Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Frankfurt School
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/10/19



Part of a series on the
Frankfurt School
Theorists of the Frankfurt School
Major works
Reason and Revolution
The Work of Art in the
Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Eclipse of Reason
Escape from Freedom
Minima Moralia
Eros and Civilization
One-Dimensional Man
Negative Dialectics
The Structural Transformation
of the Public Sphere
The Theory of Communicative Action
Dialectic of Enlightenment
Notable theorists
Herbert Marcuse · Theodor Adorno
Max Horkheimer · Walter Benjamin
Erich Fromm · Friedrich Pollock
Leo Löwenthal · Jürgen Habermas
Alfred Schmidt · Axel Honneth Siegfried Kracauer · Otto Kirchheimer
Important concepts
Critical theory · Dialectic · Praxis
Psychoanalysis · Antipositivism
Popular culture · Culture industry
Advanced capitalism
Privatism · Non-identity
Communicative rationality
Legitimation crisis

The Frankfurt School (Frankfurter Schule) is a school of social theory and critical philosophy associated with the Institute for Social Research, at Goethe University Frankfurt. Founded in the Weimar Republic (1918–33), during the European interwar period (1918–39), the Frankfurt School comprised intellectuals, academics, and political dissidents who were ill-fitted to the contemporary socio-economic systems (capitalist, fascist, communist) of the 1930s. The Frankfurt theorists proposed that social theory was inadequate for explaining the turbulent political factionalism and reactionary politics occurring in ostensibly liberal capitalist societies in the 20th century. Critical of capitalism and of Marxism–Leninism as philosophically inflexible systems of social organisation, the School's critical theory research indicated alternative paths to realising the social development of a society and a nation.[1]

The Frankfurt School perspective of critical investigation (open-ended and self-critical) is based upon Freudian, Marxist and Hegelian premises of idealist philosophy.[2] To fill the omissions of 19th-century classical Marxism, which could not address 20th-century social problems, they applied the methods of antipositivist sociology, of psychoanalysis, and of existentialism.[3] The School’s sociologic works derived from syntheses of the thematically pertinent works of Immanuel Kant, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and Karl Marx, of Sigmund Freud and Max Weber, and of Georg Simmel and Georg Lukács.[4][5]

Like Karl Marx, the Frankfurt School concerned themselves with the conditions (political, economic, societal) that allow for social change realised by way of rational social institutions.[6] The emphasis upon the critical component of social theory derived from surpassing the ideological limitations of positivism, materialism, and determinism, by returning to the critical philosophy of Kant, and his successors in German idealism — principally the philosophy of G.W.F. Hegel, which emphasised dialectic and contradiction as intellectual properties inherent to the human grasp of material reality.

Since the 1960s, the critical-theory work of the Institute for Social Research has been guided by Jürgen Habermas, in the fields of communicative rationality, linguistic intersubjectivity, and "the philosophical discourse of modernity";[7] nonetheless, the critical theorists Raymond Geuss and Nikolas Kompridis opposed the propositions of Habermas, claiming he has undermined the original social-change purposes of critical-theory-problems, such as: What should reason mean?; the analysis and expansion of the conditions necessary to realise social emancipation; and critiques of contemporary capitalism.[8]


Institute for Social Research

Main article: Institute for Social Research

The Institute for Social Research, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

The term Frankfurt School informally describes the works of scholarship and the intellectuals who were the Institute for Social Research (Institut für Sozialforschung), an adjunct organization at Goethe University Frankfurt, founded in 1923, by Carl Grünberg, a Marxist professor of law at the University of Vienna.[9] As such, the Frankfurt School was the first Marxist research center at a German university, and originated through the largesse of the wealthy student Felix Weil (1898–1975).[3]

At university, Weil’s doctoral dissertation dealt with the practical problems of implementing socialism. In 1922, he organized the First Marxist Workweek (Erste Marxistische Arbeitswoche) in effort to synthesize different trends of Marxism into a coherent, practical philosophy; the first symposium included György Lukács and Karl Korsch, Karl August Wittfogel and Friedrich Pollock. The success of the First Marxist Workweek prompted the formal establishment of a permanent institute for social research, and Weil negotiated with the Ministry of Education for a university professor to be director of the Institute for Social Research, thereby, formally ensuring that the Frankfurt School would be a university institution.[10]

Korsch and Lukács participated in the Arbeitswoche, which included the study of Marxism and Philosophy (1923), by Karl Korsch, but their communist-party membership precluded their active participation in the Institute for Social Research (Frankfurt School); yet Korsch participated in the School's publishing venture. Moreover, the political correctness by which the Communists compelled Lukács to repudiate his book History and Class Consciousness (1923) indicated that political, ideological, and intellectual independence from the communist party was a necessary work condition for realising the production of knowledge.[10]

The philosophical tradition of the Frankfurt School — the multi-disciplinary integration of the social sciences — is associated with the philosopher Max Horkheimer, who became the director in 1930, and recruited intellectuals such as Theodor W. Adorno (philosopher, sociologist, musicologist), Erich Fromm (psychoanalyst), and Herbert Marcuse (philosopher).[3]

European interwar period (1918–39)

In the Weimar Republic (1918–33), the continual, political turmoils of the interwar years (1918–39) much affected the development of the critical theory philosophy of the Frankfurt School. The scholars were especially influenced by the Communists’ failed German Revolution of 1918–19 (which Marx predicted) and by the rise of Nazism (1933–45), a German form of fascism. To explain such reactionary politics, the Frankfurt scholars applied critical selections of Marxist philosophy to interpret, illuminate, and explain the origins and causes of reactionary socio-economics in 20th-century Europe (a type of political economy unknown to Marx in the 19th century). The School’s further intellectual development derived from the publication, in the 1930s, of the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 (1932) and The German Ideology (1932), in which Karl Marx showed logical continuity with Hegelianism, as the basis of Marxist philosophy.

As the anti-intellectual threat of Nazism increased to political violence, the founders decided to move the Institute for Social Research out of Nazi Germany (1933–45).[11] Soon after Adolf Hitler's rise to power in 1933, the Institute first moved from Frankfurt to Geneva, and then to New York City, in 1935, where the Frankfurt School joined Columbia University. In the event, the School’s journal, the Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung ("Magazine of Social Research") was renamed "Studies in Philosophy and Social Science". Thence began the period of the School’s important work in Marxist critical theory; the scholarship and the investigational method gained acceptance among the academy, in the U.S and in the U.K. By the 1950s, the paths of scholarship led Horkheimer, Adorno, and Pollock to return to West Germany, whilst Marcuse, Löwenthal, and Kirchheimer remained in the U.S. In 1953, the Institute for Social Research (Frankfurt School) was formally re-established in Frankfurt, West Germany.[12]


See also: List of critical theorists

As a term, the Frankfurt School usually comprises the intellectuals Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, and Herbert Marcuse, Leo Löwenthal and Friedrich Pollock.[6] Although initially of the FS's inner circle, Jürgen Habermas was the first to diverge from Horkheimer's research program, as a new generation of critical theoreticians.

The Frankfurt School were:

• Max Horkheimer
• Theodor W. Adorno
• Herbert Marcuse
• Friedrich Pollock
• Erich Fromm
• Otto Kirchheimer
• Leo Löwenthal
• Franz Leopold Neumann
• Henryk Grossman[13]

Associates of the Frankfurt School:

• Siegfried Kracauer
• Alfred Sohn-Rethel
• Walter Benjamin
• Ernst Bloch

Critical theoreticians of the Frankfurt School:

• Jürgen Habermas
• Claus Offe
• Axel Honneth
• Oskar Negt
• Alfred Schmidt
• Albrecht Wellme

Critical theory

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The works of the Frankfurt School are understood in the context of the intellectual and practical objectives of critical theory. In Traditional and Critical Theory (1937), Max Horkheimer defined critical theory as social critique meant to effect sociologic change and realize intellectual emancipation, by way of enlightenment that is not dogmatic in its assumptions.[14][15] The purpose of critical theory is to analyze the true significance of the ruling understandings (the dominant ideology) generated in bourgeois society, by showing that the dominant ideology misrepresents how human relations occur in the real world, and how such misrepresentations function to justify and legitimate the domination of people by capitalism.

In the praxis of cultural hegemony, the dominant ideology is a ruling-class narrative story, which explains that what is occurring in society is the norm. Nonetheless, the story told through the ruling understandings conceals as much as it reveals about society, hence, the task of the Frankfurt School was sociological analysis and interpretation of the areas of social-relation that Marx did not discuss in the 19th century — especially in the base and superstructure aspects of a capitalist society.[16]

Horkheimer opposed critical theory to traditional theory, wherein the word theory is applied in the positivistic sense of scientism, in the sense of a purely observational mode, which finds and establishes scientific law (generalizations) about the real world. That the social sciences differ from the natural sciences inasmuch as scientific generalizations are not readily derived from experience, because the researcher’s understanding of a social experience always is shaped by the ideas in the mind of the researcher. What the researcher does not understand is that he or she is within an historical context, wherein ideologies shape human thought, thus, the results for the theory being tested would conform to the ideas of the researcher, rather than conform to the facts of the experience proper; in Traditional and Critical Theory (1937), Horkheimer said:

The facts, which our senses present to us, are socially performed in two ways: through the historical character of the object perceived, and through the historical character of the perceiving organ. Both are not simply natural; they are shaped by human activity, and yet the individual perceives himself as receptive and passive in the act of perception.[17]

For Horkheimer, the methods of investigation applicable to the social sciences cannot imitate the scientific method applicable to the natural sciences. In that vein, the theoretical approaches of positivism and pragmatism, of neo-Kantianism and phenomenology failed to surpass the ideological constraints that restricted their application to social science, because of the inherent logico–mathematic prejudice that separates theory from actual life, i.e. such methods of investigation seek a logic that is always true, and independent of and without consideration for continuing human activity in the field under study. That the appropriate response to such a dilemma was the development of a critical theory of Marxism.[18]

Because the problem was epistemological, Horkheimer said that "we should reconsider not merely the scientist, but the knowing individual, in general."[19] Unlike Orthodox Marxism, which applies a template to critique and to action, critical theory is self-critical, with no claim to the universality of absolute truth. As such, critical theory does not grant primacy to matter (materialism) or to consciousness (idealism), because each epistemology distorts the reality under study, to the benefit of a small group. In practice, critical theory is outside the philosophical strictures of traditional theory; however, as a way of thinking and of recovering humanity’s self-knowledge, critical theory draws investigational resources and methods from Marxism.[15]

Dialectical method

The Frankfort School reformulated dialectics into a concrete method of investigation, derived from the Hegelian philosophy that an idea will pass over into its own negation, as the result of conflict between the inherently contradictory aspects of the idea.[20] In opposition to previous modes of reasoning, which viewed things in abstraction, each by itself and as though endowed with fixed properties, Hegelian dialectics considers ideas according to their movement and change in time, according to their interrelations and interactions.[20]

In Hegel's perspective, human history proceeds and evolves in a dialectical manner: the present embodies the rational Aufheben (sublation), the synthesis of past contradictions. History thus is an intelligible process of human activity, the Weltgeist, which is the Idea of Progress towards a specific human condition — the realization of human freedom through rationality.[21] However, the Problem of future contingents, of considerations about the future, did not interest Hegel,[22][23] for whom philosophy cannot be prescriptive and normative, because philosophy understands only in hindsight. The study of history is thus limited to descriptions of past and present human realities.[21] Hence, for Hegel and his successors (the Right Hegelians), dialectics inevitably lead to the approval of the status quo — as such, dialectical philosophy justified the bases of Christian theology and of the Prussian state.

Karl Marx and the Young Hegelians strongly criticized that perspective, that Hegel had over-reached in defending his abstract conception of "absolute Reason" and had failed to notice the "real"— i.e. undesirable and irrational — life conditions of the proletariat. Marx inverted Hegel's idealist dialectics and advanced his own theory of dialectical materialism, arguing that "it is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness."[24] Marx's theory follows a materialist conception of history and geographic space,[25] where the development of the productive forces is the primary motive force for historical change, and, according to which, the social and material contradictions inherent to capitalism lead to its negation — thereby replacing capitalism with Communism, a new, rational form of society.[26]

Marx used dialectical analysis to learn and know the truth by uncovering the contradictions in the predominant ideas of society, and in the social relations to which they are linked — which exposes the underlying struggle between opposing forces. Therefore, only by becoming aware of the dialectic (i.e. class consciousness) of such opposing forces in a struggle for power, that men and women can intellectually liberate themselves, and so change the existing social order by way of social progress.[27] The Frankfurt School understood that a dialectical method could only be adopted if it could be applied to itself; if they adopted a self-correcting method — a dialectical method that would enable the correction of previous, false interpretations of the dialectical investigation. Accordingly, critical theory rejected the historicism and materialism of Orthodox Marxism.[28]

Influences and early works

Historical context / Transition from small-scale capitalism to large-scale capitalism and colonialism; the socialist labour movement matures into a reform movement and fosters the emergence of the welfare state; the Russian Revolution (1917) and the rise of Communism; the neotechnic period; the emergence of mass communications media and of mass popular culture, Modern art; and the rise of Nazism.

Weberian theory / Comparative history of Western rationalisation in capitalism, the modern state, secular scientific rationality, culture, and religion; analyses of the forms of dominance hierarchy and of modern rational-legal bureaucratic domination; articulation of the hermeneutic method in the social sciences.

Freudian theory / Critique of the psychological repression of the reality principle of advanced civilization, and of the neuroses of daily life; discovery of the unconscious mind, primary-process thinking, and the psychological impact of the Oedipus complex anxiety upon a man's mental health and life; analyses of the psychic bases of the irrational behaviours of authoritarianism.

Antipositivism / Critique of positivism as philosophy, as a scientific method, as political ideology and as conformity; rehabilitation of the negative dialectic, return to Hegel; appropriation of critical elements from phenomenology, historicism, existentialism, critique of the ahistorical, idealist tendencies of positivism; critique of logical positivism and pragmatism.

Aesthetic modernism / Critique of false and reified experience by breaking traditional forms and language; projection of alternative modes of existence and experience; liberation of the unconscious; consciousness of unique, modern situation; cultural appropriation of the literary devices of Franz Kafka and Marcel Proust, of Arnold Schoenberg and André Breton; critique of the culture industry.

Marxist theory / Critique of bourgeois ideology; critique of Marx's theory of alienation (Entfremdung); historical materialism; history as class struggle and the rate of exploitation in different modes of production; systems analysis of capitalism as the extraction of surplus labour; financial crisis theory; democratic socialism, and the classless society.

Culture theory / Critique of Popular culture as the suppression and absorption of individual negation, and as the integration of the individual person to the status quo; critique of Western culture as a culture of social domination; the dialectical differentiation of the emancipatory aspects and the repressive aspects of élite culture; Kierkegaard's critique of the present age, Nietzsche's transvaluation, and Schiller's aesthetic education.

Critique of Western civilization

Dialectic of Enlightenment and Minima Moralia

The second phase of Frankfurt School critical theory centres principally on two works: Adorno and Horkheimer's Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944) and Adorno's Minima Moralia (1951). The authors wrote both works during the Institute's exile in America. While retaining much of a Marxian analysis, in these works critical theory shifted its emphasis from the critique of capitalism to a critique of Western civilization as a whole, as seen in Dialectic of Enlightenment, which uses the Odyssey as a paradigm for their analysis of bourgeois consciousness. In these works, Horkheimer and Adorno present many themes that have come to dominate the social thought of recent years; for instance, their exposition of the domination of nature as a central characteristic of instrumental rationality in Western civilization was made long before ecology and environmentalism had become popular concerns.

The analysis of reason now goes one stage further: The rationality of Western civilization appears as a fusion of domination and technological rationality, bringing all of external and internal nature under the power of the human subject. In the process, however, the subject itself gets swallowed up and no social force analogous to the proletariat can be identified that enables the subject to emancipate itself. Hence the subtitle of Minima Moralia: "Reflections from Damaged Life". In Adorno's words,

For since the overwhelming objectivity of historical movement in its present phase consists so far only in the dissolution of the subject, without yet giving rise to a new one, individual experience necessarily bases itself on the old subject, now historically condemned, which is still for-itself, but no longer in-itself. The subject still feels sure of its autonomy, but the nullity demonstrated to subjects by the concentration camp is already overtaking the form of subjectivity itself.[29]

Consequently, at a time when it appears that reality itself has become the basis for ideology, the greatest contribution that critical theory can make is to explore the dialectical contradictions of individual subjective experience on the one hand, and to preserve the truth of theory on the other. Even dialectical progress is put into doubt: "its truth or untruth is not inherent in the method itself, but in its intention in the historical process." This intention must be oriented toward integral freedom and happiness: "The only philosophy which can be responsibly practiced in face of despair is the attempt to contemplate all things as they would present themselves from the standpoint of redemption." Adorno goes on to distance himself from the "optimism" of orthodox Marxism: "beside the demand thus placed on thought, the question of the reality or unreality of redemption [i.e. human emancipation] itself hardly matters."[30]

From a sociological point of view, both Horkheimer's and Adorno's works contain a certain ambivalence concerning the ultimate source or foundation of social domination, an ambivalence that gave rise to the "pessimism" of the new critical theory over the possibility of human emancipation and freedom.[31] This ambivalence was rooted, of course, in the historical circumstances in which the work was originally produced, in particular, the rise of National Socialism, state capitalism, and mass culture as entirely new forms of social domination that could not be adequately explained within the terms of traditional Marxist sociology.[32] For Adorno and Horkheimer, state intervention in the economy had effectively abolished the tension in capitalism between the "relations of production" and "material productive forces of society"—a tension that, according to traditional Marxist theory, constituted the primary contradiction within capitalism. The previously "free" market (as an "unconscious" mechanism for the distribution of goods) and "irrevocable" private property of Marx's epoch have gradually been replaced by the centralized state planning and socialized ownership of the means of production in contemporary Western societies.[33] The dialectic through which Marx predicted the emancipation of modern society is thus suppressed, effectively being subjugated to a positivist rationality of domination.

Of this second "phase" of the Frankfurt School, philosopher and critical theorist Nikolas Kompridis writes that:

According to the now canonical view of its history, Frankfurt School critical theory began in the 1930s as a fairly confident interdisciplinary and materialist research program, the general aim of which was to connect normative social criticism to the emancipatory potential latent in concrete historical processes. Only a decade or so later, however, having revisited the premises of their philosophy of history, Horkheimer and Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment steered the whole enterprise, provocatively and self-consciously, into a skeptical cul-de-sac. As a result they got stuck in the irresolvable dilemmas of the "philosophy of the subject," and the original program was shrunk to a negativistic practice of critique that eschewed the very normative ideals on which it implicitly depended.[34]

Kompridis argues that this "sceptical cul-de-sac" was arrived at with "a lot of help from the once unspeakable and unprecedented barbarity of European fascism," and could not be gotten out of without "some well-marked [exit or] Ausgang, showing the way out of the ever-recurring nightmare in which Enlightenment hopes and Holocaust horrors are fatally entangled." However, this Ausgang, according to Kompridis, would not come until later – purportedly in the form of Jürgen Habermas's work on the intersubjective bases of communicative rationality.[34]

Philosophy of music

Adorno, a trained classical pianist, wrote The Philosophy of Modern Music (1949), in which he, in essence, polemicizes against popular music―because it has become part of the culture industry of advanced capitalist society[page needed] and the false consciousness that contributes to social domination. He argued that radical art and music may preserve the truth by capturing the reality of human suffering. Hence:

What radical music perceives is the untransfigured suffering of man [...] The seismographic registration of traumatic shock becomes, at the same time, the technical structural law of music. It forbids continuity and development. Musical language is polarized according to its extreme; towards gestures of shock resembling bodily convulsions on the one hand, and on the other towards a crystalline standstill of a human being whom anxiety causes to freeze in her tracks [...] Modern music sees absolute oblivion as its goal. It is the surviving message of despair from the shipwrecked.[35]

This view of modern art as producing truth only through the negation of traditional aesthetic form and traditional norms of beauty because they have become ideological is characteristic of Adorno and of the Frankfurt School generally. It has been criticized by those who do not share its conception of modern society as a false totality that renders obsolete traditional conceptions and images of beauty and harmony.

In particular, Adorno despised jazz and popular music, viewing it as part of the culture industry, that contributes to the present sustainability of capitalism by rendering it "aesthetically pleasing" and "agreeable". The British philosopher Roger Scruton saw Adorno as producing "reams of turgid nonsense devoted to showing that the American people are just as alienated as Marxism requires them to be, and that their cheerful life-affirming music is a 'fetishized' commodity, expressive of their deep spiritual enslavement to the capitalist machine."[36]

Critical theory and domination

Negative dialectics

With the growth of advanced industrial society during the Cold War era, critical theorists recognized that the path of capitalism and history had changed decisively, that the modes of oppression operated differently, and that the industrial working class no longer remained the determinate negation of capitalism. This led to the attempt to root the dialectic in an absolute method of negativity, as in Marcuse's One-Dimensional Man (1964) and Adorno's Negative Dialectics (1966). During this period the Institute of Social Research resettled in Frankfurt (although many of its associates remained in the United States) with the task not merely of continuing its research but of becoming a leading force in the sociological education and democratization of West Germany. This led to a certain systematization of the Institute's entire accumulation of empirical research and theoretical analysis.

During this period, Frankfurt School critical theory particularly influenced some segments of the left wing and leftist thought, particularly the New Left. Herbert Marcuse has occasionally been described as the theorist or intellectual progenitor of the New Left. Their critique of technology, totality, teleology and (occasionally) civilization is an influence on anarcho-primitivism. Their work also heavily influenced intellectual discourse on popular culture and scholarly popular culture studies.

More importantly, however, the Frankfurt School attempted to define the fate of reason in the new historical period. While Marcuse did so through analysis of structural changes in the labor process under capitalism and inherent features of the methodology of science, Horkheimer and Adorno concentrated on a re-examination of the foundation of critical theory. This effort appears in systematized form in Adorno's Negative Dialectics, which tries to redefine dialectics for an era in which "philosophy, which once seemed obsolete, lives on because the moment to realize it was missed". Negative dialectics expresses the idea of critical thought so conceived that the apparatus of domination cannot co-opt it.

Its central notion, long a focal one for Horkheimer and Adorno, suggests that the original sin of thought lies in its attempt to eliminate all that is other than thought, the attempt by the subject to devour the object, the striving for identity. This reduction makes thought the accomplice of domination. Negative Dialectics rescues the "preponderance of the object", not through a naïve epistemological or metaphysical realism but through a thought based on differentiation, paradox, and ruse: a "logic of disintegration". Adorno thoroughly criticizes Heidegger's fundamental ontology, which he thinks reintroduces idealistic and identity-based concepts under the guise of having overcome the philosophical tradition.

Negative dialectics comprises a monument to the end of the tradition of the individual subject as the locus of criticism. Without a revolutionary working class, the Frankfurt School had no one to rely on but the individual subject. But, as the liberal capitalist social basis of the autonomous individual receded into the past, the dialectic based on it became more and more abstract.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Jul 10, 2019 10:20 am

Part 2 of 2

Habermas and communicative rationality

Main article: Jürgen Habermas

Habermas's work takes the Frankfurt School's abiding interests in rationality, the human subject, democratic socialism, and the dialectical method and overcomes a set of contradictions that always weakened critical theory: the contradictions between the materialist and transcendental methods, between Marxian social theory and the individualist assumptions of critical rationalism between technical and social rationalization, and between cultural and psychological phenomena on the one hand and the economic structure of society on the other.

The Frankfurt School avoided taking a stand on the precise relationship between the materialist and transcendental methods, which led to ambiguity in their writings and confusion among their readers. Habermas's epistemology synthesizes these two traditions by showing that phenomenological and transcendental analysis can be subsumed under a materialist theory of social evolution, while the materialist theory makes sense only as part of a quasi-transcendental theory of emancipatory knowledge that is the self-reflection of cultural evolution. The simultaneously empirical and transcendental nature of emancipatory knowledge becomes the foundation stone of critical theory.


Horkheimer and Adorno

In The Theory of the Novel (1971), Georg Lukács said that the Frankfurt School were:

A considerable part of the leading German intelligentsia, including Adorno, have taken up residence in the Grand Hotel Abyss which I described in connection with my critique of Schopenhauer as "a beautiful hotel, equipped with every comfort, on the edge of an abyss, of nothingness, of absurdity. And the daily contemplation of the abyss, between excellent meals or artistic entertainments, can only heighten the enjoyment of the subtle comforts offered."[37]

In "Addendum 1974: The Frankfurt School" (1994) Karl Popper said that:

Marx's own condemnation of our society makes sense. For Marx's theory contains the promise of a better future. But the theory becomes vacuous and irresponsible if this promise is withdrawn, as it is by Adorno and Horkheimer.[38]


In his criticism of Habermas, the philosopher Nikolas Kompridis said that a break with the proceduralist ethics of communicative rationality is necessary:

For all its theoretical ingenuity and practical implications, Habermas's reformulation of critical theory is beset by persistent problems of its own ... In my view, the depth of these problems indicate just how wrong was Habermas's expectation that the paradigm change to linguistic intersubjectivity would render "objectless" the dilemmas of the philosophy of the subject.[39] Habermas accused Hegel of creating a conception of reason so "overwhelming" that it solved too well the problem of modernity's [need for] self-reassurance.[40] It seems, however, that Habermas has repeated rather than avoided Hegel's mistake, creating a theoretical paradigm so comprehensive that in one stroke it also solves, too well, the dilemmas of the philosophy of the subject and the problem of modernity's self-reassurance.[41]


The change of paradigm to linguistic intersubjectivity has been accompanied by a dramatic change in critical theory's self-understanding. The priority given to questions of justice and the normative order of society has remodeled critical theory in the image of liberal theories of justice. While this has produced an important contemporary variant of liberal theories of justice, different enough to be a challenge to liberal theory, but not enough to preserve sufficient continuity with critical theory's past, it has severely weakened the identity of critical theory and inadvertently initiated its premature dissolution.[42]

That to prevent that premature dissolution critical theory should be reinvented as a philosophic enterprise that discloses possibilities by way of Heidegger's world disclosure, by drawing from the sources of normativity that were blocked by the change of paradigm.[43]

Psychoanalytic categorization

The historian Christopher Lasch criticized the Frankfurt School for their initial tendency of "automatically" rejecting opposing political criticisms, based upon "psychiatric" grounds:

The Authoritarian Personality [1950] had a tremendous influence on [Richard] Hofstadter, and other liberal intellectuals, because it showed them how to conduct political criticism in psychiatric categories, [and] to make those categories bear the weight of political criticism. This procedure excused them from the difficult work of judgment and argumentation. Instead of arguing with opponents, they simply dismissed them on psychiatric grounds.[44]

Economics and communications media

During the 1980s, anti-authoritarian socialists in the United Kingdom and New Zealand criticised the rigid and determinist view of popular culture deployed within the Frankfurt School theories of capitalist culture, which seemed to preclude any prefigurative role for social critique within such work. They argued that EC Comics often did contain such cultural critiques.[45][46] Recent criticism of the Frankfurt School by the libertarian Cato Institute focused on the claim that culture has grown more sophisticated and diverse as a consequence of free markets and the availability of niche cultural text for niche audiences.[47][48]

Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory

Definition and Culture War usage

In contemporary usage, the term Cultural Marxism is a right-wing, antisemitic conspiracy theory according to which the Frankfurt School is part of a continual academic and intellectual culture war to systematically undermine and destroy Western culture and social traditions.[49] As articulated in the 1990s, the conspiracy means to replace traditionalist conservatism and Christianity with the counterculture of the 1960s to promote social changes such as racial multiculturalism, multi-party progressive politics, acceptance of LGBT rights, and political correctness in language.[50][51][52]

In the U.S., the term "cultural Marxism" is employed in the culture wars by fundamentalist Christians and paleoconservatives, such as William S. Lind, Pat Buchanan, and Paul Weyrich,[53] the alt-right, white nationalists, and the Dark Enlightenment neo-reactionary political movement.[54][55] Moreover, conservatives such as David Brooks[56] and Jordan Peterson have used the term.[57][58][59]

In 1998 Weyrich presented his version of the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory in a speech to the Conservative Leadership Conference of the Civitas Institute and then published the speech in his syndicated Culture war letter.[60] Later, for the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation, at Weyrich's request, Lind wrote a history of Weyrich's version of Cultural Marxism, which identified the presence of gay people on television as proof of Cultural Marxist control of the mass media and claimed that the philosopher Herbert Marcuse considered a coalition of "blacks, students, feminist women, and homosexuals" as a vanguard of cultural revolution in the U.S.[50][51][61]

In 2014 Lind pseudonymously published Victoria: A Novel of 4th Generation Warfare, by Thomas Hobbes, about a societal apocalypse in which Cultural Marxism deposes traditional conservatism as the culture of the Western world. Ultimately, a Christian military victory deposes social liberalism and reestablishes a traditionalist and theocratic socioeconomic order based upon British Victorian morality of the late 19th century.[62][63] The anti–Marxism of Lind and Weyrich advocates political confrontation and intellectual opposition to Cultural Marxism with "a vibrant cultural conservatism" composed of "retro-culture fashions", a return to railroads as public transport, and an agrarian culture of self-reliance, modeled after that of the Christian Amish folk.[64] In the Dialectic of Counter-Enlightenment: The Frankfurt School as Scapegoat of the Lunatic Fringe (2011), the historian Martin Jay said that Lind's documentary of conservative counter-culture, Political Correctness: The Frankfurt School (1999), was effective propaganda, because it:

spawned a number of condensed textual versions, which were reproduced on a number of radical, right-wing sites. These, in turn, led to a plethora of new videos, now available on YouTube, which feature an odd cast of pseudo-experts regurgitating exactly the same line. The message is numbingly simplistic: “All the 'ills' of modern American culture, from feminism, affirmative action, sexual liberation, racial equality, multiculturalism and gay rights to the decay of traditional education, and even environmentalism, are ultimately attributable to the insidious [intellectual] influence of the members of the Institute for Social Research who came to America in the 1930s.”[65]

Functions of the conspiracy

Cultural pessimism and Holocaust denial

In the essay "New Dark Age: The Frankfurt School and 'Political Correctness'" (1992), Michael Minnicino presented a precursor of the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory on behalf of the Schiller Institute of the LaRouche political movement. Minnicino said the "Jewish intellectuals" of the Frankfurt School promoted modern art to make cultural pessimism the spirit of the counter-culture of the 1960s, based upon the counter-culture of the Wandervogel, the socially liberal German youth movement whose Swiss Monte Verità commune was the 19th-century predecessor of Western counter-culture.[66][65][67][68]

In "Ally of Christian Right Heavyweight Paul Weyrich Addresses Holocaust Denial Conference" (15 June 2002) the Southern Poverty Law Center reported Lind’s participation in a conference of Holocaust deniers, to whom he said that Cultural Marxism is a social threat, because the Frankfurt School was "to a man, Jewish". Lind said that he is neither an anti-Semite nor a Holocaust denier and participated in the Holocaust-denial conference because the Center for Cultural Conservatism has “a regular policy to work with a wide variety of groups, on an issue-by-issue basis”, in behalf of the Free Congress Foundation.[50][69]

In Fascism: Fascism and Culture (2003), Matthew Feldman traced the etymology of the term "Cultural Marxism" as derived from the anti-Semitic term Kulturbolshewismus (Cultural Bolshevism), which Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party used in charging that Jewish cultural influence was the source of German social degeneration under the liberal régime of the Weimar Republic (1918–1939), and also the cause of social degeneration in the West.[70]

Othering of political opponents

In Hate Crimes, Vol. 5 (2009), Heidi Beirich said that the right wing uses Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory to politically delegitimize left-wing opponents by misrepresenting the social Other (who is not the Self) as politically destructive members of the country's body politik who threaten the traditionalist conservative status quo of society—especially "feminists, homosexuals, secular humanists, multi-culturalists, sex educators, environmentalists, immigrants, and black nationalists".[71]

In Europe the Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik quoted Lind's usages of Cultural Marxism in his political manifesto 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, writing that the "sexually transmitted disease (STD) epidemic in Western Europe [is] a result of cultural Marxism"; that "Cultural Marxism defines . . . Muslims, Feminist women, homosexuals, and some additional minority groups, as virtuous, and they view ethnic Christian European men as evil"; and that "The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg is a cultural-Marxist-controlled political entity." About 90 minutes before killing 77 people in his terrorist attacks in Norway (22 July 2011) Breivik e-mailed 1,003 people a copy of his 1,500-page manifesto and a copy of Political Correctness: A Short History of an Ideology (2004), edited by Lind and published by the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.[72][73][74][75]

In "Collectivists, Communists, Labor Bosses, and Treason: The Tea Parties as Right-wing, Populist Counter-subversion Panic" (2012), Chip Berlet identifies Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory as an ideological basis of the Tea Party movement within the Republican Party. The Tea Party identifies as a right-wing populist movement; its claims of social subversion echo earlier, white-nationalist claims of subversion (racial, social, and cultural). The economic élites use populist rhetoric to encourage counter-subversion panics; thus, a large, middle-class white constituency is politically deceived into siding with the ruling-class élites (social and economic) to defend their relative and precarious socioeconomic position in the middle class. Cultural scapegoats, such as mythical conspiracies of collectivists, Communists, labor bosses, and the nonwhite Other, are to blame for the failures (economic, political, social) of free-market capitalism. In that manner, under the guise of patriotism, economic libertarianism, Christian values, and nativism, the right wing's charges of Cultural Marxism defended the racist and sexist social hierarchies specifically opposed to the "big government" policies of the Obama Administration.[76][77]

In the essay "Cultural Marxism and the Radical Right" (2014), the political scientist Jérôme Jamin said that "next to the global dimension of the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory, there is its innovative and original dimension, which lets its [racist] authors avoid racist discourses, and pretend to be defenders of democracy" in their respective countries.[78] In the vein of othering political opponents, "How Trump's Paranoid White House Sees 'Deep State' Enemies on all Sides" (2017) reported that Trump Administration employee Richard Higgins was dismissed from the U.S. National Security Council because of the memorandum "POTUS & Political Warfare" (May 2017), wherein Higgins claimed the existence of a left-wing conspiracy to destroy the Trump presidency and that American public intellectuals of Cultural Marxism, foreign Islamicists, and globalist bankers, the news media, and politicians from the Republican and the Democrat parties were attacking Trump because he represents “an existential threat to [the] cultural Marxist memes that dominate the prevailing cultural narrative” in the U.S.[79][80][81]

Anti–Semitic canards

In the speech "The Origins of Political Correctness" (2000), William S. Lind established the ideological and etymological lineage of Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory; that:

If we look at it analytically, if we look at it historically, we quickly find out exactly what it is. Political Correctness is cultural Marxism. It is Marxism translated from economic into cultural terms. It is an effort that goes back not to the 1960s and the Hippies and the peace movement, but back to World War I [to Kulturbolshewismus]. If we compare the basic tenets of Political Correctness with [the basic tenets of] classical Marxism, the parallels are very obvious.[69]

Lind’s history of the term and its meanings demonstrated that the ideology of "The Alt-right’s Favorite Meme is 100 Years Old" (2018), in which professor of law Samuel Moyn reported that social fear of Cultural Marxism is "an American contribution to the phantasmagoria of the alt-right"; while the conspiracy theory, itself, is "a crude slander, referring to [ Judeo-Bolshevism ], something that does not exist".[82]

See also

• Analytical Marxism
• Birmingham School of Cultural Studies
• Degenerate Art
• Social conflict theory
• Fredric Jameson
• Georg Simmel
• Gerhard Stapelfeldt
• Karl Manheim
• Leo Kofler
• Neo-Gramscianism
• Neo-Marxism
• New Marx Reading
• Positivism dispute
• Psychoanalytic sociology
• Zygmunt Bauman


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 Wodak, ed. by Ruth; KhosraviNik, Majid; Mral, Brigitte (2012). Right-wing populism in Europe: Politics and discourse (1st. publ. 2013. ed.). London: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 96, 97. ISBN 978-1-7809-3245-3. Retrieved 30 July2015.
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79. "How Trump's Paranoid White House Sees 'Deep State' Enemies on all Sides". The Guardian. 13 August 2017.
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82. Samuel Moyn (13 November 2018). "The Alt-Right's Favorite Meme is 100 Years Old". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 November 2018.

Further reading

• Arato, Andrew and Eike Gebhardt, Eds. The Essential Frankfurt School Reader. New York: Continuum, 1982.
• Bernstein, Jay (ed.). The Frankfurt School: Critical Assessments I–VI. New York: Routledge, 1994.
• Benhabib, Seyla. Critique, Norm, and Utopia: A Study of the Foundations of Critical Theory. New York: Columbia University Press, 1986.
• Bottomore, Tom. The Frankfurt School and its Critics. New York: Routledge, 2002.
• Bronner, Stephen Eric and Douglas MacKay Kellner (eds.). Critical Theory and Society: A Reader. New York: Routledge, 1989.
• Brosio, Richard A. The Frankfurt School: An Analysis of the Contradictions and Crises of Liberal Capitalist Societies. 1980.
• Crone, Michael (ed.): Vertreter der Frankfurter Schule in den Hörfunkprogrammen 1950–1992. Hessischer Rundfunk, Frankfurt am Main 1992. (Bibliography.)
• Friedman, George. The Political Philosophy of the Frankfurt School. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1981.
• Held, David. Introduction to Critical Theory: Horkheimer to Habermas. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980.
• Gerhardt, Christina. "Frankfurt School". The International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest, 1500 to the Present. 8 vols. Ed. Immanuel Ness. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2009. 12–13.
• Immanen, Mikko (2017). A Promise of Concreteness: Martin Heidegger's Unacknowledged Role in the Formation of Frankfurt School in the Weimar Republic(Ph.D. thesis). University of Helsinki. ISBN 978-951-51-3205-5. 978-951-51-3205-5 Lay summary Check |lay-url= value (help).
• Jay, Martin. The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute for Social Research 1923–1950. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. 1996.
• Jeffries, Stuart (2016). Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School. London – Brooklyn, New York: Verso. ISBN 978-1-78478-568-0.
• Kompridis, Nikolas. Critique and Disclosure: Critical Theory between Past and Future. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2006.
• Postone, Moishe. Time, Labor, and Social Domination: A Reinterpretation of Marx's Critical Theory. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
• Schwartz, Frederic J. Blind Spots: Critical Theory and the History of Art in Twentieth-Century Germany. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2005.
• Shapiro, Jeremy J. "The Critical Theory of Frankfurt". Times Literary Supplement 3 (4 October 1974) 787.
• Scheuerman, William E. Frankfurt School Perspectives on Globalization, Democracy, and the Law. 3rd ed. New York: Routledge, 2008.
• Wiggershaus, Rolf. The Frankfurt School: Its History, Theories and Political Significance. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1995.
• Wheatland, Thomas. The Frankfurt School in Exile. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009.

External links

Look up cultural Marxismin Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
• Official website of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt
• Gerhardt, Christina. "Frankfurt School (Jewish émigrés)." The International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest. Ness, Immanuel (ed). Blackwell Publishing, 2009. Blackwell Reference Online.
• "The Frankfurt School and Critical Theory". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
• The Frankfurt School on the Marxists Internet Archive
• BBC Radio 4 Audio documentary "In our time: the Frankfurt School"
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Jul 10, 2019 8:33 pm

Letter from Arthur Conan Doyle to Julian B. Arnold
by Arthur Conan Doyle
October 6, 1927



The letter was published by Julian B. Arnold in his book Giants in Dressing Gowns (1942).

Windlesham, Crowborough, Sussex.
Oct. 6th, 1927

Dear Mr. Arnold,

Many thanks for your valuable letter.

You can have no idea of what a concentration of evidence there is, in the automatic-writings, upon this world disaster, nor how remarkably consistent the various accounts are.

I have, I should think, 50,000 words (in automatic-writings) on this subject, all carefully copied out and extending over three years.

Then I have about sixty independent testimonies of the coming of a world disaster.

Time is their difficulty but the general impression is that it is at the end of the next decade.

America will, I fear, suffer greatly. Also Central Europe. Also the Mediterranean basin. Ireland also, but the British isles less. But all are to catch it. Such is the general sinister scheme.

That is how I get it. But they always emphasize that it is the good spiritual outcome and not the sad material means which should be borne in mind. There are to be great psychic accompaniments and something corresponding to the Second Coming, though hardly as pictured.

I have told you more details than to anyone else, and I don't want to seem an alarmist. Yours sincerely,


Portrait of Julian B. Arnold, a traveler, writer, and lecturer who changed his name from J. B. Lindon to resume his family name. His father was Sir Edwin Arnold, a famous English poet. This image was taken in Chicago, Illinois.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:55 pm

Julian B. Arnold
Accessed: 7/10/19



Julian B. Arnold

Julian B. Arnold to Wed, Son of Sir Edwin, Long Known as J. Lindon, to Marry Miss Hartford
by The New York Times
August 21, 1924

Julian Arnold in the 1940 Census
Age 79, born abt 1861
Birthplace England

Gender Male
Race White
Home in 1940
1919 Marengo Avenue
Los Angeles, California
Household Members Age
Head Julian Arnold 79
Wife Iris B Arnold 45
Son Edwin B Arnold 4

Iris B Arnold in the 1940 Census
Age 45, born abt 1895
Birthplace India

Gender Female
Race White
Home in 1940
1919 Marengo Avenue
Los Angeles, California
Household Members Age
Head Julian Arnold 79
Wife Iris B Arnold 45
Son Edwin B Arnold 4

Edwin B Arnold in the 1940 Census
Age 4, born abt 1936
Birthplace California

Gender Male
Race White
Home in 1940
1919 Marengo Avenue
Los Angeles, California
Household Members Age
Head Julian Arnold 79
Wife Iris B Arnold 45
Son Edwin B Arnold 4

-- Julian Arnold, Iris Arnold, Edwin Arnold, in the 1940 Census, by

Sons Julian and Emerson as Theosophists

Sir Edwin's son Julian Tregenna Biddulph Arnold (1860-1954) was active in the American Theosophical Society:

In a recent number of The Messenger, I [the editor, A. P. Warrington] mentioned a series of lectures which Mr. J. B. Lindon, one of our members residing in Chicago, had given at Besant Hall under the designation "Twilight Talks." These lectures were so successful and drew such large audiences that a program of a new series of historical lectures has been announced by the same lecturer, which by the time this issue reaches the mails will be well on the way.

Our members no doubt have learned from recent newspaper accounts that Mr. Lindon is none other than Mr. Julian B. Arnold, the son of the late Sir Edwin Arnold, the illustrious poet, scholar and interpreter of Indian ideals, whom Theosophists the world over have loved and revered for his immortal work.

When Mr. Julian B. Arnold came to America seven years ago he launched out in the chemical business, and for that and other reasons he adopted an old family name, so that he became known as J. B. Lindon. Owing to the encouragement which he received in his recent venture in the lecturing field, he has felt that he should no longer suppress his real identity.

Lindon, Julian B., Chemical Manufacturer of 232 West Lake Street, was born July 3, 1860, in England. He is President of the Pax Chemical Company of Illinois.

-- Clark J. Herringshaw's City Blue Book of Current Biography: Chicago Men of 1913. Six thousand biographies: an alphabetical record of citizens prominent in their chosen vocations in Chicago's educational, social, civil, industrial and commercial affairs, edited by Mae Felts Herringshaw, by Clark J. Herringshaw

I am sure that all Theosophists will join me in the hope that Mr. Arnold may some day become widely traveled as a lecturer throughout our country, where we hope he will always feel that he has a true home.[9]

Julian B. Lindon was admitted to the American Theosophical Society on November 23, 1910, sponsored by Minna Kunz and Mrs. Kochersberger of the Adyar Lodge of Chicago. After July 16, 1915, he was known as Julian B. Arnold, according to membership records.[10] He wrote at least thirteen articles for Theosophical journals. As Warrington hoped, Arnold did go on to a career as a lecturer.[11]


Bachelor of Medicine (M.B. -- Edwin Gilbert Emerson Arnold, M.R.C.S.[Eng.], L.R.C.P.[Lond.] St. Thomas's Hospital

-- The Lancet, Oct-Dec 1896

Edwin Gilbert Emerson [Emmerson] Arnold (1872-????), M.D., M.R.C.P., a medical officer in Fiji, also called himself a Theosophist. He wrote of the evocative quality of his father's "pen-pictures of Indian life":

To anyone who, like myself, is a convinced student of Theosophy and Oriental occultism the phenomenon is all the more striking. For his works reveal an expert and deep knowledge of Eastern philosophy which is amazing.

I hold the view very strongly myself that the explanation lies in previous Indian incarnations. My father, although very patriotic and intensely British in many ways, was always a semi-Oriental; in outlook, tastes, manners and thoughts, and even in appearance. I believe that his brief visit to India resuscitated the subconscious memories of former lives spent there and that these gave him his wonderful knowledge and insight and his love for and attraction to Eastern life and philosophy.[12]
Site Admin
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Thu Jul 11, 2019 4:30 am

Part 1 of 2

An Enlightened Life in Text and Image: G. I. Gurdjieff''s Meetings With Remarkable Men (1963) and Peter Brook's Meetings With Remarkable Men (1979)
by Carole M. Cusack
Literature & Aesthetics 21 (1) June 2011, page 72




This article considers the 'autobiographical" memoir by George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff (1866[?] – 29 October 1949), Meetings With Remarkable Men (hereafter Meetings), which was published posthumously in 1963 under the aegis of Jeanne de Salzmann, Gurdjieff''s designated successor. Almost all known about the Greek-Armenian Gurdjieff is open to question, from his birth date (variously given as 1866, 1872 and 1877), to the "Work", as his teaching is called. The Work has been jealously guarded as a modern initiatory tradition by first – and second – generation disciples, and is controversial in terms of its sources, meaning and interpretation.1 The 1979 film, Meetings With Remarkable Men, with a script co-authored by Madame de Salzmann, directed by Gurdjieffian theatre and film auteur, Peter Brook (b. 1925), depicts the young Gurdjieff''s spiritual quest reverentially. This article investigates a number of issues including: what models underlie the self-understanding expressed in Gurdjieff's memoir; what role Jeanne de Salzmann and other prominent disciples in the Work played in the dissemination of Gurdjieff''s model of the "enlightened life"; the ways that Peter Brook has modelled his own life on that of Gurdjieff; what the constituent elements of an "enlightened life" in the contemporary, deregulated spiritual marketplace might be; and the aesthetics of the film's presentation of the quest for enlightenment. It is speculated that the film adaptation of Meetings With Remarkable Men potentially won for Gurdjieff a new audience of spiritual seekers who did not wish to join the secretive and authoritarian Work, but admired the portrayal of Gurdjieff as a spiritual seeker who achieved enlightened status.

Gurdjieff as Enlightened Esoteric Teacher

George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff was probably born 1866 “in Alexandropol (now Gyumri, Armenia), on the Russian side of the Russo-Turkish frontier, his father a Cappadocian Greek carpenter and bardic poet [ashokh], and his mother an illiterate Armenian.”2 His family was Orthodox Christian. When Gurdjieff was a boy the family moved to Kars, a nearby city, where he became a chorister at the Kars Military Cathedral school, under the tutelage of Dean Borsh.3 From approximately 1887 to 1911 nothing verifiable is known of his life. He emerged as a spiritual teacher in 1912 in Moscow, married Julia Ostrowska in St Petersburg in the same year, and attracted group of early pupils, the most significant of whom was the philosopher and writer Pyotr Demianovitch Ouspensky (1878-1947). The group also included Sophia Ouspensky, the composer (and close friend of Wassily Kandinsky), Thomas de Hartmann, and his wife Olga, a talented singer.4 In 1917 the Russian Revolution caused Gurdjieff to leave St Petersburg and return to Alexandropol. During 1917-1922 he was based progressively at Essentuki, Tblisi (formerly Tiflis), Constantinople and Berlin.

In Tblisi he met the artist Alexandre von Salzmann (later de Salzmann) and his wife Jeanne (who were friends of the de Hartmanns and Kandinsky) and they became his staunch followers. In 1919 the first public demonstration of the sacred dances (first called "exercises", but later known as "Movements") took place in Tblisi, and the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man was founded.5 Gurdjieff and Thomas de Hartmann worked intensively on the never-performed ballet, The Struggle of the Magicians. The group resided in Constantinople for about a year (where Gurdjieff and Ouspensky met John G. Bennett, later a significant, though heterodox, teacher in the Work), then to Berlin, finally settling in Paris in 1922. Gurdjieff then established the second Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man at a chateau called the Prieure, in Fontainebleau, to the south of Paris.6 This was his headquarters for two years only, as in 1924 he had a near-fatal car crash and disbanded the Institute shortly after, moving to a flat in Paris. Although the Prieure continued to have “a small, though fluctuating, population for several more years… he ceased to have any formal pupils;”7 instead, Gurdjieff concentrated on his writing, assisted by Olga de Hartmann and Alfred R. Orage. For the last twenty-seven years of his life (1922-1949), apart from nine visits to America, some quite lengthy, and an unaccounted-for period in 1935, Gurdjieff remained in France.8

It is important to understand that until P. D. Ouspensky met Gurdjieff and began to document his system there was no virtually external testimony concerning Gurdjieff''s life at all. Ouspensky separated from Gurdjieff in 1924, although the two men met several times in between 1924 and Ouspensky's death in 1947. Ouspensky is significant in that he continued to teach the Gurdjieff system after breaking with him, and published the earliest and most systematic version of the teaching, In Search of the Miraculous, which appeared posthumously. Ouspensky was a prolific and well-regarded author of scientific and esoteric works, including The Fourth Dimension (1909), Tertium Organum (1912), A New Model of the Universe (1931) and a novel, The Strange Life of Ivan Osokin (1915), which explored the Nietzschean notion of eternal recurrence. Ouspensky recollected meeting Gurdjieff, whom he described as:

a man of oriental type, no longer young, with a black mustache [sic] and piercing eyes, who astonished me first of all, because he seemed to be disguised… I was still full of impressions of the East. And this man [had] the face of an Indian raja or an Arab sheikh whom I at once seemed to see in a white burnoose or gilded turban.9

In their early conversations Gurdjieff told Ouspensky of the plans for his ballet, The Struggle of the Magicians, which would feature some of the sacred dances that he had witnessed during his travels in the East. In explaining these dances to Ouspensky he drew attention to their cosmological significance: “In the strictly defined movements and combinations of the dancers, certain laws are visually reproduced which are intelligible to those who know them… I have many times witnessed such dances being performed during sacred services in various ancient temples.”10 The purpose of these dances was to bring into alignment the human "centres", and to align human beings with the cosmos.

In Gurdjieff''s system, humans are "three-brained beings", who need to align their intellectual, emotional and sensory selves into a single self through the development of a soul (which people, who effectively do not exist, do not have unless they work to grow one). This is known as the development of a finer, (or kesdjan), body. Gurdjieff''s teachings are often called "The Fourth Way" because of his illustration of the three ways that are connected to the three centres of being. The way of the fakir (Sufi ascetic) Gurdjieff connects to the body and the sensory centre; the way of the monk (Christian renunciant) he connects to the emotional centre; and the way of the yogi (Hindu ascetic) he connects with the intellectual centre. But all these paths are inadequate, as they “are all imbalanced because each centre is only aware of part of what we are… So in effect, there are two kinds of imbalance… individual neurosis (derived from the fact that centres try to do the work that is proper to one of the others) and 'spiritual lopsidedness" (derived from the fact that no centre can reveal the whole nature of man).”11

Gurdjieff''s system is forbiddingly difficult to penetrate, not least because he used a formidable vocabulary of neologisms. There are two fundamental laws, the Law of Three (Triamazikamno) and the Law of Seven (Heptaparaparshinokh). The first of these rejects dualistic understandings, through positing three forces, positive, negative and reconciling, or neutralising (rather than just positive and negative), “[t]he higher blends with the lower to actualize the middle, which becomes higher or the preceding lower and lower for the succeeding higher.12 These three forces, in Gurdjieffian language, are called the affirming, denying, and reconciling. The Law of Seven applies to multiple aspects of the teaching: there are seven levels of energy, seven different cosmoses, and the Ray of Creation diagramme has seven emanations. James Moore concisely explains the Law of Seven as follows:

[e]very completing process must without exception have seven discrete phases: construing these as an ascending or descending series of seven notes or pitches, the frequency of vibrations must develop irregularly, with two predictable deviations (just where semi-tones are missing between Mi-Fa and Si-Do in the untempered modern major scale EDCBAGFE).13

These two laws are synthesised and expressed symbolically in the Enneagram, a nine-sided figure.14

In the Gurdjieffian universe everything is alive and seeks to feed itself to achieve higher levels of being. Thus the moon is trying to develop into a new Earth and the Earth to develop into a new sun. Garrett Thomson summarises the role of organic life in this system as follows:

Organic life is a huge accumulator of energy gathered from the sun and the rest of the solar system by the earth to feed itself and the development of the moon. At death, everything that lives releases energy, askokin, to the moon… In other words, the choice between Heaven and Hell is the choice between feeding the sun or the moon… Our spiritual development consists a struggle to become free from the mechanical influences of the moon.15

You see by this how the spiritual Movement was wedged as it were between two set purposes, one intent upon distorting the truth concerning the Moon, the other upon distorting the truth concerning the planets. — That was the situation at the end of the nineteenth century. H. P Blavatsky and Sinnett were to distort the truth about the Moon; the others set out to distort the truth about the connection of the planets with the evolution of the Earth. Do not imagine that it is an easy position to be wedged between two such currents; for here we have to do with occultism, and where occultism is involved a stronger force is necessary for grasping its truths than for grasping the ordinary truths of the physical plane. But consequently there is also at work a far stronger force of deception which it is essential to see through. This is not easy, because of the strong force required to counter it. On the one side, the truth about the Moon is veiled by the distortion, and on the other, the truth about the planets. One was therefore wedged between two fallacies committed in the interests of materialism. First, it was a matter of reckoning with the materialism emanating from the oriental side, which was responsible for promoting the fallacy about the Moon in order to introduce the oriental teaching of reincarnation. The teaching of the fact of reincarnation was of course correct, but we shall soon see what a strong concession had been made to materialism in Esoteric Buddhism — as the book was called. On the other side there was the desire that a certain form of Catholic Esotericism should be protected from the assault of the Indian influence, and there, more than ever, the tendency was at work to allow all spiritual reality connected with the evolution of the planetary system as a whole to be submerged in materialism. The mission of Spiritual Science was wedged between these two currents. This was the situation with which one was confronted. Everywhere there were strong forces at work, intent upon making the one or the other influence effective.

-- The Occult Movement in the Nineteenth Century and Its Relation to Modern Culture, by Rudolf Steiner

Gurdjieff therefore defines the purpose of life as the development of a soul or kesdjan body through work and "conscious suffering", which he calls the Fulasnitamnian principle. Its opposite, the Itoklanoz principle, awaits most people whose wills are fragmented and dominated by trivial likes and dislikes. This process is related to Gurdjieff''s emanative cosmology, with “different manifestations, and concentrations of energy, which flow from the Absolute and which are all interconnected.”16

Humans, in Gurdjieff''s system, are essentially machines who pass through life asleep. There are four states of consciousness; sleep, waking consciousness (which is nearly the same as sleep), self-remembering, and objective consciousness, the attainment of which is connected with the development of the kesdjan body. The Movements are central to Gurdjieff''s teaching, in that they are the most important physical activity undertaken within the Gurdjieff Work. This is, despite the complex cosmological mythology developed in Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson (hereafter Tales), primarily an applied spiritual training, through actual physical labour, in addition to body-based exercises (the Movements). The Gurdjieff-de Hartmann music has an important sub-division of music for the Movements, which has become known through recordings by significant pianists including Wim van Dullemen and Helen Adie.17

In 1923, shortly after arriving in Paris, Gurdjieff staged a public performance of these 'sacred gymnastics". In 1924 he and a group of pupils went to the United States where Gurdjieff “presented public demonstrations of his movements in New York and laid the groundwork for the opening of the first branch of his institute.”18 A. R. Orage, a former student of Ouspensky, was put in charge of the New York branch. Several of the Movements teachers in the Work had been trained in other body-based disciplines. For example, Jessmin Howarth and Rose Mary Nott (nee Lillard), whom Gurdjieff met in Paris in 1922, were instructors of the eurhythmics system used to teach music developed by Gurdjieff''s Swiss contemporary, Emile-Jacques Dalcroze (1865-1950), and Jeanne de Salzmann had also studied with Dalcroze. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), the founder of Anthroposophy, similarly developed a system called Eurythmy, which he began teaching in 1912, which contained the essence of his spiritual teachings, and which was fully developed by 1919 (when he took Eurythmy practitioners on tour in post-war Europe).19

Gurdjieff''s avowed intention was to wake people up, and consciousness is crucial to his teachings. He was adamant that spiritually undeveloped human beings are machines, passive and lacking consciousness. He taught that they had to develop essence and bypass personality. The majority of his teachings are contained in Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson (1950) the "First Series" of his collected writings, known as All and Everything, which is a sprawling science fiction epic of more than twelve hundred pages, in which the reformed Beelzebub tells tales of his adventures, chiefly among three-brained beings on Earth, to his grandson Hassein as the two travel in a spaceship, the Karnak, from Beelzebub's home planet, Karatas. Gurdjieff wrote in Armenian, his native language, and pupils translated the works into different languages. The English translation first published was mainly the work of Orage, who worked closely with Gurdjieff to produce it.20 When immersed in Gurdjieff''s writings the reader is often disconcerted by the lightness of style and the apparent frivolity of certain passages. Gurdjieff often used humour and shocks to teach, as well as pushing followers to the limit physically and emotionally. He was often vulgar, sexually explicit, and appreciated good food and wine, and boisterous company.

Apart from Gurdjieff''s own writings, the most important sources of information about him are the memoirs of his pupils; significant accounts were published by the de Hartmanns, Fritz Peters, J. G. Bennett, and others. It is undeniable that Gurdjieff''s followers viewed him as an authentic spiritual teacher; an enlightened being. A sketch published in Practical Psychology Monthly in 1937 by a pseudonymous pupil stated that “[m]any people attributed impartial objective knowledge to Gurdjieff… He could read character at a glance. He had powers of clairvoyance, thought-reading and the like. In short, it was claimed for him by some people that he was a veritable God-man.”21 John Bennett concurred, saying that although Gurdjieff tended to make ambiguous statements about himself, “[s]ometimes he came very near to claiming he was an avatar, a Cosmic individual incarnated to help mankind.”22

Gurdjieff as Spiritual Seeker: Meetings With Remarkable Men (1963)

During his life, Gurdjieff published only The Herald of Coming Good (hereafter Herald), which was released privately in Paris in 1933. The popular writer on esoteric traditions, Romuald (Rom) Landau, discussed Herald in God is My Adventure (1935). Landau, who also interviewed Gurdjieff twice in 1934, concluded that Herald was “the work of a man who was no longer sane,” and dismissed the grandiose assertion that Gurdjieff would publish three series of works, ten volumes in all, that revealed significant esoteric knowledge. The autobiographical Herald was franker than Gurdjieff would ever be subsequently; Landau covers Gurdjieff''s claim to have been in a certain "dervish" monastery of the "Mohammedan religion" in Central Asia and the claim that Gurdjieff had “arrived at unprecedented practical results without equal in our day.”23 Landau's low opinion of Herald was shared by P. D. Ouspensky who burned the copies that were sent to him. After a few months, Gurdjieff recalled the book and destroyed the remaining copies.24

Gurdjieff''s three major works, Tales (1950), Meetings (1963), and Life is Only Real When ‘I Am’ (1974) were published posthumously. In the "autobiographical" Meetings Gurdjieff presents himself as a seeker after truth, one who is fundamentally concerned with the reconciliation of religious, esoteric and scientific knowledge. Additionally, his birth and upbringing in Transcaucasia positions him as a reconciler of East and West; in 1923, he told Professor Denis Saurat, the Director of the French Institute in London,

I want to add the mystical spirit of the East to the scientific spirit of the West. The Oriental spirit is right, but only in its trends and general ideas. The Western spirit is right in its methods and techniques. Western methods alone are effective in history. I want to create a type of sage who will unite the spirit of the East with Western techniques.25

To date, Gurdjieff has received comparatively little academic attention, despite his clear significance within the esoteric milieu. Arguably, the three most influential teachers of alternative spirituality and esoteric systems in the modern West are: Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891), who co-founded the Theosophical Society in 1875 with the American Civil War veteran Colonel Henry Steel Olcott; Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), a philosopher and scientist who broke with Theosophy in 1912 to form the Anthroposophical Society; and Gurdjieff.26

Compared to Tales, which is a demanding text in terms of its vast length, vocabulary of neologisms, and exposition of complex cosmology, Meetings appears to be a relatively brief and 'simple" book in which Gurdjieff recounts his early life. However, the “Introduction” resolutely refuses to permit the reader to enter the text without effort, with its seemingly random anecdotes about grammar, Persian folktales, and musings on the differences between "European" and "Asiatic" literatures, presented as the findings of an “elderly, intelligent Persian.”27 The convoluted prose style of all Gurdjieff''s writings is itself an important teaching technique, and not merely the product of his own polyglot status and the complex processes of translation. Joshua Gunn has argued persuasively that esotericists usually employ one of three standard strategies with regard to language, which as a human attribute cannot reliably express ineffable truths: first, the recommendation to keep silent; second, the use of “language itself in order to ascend to higher states of awareness;”28 and third, a quest for a pure language (possibly from a divine source) that is able to express the ineffable. Gurdjieff''s writings are excellent examples of the second strategy; his followers assert that his neologisms and difficult prose are designed to reveal higher levels of reality. Further, he developed (with Alexandre de Salzmann) a new script, which read vertically from top to bottom, in which to write the forty aphorisms that featured on the walls of the Prieure.29 Mohammad H. Tamdgidi argues that Gurdjieff learned from his ashokh father to hide “serious ideas under the cloak of apparently trivial, absurd and nonsensical ones.”30

In Meetings, Gurdjieff recounts pivotal moments in his young life, and the "remarkable men" in whose company these occurred. The first such man is his father, the bard (whom he claimed could recite the Epic of Gilgamesh, a text which was not translated until much later), and he is followed by Gurdjeff's teacher at Kars, Dean Borsh, and the priest Bogachevsky, also known as Father Evlissi. In the chapter dedicated to Bogachevsky, Gurdjieff introduces the motif of the Yezidi boy trapped within a chalk circle. The adolescent Gurdjieff saw a small boy weeping and struggling to escape, and being mocked by the other children:

I was puzzled and asked what it was all about. I learned that the boy in the middle was a Yezidi and the circle had been drawn round him and that he could not get out of it until it was rubbed away. The child was indeed trying with all his might to leave this magic circle, but he struggled in vain. I ran up to him and quickly rubbed out part of the circle, and immediately he dashed out and ran away as fast as he could.31

This anecdote presents Gurdjieff as a benevolent liberator from superstitious irrational constraints, a role that he assumed as an esoteric teacher many years later in pre-revolutionary Russia. Other early experiences, such as the mysterious resurrection of a Tartar corpse (or accidental burial of a live man, depending on how the incident is interpreted), and the duel involving cannons fought with his friend Piotr Karpenko over “the Riaouzov girl,” with whom he was passionately, though briefly, in love, are vividly portrayed.

The core of the book details the search by the adult Gurdjieff and his friends, known as the 'seekers of Truth". These included Abram Yelov, the Aisor (Assyrian Christian), trainee priest Sarkis Pogossian, who became an engineer and later the owner of a steamship company, the pasha's son Ekim Bey, Professor Skridlov, an archaeologist, and the Prince Yuri Lubovedsky, who is presented as the principal spiritual guide in Gurdjieff''s memoir. Embedded in the chapter about Prince Lubovedsky are the stories of the alcoholic Soloviev and Vitvitskaia, the one "remarkable woman" acknowledged by Gurdjieff. Intriguingly, she is Polish and has a dubious reputation, having been a "kept woman". This invites the speculation that she is modelled on Gurdjieff''s wife, Julia Ostrowska, who was Polish and retained her own name, possibly because Gurdjieff already had a wife and children.32 It is undeniable that Gurdjieff loved Madame Ostrowska, and that she was a person of rare spiritual qualities is testified to by many of his pupils.33 However, she was only twenty-two when they married in 1912, too young to have belonged to the Seekers of Truth, if they really existed.

The Seekers of Truth sought ancient wisdom and allegedly journeyed far and wide in the 1880s and 1890s to attain it. Gurdjieff stated that:

[t]hirty years ago twelve of us spent many years in central Asia, and we reconstructed the Doctrine by oral traditions, the study of ancient costumes, popular songs, and certain books. The Doctrine has always existed, but the tradition has been interrupted. In antiquity some groups and castes knew it, but it was incomplete. The ancients put too much stress on metaphysics, their doctrine was too abstract.34

Their quest involves archaeological expeditions in the Gobi Desert, examination of the antiquities of Egypt after discovering a “map of pre-sand Egypt” (which Gurdjieff connects to Atlantis),35 experiments with music and vibrations, discussions with the wandering holy men of Central Asia, and finally, for Gurdjieff, arrival at the fabled monastery of the esoteric Sarmoung Brotherhood, where he is reunited with Prince Lubovedsky and learns the sacred dances, or Movements (referred to above).

There has been much speculation about the sources of Gurdjieff''s teachings, which raises the issue of how reliable the account of his early years given in Meetings is? The teachings have variously been described as an amalgam of esoteric Christianity, Sufism, Tibetan Buddhism, Western occult traditions, and Hindu ideas. Some of his disciples, like J. G. Bennett, believed that sources for the Work could be identified and that Gurdjieff''s travels were to some extent verifiable. Bennett accepted that Gurdjieff had spent time with Essenes and at the famed Christian monastery of Mount Athos, and had visited Ethiopia where he became familiar with Coptic Christianity. He further accepted that Gurdjieff spent time in Egypt, Babylon, Afghanistan and Tibet, and was initiated into a Sufi order. Also, Bennett claims that Gurdjieff was a Russian spy:

[h]is almost uniformly hostile references to England, and especially his attack on the Younghusband Expedition into Tibet in 1903, suggests that he was in conflict with the authorities of British India. I can personally confirm that he had an unfavourable dossier in New Delhi because, as an intelligence officer in Constantinople in 1920, I first heard of Gurdjieff in a dispatch from New Delhi warning us of a “very dangerous Russian agent, George Gurdjieff, who was in Georgia and had applied for a permit to come to Constantinople”… I was invited to dinner by my friend Prince Sabaheddin to meet an old friend of his whom he regarded as a most exceptional man in the field of occultism and spirituality. This was Gurdjieff… Anyone who knew the Caucasus at that time would suspect that a man who could get permits and move freely through the Bolshevik and Social Democrat areas must have a secret pull with the authorities.36

The truth of these fascinating assertions has not been definitely established. They are mentioned for two reasons: first, there is a resemblance between the roles of spy and esoterist, in that both deal with multiple realities, fragmented identities and secrets; and second, because one very obvious model of the enlightened life that Gurdjieff drew upon was that of Madame Blavatsky.

Prior to the establishment of the Theosophical Society, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky had led a daring and unconventional life for a well-born Russian woman of the nineteenth century. The daughter of Colonel Peter von Hahn and the novelist Helena de Fadeyev, she ran away from a marriage of convenience to the middle-aged Nikifor Vassilievich Blavatsky after a matter of weeks in 1848, aged seventeen. She travelled in Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Western Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean, India, and Tibet, where she allegedly spent at least seven years studying with a spiritual master. Richard Hutch argued that she became an American citizen in 1878 to “stop British charges that she was on a mission to India as a Russian spy.”37 Further, Blavatsky had made her living in an unconventional fashion, which included working as a medium in Cairo in the 1870s, and Gurdjieff in Meetings details sundry ways that he earned money through deception and fringe pursuits, most notably hypnotism. Further connections are apparent when Hutch discussed the sources of Madame Blavatsky's occult teachings and concluded that:

Blavatsky drew from the more esoteric, though ubiquitous traditions of Russian pre-Christian and Orthodox Christian spirituality. The former involved an unconscious identification with so-called “paganism”, or shamanistic religion which… is characteristic of Russian tribal societies… [the] latter associate[d] the essence of Christian liturgical history and continuity with the tradition of “holy men” or “pilgrims” of the church.38

Gurdjieff''s Meetings abounds in Christian references (for example, Jesus Christ is referred to as “Our Divine Teacher,” the ecclesiastical seasons of Lent and Easter are observed, and when Gurdjieff speaks of his deceased friends he asks God to look with favour on them), and he did describe his system as "esoteric Christianity" to pupils on occasion. Gurdjieff followed Blavatsky in recounting tales of the lost civilization Atlantis and crediting the Atlanteans with an advanced technology and great wisdom. Gurdjieff was clearly familiar with Theosophy and referred to it in conversation.39 Blavatsky's death in 1891 is at the beginning of the decade when Gurdjieff''s quest with the Seekers of Truth began.

Andrew Rawlinson assesses Helena Petrovna Blavatsky's claim to have been initiated into Eastern traditions as truthful, stating that “we would have to say that we know of no other Westerner of the time who was doing the same… Blavatsky has a unique place in the great process by which Eastern teachings – and by extension, spiritual psychology as a worldview – have come to the West.”40 The debt of Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy to Theosophy is well-documented; there is much more to do in detailing the debt that Gurdjieff owes his greatest nineteenth century role-model of the enlightened life, Madame Blavatsky, and the debt the Work owes to Theosophy.

Gurdjieff, Jeanne de Salzmann and Peter Brook

Having considered Gurdjieff's textual rendering of his enlightened life, attention is now turned to Peter Brook, and the film he directed of Gurdjieff's memoir. Renowned theatre and film director Peter Brook was born in England to Russian parents in 1925. Tuberculosis in his mid-teens resulted in him spending two years in Switzerland, and at seventeen he became a student of Magdalen College, Oxford. In his first year of study he directed an amateur production of Marlowe's Doctor Faustus at the Torch Theatre in London, and in 1946 he directed Love’s Labours Lost for the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-on-Avon. In 1948 he became Director of Productions at Covent Garden Opera House. Brook read Ouspensky's In Search of the Miraculous in 1950, and in 1951 he married the Russian-English actress Natasha Parry. They joined the London Gurdjieff group under the direction of American writer Jane Heap (1883-1964), and after her death gravitated to the Paris Work group led by Jeanne de Salzmann.41 The couple moved to Paris in 1972 and Brook now heads the Paris Gurdjieff group. Brook's theatrical practice has been deeply influenced by his spiritual explorations, and the model of Gurdjieff as both spiritual seeker and esoteric master arguably underpins his understanding of his artistic vision.

During his time studying Gurdjieff's system with Jane Heap, Brook experimented with radical theatrical practice. The Theatre of Cruelty workshops, inspired by the work of Antonin Artaud (1886-1948), in which Brook collaborated with Charles Marowitz, led to the publication of The Empty Space (1968), his theatrical manifesto. Brook distinguished four types of theatre: Deadly (which was commercial and bad); Holy (which was akin to ritual, and showed the influence of Artaud); Rough (which was popular and incited laughter); and Immediate (which used improvisation and experimentation).42 Brook's own directorial practice sought to combine Holy and Rough theatre, in what Maria Shevtsova calls a “universal theatre which, in cutting across ethnic, linguistic and value differences, will traverse cultural boundaries, closing the gaps that divide race from race, class from class, and whatever else sets divisions in motion.”43 This has led him to combine stories and performance modes from widely divergent cultures, with often spectacular, though controversial, results.

Tracing Brook's conscious modelling of his own life on that of his spiritual master, and of his theatrical output on Gurdjieff''s teaching, is a complex and difficult task, but one that repays effort. Sally Mackey and Simon Cooper note the parallels between the two in passing: “Gurdjieff originated from a Near Eastern background from which Brook would draw inspiration… Gurdjieff''s concept of a journey as a means of learning and discovery was taken up by Brook, particularly in his African travels… Gurdjieff was a teacher and mystic. Although Brook denies his own guru status there is no doubt that he is regarded as such by some contemporary practitioners.”44 Gurdjieff himself was sternly critical of much that passed for art, literary and otherwise. In Tales, he has Beelzebub tell his grandson Hassein that before art became degraded, artists were known as Orpheists, a term that meant “that he rightly sensed the essence.” The term "artist", by contrast, simply means “he-who-is-occupied-with-art.” Literary and artistic fashions, Beelzebub maintains, are simply alternations to “the external form of what is called "the-covering-of-their-nullity".”45 However, it is undeniable that he attracted many artists, particularly writers and musicians, as pupils, and the Work continues to be attractive to creative people.46

Brook is recognised as somewhat self-dramatising and highly conscious of his stature as an auteur, moved in the 1960s to increasingly grandiose productions that claimed significance beyond mere entertainment and performance. Orghast at Persepolis, in 1971, involved the development of a script that combined disparate theatrical texts. The basis was Aeschylus" Prometheus Bound, to which were added extracts of “text from the Spanish playwright Calderon, a chorus from an Armenian play… Seneca, and an exploration of Avestan, the ceremonial language of Iran,” which were blended with writings from the poet Ted Hughes.47 Brook used members of his company and local Iranians, and language and technical preparation was done very swiftly, with much reliance on improvisation. The Persian archaeological site of Persepolis (which is redolent of antiquity in general and Alexander the Great in particular) provided a huge and impressive stage set. Performances began at dusk, with the sunset and the sunrise the following morning being important contributions to lighting effects. The flaming torches illuminating the site reinforced the reception of Orghast at Persepolis as a type of esoteric ritual, or temple spectacle, very far removed from theatre, as the West understands it. Brook has made extravagant claims regarding what his theatrical productions can achieve; “holy theatre not only presents the invisible but offers conditions that make its perception possible.”48

The other great international marathon theatrical event that Peter Brook is associated with is the nine-hour production of The Mahabharata that he conceived and delivered in the 1980s, after he had made the film of “Meetings With Remarkable Men.” Where Orghast was an original script, Brook has been praised and vilified for his adaptation of the vast Indian epic, which was composed between approximately 400 B.C.E. and 200 C.E., although it is traditionally attributed to the sage Vyasa.49 Core to criticism of Brook's Mahabharata was the claim that it was an orientalising appropriation of Indian theatre and culture. This elucidates another parallel between Gurdjieff and Brook; both were "Orientalists" who presented an exoticised version of the Orient to the Occident.50 The East, as Edward Said argued, “was not allowed to represent itself, but had to be represented by the Occident. In other words, it had to be re-presented in a manner so as to align itself within the prevailing hierarchy, with the imperial powers on top, the Orient at the bottom, of the political, social, and cultural scale”51 It has been objected that Brook reduced the action of the Mahabharata to a tragic tale of two flawed heroes, Karna and Duryodhana, rendering it Shakespearean, rather than a traditionally Indian religious cultural event.52 More serious charges against Brook included that he made promises to certain Indians, particularly a young male dancer named Dohonda, regarding participation in the production and later reneged on them, and that he had failed to bring the Mahabharata back to the villagers whose traditions he appropriated, which some critics viewed as an act of “cultural piracy.”53

This failure to appreciate the authentic Indian qualities of the Mahabharata on the part of Brook reveals another way in which he models his life and activities on Gurdjieff. Esoteric teachings posit that there is a universally applicable strand of ancient wisdom (the philosophia perennis, the prisca theologica) that is available to enlightened souls in all historical eras and across all geographies and cultures. This perspective is thus anti-modern and anti-progress, as the ancient Atlanteans (or which ever group is valorised) possessed perfect wisdom, to which nothing further could be added.54 It also tends to erase differences between cultures and to propose universally applicable solutions for human dilemmas. Nevertheless, Brook's Mahabharata is considered a masterpiece by many, particularly by those who operate within a "Traditionalist" framework. Basarab Nicolescu argues that there is a close relationship between theatre and “spiritual work,” because of the fact that both involve oral transmission, and asserts that Brook's troupe of actors “can communicate just as well with African villagers, Australian aborigines or the inhabitants of Brooklyn.”55 He suggests that the art of theatre as practiced by Brook is a universal language, and cites Gurdjieff:

[t]he fundamental property of this new language is that all ideas are concentrated around one single idea: in other words, they are all considered, in terms of their mutual relationships, from the point of view of a single idea. And this idea is that of evolution. Not at all in the sense of a mechanical evolution, naturally, because that does not exist, but in the sense of a conscious and voluntary evolution. It is the only possible kind… The language which permits understanding is based on the knowledge of its place in the evolutionary ladder.56

Nicolescu concludes that any activity that facilitates the evolution of consciousness (which is a spiritual process), in this case the theatre of Brook, should be considered as sacred.

In his autobiography Brook presents himself as a spiritual seeker not unlike Gurdjieff. As an imaginative young child, he “learned that what we call living is an attempt to read the shadows, betrayed at every time by what we so easily assume to be real.”57 When recuperating from tuberculosis in Europe he has a similar emotional awakening to women as that Gurdjieff experienced with “the Riaouzov girl,” which he calls “the wild sickness of love born of one glimpse of a dark-haired Italian schoolgirl, looking down at me from the top of a flight of steps.”58 He admits to an interest in the occult and describes meeting Aleister Crowley (who also met Gurdjieff) as a teenager. He praises Jane Heap as a teacher of rare insight:

[t]hrough her, I began to discover that “tradition” had another meaning from the sterile old-fashionedness I so detested in the theater. I learned to understand the oriental way of hiding knowledge like a precious stone, of concealing its sources, of making it hard to discover, so that its value can be truly appreciated by the searcher who has been willing to pay the price. She showed how every religion rapidly destroyed the purity of its origins by offering too readily to others what one has not made one's own by hard practical work.59

After Heap's death he and his wife Natasha developed a deep bond with Jeanne de Salzmann, who was described to him as “like a fan, which gradually opens until more and more is revealed.”60 While in New York in the mid-1970s de Salzmann suggested to Brook “very lightly, "Why don"t we make a film of Meetings With Remarkable Men?"”61 Brook responded to this proposal with enthusiasm, but his initial desire to make a “dynamic, colorful film” was thwarted by Madame de Salzmann, who desired to “give to the spectator a direct taste of that 'something else" she had experienced with Gurdjieff over the years.”62 This anecdote demonstrates that viewing the film of Gurdjieff''s autobiography was intended as a kind of substitute for an encounter with Gurdjieff himself, and thus can be understood as a type of evangelism, of spreading the word about the Work.
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Part 2 of 2

Meetings With Remarkable Men (1979)

Meetings With Remarkable Men, which is dedicated to Gurdjieff, was filmed in Afghanistan, which doubles for a variety of Central Asian locations and Egypt. Jeanne de Salzmann, then well over eighty, played a part in the casting of roles, particularly of the Montenegrin actor Dragan Maksimovic as the adult Gurdjieff, and in the supervision of filming. The issue of casting clearly was of spiritual significance. Brook stated in his autobiography that while waiting to meet Madame de Salzmann, Maksimovic;

sat patiently on a stool. Then, at one moment, he crossed his legs, and learning forward, he clasped his hands together on a stick he had picked up off the ground, his body relaxed yet poised and alert. Madame de Salzmann was delighted, recognizing a characteristic attitude of Gurdjieff that Dragan had unwittingly assumed, simply through the power of essential roots and type.63

Due to Brook's theatrical contacts, the distinguished cast included the South African playwright Athol Fugard as Professor Skridlov, and the English actors Terence Stamp as Prince Lubovedsky and Warren Mitchell as Gurdjieff''s father. The film is episodic and has been praised for its cinematic beauty. It opens with the young Gurdjieff and his father climbing a barren, rocky mountain. They are going to the meeting of the ashokhs. As the singer sings, the camera pans slowly over the faces. The significance of music is underlined; Gurdjieff asks his father “Where do the ashokhs learn?” and receives the answer “From their fathers,” which is then regressed back to God. His father suggests that young Gurdjieff should “Become yourself. Then God and the Devil don"t matter.” The evocative, faintly melancholy, soundtrack consists of music based on compositions by Gurdjieff and Thomas de Hartmann, with additional music by Gurdjieffian musician and composer Laurence Rosenthal.64

The key episodes of Gurdjieff''s youth, including the Yezidi boy trapped in the circle, the brief experience of love for the Riaouzov girl, and the resulting duel with Piotr Karpenko, are picturesquely presented, as are his adult acquaintances with Pogossian, Yelov, Vitvitskaia (whose importance is downplayed in the film through her being nameless), and the other Seekers of Truth. The action is slow-moving, with minimal dialogue, resulting in a sometimes ponderous silence. The 'spiritual" nature of the film is underscored throughout, and the music has a hypnotic effect. Film Studies scholar Paul Coates argues that if Rudolf Otto's notion that the core of religion is:

the experience of a mysterium tremendum… [this]… can be aligned with the experience of cinema. For a start, Otto's statement of the need for “metaphor and symbolic expressions, to make the states of mind we are investigating ring out” privileges aesthetic categories as conduits to religiosity. He describes the mysterium as an “overpowering might” with “a character which cannot be expressed verbally.” The pattern of a feeling that precedes ands even resists verbal rationalization may seem peculiarly apt to cinema, the most widespread forms of which pressure-cook emotions within the confines of a two-hour period.65

Religion plays a part in the film, as it does in the book, but it is largely emptied of doctrinal and institutional significance. Pogossian and Gurdjieff acquire the map of “Egypt before the sands” from the abbot of an Orthodox monastery and journey to Egypt where Gurdjieff meets Prince Lubovedsky; Gurdjieff has several encounters with the dervish Bogga Eddin, but the fact he is Muslim (or a Sufi) is never mentioned. After the failure of Professor Skridlov's archaeological expedition in the Gobi Desert, Bogga Eddin tells Gurdjieff to find the Sarmoung Brotherhood; “I have found nothing. I don"t know how to search. Alone a man can do very little. He needs to find the place where knowledge has been kept alive.”66

The quest to find the monastery of the Sarmoung Brotherhood (which is described as having been founded in 2,500 B.C.E. and having disappeared after the sixth century C.E.) becomes the primary narrative to propel the film forward. Gurdjieff and Skridlov sing and beg as they travel; they meet a former Christian missionary, Father Giovanni, who explains that he has abandoned exclusive adherence to Christianity to become a member of the World Brotherhood (which is a nod to the deregulated spirituality characteristic of the West post-Theosophy). When Skridlov decides to stay with Father Giovanni, Gurdjieff presses on to the Sarmoung monastery, and after crossing a perilous rope bridge he is welcomed by the monastery's superior, who greets him warmly; “[y]ou have found your place my son. You have come here like a lamb but you have a wolf inside of you.” Here he is reunited with Prince Lubovedsky, who is close to the end of his life. Gurdjieff''s followers have argued for various locations for this monastery (assuming that it did exist). Gurdjieff claimed to have spent time in Tibet as a lama, and to have had a Tibetan wife and children. It has been suggested that he was the Lama Dorjieff, the tutor of the Dalai Lama (though this has been effectively refuted by Moore), and Anna Durco, who knew Gurdjieff when she was a child, remembered asking why his head was shaved. He told her “"Where I was, all were like that." He added that they had red garments with a bare shoulder exposed, a wooden staff – land barren in the background.”67 As there is a group of nine or ten Nyingma Buddhist monasteries collectively called 'surmang" in the Nangchen region of Tibet, some have speculated that this is the site of Gurdjieff''s initiation into wisdom, and the place of origin of the Movements.68

However, both Gurdjieff''s own memoir and Brook's film present the monastery more as a Sufi institution. The final fifteen minutes of the film make it clear that the Movements are the central revelation of the Gurdjieff Work. Prince Lubovedsky says to Gurdjieff, “Everyone in the monastery learns the alphabet of these movements. They are exactly like books, we can read in them truths placed there a thousand years ago.” Gurdjieff replies, “I understand.” The Prince continues, “They tell us of two qualities of energy, moving without interruption through the body. As long as the dancer can keep in balance these two energies, he has a force that nothing else can give.” The two walk through the courtyards of the monastery, viewing six different Movements. These are performed by men and women, and are accompanied by the hypnotic recitation of the Law of Three, “affirming, denying, reconciling.” Prince Lubovedsky departs to a monastery in the Himalayas to live out his last three years. He counsels Gurdjieff to remain with the Sarmoung Brotherhood:

[y]ou have now found the conditions in which the desire of your heart can become the reality of your being. Stay here, until you acquire a force in you that nothing can destroy. Then you will need to go back into life, and there you will measure yourself constantly with forces which will show you your place.69

The final Movement shown is a Sufi dervish dance. The credits roll over an image of Gurdjieff standing in the barren rocky landscape, as he watches the Prince retreat into the distance, until he is no longer visible.

When released, Meetings With Remarkable Men received a mixed reaction from both cinema critics and those in the Work. It was both panned as pompous, pseudo-profound and obscurantist, and celebrated as lyrically beautiful and conveying an authentic sense of the spiritual quest. Janet Maslin's review in the New York Times is revealing, in that she apprehended the film's hagiographical intent, but felt that Brook had failed to convey the sense of Gurdjieff''s search. She wrote that:

Mr Brook's presentation of this is so solemn, so evidently lacking the joyful guiding spirit of such a search, that his film feels flat. Watching this handsome, affectless effort feels a little like receiving a series of puzzling picture postcards in the mail, each one beautiful but missing a message on the back. The effect is perhaps more mysterious than it means to be.70

However, more than thirty years since its release, the film ranking website Flixster records an 89% favourable rating from viewers, suggesting that the film has stood the test of time.71 The late 1970s is an interesting period with regard to religion and spirituality in the West. The boom in alternative religions of the countercultural 1960s had abated, and the New Age of the 1980s had not yet begun. The positive reception of Brook's film was greatly boosted as the New Age gained traction among Westerners and in 1980 the renowned jazz and classical virtuoso pianist, Keith Jarrett, released a popular recording of a selection of the Gurdjieff-de Hartmann music, Sacred Hymns. Jarrett identified the process of musical improvisation as spiritual inspiration, and Sacred Hymns was immensely successful, winning a substantial audience for the Gurdjieff-de Hartmann music, though more without than within the Work.72

Within Gurdjieff groups, these negative reactions to popular media presentations of the master's teachings were in part motivated by the belief that knowledge of the Work could only be gained through direct teacher-pupil contact and the fear that the teachings would be misunderstood by an unprepared and ignorant public. Jeanne de Salzmann had decided that to “give to the spectator a direct taste of that 'something else" she had experienced with Gurdjieff over the years” was a valid step.73 However, her actions as Gurdjieff''s successor, though respected by many, were not universally accepted, and there were groups who believed that her control of the Work (which as an organised system she, not Gurdjieff, had instituted) was overly-controlling and lacked spiritual authenticity. David Kherdian, an Armenian-American who belonged, with his wife Nonny Hogrogian, to a group led by Annie-Lou Stavely, has published a complex reflection on Meetings With Remarkable Men that repays study. He says,

[w]e had rented five mini-buses, complete with an intercom system, and we set off for San Francisco. I gave the buses the names Farm Barn 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, and the assistant drivers of each Farm Barn set up their communication system to prevent any of the buses getting lost. The trip was exciting and eventful, and proved to be the catalyst for two marriages. But the movie itself was a disappointment. Halting and stilted as well as pretentious, I felt that it had made a travesty of the book, with the only believable people on the screen – apart from Warren Mitchell, who played Gurdjieff''s father – being the natives, who were not acting but simply being themselves, men and women with real being, unlike the hired actors who, for all their polish, were ineffective and empty. Except for the movements, it was clearly an unfortunate misappropriation of a great, objective work of art. And yet, in spite of myself, there were moments during the film when I was moved – for somehow, in spite of everything, something of Gurdjieff''s great spirit and teaching had come through.74

Kherdian was puzzled as to whether the film was intended for people in the Work, or for people "in life"? He and his fellow-students of Gurdjieff were convinced that those "in life" would not understand the film. He also concluded that Dragan Maksimovic was unconvincing as Gurdjieff, and the film failed as a rendering of Gurdjieff''s book. However, he was not able to sustain his first, negative reaction, as “the people in the Work… [became] identified with the film,” and Mrs Stavely purchased a copy and instituted screenings at the farm community she headed.75

Conclusion: Models of the Enlightened Life

Kherdian's reflections are interesting because by the 1970s there were clear tensions in the Work. Whereas many, including Peter Brook, accepted the authority of Jeanne de Salzmann, others were concerned that under the "Great Helmswoman" the teaching had diverged from Gurdjieff''s own. James Moore's study of the tradition between the death of Gurdjieff in 1949 and the death of Madame de Salzmann in 1990 argues that she deliberately engineered the dismantling of “Gurdjieff''s canon of effort, striving, and self-reliance” and replaced it with a grace paradigm.76 Moore claims Gurdjieff and his ideas were effectively abandoned:

discarded with both the “heroic” and the historical Gurdjieff was the entire apparatus of his Systema Universi: the Ray of Creation, the Table of Hydrogens, the Step Diagram, the Food Diagram, the Enneagram etc. They and their unwelcome implications simply vanished from politically correct discourse. With this final solution to the Work's effort-saturated cosmological matrix… the pupil's presumed new experience of “being worked upon” and “being remembered” was posited in a mystical illuminism, which hinted encouragingly at a supernal “look of love” – albeit not specifying its presumably divine, demiurgic, or angelic provenance. In a doctrinal corollary of seismic implications, fusion with this supernal source replaced individuation as the pupil's goal.77

Accompanying these doctrinal changes was the introduction of yoga practice (which Gurdjieff explicitly rejected), and the re-translation and publication of a bowdlerized version of Tales in 1992, against which Annie-Lou Stavely protested fervently. Thus, the Movements were the last remaining unchanged esoteric exercise developed by Gurdjieff. Moore indicates that respect for and awe of Madame de Salzmann stifled dissent; David Kherdian accuses her of sanitising both Gurdjieff''s lectures, published as Views From the Real World (1975), and Gurdjieff''s Meetings in Brook's film of “Meetings With Remarkable Men.”78 Brook, however, maintains that the film is authentic and that “the unique and unknown dances themselves are what matter. They have never been shown before, and these movements are authentic, re-created from the complex principles that Gurdjieff discovered during his journeys and had transmitted directly to Madame de Salzmann, who in turn had taught them to her pupils.”79 This is in fact inaccurate; many performances of the Movements occurred during Gurdjieff''s lifetime, and in fact some argue that there are deliberate mistakes in the filmed Movements, to prevent reproduction of them outside of the Work.80

It could be argued that the changes introduced by Jeanne de Salzmann, and the film of “Meetings With Remarkable Men,” were a response to a changed spiritual climate at the end of the 1970s and throughout the 1980s, which is generally called the “New Age.” Gurdjieff''s teachings were delivered to his pupils before the spiritual revolution of the counter-cultural 1960s and the Work was an authoritarian, initiatory teaching. Gurdjieff himself was arbitrary, sexist and given to terrifying rages; outsiders accused of hypnotising his followers and negatively characterised him as a "magician". The second half of the twentieth century saw the opening up of esoteric traditions; and despite the secretive nature of the Work, Gurdjieff''s pupils produced a constant stream of books about him, and autobiographical accounts of their spiritual struggle. The emergence of the New Age 'spiritual seeker", now viewed as a major factor in the West's shift from institutional religion to free-floating, individual 'spirituality",81 created a new audience for Gurdjieff''s ideas and validated his self-presentation as a questing seeker after wisdom in Meetings as an authentic model of the enlightened life. Coupled with this was a rise in eclectic, personal religio-spiritual bricolage, and the gradual retreat of traditional Western religious notions (monotheism, divine transcendence, one earthly life, and so on) with broadly Eastern ones (monism, reincarnation, karma, subtle body energies, and so on).82

The deliberate downplaying of specific religions (Yezidi, Orthodox Christian, Sufi, Muslim, and so on) in establishing the identities of Gurdjieff''s 'seekers of Truth" and other characters contributes to the generically 'spiritual" tone of the film, as does Father Giovanni's World Brotherhood, which is compatible with the philosophia perennis of Western esoteric traditions. The aesthetics of Meetings With Remarkable Men presents the quest for wisdom and enlightenment in a serious and weighty fashion that is in conformity with Paul Schrader's notion of “transcendent style.” This is a filmic form that features “austerity and asceticism” rather than “exuberance and expressivism,” utilises “sparse means” and rejects realism, and depends on silence and stasis in the depiction of the holy.83 Nicolescu notes the centrality of silence in Brook's oeuvre:

[s]ilence plays an integral part in Brook's work, beginning with the research into the inter-relationship of silence and duration with his Theatre of Cruelty group in 1964, and culminating in the rhythm punctuated with silences that is indefinably present at the core of his film Meetings with Remarkable Men: “In silence there are many potentialities: chaos or order, muddle or pattern, all lie fallow - the invisible-made-visible is of sacred nature.” Silence is all-embracing, and it contains countless “layers.”84

In certain respects, Meetings With Remarkable Men recalls a later Hollywood film, Martin Scorsese's Kundun (1997), a biographical treatment of Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. In fact, there are profound similarities between these two works, in that Kundun is also a film of stunning beauty, featuring a rugged and barren landscape, with a profoundly emotive soundtrack by Philip Glass, which presents the spiritual maturation of the Dalai Lama against the backdrop of the struggle of the Tibetan people against Maoist China.85 The power of Tibet's passive resistance to the military might of China is dramatised by Scorsese in a myriad ways, but most poignantly through the silence of the Dalai Lama in a meeting with Mao Zedong, who dismisses religion in Tibet as "poison". Monasteries feature as sites where ancient wisdom is protected and passed on, and both films conclude with the promise of the spiritually enlightened young male protagonist going into the wider world, as the Dalai Lama is exiled from Tibet, and Prince Lubovedsky tells Gurdjieff, “[s]tay here, until you acquire a force in you that nothing can destroy. Then you will need to go back into life [where] you will measure yourself constantly with forces which will show you your place.”86 Both films are slow-paced, stately and aestheticised, and are powerful, affective examples of transcendental style in cinema. It is also worth noting that both are exercises in Orientalism, in which Western viewers are invited to appreciate the spiritual value of the "mysterious East". That this was Brook's intention in directing the film is corroborated by his reflection on Afghanistan as “a country where there were no ruins to admire but which was organically linked to traces of a living whole,” and where “theatre, like a bazaar, could both stay in the everyday world and yet touch a monastery wall.”87

In conclusion, Meetings With Remarkable Men as a foray into making the Work public, and as the first (and possibly the only) narrative feature film about the life of a new religious movement leader, won for Gurdjieff a new audience of spiritual seekers who did not wish to join the initiatory and authoritarian Work, but who admired the portrayal of Gurdjieff as a spiritual seeker who achieved enlightened status, and were enabled to utilise elements of his system in the construction of their own personal spiritualities. Brook has acknowledged that not all viewers found his portrayal of Gurdjieff authentic and persuasive, but defends the film as ultimately effective. In his autobiography Threads of Time: Recollections, he notes that

some people were disappointed, finding it too simplistic as cinema, too exotic in its imagery, too naïve in its narrative. Certainly, when at last the distant monastery is reached, the dancers assembled there in white are unmistakably European, and this is hard to swallow from the point of view of normal storytelling logic… It is interesting to see that when the film is shown, most spectators are deeply touched by these dances and exercises and are totally unconcerned by their lack of verisimilitude in the story.88

In the twenty-first century, ready access to inexpensive editions of Gurdjieff''s writings in the original translations, and to Brook's Meetings With Remarkable Men on DVD and online via YouTube, as well as through screenings at art-house cinemas, means that information about the Work teachings is more widely available than ever before. The New Age has given way to the Next Age, eclectic spiritualities have become the default mode for contemporary Westerners, and conflicts within the Gurdjieff tradition, particularly over issues of leadership as Michel de Salzmann (who is Gurdjieff''s biological son) succeeded his mother Jeanne, have resulted in freelance Movements instructors and acephalous Work groups that are more liberal and open to seekers.

Finally, the centrality of the self to contemporary spiritual quests, and the diminished importance of doctrinal and other boundary markers between religions for seekers, means that G. I. Gurdjieff''s enlightened life, expressed through text in Meetings With Remarkable Men, and through image in Peter Brook's Meetings With Remarkable Men, with its central motif of the young Gurdjieff''s quest for and attainment of perennial, universally applicable, esoteric wisdom, has been authenticated as a valid and powerful model of seekership and self-realisation. The text's teasing play with truth and historicity, and the film's beauty and transcendent style, combine effectively to win for Gurdjieff a constantly replenished new audience of spiritual seekers.



Carole M. Cusack is Associate Professor in Studies in Religion at the University of Sydney.
1 Sophia Wellbeloved, "Gurdjieff, “Old” or “New Age”; Aristotle or Astrology?", Journal of Alternative Spiritualities and New Age Studies, vol. 1 (2005), pp. 75-88.
2 James Moore, "Katherine Mansfield and Gurdjieff''s Sacred Dance", in Katherine Mansfield: In From The Margin, ed. Roger Robinson (Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State University Press, 1994), p. 190.
3 Anthony Storr, Feet of Clay: A Study of Gurus (London: HarperCollins Publishers, 1996), p. 24.
4 Thomas and Olga de Hartmann, Our Life With Mr. Gurdjieff (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1983), pp. 4, 49.
5 John Mangan, "Thomas de Hartmann: A Composer's Life", Notes, vol. 53, no. 1 (September 1996), p. 25.
6 George Baker and Walter Driscoll, "Gurdjieff in America: An Overview", in America’s Alternative Religions, ed. Timothy Miller (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995), p. 259.
7 "Gurdjieff", in Andrew Rawlinson, The Book of the Enlightened Masters: Western Teachers in Eastern Traditions (Chicago and La Salle, IL: Open Court, 1997), p. 284.
8 Rawlinson, "Gurdjieff", p. 283.
9 P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous: The Teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff (San Diego, New York and London: Harcourt Inc, 2001), p. 7.
10 Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous, p. 16.
11 Rawlinson, "Gurdjieff", p. 288.
12 G.I. Gurdjieff, Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson (New York: Penguin Arkana, 1999 [1950]), p. 751.
13 James Moore, Gurdjieff The Anatomy of a Myth: A Biography (Shaftesbury and Rockport: Element, 1991), p. 45.
14 Moore, Gurdjieff The Anatomy of a Myth, pp. 344-345.
15 Thomson, On Gurdjieff, pp. 45-46.
16 Garrett Thomson, On Gurdjieff (London: Wadsworth, 2003), p. 29.
17 Fiona Richards, "Changing Identities: The Pianist and Composer Helen Perkin [Adie]", Australasian Music Research, vol. 7 (2002), pp. 15-30.
18 Anon, "Gurdjieff Foundation", in Odd Gods, ed. James R. Lewis (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2001), p. 202.
19 Beth Usher, "Introduction", in Rudolf Steiner, Eurythmy: An Introductory Reader (Forest Row: Rudolf Steiner Books, 2006), pp. 1-9. There are myriad suggestive similarities between the teachings of Gurdjieff and Steiner which are worthy of investigation, but are beyond the scope of this article.
20 Martin Seymour-Smith, The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written: A History of Thought From Ancient Times to Today (Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press, 1998), p. 449.
21 Armagnac (pseudonym), "The Strange Cult of Gurdjieff: An Insider's Story of the Most Mysterious Religious Movement in the World", reprinted in Gurdjieff International Review, vol. 3, no. 2 (2000), p. 53.
22 J.G. Bennett, Gurdjieff: Making a New World (New York, Evanston, San Francisco, London: Harper and Row, 1973), p. 82.
23 Rom Landau, God Is My Adventure: A Book on Modern Mystics, Masters, and Teachers (London: Ivor Nicholson and Watson Ltd, 1935), pp. 196-197.
24 Rebecca Rauve, "An Intersection of Interests: Gurdjieff''s Rope Group as a Site of Literary Production", Twentieth-Century Literature, vol. 49, no. 1 (2003), p. 60.
25 Seymour-Smith, The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written, p. 451.
26 See Johanna Petsche, "Gurdjieff and Blavatsky: Western Esoteric Teachers in Parallel" in this volume for Gurdjieff''s interactions with Theosophy.
27 G.I. Gurdjieff, Meetings With Remarkable Men (London and New York: Penguin Arkana, 1985 [1963]), p. 28.
28 Joshua Gunn, "An Occult Poetics, or, The Secret Rhetoric of Religion", Rhetoric Society Quarterly, vol. 34, no. 2, Spring 2004, p. 33.
29 James Moore, Gurdjieff Anatomy of a Myth, pp. 341-342.
30 Mohammad H. Tamdgidi, Gurdjieff and Hypnosis: A Hermeneutic Study (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), p. 13.
31 G.I. Gurdjieff Meetings With Remarkable Men, p. 65.
32 James Webb, The Harmonious Circle: An Exploration of the Lives and Work of G. I. Gurdjieff and P. D. Ouspensky and Others (London: Thames and Hudson, 1980), p. 52.
33 De Hartmann and de Hartmann, Our Life With Mr. Gurdjieff, pp. 14-15.
34 Quoted in Seymour-Smith, The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written, p. 447.
35 Moore, Gurdjieff Anatomy of a Myth, p. 29.
36 Bennett, Gurdjieff: Making a New World, p. 84.
37 Richard Hutch, "Helena Blavatsky Unveiled", Journal of Religious History, vol. 11, no. 2 (1980), p. 320.
38 Hutch, "Helena Blavatsky Unveiled", p. 323.
39 For example, in the early account, "Glimpses of the Truth", in G.I. Gurdjieff, Views From the Real World (London and New York: Penguin Arkana, 1984 [1975]), p. 14.
40 "Madame Blavatsky", in Andrew Rawlinson, The Book of the Enlightened Masters, p. 196.
41 Peter Brook, Threads of Time: Recollections (Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1999 [1998]), passim.
42 Sally Mackey and Simon Cooper, Drama and Theatre Studies (Cheltenham: Stanley Thornes, 2000), p. 381.
43 Maria Shevtsova, Theatre and Cultural Interaction (Sydney: Sydney Studies in Society and Culture, 2006), p. 14.
44 Mackey and Cooper, Drama and Theatre Studies, p. 393.
45 Gurdjieff, Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, pp. 495-496, 501.
46 A list of artists (of various kinds) influenced by or attracted to the teachings of Gurdjieff includes Thomas de Hartmann, Katherine Mansfield, Jane Heap, Margaret Anderson, Jean Toomer, Sun Ra, Keith Jarrett, Bill Murray, and many more.
47 Mackey and Cooper, Drama and Theatre Studies, p. 385.
48 Peter Brook, The Empty Space (New York: Touchstone, 1996 [1968]), p. 56.
49 Gautam DasGupta, "The Mahabharata: Peter Brook's “Orientalism”", Performing Arts Journal, vol. 10, no. 3 (1987), p. 9.
50 See Harry Oldmeadow, "Ex Oriente Lux: Eastern Religions, Western Writers" in this volume.
51 DasGupta, "The Mahabharata: Peter Brook's “Orientalism”", p. 10.
52 Alf Hiltebeitel, "Transmitting Mahabharatas: Another Look at Peter Brook", The Drama Review, vol. 36, no. 3 (Autumn, 1992), p. 150.
53 Phillip Zarrilli, "The Aftermath: When Peter Brook Came to India", The Drama Review, vol. 30, no. 1 (Spring 1986), p. 98.
54 Wouter J. Hanegraaff, New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998 [1996]), pp. 327-330.
55 Basarab Nicolescu, trans. David Williams, "Peter Brook and Traditional Thought", Contemporary Theatre Review, vol. 7, no. 1 (1997), pp. 13-14.
56 Nicolescu, "Peter Brook and Traditional Thought", p. 20.
57 Brook, Threads of Time: Recollections, p. 7.
58 Brook, Threads of Time: Recollections, p. 18.
59 Brook, Threads of Time: Recollections, p. 61.
60 Brook, Threads of Time: Recollections, p. 108.
61 Brook, Threads of Time: Recollections, p. 173.
62 Brook, Threads of Time: Recollections, p. 174.
63 Brook, Threads of Time: Recollections, p. 177.
64 Laurence Rosenthal, "Music for the Film Meetings With Remarkable Men", Gurdjieff International Review, vol. II, no. 4 (1999).
65 Paul Coates, Cinema, Religion and the Romantic Legacy (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003), p. 55.
66 Peter Brook, Meetings With Remarkable Men (Sandpoint, ID: Morning Light Press, 1997 [1979]).
67 Bennett, Gurdjieff: Making a New World, p. 96.
68 P.T. Mistelberger, Three Dangerous Magi: Gurdjieff, Osho, Crowley (Ropley, Hants: O Books, 2010), p. 568.
69 Brook, Meetings With Remarkable Men (1997 [1979]).
70 Janet Maslin, "Meetings With Remarkable Men: Peter Brook on Russian Mystic", New York Times (5 August 1979), at ... 946890D6CF. Accessed 25/04/2011.
71 Flixster, "Meetings With Remarkable Men (1979)", at ... rkable-men. Accessed 25/04/2011.
72 Johanna Petsche, "Channelling the Creative: Keith Jarrett's Spiritual Beliefs Through a Gurdjieffian Lens", Literature & Aesthetics, vol. 19, no. 2 (2009), pp. 138-158.
73 Brook, Threads of Time: Recollections, p. 174.
74 David Kherdian, On a Spaceship With Beelzebub: By a Grandson of Gurdjieff (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 1998 [1991]), pp. 191-192.
75 Kherdian, On a Spaceship With Beelzebub, p. 192.
76 James Moore, "Moveable Feasts: The Gurdjieff Work", Religion Today, vol. 9, no. 2 (19), p. 12.
77 Moore, "Moveable Feasts", p. 13.
78 Kherdian, On a Spaceship With Beelzebub, p. 192.
79 Brook, Threads of Time: Recollections, p. 180.
80 Joseph Azize, "Gurdjieff''s Sacred Dances and Movements", in Handbook of New Religions and Cultural Production, eds Carole M. Cusack and Alex Norman (Leiden: Brill, 2012) [forthcoming].
81 Colin Campbell, "The Cult, the Cultic Milieu, and Secularization", A Sociological Yearbook of Religion in Britain, vol. 5 (1972), pp. 119-136.
82 Colin Campbell, "The Easternisation of the West", in New Religious Movements: Challenge and Response, ed. Bryan Wilson and Jamie Cresswell (London and New York: Routledge, 1999), pp. 35-49.
83 Paul Schrader, Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 1972), pp. 151-169.
84 Nicolescu, "Peter Brook and Traditional Thought", pp. 21-22.
85 Eve L. Mullen, "Orientalist Commercializations: Tibetan Buddhism in American Popular Film", Journal of Religion and Film, vol. 2, no. 2 (1998): at Accessed 22/10/2010.
86 Brook, Meetings With Remarkable Men (1997 [1979]).
87 Brook, Threads of Time: Recollections, pp. 99, 104.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Robert Charles Zaehner
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Accessed: 7/13/19

List of Spalding Professors

Holders of the Spalding Chair to date have been:

• 1936 to 1952: Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
• 1952 to 1974: R. C. Zaehner
• 1976 to 1991: Bimal Krishna Matilal
• 1992 to 2015: Alexis Sanderson
• 2016 to present: Diwakar Nath Acharya[3]

-- Spalding Professor of Eastern Religion and Ethics, by Wikipeida

Light, and the enlightenment it brings, is to be welcomed from whatever source it comes. Spalding and Henderson acknowledged that many lamps light the path to truth. The religions of India, China, and Japan promise deliverance from darkness to light. Hinduism promises deliverance from ignorance of the real to knowledge of the real, furnishing the seeker after truth with a strategic and a progressive plan of salvation. Siddharta Gautama, the Buddha, with his gospel of liberation from the suffering and the dis-ease of existence, is the exemplary 'enlightened one' -- as his title reveals. In Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, light illuminates the path to wholeness, well-being, and salvation. Each of these religions, in its distinctive and particular way, satisfies a universal human need. Does any one religion take precedence over the others? Can any one religion contain the truth for everyone and for all time? It was one thing for Spalding and Henderson to assert -- at a time when it was less common to do so than it is today -- that there are many different ways in which spiritual insight and wisdom is to be attained. This they did, ex animo, but neither man was ever to be a campaigner for a new universal system of beliefs (whether reformed but 'secular', or reformed and 'religious') based upon the abandonment of doctrinal particularity. This point is worth making if only to refute the charge laid against both men (but especially against HN by Professor R. C. Zaehner during the course of his inaugural lecture in Oxford) that their interest in world religions concealed an attempt to use the study of comparative religion in order to promote a universal syncretism. This, quite simply, was not true of either Spalding or Henderson.44.....

Who was to succeed Radhakrishnan after his sixteen years of tenure of the professorship? The election to the Chair in 1952 demonstrated that Oxford was not prepared to allow the benefactor's personal wishes to influence the decision about who the new Professor was to be. HN's main purpose in founding the Chair had never been to promote the study of 'Comparative Religion' as a discrete academic subject for an intellectual elite. He wanted people in the West to be informed about Eastern religions in general, and about Hinduism and Buddhism in particular. For this purpose he was convinced that the exposition of these religious systems by a competent Asian scholar was likely to be more authentic than that given by someone born and educated in the West, however able a research scholar that person might be. In a memorandum written in 1953 after his disillusionment with the decision taken by the electors to appoint R. C. Zaehner to the vacant Chair, Spalding recapitulated some of the reasons why he established it. He noted that in any study of 'the Great Religions' Hinduism, Buddhism will 'have a peculiarly important place; for they developed perhaps the greatest religious philosophy and mystical systems in the world'.

These have been powerfully developed by the great Commentators. From the Bhagavad-Gita onward till today they have given rise to successive devotional movements. They are the source of two of the greatest epics in the world, of dramas and lyrics, of sculpture and painting. In short, these two great related cultures vie with that of Greece itself. It was with these wider studies in view that my wife and I founded the Chair of Eastern Religions and Ethics at Oxford. We did not in terms restrict it to the teaching of these two cultures, or even to a scholar of Asian descent; we trusted to the Electors (unfortunately in vain) to carry out the intentions of the Chair. The Preamble makes them clear:

It is a condition of the Gift that the purpose of the professorship shall be to build up in the University of Oxford a permanent interest in the great religions and ethical systems (alike in their individual, social, and political aspects) of the East, whether expressed in philosophic, poetic, devotional, or other literature, in art, history, and in social life and structure, to set forth their development and spiritual meaning, and to interpret them by comparison and contrast with each other and with the religions and ethics of the West and in any other appropriate way, with the aim of bringing together the world's great religions in closer understanding, harmony, and friendship; as well as to promote co-operation with other Universities, bodies, and persona, in East and West which pursue the like ends, which purpose is likely to be furthered by the establishment of a Professorship, which would in the natural course normally be held by persons of Asian descent.' [23]

Growing Disillusionment

It was clear that in normal circumstances -- by which he meant the availability and readiness of a suitably qualified candidate -- HN expected the holder of the Chair to be an Asian. This had been acknowledged by the University from the outset, when provision for 'normal tenure by a person of Asian descent was substituted at the suggestion of the University for an original draft which precluded Europeans from appointment'. The importance and significance of the Preamble was recognized by the inclusion of extracts from it in a footnote to the Statutes. If it were found necessary to appoint a European in the absence of a suitable Asian candidate, the successful European candidate would not expect to hold the Chair permanently. HN recognised (and even hoped) that an Asian candidate, who could 'rely upon returning from Oxford with enhanced prestige to preferment in his own country', would in any case find a short-term professorship more congenial than a European. Things came to a head in 1952 when the electors met to choose a successor to Radhakrishnan. On this occasion they did not choose an Asian. They chose R. C. Zaehner. Spalding was infuriated that an 'unsuitable' candidate had been chosen to fill the post instead. A lasting rift with the University ensued, as a result of which HN decreed that the University was to receive no further grants from the Spalding Trust. He expressed his displeasure in the following terms.

The election of a highly unsuitable candidate (a philologist, a Christian, and a European) to the Chair of Eastern Religions and Ethics having been arranged without consultation with its Founders, and in the teeth of their own wish for a highly suitable Hindu philosopher, and of the intention and provision of the Statute, no further benefactions are to be made to or in the University of Oxford until these abuses and their cause have been remedied. [24]

The election of R. C. Zaehner was perceived by HN as a repudiation of his ideas and ideals in founding the Chair. Zaehner's inaugural lecture entitled Foolishness to the Greeks, was given before the University of Oxford on 2 November 1953, only a few weeks after HN's death. In retrospect it is easy to understand why some of Zaehner's remarks on that occasion gave such lasting offence to the members of Spalding's family who were in the audience. Parts of the lecture were perceived by them and others to constitute a gratuitous insult to HN's memory. The ensuing rift between Zaehner and the Spalding Trust was not to be healed.


44. The charge against Spalding, the founder of the Chair to which Zaehner had just been elected, was made in the new Professor's inaugural lecture, 'Foolishness to the Greeks', to an audience which included H and his wife. Zaehner also used the occasion to make the same criticism of his predecessor, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. The ensuing hostility between HN and Zaehner, which arose not only as a result of Spalding's objection to Zaehner's election but out of the latter's declaration of intent to change the emphasis of the work of the Chait, is considered in chapter four, pp. 114ff.

-- The Spalding Trust and the Union for the Study of the Great Religions: H.N. Spalding's Pioneering Vision, by Edward Hulmes

R. C. Zaehner (1972)

Robert Charles Zaehner (1913–1974) was a British academic whose field of study was Eastern religions. He could read in the original language many sacred texts, e.g., Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic. Earlier, starting in World War II, he had served as an intelligence officer in Iran. At Oxford University his first writings had been on the Zoroastrian religion and its texts. Appointed Spalding Professor, his books addressed such subjects as mystical experience (articulating a comparative typology), Hinduism, comparative religion, Christianity and other religions, and ethics. He translated the Bhagavad-Gita, providing an extensive commentary based on Hindu tradition and sources. His last books addressed similar issues in popular culture, which led to his talks on the BBC. He published under the name R. C. Zaehner.[1][2]

Life and career

Early years

Born on 8 April 1913 in Sevenoaks, Kent, he was the son of Swiss–German immigrants to England. Zaehner "was bilingual in French and English from early childhood. He remained an excellent linguist all his life."[3][4] Educated at the nearby Tonbridge School, he was admitted to Christ Church, Oxford, where he studied Greek and Latin, and also ancient Persian including Avestan, gaining first class honours in Oriental Languages. During 1936–37 he studied Pahlavi, another ancient Iranian language, with Sir Harold Bailey at Cambridge University. Zaehner thereafter held Prof. Bailey in high esteem.[5] He then began work on his book Zurvan, a Zoroastrian Dilemma, a study of the pre-Islamic religion of Iran.[6][7]

Zaehner enjoyed "a prodigious gift for languages". He later acquired a reading knowledge of Sanskrit (for Hindu scriptures), Pali (for Buddhist), and Arabic (for Islamic).[8] In 1939 he taught as a research lecturer at Christ Church, Oxford. About this time, after reading the French poet Rimbaud, and in Rumi the Sufi poet of Iran, as well as study of the Hindu Upanishads, Zaehner came to adopt a personal brand of "nature mysticism". Yet his spiritual progression led him in the mid-1940s to convert to Christianity, becoming a Roman Catholic while stationed in Iran.[9]

British intelligence

During World War II starting in 1943, he served as a British intelligence officer at their Embassy in Tehran. Often he was stationed in the field among the mountain tribes of northern Iran. After the war he also performed a more diplomatic role at the Tehran embassy.[6][10] Decades later another British intelligence officer, Peter Wright, described his activities:

"I studied Zaehner's Personal File. He was responsible for MI6 counterintelligence in Persia during the war. It was difficult and dangerous work. The railway lines into Russia, carrying vital military supplies, were key targets for German sabotage. Zaehner was perfectly equipped for the job, speaking the local dialects fluently, and much of his time was spent undercover, operating in the murky and cutthroat world of countersabotage. By the end of the war his task was even more fraught. The Russians themselves were trying to gain control of the railway, and Zaehner had to work behind Russian lines, continuously at risk of betrayal and murder by pro-German or pro-Russian... ."[11]

continued in Iran until 1947 as press attaché in the British Embassy,[12] and as an MI6 officer. He then resumed his academic career at Oxford doing research on Zoroastrianism. During 1949, however, he was relocated to Malta where he trained anti-Communist Albanians. By 1950 he had secured an Oxford appointment as Lecturer in Persian literature. Again in 1951–1952 he returned to Iran for government service. Prof. Nancy Lambton, who had run British propaganda in Iran during the war, recommended him for the Embassy position. Journalist Christopher de Bellaigue describes Robin Zaehner as "a born networker who knew everyone who mattered in Tehran" with a taste for gin and opium. "When Kingsley Martin, the editor of the New Statesman, asked Zaehner at a cocktail party in Tehran what book he might read to enlarge his understanding of Iran, Zaehner suggested Alice through the Looking Glass."[13][14][15][16]

Zaehner publicly held the rank of Counsellor in the British Embassy in Tehran. In fact, he continued as an MI6 officer. During the Abadan Crisis he was assigned to prolong the Shah's royal hold on the Sun Throne against the republican challenge led by Mohammed Mossadegh, then the Prime Minister. The crisis involved the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company which had been in effect nationalised by Mossadegh. Zaehner thus became engaged in the failed 1951 British effort to topple the government of Iran and return oil production to that entity controlled by the British government.[17] "[T]he plot to overthrow Mossadegh and give the oilfields back to the AIOC was in the hands of a British diplomat called Robin Zaehner, later professor of Eastern religions at Oxford."[18][19][20] Such Anglo and later American interference in Iran, which eventually reinstalled the Shah, has been widely criticized.[21][22][23]

In the 1960s, MI5 counterintelligence officer Peter Wright questioned Zaehner about floating allegations that he had doubled as a spy for the Soviet Union, harming British intelligence operations in Iran and Albania during the period following World War II. Zaehner is described as "a small, wiry-looking man, clothed in the distracted charm of erudition." In his 1987 book Spycatcher Wright wrote that Zaehner's humble demeanor and candid denial convinced him that the Oxford don had remained loyal to Britain. Wright notes that "I felt like a heel" for confronting Zaehner.[24]

Although in the intelligence service for the benefit of his Government, on later reflection Zaehner did not understand the utilitarian activities he performed as being altogether ennobling. In such "Government service abroad", he wrote, "truth is seen as the last of the virtues and to lie comes to be a second nature. It was, then, with relief that I returned to academic life because, it seemed to me, if ever there was a profession concerned with a single-minded search for truth, it was the profession of the scholar."
[25][26] Prof. Jeffrey Kripal discusses "Zaehner's extraordinary truth telling" which may appear "politically incorrect". The "too truthful professor" might be seen as "a redemptive or compensatory act" for "his earlier career in dissimulation and deception" as a spy.[27][28]

Oxford professor

University work

Before the war Zaehner had lectured at Oxford University. Returning to Christ Church several years after the war, he continued work on his Zurvan book,[29] and lectured in Persian literature. His reputation then "rested on articles on Zoroastrianism, mainly philological" written before the war.[30]

In 1952 Zaehner was elected Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics to succeed the celebrated professor Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who had resigned to become Vice-President (later President) of India.[31][32][33] Zaehner had applied for this position. Radhakrishnan previously had been advancing a harmonizing viewpoint with regard to the study of comparative religions, and the academic Chair had a subtext of being "founded to propagate a kind of universalism". Zaehner's inaugural lecture was unconventional in content. He delivered a strong yet witty criticism of "universalism" in religion.[34]

It drew controversy. Prof. Michael Dummett opines that what concerned Zaehner was "to make it clear from the start of his tenure of the Chair that he was nobody else's man."[35][36] Zaehner continued an interest in Zoroastrian studies, publishing his Zurvan book and two others on the subject during the 1950s.[37]

Since 1952, however, he had turned his primary attention further East. "After my election to the Spalding Chair, I decided to devote myself mainly to the study of Indian religions in accordance with the founder's wishes."[38] He served Oxford in this academic chair, while also a fellow at All Souls College, until his death in 1974, and never married.[6][39]

In his influential 1957 book Mysticism Sacred and Profane, Zaehner discussed this traditional, cross-cultural spiritual practice. Based on mystical writings, he offered an innovative typology that became widely discussed in academic journals. He also analyzed claims that mescalin use fit into this spiritual quest. His conclusion was near dismissive. Yet he revisited his harsh words on the naïveté of drug mysticism in his 1972 book Zen, Drug and Mysticism. His warnings became somewhat qualified by some prudent suggestions. He carefully distinguished between drug-induced states and religious mysticism. Then the BBC began asking him to talk on the radio, where he acquired a following. He was invited abroad to lecture.[40][41]

His delivery in Scotland of the Gifford Lectures led him to write perhaps his most magisterial book. Zaehner traveled twice to the University of St. Andrews during the years 1967 to 1969. The subject he choose concerned the convoluted and intertwined history of the different world religions during the long duration of their mutual co-existence. He described the interactions as both fiercely contested and relatively cross-cultivating, in contrast to other periods of a more sovereign isolation. The lectures were later published in 1970 "just four years before his death" by Oxford University as Concordant Discord. The interdependence of faiths.[42][43]

Peer descriptions

As professor Zaehner "had a great facility for writing, and an enormous appetite for work. [He also] had a talent for friendship, a deep affection for a number of particular close friends and an appreciation of human personality, especially for anything bizarre or eccentric". Nonetheless. "he passed a great deal of his time alone, most of it in his study working."[44]

An American professor described Zaehner in a different light: "The small, birdlike Zaehner, whose rheumy, color-faded eyes darted about in a clay colored face, misted blue from the smoke of Gauloises cigarettes, could be fearsome indeed. He was a volatile figure, worthy of the best steel of his age."[45]

His colleague in Iran, Prof. Ann K. S. Lambton of SOAS, recalled, "He did not, perhaps, suffer fools gladly, but for the serious student he would take immense pains". Prof. Zaehner was "an entertaining companion" with "many wildly funny" stories, "a man of great originality, not to say eccentricity."[46]

"Zaehner was a scholar who turned into something different, something more important than a scholar," according to Michael Dummett, a professor of philosophy at Oxford, who wanted to call him a "penseur" [French: a thinker]. With insight and learning (and his war-time experience) Zaehner shed light on key issues in contemporary spiritual life, writing abundantly. "His talent lay in seeing what to ask, rather than in how to answer... ."[47]

In theology he challenged the ecumenical trend that strove to somehow see a uniformity in all religions. He acted not out of an ill will, but from a conviction that any fruitful dialogue between religions must be based on a "pursuit of truth". If such profound dialogue rested on a false or a superficial "harmony and friendship" it would only foster hidden misunderstandings, Zaehner thought, which would ultimately result in a deepening mistrust.[48][49]

He died on 24 November 1974 in Oxford. "[A]t the age of sixty-one he fell down dead in the street on his way to Sunday evening Mass."[50]

His writings

Zoroastrian studies


Initially Zaehner's reputation rested on his studies of Zoroastrianism, at first articles mostly on philology in academic journals. He labored for many years on a scholarly work, his Zurvan, a Zoroastrian dilemma (1955). This book provides an original discussions of an influential theological deviation from the Zoroastrian orthodoxy of ancient Persia's Achaemenid Empire, which was a stark, ethical dualism. Zurvanism was promoted by the Sasanian Empire (224–651) which arose later during Roman times. Until the Muslim conquest, Zurvanism in the Persian world became established and disestablished by turns.[51][52][53]

Zurvan was an innovation analogous to Zoroastrian original doctrine. The prophet Zoroaster preached that the benevolent Ahura Mazda (the "Wise Lord"), as the creator God, fashioned both Spenta Mainyu (the Holy Spirit), and Angra Mainyu (the Aggressive Spirit) who chose to turn evil. These two created Spirits were called twins, one good, one evil. Over the centuries Ahura Mazda and his "messenger" the good Spenta Mainyu became conflated and identified; hence, the creator Ahura Mazda began to be seen as the twin of the evil Angra Mainyu. It was in this guise that Zoroastrianism became the state religion in Achaemenid Persia. Without fully abandoning dualism, some started to consider Zurvan (Time) as the underlying cause of both the benevolent Ahura Mazda and the evil Angra Mainyu. The picture is complicated by very different schools of Zurvanism, and contesting Zoroastrian sects. Also, Ahura Mazda was later known as Ohrmazd, and Angra Mainyu became Ahriman.[54][55][56][57]

Zurvan could be described as divinized Time (Zaman). With Time as 'father' twins came into being: the ethical, bountiful Ohrmazd, who was worshipped, and his satanic antagonist Ahriman, against whom believers fought. As Infinite Time, Zurvan rose supreme "above Ohrmazd and Ahriman" and stood "above good and evil". This aggravated the traditional 'orthodox' Zoroastrians (the Mazdean ethical dualists).[58][59] Zoroastrian cosmology understood that "finite Time comes into existence out of Infinite Time". During the 12,000 year period of finite Time (Zurvan being both kinds of Time), human history occurs, the fight against Ahriman starts, and the final victory of Ohrmazd is achieved. Yet throughout, orthodox Mazdeans insisted, it is Ohrmazd who remains supreme, not Zurvan. On the other hand, his adherents held that Zurvan was God of Time, Space, Wisdom, and Power, and the Lord of Death, of Order, and of Fate.[60]

Teachings of the Magi

The Teachings of the Magi (1956)[61] was Zaehner's second of three book on Zoroastrianism. It presented the "main tenets" of the religion in the Sasanid era, during the reign of Shapur II, a 4th-century King. Its chief sources were Pahlavi books written a few centuries later by Zoroastrians. Each of its ten chapters contains Zaehner's descriptive commentaries, illustrated by his translations from historic texts. Chapter IV, "The Necessity of Dualism" is typical, half being the author's narrative and half extracts from a Pahlavi work, here the Shikand Gumani Vazar by Mardan Farrukh.[62]

Dawn and Twilight

In his The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism (1961), Zaehner adopted a chronological dichotomy. He first explores origins, the founding of the religion by its prophet Zoroaster. He notes that the Gathas, the earliest texts in the Avesta, make it obvious that "Zoroaster met with very stiff opposition from the civil and ecclesiastical authorities when once he had proclaimed his mission." "His enemies... supported the ancient national religion." On moral and ecological grounds, Zoroaster favored the "settled pastoral and agricultural community" as against the "predatory, marauding tribal societies". His theological and ethical dualism advocated for "the followers of Truth the life-conserving and life-enhancing forces" and against the "destructive forces" of the Lie.[63] For the dates of the prophet's life, Zaehner adopted the traditional 6th century BCE dates.[64][65][66][67][68]

Zoroaster reformed the old polytheistic religion by making Ahura Mazdah [the Wise Lord] the Creator, the only God. An innovation by Zoroaster was the abstract notions, namely, the Holy Spirit, and the Amesha Spentas (Good Mind, Truth, Devotion, Dominion, Wholeness, Immortality). Zaehner interpreted them not as new substitutes for the excluded old gods, "but as part of the divine personality itself" which may also serve "as mediating functions between God and man". The Amesha Spentas are "aspects of God, but aspects in which man too can share."[69] Angra Mainyu was the dualistic evil.[70] Dating to before the final parting of ways of the Indo-Iranians, the Hindus had two classes of gods, the asuras (e.g., Varuna) and the devas (e.g., Indra). Later following the invasion of India the asuras sank to the rank of demon. Au contraire, in Iran the ahuras were favored, while the daevas fell and opposed truth, spurred in part by Zoroaster's reform. In the old Iranian religion, an ahura [lord] was concerned with "the right ordering of the cosmos".[71][72][73][74]

In Part II, Zaehner discussed the long decline of Zoroastrianism.[75] There arose the teachings about Zurvan i Akanarak [Infinite Time]. The Sasanid state's ideological rationale was sourced in Zoroastrian cosmology and sense of virtue. The Amesha Spentas provided spiritual support for human activities according to an articulated mean (e.g., "the just equipoise between excess and deficiency", Zoroastrian "law", and "wisdom or reason"). As an ethical principle the mean followed the contours of the 'treaty' between Ohrmazd [Ahura Mazda] and Ahriman [Angra Mainyu], which governed their struggle in Finite Time. Other doctrines came into prominence, such as those about the future saviour Saoshyans (Zoroaster himself or his posthumous son). Then after the final triumph of the Good Religion the wise lord Orhmazd "elevates the whole material creation into the spiritual order, and there the perfection that each created thing has as it issues from the hand of God is restored to it" in the Frashkart or "Making Excellent".[76][77][78]

Articles and chapters

Zaehner contributed other work regarding Zoroaster and the religion began in ancient Iran. The article "Zoroastrianism" was included in a double-columned book he edited, The Concise Encyclopedia of Living Faiths, first published in 1959.[79] Also were his several articles on the persistence in popular culture of the former national religion, "Zoroastrian survivals in Iranian folklore".[80] Chapters, in whole or part, on Zoroastrianism appeared in a few of his other books: At Sundry Times (1958), aka The Comparison of Religions (1962);[81] The Convergent Spirit, aka Matter and Spirit (1963);[82] and Concordant Discord (1970).[83]

Comparative religion

A choice of perspective

In the west the academic field of comparative religion at its origins inherited an 'enlightenment' ideal of an objective, value-neutral rationalism. Yet traditional Christian and Jewish writings provided much of the source material, as did classical literature, these being eventually joined by non-western religious texts, then empirical ethnological studies.[84][85] The privileged 'enlightenment' orientation in practice fell short of being value-neutral, and itself became progressively contested.[86] As to value-neutral, Zaehner situated himself roughly as follows:

"Any man with any convictions at all is liable to be influenced by them even when he tries to adopt an entirely objective approach; but let him recognize this from the outset and guard against it. If he does this, he will at least be less liable to deceive himself and others." "Of the books I have written some are intended to be objective; others, quite frankly, are not." "In all my writings on comparative religion my aim has been increasingly to show that there is a coherent pattern in religious history. For me the centre of coherence can only be Christ." Yet "I have rejected as irrelevant to my theme almost everything that would find a natural place in a theological seminary, that is, Christian theology, modern theology in particular." "For what, then, do I have sympathy, you may well ask. Quite simply, for the 'great religions' both of East and West, expressed... in those texts that each religion holds most sacred and in the impact that these have caused."[87][88][89]

Accordingly, for his primary orientation Zaehner chose from among the active participants: Christianity in its Catholic manifestation. Yet the academic Zaehner also employed a type of comparative analysis, e.g., often drawing on Zoroastrian or Hindu, or Jewish or Islamic views for contrast, for insight. Often he combined comparison with a default 'modernist' critique, which included psychology or cultural evolution.[90][91] Zaehner's later works are informed by Vatican II (1962-1965) and tempered by Nostra aetate.[92]

At Sundry Times [Comparison]

In his 1958 book At Sundry Times. An essay in the comparison of religions,[93]</ref> Zaehner came to grips with "the problem of how a Christian should regard the non-Christian religions and how, if at all, he could correlate them into his own" (p.9 [Preface]). It includes an Introduction (1), followed by chapters on Hinduism (2), on Hinduism and Buddhism (3), on "Prophets outside Israel", i.e., Zoroastrianism and Islam (4), and a concluding Appendix which compares and contrasts the "Quran and Christ". Perhaps the key chapter is "Consummatum Est" (5), which "shows, or tries to show, how the main trend in [mystical] Hinduism and Buddhism on the one hand and of [the prophetic] Zoroastrianism on the other meet and complete each other in the Christian revelation" (p.9, words in brackets added).

The book opens with a discussion of comparative religion. He cites Rudolph Otto (1869-1937) and al-Ghazali (1058-1111) as being skeptical of a writer with no religious experience who expounds on the subject. Yet Zaehner acknowledges that many Christians may only be familiar with their own type of religion (similar to Judaism and Islam), and thus be ill-equipped to adequately comprehend Hindu or Buddhist mysticism (pp. 12-15). Zaehner then compared the Old Testament and the Buddha, the former being a history of God's commandments delivered by his prophets to the Jewish people and their struggle to live accordingly, and the later being a teacher of a path derived from his own experience, which leads to a spiritual enlightenment without God and apart from historical events (pp. 15-19, 24-26). Needed is a way to bridge this gap between the two (pp. 15, 19, 26, 28). The gap is further illustrated as it relates to desire and suffering (p.21), body and soul (pp. 22-23), personality and death (pp. 23-24).

Christianity & other Religions

The 1964 book,[94] following its introduction, has four parts: India, China and Japan, Islam, and The Catholic Church. Throughout Zaehner offers connections between the self-understanding of 'other religions' and that of the Judeo-Christian, e.g., the Upanishads and Thomas Merton (pp. 25–26), Taoism and Adam (p. 68), Sunyata and Plato (p. 96), Al-Ghazali and St. Paul (p. 119-120), Samkhya and Martin Buber (pp. 131–132).

In the introduction, Zaehner laments the "very checkered history" of the Church. Yet he expresses his admiration of Pope John (1881-1963), who advanced the dignity that all humanity possesses "in the sight of God". Zaehner then presents a brief history of Christianity in world context. The Church "rejoiced to build into herself whatever in Paganism she found compatible" with the revelation and ministry of Jesus. Her confidence was inferred in the words of Gamaliel (pp. 7-9).[95] While Europe has known of Jesus for twenty centuries, 'further' Asia has only for three. Jesus, however, seemed to have arrived there with conquerors from across the sea, and "not as the suffering servant" (p.9).[96] As to the ancient traditions of Asia, Christians did "condemn outright what [they had] not first learnt to understand" (pp. 11, 13). Zaehner thus sets the stage for a modern review of ancient traditions.

"The Catholic Church" chapter starts by celebrating its inclusiveness. Zaehner quotes Cardinal Newman praising the early Church's absorption of classical Mediterranean virtues (a source some term 'heathen').[97] For "from the beginning the Moral Governor of the world has scattered the seeds of truth far and wide... ."[98] There may be some danger for Christians to study the spiritual truths of other religions, but it is found in scripture.[99]

Zaehner counsels that the reader not "neglect the witness" of Hinduism and Buddhism, as they teach inner truths which, among Christians, have withered and faded since the one-sided Reformation. The Church perpetually struggles to keep to a "perfect yet precarious balance between the transcendent... Judge and King and the indwelling Christ". Writing in 1964, Zaehner perceived "a change for the better" in the increasing acceptance of the "Yogin in India or Zen in Japan". Nonetheless, a danger exists for the 'unwary soul' who in exploring other religions may pass beyond the fear of God. Then one may enter the subtleties of mystical experience, and "mistake his own soul for God." Such an error in distinguishing between timeless states can lead to ego inflation, spiritual vanity, and barrenness.[100][101][102] [under construction]

Zaehner offers this categorical analysis of some major religious affiliations: a) action-oriented, worldly (Judaism, Islam, Protestantism, Confucianism); b) contemplation-oriented, other-worldly (Hinduism, Theravada Buddhism, Taoism); c) in-between (Mahayana Buddhism, neo-Confucianism, the reformed Hinduism of Gandhi, the Catholic Church).[103]

Comparative mysticism

Zaehner wrote extensively on comparative religion.[104] His interest turned to focus primarily on Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. In his comparative work he directly addressed mysticism. Zaehner criticized the apparently simplistic idea, then widely endorsed: the mystical unity of all religions. He based his contrary views on well-known texts authored by the mystics of various traditions. After describing of their first-hand experiences of visionary states, he presented traditional interpretations. These might understand it as evidencing a particular world view, e.g., theism, monism, pantheism, or atheism.[105]

His critique challenged the thesis of Richard Bucke, developed in his 1901 book, Cosmic Consciousness. Bucke describes lesser facilities, then this prized 'cosmic' state of mind. He presents fourteen exemplary people of history, as each reaching a somewhat similar realization: the plane of cosmic consciousness.[106] This perennial idea has been variously advanced by Aldous Huxley, by Frithjof Schuon, by Houston Smith. Zaehner does not dispute that spiritual visionaries reach a distinguishable level of awareness. Nor does he deny that a life sequence over time may lead to mystical experience: withdrawal, purgation, illumination. Instead, what Zaeher suggests is a profound difference between, e.g., the pantheistic vision of a nature mystic, admittedly pleasant and wholesome, and the personal union of a theist with the Divine lover of humankind.[107][108][109]

Mystical experience
Mysticism as an academic field of study is relatively recent, emerging from earlier works with a religious and literary accent. From reading the writings of mystics, various traditional distinctions have been further elaborated, such as its psychological nature and its social-cultural context. Discussions have also articulated its phenomenology as a personal experience versus how it has been interpreted by the mystic or by others.[110] Professor Zaehner made his contributions, e.g., to its comparative analysis and its typology.

Sacred and Profane

[Under construction]

Hindu and Muslim

His innovative book compares the mystical literature and practice of Hindus and Muslims. He frames it with a theme of diversity.[111] On experiential foundations, Zaehner then commences to explore the spiritual treasures left to us by the mystics of the Santana Dharma, and of the Sufi tariqas. Often he offers a phenomenological description of the reported experiences, after which he interprets them in various theological terms.[112]

Zaehner describes five different types of mysticism to be found in Indian tradition: "the sacrificial, the Upanishadic, the Yogic, the Buddhistic, and that of bhakti."[113][114] Zaehner here relies on Hindu mystics because of their relative freedom from creed or dogma. He leaves aside the first (of historic interest), and the fourth (due to contending definitions of nirvana), so that as exemplars of mystical experience he presents:

• (a) the Upanishadic "I am this All" which can be subdivided into (i) a theistic interpretation or (ii) a monistic;
• (b) the Yogic "unity" outside space and time, either (i) of the eternal monad of the mystic's own individual soul per the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali or (ii) of Brahman, the ground of the universe, per the advaita Vedanta of Sankara; and,
• (c) the Bhakti mysticism of love, according to the commentary on the Bhagavad Gita by Ramanuja.[115]

Typology of the mystics

The above-described typology of mystic practice was derived directly from Hinduism and its literature.
Zaehner's more general analysis of the full range of mystical experience resulted in a different typology. Here his schema reflects not only the phenomenology of the experience itself but also the subject's explanations of it.

• (1) Nature mysticism;
• (2) Monistic mysticism;
• (3) Theistic mysticism.[116]

An endemic problem with such an analytic typology is the elusive nature of the conscious experience during the mystical state, its shifting perspectives of subject/object, and the psychology of spiritual awareness itself. Zaehner's proposals necessarily suffer from these general difficulties.

Nature mystics

Nature mysticism chiefly describes a spontaneous oceanic feeling in which a person identifies with the cosmos. It also may include a drug-induced state of consciousness. Like Aldous Huxley,[117] he had taken mescalin, but Zaehner came to a different conclusion. In his 1957 book Mysticism. Sacred and Profane. An Inquiry into some Varieties of Praeternatural Experience. Included are descriptions of the author's experience with mescalin, Yet his primary aim is to uphold a distinction between an amoral monism on the one hand and theistic mysticism on the other. In part he relies on a personal experience recorded by Martin Buber.[118] Here and elsewhere, he thus sets himself against Huxley's adoption of the Perennial Philosophy, an idea seeded with future misunderstandings.[119][120][121]

Monistic, non-dualist

Zaehner here focused especially on Hindu forms of non-dualism, e.g., the varieties of Vedanta. [Under construction]

Theistic, Christian

According to Zaehner, Christianity and theistic religions offer the possibility of a sacred mystical union with an attentive creator God, whereas a strictly monistic approach instead leads to the self-unity experience of natural religion.[122][123] Yet Zaehner remained hopeful in the long run of an ever-increasing understanding between religions. "We have much to learn from Eastern religions, and we have much too to give them; but we are always in danger of forgetting the art of giving--of giving without strings... ."[124]

During the 1940s spent in Iran he returned to the Christian faith. Decades later he published The Catholic Church and World Religions (1964), expressly from that perspective. As an objective scholar, he drew on his acquired insights from this source to further his understanding of others. Zaehner "did not choose to write to convince others of the truth of his own faith," rather "to frame questions" was his usual purpose.[125]

Gender, soul & spirit

Zaehner's interest in the writings of the mystics led him to studying the nominal gender of the sacred being they described. Often this being was male, whether the mystic was a man or a woman. In Christianity the Church as a whole was described by many as the bride of Christ.

Zaehner evolved into a conservative believer, whose ethics and morals were founded on his Catholic faith. Accordingly, sexual activity is blessed within the context of marriage.[126] His sexual orientation during World War II was said to have been homosexual. During his later life, while a don at Oxford, he became wholly devoted to teaching and research, and abstained from sexual intercourse.[127][128]

[Under construction]

Hindu religious texts

His translations and the Hinduism book "made Zaehner one of the most important modern exponents of Hindu theological and philosophical doctrines... . The works on mysticism are more controversial though they established important distinctions in refusing to regard all mysticisms as the same," wrote Prof. Geoffrey Parrinder.[129] For Zaehner's Hindu and Muslim Mysticism (1960), and like analyses, see "Comparative Mysticism" section.


While an undergraduate at Christ Church in Oxford, Zaehner studied several Persian languages. He also taught himself a related language, Sanskrit, used to write the early Hindu sacred books. Decades later he was asked by OUP to author a volume on Hinduism. Unexpectedly Zaehner insisted on first reading in Sanscrit the Mahabharata, a very long epic.[130] More than an heroic age story of an ancient war, the Mahabharata gives us the foremost compendium on Hindu religion and way of life.[131]

The resulting treatise Hinduism (1962) is elegant, deep, and short. Zaehner discusses, among other things, the subtleties of dharma, and Yudhishthira, the son of Dharma, who became the King of righteousness (dharma raja). Yudhishthira is the elder of five brothers of the royal Pandava family, who leads one side in the war of the Mahabharata. Accordingly, he struggles to follow his conscience, to do the right thing, to avoid slaughter and bloodshed. Yet he finds that tradition and custom, and the Lord Krishna, are ready to allow the usual killing and mayhem of warfare.[132][133]

As explained in Hinduism, all his life Yudhishthira struggles to follow his conscience.[134] Yet when Yudhishthira participates in the battle of Kuruksetra, he is told by Krishna to state a "half truth" meant to deceive. Zaehner discusses: Yudhishthira and moksha (liberation), and karma; and Yudhishthira's troubles with warrior caste dharma.[135][136][137] In the last chapter, Yudhishthira 'returns' as Mahatma Gandhi.[138] Other chapters discuss the early literature of the Vedas, the deities, Bhakti devotional practices begun in medieval India, and the encounter with, and response to, modern Europeans.[139]


Zaehenr continued his discussion of Yudhishthira in a chapter of his book based on his 1967-1969 Gifford Lectures.[140][141] Zaehner finds analogies between the Mahabharata's Yudhishthira and the biblical Job. Yet their situations differed. Yudhishthira, although ascetic by nature, was a royal leader who had to directly face the conflicts of his society. His realm and his family suffered great misfortunes due to political conflict and war. Yet the divine Krishna evidently considered the war and the destructive duties of the warrior (the kshatriya dharma) acceptable. The wealthy householder Job, a faithful servant of his Deity, suffers severe family and personal reversals, due to Divine acquiescence. Each human being, both Job and Yudhishthira, is committed to following his righteous duty, acting in conforming to his conscience.[142][143]

When the family advisor Vidura reluctantly challenges him to play dice at Dhrtarastra's palace, "Yudhishthira believes it is against his moral code to decline a challenge."[144][145] Despite, or because of, his devotion to the law of dharma, Yudhishthira then "allowed himself be tricked into a game of dice." In contesting against very cunning and clever players, he gambles "his kingdom and family away." His wife becomes threatened with slavery.[146][147][148]

Even so, initially Yudhishthira with "holy indifference" tries to "defend traditional dharma" and like Job to "justify the ways of God in the eyes of men." Yet his disgraced wife Draupadi dramatically attacks Krishna for "playing with his creatures as children play with dolls." Although his wife escapes slavery, the bitter loss in the dice game is only a step in the sequence of seemingly divinely-directed events that led to a disastrous war, involving enormous slaughter. Although Yudhishthira is the King of Dharma, eventually he harshly criticizes the bloody duties of a warrior (the kshatriya dharma), duties imposed also on kings. Yudhishthira himself prefers the "constant virtues" mandated by the dharma of a brahmin. "Krishna represents the old order," interprets Zaehner, where "trickery and violence" hold "an honorable place".[149][150]


In his Hindu Scriptures (1966) Zaehner presents his translations of selected classical texts, the Rig-Veda, the Atharva-Veda, the Upanishads, and the entire, 80-page Bhagavad Gita. He discusses these writings in his short Introduction. A brief Glossary of Names is at the end.[151] "Zaehner's extraordinary command of the texts" wast widely admired by his academic peers.[152]

That year Zaehner published a more annotated edition of the Bhagavad Gita, a prized episode in the Mahabharata epic. Before the great battle, the Lord Krishna discusses with the Pandava brother Arjuna the enduring spiritual realities. Krishna "was not merely a local prince of no very great importance: he was God incarnate--the great God Vishnu who has taken on human flesh and blood." Provided after his translation, is Zaehner's long Commentary, drawn from the medieval sages Sankara and Ramanuja, ancient scriptures and epics, and modern scholars. His Introduction places the Gita within the context of the Mahabharata and of Hindu philosophy. Hindu religious teachings in the Gita are addressed in terms of the individual Self, material Nature, Liberation, and Deity. A useful Appendix is organized by main subject, and under each are "quoted in full" the relevant passages, giving chapter and verse.[153][154]

Sri Aurobindo

In his 1971 book Evolution in Religion, Zaehner discusses Sri Aurobindo Ghose (1872–1950), a modern Hindu spiritual teacher, and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955), a French palaeontologist and Jesuit visionary.[155][156] Zaehner discusses each, and appraises their religious innovations.[157]

Aurobindo at age seven was sent to England for education, eventually studying western classics at Cambridge University. On his return to Bengal in India, he studied its ancient literature in Sanskrit. He later became a major political orator with a spiritual dimension, a prominent leader for Indian independence. Hence he was jailed. There in 1908 he had a religious experience. Relocating to the then French port of Pondicherry, he became a yogin and was eventually recognized as a Hindu sage. Sri Aurobindo's writings reinterpret the Hindu traditions.[158] Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, later President of India, praised him.[159] "As a poet, philosopher, and mystic, Sri Aurobindo occupies a place of the highest eminence in the history of modern India."[160][161]

Aurobindo, Zaehner wrote, "could not accept the Vedanta in its classic non-dualist formulation, for he had come to accept Darwinism and Bergson's idea of creative evolution." If the One being was "totally static" as previously understood "then there could be no room for evolution, creativity, or development of any kind." Instead, as reported by Zaehner, Aurobindo considered that "the One though absolutely self sufficient unto itself, must also be the source... of progressive, evolutionary change." He found "the justification for his dynamic interpretation of the Vedanta in the Hindu Scriptures themselves, particularly in the Bhagavad-Gita."[162][163] According to Aurobindo, the aim of his new yoga was:

"[A] change in consciousness radical and complete" of no less a jump in "spiritual evolution" than "what took place when a mentalised being first appeared in a vital and material animal world." Regarding his new Integral Yoga: "The thing to be gained is the bringing in of a Power of Consciousness... not yet organized or active directly in earth-nature, ...but yet to be organized and made directly active."[164][165]

Aurobindo foresees that a Power of Consciousness will eventually work a collective transformation in human beings, making us then actually able to form and sustain societies of liberté, égalité, fraternité.[166] Adherents of Aurobindo's new Integral Yoga (Purna Yoga) would lead India to a spiritual awakening; they would facilitate an increasingly common soul-experience, in which each achieves a mystic union with the One. Each such gnosis would also be guided by the Power of Consciousness. In choosing to pursue the realization of such social self-understanding, India would hasten the natural evolution of humanity.[167][168] Hence furthering the conscious commitment everywhere, to collaborate with the hidden drive of creative evolution toward a spiritual advance, is high among the missions of Aurobindo's new 'Integral Yoga'.[169][170] "It must be remembered that there is Aurobindo the socialist and Aurobindo the mystic."[171]

Gifford lecture at St Andrew

Zaehner gave the Gifford Lectures in Scotland during the years 1967–1969. In these sessions he revisited the subject of comparative mysticism focusing on Hinduism, then discussed Taoist classics, Neo-Confucianism, and Zen. In the course of the discourse, he mentions occasionally a sophisticated view: how the different religions have provided a mutuality of nourishment, having almost unconsicouslly interpenetrated each other's beliefs. The historically obfuscated result is that neighbouring religions might develop the other's theological insights as their own, as well as employ the other's distinctions to accent, or explain, their own doctrines to themselves. Although Zaehner gives a suggestive commentary at the conjunction of living faiths, he respects that each remains distinct, unique. Zaehner allows the possibility of what he calls the convergence of faiths, or solidarity.[172][173]

Regarding the world religions Zaehner held, however, that we cannot use the occasional occurrence of an ironic syncretism among elites as a platform from which to leap to a unity within current religions. His rear-guard opinions conflicted with major academic trends then prevailing. "In these ecumenical days it is unfashionable to emphasize the difference between religions." Yet Zaehner remained skeptical, at the risk of alienating those in the ecumenical movement whose longing for a festival of conciliation caused them to overlook the stubborn divergence inherent in the momentum. "We must force nothing: we must not try to achieve a 'harmony' of religions at all costs when all we can yet see is a 'concordant discord'... . At this early stage of contact with the non-Christian religions, this surely is the most that we can hope for." His Gifford Lectures were published as Concordant Discord. The Interdependence of Faiths.[174]

Social ideology and ethics

[Under construction].[175]

A militant state cult

Zaehner used a comparative-religion approach in his several discussions of Communism, both its quasi-philosophical theory (discussed below),[176] and here its practical control a sovereign state. Soviet party rule, in its ideological management political and economic operations, was said to demonstrate an attenuated resemblance to Catholic Church governance. Features in common included an authoritarian command structure (similar to the military), guided by an unquestionable theory or a dogma, which was articulated in abstract principles and exemplars.[177][178][179]

For the Marxist-Leninist the 'laws of nature' dominating political society were a complex dialectic involving class conflict.[180][181]

"Stalin saw, quite rightly, that since the laws of Nature manifested themselves in the tactical vicissitudes of day-to-day politics with no sort of clarity, even the most orthodox Marxists were bound to go astray. It was, therefore, necessary that some one man whose authority was absolute, should be found to pronounce ex cathedra what the correct reading of historical necessity was. Such a man he found in himself."[182][183]

A Soviet hierarchical system thus developed during the Stalinist era, which appeared to be a perverse copy of the organization of the Roman Catholic Church.[184][185] Yet Zaehner did not overlook the hideous, deadly, mass atrocities perpetrated, chiefly on its overworked citizenry during Stalin's rule.[186][187] He was, however, more interested in popular motivation, in the visionary import and quasi-religious dimension of Marx and Engels, than in machinations of the Leninist party's exercise of state power.[188][189][190]

Dialectical materialism

Communist ideology was analogized to various religious creeds. Here Zaehner took an interest in the materialist element in the Hegelian dialectic as developed by Marx and Engels. Zaehner compared the dynamics of matter with the role of the Spirit in the Christian concept of the Trinity, deriving various analogies.[191][192][193]

Engels had combined economic materialism, Darwinian evolution, and eastern mysticism into a systematic philosophy of dialectical materialism. Its Buddhist facet utilized "a religion without a personal God and even without a Hegelian Absolute."[194]

Cultural evolution

The interaction of natural science and social studies with traditional religions thought, particularly Christian, drew Zaehner's attention. Serving as a catalyst were the writings on evolution by Teilhard de Chardin. Juxtaposing a traditional biblical understanding of the spiritual conflicts of humankind, with a conjectured historical narrative of early human society, Zaehner would employ psychology and literature in an effort to craft a spiritual anthropolocy.[195]

Popular & drug culture

In his last three books, Zen, Drugs and Mysticism (1972), Our Savage God (1974), and City within the Heart (1981) [posthumous], Zaehner turned to address issues in contemporary society, drawing on his studies of comparative religion. He further explored the similarities and the differences between drug-induced experiences and traditional mysticism. As an academic he had already published several books on such issues starting in 1957.[196][197][198] In the meantime, a widespread counterculture had arisen, which included artists, rebels, and college youth. Their psychedelic experiences were often self-explained spiritually, with reference to zen and eastern mysticism.[199][200] Consequently, Zaehner wanted to reach this "wider public".[201] During the late 1960s he was "very often invited to talk on the BBC."[202]

Zaehner described various ancient quests to attain a mystical state of transcendence, of unification. Therein all contradictions and oppositions are reconciled; subject and object disappear, one passes beyond good and evil. That said, such a monist view can logically lead to excess, even to criminal acts.[203] If practiced under the guidance of traditional religious teachers, no harm usually results.[204][205][206] The potential for evil exists, however, through subtle misunderstanding or careless enthusiasm, according to Zaehner. After arriving at such a transcendent point, a troubled drug user may go wrong, feel licensed to do anything, with no moral limit. The misuse of a mystical state and its theology eventually can lead to horror.[207][208]

Zaehner warned of the misbehavior propagated by LSD advocate Timothy Leary,[209][210] the earlier satanism of Aleister Crowley, and ultimately the criminal depravity of Charles Manson.[211][212][213] His essay "Rot in the Clockwork Orange" further illustrates from popular culture the possible brutal effects of such moral confusion and license.[214] Yet Zaehner's detailed examination and review was not a witch hunt. His concluding appraisal of the LSD experience, although not without warning of its great risks and dangers, contained a limited, circumscribed allowance for use with a spiritual guide.[215][216]
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• There is indeed a sharp division between those religions whose characteristic form of religious experience is prayer and adoration of Pascal's God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob on the one hand, and religions in which sitting postures designed to find the God within you are thought to be the most appropriate way of approaching the Deity.[217][218]
• Jung has done in the twentieth century A.D. what the Hindus did in perhaps the eighth century B.C.; he has discovered empirically the existence of an immortal soul in man, dwelling outside time and space, which can actually be experienced. This soul Jung, like the Hindus, calls the "self"... [which is] extremely difficult to describe in words. Hence his "self" is as hard to grasp as the Indian atman.[219][220]
• One quite arresting resemblance between Zoroastrianism and Christianity remains to be noticed. This is the Haoma sacrifice and sacrament which seems to foreshadow the Catholic Mass in so strange a way. ... [T]he Haoma rite with partially fermented juice became the central act of Zoroastrian worship... .[221][222][223]
• The whole ascetic tradition, whether it be Buddhist, Platonist, Manichaean, Christian or Islamic, springs from that most polluted of all sources, the Satanic sin of pride, the desire to be 'like gods'. We are not gods, we are social, irrational animals, designed to become rational, social animals, and finally, having built our house on solid Aristotelian rock, to become 'like a god', our work well done.[224][225][226]
• Few Catholics are now proud of the Sack of Constantinople, the Albigensian Crusade, the Inquisition, or the Wars of Religion, nor... the Crusades. It has taken us a long time to realize that we cannot... remove the mote from our brother's eye without first getting rid of the beam in our own.[227][228][229]
• True, the human phylum did not split up into separate subspecies as has been the case with other animal species, but it did split up into different religions and cultures, each having its own particular flavour, and each separated from the rest. With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit... the scattering of man which is symbolised by the Tower of Babel comes to an end: the Church of Christ is born and the symbol of unity and union is found.[230][231]
• Aristotle claimed to have known God 'for a short time' only, but that was enough. He was never so immodest as to claim that he had known the Truth, for he knew that this is reserved for God alone.[232][233]

See also

• Comparative religion
• History of religions
• Religious studies
• Zoroastrianism
• Interfaith dialogue


1. Before becoming an Oxford professor he had been known as Robin Zaehner. Peter Wright, Spycatcher (1987), pp. 243–244.
2. Photographs of R. C. Zaehner are rare. One was published to accompany his obituary by Morrison (1975).
3. Ann K. S. Lambton, Richard Charles Zaehner in BSOAS 38/3: 823–824, at 823 (1975). She identifies his ancestry as "Swiss German",
4. Editorial insert, "The Author", in Zaehner, The Teaching of the Magi (1956; 1976), p. 5 (bilingual).
5. Zaehner called Prof. Bailey "perhaps the greatest Indo-Iranian philologist of our time". Zaehner's 1972 "Preface to the New Printing" to his Zurvan, A Zoroastrian Dilemma (1972), p. vi. "My debt to him, as always, remains immense."
6. Jump up to:a b c Alana Howard, "Gifford Lecture Biography."
7. Lambton, Richard Charles Zaehner in BSOAS (1975).
8. Michael Dummett, "Introduction" pp. xi–xix, at p. xiii (quote), to Zaehner's posthumous The City within the Heart (1981).
9. Geoffrey Parrinder, "Robert Charles Zaehner (1913–1974)" in History of Religion 16: 66–74, 74 (1976).
10. Nigel West, At Her Majesty's Secret Service. The chiefs of Britain's intelligence agency MI6 (Naval Institute Press 2006) at 117. Nigel West is the pen name of Rupert Allason.
11. Peter Wright, Spycatcher. The candid autobiography of a senior intelligence officer, with Paul Greengrass (Richmond: Heinemann Australia 1987), pp. 243–246, at 244–245 (quote).
12. Encyclopædia Britannica, "R. C. Zaehner" {website}.
13. Christopher de Bellaigue, Patriot of Persia. Muhammad Mossadegh and a tragic Anglo-American coup (2012). pp. 193–194 (Lambton), p. 194 (description of Zaehner, Martin quote).
14. Ann Lambton, RCZ (1975), p. 623. In Iran stationed at the British Embassy during 1943–1947, and 1951–1952. Zaehner enjoyed a "large number of Persian friends."
15. 'Ali Mirdrakvandi, an Iranian peasant from Luristan, worked awhile for Zaehner. He wrote a fantastic story in his self-taught English. It was later edited by John Hemming and published, with a foreword by Zaehner, as No Heaven for Gunga Din. Consisting of the British and American Officers' Book (London: Victor Gallancz 1965).
16. Cf., Zaehner, "Zoroastrian survivals in Iranian folklore" (1965), pp. 87–96, at 88–89 re 'Ali Mirdrakvandi and his book. Also: Part II (1992).
17. Mehrzad Boroujerdi, Iranian Intellectuals and the West. The tormented triumph of nativism (Syracuse Univ. 1996) at 33, 38–39. The 1951 coup staged by Britain alone failed due to Mossadegh's popularity and Iranian nationalism. Later in 1953 a joint American and British coup toppled Mossadegh, returned the Shah to power, and restored oilfields to Britain, but henceforth other countries, too. Yett the coup sowed the seeds of a lasting mistrust.
18. Robert Fisk, "Another Fine Mess", Information Clearing House (2003). "It was Zaehner who had cultivated the Rashidian brothers, each of whom had worked against German influence in Iran during the Second World War." They were key players in the 1951 coup attempt. Fisk knew Robin Zaehner, "the British classics scholar who helped mastermind it."
19. During the 1951 attempted overthrow, Zaehner is said to have enlisted support of politicians, editors, aristocrats, army officers, tribal chiefs, businessmen, and others, including several associates of Mossadegh. Ervand Abrahamian, Komeinism (1993) cited in N.C.R.I.-F.A.C.
20. de Bellaigue, Patriot of Persia (2012), pp. 193–195, 197.
21. Fakhreddin Azimi, The Quest for Democracy in Iran. A century of struggle against authoritarian rule (Harvard University 2008), p. 153. "The defeat of [Mossadegh's civic-nationalist] movement was a watershed that marked renewed antagonism between the rulers and the ruled, as well as intensified abhorrence of Western imperialism."
22. de Bellaigue, Patriot of Persia (2012), pp. 271-278.
23. Cereti (1957), ¶¶17-20.
24. Peter Wright, Spycatcher (1987) at 245–246. Wright states that, "I felt bitter at the ease with which the accusation had been made," and for his subjecting a loyal colleague to hearing the false charges made against him. "In that moment the civilized cradle of Oxford disintegrated around him; he was back behind the lines again, surrounded by enemies, alone and double-crossed" (p. 246 quote).
25. Zaehner, Concordant Discord (1970), p. 6 (quote).
26. de Bellaigue, Patriot of Persia (2012), p. 194. The job MI6 gave to Zaehner in Tehran was "ugly: to sow chaos in the heart of a sovereign government."
27. Jeffrey Kripal, Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom (2001), p. 162. Kripal comments on Zaehner's Gifford lectures and his earlier Spalding inaugural lecture.
28. Wright, Spycatcher (1987), p. 245. Wright mentions an apparently contrary view: "The cords which bind Oxford and British Intelligence together are strong."
29. Zaehner, Zurvan, a Zoroastrian dilemma (1955).
30. Zaehner, Concordant Discord (1970), p. 8.
31. Sarvepalli Gopal, Radhakrishnan. A Biography (Delhi: Oxford University Press 1989), pp. 249–250, 257 (VP); 304–307 (P); during his last three years at Oxford, Radhakrishnan had served concurrently as India's ambassador to the Soviet Union (pp. 213–215, 228, 248, 257). He was the first Spalding professor, starting in 1936 (pp. 132–133, 145).
32. S. Radhakrishnan, Eastern Religions and Western Thought (Oxford University 1939, 2d ed. 1940; 1960), p. 20. Regarding his Spalding post: "the unprecedented appointment of an Asian to the Oxford Chair [is] motivated, I take it, by a desire to lift Eastern Thought... [indicating] its enduring value as a living force in shaping the soul of the modern man."
33. Vishwanath S. Naravane, Modern Indian Thought (New Delhi: Orient Longman 1978), p. 249. Radhakrishnan's "role has been described as that of a 'liaison officer' between East and West... as a 'philosophical bilinguist'... as a bridge builder facilitating intellectual commerce... ."
34. Zaehner's 1953 Spalding lecture, "Foolishness to the Greeks", was incorporated as an Appendix, pp. 428–443, in his book Concordant Discord(1970).
35. Michael Dummett, "Introduction" (1981) to Zaehner's posthumous The City within the Heart, at pp. xii-xiii, p. xii (quotes).
36. Cf. Gopal, Radhakrishnan (1989). During the last decades of the Indian independence movement, Prof. Radhakrishnan had criticized Christianity's unique claims (pp. 39–44, 195–197). He promoted an optimistic view of "a shrinking world" in which his generation would provide "spiritual oneness and create an integrated human community" (p. 149 quote). His Eastern Religions and Western Thought (Oxford 1939) discussed, e.g., Hindu influence on the ancient Greeks, and "common elements in Christianity and Hinduiism" (pp. 159–160).
37. See Zoroastrian sections below.
38. Zaehner, Zurvan (reissued 1972) "Preface to the New Printing", pp. v (quote) and vi (Hinduism and Buddhism).
39. Cf. Kripal, Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom (2001), p. 189.
40. Fernandes, The Hindu mystical experience (2004), p.6 (BBC talks, lectures abroad), pp. 10–11 (writing on drug mysticism).
41. See Popular & drug culture section below.
42. Kripal, Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom (2001), p. 181 (quote).
43. See Gifford Lecture section below.
44. Dummett, "Introduction" (1981), pp. xiii-xiv (quote).
45. Newell, Struggle and Submission. R. C. Zaehner on mysticisms (1981), p. iv (quote).
46. Lambton, "Obituary" (1975), p. 624 (quote).
47. Dummett, "Introduction" (1981) at xi (quotes). Prof. Dummett here may refer especially to Zaehner's later, more popularizing books, e.g., on those counterculture drug users who associated their experience with mysticism. Yet Zaehner's work shed light on many regions.
48. Zaehner, Concordant Discord (1970), pp. 6 & 7 (quotes).
49. Gregory Baum, "Foreword" to Newell (1981), p. xi.
50. Dummett, "Introduction" (1981) p. xviii (quote).
51. Zaehner, Zurvan (1955, 1972). The oldest reference for Zurvan found dates to the 12th (name), and 4th (sources unclear) centuries BCE (p. 20). Zurvanism had been installed at start of Sasanid rule as its state religion (p. 90), yet its status varied (pp. 112–113).
52. Touraj Daryaee, Sasanian Iran 224–651 CE (Mazda Publishers, Costa Mesa 2008), King Ardaxsir I founded Sananid rule as Zoroastrian, with labors by the priest Kerdir (p, 16); Zurvan in edict (p. 62).
53. Zaehner differs with Mary Boyce as to whether, during the prior Parthianperiod (247 BCE to 224 CE) in Iran, Zoroastrianism survived if not flourished, or was little practiced, confused and inauthentic. Zaehner chose the latter (the Sasanians "restored the Zoroastrian faith"). Compare: her Zoroastrians. Their Religious Beliefs and Practices (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul 1979, 1985), pp. 80–82; and, his Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism (1961), pp. at 22 (quote), 175.
54. Zaehner, Zurvan (1955, 1972), pp. 3–5 (dualism of Zoroaster, and development of Zurvan).
55. Zaehner, Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism (1961) at 34, 42–46 (Zoroaster's teaching); 178–183 , 246–247 (Zoroastrian sects).
56. Mary Boyce, Zoroastrians. Their religious belief and practices (1979), dualism: pp. 19–21, cf. 9-10; Zurvan heresy: pp. 67–70, 112–113, 118–123.
57. Alessandro Bausani, Persia religiosa (Milano 1959, Rome 1960), translated as Religion in Iran (New York: Bibliotheca Persica 2000), pp. 42–47, 63 (Zurvan).
58. Zaehner, Zurvan. A Zoroastrian dilemma (1955, 1972): Zurvan supreme (pp. 90, 91 quote).
59. Farhang Mehr, The Zoroastrian Tradition (Element, Rockport 1991), moral dualism (pp. 71–76).
60. Zaehner, Zurvan (1955, 1972), finite Time, victory of Ohrmazd (pp. 106–107 quote, and 100–101); Zurvan as God (p. 219), as Lord (pp. 239, 248, 254).
61. A short (156 pages) book published by George Allen and Unwin for a series, Classics East and West.
62. Zaehner (1956), Chapter IV, pp. 52–66. The "main tenants" quote at p. 11.
63. Zaehner, Dawn and Twilight (1961), p. 25 (Gathas); p. 35 (quote "opposition"), p. 37 (quote "enemies"); p. 40 (quotes "settled", "marauding"); p. 42 (quote "Truth" and "Lie").
64. Zaehner, Dawn and Twilight (1961), p. 33 (dates [of Sasanian priests] were pegged to year of Alexander's conquests).
65. Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin, La religion de l'Iran ancient (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France 1962) translated as Religion of Ancient Iran (Bombay: Tata 1973), pp. 99–100. Classic Greeks assigned his dates to 6000 years before Plato. The "native tradition" of the 7th century CE placed him 258 years before Alexander (early 6th century BC). The author here concludes 600 BC at the latest (concurrent with Buddha and Confucius), but perhaps 1000 BC per "linguistic evidence".
66. Josef Wiesehöfer, Ancient Persia (London: I. B. Tauris 1996), pp. 96, 272. Now "very few scholars" dissent to prophet's date of circa "1000 BC".
67. Boyce, A History of Zoroastrianism, volume 1 (Leiden/Köln: E. J. Brill 1975) at 190. Boyce notes that the 6th-century dates were suggested by Sasanian priests, but are known to be artificial. She favors an earlier dating, 1400 to 1000 BC, for the prophet Zarathushtra or Zoroaster. His Gathas are linguistically comparable to the Rig Veda, dated at 1700 BC, and the pastoral social economy described in the Gathas fits that time period.
68. Mehr, The Zoroastrian Tradition (1991), pp. 3–5. Mehr's discussion gives a date of 1750 BC for Zoroaster, stating reasons similar to those of Boyce.
69. Zaehner, Dawn and Twilight (1961), pp. 54-55 (Ahura Mazdah); 45-46 ("mediating" quote), 71 ("aspects" quote).
70. See above: Zurvan section.
71. Zaehner, Dawn and Twilight (1961), pp. 37 (Varuna as asura, Indra as deva), 39 (asuras lawful), 66 (Ahura Mazdah and Vouruna), 82-83 (laws of Zoroaster, asura), 132 (Rig Veda, Avesta). Regarding another subject, the application of Georges Dumézil's theories to Zoroastrian theology, Zaehner criticizes its accuracy (pp. 49-50).
72. Boyce, A History of Zoroastrianism, v. 1 (1975): Vedic deva and Avestandaeva, Vedic asura and Avestan ahura (p. 23); deva Indra (p. 32), Varuna as asura (p. 36); the lawful Ahura Vouruna in Iran as forerunner of Ahura Mazda (pp. 48, 53); Zoroaster rejects the heroic warrior Indra as daeva, as "violent, lavish, reckless" (p.53).
73. Gherardo Gnoli, "Indo-Iranian Religion" (2004, 2012 update) in Encyclopaedia Iranica [2018-06-09]. Ahura/asura, daeva/deva distinctions (¶5), after Zoroaster condemned polytheism.
74. Nalinee M. Chapekar, Ancient India and Iran (Delhi: Ajanta 1982), pp. 19-22: ahura/asura, daeva/deva, Iran/India.
75. Wiesehöfer,Ancient Iran (1996), pp. 96-97. The period between the Dawn and the Twilight was not uneventful. Scholars often differ over conflicting theories of Zoroaster's original message by turns compromised and transformed, a schism that split the religion, survivals of the preexisting pantheon, rise of Mithraism, and political opportunism. Also (pp. 134-135): the confusion added by a "loss of historic memory" during the Parthian era, a regional commingling of oral history and heroic tales.
76. Zaehner, Dawn and Twilight (1961), pp. 181–184, 193–247 (Zurvan); pp. 284–301 (Sassanid state: the mean at 285, 286 & 289, 287: quotes; the treaty at 286–287, castes at 284–285); pp. 58–60, 299, 317-318 (Saoshyans); pp. 228–229 quote, 296, 302 (the Frashkart).
77. Cf. Boyce, A History of Zoroastrianism, vol.1 (1975), p.232: Ohrmazd's cosmic triumph ushers in this "glorious moment" at the end of the era, "termed Frašo.kǝrǝti (Pahlavi "Frašegird"), the "Making Wonderful". Humankind enters an eternity of "untroubled goodness, harmony and peace." Boyce on the "Frašegird": pp. 245 (and Nõ Rõz), 246 ("perfect men in the perfect kingdom"), 291 ("the Last Judgment will take place, the earth will be cleansed of evil"), 292 (renewal).
78. Cf., Zaehner, Matter and Spirit (1963), where the Zoroastrianism of the Sasanid era is compared with the ethical vision of quasi-utopian Marxists.
79. 1959 article at pp. 209-222,
80. The two related articles (1952, 1965), and its posthumous "Part II" (1992).
81. Chapter IV, "Prophets outside Israel" pp. 134–164, Zoroaster discussion at pp. 135–153 (1962).
82. Chapter 5, "Solidarity in God," pp. 130-156 (1963).
83. Chapter XIX, "Beneath the Sun of Satan" pp. 385–403, at pp. 387–394 (1970).
84. Zaehner, Foolishness to the Greeks (1953; 1970).
85. Academic study itself split into several diverse directions: hybrid sociological and anthropological works, rational and innovative harmonizations of traditional anomalies, updated apologetics, ethical discourse.
86. Secular rationalism of the Enlightenment inherited or developed conflicting, shifting stands, e.g., Aristotle's prime mover, Descarte's radical doubt, Spinoza's pantheism, Hume's natural religion, Kant's rational critiques, Hegel's historicism, Kierkegaard's existentialism, Nietzsche's irrationalism, Freud's psychology (or Jung's), Weber's sociology (or Durkheim's), etc.
87. Zaehner, Concordant Discord (1970), quotes: p.10 ("Any man"), p.9 ("Of the books"), p.16 ("In all"), p. 17-18 ("I have"), p.19 ("For what"). Cf. his criitique of a plague of theology, pp. 15-16.
88. Cf., Zaehner, Comparison (1958, 1962), pp. 12-13: rational agnostics before the "basically irrational" nature of religion seem unable.
89. Cf., Fernandes (2004), pp. 8, 12-16, 198-200.
90. Zaehner, Christianity and other Religions (1964).
91. Kripal (2001), pp. 156-157.
92. Zaehner, Concordant Discord (1970), pp. 12-15, esp. p.15 re his limits on Nostra Aetate.
93. Reissued by Beacon Press, Boston, in 1962, as The Comparison of Religions. Page references here are to this 1962 edition. The At Sundry Times title is from Hebrews, chap. I, verse 1 (p.28). Based on lectures at University College of Wales, with appendix added (pp. 9, 10, 195).
94. New York, Hawthorn; concurrently published in London by Burns and Oates as The Catholic Church and World Religions.
95. Zaehner, Christianity (1964), p.9: The Jewish teacher Gamaliel stated that nothing will stop Christianity "if it be of God".
96. Matthew 4, 8-10 is quoted by Zaehner, Christianity (1964), p.9, regarding the temptation of Jesus in the desert, by Satan who promised him all the kingdoms of the world.
97. Cf., Zaehner, Our Savage God (1974), where Heraclitus, Parmenides, Plato, and Aristotle are extensively discussed.
98. Zaehner, Christianity (1964), p.128 (term 'heathen'; Newman quote).
99. Acts 17:26-28, (St. Paul at the Areopagus in Athens). Zaehner (1964) then artfully quotes St. Paul's words to the philosophers (pp. 128-129).
100. Zaehner, Christianity (1964), quotes: first 129, three at 130, last 131. Zaehner further discusses the 'mystic mistake' at pp. .
101. Fernandes (2004), p.89 (spiritual pride may lead to barrenness).
102. Cf. Asin Palacios, St. John of the Cross and Islam (1981), pp. 11-14, 25: renunciation of 'expansion' (basṭ, anchura); 20-22: danger of "spiritual vanity".
103. Zaehner, Christianity (1964), p.22.
104. E.g., At Sundry Times (1958); Christianity and other Religions (1962). See also Zaehner Bibliography.
105. E.g., Zaehner, Mysticism. Sacred and Profane (1957, 1961) at 168.
106. Richard Maurice Bucke, Cosmic Consciousness. A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind (Philadelphia: Innes and Sons 1901; reprints: University Books 1961, Dutton 1969), range of experience pp. 55-56; summary description 14, 65–66; exemplars: fourteen pp. 67, 69–209, an additional thirty-six 211–302.
107. Zaehner, Concordant Discord (1970), pp. 46–48.
108. Reardon (2011).
109. Schebera (1978).
110. Cf. Michael Stoebel, "The comparative study of mysticism" in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion (New York 2015). Accessed 2015-4-22.
111. Zaehner, Hindu and Muslim Mysticism (1960, 1969), "Preface" at vii–viii.
112. Junayd (pp. 135-153), and Ghazali (153–175) are thereafter discussed. Zaehner (1960, 1969).
113. Zaehner, Hindu and Muslim Mysticism (1960, 1969) at 6–11. Zaehner credits (p.6) Dasgupta's Hindu Mysticism for the initial typology.
114. Surendranath N. Dasgupta, Hindu Mysticism (Chicago: Open Court 1927; republished by Frederick Unger, New York, 1959). Dasgupta gave six lectures: Sacrificial, Upanishads, Yoga, Buddhistic, Classical Devotional, and Popular Devotional. Starting in 1922, the University of Cambridge published his A History of Indian Philosophy in five volumes.
115. Zaehner, Hindu and Muslem Mysticism (1960, 1969) at 19, 6 & 10; (a) 7–9, 17; (b) 9–10, 13, 17; (c) 11, 14–16, 17–18. Zaehner quotes at length from Martin Buber on mystical experience, at 17–18.
116. Schebera, Christian, Non-Christian Dialogue (1978).
117. Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception (New York: Harper and Row 1954).
118. Zaehner, Mysticism. Sacred and Profane (1957, 1961) at v of the "Preface".
119. Zaehner, Our Savage God (1974) at 10–12.
120. Zaehner, Mysticism. Sacred and Profane (1957, 1961) at 25–26, 27–29.
121. Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy (New York: Harper and Brothers 1945).
122. Zaehner, Mysticism. Sacred and profane (1957): two chapters discuss Theism and Monism, another two Mescalin (drug-induced states). The Triune Divinity of Christianity is briefly addressed at pp. 195–197.
123. William Lloyd Newell, Struggle and Submission: R. C. Zaehner on Mysticisms(University Press of America 1981), pp. 5-6.
124. Zaehner, Christianity and Other Religions (1970), p. 147 (quote).
125. Dummett, "Introduction" (1981), p. xvi (quote).
126. Zaehner, Mysticism: Sacred and Profane (1957), p.152. Otherwise it became "a desecration of a holy thing."
127. Kripal (2001), pp. 180-193.
128. Cf., Zaehner, Concordant Discord (1970).
129. Parrinder. RCZ (1975), pp. 66–74, at p. 74.
130. Pripal, Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom (2001), pp. 159–160.
131. Barend A. van Nooten, The Mahabharata (New York: Twayne 1971). The most influential work of literature in India; yet not a revealed text like the Vedas, but on par with ancient law books and puranas (p. 81). Written in Sanskrit (p. 52), by "the mythical saint Vyasa" ("arranger") about the 4th century BCE (p. 43).
132. "The Mahabharata is a strange kind of book," writes Zaeher. As a major hero "Yudhishthira shows sympathy" for criticism about the "injustice" in the caste laws (dharma) for warriors (kshatriya). Zaehner, Hinduism (1962, 1966), p. 108 (quotes).
133. Cf. van Nooten, The Mahabharata (19171), synopsis pp. 5-42.
134. Chapters 3 moksha, and 5 dharma.
135. Zaehner, Hinduism (1962, 1966), Yudhishthira: pp. 64-66 (moksha); 107-108, 111, 115-125 (dharma). Warrior caste karma (p.59), dharma (pp. 108–111, Yudhishthira's protest at 111). The Bhagavad Gita describes Krishna's teaching to the Pandava brother Arjuna before the battle of Kuruksetra (pp. 92-100). Yudhishthira is "ordered to do so by the Lord Krishna", i.e, to "lie" (p.117, quote).
136. Cf. Zaehner, Concordant Discord (1970), pp. 180-185 et seq. (Krishna advocates war prompting Yudhishthira's dilemma, and opposition), pp. 154, 181 (following Krishna's urging Yudhishthira utters a "lie").
137. Buddhadeva Bose, The Book of Yudhisthir (Hyderabad: Sangam 1986), pp.66-70 (Krishna and Yudhishtriya, at Kuruksetra), at 67 (the "half truth").
138. Zaehner, Hinduism (1962), Chapter 8, Gandhi at pp. 170–187, Gandhi and Yudhishthira at pp. 170-172, 174, 178, 179, 184. "Gandhi's dilemma was the same as Yudhishthira's". Was dharma a tradition, or was it his conscience? (p. 170 quote, p. 171). The book closes with the modern poet Rabindranath Tagore(pp. 187-192).
139. Hinduism (1962), Chapters 1, 2 & 4, 6, 7.
140. Zaehner, Concordant Discord (1970), Chapter IX, "The Greatness of Man and the Wretchedness of God", pp. 172–193, which devotes attention to Yudhishthira (pp. 176-193).
141. See section below "Gifford Lectures".
142. Zaehner, Concordant Discord (1970): Yudhishthira and Job (pp. 178, 179, 355). The Book of Job proper becomes focus of Zaehner in Ch. XVII, pp. 346-355. Yudhishthira and Krishna (177–182, 184–185, 188–190); kshatriya's "duty of killing and being killed in war" (p. 176).
143. Book of Job, ch. 1; ch. 2, v. 1–10: God permits Satan to devastate Job and his family. Later without guile Job disputed accusations that he was being punished for commensurate sins, e.g., he says aloud to God, "You know very well that I am innocent" (ch. 9, v. 7).
144. Van Nooten, The Mahabharata (1971), p. 16 (quote).
145. The Mahabharata. 2. The Book of the Assembly Hall 3. The Book of the Forest (University of Chicago 1975), translated and edited by J. A. B. van Buitenen, Book 2, chapter 51 (pp. 125-127, at 125–126): Yudhishthira first agrees to the game of dice at Hastinapura. The second time Yudhishthira agrees to roll the dice, it is expressly stated because he cannot disobey his elder, Dhrtarastra (bk. 2, ch. 67, v. 1–4; p. 158). Vidura and Dhrtarastra are his uncles.
146. Zaehner, Concordant Discord (1970). p. 179 (quotes about the dice game).
147. Zaehner, Hinduism (1962, 1966), p. 107 (the fateful game of dice).
148. Bose, The Book of Yudhisthir (1986), pp. 26, 29:n1, 87:n1 (Yudhishthira rolls the dice, commentary). Among nobles of India then, dice games were an "addiction" or "chief indulgence", p. 29:n1.
149. Zaehner, Concordant Discord (1970, p. 177 (quote: holy); p. 179 (quotes: defend, justify); p. 177 (Draupadi's quote about Krishna). Yudhishthira at first "defends the established order" (pp. 178–179). He prefers the brahmin's dharma over the kshatriya's (pp. 177, 179, 184, 188). Draupadi attacks Krishna (pp. 177-178, 347), attacks Yudhishthira (p. 186). Yudhishthira does not attack Krishna, but becomes disgusted with "a warrior's duty to kill," saying after the destructive war:
"Cursed be the kshatriya code, cursed be physical strength, cursed be violence through which we have been brought to our present pass. Blessed be long-suffering, self-control, purity, freedom from strife and slander, refusal to do another harm, truthful speech, the constant virtues... "(p. 184).
150. The Mahabharata [Bks. 2 & 3], trans. and ed. by von Buitenen (1975), Yudhishthira about the brahmins (cf. bk. 3, ch. 177; pp. 563-565). [under construction].
151. Zaehner (1966), Introduction, pp. v-xxii; Upanishads, pp. 33–245.
152. Reardon, A Theological Analysis of R. C. Zaehner's Theory of Mysticism(2012), pp. 134–135, at 135 quote.
153. The Bhagavad Gita with commentary based on the original sources (1966) by R. C. Zaehner, translated with introduction and appendix. From Zaehner's Introduction: quote re Vishnu (p.6); Sankara and Ramanuja (pp. 3, 4, 8; R. p.40). Translation pp. 43-109, Commentary 111–403, Appendix 405-464, (cf. pp. 4–5).
154. Gopal, Radhakrishnan (1989), pp. 179, 204–205. His predecessor, Prof. Radhakrishnan, had published a translation of the Gita in 1948. Cf. Zaehner, BG(1966), p. 1:n2.
155. Zaehner had written on Teilhard for his 1963 book The Convergent Spirit, American title: Matter and Spirit. Their convergence in Eastern Religions, Marx, and Teilhard de Chardin. See "Evolution and 'Materialism'" section below.
156. Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man (Paris 1955; New York: Harper and Row 1959, 1965), was the book that established his public profile.
157. Zaehner delivered the same three lectures in Delhi, Calcutta [Kolkota], and Madras [Chinnai], and at Christian colleges, and a fourth lecture at Madras University. These four lectures comprise his Evolution in Religion (1971). An Appendix contains his short meditation on Death (pp. 115–121), given at St. Stephen's College, Delhi.
158. E.g., Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita (Arya 1916-1920; republished: Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, 9th ed. 1996; reprint: Lotus Press, Wisconsin, 1995).
159. Radhakrishnan wrote in 1950, "Aurobindo was the greatest intellectual of our age and a major force for the life of the spirit." Quoted in D. Mackenzie Brown, The White Umbrella. Indian political thought from Manu to Gandhi (University of California 1958), pp. 124 [179:n7]. Chap. X on Aurobindo, pp. 122-138.
160. Vishwanath S. Naravane, Modern Indian Thought. A philosophical survey(Bombay: Asia Publishing House 1964; [rev'd ed.]: Orient Longman, Bombay, 1978), quote p.198. 1978 rewritten chapter on "Sri Aurobindo" at pp. 193-219, his biography at 195-198. Aurobindo also called 'Aravinda' ( Before Gandhihe advocated a spiritual basis for Indian politics (p.197).
161. Rudolph & Rudolph, The Modernity of Tradition (1969), p.193. Aurobindo's early career was as a top political leader in India.
162. Zaehner, Evolution in Religion (1971), pp. 10, 11 (quotes). Aurobindo's teaching was a "clear break" from both Sankhya Yoga which "made the sharpest distinction between Spirit and matter" and from the Vedanta of Sankara (p.10). Aurobindo retained the outlook of a political reformer and, e.g., with regard to caste, "makes a clean break with traditional values" (p. 29).
163. K. D. Sethna, in his 1981 book on Zaehner and Teilard Spirituality of the Future, found Zaehner well-read and in "fine sympathy" with Aurobindo. Yet however "well-grounded" his grasp was not total, e.g. Sri Aurobindo was notinfluenced by Henri Bergson (pp. 9-10 quotes, 29-30 Bergson). Sethna was the editor of Mother India. Cf. section "Popular & drug cultures" for Sethna's stronger criticism of Zaehner.
164. Sri Aurobindo, On Yoga, part 2 (Pondicherry 1958), 6: pp. 105, 107–108, quoted by Sethna (1981), pp. 31–32, [37:n2+n3].
165. Joseph Veliyathil, The Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo. His idea of evolution(Alwaye, Kerala: Pontifical Institute 1972), pp. 50-51: Yoga accelerates nature's evolution of consciousness. "The liberation that Aurobindo's yoga aims at is not only personal but collective" (p.53).
166. Zaehner, Evolution in Religion (1971). The Power of Consciousness is also called the divine "descent of the 'Supermind'," a spirit of pure consciousness. Otherwise, without such a transformation of selfish humans, Aurobindo considered any utopia impossible, and that promised by communists as a vain illusion leading to tyranny (pp. 28-29, 30-31). Zaehner analogizes the Power of Consciousness (Supermind) to Jesus as Logos (pp. 35, 38-39, 77, but cf. 31); cf., Christianity and sac-cid-ānanda [Being-Consciousness-Joy] (pp. 13, 48, 74).
167. Naravane, Modern Indian Thought ([1964], 1978): The process of cosmic evolution is preceded by an involution (p. 207), by which the material world is infused with consciousness by the Absolute; thereafter comes the creativeevolution. Eventually humans appear and advance until the Supramental links us to pure consciousness, an Absolute: then everyone becomes transformed (pp. 204–205). Aurobindo's "aim is to combine the western and eastern theories of evolution" (p. 208). The divine goal of Yoga at p.203. "Humanity will be transformed into a race of gnostic beings" (p.212).
168. Sri Aurobindo, On Yoga. I The Synthesis of Yoga (Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram 1957, originally in Arya 1914-1921). "The gnostic (vijnanamaya) being is in its character a truth-consciousnress" (pp. 557-558). The state of gnosis "is impossible without ample and close self-identification of ourselves with all existence" (p.558). To "learn how to be one self with all" is key, "without it there is no gnosis" (p.559). Gnosis changes "all our view and experience of our soul-life and of the world around us" as it is "the decisive transition in the Yoga" (p.542). Yet we must "remember that the gnostic level... is not the supreme plane of our consciousness but a middle or link plane" (p.553).
169. Sethna, Spirituality of the Future (1981), p. 267: Such human collaboration [in evolutionary time] is a spiritual quest that "by a concentrated effort of the entire being [may] accomplish in a short time the results that, with less clear vision and less inward pressure, might take millennia."
170. Sri Aurobindo, The Future Evolution of Man. The Divine Life upon Earth, compiled with a summary and notes by P. B. Saint-Hilaire (Pondicherry 1963), e.g., pp. 25-29 ('Life evolves out of Matter, Mind out of Life, Spirit out of Mind') , 40-41 (reason and inspiration), 64-66 (justice and freedom), 72-73 (spiritual experience and inner realization), 93-94 (the power to transform our being), 123-126 (personality of the gnostic beings), 131 (wholly aware of one's self/being), 137-143 (entirely new and conscious human facilities).
171. Zaehner, Evolution in Religion (1971), p. 36 (quote).
172. Zaehner, Concordant Discord (1970). Preface. Zaehner writes of the "missing link" between Zen and theism ( p. 304), and "the Hindu bridge" (p. 297), as pathways to convergence.
173. Newell, Struggle and Submission (1981), pp. 24-33 (convergence, solidarity). A false convergence is also possible (p. 252).
174. Zaehner, Concordant Discord (1970), p. 383 ("unfashionable" quote), p. 7 ("force nothing" quote). Cf. p. 296-299: ecumenical strategies Christian and Zen.
175. Concordant Discord (1970).
176. About the dialectical materialism of Marx and Engels, see the section below. "Diamat" was the source of Marxism-Leninism, the ideology per se of the Soviet state.
177. Zaehner, "A new Buddha and a new Tao", pp. 402-412, at 406-412; and 415-416, 417, in his Concise Encyclopedia (1959, 1962).
178. Zaehner, Dialectical Christianity (1971), pp. 32, 37-38 (Communist theory).
179. Cf., Gustav A. Wetter, Dialectical Materialism ([Wien: Herder 1952]; rev. ed., New York: Praeger 1958), pp. 554-561; at p.560: Communism a perverse "counter-church".
180. J. M. Bochenski, Soviet Russian Dialectical Materialism ([Bern: Francke 1950]; 3d ed. rev., Dordrecht: Reidel 1963), pp. 102-103 (Communist party fights the class warfare on behalf of the proletariat).
181. Cf., Tony Judt, Reappraisals (Penguin 2008), at pp. 128-146: his review of Leszek Kolakowski's Main Currents of Marxism ([Paris 1976], Oxford University 1978), esp. volume 3 on Soviet rule.
182. Zaehner, 'Marxian communism or dialectical materialism' pp. 406-412 at 412 (quote), in Concise Encyclopedia (1962).
183. Wetter, Dialectical Materialism ([1952]; 1958), p.209: Clearly, "throughout the whole of the Stalinist period Stalin himself was the only person in the Soviet Union who could ever dare to say anything new. In his lifetime, [his writings] were hymned in the highest superlatives... ." It was "altogether too flattering to him."
184. Martin D'Arcy, Communism and Christianity (Penguin 1956), p.43: "according to certain critics, the supposed resemblances with the Catholic Church" occurred when Stalin centralized Soviet power.
185. Nicolas Berdyaev, The origin of Russian communism (London: Geoffrey Bles 1937, new ed. 1948; University of Michigan 1960), not only the Catholic, at p.143: "The Soviet communist realm has in its spiritual structure a great likeness to Muscovite Orthodox Tsardom." Distinguishing its mystical nature, the Church is also a social phenomena.
"The Church as a social institution, as part of history, is sinful, liable to fall and to distort [its truth], passing off the temporary and human as the eternal and divine." Berdyaev (1960), p.172.
186. Zaehner, Matter and Spirit (1963), p.26 (Soviet atrocities).
187. Cf., Nicolas Werth, "A State against its People: violence, repression, and terror in the Soviet Union" at pp. 33-202, in Stéphane Courtois, et al., Le Livre noir du communisme (Paris 1997), translated as The Black Book of Communism (Harvard University 1999).
188. Zaehner, Dialectical Christianiy (1971), p.30.
189. Wetter, Dialectical Materialism (1952, 1958), p.553: There is "a great deal of difference between Engels and Lenin."
190. See section below: Dialectical Materialism.
191. Zaehner, "Marxian communism and dialectical materialism" pp. 406-412, in his Encyclopedia (1959); in the 1989 edition, revised as "Dialectical Materialism", pp. 393-407.
192. Zaehner, Matter and Spirit (1963).
193. Zaehner, Dialectical Christianity (1971), Chap. II, "Marxist evolution" pp.30-63.
194. Zaehner, Dialectical Christianity, p.32 (quote).
195. Evolution in Religion (1971); Dialectical Christianity and Christian Materialism(1971); The City within the Heart (1981). The evolving future of humanity: Matter and Spirit.
196. In Mysticism, Sacred and Profane (1957), Zaehner had discussed in a scholarly fashion the mescalin experience and eastern religions.
197. With Hindu and Muslim Mysticism (1960), Zaehner further articulated his understanding of comparative mysticism.
198. Cf. Zaehner, Concordant Discord (1970).
199. Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, Richard Alport, The Psychedelic Experience. A manual based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead (New Hyde Park: University Books 1966).
200. R. E. L. Masters and Jean Houston, The Varieties of Psychedelic Experience(New York: Holt Rinehart Winston 1966), per Zaehner, ZDM (1972), e.g., p. 77.
201. Zaehner, Zen, Drugs and Mysticism (1972), "Foreword" p.9.
202. Fernandes (2004), p.6 (quote). His 1972 book Drugs, Mysticism and Make-Believe [original English title] was "an expansion of three radio broadcasts" on BBC (p.265,n13).
203. Zaehner, A City within the Heart (1981), pp. 34-35: mystical states, Neo-Vedanta non-dualism of the Hindus, and Zen (practiced in America); p. 36: excess, the deity Indra as a killer in the Kaushitaki Upanishad, and his follower. Cf. excess in western religion, pp. 30-31.
204. Zaehner, Zen, Drugs and Mysticism (1972), p. 125-127 re Zen, per Abbot Shibayama. Per Jiddu Krishnamurti, p. 115.
205. Abbot Zenkai Shibayama, A Flower does not Talk (Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle 1970), pp. 105-110, esp. 105-106, the "Self before you were born" p. 108; re Zaehner, ZDM (1972), p. 81.
206. Radhakrishnan, Eastern Religions and Western Thought (1939, 1960), pp. 102-103: "When the Upanishad says that 'sin does not cling to a wise man any more than water clings to a lotus leaf' it does not mean that the sage may sin and yet be free, but rather that any one who is free from worldly attachments is also free from all temptation to sin."
207. Zaehner, Our Savage God (1974), pp. 47, 288, 306 (Charles Manson's "mysticism").
208. Sethna, Spirituality of the Future (1981), in his Chap. 10, pp. 208-220, challenges Zaehner's criticism of "the idea of an amoral or immoral component in Indian mysticism" (p.210, quote). Sethna refers to Zaehner's Evolution in Religion (1971), pp. 18-20, which discusses "a state so rudimentary that self-awareness and the moral sense have yet to arise" (p.210, quote).
209. Zaehner, Zen, Drugs and Mysticiam (1972), Leary: pp. 66-67, 69-75, 83-87.
210. Timothy Leary, The Politics of Ecstasy (New York: G. P. Putnam 1970), a source for Zaehner, ZDM (1972), p. 67:n9.
211. Zaehner, Our Savage God (1974), Crowley: pp. 40-47; Manson: pp. 47-72. Zaehner tells how Manson was underprivileged, son of a teenage prostitute (p.51), an ex-convict whose maleducation trickled down from local occult sects (pp. 46, 59). His enemy was society (pp. 48-50, 55-56, 306-307). He preached to die to the world, by exhaustion, drugs and sex, to break-down the ego (pp. 60, 62, 69), in order to attain an indifference (pp. 60, 66-67, cf. 80). So broken, his followers committed horrific crimes (pp. 47, 56, 67).
212. Ed Sanders in his The Family (New York: Dutton 1972; reprint Avon 1972) describes the occult indoctrination used by Manson, and his loopy rationale of the murders. Zaehner quotes it and obtained knowledge of Manson's crimes from it. Zaehner, OSG (1974), pp. 9, 45:n8, 61.
213. Zaehner, The City within the Heart (1981), chapter "The Wickedness of Evil" pp. 27-44, which begins with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and ends with Manson (pp. 35-44).
214. The crazy, soul-killing violence of the 1962 novel by Anthony Burgess and of the 1971 film of Stanley Kubrick are discussed in unavoidable graphic language by Zaehner in his essay, "Rot in the Clorkwork Orange" pp. 19-73, at 35-40, in Our Savage God (1974), esp. p. 36.
215. Zaehner, Zen, Drugs and Mysticism (1972), pp. 133-134.
216. Cf. The Economist, June 25, 2011, "Acid Test. Research into hallucinogenic drugs begins to shake off decades of taboo" p. 95; e.g., medical treatments, biotechnology.
217. Zaehner, Our Savage God (1974) p. 234 (quote).
218. Cf., Zaehner, Comparison of Religions (1958, 1962), p.30: "The prophet confronts the mystic: and each speaks a different language that is not comprehensible to the other."
219. Zaehner, "A New Buddha and a New Tao" pp. 402–412, at 403 (quote), in The Concise Encyclopedia of Living Faiths (1959; 1967), edited by Zaehner.
220. C. G. Jung, Aion (New York: Bollingen 1959), in Collected Works, vol. 9,ii, re chap. IV, "The Self", pp. 23-35, atman at 32, and re chap. XIV, "The structure and dynamics of the Self", pp. 222-265, atman at 222-223.
221. Zaehner, The Comparison of Religions (1958) p. 152 (quote). "Haoma is both a plant and a god. ... As a god Haoma was the son of Ahura Mazdah, the Wise Lord (Yasna 11:4). ... The purpose of the sacrifice is to confer immortality on all those who drink the sacred liquid--the life-juice of a divine being pounded to death in a mortar" (pp. 152-153).
222. Cf., Zeahner, Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism (1961) at 85–94, re the Haoma rite.
223. Mary Boyce, A History of Zoroastrianism, vol.1 (Leiden/Köln: E. J. Brill 1975), pp. 164-165. Boyce criticizes Zaehner's presentation of the Haoma ritual in his Teachings pp. 126, 129; and Dawn and Twilight pp. 93-94. She says he marshals scripture, and evidence on the divine presence, death, and resurrection in the Haoma sacrifice, so that it resembles "the Christian communion rite". "But if all the material is properly taken into consideration... its intention appears as something very different" (p. 164). She cites A. Berriedale Keith, The religion and philosophy of the Veda and Upanishads, vol. II (Harvard Oriental Series 1925, reprint 1970), pp. 332. Keith states that for the Brahman soma ritual, there was "no serious or real feeling for the death of a god" (p. 460). The same applies for the Iranian haoma (Keith, p.326,n2). Cf., Boyce (1975), p.165.
224. Zaehner, Our Savage God (1974) p. 235 (quote).
225. Cf., Zaehner, Mysticism. Sacred and Profane (1961), p. 49: his approval of Richard Jefferies, advocate of "a mysticism of soul and body", who opposed ascetic practices.
226. Cf., Zaehner, The Comparison of Religions (1958), p. 172: his disapproval of Hendrik Kraemer, who condemned wholesale all mystics for wanting 'to be like God'. From this attack, Zaehner defends mystics of Samkhya, nature, and theism, while questioning some divinity claims of monism. Cf. p.83 re Jefferies, "this prince of nature mystics" (p.85).
227. Zaehner, Matter and Spirit (1963), p.27 (quote).
228. Matthew 7:3, re the "mote" and the "beam".
229. Cf., Zaehner, Christianity and other Religions (1964), p.147: "By their fruits shall ye know them." Yet some Catholic Church "fruits in the past have been bitter, rotten fruits that would, had it been possible, have corrupted the very tree, Christ, from which they sprang."
230. Zaehner, Matter and Spirit (1963) p. 199 (quote). Cf., p. 19: This book "does not attempt to be an objective study..., rather it is a subjective interpretation... seen from an individual angle within... the Catholic Church."
231. Cf., Zaehner, Concordant Discord (1970), p.360: "[T]o be a Christian you must be both a Marxist and a Buddhist, both Confucian and Taoist, for in Christ all that has abiding value meets."
232. Zaehner, The City within the Heart (1981) p. 136 (quote).
233. Aristotle, Metaphysics 12 (11).7.9 (1072b), "And so we roundly affirm that God is a living being, eternal and supremely good, and that in God there is life and coherent, eternal being. For that is God." Quoted by Zaehner, Our Savage God(1974), p.194.


Zaehner's works

• Foolishness to the Greeks. Oxford University, 1953 (pamphlet). Reprint: Descale de Brouwer, Paris, 1974. As Appendix in Concordant Discord (1970).
• Zurvan. A Zoroastrian Dilemma. Oxford University, 1955. Reprint: Biblio and Tannen, New York, 1972.
• The Teachings of the Magi. A compendium of Zoroastrian beliefs. George Allen & Unwin, London, 1956. Reprints: Sheldon Press, 1972; Oxford, 1976. Translation:
o Il Libro del Consiglio di Zarathushtra e altri testi. Compendio delle teorie zoroastriane. Astrolabio Ubaldini, Roma, 1976.
• Mysticism: Sacred and Profane. Clarendon Press, Oxford University, 1957, reprint 1961. Translations:
o Mystik, religiös und profan. Ernst Klett, Stuttgart, 1957.
o Mystiek sacraal en profaan. De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 1969.
o Mystique sacrée, Mystique profane. Editorial De Rocher, Monaco, 1983.
• At Sundry Times. An essay in the comparison of religions. Faber & Faber, London, 1958. Alternate title, and translation:
o The Comparison of Religions. Beacon Press, Boston, 1962.
o Inde, Israël, Islam: religions mystiques et révelations prophétiques. Desclée de Brouwer, Paris, 1965.
• Hindu and Muslim Mysticism. Athlone Press, University of London, 1960. Reprints: Schocken, New York, 1969; Oneworld, Oxford, 1994.
• The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1961. Translation:
o Zoroaster e la fantasia religiosa. Il Saggiatore, Milano, 1962.
• Hinduism. Oxford University Press, London, 1962. Translations:
o Der Hinduismus. Seine geschichte und seine lehre. Goldman, München, 1964.
o L'Induismo. Il Mulino, Bologna, 1972.
o L'hindouisme. Desclée de Brouwer, Paris, 1974.
• The Convergent Spirit. Towards a dialectics of Religion. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1963. Alternate title:
o Matter and Spirit. Their convergence in Eastern Religions, Marx, and Teilhard de Chardin. Harper & Row, New York, 1963.
• The Catholic Church and World Religions. Burns & Oates, London, 1964. Alternate title, and translation:
o Christianity and other Religions. Hawthorn Books, New York, 1964.
o El Cristianismo y les grandes religiones de Asia. Editorial Herder, Barcelona, 1967.
• Concordant Discord. The Interdependence of Faiths. Clarendon Press, Oxford University, 1970. Gifford Lectures 1967-1969. Translation:
o Mystik. Harmonie und dissonanz. Walter, Olten/Freiburg, 1980.
• Dialectical Christianity and Christian Materialism. The Riddell Memorial Lectures. Oxford University Press, London, 1971.
• Evolution in Religion. A study of Sri Aurobindo and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Clarendon Press, Oxford University, 1971.
• Drugs, Mysticism and Make-believe. William Collins, London, 1972. Alternate title:
o Zen, Drugs, and Mysticism. Pantheon Books, New York, 1972.
• Our Savage God. The Perverse use of Eastern Thought. Sheed & Ward, New York, 1974.
• The City within the Heart. Crossroad Publishing, New York, 1981. Introduction by Michael Dummett.


• "Zoroastrian survivals in Iranian folklore," in Journal of British Institute of Persian Studies, 1952; reprinted in Iran, v.3, pp. 87–96, 1965; Part II, in Iran, v.30, pp. 65–75, 1992.
• "Abu Yazid of Bistam" in Indo-Iranian Journal, v.1, pp. 286–301, 1957.
• “Islam and Christ,” Dublin Review, no. 474, pp. 271–88, 1957.
• "A new Buddha and a new Tao," in The Concise Encyclopedia of Living Faiths, 1959.
• "Christianity and Marxism," in Jubilee 11: 8-11, 1963.
• "Sexual Symbolism in the Svetasvatara Upanishad," in J. M. Kitagawa (editor), Myths and Symbols: Studies in honor of Mircea Eliade, University of Chicago, 1969.
• "Learning from Other Faiths: Hinduism," in The Expository Times, v.83, pp. 164–168, 1972.
• "Our Father Aristotle" in Ph. Gignoux et A. Tafazzoli, editors, Memorial Jean de Menasce, Louvain: Impremerie orientaliste, 1974.


• Hindu Scriptures. Translated and edited by R. C. Zaehner. J. M. Dent, London, 1966.
• The Bhagavad Gita. With commentary based on the ancient sources. Translated by R. C. Zaehner. Oxford Univ., London, 1969.
• The Concise Encyclopedia of Living Faiths. Edited by R. C. Zaehner. Hawthorn Books, New York, 1959. Three reprints:
o The Concise Encyclopedia of Living Faiths. Beacon Press, Boston, 1967.
o The Hutchinson Encyclopedia of Living Faiths. Century Hutchinson, London, 1988.
o Encyclopedia of the World's Religions. Barnes and Noble, New York, 1997.

Criticism, commentary

• Albano Fernandes, The Hindu Mystical Experience: A comparative philosophical study of the approaches of R. C. Zaehner & Bede Griffiths. Intercultural, New Delhi 2004.
• George Kizhakkemury, The Converging Point. An appraisal of Professor R. C. Zaehner's approach to Islamic mysticism. Alwaye MCBS, New Delhi 1982.
• Jeffrey John Kripal, Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom. University of Chicago 2001. Chapter III (pp. 156–198) on Zaehner.
• William Lloyd Newell, Struggle and Submission: R. C. Zaehner on Mysticisms. University Press of America, Washington 1981, forward by Gregory Baum.
• John Paul Reardon, A Theological Analysis of R. C. Zaehner's Theory of Mysticism. Dissertation at Fordham University, New York 2012. {website}
• Richard Charles Schebera, Christian and Non-Christian Dialogue. The vision of R. C. Zaehner. University Press of America, Washington 1978.
• K. D. Sethna, The Spirituality of the Future: A search apropos of R. C. Zaehner's study in Sri Aurobindo and Teilhard De Chardin. Fairleigh Dickinson University 1981.
o Carlo Cereti, "Zaehner, Robert Charles" in Ehsan Yarshater, editor, Encyclopaedia Iranica. {website}
o Robert D. Hughes, "Zen, Zurvan, and Zaehner: A Memorial Tribute... " in Studies in Religion 6: 139-148 (1976-1977).
o Ann K. S. Lambton, "Robert Charles Zaehner" in B.S.O.A.S. 38/3: 623–624 (London 1975).
o Morrison, Gorge (1975). "Professor R. C. Zaehner". Iran. 13: iv–iv. JSTOR 4300520.
o Geoffrey Parrinder, "Robert Charles Zaehner (1913–1974)" in History of Religions 16/1: 66–74 (Univ.of Chicago 1976).
o F. Whaling, "R. C. Zaehner: A Critique" in The Journal of Religious Studies 10: 77-118 (1982).
• Michael Dummett, "Introduction" at pp. xi-xix, to Zaehner's posthumous The City within the Heart (1981).

External links

• R. C. Zaehner, Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianiism (1961), Chapter 9: "Varieties of Zurvanism", at Zoroastrian Heritage.
• R. C. Zaehner, Zurvan. A Zoroastrian Dilemma. Oxford University, 1955. Reprint: Biblio and Tannen, New York, 1972. {Google}
• R. C. Zaehner, "Zoroastrian survivals in Iranian folklore", 1952; reprinted in Iran, 3:87-96 (1965). {JSTOR}
o J. P. Reardon, A Theological Analysis of R. C. Zaehner's Theory of Mysticism, Ph.D. Dissertation, Fordham University, 2012.
• Anonymous, "R. C. Zaehner. British historian" at Encyclopedia Britannica, updated 4-1-2018.
• Carlo Cereti, "Zaehner, Robert Charles" at Encyclopaedia Iranica, Sept. 22, 2015.
• Alana Howard, "Robert Charles Zaehner, 1913-1974, Professor, Oxford", at Gifford Lectures.
o Anonymous, "Mysticism Sacred and Profane by R. C. Zaehner", at Psychedelic Press UK, 2012, 2015.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Part 1 of 2

Comparative Religion at the University of Manchester, 1904-1979 [1]
by Eric J. Sharpe
Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Sydney, Australia
Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 63 (1):144-170 (1980)



Exhibiting Spiritual Progress

The nineteenth-century study of comparative religion, whatever it may be now, was unashamedly Christo-centric and closely allied with the imperative of Christian missions to know the enemy. The presence of non-Christian religions was, of course, essential to give the event its international status. As Barrows himself recognized, "A World's Parliament of Religions in which only a few were interested would be a misnomer."38 Asian religions were also essential as a contrast: "[S]uperiority cannot be shown without comparison."39 Their presence was deemed necessary to display the relative excellence of Christianity. The difference in the quality of the exhibits would demonstrate the progress of Christianity.

The evolutionary lesson of the fair, the place of each nation in an international hierarchy, was most definitely also to be drawn from the Parliament. Ninety-seven nations participated in the Columbian Exposition, including "aborigines from the arctic circle and the Pacific" and other such materially undeveloped countries as Venezuela and the French Congo. The organizers had decided to arrange the exhibits throughout the fair in categories rather than by nation so that the relative merit of entries from different nations placed side by side would be apparent. It was considered one of the valuable lessons of the fair, Johnson records, that each nation could see its position ill the hierarchy thus displayed.40 At the World's Parliament of Religions "each country was, in the same spirit, invited to exhibit their [sic] religions."41 Or as Barrows himself expressed it, employing the frequently used metaphor of reflections of the light of truth, the Parliament aimed "to study all the exhibits in the spectrum."42 The result was that the "products displayed by the United States, Great Britain and Germany were immensely superior."43 Spiritual superiority was established through the dubious authority of democratic competition and scientific comparison. Note that the claim to immense superiority is restricted to the three Protestant nations of the West, explicitly connecting material advancement with the Protestant Christian vision of spiritual progress.

Exhibiting the Exotic

The Parliament was a microcosm of the fair. Its exotic delegates provided the Midway Plaisance component, the object lesson in evolution, the color, entertainment, light relief, the picturesque, and like the Midway, the Parliament drew large crowds. Attendance apparently exceeded expectations as a second hall had to be opened to accommodate repeat sessions. The Hall of Columbus alone held four thousand people and was regularly packed. Newspapers reported, however, that there was little discrimination in the audience's response to Asian speakers, and much waving of handkerchiefs and throwing hats into the air -- more the behavior of a music hall than of an academic conference. Indian delegate Vivekananda's opening words, "Brothers and sisters of America," brought on four minutes of applause and cheering. Vivekananda and the other photogenic and articulate South Asian delegate, Anagarika Dharmapala, the Buddhist delegate from Ceylon, were lionized in the press, but the coverage gave much more space to their appearance and theatrics than to the content of their papers. The Parliament was part of the fair and the Asian delegates were a spectacular attraction. Neglect of more informative if less outgoing speakers on Hinduism such as Manilal D'Vivedi44 suggests that these expressions of brotherhood were what the audience wanted to hear rather than information on Oriental thought. The other question that arises is just how much of any unamplified speech would be heard in an auditorium of that size. Front-row seats were reserved for registered participants. For many of the general public in attendance the visual spectacle must have been the principal satisfaction, and in spite of actually having been present at the Parliament and witnessing the pageantry and the sincerity of the delivery, their knowledge of the content of the speeches would have depended on the press reports and the published record: the voices of the Asian delegates, edited and interpreted by their Christian hosts.

Just how important was the carnival aspect of the Asian presence and how calculated was it? W. F. Warren, president of Boston University, wrote in response to the idea of the Parliament, apparently confirming a suggestion made to him in Barrows's letter, that "even a museum of idols and objects used in ceremonial worship would attract beyond any other museum. Models and illustrations of the great temples of the world and of the world's history would be in a high degree instructive. Add to these things the living word of living teachers, and the whole world may well pause to listen."45 Is it mere coincidence that Barrows subsequently invited these "living teachers" of exotic religions? Or that the official record was profusely illustrated with photographs of ritual objects, great temples, and Oriental practitioners? Of the nonportrait illustrations only twelve are Christian, and these are the great monuments: St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, St. Peter's in Rome, and the cathedrals of St. Petersburg, Worcester, Milan. Non-Christian religions are also represented by major buildings, among which is the Pearl Mosque in Delhi, Mandalay Pagoda, and the Temple of Heaven in Peking. There are rather more photographs of "heathen" curiosities such as those labeled "The Burning Ghat at Calcutta," "A Group of Fakirs," "A Chinese Idol," "Hindus at Devotion," and of assorted poorly dressed Oriental devotees. The abiding impression from thumbing through the volume is one of contrast between the cathedrals soaring toward heaven and the earthbound and materially backward heathen. The illustrated history echoed the message of the Midway, the object lesson in the transition from the primitive to the sublime.

The Congress as Parliament

The imbalance of the relationship between the American Protestant hosts and the non-Christian guests was simultaneously concealed and strengthened by the conception of the event as a "parliament." This is a powerful metaphor, carrying as it does the fundamental political relationships of majority government and the minority right to be represented and heard and to contribute to the legislative process, which is ultimately under the control of the majority. The hierarchical relationship of religions, which was the lesson of the sideshow aspect of the event, was reinforced by the lesson of this reference to democratic structures. Christianity, which had an overwhelming majority of delegates, was clearly cast in the role of universal religion, a message also projected by the presence of Christian delegates from such far-flung outreaches as Africa, Japan, and India. Buddhism, alone or as part of the larger Oriental, non-Christian contingent, and in spite of its actual vast Asian following, was here cast as a minority party. The function of its delegates was principally to be present, validating the democratic principle of representation -- this was the World's Parliament after all -- and to illustrate the democratic respect for the right of minority groups to be heard.46

The equality implied by calling the event a "parliament" upset orthodox sections of the Christian community and forced Barrows to clarify the intentions behind his expansive rhetoric of brotherhood. The Anglican archbishop of Canterbury led the objection. He wrote refusing to participate on the grounds that he did not understand how the Christian religion, "which is the one religion," could be regarded as a member of a parliament of religions "without assuming the equality of the other intended members and the parity of their position and claims."47 In response Barrows explained that the term was certainly not intended to imply that the various religions were equal in doctrine or truth. Calling the event a "parliament" in no way compromised the Christian claim to superiority and unique revelation. It was only intended to guarantee the parliamentary privilege of equal right to speak and to present opinions. "There was no suggestion on the part of the Christian speakers that Christianity was to be thought of on the same level with other religions."48

In the most commonly reproduced photographs of the Parliament the Asian delegates appear as a handful of colorfully attired representatives contrasting with the sober, dark-suited Christians.49 Their prominent position at the center front of the stage makes the most of their presence, bestowing an impression of religious diversity. Barrows describes the "most picturesque and pleasing spectacle" of the gathering on stage and delights in the "colour and movement" of the Oriental delegates with their "many coloured raiment" and especially the "most gorgeous group," the Chinese and Japanese, "arrayed in costly silk vestments of all the colours of the rainbow."50 Consciously or not, the contrast among the Parliamentary delegates paralleled the planned contrast between the serious side of the fair, the White City, and the entertainment and amusement appeal of the Midway Plaisance.

The Invitation and the Limits of Tolerance

The Parliament, in the expansive terms of the call for papers, was to be a gathering of "the leading representatives of the great historic religions of the world, to show to man in the most impressive way, what and how many important truths the various religions hold and teach in common." It aimed to "promote and deepen the spirit of human brotherhood among religious men of diverse faiths, through friendly converse and mutual good understanding, while not seeking to foster the temper of indifferentism, and not striving to achieve any formal and outward unity."51 Letters of response to the idea suggest that this vision was considered disturbingly liberal by considerable segments of the society, those whom even Barrows disparagingly described as "good bigots who imagine that God will not cease working until he has made all men Presbyterians."52 But even the liberal view uncompromisingly placed Christianity at the pinnacle of evolutionary development that all other religions were destined to reach. In Barrows's words, "[I]t is not true that all religions are equally good; but neither is it true that all religions except one are no good at aIL" The invitation, for all its professions of mutual respect, was to come and be measured: "Christianity ... will assign to each its place in that work of evangelical preparation which the elder doctors discern in heathenism itself and which is not yet completed."53

Hierarchies of Race and the Light

Embedded here are the interrelated assumptions that there is but one God whose plan unfolds in the progress of the world, and his revelation is universal, but unequally bequeathed. "God hath not left himself without witness" was a constant refrain, elaborated on by metaphors of Light -- "the white light of Heaven," "the Light of Truth" -- all implying that other religions are but a dim reflection of the Christian Light of the World. Christianity was "the sun among candles." Christians who "have the full light of the Cross should bear brotherly hearts towards all those who grope in a dimmer illumination."54 The "twilight" state of others was variously explained. In Bonney's opening address we find that "God necessarily reveals himself differently to a child than to a man, to a philosopher than to one who cannot read." God gave two revelations, one in nature, which historically has been the preoccupation of the "Oriental" religions, and the higher revelation, the Christian revelation of the word.55 A scientifically expressed variation on the theme was overtly racist: the revelation was given equally to all but was "broken into many coloured fragments by the prisms of men." Non-Christian races were unable to perceive the truth or to hold on to its brilliance. The white light shone upon them was defracted into the many hues of partial truths, "gropings after God."56 One of the most frequently stated objects of the Parliament of Religions was to "change this many-coloured radiance back to the white light of heavenly truth."57

Acts 10:35 -- "God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to Him" -- was also quoted with great enthusiasm as an example of Christian magnanimity and tolerance. It seems to have been forgotten that it was a reply to Peter's question of whether the Gentiles could receive the Holy Spirit and offers only that men of all races may be converted. It has nothing to say about Christian tolerance for other religions to exist. The liberal inspiration of the Parliament notwithstanding, it was a Christian event both in the proselytizing aspirations of people such as Barrows and in the unquestioned assumptions upon which it was based.

While Barrows quite understandably presented the Parliament as welcoming and attractive to non-Christian delegates in the official invitation intended for international distribution, in publications intended to circulate among Christians -- and in sermons before his congregation -- he was less guarded and spoke more specifically of the function of the Parliament in converting the world to Christianity. News of one such sermon reached Japan with serious consequences for the Japanese delegation. 58 Conservative Japanese already opposed to the idea of Buddhist participation at the Parliament were confirmed in their suspicions that the event was a Christian trap and that non-Christian religions, far from getting a fair hearing, would be used.59 Supporters of the delegation countered that such suspicions showed lack of confidence in Buddhism. They did concede that the circumstances of the Parliament, a Christian event held in a Christian country and controlled by a Christian chairman, were less than ideal, but that, properly managed, the benefits for Buddhism in Japan could be profound and that the risks were well worth taking.60

Barrows's sermon focused Buddhist rhetoric on the need to combat Christian imperialism. From the Japanese delegates' point of view, because Barrows had declared war, it was now possible to plead for support in terms of attack. The Parliament was an opportunity to "make the truth known and assail the evil teaching." Employing the rhetoric of Social Darwinism, they argued that Japan must send a delegation for the sake of Buddhism and for the sake of Japan. "The survival of the fittest is the general trend of society," they argued, and Japanese Buddhists had an obligation to the civilization of the future. Evolution of religion depended on competition between species, and among the world religions -- which they identified as Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam -- Buddhism alone is a sufficiently different "species," the one world religion "entirely different from Christianity in nature, organization, doctrine and means of propagation." Therefore, they argued, "the racial contest is between yellow and white; the contest of religions is between Buddhism and Christianity,"61 After years of conflict and rivalry with Christians in Japan, Japanese Buddhists were not predisposed to take Barrows's protestations of brotherhood at face value.

Tolerance: Assimilation or Plurality?

The Theravada Buddhist delegate, Dharmapala, also expressed his suspicions of the Christian motive in inviting non-Christian delegates, admitting that he meditated for a year before deciding to attend. His opening address challenged the Parliament to match the tolerance of religious plurality, the tolerance demonstrated by the great Buddhist king Asoka "twenty-four centuries ago," recognizing and supporting the right of different religions to coexist. Experience of missionary attitudes in Asia warned delegates that this ideal of tolerance was unlikely to be what the organizers had in mind. Even liberal missionaries who showed respect for certain non-Christian religions held instead an ideal of assimilation in "fulfilment." Dharmapala offered only conditional approval: "[I]f you are serious, if you are unselfish, if you are altruistic," the Parliament would be a success, and Barrows would shine forth as the American Asoka.62

The problem was a fundamental one: acceptance of the possibility of different religions coexisting in mutual respect, rather than mere rhetorical generosity. The difference in Christian and Asian views, of assimilation versus plurality, became clear at the closing ceremony in the audience reaction to two speakers, both of whom spoke on the theme of tolerance and religious unity. The first was the Reverend George T. Candlin, an English missionary to China, who showed his own admiration and sympathy for China by dressing in Chinese clothes and, according to the Japanese delegate Shaku Soen, "speaking with such enthusiasm that foam flew from the corners of his mouth."63 Candlin was given an enthusiastic ovation. He encapsulated the liberal Christian project of considering non-Christian religions as partial revelations of the Christian truth, their followers children of a lesser light. Chicago's achievement, as he saw it, was that it had opened the way for a new period of missionary enterprise in Asia. Christianity, which was not achieving expected results in Asia, would henceforth succeed more rapidly by adopting a less confrontational approach, by overcoming the "conventional idea" that

Christianity is true and all other religions false; that Christianity is light, and other religions dark; that Christianity is of God, while other religions are of the devil, or else with a little more moderation that Christianity is by revelation from heaven while other religions are manufactures of men. You know better, and with clear light and strong assurance you can testify that there may be friendship instead of antagonism between religion and religion; that so surely as God is our common Father our hearts alike have yearned for him, and our souls in devoutest moods have caught whispers of grace dropped from his throne.64

Candlin was followed by the Indian Hindu speaker, Vivekananda, who also called for tolerance and brotherhood, but in terms of acceptance and coexistence rather than conversion. The lesson of the Parliament was, he claimed, that holiness and purity were not the exclusive possession of anyone faith. "Much has been said of the common ground of religious unity .... But if anyone here hopes that this unity would come by the triumph of anyone of these religions and the destruction of the others, to him I say, 'Brother, yours is an impossible hope: Do I wish that the Christian would become Hindu? God forbid. Do I wish that the Hindu or Buddhist would become Christian? God forbid .... The Christian is not to become a Hindu or Buddhist, nor a Hindu or Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the others yet preserve its individuality."65

As Barrows observed, Vivekananda was one of the most popular speakers at the Parliament, "but very little approval was shown to some of his sentiments expressed in his closing address."66 It was apparently acceptable that we all have one Father, that all religions are reflections of the one light (shining on different surfaces, fractured by the prisms of different minds), provided that the implications of this were not taken so seriously as to appear to validate the differences. All were ultimately to be subsumed in the One, and the Lord was ultimately to be called Jesus. The Christians in the audience showed by their disapproval that they understood only too clearly the implication of Vivekananda's quotation of Visnu's claim that whosoever makes offerings or prayers to any God makes them to him. For Candlin the tolerance of differences was a temporary stage on the road to ultimate conversion to Christianity as the universal religion. For him the Parliament heralded "a new era of missionary enterprise and missionary hope."67 For Vivekananda, plurality was a permanent and desirable condition.


Although the Christian intention of the Parliament is evident enough in the official records, when Barrows wrote about the event in 1897, outside the protocol of the official publication intended for international distribution, he summed up his vision of the Parliament's purpose even more directly: "Christianity should be choked down no man's throat, but ... all men should be invited to receive it for their own good, intelligently invited to an intelligent reception."68

The organizers of the Parliament were motivated by a dream of universal Christian supremacy that was to be achieved by bringing lesser beliefs to their fulfillment. In their view Christianity was already the perfect religion, and the point of the conference was to provide an opportunity for Eastern leaders to realize this. That their Asian colleagues might just as sincerely view the Parliament as an opportunity for the West to recognize the superiority of their religion was not conceivable.

Barrows entertained his Oriental visitors in the week before the Parliament by taking them to one of his Sunday services at the First Presbyterian Church of Chicago. Barrows reported that the Buddhist delegation, after witnessing two ceremonies of entry into Christianity, a baptism and the reception of three Chinese converts, "reverently listened to a sermon on 'Christ the Wonderful.'" "It appeared," to Barrows at least, "as if the Parliament had already opened beneath the splendor of the Cross."69 The opening ceremony of the Parliament began with the singing of Psalm 100, a hymn rejoicing in having dragged the heathen into court.

Before Jehovah's awful throne,
Ye nations bow with sacred joy,
Know that the Lord is God Alone,
He can create, and He destroy.70

Although this scarcely seems an appropriate choice of anthem for an event meant to encourage religious tolerance and reassure non-Christian delegates of open-minded reception, the reception and hospitality the Asian delegates received were more tolerant than they had expected.71 They had considerable experience with Christian attitudes, were forewarned of the possibility of Christian aggression, and came prepared to deal with it. Nevertheless, the attempt to make Japanese Buddhism acceptable and relevant in this North American Protestant Christian arena imposed certain determinants on its representation and consequently on Western knowledge of Japanese Buddhism.

-- Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and the Columbian Exposition, by Judith Snodgrass

That 'what Manchester thinks today the rest of the world thinks tomorrow' is a familiar enough saying to anyone who has spent time in the city. In the history of the Faculty of Theology over the past seventy-five years this extravagant claim might in some cases be difficult to support; not, however, in respect of Comparative Religion. In that field Manchester long occupied a position unique among British universities, not only in making a provision for the subject to be taught, but, more seriously, in making it an essential element in the training of aspiring Christian ministers. Before 1904, Comparative Religion had been incorporated into the curricula of only one or two theological colleges (for instance Mansfield and Manchester Colleges in Oxford) and had never previously been accepted by any British university. The setting up of the Manchester Chair was therefore a radical departure. But before we can begin to appreciate how radical it was, we must take a moment to inquire into the character and status of Comparative Religion in 1904, and the relationship in which it stood at that time to some of the wider issues and goals of Christian theology, since it was introduced not as an Arts subject (as had happened a few years earlier in Berlin) but as an arm of Christian theology. This is particularly necessary in the present case in view of changes in the climate of Academic opinion which have taken place since 1904. [2]

It is often said today that 'Comparative Religion' as a term has outlived its usefulness and ought to be replaced by other forms of words, such as 'Religious Studies' or 'the History of Religions'. And certainly, Manchester's is one of the few departments of Comparative Religion which have retained this form of words. There is all the more reason, then, to recall its original meaning.

'Comparative Religion' is of course a shortened form of 'the comparative study of religion', the aim of which was once described by L. H. Jordan as being '. . . to investigate and expound, through the competent comparison of data collected from the most diverse sources, the meaning and value of the several faiths of mankind'. /[3] The enterprise might equally be called 'the science of religion', as in Friedrich Max Muller's 1873 book Introduction to the Science of Religion (which might well be called the foundation document of the discipline), or its German equivalent Religionswissenschaft. It is important to remember that in these labels the word 'religion' stands in the singular, and not in the plural. It is equally important to note that the original intention of those who practised this new 'science' was not simply to study religion outside the borders of Christianity and its antecedents (a common assumption which, once made, has proved well nigh impossible to eradicate), but to study all the religions of the world, irrespective of time and place, as diverse and evolving manifestations of the religion of the world. The presuppositions of Comparative Religion were, as I have attempted to show in detail elsewhere, in large measure (though not exclusively) those of the Darwinian-Spencerian theory of evolution as applied to a particular area of human experience -- an intellectual position which from the first aroused the suspicions of conservative Christians, Catholics and Protestants alike. What this meant in practice was that Comparative Religion was welcomed by Liberal Protestants (and by a small number of Catholic Modernists), that is, by those for whom divine revelation was not restricted in principle to the deliverances of one single tradition.

What was at issue in the emergence of Comparative Religion was not whether it was a fit and proper thing to study the religions of the world other than Christianity. Many conservative Christians were prepared to do that, not least for missionary purposes. To take only one non-Mancunian example, in 1887 we find the noted Boden Professor of Sanskrit in the University of Oxford, Sir Monier Monier-Williams, telling an Exeter Hall audience to study 'non-Christian bibles', but to keep their heads in so doing. These bibles, he said, are

. . all developments in the wrong direction. They all begin with some flashes of true light, and end in utter darkness. Pile them, if you will, on the left side of your study table, but place your own Holy Bible on the right side -- all by itself -- all alone -- and with a wide gap between. [4]

The liberal mind saw things differently. To the liberal Christian, the new science of Comparative Religion enabled the student to view religion, not in the bare categories of 'true' and 'false', but on an ascending scale of human response to God's revelation of himself. All religion, therefore, is in a sense 'true' -- or at least relatively true, depending on the position it occupies on a scale of developing awareness and refinement. The highest point of this development might lie outside the commonly accepted sphere of religion altogether, in agnosticism or in science; but the liberal Christian was convinced on the one hand that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was the point toward which the development was moving, and on the other that the highest point could only be rightly appreciated by those who had taken the trouble to study the world of the religions in all their infinite variety. In the words of James Hope Moulton:

Our new science [Comparative Religion) enables us to write a new chapter of the Praeparatio Evangelica. We have learnt from physical science the general formula of evolution as describing what we know of the Creator's method in the material world. Research is yearly modifying what science understands by the formula; but that does not concern us, as the central principle does not change. We have seen this principle of evolution applied successively to other departments of knowledge and to human institutions. . . . Is it not reasonable to expect that if evolution is a good enough method for God to employ everywhere else, it will be good enough for Him in the crown of all His work? Not by objective, external, authoritative voices, compelling an unintelligent assent, will He speak to those whom He created in His own image. . . All things have reached their present condition by evolutionary process; but God has been as vitally present throughout that process as He was in the framing of the evolutionary Law. [5]

The same apologetical principle was stated in 1909 by J. N. Farquhar (who came to Manchester in 1923) in these words: Each religion

. . . contains a partial revelation of God's will, but each is incomplete; and He comes to fulfil them all. In each case Christianity seeks not to destroy but to take all that is right and raise it to perfection. Christianity is the full, final truth, towards which every religion has been straining. [6]

Statements such as these would be unlikely to win much support in our present climate of opinion. But they certainly provided the department of Comparative Religion with its initial ideology. It is important that we remember this, and also that we recognize that by this means, Christian theology and wide and (within certain limits) dispassionate study of non-Christian texts and monuments could be, and were, brought together under the same conceptual canopy.

Leaving further background matters aside, in 1904 Manchester 'alone among the modern Universities of England' had attained to a maturity and a completeness of equipment worthy of a great industrial centre. [7] The John Rylands Library had been inaugurated in October 1899, with an inaugural address delivered by A. M. Fairbairn [8] of Mansfield College, Oxford (a man, incidentally, who as well as being a friend of Max Muller and A. S. Peake, was an early advocate of Comparative Religion in England). Its collections already contained a vast range of printed and manuscript material relative to the religions of the world. [9] Its celebrated Bulletin (which commenced publication in April 1903) was destined to serve as a forum for a great deal of Comparative Religion material, and many notable Manchester publications in the field were first given to the public as library lectures. The Council of the Library included, as 'Co-optative Governors', James Hope Moulton and Arthur Samuel Peake, and it is to their contribution, particularly to that of Moulton, that we must now turn.

Not having had access to the records, I have not been able to trace the negotiations which preceded the establishment of the Chair of Comparative Religion, but it is clear that the presence in Manchester of Moulton and Peake was of importance. [10] Neither was of course a comparative religionist in the professional sense: Moulton came to Manchester from Cambridge in 1902 as a tutor at Didsbury College (Wesleyan Methodist) and was appointed six years later Greenwood Professor of Hellenistic Greek and Indo-European Philology in the University; Peake had come from Mansfield College, Oxford ten years earlier, in 1892, to a similar position at Hartley College (Primitive Methodist) and became in 1904 the University's first Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis. Both were New Testament scholars primarily, though Moulton was more the philologist and Peake more the exegete. There were good reasons why both men should have been well aware of the importance of comparative work outside the boundaries of their discipline.

These were the years of the Religionsgeschichtliche Schule -- that body of scholars, mainly in Germany, who sought to elucidate the meaning of the Bible, and particularly the New Testament, by assiduous study of the religious conditions of the Hellenistic world. Advances in scholarship were making this enterprise more and more feasible for every year that passed. First one area, then another, came to the forefront of critical study. At the turn of the century the foci of attention were Mesopotamia in Old Testament studies, and Egypt (thanks to the emergence of papyrology) in New Testament studies. Yet another stimulus to background studies had come through the discipline of comparative Indo-European philology. It was not too difficult for scholars trained in the Greek and Latin classics to broaden their philological competence in the direction of Sanskrit, Avestan and other Indo-European languages; there were important reasons why at least some biblical scholars should wish to do so. For two centuries, down to the time of Alexander the Great in the 330s BC, Judaea had been part of the Persian Empire, and it was beginning to be suggested that in some areas at least, notably that of the apocalyptic literature, the Old Testament (and hence indirectly the New) might have been influenced from Iranian sources. No one, though, could be quite sure without subjecting the Old Iranian material to a thorough analysis. This Moulton had set himself to do long before coming to Manchester.

Iranian studies were, however, already represented in Manchester in the distinguished person of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Salford, Louis Charles Casartelli (1852-1925) [11] a Mancunian by birth who had become an Orientalist while studying under de Harlez (translator of the Avesta) at Louvain. In 1884 Casartelli had presented for his Louvain doctorate a dissertation in French entitled La Philosophie Religieuse du Mazdeisme sous les Sassanides. This was later translated into English by the son of the Parsi High Priest in Bombay, Firoz Jamaspji Dastur Jamasp Asa, and published in Bombay in 1889 as The Philosophy of the Mazdayasnian Religion under the Sassanids. In the meantime he had also published Dinkard: Traite de Medecine Mazdeene traduit du Pehlevi (1886), and he subsequently contributed a number of articles to James Hastings' Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics. In 1961 R. C. Zaehner called Casartelli's dissertation 'unique in its time', and compared it favourably with Soderblom's later work in the same area. [12]

Moulton had begun his Avestan studies in his Cambridge days under 'that prince of Christian orientalists', [13] Professor E. B. Cowell, while an Assistant at the Leys School. Already in the late 1880s and early 1890s he was giving lectures to various Cambridge audiences on aspects of Zoroastrianism; and during his Manchester period he developed into Britain's most outstanding scholar in this fairly novel area, while gaining international recognition for his work on the language of the New Testament. While still in Cambridge, Moulton had struck up a firm friendship with the celebrated anthropologist James George Frazer, and in 1904 we find him writing to A. S. Peake: 'I was, of course, a comparative philologist at Cambridge, a classic mostly for teaching purposes, a NT student from the grammar side. . . , and a Zendist as a philologue originally, finally a disciple of Frazer from the growing taste for comparative religion. . . ' [14]

The link with Frazer is worth a special mention, not least since it was through the successive editions of The Golden Bough that the Western world was familiarized with the methods of Comparative Religion on its anthropological side. When the Manchester chair of Comparative Religion was established, Frazer was in fact approached with a view to becoming its first incumbent. Frazer clearly felt the attractions of Manchester, but in the end declined the invitation. On 10 April 1904 he wrote to Moulton:

As to Manchester, . . . I was asked whether I should be willing to accept the chair of Comparative Religion if it were offered to me, and I said I might do so on certain conditions. But I am in two minds about it. I have begun to doubt whether, with my views on religion in general and Christianity in particular, it would be right for me to accept a teaching post in a Theological Faculty instituted by Christians for Christians, in particular for men training for the Christian ministry. . . . I have grave doubts whether I can do so. The case would be quite different if the chair were established independently of any Theological Faculty. . . . [15]

Today we can but speculate as to the course which Comparative Religion in Manchester might have taken if Frazer's scruples had been overcome.

Moulton was in every way an outstanding scholar. Jordan once wrote of him: 'His equipment is so ample, his temper so imperturbable, and his judgment so evenly poised, that many today accept his leadership absolutely without question.' [16] Of his work for Comparative Religion, special mention must be made of his researches into the religion of ancient Iran and particularly his books Early Religious Poetry of Persia (1911), his Hibbert Lectures Early Zoroastrianism (1913), and The Treasure of the Magi (published posthumously, 1917). He also wrote the articles 'Fravashi', 'Iranians' and 'Magi' for the Hastings' Encyclopaedia. The present writer is in no way qualified to pronounce on the scholarly quality of these books but they exercised a profound influence in their day. It is, incidentally, interesting to note that it was also as a result of reading an early Moulton article that Nathan Soderblom of Uppsala, another outstanding comparative religionist and theologian, was first turned in the direction of Iranian studies. [17]

But Moulton was also a Christian theologian and apologist, who characteristically looked upon the Iranian religious experience as a praeparatio evangelica, though always to be considered with sympathy and with the most scrupulous accuracy of scholarship. In 1913 he published, as the 43rd Fernley Lecture, Religions and Religion, subtitled 'a study of the science of religion, pure and applied', in which his methodological position is stated with great clarity. This book has a great deal to say about Comparative Religion, but always under the aspect of Christian apologetics, and virtually summarizes all the liberal theological concerns of the pre-war period -- which may fairly be supposed to have dominated the early years of the Manchester Faculty. Written in the first place for Wesleyan missionaries by one who '. . . is convinced that in his own faith he holds the key to the world's spiritual history, and in that conviction can afford to look with sympathy and understanding upon all the struggles of man towards God . . .' [18] it is less specialized than his Iranian work; but the theological emphasis is the same, that of the 'fulfilment school' of Liberal Protestantism. [19]

Thanks to his Zoroastrian studies, Moulton had become known to the Parsi community in India, and in 1916 he accepted an invitation from J. N. Farquhar, then Literature Secretary of the YMCA in India and subsequently Professor of Comparative Religion in Manchester, to undertake a lecture and study tour in India, partly among the Parsis. On his return journey, in April 1917, Moulton's ship was torpedoed in the Mediterranean. He was rescued, but died of exposure in a lifeboat. The Librarian of the John Rylands Library, Dr Henry Guppy, recorded that Moulton 'fell a victim to the pitiless barbarity of the Germans'. [20] More moderately, but in a similar tone, A. S. Peake wrote that '. . . none of us can miss the tragic irony in his death that he who loved peace and laboured for it, who had desired friendship with Germany and whose work was appreciated by none more highly than by German scholars, should have been sent to his premature death by a German submarine'. [21]

Returning now to 1904, attempts to secure the services of Frazer having finally failed, the new chair in Comparative Religion was offered to, and accepted by, a far different man, the Orientalist Thomas William Rhys Davids (1843-1922). [22] The son of a Congregational minister, Rhys Davids had studied Sanskrit at Breslau before joining the Ceylon Civil Service in 1866. There he learned Pali, the sacred language of Theravada Buddhism, and in 1877, after leaving Ceylon, he began his publishing career with Ancient Coins and Measures of Ceylon. In 1878 there came his popular handbook Buddhism, which by 1937 had seen twenty-three editions; subsequent years saw a stream of books, articles and (particularly) translations from the Pali flow from his pen. In 1881 he was instrumental in founding the Pali Text Society. In 1903 there appeared his Buddhist India, and in 1908 Early Buddhism. In 1915, when he was over seventy years old, he resigned from the Manchester chair to be able to devote the whole of his remaining years to a Pali Dictionary, of which the first two volumes were published in 1921 and 1922, the third appearing after his death, in 1925.

In 1894 Rhys Davids married Caroline Augusta Foley, who, as Mrs Rhys Davids, became as celebrated a scholar in the area of Buddhism as was her husband. She too lectured at Manchester. As well as numerous articles, many of them collected in the three volumes of Wayfarer's Words (1941), and translations, she produced for the Home University Library a short handbook, Buddhism (n.d.) which has still not outlived its usefulness.

The Rhys Davids family partnership did not make of Comparative Religion at Manchester what a Frazer (or for that matter a Moulton) might have made of it; but together they rendered an enormously valuable service to Buddhist studies in the West. G. R. Welbon, in his book The Buddhist Nirvana and its Western Interpreters (1968), had devoted a chapter to The Rhys Davidses; and although he is concerned with only one subject, their interpretation of Nirvana, he does give us a more general evaluation in which one cannot altogether avoid the impression that Mrs Rhys Davids comes out rather better than her husband. His general conclusion seems to be that while Rhys Davids provided Pali scholarship with many of its tools, Mrs Rhys Davids used them more skilfully. He writes:

The present generation of Buddhist scholars -- those in India and Japan as well as Europe and the United States -- has learned much from Mrs Rhys Davids. We no longer 'read our Buddhist scriptures like Fundamentalists'. Neat attempts to package the teachings of earliest Buddhism within the confines of a few terse pages are no longer considered possible. To the extent, then, that she focused attention on the history and change in the Pali Canon, to the extent that she has made sophisticated textual criticism -- higher and lower -- an indispensable aspect of Buddhist studies, she has indeed won her battle with the 'little books on Buddhism'. [23]

This is not to say, however, that we should belittle Rhys Davids' own efforts. Beginning in the 1880s, Buddhism had been patronized by the Theosophists, particularly in Ceylon. Amid their eccentricities, the Theosophists had no notion that critical questions even needed to be asked, much less how they were to be answered. It is to Rhys Davids' lasting credit that through the medium of the Pali Text Society, he provided subsequent generations of scholars with the linguistic and textual tools with which to work, and helped rescue Buddhist studies from the extravagances of the Olcotts, the Sinnetts and the Leadbeaters.

Following Rhys Davids' retirement in 1915, and bearing in mind the pressures of the war years, it was not found possible to fill the chair immediately. When the war was over a Reader was appointed to carry on the work. The Reader in question was W. J. Perry, who held his post until 1923; but before we can speak of Perry's contribution, a slight digression will be necessary.

From 1909 until 1919, the Chair of Anatomy at Manchester was held by a most unusual man, an expatriate Australian, Grafton Elliot Smith (1871-1937). [24] Of his brilliance in his own specialist area there can be no doubt. His impact on the teaching of anatomy at Manchester has been described as 'swift and revolutionary', [25] and even Glyn Daniel (who otherwise is scathing in his criticism of Elliot Smith) has recorded that 'at Manchester.. . he proved himself as a great anatomist, teacher and administrator.' [26] Before coming to Manchester he had been Professor of Anatomy at the Government Medical School in Egypt. While there he had become fascinated by the phenomenon of mummification and by other aspects of ancient Egyptian civilization. Gradually he had developed a comprehensive theory that all human culture worthy of the name had originated in Egypt, whence it had spread, by a process of diffusion, throughout the world, even as far afield as India, China, Japan and the Americas. [27] This theory (commonly characterized as 'hyper-diffusionist') -- which explicitly contradicted the Darwinian-Spencerian hypothesis of unilinear evolution -- he was keen to expound at every opportunity. He lectured frequently at the John Rylands Library. Many of his researches were first presented in the pages of the Rylands Bulletin, before becoming his well-known books (in their day) The Ancient Egyptians and the Origins of Civilization (1911), Migrations of Early Culture (1915), The Evolution of the Dragon (1919) and many more. On a somewhat different level, Elliot Smith was one of the anthropologists involved in the Piltdown controversy and at least one recent investigator was disposed to believe Smith to have been the ultimate practical joker: 'Somehow the whole affair reeks of Smith', wrote Ronald Millar before the final revelations came to light. [28]

Between Elliot Smith and W. J. Perry there existed such a degree of fellow-feeling that it is genuinely difficult to tell where the work of one ends and that of the other begins. As early as 1915 Perry had contributed to the Manchester meeting of the British Association, a paper on 'The Geographical Distribution of Megalithic Monuments and Ancient Mines', and in a footnote to one of Elliot Smith's Rylands Lectures, the anatomist records: 'Although I am wholly responsible for the form of this address, a great deal of the information made use of was collected by Mr Perry, and most of the rest emerged in the course of repeated conversations with him.' [29]

Perhaps Elliot Smith was the master, Perry the disciple -- at least in the eyes of the world. But certainly Perry did much, if not most, of the primary research and inevitably Comparative Religion at Manchester during Perry's incumbency was strongly coloured by 'diffusionism'.
Perry produced three books, The Children of the Sun (1923), The Origins of Magic and Religion (1923) and The Growth of Civilization (1924). Their thesis was similarly pan-Egyptian:

All the known evidence goes to show that the other early communities of the Ancient East derived their culture, directly or indirectly, from Egypt of the pre-dynastic or early dynastic age. It is impossible to produce any solid body of evidence to show that any other community had influenced the culture of Egypt in those times to any appreciable degree. [30]

So it was the Egyptians who had elaborated ideas on life after death; the Egyptians were responsible for the megaliths of Western Europe and the 'pyramids' of pre-Columbian America; all over the world the Egyptians, driven by their insatiable quest for gold, had left deposits of their culture. To this rule religion was no exception. Today diffusionism of this kind is treated with scorn by anthropologists and archaeologists alike. One of its harshest critics, Glyn Daniel, has characterized it as 'this pan-Egyptian diffusionist delusion'. [31] Its chief merit appears to have been (like the proto-astronaut theories of von Daniken half a century later) its massive simplicity. But it was part of the Manchester scene in the desperate years following the First World War: and it left a deeper mark than many would now be happy to acknowledge. In 1924 Perry followed Elliot Smith to London. His seminars (by now under the label of 'cultural anthropology'), as well as teaching many 'orthodox' anthropologists, provided at least some of the initial ideology out of which the British branch of the 'myth and ritual school' was subsequently to emerge, even though the focus of attention had in the meantime shifted from Egypt to Mesopotamia. Bearing this in mind, it was not unfitting that what now appears to have been the final flourish of the school in Britain should have been a series of lectures on Myth, Ritual and Kingship, delivered in Manchester in 1955 and 1956 under the joint auspices of the Departments of Near Eastern Studies and Comparative Religion. I shall return to these lectures later.

On Perry's departure for London, the question arose of once more filling the chair in Comparative Religion which had to all intents and purposes been vacant since Rhys Davids' retirement. Thanks to the good offices of A. S. Peake, it was filled in 1923 by a Scottish ex-missionary, John Nicol Farquhar (1861-1929), who had been working in India since 1891, first under the auspices of the London Missionary Society and subsequently as a YMCA Secretary, though for some years he had been dividing his time between India and Oxford. [32] Farquhar was undoubtedly the outstanding British missionary Orientalist of his generation. His books included Gita and Gospel (1903), A Primer of Hinduism (1911), The Crown of Hinduism (1913), Modern Religious Movements in India (1914) and An Introduction to the Religious Literature of India (1920), while as an editor he had been responsible for steering through the press a vast range of standard works on all aspects of Indian religion and culture. [33] He was also a close personal friend of both Peake (whom he had known as a student at Oxford) and Moulton (who he had invited to India, along with T. R. Glover, as a lecturer during the war).

Farquhar's retirement from active work in India had been brought about partly by failing health; and during his six years in Manchester, from 1923 to 1929, he was to publish relatively little. But to the Bulletin he contributed three articles, two on the ancient tradition linking the Apostle Thomas to India, [34] and the third -- a piece of pioneering research -- entitled The Fighting Ascetics of India', in which he looked historically at the phenomenon of 'militant Hinduism' and at the existence of orders of initiated fighting sannyasins. [35] This work, which is not without certain political implications, deserves to be far better known than it is. Otherwise, Farquhar devoted his diminishing energies mainly to his teaching, which was by no means limited to the Indian material. He was a Christian of warm Liberal Protestant convictions and during his time the work of the department, while retaining its emphasis on sound historical and textual scholarship, returned to the position as part of the Faculty of Theology which had originally been envisaged for it.

A useful indication of the strength of Manchester scholarship in the wider field of the study of religion is provided by the twelve volumes of James Hastings' Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics (1908-21, Index Volume 1926). To this outstanding enterprise, Manchester scholars made a notable contribution. Not all of these were, of course, comparative religionists, but the total effect was very impressive. The Encyclopaedia contains articles by Moulton, Peake, the Rhys Davidses (some sixty between them), Casartelli and Farquhar; while a total survey shows it to include over two hundred and thirty articles by twenty-six scholars having some link with the University of Manchester.

During the 1930s the field of Comparative Religion was beginning to enter upon a very difficult period. The generally optimistic evolutionism which had been such an important characteristic of its earliest years had suffered a body-blow at the time of the First World War. Advances on the scholarly front were such as to make the works of grand synthesis (such as Frazer's The Golden Bough) less and less practicable for every year that passed. Instead, an increasing number of scholars were retreating into the sheltered world of limited monographs. Theologically, the old-style apologetics was crumbling under the onslaught of the Barthians and their 'Neo-Orthodox' relatives, and it was no longer clear that the study of the religions of the world would have a great deal to contribute to the final result, either for or against Christianity. In a sense, Comparative Religion remained a popular subject but its scholarly standards were in decline. New departures in parallel fields such as philosophy, phenomenology, psychology, anthropology and sociology were beginning to play havoc with some well-established conclusions and methods. [36] Academic subjects and syllabuses, however, sometimes have a curious self-perpetuating quality and are not easily altered. Between 1930 and 1950 none but the most sanguine would want to claim that the subject was moving with the times. It was not. The chair was occupied successively by the Revd John Murphy (1930-41), the Revd Laurence Edward Browne (1941-6) and the Revd Frederick Harold Smith (1943-51).

Concerning these three incumbents I must be brief, though I should not wish conciseness to be interpreted as implying any lack of acknowledgement of their work on behalf of either the University or the discipline of Comparative Religion. John Murphy was a theoretical anthropologist in the generally Frazerian tradition, who had spent most of his career as a working Congregational minister, and who published three books, Primitive Man: his Essential Quest (1927), Lamps of Anthropology (1943) and The Origins and History of Religions (1949). Browne, like Farquhar, had been a missionary in India, having served for a period on the staff of the Henry Martyn School of Islamic Studies in Lahore. His publications dated back to 1913 and a Hulsean Prize Essay entitled The Parables of the Gospels in the Light of Modern Criticism. Subsequently he had published much solid and valuable work in the area of the encounter of Christianity and Islam, including The Great Moslem Wall -- the Problem of Missions to Moslems (1931), The Eclipse of Christianity in Asia (1933, reprinted as recently as in 1967), The Prospects of Islam (1944), and a series of Hulsean Lectures entitled The Quickening Word: a Theological Answer to the Challenge of Islam (1955). Browne's period was the only time during which Islamic studies played any real part in the department's work; but he was in Manchester for only five years, crossing the Pennines in 1946 to become Professor of Theology in Leeds. However, he returned to Manchester in connection with the Faculty of Theology's fiftieth anniversary in 1954 to deliver a lecture entitled 'The Value of the Comparative Study of Religion'. [37]
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This lecture is a theological, rather than a methodological, statement, emphasizing as it does that the 'scientific' study of religions must not be allowed to obscure the claims of the various religions to be the repositories of absolute truth in the realm of the spirit. He raises the question of academic objectivity, only to dismiss it in a phrase, 'In the comparative study of religions,' he writes, 'one must begin with the openness of mind which is prepared to find truth in any quarter. But there is no compulsion to find truth everywhere, or to shut one's eyes to falsehood and error'. [38] And, after passing in review some conflicting religious doctrines, he concludes that in his travels, he has seen a great deal of the world of religions in action, and has reached certain conclusions:

I have seen the beauty of holiness, the love of truth, and self-sacrificing devotion. There is only one religion to which these beauties are indissolubly linked. The other religions, by their failures, by their seekings, and by their near misses, seem to point to that one. That religion shows the way that God indwells the human soul and imparts his character. Yes, I am still a Christian. It is the best religion that I have met so far. [39]

Moulton and Farquhar would surely have concurred. Concerning Smith I can record only that he published four books, Outline of Hinduism (1934), The Elements of Comparative Theology (1937), The Comparative Study of Religions (1948) and The Buddhist Way of Life (1951).

It is perhaps unsafe to generalize on a period for which I have found information sparse, but it does seem clear that during the 1930s and 1940s Comparative Religion continued to maintain its position at Manchester largely as a scholarly arm of Christian apologetics.
Of the three professors since Farquhar, Browne was evidently the most accomplished scholar, while Murphy followed a line similar to that of E. O. James, and Smith was -- or appears to have been -- a straightforward expositor without being in any way original. But for my inevitable lack of perspective on this time of transition I can do little save to refer regretfully to 'the tyranny of distance'.

For twenty years, from 1951 to his untimely death in 1971, the chair of Comparative Religion was occupied by Samuel George Frederick Brandon. During this time the whole subject passed through a period of extraordinary change. From being a secluded and insignificant backwater of academic life, it became a focus of popular concern, not least among students. I shall return to this question shortly.

A Mirfield-trained Anglican priest who had served throughout the Second World War as an army chaplain, Brandon was appointed to the Manchester chair not on the strength of his previous experience as a university teacher (he had none) but as a pupil of E. O. James and as the writer of two books which appeared more or less simultaneously in 1951, Time and Mankind and The Fall of Jerusalem and the Christian church. [40] In the first of these he had launched the theory that man's sense of religion was bound up from the first with his consciousness of the time-process; in the second he had explored the significance of the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in AD 70 for the subsequent history of Christianity in the Roman Empire. To the end of his career he had these two strings to his scholarly bow, and in both areas his work was stimulating but at the same time controversial. In writing about time he was hampered by his relative indifference to questions of philosophy and psychology from taking his investigations very far beyond the historical facts as he had learned them. In the area of Christian origins he was to become a highly controversial figure, accused by some of a wilful misreading of historical evidence and by others of advocating violent revolution in the name of the Jesus Christ whom most still revered as 'the heaven-born prince of peace'. The publication of his two later books Jesus and the Zealots (1967), and The Trial of Jesus of Nazareth (1969), coming as they did at a highly volatile time in Western religious history, in fact brought Brandon international recognition bordering on an unwelcome notoriety; but they did not fall strictly within the orbit of what he, or the Faculty, understood by Comparative Religion, and must on this occasion be regretfully left on one side. [41]

Brandon's comparative religion began by being conventional in its approach, following a well-worn path through Palaeolithic religion, by way of the Mesopotamian and Egyptian material (he was well read in the Egyptian sources, though scarcely a professional Egyptologist), to Judaism and early Christianity, with some side glances at India and the Far East. Substantially the same approach is to be found in all his major writings in this area. Time and Mankind, as I have said, appeared in 1951. It was followed by his Oxford Wilde Lectures Man and his Destiny in the Great Religions (1962), Creation Legends of the Ancient Near East (1963), The judgment of the Dead (1967), History, Time and Deity (virtually a re-written version of Time and Mankind) (1965) and Religion in Ancient History (1969).

In all these books the overriding theme is 'change and decay', the inexorable passage of time, death, judgment and the future life. With the centrality of this theme in the history of religion no one would want to quarrel. The contrast between mortal man and the immortals who hold man's destiny in their hand is always there, in however many forms. And yet, though always thought-provoking, there was something slightly disappointing about Brandon's work in this area, perhaps because he always stopped too soon. Everything in religion that had happened since the European Middle Ages he tended to see as being decadent and artificial, and he was therefore unable to give very much serious attention to the religious world around him. Insisting that religions can only be understood with reference to their earliest beginnings, he failed to recognize the principles of change and continuity in religious traditions. Consequently, when the sudden upsurge of interest in Comparative Religion of which we have spoken took place in the early 1960s, Brandon (along with many others), whilst welcoming it, was somewhat at a loss to know either why it had happened or what was to be done to deal with it.

But this is to anticipate. In the 1950s the transition from Comparative Religion as a largely historical science to Comparative Religion as a matter of present-day behavioural observation had hardly even begun to take place on the university level, while internationally one notable focus of historical interest was in 'the sacral kingship'. Here we must return briefly to the 'diffusionism' of Elliot Smith and Perry. From Perry, a line of inquiry had spread into the larger area of Ancient Near Eastern studies, centred on the relationship between myth and ritual, and on the role of the kingship in maintaining the 'myth and ritual' pattern. Best known in its Scandinavian form, in the work of such scholars as the Norwegian Sigmund Mowinckel and the Swedes Ivan Engnell and Geo Widengren, the British representatives of the 'myth and ritual school' had for twenty years been pursuing an independent line, partly for reasons connected with the diffusionist theory. [42]

The most notable early British publications in this field had been A. M. Hocart's two books Kingship (1927) and Kings and Councillors (1936) and E. O. James' Christian Myth and Ritual (1933). Also in 1933 Professor M. A. Canney of Manchester (Semitic Languages and Literatures) had published a paper in which he had argued that in the Ancient Near East generally kings were thought of as divine, and that even in Israel the king was 'virtually an incarnation of the deity'. [43] H. H. Rowley has, in fact, said that 'In 1933 Manchester was as deeply involved in the ideas of the so-called "school" as any of its members, either then or later, whether in this country or Scandinavia'. [44]

The two books (or rather symposia) by which the British wing of the 'myth and ritual school' was chiefly identified were both edited by S. H. Hooke. Myth and Ritual appeared in 1933, The Labyrinth in 1935. Twenty years later it was time for a return to Manchester. In 1955 and 1956 I was one of those who attended the Cissie R. Blundell Memorial Lectures on Myth, Ritual and Kingship (published in 1958, also edited by Hooke). Seven of the nine lectures were delivered by British scholars, though only two (H. H. Rowley on 'Ritual and the Hebrew Prophets' and S. G. F. Brandon on 'The Myth and Ritual Position Critically Considered') were by Manchester men. Though it would be tempting to examine Brandon's criticism in some detail, I shall not do so, except to note that he scented Christian apologetics of a 'priestly' kind in some of the work of the school, which he evidently did not greatly appreciate. [45] For my part, I should be disposed to ask in addition whether there might not also have been a certain element of politics involved in the work of the school as a whole -- politics of the right rather than the left -- though this is a question on which I do not propose to elaborate.

It is at all events noteworthy that in the late 1950s we should find Manchester's Professor of Comparative Religion expressing his suspicion of Christian apologetics. Brandon, though he was still in Anglican orders, most emphatically did not see the chair as Farquhar or Browne would have seen it. His position was that of the impartial historical investigator. Others might question his impartiality but certainly he was never as much as tempted to turn any of the evidence he uncovered in a Christian direction. His bias -- if bias he had -- was in the opposite direction, though he maintained the most cordial professional relations with his theological colleagues, and on his death the memorial oration was delivered by Professor F. F. Bruce, whose evangelical credentials were and are impeccable.

To return now to the developments of the 1960s, before about 1960 (though I do not have any statistics) classes in Comparative Religion were still made up almost entirely of theological students, depressingly few of whom had any real interest in the subject. By 1966 the size of classes had increased dramatically. New student generations were pursuing their individual religious quests along unconventional lines, in which the study of the exotic wisdom that Comparative Religion seemed to offer often played a part. In this new climate of opinion, the old notion of Comparative Religion as an arm of Christian apologetics was forgotten. Ancient religions were to be studied for the sake of the timeless wisdom they enshrined; but, more importantly, 'the wisdom of the East' was now a living option to many young people who were growing progressively alienated from the roots of their own tradition.

Brandon did his best to cope with this new development but characteristically chose to do so by attempting to provide scholarly information in a more readily assimilable form. He planned, and wrote a great deal of, A Dictionary of Comparative Religion (1970), but this was not an outstanding success, being uneven in quality and too short for its purpose. He wrote regularly for History Today and Horizon, and on the most popular of popular levels he was deeply involved in the planning and writing of that extraordinary weekly encyclopaedia Man, Myth and Magic, which without his advice would certainly have been even more eccentric than it finally turned out to be. And in the last years of his active career, having reached the conviction that the study of iconography is of the utmost importance to the student of Comparative Religion, he had launched a new course in religious iconography as part of the department's offerings -- an elegant byproduct of which was his last book, Man and God in Art and Ritual (1974). This appeared in New York, was for some reason rapidly remaindered, and is now something of a collector's item. The admirable motivation for this work he expressed in the words:

For if the first charge upon a scholar is to further knowledge in his own particular field, his second duty is to disseminate that knowledge... The task of presenting his subject in an interesting and non-technical manner to this wider public [of 'intelligent layfolk'] is... the duty of the scholar... [46]

In 1970 Brandon was elected Secretary-General of the International Association for the History of Religions, a mark of the esteem in which he was by this time held as an 'elder statesman' in Comparative Religion. He hoped that the Association's 1975 Congress would come to Manchester and had begun to work to that end. But it was not to be. In 1971 he died, wholly unexpectedly, as the result of an infection contracted in Egypt. The 1975 Congress had to be moved to the University of Lancaster, while a planned Festschrift, Man and his Salvation (ed. Sharpe and Hinnells, 1973) became a memorial volume.

On Brandon's death the chair in Comparative Religion passed (in 1973) to Trevor O. Ling, a specialist in Buddhism who at that time held a personal chair at the University of Leeds. He had previously published four books, The Significance of Satan (1961), Buddhism and the Mythology of Evil (1962), Buddha, Marx and God (1966) and A History of Religion East and West (1968), and in 1973 he added to these (as part of a series which had been planned by Brandon) The Buddha -- dedicated, incidentally, to Indira Gandhi. In his Leeds inaugural lecture, Ling had shown the extent to which he had already broken away from the notion of studies of religion carried out by remote control, so to speak, on the basis of translated texts studied from a safe distance. Writing on 'Max Weber in India', he suggested that his achievements notwithstanding, Weber could hardly have written as he did, had he actually studied the social conditions of India at first hand. [47] This criticism extended by implication to many comparative religionists, quite apart from their frequent, and in Ling's opinion unwarranted, preoccupation with matters of Christian apologetics. In the introduction to his 1968 text-book, he had firmly excluded Christian theology from the Comparative Religion picture and had put forward arguments for re-defining the discipline as 'the philosophy and sociology of religion' (this at a time when the tendency internationally was to refer to it as 'the history and phenomenology of religion'), while indicating his personal preference for sociological method. [48] Subsequently Ling's work was to move more and more in a sociological direction methodologically and in the direction of Bengal geographically. In a one-man department, this might have been a serious narrowing of the frontiers of research; as it was, this infusion of sociological expertise added a dimension to Comparative Religion which was badly needed as a corrective.

By this time, however, the Manchester department was no longer dependent on the abilities and interests of a single professor, and I must take a moment to refer to the work of some of its other staff members.

The first full-time lecturer to become a member of the department had been appointed in 1953 in the person of D. Howard Smith. He had been for many years a missionary in China and lectured with evident delight on the curiously-named subject of 'Chinese Cults and Philosophies' as well as on Hinduism and Buddhism. During this time at Manchester, Smith did not publish extensively but after his retirement in 1966 he wrote in rapid succession two notable books, Chinese Religions (1968) and Confucius (1973). Both of them were extremely well received by reviewers and immediately became standard works in their area. He was also responsible for all the Chinese material in Brandon's Dictionary.

By 1966 the one lectureship had been extended to two. An unsuccessful attempt was made to appoint a Sinologist to carry on Smith's work after his retirement. In the event, however, the posts were filled by the present writer, a former student of Brandon's who had spent the period from 1958 to 1965 in the University of Uppsala, Sweden, working under Professors Geo Widengren, Carl-Martin Edsman and Bengt Sundkler, and had written a doctoral dissertation, Not to Destroy but to Fulfil (published in 1965) on the work in India of J. N. Farquhar; and the Revd D. N. de L. Young, who had become a specialist on Buddhism during his time as a missionary in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Neither was to remain at Manchester for very long. In 1970 both left, the former moving to Lancaster, and subsequently Sydney, while Young returned to the Church; less than a decade later he is now Bishop of Ripon.

If I may be allowed for a moment to indulge in some personal reminiscences, my chief memories of the 1966-70 period at Manchester are of hectic activity in a field which had suddenly become extraordinarily popular. The Department now seemed to belong in spirit rather more to the Faculty of Arts than to the Faculty of Theology, partly since numbers of Christian ordinands were declining and there had been a great influx of students from the Arts Faculty. Professor Brandon's name was in process of becoming a household word due not least to coverage in the popular press (and particularly in Time and Newsweek) of his book Jesus and the Zealots. Visitors to the Department included the eccentric American Bishop James Pike, apparently bent on worshipping at the Brandon shrine.
These were the days when the Dictionary of Comparative Religion and Man, Myth and Magic were being produced, and I for one was kept busy meeting one deadline after another. Apart from these aeuvres de vulgarisation, I succeeded during those four years in producing only one moderately scholarly paper, 'Nathan Soderblom and the Study of Religion', in Religious Studies (1969). But it was as a result of having to teach the history of Comparative Religion to students that I began to write a book which later appeared as Comparative Religion: a History (1975), and of which this present paper is in a manner of speaking a by-product. Also in these years members of the departments of Comparative Religion (or their equivalents) at Manchester, Lancaster, Leeds and Newcastle began to meet together with a view to more extensive cooperation. It was as a more or less direct result of these meetings that a new journal, Religion (1971 ff.), saw the light of day. Another indirect consequence was the setting up in 1969 of the Shap Working Party on World Religions in Education, which was destined to be highly influential in the area of religious education in schools.

At the first Shap Conference (held at the Shap Wells Hotel in Cumbria, hence the enigmatic title), organized by the Department of Adult Education at Newcastle, questions of method were brought to the fore. A conference volume, Comparative Religion in Education (ed. J. R. Hinnells, 1970) included my survey article, 'The Comparative Study of Religion in Historical Perspective'. The following year's conference also resulted in a textbook, Hinduism (ed. Hinnells and Sharpe, 1972), but by that time I had moved to Lancaster. By that time, too, the 'Brandon period' had come to an abrupt and tragic end.

Of John R. Hinnells, who joined the Manchester department from Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1970, I write only with the greatest diffidence, since for more than ten years he has been a close personal friend. Beginning as a theological student at King's College, London, he became fascinated by one of the same problems which had exercised the mind of Moulton half a century earlier, namely, the extent of Iranian influence upon the New Testament. This led him in time not only into a study of Zoroastrianism but also into a consideration of Mithraism (particularly with a view to its archaeology) and into the field of Parsi studies. As well as being an energetic writer in all these areas, with an output which has been all the more remarkable when it is remembered that his health has not always been of the best, he has found time to engage himself in a wide range of organizational and editorial activities. For two years he was on secondment to the Open University and played a large part in the planning of the course 'Man's Religious Quest': his three-unit textbook Spanning East and West (1978), on Zoroastrians and Parsis, is especially noteworthy since as well as writing the text, his own camera provided most of the ample and excellent illustrations. Otherwise, apart from his popular Hamlyn book on Persian Mythology (1973) and his four Bombay lectures on Parsis and the British (1978), his publications have mainly been in article form. As an entrepreneur of Comparative Religion generally, and as an organizer of two congresses of Mithraic studies (an enterprise which sadly came to an abrupt end with the 'Islamic Revolution' in Iran), he has made -- and is still making -- a notable contribution to the field.

Other lectureships in the Department have been held by Lance S. Cousins (since 1970), Alan Unterman (1972-3) and Jeanne Openshaw (1976-7). I trust that I may be forgiven for mentioning in this connection only that the first and second are a practising Buddhist and a Jewish Rabbi respectively -- ample testimony to the wider multi-religious and multi-cultural implications of Comparative Religion in the 1970s.

During the past seventy-five years, the work done under the auspices of the Department of Comparative Religion at Manchester has mirrored, with remarkable accuracy, the progress of the study on a larger international map. Beginning from a position firmly within the orbit of what the liberal Christian world understood by 'apologetics' and from a whole-hearted endorsement of historical method, textual studies and ultimate value judgements, we have seen Comparative Religion move from its early status as an arm of theological study in the direction of behavioural science on the one hand, and acknowledged religious pluralism on the other. Manchester has always been strongest in its subject specialists (few of whom have not made a solid contribution to their chosen fields), weakest in the area of methodology. Oddly, Manchester has never produced (with the possible exception of the eccentric period of Elliot Smith and Perry) either deep methodological reflection or genuine innovation. Its methods, though assiduously applied, have for the most part come from elsewhere. Not that methodological innovation is necessarily to be applauded for its own sake; but just as the vitality of a religious tradition is often seen most clearly in the heresies it produces, so the vitality of a scholarly discipline may perhaps be measured by its creative eccentricities. Of these, Comparative Religion at Manchester may have had too few.

There are signs that the wave of popular enthusiasm for Comparative Religion which began in the 1960s may already be on the wane; its effects, however, are likely to remain with us for the foreseeable future. Never again will it be possible, even for a Faculty of Theology, to act as though alternative 'religious' maps of the universe did not exist, or to deal with these maps simply as 'non-Christian religions'. We all, whether we welcome the thought or not, live in a religiously pluralistic world, which it is the first duty of the scholar to attempt to understand -- in the process using the methods and results achieved by colleagues in every accessible field. The achievement of Comparative Religion at Manchester lies in the extent to which it has always attempted to do this, to the best of its ability. It has never been an easy task but on the whole it has been carried out with conscientiousness and wisdom. Perhaps when the centenary comes round in 2004 the well-worn title 'Comparative Religion' will finally have been relinquished in favour of some other form of words. The field, however, will continue to exist, as part of that intellectual enterprise in which the attempt is made to approach, with sympathy and understanding, homo religiosus. As for the past seventy-five years, without the Department's work that task would have been immeasurably harder and the life of the Faculty of Theology much poorer.



1. A paper contributed in connection with the 75th Anniversary of the University's Faculty of Theology. This survey has been prepared and written in Australia and many of the sources have been inaccessible to me. I thank those who have responded to queries on matters of fact and who have supplied me with information. Most of the material has, however, had perforce to come from my own library and my own memory. I apologize for any shortcomings, while I acknowledge with deep gratitude all that Manchester has taught me.

2. For the general background to the subject, see Sharpe, Comparative Religion: A History (1975), and particularly chapter 6, 'The Quest for Academic Recognition'.

 3. Jordan, Comparative Religion: its Adjuncts and Allies (1915), p. 519.
4. Monier-Williams, The Holy Bible and the Sacred Books of the East (1887),  pp. 13 f.
5. Moulton, Religions and Religion (1913), pp. 50 f.
6. Farquhar, The College St. Matthew (1909), pp. 106 f.
7. James Hope Moulton, by his Brother (1919), p. 59.
8. On Fairbairn, see Sharpe, Not to Destroy but to Fulfil (1965), pp. 126 ff.
9. A. R. A. Hobson, Great Libraries (1970), pp. 268 ff.; Frank Taylor, 'The Oriental Manuscript Collections in the John Rylands Library' (rept. from Bulletin, liv (1971-2),1-30). Special mention must be made of the work of Moulton's close friend, J. Rendel Harris, who came to Manchester from Birmingham in 1918 as Curator of Manuscripts and in that position made a notable contribution to Comparative Religion.
10. James Hope Moulton, by his Brother (1919); J. T. Wilkinson (ed.), Arthur  Samuel Peake, 1865-1929 (1958).
11. Obituary in The Tablet, 24 January 1925. For information about Casartelli,  I am indebted to Mr John Allen, Secretary to the Diocese of Salford, Wardley  Hall, Worsley.
12. Zaehner, The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism (1961), p. 343.
13. Moulton, Religions and Religion (1913), p. viii.
14. James Hope Moulton, by his Brother, p. 75. On Frazer, see Sharpe, Comparative  Religion: A History, pp. 87 ff.
15. James Hope Moulton, pp. 164 f.
16. Jordan, op. cit p. 386.
17. See Sundkler, Nathan Soderblom (1968), pp. 25 f. Cf. Sharpe, 'Nathan Soderblom and the Study of Religion', in Religious Studies (1969), pp. 266 f.
18. Moulton, Religions and Religion, p. X.
19. On the 'fulfilment school', see Sharpe, Not to Destroy but to Fulfil, passim.
20. Bulletin, iv (1917-18), 1.
21. Ibid. p. 23. Cf. Sharpe, I. N. Farquhar: a Memoir (1962), p. 74.
22. Dictionary of National Biography 1922-1930 (1937), pp. 239 f.
23.  Welbon, op. cit p. 246.
24. On Elliot Smith, see Dawson, Sir Grafton Elliot Smith (1938), Elkin and  Mackintosh (eds.), Grafton Elliot Smith: the Man and his Work (1974).
25.  Millar, The Piltdown Men (1974), p. 106.
26. Daniel, The idea of Prehistory (1964), p. 93.
27. Bulletin, iii (1916-17), 60: '. . . there is amply sufficient information to justify  the conclusion that many of the fundamental concepts of Indian, Chinese,  Japanese and American civilisation were planted in their respective countries  by the great cultural wave which set out from the African coast not long before  the sixth century BC.'
28. Millar, op. cit. p. 231.
29. Bulletin, iii (1916-17), 75.
30. Perry, The Origin of Magic and Religion (1923), p. 26.
31. Daniel, op. cit. p. 96.
32. On Farquhar, see Sharpe, I. N. Farquhar: a Memoir (1962), and Not to Destroy but to Fulfil (1965). On 25 October 1923 he wrote to J. R. Mott, 'Manchester has many interests: [William] Temple is there; Dr Peake is a friend of my old Oxford days; Dr Rendel Harris is at the Rylands Library; and there are many others'. Perhaps, too, there were memories of Moulton.
33. For a complete list, see Sharpe, Not to Destroy, p. 380.
34. ‘The Apostle Thomas in North India', in Bulletin, X (1926); 'The Apostle  Thomas in South India', in ibid. xi (19273.
35. ‘The Fighting Ascetics of India', in ibid. ix (1925), 431 ff.
36. Sharpe, Comparative Religion: a History (1975), pp. 172-250.
37. Bulletin, xxxvii (1954-5), 42 ff. He also sent greetings to the Faculty for its 75th Anniversary although the infirmity of old age prevented him from attending  the celebrations.
38. Ibid. p. 45.
39. Ibid. p. 53.
40. See the essays by Snape and James in Sharpe and Hinnells (eds.), Man and  his Salvation: Studies in memory of S. C. F. Brandon (1973), pp. 1-16; and obituary notices by Simon in Numen, xix (1972), 84-9; and Sharpe in History of Religions,  xii (1972), 71-4.
41. But see Brandon, 'Jesus and the Zealots: Aftermath', in Bulletin, liv (1971-21,  47 ff.
42. Hooke, 'Myth and Ritual: Past and Present', in idem (ed.), Myth, Ritual and  Kingship (1958), pp. 1-21.
43. Quoted by Rowley, 'Ritual and the Hebrew Prophets', in Hooke, op. cit.  p. 237.
44. Ibid. pp. 237 f.
45.  Brandon, in Hooke (ed.), op. cit. p. 264.
46. Brandon, Religion in Ancient History (1969), p. vii.
47.  Ling, 'Max Weber in India', in The University of Leeds Review, 1611 (1973),  pp. 42 ff.
48. Idem, A History of Religion East and West (1968), p. xxi.
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