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Vishnu Purana
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/20/21

Image
Vishnu Purana
Information
Religion: Hinduism
Author: Sage Parashara
Language: Sanskrit
Chapters: 126
Verses: 23,000

The Vishnu Purana (IAST: Viṣṇu Purāṇa) is one of the eighteen Mahapuranas, a genre of ancient and medieval texts of Hinduism.[1] It is an important Pancharatra text in the Vaishnavism literature corpus.[1][2]

The manuscripts of Vishnu Purana have survived into the modern era in many versions.[3][4][5] More than any other major Purana, the Vishnu Purana presents its contents in Pancalaksana format – Sarga (cosmogony), Pratisarga (cosmology), Vamśa (genealogy of the gods, sages and kings), Manvantara (cosmic cycles), and Vamśānucaritam (legends during the times of various kings).[6][7][8] Some manuscripts of the text are notable for not including sections found in other major Puranas, such as those on Mahatmyas and tour guides on pilgrimage,[9] but some versions include chapters on temples and travel guides to sacred pilgrimage sites.[1][10] The text is also notable as the earliest Purana to have been translated and published in 1864 CE by HH Wilson, based on manuscripts then available, setting the presumptions and premises about what Puranas may have been.[11][12]

The Vishnu Purana is among the shorter Purana texts, with about 7,000 verses in extant versions.[13][14] It primarily centers around the Hindu god Vishnu and his avatars such as Krishna, but it praises Brahma and Shiva and asserts that they are dependent on Vishnu.[14] The Purana, states Wilson, is pantheistic and the ideas in it, like other Puranas, are premised on the Vedic beliefs and ideas.[15]

Vishnu Purana, like all major Puranas, attributes its author to be sage Veda Vyasa.[16] The actual author(s) and date of its composition are unknown and contested. Estimates range of its composition range from 400 BCE to 900 CE.[9] The text was likely composed and rewritten in layers over a period of time, with roots possibly in ancient 1st-millennium BCE texts that have not survived into the modern era.[17] The Padma Purana categorizes Vishnu Purana as a Sattva Purana (Purana which represents goodness and purity).[18]

Date of composition

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Samudra manthanam depicted in above sculpture, is described in the Vishnu Purana. Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok

The composition date of Vishnu Purana is unknown and contested, with estimates widely disagreeing.[9] Some proposed dates for the earliest version[note 1] of Vishnu Purana by various scholars include:

• Vincent Smith (1908): 400-300 BCE,[9]
• CV Vaidya (1925): ~9th-century,[9]
• Moriz Winternitz (1932): possibly early 1st millennium, but states Rocher, he added, "it is no more possible to assign a definite date to the Vishnu Purana than it is for any other Purana".[9]
• Rajendra Chandra Hazra (1940): 275-325 CE[9]
• Ramachandra Dikshitar (1951): 700-300 BCE,[9][21]
• Roy (1968): after the 9th century.[9]
Horace Hayman Wilson (1864): acknowledged that the tradition believes it to be 1st millennium BCE text and the text has roots in the Vedic literature, but after his analysis suggested that the extant manuscripts may be from the 11th century.[9][22]
• Wendy Doniger (1988): c. 450 CE.[23]

Rocher states that the "date of the Vishnu Purana is as contested as that of any other Purana".[9] References to Vishnu Purana in texts such as Brihadvishnu whose dates are better established, states Rocher, suggest that a version of Vishnu Purana existed by about 1000 CE, but it is unclear to what extent the extant manuscripts reflect the revisions during the 2nd millennium.[9][5] Vishnu Purana like all Puranas has a complicated chronology. Dimmitt and van Buitenen state that each of the Puranas including the Vishnu Purana is encyclopedic in style, and it is difficult to ascertain when, where, why and by whom these were written:[24]

As they exist today, the Puranas are a stratified literature. Each titled work consists of material that has grown by numerous accretions in successive historical eras. Thus no Purana has a single date of composition. (...) It is as if they were libraries to which new volumes have been continuously added, not necessarily at the end of the shelf, but randomly.

— Cornelia Dimmitt and J.A.B. van Buitenen, Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas[24]


Many of the extant manuscripts were written on palm leaf or copied during the British India colonial era, some in the 19th century.[25][26] The scholarship on Vishnu Purana, and other Puranas, has suffered from cases of forgeries, states Ludo Rocher, where liberties in the transmission of Puranas were normal and those who copied older manuscripts replaced words or added new content to fit the theory that the colonial scholars were keen on publishing.[25][26]

Structure

The extant text comprises six aṃśas (parts) and 126 adhyāyas (chapters).[27] The first part has 22 chapters, the second part consists 16 chapters, the third part comprises 18 chapters and the fourth part has 24 chapters. The fifth and the sixth parts are the longest and the shortest part of the text, comprising 38 and 8 chapters respectively.[28][29]

The textual tradition claims that the original Vishnu Purana had 23,000 verses,[30] but the surviving manuscripts have just a third of these, about 7,000 verses.[13] The text is composed in metric verses or sloka, wherein each verse has exactly 32 syllables, of which 16 syllables in the verse may be free style per ancient literary standards.[31]

The Vishnu Purana is an exception in that it presents its contents in Vishnu worship-related Pancalaksana format – Sarga (cosmogony), Pratisarga (cosmology), Vamśa (mythical genealogy of the gods, sages and kings), Manvantara (cosmic cycles), and Vamśānucaritam (legends during the times of various kings).[6][7][8] This is rare, state Dimmitt and van Buitenen, because just 2% of the known Puranic literature corpus is about these five Pancalaksana items, and about 98% is about diverse range of encyclopedic topics.[32]

Contents

Who is Vishnu?
Out of Vishnu this universe has arisen,
in him its exists,
he is the one who governs its existence and destruction,
he is the universe.

—Vishnu Purana, 1.14[33][34]


Vishnu Purana opens as a conversation between sage Maitreya and his guru, Parashara, with the sage asking, "what is the nature of this universe and everything that is in it?"[27][35]

First aṃśa: cosmology

The first Amsha (part) of Vishnu Purana presents cosmology, dealing with the creation, maintenance and destruction of the universe.[36] The mythology, states Rocher, is woven with the evolutionary theories of Samkhya school of Hindu philosophy.[36]

The Hindu god Vishnu is presented as the central element of this text's cosmology, unlike some other Puranas where Shiva or Brahma or goddess Shakti are. The reverence and the worship of Vishnu is described in 22 chapters of the first part as the means for liberation, along with the profuse use of the synonymous names of Vishnu such as Hari, Janardana, Madhava, Achyuta, Hrishikesha and others.[36][37] The chapters 1.16 through 1.20 of the Vishnu Purana presents the legend of compassionate and Vishnu devotee Prahlada and his persecution by his demon king father Hiranyakasipu, wherein Prahlada is ultimately saved by Vishnu.[38][39] This story is also found in other Puranas.[40]

Vishnu is described in the first book of Vishnu Purana as, translates Wilson, all elements, all matter in the world, the entire universe, all living beings, as well as Atman (Inner Self, essence) within every living being, nature, intellect, ego, mind, senses, ignorance, wisdom, the four Vedas, all that is and all that is not.[37][41]

Second aṃśa: earth

The second part of the text describes its theory of earth, the seven continents and seven oceans.[33][42] It describes mount Meru, mount Mandara and other major mountains, as well as Bharata-varsha (literally, the country of Bharata) along with its numerous rivers and diverse people.[33][43] The seven continents are named Jambu, Plaksha, Salmala, Kusha, Krauncha, Saka and Pushkara, each surrounded by different types of liquids (salt water, fresh water, wine, sugarcane juice, clarified butter, liquid yoghurt, and milk).[33][42]

This part of the Vishnu Purana describes spheres above the earth, planets, the sun and the moon. Four chapters (2.13 to 2.16)[44] of the second book of the text present the legends of King Bharata, who abdicates his throne to lead the life of a sannyasi, which is similar to the legends found in section 5.7 to 5.14 of the Bhagavata Purana.[33] The geography of Mount Mandara as east of Mount Meru, presented in this book and other Puranas, states Stella Kramrisch, may be related to the word Mandir (Hindu temple) and the reason of its design, "image, aim and destination".[45]

Third aṃśa: time

The initial chapters of the third book of the Vishnu Purana presents its theory of manvantaras, or Manus-ages (each 306.72 million years long[46]).[33][47] This is premised upon the Hindu belief that everything is cyclic, and even Yuga (era, ages) start, mature and then dissolve. Six manvantaras, states the text, have already passed, and the current age belong to the seventh.[47] In each age, asserts the text, the Vedas are arranged into four, it is challenged, and this has happened twenty eight times already.[48] Each time, a Veda-Vyasa appears and he diligently organizes the eternal knowledge, with the aid of his students.[33][49]

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The Vishnu Purana includes several chapters in book 3 on rites of passage from birth through death. Included are chapters on cremation rites (above).

After presenting the emergence of Vedic schools, the text presents the ethical duties of the four varnas in chapter 2.8, the four Ashrama (stages) of the life of each human being in chapter 2.9, the rites of passage including wedding rituals in chapters 2.10 through 2.12, and Shraddha (rites in honor of ancestors, faith) in chapters 2.13 through 2.16.[33][50]

The Vishnu Purana asserts that the Brahmin should study shastras, worship gods and perform libations on behalf of others, the Kshatriya should maintain arms and protect the earth, the Vaishya should engage in commerce and farming, while the Shudra should subsist by profits of trade, service other varnas and through mechanical labor.[51][52] The text asserts the ethical duties of all varnas is to do good to others, never abuse anyone, never engage in calumny or untruth, never covet another person's wife, never steal another's property, never bear ill-will towards anyone, never beat or slay any human being or living being.[53][52] Be diligent in the service of the gods, sages and guru, asserts the Purana, seek the welfare of all creatures, one's own children and of one's own soul.[53][54] Anyone, regardless of their varna or stage of life, who lives a life according to the above duties is the best worshipper of Vishnu, claims the Vishnu Purana.[53][54] Similar statements on ethical duties of man are found in other parts of Vishnu Purana.[55]

The text describes in chapter 2.9, the four stages of life as brahmacharya (student), grihastha (householder), vanaprastha (retirement) and sannyasa (renunciation, mendicant).[56][57] The text repeats the ethical duties in this chapter, translates Wilson.[56][57] The chapters on Shraddha (rites for ancestors) describe the rites associated with a death in family, the preparation of the dead body, its cremation and the rituals after the cremation.[58]

The third book closes with the legend of Vishnu, through Mayamoha, helping the Devas win over Asuras, by teaching the Asuras heretical doctrines that deny the Vedas, who declare their contempt for the Vedas, which makes them easy to identify and thereby defeat.[33][59]

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The longest part of the Vishnu Purana is dedicated to the legend of Krishna (above).

Fourth aṃśa: dynasties

The fourth book of the text, in 24 long chapters, presents royal dynasties, starting with Brahma, followed by solar and lunar dynasties, then those on earth over the Yugas (eras), with Pariksit asserted as the "current king".[33][60][61] The text includes the legends of numerous characters such as Shaubhri, Mandhatri, Narmada, sage Kapila, Rama, Nimi, Janaka, Buddha, Satyavati, Puru, Yadu, Krishna, Devaka, Pandu, Kuru, Bharata, Bhisma and others.[62]

Fifth aṃśa: Krishna

The fifth book of the Vishnu Purana is the longest, with 38 chapters.[63][64][65] It is dedicated to the legend of Krishna, as an avatar of Vishnu.[66] The book begins with the story of Krishna's birth, his childhood pranks and plays, his exploits, his purpose of ending the tyranny of demon-tyrant king of Mathura, named Kansa.[63][67][65]

The Krishna story in the Vishnu Purana is similar to his legend in the Bhagavata Purana, in several other Puranas and the Harivamsa of the Mahabharata.[63] Scholars have long debated whether the Bhagavata Purana expanded the Krishna legend in the Vishnu Purana, or whether the latter abridged the version in former, or both depended on the Harivamsa estimated to have been composed sometime in the 1st millennium of the common era.[63][68][69]

Sixth aṃśa: liberation

Soul and Prakriti
This soul is of its own nature,
pure, composed of happiness and wisdom.
The properties of pain, ignorance and impurity,
are those of Prakriti, not of soul.

—Vishnu Purana, 6.7[70]


The last book of the Vishnu Purana is the shortest, with 8 chapters.[63][71] The first part of the sixth book asserts that Kali Yuga is vicious, cruel and filled with evilness that create suffering, yet "Kali Yuga is excellent" because one can refuse to join the evil, devote oneself to Vishnu and thus achieve salvation.[72]

The last chapters, from 6.6 to 6.7 of the text discusses Yoga and meditation, as a means to Vishnu devotion.[63][73] Contemplative devotion, asserts the text, is the union with the Brahman (supreme soul, ultimate reality), which is only achievable with virtues such as compassion, truth, honesty, disinterestedness, self-restraint and holy studies.[74] The text mentions five Yamas, five Niyamas, Pranayama and Pratyahara.[75] The pure and perfect soul is called Vishnu, states the text, and absorption in Vishnu is liberation.[76]

The final chapter 6.8 of the text asserts itself to be an "imperishable Vaishnava Purana".[77]

Influences

Vishnu Purana is one of the 18 major Puranas, and these text share many legends, likely influenced each other.[63] The fifth chapter of the Vishnu Purana was likely influenced by the Mahabharata.[68] Similarly, the verses on rites of passage and ashramas (stages) of life are likely drawn from the Dharmasutra literature. Rajendra Hazra, in 1940, assumed that Vishnu Purana is ancient and proposed that texts such as Apasthamba Dharmasutra borrowed text from it.[78] Modern scholars such as Allan Dahlaquist disagree, however, and state that the borrowing may have been in the other direction, from Dharmasutras into the Purana.[78]

Other chapters, particularly those in book 5 and 6 of the Vishnu Purana have Advaita Vedanta and Yoga influences.[79][80][81] The theistic Vedanta scholar Ramanuja, according to Sucharita Adluri, incorporated ideas from the Vishnu Purana to identify the Brahman concept in the Upanishads with Vishnu, thus providing a Vedic foundation to the Srivaishnava tradition.[82]

See also

• Dvaita Vedanta
• Hindu texts
• Upanishad
• Veda

Notes

1. This is not the version that has survived into the modern era. The estimates for earliest version are based on the analysis of the content, events described, literary style, references to other Indian texts within this Purana.[19][20]

References

1. Dalal 2014, p. 460.
2. Rocher 1986, pp. 245-249.
3. Rocher 1986, pp. 18, 245-249.
4. Wilson 1864, pp. xxxiv-xxxv.
5. Gregory Bailey (2003). Arvind Sharma (ed.). The Study of Hinduism. University of South Carolina Press. pp. 141–142. ISBN 978-1-57003-449-7.
6. Rocher 1986, pp. 248-249.
7. Rao 1993, pp. 85–100.
8. Johnson 2009, p. 248.
9. Rocher 1986, p. 249.
10. Ariel Glucklich 2008, p. 146, Quote: The earliest promotional works aimed at tourists from that era were called mahatmyas.
11. Wilson 1864, pp. i-xviii, for full context and comparison of Vishnu Purana with other Puranas then known, see all of the Preface section..
12. Gregory Bailey (2003). Arvind Sharma (ed.). The Study of Hinduism. University of South Carolina Press. pp. 148–149. ISBN 978-1-57003-449-7.
13. Wilson 1864, p. xxxv.
14. Rocher 1986, p. 246, 248 with footnote 501.
15. Wilson 1864, pp. xii-xiv.
16. Rocher 1986, p. 48.
17. Rocher 1986, pp. 41-48, 249.
18. Wilson, H. H. (1840). The Vishnu Purana: A system of Hindu mythology and tradition. Oriental Translation Fund. p. 12.
19. Dimmitt & van Buitenen 2012, p. 1-7.
20. Rocher 1986, p. 38-49, 59-66.
21. K P Gietz 1992, p. 986 with note 5739.
22. Edward Balfour (1885). The Cyclopædia of India and of Eastern and Southern Asia. B. Quaritch. p. 1025.
23. Collins 1988, p. 36.
24. Dimmitt & van Buitenen 2012, p. 5.
25. Rocher 1986, pp. 49-53.
26. Avril Ann Powell (2010). Scottish Orientalists and India: The Muir Brothers, Religion, Education and Empire. Boydell & Brewer. pp. 130, 128–134, 87–90. ISBN 978-1-84383-579-0.
27. Rocher 1986, p. 246.
28. Rocher 1986, pp. 246-248.
29. Wilson 1864.
30. Kireet Joshi (1991). The Veda and Indian Culture: An Introductory Essay. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 106. ISBN 978-81-208-0889-8.
31. Dimmitt & van Buitenen 2012, p. xiii.
32. Dimmitt & van Buitenen 2012, p. 9.
33. Rocher 1986, p. 247.
34. Wilson 1865, pp. 94-95.
35. "A Brief History of India", by Alain Daniélou, publisher = Inner Traditions / Bear & Co., p. 25
36. Rocher 1986, pp. 246-247.
37. Wilson 1865, pp. 93-96.
38. Dutt 1896, pp. ii-iii.
39. Wilson 1865, pp. 32-68.
40. Wendy Doniger (2000), Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions, Merriam-Webster, ISBN 978-0877790440, page 455
41. Wilson 1864, pp. 170-172, 196-198.
42. Wilson 1865, pp. 109-126.
43. Wilson 1865, pp. 127-190.
44. Wilson 1865, pp. 312-336.
45. Kramrisch 1976, p. 161 with footnote 78.
46. Doniger, Wendy; Hawley, John Stratton, eds. (1999). "Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions". Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. p. 691 (Manu). ISBN 0877790442. a day in the life of Brahma is divided into 14 periods called manvantaras ("Manu intervals"), each of which lasts for 306,720,000 years. In every second cycle [(new kalpa after pralaya)] the world is recreated, and a new Manu appears to become the father of the next human race. The present age is considered to be the seventh Manu cycle.
47. Wilson 1866, pp. 1-19.
48. Wilson 1866, pp. 33-51.
49. Wilson 1866, pp. 40-42.
50. Wilson 1866, pp. 80-199.
51. Wilson 1866, pp. 85-87.
52. Dutt 1896, pp. 191-192.
53. Wilson 1866, pp. 80-90.
54. Dutt 1896, pp. 191-193.
55. NK Devaraja (1976), What is living and what is dead in traditional Indian philosophy?, Philosophy East and West, Volume 26, Issue 4, pages 427-442, Quote: "Thus in the Visnu Purana, Prahlada, the great devotee of Visnu, is found making a number of statements of the following type: Knowing that god Visnu is present in all creatures - since neither the totality of living beings, nor myself, nor the food is other than Viṣṇu - I serve all creatures with food; may this food bring them satisfaction. Elsewhere, in the same text, we read: We offer obeisance to that unborn, imperishable Brahman which is present in our and others bodies and in everything else, there being nothing other than it anywhere. This teaching of the ethics of universal love and service..."
56. Wilson 1866, pp. 92-96.
57. Dutt 1896, pp. 194-196.
58. Wilson 1866, pp. 1 48-170.
59. Wilson 1866, pp. 207-227.
60. Wilson 1866, pp. 229-336.
61. Wilson 1868, pp. 1-242.
62. Dutt 1896, pp. 237-306.
63. Rocher 1986, p. 248.
64. Wilson 1868, pp. 245-342.
65. Wilson 1870, pp. 1-167.
66. Dutt 1896, pp. 317-418.
67. Wilson 1870, pp. 245-342.
68. Walter Ruben (1941), The Kṛṣṇacarita in the Harivaṃśa and Certain Purāṇas, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 61, No. 3, pages 115-127
69. Bryant 2007, pp. 9-10, 95-109 (Chapter by Ekkehard Lorenz).
70. Wilson 1870, p. 225.
71. Wilson 1870, pp. 168-255.
72. Wilson 1870, pp. 177-185 with footnotes.
73. Wilson 1870, pp. 216-255.
74. Wilson 1870, pp. 227-229 with footnotes.
75. Wilson 1870, pp. 230-232 with footnotes.
76. Wilson 1870, pp. 242-243.
77. Wilson 1870, p. 244.
78. Allan Dahlaquist (1996). Megasthenes and Indian Religion. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 92 with footnote 1. ISBN 978-81-208-1323-6.
79. NK Devaraja (1970), Contemporary Relevance of Advaita Vedānta, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 20, No. 2, pages 129-136
80. KSR Datta (1978), The Visnu Purana and Advaita, Journal: Purana, Vol 20, pages 193-196
81. R. Balasubramanian (2000). "Advaita in the Puranas". Advaita Vedānta. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 51–78. ISBN 978-8187586043.
82. Sucharita Adluri (2015), Textual authority in Classical Indian Thought: Ramanuja and the Visnu Purana, Routledge, ISBN 978-0415695756, pages 1-11, 18-26

Bibliography

• Bryant, Edwin Francis (2007). Krishna: A Sourcebook. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-803400-1.
• Collins, Charles Dillard (1988). The Iconography and Ritual of Siva at Elephanta: On Life, Illumination, and Being. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-0-88706-773-0.
• Dimmitt, Cornelia; van Buitenen, J. A. B. (2012). Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas. Temple University Press (1st Edition: 1977). ISBN 978-1-4399-0464-0.
• Dalal, Rosen (2014). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin. ISBN 978-8184752779.
• Dutt, MN (1896). A prose translation of Vishnupuranam. Elysium Press.
• Flood, Gavin (1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-43878-0.
• K P Gietz; et al. (1992). Epic and Puranic Bibliography (Up to 1985) Annoted and with Indexes: Part I: A - R, Part II: S - Z, Indexes. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 978-3-447-03028-1.
• Ariel Glucklich (2008). The Strides of Vishnu : Hindu Culture in Historical Perspective: Hindu Culture in Historical Perspective. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-971825-2.
• Johnson, W.J. (2009). A Dictionary of Hinduism. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-861025-0.
• Kramrisch, Stella (1976). The Hindu Temple, Volume 1 & 2. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 81-208-0223-3.
• Rao, Velcheru Narayana (1993). "Purana as Brahminic Ideology". In Doniger Wendy (ed.). Purana Perennis: Reciprocity and Transformation in Hindu and Jaina Texts. Albany: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-1381-0.
• Rocher, Ludo (1986). The Puranas. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. ISBN 978-3447025225.
• Thapar, Romila (2013), The Past Before Us, Harvard University Press, ISBN 978-0-674-72651-2
• Wilson, H. H. (1864). The Vishnu Purana: A System of Hindu Mythology and Tradition (Volume 1: Introduction, Book I). Read Country Books (reprinted in 2006). ISBN 1-84664-664-2.
• Wilson, H. H. (1865). The Vishnu Purana: A System of Hindu Mythology and Tradition (Volume 2: Book I & II).
• Wilson, H. H. (1866). The Vishnu Purana: A System of Hindu Mythology and Tradition (Volume 3: Book III & IV).
• Wilson, H. H. (1868). The Vishnu Purana: A System of Hindu Mythology and Tradition (Volume 4: Book IV & V).
• Wilson, H. H. (1870). The Vishnu Purana: A System of Hindu Mythology and Tradition (Volume 5 Part 1: Book V & VI).

Further reading

• Mani, Vettam. Puranic Encyclopedia. 1st English ed. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1975.
• Shri Vishnupuran published by Gitapress Gorakhpur

External links

• Vishnu Purana translation by H.H. Wilson at sacred-texts
• Vishnu Purana English translation correct IAST transliteration and glossary
• Other language versions on the Internet Archive: Sanskrit (by Vishnuchitta Alwar, 1922), Bengali by Kaliprasanna Vidyaratna (1926), Hindi, Telugu by K. Bhavanarayana (1930)
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Sat Mar 20, 2021 11:53 pm

Koot Hoomi
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/21/21



Koot Hoomi (also spelled Kuthumi, and frequently referred to simply as K.H.) is said to be one of the Mahatmas that inspired the founding of the Theosophical Society in 1875. He engaged in a correspondence with two English Theosophists living in India, A. P. Sinnett and A. O. Hume, which correspondence was published in the book The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett.

Skeptics have described Koot Hoomi and the other Mahatmas as a hoax.[1]

Personal features

Image
A portrait of Master Koot Hoomi by Hermann Schmiechen

Image
Facsimile (a fragment) of the 8th letter from the Koot Hoomi

Little descriptive references to K.H. occur in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett and the writings of Mme. Blavatsky. The name Koot Hoomi seems to be a pseudonym. We find a reference to a "Rishi Kuthumi" in several Puranas, as for example in the Vishnu Purana (Book 3, Chapter 6) where he is said to be a pupil of Paushyinji. In reference to this Mme. Blavatsky wrote:

The name of Rishi Koothumi is mentioned in more than one Purana, and his Code is among the 18 Codes written by the various Rishis and preserved at Calcutta in the library of the Asiatic Society. But we have not been told whether there is any connection between our Mahatma of that name, and the Rishi, and we do not feel justified in speculating upon the subject. All we know is, that both are Northern Brahmans, while the Môryas are Kshatriyas.[2]


K.H.'s early letters to Sinnett are signed with the name Koot Hoomi Lal Sing. However, later in the correspondence, he says the "Lal Singh" was an addition made by his disciple Djwal Khool:

Why have you printed The Occult World before sending it to me for revision? I would have never allowed the passage to pass; nor the "Lal Sing" either foolishly invented as half a nom de plume by Djwal K. and carelessly allowed by me to take root without thinking of the consequences. . .[3]


In an interview by Charles Johnston to H. P. Blavatsky, he described the handwriting of Master K.H. in the following way:

. . . evidently a man of very gentle and even character, but of tremendously strong will; logical, easy-going, and taking endless pains to make his meaning clear. It was altogether the handwriting of a cultivated and very sympathetic man.[4]


Master KH is said to live in a house in a ravine in Tibet, near the house of Master Morya. In 1881, Colonel Henry S. Olcott wrote to A. O. Hume:

I have also personally known [Master Koot Hoomi] since 1875. He is of quite a different, a gentler, type, yet the bosom friend of the other [Master Morya]. They live near each other with a small Buddhist Temple about midway between their houses. In New York, I had . . . and a colored sketch on China silk of the landscape near [Koot Hoomi]'s and my Chohan's residences with a glimpse of the latter’s house and of part of the little temple.[5]


Mme. Blavatsky, in a letter to Mary Hollis Billing[6] wrote:

Now Morya lives generally with Koot-Hoomi who has his house in the direction of the Kara Korum [Karakoram] Mountains, beyond Ladak, which is in Little Tibet and belongs now to Kashmire. It is a large wooden building in the Chinese fashion pagoda-like, between a lake and a beautiful mountain. . . .[7]


This is confirmed by a reference given by Mahatma K. H. himself, in a letter to A. P. Sinnett:

I was coming down the defiles of Kouenlun — Karakorum you call them . . . and was crossing over to Lhadak on my way home.[8]


C. W. Leadbeater described the physical appearance of Master KH as follows:

The Master Kuthumi wears the body of a Kashmiri Brahman, and is as fair in complexion as the average Englishman. He, too, has flowing hair, and His eyes are blue and full of joy and love. His hair and beard are brown, which, as the sunlight catches it, becomes ruddy with glints of gold. His face is somewhat hard to describe, for His expression is ever changing as He smiles; the nose is finely chiselled, and the eyes are large and of a wonderful liquid blue.[9]


Education in Europe

Apparently before being an Adept, Master Koot Hoomi visited Europe and studied in some of the Universities there. Mme. Blavatsky said that Mahatma K.H. "is a Kashmiri Brahman by birth . . . and has travelled a good deal in Europe."[4]

Mr. A. O. Hume, in his "Hints on Esoteric Theosophy," wrote:

Take a case said to have occurred many years ago in Germany, in which a Brother, who has corresponded with us, is said to have taken part. He was at this time a student, and though in course of preparation was not then himself an Adept, but was, like all regular chelas, under the special charge of an Adept. A young friend of his was accused of forgery, and tried for the same. Our Brother, then a student as above explained, was called as a witness to prove his friend's handwriting; the case was perfectly clear and a conviction certain. Through his mentor, our Brother learnt that his accused friend did not really deserve punishment that would necessarily fall on him, and which would have ruined not only him, but other innocent persons dependent on him. He had really committed a forgery but not knowingly or meaningly, though it was impossible to show this. So when the alleged forged document was handed to the witness, he merely said: "I see nothing written here," and returned the deed blank. His mentor had caused the entire writing to disappear. It was supposed that a wrong paper had been by mistake handed to the witness; search was made high and low, but the deed never appeared, and the accused was perforce acquitted.[10]


Master Morya referred to K.H. as "a fine scholar".[11] Master K.H. is alleged to have spoken English and French, which in one letter led Master M. to call him "Frenchified".[12]

K.H.'s retreat and initiation

Mme. Blavatsky in Oct 2, 1881 described this to Mrs. Mary Hollis Billing as follows:

K. H. or Koot-Hoomi is now gone to sleep for three months to prepare during this Sumadhi or continuous trance state for his initiation, the last but one, when he will become one of the highest adepts. Poor K. H. his body is now lying cold and stiff in a separate square building of stone with no windows or doors in it, the entrance to which is effected through an underground passage from a door in Toong-ting (reliquary, a room situated in every Thaten (temple) or Lamisery; and his Spirit is quite free. An adept might lie so for years, when his body was carefully prepared for it beforehand by mesmeric passes etc. It is a beautiful spot where he is now in the square tower. The Himalayas on the right and a lovely lake near the lamisery. His Cho-han (spiritual instructor, master, and the Chief of a Tibetan Monastery takes care of his body. M . . also goes occasionally to visit him. It is an awful mystery that state of cataleptic sleep for such a length of time. . .[7]


Master Morya in a letter to A. P. Sinnett described K.H.'s retreat as follows:

At a certain spot not to be mentioned to outsiders, there is a chasm spanned by a frail bridge of woven grasses and with a raging torrent beneath. The bravest member of your Alpine clubs would scarcely dare to venture the passage, for it hangs like a spider’s web and seems to be rotten and impassable. Yet it is not; and he who dares the trial and succeeds — as he will if it is right that he should be permitted — comes into a gorge of surpassing beauty of scenery — to one of our places and to some of our people, of which and whom there is no note or minute among European geographers. At a stone’s throw from the old Lamasery stands the old tower, within whose bosom have gestated generations of Bodhisatwas. It is there, where now rests your lifeless friend — my brother, the light of my soul, to whom I made a faithful promise to watch during his absence over his work.[13]


Incarnations

The Master Kuthumi led a solitary lifestyle in His last incarnation. At the end of the nineteenth century, He ascended. The Teaching of the Ascended Masters speak of some of his previous incarnations by famous people.[14]

• Thutmose III
• Pythagoras
• Belshazzar
• Francis of Assisi
• Shah Jahan
• Merlin the Magician

Skepticism

There is skepticism about the existence of Koot Hoomi. Gordon Stein in his book Encyclopedia of Hoaxes has noted:

"There were flaws in Blavatsky's work. Koot Hoomi, for example, claimed to have been an Indian (not a Tibetan) who studied in Germany. Yet he did not speak German, Hindi, or Punjabi. He spoke French and English, but wrote them using the overlined characteristic of Russians who write in English or French. The other Mahatma, Master Morya, had a weakness for pipe smoking, something that was strictly forbidden in Tibet. Both these Masters supposedly lived in Tibet. Other inconsistencies obvious now, were not enough to alert Sinnett that he was being hoaxed."[1]


In 1884, Rev. George Patterson published an article "The Collapse of Koot Hoomi" which stated that Koot Hoomi did not exist.[15] Based on information he received from Emma Coulomb it was alleged that Hoomi was actually a dummy made from cloth with a painted face that her husband Alexis Coulomb wore on his shoulders at night. Blavatsky denied the accusations of fraud.[15]

Moncure D. Conway visited Blavatsky and investigated claims of the Mahatmas in 1884. He suggested that Hoomi was a fictitious creation of Blavatsky.[16] Conway wrote that Blavatsky "created the imaginary Koothoomi (originally Kothume) by piecing together parts of the names of her two chief disciples, Olcott and Hume."[17]

See also

• Ascended masters
• Alice A.Bailey
• Benjamin Creme
• Hodgson Report
• Initiation (Theosophy)
• K.H. Letters to C.W. Leadbeater
• Mahātmā
• Helena Roerich
• Theosophy

References

1. Stein, Gordon. (1993). Encyclopedia of Hoaxes. Gale Group. p. 224. ISBN 0-8103-8414-0
2. Blavatsky, H. P., Collected Writings vol. VI, (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1979), 41.
3. Hao Chin, Vic., Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett No. 136, (Quezon City, Philippines: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 450.
4. Blavatsky, H. P., Collected Writings vol. VIII, (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1979), 399.
5. Hume, A. O., Hints on Esoteric Theosophy vol. 1 (Bombay, India: The Theosophical Society, 1882), 83
6. "Mary Hollis Billing - Theosophy Wiki". theosophy.wiki. Retrieved 2020-11-09.
7. Blavatsky, H.P., The Theosophical Forum (Point Loma, California: May 1936), 345.
8. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 5 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), ???.
9. Leadbeater, C. W., The Masters and the Path (Chicago: Theosophical Press, 1925), 38.
10. Hume, A. O., Hints on Esoteric Theosophy vol. 1 (Bombay, India: The Theosophical Society, 1882), 29
11. Hao Chin, Vic., Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett No. 29, (Quezon City, Philippines: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 86.
12. Hao Chin, Vic., Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett No. 26, (Quezon City, Philippines: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 83.
13. Hao Chin, Vic., Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett No. 29, (Quezon City, Philippines: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 87.
14. Prophet, Mark. (2003). The masters and their retreats. Prophet, Elizabeth Clare., Booth, Annice. Corwin Springs, Mont.: Summit University Press. ISBN 0972040242. OCLC 53117044.
15. Fuller, Jean Overton. (1988). Blavatsky and Her Teachers: An Investigative Biography. East-West Publications. pp. 144-146
16. Conway, Moncure D. (1906). My Pilgrimage to the Wise Men of the East. Houghton, Mifflin and Company. pp. 201-202
17. Versluis, Arthur. (1993). American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions. Oxford University Press. p. 291. ISBN 0-19-507658-3

Further reading

• Moncure D. Conway. (1906). My Pilgrimage to the Wise Men of the East. Houghton, Mifflin and Company.
• Richard Hodgson. (1885). Account of Personal Investigations in India and Discussion of the Authorship of the “Koot Hoomi” Letters. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research 3: 207-380.
• Jeffrey D. Lavoie. (2012). The Theosophical Society: The History of a Spiritualist Movement. Brown Walker Press.

External links

• Echoes of the Past: Master Koot Hoomi by Mary K. Neff
• Where was the "Ravine in Tibet"? by Daniel H. Caldwell
• The Collapse of Koot Hoomi by Rev. George Patterson
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Koot Hoomi
by Theosophy Wiki
Accessed: 3/20/21

Sumantu, son of Jaimini, studied the Samaveda, or Ch'handigya, under his father: and his own son, Sucarman, studied under the same teacher, but founded a different school; which was the origin of two others, derived from his pupils, Hiranyanabha and Paushyinji, and thence branching into a thousand more: for Locacshi, Cut’humi, and other disciples of Paushyinji, gave their names to separate schools, which were increased by their pupils. The 'Sac'ha entitled Caut'humi still subsists. Hiranyanabha, the other pupil of Sucarman, had fifteen disciples, authors of Sanhitas, collectively called the northern Samagas; and fifteen others, entitled the southern Samagas: and Criti, one of his pupils, had twenty-four disciples, by whom, and by their followers, the other schools were founded. Most of them are now lost; and, according to a legend, were destroyed by the thunderbolt of Indra. The principal 'Sac'ha now subsisting is that of Ranayaniyas, including seven subdivisions; one of which is entitled Caut'humi, as above-mentioned, and comprehends six distinct schools. That of the Talavacaras, likewise, is extant, at least, in part: as will be shown in speaking of the Upanishads.

-- Essays on the Religion and Philosophy of the Hindus, by Henry Thomas Colebrooke, Esq.




Image
Portrait of Mahatma Koot Hoomi by H. Schmiechen

Koot Hoomi (also spelled Kuthumi, and frequently referred to simply as K.H.) is one of the Mahatmas that inspired the founding of the Theosophical Society. He engaged in a correspondence with two English Theosophists living in India, A. P. Sinnett and A. O. Hume, correspondence was published in the book The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett.

Personal features

Few descriptive references to K.H. occur in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett and the writings of Mme. Blavatsky. The name Koot Hoomi seems to be a pseudonym. We find a reference to a "Rishi Kuthumi" in several Puranas, as for example in the Vishnu Purana (Book 3, Chapter 6) where he is said to be a pupil of Paushyinji. In reference to this Mme. Blavatsky wrote:

The name of Rishi Koothumi is mentioned in more than one Purana, and his Code is among the 18 Codes written by the various Rishis and preserved at Calcutta in the library of the Asiatic Society.[??] But we have not been told whether there is any connection between our Mahatma of that name, and the Rishi, and we do not feel justified in speculating upon the subject. All we know is, that both are Northern Brahmans, while the Môryas are Kshatriyas.[1]


K.H.'s early letters to Sinnett are signed with the name Koot Hoomi Lal Sing. However, later in the correspondence, he says the "Lal Singh" was an addition made by his disciple Djwal Khool:

Why have you printed the Occult World before sending it to me for revision? I would have never allowed the passage to pass; nor the "Lal Sing" either foolishly invented as half a nom de plume by Djwal K. and carelessly allowed by me to take root without thinking of the consequences. . .[2]


The word "Lal" is mostly used in Chitral (now in Pakistan) as surname or "Title name", meaning "Tribe Chief". "Singh" is a common title, middle name, or surname originally used by the Hindu Kshatriyas (warriors and kings). It is used as a surname or middle name by Sikhs, and Hindu communities like Rajputs, Marathas, Jats, Yadavs and Ahirs among other.

In an interview by Charles Johnston to H. P. Blavatsky, he described the handwriting of Master K.H. in the following way:

. . . evidently a man of very gentle and even character, but of tremendously strong will; logical, easy-going, and taking endless pains to make his meaning clear. It was altogether the handwriting of a cultivated and very sympathetic man.[3]


Image

Master KH is said to live in a house in a ravine in Tibet, near the house of Master Morya. In 1881, Colonel Henry S. Olcott wrote to A. O. Hume:

I have also personally known [Master Koot Hoomi] since 1875. He is of quite a different, a gentler, type, yet the bosom friend of the other [Master Morya]. They live near each other with a small Buddhist Temple about midway between their houses. In New York, I had . . . a colored sketch on China silk of the landscape near [Koot Hoomi]'s and my Chohan's residences with a glimpse of the latter’s house and of part of the little temple.[4]


Image

Mme. Blavatsky, in a letter to Mrs. Hollis Billings wrote:

Now Morya lives generally with Koot-Hoomi who has his house in the direction of the Kara Korum [Karakoram] Mountains, beyond Ladak, which is in Little Tibet and belongs now to Kashmire. It is a large wooden building in the Chinese fashion pagoda-like, between a lake and a beautiful mountain. . . .[5]


This is confirmed by a reference given by Mahatma K. H. himself, in a letter to A. P. Sinnett:

I was coming down the defiles of Kouenlun — Karakorum you call them . . . and was crossing over to Lhadak on my way home.[6]


Account by C. W. Leadbeater

C. W. Leadbeater described the physical appearance of Master KH in this way:

The Master Kuthumi wears the body of a Kashmiri Brahman, and is as fair in complexion as the average Englishman. He, too, has flowing hair, and His eyes are blue and full of joy and love. His hair and beard are brown, which, as the sunlight catches it, becomes ruddy with glints of gold. His face is somewhat hard to describe, for His expression is ever changing as He smiles; the nose is finely chiselled, and the eyes are large and of a wonderful liquid blue.[7]


29. Eyes deep blue

-- -- Physical characteristics of the Buddha, by Wikipedia


Education in Europe

Apparently before being an Adept, Master Koot Hoomi visited Europe and studied in some of the Universities there. Mme. Blavatsky said that Mahatma K.H. "is a Kashmiri Brahman by birth . . . and has travelled a good deal in Europe."[8]

Mr. A. O. Hume, in his "Hints on Esoteric Theosophy," wrote:

Take a case said to have occurred many years ago in Germany, in which a Brother, who has corresponded with us, is said to have taken part. He was at this time a student, and though in course of preparation was not then himself an Adept, but was, like all regular chelas, under the special charge of an Adept. A young friend of his was accused of forgery, and tried for the same. Our Brother, then a student as above explained, was called as a witness to prove his friend's handwriting; the case was perfectly clear and a conviction certain. Through his mentor, our Brother learnt that his accused friend did not really deserve punishment that would necessarily fall on him, and which would have ruined not only him, but other innocent persons dependent on him. He had really committed a forgery but not knowingly or meaningly, though it was impossible to show this. So when the alleged forged document was handed to the witness, he merely said: "I see nothing written here," and returned the deed blank. His mentor had caused the entire writing to disappear. It was supposed that a wrong paper had been by mistake handed to the witness; search was made high and low, but the deed never appeared, and the accused was perforce acquitted.[9]


Maybe it is because of this that the Master Morya refers to K.H. as "a fine scholar".[10] Master K.H. speaks English and French well, which in one letter led Master M. to call him "Frenchified". [11]. He probably knew German also.

In a letter received by Mr. Sinnett on July 5, 1881, Master K.H. wrote:

I may answer you, what I said to G. H. Fechner one day, when he wanted to know the Hindu view on what he had written — "You are right;... ‘every diamond, every crystal, every plant and star has its own individual soul, besides man and animal...’ and, ‘there is a hierarchy of souls from the lowest forms of matter up to the World Soul,’ but you are mistaken when adding to the above the assurance that ‘the spirits of the departed hold direct psychic communication with Souls that are still connected with a human body’ — for, they do not."[12]


In 1883, C. C. Massey, leader of the British Theosophists, tried to test this evidence of the existence of the Mahatmas by writing to Dr. Hugo Wernekke, who lived at Weimar, Germany, and was in touch with a Professor Gustav T. Fechner. He wanted "to find out whether Professor Fechner ever had such a conversation with an Oriental." The answer from Professor G. T. Fechner to Dr. Hugo Wernekke dated "Leipzig, April 25th, 1883" said:

What Mr. Massey enquires about is undoubtedly in the main correct; the name of the Hindu concerned, when he was in Leipzig, was however, Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyaya, not Koot Humi. In the middle of the seventies he lived for about one year in Leipzig and aroused a certain interest owing to his foreign nationality, without being otherwise conspicuous; he was introduced to several families and became a member of the Academic Philosophical Society, to which you also belonged, where on one occasion he gave a lecture on Buddhism.[13]


C. C. Massey wrongly assumed that Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyaya was a pseudonym used by Master K.H., although the former was a well-known Indian gentleman.

Travels

Koot Hoomi traveled widely, as documented by Mary K. Neff:[14]

• 1870s - student in Europe - Leipzig, Zurich, Wurzburg
• 1880 - Toling, in western Tibet; Kashmir; Karakorum, in Mongolia
• 1881 - Tirich Mir, a mountain in the Hindu Kush range; Sakkya-Jung, Ghalaring-Tho Lamasery, and Horpa Pa La, in unknown territory
• 1882 - Unknown location of KH's retreat; Himalayan lamasery near Darjeeling
• 1883 - extended tour of Asia; Lake Manasarovara in the Himalayas; Lahore; Kashmir; Madras; Singapore; Ceylon; Burma; Mysore; Sanangerri (unknown location); China; Cambodia

Travel was difficult. KH wrote in Mahatma Letter No. 20, "I hope these disjointed reflections may be pardoned in one who remained for over nine days in his stirrups without dismounting."

K.H.'s retreat and initiation

On Oct 2, 1881, Mme. Blavatsky described this to Mrs. Hollis Billings as follows:

K. H. or Koot-Hoomi is now gone to sleep for three months to prepare during this Sumadhi or continuous trance state for his initiation, the last but one, when he will become one of the highest adepts. Poor K. H. his body is now lying cold and stiff in a separate square building of stone with no windows or doors in it, the entrance to which is effected through an underground passage from a door in Toong-ting (reliquary, a room situated in every Thaten (temple) or Lamisery; and his Spirit is quite free. An adept might lie so for years, when his body was carefully prepared for it beforehand by mesmeric passes etc. It is a beautiful spot where he is now in the square tower. The Himalayas on the right and a lovely lake near the lamisery. His Cho-han (spiritual instructor, master, and the Chief of a Tibetan Monastery takes care of his body. M . . also goes occasionally to visit him. It is an awful mystery that state of cataleptic sleep for such a length of time. . .[15]


Master Morya in a letter to A. P. Sinnett described K.H.'s retreat as follows:

At a certain spot not to be mentioned to outsiders, there is a chasm spanned by a frail bridge of woven grasses and with a raging torrent beneath. The bravest member of your Alpine clubs would scarcely dare to venture the passage, for it hangs like a spider’s web and seems to be rotten and impassable. Yet it is not; and he who dares the trial and succeeds — as he will if it is right that he should be permitted — comes into a gorge of surpassing beauty of scenery — to one of our places and to some of our people, of which and whom there is no note or minute among European geographers. At a stone’s throw from the old Lamasery stands the old tower, within whose bosom have gestated generations of Bodhisatwas. It is there, where now rests your lifeless friend — my brother, the light of my soul, to whom I made a faithful promise to watch during his absence over his work.[16]


In another letter, Mme. Blavatsky writes:

Koot Hoomi awoke from his Samadhi on December 24th [1881]. On the 1st of January [1882], he communicated with us, and is now teaching Mr. Sinnett philosophy again.


Writings

K.H. was an excellent writer. In addition to his extensive correspondence, he provided articles and guidance to several periodicals.

Letters written by K.H.

K. H. had the assignment to educate two English Theosophists living in India, A. P. Sinnett and A. O. Hume, and this primarily took the form of correspondence that was published in the book The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett. In addition, letters to H. P. Blavatsky, Colonel Olcott, and many others were published in Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom.

For a list of Master K. H.'s letters that were published in these sources, see Category:ML from Koot Hoomi. There are 195 letters in all, which were typically written in blue ink. His writing demonstrates a wide knowledge of religion, science, literature, and current affairs, and frequently includes phrases in Latin and French.

Involvement in periodicals

He took a keen interest in The Theosophist, and wrote many articles. He "exercised a constant and varied supervision, from proof reading to furnishing material for articles and substance for replies to enquiring or controversial letters, when not writing them himself."[17] KH was also heavily involved in planning for the establishment of A. P. Sinnett's proposed daily Indian newspaper, The Phoenix, but funding for the venture was never sufficient.

Samples of signature

Image
Initials from Mahatma Letter No. 74

Image
Initials from Mahatma Letter No. 98

Image
Signature from Mahatma Letter No. 2

Image
Signature from Mahatma Letter No. 9

Online resources

Articles


• Where was the "Ravine in Tibet"? by Daniel H. Caldwell
• K.H. and the Kadampas by Jacques Mahnich
• Echoes of the Past: Master Koot Hoomi by Mary K. Neff

Notes

1. H. P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VI, (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1979), 41.
2. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., ed., Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett in Chronological Sequence No. 136, (Quezon City, Phillipines: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 450. See Mahatma Letter No. 136 page 10.
3. H. P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VIII, (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1979), 399.
4. A. O. Hume, Hints on Esoteric Theosophy vol. 1 (Bombay, India: The Theosophical Society, 1882), 83.
5. H. P. Blavatsky, The Theosophical Forum (May, 1936), 345.
6. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in Chronological Sequence No. 5 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 15. See Mahatma Letter No. 5 page 2.
7. C. W. Leadbeater, The Masters and the Path (Chicago: Theosophical Press, 1925), 38.
8. H. P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VIII, (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1979), 399.
9. A. O. Hume, Hints on Esoteric Theosophy vol. 1 (Bombay, India: The Theosophical Society, 1882), 29.
10. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., ed., Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett in Chronological Sequence No. 29, (Quezon City, Phillipines: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 86. See Mahatma Letter No. 29 page 1.
11. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., ed., Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett in Chronological Sequence No. 26, (Quezon City, Phillipines: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 83. See Mahatma Letter No. 26 page 1.
12. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., ed., Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett in Chronological Sequence No. 18, (Quezon City, Phillipines: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 63. See Mahatma Letter No. 18 page 13-14.
13. See "Echoes of the Past: Master Koot Hoomi" by Mary K. Neff at http://www.blavatskyarchives.com/neffkoothoomi.htm
14. Mary K. Neff, The "Brothers" of Madame Blavatsky (Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1932), 63-79. Quoting from Introduction to Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett, The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, and other sources.
15. H. P. Blavatsky, The Theosophical Forum (Point Loma, California: May 1936), 345.
16. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., ed., Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett in Chronological Sequence No. 29, (Quezon City, Phillipines: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 87. See Mahatma Letter No. 29 page 4.
17. Mary K. Neff, The "Brothers" of Madame Blavatsky (Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1932), 22. See Chapter III, pages 22-33.

***********************

Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyaya
by Theosophy Wiki
Accessed: 3/20/21

Nishikânta Chattopâdhyâya (1852-1910) was a well-known Hindu gentleman, Principal of the Hyderabad College and author of works on Oriental, Theosophical, philosophical, and other subjects. His name was erroneously thought to have been a pseudonym used by Master K.H. in Europe.

Personal life and education

Little is known of the life of Nishikânta Chattopâdhyâya. He was educated in Europe:

Mr. Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyaya has taken the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) at the University of Zurich. The Dean of the Faculty and his colleagues, in conferring on him summa cum laude, highest distinction of the University, expressed themselves as highly satisfied with the way in which he had passed the Examination.[1]


Confusion with Master K.H.

In The Mahatma Letters, Master K.H. mentions a conversation he had with a certain "G. H. Fechner." Trying to verify this statement, C. C. Massey wrote to Dr. Hugo Wernekke, at Weimar, Germany, inquiring "whether Professor Fechner ever had such a conversation with an Oriental whom we could thus identify with Koot Humi." He received the following answer from Professor Gustav T. Fechner:

What Mr. Massey enquires about is undoubtedly in the main correct; the name of the Hindu concerned, when he was in Leipzig, was however, Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyaya, not Koot Humi. In the middle of the seventies he lived for about one year in Leipzig and aroused a certain interest owing to his foreign nationality, without being otherwise conspicuous; he was introduced to several families and became a member of the Academic Philosophical Society, to which you also belonged, where on one occasion he gave a lecture on Buddhism. I have these notes from Mr. Wirth, the Librarian of the Society, who is good enough to read to me three times a week. I also heard him give a lecture in a private circle on the position of women among the Hindus. I remember very well that he visited me once, and though I cannot remember our conversation, his statement that I questioned him about the faith of the Hindus is very likely correct. Apart from this I have not had personal intercourse with him; but, after his complete disappearance from Leipzig, I have been interested to hear about him, and especially to know that he plays an important role in his native country, such as undoubtedly he could not play here.[2]


C. C. Massey assumed that "Nisi Kanta Chattapadhyaya" was a pseudonym used by Master K.H. However, this is not the case. Charles J. Ryan reports[3] that Katherine Tingley met Dr. N. K. Chattopadhyaya when she was in Bombay in 1896, and received an autograph copy of his book, "The Reminiscences of the German University Life,"[4] where he talks about his encounter with Prof. G. T. Fechner.

An Important Correction
by Charles J. Ryan
[Reprinted from The Canadian Theosophist, December 15, 1936, pp. 326-329.]

Editor, Canadian Theosophist: - May I draw attention to one or two points in regard to Mr. H. R. W. Cox’s excellent defence of H.P.B. against the most recent attack. The first deals with a statement in your August number.

On pages 173-4 Mr. Cox discusses the problem of the Hindu who met a certain scholar named Fechner, and quotes Mr. Basil Crump’s Evolution. The main points are these: In The Mahatma Letters, p. 44, the Master K.H. mentions a conversation he had "one day" with a certain "G. H. Fechner", but does not say when or where it took place. Mr. Crump, in Evolution, informs us that C. C. Massey, once a leading Theosophist, received information from Leipzig that a Professor Fechner, living there, remembered having met a Hindu at some unnamed period and having heard him lecture. The Hindu also visited Professor Fechner. The Professor said that the name of the Hindu was Nisi Kanta Chattapadhyaya, and that he was not particularly conspicuous. Mr. Massey seems to have thought that he had, in this way, received independent evidence of the presence of the Master K.H. at Leipzig in the earlier ‘seventies, for he explains the reason that Professor Fechner did not know the name Koot Hoomi by a very reasonable supposition, viz.:

"In case it may be wondered why he [the Master K.H.] used a different name, it may be mentioned that when members of this Order have to travel in the outer world they always do so incognito."


Mr. Cox appears to agree with Massey, or he would not quote the above remark in his defence of H. P. Blavatsky against the Messrs. Hares’ charges.

Unfortunately Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyaya and the Master K.H. are two different persons, and the argument is therefore not valid, useful as it would be if confirmed. The former was a well-known Hindu gentleman, Principal of the Hyderabad College and author of sundry interesting works on Oriental, philosophical, and other subjects. He was evidently interested in Theosophy, for he presented Katherine Tingley, when she was in Bombay in 1896, with an autograph copy of one of his books, now in the Oriental Department of the Theosophical Library at Point Loma, California.

The first article or chapter in this book is called "The Reminiscences of the German University Life," and it is a report of a lecture by Dr. N. K. Chattopadhyaya on April 30, 1892 at Secunderabad. In this chapter he says:


"I once met Prof. Gustav Fechner, the author of a book called "Psycho-Physik" in which he has enunciated certain laws whose importance . . . . is as great as Newton’s Law of Gravitation . . . . I had the privilege of escorting the old sage home and on the way he asked quite a number of questions about the Yogis and the Fakirs of India . . . Seeing more of him by and by I came to discover that he was quite a mystic, and had actually written a book called the "Zend-Avesta" a masterly exposition of Vedantic pantheism in the light of modern science."


The "Sage" was, of course, the famous Gustav Theodor Fechner.

Turning to The Mahatma Letters, we find that the Master’s conversation "one day" was held with a certain G. H. Fechner, and, as mentioned above, it was not connected with Leipzig. Question: was the Master K.H. referring to some unknown Fechner whose initials were G. H. and not G. T. and who has not been identified? That seems highly improbable. Is it more likely that the H. is a mere slip of the pen or even a typographical error, and that the Master really referred to the eminent philosopher, with whom he had a short conversation, probably so short that it had been quite forgotten by G. T. Fechner, who only recollected N. K. Chattopadhyaya.

However this may be, Professor Gustav T. Fechner’s message to C. C. Massey cannot be used as if it related to the Master K.H., because the Professor definitely states that his Hindu was Chattopadhyaya, and the latter positively confirms the fact. We have learned from other sources that the Master spent some time in Germany, but I am not aware that Leipzig is mentioned in Theosophical literature in that connection. In the Sinnett letters, H. P. Blavatsky says:

". . . Wurzburg. It is near Heidelberg and Nurenberg, and all the centres one of the Masters lived in, and it is He who advised my Master to send me there. . ." (p. 105)


My second point relates to what the Hare Brothers call the "notable admission" by H. P. Blavatsky in connection with alleged Mahatma letters sent by her to importunate claimants for advice on their personal, worldly affairs - not connected with Theosophy....

Charles J. Ryan.
General Offices, Theosophical Society,
Point Loma, California.


Writings

• The Yatras, or the Popular Dramas of Bengal. Ca. 1882. 16 editions published between 1882 and 1976 in English.
Buddhism and Christianity, with an Appendix on Nirvana. London, 1882. 24 pages. Translated from the German in Indische Essays. The German edition Buddhismus und Christenthum. Mit einem Anhang über das Nirvâna was also published in 1882.
• Indische Essays. Zurich, 1883. Five editions published in 1883 in German and other languages.
• Three Lectures: the Reminiscences of the German University Life ; The True Theosophist ; and the Mricchakatikam, or, The Toy Cart. [Erscheinungsort nicht ermittelbar]: [Verlag nicht ermittelbar], gedr. 1895. 89 pages. Two editions published in 1895 in English.
• "Reminiscences of German University Life": a lecture delivered on the 30th April, 1892. 1901 in English.

• "The True Theosophist, or, Moral and Spiritual Culture: a Lecture". 1892 in English.
• "Mricchakatika or, The toy-cart of King Sūdraka; a study". Mysore: Graduates' Trading Association Press, 1902. English.
• The Mystic Story of Peter Schlemihl. Written with Adelbert von Chamisso. Mysore: Graduates' Trading Association Press, 1902.
• Lecture on Zoroastrianism. 1894. Madras: The Theosophist Office, 1906. English.
Why Have I Accepted Islam. Two editions published in 1971 in English. Also published in Chicago, IL: Kazi Publications, [between 1980 and 1997].
• Social and Religious Reformation in India : a lecture delivered in the Rungacharlu Memorial Hall, Mysore, on November 27th, 1901. [Mysore], 1901. English.
• The Study of History: a lecture. 1902 in English.
• Notices and Reviews of Dr. Nishikanta Chattopádhyáya's Lectures. 1897 in English. [With a preface signed: Akhil Chandra Mukerjee.]
Muhammed, "the Prophet of Islam": a lecture delivered on the 25th of November 1904, at the residence of Mirza Faiaz Ali Khan, Chudderghat, Hyderabad, Deccan. 1900. Sultanpura, Hyderabad: Villa Academy, 1971. English. 36 pages.
• Christ in the Koran. Allahabad: Indian Press, 1907. English.
• Two Essays on the Life and Philosophy of Ibn-Rushd or Averroes. Allahabad : M. Ghulam Muhammad, 1909.

Ibn Rushd (Arabic: ابن رشد‎; full name in Arabic: أبو الوليد محمد ابن احمد ابن رشد‎, romanized: Abū l-Walīd Muḥammad Ibn ʾAḥmad Ibn Rušd; 14 April 1126 – 11 December 1198), often Latinized as Averroes (English: /əˈvɛroʊiːz/), was a Muslim Andalusian polymath and jurist who wrote about many subjects, including philosophy, theology, medicine, astronomy, physics, psychology, mathematics, Islamic jurisprudence and law, and linguistics. The author of more than 100 books and treatises, Being described as "founding father of secular thought in Western Europe", his philosophical works include numerous commentaries on Aristotle, for which he was known in the western world as The Commentator and Father of rationalism. Ibn Rushd also served as a chief judge and a court physician for the Almohad Caliphate.

He was born in Córdoba in 1126 to a family of prominent judges—his grandfather was the chief judge of the city. In 1169 he was introduced to the caliph Abu Yaqub Yusuf, who was impressed with his knowledge, became his patron and commissioned many of Averroes' commentaries. Averroes later served multiple terms as a judge in Seville and Córdoba. In 1182, he was appointed as court physician and the chief judge of Córdoba. After Abu Yusuf's death in 1184, he remained in royal favor until he fell into disgrace in 1195. He was targeted on various charges—likely for political reasons—and was exiled to nearby Lucena. He returned to royal favor shortly before his death on 11 December 1198.

Averroes was a strong proponent of Aristotelianism; he attempted to restore what he considered the original teachings of Aristotle and opposed the Neoplatonist tendencies of earlier Muslim thinkers, such as Al-Farabi and Avicenna. He also defended the pursuit of philosophy against criticism by Ashari theologians such as Al-Ghazali. Averroes argued that philosophy was permissible in Islam and even compulsory among certain elites. He also argued scriptural text should be interpreted allegorically if it appeared to contradict conclusions reached by reason and philosophy. In Islamic jurisprudence, he wrote the Bidāyat al-Mujtahid on the differences between Islamic schools of law and the principles that caused their differences. In medicine, he proposed a new theory of stroke, described the signs and symptoms of Parkinson's disease for the first time, and might have been the first to identify the retina as the part of the eye responsible for sensing light. His medical book Al-Kulliyat fi al-Tibb, translated into Latin and known as the Colliget, became a textbook in Europe for centuries.

His legacy in the Islamic world was modest for geographical and intellectual reasons. In the west, Averroes was known for his extensive commentaries on Aristotle, many of which were translated into Latin and Hebrew. The translations of his work reawakened western European interest in Aristotle and Greek thinkers, an area of study that had been widely abandoned after the fall of the Roman Empire. His thoughts generated controversies in Latin Christendom and triggered a philosophical movement called Averroism based on his writings. His unity of the intellect thesis, proposing that all humans share the same intellect, became one of the most well-known and controversial Averroist doctrines in the west. His works were condemned by the Catholic Church in 1270 and 1277. Although weakened by condemnations and sustained critique from Thomas Aquinas, Latin Averroism continued to attract followers up to the sixteenth century.

-- Averroes, by Wikipedia


Additional resources

• "The Identity of Koot Hoomi of Kashmir" blog entry from the American Minervan. Accessed Jun 14, 2019.

Notes

1. National Indian Association, Journal of the National Indian Association (1883), 128.
2. Echoes of the Past: Master Koot Hoomi by Mary K. Neff
3. An Important Correction by Charles J. Ryan
4. Three Lectures : the Reminiscences of the German University Life ; The True Theosophist ; and the Mricchakatikam, or, The Toy Cart by Nishikânta Chattopâdhyâya

***********************

Gustav Theodor Fechner
by Theosophy Wiki
Accessed: 3/20/21

Gustav Theodor Fechner (April 19, 1801 – November 18, 1887), was a German experimental psychologist interested in Spiritualism.

Mahatama Letters reference

Gustav Theodor Fechner may have been the "G. H. Fechner" mentioned by Master K.H. in one of his letters:

I may answer you, what I said to G. H. Fechner one day, when he wanted to know the Hindu view on what he had written — "You are right; . . . 'every diamond, every crystal, every plant and star has its own individual soul, besides man and animal . . .' and, 'there is a hierarchy of souls from the lowest forms of matter up to the World Soul' . . ."[1]


The ideas quoted in this Letter had been reported in the The N. Y. Nation, as follows:

He endeavors to make out that every diamond, every crystal, every plant, planet, and star has its own individual soul, besides man and animals; that there is a hierarchy of souls from the lowest forms of matter up to the world-soul -- a sort of eclectic, semi-pantheistic nondescript; and that the spirits of the departed hold psychic communication with souls that are still connected with a human frame.[2]


When Prof. Fechner was asked about having met a Hindu at Leipzig, he said he did, although clarified that the name of the Hindu concerned was Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyaya, not Koot Hoomi. Some Theosophists thought this was a pseudonym used by Master K.H. However, this was not the case, according to Charles J. Ryan in an article published in The Canadian Theosophist[3]

See also Koot Hoomi: Education in Europe for more about Fechner.

Review by William James

William James wrote an insightful article about the philosophy of G. T. Fechner, entitled "The Doctrine of the Earth-Soul and of Beings Intermediate Between Man and God." [The Doctrine of the Earth-Soul and of Beings intermediate between Man and God, by William James, Hibbert Journal 7:278 (1908)] This review of the article appeared in The Theosophic Messenger in 1909:

An account of the philosophy of G. T. Fechner... outlines Fechner's standing as a scientist, and introduces him also in his lesser-known role of a transcendental philosopher. Fechner reckoned our habit of regarding the spiritual not as a rule but as an exception in the midst of Nature, the original sin of both popular and scientific thought. He himself consistently maintained the opposite view, supporting it by a wonderful number and variety of analogies, with the fundamental conclusion that the constitution of the world is the same throughout, and that as we conceive the consciousness of the individual, so we must conceive a consciousness of a higher and higher order in an indefinite series. The supposition of an earth consciousness he seeks to maintain by reviewing the characteristic marks of superiority which we have been in the habit of associating with the consciousness of man, and by pointing out, through analogy, the entire propriety of assuming these in still more perfect degree as part of the earth-soul: independent of other external beings is no less characteristic of the earth than of the human individual; complexity in unity, in the case of the earth, exceeds that of any other organism; development from within is no less its characteristic mode than that of man himself; while in individuality of type and indifference from other beings of its type, the earth is extraordinarily distinct. Fechner continues a most brilliant handling of this subject through several different volumes, from all of which Professor James has taken the most illuminating extracts, all making, however, for this one conclusion, namely, the criticism that ordinary transcendentalism of the more modern type leaves everything intermediary out. Where Fechner saw unlimited gradations in consciousness, "it recognizes only the extremes, as if after the first rude face of the phenomenal world in all its particularity, nothing but the supreme in all its perfection could be found. First, you and I, just as we are in our places; and the moment we get below that surface, the unutterable Absolute itself! Doesn't this show a singularly indigent imagination? Isn't this brave universe made on a richer pattern, with room in it for a long hierarchy of beings? Materialistic science makes it infinitely richer in terms, with its molecules and aether, and electrons, and what not. Absolute idealism, thinking of reality only under intellectual forms, know not what to do with bodies of any grade, and can make no use of any psychophysical analogy or correspondence. The resultant thinness is startling when compared with the thickness and articulation of such a universe as Fechner paints. * * * [sic] One of my reasons for printing this article has been to make the thinness of current transcendentalism appear more evident by an effect of contrast. Scholasticism ran thick; Hegel himself ran thick; but English and American transcendentalism run thin. If philosophy is more a matter of passionate vision than of logic -- and I believe it is, logic only finding reasons for the vision afterwards -- must not such thinness come, either from the vision being defective in the disciples, or from their passion, matched with Fechner's or with Hegel's own passion, being as moonlight unto sunlight or as water unto wine?"[4]


Writings

On Life After Death. Chicago: The Open Court Publishing Company, 1917. 3rd edition.

Additional resources

• James, William. "The Doctrine of the Earth-Soul and of Beings Intermediate Between Man and God." Hibbert Journal VII (January, 1909), 278.
1. Theosophy Wiki Mahatma Letter No. 18, pages 13-14.
2. The N. Y. Nation, Oct. 2, 1879, p. 229.
3. Charles J. Ryan, "An Important Correction" The Canadian Theosophist (December 15, 1936), 326-329. See also Cox's work, Who Wrote the March-Hare Attack on the Mahatma Letters? Victoria, British Columbia, Canada: H.P.B. Library, 1936, reprinted here at the Blavatsky Archives website.
4. "Current Literature" The Theosophic Messenger 10.6 (March, 1909), 259-260. Review of article by William James, "The Doctrine of the Earth-Soul and of Beings Intermediate Between Man and God" Hibbert Journal VII (January, 1909), 278. See Internet Archive for Hibbert Journal VII.
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Gustav Fechner
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/20/21

Image
Gustav Fechner
Born: Gustav Theodor Fechner, 19 April 1801, Groß Särchen (near Muskau), Saxony, Holy Roman Empire
Died: 18 November 1887 (aged 86), Leipzig, Saxony, German Empire
Nationality: German
Education: Medizinische Akademie Carl Gustav Carus [de]
Leipzig University (PhD, 1835)

Known for: Weber–Fechner law
Scientific career
Fields: Experimental psychology
Institutions: Leipzig University
Thesis: De variis intensitatem vis Galvanicae metiendi methodis (1835)
Notable students: Hermann Lotze
Influences: Immanuel Kant
Influenced Gerardus Heymans; Wilhelm Wundt; William James; Alfred North Whitehead; Charles Hartshorne; Ernst Weber; Sigmund Freud; Friedrich Paulsen; Ludwig von Bertalanffy


Gustav Theodor Fechner (/ˈfɛxnər/; German: [ˈfɛçnɐ]; 19 April 1801 – 18 November 1887)[1] was a German experimental psychologist, philosopher, and physicist. An early pioneer in experimental psychology and founder of psychophysics, he inspired many 20th-century scientists and philosophers. He is also credited with demonstrating the non-linear relationship between psychological sensation and the physical intensity of a stimulus via the formula: {\displaystyle S=K\ln I}{\displaystyle S=K\ln I}, which became known as the Weber–Fechner law.[2][3]

Early life and scientific career

Fechner was born at Groß Särchen, near Muskau, in Lower Lusatia, where his father was a pastor. Despite being raised by his religious father, Fechner became an atheist in later life.[4] He was educated first at Sorau (now Żary in Western Poland).

In 1817 he studied medicine at the Medizinische Akademie Carl Gustav Carus [de] in Dresden and from 1818 at the University of Leipzig, the city in which he spent the rest of his life.[5] He earned his PhD from Leipzig in 1835.

In 1834 he was appointed professor of physics at Leipzig. But in 1839, he contracted an eye disorder while studying the phenomena of color and vision, and, after much suffering, resigned. Subsequently, recovering, he turned to the study of the mind and its relations with the body, giving public lectures on the subjects dealt with in his books. Whilst lying in bed, Fechner had an insight into the relationship between mental sensations and material sensations. This insight proved to be significant in the development of psychology as there was now a quantitative relationship between the mental and physical worlds.[6]

Contributions

Fechner published chemical and physical papers, and translated chemical works by Jean-Baptiste Biot and Louis Jacques Thénard from French. He also wrote several poems and humorous pieces, such as the Vergleichende Anatomie der Engel (1825), written under the pseudonym of "Dr. Mises."

Elemente der Psychophysik

Fechner's epoch-making work was his Elemente der Psychophysik (1860). He started from the monistic thought that bodily facts and conscious facts, though not reducible one to the other, are different sides of one reality. His originality lies in trying to discover an exact mathematical relation between them. The most famous outcome of his inquiries is the law known as the Weber–Fechner law which may be expressed as follows:

"In order that the intensity of a sensation may increase in arithmetical progression, the stimulus must increase in geometrical progression."


The law has been found to be immensely useful, but to fail for very faint and for very strong sensations. Within its useful range, Fechner's law is that sensation is a logarithmic function of physical intensity. S. S. Stevens pointed out that such a law does not account for the fact that perceived relationships among stimuli (e.g., papers coloured black, dark grey, grey, light grey, and white) are unchanged with changes in overall intensity (i.e., in the level of illumination of the papers). He proposed, in his famous 1961 paper entitled "To Honor Fechner and Repeal His Law", that intensity of stimulation is related to perception via a power-law.

Fechner's general formula for getting at the number of units in any sensation is S = c log R, where S stands for the sensation, R for the stimulus numerically estimated, and c for a constant that must be separately determined by experiment in each particular order of sensibility. Fechner's reasoning has been criticized on the grounds that although stimuli are composite, sensations are not. "Every sensation," says William James, "presents itself as an indivisible unit; and it is quite impossible to read any clear meaning into the notion that they are masses of units combined."

The Fechner color effect

Image
A sample of a Benham's disk

In 1838, he also studied the still-mysterious perceptual illusion of what is still called the Fechner color effect, whereby colors are seen in a moving pattern of black and white. The English journalist and amateur scientist Charles Benham, in 1894, enabled English-speakers to learn of the effect through the invention of the spinning top that bears his name, Benham's top. Whether Fechner and Benham ever actually met face to face for any reason is not known.

The median

In 1878, Fechner published a paper in which he developed the notion of the median. He later delved into experimental aesthetics and thought to determine the shapes and dimensions of aesthetically pleasing objects. He mainly used the sizes of paintings as his data base. In his 1876 Vorschule der Aesthetik, he used the method of extreme ranks for subjective judgements.[7]

Fechner is generally credited with introducing the median into the formal analysis of data.[8]

Synesthesia

In 1871, Fechner reported the first empirical survey of coloured letter photisms among 73 synesthetes.[9][10] His work was followed in the 1880s by that of Francis Galton.[11][12][13]

Corpus callosum split

One of Fechner's speculations about consciousness dealt with brain. During his time, it was known that the brain is bilaterally symmetrical and that there is a deep division between the two halves that are linked by a connecting band of fibers called the corpus callosum. Fechner speculated that if the corpus callosum were split, two separate streams of consciousness would result -- the mind would become two. Yet, Fechner believed that his theory would never be tested; he was incorrect. During the mid-twentieth century, Roger Sperry and Michael Gazzaniga worked on epileptic patients with sectioned corpus callosum and observed that Fechner's idea was correct.[14]

Golden section hypothesis

Fechner constructed ten rectangles with different ratios of width to length and asked numerous observers to choose the "best" and "worst" rectangle shape. He was concerned with the visual appeal of rectangles with different proportions. Participants were explicitly instructed to disregard any associations that they have with the rectangles, e.g. with objects of similar ratios. The rectangles chosen as "best" by the largest number of participants and as "worst" by the fewest participants had a ratio of 0.62 (21:34).[15] This ratio is known as the "golden section" (or golden ratio) and referred to the ratio of a rectangle's width to length that is most appealing to the eye. Carl Stumpf was a participant in this study.

However, there has been some ongoing dispute on the experiment itself, as the fact that Fechner deliberately discarded results of the study ill-fitting to his needs became known, with many mathematicians, including Mario Livio, refuting the result of the experiment.


The two-piece normal distribution

In his posthumously published Kollektivmasslehre (1897), Fechner introduced the Zweiseitige Gauss'sche Gesetz or two-piece normal distribution, to accommodate the asymmetries he had observed in empirical frequency distributions in many fields. The distribution has been independently rediscovered by several authors working in different fields.[16]

Fechner's paradox

In 1861, Fechner reported that if he looked at a light with a darkened piece of glass over one eye then closed that eye, the light appeared to become brighter, even though less light was coming into his eyes.[17] This phenomenon has come to be called Fechner's paradox.[18] It has been the subject of numerous research papers, including in the 2000s.[19] It occurs because the perceived brightness of the light with both eyes open is similar to the average brightness of each light viewed with one eye.[17]

Influence

Fechner, along with Wilhelm Wundt and Hermann von Helmholtz, is recognized as one of the founders of modern experimental psychology. His clearest contribution was the demonstration that because the mind was susceptible to measurement and mathematical treatment, psychology had the potential to become a quantified science. Theorists such as Immanuel Kant had long stated that this was impossible, and that therefore, a science of psychology was also impossible.

Though he had a vast influence on psychophysics, the actual disciples of his general philosophy were few. Ernst Mach was inspired by his work on psychophysics.[20] William James also admired his work: in 1904, he wrote an admiring introduction to the English translation of Fechner's Büchlein vom Leben nach dem Tode (Little Book of Life After Death). Furthermore, he influenced Sigmund Freud, who refers to Fechner when introducing the concept of psychic locality in his The Interpretation of Dreams that he illustrates with the microscope-metaphor.[21][22][23]

Fechner's world concept was highly animistic. He felt the thrill of life everywhere, in plants, earth, stars, the total universe. Man stands midway between the souls of plants and the souls of stars, who are angels.[24] God, the soul of the universe, must be conceived as having an existence analogous to men. Natural laws are just the modes of the unfolding of God's perfection. In his last work Fechner, aged but full of hope, contrasts this joyous "daylight view" of the world with the dead, dreary "night view" of materialism. Fechner's work in aesthetics is also important. He conducted experiments to show that certain abstract forms and proportions are naturally pleasing to our senses, and gave some new illustrations of the working of aesthetic association. Charles Hartshorne saw him as a predecessor on his and Alfred North Whitehead's philosophy and regretted that Fechner's philosophical work had been neglected for so long.[25]

Fechner's position in reference to predecessors and contemporaries is not very sharply defined. He was remotely a disciple of Schelling, learnt much from Baruch Spinoza, G. W. Leibniz, Johann Friedrich Herbart, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Christian Hermann Weisse, and decidedly rejected G. W. F. Hegel and the monadism of Rudolf Hermann Lotze.

Fechner's work continues to have an influence on modern science, inspiring continued exploration of human perceptual abilities by researchers such as Jan Koenderink, Farley Norman, David Heeger, and others.

Honours

Fechner Crater


In 1970, the International Astronomical Union named a crater on the far side of the moon after Fechner.[26]

Fechner Day

In 1985 the International Society for Psychophysics called its annual conference Fechner Day. The conference is now scheduled to include 22 October to allow psychophysicists to celebrate the anniversary of Fechner's waking up on that day in 1850 with a new approach into how to study the mind.[27] Fechner Day runs annually with the 2018 Fechner Day being the 34th.[28] It is organized annually, by a different academic host each year.[29][30]

Family and later life

Little is known of Fechner's later years, nor of the circumstances, cause, and manner of his death.

Fechner was the brother of painter Eduard Clemens Fechner and of Clementine Wieck Fechner, who was the stepmother of Clara Wieck when Clementine became her father Friedrich Wieck's second wife.

Works

• Praemissae ad theoriam organismi generalem ("Advances in the general theory of organisms") (1823).
• (Dr. Mises) Stapelia mixta (1824). Internet Archive (Harvard)
• Resultate der bis jetzt unternommenen Pflanzenanalysen ("Results of plant analyses undertaken to date") (1829). Internet Archive (Stanford)
• Maassbestimmungen über die galvanische Kette (1831).
• (Dr. Mises) Schutzmittel für die Cholera ("Protective equipment for cholera") (1832). Google (Harvard) — Google (UWisc)
• Repertorium der Experimentalphysik (1832). 3 volumes.
o Volume 1. Internet Archive (NYPL) — Internet Archive (Oxford)
o Volume 2. Internet Archive (NYPL) — Internet Archive (Oxford)
o Volume 3. Internet Archive (NYPL) — Internet Archive (Oxford)
• (ed.) Das Hauslexicon. Vollständiges Handbuch praktischer Lebenskenntnisse für alle Stände (1834–38). 8 volumes.
• Das Büchlein vom Leben nach dem Tode (1836). 6th ed., 1906. Internet Archive (Harvard) — Internet Archive (NYPL)
o (in English) On Life After Death (1882). Google (Oxford) — IA (UToronto) 2nd ed., 1906. Internet Archive (UMich) 3rd ed., 1914. IA (UIllinois)
o (in English) The Little Book of Life After Death (1904). IA (UToronto) 1905, Internet Archive (UCal) — IA (Ucal) — IA (UToronto)
• (Dr. Mises) Gedichte (1841). Internet Archive (Oxford)
• Ueber das höchste Gut ("Concerning the Highest Good") (1846). Internet Archive (Stanford)
• (Dr. Mises) Nanna oder über das Seelenleben der Pflanzen (1848). 2nd ed., 1899. 3rd ed., 1903. Internet Archive (UMich) 4th ed., 1908. Internet Archive (Harvard)
• Zend-Avesta oder über die Dinge des Himmels und des Jenseits (1851). 3 volumes. 3rd ed., 1906. Google (Harvard)
• Ueber die physikalische und philosophische Atomenlehre (1855). 2nd ed., 1864. Internet Archive (Stanford)
• Professor Schleiden und der Mond (1856). Google (UMich)
• Elemente der Psychophysik (1860). 2 volumes. Volume 1. Google (ULausanne) Volume 2. Internet Archive (NYPL)
• Ueber die Seelenfrage ("Concerning the Soul") (1861). Internet Archive (NYPL) — Internet Archive (UCal) — Internet Archive (UMich) 2nd ed., 1907. Google (Harvard)
• Die drei Motive und Gründe des Glaubens ("The three motives and reasons of faith") (1863). Google (Harvard) — Internet Archive (NYPL)
• Einige Ideen zur Schöpfungs- und Entwickelungsgeschichte der Organismen (1873). Internet Archive (UMich)
• (Dr. Mises) Kleine Schriften (1875). Internet Archive (UMich)
• Erinnerungen an die letzen Tage der Odlehre und ihres Urhebers (1876). Google (Harvard)
• Vorschule der Aesthetik (1876). 2 Volumes. Internet Archive (Harvard)
• In Sachen der Psychophysik (1877). Internet Archive (Stanford)
• Die Tagesansicht gegenüber der Nachtansicht (1879). Google (Oxford) 2nd ed., 1904. Internet Archive (Stanford)
• Revision der Hauptpuncte der Psychophysik (1882). Internet Archive (Harvard)
• Kollektivmasslehre (1897). Internet Archive (NYPL)

References

1. "Gustav Fechner - German psychologist and physicist". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
2. Fancher, R. E. (1996). Pioneers of Psychology (3rd ed.). New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-96994-0.
3. Sheynin, Oscar (2004), "Fechner as a statistician.", British Journal of Mathematical and Statistical Psychology (published May 2004), 57 (Pt 1), pp. 53–72, doi:10.1348/000711004849196, PMID 15171801
4. Michael Heidelberger (2004). "1: Life and Work". Nature from within: Gustav Theodor Fechner and his Psychophysical Worldview. University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 21. ISBN 9780822970774. The study of medicine also contributed to a loss of religious faith and to becoming atheist.
5. Fechner, Gustav Theodor at vlp.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de.
6. Schultz, P.D., & Schultz, S.E. (2008). A History of Modern Psychology.(pp. 81-82).Thompson Wadsworth.
7. Michael Heidelberger. "Gustav Theodor Fechner". /statprob.com. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
8. Keynes, John Maynard; A Treatise on Probability (1921), Pt II Ch XVII §5 (p 201).
9. Fechner, G. (1876) Vorschule der Aesthetik. Leipzig: Breitkopf und Hartel. Website: chuoft.pdf
10. Campen, Cretien van (1996). De verwarring der zintuigen. Artistieke en psychologische experimenten met synesthesie. Psychologie & Maatschappij, vol. 20, nr. 1, pp. 10–26.
11. Galton F (1880). "Visualized Numerals". Nature. 21 (543): 494–5. doi:10.1038/021494e0.
12. Galton F (1880). "Visualized Numerals". Nature. 21 (533): 252–6. doi:10.1038/021252a0.
13. Galton F. (1883). Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development. Macmillan. Retrieved 2008-06-17.
14. [Gazzinga, M.S (1970). The bisected brain. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts]
15. Fechner, Gustav (1876). Vorschule der Ästhetik. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel. pp. 190–202.
16. Wallis, K.F. (2014). "The two-piece normal, binormal, or double Gaussian distribution: its origin and rediscoveries". Statistical Science, Vol. 29, No. 1, pp.106-112. DOI: 10.1214/13-STS417 arXiv:1405.4995
17. Levelt, W. J. M. (1965). Binocular brightness averaging and contour information. British Journal of Psychology, 56, 1-13. https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8295.1965.tb00939.x
18. Robinson, T. R. (1896). Light intensity and depth perception. American Journal of Psychology, 7, 518-532. https://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1411847
19. Ding, J., & Levi, D. M. (2017). Binocular combination of luminance profiles. Journal of Vision, 17(13, 4), 1-32. https://dx.doi.org/10.1167/17.13.4
20. Pojman, Paul, "Ernst Mach", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.) [1]
21. Nicholls, Angus; Liebshcher, Martin (24 June 2010). Thinking the Unconscious: Nineteenth-Century German Thought. Cambridge University Press. p. 272. ISBN 9780521897532.
22. Freud, Sigmund (18 March 2015). The Interpretation of Dreams. Translated by A. A. Brill. Mineola New York: Courier Dover Publications. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-486-78942-2.
23. Sulloway, Frank J. (1979). Freud: Biologist of the Mind.(pp. 66-67). Basic Books.
24. Marshall, M E (1969), "Gustav Fechner, Dr. Mises, and the comparative anatomy of angels.", Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences (published Jan 1969), 5(1), pp. 39–58, doi:10.1002/1520-6696(196901)5:1<39::AID-JHBS2300050105>3.0.CO;2-C, PMID 11610088
25. For Hartshorne's appreciation of Fechner see his Aquinas to Whitehead – Seven Centuries of Metafysics of Religion. Hartshorne also comments that William James failed to do justice to the theological aspects of Fechner's work. Hartshorne saw also resemblances with the work of Fechner's contemporary Jules Lequier. See also: Hartshorne – Reese (ed.) Philosophers speak of God.
26. Fechner, Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature, International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN)
27. Kreuger, L. E. (1993) Personal Communication. ref History of Psychology 4th edition David Hothersal 2004 ISBN 9780072849653
28. http://www.ispsychophysics.org/fd2018/
29. "FECHNER DAY 2018". fechnerdays Webseite!. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
30. "Fechner Day 2017 — Welcome (index)". fechnerday.com. Retrieved 18 January2019.

Further reading

• Heidelberger, M. (2001), "Gustav Theodor Fechner" in Statisticians of the Centuries (ed. C. C. Heyde and E. Seneta) pp. 142–147. New York: Springer Verlag, 2001.
• Heidelberger, M. (2004), Nature From Within: Gustav Theodor Fechner and his Psychophysical Worldview (trans. Cynthia Klohr), Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004. ISBN 0-822-9421-00
• Robinson, David K. (2010), "Gustav Fechner: 150 years of Elemente der Psychophysik", in History of Psychology, Vol 13(4), Nov 2010, pp. 409–410. [2]
• Stigler, Stephen M. (1986), The History of Statistics: The Measurement of Uncertainty before 1900, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp. 242–254.

External links

• Works by Gustav Theodor Fechner at Project Gutenberg
• Works by or about Gustav Fechner at Internet Archive
• William James on Fechner
• Works of Gustav Theodor Fechner at Projekt Gutenberg-DE. (German)
• Excerpt from Elements of Psychophysics from the Classics in the History of Psychology website.
• Robert H. Wozniak's Introduction to Elemente der Psychophysik.
• Biography, bibliography and digitized sources in the Virtual Laboratory of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
• Granville Stanley 1912 'Founders of modern psychology p. 125ff archive.org
• Gustav Theodor Fechner 1904 The Little Book of Life after Death Foreword by William James
• Gustav Theodor Fechner 1908 The Living Word
• Gustav Theodor Fechner at statprob.com

**************************

Gustav Theodor Fechner
by Theosophy Wiki
Accessed: 3/20/21

Gustav Theodor Fechner (April 19, 1801 – November 18, 1887), was a German experimental psychologist interested in Spiritualism.

Mahatama Letters reference

Gustav Theodor Fechner may have been the "G. H. Fechner" mentioned by Master K.H. in one of his letters:

I may answer you, what I said to G. H. Fechner one day, when he wanted to know the Hindu view on what he had written — "You are right; . . . 'every diamond, every crystal, every plant and star has its own individual soul, besides man and animal . . .' and, 'there is a hierarchy of souls from the lowest forms of matter up to the World Soul' . . ."[1]


Fechner's world concept was highly animistic. He felt the thrill of life everywhere, in plants, earth, stars, the total universe. Man stands midway between the souls of plants and the souls of stars, who are angels. God, the soul of the universe, must be conceived as having an existence analogous to men. Natural laws are just the modes of the unfolding of God's perfection. In his last work Fechner, aged but full of hope, contrasts this joyous "daylight view" of the world with the dead, dreary "night view" of materialism. Fechner's work in aesthetics is also important. He conducted experiments to show that certain abstract forms and proportions are naturally pleasing to our senses, and gave some new illustrations of the working of aesthetic association. Charles Hartshorne saw him as a predecessor on his and Alfred North Whitehead's philosophy and regretted that Fechner's philosophical work had been neglected for so long.

-- Gustav Fechner, by Wikipedia


The ideas quoted in this Letter had been reported in the The N.Y. Nation, as follows:

He endeavors to make out that every diamond, every crystal, every plant, planet, and star has its own individual soul, besides man and animals; that there is a hierarchy of souls from the lowest forms of matter up to the world-soul -- a sort of eclectic, semi-pantheistic nondescript; and that the spirits of the departed hold psychic communication with souls that are still connected with a human frame.[2]


When Prof. Fechner was asked about having met a Hindu at Leipzig, he said he did, although clarified that the name of the Hindu concerned was Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyaya, not Koot Hoomi. Some Theosophists thought this was a pseudonym used by Master K.H. However, this was not the case, according to Charles J. Ryan in an article published in The Canadian Theosophist[3]

An Important Correction
by Charles J. Ryan
[Reprinted from The Canadian Theosophist, December 15, 1936, pp. 326-329.]

Editor, Canadian Theosophist: - May I draw attention to one or two points in regard to Mr. H. R. W. Cox’s excellent defence of H.P.B. against the most recent attack. The first deals with a statement in your August number.

On pages 173-4 Mr. Cox discusses the problem of the Hindu who met a certain scholar named Fechner, and quotes Mr. Basil Crump’s Evolution. The main points are these: In The Mahatma Letters, p. 44, the Master K.H. mentions a conversation he had "one day" with a certain "G. H. Fechner", but does not say when or where it took place. Mr. Crump, in Evolution, informs us that C. C. Massey, once a leading Theosophist, received information from Leipzig that a Professor Fechner, living there, remembered having met a Hindu at some unnamed period and having heard him lecture. The Hindu also visited Professor Fechner. The Professor said that the name of the Hindu was Nisi Kanta Chattapadhyaya, and that he was not particularly conspicuous. Mr. Massey seems to have thought that he had, in this way, received independent evidence of the presence of the Master K.H. at Leipzig in the earlier ‘seventies, for he explains the reason that Professor Fechner did not know the name Koot Hoomi by a very reasonable supposition, viz.:

"In case it may be wondered why he [the Master K.H.] used a different name, it may be mentioned that when members of this Order have to travel in the outer world they always do so incognito."


Mr. Cox appears to agree with Massey, or he would not quote the above remark in his defence of H. P. Blavatsky against the Messrs. Hares’ charges.

Unfortunately Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyaya and the Master K.H. are two different persons, and the argument is therefore not valid, useful as it would be if confirmed. The former was a well-known Hindu gentleman, Principal of the Hyderabad College and author of sundry interesting works on Oriental, philosophical, and other subjects. He was evidently interested in Theosophy, for he presented Katherine Tingley, when she was in Bombay in 1896, with an autograph copy of one of his books, now in the Oriental Department of the Theosophical Library at Point Loma, California.

The first article or chapter in this book is called "The Reminiscences of the German University Life," and it is a report of a lecture by Dr. N. K. Chattopadhyaya on April 30, 1892 at Secunderabad. In this chapter he says:


"I once met Prof. Gustav Fechner, the author of a book called "Psycho-Physik" in which he has enunciated certain laws whose importance . . . . is as great as Newton’s Law of Gravitation . . . . I had the privilege of escorting the old sage home and on the way he asked quite a number of questions about the Yogis and the Fakirs of India . . . Seeing more of him by and by I came to discover that he was quite a mystic, and had actually written a book called the "Zend-Avesta" a masterly exposition of Vedantic pantheism in the light of modern science."


The "Sage" was, of course, the famous Gustav Theodor Fechner.

Turning to The Mahatma Letters, we find that the Master’s conversation "one day" was held with a certain G. H. Fechner, and, as mentioned above, it was not connected with Leipzig. Question: was the Master K.H. referring to some unknown Fechner whose initials were G. H. and not G. T. and who has not been identified? That seems highly improbable. Is it more likely that the H. is a mere slip of the pen or even a typographical error, and that the Master really referred to the eminent philosopher, with whom he had a short conversation, probably so short that it had been quite forgotten by G. T. Fechner, who only recollected N. K. Chattopadhyaya.

However this may be, Professor Gustav T. Fechner’s message to C. C. Massey cannot be used as if it related to the Master K.H., because the Professor definitely states that his Hindu was Chattopadhyaya, and the latter positively confirms the fact. We have learned from other sources that the Master spent some time in Germany, but I am not aware that Leipzig is mentioned in Theosophical literature in that connection. In the Sinnett letters, H. P. Blavatsky says:

". . . Wurzburg. It is near Heidelberg and Nurenberg, and all the centres one of the Masters lived in, and it is He who advised my Master to send me there. . ." (p. 105)


My second point relates to what the Hare Brothers call the "notable admission" by H. P. Blavatsky in connection with alleged Mahatma letters sent by her to importunate claimants for advice on their personal, worldly affairs - not connected with Theosophy....

Charles J. Ryan.
General Offices, Theosophical Society,
Point Loma, California.


See also Koot Hoomi: Education in Europe for more about Fechner.

Review by William James

William James wrote an insightful article about the philosophy of G. T. Fechner, entitled "The Doctrine of the Earth-Soul and of Beings Intermediate Between Man and God." [The Doctrine of the Earth-Soul and of Beings intermediate between Man and God, by William James, Hibbert Journal 7:278 (1908)] This review of the article appeared in The Theosophic Messenger in 1909:

An account of the philosophy of G. T. Fechner... outlines Fechner's standing as a scientist, and introduces him also in his lesser-known role of a transcendental philosopher. Fechner reckoned our habit of regarding the spiritual not as a rule but as an exception in the midst of Nature, the original sin of both popular and scientific thought. He himself consistently maintained the opposite view, supporting it by a wonderful number and variety of analogies, with the fundamental conclusion that the constitution of the world is the same throughout, and that as we conceive the consciousness of the individual, so we must conceive a consciousness of a higher and higher order in an indefinite series. The supposition of an earth consciousness he seeks to maintain by reviewing the characteristic marks of superiority which we have been in the habit of associating with the consciousness of man, and by pointing out, through analogy, the entire propriety of assuming these in still more perfect degree as part of the earth-soul: independent of other external beings is no less characteristic of the earth than of the human individual; complexity in unity, in the case of the earth, exceeds that of any other organism; development from within is no less its characteristic mode than that of man himself; while in individuality of type and indifference from other beings of its type, the earth is extraordinarily distinct. Fechner continues a most brilliant handling of this subject through several different volumes, from all of which Professor James has taken the most illuminating extracts, all making, however, for this one conclusion, namely, the criticism that ordinary transcendentalism of the more modern type leaves everything intermediary out. Where Fechner saw unlimited gradations in consciousness, "it recognizes only the extremes, as if after the first rude face of the phenomenal world in all its particularity, nothing but the supreme in all its perfection could be found. First, you and I, just as we are in our places; and the moment we get below that surface, the unutterable Absolute itself! Doesn't this show a singularly indigent imagination? Isn't this brave universe made on a richer pattern, with room in it for a long hierarchy of beings? Materialistic science makes it infinitely richer in terms, with its molecules and aether, and electrons, and what not. Absolute idealism, thinking of reality only under intellectual forms, know not what to do with bodies of any grade, and can make no use of any psychophysical analogy or correspondence. The resultant thinness is startling when compared with the thickness and articulation of such a universe as Fechner paints. * * * [sic] One of my reasons for printing this article has been to make the thinness of current transcendentalism appear more evident by an effect of contrast. Scholasticism ran thick; Hegel himself ran thick; but English and American transcendentalism run thin. If philosophy is more a matter of passionate vision than of logic -- and I believe it is, logic only finding reasons for the vision afterwards -- must not such thinness come, either from the vision being defective in the disciples, or from their passion, matched with Fechner's or with Hegel's own passion, being as moonlight unto sunlight or as water unto wine?"[4]


Writings

On Life After Death. Chicago: The Open Court Publishing Company, 1917. 3rd edition.

Additional resources

• James, William. "The Doctrine of the Earth-Soul and of Beings Intermediate Between Man and God." Hibbert Journal VII (January, 1909), 278.
1. Theosophy Wiki Mahatma Letter No. 18, pages 13-14.
2. The N. Y. Nation, Oct. 2, 1879, p. 229.
3. Charles J. Ryan, "An Important Correction" The Canadian Theosophist (December 15, 1936), 326-329. See also Cox's work, Who Wrote the March-Hare Attack on the Mahatma Letters? Victoria, British Columbia, Canada: H.P.B. Library, 1936, reprinted here at the Blavatsky Archives website.
4. "Current Literature" The Theosophic Messenger 10.6 (March, 1909), 259-260. Review of article by William James, "The Doctrine of the Earth-Soul and of Beings Intermediate Between Man and God" Hibbert Journal VII (January, 1909), 278. See Internet Archive for Hibbert Journal VII.
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Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyaya
by Theosophy Wiki
Accessed: 3/20/21

Nishikânta Chattopâdhyâya (1852-1910) was a well-known Hindu gentleman, Principal of the Hyderabad College and author of works on Oriental, Theosophical, philosophical, and other subjects. His name was erroneously thought to have been a pseudonym used by Master K.H. in Europe.

Personal life and education

Little is known of the life of Nishikânta Chattopâdhyâya. He was educated in Europe:

Mr. Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyaya has taken the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) at the University of Zurich. The Dean of the Faculty and his colleagues, in conferring on him summa cum laude, highest distinction of the University, expressed themselves as highly satisfied with the way in which he had passed the Examination.[1]


Confusion with Master K.H.

In The Mahatma Letters, Master K.H. mentions a conversation he had with a certain "G. H. Fechner." Trying to verify this statement, C. C. Massey wrote to Dr. Hugo Wernekke, at Weimar, Germany, inquiring "whether Professor Fechner ever had such a conversation with an Oriental whom we could thus identify with Koot Humi." He received the following answer from Professor Gustav T. Fechner:

What Mr. Massey enquires about is undoubtedly in the main correct; the name of the Hindu concerned, when he was in Leipzig, was however, Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyaya, not Koot Humi. In the middle of the seventies he lived for about one year in Leipzig and aroused a certain interest owing to his foreign nationality, without being otherwise conspicuous; he was introduced to several families and became a member of the Academic Philosophical Society, to which you also belonged, where on one occasion he gave a lecture on Buddhism. I have these notes from Mr. Wirth, the Librarian of the Society, who is good enough to read to me three times a week. I also heard him give a lecture in a private circle on the position of women among the Hindus. I remember very well that he visited me once, and though I cannot remember our conversation, his statement that I questioned him about the faith of the Hindus is very likely correct. Apart from this I have not had personal intercourse with him; but, after his complete disappearance from Leipzig, I have been interested to hear about him, and especially to know that he plays an important role in his native country, such as undoubtedly he could not play here.[2]


C. C. Massey assumed that "Nisi Kanta Chattapadhyaya" was a pseudonym used by Master K.H. However, this is not the case. Charles J. Ryan reports[3] that Katherine Tingley met Dr. N. K. Chattopadhyaya when she was in Bombay in 1896, and received an autograph copy of his book, "The Reminiscences of the German University Life,"[4] where he talks about his encounter with Prof. G. T. Fechner.

An Important Correction
by Charles J. Ryan
[Reprinted from The Canadian Theosophist, December 15, 1936, pp. 326-329.]

Editor, Canadian Theosophist: - May I draw attention to one or two points in regard to Mr. H. R. W. Cox’s excellent defence of H.P.B. against the most recent attack. The first deals with a statement in your August number.

On pages 173-4 Mr. Cox discusses the problem of the Hindu who met a certain scholar named Fechner, and quotes Mr. Basil Crump’s Evolution. The main points are these: In The Mahatma Letters, p. 44, the Master K.H. mentions a conversation he had "one day" with a certain "G. H. Fechner", but does not say when or where it took place. Mr. Crump, in Evolution, informs us that C. C. Massey, once a leading Theosophist, received information from Leipzig that a Professor Fechner, living there, remembered having met a Hindu at some unnamed period and having heard him lecture. The Hindu also visited Professor Fechner. The Professor said that the name of the Hindu was Nisi Kanta Chattapadhyaya, and that he was not particularly conspicuous. Mr. Massey seems to have thought that he had, in this way, received independent evidence of the presence of the Master K.H. at Leipzig in the earlier ‘seventies, for he explains the reason that Professor Fechner did not know the name Koot Hoomi by a very reasonable supposition, viz.:

"In case it may be wondered why he [the Master K.H.] used a different name, it may be mentioned that when members of this Order have to travel in the outer world they always do so incognito."


Mr. Cox appears to agree with Massey, or he would not quote the above remark in his defence of H. P. Blavatsky against the Messrs. Hares’ charges.

Unfortunately Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyaya and the Master K.H. are two different persons, and the argument is therefore not valid, useful as it would be if confirmed. The former was a well-known Hindu gentleman, Principal of the Hyderabad College and author of sundry interesting works on Oriental, philosophical, and other subjects. He was evidently interested in Theosophy, for he presented Katherine Tingley, when she was in Bombay in 1896, with an autograph copy of one of his books, now in the Oriental Department of the Theosophical Library at Point Loma, California.

The first article or chapter in this book is called "The Reminiscences of the German University Life," and it is a report of a lecture by Dr. N. K. Chattopadhyaya on April 30, 1892 at Secunderabad. In this chapter he says:


"I once met Prof. Gustav Fechner, the author of a book called "Psycho-Physik" in which he has enunciated certain laws whose importance . . . . is as great as Newton’s Law of Gravitation . . . . I had the privilege of escorting the old sage home and on the way he asked quite a number of questions about the Yogis and the Fakirs of India . . . Seeing more of him by and by I came to discover that he was quite a mystic, and had actually written a book called the "Zend-Avesta" a masterly exposition of Vedantic pantheism in the light of modern science."


The "Sage" was, of course, the famous Gustav Theodor Fechner.

Turning to The Mahatma Letters, we find that the Master’s conversation "one day" was held with a certain G. H. Fechner, and, as mentioned above, it was not connected with Leipzig. Question: was the Master K.H. referring to some unknown Fechner whose initials were G. H. and not G. T. and who has not been identified? That seems highly improbable. Is it more likely that the H. is a mere slip of the pen or even a typographical error, and that the Master really referred to the eminent philosopher, with whom he had a short conversation, probably so short that it had been quite forgotten by G. T. Fechner, who only recollected N. K. Chattopadhyaya.

However this may be, Professor Gustav T. Fechner’s message to C. C. Massey cannot be used as if it related to the Master K.H., because the Professor definitely states that his Hindu was Chattopadhyaya, and the latter positively confirms the fact. We have learned from other sources that the Master spent some time in Germany, but I am not aware that Leipzig is mentioned in Theosophical literature in that connection. In the Sinnett letters, H. P. Blavatsky says:

". . . Wurzburg. It is near Heidelberg and Nurenberg, and all the centres one of the Masters lived in, and it is He who advised my Master to send me there. . ." (p. 105)


My second point relates to what the Hare Brothers call the "notable admission" by H. P. Blavatsky in connection with alleged Mahatma letters sent by her to importunate claimants for advice on their personal, worldly affairs - not connected with Theosophy....

Charles J. Ryan.
General Offices, Theosophical Society,
Point Loma, California.


Writings

• The Yatras, or the Popular Dramas of Bengal. Ca. 1882. 16 editions published between 1882 and 1976 in English.
Buddhism and Christianity, with an Appendix on Nirvana. London, 1882. 24 pages. Translated from the German in Indische Essays. The German edition Buddhismus und Christenthum. Mit einem Anhang über das Nirvâna was also published in 1882.
• Indische Essays. Zurich, 1883. Five editions published in 1883 in German and other languages.
• Three Lectures: the Reminiscences of the German University Life ; The True Theosophist ; and the Mricchakatikam, or, The Toy Cart. [Erscheinungsort nicht ermittelbar]: [Verlag nicht ermittelbar], gedr. 1895. 89 pages. Two editions published in 1895 in English.
• "Reminiscences of German University Life": a lecture delivered on the 30th April, 1892. 1901 in English.

• "The True Theosophist, or, Moral and Spiritual Culture: a Lecture". 1892 in English.
• "Mricchakatika or, The toy-cart of King Sūdraka; a study". Mysore: Graduates' Trading Association Press, 1902. English.
• The Mystic Story of Peter Schlemihl. Written with Adelbert von Chamisso. Mysore: Graduates' Trading Association Press, 1902.
• Lecture on Zoroastrianism. 1894. Madras: The Theosophist Office, 1906. English.
Why Have I Accepted Islam. Two editions published in 1971 in English. Also published in Chicago, IL: Kazi Publications, [between 1980 and 1997].
• Social and Religious Reformation in India : a lecture delivered in the Rungacharlu Memorial Hall, Mysore, on November 27th, 1901. [Mysore], 1901. English.
• The Study of History: a lecture. 1902 in English.
• Notices and Reviews of Dr. Nishikanta Chattopádhyáya's Lectures. 1897 in English. [With a preface signed: Akhil Chandra Mukerjee.]
Muhammed, "the Prophet of Islam": a lecture delivered on the 25th of November 1904, at the residence of Mirza Faiaz Ali Khan, Chudderghat, Hyderabad, Deccan. 1900. Sultanpura, Hyderabad: Villa Academy, 1971. English. 36 pages.
• Christ in the Koran. Allahabad: Indian Press, 1907. English.
• Two Essays on the Life and Philosophy of Ibn-Rushd or Averroes. Allahabad : M. Ghulam Muhammad, 1909.

Ibn Rushd (Arabic: ابن رشد‎; full name in Arabic: أبو الوليد محمد ابن احمد ابن رشد‎, romanized: Abū l-Walīd Muḥammad Ibn ʾAḥmad Ibn Rušd; 14 April 1126 – 11 December 1198), often Latinized as Averroes (English: /əˈvɛroʊiːz/), was a Muslim Andalusian polymath and jurist who wrote about many subjects, including philosophy, theology, medicine, astronomy, physics, psychology, mathematics, Islamic jurisprudence and law, and linguistics. The author of more than 100 books and treatises, Being described as "founding father of secular thought in Western Europe", his philosophical works include numerous commentaries on Aristotle, for which he was known in the western world as The Commentator and Father of rationalism. Ibn Rushd also served as a chief judge and a court physician for the Almohad Caliphate.

He was born in Córdoba in 1126 to a family of prominent judges—his grandfather was the chief judge of the city. In 1169 he was introduced to the caliph Abu Yaqub Yusuf, who was impressed with his knowledge, became his patron and commissioned many of Averroes' commentaries. Averroes later served multiple terms as a judge in Seville and Córdoba. In 1182, he was appointed as court physician and the chief judge of Córdoba. After Abu Yusuf's death in 1184, he remained in royal favor until he fell into disgrace in 1195. He was targeted on various charges—likely for political reasons—and was exiled to nearby Lucena. He returned to royal favor shortly before his death on 11 December 1198.

Averroes was a strong proponent of Aristotelianism; he attempted to restore what he considered the original teachings of Aristotle and opposed the Neoplatonist tendencies of earlier Muslim thinkers, such as Al-Farabi and Avicenna. He also defended the pursuit of philosophy against criticism by Ashari theologians such as Al-Ghazali. Averroes argued that philosophy was permissible in Islam and even compulsory among certain elites. He also argued scriptural text should be interpreted allegorically if it appeared to contradict conclusions reached by reason and philosophy. In Islamic jurisprudence, he wrote the Bidāyat al-Mujtahid on the differences between Islamic schools of law and the principles that caused their differences. In medicine, he proposed a new theory of stroke, described the signs and symptoms of Parkinson's disease for the first time, and might have been the first to identify the retina as the part of the eye responsible for sensing light. His medical book Al-Kulliyat fi al-Tibb, translated into Latin and known as the Colliget, became a textbook in Europe for centuries.

His legacy in the Islamic world was modest for geographical and intellectual reasons. In the west, Averroes was known for his extensive commentaries on Aristotle, many of which were translated into Latin and Hebrew. The translations of his work reawakened western European interest in Aristotle and Greek thinkers, an area of study that had been widely abandoned after the fall of the Roman Empire. His thoughts generated controversies in Latin Christendom and triggered a philosophical movement called Averroism based on his writings. His unity of the intellect thesis, proposing that all humans share the same intellect, became one of the most well-known and controversial Averroist doctrines in the west. His works were condemned by the Catholic Church in 1270 and 1277. Although weakened by condemnations and sustained critique from Thomas Aquinas, Latin Averroism continued to attract followers up to the sixteenth century.

-- Averroes, by Wikipedia


Additional resources

• "The Identity of Koot Hoomi of Kashmir" blog entry from the American Minervan. Accessed Jun 14, 2019.

Notes

1. National Indian Association, Journal of the National Indian Association (1883), 128.
2. Echoes of the Past: Master Koot Hoomi by Mary K. Neff
3. An Important Correction by Charles J. Ryan
4. Three Lectures : the Reminiscences of the German University Life ; The True Theosophist ; and the Mricchakatikam, or, The Toy Cart by Nishikânta Chattopâdhyâya

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Chapter II: The Origin of the Yatra [Excerpt from The Bengali Drama: It's Origin and Development]
by P Guha-Thakurta
1930

If we carefully examine all the older and more primitive forms of dramatic art, even in peoples very far removed from each other geographically and ethnologically, we notice that “drama” in its first stage arises almost invariably from mimetic song and dancing as integral parts of some religious or secular rites. It is quite obvious that the Yatras, as we find them to-day, did not owe their origin mainly to the desire for amusements of a secular nature nor were they entirely the outcome of religious ritual. The name “yatra” literally means a “procession.” A “yatra” originally may have been such a procession as was customary with worshippers and devotees at the time of the regular festivals of their own god or cult. Some kind of musical performance and sympathetic dancing must have formed a part of the procession. Even when the “yatra” no longer remained rigidly connected with religious ceremonies at a regular place of worship, it was still called by its original name, “procession.” Professor Sylvain Levi observed: “Associes aux processions (Yatras) du culte ces spectacles en prirent le nom, et ils le garderent encore après s’etre detaches des ceremonies religieuses pour mener une existence independente.”1 [Google translate: Associated with the processions (Yatras) of the cult these spectacles took the name from it, and they kept it even after having detached themselves from the religious ceremonies to lead an independent existence.] Though one may trace a close connection between primitive drama and music and religious ritual in all countries, it should not be forgotten that the Yatras of Bengal differ in many important characteristics from all other varieties of dramatic representation, whether ancient or modern, and whether in the east or west. The difference lies not so much in the actual types of plays represented by the Yatras as in the specific circumstances under which the performances used to take place and still take place. We will go into this question in greater detail in subsequent chapters.2 The main difficulty in the way of arriving at definite conclusions in regard to the actual sources of the Yatra is the total absence of a chronological history of the older Yatras and their writers. The existing specimens belong to a much later period from 1800 downwards. If we were in possession of a really authentic list of all the Yatras, whether still in existence or not, we could have surmised something about their true nature and also the earlier methods of their production. It is quite probable that at a very early stage the Yatrawalas used to extemporize the music and words of the plays to suit a specific religious festival or social entertainment and that they made no serious attempt at literary composition or publication. We have also no means of discovering whether the religious festivals with which the Yatras were so closely associated in the beginning, are in any way similar to those held in ancient India in honour of the various gods and goddesses. In fact, we know only very little about the so-called “dramatic” festivals of ancient times. The account of alleged “dramatic spectacles” exhibited before the two disciples of Buddha, given in the early Buddhist literature and mentioned by Csoma Korosi,3 does not throw any real light upon the problem of historical sequence. In the third century B.C. Megasthenes speaks of the cult of Siva “as being very predominant among the inhabitants of the mountains who wreathed, anointed, carrying bells and cymbals, followed their kings during the festivals of this god.”4 The same writer describes how the Indo-Aryans belonging to the mountains “worshipped Dionysus or Siva while those of the plain Heracles or Vishnu, and indeed quite especially in his incarnation as Krishna.”5 Another historian tells us: “In the Mahabharata which, however, in its existing redaction, is conceived in the interest of Vishnuism, the cultus which we find most widely spread is that of Civa. He is the Dionysus of Megasthenes, who relates that he was worshipped especially upon the mountains, the rival cultus of Heracles or Krishna being thenceforth dominant in the plains of the Ganges.”6 Dr. Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyay has attempted to prove that all these religious festivals to which references are found in ancient Indian history partook of the nature of the Bengali Yatras and were as well their real precursors.7 This is, of course, extremely conjectural. There is no doubt that religious festivals in the form of dramatic pantomimes used to be performed in ancient India in connection with various popular gods and heroes, but certainly there is no historical evidence to prove a continuous evolution of these festivals or these spectacular performances. Lassen seems to have taken the right view in regard to this whole question: “There cannot be anything contrary to the supposition that similar festivals with similar representations were also celebrated at a much earlier period, although it must be reserved to further researches to show how early this was and of what nature these festivals really were.”8

The contention that the Yatra developed entirely or mainly in connection with the cult or worship of Krsna is open to objection on some very simple and obvious grounds. Firstly, the historical facts and literary data which generally give rise to this theory are quite insufficient and one-sided. For instance, Dr. Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyay attempts to prove it9 by a very exclusive treatment of a handful of Krsna-Yatras of only one well-known Yatrawala, Krsna Kamal Gosvami, published between 1860-71. Secondly, the repeated and persistent mention of Jaydeb’s Gita Gobinda, as if it were a Bengali Yatra, has led the champions of the Krsnaite origin of the Yatra into obvious mistakes. Gita Gobinda is not a Bengali drama; it is written in Sanskrit. Although it presents some traits of resemblance with some of the Krsna-Yatras, it can hardly be regarded as a representative of the Bengali Yatra proper. It is quite true that Bengal has for a long time been the stronghold of Vaisnava thoughts and ideas and that the religious and aesthetic movements started by Chaitanya [1486-1534] and his companions, have influenced Bengali life and literature to an enormous extent. But it should not be forgotten that religion of many forms and cults is inseparably connected with the life of the Hindus. The historian Barth bears witness to “the religious ardour with which the militant parties of the different sects maintain the exclusive title of their god to supremacy and adoration.”10 We know that in Bengal as well as in other parts of India, the cult of Siva flourished side by side with the cult of Krsna, and in fact, in point of historical time, the Siva cult is believed to have preceded the Krsna-cult.11 In the pre-Muhammadan period of Bengali history, Saivism grew up as a strong religious power, combated Buddhism, and succeeded in reviving and reinstating Hinduism in Bengal. It was not until much later, during the time of the Pauranic Renaissance in Bengal that Saivism declined and was overshadowed by the new Sakta-cult.12 An old Bengali journal named “Soma Prakas” is mentioned13 as having contained a statement to the effect that the Yatras that were in existence long before the coming of Chaitanya depended, almost without exception, on Sakta subjects and at that time the Krsna-Yatra was not even heard of. The Sakta cult, which in Bengal for the most part consists in the worship of the “Divine Mother” in the form of the goddess Kali or Durga or any of her other incarnations such as Chandi or Manasa, found its most characteristic expression in the popular Chandi-Yatras and Bhasan-Yatras. Most likely the Chandi-Yatra grew out of a very old type of musical performance called Chandir Gan (The Song of Chandi). The best specimens of the Chandi-Yatra in Bengal are those by Guru Prasad Ballabh of Farasdanga. The Bhasan-Yatra is usually connected with the annual festival of Manasa Devi in the villages of lower Bengal. The festival is both social and religious. Boat races and ‘mela’s (village fairs are held during the day and at night the worshippers keep vigil, and chant poems before the temple of the goddess. The songs are taken from the popular stories connected with Behula and Phullara and also from the events in the life of Chamd Saodagar (Chamd, the merchant) who, having fallen under the wrath of Manasa for defying her, wanders in many lands and is ultimately driven by strange circumstances to worship her. Bhasan-Yatras produced by Lausen Baral were among the best of their kind.14 The cult of Siva was also represented by those popular plays which dealt with the domestic scenes on Mount Kailas, the mythical abode of Siva.
Mr. Binay Kumar Sarkar15 gives us an interesting account of an ancient Hindu institution, partly religious and partly dramatic, known as the Gambhara festival, which is entirely connected with the cult and worship of Siva. It used to be held in honour of Siva regularly every year in different parts of Bengal, Assam and Orissa. Mr. Sarkar things that “to a certain extent, the literature of the Gambhira-cycles may be compared with the Mystery and Miracle plays in old English and No-plays of Japan.”16 Mr. Sarkar traces the origin of the Gambhira institution from the very earliest times through the Vedas, epics, Buddhistic literature and the records of Hiuen Tsang, indicates the total extent of the geographical area through which it actually spread, deals with the dramatic devices and methods by which it was presented to the people, and points out its influence upon Bengali culture and folk-arts. Mr. Sarkar says, “The educative influence of such agencies as popular festivals is very well illustrated by their effects upon the literature, arts, industries, morals, and public spirit of the people who took part in this socio-religious ceremony in connection with the worship of Siva.”17 Besides the Saiva and Sakta Yatras, there actually existed in Bengal many other different varieties of Yatra such as the Rama-Yatra and Vidya-Sundar Yatra which were also very widely popular in their own time. Jay Chandra, Prem Chamd and Ananda were well-known Adhikaris or Yatrawalas, who became renowned in Bengal by their productions of the Rama Yatra. Gopal Uriya (1819-59) was the foremost among the producers of the Vidya-Sundar-Yatra. The songs and dances of Hira, a flower-girl, constituted the chief feature of all Vidya-Sundar-Yatras.18 The existence of Yatras other than Krsna-Yatras before the latter appeared in Bengal cannot, therefore, be doubted. Even Krsna Kamal Gosvami, to whose Yatras Dr. Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyay specifically refers, remarks19 that numerous plays based on the epics were existent in his own time, and the reason why he himself thought of writing some Krsna-Yatras was that he found the others either too learned for ordinary people or too much vitiated by obscenity. Krsna Kamal (1810-88) is perhaps the most renowned of all the reformers of the Yatra. The Krsna-Yatra in Bengal owes its increasing popularity and refinement almost entirely to Krsna Kamal. His first Yatra, called Svapna Bilas (Dream Pleasure) was composed about 1835. It was performed immediately by several Yatra-parties in Dacca. It was published some years later and had an amazing circulation. In a preface to his second production named Bichitra Bilas (The Amour Wonderful), Krsna Kamal wrote about Svapna Bilas: “The public probably liked the work; otherwise why should there be a sale of 20,000 copies in such a short time?” Rai Unmadini (The Frenzied Radha) which came after Bichitra Bilas, is perhaps his best and most finished Yatra. His other minor Yatras are Bharat Milan (The Meeting with Bharat), Nimai Sanyas (The Renunciation of Nimai), and Gostha (A Pastoral Idyll). Except Bharat Milan, in which the episode of the meeting of Bharat and Rama when Bharat implores Rama to come back to Ayodhya, is taken from the Mahabharata, all the Yatras of Krsna Kamal deal with incidents in the life of Krsna in Brndaban. His Krsna-Yatras were, as a rule, characterized by a strong emotional lyricism and the moral earnestness of a true Vaisnav. The Krsna-Yatra was developed and popularized by a host of other writers and producers, both before and after Krsna Kamal. The name of Sisuram Adhikari will always be remembered as one of the ablest and most successful producers of the Krsna-Yatra. He was a contemporary of Ram Prasad (1718-75) and Bharat Chandra (1722-60). An account of him appears in Rajendra Lal Mitra’s Bibidhartha Samgraha.20 The improvements Sisuram introduced into the Yatra were later carried on by his well-known disciple Sridam-Subal. Sridam-Subal also found a very worthy successor in Paramananda Das. At the time of Paramananda and his contemporary Prem Chamd of Vidya-Sundar-Yatra fame, the Krsna-Yatra reached its high-water mark. Paramananda introduced a new feature into the songs well known as “tukko” (which means the turning of the last part of a song written in payar style into a kirtan ending), which became very popular. After Paramananda’s death, his mantle fell on Gobinda Adhikari (1798-1870). Besides being a good producer, Gobinda was an original composer of songs, most of which were written in alliterative verse. Gobinda discarded his master’s “tukko” style of singing which was, however, revived later by his own disciple Badan. After the death of Badan, the Yatra began to decline in Bengal. The tradition was, however, carried on by inferior men like Brajanath and Nilkantha but they were unable to save the Yatra from its inevitable fate. It is quite evident that the later improved tone and healthier development of the Yatra came as a direct result of the Vaisnava revival under Chaitanya and his followers. Its gradual growth and expansion went hand in hand with the dissemination of the cult of Krsna. In fact, there actually came in the history of popular dramatic representations in Bengal a time when the Krsna-Yatra over-shadowed all others and became the most convenient instrument in the hands of the Vaisnavas to propagate their ideas amongst the masses.

From the above brief survey of the different varieties of the Bengali Yantras, it appears quite clearly that the theme of a Yatra was by no means necessarily taken from the life and adventures of Krsna, but was quite as often adapted from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, Pauranic legends, folk-tales, and mythology. Professor Sylvain Levi, while speaking of the very wide range of topics dealt with in the Yatras, observed: “Les auteurs ne sont pas interdit toutefois de sortir du cycle Krishnaite; ils ont emprunte sans scruple leurs sujets au Mahabharata et au Ramayana … le civaisme meme a prete parfois ses divinites et ses legends: temoin les amours de Civa et Parvati.”21 [Google translate: The authors are not however forbidden to leave the Krishnaite cycle; they unscrupulously borrowed their subjects from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana… the civaisme itself sometimes lent its divinities and its legends: witness the loves of Civa and Parvati.] Sir J.H. Marshall22 gives us a very interesting descriptive list of the various existing types of dramatic representations in India. It shows a large quantity of different themes which are adopted for the various performances and the many religious cults and institutions with which these are associated. There is no doubt that in Bengal, as elsewhere, the different social and religious institutions largely contributed to the development of literature and fine arts. As a matter of fact, at no point of their literary or religious history did the people of Bengal completely neglect or forget to celebrate in song, drama, poetry or ritual their innumerable gods and goddesses.23 A country like Bengal which is so old may quite reasonably claim to have a history or at least a legendary past of its own, the most important events of which will naturally have been utilized in a suitable manner for purposes of popular entertainment and instruction. It may be concluded, therefore, that the popular plays like the Yatra did not necessarily confine themselves to the worship and cult of Krsna or draw their inspiration only from the literature or history that gathered round this god, but drew freely from the Puranas and mythology, folk-legends and epic stories and, in fact, from every possible indigenous source.


The Bengali Yatra may be regarded then as a kind of community drama originating in the religious worship of the various gods and goddesses of antiquity and serving as a convenient medium through which the religious and social ideas and feelings appropriate to the different festivals and holidays, found a natural expression. Divine worship as a whole suggested the possibilities of dramatic representation, for which the epics and folk-literature gave characters, and the ancient mythology and Puranas furnished stories. In fact, no other type of popular drama has sprung so directly out of the peculiar conditions of Bengali life, nor has any other form of play developed in such definite and close connection with the distinctive aesthetic ideas and religious beliefs of the Bengali people. The merits and defects of the Yatra can be fully understood only if we bear in mind the essential characteristics of Bengali culture and the particular temperament and sentiments to which it has always appealed. To the entire rural Bengali community, the Yatras have been as familiar as their daily routine of life, acquainted as they are with all the traditional stories with which these plays deal. They recognize their heroes of history and legend as soon as they appear in a play and they accept from generation to generation, without the slightest demur, all the old tales of romance and mythology exactly in the way these are presented and interpreted to them through the Yatras.24 The Yatras most clearly demonstrate what a firm hold the Puranas, epics and mythology of the past have retained on the minds of the Bengali people. We are not, therefore, surprised in the least that the dramatic devices and methods of the Yatra should have remained pretty much the same for ages, and that the successive playwrights and Yatrawalas should have utilized the same stories over and over again.

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Notes:

1. Le Theatre Indien, p. 394.

2. See Chaps. IV and V, pp. 20-30.

3. Asiatic Researches, xx, 50. See also Weber, Indische Literraturgeschichte, p. 217. Also Lassen, Indische Alterhumskunde, vol. ii, p. 502.

4. Indische Alterthumskunde, vol. ii, pp. 690 and 698.

5. Indische Alterthumskunde, vol. iii, p. 453; see also vol. i, pp. 795 and 925. Cf. Megasthenes, Indica, p. 135, ed. by Schwanbeck. Lassen's interpretation of the passage from Megasthenes has been contested by A. Weber (Indische Studien, ii, p. 409)

6. A. Barth, The Religions of India, trans. by J. Wood (1882), p. 163.

7. The Yatras or The Popular Dramas of Bengal, pp. 45 ff.

8. Indische Alterthumskunde, chap. ii. p. 505.

9. See The Yatras or The Popular Dramas of Bengal, pp. 2 ff.

10. The Religions of India, p. 183.

11. See D.C. Sen, History of Bengali Language and Literature, pp. 63-73 and 235-50.

12. Ibid., pp. 252-362.

13. See Amarendra Nath Ray's article entitled "Yatra Katha" in the first number of Rup o Ranga, 1321 B.S. (A.D. 1914-15).

14. For a fuller account of the cult of Manasa Devi, the folk literature connected with her, and the places where festivals are still regularly held in her honour, see D.C. Sen, History of Bengali Language and Literature, pp. 256 ff.

15. The Folk-Element in Hindu Culture, pp. 14 ff.

16. Ibid., p. 20.

17. Ibid., pp. 14-15.

18. A very interesting account of the Vidya-Sundar Yatras in Bengal appeared in Sanjib Chandra Chatterji's Yatra-Samalochana (A critical review of the Yatra), Calcutta, 1907.

19. See The Collected Works of Krsna Kamal Gosvami, 2nd ed., pp. 179-80.

20. Mentioned by Mr. Amarendra Nath Ray. See Rup o Ranga, first number, 1331 B.S. (A.D. 1924-25), p. 19.

21. Le Theatre Indien, p. 394.

22. See Dr. William Ridgeway's Dramas and Dramatic Dances of non-European Races, pp. 172-210.

23. "The Hindu tendency to deify the energies, nature-forces, or personal attributes or emotions has constructed all the gods and goddesses of India, practically speaking, as so many embodiments of the various phases of the country itself and of the culture it has developed through the ages. And the invention of deities has not yet ceased." -- Mr. B.K. Sarkar, Folk-Element in Hindu Culture, p. 260.

24. It may be mentioned in this connection that Aristotle approved of the choice of legendary themes for the Attic drama because of the inherent Greek faith in the mythology of the country and its intimate connection with the traditional history of the people. -- See Politics, C9.

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Retrospect of the Year 1876-7, Excerpt from The Brahmo Year-Book for 1877: Brief Records of Work and Life in the Theistic Churches of India
edited by Sophia Dobson Collet
"Mercury" Steam Printing Works, High Street, Bedford
1877

Lastly, it should be mentioned that among the Indian youths who come to England for study, several Brahmos have won honourable distinction. Mr. Krishna Govinda Gupta, C.S., and Mr. Ananda Mohan Bose, M.A. Cantab., now a rising barrister of Calcutta, returned home in 1874; and during the past year, Mr. Prasanna Kumar Ray, having taken the degree of Dr. of Science (in Mental Philosophy) at the Universities of London and of Edinburgh, returned to India, and was shortly afterwards appointed Assistant-Professor at Patna College, and in the department of physical science. A Dacca friend informs me that Dr. Ray "is the President of a scientific society established at Patna, and periodical lectures on scientific subjects are delivered by himself and other Bengali gentlemen under its auspices." He also conducts divine service in the local Brahmo Somaj. -- Another young Brahmo, Babu Nisi Kanta Chattopadhaya, after studying some time at Edinburgh, and for two or three years at Leipzig, has lately been appointed Professor of Oriental Languages at the University of St. Petersburgh, an appointment probably resulting from the reputation which he has gained from various lectures on Oriental subjects which he delivered in Germany last winter. These lectures are now appearing in the Leipzig Duetsche Wochenschrift, and the two which have reached me are both able and interesting. The first, on "Buddhism and Christianity," [Buddhism and Christianity: The Chronology of the Hindus. Lectures in German by Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyaya. Published in the Deutsche Wochenschrift (German Weekly Journal), Nos. 1, 2, 11, 12, and 13. July and September, 1877. Leipzig: Carl Hildebrand. Thalstrasse 31.] has given much offence in some religious circles in Germany, from its freely expressed views on certain points. Doubtless the author's conception of Christianity is inadequate, and rests upon an insufficient knowledge of Christian life and history; but he warmly appreciates the moral idealism of Christ, and he writes to me thus of his general position towards Christianity: -- "It is not at all true that it is antagonistic, as is fancied by many here. In my lectures I have proceeded as objectively as possible, and I have consciously neither exalted Buddhism nor depreciated Christianity. Those who know me, know that I love the spirit of Christ, the life in Jesus, as much as ever."

It only remains to add that these four Brahmo students are all natives of East Bengal, and commenced their career at the Dacca College.


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Personal Intelligence, from Journal of the National Indian Association in Aid of Social Progress and Female Education in India
Dominus Illuminatio Mea [Lord is my light]
Sir M. Monier-Williams, KCIE
1883

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Dominus Illuminatio Mea [Lord is my light]

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Mr. Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyaya has taken the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in the University of Zurich. The Dean of the Faculty and his colleagues, in conferring on him summa cum laude, the highest distinction of the University, expressed themselves as highly satisfied with the way in which he had passed the Examination.

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1879, Excerpt from Masters and Men: The Human Story in the Mahatma Letters (a fictionalized account)
by Virginia Hanson
The Theosophical Publishing House
Madras, India
c 1980 The Theosophical Publishing House

Most of the Letters are over the signature of the Mahatma Koot Hoomi, usually signed simply "K.H." A Kashmiri Brahmin by birth, at the time of the correspondence he was a Buddhist. Koot Hoomi is a mystical name which he instructed H.P.B. to use in connection with his correspondence with Mr. Sinnett. It is possible that his real name was Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyaya, as that seems to have been the name by which he was known when he was attending at least one European University. He was fluent in both English and French and was sometimes affectionally spoken of by the Mahatma Morya as "my Frenchified K.H."

At one time, under special circumstances, the Mahatma Morya took over the correspondence temporarily. He too used only his initial as a signature. "He was a Rajput by birth," said H.P.B., "One of the warrior race of the Indian desert, the finest and handsomest nation in the world." He was "a giant, six feet eight, and splendidly built; a superb type of manly beauty." The Mahatma K.H. referred to him humorously as "my bulky brother." He was not proficient in English and spoke of himself as using words and phrases "lying idle in my friend's brain" -- meaning, of course, the brain of the Mahatma K.H.


In 1870, the same year that Keshub visited England, two other Indians took ship from England to America. They were a Bombay textile magnate called Moolji Thackersey (Seth Damodar Thackersey Mulji, died 1880) and Mr. Tulsidas. Josephine Ransom, an early historian of the Theosophical Society, writes that they were “on a mission to the West to see what could be done to introduce Eastern spiritual and philosophic ideas.” Traveling on the same boat was Henry Olcott, fresh from his experiences in London’s spiritualist circles. Olcott was sufficiently impressed by this shipboard meeting to keep a framed photograph of the two Indians on the wall of the apartment he was sharing with Blavatsky in 1877. It was one evening in that year that a visitor who had traveled in India (sometimes identified as James Peebles) remarked on the photograph. Olcott writes in his memoirs of the consequences of this extraordinary series of coincidences:

I took it down, showed it to him, and asked if he knew either of the two. He did know Moolji Thackersey and had quite recently met him in Bombay. I got the address, and by the next mail wrote to Moolji about our Society, our love for India and what caused it. In due course he replied in quite enthusiastic terms, accepted the offered diploma of membership, and told me about a great Hindu pandit and reformer, who had begun a powerful movement for the resuscitation of pure Vedic religion.


This reformer was Swami Dayananda Saraswati (1824-1882). In 1870 he was still an eccentric traveling preacher with no aspirations to international influence: something that grew on him precisely after meeting the Brahmo Samajists. He met Devandranath [Debendranath] Tagore in 1870; in 1873 Keshub Chunder Sen gave him the advice (which he took) to stop wearing only a loincloth and speaking only Sanskrit. Indefatigably stumping round the subcontinent, Dayananda founded his “powerful movement,” the Arya Samaj, in 1875. This chronology suggests that in 1870 Thackersey was probably coming to America as a representative of the Brahmo Samaj, but that by the time Olcott got in touch with him again, he had transferred his allegiance to the Arya Samaj.

The Arya Samaj was more radical than any wing of the Brahmo Samaj, on which it was partially modeled. Dayananda was a monotheist who believed in the Vedas as the sole revealed scripture and the basis for a universal religion. The various gods addressed in the Vedic hymns (Agni, Indra, etc.), he explained as aspects of the One, and he was prepared to demonstrate how these ancient texts contained all possible knowledge of man, nature, and the means of salvation and happiness. Of the quarrels between the various religions, he wrote: “My purpose and aim is to help in putting an end to this mutual wrangling, to preach universal truth, to bring all men under one religion so that they may, by ceasing to hate each other and firmly loving each other, life in peace and work for their common welfare.” He had no respect whatever for Brahmanism: for their scriptures, rituals, polytheism, caste system, and discrimination against women. Unfortunately for his opponents, he was immensely learned and articulate, could out-argue most pundits, and had, in the last resort (which often seems to have occurred) the advantage of being 6’9” tall and broad to match.

From Dayananda’s point of view, the Brahmo Samajists had erred both in their failure to recognize the supremacy of the Vedas, and in their too-ready embrace of the errors of other religions. They were moreover too addicted to Brahmanic customs and privileges. Here is a contemporary summary of his social principles:

He says that no inhabitant of India should be called a Hindu, that an ignorant Brahmin should be made a Shudra, and a Shudra, who is learned, well-behaved and religious should be made a Brahmin. Both men and women should be taught Language, Grammar, Dharmashastras, Vedas, Science and Philosophy. Women should receive special education in Chemistry, Music and Medical Science; they should know what foods promote health, strength and vigour. He condemns child marriage as the root of the most of the evils. A girl should be educated and married at the age of twenty. If a widow wants to remarry, she should be allowed to do so. According to his opinion, there is no particular difference between the householder and the sannyasi.


It is not surprising that the Theosophists in New York took kindly to the Arya Samaj, at first through correspondence with Thackersey, then through the Bombay branch head, Hurrychund Chintamon, and lastly through Dayananda himself. The two societies were united for a time, though the Theosophists were disillusioned as soon as they discovered the strength of Dayananda's Vedic fundamentalism and his hostility to all other religions. On Dayananda's unexpected death, Blavatsky wrote a generous obituary in The Theosophist for December 1883. She appreciated him for defending what he saw as the best of his native heritage against the priestcraft of Brahmins and Christians alike, and for his leadership in an enlightened social policy of which she could only have approved.

As the Arya Samaj continued to flourish after Dayananda's death, it became a rallying point for that movement of Hindu nationalism that wanted neither to turn back the clock to Brahmanic theocracy, nor to embrace Western materialism along with the benefits of science and technology. What Rammohun Roy had set in motion, the Arya Samaj carried forward into the era of the Indian National Congress and the independence movement of the twentieth century. Dayananda himself died -- some said poisoned -- at the time when his mission was beginning to have real success among the North Indian rulers, but he had done enough to be celebrated as a father-figure by leaders of Indian independence such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, and Aurobindo Ghose.

-- The Theosophical Enlightenment, by Joscelyn Godwin
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We often hear of negroes who have learnt music, who are clerks in banking-houses, and who know how to read, write, count, dance, and speak, like white men. People are astonished at this, and conclude that the negro is capable of everything! And then, in the same breath, they will express surprise at the contrast between the Slav civilization and our own. The Russians, Poles, and Serbians (they will say), even though they are far nearer to us than the negroes, are only civilized on the surface; the higher classes alone participate in our ideas, owing to the continual admixture of English, French, and German blood. The masses, on the other hand, are invincibly ignorant of the Western world and its movements, although they have been Christian for so many centuries — in many cases before we were converted ourselves! The solution is simple. There is a great difference between imitation and conviction. Imitation does not necessarily imply a serious breach with hereditary instincts; but no one has a real part in any civilization until he is able to make progress by himself, without direction from others.* [In discussing the list of remarkable negroes which is given in the first instance by Blumenbach and could easily be supplemented, Carus well says that among the black races there has never been any politics or literature or any developed ideas of art, and that when any individual negroes have distinguished themselves it has always been the result of white influence. There is not a single man among them to be compared, I will not say to one of our men of genius, but to the heroes of the yellow races — for example, Confucius. (Carus, op. cit.)] What is the use of telling me how clever some particular savages are in guiding the plough, in spelling, or reading, when they are only repeating the lessons they have learnt? Show me rather, among the many regions in which negroes have lived for ages in contact with Europeans, one single place where, in addition to the religious doctrines, the ideas, customs, and institutions of even one European people have been so completely assimilated that progress in them is made as naturally and spontaneously as among ourselves. Show me a place where the introduction of printing has had results, similar to those in Europe, where our sciences are brought to perfection, where new applications are made of our discoveries, where our philosophies are the parents of other philosophies, of political systems, of literature and art, of books, statues, and pictures!...

Owen's observations have, no doubt, considerable value; I would prefer, however, the most recent of the craniological systems, which is at the same time, in many ways, the most ingenious, I mean that of the American scholar Morton, adopted by Carus.* [Carus, op. cit., from which the following details are taken.] In outline this is as follows:

To show the difference of races, Morton and Carus started from the idea, that the greater the size of the skull, the higher the type to which the individual belonged, and they set out to investigate whether the development of the skull is equal in all the human races.

To solve this question, Morton took a certain number of heads belonging to whites, Mongols, negroes, and Redskins of North America. He stopped all the openings with cotton, except the foramen magnum, and completely filled the inside with carefully dried grains of pepper. He then compared the number of grains in each....

[Carus] likes to think that, just as we see our planet pass through the four stages of day and night, evening and morning twilight, so there must be in the human species four subdivisions corresponding to these. He sees here a symbol, which is always a temptation for a subtle mind. Carus yields to it, as many of his learned fellow-countrymen would have done in his place. The white races are the nations of the day; the black those of the night; the yellow those of the Eastern, and the red those of the Western twilight. We may easily guess the ingenious comparisons suggested by such a picture. Thus, the European nations, owing to the brilliance of their scientific knowledge and the clear outlines of their civilization, are obviously in the full glare of day, while the negroes sleep in the darkness of ignorance, and the Chinese live in a half-light that gives them an incomplete, though powerful, social development. As for the Redskins, who are gradually disappearing from the earth, where can we find a more beautiful image of their fate than the setting sun?...

We must mention another law before going further. Crossing of blood does not merely imply the fusion of the two varieties, but also creates new characteristics, which henceforth furnish the most important standpoint from which to consider any particular sub-species. Examples will be given later; meanwhile I need hardly say that these new and original qualities cannot be completely developed unless there has previously been a perfect fusion of the parent-types; otherwise the tertiary race cannot be considered as really established. The larger the two nations are, the greater will naturally be the time required for their fusion. But until the process is complete, and a state of physiological identity brought about, no new sub-species will be possible, as there is no question of normal development from an original, though composite source, but merely of the confusion and disorder that are always engendered from the imperfect mixture of elements which are naturally foreign to each other.

Our actual knowledge of the life of these tertiary races is very slight. Only in the misty beginnings of human history can we catch a glimpse, in certain places, of the white race when it was still in this stage — a stage which seems to have been everywhere short-lived. The civilizing instincts of these chosen peoples were continually forcing them to mix their blood with that of others. As for the black and yellow types, they are mere savages in the tertiary stage, and have no history at all.* [[Carl Gustav] Carus gives his powerful support to the law I have laid down, namely that the civilizing races are especially prone to mix their blood. He points out the immense variety of elements composing the perfected human organism, as against the simplicity of the infinitesimal beings on the lowest step in the scale of creation. He deduces the following axiom: "Whenever there is an extreme likeness between the elements of an organic whole, its state cannot be regarded as the expression of a complete and final development, but is merely primitive and elementary" (uber die ungleiche Befahigkeit der verschiedenen Menschheitstamme fur hohere geistige Entwickelung, p. 4). In another place he says: "The greatest possible diversity (i.e. inequality) of the parts, together with the most complete unity of the whole, is clearly, in every sphere, the standard of the highest perfection of an organism." In the political world this is the state of a society where the governing classes are racially quite distinct from the masses, while being themselves carefully organised into a strict hierarchy.]...

Is there also an inequality in physical strength? The American savages, like the Hindus, are certainly our inferiors in this respect, as are also the Australians. The negroes, too, have less muscular power;* [See (among other authorities), for the American aborigine, Martius and Spix, Reise in Brasilien, vol. i, p. 259; for the negroes, Pruner, Der Neger, eine aphoristische Skizze aus der medizinischen Topographie von Cairo, in the Zeitschrift der Deutschen morgenlandischen Gesellschaft, vol. i, p. 131; for the muscular superiority of the white race over all the others, Carus, op. cit., p. 84.] and all these peoples are infinitely less able to bear fatigue...

The negroid variety is the lowest, and stands at the foot of the ladder. The animal character, that appears in the shape of the pelvis, is stamped on the negro from birth, and foreshadows his destiny. His intellect will always move within a very narrow circle. He is not however a mere brute, for behind his low receding brow, in the middle of his skull, we can see signs of a powerful energy, however crude its objects. If his mental faculties are dull or even non-existent, he often has an intensity of desire, and so of will, which may be called terrible. Many of his senses, especially taste and smell, are developed to an extent unknown to the other two races.* [Taste and smell in the negro are as powerful as they are undiscriminating. He eats everything, and odours which are revolting to us are pleasant to him" (Pruner).]

The very strength of his sensations is the most striking proof of his inferiority. All food is good in his eyes, nothing disgusts or repels him. What he desires is to eat, to eat furiously, and to excess; no carrion is too revolting to be swallowed by him. It is the same with odours; his inordinate desires are satisfied with all, however coarse or even horrible. To these qualities may be added an instability and capriciousness of feeling, that cannot be tied down to any single object, and which, so far as he is concerned, do away with all distinctions of good and evil. We might even say that the violence with which he pursues the object that has aroused his senses and inflamed his desires is a guarantee of the desires being soon satisfied and the object forgotten. Finally, he is equally careless of his own life and that of others: he kills willingly, for the sake of killing; and this human machine, in whom it is so easy to arouse emotion, shows, in face of suffering, either a monstrous indifference or a cowardice that seeks a voluntary refuge in death.

The yellow race is the exact opposite of this type. The skull points forward, not backward. The forehead is wide and bony, often high and projecting. The shape of the face is triangular, the nose and chin showing none of the coarse protuberances that mark the negro. There is further a general proneness to obesity, which, though not confined to the yellow type, is found there more frequently than in the others. The yellow man has little physical energy, and is inclined to apathy; he commits none of the strange excesses so common among negroes. His desires are feeble, his will-power rather obstinate than violent; his longing for material pleasures, though constant, is kept within bounds. A rare glutton by nature, he shows far more discrimination in his choice of food. He tends to mediocrity in everything; he understands easily enough anything not too deep or sublime.* [Carus, op. cit., p. 60.] He has a love of utility and a respect for order, and knows the value of a certain amount of freedom. He is practical, in the narrowest sense of the word. He does not dream or theorize; he invents little, but can appreciate and take over what is useful to him. His whole desire is to live in the easiest and most comfortable way possible. The yellow races are thus clearly superior to the black. Every founder of a civilization would wish the backbone of his society, his middle class, to consist of such men. But no civilized society could be created by them; they could not supply its nerve-force, or set in motion the springs of beauty and action.


-- The Inequality of Human Races, by Arthur De Gobineau


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Carl Gustav Carus by Johann Carl Rößler

Carl Gustav Carus (3 January 1789 – 28 July 1869) was a German physiologist and painter, born in Leipzig, who played various roles during the Romantic era. A friend of the writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, he was a many-sided man: a doctor, a naturalist, a scientist, a psychologist, and a landscape painter who studied under Caspar David Friedrich.

Life and work

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Carl Gustav Carus - Ruine Eldena mit Hütte bei Greifswald im Mondschein

In 1811 he graduated as a doctor of medicine and a doctor of philosophy. In 1814 he was appointed professor of obstetrics and director of the maternity clinic at the teaching institution for medicine and surgery in Dresden. He wrote on art theory. From 1814 to 1817 he taught himself oil painting working under Caspar David Friedrich, a Dresden landscape painter. Subsequently he studied under Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld at the Oeser drawing academy.

When the King of Saxony, Frederick Augustus II, made an informal tour of Britain in 1844, Carus accompanied him as his personal physician. It was not a state visit, but the King, with Carus, was the guest of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Windsor Castle, and Carus was able to visit many of the sights in London and the university cities of Oxford and Cambridge, and meet others active in the field of scientific discoveries. They toured widely in England, Wales and Scotland, and afterwards Carus published, on the basis of his journal, The King of Saxony's Journey through England and Scotland, 1844.[1]

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The grave of Carl Gustav Carus, Trinitatis-friedhof, Dresden

He is best known to scientists for originating the concept of the vertebrate archetype, a seminal idea in the development of Darwin's theory of evolution. In 1836, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.[2] Carus is also noted for Psyche (1846).[3]

He developed a theory of landscape painting whose objective was the visualization of the inner workings of geological phenomena, which he called "Erdlebenbildkunst" (pictorial art of the life of the earth).[4]

Carl Jung credited Carus with pointing to the unconscious as the essential basis of the psyche.

Although various philosophers, among them Leibniz, Kant, and Schelling, had already pointed very clearly to the problem of the dark side of the psyche, it was a physician who felt impelled, from his scientific and medical experience, to point to the unconscious as the essential basis of the psyche. This was C. G. Carus, the authority whom Eduard von Hartmann followed. (Jung [1959] 1969, par. 259)


Carus died in Dresden. He is buried in the Trinitatis-Friedhof (Trinitatis Cemetery) east of the city centre. The grave lies in the south-west section, against the southern wall.

Family

His daughter Charlotte Carus married the artist Ernst Rietschel.

Carus, August Gottlob (1763-1842) (August 3rd, 1763, Dahme / Mark) 
 Relationships: Carus, Carl Gustav (1789-1869) [son] 


-- August Gottlob Carus, by Kalliope Verbund


Born in Leipzig in 1789 as the son of the independent master dyer August Gottlob Carus, Carus attended the Thomas-Gymnasium here and began university studies in Leipzig in 1804. After initially attending scientific, medical and philosophical colleges, he decided in 1806 to study medicine exclusively and took lessons at the drawing academy at the same time. His studies were followed by an internship at the St. Jakobs Hospital and his work as a trainee in the practice of the obstetrician Johann Christian Gottfried Joerg (1779–1856).

-- Diseases of the urinary tract during the time of the Dresden doctor Carl Gustav Carus, by Albrecht Scholz, Sigrid Schulz-Beer


Chronology

1789 Carl Gustav Carus born in Leipzig on 3 January, only son of August Gottlob Ehrenfried Carus (1763-1842) and Christiane Elisabeth, née Jàger (1763-1846). His father rents and runs a small dyehouse just outside the city. Despite its modest circumstances, this artisan family has an illustrious circle of friends, including the publishers Christoph Gottlob Breitkopf, Gottfried Christoph Hàrtel, and Georg Joachim Goschen; the choirmaster of the Thomaskirche, August Eberhard Muller; the naturalist Wilhelm Gottfried Tilesius; and the musical writer Friedrich Rochlitz.

1801 Hitherto privately educated, Carl Gustav enters the celebrated Thomasschule in Leipzig, which he attends as a day student until 1804. On walking expeditions in the surrounding countryside with his drawing teacher, Julius Dietz (1770-1843), he makes studies of rocks, plants, and trees.

1804 With Dietz, Carus travels on foot to Dresden to visit the city's celebrated art museum, the Gemáldegalerie. On 21 April, Carus enters Universitàt Leipzig as a student of chemistry, physics, and botany, to which he later adds zoology, geology, and mineralogy.

1806 He transfers to medicine, probably on the advice of his distant relative Friedrich August Carus, the Leipzig professor of philosophy, and in view of the need to choose a profession. He studies anatomy under Christian Rosenmuller (1771-1820), and physiology under Karl Friedrich Burdach (1776-1847), who encourages him to investigate the central nervous system. He attends the drawing academy conducted by Johann Friedrich August Tischbein (the "Leipzig" Tischbein, 1750-1812) and by Veit Hans Schnorr (1764-1841). He strikes up a friendship with Johann Gottlob Regis (1791-1854), the future translator of Rabelais, Shakespeare, and Swift. While a medical student, Carus encounters the nature philosophy of Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775-1854) and of his follower, the philosopher and physician Lorenz Oken (1779—1851), author of the successful Lehrbuch des Systems der Naturphilosophie (Manual of the system of nature philosophy; 1809-11).



1809 Carus embarks on clinical training at the St. Jakob-Hospital in Leipzig under its director, J. Chr. L. Reinhold (1769-1809) and the surgeon J. Chr. A. Clarus (1774-1854). Then, J. Chr. G. Joerg (1779-1856), one of the founders of modern gynecology, invites him to join the maternity hospital in Leipzig.

1811 Carus graduates on 24 March as doctor of philosophy and master of liberal arts. In the same year he obtains his professorial qualification (Habilitation) in the faculty of philosophy and (on 11 October) a license to lecture (as Magister legens). He takes his doctorate in medicine on 20 December with a dissertation De uteri rheumatismo (On the rheumatic inflammation of the uterus). On 1 November Carus marries his father's stepsister, Caroline Carus (1784-1859). First essays in oil painting.

1812 Carus takes up teaching duties at the Universitàt Leipzig, giving classes in comparative anatomy.

1813 In charge of a French field hospital outside Leipzig during the "Battle of the Nations" Carus is horrified by the indifference of rulers to the slaughter of thousands. He catches typhus and fights for his life for three weeks. His physician and teacher Clarus gives him up for dead, but he recovers.

1814 Breitkopf und Hàrtel of Leipzig publish Carus's voluminous work Versuch einer Darstellung des Nervensystems und insbesondere des Gehirns nach ihrer Bedeutung, Entwicklung und Vollendung im thierischen Organismus (Essay on the nervous system, and the brain in particular, with reference to its importance, evolution, and maturation within the animal organism). He is offered a chair of physiology and anatomy at the German university in Dorpat (Estonia), and another at the Provisorische Lehranstalt fur Medizin und Chirurgie (Provisional school of medicine and surgery) in Dresden, combined with the directorship of the maternity hospital there; he moves to Dresden in the winter of 1814 to 1815.

1815 Confirmed as professor at the Kôniglich-Sàchsische Chirurgisch-Medicinische Akademie (Royal Saxon surgical and medical academy). Inaugural address at the official opening of the Akademie in August 1816. In Dresden, Carus visits the landscape painter and etcher Johann Christian Klengel (1751-1824), who encourages but also disappoints him. Begins to write the Nine Letters on Landscape Painting (this is the date given in the first edition; in the Lebenserinnerungen he gives the date as circa 1816: Carl Gustav Carus, Lebenserinnerungen und Denkwurdigkeiten, 3 vols. [Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1865—66], 1:181).

1816 Death of Carus's son Ernst Albert, of scarlet fever. First submission to the art exhibition of the Dresden Akademie: four paintings. Probably in 1816 or thereabouts, Carus has his first contact with Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840), which leads to a close friendship lasting some ten years. Carus visits Abraham Gottlob Werner (1750-1817), inspector and instructor of mining and mineralogy in the Bergakademie (Mining academy) at Freiberg in the Erzgebirge.

1817-18 Carus visits Berlin for the first time.

1818 Carus publishes his Lehrbuch der Zootomie (Manual of zootomy) and sends a copy to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). Goethe and Carus begin to correspond; both become members of the Kaiserlich-Leopoldinisch-Carolinische Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher (Emperor Leopold-Carolingian German academy of naturalists) at Halle an der Saale, founded in 1652. The Norwegian landscape painter Johan Christian Clausen Dahl (1788-1857) arrives in Dresden to pursue his studies and makes the acquaintance of both Friedrich and Carus.

1819 Carus makes a journey to the Baltic coast (with Friedrich's example in mind) and visits Friedrich's brothers at Neubrandenburg and Greifswald; visits the island of Rugen and the chalk cliffs of the Kónigsstuhl. On this trip, Carus makes sixty-two drawings.

1820 Carus publishes the two-volume Lehrbuch der Gynákologie, the first manual of gynecology ever published in Germany; the book makes Carus famous and goes into five editions. He visits Carlsbad, where he meets the philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775-1854) before traveling on to Prague and Zittau. At Caspar David Friedrich's suggestion, he hikes along the crest of the Riesengebirge. The celebrated Danish sculptor Berthel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844) visits Carus in Dresden on his way from Warsaw to Vienna.

1821 Carus meets with Goethe in person, for the only time in his life, in Weimar on 21 July. Carus is traveling to Switzerland on his way to visit Italy for the first time; the trip takes him as far as Genoa. On 12 September Carus climbs Mont Anvert, in the Massif du Mont-Blanc; he draws the mountain and later produces a painting based on his drawings. Carus meets the writer and translator of Shakespeare, Ludwig Tieck (1773-1853); from 1824 onward he will regularly take part in readings in Tieck's home.

1822 In February Carus sends to Goethe all that he has so far written of Letters on Landscape Painting: letters I, II, III, and V, together with three illustrations or sketches for illustrations for his projected scientific treatise on primitive portions of the bone and shell skeleton. Receives royal appointments as a court counselor and medical counselor. Delivers a commemorative lecture at the Gesellschaft deutscher Naturforscher und Àrzte (Society of German naturalists and physicians), which he has founded jointly with Lorenz Oken (1779-1851): Von den Anforderungen an eine kunftige Bearbeitung der Naturwissenschaften (On the requirements of the future practice of the natural sciences).

1823 Carus publishes an essay, "Grundzuge allgemeiner Naturbetrachtung" (General principles of the observation of nature), in volume 2 of Goethe's periodical Zur Naturwissensckaft uberbaupt, besonders zur Morphologie (On natural science in general and morphology in particular).

1824 In Uber Kunst und Altertum (On art and antiquity) Goethe discusses the geognostic landscapes exhibited by Carus in Weimar in September. Carus completes Letters on Landscape Painting (letters VI through IX).


1825 In August, visits Berlin.

1826 Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) pays his first visit to Carus in Dresden. Henceforth, he will always stop over to see Carus when traveling in the suite of the king of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm III, to Bad Teplitz in Bohemia. Carus begins work on the Zwôlf Briefe über das Erdleben (Twelve letters on earth life), published in 1841. In the Kunst-Blatt, edited by Ludwig Schorn, Carus publishes one of Letters on Landscape Painting (letter VIII).

1827 Death of King Friedrich August of Saxony. The new King Anton (1755-1836) appoints Carus "Hof- und Medicinalrath" (Court and medical counselor), and Carus joins the Collegium (council of government). He retires from teaching and from the directorship of the Leipzig maternity hospital. As court physician he enjoys greater financial independence and more free time; he intensifies his activity as a scientist and as a writer. Carus publishes his discovery of the circulation of the blood in insect larvae.

1828 Carus publishes Von den Ur-Theilen des Knochen- und Schalengerüstes (On the primitive portions of the bone and shell skeleton). He declines a professorial appointment in Berlin. Second visit to Italy (Florence, Rome, Naples, Paestum) in the company of Crown Prince Friedrich August. In Rome, he meets with Thorvaldsen and is introduced to the German artistic colony. His friendship with Friedrich is under a cloud, the consequence—according to Carus—of Friedrich's "confused mental state."

1831 First edition of Nine Letters on Landscape Painting published by Gerhard Fleischer, Leipzig.

1832 After Goethe's death on 22 March 1832, Carus paints his Goethe Memorial; or, In Memory of Goethe: Landscape Fantasy, aiming to complete the painting by 28 August (Goethe's birthday).

1833 Carus succeeds Johann Gottlieb von Quandt (1787-1859) as president of the Dresdner Kunstverein, remaining in office until 1842. In November Carus purchases Villa Cara, a large house with gardens in the eastern suburbs of Dresden (destroyed in 1945).

1834 The French sculptor Pierre-Jean David d'Angers (1788-1856) comes to Dresden to make a bust of Tieck. He also executes a profile relief of Carus. Carus takes him to see Friedrich. Deeply impressed, David d'Angers buys a number of paintings from Friedrich. Carus gives him a number of his own paintings, receiving in return a number of statuettes and a plaster cast of David's bust of his own revered authority, the naturalist Georges de Cuvier (1769-1832).

1835 In August Carus travels via Koblenz, Mainz, and Metz to Paris, where he meets with Alexander von Humboldt. The second edition of Letters on Landscape Painting, with an additional, tenth letter, is published in Leipzig by Gerhard Fleischer. Under the same imprint, Carus brings out his Reise durch Deutschland, Italien und die Schweitz imjahre 1828 (Journey through Germany, Italy, and Switzerland in the year 1828).

1836 Death of King Anton. Friedrich August II ascends the throne. Carus publishes (again in Leipzig) his journal of a journey to the Rhine valley and to Paris. Alexander von Humboldt visits with Carus in Dresden; they discuss Zwôlf Brief e über das Erdleben and Humboldt's related undertaking, Kosmos: Entwurf einer physischen Weltbeschreibung (Cosmos: Notes for a physical description of the world).

1839 Carus attends the opening ceremony of the Leipzig-Dresden railroad.

1840 Death of Caspar David Friedrich, in depression and poverty. Carus publishes an obituary in Kunst-Blatt, followed by a commemorative essay in the following year.

1841 Third visit to Italy: Carus spends two months in Florence as personal physician at the court of the duke of Tuscany. Zwôlf Briefe über das Erdleben published in Stuttgart.

1844 Tour of England and Scotland, including the Isle of Staffa (Inner Hebrides) and Fingal's Cave. In the following year, Carus publishes an account of the trip, England und Schottland im Jahre 1844. He takes up the study of phrenology, or cranioscopy, on which he subsequently publishes a number of works.

1845 The first volume of Alexander von Humboldt's Kosmos: Entwurf einer physischen Weltbeschreibung appears, the last of the five volumes being published in 1862.

1846 Carus's Psyche: Zur Entwicklungsgeschichte der Seele (Psyche: On the developmental history of the soul) published in Pforzheim. Carus regards this as his most important work of psychology. In it, his own prophetic impulses and the "divinity of [man's] inmost being" lead him to the hypothesis of reincarnation on a higher plane. Carus embarks on his memoirs, Lebenserinnerungen und Denkwürdigkeiten, which occupy him until 1856 (published in three volumes by Brockhaus in Leipzig, 1865-66).

1853 Carus publishes Die Symbolik der menschlichen Gestalt: Ein Handbuch zur Menschenkenntnis (The symbolism of the human form: A manual of knowledge of humanity), in which he first defines the module (primordial measure or Urmafi) of one-third of the length of the spinal column.

1854 Follows this with Die Proportionslehre der menschlichen Gestalt; zum ersten Male morphologisch und physiologisch begründet (Theory of the proportions of the human form; now for the first time explained in morphological and physiological terms), in which he develops and modifies the theory of the module (Urmass) put forward in Johann Gottfried Schadow's Polyclet (1834), with a view to providing artists with "a truly practical scale of measurement" (einen wirklich praktischen Masstab).

1859 Deaths of Carus's wife, Caroline, and Alexander von Humboldt. Carus publishes an article in the Nova acta Leopoldina entitled "Über Begriff und Vorgang des Entstehens" (On the concept and process of emergence); simultaneously, Charles Darwin in London publishes his book On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection, which sweeps away all competing theories of evolution.

1861 Carus's magnum opus of nature philosophy, Natur und Idee; oder, Das Werdende und sein Gesetz (Nature and idea; or, becoming and its law), is published in Vienna by Wilhelm Braumüller.

1862 Carus is elected president of the Kaiserlich-Leopoldinisch-Carolinische Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher in Halle, where in 1864, to mark his fifty years as a professor, a Carus foundation is set up and a medal awarded (as it is to this day).

1863 Carus publishes the last of his many writings on Goethe: Goethe, dessen Bedeutung fur unsere und die kommende Zeit (Goethe, his meaning for our time and for time to come).

1865 Carus's memoirs, Lebenserinnerungen und Denkwurdigkeiten, are published in 3 volumes, 1865-66.

1867 Carus retires from medical practice. In Dresden, he publishes his last book: Betrachtungen und Gedanken vor auserwahlten Bildern der Dresdner Galerie (Observations and thoughts on selected paintings in the Dresden Gallery).

1868 Carus becomes honorary president of the Gesellschaft deutscher Naturforscher und Arzte, founded by him and Lorenz Oken in 1822. In his speech he once more voices his opposition to positivist science.

1869 Death of Carl Gustav Carus on 28 July at his home, Villa Cara, in Dresden; he is buried on 31 July in the Trinitatisfriedhof, Dresden-Johannstadt.

-- Nine Letters on Landscape Painting, with a Letter from Goethe by Way of Introduction, by Carl Gustav Carus, translated by David Britt


Botanical Reference

The standard author abbreviation Carus is used to indicate this person as the author when citing a botanical name.[5]

Written works

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Carl Gustav Carus by Julius Hübner

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Memory of a Wooded Island in the Baltic Sea (Oak trees by the Sea)

Zoology, entomology, comparative anatomy, evolution

• Lehrbuch der Zootomie (1818, 1834).
• Erläuterungstafeln zur vergleichenden Anatomie (1826–1855).
• Von den äusseren Lebensbedingungen der weiss- und kaltblütigen Tiere (1824).
• Über den Blutkreislauf der Insekten (1827).
• Grundzüge der vergleichenden Anatomie und Physiologie (1828).
• Lehrbuch der Physiologie für Naturforscher und Aerzte (1838)- also medical
• Zwölf Briefe über das Erdleben (1841).
• Natur und Idee oder das Werdende und sein Gesetz. 1861.

Medical

• Lehrbuch der Gynekologie (1820, 1838).
• Grundzüge einer neuen Kranioskopie (1841).
• System der Physiologie (1847–1849).
• Erfahrungsresultate aus ärztlichen Studien und ärztlichen Wirken (1859).
• Neuer Atlas der Kranioskopie (1864).

Psychology, metaphysics, race, physiognomy

• Vorlesungen über Psychologie (1831).
• Psyche; zur Entwicklungsgeschichte der Seele (1846, 1851).
• Über Grund und Bedeutung der verschiedenen Formen der Hand in veschiedenen Personen (About the reason and significance of the various forms of hand in different persons)(1846).
• Physis. Zur Geschichte des leiblichen Lebens (1851).
• Denkschrift zum 100jährigen Geburtstagsfeste Goethes. Über ungleiche Befähigung der verschiedenen Symbolik der menschlichen Gestalt (1852, 1858).
• Über Lebensmagnetismus und über die magischen Wirkungen überhaupt (1857).
• Über die typisch gewordenen Abbildungen menschlicher Kopfformen (1863).
• Goethe dessen seine Bedeutung für unsere und die kommende Zeit (1863).
• Lebenserinnerungen und Denkwürdigkeiten – 4 volumes (1865–1866).
• Vergleichende Psychologie oder Geschichte der Seele in der Reihenfolge der Tierwelt (1866).

Art

• Neun Briefe über Landschaftsmalerei. Zuvor ein Brief von Goethe als Einleitung (1819–1831).
• Die Lebenskunst nach den Inschriften des Tempels zu Delphi ( 1863).
• Betrachtungen und Gedanken vor auserwählten Bildern der Dresdener Galerie (1867).

Travel

• Sicilien und Neapel (1856).

Translations

• Carus' translation of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, Paradise, Canto I. at academia.edu

Art gallery

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The Colosseum in Moonlight

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The Imperial Castle

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In Memory of Sorrento

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View of Dresden at Sunset

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Barge Trip on the Elbe near Dresden

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Balcony Room with a View of the Bay of Naples , 1829 or 1830.

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Italian Moonshine (Rome, St. Peter's in Moonshine)

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Tintern Abbey

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Italian Fishermen in Port

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Sailboat

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Full Moon near Pillnitz

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Woman on the Balcony

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Stoane Age Mound

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The Studio Window

See also

• Philosophy of the Unconscious (von Hartmann)
• List of German painters

References

1. C.G.Carus, The King of Saxony's Journey through England and Scotland, 1844, english edition, London, Chapman and Hall, 1846
2. Ellenberger, Henri F. (1970). The Discovery of the Unconscious: The History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry. New York: Basic Books. pp. 207. ISBN 978-0-465-01672-3.
3. Whyte, Lancelot Law (1960). The Unconscious before Freud. New York: Basic Books. p. 148.
4. https://libmma.contentdm.oclc.org/digit ... 0/id/71300
5. IPNI. Carus.

Sources

• Jung, C.G. ([1959] 1969). The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Collected Works, Volume 9, Part 1, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-01833-2.
• "Carl GustavCarus", Art History: Romanticism
• Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Carus, Karl Gustav" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 5 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
• This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Wood, James, ed. (1907). The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne. Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links

• Media related to Carl Gustav Carus at Wikimedia Commons
• Caspar David Friedrich: Moonwatchers, a full text exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which contains material on Carl Gustav Carus (no. 10-11)
• German masters of the nineteenth century: paintings and drawings from the Federal Republic of Germany, a full text exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which contains material on Carl Gustav Carus (no. 11-12)
• Carus, Carl Gustav (1848). Mnemosyne. Pforzheim: Flammer und Hofmann.
• Carl Gustav Carus' translation of Dante Alighieri's Paradise, canto I, at academia.edu

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Carl Gustav Carus (1789–1869)
by Encyclopedia.com
Accessed: 3/20/21

Carl Gustav Carus, a German physician, biologist, and philosopher, was born in Leipzig and studied chemistry and then medicine at the University of Leipzig. In 1811 he became the first person to lecture there on comparative anatomy. Two years later he became director of the military hospital at Pfaffendorf and, in 1814, professor of medicine at the medical college of the University of Dresden, where he remained to the end of his life. He was appointed royal physician in 1827 and privy councilor in 1862.

Carus was widely known for his work in physiology, psychology, and philosophy, and was one of the first to do experimental work in comparative osteology, insect anatomy, and zootomy. He is also remembered as a landscape painter and art critic. He was influenced by Aristotle, Plato, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, about whom Carus wrote several works, the most important of which is Goethe dessen seine Bedeutung für unsere und die kommende Zeit [Google translate: Goethe whose meaning for our and the coming time] (Vienna, 1863). Carus's philosophical writings were more or less forgotten until the German philosopher and psychologist, Ludwig Klages, resurrected them.

Carus's philosophy was essentially Aristotelian in that it followed the unfolding or elaboration of an idea in experience from an unorganized multiplicity to an organized unity. This universal, unfolding unity or developing multiplicity within unity Carus called God. God, or the Divine, is not a being analogous to human intelligence; rather, it is the ground of being revealed through becoming, through the infinitely numerous and infinitely varying beings or organisms that come into being through the Divine in space and time.

Carus called his theory of a divine or creative force "entheism." The unknown Divine is revealed in nature through organization, structure, and organic unity. As the ground of being, it is outside space and time, unchanging, and eternal. As thought or insight, it is the God-idea of religion, found everywhere in life and the cosmos. As life, it is the sphere, the basic form taken by living cells and the heavenly stars. As matter, it is the ether exfoliating in infinitely varied things.

According to Carus, the body cannot be separated from the soul. Both are soul, but we speak of "body" when some unknown part of the soul affects the known part; and we speak of "soul" when the known part affects the unknown part.

Carus's metaphysics, and his important contribution to psychology, is a theory of movement from unconsciousness to consciousness and back again. Whatever understanding we can have of life and the human spirit hinges upon observation of how universal unconsciousness, the unknown Divine, becomes conscious. Universal unconsciousness is not teleological in itself; it achieves purpose only as it becomes conscious through conscious individuals. Consciousness is not more permanent than things; it is a moment between past and future. As a moment, it can maintain itself only through sleep or a return to the unknown.


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Carl Gustav Carus, the first director of the newly established maternity institute of the Dresden Royal Surgical-Medical Academy 1814-1827
by B. Sarembe
1989

Abstract

Carl Gustav Carus was born in 1789 in Leipzig. He studied at the University of Leipzig. His specialization in Gynecology and Obstetrics took place at the Triersches Maternity Hospital. In 1814 he was named Professor for Obstetrics in Dresden at the Royal-Surgical-Medical-Academy. He was the head of the Maternity Hospital till 1827. Under his direction many midwives, students and physicians were educated. He published numerous articles and books on medical and philosophical-psychological topics. He was a talented artist of the Romantic especially in painting landscapes. He was a friend of Caspar David Friedrich and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. After 1827 he was the physician in ordinary to 3 saxonian kings. He died in 1869. The Medical Academy in Dresden bears his name "Carl Gustav Carus" since its foundation.
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Morya
by Theosophy Wiki
Accessed: 3/21/21

1879, Excerpt from Masters and Men: The Human Story in the Mahatma Letters (a fictionalized account)
by Virginia Hanson
The Theosophical Publishing House
Madras, India
c 1980 The Theosophical Publishing House

Most of the Letters are over the signature of the Mahatma Koot Hoomi, usually signed simply "K.H." A Kashmiri Brahmin by birth, at the time of the correspondence he was a Buddhist. Koot Hoomi is a mystical name which he instructed H.P.B. to use in connection with his correspondence with Mr. Sinnett. It is possible that his real name was Nisi Kanta Chattopadhyaya, as that seems to have been the name by which he was known when he was attending at least one European University. He was fluent in both English and French and was sometimes affectionally spoken of by the Mahatma Morya as "my Frenchified K.H."



At one time, under special circumstances, the Mahatma Morya took over the correspondence temporarily. He too used only his initial as a signature. "He was a Rajput by birth," said H.P.B., "One of the warrior race of the Indian desert, the finest and handsomest nation in the world." He was "a giant, six feet eight, and splendidly built; a superb type of manly beauty." The Mahatma K.H. referred to him humorously as "my bulky brother." He was not proficient in English and spoke of himself as using words and phrases "lying idle in my friend's brain" -- meaning, of course, the brain of the Mahatma K.H.

In 1870, the same year that Keshub visited England, two other Indians took ship from England to America. They were a Bombay textile magnate called Moolji Thackersey (Seth Damodar Thackersey Mulji, died 1880) and Mr. Tulsidas. Josephine Ransom, an early historian of the Theosophical Society, writes that they were “on a mission to the West to see what could be done to introduce Eastern spiritual and philosophic ideas.” Traveling on the same boat was Henry Olcott, fresh from his experiences in London’s spiritualist circles. Olcott was sufficiently impressed by this shipboard meeting to keep a framed photograph of the two Indians on the wall of the apartment he was sharing with Blavatsky in 1877. It was one evening in that year that a visitor who had traveled in India (sometimes identified as James Peebles) remarked on the photograph. Olcott writes in his memoirs of the consequences of this extraordinary series of coincidences:

I took it down, showed it to him, and asked if he knew either of the two. He did know Moolji Thackersey and had quite recently met him in Bombay. I got the address, and by the next mail wrote to Moolji about our Society, our love for India and what caused it. In due course he replied in quite enthusiastic terms, accepted the offered diploma of membership, and told me about a great Hindu pandit and reformer, who had begun a powerful movement for the resuscitation of pure Vedic religion.


This reformer was Swami Dayananda Saraswati (1824-1882). In 1870 he was still an eccentric traveling preacher with no aspirations to international influence: something that grew on him precisely after meeting the Brahmo Samajists. He met Devandranath [Debendranath] Tagore in 1870; in 1873 Keshub Chunder Sen gave him the advice (which he took) to stop wearing only a loincloth and speaking only Sanskrit. Indefatigably stumping round the subcontinent, Dayananda founded his “powerful movement,” the Arya Samaj, in 1875. This chronology suggests that in 1870 Thackersey was probably coming to America as a representative of the Brahmo Samaj, but that by the time Olcott got in touch with him again, he had transferred his allegiance to the Arya Samaj.

The Arya Samaj was more radical than any wing of the Brahmo Samaj, on which it was partially modeled. Dayananda was a monotheist who believed in the Vedas as the sole revealed scripture and the basis for a universal religion. The various gods addressed in the Vedic hymns (Agni, Indra, etc.), he explained as aspects of the One, and he was prepared to demonstrate how these ancient texts contained all possible knowledge of man, nature, and the means of salvation and happiness. Of the quarrels between the various religions, he wrote: “My purpose and aim is to help in putting an end to this mutual wrangling, to preach universal truth, to bring all men under one religion so that they may, by ceasing to hate each other and firmly loving each other, life in peace and work for their common welfare.” He had no respect whatever for Brahmanism: for their scriptures, rituals, polytheism, caste system, and discrimination against women. Unfortunately for his opponents, he was immensely learned and articulate, could out-argue most pundits, and had, in the last resort (which often seems to have occurred) the advantage of being 6’9” tall and broad to match.

From Dayananda’s point of view, the Brahmo Samajists had erred both in their failure to recognize the supremacy of the Vedas, and in their too-ready embrace of the errors of other religions. They were moreover too addicted to Brahmanic customs and privileges. Here is a contemporary summary of his social principles:

He says that no inhabitant of India should be called a Hindu, that an ignorant Brahmin should be made a Shudra, and a Shudra, who is learned, well-behaved and religious should be made a Brahmin. Both men and women should be taught Language, Grammar, Dharmashastras, Vedas, Science and Philosophy. Women should receive special education in Chemistry, Music and Medical Science; they should know what foods promote health, strength and vigour. He condemns child marriage as the root of the most of the evils. A girl should be educated and married at the age of twenty. If a widow wants to remarry, she should be allowed to do so. According to his opinion, there is no particular difference between the householder and the sannyasi.


It is not surprising that the Theosophists in New York took kindly to the Arya Samaj, at first through correspondence with Thackersey, then through the Bombay branch head, Hurrychund Chintamon, and lastly through Dayananda himself. The two societies were united for a time, though the Theosophists were disillusioned as soon as they discovered the strength of Dayananda's Vedic fundamentalism and his hostility to all other religions. On Dayananda's unexpected death, Blavatsky wrote a generous obituary in The Theosophist for December 1883. She appreciated him for defending what he saw as the best of his native heritage against the priestcraft of Brahmins and Christians alike, and for his leadership in an enlightened social policy of which she could only have approved.

As the Arya Samaj continued to flourish after Dayananda's death, it became a rallying point for that movement of Hindu nationalism that wanted neither to turn back the clock to Brahmanic theocracy, nor to embrace Western materialism along with the benefits of science and technology. What Rammohun Roy had set in motion, the Arya Samaj carried forward into the era of the Indian National Congress and the independence movement of the twentieth century. Dayananda himself died -- some said poisoned -- at the time when his mission was beginning to have real success among the North Indian rulers, but he had done enough to be celebrated as a father-figure by leaders of Indian independence such as [url]Jawaharlal Nehru[/url], Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, and Aurobindo Ghose.

-- The Theosophical Enlightenment, by Joscelyn Godwin




Image
Portrait by H. Schmiechen

Image
Morya's initial from Mahatma Letter No. 36

Morya (frequently referred to simply as M.) was H. P. Blavatsky's Master and one of the Mahatmas that inspired the founding of the Theosophical Society. He engaged in a correspondence with two English Theosophists living in India, A. P. Sinnett and A. O. Hume, when Mahatma K.H. went into retreat for a few months. This correspondence was published in the book The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett. In addition, letters to H. P. Blavatsky, Colonel Olcott, and others were published in Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom.

Personal features

Charles Johnston interviewed H. P. Blavatsky and asked her about the Masters. In the following excerpt Johnston describes his impression about Master M.'s handwriting as opposed to that of Master K.H., and then Mme. Blavatsky gives some information about her Master:

"The red [handwriting] . . . is fierce, impetuous, dominant, strong; it comes in volcanic outbursts, while the other [Master K.H.'s] is like Niagara Falls. One is fire, and the other is the ocean. They are wholly different, and both quite unlike yours. But the [red handwriting] has more resemblance to yours. . . ."

"This is my Master," she said, "whom we call Mahatma Morya. I have his picture here." And she showed me a small panel in oils. If ever I saw genuine awe and reverence in a human face, it was in hers, when she spoke of her Master. He was a Rajput by birth, she said, one of the old warrior race of the Indian desert, the finest and handsomest nation in the world. Her Master was a giant, six feet eight, and splendidly built; a superb type of manly beauty. Even in the picture, there is a marvellous power and fascination; the force, the fierceness even, of the face; the dark, glowing eyes, which stare you out of countenance; the clear-cut features of bronze, the raven hair and beard—all spoke of a tremendous individuality, a very Zeus in the prime of manhood and strength. I asked her something about his age. She answered:

"My dear, I cannot tell you exactly, for I do not know. But this I will tell you. I met him first when I was twenty,—in 1851. He was in the very prime of manhood then. I am an old woman now, but he has not aged a day. He is still in the prime of manhood. That is all I can say. You may draw your own conclusions."[1]


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Portrait produced by Monsieur Harrisse at the "Lamasery" in New York

A Rajput (from Sanskrit raja-putra, “son of a king”) is a member of one of the patrilineal clans of western, central, northern India and some parts of Pakistan. They claim to be descendants of ruling Hindu warrior classes of North India. The Mahatma's clan was confirmed by him in a letter sent to A. P. Sinnett when he said: "My Rajput blood will never permit me to see a woman hurt in her feelings..."[2]

Master K.H., in another letter to Mr. Sinnett, describes Morya as follows:

You . . . will hardly if ever be able to appreciate such characters as Morya's: a man as stern for himself, as severe for his own shortcomings, as he is indulgent for the defects of other people, not in words but in the innermost feelings of his heart; for, while ever ready to tell you to your face anything he may think of you, he yet was ever a stauncher friend to you than myself, who may often hesitate to hurt anyone's feelings, even in speaking the strictest truth.[3]


Again, according to Master K.H., Morya "is better and more powerful than I"[4]

Master M. knew very little English and didn't like to write.

Mme. Blavatsky, in a letter to Mrs. Hollis Billings wrote:

Now Morya lives generally with Koot-Hoomi who has his house in the direction of the Kara Korum Mountains, beyond Ladak, which is in Little Tibet and belongs now to Kashmire. It is a large wooden building in the Chinese fashion pagoda-like, between a lake and a beautiful mountain.[5]


Relationship with Mme. Blavatsky

H. P. Blavatsky was a disciple of Master M. The Countess Constance Wachtmeister wrote in her Reminiscenses of H.P. Blavatsky how she met him:

During her childhood [Madame Blavatsky] had often seen near her an Astral form, that always seemed to come in any moment of danger, and save her just at the critical point. HPB had learnt to look upon this Astral form as a guardian angel, and felt that she was under His care and guidance. In London, in 1851, she was one day out walking when, to her astonishment, she saw a tall Hindu in the street with some Indian princes. She immediately recognized him as the same person that she had seen in the Astral. Her first impulse was to rush forward to speak to him, but he made her a sign not to move, and she stood as if spellbound while he passed on. The next day she went into Hyde Park for a stroll, that she might be alone and free to think over her extraordinary adventure. Looking up, she saw the same form approaching her, and then her Master told her that he had come to London with the Indian princes on an important mission, and he was desirous of meeting her personally, as he required her cooperation in a work which he was about to undertake. He then told her how the Theosophical Society was to be formed, and that he wished her to be the founder. He gave her a slight sketch of all the troubles she would have to undergo, and also told her that she would have to spend three years in Tibet to prepare her for the important task. HPB decided to accept the offer made to her and shortly afterwards left London for India.[6]


It is possible that Countess Wachtmeister confused the date with H. P. Blavatsky’s previous visit with her father to London in the '40s. Mme. Blavatsky wrote to Mr. Sinnett: "I was in London and France with Father in '44 not 1851." Though in this letter she explains that she does not remember well what happened in years past, she told Mr. Sinnett how she met the Master:

I saw Master in my visions ever since my childhood. In the year of the first Nepaul Embassy (when?) saw and recognised him. Saw him twice. Once he came out of the crowd, then He ordered me to meet Him in Hyde Park. I cannot, I must not speak of this. I would not publish it for the world.[7]


Blavatsky on the name "Morya"

The name Morya is the same as that of the Maurya clan, which ruled India from 322-185 BCE. The invincible Chandragupta Maurya, founder of the Maurya Empire, united the Indian subcontinent, while his grandson, Ashoka the Great, adopted Buddhism and sent missions to other parts of Asia as well as the Mediterranean world. In the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, an early Buddhist text that records the end of Gautama Buddha’s life, the “Moriyas of Pipphalavana” are said to have “built a great stupa for the embers” that remained from the cremation.[8] This passage suggests that there was already a connection between the Maurya clan and Buddhism. Blavatsky claims that long after the fall of the Mauryan Empire, the Mauryas (or Moryas) continued to have a deep connection with Buddhism. In 436 CE an Arhat (Buddhist saint) named Kasyapa, who belonged to the Morya clan, left an Indian convent in Panch-Kukkutarama with the fifth of seven golden statues of the Buddha, which he carried to a lake in Bod-yul (Tibet), thereby fulfilling an ancient prophecy. Seven years later the first Buddhist monastery was established on that spot, although the conversion of the country did not begin in earnest till the 7th century. Most of the abbots of that monastery “were the descendants of the dynasty of the Moryas, there being up to this day three of the members of this once royal family living in India.”[9]

H. P. Blavatsky explicitly affirms a link between the Shakya clan, to which Gautama Buddha belonged, and the Moriya clan, stating that the former founded a town called Moriya-Nagara. She adds that the Rajput tribe of Mori owes its name to being “composed of the descendants of the first sovereign of Moriya, Nagari-Môrya,” and that the Moryas are Kshatriyas, unlike Master Koot Hoomi and the Rishi Koothumi who are “Northern Brahmans.”[10] The name Moriya probably derives from mayura or mora, which means peacock.[11] The peacock image connects this warrior clan with Karttikeya, the Hindu war god, whose vehicle is a peacock, and possibly with the Buddhist “Peacock Lord,” a Wisdom King (Kujaku-myoo in Japan, the female Mahamayuri in India).

Col. Olcott's meeting with the Master Morya

In a letter from Henry S. Olcott to Allan O. Hume about the Mahatmas, printed by Mr. Hume in his "Hints on Esoteric Theosophy":

One evening, at New York, after bidding H. P. B. good night, I sat in my bed-room, finishing a cigar and thinking. Suddenly there stood my Chohan beside me. The door had made no noise in opening, if it had been opened, but at any rate there he was. He sat down and conversed with me in subdued tones for some time, and as he seemed in an excellent humour towards me, I asked him a favour. I said I wanted some tangible proof that he had actually been there, and that I had not been seeing a mere illusion or maya conjured up by H. P. B. He laughed, unwound the embroidered Indian cotton fehta he wore on his head, flung it to me, and – was gone. That cloth I still possess, and it bears in one corner the initials ( ___ ) of my Chohan in thread-work.[12]


Letters written by M.

M. engaged in a correspondence with two English Theosophists living in India, A. P. Sinnett and A. O. Hume, when Mahatma K.H. went into retreat for a few months. This correspondence was published in the book The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett. In addition, letters to H. P. Blavatsky, Colonel Olcott, and others were published in Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom.

For a complete list of Master M.'s letters that were published in these sources, see Category:ML from Morya.

Writing style

C. Jinarājadāsa commented on M.'s style of writing:

When reading the letters of Master M., we must not forget that He is of quite a different temperament to Master K.H. He is far more steeped in Indian atmosphere than His Brother. Both show a keen sense of humour, but while that of the Master K.H. is more akin to the French notion of wit, that of the Master M. is far more allied to what the Greek tragedians meant by “irony”. Irony excludes ridicule completely. It contrasts, with great dispassion, facts as they are with what they are supposed to be. Those who can appreciate the Master’s “irony” find great inspiration in the glimpses gained of things seen from His angle of vision.[13]


As for the handwriting, he wrote:

All the letters of the Master M., which Mr. Sinnett and others received from 1881 onwards, are in a script which the Master Himself has acknowledged as sometimes difficult to decipher. But before 1881, the Master used another script, a specimen of which is given in Letter 28. This earlier script is small and neat, easy to read. There is evidence that at this time He used a third script, though only once, and this is shown in the brief Letter 34.

There is a great mystery, not yet solved, as to the use of various scripts by the Masters and Their pupils. Not all the letters were precipitated by the Masters, as H.P.B. has clearly explained. Some were precipitated by Chelas, on general instructions from the masters. Some of the Masters knew European languages; others did not. The Master M. at this time knew no English at all, and when writing had to use the translation of His thought in the brain of some pupil, like H.P.B., Colonel Olcott and others. Sometimes he took the language from the brain of the Master K.H..[14]


Account by C. W. Leadbeater

In his book The Masters and the Path C. W. Leadbeater describes Master M as follows:

He is a Rajput King by birth, and has a dark beard divided into two parts, dark, almost black, hair falling to His shoulders, and dark and piercing eyes, full of power. He is six feet six inches in height, and bears Himself like a soldier, speaking in short terse sentences as if He were accustomed to being instantly obeyed. In His presence there is a sense of overwhelming power and strength, and He has an imperial dignity that compels the deepest reverence.[15]


Online resources

Articles


• Morya, Mahatma in Theosophy World.
• Colonel Henry S. Olcott's Testimony about His Meetings with the Master Morya in Blavatsky Study Center.
• Portrait of the Master Morya by J. D. Buck.
• In the Days of H.P.B. Master M.'s Visit to Madras in 1874 by G. Subbiah Chetty.

Notes

1. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VIII (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1960) 399-400
2. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., ed., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequenceNo. 29 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 91. See Mahatma Letter No. 29, page 13.
3. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., ed., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequenceNo. 74 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 224. See Mahatma Letter No. 74, page 11-12.
4. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., ed., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequenceNo. 65 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 170. See Mahatma Letter No. 65.
5. Gottfried de Purucker, The Theosophical Forum Vol VIII, No. 5 (Point Loma, California, May 1936), 343-346.
6. Constance Wachtmeister, Reminiscenses of H.P. Blavatsky (Wheaton: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1976) 44.
7. A. Trevor Barker, (ed) The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett (London: 1925) 150-151, available at Theosophical University Press Online Edition
8. Maurice Walshe, trans., The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Digha Nikaya (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1995) 276-277 (Mahaparinibbana Sutta 16.6.25-26.
9. “Shakyamuni’s Place in History” in H. P. Blavatsky Collected Writings V 245-246
10. "The Puranas on the Dynasties of the Moriyas and the Koothoomi” in H. P. Blavatsky Collected Writings VI 40-42.
11. P. Thankappan Nair, “The Peacock Cult in Asia,” in Asian Folklore Studies, Vol. 33, No. 2 (1974), 124, Nanzan University.
12. A. O. Hume, "Hints on Esoteric Theosophy" No. 1 (Calcutta, Calcutta Central Press Co., 1882, 2nd Edition) 79.
13. C. Jinarajadasa, Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, Second Series (Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1925), 140-141.
14. C. Jinarajadasa, Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, Second Series (Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1925), 66.
15. C. W. Leadbeater, The Masters and the Path (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1984), 24.


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Morya (Theosophy)
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/21/21

Morya is one of the "Masters of the Ancient Wisdom" within modern Theosophical beliefs. He is one of the Mahatmas who inspired the founding of the Theosophical Society and was engaged in a correspondence with two English Theosophists living in India, A. P. Sinnett and A. O. Hume. The correspondence was published in 1923 by A. Trevor Barker, in the book The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett.

History

Image
A portrait of Master Morya by Hermann Schmiechen

H. P. Blavatsky, originally described the existence of a spiritual master whom she considered her guru, and who went by, among other names, Morya. Blavatsky said that Morya and another master, Koot Hoomi, were her primary guides in establishing the Theosophical Society. Blavatsky also wrote that Masters Morya and Koot Hoomi belonged to a group of highly developed humans known to some as the Great White Brotherhood or the White Lodge (though this is not how they described themselves). Master Morya's personality has been depicted in some detail by various theosophical authors. A man "living on the earth, but possessed of developed senses that laughed at time and space." [1] On the other hand, author P. Jenkins challenges that there is little evidence that Blavatsky's Masters, including Morya, ever existed.[2] Author K. Paul Johnson wrote that Blavatsky gave conflicting versions of her meeting with Morya and suggests Blavatsky fictionalized the story, basing it on her encounter with an Italian political activist.[3][4] Blavatsky's published works have been praised by New York papers as exhibiting immense research, in referring to her book Isis Unveiled, the New York Sun[5] writes, "the strange part of this is, as I and many others can testify as eye witnesses to the production of the book, that the writer had no library in which to make researches and possessed no notes of investigation or reading previously done. All was written straight out of hand. And yet it is full of references to books in the British Museum and other great libraries, and every reference is correct. Either, then, we have, as to that book [referring to Isis Unveiled], a woman who was capable of storing in her memory a mass of facts, dates, numbers, titles, and subjects such as no other human being ever was capable of, or her claim to help from unseen beings is just."

After Blavatsky's death, theosophists and others continued claiming to have met Morya or to have received communications from him. William Quan Judge, the leader of the American Section of the Theosophical Society, stated privately that he had received letters from Morya and other Adepts. Annie Besant, head of the European Section and co-head of the Esoteric Section with Judge, made public statements supporting the genuineness of those letters; but she later accused Judge of falsifying them, asserting that her suspicions of him were confirmed by the visitation of a Mahatma, presumably Master Morya, to whom she was linked.[6] The ensuing controversy led to the break-up of the Society in 1895, but leaders in the increasingly fragmented movement continued making claims about having received communications and visitations from the Masters connected with the cause. Theosophical writings offered vivid descriptions of Morya, his role in the Brotherhood, and his past lives.[7]

Incarnations

Morya's earliest notable claimed incarnation is recorded by Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater (from, the source states, their research into the "akashic records" at the Theosophical Society headquarters in Adyar (Tamil Nadu), India conducted in the summer of 1910) as having been the Emperor of Atlantis in 220,000 BC, ruling from his palace in the capital city, the City of the Golden Gates.[8]

According to the Ascended Masters teachings, some of the later incarnations that Morya is said to have had include:[9][10]

• Osho along with K.H(Devaraj)
• Melchior (one of the three wise men—the one who gave myrrh to Jesus)
• Abraham
• King Arthur of Camelot
• Thomas Becket (Archbishop of Canterbury)
• Thomas More
• Akbar (Mogul Emperor)
• Shams Tabrizi
• Thomas Moore
• Sergius of Radonezh

Ascension

Students of Ascended Master Activities believe that Morya ascended in 1898, becoming an Ascended Master and Chohan of the First Ray, and that his spiritual retreat is located at Darjeeling, India.[11][12][13]

References

1. "The sun. (New York [N.Y.]) 1833-1916, September 26, 1892, Image 5". 1892-09-26. p. 5. ISSN 1940-7831. Retrieved 2018-09-15.
2. Philip Jenkins, Mystics and Messiahs, p.41-42. Oxford University Press, 2000, NYC
3. K. Paul Johnson, The Masters Revealed: Madame Blavatsky and the Myth of the Great White Lodge (Albany: SUNY, 1994), 41.
4. Johnson, Paul K. Initiates of Theosophical Masters Albany, New York:1995 State University of New York Press
5. "The sun. (New York [N.Y.]) 1833-1916, September 26, 1892, Image 5". 1892-09-26. p. 5. ISSN 1940-7831. Retrieved 2018-09-15.
6. Annie Besant, The Case Against W. Q. Judge (1895), p. 13. About Besant’s closeness to Morya, in a letter of 27 March 1891 to Judge, Blavatsky writes: “She is not psychic nor spiritual in the least—all intellect—and yet she hears the Master's voice when alone, sees His Light, and recognises His Voice from that of D____.”
7. Letters of the Masters of the Wisdom: Second Series Nos. 69 and 70; First SeriesNo. 19; Wachtmeister, op. cit., Chapter 5.
8. Besant, Annie and Leadbeater, C.W. Man: How, Whence, and Whither? Adyar, India:1913 Theosophical Publishing House Page 122 Note: On page xii of the introduction it is explained that the name Mars is used to refer to the reincarnating soul entity now known to Theosophists as Morya in his various incarnations.
9. Prophet, Mark L. and Elizabeth Clare Lords of the Seven Rays Livingston, Montana, U.S.A.:1986 - Summit University Press - "Morya - Master of the First Ray" pages 21 - 78
10. Prophet, Elizabeth Clare and Prophet, Mark (as compiled by Annice Booth) The Masters and Their Retreats Corwin Springs, Montana:2003 Summit University Press Pages 87-92 El Morya
11. Luk, A.D.K.. Law of Life - Book II. Pueblo, Colorado: A.D.K. Luk Publications 1989.
12. Schroeder, Werner Ascended Masters and Their Retreats Ascended Master Teaching Foundation 2004.
13. Booth, Annice The Masters and Their Retreats Summit Lighthouse Library June 2003.

Sources

• Besant, Annie and Leadbeater, C.W. Man:How, Whence, and Whither? Adyar, India:1913—Theosophical Publishing House
• Leadbeater, C.W. The Masters and the Path Adyar, Madras, India: 1925—Theosophical Publishing House
• Prophet, Mark L. and Elizabeth Clare Lords of the Seven Rays Livingston, Montana, U.S.A.:1986 - Summit University Press

Further reading

• Campbell, Bruce F. A History of the Theosophical Movement Berkeley:1980 University of California Press
• Godwin, Joscelyn. The Theosophical Enlightenment Albany, New York: 1994 State University of New York Press
• Johnson, K. Paul The Masters Revealed: Madam Blavatsky and Myth of the Great White Brotherhood Albany, New York: 1994 State University of New York Press
• Melton, J. Gordon Encyclopedia of American Religions 5th Edition New York:1996 Gale Research ISBN 0-8103-7714-4 ISSN 1066-1212 Chapter 18--"The Ancient Wisdom Family of Religions" Pages 151-158; see chart on page 154 listing Masters of the Ancient Wisdom; Also see Section 18, Pages 717-757 Descriptions of various Ancient Wisdom religious organizations
• Cranston, Sylvia HPB: The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Blavatsky G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1993

See also

https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/The_Agele ... _Teachings
• Ascended masters
• Ascended Master Teachings
• Alice A.Bailey
• Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
• Benjamin Creme
• Hodgson Report
• Initiation (Theosophy)
• Master K.H.
• K.H. Letters to C.W. Leadbeater
• Mahātmā
• Helena Roerich
• Theosophy

External links

• Theosophical Society, The originators of the Master concept (Before the term "Ascended" was used)
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The Indian Institute: Monier-Williams and Empire
by Gillian Evison
Indian Institute Librarian
December 2004
University of Oxford and Empire Network

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Dr Gillian Evison, Keeper (or Librarian) of Oriental Collections at the University of Oxford's Bodleian Libraries, outlines the history of the Institute from its optimistic beginnings as a colonial centre of instruction about all things Indian to its disintegration under the pressures of battles for real estate and changes in the way that the University of Oxford thought about its teaching of Indian subjects.

The full text of Dr Evison's research paper is freely available through ORA (Oxford University Research Archive).

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The Indian Institute, Broad Street, Oxford

The building of the old Indian Institute, now the home of the Oxford Martin School, is the surviving remnant of an ambitious research institution set up in 1884 by the Boden Professor of Sanskrit, Sir M. Monier-Williams dedicated to the learning and literature of India. Some traces of the former use of the building remain and both the Sanskrit inscription inside the front door and the elephant weather vane on the roof bear testimony to the Indian Institute’s former life as a centre for Indian studies. The majority of the rarest eighteenth- and nineteenth-century publications in the Bodleian’s South Asian collections have bookplates showing that they were originally part of the Institute’s library, giving some idea of the wealth of printed resources available to members of Sir Monier-Williams’ research institution before the dispersal of its library, museum and teaching staff to various other locations in the University in the 1960s.

The Indian Institute was the brainchild of the Boden Professor of Sanskrit Sir M. Monier-Williams. His appointment to the Boden Professorship was somewhat controversial. He was born in India in 1819, where his father was Surveyor General, but he returned to England as a child when his father died. He entered Balliol College but feeling no vocation for the church, for which his family had intended him, he left before taking his degree in order to enter Haileybury College and prepare for service with the East India Company as a writer. He trained for the service at the college from January 1840, and he passed out head of his year. It was whilst at Haileybury that he started to study Sanskrit little knowing that it was to form the substance of his future career. In 1843 he won the Boden Sanskrit scholarship and after graduating in 1844 was immediately appointed professor of Sanskrit, Persian, and Hindustani at Haileybury, a post that he held until 1858, when the college was closed in the wake of the Indian mutiny and the teaching staff were pensioned off.

In 1860, with the death of Horace Hayman Wilson, the prestigious and highly paid Boden Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Oxford became vacant. The Sanskrit Chair had been founded by Colonel J. Boden for “the conversion of the Natives of India to the Christian Religion.”[1] Boden Professors at this time were elected by all the M.A.s of the University3 and as Convocation had 3,786 members the election was contested as if the protagonists were prospective members of Parliament.[2] After a somewhat controversial campaign, in December 1860 Monier-Williams was elected with a majority of 223 out of a total of 1433 votes recorded.

At his inaugural lecture Monier Williams set out the evangelical agenda which had carried the day for him:

“A great Eastern empire has been entrusted to our rule, not to be the theatre of political experiments, nor yet for the sole purpose of extending our commerce, flattering our pride, or increasing our prestige, but that a benighted population may be enlightened, and every man, woman, and child ... hear the glad tidings of the Gospel.”[3]

In his view India, of all British possessions, was the most inviting and interesting for the missionary. It was not a country of savage tribes who would melt away before superior force and intelligence of Europeans but the home of a great and ancient people. These inhabitants traced back their origin to the same Aryan stock as the Europeans and had attained a high degree of civilization when Europeans were still barbarians. India had had a polished language and literature when English was unknown. It was for Europeans, indebted to this ancient civilization, to unearth the fragments of truth, buried under superstition, error and idolatry and to help India return to its former place amongst the foremost nations of the earth.
He had to acknowledge that it was unlikely that missionaries would ever encounter Hindus who could understand Sanskrit but nevertheless, loyal to the beliefs of the Chair’s founder, stoutly maintained it was the key to understanding Hindu civilization.


In addition to his evangelical agenda, Monier Williams had not forgotten his days as the Professor of Sanskrit, Persian, and Hindustani at Haileybury. He began to see the possibilities afforded by Oxford for filling the educational vacuum that had been left by the closure of the East India Company College. As he was later to describe in the lecture How can the University of Oxford best fulfil its duty towards India,[4] Indian Civil Service Probationers were selected by an annual competitive examination for 17 to 19 year olds. About forty were selected out of two to three hundred candidates and during two years of probation were expected to sit a number of examinations in London. During the period of probation they were expected to reside in one of eight Universities approved by the Secretary of State for India, namely, Oxford, Cambridge, London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, St. Andrew’s and Dublin. Whilst at the University, they were subject to University discipline but not under formal academic supervision of any kind. In Monier William’s view, the fact that they simply resided at University but did not take any University examinations meant that they gained little from their experience of University life. The unsatisfactory support for I.C.S probationers was particularly visible at Oxford as its proximity to London made it an extremely popular choice for residency.

In addition to the unsatisfactory support for I.C.S. probationers, Indian students had started coming to England and were mostly studying without supervision. Among those in Oxford about half had no College attachments and Monier Williams felt there was a grave risk that after being cast adrift in England Indian students would return home deteriorated in character rather than improved.

In 1875 he persuaded Congregation to pass three resolutions: first that arrangements be made for I.C.S. probationers to reside at the University; second that University teachers should be appointed in certain branches of training required by them: and third that the B.A. degree be brought within their reach.

Proposals

In order to provide a stable study environment for both I.C.S. probationers and Indian students, he formally proposed the foundation of an Indian Institute at a Congregation held on May 13th 1875. The purpose of the Institute was to form a centre of teaching, inquiry and information on all subjects relating to India and its inhabitants. It was to restore among the I.C.S. probationers the old community spirit of the East India Company's College at Haileybury and would promote the welfare of Indians in Oxford. In addition it would propagate a general knowledge of India among Oxford's ordinary students some of whom might go on to exercise control over India's destiny in Parliament. Before the advent of submarine telegraphy, district officials had a great deal of autonomy but with swifter communication channels, London government had an opportunity to interfere, for good or ill, as never before. As Monier Williams tactfully remarked in his speech at the opening of the new Institute “the interposition of an all-powerful Assembly, acting with the best intentions, but not always according to knowledge, is apt to cause administrative complications.”[5]

The new Institute was to have lecture rooms, staff rooms, accommodation for Indian students and visitors and a library which was to "offer for daily use a collection of Indian manuscripts, books, maps, and plans, many of them too rare and costly to be procurable by private means. Its Reading-room will be supplied with all kinds of Indian newspapers and periodicals, some of them in the native languages."[6] The Institute was also to have a Museum that was to present a typical collection of specimens which would give a concise synopsis of the country and its material products, its people and their moral condition. Monier Williams sought to reassure Congregation that the sole purpose of this Institute was to be the prosecution of Oriental research and not to attract “mere sight-seers, curiosity- hunters, and excursionists”.[7]

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Indian Art Ashmolean photo 1898 CMS © Ashmolean Museum. The Indian Institute Museum with its original display, c. 1898-99

Monier Williams’ first trip to India was a success. He held meetings in the major cities in the north including Bombay, Calcutta and Delhi, explaining his proposal and asking for aid. The Prince of Wales, who was at the time in India, pledged his support, along with Lord Northbrook, the then Governor-General, and many members of the Civil Service. A number of Indian princes were also persuaded to join the subscription list. A second trip in the South of India and Ceylon followed towards the end of 1876 in which he was to receive similar encouragement. In addition to official support and money, he also received gifts of books, manuscripts and objects for the proposed new museum and library. Monier Williams followed his two Indian trips with a series of lectures and addresses in London and Oxford. In these he promulgated his vision of Indian studies becoming part of every University curriculum and the creation of a number of Institutes devoted to the dissemination of correct information on Indian matters, of which Oxford’s proposed Indian Institute was to be but the first. The fund raising campaign received further momentum with the official approval and support of Queen Victoria and the royal princes.

In Oxford the Master and Fellows of Balliol were particularly sympathetic to Monier William’s great enterprise. It was Benjamin Jowett, Master of Balliol who offered every candidate who passed the I.C.S. examination a place in Balliol and it was Balliol College Library that provided a temporary home for the books and manuscripts that had been collected for the new Institute. Initially it was planned that the Institute itself would be part of Balliol but Jowett had made himself unpopular by attaching too many of the staff appointed by the University to his college and the idea was abandoned in favour of making it a University institution.[8] In his book Oxford and Empire, Richard Symonds suggests that the Indian Institute would have had a better chance of development had it been attached to Balliol.[9] Certainly it is likely that Balliol would have been prepared to make up some of the shortfall in running costs which quickly became apparent after its opening. A college-based Institute might also have received stronger academic direction, and been prevented from sliding into the government club about which Edward Thompson was to be so scathing in the 1930s.

The Institute began its life in rooms hired at no. 8 Broad Street, opposite to Balliol College but in 1880 Convocation approved the plan for an Indian Institute and granted a site in the Parks along with an Endowment of £250 per annum from the University Chest, payable from the date of its opening.

There was considerable opposition to the new Institute being built in the Parks and negotiations were then started with the Fellows of Merton College who consented to part with a site in Broad Street for the sum of £7,800. The Prince of Wales laid the foundation stone of the building in 1883, acting with full Masonic ritual, and the University statute governing the Institute was passed in 1884.

The Building

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Elephant carving, Indian Institute

The building, consisting of lecture rooms, a library and museum, was not completed until 1896 since some of the site was held by leaseholders and the leases did not come up for renewal until 1892. Monier Williams had to raise more money to purchase this land from Merton College and managed to secure the £1,400 needed from Sir Bhagvat Sinhjee, Thakur of Gondal. The architect was Basil Champneys with the carving being executed by a Mr. Aumonier.

At the very first recorded meeting of the Indian Institute Curators on 5 Nov 1884 the third item on the agenda was a discussion about the insufficiency of endowment of £250 per year and the problem of under-funding appears with monotonous regularity in the minutes from then on.

A manuscript volume held in the Ashmolean lists the objects collected for Monier Williams between 1883 and 1885. They vary from the eccentric, such as the three blown crocodile eggs and granite stone for scrubbing elephants from Travancore to highly professional selections from the most knowledgeable experts of the day, such as the collection of several hundred examples of handicrafts chosen by the Madras Museum.

When the completed Indian Institute was finally opened the museum installation was carried out by Dr. H. Lüders assisted by Mr. Long of the Pitt Rivers Museum, with the aid of a grant from the University.[10] The Bodleian has a number of archival photographs, which must have been taken soon after and show a space crammed full of wooden cases, rugs on the floors and walls and costumed dummies. An entrance corridor contains several small stupas from Bodhgaya, a model of emperor Hamayun’s tomb and a couple of stuffed yaks.

As in so many other aspects of the Indian Institute, the lack of financial provision soon told. There was no money to support a full-time curator so its direction was left entirely in the hands of the Boden Professor of Sanskrit. Apart from the fact the Boden Professor had many other duties, appreciation of India’s linguistic and literary achievements rarely went hand in hand with an appreciation of Indian art. The minutes of the Indian Institute Curators show how the museum was from the first the poor relation of the Institute’s library. Apart from acceptance of donations from ex-I.C.S. officers and old India hands, there was little consistent policy concerning the museum in the years that followed Monier-William’s death in 1899.

While the founder of the Institute’s philological and literary interests ensured that the Library received more attention from the Curators than the Museum, its financial situation was no better and it relied on inadequate grants and donations. The two biggest donors of books to the library were Monier-Williams himself, who gave his own library of between 3 and 4,000 volumes, and the Rev. Solomon Caesar Malan who donated his collection of about 4,000 books to the Institute.

The lack of continuity in the Librarian's post and the haphazard acquisition of gifts did not help the development of the collection and one gets the impression that over time the Curators of the Indian Institute found management of the Library increasingly irksome. In the minutes of a meeting held on Nov. 13th 1924 the Keeper complains that although there is an assistant as well as a chief librarian, he often finds that neither of them are to be found in the library.

On Oct. 26th 1926 Dr. Cowley, Bodley's Librarian, approached the Curators of the Indian Institute with a proposal that the Bodleian should take over the management of the Indian Institute Library. Unfortunately the typewritten and printed papers which outline the proposal are missing from the minutes book so it is not clear what benefits that Dr. Cowley felt the Bodleian would gain from connecting itself with the Indian Institute. The Curators of the Indian Institute came to an agreement in which they paid the Bodleian £275 per annum to connect the Indian Institute Library with the Bodleian as a special department for Indian studies. Dr. Cowley took over management of the library in 1927 and while the Librarian remained to assist him, the assistant librarian was replaced with a Bodleian employee. The Curators of the Indian Institute seem to have done rather well out of the deal because by 1928 Dr. Cowley is complaining that the administration of the Indian Institute Library was by no means covered by their contribution and has involved a considerable expenditure from Bodleian funds. It is interesting that despite the early administrative take over by the Bodleian, it is the Library that seems to have come to symbolize the Indian Institute and form the substance of the 1960s dispute which is still remembered today.

The Institute

The academic programme for the Institute was initially ambitious and inclusive. In his the opening ceremony lecture of 1884 Monier Williams described how the Institute had already appointed a number of teacher in Indian subjects and was able to offer one Indian classical language, Indian Law, History, and Political Economy.[11] Oxford was still missing the Honour School of Oriental Studies that he had proposed in 1875 but this became a reality in 1886, the year in which he was also knighted, taking the name Sir Monier Monier-Williams (presumably because he thought it sounded more impressive than plain Sir Monier Williams). The Institute’s academic programme was intended to be the first step in a process whereby Oxford and other Universities would eventually take over the entire process of educating and examining Indian Civil Service Probationers. The teaching programme would also answer the needs of the future doctors, lawyers and missionaries of the university who would end up working in India. The academic programme was intended to go hand in hand with the interchange of knowledge that would naturally arise from mixing young Englishmen with Indians studying in England. Monier Williams saw the young Indians gaining active dynamic qualities such as courage and determination while the young Englishmen would learn passive qualities such as patience and obedience to authority.[12]

In the early days of the Institute, however, there were insufficient Indian students to provide the kind of counterbalance to the I.C.S. probationers that Monier William’s rosy vision of an East West interchange of moral qualities required. An attempt to secure six Government scholarships for visiting Indian scholars had failed because the Secretary for India overruled a promise made to Monier Williams by the Viceroy, being disinclined to single out Oxford University for special favour.[13] In an article that appeared in the Oxford and Cambridge undergraduate journal of May 10, 1883 the author knew of only three native Indians in Oxford and did not believe there could be more than a dozen.[14] On the other hand there were some 50 I.C.S. probationers at the time of the Institute’s foundation.

The Honours School in Indian studies was short-lived and came to an end in Monier-William's own lifetime. It failed to take off as a popular alternative to Classics for those contemplating careers in India and interest was confined to those had already decided to make India their career, namely the I.C.S. probationers. After a change in the age limits of the Indian Civil Service made it no longer possible for the I.C.S. probationers to stay in Oxford for more than a year, the Honours School was no longer viable.[15]

In 1955 the Hebdomadal Council passed a decree to establish the Oriental Institute, which was to include "full provision for Indian studies." In the Congregation debate, Mr. H.T. Lambrick, Fellow of Oriel College, spoke against the proposal. He did not object to an Oriental Institute but protested that the inclusion of Indian studies would mutilate the Indian Institute and that it would be the story of Naboth’s vineyard all over again.[16] G.R. Driver, Professor of Semitic Philology spoke for the motion. He suggested that the Indian Institute may have been responsible for the decline in Indian studies at Oxford in the last 20 years and assured Congregation that the successors of those who gave money to found the Institute had been consulted and were not unfavourable to the proposals for the Oriental Institute. The decree was passed. A further resolution was then passed to lift restrictions on the use of the Indian Institute and allow the University to make use of any spare accommodation in the Indian Institute exclusive of the library, galleries and rooms already occupied by persons whose work required proximity to the library.[17] The Indian Institute Library was to be allowed to remain because Bodley's Librarian and Curators had adamantly opposed the move of Bodleian material away from the central site and won general support for their position.

In 1964 the Hebdomadal Council started discussing a proposal with Curators of the Bodleian. The proposal was that the Bodleian, which was badly in need of further accommodation, should be offered the Proscholium, to serve as a main entrance and the Divinity School for an exhibition room. In addition the Indian Institute Library was to be moved from the Indian Institute building to a roof extension, which was to be built on the north range of the new Bodleian and joined to deck B, which would be used for open shelf Indian Institute material.

In June 1965 two contentious debates were held on the future of the Indian Institute site. K. Ballhatchet, Reader in Indian History, led the opposition. He argued that the Franks commission had yet to make its recommendations on future provision for the University's administrative requirements. It was therefore not sensible to make provision for administrative offices on the Indian Institute site when the future shape of the administration had yet to be decided. D. Pocock, the Reader in Indian Sociology said that treating India as a branch of Oriental studies failed to reflect equal numbers of research students from other disciplines such as Modern History, Anthropology, Geography and Agriculture and Forestry. He felt that to ally Indian studies so closely with Oriental studies gave a wrong impression to those outside Oxford of the University’s interests in South Asia. It was argued that the Indian Institute site should not only retain the library but also provide rooms to allow for the development of a proper South Asian Regional Studies centre, such as had just been set up by Cambridge.

At the close of the debate, Ballhatchet's amendment to the decree was rejected by 38 votes and the decree was carried by 55 votes. Since the decree had achieved a majority of less than two thirds it had to go to Convocation, the body of all the M.A.s of the University. The voting was again close and the decree was carried by a mere 18 votes.

Conclusion: The Orientalist, his Institute and the Empire

In the popular version of the history of the Indian Institute, the Institute takes a simplified form, just a building and a library, which together symbolize enduring British-Indian friendship and a golden age of Indian Studies in Oxford, brutally torn asunder by an uncaring University. As I hope I have shown, the real the story of the Institute is more complex and troubled. The seeds of its destruction, namely an over-ambitious vision, lack of money, and the focus on a narrow sector of the student population were present from the day it opened its doors. While its demise was not inevitable, it is not as surprising as it might seem to those who have only encountered the popular version of the Institute’s history. Monier-Williams would have been gratified to see the affection in which his expensive bricks and mortar are held today and one cannot but admire his achievement in creating a library, museum, and teaching centre from nothing. Had the Institute had more Keepers of his entrepreneurial flair it might still be in existence today serving students and researchers of the University where once it trained Civil Servants for the Empire.

_______________

Notes:

[1] The Times Wed Dec 22 1830. Notice of the election of the Professorship of Sanskrit in the University of Oxford.

[2]Nirad Chaudhuri Scholar extraordinary : the life of Professor the Rt. Hon. Friedrich Max Müller, P.C. London : Chatto & Windus, 1974 p. 221

[3] Monier Williams A study of Sanskrit in relation to missionary work in India; an inaugural lecture delivered before the University of Oxford, on April 19, 1861. London: Williams and Norgate, 1861, p. 59-60

[4] Monier Williams How can the University of Oxford best fulfil its duty towards Oxford? Lecture given at the opening of the Indian Institute and reported in the Oxford & Cambridge Undergraduates Journal, Oct 16 1884

[5] Monier Williams How can the University of Oxford best fulfil its duty towards Oxford? Lecture given at the opening of the Indian Institute and reported in the Oxford & Cambridge Undergraduates Journal, Oct 16 1884

[6] A record of the establishment of the Indian Institute in the University of Oxford : being an account of the circumstances which led to its foundation. Oxford : Compiled for the Subscribers to the Indian Institute fund, 1897 p. 4.

[7] A record of the establishment of the Indian Institute in the University of Oxford : being an account of the circumstances which led to its foundation. Oxford : Compiled for the Subscribers to the Indian Institute fund, 1897 p. 4

[8] Balliol College Minute Book (25 June 1878 and 9 Nov 1878)

[9] Symonds p. 109

[10] J.C. Harle & Andrew Topsfield Indian art in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1987) p. xii.

[11] A record of the establishment of the Indian Institute in the University of Oxford : being an account of the circumstances which led to its foundation. Oxford : Compiled for the Subscribers to the Indian Institute fund, 1897 p. 42.

[12] A record of the establishment of the Indian Institute in the University of Oxford : being an account of the circumstances which led to its foundation. Oxford : Compiled for the Subscribers to the Indian Institute fund, 1897 p. 42

[13] Symonds p.111.

[14] Oxford review: the Oxford & Cambridge Undergraduates review. May 10, 1883

[15] Symonds p. 111-112.

[16] Times Wed Jun 1, 1955.

[17] Oxford University Gazette 3 June 1955 p. 1003-4.

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Journal of the National Indian Association in Aid of Social Progress and Female Education in India

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CHAPTER XV. THE SAME CONTINUED. THE HISTORY OF SAGAMONI BORCAN [SAKYA-MUNI] AND THE BEGINNING OF IDOLATRY...

NOTE 6.—The Pâtra, or alms-pot, was the most valued legacy of Buddha. It had served the three previous Buddhas of this world-period, and was destined to serve the future one, Maitreya. The Great Asoka sent it to Ceylon. Thence it was carried off by a Tamul chief in the 1st century, A.D., but brought back we know not how, and is still shown in the Malagawa Vihara at Kandy. As usual in such cases, there were rival reliques, for Fa-hian found the alms-pot preserved at Pesháwar. Hiuen Tsang says in his time it was no longer there, but in Persia. And indeed the Pâtra from Pesháwar, according to a remarkable note by Sir Henry Rawlinson, is still preserved at Kandahár, under the name of Kashkul (or the Begging-pot), and retains among the Mussulman Dervishes the sanctity and miraculous repute which it bore among the Buddhist Bhikshus. Sir Henry conjectures that the deportation of this vessel, the palladium of the true Gandhára (Pesháwar), was accompanied by a popular emigration, and thus accounts for the transfer of that name also to the chief city of Arachosia. (Koeppen, I. 526; Fah-hian, p. 36; H. Tsang, II. 106; J.R.A.S. XI. 127.)

Sir E. Tennent, through Mr. Wylie (to whom this book owes so much), obtained the following curious Chinese extract referring to Ceylon (written 1350): "In front of the image of Buddha there is a sacred bowl, which is neither made of jade nor copper, nor iron; it is of a purple colour, and glossy, and when struck it sounds like glass. At the commencement of the Yuen Dynasty (i.e. under Kúblái) three separate envoys were sent to obtain it." Sanang Setzen also corroborates Marco's statement: "Thus did the Khaghan (Kúblái) cause the sun of religion to rise over the dark land of the Mongols; he also procured from India images and reliques of Buddha; among others the Pâtra of Buddha, which was presented to him by the four kings (of the cardinal points), and also the chandana chu" (a miraculous sandal-wood image). (Tennent, I. 622; Schmidt, p. 119.)…

NOTE 7.—Fa-hian writes of the alms-pot at Pesháwar, that poor people could fill it with a few flowers, whilst a rich man should not be able to do so with 100, nay, with 1000 or 10,000 bushels of rice; a parable doubtless originally carrying a lesson, like Our Lord's remark on the widow's mite, but which hardened eventually into some foolish story like that in the text.

The modern Mussulman story at Kandahar is that the alms-pot will contain any quantity of liquor without overflowing.

This Pâtra is the Holy Grail of Buddhism. Mystical powers of nourishment are ascribed also to the Grail in the European legends. German scholars have traced in the romances of the Grail remarkable indications of Oriental origin. It is not impossible that the alms-pot of Buddha was the prime source of them. Read the prophetic history of the Pâtra as Fa-hian heard it in India (p. 161); its mysterious wanderings over Asia till it is taken up into the heaven Tushita where Maitreya the Future Buddha dwells. When it has disappeared from earth the Law gradually perishes, and violence and wickedness more and more prevail:


—"What is it?
The phantom of a cup that comes and goes?
* * * * * If a man
Could touch or see it, he was heal'd at once,
By faith, of all his ills. But then the times
Grew to such evil that the holy cup
Was caught away to Heaven, and disappear'd."
—Tennyson's Holy Grail
...

-- The Travels of Marco Polo, by Marco Polo and Rustichello of Pisa: The Complete Yule-Cordier Edition


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With regard to Query No "V.", about the "Thor's hammer", the Scandinavian mystical symbol called the "Thor's Hammer", vizt, thus,

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is, in its form, apparently identical with the Indian Swastika

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(See sketch of the "Thor's hammer" and other mystic symbols, in Baring Gould's "Iceland, its Scenes and Sagas"!)

The mystical symbol of the "Thor's hammer" really bore reference to three things (or three natural phenomena), or had a triple signification; vizt:

1. The Sun's power and course;
2. The revolution of the four seasons; and of time
3. The four quarters of the compass.
1.a. Rising, striking, setting, absence.
2.a. Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter.
2.b. Morning, mid-day, evening, night.
3.a. East, South, West, North

Thus:


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Top -- Rising. Spring, Morning, East. Birth & Youth. Beginning.
Right -- Striking. Summer. Mid-day. South. Manhood, Present.
Bottom -- Setting. Autumn. Evening. West. Old Age. End.
Left -- Absence. Winter. Night. North. Death. Past. Future. Chaos.
 
I myself have never seen "hammers" or "axes" worshipped in India!


Round a Linga, or Mahadeo, when it happened to be situated in the open air, I have very frequently seen many naturally smoothed or rounded, stones, and oval stones, and pebbles, collected, in a crowd; and I have sometimes seen so many, that the big "Mahadeo" appeared to be standing in the midst of a forest of little ones of all shapes and sizes! But I have never yet seen any genuine "celt", or axe, in that position!

-- Letter to Mr. Rivett-Carnac [Colonel John Henry Rivett-Carnac 1838-1923], by Archibald Campbell Carlleyle


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Dominus Illuminatio Mea [Lord is my light]

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The Orientalist, his Institute and the Empire: the rise and subsequent decline of Oxford University’s Indian Institute
by Gillian Evison
Indian Institute Librarian
December 2004

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The Indian Institute Library on the top floor of the New Bodleian and the building of the old Indian Institute, now the home of the History Faculty Library and the James Martin 21st Century School, are the surviving remnants of an ambitious research institution set up in 1884 by the Boden Professor of Sanskrit, Sir M. Monier-Williams dedicated to the learning and literature of India. Some traces of the former use of the building remain and both the Sanskrit inscription inside the front door and the elephant weather vane on the roof bear testimony to the Indian Institute’s former life as a centre for Indian studies. The majority of the rarest 18th and 19th century publications in the Bodleian’s South Asian collections have bookplates showing that they were originally part of the Institute’s library, giving some idea of the wealth of printed resources available to members of Sir Monier-Williams’ research institution before the dispersal of its library, museum and teaching staff to various other locations in the University in the 1960s.

The end of the Indian Institute was controversial and continues to be so to this day, as became clear not so long ago in the letters section the Michaelmas 2003 edition of the magazine Oxford Today.1 The previous issue had featured a brief article by Alastair Lack entitled India and Oxford which had described the Indian Institute building as an emblem of Oxford’s interest in the sub-continent. Clearly intended as a feel-good nostalgic article for Oxford alumni, it had left Ranjit Singh feeling anything but good or nostalgic. He wrote:

“If anything, the building is a symbol of the disgraceful betrayal of trust the University displayed towards its friends and supporters in India. My family was amongst the donors inveigled by the University and the then Boden Professor of Sanskrit, Sir Monier Monier-Williams, privately to raise funds in India to construct the Institute. It was to be, in Monier-William’s words, ‘an everlasting symbol of amity’ between Oxford and India.

Despite its undertakings, the University forced the Indian Institute out of its home in 1968 and into the sterile New Bodleian Library library to make way for University administrative offices. Even when the administration abandoned the building, instead of being returned to its rightful occupants it was turned over to the Modern History faculty, which of course focuses on European history.

That the University should act in this way is bad enough. That it should now proudly cite the Institute’s building as indicative of its attitude towards its supporters in India is simply appalling.”


In this paper I will be looking at the history of the Institute from its optimistic beginnings as a colonial centre of instruction about all things Indian to its disintegration under the pressures of battles for real estate and changes in the way that the University thought about its teaching of Indian subjects.

As Ranjit Singh’s letter states, the Indian Institute was the brainchild of the Boden Professor of Sanskrit Sir M. Monier-Williams whose portrait can be seen on the staircase leading to the present library on the top floor of the New Bodleian.

Sir M. Monier-William's appointment to the Boden Professorship was somewhat controversial. He was born in India in 1819, where his father was Surveyor General, but returned to England as a child when his father died. He entered Balliol College but feeling no vocation for the church, for which his family had intended him, he left before taking his degree in order to enter Haileybury College and prepare for service with the East India Company as a writer. He trained for the service at the college from January 1840, and he passed out head of his year. It was whilst at Haileybury that he started to study Sanskrit, little knowing that it was form the substance of his future career. When his youngest brother died in action in an unsuccessful attempt to relieve the beleaguered fort of Kahun in Sind, he acceded to his widowed mother’s request to stay in England and gave up his plans for a career in India. He returned to Oxford but Balliol would not take him back so he entered University College in 1841 to read Classics and Mathematics in which he only managed to obtain a double Fourth Class degree2. His degree results undoubtedly suffered from his continued pursuit of Sanskrit, which he studied under the first Boden Professor Horace Hayman Wilson. In 1843 he won the Boden Sanskrit scholarship and after graduating in 1844 was immediately appointed professor of Sanskrit, Persian, and Hindustani at Haileybury, a post that he held until 1858, when the college was closed in the wake of the Indian mutiny and the teaching staff were pensioned off.

The closure of Haileybury left him searching for another opening and the vacancy for prestigious and highly paid Boden Professor of Sanskrit after the death of Horace Hayman Wilson in 1860 proved providential. Boden Professors at this time were elected by all the M.A.s of the University3 and as Convocation had 3,7864 members the election was contested as if the protagonists were prospective members of Parliament. Monier Williams spent over £10005 on manifestos, handbills, letters to newspapers and personal canvassing in a closely fought election against the German scholar Max Müller.

The Sanskrit Chair had been founded by Colonel J. Boden for “the conversion of the Natives of India to the Christian Religion”6 and Max Müller felt himself well qualified for the post.
He secured the support of leading scholars, including Edward Pusey and John Keble. Max Müller may have had the support of the majority of Oxford scholars but he unfortunately suffered from two major handicaps; he was a German on friendly terms with Oxford theologians of the liberal movement with “Germanist” tendencies, which made his theology suspect to the conservatives in the church. Monier Williams may not have had the reputation in the field of Sanskrit that Müller enjoyed but he had the important advantages of being English by birth and well known as a devout evangelical Anglican.

The battle for the Professorship was long and nasty. Supporters of Müller sought to raise doubts about William's competence as a Sanskrit scholar. One of the Boden scholars Robinson Ellis circulated a paper in which it was claimed that he could not read a Sanskrit manuscript7 and when evidence was produced to the contrary it was claimed that it merely proved that:

"Mr. Williams is able to recognize the letters of a Sanskrit MS when he can compare it with an existing text. This is a kind of mechanical labour which is paid for at the public libraries at Paris and Berlin at the rate of half a crown a year"8.

In retaliation Monier Williams claimed that Müller's area of speciality was a backwater and not relevant to the purpose for which the Boden Professorship had been set up. He claimed that his own area of speciality, the epics and sacred law, were the real Hindu scriptures while the Rig Veda, Müller's speciality, was a "curious monument of bygone worship, at which the missionary, more usefully engaged in studying the present condition of the Hindu mind would content himself with a rapid glance"9.

The support of scholars at Oxford was not enough to carry the vote for Müller when the Convocation was held on 7th December 1860. Large numbers of evangelical country clergy appeared in Oxford to cast their votes and Monier Williams was elected with a majority of 223 out of a total of 1433 votes recorded. The unfortunate Robinson Ellis, the Boden scholar who had questioned Monier William’s knowledge of Sanskrit was required by statute to attend lectures by the new Boden Professor. Monier Williams described their first encounter as one in which, “his whole demeanour was that of a person who would have welcomed an earthquake or any convulsion of nature which would have opened a way for him to sink out of my sight.”10 Monier Williams, however, was determined to be gracious in victory and was largely successful in winning his former opponents over, with the notable exception of Max Müller who resisted all efforts at reconciliation.

At his inaugural lecture Monier Williams set out the evangelical agenda which had carried the day for him.

“A great Eastern empire has been entrusted to our rule, not to be the theatre of political experiments, nor yet for the sole purpose of extending our commerce, flattering our pride, or increasing our prestige, but that a benighted population may be enlightened, and every man, woman, and child … hear the glad tidings of the Gospel.”11

In his view India, of all British possessions, was the most inviting and interesting for the missionary. It was not a country of savage tribes who would melt away before superior force and intelligence of Europeans but the home of a great and ancient people. These inhabitants traced back their origin to the same Aryan stock as the Europeans and had attained a high degree of civilization when Europeans were still barbarians. India had had a polished language and literature when English was unknown. It was for Europeans, indebted to this ancient civilization, to unearth the fragments of truth, buried under superstition, error and idolatry and to help India return to its former place amongst the foremost nations of the earth.
He had to acknowledge that it was unlikely that missionaries would ever encounter Hindus who could understand Sanskrit but nevertheless, loyal to the beliefs of the Chair’s founder, stoutly maintained it was the key to understanding Hindu civilization.


In addition to his evangelical agenda, Monier Williams had not forgotten his days as the Professor of Sanskrit, Persian, and Hindustani at Haileybury. He began to see the possibilities afforded by Oxford for filling the educational vacuum that had been left by the closure of the East India Company College. As he was later to describe in the lecture How can the University of Oxford best fulfil its duty towards India12, Indian Civil Service Probationers were selected by an annual competitive examination for 17 to 19 year olds. About forty were selected out of two to three hundred candidates and during two years of probation were expected to sit a number of examinations in London. During the period of probation they were expected to reside in one of eight Universities approved by the Secretary of State for India, namely, Oxford, Cambridge, London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, St. Andrew’s and Dublin. Whilst at the University, they were subject to University discipline but not under formal academic supervision of any kind. In Monier William’s view, the fact that they simply resided at University but did not take any University examinations meant that they gained little from their experience of University life. The unsatisfactory support for I.C.S probationers was particularly visible at Oxford as its proximity to London made it an extremely popular choice for residency.

In addition to the unsatisfactory support for I.C.S. probationers, Indian students had started coming to England and were mostly studying without supervision. Among those in Oxford about half had no College attachments and Monier Williams felt there was a grave risk that after being cast adrift in England Indian students would return home deteriorated in character rather than improved.

In 1875 he persuaded Congregation to pass three resolutions: first that arrangements be made for I.C.S. probationers to reside at the University; second that University teachers should be appointed in certain branches of training required by them: and third that the B.A. degree be brought within their reach.

In order to provide a stable study environment for both I.C.S. probationers and Indian students, he formally proposed the foundation of an Indian Institute at a Congregation held on May 13th 1875. The purpose of the Institute was to form a centre of teaching, inquiry and information on all subjects relating to India and its inhabitants. It was to restore among the I.C.S. probationers the old community spirit of the East India Company's College at Haileybury and would promote the welfare of Indians in Oxford. In addition it would propagate a general knowledge of India among Oxford's ordinary students some of whom might go on to exercise control over India's destiny in Parliament.
Before the advent of submarine telegraphy, district officials had a great deal of autonomy but with swifter communication channels, London government had an opportunity to interfere, for good or ill, as never before. As Monier Williams tactfully remarked in his speech at the opening of the new Institute “the interposition of an all-powerful Assembly, acting with the best intentions, but not always according to knowledge, is apt to cause administrative complications.”13

The new Institute was to have lecture rooms, staff rooms, accommodation for Indian students and visitors and a library which was to "offer for daily use a collection of Indian manuscripts, books, maps, and plans, many of them too rare and costly to be procurable by private means. Its Reading-room will be supplied with all kinds of Indian newspapers and periodicals, some of them in the native languages.14 "The Institute was also to have a Museum that was to present a typical collection of specimens which would give a concise synopsis of the country and its material products, its people and their moral condition. Monier Williams sought to reassure Congregation that the sole purpose of this Institute was to be the prosecution of Oriental research and not to attract “mere sight-seers, curiosity-hunters, and excursionists”.15

The Boden Professor was not alone in his vision of a centre that would combine teaching, a museum and library for the benefit of I.C.S. probationers and the educated classes in England and India. In the same year J. Forbes Watson, the Director of the India Museum, which was sharing cramped and unsatisfactory quarters in the attics of the India Office with the India Library, proposed the construction of a purpose built Indian Institute on a vacant site belonging to the India Office in Charles Street.

The London Indian Institute, however, never progressed beyond a proposal and in the 1880’s the India Museum was amalgamated with the growing collections of Indian craft objects at the South Kensington (later Victoria and Albert) Museum. While the London proposal was based on the solid foundation of existing library and museum resources, Monier Williams had nothing. Any fund raising campaign would have to cover museum and library stock and a place to put them well as suitable salaries for staff.

Monier Williams’ first trip to India was a success. He held meetings in the major cities in the north including Bombay, Calcutta and Delhi, explaining his proposal and asking for aid. The Prince of Wales, who was at the time in India, pledged his support, along with Lord Northbrook, the then Governor-General, and many members of the Civil Service. A number of Indian princes were also persuaded to join the subscription list. A second trip in the South of India and Ceylon followed towards the end of 1876 in which he was to receive similar encouragement. In addition to official support and money, he also received gifts of books, manuscripts and objects for the proposed new museum and library. Monier Williams followed his two Indian trips with a series of lectures and addresses in London and Oxford. In these he promulgated his vision of Indian studies becoming part of every University curriculum and the creation of a number of Institutes devoted to the dissemination of correct information on Indian matters, of which Oxford’s proposed Indian Institute was to be but the first.

The fund raising campaign received further momentum with the official approval and support of Queen Victoria and the royal princes.

In Oxford the Master and Fellows of Balliol were particularly sympathetic to Monier William’s great enterprise. It was Benjamin Jowett, Master of Balliol who offered every candidate who passed the I.C.S. examination a place in Balliol and it was Balliol College Library that provided a temporary home for the books and manuscripts that had been collected for the new Institute. Initially it was planned that the Institute itself would be part of Balliol16 but Jowett had made himself unpopular by attaching too many of the staff appointed by the University to his college and the idea was abandoned in favour of making it a University institution. In his book Oxford and Empire Richard Symonds suggests that the Indian Institute would have had a better chance of development had it been attached to Balliol.17 Certainly it is likely that Balliol would have been prepared to make up some of the shortfall in running costs which quickly became apparent after its opening. A college-based Institute might also have received stronger academic direction, and been prevented from sliding into the government club about which Edward Thompson was to be so scathing in the 1930’s.

The Institute began its life in rooms hired at no. 8 Broad Street, opposite to Balliol College but in 1880 Convocation approved the plan for an Indian Institute and granted a site in the Parks along with an Endowment of £250 per annum from the University Chest, payable from the date of its opening.

Max Müller objected to the money that Monier-Williams had raised being spent on new buildings. He circulated a flyleaf to Congregation urging that premises could be found on existing University property and that the donations should fund research and fellowships. He later wrote:

"What all the Indians say is that rich Oxford University went around with a hat, promised to help Indian students, and all the money they subscribed in India was spent on bricks and stuffed animals18."


Max Müller’s general antipathy to Monier Williams was no doubt partly at the root of this campaign. Monier Williams had tried to invite Müller’s to join an Oxford committee for the Institute using as his intermediary, Benjamin Jowett, the Master of Balliol, who remained friendly with both men, but this appeal had fallen on deaf ears.19 Leaving personal animosity aside, however, Max Müller had a valid point. When the building was finally been completed, of the £33,869 11 shillings that had been raised only £235, 7 shillings and 10 d remained to be handed over to the Curators for the continued running of the Institute. This was to provide woefully inadequate support and from the outset there was never going to be sufficient money to support a scholarship programme.

There was considerable opposition to the new Institute being built in the Parks and negotiations were then started with the Fellows of Merton College who consented to part with a site in Broad Street for the sum of £7,800. The Prince of Wales laid the foundation stone of the building in 1883, acting with full Masonic ritual, and the University statute governing the Institute was passed in 1884.

The building, consisting of lecture rooms, a library and museum, was not completed until 1896 since some of the site was held by leaseholders and the leases did not come up for renewal until 1892. Monier Williams had to raise more money to purchase this land from Merton College and managed to secure the £1400 needed from Sir Bhagvat Sinhjee, Thakur of Gondal. The architect was Basil Champneys with the carving being executed by a Mr. Aumonier.

The style was intended to suggest the purpose of the building by the introduction of Indian forms in the fauna and flora of the carvings and some richness of detail without departing from the type of the 17th century English Renaissance.

At the very first recorded meeting of the Indian Institute Curators on Nov 5th 1884 the third item on the agenda was a discussion about the insufficiency of endowment of £250 per year and the problem of under-funding appears with monotonous regularity in the minutes from then on.

Of the three components of Monier William’s Indian Institute, the museum was probably the least successful. In the words of John Harle and Andrew Topsfield’s book on Indian art in the Ashmolean museum, it is described as a story of “the high minded, even sanctimonious, late Victorian ambitions of its founder over-reaching themselves and being gradually nullified by the inertia or sheer lack of funds of his successor”.20 As a largely ethnographic museum of economic products and crafts, it was clearly inspired by the new Indian Museum in South Kensington, which had been formed through the amalgamation of the old East India Company Museum in Whitehall and the collections of Indian craft objects at the South Kensington Museum. In common with the prevailing opinion of the time, while Monier Williams held a deep regard for India’s literary tradition, he had scant regard for Indian art other than its craft traditions. In a third Indian fundraising tour undertaken in the winter of 1883-1884 he took time to visit the International Exhibition in Calcutta and secure some items as well as enlisting the help of various regional authorities to collect representative local objects and ship them to Oxford.

It was left to civil servants and museum officials to interpret this brief as they thought best. A manuscript volume held in the Ashmolean lists the objects collected for Monier Williams between 1883 and 1885. They vary from the eccentric, such as the three blown crocodile eggs and granite stone for scrubbing elephants from Travancore to highly professional selections from the most knowledgeable experts of the day, such as the collection of several hundred examples of handicrafts chosen by the Madras Museum.

When the completed Indian Institute was finally opened the museum installation was carried out by Dr. H. Lüders assisted by Mr. Long of the Pitt rivers Museum, with the aid of a grant from the University.21 The Indian Institute Library has a number of archival photographs, which must have been taken soon after and show a space crammed full of wooden cases, rugs on the floors and walls and costumed dummies.

An entrance corridor contains several small stupas from Bodhgaya, a model of emperor Hamayun’s tomb and a couple of stuffed yaks.

As in so many other aspects of the Indian Institute, the lack of financial provision soon told. There was no money to support a full time curator so its direction was left entirely in the hands of the Boden Professor of Sanskrit. Apart from the fact the Boden Professor had many other duties, appreciation of India’s linguistic and literary achievements rarely went hand in hand with an appreciation of Indian art. The minutes of the Indian Institute Curators show how the museum was from the first the poor relation of the Institute’s library. Apart from acceptance of donations from ex-I.C.S. officers and old India hands, there was little consistent policy concerning the museum in the years that followed Monier William’s death in 1899. In 1909, Lord Curzon, the Chancellor of the University, issued a confidential note, preserved in the Indian Institute archives, which recommended the ending of the museum. The collection was meagre and ill-assorted in comparison with that at South Kensington, and worse still was visited by more women than men, which he viewed as a sufficient grounds for closure and in his words, “a pathetic commentary upon Sir M. Monier-Williams’s assurance that it was not intended to attract “mere sight-seers, curiosity-hunters and excursionists”.22

The month following, the Curators resolved on a policy of gradual dispersal of the museum collections but, perhaps because of the effort involved in such a wholesale dispersal, little was done. In 1926 the museum was still in existence, the Curator’s minutes recording that the visitors were mainly school children and Americans. The stuffed animals, to which Max Müller had referred in his condemnation of the Indian Institute some thirty years earlier, were, however, disposed of in 1926, having been a regular committee item since the museum’s opening due to their poor state of preservation and bad smell, which by that time was being described as “positively injurious.” The Curators did later try and interest the Pitt Rivers in the entire museum collection but the proposal was refused due to lack of space. Some select items were accepted, however, including the collection of Jaipur arms and armour that had been gifted by the Maharajah. The museum rallied briefly under the Keepership of Prof. E.H. Johnston from 1937-42. By this time there was a greater appreciation of the Indian fine art tradition and Johnston was responsible for the purchase of some fine examples of Mathura sculpture including the beautiful head of Siva, now in the Ashmolean’s Eastern Art Museum. During the Second World War, however, the museum was closed and in 1945 the Curators were not inclined to re-open it. In 1946, a solution to the Indian Institute’s white elephant appeared in the form of Dr. William Cohn, a distinguished war-time refugee from Berlin, who suggested the amalgamation of the museum collections with the Ashmolean’s Chinese ceramic collections in a new Museum of Eastern Art. The Museum opened in the Indian Institute in 1949 and remained there until its move in 1962 to the Ashmolean’s newly established Department of Eastern Art. It seems that no one was sad to see it go. Aongst the many letters of protest I have read about the closure of the Indian Institute I have yet to find any opposition to the museum’s move to the Ashmolean site.

While the founder of the Institute’s philological and literary interests ensured that the Library received more attention from the Curators than the Museum its financial situation was no better and it relied on inadequate grants and donations. The two biggest donors of books to the library were Monier-Williams himself, who gave his own library of between 3 and 4000 volumes, and the Rev. Solomon Caesar Malan who donated his collection of about 4000 books to the Institute.

Much of Malan's library was inappropriate to a centre for Indic studies; his collection included works on Patristics, the history of the Eastern Church and grammars and dictionaries in over 100 languages.
Although attempts were made to rehouse them the conditions of Rev. Malan's bequest made it difficult to do so and most remained in the Indian Institute until it became possible to disperse them among the Bodleian collections after the library came under Bodleian administration.

The first Indian Institute Librarian was a Dr. Schönberg, who was also to assist Prof. Monier-Williams in the preparation of his Sanskrit-English dictionary. He was appointed on Nov 11th 1884 at a salary of £50 a year besides living, lights and rooms. It was agreed that his duties should be to reside in the building, to take charge of the books in the library and objects in the museum. He was to sit in the library when engaged in work on the dictionary and he was to devote two hours a day to cataloguing books. His contract was terminated by March of the next year and from then on Indian Institute Librarians seem to have had very limited tenure. The longer a Librarian was in post the more likely it was that he would ask for an increase in wages. The Curators’ way of managing such requests can be demonstrated by the case of the unfortunate Mr. Hartley, Dr. Schönberg's successor, whose contract was abruptly terminated on Dec 15th 1885 after he had applied for an increase in salary.

The lack of continuity in the Librarian's post and the haphazard acquisition of gifts did not help the development of the collection and one gets the impression that over time the Curators of the Indian Institute found management of the Library increasingly irksome. In the minutes of a meeting held on Nov. 13th 1924 the Keeper complains that although there is an assistant as well as a chief librarian, he often finds that neither of them are to be found in the library. Then in 1925 there was the matter of 30 books from the Malan collection, which a Mr. A.S. Domiack from Wadham had removed from the library without signing for them. These books had subsequently been offered for sale to a book dealer who luckily noticed the Indian Institute stamp and returned them.

On Oct. 26th 1926 Dr. Cowley, Bodley's Librarian, approached the Curators of the Indian Institute with a proposal that the Bodleian should take over the management of the Indian Institute Library. Unfortunately the typewritten and printed papers which outline the proposal are missing from the minutes book so it is not clear what benefits that Dr. Cowley felt the Bodleian would gain from connecting itself with the Indian Institute. The Curators of the Indian Institute came to an agreement in which they paid the Bodleian £275 per annum to connect the Indian Institute Library with the Bodleian as a special department for Indian studies. Dr. Cowley took over management of the library in 1927 and while the Librarian remained to assist him the assistant librarian was replaced with a Bodleian employee. The Curators of the Indian Institute seem to have done rather well out of the deal because by 1928 Dr. Cowley is complaining that the administration of the Indian Institute Library is by no means covered by their contribution and has involved a considerable expenditure from Bodleian funds. It is interesting that despite the early administrative take over by the Bodleian, it is the Library that seems to have come to symbolize the Indian Institute and form the substance of the 1960’s dispute which is still remembered today.

The academic programme for the Institute was initially ambitious and inclusive. In his the opening ceremony lecture of 1884 Monier Williams described how the Institute had already appointed a number of teacher in Indian subjects and was able to offer one Indian classical language, Indian Law, History, and Political Economy23. Oxford was still missing the Honour School of Oriental Studies that he had proposed in 1875 but this became a reality in 1886, the year in which he was also knighted, taking the name Sir Monier Monier-Williams (presumably because he thought it sounded more impressive than plain Sir Monier Williams). The Institute’s academic programme was intended to be the first step in a process whereby Oxford and other Universities would eventually take over the entire process of educating and examining Indian Civil Service Probationers. The teaching programme would also answer the needs of the future doctors, lawyers and missionaries of the university who would end up working in India.

The academic programme was intended to go hand in hand with the interchange of knowledge that would naturally arise from mixing young Englishmen with Indians studying in England. Monier Williams saw the young Indians gaining active dynamic qualities such as courage and determination while the young Englishmen would learn passive qualities such as patience and obedience to authority.24 At Oxford the corrosive influence of Indian philosophy to treat action as a mistake leading to future rebirths would be eradicated and Indian students would learn that work was part of religion.

In the early days of the Institute, however, there were insufficient Indian students to provide the kind of counterbalance to the I.C.S. probationers that Monier William’s rosy vision of an East West interchange of moral qualities required. An attempt to secure six Government scholarships for visiting Indian scholars had failed because the Secretary for India overruled a promise made to Monier Williams by the Viceroy, being disinclined to single out Oxford University for special favour25. In an article that appeared in the Oxford and Cambridge undergraduate journal of May 10, 1883 the author knew of only three native Indians in Oxford and did not believe there could be more than a dozen.26 On the other hand there were some 50 I.C.S. probationers at the time of the Institute’s foundation.

The Honours School in Indian studies was short-lived and came to an end in Monier-William's own lifetime. It failed to take off as a popular alternative to Classics for those contemplating careers in India and interest was confined to those had already decided to make India their career, namely the I.C.S. probationers. After a change in the age limits of the Indian Civil Service made it no longer possible for the I.C.S. probationers to stay in Oxford for more than a year, the Honours School was no longer viable.27

Richard Symond’s in his book Oxford and Empire suggests that it was the strong I.C.S focus of the institute, coupled with a decline in interest in Sanskrit, the subject of its ex-officio Keeper, that was to prove its eventual undoing as a centre for Indian studies.28 I.C.S. probationers no longer studied Sanskrit and Classical studies, which had provided a steady stream of students attracted by the relationship of the language to Latin and Greek, started to decline from the 1920’s onwards. Between 1921 and 1930 only four candidates sat for honours in Sanskrit and in 1931 there had been no candidate for the Boden Sanskrit scholarship for six of the eight previous years. The opportunity offered by the growing status of Modern History as a subject was missed with a series of appointments to the Reader in Indian History who were distinguished by their propagation of the government line rather than by their original thought. Sir Geoffrey Corbett, appointed in 1932 actually continued in the I.C.S. during his first two years of appointment. Even E.H. Johnston the Boden Professor Sanskrit from 1937-42 was a retired I.C.S. man. It is small wonder that the Indian students who visited the Institute to read the newspapers saw it as a nest of I.C.S. spies.

An attempt to rejuvenate the Indian Institute was made by the Secretary of the Rhodes Trust, Lord Lothian, while he was Parliamentary secretary for India from 1931-32.
He suggested that Edward Thompson, who had come to Oxford to teach Bengali to the I.C.S. probationers and who had undertaken a number of visits to India on behalf of the Rhodes Trust, use the Indian Institute as the base for some of his suggested initiatives. These included prizes and Fellowships for Indian writers and scholars that would encourage them to come and lecture at Oxford. Lord Lothian also suggested the appointment of an Indian administrator or deputy administrator to the Institute, whose prime role would be to arrange for eminent Indian scholars visit Oxford. Had this happened the subsequent history of the Institute might have been very different. Thompson’s response, however, was that the Institute was lost and damned beyond redemption its so called Indian studies being utilitarian and governmental and its appointments being mainly political.29 The only solution in his view was to close it all down, sell the building to a college and begin again with a new “Irwin House” which would house a library, accommodation for distinguished visiting Indians and provide lectures untainted by I.C.S. associations.30 Even with the prospect of money from the sale of the old Institute, it would have been a costly enterprise and nothing ever came of plans to raise funds for a new “Asia House” to be modelled on Rhodes House with library containing all the books from the Bodleian on the living East, a Warden, theatre and museum.

I.C.S. probationers ceased to come to Oxford after the start of the Second World War in 1939 and in the post-war years the Indian Institute came under unwelcome scrutiny from the University Chest, which was in need of further accommodation. The Indian Institute Curators in 1947 allowed the University Land Agent to take over three rooms on the ground floor, claiming that no more could be offered as all other accommodation was needed by the Institute for its own purposes. It is clear from the minutes of Curators' meetings, however, that Indian Institute rooms were being put to uses that had nothing to do with Indian studies. A Chinese lending library was set up in Indian Institute accommodation and the Institute was also storing Turkish books on behalf of the Faculty of Oriental studies.

The Oriental Faculty, as shown by its use of Indian Institute rooms, desperately needed further accommodation and it was proposed that a new Oriental Institute should be set up near the Ashmolean Museum. It was suggested that the Indian Institute should cease to exist and that the Indian Department and library should become part of the new Oriental Institute, much to the dismay of classical Indologists such as V. Raghavan who declared that such a move would be ruinous to Indian studies at Oxford31. In 1955 the Hebdomadal Council passed a decree to establish the Oriental Institute, which was to include "full provision for Indian studies." In the Congregation debate, Mr. H.T. Lambrick, Fellow of Oriel College, spoke against the proposal. He did not object to an Oriental Institute but protested that the inclusion of Indian studies would mutilate the Indian Institute and that it would be the story of Naboth’s vineyard all over again.32 G.R. Driver, Professor of Semitic Philology spoke for the motion. He suggested that the Indian Institute may have been responsible for the decline in Indian studies at Oxford in the last 20 years and assured Congregation that the successors of those who gave money to found Institute had been consulted and were not unfavourable to the proposals for the Oriental Institute. The decree was passed. A further resolution was then passed to lift restrictions on the use of the Indian Institute to University purposes any spare accommodation in the Indian Institute exclusive of the library, galleries and rooms already occupied by persons whose work required proximity to the library.33 The Indian Institute Library was to be allowed to remain because Bodley's Librarian and Curators had adamantly opposed the move of Bodleian material away from the central site and won general support for their position.

In 1956 the University obtained a High Court order allowing it to use the site and buildings of the Indian Institute as general property of the University in consideration of a fund of £20,000 set up as a permanent endowment for the promotion of Indian studies. To begin with it appears that the plan was to reconstruct part of the building and adapt it for the use of the University Chest at the same time extending library space by putting a floor in the Malan room and then allowing the library to take over the space to be vacated by the museum when it moved to the Ashmolean. However, it is clear from the minutes of the Indian Institute that after the 1956 court order the University Chest was exerting considerable pressure on the Curators to take over areas that were in use by members of the Indian studies department. In 1958 there was an attempt to take over the lecture room and the Curators decided at a meeting on Feb 20th that there was a need to maintain constant vigilance against further manoeuvres by the Chest.

In 1960 the plan seems to have become a more ambitious proposal to knock down the old building put up an entirely new structure on the Indian Institute site for the use of the University Offices.

It appears that accommodation for the Indian Institute Library did not figure as part of the plan and that the Indian Institute books were expected to be absorbed into the stacks of the Bodleian. On May 25th 1961 the Curators of the Indian Institute Library decided that the Keeper of the Indian Institute should write to the Registrar stating that they considered it most important that the Indian Institute Library should be maintained as a separate entity and not absorbed into the general collections of the Bodleian. A letter followed this to the editor of the Oxford Magazine pointing out that the library had been attracting an increasing number of students from many different faculties and arguing that it was imperative that the Library remained as a working unit.

In 1964 the Hebdomadal Council started discussing a proposal with Curators of the Bodleian, which was to result in one of the University's most notorious episodes of bloodletting in recent history. The proposal was that the Bodleian, which was badly in need of further accommodation, should be offered the Proscholium, to serve as a main entrance and the Divinity School for an exhibition room. In addition the Indian Institute Library was to be moved from the Indian Institute building to a roof extension, which was to be built on the north range of the new Bodleian and joined to deck B, which would be used for open shelf Indian Institute material.

The Indian Institute building would then be assigned to the Central Offices for redevelopment from the date of the completion of the roof extension. In return for the reduction of stack space that the Bodleian would suffer by incorporating Indian Institute material it was to be offered the underground area between the Clarendon Building and the Old Bodleian for excavation of new stack areas.

In June 1965 two contentious debates were held on the future of the Indian Institute site. K. Ballhatchet, Reader in Indian History, led the opposition. He argued that the Franks commission had yet to make its recommendations on future provision for the University's administrative requirements. It was therefore not sensible to make provision for administrative offices on the Indian Institute site when the future shape of the administration had yet to be decided. D. Pocock, the Reader in Indian Sociology said that treating India as a branch of Oriental studies failed to reflect equal numbers of research students from other disciplines such as Modern History, Anthropology, Geography and Agriculture and Forestry. He felt that to ally Indian studies so closely with Oriental studies gave a wrong impression to those outside Oxford of the Universities interests in South Asia. It was argued that the Indian Institute site should not only retain the library but also provide rooms to allow for the development of a proper South Asian Regional Studies centre such as had just been set up by Cambridge.

Bodley's Librarian J. Myres was in a difficult position. University procedure meant it was impossible for him to oppose the Indian Institute proposal without causing the whole decree to be rejected. He had suggested the plan for taking over the Proscholium and Divinity school himself and objected to the way that Council had tacked on to it a proposal which he considered totally unacceptable. If he supported Ballhatchet the Bodleian could lose space, which it desperately needed. He proposed to vote against Ballhatchet but only on the grounds that he did not wish to abandon his plans for the Proscholium and the Divinity school. He did, however, declare his intention, in open opposition to the Curators of the Bodleian, of voting for the deletion of the clauses concerning the Indian Institute at a later date.

When the decree was brought before Congregation on June 15th, Ballhatchet and Pocock proposed an amendment that the clauses concerned with the removal of the Indian Institute Library to the roof of the Bodleian be replaced with clauses stating that any redevelopment of the Indian Institute site should provide for the rehousing of the Library on the site with adequate room for expansion.

At the close of the debate, Ballhatchet's amendment to the decree was rejected by 38 votes and the decree was carried by 55 votes. Since the decree had achieved a majority of less than two thirds it had to go to Convocation, the body of all the M.A.s of the University. The voting was again close and the decree was carried by a mere 18 votes. A Times article of June 30 1965 suggested that the narrow victory was due to Hertford College, which hoping for a share in the site of the Indian Institute, had invited all its M.A.'s to come and vote in return for a free lunch.

Throughout the series of debates, the Boden Professor Thomas Burrows made no contribution although without a doubt he opposed the removal of the Indian Institute Library to the top of the Bodleian as his name appears on Ballhatchet's flysheet outlining the amendment for the debate on the 15th June. One cannot but speculate what effect he would have made, as Monier-William's direct successor, had he chosen to speak in support of the Reader in Indian History.

The press reaction in India was unfavourable and Mr. M.C. Chagla, the Indian Education Minister expressed official concern to the British High Comissioner in Delhi. The Reuter report of the meeting in the Times, suggests that the concern centred around the move of the library rather than the demolition of the building.34 On Dec 31st Bodley's Librarian J. Myres resigned and Ballhatchet and Pocock both left Oxford to take up posts at SOAS and Sussex University. Before giving his papers to the Bodleian, Myres unfortunately weeded them so no reference remains to this episode but his strong feelings on the matter can be guessed from an article, which appears in the March issue of the Oxford Magazine in 1968. For the supreme irony is that having fought so desperately for the use of the Indian Institute site the University decided to transfer the whole University Office complex to Wellington square. As Myres drily remarks:

"Had they reached this obvious conclusion two years ago, as they were strongly urged from many sides to do, it would have saved one or two of us, who found it impossible to reconcile Council's previous policy with the best interests either of the administration or of the Bodleian, some measure of inconvenience."

The obvious solution might have been to leave the Indian Institute Library where it was but as Myres writes:

"so innocent a notion is quite alien to our administrative proprieties. Money has been allocated for moving the Indian library out of the Indian Institute, and on this move, however, senseless, that money must now be spent".

The move went ahead as Myres predicted and the Indian Institute building became the Modern History Faculty. when the History Faculty moves from this site, it is interesting to speculate what battles may be re-fought for possession of the building. Not so long ago I had a phone call from a Hertford college representative seeking to verify whether there was any archival proof of a promise made to the college that it had first refusal on the building should it ever be vacated…

I will finish with the letter in Oxford Today with which I started this talk. It represents what could be described as the popular history of the Indian Institute and one that I have heard told by librarians and scholars from all over the world. In the popular version, the Institute takes a simplified form, just a building and a library, which together symbolize enduring British-Indian friendship and a golden age of Indian Studies in Oxford, brutally torn asunder by an uncaring University. As I hope I have shown, the real the story of the Institute is more complex and troubled. The seeds of its destruction, namely an over ambitious vision, lack of money, and the focus on a narrow sector of the student population were present from the day it opened its doors. While its demise was not inevitable, it is not as surprising as it might seem to those who have only encountered the popular version of the Institute’s history. Monier Williams would have been gratified to see the affection in which his expensive bricks and mortar are held today and one cannot but admire his achievement in creating a library, museum, and teaching centre from nothing. Had the Institute had more Keepers of his entrepreneurial flair it might still be in existence today serving students and researchers of the University where once it trained Civil Servants for the Empire.

Gillian Evison Indian Institute Librarian December 2004

_______________

Notes:

1 Oxford Today 15:3, Michaelmas 2003, p. 62

2. Richard Symonds Oxford and empire : the last lost cause? Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1986 p. 107

3. Richard Gombrich On being Sanskritic : a plea for civilized study and the study of civilization. Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1978 p.8

4. Nirad Chaudhuri Scholar extraordinary : the life of Professor the Rt. Hon. Friedrich Max Müller, P.C. London : Chatto & Windus, 1974 p. 221

5. Symonds p. 107

6 The Times Wed Dec 22 1830. Notice of the election of the Professorship of Sanskrit in the University of Oxford.

7 Monier Williams. Notes of a long life’s journey Unpublished memoir (copy held in the Indian Institute Library, p. 379

8. Chaudhuri p. 228

9. Chaudhuri p. 223

10 Monier Williams. Notes of a long life’s journey Unpublished memoir (copy held in the Indian Institute Library, p. 379

11 Monier Williams A study of Sanskrit in relation to missionary work in India; an inaugural lecture delivered before the University of Oxford, on April 19, 1861. London : Williams and Norgate, 1861, p. 59-60

12 Monier Williams How can the University of Oxford best fulfil its duty towards Oxford? Lecture given at the opening of the Indian Institute and reported in the Oxford & Cambridge Undergraduates Journal, Oct 16 1884

13 Ibid.

14 A record of the establishment of the Indian Institute in the University of Oxford : being an account of the circumstances which led to its foundation. Oxford : Compiled for the Subscribers to the Indian Institute fund, 1897 p. 4

15 Ibid.

16 Balliol College Minute Book (25 June 1878 and 9 Nov 1878)  

17 Symonds p. 109

18. Symonds p. 110

19 Monier Williams. Notes of a long life’s journey Unpublished memoir (copy held in the Indian Institute Library, p. 498

20 J.C. Harle & Andrew Topsfield Indian art in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1987) p. x

21 Ibid. p. xii

22 Lord Curzon The Indian Institute printed confidential note, 25 March 1909, bound in Minutes, v. 2

23 A record of the establishment of the Indian Institute in the University of Oxford : being an account of the circumstances which led to its foundation. Oxford : Compiled for the Subscribers to the Indian Institute fund, 1897 p. 42

24 Ibid.

25 Symonds p.111

26 Oxford review: the Oxford & Cambridge Undergraduates review. May 10, 1883

27. Symonds p. 111-112

28 Symonds p. 121

29 Rhodes House Archive, File 2844 Indian lectureship. Lord Lothian to Thompson (10 June 1932); Thompson to Lothian (23 May 1933)

30 Ibid. Lothian to Thompson (17 May 1933); Thaompson to Lothian (23 May 1933)

31. V. Raghavan (ed.) Sanskrit and allied indological studies in Europe. Madras : University of Madras, 1956 p.68

32 Times Wed Jun 1, 1955

33. Oxford University Gazette 3 June 1955 p. 1003-4

34 Times 15th July 1965
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Horace Hayman Wilson
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 3/21/21

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Watercolour by James Atkinson, 1821

Horace Hayman Wilson (26 September 1786 – 8 May 1860) was an English orientalist who was elected the first Boden Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford University.[1]

Life

He studied medicine at St Thomas's Hospital, and went out to India in 1808 as assistant-surgeon on the Bengal establishment of the British East India Company. His knowledge of metallurgy caused him to be attached to the mint at Calcutta, where he was for a time associated with John Leyden.

He acted for many years as secretary to the committee of public instruction, and superintended the studies of the Sanskrit College in Calcutta. He was one of the staunchest opponents of the proposal that English should be made the sole medium of instruction in native schools, and became for a time the object of bitter attacks. In 1832 Oxford University selected Dr. Wilson to be the first occupant of the newly founded Boden chair of Sanskrit: he had placed a column length advertisement in The Times on 6 March 1832 p 3, giving a list of his achievements and intended activities, along with testimonials, including one from a rival candidate, as to his suitability for the post. In 1836 he was appointed librarian to the East India Company. He also taught[2] at the East India Company College.

On the recommendation of Henry Thomas Colebrooke, Wilson was in 1811 appointed secretary to the Asiatic Society of Bengal. He was a member of the Medical and Physical Society of Calcutta and was an original member of the Royal Asiatic Society, of which he was director from 1837 up to the time of his death. Wilson is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery.

Works

Wilson became deeply interested in the ancient language and literature of India, and was the first person to translate the Rigveda into English. In 1813 he published the Sanskrit text with a free translation in English rhymed verse of Kalidasa's lyrical poem, the Meghaduuta, or Cloud-Messenger.[3]

He prepared the first Sanskrit-English Dictionary (1819) from materials compiled by native scholars, supplemented by his own researches. This work was only superseded by the Sanskritwörterbuch (1853–1876) of Rudolf Roth and Otto von Böhtlingk, who expressed their obligations to Wilson in the preface to their great work.

He was interested in Ayurveda and traditional Indian medical and surgical practices. He compiled the local practices observed for cholera and leprosy in his publications in the Medical and Physical Society of Calcutta.[4][5]

Image

In 1827 Wilson published Select Specimens of the Theatre of the Hindus, which contained a very full survey of the Indian drama, translations of six complete plays and short accounts of twenty-three others. His Mackenzie Collection (1828) is a descriptive catalogue of the extensive collection of Oriental, especially South Indian, manuscripts and antiquities made by Colonel Colin Mackenzie, then deposited partly in the India Office, London (now part of the Oriental and India Office Collections of the British Library) and partly at Madras (Chennai). He also wrote a Historical Sketch of the First Burmese War, with Documents, Political and Geographical (1827), a Review of the External Commerce of Bengal from 1813 to 1828 (1830), a translation of Vishnu Purana (1840), and a History of British India from 1805 to 1835, (1844–1848) in continuation of James Mill's 1818 The History of British India.

Publications

• 1827 Select Specimens of the Theatre of the Hindus Volume 1
1827 Select Specimens of the Theatre of the Hindus Volume 2
• 1828 Mackenzie Collection: A Descriptive Catalogue of the Oriental Manuscripts, co-authored with Colin Mackenzie
• 1828 Sketch of the Religious Sects of the Hindus, in ASIATIC RESEARCHES, Volume XVI, Calcutta.
• 1840 The Vishnu Purán : a system of Hindu mythology and tradition Volume 1
• 1840 The Vishnu Purán : a system of Hindu mythology and tradition Volume 2
• 1840 The Vishnu Purán : a system of Hindu mythology and tradition Volume 3
• 1840 The Vishnu Purán : a system of Hindu mythology and tradition Volume 4
• 1840 The Vishnu Purán : a system of Hindu mythology and tradition Volume 5 Part 1
• 1840 The Vishnu Purán : a system of Hindu mythology and tradition Volume 5 Part 2
• 1841 Ariana Antiqua: A descriptive account of the antiquities and coins of Afghanistan
• 1841 An Introduction to the Grammar of Sanskrit Language for the Use of Early Students
• 1846 Sketch of the religious sects of the Hindus (An expanded version of the 1828 version of the book by the same title.)
• 1852 Narrative of the Burmeses war, in 1824-25
• 1855 A glossary of judicial and revenue terms and of useful words occurring in official documents relating to the administration of the government of British India
• 1860 The Hindu History of Kashmir
• 1864 Essays Analytical Critical, and Philological on Subjects Connected with Sanskrit Literature
The Megha dūta, or, Cloud messenger by Kālidāsa
• 1861 Essays and lectures on the religions of the Hindus Volume 1 (The first portion of this work appeared in the Asiatic Researches for 1828, and the second, from p. 188, in the volume for 1832. Some eight Essays and Lectures were selected for the second volume of this work.)
• 1861 Essays and lectures on the religions of the Hindus Volume 2
• Principles of Hindu and Mohammedan Law
Rig-veda Sanhitá : a collection of ancient Hindu hymns Volume 1
Rig-veda Sanhitá : a collection of ancient Hindu hymns Volume 2
Rig-veda Sanhitá : a collection of ancient Hindu hymns Volume 3
Rig-veda Sanhitá : a collection of ancient Hindu hymns Volume 4
Rig-veda Sanhitá : a collection of ancient Hindu hymns Volume 5
Rig-veda Sanhitá : a collection of ancient Hindu hymns Volume 6
Puranas: An account of their contents and nature
The history of British India from 1805-1835 Volume 1
The history of British India from 1805-1835 Volume 2
The history of British India from 1805-1835 Volume 3
• Metaphysics of Puranas

Notes

1. Lee, Sidney, ed. (1900). "Wilson, Horace Hayman" . Dictionary of National Biography. 62. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
2. Men and Events of My Time in India by Sir Richard Temple, John Murray, London, 1882 p. 18, accessed 9 Oct 2007
3. Truebner & Co. (1872) publisher's catalogue entry for Megha-Duta (The), accessed 9 Oct 2007
4. Wilson, H. H. (1825), "Kushta, or leprosy, as known to the Hindus", Transactions of the Medical and Physical Society of Calcutta, 1, 1-44
5. Wilson, H. H. (1826), "On the native practice in cholera, with remarks", Transactions of the Medical and Physical Society of Calcutta, 2, 282-292

References

• This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Wilson, Horace Hayman". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

Further reading

• The Vishnu Purana: Book 4 of 6, 1840, Forgotten Books, ISBN 1-60506-660-5.
• Wilson, Horace Hayman (tr. from the Original Sanskrit) (1827). Select Specimens of the Theatre of the Hindus. V.Holcroft at The Asiatic Press, Calcutta.
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