Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Alfred von Tirpitz
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 11/10/19



Alfred von Tirpitz
Alfred von Tirpitz in 1903
Born 19 March 1849
Küstrin, Province of Brandenburg, Kingdom of Prussia in the German Confederation
(today Kostrzyn, Poland)
Died 6 March 1930 (aged 80)
Ebenhausen, Free State of Bavaria in the Weimar Republic
Buried Munich Waldfriedhof
Allegiance Kingdom of Prussia
North German Confederation
German Empire
Service/branch Prussian Navy
North German Federal Navy
Imperial German Navy
Years of service 1869–1916
Rank Grand Admiral
Battles/wars Franco-Prussian War
World War I
Awards Pour le Mérite
Knight of the Order of the Black Eagle
Friedrich Order
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order

Alfred Peter Friedrich von Tirpitz (19 March 1849 – 6 March 1930) was a German Grand Admiral, Secretary of State of the German Imperial Naval Office, the powerful administrative branch of the German Imperial Navy from 1897 until 1916. Prussia never had a major navy, nor did the other German states before the German Empire was formed in 1871. Tirpitz took the modest Imperial Navy and, starting in the 1890s, turned it into a world-class force that could threaten Britain's Royal Navy. His navy, however, was not strong enough to confront the British successfully in the First World War; the one great engagement at sea, the Battle of Jutland, ended in a narrow German tactical victory but a strategic failure. Tirpitz turned to submarine warfare, which antagonised the United States. He was dismissed in 1916 and never regained power.

Family and early life

Tirpitz was born in Küstrin (today Kostrzyn in Poland) in the Prussian province of Brandenburg, the son of lawyer and later judge Rudolf Tirpitz (1811–1905). His mother was the daughter of a doctor. Tirpitz grew up in Frankfurt (Oder). He recorded in his memoirs that he was a mediocre pupil as a child.

Tirpitz spoke English fluently and was sufficiently at home in Great Britain that he sent his two daughters to Cheltenham Ladies' College.

On 18 November 1884 he married Maria Augusta Lipke (born 11 October 1860 in Schwetz, West Prussia, died after 1941). On 12 June 1900 he was elevated to the Prussian nobility, becoming von Tirpitz. His son, Oberleutnant zur See Wolfgang von Tirpitz, was taken prisoner of war following the sinking of SMS Mainz in the Battle of Heligoland Bight on 28 August 1914.

Naval career

Tirpitz joined the Prussian Navy more by accident than design when a friend announced that he was doing so. Tirpitz decided he liked the idea and with the consent of his parents became a naval cadet at the age of 16, on 24 April 1865. He attended Kiel Naval School. Within a year Prussia was at war with Austria. Tirpitz became a midshipman (Seekadett) on 24 June 1866 and was posted to a sailing ship patrolling the English Channel. In 1866 Prussia became part of the North German Confederation, the navy officially became that of the confederation and Tirpitz joined the new institution on 24 June 1869.

On 22 September 1869 he had obtained the rank of Unterleutnant zur See (sub-lieutenant) and served on board SMS König Wilhelm. During the Franco-Prussian War the Prussian Navy was greatly outnumbered and so the ship spent the duration of the war at anchor, much to the embarrassment of the navy. During the early years of Tirpitz's career, Prussia and Great Britain were on good terms and the Prussian Navy spent much time in British ports. Tirpitz reported that Plymouth was more hospitable to German sailors than was Kiel, while it was also easier to obtain equipment and supplies there, which were of better quality than available at home. At this time the British Royal Navy was pleased to assist that of Prussia in its development and a considerable respect grew up in Prussian officers of their British counterparts.[1]

Development of torpedoes

Unification of Germany in 1871 again meant a change of name, to the German Imperial Navy. On 25 May 1872 Tirpitz was promoted to Leutnant zur See (lieutenant at sea) and on 18 November 1875 to Kapitänleutnant (captain-lieutenant). In 1877 he was chosen to visit the Whitehead Torpedo development works at Fiume and afterwards was placed in charge of the German torpedo section, later renamed the torpedo inspectorate. By 1879 a working device had been produced, but even under demonstration conditions Tirpitz reckoned it was as likely to miss a target as to hit it. On 17 September 1881 he became Korvettenkapitän (corvette captain). From developing torpedoes, Tirpitz moved on to developing torpedo boats to deliver them. The State Secretary for the Navy, Leo von Caprivi, was a distant relation, and Tirpitz now worked with him on the development of tactics. Caprivi envisioned that the boats would be used defensively against their most likely enemy, France, but Tirpitz set about developing plans to attack the French home port of Cherbourg. Tirpitz later described his time with torpedo boats as 'the eleven best years of my life'.[2]

Strategic development of the Navy

In 1887 the torpedo boats escorted Prince Wilhelm to attend the Golden Jubilee celebrations of his grandmother, Queen Victoria. This was the first time Tirpitz met Wilhelm. In July 1888 Caprivi was succeeded by Alexander von Monts. Torpedo boats were no longer considered important, and Tirpitz requested transfer, commanding the cruisers SMS Preussen and then SMS Württemberg. He was promoted to Captain (Kapitän zur See) 24 November 1888 and in 1890 became chief of staff of the Baltic Squadron. On one occasion the Kaiser was attending dinner with the senior naval officers at Kiel and asked their opinion on how the navy should develop. Finally the question came to Tirpitz and he advised building battleships. This was an answer which appealed to the Kaiser, and nine months later he was transferred to Berlin to work on a new strategy for creating a high seas fleet. Tirpitz appointed a staff of officers he had known from his time with the torpedo boats and collected together all sorts of vessels as stand-in battleships to conduct exercises to test out tactics. On 1 December 1892 he made a presentation of his findings to the Kaiser. This brought him into conflict with the Navy State Secretary, Admiral Friedrich von Hollmann. Hollmann was responsible for procurement of ships, and had a policy of collecting ships as funding permitted. Tirpitz had concluded that the best fighting arrangement was a squadron of eight identical battleships, rather than any other combination of ships with mixed abilities. Further ships should then be added in groups of eight. Hollmann favoured a mixed fleet including cruisers for long distance operations overseas. Tirpitz believed that in a war no number of cruisers would be safe unless backed up by sufficient battleships.

Kapitän zur See (captain at sea) Tirpitz became chief of the naval staff in 1892 and was made a Konteradmiral (rear admiral) in 1895.

In autumn 1895, frustrated by the non-adoption of his recommendations, Tirpitz asked to be replaced. The Kaiser, not wishing to lose him, asked instead that he prepare a set of recommendations for ship construction. This was delivered on 3 January 1896, but the timing was bad as it coincided with raids into the Transvaal in Southern Africa by pro-British forces against the pro-German Boers. The Kaiser immediately set his mind to demanding cruisers which could operate at a distance and influence the war. Hollman was tasked with obtaining money from the Reichstag for a building programme, but failed to gain funding for enough ships to satisfy anyone. Imperial Chancellor Hohenlohe saw no sense in naval enlargement and reported back that the Reichstag opposed it. Admiral Gustav von Senden-Bibran, Chief of the Naval Cabinet, advised that the only possibility lay in replacing Hollmann: Wilhelm impulsively decided to appoint Tirpitz.[3]

Meanwhile, however, Hollmann had obtained funding for one battleship and three large cruisers. It was felt that replacing him before the bill had completed approval through the Reichstag would be a mistake. Instead, Tirpitz was placed in charge of the German East Asia Squadron in the Far East but with a promise of appointment as Secretary at a suitable moment. The cruiser squadron operated from British facilities in Hong Kong which were far from satisfactory as the German ships always took second place for available docks. Tirpitz was instructed to find a suitable site for a new port, selecting four possible sites. Although he initially favoured the bay at Kiautschou/Tsingtao, others in the naval establishment advocated a different location and even Tirpitz wavered on his commitment in his final report. A 'lease' on the land was acquired in 1898 after it was fortuitously occupied by German forces. On 12 March 1896 the Reichstag cut back Hollmann's appropriation of 70 million marks to 58 million, and Hollman offered his resignation. Tirpitz was summoned home and offered the post of Secretary of the Imperial Navy office (Reichsmarineamt). He went home the long way, touring the United States on the way and arriving in Berlin 6 June 1897. He was pessimistic of his chances of succeeding with the Reichstag.[4]

State Secretary of the Imperial Navy Office

On 15 June Tirpitz presented a memorandum on the makeup and purpose of the German fleet to the Kaiser. This defined the principal enemy as Great Britain, and the principal area of conflict to be that between Heligoland and the Thames. Cruiser warfare around the globe was deemed impractical because Germany had few bases to resupply ships, while the chief need was for as many battleships as possible to take on the British fleet. A target was outlined for two squadrons of eight battleships, plus a fleet flagship and two reserves. This was to be completed by 1905 and cost 408 million marks, or 58 million per year, the same as the existing budget. The proposal was innovative in several ways. It made a clear statement of naval needs, whereas before the navy had grown piecemeal. It set out the programme for seven years ahead, which neither the Reichstag nor the navy should change. It defined a change in German foreign policy so as to justify the existence of the fleet: Great Britain up to this point had been friendly, now it was officially an enemy. The Kaiser agreed the plan and Tirpitz retired to St Blasien in the Black Forest with a team of naval specialists to draft a naval bill for presentation to the Reichstag. Information about the plan leaked out to Admiral Knorr, head of the Naval High Command. Tirpitz agreed to a joint committee to discuss changes in the navy, but then arranged that it never receive any information. Similarly, he arranged a joint committee with the Treasury State Secretary to discuss finance, which never discussed anything. Meanwhile, he continued his best efforts to convince the Kaiser and Chancellor, so that in due course he could announce the issues had already been decided at a higher level and thereby avoid debate.[5]

Once the bill was nearly complete Tirpitz started a round of visits to obtain support. First he visited the former Chancellor and elder statesman, Prince Bismarck. Armed with the announcement that the Kaiser intended to name the next ship launched Furst Bismarck, he persuaded the former chancellor, who had been dismissed from office for disagreement with Wilhelm II, to modestly support the proposals. Tirpitz now visited the King of Saxony, the Prince Regent of Bavaria, the Grand Duke of Baden and Oldenburg and the councils of the Hanseatic towns. On 19 October the draft bill was sent to the printers for presentation to the Reichstag. Tirpitz's approach was to be as accommodating with the deputies as he could. He was patient and good humoured, proceeding on the assumption that if everything was explained carefully, then the deputies would naturally be convinced. Groups were invited to private meetings to discuss the bill. Tours of ships and shipyards were arranged. The Kaiser and Chancellor stressed that the fleet was only intended for protection of Germany, but so that even a first class power might think twice before attacking. Highlights from a letter Prince Bismarck wrote were read out in the Reichstag, though not mentioning passages where he expressed reservations. Papers were circulated showing the relative size of foreign fleets, and how much Germany had fallen behind, particularly when considering the great power of her army compared to others.[6]

A press bureau was created in the Navy Ministry to ensure journalists were thoroughly briefed, and to politely answer any and all objections. Pre-written articles were provided for the convenience of journalists. University professors were invited to speak on the importance of protecting German trade. The Navy League was formed to popularise the idea of world naval power and its importance to the Empire. It was argued that colonies overseas were essential, and Germany deserved her 'place in the sun'. League membership grew from 78,000 in 1898, to 600,000 in 1901 and 1.1 million by 1914. Especial attention was given to members of the budget committee who would consider the bill in detail. Their interests and connections were analysed to find ways to influence them. Steel magnate Fritz Krupp and shipowner Albert Ballin of the Hamburg-America Line were invited to speak on the benefits of the bill to trade and industry.[7]

Objections were raised that the bill surrendered one of the most important powers of the Reichstag, that of annually scrutinising expenditure. Conservatives felt that expenditure on the navy was wasted, and that if money was available it should go to the army, which would be the deciding factor in any likely war. Eugen Richter of the Liberal Radical Union opposing the bill observed that if it was intended for Germany now seriously to take up the Trident to match its other forces then such a small force would not suffice and there would be no end to ship building. August Bebel of the Social Democrats argued that there existed a number of deputies who were Anglophobes and wished to pick a fight with Britain, but that to imagine such a fleet could take on the Royal Navy was insanity and anyone saying it belonged in the madhouse.[8]

Yet by the end of the debates the country was convinced that the bill would and should be passed. On 26 March 1898 it did so, by a majority of 212 to 139. All those around the Kaiser were ecstatic at their success. Tirpitz as navy minister was elevated to a seat on the Prussian Ministry of State. His influence and importance as the man who had accomplished this miracle was assured and he was to remain at the center of government for the next nineteen years.

Second Naval Bill

One year after the passage of the bill Tirpitz appeared before the Reichstag and declared his satisfaction with it. The specified fleet would still be smaller than the French or British, but would be able to deter the Russians in the Baltic. Within another year all had changed. In October 1899 the Boer War broke out between the British and Boers in South Africa. In January 1900 a British cruiser intercepted three German mail steamers and searched them for war supplies intended for the Boers. Germany was outraged and the opportunity presented itself for a second Naval Bill. The second bill doubled the number of battleships from nineteen to thirty-eight. This would form four squadrons of eight ships, plus two flagships and four reserves. The bill now spanned seventeen years from 1901 to 1917 with the final ships being completed by 1920. This would constitute the second-largest fleet in the world and although no mention was made in the bill of specific enemies, it made several general mentions of a greater power which it was intended to oppose. There was only one navy which could be meant. On 5 December 1899 Tirpitz was promoted to Vizeadmiral (vice admiral). The bill passed on 20 June 1900.[9]

Specifically written into the preamble was an explanation of Tirpitz's Risk Theory. Although the German fleet would be smaller, it was likely that an enemy with a world spanning empire would not be able to concentrate all its forces in local waters. Even if it could, the German fleet would still be sufficiently powerful to inflict significant damage in any battle, sufficient damage that the enemy would be unable to maintain its other naval commitments and must suffer irreparable harm. Thus no such enemy would risk an engagement. Privately Tirpitz acknowledged that a second risk existed: that Britain, seeing its growing enemy might choose to strike first, might destroy the German fleet before it grew to a dangerous size. A similar course had been taken before, when Lord Nelson sank Danish ships to prevent them falling into French hands, and would be again in the Second World War when French ships were sunk at Mers-el-Kébir to prevent them falling into German hands. A term, Copenhagenization, even existed in English for this. Tirpitz calculated this danger period would end in 1904 or 1905. In the event, Britain responded to the increased German building programme by building more ships herself and the theoretical danger period extended itself to beyond the start of the Great War. As a reward for the successful bill Tirpitz was ennobled with the hereditary article von before his name in 1900.[10]

Tirpitz noted the difficulties in his relationship with the Kaiser. Wilhelm respected him as the only man who had succeeded in persuading the Reichstag to start and then increase a world class navy, but he remained unpredictable. He was fanatical about the navy, but would come up with wild ideas for improvements, which Tirpitz had to deflect to maintain his objectives. Each summer Tirpitz would go to St Blasien with his aides to work on naval plans, then in September he would travel to the Kaiser's retreat at Rominten, where Tirpitz found he would be more relaxed and willing to listen to a well argued explanation.[11]

Three supplementary naval bills ('Novelles') were passed, in June 1906, April 1908 and June 1912. The first followed German diplomatic defeats over Morocco, and added six large cruisers to the fleet. The second followed fears of British encroachment, and reduced the replacement time which a ship would remain in service from 25 to 20 years. The third was caused by the Agadir Crisis where again Germany had to draw back. This time three more battleships were added.[12]

The first naval law caused little alarm in Great Britain. There was already in force a dual power standard defining the size of the British fleet as at least that of the next two largest fleets combined. There was now a new player, but her fleet was similar in size to the other two possible threats, Russia and France, and a number of battleships were already under construction. The second naval law, however, caused serious alarm: eight King Edward VII-class battleships were ordered in response. It was the regularity and efficiency with which Germany was now building ships, which were seen to be as good as any in the world, which raised concern. Information about the design of the new battleships suggested they were only intended to operate within a short range of a home base and not to stay at sea for extended periods. They seemed designed only for operations in the North Sea. The result was that Britain abandoned its policy of isolation which had held force since the time of Nelson and began to look for allies against the growing threat from Germany. Ships were withdrawn from around the world and brought back to British waters, while construction of new ships increased.[13]

Tirpitz Plan

Tirpitz's design to achieve world power status through naval power, while at the same time addressing domestic issues, is referred to as the Tirpitz Plan. Politically, the Tirpitz Plan was marked by the Fleet Acts of 1898, 1900, 1908 and 1912. By 1914, they had given Germany the second-largest naval force in the world (roughly 40% smaller than the Royal Navy). It included seventeen modern dreadnoughts, five battlecruisers, twenty-five cruisers and twenty pre-dreadnought battleships as well as over forty submarines. Although including fairly unrealistic targets, the expansion programme was sufficient to alarm the British, starting a costly naval arms race and pushing the British into closer ties with the French.

Tirpitz developed a "Risk Theory" whereby, if the German Imperial Navy reached a certain level of strength relative to the British Royal Navy, the British would try to avoid confrontation with Germany (that is, maintain a fleet in being). If the two navies fought, the German Navy would inflict enough damage on the British that the latter ran a risk of losing their naval dominance. Because the British relied on their navy to maintain control over the British Empire, Tirpitz felt they would opt to maintain naval supremacy in order to safeguard their empire, and let Germany become a world power, rather than lose the empire as the cost of keeping Germany less powerful. This theory sparked a naval arms race between Germany and Great Britain in the first decade of the 20th century.

Grand Admiral von Tirpitz in 1915

This theory was based on the assumption that Great Britain would have to send its fleet into the North Sea to blockade the German ports (blockading Germany was the only way the Royal Navy could seriously harm Germany), where the German Navy could force a battle. However, due to Germany's geographic location, Great Britain could blockade Germany by closing the entrance to the North Sea in the English Channel and the area between Bergen and the Shetland Islands. Faced with this option a German Admiral commented, "If the British do that, the role of our navy will be a sad one," correctly predicting the role the surface fleet would have during the First World War.

Politically and strategically, Tirpitz's Risk Theory ensured its own failure. By its very nature it forced Britain into measures that would have been previously unacceptable to the British establishment. The necessity to concentrate the fleet against the German threat involved Britain making arrangements with other powers that enabled her to return the bulk of her naval forces to Home Waters. The first evidence of this is seen in the Anglo-Japanese treaty of 1902 that enabled the battleships of the China squadron to be re-allocated back to Europe. The Japanese fleet, largely constructed in British shipyards, then proceeded to utterly destroy the Russian navy in the war of 1904–05, removing Russia as a credible maritime opponent. The necessity to reduce the Mediterranean Fleet in order to reinforce the navy in home waters was also a powerful influence in its détente and Entente Cordiale with the French. By forcing the British to come to terms with its most traditional opponent, Tirpitz scuttled his own policy. Britain was no longer at 'risk' from France, and the Japanese destruction of the Russian fleet removed that nation as a naval threat. In the space of a few years, Germany was faced with virtually the whole strength of the Royal Navy deployed against its own fleet, and Britain committed to her list of potential enemies. The Tirpitz 'risk theory' made it more probable that, in any future conflict between the European powers, Britain would be on the side of Germany's foes, and that the full force of the most powerful navy in the world would be concentrated against her fleet.

Tirpitz had been made a Großadmiral (grand admiral) in 1911, without patent (the document that accompanied formal promotions personally signed at this level by the Kaiser himself). At that time, the German Imperial Navy had only four ranks for admirals: rear admiral, (Konteradmiral, equal to a Generalmajor in the army, with no pips on the shoulders); vice admiral (Vizeadmiral, equal to a Generalleutnant, with one pip); admiral (equal to a General der Infanterie, with two pips), and grand admiral (equal to a field marshal). Tirpitz's shoulder boards had four pips, and he never received a grand admiral's baton or the associated insignia. Despite the building programme he oversaw, he believed that the war had come too soon for a successful surface challenge to the Royal Navy, as the Fleet Act of 1900 had included a seventeen-year timetable. Unable to influence naval operations from his purely administrative position, Tirpitz became a vocal spokesman for unrestricted U-boat warfare, which he felt could break the British stranglehold on Germany's sea lines of communication. His construction policy never bore out his political stance on submarines, and by 1917 there was a severe shortage of newly built submarines. When the restrictions on the submarine war were not lifted, he fell out with the Kaiser and felt compelled to resign on 15 March 1916. He was replaced as Secretary of State of the Imperial Naval Office by Eduard von Capelle.

Fatherland Party

In 1917, Grand Admiral Tirpitz was co-founder of the Pan-Germanic and nationalist Fatherland Party (Deutsche Vaterlandspartei).[14] The party was organised jointly by Heinrich Claß, Konrad Freiherr von Wangenheim, Tirpitz as chairman and Wolfgang Kapp as his deputy. The party attracted the opponents of a negotiated peace and organised opposition to the parliamentary majority which was seeking peace negotiations. It sought to bring together outside parliament all parties on the political right, which had not previously been done. At its peak, in the summer of 1918, it had around 1,250,000 members. It proposed both Generalfeldmarschall Paul von Hindenburg and General Erich Ludendorff as 'people's emperors' of a military state whose legitimacy was based upon war and war aims instead of on the parliamentary government of the Reich. Internally, there were calls for a coup d'etat against the German government, to be led by Hindenburg and Ludendorff, even against the Emperor if necessary. Tirpitz's experience with the Navy League and mass political agitation convinced him that the means for a coup was at hand.[15]

Tirpitz considered that one of the main aims of the war must be annexation of new territory in the west, to allow Germany to develop into a world power. This meant holding the Belgian ports of Zeebrugge and Ostend, with an eye to the main enemy, the United Kingdom. He proposed a separate peace treaty with Russia, giving them access to the ocean. Germany would be a great continental state but could maintain its world position only by expanding world trade and continuing the fight against the UK. He complained of indecision and ambiguity in German policy, humanitarian ideas of self-preservation, a policy of appeasement of neutrals at the expense of vital German interests, and begging for peace. He called for vigorous warfare without regard for diplomatic and commercial consequences and supported the most extreme use of weapons, especially unrestricted submarine warfare.

From 1908 to 1918, Tirpitz was a member of the Prussian House of Lords. After Germany's defeat, he supported the right-wing German National People's Party (Deutschnationale Volkspartei, or DNVP) and sat for it in the Reichstag from 1924 until 1928.

Tirpitz died in Ebenhausen, near Munich, on 6 March 1930. He is buried in the Waldfriedhof in Munich.


• Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Göttingen (16 June 1913) and Greifswald
• Honorary doctorate of engineering from the Technische Hochschule Charlottenburg
• Freeman of the city of Frankfurt (Oder) (15 January 1917)
• The German battleship Tirpitz was named after him in 1939.

Foreign honours

• Order of Saint Alexander Nevsky – August 1902 – during the visit of the German Emperor to the Russian fleet maneuvers in Reval.[16]


• My Memoirs. London/ New York. 1919. Republished in a single volume by NSNB with an introduction by Erik Empson in 2013 ASIN B00DH2E9LE.
• The structure of German World Power. Stuttgart/ Berlin. 1924.
• German policy. Hamburg/Berlin. 1926.
• Memories, 5 volumes. Berlin/Leipzig. 1927.

See also

• Anglo-German naval arms race
• German interest in the Caribbean


1. Massie p. 166
2. Massie p. 167
3. Massie, pp. 169–170
4. Massie p. 171
5. Massie pp. 172–174
6. Massie pp. 174–178
7. Massie p. 178
8. Massie pp. 177–179
9. Massie pp. 180–181
10. Massie pp. 181–182
11. Massie pp. 182–183
12. Massie p. 183
13. Massie pp. 184–185
14. Patrick J. Kelly, Tirpitz and the Imperial German Navy (2011) pp. 410–421
15. Raffael Scheck, Alfred von Tirpitz and German right-wing politics, 1914–1930 (1998), chapter 5
16. "Latest intelligence - the Imperial meeting at Reval". The Times (36842). London. 9 August 1902. p. 5.



• Tirpitz, Alfred von, Erinnerungen (Leipzig: K.F.Koehler, 1919).

Secondary source

• Berghahn, V.R. Germany and the Approach of War in 1914 (Macmillan, 1973). pp. 25–42
• Berghahn, Volker Rolf. Der Tirpitz-Plan (Droste Verlag, 1971). in German
• Bird, Keith. "The Tirpitz Legacy: The Political Ideology of German Sea Power," Journal of Military History, July 2005, Vol. 69 Issue 3, pp. 821–825
• Bönker, Dirk. Militarism in a Global Age: Naval Ambitions in Germany and the United States before World War I (2012) excerpt and text search; online review
• Bönker, Dirk. "Global Politics and Germany's Destiny 'from an East Asian Perspective': Alfred von Tirpitz and the Making of Wilhelmine Navalism." Central European History 46.1 (2013): 61–96.
• Clark, Sir Christopher, The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 (New York: Harper 2013)
• Epkenhans, Michael. Tirpitz: Architect of the German High Seas Fleet (2008) excerpt and text search, 106pp
• Herwig, Holger H., 'Admirals versus Generals: The War Aims of Imperial German Navy 1914–1918', Central European History 5 (1972), pp. 208–233.
• Hobson, Rolf. Imperialism at Sea: Naval Strategic Thought, the Ideology of Sea Power, and the Tirpitz Plan, 1875–1914 (Brill, 2002) in Questia
• Kelly, Patrick J. "Strategy, Tactics, and Turf Wars: Tirpitz and the Oberkommando der Marine, 1892–1895," Journal of Military History, October 2002, Vol. 66 Issue 4, pp. 1033–1060
• Kennedy, Paul. The rise and fall of British naval mastery (2017) pp. 205–239.
• Kelly, Patrick J. (2011). Tirpitz and the Imperial German Navy. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.
• Massie, Robert K. Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War. London: Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0-224-03260-7.
• Saunders, George (1922). "Tirpitz, Alfred von" . Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.).

Primary sources

• Marinearchiv, Der Krieg zur zee 1914–1918 (18 vols, Berlin and Frankfurt: E.S.Mittler & Sohn, 1932–66).
• Marinearchiv, Der Krieg zur See 1914–1918. Der Handelskrieg mit U-Booten (5 vols., Berlin: E.S. Mittler & Sohn, 1923–66).

External links

• Alfred von Tirpitz at Find a Grave
• Newspaper clippings about Alfred von Tirpitz in the 20th Century Press Archives of the ZBW
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Mon Nov 11, 2019 6:51 am

Walter Nicolai
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 11/10/19



Walter Nicolai
Born: 1 August 1873, Braunschweig, Germany
Died: 4 May 1947 (aged 73), Moscow, Soviet Union
Nationality: German
Occupation: Intelligence officer
Espionage activity
Allegiance: German Empire
Weimar Republic
Service branch: Abteilung IIIb
Service years: 1906–1919
Rank Colonel

Walter Nicolai (August 1, 1873 – May 4, 1947) was the first senior IC (Intelligence) Officer in the Imperial German Army. He came to run the military secret service, Abteilung IIIb, and to be important in the pro-war faction of German leaders during World War I.[1] According to Höhne and Zolling, he was supportive in the foundation of the Fatherland Party.[2]


Walter Nicolai was the son of a Prussian Army Captain and a farmer's daughter in Brunswick. In 1893, he selected a military career. He studied from 1901 to 1904 at the War Academy in Berlin. Trips are known to have taken him shortly before his appointment as Chief of the Intelligence Service of the German High Command to Russia. He spoke fluent Russian. Nicolai was considered ultra-conservative, monarchist, and non-political.[3]

In 1906, Nicolai began his career in Abteilung IIIb, when he took over the news station in Königsberg.[4] He built up the news station in Königsberg to a major center for espionage against the Russian Empire. After two years of service in early 1913, he was named the head of Abteilung IIIb, which helped to inform others of the Austrian espionage case against Captain Alfred Redl. Nicolai led the German secret service between 1913 and 1919. He directed Abteilung IIIb intensively during the First World War. Nicolai wrote: "Before each new acquisition, delivery pp. to ask the I.O., what benefits it brings for the war. "[5]

When Erich Ludendorff was quartermaster general, there was an expansion of military intelligence for the secret police. Nicolai saw himself as a relentless will to win a military educator, a supervisor and an initiator of patriotic self-discipline. His officers took part in the promotional work for war bonds. Nicolai was behind the founding of the ultra-nationalist Fatherland Party.

After the end of World War I, Nicolai retired as a colonel. His deputy and later successor in 1920 was Major Friedrich Gempp. In his postwar years, Nicolai published two books about his activities.

Under Nazi Germany, he belonged to the expert advisory board of the Imperial Institute for the History of the New Germany.[6]

After the Second World War, Nicolai was arrested by the Soviet SMERSH under personal order of Stalin,[7] deported from Germany, and interrogated in Moscow. He died while in custody
on 4 May 1947 at the Hospital of Moscow's Butyrka Prison. His body was cremated and buried at the necropolis of the Donskoy Monastery in a mass grave. It was only in 1999 that Russian military prosecutors formally exonerated Walter Nicolai of all charges.[8]


1. see Höhne and Zolling, p 286 onwards.
2. Höhne and Zolling, p. 290
3. Heinz Höhne: Canaris – Patriot im Zwielicht. S. 149.
4. Heinz Höhne: Canaris – Patriot im Zwielicht. S. 150f.
5. Heinz Höhne: Canaris – Patriot im Zwielicht. S. 150.
6. Ernst Klee: Das Kulturlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Wer war was vor und nach 1945. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007, S. 433.
7. Official information from Russian Government (see the Russian page for sources)
8. Jürgen Schmidt: Spionage: Mata Haris erfolgloser Chef, Tagesspiegel, 7. Oktober 2001


• Höhne, Heinz, and Zolling, Hermann (1972). The General Was a Spy. Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, Inc, New York. (Published in Germany as Pullach Intern, 1971, Hoffman and Campe Verlag, Hamburg)
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Mon Nov 11, 2019 7:18 am

Abdul Hafiz Mohamed Barakatullah
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 11/11/19



Abdul Hafiz Mohammed Barkatullah
Prime Minister of the Provisional Government of India
In office: 1915 - 1919
President Mahendra Pratap
Personal details
Born: 7 July 1854, Bhopal, Bhopal State, British India
Died: 20 September 1927

Abdul Hafiz Mohamed Barakatullah, known with his honorific as Maulana Barkatullah (c. 7 July 1854 – 20 September 1927), was an Indian revolutionary with sympathy for the Pan-Islamic movement. Barkatullah was born on 7 July 1854 at Itwra Mohalla Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, India. He fought from outside India, with fiery speeches and revolutionary writings in leading newspapers, for the independence of India. He did not live to see India independent. In 1988, Bhopal University was renamed Barkatullah University[1] in his honour.

Early life

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Policy of revolution

While in England he came in close contact with Lala Hardayal and Raja Mahendra Pratap, son of the Raja of Hathras. He became a friend of Afghan Emir and the editor of the Kabul newspaper Sirejul-ul-Akber'. He was one of the founders of the Ghadar Party in 1913 at San Francisco. Later he became the first prime minister of the Provisional Government of India established on 1 December 1915 in Kabul with Raja Mahendra Pratap as its president. Barkatullah went to several countries of the world with a mission to rouse politically the Indian community and to seek support for the freedom of India from the famous leaders of the time in those countries. Prominent amongst those were Kaiser Wilhelm II, Amir Habibullah Khan, Mohammed Resched, Ghazi Pasha, Lenin, and Hitler.

In England, in 1897, Barakatullah was seen attending meetings of the Muslim Patriotic League. Here, he came across other revolutionary compatriots around Shyamji Krishnavarma. After about a year spent in America, in February 1904 he left for Japan, where he was appointed Professor of Hindustani at the University of Tokyo. In the autumn of 1906, at 1 West 34th Street in New York City, a Pan-Aryan Association was formed by Barakatullah and Samuel Lucas Joshi, a Maratha Christian, son of the late Reverend Lucas Maloba Joshi; it was supported by the Irish revolutionaries of the Clan-na-Gael, the anti-British lawyer Myron H. Phelps and of the equally anti-British Swami Abhedananda who continued the work of Swami Vivekananda.

Miranda de Souza Canavarro (1849-1933) was notable as the first woman to convert to Buddhism on American soil (in 1897) and later a Buddhist nun in Ceylon. She became known as Sister Sanghamitta, while in America she was often known as Marie. She was the wife of the Portuguese ambassador to Sandwich Islands, who began a secret "spiritual marriage" to New York attorney and Buddhist sympathizer Myron Henry Phelps.[1] She converted to Buddhism in 1897 under the discipleship of Anagarika Dharmapala, then moved to Ceylon as Sister Sanghamitta.

-- Miranda de Souza Canavarro, by Wikipedia

According to a report in the Gaelic American, in June 1907, a meeting of Indians, held in New York, passed resolutions “repudiating the right of any foreigner (Mr. Morley) to dictate the future of the Indian people, urging their countrymen to depend upon themselves alone and especially on boycott and swadeshi, condemning the deportation of Lajpat Rai and Ajit Singh, and expressing detestation of the action of the British authorities in openly instigating one class of Indians against another at Jamalpur and other places." (Source: Ker, p225).

More vehement was his letter in Persian, which appeared in the Urdu Mualla of Aligarh, U.P., in May 1907, in which Barakatullah strongly advocated the necessity for unity between Hindus and Muslims, and defined the two chief duties of Muslims as patriotism and friendship with all Muslims outside India. This prophetic argument preceded by four years the publication of Germany and the Coming War, by Bernhardi, warning England to be aware of the extreme danger represented by the unity of Hindu and Muslim extremists in Bengal, as reported by the Rowlatt Commission (Chapter VII). He thought that the performance of both these duties depended entirely upon one rule of conduct, namely concord and unity with the Hindus of India in all political matters. (Ker, p226).

On 16 August 1908 arrived from Kolkata Bhupendra Nath Datta, Vivekananda’s hot-blooded brother. Invited by George Freeman to edit the Free Hindustan from the Gaelic American newspaper office, Taraknath Das went to New York to join his old colleague Datta. In March 1909 Barakatullah left again for Japan.

Activities in Japan

Early in 1910, he started the Islamic Fraternity in Tokyo.

In June–July 1911 he left for Constantinople and Petrograd, returned to Tokyo in October and published an article referring to the advent of a great pan-Islamic Alliance including Afghanistan which he expected to become "the future Japan of Central Asia". In December he converted to Islam three Japanese: his assistant Hassan U. Hatanao, his wife, and her father, Baron Kentaro Hiki. This is said to be the first conversion to Islam in Japan. In 1912, Barakatullah “became at once more fluent in his use of the English language and more anti-British in his tone,” observes Ker (p133). Discussing in his paper the “Christian Combination against Islam,” Barakatullah singled out the Emperor William of Germany as really the one man “who holds the peace of the world as well as the war in the hollow of his hand : it is the duty of the Muslims to be united, to stand by the Khalif; with their life and property, and to side with Germany.” Quoting a Roman poet, Barakatullah reminded that the Anglo-Saxons had been sea-wolves, living on the pillage of the world. The difference in modern times was the added “refinement of hypocrisy which sharpens the edge of brutality.” On 6 July 1912, the entry of the paper into India was prohibited, before the Japanese Government suppressed it. Meanwhile, since September, copies of another paper called El Islam appeared in India, continuing Barakatullah’s political propaganda. On 22 March 1913 its importation was prohibited in India. In June 1913, copies were received in India of a lithographed Urdu pamphlet, "The Sword is the Last Resort". On 31 March 1914 Barakatullah’s teaching appointment was terminated by the Japanese authorities. It was followed by another similar leaflet, Feringhi ka Fareb (“The Deceit of the English”) : according to Ker (p135), “it surpassed in violence Barakatullah’s previous productions, and was modelled more on the style of the publications of the Gadhar party of San Francisco with whom Barakatullah now threw in his lot.”

The Ghadar episode

Main article: Hindu German Conspiracy

In May 1913, G.D. Kumar had sailed from San Francisco for the Philippine Islands and had written from Manila to Taraknath Das : “I am going to establish base at Manila (P.I.) forwarding Depôt, supervise the work near China, Hong Kong, Shanghai. Professor Barakatullah is all right in Japan.” (Ker, p237). On 22 May 1914, Barakatullah returned to San Francisco with Bhagwan Singh alias Natha Singh, the granthi (priest) of the Sikh temple at Hong Kong and joined the Yugantar Ashram and worked with Taraknath Das. With the outbreak of the War in August 1914, meetings were held at all the principal centres of the Indian population from Asia in California and Oregon and funds were raised to go back to India and join the insurrection : Barakatullah, Bhagwan Singh and Ramchandra Bharadwaj were among the speakers. (Portland (Oregon) Telegram, 7 August 1914; Fresno Republican, 23 September 1914). Reaching Berlin on time, Barakatullah met Chatto or Virendranath Chattopadhyay and sided Raja Mahendra Pratap in the Mission to Kabul. Their role was significant in indoctrinating with anti-British feelings the Indian prisoners of war held by Germany. They arrived at Herat on 24 August 1915 and were given a royal reception by the Governor.

Government of Free India

Main article: Provisional Government of India

On 1 December 1915, Pratap's 28th birthday, he established the first Provisional Government of India at Kabul in Afghanistan, during First World War. It was a government-in-exile of Free Hindustan with Raja Mahendra Pratap as president, Maulana Barkatullah, Prime Minister, Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi, Home Minister.[2] Anti-British forces supported his movement. But, for some obvious loyalty to the British, the Amir kept on delaying the expedition. Then they attempted to establish relations with foreign powers.” (Ker, p305). In Kabul, the Siraj-ul-Akhbar in its issue of 4 May 1916 published Raja Mahendra Pratap’s version of the Mission and its objective. He stated: "His Imperial Majesty the Kaiser himself granted me an audience. Subsequently, having set right the problem of India and Asia with the Imperial German Government, and having received the necessary credentials, I started towards the East. I had interviews with the Khedive of Egypt and with the Princes and Ministers of Turkey, as well as with the renowned Enver Pasha and His Imperial Majesty the Holy Khalif, Sultan-ul-Muazzim. I settled the problem of India and the East with the Imperial Ottoman Government, and received the necessary credentials from them as well. German and Turkish officers and Maulvi Barakatullah Sahib were went with me to help me; they are still with me."[This quote needs a citation] Unable to take Raja Mahendra Pratap seriously, Jawaharlal Nehru later wrote in An Autobiography (p. 151): "He seemed to be a character out of medieval romance, a Don Quixote who had strayed into the twentieth century." Under pressure from the British, the Afghan government withdrew its help. The Mission was closed down.


1. Barkatullah University, BHOPAL Archived 6 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine at
2. Contributions of Raja Mahendra Prata by Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman, International Seminar on Raja Mahendra Pratap & Barkatullah Bhopali, Barkatulla University, Bhopal, 1–3 December 2005.
• Dictionary of National Biography, ed. S.P. Sen, Vol. I, p. 139–140
• The Roll of Honour, by Kalicharan Ghosh, 1965
• Political Trouble in India: A Confidential Report, by James Campbell Ker, 1917, Reprint 1973
• Sedition Committee Report, by Justice S.A.T. Rowlatt, 1918, Reprint 1973
• Les origines intellectuelles du mouvement d’indépendance de l’Inde (1893–1918), by Prithwindra Mukherjee, PhD Thesis, 1986
• In Freedom’s Quest, by Sibnarayan Ray, Vol. I, 1998
• Communism in India, by Sir Cecil Kaye, compiled & edited by Subodh Roy, 1971
• “The Comintern and the Indian revolutionaries in Russia in 1920s” by Sobhanlal Datta Gupta, in Calcutta Historical Journal, Vol. XVIII, No.2, 1996, p. 151–170.

External links

• Maulana Barkatullah materials in the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA)
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Swami Abhedananda
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 11/11/19



Swami Abhedananda
Born: Kaliprasad Chandra, 2 October 1866, Calcutta, Bengal, British India
Died: 8 September 1939 (aged 72), Calcutta, Bengal, British India
Religion: Hinduism
Philosophy: Advaita Vedanta
Religious career
Guru Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
Group photo taken on 30 January 1887 In Baranagar Math, Kolkata.
Standing: (l–r) Swami Shivananda, Swami Ramakrishnananda, Swami Vivekananda, Randhuni, Debendranath Majumdar, Mahendranath Gupta (Shri M), Swami Trigunatitananda, H.Mustafi
Sitting: (l–r) Swami Niranjanananda, Swami Saradananda, Hutko Gopal, Swami Abhedananda

Swami Abhedananda (2 October 1866 – 8 September 1939), born Kaliprasad Chandra was a direct disciple of the 19th century mystic Ramakrishna Paramahansa and the founder of Ramakrishna Vedanta Math. Swami Vivekananda sent him to the West to head the Vedanta Society of New York in 1897, and spread the message of Vedanta, a theme on which he authored several books through his life, and subsequently founded the Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, in Calcutta (now Kolkata) and Darjeeling.

Early life and education

Swami Abhedananda, in his youth.

He was born in north Calcutta on 2 October 1866 and was named Kaliprasad Chandra.[1] His father was Rasiklal Chandra and his mother was Nayantara Devi. In 1884, at the age of 18, while studying for the school final examination under the University of Calcutta, he went to Dakshineswar and met Sri Ramakrishna. Thereafter in April 1885, he left home to be with him, during his final illness, first at Shyampukur and then at Cossipur Garden-house near Calcutta.

Monastic life

After his Master's death in 1886, he plunged into intense sadhana (meditations), by shutting himself up in a room at the Baranagar matha, this gave him the name "Kali Tapaswi" amongst his fellow disciples.[1] After the death of Ramakrishna, he formally became a Sanyasi along with Vivekananda and others, and came to be known as "Swami Abhedananda Puri".[citation needed]

For the next ten years, of his life as a monk he travelled extensively throughout India, depending entirely on alms. During this time he met several famous sages like Pavhari Baba, Trailanga Swami and Swami Bhaskaranand. He went to the sources of the Ganges and the Yamuna, and meditated in the Himalayas. He was a forceful orator, prolific writer, yogi and intellectual with devotional fervour.[citation needed]

In 1896, Vivekananda was in London, when he asked Abhedananda to join him, and propagate the message of Vedanta in the West, which he did with great success. He went to USA in 1897, when Vivekananda asked him to take charge of the Vedanta Society in New York, here he preached messages of Vedanta and teachings of his Guru[2] for about 25 years, travelling far and wide to United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong. Finally, he returned to India in 1921, after attending the Pan-Pacific Education Conference at Honolulu.[3]

In 1922, he crossed the Himalayas on foot and reached Tibet, where he studied Buddhistic philosophy and Lamaism. In Hemis Monastery, he claimed to have discovered a manuscript on the lost years of Jesus,[4] which has been incorporated in the book Swami Abhedananda's Journey into Kashmir & Tibet published by the Ramakrishna Vedanta Math.

He formed the Ramakrishna Vedanta Society in Kolkata in 1923, which is now known as Ramakrishna Vedanta Math. In 1924, he established Ramakrishna Vedanta Math in Darjeeling in Bengal Presidency (now West Bengal). In 1927, he started publishing Visvavani, the monthly magazine of the Ramakrishna Vedanta Society, which he edited from 1927 to 1938,[4] and which is still published today. In 1936, he presided over the Parliament of Religions at the Town Hall, Calcutta, as a part the birth centenary celebrations of Ramakrishna.[1]

He died on 8 September 1939 at Ramakrishna Vedanta Math. At the time of his death he was the last surviving direct disciple of Ramakrishna.[3]


Alambazar Math, 1896 (farewell to Swami Abhedananda leaving for the US)(from left) standing: Swami Adbhutananda, Yogananda, Abhedananda, Trigunatitananda, Turiyananda, Nirmalananda, and Niranjanananda; sitting: Swamis Subodhananda, Brahmananda (on chair), and Akhandananda

• Gospel of Ramakrishna, by Swami Abhedananda. Published by The Vedanta Society, 1907. Online version
• Vedanta Philosophy; Three Lectures on Spiritual Unfoldment: Three Lectures on Spiritual Unfoldment, by Swami Abhedananda. Published by The Vedanta Society, 1901. Online version
• Why a Hindu is a Vegetarian, by Swami Abhedananda. Published by The Vedanta Society, 1900.
• How to be a Yogi, by Swami Abhedananda. Forgotten Books, 1902. ISBN 1-60506-647-8. Online Version
• The Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna, by Ramakrishna, Abhedananda. Published by The Vedanta society, 1903.
• India and Her People, by Swami Abhedananda. Published by Satish Chandra Mukherjee, 1906.
• Ideal of Education, by Swami Abhedananda. Published by Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1945. Online version
• An Introduction of Philosophy of Panchadasi, by Swami Abhedananda. Published by Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1948. Online version
• Abhedananda in India in 1906, by Abhedananda. Published by Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1968.
• Vedanta Philosophy: Five Lectures on Reincarnation, by Swami Abhedananda. Kessinger Publishing, 1907. ISBN 1-56459-886-1. Online version
• Reincarnation, by Swami Abhedananda. Kessinger Publishing, 2003. ISBN 0-7661-2992-6.
• The Great Saviours of the World, by Swami Abhedananda. Pub. by Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1957.
• True Psychology, by Swami Abhedananda, Pub. by Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1965.
• Yoga Psychology, by Swami Abhedananda, Prajnanananda. Pub. by Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1967.
• Complete Works of Swami Abhedananda, by Abhedananda. Pub. by Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1970.
• Doctrine of Karma: A Study in Philosophy and Practice of Work, by Swami Abhedananda. Pub. by Vedanta Pr, 1975. ISBN 0-87481-608-4. Online version
• Spiritual Teachings of Swami Abhedananda, by Swami Abhedananda. Pub. by Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1962.
• Life Beyond Death: A Critical Study of Spiritualism, by Swami Abhedananda. Pub. by Vedanta Pr, 1986. ISBN 0-87481-616-5.
• Science of Psychic Phenomena, by Swami Abhayananda, Swami Abhedananda. Pub. by Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1987. ISBN 0-87581-642-8.
• Hymn offerings to Sri Ramakrsna & the Holy Mother, by Swami Abhedananda, Ramakrishna Vedanta Centre, Ramakrishna Math. Pub. by Sri Ramakrsna Math, 1988.
• Journey into Kashmir and Tibet, by Swami Abhedananda. Pub. by Vedanta Pr, 1988. ISBN 0-87481-643-2.
• Path of Realization, by Swami Abhedananda. Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1994.
• The Mystery of Death: A Study in the Philosophy and Religion of the Katha Upanishad, by Swami Abhedananda. Pub. by Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1996.
• Vedanta Philosophy: Self-Knowledge Atma-Jnana, by Swami Abhedananda. Kessinger Publishing, 1998. ISBN 0-7661-0126-6. Online version
• Ramakrishna Kathamrita and Ramakrishna: Memoirs of Ramakrishna, by Swami Abhedananda. Vedanta Pr. 1988. ISBN 0-87481-654-8.
• Yogi Thoughts on Reincarnation, by Swami Abhedananda. Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2005. ISBN 1-4254-5307-4.
• Prana and the Self, by Swami Abhedananda. Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2005. ISBN 1-4253-3350-8.
• The Complete Book of Vedanta Philosophy, by Swami Abhedananda. Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2005. ISBN 1-4254-5313-9.
• The Woman's Place In Hindu Religion, by Swami Abhedananda. Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2005. ISBN 1-4253-3570-5.
• Philosophy of Work: Three Lectures, by Swami Abhedananda. Kessinger Publishing, 2006. ISBN 1-4254-9129-4. Online version
• Divine Heritage of Man: Vedanta philosophy, by Swami Abhedananda. Kessinger Publishing, 2006. ISBN 1-4286-1256-4. PDF version
• Attitude of Vedanta Towards Religion, by Swami Abhedananda. READ BOOKS, 2007. ISBN 1-4067-5330-0. Online version
• Amar Jivan-katha(Autobiography) (in Bengali), by Swami Abhedananda.

Further reading

• An Apostle of Monism: An Authentic Account of the Activities of Swami Abhedananda in America, by Mary Le Page. Published by Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1947.
• Swami Abhedananda, the Patriot-saint, by Ashutosh Ghosh. Published by Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1967.
• Swami Abhedananda centenary celebration, 1966–67: souvenir, containing the most valuable and authentic records of the glorious life of Swami Abhedananda, by Swami Abhedānanda. Published by Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1966.
• Swami Abhedananda: A Spiritual Biography, by Moni Bagchee. Published by Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1968.
• The Bases of Indian Culture: Commemoration Volume of Swami Abhedananda, by Amiya Kumer Mazumder, Prajnanananda. Published by Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1971.
• The Philosophical Ideas of Swami Abhedananda: A Critical Study; a Guide to the Complete Works of Swami Abhedananda, by Prajnanananda. Published by Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, 1971.
• Five articles by Swami Abhedananda


1. Biography Archived 14 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine Belur Math Official website.
2. Swami Abhedananda of India Discusses the Subject at Mott Memorial Hall. New York Times, 21 March 1898, "He said that the belief in sin and sinners was a hindrance to realizing the unity of the individual soul with God"
3. Swami Abhedananda Biography[permanent dead link] The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture
4. Bhowmik, Dulal (2012). "Abhedananda, Swami". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.

External links

• Works by Swami Abhedananda at Project Gutenberg
• Works by or about Swami Abhedananda at Internet Archive
• Works by Swami Abhedananda at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
• How To Be A Yogi by Swâmi Abhedânanda
• Texts on Wikisource:
o Letter (of 19 May 1900?) from Vivekananda to Abhedananda
o Letter of 24 July 1900, from Vivekananda to Abhedananda
o "Abhedananda, Swami" . Collier's New Encyclopedia. 1921.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Swami Vivekananda
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 11/11/19



Swami Vivekananda
Vivekananda in Chicago, September 1893. On the left, Vivekananda wrote: "One infinite pure and holy – beyond thought beyond qualities I bow down to thee".[1]
Born: Narendranath Datta, 12 January 1863, Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India (present-day Kolkata, West Bengal, India)
Died: 4 July 1902 (aged 39), Belur Math, Bengal Presidency, British India (present-day West Bengal, India)
Religion: Hinduism
Nationality: Indian
Signature Swami-Vivekanda-Signature-transparent.png
Founder of: Ramakrishna Mission (1897)
Ramakrishna Math
Philosophy: Modern Vedanta,[2][3] Rāja yoga[3]
Religious career
Guru Ramakrishna
Disciples: Ashokananda, Virajananda, Paramananda, Alasinga Perumal, Abhayananda, Sister Nivedita, Swami Sadananda
Influenced: Subhas Chandra Bose, Aurobindo Ghose, Bagha Jatin, Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, Jawaharlal Nehru, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Jamsetji Tata, Nikola Tesla, Sarah Bernhardt, Emma Calvé, Jagadish Chandra Bose, Annie Besant, Romain Rolland, Narendra Modi, Anna Hazare
Literary works: Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga, My Master, Lectures from Colombo to Almora

Swami Vivekananda (Bengali: [ʃami bibekanɔndo] (About this soundlisten); 12 January 1863 – 4 July 1902), born Narendranath Datta (Bengali: [nɔrendronatʰ dɔto]), was an Indian Hindu monk, a chief disciple of the 19th-century Indian mystic Ramakrishna.[4][5] He was a key figure in the introduction of the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world[6][7] and is credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the status of a major world religion during the late 19th century.[8] He was a major force in the revival of Hinduism in India, and contributed to the concept of nationalism in colonial India.[9] Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission.[7] He is perhaps best known for his speech which began with the words - "Sisters and brothers of America ...,"[10] in which he introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago in 1893.

Born into an aristocratic Bengali Kayastha family of Calcutta, Vivekananda was inclined towards spirituality. He was influenced by his guru, Ramakrishna, from whom he learnt that all living beings were an embodiment of the divine self; therefore, service to God could be rendered by service to humankind. After Ramakrishna's death, Vivekananda toured the Indian subcontinent extensively and acquired first-hand knowledge of the conditions prevailing in British India. He later travelled to the United States, representing India at the 1893 Parliament of the World's Religions. Vivekananda conducted hundreds of public and private lectures and classes, disseminating tenets of Hindu philosophy in the United States, England and Europe. In India, Vivekananda is regarded as a patriotic saint, and his birthday is celebrated as National Youth Day.

Early life (1863–1888)

Birth and childhood

Bhubaneswari Devi (1841–1911); "I am indebted to my mother for the efflorescence of my knowledge."[11] – Vivekananda

3, Gourmohan Mukherjee Street, birthplace of Vivekananda, now converted into a museum and cultural centre

Vivekananda was born Narendranath Datta (shortened to Narendra or Naren)[12] in a Bengali family[13][14] at his ancestral home at 3 Gourmohan Mukherjee Street in Calcutta,[15] the capital of British India, on 12 January 1863 during the Makar Sankranti festival.[16] He belonged to a traditional family and was one of nine siblings.[17] His father, Vishwanath Datta, was an attorney at the Calcutta High Court.[18][19] Durgacharan Datta, Narendra's grandfather was a Sanskrit and Persian scholar[20] who left his family and became a monk at age twenty-five.[21] His mother, Bhubaneswari Devi, was a devout housewife.[20] The progressive, rational attitude of Narendra's father and the religious temperament of his mother helped shape his thinking and personality.[22][23]

Narendranath was interested in spirituality from a young age and used to meditate before the images of deities such as Shiva, Rama, Sita, and Mahavir Hanuman.[24] He was fascinated by wandering ascetics and monks.[23] Naren was naughty and restless as a child, and his parents often had difficulty controlling him. His mother said, "I prayed to Shiva for a son and he has sent me one of his demons".[21]


In 1871, at the age of eight, Narendranath enrolled at Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's Metropolitan Institution, where he went to school until his family moved to Raipur in 1877.[25] In 1879, after his family's return to Calcutta, he was the only student to receive first-division marks in the Presidency College entrance examination. [26] He was an avid reader in a wide range of subjects, including philosophy, religion, history, social science, art and literature.[27] He was also interested in Hindu scriptures, including the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas. Narendra was trained in Indian classical music,[28] and regularly participated in physical exercise, sports and organised activities. Narendra studied Western logic, Western philosophy and European history at the General Assembly's Institution (now known as the Scottish Church College).[29] In 1881 he passed the Fine Arts examination, and completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1884.[30][31] Narendra studied the works of David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Baruch Spinoza, Georg W. F. Hegel, Arthur Schopenhauer, Auguste Comte, John Stuart Mill and Charles Darwin.[32][33] He became fascinated with the evolutionism of Herbert Spencer and corresponded with him,[34][35] translating Spencer's book Education (1861) into Bengali.[36] While studying Western philosophers, he also learned Sanskrit scriptures and Bengali literature.[33]

William Hastie (principal of Christian College, Calcutta, from where Narendra graduated) wrote, "Narendra is really a genius. I have travelled far and wide but I have never come across a lad of his talents and possibilities, even in German universities, among philosophical students. He is bound to make his mark in life".[37]

Narendra was known for his prodigious memory and the ability at speed reading. Several incidents have been given as examples. In a talk, he once quoted verbatim, two or three pages from Pickwick Papers. Another incident that is given is his argument with a Swedish national where he gave reference to some details on Swedish history that the Swede originally disagreed with but later conceded. In another incident with Dr. Paul Deussen's at Kiel in Germany, Vivekananda was going over some poetical work and did not reply when the professor spoke to him. Later, he apologised to Dr. Deussen explaining that he was too absorbed in reading and hence did not hear him. The professor was not satisfied with this explanation but Vivekananda quoted and interpreted verses from the text leaving the professor dumbfounded about his feat of memory. Once, he requested some books written by Sir John Lubbock from a library and returned them the very next day claiming that he had read them. The librarian refused to believe him until cross examination about the contents convinced him that Vivekananda was being truthful.[38]

Some accounts have called Narendra a shrutidhara (a person with a prodigious memory).[39]

Spiritual apprenticeship – influence of Brahmo Samaj

See also: Swami Vivekananda and meditation

In 1880 Narendra joined Keshab Chandra Sen's Nava Vidhan, which was established by Sen after meeting Ramakrishna and reconverting from Christianity to Hinduism.[40] Narendra became a member of a Freemasonry lodge "at some point before 1884"[41] and of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj in his twenties, a breakaway faction of the Brahmo Samaj led by Keshab Chandra Sen and Debendranath Tagore.[40][29][42][43] From 1881 to 1884 he was also active in Sen's Band of Hope, which tried to discourage youths from smoking and drinking.[40]

It was in this cultic[44] milieu that Narendra became acquainted with Western esotericism.[45] His initial beliefs were shaped by Brahmo concepts, which included belief in a formless God and the deprecation of idolatry,[24][46] and a "streamlined, rationalized, monotheistic theology strongly coloured by a selective and modernistic reading of the Upanisads and of the Vedanta."[47] Rammohan Roy, the founder of the Brahmo Samaj who was strongly influenced by unitarianism, strived toward an universalistic interpretation of Hinduism.[47] His ideas were "altered [...] considerably" by Debendranath Tagore, who had a romantic approach to the development of these new doctrines, and questioned central Hindu beliefs like reincarnation and karma, and rejected the authority of the Vedas.[48] Tagore also brought this "neo-Hinduism" closer in line with western esotericism, a development which was furthered by Keshubchandra Sen.[49] Sen was influenced by transcendentalism, an American philosophical-religious movement strongly connected with unitarianism, which emphasised personal religious experience over mere reasoning and theology.[50] Sen strived to "an accessible, non-renunciatory, everyman type of spirituality", introducing "lay systems of spiritual practice" which can be regarded as prototypes of the kind of Yoga-exercises which Vivekananda popularised in the west.[51]

The same search for direct intuition and understanding can be seen with Vivekananda. Not satisfied with his knowledge of philosophy, Narendra came to "the question which marked the real beginning of his intellectual quest for God."[42] He asked several prominent Calcutta residents if they had come "face to face with God", but none of their answers satisfied him.[52][31] At this time, Narendra met Debendranath Tagore (the leader of Brahmo Samaj) and asked if he had seen God. Instead of answering his question, Tagore said "My boy, you have the Yogi's eyes."[42][36] According to Banhatti, it was Ramakrishna who really answered Narendra's question, by saying "Yes, I see Him as I see you, only in an infinitely intenser sense."[42] Nevertheless, Vivekananda was more influenced by the Brahmo Samaj's and its new ideas, than by Ramakrishna.[51] It was Sen's influence who brought Vivekananda fully into contact with western esotericism, and it was also via Sen that he met Ramakrishna.[53]

With Ramakrishna

Main article: Relationship between Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda

See also: Swami Vivekananda's prayer to Kali at Dakshineswar

In 1881 Narendra first met Ramakrishna, who became his spiritual focus after his own father had died in 1884.[54]

Narendra's first introduction to Ramakrishna occurred in a literature class at General Assembly's Institution when he heard Professor William Hastie lecturing on William Wordsworth's poem, The Excursion.[46] While explaining the word "trance" in the poem, Hastie suggested that his students visit Ramakrishna of Dakshineswar to understand the true meaning of trance. This prompted some of his students (including Narendra) to visit Ramakrishna.[55][56][57]

Ramakrishna, guru of Vivekananda

Vivekananda in Cossipore 1886

They probably first met personally in November 1881,[note 1] though Narendra did not consider this their first meeting, and neither man mentioned this meeting later.[55] At this time Narendra was preparing for his upcoming F. A. examination, when Ram Chandra Datta accompanied him to Surendra Nath Mitra's, house where Ramakrishna was invited to deliver a lecture.[59] According to Paranjape, at this meeting Ramakrishna asked young Narendra to sing. Impressed by his singing talent, he asked Narendra to come to Dakshineshwar.[60]

In late 1881 or early 1882, Narendra went to Dakshineswar with two friends and met Ramakrishna.[55] This meeting proved to be a turning point in his life.[61] Although he did not initially accept Ramakrishna as his teacher and rebelled against his ideas, he was attracted by his personality and began to frequently visit him at Dakshineswar.[62] He initially saw Ramakrishna's ecstasies and visions as "mere figments of imagination"[22] and "hallucinations".[63] As a member of Brahmo Samaj, he opposed idol worship, polytheism and Ramakrishna's worship of Kali.[64] He even rejected the Advaita Vedanta of "identity with the absolute" as blasphemy and madness, and often ridiculed the idea.[63] Narendra tested Ramakrishna, who faced his arguments patiently: "Try to see the truth from all angles", he replied.[62]

Narendra's father's sudden death in 1884 left the family bankrupt; creditors began demanding the repayment of loans, and relatives threatened to evict the family from their ancestral home. Narendra, once a son of a well-to-do family, became one of the poorest students in his college.[65] He unsuccessfully tried to find work and questioned God's existence,[66] but found solace in Ramakrishna and his visits to Dakshineswar increased.[67]

One day Narendra requested Ramakrishna to pray to goddess Kali for their family's financial welfare. Ramakrishna suggested him to go to the temple himself and pray. Following Ramakrishna's suggestion, he went to the temple thrice, but failed to pray for any kind of worldly necessities and ultimately prayed for true knowledge and devotion from the goddess.[68][69][70] Narendra gradually grew ready to renounce everything for the sake of realising God, and accepted Ramakrishna as his Guru.[62]

In 1885, Ramakrishna developed throat cancer, and was transferred to Calcutta and (later) to a garden house in Cossipore. Narendra and Ramakrishna's other disciples took care of him during his last days, and Narendra's spiritual education continued. At Cossipore, he experienced Nirvikalpa samadhi.[71] Narendra and several other disciples received ochre robes from Ramakrishna, forming his first monastic order.[72] He was taught that service to men was the most effective worship of God.[22][71] Ramakrishna asked him to care for the other monastic disciples, and in turn asked them to see Narendra as their leader.[73] Ramakrishna died in the early-morning hours of 16 August 1886 in Cossipore.[73][74]

Founding of first Ramakrishna Math at Baranagar

Main article: Baranagar Math

Group photo taken on 30 January 1887 in Baranagar Math, Kolkata.
Standing: (l–r) ) Shivananda, Ramakrishnananda, Vivekananda, Randhuni, Debendranath Majumdar, Mahendranath Gupta (Shri M), Trigunatitananda, H.Mustafi
Sitting: (l–r) Niranjanananda, Saradananda, Hutko Gopal, Abhedananda

After Ramakrishna's death, his devotees and admirers stopped supporting his disciples.[citation needed] Unpaid rent accumulated, and Narendra and the other disciples had to find a new place to live.[75] Many returned home, adopting a Grihastha (family-oriented) way of life.[76] Narendra decided to convert a dilapidated house at Baranagar into a new math (monastery) for the remaining disciples. Rent for the Baranagar Math was low, raised by "holy begging" (mādhukarī). The math became the first building of the Ramakrishna Math: the monastery of the monastic order of Ramakrishna.[61] Narendra and other disciples used to spend many hours in practising meditation and religious austerities every day.[77] Narendra later reminisced about the early days of the monastery:[78]

We underwent a lot of religious practice at the Baranagar Math. We used to get up at 3:00 am and become absorbed in japa and meditation. What a strong spirit of detachment we had in those days! We had no thought even as to whether the world existed or not.

In 1887, Narendra compiled a Bengali song anthology named Sangeet Kalpataru with Vaishnav Charan Basak. Narendra collected and arranged most of the songs of this compilation, but could not finish the work of the book for unfavourable circumstances.[79]

Monastic vows

In December 1886, the mother of Baburam[note 2] invited Narendra and his other brother monks to Antpur village. Narendra and the other aspiring monks accepted the invitation and went to Antpur to spend few days. In Antpur, in the Christmas Eve of 1886, Narendra and eight other disciples took formal monastic vows.[77] They decided to live their lives as their master lived.[77] Narendranath took the name "Swami Vivekananda".[80]

Travels in India (1888–1893)

Main article: Swami Vivekananda's travels in India (1888–1893)

In 1888, Narendra left the monastery as a Parivrâjaka— the Hindu religious life of a wandering monk, "without fixed abode, without ties, independent and strangers wherever they go".[81] His sole possessions were a kamandalu (water pot), staff and his two favourite books: the Bhagavad Gita and The Imitation of Christ.[82] Narendra travelled extensively in India for five years, visiting centres of learning and acquainting himself with diverse religious traditions and social patterns.[83][84] He developed sympathy for the suffering and poverty of the people, and resolved to uplift the nation.[83][85] Living primarily on bhiksha (alms), Narendra travelled on foot and by railway (with tickets bought by admirers). During his travels he met, and stayed with Indians from all religions and walks of life: scholars, dewans, rajas, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, paraiyars (low-caste workers) and government officials.[85] Narendra left Bombay for Chicago on 31 May 1893 with the name "Vivekananda", as suggested by Ajit Singh of Khetri,[86] which means "the bliss of discerning wisdom," from Sanskrit viveka and ānanda.[87]

First visit to the West (1893–1897)

Vivekananda started his journey to the West on 31 May 1893[88] and visited several cities in Japan (including Nagasaki, Kobe, Yokohama, Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo),[89] China and Canada en route to the United States,[88] reaching Chicago on 30 July 1893,[90][88] where the "Parliament of Religions" took place in September 1893.[91] The Congress was an initiative of the Swedenborgian layman, and judge of the Illinois Supreme Court, Charles C. Bonney,[92][93] to gather all the religions of the world, and show "the substantial unity of many religions in the good deeds of the religious life."[92] It was one of the more than 200 adjunct gatherings and congresses of the Chicago's World's Fair,[92] and was "an avant-garde intellectual manifestation of [...] cultic milieus, East and West,"[94] with the Brahmo Samaj and the Theosophical Society being invited as being representative of Hinduism.[95]

Vivekananda wanted to join, but was disappointed to learn that no one without credentials from a bona fide organisation would be accepted as a delegate.[96] Vivekananda contacted Professor John Henry Wright of Harvard University, who invited him to speak at Harvard.[96] Vivekananda wrote of the professor, "He urged upon me the necessity of going to the Parliament of Religions, which he thought would give an introduction to the nation".[97][note 3] Vivekananda submitted an application, "introducing himself as a monk 'of the oldest order of sannyāsis ... founded by Sankara,'"[95] supported by the Brahmo Samaj representative Protapchandra Mozoombar, who was also a member of the Parliament's selection committee, "classifying the Swami as a representative of the Hindu monastic order."[95] Hearing Vivekananda speak, Harvard psychology professor William James said, ‘’that man is simply a wonder for oratorical power. He is an honor to humanity.’’[98]

Parliament of the World's Religions

Main article: Swami Vivekananda at the Parliament of the World's Religions (1893)

Vivekananda on the platform at the Parliament of Religions, September 1893; left to right: Virchand Gandhi, Dharmapala, Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda with the East Indian group, in the photo: (from left to right) Narasimha Chaira, Lakeshnie Narain, Vivekananda, H. Dharmapala, and Virchand Gandhi

The Parliament of the World's Religions opened on 11 September 1893 at the Art Institute of Chicago as part of the World's Columbian Exposition.[99][100][101] On this day, Vivekananda gave a brief speech representing India and Hinduism.[102] He was initially nervous, bowed to Saraswati (the Hindu goddess of learning) and began his speech with "Sisters and brothers of America!".[103][101] At these words, Vivekananda received a two-minute standing ovation from the crowd of seven thousand.[104] According to Sailendra Nath Dhar, when silence was restored he began his address, greeting the youngest of the nations on behalf of "the most ancient order of monks in the world, the Vedic order of sannyasins, a religion which has taught the world both tolerance, of and universal acceptance".[105][note 4] Vivekananda quoted two illustrative passages from the "Shiva mahimna stotram": "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!" and "Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths that in the end lead to Me."[108] According to Sailendra Nath Dhar, "it was only a short speech, but it voiced the spirit of the Parliament."[108][109]

Parliament President John Henry Barrows said, "India, the Mother of religions was represented by Swami Vivekananda, the Orange-monk who exercised the most wonderful influence over his auditors".[103] Vivekananda attracted widespread attention in the press, which called him the "cyclonic monk from India". The New York Critique wrote, "He is an orator by divine right, and his strong, intelligent face in its picturesque setting of yellow and orange was hardly less interesting than those earnest words, and the rich, rhythmical utterance he gave them". The New York Herald noted, "Vivekananda is undoubtedly the greatest figure in the Parliament of Religions. After hearing him we feel how foolish it is to send missionaries to this learned nation".[110] American newspapers reported Vivekananda as "the greatest figure in the parliament of religions" and "the most popular and influential man in the parliament".[111] The Boston Evening Transcript reported that Vivekananda was "a great favourite at the parliament... if he merely crosses the platform, he is applauded".[112] He spoke several more times "at receptions, the scientific section, and private homes"[105] on topics related to Hinduism, Buddhism and harmony among religions until the parliament ended on 27 September 1893. Vivekananda's speeches at the Parliament had the common theme of universality, emphasising religious tolerance.[113] He soon became known as a "handsome oriental" and made a huge impression as an orator.[114]

Sponsorship of Swami Vivekananda for Parliament of the World's Religions

In 1892, Swami Vivekananda stayed with Bhaskara Sethupathy, who was a Raja of Ramnad, when he visited Madurai[115] and he sponsored Vivekananda's visit to Parliament of the World's Religions held in Chicago.

Lecture tours in the UK and US

"I do not come", said Swamiji on one occasion in America, "to convert you to a new belief. I want you to keep your own belief; I want to make the Methodist a better Methodist; the Presbyterian a better Presbyterian; the Unitarian a better Unitarian. I want to teach you to live the truth, to reveal the light within your own soul."[116]

After the Parliament of Religions, he toured many parts of the US as a guest. His popularity opened up new views for expanding on "life and religion to thousands".[114] During a question-answer session at Brooklyn Ethical Society, he remarked, "I have a message to the West as Buddha had a message to the East."

Vivekananda spent nearly two years lecturing in the eastern and central United States, primarily in Chicago, Detroit, Boston, and New York. He founded the Vedanta Society of New York in 1894.[117] By spring 1895 his busy, tiring schedule had affected his health.[118] He ended his lecture tours and began giving free, private classes in Vedanta and yoga. Beginning in June 1895, Vivekananda gave private lectures to a dozen of his disciples at Thousand Island Park, New York for two months.[118]

During his first visit to the West he travelled to the UK twice, in 1895 and 1896, lecturing successfully there.[119] In November 1895 he met Margaret Elizabeth Noble an Irish woman who would become Sister Nivedita.[118] During his second visit to the UK in May 1896 Vivekananda met Max Müller, a noted Indologist from Oxford University who wrote Ramakrishna's first biography in the West.[109] From the UK, Vivekananda visited other European countries. In Germany he met Paul Deussen, another Indologist.[120] Vivekananda was offered academic positions in two American universities (one the chair in Eastern Philosophy at Harvard University and a similar position at Columbia University); he declined both, since his duties would conflict with his commitment as a monk.[118]

Vivekananda in Greenacre, Maine (August 1894).[121]

Vivekananda at Mead sisters' house, South Pasadena in 1900.

His success led to a change in mission, namely the establishment of Vedanta centres in the West.[122] Vivekananda adapted traditional Hindu ideas and religiosity to suit the needs and understandings of his western audiences, who were especially attracted by and familiar with western esoteric traditions and movements like Transcendentalism and New thought.[123] An important element in his adaptation of Hindu religiosity was the introduction of his "four yogas" model, which includes Raja yoga, his interpretation of Patanjali's Yoga sutras,[124] which offered a practical means to realise the divine force within which is central to modern western esotericism.[123] In 1896 his book Raja Yoga was published, becoming an instant success; it was highly influential in the western understanding of yoga, in Elizabeth de Michelis's view marking the beginning of modern yoga.[125][126]

Vivekananda attracted followers and admirers in the US and Europe, including Josephine MacLeod, William James, Josiah Royce, Robert G. Ingersoll, Nikola Tesla, Lord Kelvin, Harriet Monroe, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Sarah Bernhardt, Emma Calvé and Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz.[22][118][120][127] He initiated several followers : Marie Louise (a French woman) became Swami Abhayananda, and Leon Landsberg became Swami Kripananda,[128] so that they could continue the work of the mission of the Vedanta Society. This society still is filled with foreign nationals and is also located in Los Angeles.[129] During his stay in America, Vivekananda was given land in the mountains to the southeast of San Jose, California to establish a retreat for Vedanta students. He called it "Peace retreat", or, Shanti Asrama.[130] The largest American centre is the Vedanta Society of Southern California in Hollywood, one of the twelve main centres. There is also a Vedanta Press in Hollywood which publishes books about Vedanta and English translations of Hindu scriptures and texts. [131] Christina Greenstidel of Detroit was also initiated by Vivekananda with a mantra and she became Sister Christine,[132] and they established a close father–daughter relationship.[133]

From the West, Vivekananda revived his work in India. He regularly corresponded with his followers and brother monks,[note 5] offering advice and financial support. His letters from this period reflect his campaign of social service,[134] and were strongly worded.[135] He wrote to Akhandananda, "Go from door to door amongst the poor and lower classes of the town of Khetri and teach them religion. Also, let them have oral lessons on geography and such other subjects. No good will come of sitting idle and having princely dishes, and saying "Ramakrishna, O Lord!"—unless you can do some good to the poor".[136][137] In 1895, Vivekananda founded the periodical Brahmavadin to teach the Vedanta.[138] Later, Vivekananda's translation of the first six chapters of The Imitation of Christ was published in Brahmavadin in 1889.[139] Vivekananda left for India on 16 December 1896 from England with his disciples Captain and Mrs. Sevier and J.J. Goodwin. On the way they visited France and Italy, and set sail for India from Naples on 30 December 1896.[140] He was later followed to India by Sister Nivedita, who devoted the rest of her life to the education of Indian women and India's independence.[118][141]

Back in India (1897–1899)

The ship from Europe arrived in Colombo, British Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) on 15 January 1897,[140] and Vivekananda received a warm welcome. In Colombo he gave his first public speech in the East. From there on, his journey to Calcutta was triumphant. Vivekananda travelled from Colombo to Pamban, Rameswaram, Ramnad, Madurai, Kumbakonam and Madras, delivering lectures. Common people and rajas gave him an enthusiastic reception. During his train travels, people often sat on the rails to force the train to stop so they could hear him.[140] From Madras (now Chennai), he continued his journey to Calcutta and Almora. While in the West, Vivekananda spoke about India's great spiritual heritage; in India, he repeatedly addressed social issues: uplifting the people, eliminating the caste system, promoting science and industrialisation, addressing widespread poverty and ending colonial rule. These lectures, published as Lectures from Colombo to Almora, demonstrate his nationalistic fervour and spiritual ideology.[142]

Vivekananda at Chennai 1897

Advaita Ashrama, Mayavati (a branch of the Ramakrishna Math founded on 19 March 1899) later published many of Vivekananda's work and now publishes Prabuddha Bharata.

On 1 May 1897 in Calcutta, Vivekananda founded the Ramakrishna Mission for social service. Its ideals are based on Karma Yoga,[143][144] and its governing body consists of the trustees of the Ramakrishna Math (which conducts religious work).[145] Both Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission have their headquarters at Belur Math.[109][146] Vivekananda founded two other monasteries: one in Mayavati in the Himalayas (near Almora), the Advaita Ashrama and another in Madras. Two journals were founded: Prabuddha Bharata in English and Udbhodan in Bengali.[147] That year, famine-relief work was begun by Swami Akhandananda in the Murshidabad district.[109][145]

Vivekananda earlier inspired Jamsetji Tata to set up a research and educational institution when they travelled together from Yokohama to Chicago on Vivekananda's first visit to the West in 1893. Tata now asked him to head his Research Institute of Science; Vivekananda declined the offer, citing a conflict with his "spiritual interests".[148][149][150] He visited Punjab, attempting to mediate an ideological conflict between Arya Samaj (a reformist Hindu movement) and sanatan (orthodox Hindus).[151] After brief visits to Lahore,[145] Delhi and Khetri, Vivekananda returned to Calcutta in January 1898. He consolidated the work of the math and trained disciples for several months. Vivekananda composed "Khandana Bhava–Bandhana", a prayer song dedicated to Ramakrishna, in 1898.[152]

Second visit to the West and final years (1899–1902)

See also: Swami Vivekananda in California

Vivekananda at Belur Math on 19 June 1899

Vivekananda (photo taken in Bushnell Studio, San Francisco, 1900)

Despite declining health, Vivekananda left for the West for a second time in June 1899[153] accompanied by Sister Nivedita and Swami Turiyananda. Following a brief stay in England, he went to the United States. During this visit, Vivekananda established Vedanta Societies in San Francisco and New York and founded a shanti ashrama (peace retreat) in California.[154] He then went to Paris for the Congress of Religions in 1900.[155] His lectures in Paris concerned the worship of the lingam and the authenticity of the Bhagavad Gita.[154] Vivekananda then visited Brittany, Vienna, Istanbul, Athens and Egypt. The French philosopher Jules Bois was his host for most of this period, until he returned to Calcutta on 9 December 1900.[154]

After a brief visit to the Advaita Ashrama in Mayavati Vivekananda settled at Belur Math, where he continued co-ordinating the works of Ramakrishna Mission, the math and the work in England and the US. He had many visitors, including royalty and politicians. Although Vivekananda was unable to attend the Congress of Religions in 1901 in Japan due to deteriorating health, he made pilgrimages to Bodhgaya and Varanasi.[156] Declining health (including asthma, diabetes and chronic insomnia) restricted his activity.[157]


On 4 July 1902 (the day of his death)[158] Vivekananda awoke early, went to the monastery at Belur Math and meditated for three hours. He taught Shukla-Yajur-Veda, Sanskrit grammar and the philosophy of yoga to pupils,[159][160] later discussing with colleagues a planned Vedic college in the Ramakrishna Math. At 7:00 p.m. Vivekananda went to his room, asking not to be disturbed;[159] he died at 9:20 p.m. while meditating.[161] According to his disciples, Vivekananda attained mahasamādhi;[162] the rupture of a blood vessel in his brain was reported as a possible cause of death.[163] His disciples believed that the rupture was due to his brahmarandhra (an opening in the crown of his head) being pierced when he attained mahasamādhi. Vivekananda fulfilled his prophecy that he would not live forty years.[164] He was cremated on a sandalwood funeral pyre on the bank of the Ganga in Belur, opposite where Ramakrishna was cremated sixteen years earlier.[165]

Teachings and philosophy

Main article: Teachings and philosophy of Swami Vivekananda

Vivekananda propagated that the essence of Hinduism was best expressed in Adi Shankara's Advaita Vedanta philosophy.[166] Nevertheless, following Ramakrishna, and in contrast to Advaita Vedanta, Vivekananda believed that the Absolute is both immanent and transcendent.[note 6] According to Anil Sooklal, Vivekananda's neo-Advaita "reconciles Dvaita or dualism and Advaita or non-dualism".[168][note 7] Vivekananda summarised the Vedanta as follows, giving it a modern and Universalistic interpretation:[166]

Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this Divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or mental discipline, or philosophy—by one, or more, or all of these—and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details.

Nationalism was a prominent theme in Vivekananda's thought. He believed that a country's future depends on its people, and his teachings focused on human development.[169] He wanted "to set in motion a machinery which will bring noblest ideas to the doorstep of even the poorest and the meanest".[170]

Vivekananda linked morality with control of the mind, seeing truth, purity and unselfishness as traits which strengthened it.[171] He advised his followers to be holy, unselfish and to have shraddhā (faith). Vivekananda supported brahmacharya,[172] believing it the source of his physical and mental stamina and eloquence.[173] He emphasised that success was an outcome of focused thought and action; in his lectures on Raja Yoga he said, "Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, that is the way great spiritual giants are produced".[174]

Influence and legacy

Main article: Influence and legacy of Swami Vivekananda

Vivekananda was one of the main representatives of Neo-Vedanta, a modern interpretation of selected aspects of Hinduism in line with western esoteric traditions, especially Transcendentalism, New Thought and Theosophy.[3] His reinterpretation was, and is, very successful, creating a new understanding and appreciation of Hinduism within and outside India,[3] and was the principal reason for the enthusiastic reception of yoga, transcendental meditation and other forms of Indian spiritual self-improvement in the West.[175] Agehananda Bharati explained, "...modern Hindus derive their knowledge of Hinduism from Vivekananda, directly or indirectly".[176] Vivekananda espoused the idea that all sects within Hinduism (and all religions) are different paths to the same goal.[177] However, this view has been criticised as an oversimplification of Hinduism.[177]

Vivekananda statue near the Gateway of India, Mumbai

at Shri Ramakrishna Vidyashala, Mysore, India

In the background of emerging nationalism in British-ruled India, Vivekananda crystallised the nationalistic ideal. In the words of social reformer Charles Freer Andrews, "The Swami's intrepid patriotism gave a new colour to the national movement throughout India. More than any other single individual of that period Vivekananda had made his contribution to the new awakening of India".[178] Vivekananda drew attention to the extent of poverty in the country, and maintained that addressing such poverty was a prerequisite for national awakening.[179] His nationalistic ideas influenced many Indian thinkers and leaders. Sri Aurobindo regarded Vivekananda as the one who awakened India spiritually.[180] Mahatma Gandhi counted him among the few Hindu reformers "who have maintained this Hindu religion in a state of splendor by cutting down the dead wood of tradition".[181]

The first governor-general of independent India, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, said "Vivekananda saved Hinduism, saved India".[182] According to Subhas Chandra Bose, a proponent of armed struggle for Indian independence, Vivekananda was "the maker of modern India";[183] for Gandhi, Vivekananda's influence increased Gandhi's "love for his country a thousandfold". Vivekananda influenced India's independence movement;[184] his writings inspired independence activists such as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Aurobindo Ghose, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bagha Jatin and intellectuals such as Aldous Huxley, Christopher Isherwood, Romain Rolland.[185] Many years after Vivekananda's death Rabindranath Tagore told French Nobel laureate Romain Rolland,[186] "If you want to know India, study Vivekananda. In him everything is positive and nothing negative". Rolland wrote, "His words are great music, phrases in the style of Beethoven, stirring rhythms like the march of Händel choruses. I cannot touch these sayings of his, scattered as they are through the pages of books, at thirty years' distance, without receiving a thrill through my body like an electric shock. And what shocks, what transports, must have been produced when in burning words they issued from the lips of the hero!"[187]

Jamsetji Tata was inspired by Vivekananda to establish the Indian Institute of Science, one of India's best-known research universities.[150] Abroad, Vivekananda communicated with orientalist Max Müller, and the inventor Nikola Tesla was one of those influenced by his Vedic teachings.[188] While National Youth Day in India is observed on his birthday, 12 January, the day he delivered his masterful speech at the Parliament of Religions, 11 September 1893 is "World Brotherhood Day".[189][190] In September 2010, India's Finance Ministry highlighted the relevance of Vivekananda's teachings and values to the modern economic environment. The then Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India before the current President Ram Nath Kovind, approved in principle the Swami Vivekananda Values Education Project at a cost of ₹1 billion (US$14 million), with objectives including involving youth with competitions, essays, discussions and study circles and publishing Vivekananda's works in a number of languages.[191] In 2011, the West Bengal Police Training College was renamed the Swami Vivekananda State Police Academy, West Bengal.[192] The state technical university in Chhattisgarh has been named the Chhattisgarh Swami Vivekanand Technical University.[193] In 2012, the Raipur airport was renamed Swami Vivekananda Airport.[194]

The 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda was celebrated in India and abroad. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in India officially observed 2013 as the occasion in a declaration.[195] Year-long events and programs were organised by branches of the Ramakrishna Math, the Ramakrishna Mission, the central and state governments in India, educational institutions and youth groups. Bengali film director Tutu (Utpal) Sinha made a film, The Light: Swami Vivekananda as a tribute for his 150th birth anniversary.[196]

Vivekananda was featured on stamps of India (1963, 1993, 2013, 2015 and 2018), Sri Lanka (1997 and 2013) and Serbia (2018).[197][198]
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Main article: Bibliography of Swami Vivekananda

Lectures from Colombo to Almora front cover 1897 edition

Vedanta Philosophy An address before the Graduate Philosophical Society 1901 cover page


Although Vivekananda was a powerful orator and writer in English and Bengali,[199] he was not a thorough scholar,[200] and most of his published works were compiled from lectures given around the world which were "mainly delivered [...] impromptu and with little preparation".[200] His main work, Raja Yoga, consists of talks he delivered in New York.[201]

Literary works

According to Banhatti, "[a] singer, a painter, a wonderful master of language and a poet, Vivekananda was a complete artist",[202] composing many songs and poems, including his favourite,[citation needed] "Kali the Mother". Vivekananda blended humour with his teachings, and his language was lucid. His Bengali writings testify to his belief that words (spoken or written) should clarify ideas, rather than demonstrating the speaker (or writer's) knowledge.[citation needed]

Bartaman Bharat meaning "Present Day India"[203] is an erudite Bengali language essay written by him, which was first published in the March 1899 issue of Udbodhan, the only Bengali language magazine of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission. The essay was reprinted as a book in 1905 and later compiled into the fourth volume of The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda.[204] In this essay his refrain to the readers was to honour and treat every Indian as a brother irrespective of whether he was born poor or in lower caste.[205]


Published in his lifetime[206]

• Sangeet Kalpataru (1887, with Vaishnav Charan Basak)[79]
• Karma Yoga (1896)[207][208]
• Raja Yoga (1896 [1899 edition])[209]
• Vedanta Philosophy: An address before the Graduate Philosophical Society (1896)
• Lectures from Colombo to Almora (1897)
• Bartaman Bharat (in Bengali) (March 1899), Udbodhan
• My Master (1901), The Baker and Taylor Company, New York
• Vedânta philosophy: lectures on Jnâna Yoga (1902) Vedânta Society, New York OCLC 919769260
• Jnana yoga (1899)

Published posthumously

Here is a list of selected books by Vivekananda that were published after his death (1902)[206]

• Addresses on Bhakti Yoga
• Bhakti Yoga
• The East and the West (1909)[210]
• Inspired Talks (1909)
• Narada Bhakti Sutras – translation
• Para Bhakti or Supreme Devotion
• Practical Vedanta
• Speeches and writings of Swami Vivekananda; a comprehensive collection
• Complete Works: a collection of his writings, lectures and discourses in a set of nine volumes (ninth volume will be published soon)
• Seeing beyond the circle (2005)

See also

• List of Hindu gurus and saints


1. The exact date of the meeting is unknown. Vivekananda researcher Shailendra Nath Dhar studied the Calcutta University Calendar of 1881—1882 and found in that year, examination started on 28 November and ended on 2 December[58]
2. A brother monk of Narendranath
3. On learning that Vivekananda lacked credentials to speak at the Chicago Parliament, Wright said "To ask for your credentials is like asking the sun to state its right to shine in the heavens".[97]
4. McRae quotes "[a] sectarian biography of Vivekananda,"[106] namely Sailendra Nath Dhar A Comprehensive Biography of Swami Vivekananda, Part One, (Madras, India: Vivekananda Prakashan Kendra, 1975), p. 461, which "describes his speech on the opening day".[107]
5. Brother monks or brother disciples means other disciples of Ramakrishna who lived monastic lives.
6. According to Michael Taft, Ramakrishna reconciled the dualism of form and formless,[167] regarding the Supreme Being to be both Personal and Impersonal, active and inactive.[web 1] Ramakrishna: "When I think of the Supreme Being as inactive – neither creating nor preserving nor destroying – I call Him Brahman or Purusha, the Impersonal God. When I think of Him as active – creating, preserving and destroying – I call Him Sakti or Maya or Prakriti, the Personal God. But the distinction between them does not mean a difference. The Personal and Impersonal are the same thing, like milk and its whiteness, the diamond and its lustre, the snake and its wriggling motion. It is impossible to conceive of the one without the other. The Divine Mother and Brahman are one."[web 1]
7. Sooklalmquoytes Chatterjee: "Sankara's Vedanta is known as Advaita or non-dualism, pure and simple. Hence it is sometimes referred to as Kevala-Advaita or unqualified monism. It may also be called abstract monism in so far as Brahman, the Ultimate Reality, is, according to it, devoid of all qualities and distinctions, nirguna and nirvisesa [...] The Neo-Vedanta is also Advaitic inasmuch as it holds that Brahman, the Ultimate Reality, is one without a second, ekamevadvitiyam. But as distinguished from the traditional Advaita of Sankara, it is a synthetic Vedanta which reconciles Dvaita or dualism and Advaita or non-dualism and also other theories of reality. In this sense it may also be called concrete monism in so far as it holds that Brahman is both qualified, saguna, and qualityless, nirguna (Chatterjee, 1963 : 260)."[168]


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• Thomas, Abraham Vazhayil (1974), Christians in Secular India, Madison, New Jersey: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, ISBN 978-0-8386-1021-3
• Thomas, Wendell (1 August 2003). Hinduism Invades America 1930. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7661-8013-0.
• Urban, Hugh B. (1 January 2007). Tantra: Sex, Secrecy, Politics and Power in the Study of Religion. Motilal Banarsidass Publisher. ISBN 978-81-208-2932-9.
• Virajananda, Swami, ed. (2006) [1910], The Life of the swami Vivekananda by his eastern and western disciples... in two volumes (Sixth ed.), Kolkata: Advaita Ashrama, ISBN 81-7505-044-6
• Virajananda, Swami (1918), The Life of the Swami Vivekananda, 4, Prabuddha Bharata Office, Advaita Ashrama, retrieved 21 December 2012
• Vivekananda, Swami (2001) [1907], Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, 9 Volumes, Advaita Ashrama, ISBN 978-81-85301-75-4
• Vivekananda, Swami (1996), Swami Lokeswarananda (ed.), My India : the India eternal (1st ed.), Calcutta: Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, pp. 1–2, ISBN 81-85843-51-1
• Vrajaprana, Pravrajika (1996). A portrait of Sister Christine. Calcutta: Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture. ISBN 978-8185843803.
• Wuthnow, Robert (1 July 2011). America and the Challenges of Religious Diversity. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-1-4008-3724-3.
• Wolffe, John (2004). Religion in History: Conflict, Conversion and Coexistence. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-7107-2.


1. "Sri Ramakrisha The Great Master, by Swami Saradananda, (tr.) Swami Jagadananda, 5th ed., v.1, pp.558–561, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Madras".

Further reading

Main article: Bibliography of Swami Vivekananda

• Chauhan, Abnish Singh (2004). Swami Vivekananda: Select Speeches. Prakash Book Depot. ISBN 978-8179774663.
• Chauhan, Abnish Singh (2006). Speeches of Swami Vivekananda and Subhash Chandra Bose: A Comparative Study. Prakash Book Depot. ISBN 9788179771495.
• King, Richard (2002). Orientalism and Religion: Post-Colonial Theory, India and "The Mystic East". Routledge.
• Majumdar, R. C. (1999). Swami Vivekananda: A historical review. Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama.
• Rambachan, Anatanand (1994), The Limits of Scripture: Vivekananda's Reinterpretation of the Vedas, University of Hawaii Press
• Malhotra, Rajiv (2016). Indra's Net: Defending Hinduism's Philosophical Unity (revised ed.). Noida, India: HarperCollins Publishers India. ISBN 978-9351771791. ISBN 9351771792 (400 pages)
• Sharma, Jyotirmaya (2013). A Restatement of Religion: Swami Vivekananda and the Making of Hindu Nationalism. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-19740-2.

External links

• Swami Vivekananda at Curlie
• Works about Vivekananda via the Open Library
• Works by Vivekananda via the Open Library
• Works by or about Swami Vivekananda at Internet Archive
• Works by Swami Vivekananda at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
• Biography at Belur Math's official website
• Complete Works of Vivekananda, Belur Math publication
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Mon Nov 11, 2019 7:33 pm

Basil Hall Chamberlain
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 11/11/19



Basil Hall Chamberlain
Born 18 October 1850
Southsea, England
Died 15 February 1935 (aged 84)
Geneva, Switzerland
Nationality English
Occupation Author, Japanologist
Parent(s) William Charles Chamberlain
Eliza Jane Hall

Basil Hall Chamberlain (18 October 1850 – 15 February 1935) was a professor of Japanese at Tokyo Imperial University and one of the foremost British Japanologists active in Japan during the late 19th century. (Others included Ernest Satow and W. G. Aston.) He also wrote some of the earliest translations of haiku into English. He is perhaps best remembered for his informal and popular one-volume encyclopedia Things Japanese, which first appeared in 1890 and which he revised several times thereafter. His interests were diverse, and his works include an anthology of poetry in French.

Early life

Chamberlain was born in Southsea (a part of Portsmouth) on the south coast of England, the son of an Admiral William Charles Chamberlain and his wife Eliza Hall, the daughter of the travel writer Basil Hall. His younger brother was Houston Stewart Chamberlain.

Chamberlain's direct influence on the Nazi party is significant, and his relationship with the Nazi leadership must be considered here. Like many Germans of the interwar era, Chamberlain was utterly devastates by the defeat of Germany in the First World War. Chamberlain blamed the catastrophic defeat on the backstabbing influence [of] international Jewry, and henceforth described the German nation as existing under the 'supremacy of the Jews.'27 In the early days of the Nazi party, Chamberlain observed a true leader of the people who had the fortitude and skill necessary to redeem Germany.28 Chamberlain's respect for the future dictator was returned in kind, with Adolf Hitler claiming to have been influenced by Chamberlain's Foundations and wartime essays.29 Chamberlain and Hitler were also united through their shared admiration of Richard Wagner, who provided much of the raw aesthetic and mythological material which was to be appropriated by the Nazi party.30 A more explicit example of Chamberlain's influence is found in the conversion experience of future Minister for Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, who agreed with Chamberlain's assessment that the only way in which Germany could be saved was through the removal of the Jews.31 During these interwar years Chamberlain maintained constant correspondence with influential figures in the German political and intellectual life, including Theodor Fritsch and the exiled Kaiser Wilhelm II. In 1923 Chamberlain was afford the opportunity to meet with Adolf Hitler personally, and was subsequently at Hitler's side during the 'German Day' celebrations in Bayreuth. Chamberlain's personal endorsement of Hitler is reflected in a letter to the NSDAP leader, in which he attests to the deep affinity Chamberlain felt with the Nazi cause.32 Chamberlain's support of Hitler and the Nazi party was a significant victory for the political newcomers in their attempts to solidify their own reputation amongst a cynical populace.

Chamberlain's intellectual legacy and direct influence on Nazi ideology make him a particularly potent example of the link between 19th century anti-semitic writers, and the eventual legitimization of the Nazi party and its racial and ideological agenda. First, the Foundations was extremely important in formulating the notion of an Aryan Jesus and the racial inferiority of the Jews. Such an approach to the theological revisionism would find its ultimate expression in the work of Grundmann and the Institute for the Elimination of Jewish Influence on German Church Life. Chamberlain's emphasis on race and biological theory is a clear forerunner of work undertaken in the sphere of Nazi eugenics, particularly in relation to the evolutionary motif of a 'struggle for existence.'33 The immediate and long-term impact of the Foundations, therefore, is itself enough to make Chamberlain the most important figure in forging a bond between 19th century anti-Semitic writers and the emergence of volkisch nationalism in the interwar years.

-- Houston Stewart Chamberlain and the Race Struggle of Western History, by Ryan David Buesnel, Charles Sturt University

He was brought up speaking French as well as English, even before moving to Versailles to live with his maternal grandmother in 1856 upon his mother's death. Once in France he acquired German as well. Chamberlain had hoped to study at Oxford, but instead started work at Barings Bank in London. He was unsuited to the work and soon had a nervous breakdown. It was in the hope of a full recovery that he sailed out of Britain, with no clear destination in mind.

A recurrence of bad health, probably a nervous breakdown, foreclosed his [Houston Stewart Chamberlain's] hopes for an academic career and for the rest of his life he lived as a private scholar, largely funded by family money, first in Dresden, later Vienna, and finally Bayreuth.

-- Houston Stewart Chamberlain, by


Chamberlain landed in Japan on 29 May 1873, employed by the Japanese government as an o-yatoi gaikokujin.

Foreign government advisors in Meiji Japan [O-yatoi gaikokujin]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 11/11/19

The foreign employees in Meiji Japan, known in Japanese as O-yatoi Gaikokujin (Kyūjitai: 御雇い外國人, Shinjitai: 御雇い外国人, "hired foreigners"), were hired by the Japanese government and municipalities for their specialized knowledge and skill to assist in the modernization of the Meiji period. The term came from Yatoi (a person hired temporarily, a day laborer),[1] was politely applied for hired foreigner as O-yatoi gaikokujin.

The total number is over 2,000, probably reaches 3,000 (with thousands more in the private sector). Until 1899, more than 800 hired foreign experts continued to be employed by the government, and many others were employed privately. Their occupation varied, ranging from high salaried government advisors, college professors and instructor, to ordinary salaried technicians.

Along the process of the opening of the country, the Tokugawa Shogunate government first hired, Dutch diplomat Philipp Franz von Siebold as diplomatic advisor, Dutch naval engineer Hendrik Hardes for Nagasaki Arsenal and Willem Johan Cornelis ridder Huijssen van Kattendijke for Nagasaki Naval School, French naval engineer François Léonce Verny for Yokosuka Arsenal, and British civil engineer Richard Henry Brunton. Most of the O-yatoi was appointed through government approval with two or three years contract, and took their responsibility properly in Japan, except some cases.[2]

As the Public Works hired almost 40% of the total number of the O-yatois, the main goal in hiring the O-yatois was to obtain transfers of technology and advice on systems and cultural ways. Therefore, young Japanese officers gradually took over the post of the O-yatoi after they completed training and education at the Imperial College, Tokyo, the Imperial College of Engineering or studying abroad.

The O-yatois were highly paid; in 1874, they numbered 520 men, at which time their salaries came to ¥2.272 million, or 33.7 percent of the national annual budget. The salary system was equivalent to the British India, for instance, the chief engineer of the British India's Public Works was paid 2,500 Rs/month[3] which was almost same as 1,000 Yen, salary of Thomas William Kinder, superintend of the Osaka Mint in 1870.

Despite the value they provided in the modernization of Japan, the Japanese government did not consider it prudent for them to settle in Japan permanently. After the contract terminated, most of them returned to their country except some, like Josiah Conder and William Kinninmond Burton.

The system was officially terminated in 1899 when extraterritoriality came to an end in Japan. Nevertheless, similar employment of foreigners persists in Japan, particularly within the national education system and professional sports.

He taught at the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy in Tokyo from 1874 to 1882. His most important position, however, was as professor of Japanese at Tokyo Imperial University beginning in 1886. It was here that he gained his reputation as a student of Japanese language and literature. (He was also a pioneering scholar of the Ainu and Ryukyuan languages.) His many works include the first translation of the Kojiki into English (1882), A Handbook of Colloquial Japanese (1888), Things Japanese (1890), and A Practical Guide to the Study of Japanese Writing (1905).[1] A keen traveller despite chronic weak health, he cowrote (with W. B. Mason) the 1891 edition of A Handbook for Travellers in Japan, of which revised editions followed.[/size][/b]

Chamberlain was a friend of the writer Lafcadio Hearn, once a colleague at the University, but the two became estranged over the years.[2]

In 1890, Hearn went to Japan with a commission as a newspaper correspondent, which was quickly terminated. It was in Japan, however, that he found a home and his greatest inspiration. Through the goodwill of Basil Hall Chamberlain, Hearn gained a teaching position during the summer of 1890 at the Shimane Prefectural Common Middle School and Normal School in Matsue, a town in western Japan on the coast of the Sea of Japan. The Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum and his old residence are still two of Matsue's most popular tourist attractions. During his fifteen-month stay in Matsue, Hearn married Koizumi Setsu, the daughter of a local samurai family, with whom he had four children.[17] He became a naturalized Japanese, assuming the name Koizumi Yakumo, in 1896 after accepting a teaching position in Tokyo. After having been Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and, later on, Spencerian, he became Buddhist.[18]

During late 1891, Hearn obtained another teaching position in Kumamoto, Kyūshū, at the Fifth Higher Middle School, where he spent the next three years and completed his book Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan (1894). In October 1894, he secured a journalism job with the English-language newspaper Kobe Chronicle, and in 1896, with some assistance from Chamberlain, he began teaching English literature at Tokyo Imperial University, a job he had until 1903. In 1904, he was a professor at Waseda University.

-- Lafcadio Hearn, by Wikipedia

Percival Lowell dedicated his travelogue Noto: An Unexplored Corner of Japan (1891) to Chamberlain.[3]

Chamberlain sent many Japanese artifacts to the Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford.

He left Japan in 1911 and moved to Geneva, where he lived until his death in 1935.

Works by Chamberlain

• The Classical Poetry of the Japanese. 1880.
• Chamberlain, Basil Hall (1882). "A Translation of the 'Ko-ji-ki', or Records of Ancient Matters". Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan. 10, suppl. Yokohama.
o (Rechaptered with Horne's notes) in: Horne, Charles Francis, ed. (1917). The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East: With an Historical Survey and Descriptions. 13. Parke. pp. 8–61.
o Wikisource: Kojiki (Horne's edition).
• The Language, Mythology, and Geographical Nomenclature of Japan Viewed in the Light of Aino Studies. 1887.
• Aino Folk-Tales. 1888.
• A Handbook of Colloquial Japanese. 1887.
• Things Japanese. Six editions, 1890–1936. (A paperback version of the fifth edition, from 1905 — with the short bibliographies appended to many of its articles replaced by lists of other books put out by the new publisher — was issued by the Charles E. Tuttle Company as Japanese Things in 1971 and has since been reprinted several times.)
• A Handbook for Travellers in Japan. Co-written with W. B. Mason.
o 3rd ed. 1891.[a]
o 4th ed. 1894.
o 5th ed. 1899.
o 6th ed. 1901
o 7th ed. 1903.
o 8th ed. 1907.
o 9th ed. 1913.
• Essay in Aid of a Grammar and Dictionary of the Luchuan Language. 1895 (a pioneering study of the Ryukyuan languages).
• "Bashō and the Japanese Poetical Epigram." Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, vol. 2, no. 30, 1902. (Some of Chamberlain's translations from this article are included in Faubion Bowers' The Classic Tradition of Haiku: An Anthology, Dover Publications, 1996, 78pp. ISBN 0-486-29274-6.)
• Japanese Poetry. 1910.
• The Invention of a New Religion. 1912. At Project Gutenberg. Incorporated within the 1927 edition of Things Japanese.
• Huit Siècles de poésie française. Paris: Payot, 1927.
• . . . encore est vive la Souris. Lausanne: Payot, 1933.

See also

• Anglo-Japanese relations
• O-yatoi gaikokujin


1. Earlier editions were titled A Handbook for Travellers in Central and Northern Japan and were by Ernest Satow and A G S Hawes.


1. "CHAMBERLAIN, Basil Hall". Who's Who. Vol. 59. 1907. p. 313.
2. Hearn, Lafcadio; Bisland, Elizabeth (1906). The Life and Letters of Lafcadio Hearn, including the Japanese Letters. 1. Houghton, Mifflin and company. p. 57–8. The second point was his attitude toward his friends — his quondam friends — all of whom he gradually dropped, with but few exceptions... (quoted from Chamberlain's letters). Chamberlain wrote to Hearn's biographer to explain that Hearn never lost his esteem, and he wrote a few times to Hearn, who had moved away to Matsue, Shimane, but the letters went unanswered.
3. From the dedication. Lowell, Percival (1891). Noto: An Unexplored Corner of Japan. Cambridge, MA: The Riverside Press; printed by H. O. Houghton & Co. Retrieved November 8, 2011.

Further reading

• Ōta, Yūzō. Basil Hall Chamberlain: Portrait of a Japanologist. Richmond, Surrey: Japan Library, 1998. ISBN 1873410735.

External links

• Works by Basil Hall Chamberlain at Project Gutenberg
• Works by or about Basil Hall Chamberlain at Internet Archive
• Works by Basil Hall Chamberlain at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
• Chamberlain's translation of the Kojiki
• Chamberlain's collection of Ainu folk tales
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Nov 12, 2019 12:13 am

Foreign government advisors in Meiji Japan [O-yatoi gaikokujin]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 11/11/19



The foreign employees in Meiji Japan, known in Japanese as O-yatoi Gaikokujin (Kyūjitai: 御雇い外國人, Shinjitai: 御雇い外国人, "hired foreigners"), were hired by the Japanese government and municipalities for their specialized knowledge and skill to assist in the modernization of the Meiji period. The term came from Yatoi (a person hired temporarily, a day laborer),[1] was politely applied for hired foreigner as O-yatoi gaikokujin.

The total number is over 2,000, probably reaches 3,000 (with thousands more in the private sector). Until 1899, more than 800 hired foreign experts continued to be employed by the government, and many others were employed privately. Their occupation varied, ranging from high salaried government advisors, college professors and instructor, to ordinary salaried technicians.

Along the process of the opening of the country, the Tokugawa Shogunate government first hired, Dutch diplomat Philipp Franz von Siebold as diplomatic advisor, Dutch naval engineer Hendrik Hardes for Nagasaki Arsenal and Willem Johan Cornelis ridder Huijssen van Kattendijke for Nagasaki Naval School, French naval engineer François Léonce Verny for Yokosuka Arsenal, and British civil engineer Richard Henry Brunton. Most of the O-yatoi was appointed through government approval with two or three years contract, and took their responsibility properly in Japan, except some cases.[2]

As the Public Works hired almost 40% of the total number of the O-yatois, the main goal in hiring the O-yatois was to obtain transfers of technology and advice on systems and cultural ways. Therefore, young Japanese officers gradually took over the post of the O-yatoi after they completed training and education at the Imperial College, Tokyo, the Imperial College of Engineering or studying abroad.

The O-yatois were highly paid; in 1874, they numbered 520 men, at which time their salaries came to ¥2.272 million, or 33.7 percent of the national annual budget. The salary system was equivalent to the British India, for instance, the chief engineer of the British India's Public Works was paid 2,500 Rs/month[3] which was almost same as 1,000 Yen, salary of Thomas William Kinder, superintend of the Osaka Mint in 1870.

Despite the value they provided in the modernization of Japan, the Japanese government did not consider it prudent for them to settle in Japan permanently. After the contract terminated, most of them returned to their country except some, like Josiah Conder and William Kinninmond Burton.

The system was officially terminated in 1899 when extraterritoriality came to an end in Japan. Nevertheless, similar employment of foreigners persists in Japan, particularly within the national education system and professional sports.

Notable O-yatoi gaikokujin


• William Smith Clark
• Edwin Dun
• Max Fesca
• Oskar Kellner
• Oskar Löw, agronomist
• William Penn Brooks, agronomist

Medical science

• Erwin von Bäl
• Johannes Ludwig Janson
• Heinrich Botho Scheube
• Julius Scriba

Law, administration, and economics

• Georges Appert,[4] legal scholar
• Gustave Emile Boissonade, legal scholar
• Hermann Roesler, jurist and economist
• Georg Michaelis,[5] jurist
• Albert Mosse, jurist
• Otfried Nippold, jurist
• Heinrich Waentig, economist and jurist
• Georges Hilaire Bousquet, legal scholar
• Horatio Nelson Lay, railway developer
• Alexander Allan Shand, monetary
• Henry Willard Denison, diplomat
• Karl Rathgen, economist


• Jules Brunet, artillery officer
• Léonce Verny, constructor of the Yokosuka Naval Arsenal
• Klemens Wilhelm Jakob Meckel, Army instructor
• James R. Wasson, Civil engineer and teacher, army engineer
• Henry Walton Grinnell, Navy instructor
• José Luis Ceacero Inguanzo, Navy instructor
• Charles Dickinson West, naval architect
• Henry Spencer Palmer, military engineer
• Archibald Lucius Douglas, Naval instructor

Natural science and mathematics

• William Edward Ayrton, physicist
• Thomas Corwin Mendenhall, physicist
• Edward S. Morse, zoologist
• Charles Otis Whitman, zoologist, successor of Edward S. Morse
• Heinrich Edmund Naumann, geologist
• Curt Netto, metallurgist
• Sir James Alfred Ewing, physicist and engineer who founded Japanese seismology
• Cargill Gilston Knott, succeeding J.A. Ewing
• Benjamin Smith Lyman, mining engineer


• William P. Brooks, agriculture
• Richard Henry Brunton, builder of lighthouses
• Charles Alfred Chastel de Boinville, architect
• Josiah Conder, architect
• William Kinnimond Burton, engineering, architecture, photography
• Horace Capron, agriculture, road construction
• Henry Dyer, engineering education
• Hermann Ende, architect
• George Arnold Escher, civil engineer
• John G.H. Godfrey, geologist, mining engineer
• John Milne, geologist, seismologist
• Colin Alexander McVean, civil engineer
• Edmund Morel, civil engineer
• Johannis de Rijke, civil engineer, flood control, river projects
• John Alexander Low Waddell, bridge engineer
• Thomas James Waters, civil engineer
• William Gowland, mining engineer, archaeologist
• Jean Francisque Coignet, mining engineer
• Henry Scharbau, cartographer
• Wilhelm Böckmann, architect
• Anthonie Rouwenhorst Mulder, civil engineer, rivers and ports

Art and music

• Edoardo Chiossone - engraver
• Luther Whiting Mason, musician
Ernest Fenollosa, art critic
• Franz Eckert, musician
• Rudolf Dittrich, musician
• Antonio Fontanesi, oil painter
• Vincenzo Ragusa, sculptor
• John William Fenton, musician

Liberal arts, humanities and education

• Alice Mabel Bacon, pedagoge
Basil Hall Chamberlain, Japanologist and Professor of Japanese
• James Summers, English literature
Lafcadio Hearn, Japanologist
• Viktor Holtz, educator
• Raphael von Koeber, philosopher and musician
• Ludwig Riess, historian
• Leroy Lansing Janes, educator, missionary
• Marion McCarrell Scott, educator
• Edward Bramwell Clarke, educator
• David Murray, educator

Missionary activities

• William Elliot Griffis, clergyman, author
• Guido Verbeck, missionary, pedagoge
• Horace Wilson, missionary and teacher credited with introducing baseball to Japan.


• Kenji Ceacero Kuroda, journalist and writer.
• Francis Brinkley, journalist
• Ottmar von Mohl, court protocol

See also

• Japan portal
• Japan–United Kingdom relations
• Foreign cemeteries in Japan
• France–Japan relations
• France–Japan relations (19th century)
• Germany–Japan relations
• Japan–United States relations
• Foreign relations of Japan
• Russians in Japan
• Meiji period


1. James Curtis Hepburn, Japanese-English and English-Japanese Dictionary, 1873.
2. Hardy's Case, The Japan Weekly Mail, January 4 1875.
3. A Table of Salary of D.P.W. of the British India, The Engineer, January 29, 1869.
4. Bibliotheque Nationale de France (BnF), Appert, Georges (1850-1934); retrieved 2013-4-2.
5. "Georg Michaelis" at; retrieved 2013-4-4.

External links

• Dentsu Advertising Museum/Meiji Era
• Tokyo University of Education 120th Anniversary Memorial Tokyo University Show (in Japanese)
Site Admin
Posts: 30799
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Nov 12, 2019 5:06 am

Jodo Shinshu
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 11/11/19



Jōdo Shinshū (浄土真宗 "The True Essence of the Pure Land Teaching"[1]), also known as Shin Buddhism or True Pure Land Buddhism, is a school of Pure Land Buddhism. It was founded by the former Tendai Japanese monk Shinran. Shin Buddhism is considered the most widely practiced branch of Buddhism in Japan.


Shinran (founder)

Standing portrait of the founder of the Jōdo Shinshū school of Pure Land Buddhism located at Nishi Honganji, Kyoto. The painting has been designated as National Treasure of Japan

Shinran (1173–1263) lived during the late Heian to early Kamakura period (1185–1333), a time of turmoil for Japan when the emperor was stripped of political power by the shōguns. Shinran's family had a high rank at the Imperial court in Kyoto, but given the times, many aristocratic families were sending sons off to be Buddhist monks instead of having them participate in the Imperial government. When Shinran was nine (1181), he was sent by his uncle to Mount Hiei, where he was ordained as a śrāmaṇera in the Tendai sect. Over time, Shinran became disillusioned with how Buddhism was practiced, foreseeing a decline in the potency and practicality of the teachings espoused.

Shinran left his role as a dosō ("practice-hall monk") at Mount Hiei and undertook a 100-day retreat at Rokkaku-dō in Kyoto, where he had a dream on the 95th day. In this dream, Prince Shōtoku appeared to him, espousing a pathway to enlightenment through verse. Following the retreat, in 1201, Shinran left Mount Hiei to study under Hōnen for the next six years. Hōnen (1133–1212) another ex-Tendai monk, left the tradition in 1175 to found his own sect, the Jōdo-shū or "Pure Land School". From that time on, Shinran considered himself, even after exile, a devout disciple of Hōnen rather than a founder establishing his own, distinct Pure Land school.

During this period, Hōnen taught the new nembutsu-only practice to many people in Kyoto society and amassed a substantial following but also came under increasing criticism by the Buddhist establishment there. Among his strongest critics was the monk Myōe and the temples of Enryaku-ji and Kōfuku-ji. The latter continued to criticize Hōnen and his followers even after they pledged to behave with good conduct and to not slander other Buddhists.[2]

In 1207, Hōnen's critics at Kōfuku-ji persuaded Emperor Toba II to forbid Hōnen and his teachings after two of Imperial ladies-in-waiting converted to his practices.[2] Hōnen and his followers, among them Shinran, were forced into exile and four of Hōnen's disciples were executed. Shinran was given a lay name, Yoshizane Fujii, by the authorities but called himself Gutoku "Stubble-headed One" instead and moved to Echigo Province (today Niigata Prefecture).[3]

It was during this exile that Shinran cultivated a deeper understanding of his own beliefs based on Hōnen's Pure Land teachings. In 1210 he married Eshinni, the daughter of an Echigo aristocrat. Shinran and Eshinni had several children. His eldest son, Zenran, was alleged to have started a heretical sect of Pure Land Buddhism through claims that he received special teachings from his father. Zenran demanded control of local monto (lay follower groups), but after writing a stern letter of warning, Shinran disowned him in 1256, effectively ending Zenran's legitimacy.

In 1211 the nembutsu ban was lifted and Shinran was pardoned, but by 1212, Hōnen had died in Kyoto. Shinran never saw Hōnen following their exile. In the year of Hōnen's death, Shinran set out for the Kantō region, where he established a substantial following and began committing his ideas to writing. In 1224 he wrote his most significant book, the Kyogyoshinsho ("The True Teaching, Practice, Faith and Attainment of the Pure Land"), which contained excerpts from the Three Pure Land sutras and the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra along with his own commentaries[3] and the writings of the Jodo Shinshu Patriarchs Shinran drew inspiration from.

In 1234, at the age of sixty, Shinran left Kantō for Kyoto (Eshinni stayed in Echigo and she may have outlived Shinran by several years), where he dedicated the rest of his years to writing. It was during this time he wrote the Wasan, a collection of verses summarizing his teachings for his followers to recite.

Shinran's daughter, Kakushinni, came to Kyoto with Shinran, and cared for him in his final years and his mausoleum later became Hongan-ji, "Temple of the Original Vow". Kakushinni was instrumental in preserving Shinran's teachings after his death, and the letters she received and saved from her mother, Eshinni, provide critical biographical information regarding Shinran's earlier life. These letters are currently preserved in the Nishi Hongan temple in Kyoto. Shinran died at the age of 90 in 1263.[3]

Revival and formalization

Following Shinran's death, the lay Shin monto slowly spread through the Kantō and the northeastern seaboard. Shinran's descendants maintained themselves as caretakers of Shinran's gravesite and as Shin teachers, although they continued to be ordained in the Tendai School. Some of Shinran's disciples founded their own schools of Shin Buddhism, such as the Bukko-ji and Kosho-ji, in Kyoto. Early Shin Buddhism did not truly flourish until the time of Rennyo (1415–1499), who was 8th in descent from Shinran. Through his charisma and proselytizing, Shin Buddhism was able to amass a greater following and grow in strength. In the 16th-century, during the Sengoku period the political power of Honganji led to several conflicts between it and the warlord Oda Nobunaga, culminating in a ten-year conflict over the location of the Ishiyama Hongan-ji, which Nobunaga coveted because of its strategic value. So strong did the sect become that in 1602, through mandate of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, the main temple Hongan-ji in Kyoto was broken off into two sects to curb its power. These two sects, the Nishi (Western) Honganji and the Higashi (Eastern) Honganji, exist separately to this day.

During the time of Shinran, followers would gather in informal meeting houses called dojo, and had an informal liturgical structure. However, as time went on, this lack of cohesion and structure caused Jōdo Shinshū to gradually lose its identity as a distinct sect, as people began mixing other Buddhist practices with Shin ritual. One common example was the Mantra of Light popularized by Myōe and Shingon Buddhism. Other Pure Land Buddhist practices, such as the nembutsu odori[4] or "dancing nembutsu" as practiced by the followers of Ippen and the Ji School, may have also been adopted by early Shin Buddhists. Rennyo ended these practices by formalizing much of the Jōdo Shinshū ritual and liturgy, and revived the thinning community at the Honganji temple while asserting newfound political power. Rennyo also proselytized widely among other Pure Land sects and consolidated most of the smaller Shin sects. Today, there are still ten distinct sects of Jōdo Shinshū, Nishi Hongan-ji and Higashi Hongan-ji being the two largest.

Rennyo is generally credited by Shin Buddhists for reversing the stagnation of the early Jōdo Shinshū community, and is considered the "Second Founder" of Jōdo Shinshū. His portrait picture, along with Shinran's, are present on the onaijin (altar area) of most Jōdo Shinshū temples. However, Rennyo has also been criticized by some Shin scholars for his engagement in medieval politics and his alleged divergences from Shinran's original thought. After Rennyo, Shin Buddhism was still persecuted in some regions. Secret Shin groups called kakure nenbutsu would meet in mountain caves to perform chanting and traditional rituals.

Following the unification of Japan during the Edo period, Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism adapted, along with the other Japanese Buddhist schools, into providing memorial and funeral services for its registered members under the Danka system, which was legally required by the Tokugawa shogunate in order to prevent the spread of Christianity in Japan. The danka seido system continues to exist today, although not as strictly as in the premodern period, causing Japanese Buddhism to also be labeled as "Funeral Buddhism" since it became the primary function of Buddhist temples. The Honganji also created an impressive academic tradition, which led to the founding of Ryukoku University in Kyoto and formalized many of the Jōdo Shinshū traditions which are still followed today.

Following the Meiji Restoration and the subsequent persecution of Buddhism (haibutsu kishaku) of the late 1800s due to a revived nationalism and modernization, Jōdo Shinshū managed to survive intact due to the devotion of its monto. During World War II, the Honganji, as with the other Japanese Buddhist schools, was compelled to support the policies of the military government and the cult of State Shinto. It subsequently apologized for its wartime actions.[???][5]


On the occasion of the publication of the second edition of Zen at War, I would like to share with readers some of the positive developments that have occurred since the book's initial release in 1997. I refer, first of all, to European interest in the book as reflected in the publication of German, French, Italian, and Polish editions. Clearly there is broad interest in the West regarding Zen's relationship to Japanese militarism.

Equally if not more significant was the publication in 2001 of a Japanese. edition titled Zen to Senso (Zen at War). This edition contributed to the fact that two major branches of the Rinzai Zen sect, that is, Myoshinji and Tenryuji, admitted and apologized for the first time for their past support of Japanese militarism. In that sense, the book you are about to read is not simply a book about religious history but also one that has made history.

Specifically, on September 27, 2001, the Myoshinji General Assembly, meeting in Kyoto, issued a proclamation containing the following passage:

As we reflect on the recent events [of September 11, 2001,] in the U.S.A., we recognize that in the past our country engaged in hostilities, calling it a "holy war," and inflicting great pain and damage to various countries. Even though it was national policy at the time, it is truly regrettable that our sect, in the midst of wartime passions, was unable to maintain a resolute anti-war stance and ended up cooperating with the war effort. In light of this we wish to confess our past transgressions and critically reflect on our conduct [mazu kono kako no ayamachi ni taisuru zange to hansei no ue ni tatte].

A follow-up statement by branch administrators on October 19, 2001, said:

It was the publication of the book Zen to Senso [i.e., the Japanese edition of Zen at War], etc. that provided the opportunity for us to address the issue of our war responsibility. It is truly a matter of regret that our sect has for so long been unable to seriously grapple with this issue. Still, due to the General Assembly's adoption of its recent "Proclamation," we have been able to take the first step in addressing this issue. This is a very significant development.

Myoshinji is the largest branch of the Rinzai Zen sect, with more than 3,400 affiliated temples and 1.6 million adherents. The smaller Tenryuji branch issued a similar statement earlier in 2001, again citing this book as a catalyst. Kubota Jiun, current head of the Sanbo-kyodan, also apologized in the spring of 2001 for the wartime "errant words and actions" of Zen Master Yasutani Haku'un (introduced in chapter 10 of this book and more thoroughly in chapter 5 of Zen War Stories).

Sanbo Kyodan (三宝教団 Sanbō Kyōdan, literally "Three Treasures Religious Organization") is a lay Zen sect derived from both the Soto (Caodong) and the Rinzai (Linji) traditions. It was renamed Sanbo-Zen International in 2014. The term Sanbo Kyodan has often been used to refer to the Harada-Yasutani zen lineage. However, a number of Yasutani’s students have started their own teaching lines that are independent from Sanbo Kyodan. Strictly speaking, Sanbo Kyodan refers only to the organization that is now known as Sanbo-Zen International.

-- Sanbo Kyodan, by Wikipedia

As for the Soto Zen sect, little has changed since its groundbreaking admission of war responsibility in a January 1993 statement of repentance, introduced in chapter 10. Although a handful of Soto Zen-related scholars have continued to pursue this issue, notably Hakamaya Noriaki and Matsumoto Shiro of Komazawa University, their research has focused on highly contentious doctrinal issues having little effect on the sect as a whole. Nevertheless, in December 2005 Tanaka Shinkai, abbot of the Soto Zen monastery of Hokyoji in Fukui prefecture, praised Zen at War as being like a graphic depiction of the carnage at the scene of a horrendous car accident. "If we hope to prevent its reoccurrence," he stated, "we must not flinch from exploring just how and why this accident occurred." Tanaka went on to pledge that his temple, itself founded by a Chinese monk in the 13th century, would henceforth hold unprecedented memorial services for the victims of Japanese militarism.

This edition contains a new chapter titled "Was It Buddhism?" which places Zen's collaboration with Japanese militarism in the context of the 2,500-year-long relationship of Buddhism to the state and war. This additional chapter addresses the plaintive cry of one incredulous reader on the Internet who asked, "What the hell went wrong?"

Yet, if it can be said that something "went wrong" in prewar and wartime Zen, it is important to realize that it will take more than apologies, no matter how heartfelt, to make it "right" again. The fact is that Zen leaders who supported Japanese militarism did so on the grounds that Japanese aggression expressed the very essence of the Buddha Dharma and even enlightenment itself. Thus, until and unless their assumptions are closely examined and challenged, there is no guarantee that Zen's future, whether in the East or West, will not once again include support for the mass destruction of human life that is modern warfare.

Regrettably, many Western Zen leaders continue to either evade or rationalize the connection of their own Dharma lineage to Japan's past aggression. For example, in the fall 1999 issue of the Buddhist magazine tricycle, one well-known U.S. Zen master, Bernie Glassman, had the following to say about Yasutani Haku'un's wartime militarist and anti-Semitic pronouncements:

So if your definition of enlightenment is that there's no anti-Semitism in the state of enlightenment. If your definition of enlightenment is that there's no nationalism, or militarism, or bigotry in the state of enlightenment, you better change your definition of enlightenment. For the state of enlightenment is maha, the circle with no inside and no outside, not even a circle, just the pulsating of life everywhere.

In response to this assertion, David Brazier, English Buddhist and author of The New Buddhism (2002) wrote:

Glassman is willing to say that if your definition of enlightenment does not allow for anti-Semitism within enlightenment then your definition is not big enough. For Glassman, himself Jewish, to say such a thing is, in one sense, big-hearted. I acknowledge Glassman's big heart. Nonetheless, I assert that he is wrong. My definition of enlightenment does not have room for anti-Semitism. I do not think that the Buddha's definition of enlightenment had room for anything similar either. The Buddha had compassion for bigots, but he did not think they were enlightened.

Expanding on this theme, Brazier went on to assert that the non-dualism of Glassman's "circle with no inside and no outside" is in fact not even Buddhist in origin. "The Non-Dual ... is essentially a Taoist rather than a Buddhist idea," he wrote.

Needless to say, it is beyond the scope of either this book, or its more recent companion, Zen War Stories (2003), to resolve the claims and counterclaims raised above. Nevertheless, it can be readily observed that their resolution goes straight to heart of the nature of enlightenment itself. As such, this and the related issues contained in this book deal with the very essence of the Buddhist faith. Sooner or later, every serious Buddhist practitioner must attempt to resolve them, if only for him- or herself.

Finally, as I did in the first edition, let me close by acknowledging that this book, together with its companion volume, Zen War Stories, represents no more than the first steps in coming to an understanding of the relationship between (Zen) Buddhism and warfare. Nevertheless, in a world where religious-supported, if not religious-inspired, violence remains all too prevalent, even first steps are to be valued, for they at least begin to address the scourge that resides in all of the world's major faiths -- that there can be, under certain circumstances, something "sacred" or "holy" about war. And further, they address the belief that the duty of religious practitioners is to answer the call to war of their nation's leaders, no matter how destructive the ensuing acts of war may be.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, Islam now appears to be the main if not sole source of religious fanaticism. It is important to recognize, however, that religion-inspired brutality knows no sectarian label. In 1906, for example, General Leonard Wood sent the following cable to President Teddy Roosevelt celebrating his victory over Filipino Muslims still resisting American colonial control: "The enemy numbered six hundred -- including women and children -- and we abolished them utterly, leaving not even a baby alive to cry for its dead mother. This is incomparably the greatest victory that was ever achieved by the Christian soldiers of the United States [italics mine]." In reply, Roosevelt praised the general's "brilliant feat of arms" and the excellent way he had "upheld the honor of the American flag" (quoted in Mark Twain's Religion by William E. Phipps, p. 208).

As much as the adherents of the world's faiths may wish to deny it, when it comes to the relationship of religion to violence, it is, as Hemingway has so poignantly stated, a question of "ask not for the whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee."

-- Zen at War, by Brian Daizen Victoria

In contemporary times, Jōdo Shinshū is one of the most widely followed forms of Buddhism in Japan, although like other schools, it faces challenges from many popular Japanese new religions or shinshūkyō which emerged following World War II as well as from the growing secularization and materialism of Japanese society.

All ten schools of Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism commemorated the 750th memorial of their founder, Shinran, in 2011 in Kyoto.


Shinran's thought was strongly influenced by the doctrine of Mappō, a largely Mahayana eschatology which claims humanity's ability to listen to and practice the Buddhist teachings deteriorates over time and loses effectiveness in bringing individual practitioners closer to Buddhahood. This belief was particularly widespread in early medieval China and in Japan at the end of the Heian. Shinran, like his mentor Hōnen, saw the age he was living in as being a degenerate one where beings cannot hope to be able to extricate themselves from the cycle of birth and death through their own power, or jiriki (自力). For both Hōnen and Shinran, all conscious efforts towards achieving enlightenment and realizing the Bodhisattva ideal were contrived and rooted in selfish ignorance; for humans of this age are so deeply rooted in karmic evil as to be incapable of developing the truly altruistic compassion that is requisite to becoming a Bodhisattva.

Due to his awareness of human limitations, Shinran advocates reliance on tariki, or other power (他力)—the power of Amitābha (Japanese Amida) made manifest in his Primal Vow—in order to attain liberation.
Shin Buddhism can therefore be understood as a "practiceless practice", for there are no specific acts to be performed such as there are in the "Path of Sages". In Shinran's own words, Shin Buddhism is considered the "Easy Path" because one is not compelled to perform many difficult, and often esoteric, practices in order to attain higher and higher mental states.


Main article: Nianfo

As in other Pure Land Buddhist schools, Amitābha is a central focus of the Buddhist practice, and Jōdo Shinshū expresses this devotion through a chanting practice called nembutsu, or "Mindfulness of the Buddha [Amida]". The nembutsu is simply reciting the phrase Namu Amida Butsu ("I take refuge in Amitābha Buddha"). Jōdo Shinshū is not the first school of Buddhism to practice the nembutsu but it is interpreted in a new way according to Shinran. The nembutsu becomes understood as an act that expresses gratitude to Amitābha; furthermore, it is evoked in the practitioner through the power of Amida's unobstructed compassion. Therefore, in Shin Buddhism, the nembutsu is not considered a practice, nor does it generate karmic merit. It is simply an affirmation of one's gratitude. Indeed, given that the nembutsu is the Name, when one utters the Name, that is Amitābha calling to the devotee. This is the essence of the Name-that-calls.[6]

Note that this is in contrast to the related Jōdo-shū, which promoted a combination of repetition of the nembutsu and devotion to Amitābha as a means to birth in his pure land of Sukhavati. It also contrasts with other Buddhist schools in China and Japan, where nembutsu recitation was part of a more elaborate ritual.

The Pure Land

In another departure from more traditional Pure Land schools, Shinran advocated that birth in the Pure Land was settled in the midst of life. At the moment one entrusts oneself to Amitābha, one becomes "established in the stage of the truly settled". This is equivalent to the stage of non-retrogression along the bodhisattva path.

Many Pure Land Buddhist schools in the time of Shinran felt that birth in the Pure Land was a literal rebirth that occurred only upon death, and only after certain preliminary rituals. Elaborate rituals were used to guarantee rebirth in the Pure Land, including a common practice wherein the fingers were tied by strings to a painting or image of Amida Buddha. From the perspective of Jōdo Shinshū such rituals actually betray a lack of trust in Amida Buddha, relying on jiriki ("self-power"), rather than the tariki or "other-power" of Amida Buddha. Such rituals also favor those who could afford the time and energy to practice them or possess the necessary ritual objects—another obstacle for lower-class individuals. For Shinran Shonin, who closely followed the thought of the Chinese monk Tan-luan, the Pure Land is synonymous with nirvana.


The goal of the Shin path, or at least the practicer's present life, is the attainment of shinjin in the Other Power of Amida. Shinjin is sometimes translated as "faith", but this does not capture the nuances of the term and it is more often simply left untranslated.[7] The receipt of shinjin comes about through the renunciation of self-effort in attaining enlightenment through tariki. It should be noted, however, that shinjin arises from jinen (自然 naturalness, spontaneous working of the Vow) and cannot be achieved solely through conscious effort. One is letting go of conscious effort in a sense, and simply trusting Amida Buddha, and the nembutsu.

For Jōdo Shinshū practitioners, shinjin develops over time through "deep hearing" (monpo) of Amitābha's call of the nembutsu. According to Shinran, "to hear" means "that sentient beings, having heard how the Buddha's Vow arose—its origin and fulfillment—are altogether free of doubt."[8] Jinen also describes the way of naturalness whereby Amitābha's infinite light illumines and transforms the deeply rooted karmic evil of countless rebirths into good karma. It is of note that such evil karma is not destroyed but rather transformed: Shin stays within the Mahayana tradition's understanding of śūnyatā and understands that samsara and nirvana are not separate. Once the practitioner's mind is united with Amitābha and Buddha-nature gifted to the practitioner through shinjin, the practitioner attains the state of non-retrogression, whereupon after his death it is claimed he will achieve instantaneous and effortless enlightenment. He will then return to the world as a Bodhisattva, that he may work towards the salvation of all beings.


The Tannishō is a 13th-century book of recorded sayings attributed to Shinran, transcribed with commentary by Yuien-bo, a disciple of Shinran. The word Tannishō is a phrase which means "A record [of the words of Shinran] set down in lamentation over departures from his [Shinran's] teaching". While it is a short text, it is one of the most popular because practitioners see Shinran in a more informal setting.

For centuries, the text was almost unknown to the majority of Shin Buddhists. In the 15th century, Rennyo, Shinran's descendant, wrote of it, "This writing is an important one in our tradition. It should not be indiscriminately shown to anyone who lacks the past karmic good". Rennyo Shonin's personal copy of the Tannishō is the earliest extant copy. Kiyozawa Manshi (1863–1903) revitalized interest in the Tannishō, which indirectly helped to spawn the Ohigashi schism of 1962.[3]

In Japanese culture

Earlier schools of Buddhism that came to Japan, including Tendai and Shingon Buddhism, gained acceptance because of honji suijaku practices. For example, a kami could be seen as a manifestation of a bodhisattva. It is common even to this day to have Shinto shrines within the grounds of Buddhist temples.

By contrast, Shinran had distanced Jōdo Shinshū from Shinto because he believed that many Shinto practices contradicted the notion of reliance on Amitābha. However, Shinran taught that his followers should still continue to worship and express gratitude to kami, other buddhas and bodhisattvas despite the fact that Amitābha should be the primary buddha that Pure Land believers focus on. [9] Furthermore, under the influence of Rennyo and other priests, Jōdo Shinshū later fully accepted honji suijaku beliefs and the concept of kami as manifestations of Amida Buddha and other buddhas and bodhisattvas.[10]

The term honji suijaku or honchi suijaku (本地垂迹) in Japanese religious terminology refers to a theory widely accepted until the Meiji period according to which Indian Buddhist deities choose to appear in Japan as native kami to more easily convert and save the Japanese.[1][2]

Kami (Japanese: 神, [kaꜜmi]) are the spirits, phenomena or "holy powers" that are venerated in the religion of Shinto. They can be elements of the landscape, forces of nature, as well as beings and the qualities that these beings express; they can also be the spirits of venerated dead persons. Many kami are considered the ancient ancestors of entire clans (some ancestors became kami upon their death if they were able to embody the values and virtues of kami in life). Traditionally, great or sensational leaders like the Emperor could be or became kami.[1]

In Shinto, kami are not separate from nature, but are of nature, possessing positive and negative, and good and evil characteristics. They are manifestations of musubi (結び),[2] the interconnecting energy of the universe, and are considered exemplary of what humanity should strive towards. Kami are believed to be "hidden" from this world, and inhabit a complementary existence that mirrors our own: shinkai (神界, "the world of the kami").
[3]:22 To be in harmony with the awe-inspiring aspects of nature is to be conscious of kannagara no michi (随神の道 or 惟神の道, "the way of the kami").[2]

-- Kami, by Wikipedia

The theory states that some kami (but not all) are local manifestations (the suijaku (垂迹), literally, a "trace") of Buddhist deities (the honji (本地), literally, "original ground").[1][3] The two entities form an indivisible whole called gongen and in theory should have equal standing, but this was not always the case.[4] In the early Nara period, for example, the honji was considered more important and only later did the two come to be regarded as equals.[4] During the late Kamakura period it was even proposed that the kami were the original deities and the buddhas their manifestations.

-- Honji suijaku, by Wikipedia

Jōdo Shinshū traditionally had an uneasy relationship with other Buddhist schools because it discouraged the majority of traditional Buddhist practices except for the nembutsu. Relations were particularly hostile between the Jōdo Shinshū and Nichiren Buddhism. On the other hand, newer Buddhist schools in Japan, such as Zen, tended to have a more positive relationship and occasionally shared practices, although this is still controversial. In popular lore, Rennyo, the 8th Head Priest of the Hongan-ji sect, was good friends with the famous Zen master Ikkyū.

Jōdo Shinshū drew much of its support from lower social classes in Japan who could not devote the time or education to other esoteric Buddhist practices or merit-making activities.

Outside Japan

During the 19th century, Japanese immigrants began arriving in Hawaii, the United States, Canada, Mexico and South America (especially in Brazil). Many immigrants to North America came from regions in which Jōdo Shinshū was predominant, and maintained their religious identity in their new country. The Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, the Buddhist Churches of America and the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada (formerly Buddhist Churches of Canada) are several of the oldest Buddhist organizations outside of Asia. Jōdo Shinshū continues to remain relatively unknown outside the ethnic community because of the history of Japanese American and Japanese-Canadian internment during World War II, which caused many Shin temples to focus on rebuilding the Japanese-American Shin sangha rather than encourage outreach to non-Japanese. Today, many Shinshū temples outside Japan continue to have predominantly ethnic Japanese members, although interest in Buddhism and intermarriage contribute to a more diverse community. There are also active Jōdo Shinshū sanghas in the United Kingdom,[11] Europe, Australia, and Africa, with members of diverse ethnicities.[citation needed]

The practice of Jōdo Shinshū ritual and liturgy may be very different outside Japan, as many temples, like ones in Hawai'i and the US, now use English as the primary language for Dharma talks and there are attempts to create an English-language chanting liturgy. In the United States, Jōdo Shinshū temples have also served as refuges from racism and as places to learn about and celebrate Japanese language and culture.

Shin patriarchs

Jodo shinshu buddhist altar with the Seven Masters enshrined.

The "Seven Patriarchs of Jōdo Shinshū" are seven Buddhist monks venerated in the development of Pure Land Buddhism as summarized in the Jōdo Shinshū hymn Shoshinge. Shinran quoted the writings and commentaries of the Patriarchs in his major work, the Kyogyoshinsho, to bolster his teachings.

The Seven Patriarchs, in chronological order, and their contributions are:[12][13][14][15]

Name / Dates / Japanese Name / Country of Origin / Contribution

Nagarjuna / 150–250 / Ryūju (龍樹) / India / First one to advocate the Pure Land as a valid Buddhist path.
Vasubandhu / ca. 4th century / Tenjin (天親) or Seshin (世親) / India / Expanded on Nagarjuna's Pure Land teachings, commentaries on Pure Land sutras.
Tan-luan / 476–542(?) / Donran (曇鸞) / China / Developed the six-syllable nembutsu chant commonly recited, emphasized the role of Amitabha Buddha's vow to rescue all beings.
Daochuo / 562–645 / Dōshaku (道綽) / China / Promoted the concept of "easy path" of the Pure Land in comparison to the tradition "path of the sages". Taught the efficacy of the Pure Land path in the latter age of the Dharma.
Shandao / 613–681 / Zendō (善導) / China / Stressed the importance of verbal recitation of Amitabha Buddha's name.
Genshin / 942–1017 / Genshin (源信) / Japan / Popularized Pure Land practices for the common people, with emphasis on salvation.
Hōnen / 1133–1212 / Hōnen (法然) / Japan / Developed a specific school of Buddhism devoted solely to rebirth in the Pure Land, further popularised recitation of name of Amitabha Buddha in order to attain rebirth in the Pure Land.

In Jodo Shinshu temples, the seven masters are usually collectivity enshrined on the far left.

Branch lineages

• Jōdo Shinshū Honganji School (Nishi Hongan-ji) - Popularly spelled Hongwan-ji
• Jōdo Shinshū Higashi Honganji School (Higashi Hongan-ji)
o Shinshū Ōtani School
• Shinshū Chōsei School (Chōsei-ji)
• Shinshū Takada School (Senju-ji)
o Shinshū Kita Honganji School (Kitahongan-ji)
• Shinshū Bukkōji School (Bukkō-ji)
• Shinshū Kōshō School (Kōshō-ji)
• Shinshū Kibe School (Kinshoku-ji)
• Shinshū Izumoji School (Izumo-ji)
• Shinshū Jōkōji School (Jōshō-ji)
• Shinshū Jōshōji School (Jōshō-ji)
• Shinshū Sanmonto School (Senjō-ji)
• Montoshūichimi School (Kitami-ji)
• Kayakabe Teaching (Kayakabe-kyō) - An esoteric branch of Jōdo Shinshū

Major holidays

The following holidays are typically observed in Jōdo Shinshū temples:[16]

Holiday / Japanese Name / Date

New Year's Day Service / Gantan'e / January 1
Memorial Service for Shinran / Hōonkō / November 28, or January 9–16
Spring Equinox / Higan / March 17–23
Buddha's Birthday / Hanamatsuri / April 8
Birthday of Shinran / Gotan'e / May 20–21
Bon Festival / Urabon'e / around August 15, based on solar calendar
Autumnal Equinox / Higan / September 20–26
Bodhi Day / Rohatsu / December 8
New Year's Eve Service / Joyae / December 31

Obon (お盆) or just Bon (盆) is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one's ancestors. This Buddhist-Confucian custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to ancestral family places and visit and clean their ancestors' graves when the spirits of ancestors are supposed to revisit the household altars. It has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years and traditionally includes a dance, known as Bon Odori.

The festival of Obon lasts for three days; however, its starting date varies within different regions of Japan. When the lunar calendar was changed to the Gregorian calendar at the beginning of the Meiji era, the localities in Japan responded differently, which resulted in three different times of Obon. Shichigatsu Bon (Bon in July) is based on the solar calendar and is celebrated around the 15th of July in eastern Japan (Kantō region such as Tokyo, Yokohama and the Tōhoku region), coinciding with Chūgen. Hachigatsu Bon (Bon in August), based on the lunar calendar, is celebrated around the 15th of August and is the most commonly celebrated time. Kyū Bon (Old Bon) is celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, and so differs each year. One exception was in 2019, when the solar and lunar calendar matched so Hachigatsu Bon and Kyū Bon were celebrated on the same day. Kyū Bon is celebrated in areas such as the northern part of the Kantō region, Chūgoku region, Shikoku, and Okinawa Prefecture.

-- Bon Festival, by Wikipedia

Major modern Shin figures

• Nanjo Bunyu (1848–1927)
• Saichi Asahara (1850-1932)
• Kasahara Kenju (1852–1883)
• Kiyozawa Manshi (1863–1903)
• Jokan Chikazumi (1870–1941)
• Eikichi Ikeyama (1873–1938)
• Soga Ryojin (1875–1971)
• Otani Kozui (1876–1948)
• Akegarasu Haya (1877–1954)
• Kaneko Daiei (1881–1976)
• Zuiken Saizo Inagaki (1885–1981)
• Takeko Kujo (1887–1928)
• William Montgomery McGovern (1897–1964)
• Rijin Yasuda (1900–1982)
• Shuichi Maida (1906–1967)
• Harold Stewart (1916-1995)
• Alfred Bloom (1926–2017)
• Zuio Hisao Inagaki (1929–present)
• Shojun Bando (1932–2004)
• Taitetsu Unno (1935–2014)
• Eiken Kobai (1941–present)
• Dennis Hirota (1946–present)

See also

• Ohigashi schism
• Hongan-ji
• Kenryo Kanamatsu


1. "The Essentials of Jodo Shinshu from the Nishi Honganji website". Retrieved 2016-02-25.
2. "JODO SHU English". Retrieved 2013-09-27.
3. Popular Buddhism In Japan: Shin Buddhist Religion & Culture by Esben Andreasen / University of Hawaii Press 1998, ISBN 0-8248-2028-2
4. Moriarty, Elisabeth (1976). Nembutsu Odori, Asian Folklore Studies Vol. 35, No. 1 , pp. 7-16
5. Zen at War (2nd ed.) by Brian Daizen Victoria / Rowman and Littlefield 2006, ISBN 0-7425-3926-1
6. Griffin, David Ray (2005). Deep Religious Pluralism. Westminster John Knox Press. p. 76. ISBN 978-0-664-22914-6.
7. Hisao Inagaki (2008). ”Questions and Answers on Shinjin", Takatsuki, Japan. See Question 1: What is shinjin?
8. Collected Works of Shinran, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, p. 112
9. Lee, Kenneth Doo. (2007). The Prince and the Monk: Shotoku Worship in Shinran's Buddhism. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0791470220.
10. Dobbins, James C. (1989). Jodo Shinshu: Shin Buddhism in Medieval Japan. Bloomington, Illinois: Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253331861. See especially pp. 142-143.
11. "Front page". Three Wheels Shin Buddhist House. Retrieved 2 May 2015. In 1994 Shogyoji established Three Wheels ('Sanrin shoja' in Japanese), in London, in response to the deep friendship between a group of English and Japanese people. Since then the Three Wheels community has grown considerably and serves as the hub of a lively multi-cultural Shin Buddhist Samgha.
12. Watts, Jonathan; Tomatsu, Yoshiharu (2005). Traversing the Pure Land Path. Jodo Shu Press. ISBN 488363342X.
13. Buswell, Robert; Lopez, Donald S. (2013). The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-15786-3.
14. "Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and teachers". Archived from the original on August 2, 2013. Retrieved 2015-05-26.
15. "The Pure Land Lineage". Retrieved 2015-05-26.
16. "Calendar of Observances, Nishi Hongwanji". Retrieved 2015-05-29.


• Bandō, Shojun; Stewart, Harold; Rogers, Ann T. and Minor L.; trans. (1996) : Tannishō: Passages Deploring Deviations of Faith and Rennyo Shōnin Ofumi: The Letters of Rennyo, Berkeley: Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research. ISBN 1-886439-03-6
• Bloom, Alfred (1989). Introduction to Jodo Shinshu, Pacific World Journal, New Series Number 5, 33-39
• Dessi, Ugo (2010), Social Behavior and Religious Consciousness among Shin Buddhist Practitioners, Japanese Journal of Religious Siudies, 37 (2), 335-366
• Dobbins, James C. (1989). Jodo Shinshu: Shin Buddhism in Medieval Japan. Bloomington, Illinois: Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253331861; OCLC 470742039
• Inagaki Hisao, trans., Stewart, Harold (2003). The Three Pure Land Sutras, 2nd ed., Berkeley, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research. ISBN 1-886439-18-4
• Lee, Kenneth Doo (2007). The Prince and the Monk: Shotoku Worship in Shinran's Buddhism. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0791470220.
• Matsunaga, Daigan, Matsunaga, Alicia (1996), Foundation of Japanese Buddhism, Vol. 2: The Mass Movement (Kamakura and Muromachi Periods), Los Angeles; Tokyo: Buddhist Books International, 1996. ISBN 0-914910-28-0
• Takamori/Ito/Akehashi (2006). "You Were Born For A Reason: The Real Purpose of Life," Ichimannendo Publishing Inc; ISBN 9780-9790-471-07
• S. Yamabe and L. Adams Beck (trans.): Buddhist Psalms of Shinran Shonin, John Murray, London 1921. e-book
• Galen Amstutz, Review of Fumiaki, Iwata, Kindai Bukkyō to seinen: Chikazumi Jōkan to sono jidai and Ōmi Toshihiro, Kindai Bukkyō no naka no Shinshū: Chikazumi Jōkan to kyūdōshatachi, in H-Japan, H-Net Reviews July, 2017.

External links

• List of Jodo Shinshu Organisations with Links
• Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, Dharma for the Modern Age A basic portal with links.
• Homepage for Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha Hongwanji International Center - English
• Buddhist Churches of America Includes basic information, shopping for Shin Buddhist ritual implements, and links to various Shin churches in America.
• Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada National website, includes links and addresses of Shin temples throughout Canada.
• Institute of Buddhist Studies: Seminary and Graduate School
• Jodo Shinshu Honganji-ha. Shinran Works The collected works of Shinran, including the Kyōgōshinshō.
• Journal of Shin Buddhism
• Notes on the Nembutsu: Reflections on the Wasan of Shinran Shonin
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Shingon Buddhism
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 11/11/19



The center image of the Mandala of the Womb Realm, featuring the central figure of Mahāvairocana, the five Dhyani Buddhas, and attendant bodhisattvas.

Shingon Buddhism (真言宗 Shingon-shū) is one of the major schools of Buddhism in Japan and one of the few surviving Vajrayana lineages in East Asia, originally spread from India to China through traveling monks such as Vajrabodhi and Amoghavajra.

Known in Chinese as the Tangmi (唐密; the Esoteric School in Tang Dynasty of China), these esoteric teachings would later flourish in Japan under the auspices of a Buddhist monk named Kūkai (空海), who traveled to Tang China to acquire and request transmission of the esoteric teachings. For that reason, it is often called Japanese Esoteric Buddhism, or Orthodox Esoteric Buddhism.

The word shingon is the Japanese reading of the Chinese word 真言 (zhēnyán),[1] which is the Chinese transcription of the Sanskrit word "mantra".[2]


Painting of Kūkai

Shingon Buddhist doctrine and teachings arose during the Heian period (794-1185) after a Buddhist monk named Kūkai traveled to China in 804 to study Esoteric Buddhist practices in the city of Xi'an (西安), then called Chang-an, at Azure Dragon Temple (青龍寺) under Huiguo, a favorite student of the legendary Amoghavajra. Kūkai returned to Japan as Huiguo's lineage- and Dharma-successor. Shingon followers usually refer to Kūkai as Kōbō-Daishi (弘法大師 Great Master of the Propagation of Dharma) or Odaishi-sama (お大師様 The Great Master), the posthumous name given to him years after his death by Emperor Daigo.

Before he went to China, Kūkai had been an independent monk in Japan for over a decade. He was extremely well versed in Chinese literature, calligraphy and Buddhist texts. Esoteric Buddhism was not considered to be a different sect or school yet at that time. Huiguo was the first person to gather the still scattered elements of Indian and Chinese Esoteric Buddhism into a cohesive system. A Japanese monk named Gonsō (勤操) had brought back to Japan from China an esoteric mantra of the bodhisattva Ākāśagarbha, the Kokūzō-gumonjihō (虚空蔵求聞持法 "Ākāśagarbha Memory-Retention Practice") that had been translated from Sanskrit into Chinese by Śubhakarasiṃha (善無畏三蔵 Zenmui-Sanzō). When Kūkai was 22, he learned this mantra from Gonsō and regularly would go into the forests of Shikoku to practice it for long periods of time. He persevered in this mantra practice for seven years and mastered it. According to tradition, this practice brought him siddhis of superhuman memory retention and learning ability. Kūkai would later praise the power and efficacy of Kokuzō-Gumonjiho practice, crediting it with enabling him to remember all of Huiguo's teachings in only three months. Kūkai's respect for Ākāśagarbha was so great that he regarded him as his honzon (本尊) for the rest of his life.

It was also during this period of intense mantra practice that Kūkai dreamt of a man telling him to seek out the Mahavairocana Tantra for the doctrine that he sought. The Mahavairocana Tantra had only recently been made available in Japan. He was able to obtain a copy in Chinese but large portions were in Sanskrit in the Siddhaṃ script, which he did not know, and even the Chinese portions were too arcane for him to understand. He believed that this teaching was a door to the truth he sought, but he was unable to fully comprehend it and no one in Japan could help him. Thus, Kūkai resolved to travel to China to spend the time necessary to fully understand the Mahavairocana Tantra.

The main building of Shinsenen, a Shingon temple in Kyoto founded by Kūkai in 824

When Kūkai reached China and first met Huiguo on the fifth month of 805, Huiguo was age sixty and on the verge of death from a long spate of illness. Huiguo exclaimed to Kūkai in Chinese (in paraphrase), "At last, you have come! I have been waiting for you! Quickly, prepare yourself for initiation into the mandalas!" Huiguo had foreseen that Esoteric Buddhism would not survive in India and China in the near future and that it was Kukai's destiny to see it continue in Japan. In the short space of three months, Huiguo initiated and taught Kūkai everything he knew on the doctrines and practices of the Mandala of the Two Realms as well as mastery of Sanskrit and (presumably to be able to communicate with Master Huiguo) Chinese. Huiguo declared Kūkai to be his final disciple and proclaimed him a Dharma successor, giving the lineage name Henjō-Kongō (traditional Chinese: 遍照金剛; ; pinyin: Biànzhào Jīngāng) "All-Illuminating Vajra".

In the twelfth month of the same year, Huiguo died and was buried next to his master, Amoghavajra. More than one thousand of his disciples gathered for his funeral. The honor of writing his funerary inscription on their behalf was given to Kūkai.

Kukai returned to Japan after Huiguo's death. If he had not, Esoteric Buddhism might not have survived; 35 years after Huiguo's death in the year 840, Emperor Wuzong of Tang assumed the throne. An avid Daoist, Wuzong despised Buddhism and considered the sangha useless tax-evaders. In 845, he ordered the destruction of 4600 vihara and 40,000 temples. Around 250,000 Buddhist monks and nuns had to give up their monastic lives. Wuzong stated that Buddhism was an alien religion and promoted Daoism zealously as the ethnic religion of the Han Chinese. Although Wuzong was soon assassinated by his own inner circle, the damage had been done. Chinese Buddhism, especially Esoteric practices, never fully recovered from the persecution, and esoteric elements were infused into other Buddhist sects and traditions.

After returning to Japan, Kūkai collated and systematized all that he had learned from Huiguo into a cohesive doctrine of pure esoteric Buddhism that would become the basis for his school. Kūkai did not establish his teachings as a separate school; it was Emperor Junna, who favored Kūkai and Esoteric Buddhism, who coined the term Shingon-Shū (真言宗 Mantra School) in an imperial decree which officially declared Tō-ji (東寺) in Kyoto an Esoteric temple that would perform official rites for the state. Kūkai actively took on disciples and offered transmission until his death in 835 at the age of 61.

Kūkai's first established monastery was in Mount Kōya (高野山), which has since become the base and a place of spiritual retreat for Shingon practitioners. Shingon enjoyed immense popularity during the Heian period (平安時代), particularly among the nobility, and contributed greatly to the art and literature of the time, influencing other communities such as the Tendai (天台宗) on Mount Hiei (比叡山).[3]

Shingon's emphasis on ritual found support in the Kyoto nobility, particularly the Fujiwara clan (藤原氏). This favor allotted Shingon several politically powerful temples in the capital, where rituals for the Imperial Family and nation were regularly performed. Many of these temples – Tō-ji and Daigo-ji (醍醐寺) in the south of Kyōto and Jingo-ji (神護寺) and Ninna-ji (仁和寺) in the northwest – became ritual centers establishing their own particular ritual lineages.


The Shingon lineage is an ancient transmission of esoteric Buddhist doctrine that began in India and then spread to China and Japan. Shingon is the name of this lineage in Japan, but there are also esoteric schools in China, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong that consider themselves part of this lineage (as the originators of the Esoteric teachings) and universally recognize Kūkai as their eighth patriarch. This is why sometimes the term "Orthodox Esoteric Buddhism" is used instead.

Shingon or Orthodox Esoteric Buddhism maintains that the expounder of the doctrine was originally the Universal Buddha Vairocana, but the first human to receive the doctrine was Nagarjuna in India. The tradition recognizes two groups of eight great patriarchs – one group of lineage holders and one group of great expounders of the doctrine.

The Eight Great Lineage Patriarchs (Fuho-Hasso 付法八祖)

• Vairocana (Dainichi-Nyorai 大日如来)
• Vajrasattva (Kongō-Satta 金剛薩埵)
• Nagarjuna (Ryūju-Bosatsu 龍樹菩薩) – received the Mahavairocana Tantra from Vajrasattva inside an Iron Stupa in Southern India
• Nagabodhi (Ryūchi-Bosatsu 龍智菩薩)
• Vajrabodhi (Kongōchi-Sanzō 金剛智三蔵)
• Amoghavajra (Fukūkongō-Sanzō 不空金剛三蔵)
• Huiguo (Keika-Ajari 恵果阿闍梨)
• Kūkai (Kōbō-Daishi 弘法大師)

The Eight Great Doctrine-Expounding Patriarchs (Denji-Hasso 伝持八祖)

• Nagarjuna (Ryūju-Bosatsu 龍樹菩薩)
• Nagabodhi (Ryūchi-Bosatsu 龍智菩薩)
• Vajrabodhi (Kongōchi-Sanzō 金剛智三蔵)
• Amoghavajra (Fukūkongō-Sanzō 不空金剛三蔵)
• Śubhakarasiṃha (Zenmui-Sanzō 善無畏三蔵)
• Yi Xing (Ichigyō-Zenji 一行禅師)
• Huiguo (Keika-Ajari 恵果阿闍梨)
• Kūkai (Kōbō-Daishi 弘法大師)


Like the Tendai School, which branched into the Jōdo-shū (浄土宗) and Nichiren Buddhism (日蓮系諸宗派 Nichiren-kei sho shūha) during the Kamakura period, Shingon divided into two major schools – the old school, Kogi Shingon (古義真言宗 Ancient Shingon school), and the new school, Shingi Shingon (新義真言宗 Reformed Shingon school).

This division primarily arose out of a political dispute between Kakuban (覚鑁), known posthumously as Kōgyō-Daishi (興教大師), and his faction of priests centered at the Denbō-in (伝法院) and the leadership at Kongōbu-ji (金剛峰寺), the head of Mount Kōya and the authority in teaching esoteric practices in general. Kakuban, who was originally ordained at Ninna-ji (仁和寺) in Kyōto, studied at several temple-centers including the Tendai complex at Onjō-ji (園城寺) before going to Mount Kōya. Through his connections he managed to gain the favor of high-ranking nobles in Kyoto, which helped him to be appointed abbot of Mount Kōya. The leadership at Kongōbuji, however, opposed the appointment on the premise that Kakuban had not originally been ordained on Mount Kōya.

After several conflicts, Kakuban and his faction of priests left the mountain for Mount Negoro (根来山) to the northwest, where they constructed a new temple complex now known as Negoro-ji (根来寺). After the death of Kakuban in 1143, the Negoro faction returned to Mount Kōya. However, in 1288, the conflict between Kongōbuji and the Denbō-in came to a head once again. Led by Raiyu, the Denbō-in priests once again left Mount Kōya, this time establishing their headquarters on Mount Negoro. This exodus marked the beginning of the Shingi Shingon School at Mount Negoro, which was the center of Shingi Shingon until it was sacked by daimyō Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉) in 1585.


Garbhadhātu maṇḍala. Vairocana is located at the center

The teachings of Shingon are based on early Buddhist tantras, the Mahāvairocana Sūtra (大日経 Dainichi-kyō), the Vajraśekhara Sūtra (金剛頂経 Kongōchō-kyō), the Adhyardhaśatikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra (理趣経 Rishu-kyō), and the Susiddhikara Sūtra (蘇悉地経 Soshitsuji-kyō). These are the four principal texts of Esoteric Buddhism and are all tantras, not sutras, despite their names.

The mystical Vairocana and Vajraśekhara Tantras are expressed in the two main mandalas of Shingon, the Mandala of the Two Realms – The Womb Realm (Skt. Garbhadhātu, Japanese 胎蔵界曼荼羅 Taizōkai) mandala and the Diamond Realm (Skt. Vajradhātu, Japanese 金剛界曼荼羅 Kongōkai) mandala.[2] These two mandalas are considered to be a compact expression of the entirety of the Dharma, and form the root of Buddhism. In Shingon temples, these two mandalas are always mounted one on each side of the central altar.

The Susiddhikara Sūtra is largely a compendium of rituals. Tantric Buddhism is concerned with the rituals and meditative practices that lead to enlightenment. According to Shingon doctrine, enlightenment is not a distant, foreign reality that can take aeons to approach but a real possibility within this very life,[4] based on the spiritual potential of every living being, known generally as Buddha-nature. If cultivated, this luminous nature manifests as innate wisdom. With the help of a genuine teacher and through proper training of the body, speech, and mind, i.e. "The Three Mysteries" (三密 Sanmitsu), we can reclaim and liberate this enlightened capacity for the benefit of ourselves and others.

Kūkai also systematized and categorized the teachings he inherited from Huiguo into ten bhūmis or "stages of spiritual realization". He wrote at length on the difference between exoteric, mainstream Mahayana Buddhism and esoteric Tantric Buddhism. The differences between exoteric and esoteric can be summarised:

1. Esoteric teachings are preached by the Dharmakaya (法身 Hosshin) Buddha, who Kūkai identifies as Vairocana (大日如來 Dainichi Nyorai). Exoteric teachings are preached by the Nirmanakaya (応身 Ōjin) Buddha, which in our world and aeon, is the historical Gautama Buddha (釈迦牟尼 Shakamuni) or one of the Sambhoghakaya (報身 Hōjin) Buddhas.

2. Exoteric Buddhism holds that the ultimate state of Buddhahood is ineffable, and that nothing can be said of it. Esoteric Buddhism holds that while nothing can be said of it verbally, it is readily communicated via esoteric rituals which involve the use of mantras, mudras, and mandalas.

3. Kūkai held that exoteric doctrines were merely upāya "skillful means" teachings on the part of the Buddhas to help beings according to their capacity to understand the Truth. The esoteric doctrines, in comparison, are the Truth itself and are a direct communication of the inner experience of the Dharmakaya's enlightenment. When Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment in his earthly Nirmanakaya, he realized that the Dharmakaya is actually reality in its totality and that totality is Vairocana.

4. Some exoteric schools in the late Nara and early Heian period Japan held (or were portrayed by Shingon adherents as holding) that attaining Buddhahood is possible but requires a huge amount of time (three incalculable aeons) of practice to achieve, whereas esoteric Buddhism teaches that Buddhahood can be attained in this lifetime by anyone.

Kūkai held, along with the Chinese Huayan school (華嚴 Kegon) and the Tendai schools, that all phenomena could be expressed as 'letters' in a 'World-Text'. Mantra, mudra, and mandala are special because they constitute the 'language' through which the Dharmakāya (i.e. Reality itself) communicates. Although portrayed through the use of anthropomorphic metaphors, Shingon does not see the Dharmakaya Buddha as a separate entity standing apart from the universe. Instead, the deity is the universe properly understood: the union of emptiness, Buddha nature, and all phenomena. Kūkai wrote that “the great Self embraces in itself each and all existences.”[5]

Relationship to Vajrayāna

When the teachings of Shingon Buddhism were brought to Japan, Esoteric Buddhism was still in its early stages in India. At this time, the terms Vajrayāna ("Diamond Vehicle") and Mantrayāna ("Mantra Vehicle") were not used for Esoteric Buddhist teachings.[6] Instead, esoteric teachings were more typically referred to as Mantranaya, or the "Mantra System." According to Paul Williams, Mantranaya is the more appropriate term to describe the self-perception of early Esoteric Buddhism.[6]

The primary difference between Shingon and Tibetan Buddhism is that there is no Inner Tantra or Anuttarayoga Tantra in Shingon. Shingon has what corresponds to the Kriyā, Caryā, and Yoga classes of tantras in Tibetan Buddhism. The Tibetan system of classifying tantras into four classes is not used in Shingon.

Anuttarayoga Tantras such as the Yamantaka Tantra, Hevajra Tantra, Mahamaya Tantra, Cakrasaṃvara Tantra, and the Kalachakra Tantra were developed at a later period of Esoteric Buddhism and are not used in Shingon.

Mahavairocana Tathagata

Samantabhadra is one of the Thirteen Buddhas of Shingon Buddhism.

In Shingon, Mahavairocana Tathagata (Dainichi Nyorai 大日如來) is the universal or Adi-Buddha that is the basis of all phenomena, present in each and all of them, and not existing independently or externally to them. The goal of Shingon is the realization that one's nature is identical with Mahavairocana, a goal that is achieved through initiation, meditation and esoteric ritual practices. This realization depends on receiving the secret doctrines of Shingon, transmitted orally to initiates by the school's masters. The "Three Mysteries" of body, speech, and mind participate simultaneously in the subsequent process of revealing one's nature: the body through devotional gestures (mudra) and the use of ritual instruments, speech through sacred formulas (mantra), and mind through meditation.

Shingon places emphasis on the Thirteen Buddhas (十三仏 Jūsanbutsu),[7] a grouping of various buddhas and bodhisattvas; however this is purely for lay Buddhist practice and Shingon priests generally make devotions to more than just the Thirteen Buddhas.

• Wisdom King Acala (Fudō Myōō 不動明王)
• Gautama Buddha (Shaka-Nyorai 釈迦如来)
• Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva (Monju-Bosatsu 文殊菩薩)
• Samantabhadra Bodhisattva (Fugen-Bosatsu 普賢菩薩)
• Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva (Jizō-Bosatsu 地蔵菩薩)
• Maitreya Bodhisattva (Miroku-Bosatsu 弥勒菩薩)
• Bhaiṣajyaguru Buddha (Yakushi-Nyorai 薬師如來)
• Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva (Kannon-Bosatsu 観音菩薩)
• Mahāsthāmaprāpta Bodhisattva (Seishi-Bosatsu 勢至菩薩 )
• Amitābha Buddha (Amida-Nyorai 阿弥陀如来)
• Akṣobhya Buddha (Ashuku-Nyorai 阿閦如来)
• Mahavairocana Buddha (Dainichi-Nyorai 大日如来)
• Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva (Kokūzō-Bosatsu 虚空蔵菩薩)

Mahavairocana is the Universal Principle which underlies all Buddhist teachings, according to Shingon Buddhism, so other Buddhist figures can be thought of as manifestations with certain roles and attributes. Kūkai wrote that “the great Self is one, yet can be many.”[8] Each Buddhist figure is symbolized by its own Sanskrit "seed" letter.

Practices and features

The siddhaṃ letter a.

A typical Shingon shrine set up for priests, with Vairocana at the center of the shrine, and the Womb Realm (Taizokai) and Diamond Realm (Kongokai) mandalas.

One feature that Shingon shares in common with Tendai, the only other school with esoteric teachings in Japan, is the use of bīja or seed-syllables in Sanskrit written in the Siddhaṃ alphabet along with anthropomorphic and symbolic representations to express Buddhist deities in their mandalas.

There are four types of mandalas:

• Mahāmaṇḍala (大曼荼羅, Large Mandala)
• Bīja- or Dharmamaṇḍala (法曼荼羅)
• Samayamaṇḍala (三昧耶曼荼羅), representations of the vows of the deities in the form of articles they hold or their mudras
• Karmamaṇḍala (羯磨曼荼羅) representing the activities of the deities in the three-dimensional form of statues, etc.

The Siddhaṃ alphabet (Shittan 悉曇, Bonji 梵字) is used to write mantras. A core meditative practice of Shingon is Ajikan (阿字觀) "meditating on the letter a" written using the Siddhaṃ alphabet. Other Shingon meditations are Gachirinkan (月輪觀, "Full Moon visualization"), Gojigonjingan (五字嚴身觀, "Visualization of the Five Elements arrayed in The Body" from the Mahavairocana Tantra) and Gosōjōjingan (五相成身觀, Pañcābhisaṃbodhi "Series of Five Meditations to attain Buddhahood") from the Vajraśekhara Sutra.

The essence of Shingon practice is to experience Reality by emulating the inner realization of the Dharmakaya through the meditative ritual use of mantra, mudra and visualization, i.e. "The Three Mysteries" (Japanese. Sanmitsu 三密). All Shingon followers gradually develop a teacher-student relationship, formal or informal, whereby a teacher learns the disposition of the student and teaches practices accordingly. For lay practitioners, there is no initiation ceremony beyond the Kechien Kanjō (結縁灌頂), which aims to help create the bond between the follower and Mahavairocana Buddha. It is normally offered only at Mount Kōya twice a year, but it can also be offered by larger temples under masters permitted to transmit the abhiseka. It is not required for all laypersons to take, and no assigned practices are given.


A priest from the Chuin-ryu lineage at Shigisan Chosonshi Temple (朝護孫子寺)

In the case of disciples wishing to train to become a Shingon ācārya or "teacher" (Ajari 阿闍梨, from ācārya Sanskrit: आचार्य), it requires a period of academic study and religious discipline, or formal training in a temple for a longer period of time, after having already received novice ordination and monastic precepts, and full completion of the rigorous four-fold preliminary training and retreat known as Shido Kegyō (四度加行).[9] Only then can the practitioner be able to undergo steps for training, examination, and finally abhiṣeka to be certified as a Shingon acarya and continue to study more advanced practices. In either case, the stress is on finding a qualified and willing mentor who will guide the practitioner through the practice at a gradual pace. An acharya in Shingon is a committed and experienced teacher who is authorized to guide and teach practitioners. One must be an acharya for a number of years at least before one can request to be tested at Mount Kōya for the possibility to qualify as a mahācārya or "great teacher" (Dento Dai-Ajari 傳燈大阿闍梨), the highest rank of Shingon practice and a qualified grand master.

Apart from the supplication of prayers and reading of sutras, there are mantras and ritualistic meditative techniques that are available for any laypersons to practice on their own under the supervision of an Ajari. However, any esoteric practices require the devotee to undergo abhiṣeka (initiation) (Kanjō 灌頂) into each of these practices under the guidance of a qualified acharya before they may begin to learn and practice them. As with all schools of Esoteric Buddhism, great emphasis is placed on initiation and oral transmission of teachings from teacher to student.

Goma Fire Ritual

Main article: Homa

Main article: Shugendō

A Goma ritual performed at Chushinkoji Temple in Japan

The Goma (護摩) Ritual of consecrated fire is unique to Esoteric Buddhism and is the most recognizable ritual defining Shingon among regular Japanese persons today. It stems from the Vedic Agnicayana Ritual and is performed by qualified priests and acharyas for the benefit of individuals, the state or all sentient beings in general. The consecrated fire is believed to have a powerful cleansing effect spiritually and psychologically. The central deity invoked in this ritual is usually Acala (Fudō Myōō 不動明王). The ritual is performed for the purpose of destroying negative energies, detrimental thoughts and desires, and for the making of secular requests and blessings. In most Shingon temples, this ritual is performed daily in the morning or the afternoon. Larger scale ceremonies often include the constant beating of taiko drums and mass chanting of the mantra of Acala by priests and lay practitioners. Flames can sometimes reach a few meters high. The combination of the ritual's visuals and sounds can be trance-inducing and make for a profound experience.

The ancient Japanese religion of Shugendō (修験道) has also adopted the Goma Ritual, of which two are prominent: the Saido Dai Goma and Hashiramoto Goma rituals.[10]


Today, there are very few books on Shingon in the West and until the 1940s, not a single book on Shingon had ever been published anywhere in the world, not even in Japan. Since this lineage was brought over to Japan from Tang China over 1100 years ago, its doctrines have always been closely guarded secrets, passed down orally through an initiatic chain and never written down. Throughout the centuries, except for the initiated, most of the Japanese common folk knew little of its secretive doctrines and of the monks of this "Mantra School" except that besides performing the usual priestly duties of prayers, blessings and funeral rites for the public, they practiced only Mikkyō "secret teachings", in stark contrast to all other Buddhist schools, and were called upon to perform mystical rituals that were supposedly able to summon rain, improve harvests, exorcise demons, avert natural disasters, heal the sick and protect the state. The most powerful ones were thought to be able to render entire armies useless.

Even though Tendai also incorporates esoteric teachings in its doctrines, it is still essentially an exoteric Mahayana school. Some exoteric texts are venerated and studied in Shingon as they are the foundation of Mahayana philosophy but the core teachings and texts of Shingon are purely esoteric. From the lack of written material, inaccessibility of its teachings to non-initiates, language barriers and the difficulty of finding qualified teachers outside Japan, Shingon is in all likelihood the most secretive and least understood school of Buddhism in the world.


Acalanatha, the wrathful manifestation of Mahavairocana, and the principal deity invoked during the goma ritual.

Main article: Japanese Buddhist pantheon

A large number of deities of Vedic, Hindu and Indo-Aryan origins have been incorporated into Mahayana Buddhism and this synthesis is especially prominent in Esoteric Buddhism. Many of these deities have vital roles as they are regularly invoked by the practitioner for various rituals and homas/pujas. In fact, it is ironic that the worship of Vedic-era deities, especially Indra (Taishakuten 帝釈天), the "King of the Heavens," has declined so much in India but is yet so highly revered in Japan that there are probably more temples devoted to him there than there are in India. Chinese Taoist and Japanese Shinto deities were also assimilated into Mahayana Buddhism as deva-class beings. For example, to Chinese Mahayana Buddhists, Indra (synonymous with Śakra) is the Jade Emperor of Taoism. Agni (Katen 火天), another Vedic deity, is invoked at the start of every Shingon Goma Ritual. The average Japanese person may not know the names Saraswati or Indra but Benzaiten 弁財天 (Saraswati) and Taishakuten 帝釈天 (Indra) are household names that every Japanese person knows.

In Orthodox Esoteric Buddhism, divine beings are grouped into six classes.

• Buddhas (Butsu 仏)
• Bodhisattvas (Bosatsu 菩薩)
• Wisdom Kings or Vidyarajas (Myōō 明王)
• Deities or Devas (Ten 天)
• Avatars (Keshin 化身)
• Patriarchs (Soshi 祖師)

The Five Great Wisdom Kings

The Five Wisdom Kings is the most important grouping of Wisdom Kings in Esoteric Buddhism.

Main article: Wisdom King

The Five Great Wisdom Kings are wrathful manifestations of the Five Dhyani Buddhas.

• Acala or Acalanatha (Fudō Myōō 不動明王) "The Immovable One" – Manifestation of Buddha Mahavairocana
• Amrtakundalin (Gundari Myōō 軍荼利明王) "The Dispenser of Heavenly Nectar" – Manifestation of Buddha Ratnasambhava
• Trailokyavijaya (Gōzanze Myōō 降三世明王) "The Conqueror of The Three Planes" – Manifestation of Buddha Akshobhya
• Yamāntaka (Daiitoku Myōō 大威徳明王) "The Defeater of Death" – Manifestation of Buddha Amitabha
• Vajrayaksa (Kongō Yasha Myōō 金剛夜叉明王) "The Devourer of Demons" – Manifestation of Buddha Amoghasiddhi

Other well-known Wisdom Kings

• Ragaraja (Aizen Myōō 愛染明王)
• Mahamayuri (Kujaku Myōō 孔雀明王)
• Hayagriva (Batō Kannon 馬頭観音)
• Ucchusma (Ususama Myōō 烏枢沙摩明王)
• Atavaka (Daigensui Myōō 大元帥明王)

The Twelve Guardian Deities (Deva)

• Agni (Katen 火天) – Lord of Fire ; Guardian of the South East
• Brahmā (Bonten 梵天) – Lord of the Heavens ; Guardian of the Heavens (upward direction)
• Chandra (Gatten 月天) – Lord of the Moon
• Indra (Taishakuten 帝釈天) – Lord of the Trāyastriṃśa Heaven and The Thirty Three Devas ; Guardian of the East
• Prthivi or Bhūmī-Devī (Jiten 地天) – Lord of the Earth ; Guardian of the Earth (downward direction)
• Rakshasa (Rasetsuten 羅刹天) – Lord of Demons ; Guardian of the South West (converted Buddhist rakshasas)
• Shiva or Maheshvara (Daijizaiten 大自在天 or Ishanaten 伊舎那天) – Lord of The Desire Realms ; Guardian of the North East
• Sūrya (Nitten 日天) – Lord of the Sun
• Vaishravana (Bishamonten 毘沙門天 or Tamonten 多聞天) – Lord of Wealth ; Guardian of the North
• Varuṇa (Suiten 水天) – Lord of Water ; Guardian of the West
• Vāyu (Fūten 風天)- Lord of Wind ; Guardian of the North West
• Yama (Emmaten 焔魔天) – Lord of the Underworld ; Guardian of the South

Other Important Deities (Deva)

• Marici (Marishi-Ten 摩里支天) – Patron deity of Warriors
• Mahakala (Daikokuten 大黒天) – Patron deity of Wealth
• Saraswati (Benzaiten 弁財天) – Patron deity of Knowledge, Art and Music
• Ganesha (Kangiten 歓喜天) Patron deity of Bliss and Remover of Obstacles
• Skanda (Idaten 韋駄天 or Kumaraten 鳩摩羅天) Protector of Buddhist Monasteries and Monks


Located in Kyoto, Japan, Daigo-ji is the head temple of the Daigo-ha branch of Shingon Buddhism.

• The Orthodox (Kogi) Shingon School (古義真言宗)
o Kōyasan (高野山真言宗)
 Chuin-Ryu Lineage (中院流)
o Zentsūji-ha (真言宗善通寺派)
o Daigo-ha (真言宗醍醐派)
 Shinnyo-en (真如苑)
o Omuro-ha (真言宗御室派)
o Shingon-Ritsu (真言律宗)
o Daikakuji-ha (真言宗大覚寺派)
o Sennyūji-ha (真言宗泉涌寺派)
o Yamashina-ha (真言宗山階派)
o Shigisan (信貴山真言宗)
o Nakayamadera-ha (真言宗中山寺派)
o Sanbōshū (真言三宝宗)
o Sumadera-ha (真言宗須磨寺派)
o Tōji-ha (真言宗東寺派)
• The Reformed (Shingi) Shingon School (新義真言宗)
o Chizan-ha (真言宗智山派)
o Buzan-ha (真言宗豊山派)
o Kokubunji-ha (真言宗国分寺派)
o Inunaki-ha (真言宗犬鳴派)

See also

• Chinese Buddhism
• Religion in Asia
• Religion in Japan
• Sokushinbutsu
• Shinjō Itō
• Shinnyo-en
• Tachikawa-ryu
• Rishu


1. "Zhēnyán".
2. Kiyota, Minoru (1987). "Shingon Mikkyō's Twofold Maṇḍala: Paradoxes and Integration". Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies. 10 (1): 91–92. Archived from the original on 25 January 2014.
3. Caiger, Mason. A History of Japan, Revised Ed. pp. 106–107.
4. Inagaki Hisao (1972). "Kukai's Sokushin-Jobutsu-Gi" (Principle of Attaining Buddhahood with the Present Body), Asia Major (New Series) 17 (2), 190-215
5. Hakeda, Yushito S. (1972). Kūkai: Major Works. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. p. 258. ISBN 0-231-03627-2.
6. Williams, Paul, and Tribe, Anthony. Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition. 2000. p. 271
7. Shingon Buddhist International Institute. "Jusan Butsu – The Thirteen Buddhas of the Shingon School". Archived from the original on 1 April 2013. Retrieved 5 July 2007.
8. Hakeda, Yushoto S. (1972). Kūkai: Major Works. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. p. 258. ISBN 0-231-03627-2.
9. Sharf, Robert, H. (2003). Thinking through Shingon Ritual, Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 26 (1), 59-62
10. "Ascetic Practice of Fire". Shugendo. Retrieved 23 February 2018.


• Giebel, Rolf W.; Todaro, Dale A.; trans. (2004). Shingon texts, Berkeley, Calif.: Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research. ISBN 1886439249
• Giebel, Rolf, transl. (2006), The Vairocanābhisaṃbodhi Sutra, Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, Berkeley, ISBN 978-1-886439-32-0
• Giebel, Rolf, transl. (2006). Two Esoteric Sutras: The Adamantine Pinnacle Sutra (T 18, no 865), The Susiddhikara Sutra (T 18, no 893), Berkeley: Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research. ISBN 1-886439-15-X
• Hakeda, Yoshito S. trans. (1972). Kukai: Major Works with an account of his life and a study of his thought, New York: Columbia University Press, ISBN 0-231-03627-2.
• Matsunaga, Daigan Lee, Matsunaga, Alicia Orloff (1974). Foundation of Japanese Buddhism; Vol. I; The aristocratic age. Buddhist Books International, Los Angeles und Tokio. ISBN 0-914910-25-6.
• Kiyota, Minoru (1978). Shingon Buddhism: Theory and Practice. Los Angeles/Tokyo: Buddhist Books International.
• Payne, Richard K. (2004). Ritual Syntax and Cognitive Theory, Pacific World Journal, Third Series, No 6, 105-227.
• Toki, Hôryû; Kawamura, Seiichi, tr, (1899). "Si-do-in-dzou; gestes de l'officiant dans les cérémonies mystiques des sectes Tendaï et Singon", Paris, E. Leroux.
• Yamasaki, Taiko (1988). Shingon: Japanese Esoteric Buddhism, Boston/London: Shambala Publications.

External links

• The International Shingon Institute
• Koyasan Shingon Temples
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