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Eastern Religions & Western Thought

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Item Code: NBA050
Publisher: Oxford University Press, New Delhi
Author: S. Radhakrishnan
Language: ENGLISH
Edition: 1989
ISBN: 9780195624564
Pages: 389
Other Details 8.50 X 5.50 inch
Weight 390 gm
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Book Description

MODERN civilization with its scientific temper, humanistic spirit, and secular view of life is uprooting the world over the customs of long centuries and creating a ferment of restlessness. The new world cannot remain a confused mass of needs and impulses, ambitions and activities, without any control or guidance of the spirit. The void created by abandoned superstitions and uprooted beliefs calls for a spiritual filling. The world has found itself as one body. But physical unity and economic interdependence are not by themselves sufficient to create a universal human community. For this we require a human consciousness of community, a sense of personal relationships among men. Though this human consciousness was till recently limited to the members of the political States, there has been a rapid extension of it after the War. The modes and customs of all men are now a part of the consciousness of all men. Man has become the spectator of man. A new humanism is on the horizon. But this time it embraces the whole of mankind. An intimate mutual knowledge between peoples is producing an enrichment of world-consciousness. We can no more escape being members of a world community than we can jump out of our own skin. Yet to our dismay we find that the world is anarchical and unruly. Its mind is in confusion; its brain out of hinge. More than ever before, the world is to-day divided and afflicted by formidable evils. The cause of the present tension and disorder is the lack of adjustment between the process of life, which is one of increasing interdependence, and the 'ideology' of life, the integrating habits of mind, loyalties, and affections embodied in our laws and institutions. Education, which has for its aim the transmission not only of skills and techniques, but of ideals and loyalties, of affections and appreciations, is busy in the new world with the old ideals of national sovereignty and economic self-sufficiency. The present organization of the world is inconsistent with the Zeitgeist shining on the distant horizon as well as the true spirit of religion. To say that there is only one God is to affirm that there is only one community of mankind. The obstacles to the organization of human society in an international commonwealth are in the minds of men who have not developed the sense of the duty they owe to each other. We have to touch the soul of man-kind. 'For soul is Form and doth the body make.' We must evolve ideals, habits, and sentiments which would enable us to build up a world community, live in a co-operative commonwealth working for the faith: 'so long as one man is in prison, I am not free; so long as one community is enslaved I belong to it'. The supreme task of our generation is to give a soul to the growing world-consciousness, to develop ideals and institutions necessary for the creative expression of the world soul, to transmit these loyalties and impulses to future generations and train them into world citizens. To this great work of creating a new pattern of living, some of the fundamental insights of Eastern religions, especially Hinduism and Buddhism, seem to be particularly relevant, and an attempt is made in these lectures to indicate them. No culture, no country, lives or has a right to live for itself. If it has any contribution to make towards the enrichment of the human spirit, it owes that contribution to the widest circle that it can reach. The contributions of ancient Greece, of the Roman Empire, of Renaissance Italy to the progress of humanity do not concern only the inhabitants of modern Greece or modern Italy. They are a part of the heritage of humanity. In the life of mind and spirit we cannot afford to display a mood of provincialism. At any rate, a mobilization of the wisdom of the world may have some justification at a time when so many other forms of mobilization are threatening it. I am aware of the scale and difficulty of the problems on which I touch. I am not a trained theologian and can only speak from the point of view of a student of philosophy who has endeavoured to keep abreast with modern investigations into the origin and growth of the chief religions of the world, and it seems to me that in the mystic traditions of the different religions we have a remarkable unity of spirit. Whatever religions they may profess, the mystics are spiritual kinsmen. While the different religions in their historical forms bind us to limited groups and militate against the development of loyalty to the world community, the mystics have always stood for the fellowship of humanity. They transcend the tyranny of names and the rivalry of creeds as well as the conflict of races and the strife of nations. As the religion of spirit, mysticism avoids the two extremes of dogmatic affirmation and dogmatic denial. All signs indicate that it is likely to be the religion of the future. I have a feeling that it is not quite proper for me to write a book where I have to depend for information at least in part on translations, but I thought that it was no use waiting for a scholar who shall have a proper and critical knowledge of Sanskrit and Hebrew, Greek and Latin, French and German, who alone could get all the sides in proper order, for such a scholar has not yet been born. Even translations could be used with care and judgement. So I felt that it was time that some one with some knowledge got together the main points into order. Again, I wish to lay claim to the task of a historian and not that of a partisan. If I have misrepresented any point of real importance, no one will be more grieved than myself. Those who know the extent and intricacy of the ground traversed will readily pardon less serious errors. These lectures were given in the years 1936-8, and though they have been revised and slightly expanded for publication, their informal character has been retained. There is inevitably a certain amount of repetition in a book of this kind. I have made no serious attempt to avoid it, partly because it would have tended to spoil the construction of individual lectures and partly because a certain amount of repetition of general principles in different connexions has some value in itself. The book is intended more for the larger public interested in the higher pursuits of the mind and problems of human culture and living than for the professional student of philosophy. Though the book has not the structural perfection which the importance of the theme requires, I hope there is a certain unity of outlook binding the different sections. I desire to thank the Delegates of the Clarendon Press for undertaking the publication of the book and for permitting me to use material already published by them, and to thank the staff of the Press for the way in which the publication has been carried out. Sir Richard Livingstone kindly read the proofs and I am greatly indebted to him. Lastly I would take this opportunity to pay a tribute of gratitude to Professor J. H. Muirhead, to whom this work is dedicated and whose critical sense and clear judgement have been my unfailing help in almost all the things that I have written in the last twenty years. Neither he nor Sir Richard Livingstone is, however, responsible for the views contained in this book.


THE cult of the Kanphata Yogis is a definite unit within Hinduism; but the ideas and practices of the sect reach a much wider distribution than the order. In this study of these Yogis what may seem like undue attention is given to legend and folklore in general, and to the description of institutions, but this has been necessary in order to create the proper background for the understanding of the special Yoga of the sect. The study has been carried on in the midst of regular tasks, both in India and in this country, over a long period of time. A good deal of the data supplied by others has been checked as the author has met with Yogis in many places, and with some Gorakhnathis many times.

The analysis of the subject-matter of this study has been made so that the first two sections of the book may serve to illustrate the third. The assumption has been maintained throughout, that folklore and tradition are indispensable to an understanding of the growth and influence of the sect; and that popular views concerning Yogis are as essential for an understanding of this phase of the religious life of India as are the formulated texts of the sect.

The use of various spellings of names and places corresponds with practice in different areas.

The Sanskrit text here presented has not been, so far as the author knows, heretofore translated into English. There are, in other works, quotations including in all practically every verse of the Goraksasataka, but the English translations of those verses are often in very free renderings. The translation here offered has been checked with the extensive commentary by Laksmi Narayana, attached to the 'Poona ' copy of the Goraksasataka. The translations of passages from other Sanskrit texts of the sect are also by the author.

The attempt has been made to present the whole matter objectively and without comment, reserving a few paragraphs in the last chapter for some personal opinions. When the study was begun, the author had little idea that it would lead where it has. He has had no desire to hold up to view any unpleasant aspects of Hinduism and can only plead that Hindus are much more realistic and thorough in their criticisms of some of the practices here described.

Special thanks are due to the mahants and gurus of the order, more particularly to those at Gorakhpur,''Devi Patan, Tilla and Dhinodhar; and to a few friends in this country for council and for reading certain chapters of the book.

The Reverend Daniel Buck and Pandit Brahmarsa Jagatanand deserve separate mention, the one for his companionship, and as an interpreter in visits to Kanphata institutions, the other for assistance in the reading of Yoga texts. The late Professor A. V. Williams Jackson of Columbia University, Professor Franklin Edgerton of Yale University, and the late Dr. George William Brown of the Kennedy School of Missions have given generously of time and council. To the late Dr. J. N. Farquhar is due the impulse which started this investigation. His successors, the Reverend E. C. Dewick, M.A. and Mr. L. A. Hogg have rendered assistance in the later stages of its progress.

The pictures reproduced in the book, with the exception of one, were taken by the author. The cut showing the cave-temple of Gorakhnath was furnished by Messrs. Con-stable and Company, Ltd., of London, with permission of H.H. the Maharaja of Nepal. The picture first appeared in Mr. Perceval Landon's Nepal, volume one, page sixty-six. The line drawings were made by George S. Briggs, a son of the author.

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following publishers for permission to quote from the volumes listed below. All of the excerpts are noted in appropriate places in the text.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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