to the philosophy of the Advaita Vedantins, as the swami himself has said, there cannot be two existences, only one. And maya is, as it were, a veil or screen through which that oneness (the Absolute) is seen as this Universe of plurality and change. 

(source: http://quanta-gaia.org/dobson/EquationsOfMaya.html#WhatIsMaya).

38.
David Bohm (1917-1992)
Born in Wiles-Barre, Pennsylvania on December 20, 1917, he studied under Einstein and Oppenheimer, received his B.Sc. degree from Pennsylvania State College in 1939 and his Ph.D. in physics at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1943. He was the last graduate student to study with Oppenheimer at U.C. in the 1940s, where he remained as a research physicist after Oppenheimer left for Los Alamos to work on the atomic bomb.

Bohm was one of the world's greatest quantum mechanical physicists and philosophers and was deeply influenced by both J. Krishnamurti and Einstein, was one of the world's greatest quantum mechanical physicists and philosophers.  

David Bohm explains his theory that there is something like life and mind enfolded in everything.  

Bohm was profoundly affected by his close contact with J. Krishnamurti. 

"Yes, and Atman is from the side of meaning.  You would say Atman is more like the meaning.  But then what is meant would be Brahman, I suppose; the identity of consciousness and cosmos....This claims that the meaning and what is meant are ultimately one, which is the phrase 'Atman equals Brahman' of classical Hindu philosophy."

(source: http://www.ourworldharmony.com/kDavidBo.htm and http://twm.co.nz/Bohm.html).

39
.
Werner Karl Heisenberg (1901-1976)  German theoretical physicist was one of the leading scientists of the 20th century. Heisenberg spent some time in India as Rabindranath Tagore's guest in 1929. There he got acquainted with Indian philosophy which brought him great comfort for its similarity to modern physics.

Heisenberg is best known for his Uncertainty Principle and was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics.

"the startling parallelism between today's physics and the world-vision of eastern mysticism remarks, the increasing contribution of eastern scientists from India, China and Japan, among others, reinforces this conjunction. Physical science has now become planetary and draws into its fold an increasing number of non-westerners who find in its new vision of the universe many elements that are quick to note, one cannot always distinguish between statements made by eastern metaphysics based on mystical insight, and the pronouncements of modern physics based on observations, experiments and mathematical calculations." 

(source: Hinduism Today - December 2002).

"The scientific world view has ceased to be a scientific view in the true sense of the word." Werner Heisenberg went later in life to Rabindhranath Tagore's University in India called Shantiniketan (Abode of Peace) in a rural and natural setting evidently in search of what he missed in science, namely the certain principle which is Reality or Truth but which never known outside and therefore never spoken of but which is felt in the pure heart. It is the reflection of this which Heisenberg might have discerned in the spiritual writings of the poet."

(source: The Bhagavad Gita: A Scripture for the Future Translation and Commentary By Sachindra K. Majumdar  Asian Humanities Press. 1991. p 33).

40 Dr. Jean LeMee born in France in 1931, Studied Sanskrit at Columbia University.  Author of the Hymns from the Rig Veda says:

 
"Precious stones or durable materials - gold, silver, bronze, marble, onyx or granite - have been used by ancient people in an attempt to immortalize themselves. Not so however the ancient Vedic Aryans. They turned to what may seem the most volatile and insubstantial material of all - the spoken word ...The pyramids have been eroded by the desert wind, the marble broken by earthquakes, and the gold stolen by robbers, while the Veda is recited daily by an unbroken chain of generations, traveling like a great wave through the living substance of mind. .."

"The Rig Veda is a glorious song of praise to the Gods, the cosmic powers at work in Nature and in Man. Its hymns record the struggles, the battles, and victories, the wonder, the fears, the hopes, and the wisdom of the Ancient Path Makers.

Glory be to Them!" 

(source: Hymns from the Rig Veda - By Jean LeMee  - Illustrator Ingbert Gruttner ISBN: 0394493540 and ASIN 0224011812).



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