Journey of the Upanishads to the West

Journey of the Upanishads to the West

Product ID: 12639

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Author: Swami Tathagatananda
Publisher: Vedanta Society
Year: 2005
Language: English
Pages: 604
ISBN/UPC (if available): 81-7505-273-2


This extremely scholarly piece of work performs a unique service to modern mankind by introducing Western scholars’ views of ancient India’s rich spiritual culture. Swami Tathagatananda, the author of Journey of the Upanishads to the West, shows an absolute mastery of the subject matter of the Vedas, the Upanishads and other related writings. He has done painstaking research on the long history of the origins of these writings and their discovery and presentation by the inspired Western scholars. This is an excellent resource book for any student of religion and is possibly the most prolific reference on this subject.

The author begins by explaining the spiritual doctrines of the Vedas and Upanishads through the writings of several prominent Indian and Western philosophers. This lays the foundation for the notable fact of the eternal charm of Vedanta. The well-researched and documented chapter, Classical India and Classical Greece is devoted to an exploration of their ancient, enduring confluence. The next three chapters establish the role of European scholars-particularly those from France, Germany and England, in the dissemination of Indian philosophy through their mastery of Sanskrit and study of the Vedas and Upanishads. The subsequent chapter is a fascinating historical account of the American Transcendental Movement, the advent of Vedanta Societies in America and the broad impact of Hinduism in the culture of the United States through the influence of Vedanta on its eminent writers, poets and educators. The final chapter documents and discusses the Russian interest in Indian studies and spirituality.


This monumental work is a must for any research scholar-not only in the disciplines of philosophy and theology but of history and social studies as well. The author as presented us with a virtual West Meets East at the Spiritual and philosophical levels.
-T N Bhargava
Professor Emeritus, Kent State University

India’s spiritual thoughts and ideas, as well as the high quality of her spiritual culture and prosperity attracted the attention of foreigners in the earliest days of their first Indian encounters. The fact that Indian spiritual thought and ideas were able to create an impact I the minds of those outside Asia is clearly documented in this new book by Swami Tathagatananda. Through the voices of Western scholars, the author brings attention to the insightful, universal message of eternal spiritual thoughts as embodied in Vedanta.

In the sweeping account of the arrival of Vedanta philosophy in the West and its impact on the minds of Western philosophers, the author provides (a) an introduction to the novice student and (b) an elaboration on the way in which India’s philosophical outlook and quality of her culture in its secular achievements in trade, commerce, mathematics, astronomy, language and logic reflected the country’s philosophical outlook, for the more advanced scholar.

I had the pleasure of going through the entire manuscript. My thoughts are that the painstaking research of the author will be a valuable treasure not only for scholars but also for lay readers. The author of Journey of the Upanishads to the West successfully brings his passion and deep commitment to the subject and to the task of unveiling its beauty and passion.

Many generations will live to thank this earnest scholar and spiritual giant for sharing the wealth of scholarship and his sincere commitment to the dissemination of this ancient wisdom.
-Professor Joanne Kilgour Dowdy
Kent State University, Ohio

In this unique and comprehensive book, Swami Tathagatananda shows how Upanishadic ideas have been influencing the West not just for several centuries but for several millennia. He sets the stage for what is to come by pointing out very early that the Upanishads are not dogmatic and thus can offer insights to the modern West as well as the ancient East. The Swami does not merely deal in generalizations but fills in the particulars all along the line, from the ancient Greeks to the Transcendentalists of New England and up through the twentieth century. The history of ideas is a very edifying study and Swami Tathagatananda has provided a great service to the world by bringing together in one thoughtful volume a wealth of facts and insights that have probably taken decades to collect and develop.
-Sam Fohr, PH.D.
Professor of Philosophy University of Pittsburgh


List of Illustrations
Arnold Toynbee’s View

India in the Eyes of the Westerners

The Eternal Charm of Vedanta Casts its Spell on other Vedanta

Classical India and Classical Greece

The Pivotal Upanishad Mission in France

Germany’s Appreciation for the Upanishads

The Role of England and other European Nations in the Journey of the Upanishads

The American Transcendental Movement: the Brahmanism of New England

Russia’s Interest in Vedanta

Select Bibliography