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Part 1 of 2

Robert Charles Zaehner
by Wikipedia
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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Part 2 of 2


• 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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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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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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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Jul 16, 2019 3:23 am

'Tibet In Darkness'
by Acharya Rajneesh (Osho)
Friends of Tibet (INDIA)




Acharya Rajneesh

"If there were something civilised in man, every nation would have stood against the invasion of Tibet by China. It is the invasion of matter against consciousness. It is invasion of materialism against spiritual heights"

-- Acharya Rajneesh

Unfortunately, Tibet has fallen into a darkness. Its monasteries have been closed, its seekers of truth have been forced to work in labour camps. The only country in the world which was working -- a one-pointed genius, all its intelligence in the search of one's own interior and its treasures has been stopped by the communist invasion of Tibet.

And it is such an ugly world that nobody has objected to it. On the contrary, because China is big and powerful, even countries which are more powerful than China can ever be, like America, have accepted that Tibet belongs to China. That is sheer nonsense -- just because China is powerful and everybody wants China to be on its side. Neither have the Soviets denied the claim of China aside -- even India has not objected. It was such a beautiful experiment, and Tibet had no weapons to fight, they had no army to fight; they had never thought about it. Their whole thing was an introvert pilgrimage.

Nowhere has such concentrated effort been made to discover man's being. Every family in Tibet used to give their eldest son to some monastery where he was to meditate and grow closer to awakening. It was a joy to every family that at least one of them was wholeheartedly, twenty-four hours a day, working on the inner being. They were also working but they could not give all their time; they had to create food and clothes and shelter, and in Tibet it is a difficult matter. The climate is not very helpful; to live in Tibet is a tremendous trouble. But still every family used to give their first-born child to the monastery.

There were hundreds of monasteries… and these monasteries should not be compared with any Catholic monasteries. These monasteries have no comparison in the whole world. These monasteries were concerned only with one thing -- to make you aware of yourself.

Thousands of devices have been created down the centuries so that your lotus can blossom and you can find your ultimate treasure, the diamond. These are just symbolic words, but the destruction of Tibet should be known in history, particularly man becomes a little more aware and humanity a little more humane… This is the greatest calamity of the twentieth century that Tibet has fallen into the hands of materialists who don't believe that you have anything inside you. They believe that you are only matter and your consciousness is only a by-product of matter. And all this is simply without any experience of the inner -- just logical, rational philosophising.

Not a single communist in the world has meditated, but it is strange -- they all deny the inner. Nobody thinks about how the outer can exist if there is no inner. They exist together, they are inseparable. And the outer is only a protection for the inner, because the inner is very delicate and soft. But the outer is accepted and the inner is denied. And even if sometimes it is accepted, the world is dominated by such dirty politicians that they use even the inner experiences for ugly ends.

Just the other day, I came to know that America is now training its soldiers in meditation so that they can fight without any nervous breakdown, without going mad, without feeling any fear so they can lie down in their ditches silently, calm and cool and collected. No meditator may have ever thought that meditation can also be used for fighting wars, but in the hands of politicians everything becomes ugly -- even meditation. Now the army camps in America are teaching meditation so that their soldiers can be more calm and quiet while killing people. But I want to warn America: you are playing with fire. You don't understand exactly what meditation will do. Your soldiers will become so calm and quiet that they will throw away their weapons and they will simply refuse to kill. A meditator cannot kill; a meditator cannot be destructive. So they are going to be surprised one day that their soldiers are no longer interested in fighting. War, violence, murder, massacre of millions of people -- this is not possible if a man knows something of meditation. Then he knows the other whom he is killing. He is his brother. They all belong to the same oceanic existence.

If humanity were a little more aware, Tibet should be made free because it is the only country which has devoted almost two thousand years to doing nothing but going deeper into meditation. And it can teach the whole world something which is immensely needed.

But communist China is trying to destroy everything that has been created in two thousand years. All their devices, all their whole spiritual climate is being polluted, poisoned. But they are simple people; they cannot defend themselves. They don't have anything to defend themselves with -- no tanks, no bombs, no airplanes, no army. An innocent race which lived without any war for two thousand years… It disturbs everybody -- even to reach there is a difficult task. They live on the very roof of the world. The highest mountains, eternal snow, is their home. Leave them alone! China will not lose anything, but the whole world will be benefited by their experience.

Tibet should be left as an experimental lab for man's inner search. But not a single nation in the world has raised its voice against this ugly attack on Tibet. And China has not only attacked it, they have amalgamated it into their map. Now, on the modern Chinese map, Tibet is their territory.

And we think the world is civilised, where innocent people who are not doing any harm to anybody are simply destroyed. And with them, something of great importance to all humanity is also destroyed. If there were something civilised in man, every nation would have stood against the invasion of Tibet by China. It is the invasion of matter against consciousness. It is invasion of materialism against spiritual heights.

"Osho is an enlightened master who is working with all possibilities to help humanity overcome a difficult phase in developing consciousness."

-- HH the XIV Dalai Lama
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Tue Jul 16, 2019 5:55 am

Bernard de Give
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/15/19



Rinpoche Enters Dialogue

After escaping from Tibet in 1959, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche arrived tattered and penniless in India with a small party of lay students and monks. A young tulku still in robes, he had his first encounters with Christians in Kalimpong in 1960. A missionary organization gave Tibetan refugees cartons of milk powder and Spam along with a Bible and missionary literature translated into Tibetan. Rinpoche later humorously observed that the literature reported that “Tibetan Buddhists practice by themselves and try to attain enlightenment in their own way, while the Christians, on the other hand, go out and produce milk powder and Spam and try to save others.”21

A few years later, when Rinpoche attended Oxford University as a Spalding Visiting Fellow in Comparative Religion, he was assigned a Belgian Jesuit priest as a tutor. Father DeGives [then Jesuit, now Trappist Fr. Bernard De Give], who had spent seven years in Sri Lanka, guided Rinpoche‘s study in Bible and Western religion for two and one-half years. Rinpoche especially enjoyed studying Christian contemplative practices, but was surprised to discover that “when people receive blessing, or when they receive the presence of Christ – or Jehovah, for that matter – no preparation has been made, at all. There is no shinjang [taming of the mind], there is no mindfulness, there is no awareness. The only possibility of shinjang at all is that people are terrozied: they believe that if they don’t do things properly, they will be punished.”22

Through Father DeGives’s connections, Rinpoche was regularly invited to interreligious conferences in Britain, where he presented in broken English the fundamentals of his tradition. Though he encountered a pervasive Christian chauvinism, he enjoyed his contacts with the many priests, rabbis, imams, and pundits he met in those years. He was especially attracted to the Franciscans he met at an old monastery in Midlands. He fondly remembered the abbot, whom he called “extremely saintly, reminding me of one of my Tibetan teachers, but speaking in a broad Irish accent. He was a wonderful person, with neat but dirty robes, with a real monastic flavor about him.”23

During his Oxford days, Rinpoche was also attracted to the Eastern Orthodox tradition, “because its followers understand the notion of meditation, and they understand that meditation is not just doing nothing but also involves radiating one’s openness. The contemplative traditions within both Judaism and Christianity, particularly the Jewish Hasidic tradition – and also the Orthodox Christian Prayer of the heart, which I’ve studied a little bit – seem to be the ground for Eastern and Western philosophy to join together. It is not so much a question of dogma, but it is a question of heart; that is where the common ground lies. One of these days I am going to take my students to Mount Athos to see how the Orthodox monks conduct themselves.”24 His dialogues with Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, the London patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, left a lasting impression on him.

Adaptations of Nonsectarian Perspectives

In 1968 Rinpoche returned to Asia to do an extended retreat in Bhutan, at a Guru Rinpoche cave called Tagtsang. In Calcutta, he auspiciously met Thomas Mertin, and they joyously shared gin and tonics over lunch, then roared off in a Jeep to shop the markets for Divali (festival of lights) treats. “Rinpoche bought a firecracker from a small, very black, bright-eyed crouching little boy,” wrote Merton in his journal entry that evening. Rinpoche later commented, “Father Merton himself was an open, unguarded and deep person. During these few days, we spent much time together and grew to like one another immensely.”25 The two men shared their poetry, their dreams for dialogue, their spiritual aspirations, and even plans for collaborative publishing projects. Most significantly, they shared their mutual concerns about the increasing materialism that affected monastic life, and the “progressive” monks who give up contemplation to become more productive and academic.26 Recalling this conversation, Rinpoche simply said that they had discussed “spiritual materialism.”27… In his conversations with Merton, Rinpoche reflected how spiritual materialism could be reversed in a Western setting as well….

Rinpoche and Merton each lamented the decline of genuine spirituality in the West, because of the prevalence of greed and materialism and the loss of authentic contemplative practices and lineages. Merton was going through struggles of his own, including the administrative and authoritarian demands of his home monastery, pressure from his publishers, and his yearning for more retreat and instruction in meditation from Asian masters. As Rinpoche reflected on Merton’s impending conference in Bangkok,

The Christian Conference of Asia began as the East Asia Christian Conference, which was constituted by a decision of churches, national councils of churches and Christian councils, whose representatives met at Prapat, Indonesia, in 1957. It was inaugurated at an assembly in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1959, under the theme Witnessing Together. In the light of changing circumstances, the 1973 assembly, meeting in Singapore, agreed to change the name to Christian Conference of Asia (CCA). The purpose statement of the CCA says that CCA exists as an organ and a forum of continuing cooperation among the churches and national Christian bodies in Asia, within the framework of the wider ecumenical movement, believing that the purpose of God for the church in Asia is life together in a common obedience of witness to the mission of God in the world. In order to be a member of the CCA, churches must "confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the scriptures and therefore seek to fulfill their common calling to the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit". National councils or similar bodies joining the CCA must also approve this basis. The CCA strives for the unity of the church in Asia, joint action in mission, Asian contribution to Christian thought and worship, sharing and fellowship among the churches in Asia and beyond, effective Christian response to the challenges of the changing societies of Asia, relationships with people of other faiths in Asia, human dignity and care for the creation.

Since the founding event, the churches and councils that form the CCA have journeyed through ten more assemblies....

Bangkok / 1968 / In Christ All Things Hold Together

-- East Asia Christian Conference [later Christian Conference of Asia], by World Council of Churches

Bangkok Conference. Lecture Titled "Marxism and Monastic Perspectives" (Merton's Last Lecture) delivered December 10, 1968

-- by The Thomas Merton Center at Bellarmine University

"The moment of takeoff was We left the ground―I with Christian mantras and a great sense of destiny, of being at last on my true way after years of waiting and wondering..." With these words, dated October 15. 1968, the late Father Thomas Merton recorded the beginning of his fateful journey to the Orient. His travels led him from Bangkok, through India to Ceylon, and back again to Bangkok for his scheduled talk at a conference of Asian monastic orders. There he unequivocally reaffirmed his Christian vocation. His last journal entry was made on December 8, 1968, two days before his untimely, accidental death.

-- The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton, by

he later commented that Father Merton “was in Calcutta attending some kind of collective religious conference, and he was appalled at the cheapness of the spiritual values that various of the conference participants were advocation.”31…

Conference on Prayer for Conference of Religious of India, Feast of Christ the King, 1968, (Calcutta).

-- Merton Center Manuscripts, by

There's a book that contains the papers given at a 1968 Spiritual Summit Conference in Calcutta, including papers by Merton: The world religions speak on the relevance of religion in the modern world. Finley P Dunne, 1970. Spiritual Summit Conference (1st: 1968: Calcutta)

-- Thomas Merton in Calcutta, by Google Answers

it is clear that the content of their conversations set the tone for Merton’s Indian pilgrimage.33 Years later, at Naropa Unviersity, Rinpoche created a series of dialogues in Merton’s memory that sought to revitalize contemplative practice and life in North America and Europe

-- Heart to Heart: Interreligious Dialogue, by Judith Simmer-Brown, from “Recalling Chogyam Trungpa,” Compiled and edited by Fabrice Midal

At Oxford Rinpoche was befriended by the Jesuits, who thought that his tremendous enthusiasm for learning about the Christian religion made him a good candidate for conversion. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, but Rinpoche enjoyed their company and felt that here at least he had found Westerners who had some understanding of a wisdom tradition, even though it was not his own.

-- -- Dragon Thunder: My Life with Chogyam Trungpa, by Diana J. Mukpo, Carolyn Rose Gimian

Dom Bernard of Give
Key facts
Birth name Michel de Give
Birth May 8 , 1913
Liege Belgium Flag of Belgium
Nationality Belgian
country of residence Belgium
Trappist monk
Core business
Divine Office, Writer
Other activities
Intermonastic dialogue
Oriental languages, philosophy and theology

Dom de Give was very involved in the dialogue with the Tibetan monks

Michel de Give, in religion Father Bernard de Give, born in Liège (Belgium) on May 8, 1913, is a Cistercian - Trappist monk from the Scourmont abbey, very involved in the intermonastic dialogue.

Education and Training

At the end of his secondary studies at the College Saint-Servais de Liège of Give enters the Society of Jesus (September 23, 1931).

FASCISM in Spain was bought and paid for by numerous elements who would profit by the destruction of the democratic Republican Loyalist government. There were generals who wanted glory and others who wanted the easy graft money some of their predecessors had made. There was the established Church, and more especially the powerful Society of Jesus, which had suffered loss of property when King Alfonso was thrown out. There was the aristocracy, and there were other elements as there are in all fascist regimes, but more important than all these forces combined was the force of Money.

-- Facts and Fascism, by George Seldes, assisted by Helen Seldes

Simultaneously with the calling of the Congress of Vienna in 1814, Pope Pius VIIth restored the Society of Jesus (Jesuit Order) which had been abolished by Pope Clement XIVth, July 21, 1773, on the grounds that it was immoral, dangerous and was a menace to the very life of the papacy. Clement was promptly poisoned for his act.

With the restoration of this order, the execution of the Secret Treaty of Verona was placed in their keeping.

The Congress of Vienna was a black conspiracy against Popular Governments at which the high contracting parties announced at its close that they had formed a Holy alliance. This was a cloak under which they masked to deceive the people. The particular business of the Congress of Verona, it developed, was the RATIFICATION of Article Six of the Congress of Vienna, which was in short, a promise to prevent or destroy Popular Governments wherever found, and to re-establish monarchy where it had been set aside.

-- The Suppressed Truth About the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, by Burke McCarty

[Jorge Mario] Bergoglio, who at the time was “Provincial” for the Society of Jesus, had ordered the two “Leftist” Jesuit priests and opponents of military rule “to leave their pastoral work” (i.e. they were fired) following divisions within the Society of Jesus regarding the role of the Catholic Church and its relations to the military Junta.

While the two priests Francisco Jalics y Orlando Yorio, kidnapped by the death squads in May 1976 were released five months later, after having been tortured, six other people associated with their parish kidnapped as part of the same operation were “disappeared” (desaparecidos). These included four teachers associated with the parish and two of their husbands.

Upon his release, Priest Orlando Yorio “accused Bergoglio of effectively handing them over [including six other people] to the death squads.

-- “Washington’s Pope”? Who is Pope Francis?: Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Argentina's "Dirty War", by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

He obtained his BA in Philosophy at the Faculty of Philosophy SJ at Eegenhoven-Louvain (1936-1939) and his BA in Philosophy and Letters in Classical Philology at the Catholic University of Louvain (1940). He graduated in Theology at the Faculty of Theology SJ Leuven (1945). At university, he also studied Sanskrit and Eastern religions under the direction of Étienne Lamotte. He was ordained a priest in Leuven on July 27, 1944.

Missionary in India

Michel de Give leaves for India on January 26, 1947. For six years he is a professor at the Pontifical Seminary of Kandy (Ceylon) where he teaches History of Ancient Philosophy, Ecclesiology and Classical Languages ​​(Greek and Latin) from 1947 to 1952. In early 1953, he was, for a year and a half, a professor of classical languages at juniorate Jesuit of Ranchi, then Sitagarha (near Hazaribag in Jharkhand), then again a professor of philosophy at Shembaganur near from Kodaikanal (Tamil Nadu) and Poona (Maharashtra).

Back to Belgium

Returned to his homeland in May 1955, he resumed classical language courses at the Juvénat de La Pairelle in Wépion (University Faculties of Namur). He publishes textbooks of Greek exercises (1956-1957) and a Latin grammar (1960) which is in its sixteenth edition. That year, he taught again Philosophy (ancient and medieval history) at the SJ Faculty of Eegenhoven-Louvain [Jesuit Theological College at Eegenhoven-Louvain (Belgium(] (1960-1968), then at the University Faculty of Namur until 1972.

The University of Namur or Université de Namur,[1] in Namur (Belgium), is a Jesuit, Catholic private university in the French Community of Belgium. Both teaching and research are carried out in six Faculties or university level schools in the fields of:

• Philosophy and Lettres
• Law
• Economic, Social, and Management Sciences
• Computer Sciences
• Sciences
• Medicine

-- Universite de Namur, by Wikipedia

During the academic year 1963-1964 he attended Oxford University under Professor RC Zaehner. At Oxford University he also meets Chögyam Trungpa. From 1968 to 1972, he was secretary of the journal Les Études classiques.

Cistercian monk

Michel de Give joined the Trappists [OCSO] of Scourmont Abbey on June 2, 1972, where he made his solemn profession on January 12, 1975.

Since 1977 he has been a founding member of the Monastic Interfaith Dialogue Commission. He took part in the interreligious meetings of Praglia Abbey in 1977 and 1979.

For ten years he spends the summer months studying the Tibetan language at the Tibetan center of Kagyu-Ling, Castle of Plaige, in Saone-et-Loire. He helps to organize the Christian-Buddhist Symposiums at the Karma Ling [Karme Ling] Institute, formerly the Chartreuse of Saint Hugon, in Arvillard (Savoie).

Located in the hamlet of Saint-Higon, the Chartreuse de Saint-Hugon was led by the Pères Chartreux until 1792. The sale and manufacture of iron and steel used to be a principal source of income for this former monastery, which is now the seat of the Institut Karma Ling.

The history of this site begins in 1173, on the banks of the River Bens. This Carthusian monastery is famous for its forges and blast furnaces, with iron ore being particularly abundant in the region. The ore was smelted in ovens before being deposited, over several years, on a spacious esplanade called a 'regraine'. Once cast, the iron ore was now pure iron or steel. Trip hammers manufactured wide iron strips, circles and hardware (camping stoves, pots and spades). Until the French Revolution, the monks managed this steel industry, which was a rich source of profits for the monastery. In 1792, the monks were persecuted, the Chartreuse pillaged and abandoned and their possessions sold as national treasures.

Since 1979, the Institut Karma Ling, one of the biggest Buddhist centres in Europe, has occupied the former Chartreuse de Saint-Hugon.

-- La Chartreuse de Saint-Hugon, by Savoie Mont Blanc

He visits a number of Tibetan centers in most Western European countries. He made several extended stays in the Tibetan monasteries of India (especially Dharamsala and Himāchal Pradesh) and Nepal (Kopan, Pokhara). In July 1994, he began a trip to Tibet.

He published his doctoral dissertation on the reports of India and the West of Origins to the reign of Aśoka at Les Indes Savantes, Paris, 2005.

On the occasion of its centenary, May 8, 2013, the abbey of Scourmont published a collection of his poems entitled Quand l'âme chante ... in the Scourmontois Cahiers Collection , 6, Forges, 2013.

Main works

• Latin Grammar, Brussels, De Boeck, 2011 (15th ed.)
• The Imitation of Jesus Christ translated and paraphrased in verse by Pierre Corneille , preface by Fr. Bernard de Give, OCSO, notes by Fr. Ducaud-Bourget, Paris, Albin Michel, 1998, Coll. Living Spiritualities, 161.
• Chronicon Alnense. Chronicle of Alder Dom Norbert Herset, ed. criticism, trad. and notes by Bernard de Give, Thuin, GH Conreur, 1977-1978, coll. Cathula.
• Register of things that happened at the abbey of Aulne, trad. of the Latin text by B. de Give, Thuin, GH Conreur, 1980
The reports of India and the West of Origins to the reign of Asoka, Paris, Les Indes Savantes, 2005
• A trappist meets the monks of Tibet, preface by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, The Savant Indes, 2009
• A Trappist Meeting Monks from Tibet, Preface by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Gracewing Publishing, 2010

• When the soul sings ... , collection of poems, preface by Jean Leclercq ( UCLouvain , Cahiers Scourmontois, 2013
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:36 am

by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/16/19



This article is about continuity of spiritual presence in Islam. For other uses, see Baraka (disambiguation).

In Islam, Barakah or Baraka (Arabic: بركة‎ "blessing") is a kind of continuity of spiritual presence and revelation that begins with God and flows through that and those closest to God.[1][2]

Baraka can be found within physical objects, places, and people, as chosen by God. This force begins by flowing directly from God into creation that is worthy of baraka.[1] These creations endowed with baraka can then transmit the flow of baraka to the other creations of God through physical proximity or through the adherence to the spiritual practices of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. God is the sole source of baraka and has the power to grant and withhold baraka.

Islamic mysticism

Baraka is a prominent concept in Islamic mysticism, particularly Sufism. It pervades Sufi texts, beliefs, practices, and spirituality. Sufism emphasizes the importance of esoteric knowledge and the spiritual union with God through the heart. Baraka symbolizes this connection between the divine and the worldly through God's direct and intentional blessing of those that are most reflective of Him and his teachings.

Baraka is not a state, it is a flow of blessings and grace. It flows from God to those that are closest to God, such as saints and prophets. Those that have received baraka are thought to have the abilities to perform miracles (karamat), such as thought-reading, healing the sick, flying, and reviving the dead.[3] However, according to Abd al-Karīm ibn Hawāzin Qushayri, a prominent Sufi mystic, the use of these miracles and the actual possession of these abilities are not indicative of a saint's status, however, the performance of these miracles by prophets is important to establish credentials.[3]

Sources, transmission, and traditional importance


The Qur'an, hadith, saints, prophets, Muhammad and his descendants are all powerful sources of baraka.[1]

Transmission through saints

Saints as the source of baraka, can transmit baraka to ordinary men simply through their presence. As this hadith explains, "By means of the righteous Muslim, God repulses affliction from one hundred neighbors".[4][page needed] In this way, the saints provide a means for ordinary men to connect with the blessings of God through baraka. The physical closeness to a saint's shrine is said to emit baraka, which is why many followers of Islam choose to visit shrines. The ritualistic act of visiting tombs and other holy places, such as shrines, to receive baraka is known as ziyara.[5]

Transmission through khirqa

Sufis pass esoteric knowledge and baraka from the master sheikh to the aspirant through the passing of the khirqa. The khirqa is the initiatory cloak of the Sufi chain of spirituality. This cloak initiates an aspirant into the silsilah, which is the chain of sheikhs that goes back to Muhammad. This chain serves as the channel through which baraka flows from the source of spiritual revelation to the being of the initiate.[4][page needed] There are two kinds of this kind of transmission (tanakkul) of baraka through the khirqa: khirqa-yi irada and khirqa-yi tabarruk. Khirqa-yi irada is characterized by the passing of baraka to the aspirant from the singular sheikh to which he has sworn. Khirqa-yi tabarruk, also known as the "frock of blessing", is characterized by the passing of baraka to the worthy aspirant from any sheikh that he has encountered.[6]

The silsilah chain created from the passing of the khirqa that confirms authenticity of many hadiths is known as the isnad. It was not until the late eleventh and twelfth centuries that the Sufi tradition began accepting this form of isnad as a means to transmit mystical knowledge and blessings.[7]

Transmission through Sunnah

By following the practices and teachings of Muhammad, one can achieve baraka through the emulation of Sunnah. Because Muhammad is the source of Muhammadan baraka, by living in constant remembrance of the names of God and in accordance to Muhammad's Sunnah. Those that live the inner Sunnah within the heart, are those that reflect the Light of Muhammad (al-nur al-muhammadi) and the Muhammadan baraka.[7][page needed] Those that live according to the Sunnah, live in constant remembrance of God, and live authentically from the heart are those to whom God opens the channel through which baraka can flow. By living in accordance to Muhammad, one can become worthy of God's direct blessing of baraka. If granted baraka, the saintly person is able to feel God's force from within and is nourished by the hadith while being guided by the baraka.[2]

Controversy of seeking baraka

Seeking baraka has been a source of controversy throughout the Islamic world. Through the act of ziyara, saints and the shrines of saints are seen as a means to access the baraka sent from God. Because of this, many within Islam see ziyara as a form of idolatry in the way devotees may look towards the saints instead of towards God, Himself, for baraka.[8][page needed] Although ziyara has been a source of great controversy, it remains one of the most typical ritual practices of Islamic spirituality.[8]

See also

• Basirah
• Spiritual gift
• Glossary of Islam


1. "Home - Brill Reference". Retrieved 2016-12-30.
2. Nasr, Seyyed Hossein (1972). Sufi Essays. Albany: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0873952332.
3. Ernst, Carl W. (1997). The Shambhala Guide to Sufism (1st ed.). Boston, Massachusetts: Shambhala. ISBN 9781570621802.
4. Hoffman, Valerie J. (2009). Sufism, Mystics, and Saints in Modern Egypt. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 157003849X.
5. Karamustafa, Ahmet T. (2007). Sufism: The Formative Period. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. ISBN 0520252691.
6. Schimmel, Annemarie; Ernst, Carl W. (2013). Mystical Dimensions of Islam(Reprint ed.). Jakarta Selatan: Mizan. ISBN 9794337978.
7. Brown, Jonathan A.C. (2009). Hadith: Muhammad's Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World (Reprint ed.). Oxford: Oneworld Publications. ISBN 1851686630.
8. Seels, Michael A.; Ernst, Carl W. (1996). Early Islamic Mysticism: Sufi, Qur'an, Mi'raj, Poetic and Theological Writings. New York: Paulist Press. ISBN 0809136198.

Further reading

• C. Coulon, et al. Charisma and Brotherhood in African Islam. Oxford Univ. Press, 1988. ISBN 0-19-822723-X.
• J.W. Meri. Aspects of Baraka (Blessings) and Ritual Devotion among Medieval Muslims and Jews. Medieval Encounters. 5 (1999), pp. 46–69.
• Schimmel, Annemarie (1994). Deciphering the Signs of God: A Phenomenological Approach to Islam. State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0791419823.
• L. N. Takim. The Heirs of the Prophet: Charisma And Religious A
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Jul 17, 2019 4:49 am

League of Nations Union
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/16/19



The conflict increased his desire to do everything he could to promote world peace. During and after the war he was a keen supporter of the League of Nations Union, serving on the League's Executive Committee in London.

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

The League of Nations Union (LNU) was an organization formed in October 1918 in the United Kingdom to promote international justice, collective security and a permanent peace between nations based upon the ideals of the League of Nations. The League of Nations was established by the Great Powers as part of the Paris Peace Treaties, the international settlement that followed the First World War. The creation of a general association of nations was the final one of President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points. The LNU became the largest and most influential organisation in the British peace movement.[1][2] By the mid-1920s, it had over a quarter of a million registered subscribers[3] and its membership eventually peaked at around 407,775 in 1931. By the 1940s, after the disappointments of the international crises of the 1930s and the descent into World War II, membership fell to about 100,000.[4]


The LNU was formed on 13 October 1918[2] by the merger of the League of Free Nations Association and the League of Nations Society, two older organisations already working for the establishment of a new and transparent system of international relations, human rights (as then understood) and for world peace through disarmament and universal collective security, rather than traditional approaches such as the balance of power and the creation of power blocs through secret treaties.[5]

Chapters of the LNU were set up in the dominions and in allied nations, including in the capital cities of all of the states of Australia.[6]

Internal structure

The headquarters of the LNU were located variously at Buckingham Gate[7] and Grosvenor Crescent, Belgravia. In the 1940s, it moved to smaller premises in St Martin's Lane, WC2, for reasons of economy.[8]

Its top organ of administration was the General Council, which met twice a year and was responsible for LNU policy under its 1925 Royal Charter of Incorporation. Beneath the General Council sat the Executive Committee, which met every two weeks and co-ordinated all activities, such as the LNU's campaigns and educational programmes; received reports from branches; monitored the output of specialist sub-groups and had responsibility for the LNU's staff.

LNU branches had their own independent management structures.[5]


The LNU played an important role in inter-war politics. According to one source it had been successful in converting the mainstream of British society, including labour, the churches and the principal newspapers, to the cause of the League of Nations.[9] It also carried great influence in traditional political circles and particularly in the Liberal Party. One historian has gone so far as to describe the LNU as "a key Liberal pressure group on foreign policy" and to call Liberal Party members the "true believers" of the LNU.[10] Its first president was Edward Grey the Liberal foreign secretary during the First World War.

After the split in the Liberal Party in 1886, it was the members of the Cecil Bloc who became Unionists — that is, the Lytteltons, the Wyndhams, the Cavendishes. As a result, the Cecil Bloc became increasingly a political force. Gladstone remained socially a member of it, and so did his protege, John Morley, but almost all the other members of the Bloc were Unionists or Conservatives. The chief exceptions were the four leaders of the Liberal Party after Gladstone, who were strong imperialists: Rosebery, Asquith, Edward Grey, and Haldane. These four supported the Boer War, grew increasingly anti-German, supported the World War in 1914, and were close to the Milner Group politically, intellectually, and socially.

-- The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden, by Carroll Quigley

Other leading Liberal lights in the LNU included Geoffrey Mander[8] Liberal MP for Wolverhampton East from 1929 to 1945 and Professor Gilbert Murray, who was this Vice-President of the League of Nations Society from 1916 and Chairman of the LNU after 1923.[11] The recruitment of Conservative politicians to support the LNU and the League of Nations itself was more problematic for the LNU, but they pursued it to demonstrate the cross-party nature of the Union, which was important for the credibility of an organisation active politically in pursuit of international goals.[12] High-profile Conservatives then came into the LNU, notably Lord Robert Cecil and Austen Chamberlain who were both members of the LNU Executive Committee.[13] However, most Conservatives were deeply suspicious of the LNU's support for pacifism and disarmament,[14] an analogous position being the opinions held by Conservatives in the 1980s in respect of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Even Austen Chamberlain remarked that the Executive Committee contained "some of the worst cranks I have ever known".[15] Winston Churchill said of the Union: "What impresses me most about them is their long suffering and inexhaustible gullibility".[16]

Peace Ballot

One example of the significance of the political impact the LNU could have was its organisation of the Peace Ballot of 1935, when voters were asked to decide on questions relating to international disarmament and collective security. The Peace Ballot was not an official referendum, but more than eleven million people participated in it, representing strong support for the aims and objectives of the League of Nations, influencing policy makers and politicians. The results of the Peace Ballot were publicised worldwide. It has been suggested that one outcome was the interpretation of the result by the Axis powers as an indication of Britain's unwillingness to go to war on behalf of other nations[17] although the vote for military action against international aggressors, as a matter of last resort, was almost three-to-one.

Educational programmes

The LNU's other main activities were education and awareness raising. It provided publications, speakers and organised courses.[18] Some of its programmes had a lasting impact on British schools.[19]

Replacement by United Nations Association

It was plain a new international settlement would be needed after the Second World War and in 1948, the United Nations Association (UNA) was founded to promote the work of the United Nations Organisation, which was established in 1945 after the previous year's Dumbarton Oaks Conference. As a result, the LNU arranged for the transfer of its complete organisation and membership to the UNA. However, under the provisions of its Royal Charter, the LNU was able to continue until the mid-1970s in a limited capacity to handle bequests and administer the payment of pensions to former employees.

Papers and records

The papers, records, minute books, pamphlets, reports and leaflets of the LNU are deposited at the British Library of Political and Economic Science at the London School of Economics in Westminster.[5]

See also

• Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson
• Henry Wilson Harris
• Joseph H. Hertz
• Charles Herbert Levermore
• Almeric Paget, 1st Baron Queenborough
• Weetman Pearson, 1st Viscount Cowdray
• Gerald Sharp
• Jessie Street


1. Douglas, R. M. (2004). The Labour Party, Nationalism and Internationalism, 1939-1951: A New World Order. Routledge. p. 27. ISBN 9780203505786.
2. "League of Nations Union Collected Records, 1915-1945". Swarthmore College Peace Collection.
3. Callaghan, John T. (2007). The Labour Party and Foreign Policy: A History. Routledge. p. 69. ISBN 9781134540150.
4. Baratta, Joseph Preston (2004). Politics of World Federation: From world federalism to global governance. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 74. ISBN 9780275980689.
5. "LNU - League of Nations Union Collection". LSE Library Services.
6. Summy, Hilary (2007). From hope ... to hope : story of the Australian League of Nations union, featuring the Victorian Branch, 1921-1945 (PhD thesis). The University of Queensland.
7. Phelps, Edith M. (1919). Selected Articles on a League of Nations. New York: H. W. Wilson & Company. pp. xxvi & xxxvii.
8. Archives of League Of Nations Union, 1918-1971. Archived 2012-07-15 at
9. McKercher, B. J. C., ed. (1990). Anglo-American Relations in the 1920s: The Struggle for Supremacy. University of Alberta. p. 23. ISBN 9781349119196.
10. McDonough, Frank (1998). Neville Chamberlain, Appeasement, and the British Road to War. Manchester University Press. p. 111. ISBN 9780719048326.
11. Morewood, Steven (2004). The British Defence of Egypt, 1935-1940: Conflict and Crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean. Routledge. p. 73. ISBN 9781135776664.
12. West, Francis (1984). Cecil Murray: A Life. Croom Helm. pp. 200–201.
13. Dutton, David (1985). Austen Chamberlain: Gentleman in Politics. New Brunswick: Transaction. p. 307. ISBN 9781412817639.
14. Thompson, J. A. (December 1977). "Lord Cecil and the Pacifists in the League of Nations Union". The Historical Journal. Cambridge University Press. 20 (4): 949–59. JSTOR 2638416.
15. Thompson, Neville (1971). The Anti-Appeasers: Conservative Opposition to Appeasement in the 1930s. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 37. ISBN 9780198214878.
16. HC Deb 23 November 1932 vol 272 cc73-211
17. Thane, Pat (2001). Cassell's Companion to Twentieth-Century Britain. Cassell. p. 311. ISBN 9780304347940.
18. Cook, Chris (1975). Sources in British Political History, 1900-1950 Volume 1. London: MacMillan. p. 144. ISBN 978-0-333-15036-8.
19. British Library of Political and Economic Science, League of Nations Union, 1918-1971. Archived 2012-07-14 at

Further reading

• Donald S. Birn, The League of Nations Union, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Jul 17, 2019 8:04 am

by Wikipedia
Accessed: 7/17/19



Over the years many refugees were to visit Shotover Cleve. HN was involved in what was called Russian Eurasianism, the purpose of which was to enable aristocrats still in the Soviet Union to escape to the West. Colonel Malevsky-Malevitch was also involved, staying at the house for several months. Another Russian, who returned to the USSR to help in the planned escapes, disappeared. It was never established whether he had been captured or whether he had been planted by the Soviets as an agent. From the intelligence sources now becoming accessible since the collapse of the USSR, it appears that the man was an agent and that the efforts of the would-be helpers in the West were well known to the Soviet authorities. Spalding himself felt a little betrayed by the episode, so much so that his feelings for Shotover Cleve were never quite the same. Despite this, increasing contact with Russian refugees stimulated Spalding's interest in Russian culture and religion. His interest in Eastern Orthodoxy led him to wonder about other religions in the East, of which he then had little knowledge.

There is a long drive to Shotover Cleve, off which the Spaldings built a smaller but still substantial family house for the Narishkins that was at first known as 'Domic'. There was speculation about the choice of the name. The Russian diminutive domik means 'cabin'. The Narishkins were grateful to have been granted asylum in Britain but they had been accustomed to a grander lifestyle in pre-revolutionary St Petersburg. A Narishkin ancestor was the mother of Peter the Great. The muzei-domik Petra I ('the Cabin of Peter the Great', now a museum) stands on the Petrovskaya embankment in the northern part of the Russian city. Built in three days for Peter by his soldier-carpenters in 1703, the two-roomed cabin is a reminder of his simple life-style during the six years he lived there whilst supervising construction work in St Petersburg. The Narishkins may have had this in mind when they called their new dwelling 'Domic'. They had two sons. The elder was called Vadim. He was of the same age as John Spalding. Their daughter, Moira, was a little younger. The second son was Theodore, known in the family as 'B' (for Baby). These children were among the young Spaldings' playmates. With the help of HN and his wife, the Narishkins then moved from the house built for them at Shotover to a house in Old Headington, Oxford. The 'Cabin' was eventually re-named The Orchard. Captain Narishkin used his knowledge of art-almost universal among Russian aristocratic emigres-to make or put together objets d'art for sale in Oxford. He dealt in small pictures and decorative boxes, selling them on to local shops. This brought in a modest income. Profitable deals were few and far between. His wife was an enthusiastic hostess but not a provident housekeeper. Their guests included Prince and Princess Galitzine (who had a shop on Hay Hill, Berkeley Square in London, a venture supported by the Spaldings), the Arapoffs, the harmonica virtuoso Larry Adler, and others, some of whom stayed or visited the Spaldings at Shotover Cleve next door.

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

Orthographic projection of Greater Russia/Eurasia and near abroad
[Brown] The Soviet Union in 1945
[Red Brown/Maroon] (Soviet territories that were never part of the Russian Empire: Tuvan ASSR, Kaliningrad Oblast and Zakarpattia, Lviv, Stanislav and Ternopil regions in west Ukraine)
[Chinese Red] Additional annexed/occupied territory from the Russian Empire (Grand Duchy of Finland and Congress Poland)
[Bright Red] Maximum extent of the Soviet near abroad, 1955 (Warsaw Pact, Mongolian People's Republic and North Korea)
[Pink/Red] Maximum extent of the Soviet Union's sphere of influence, 1945–1946 (Northern Iran, Xinjiang, Manchuria)

Eurasianism (Russian: евразийство, yevraziystvo) is a political movement in Russia, formerly within the primarily Russian émigré community, that posits that Russian civilisation does not belong in the "European" or "Asian" categories but instead to the geopolitical concept of Eurasia. Originally developing in the 1920s, the movement was supportive of the Bolshevik Revolution but not its stated goals of enacting communism, seeing the Soviet Union as a stepping stone on the path to creating a new national identity that would reflect the unique character of Russia's geopolitical position. The movement saw a minor resurgence after the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the 20th century, and is mirrored by Turanism in Turkic and Uralic nations.

The greatest extension of the Russian Empire (dark green) and its spheres of influence (light green)

Early 20th century

Eurasianism is a political movement that has its origins in the Russian émigré community in the 1920s. The movement posited that Russian civilization does not belong in the "European" category (somewhat borrowing from Slavophile ideas of Konstantin Leontyev), and that the October Revolution of the Bolsheviks was a necessary reaction to the rapid modernization of Russian society. The Eurasianists believed that the Soviet regime was capable of evolving into a new national, non-European Orthodox Christian government, shedding the initial mask of proletarian internationalism and militant atheism (to which the Eurasianists were strongly opposed).

The Eurasianists criticized the anti-Bolshevik activities of organizations such as ROVS, believing that the émigré community's energies would be better focused on preparing for this hoped for process of evolution. In turn, their opponents among the emigres argued that the Eurasianists were calling for a compromise with and even support of the Soviet regime, while justifying its ruthless policies (such as the persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church) as mere "transitory problems" that were inevitable results of the revolutionary process.

The key leaders of the Eurasianists were Prince Nikolai Trubetzkoy, P.N. Savitsky, P.P. Suvchinskiy, D. S. Mirsky, K. Čcheidze, P. Arapov, and S. Efron. Philosopher Georges Florovsky was initially a supporter, but backed out of the organization claiming it "raises the right questions", but "poses the wrong answers". A significant influence of the doctrine of the Eurasianists can be found in Nikolai Berdyaev's essay "The Sources and Meaning of Russian Communism".

Several organizations similar in spirit to the Eurasianists sprung up in the emigre community at around the same time, such as the pro-Monarchist Mladorossi and the Smenovekhovtsi.

Several members of the Eurasianists were affected by the Soviet provocational TREST operation, which had set up a fake meeting of Eurasianists in Russia that was attended by the Eurasianist leader P.N. Savitsky in 1926 (an earlier series of trips were also made two years earlier by Eurasianist member P. Arapov). The uncovering of the TREST as a Soviet provocation caused a serious morale blow to the Eurasianists and discredited their public image. By 1929, the Eurasianists had ceased publishing their periodical and had faded quickly from the Russian émigré community.

Late 20th century

Eurasian world for eurasianist political movement

The ideology of the movement was partially incorporated into a new movement of the same name after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, when the Eurasia Party was founded by Aleksandr Dugin.


See also: Foundations of Geopolitics

Former Warsaw Pact countries

Neo-Eurasianism (Russian: неоевразийство) is a Russian school of thought, popularized in Russia during the years leading up to and following the collapse of the Soviet Union, that considers Russia to be culturally closer to Asia than to Western Europe.

The school of thought takes its inspiration from the Eurasianists of the 1920s, notably Prince Nikolai Trubetzkoy while P.N. Savitsky. Lev Gumilev is often cited as the founder of the Neo-Eurasianist movement, and he was quoted as saying that "I am the last of the Eurasianists."[1]

At the same time, major differences have been noted between Gumilev's work and those of the original Eurasianists.[1] Gumilev's work is controversial for its scientific methodology (the use of his own conception of ethnogenesis and the notion of "passionarity" of ethnoses). At any rate, Gumilev's work has been a source of inspiration for the Neo-Eurasianist authors, the most prolific of whom is Aleksandr Dugin.

Gumilev's contribution to Neo-Eurasianism lies in the conclusions he reaches from applying his theory of ethnogenesis: that the Mongol occupation of 1240–1480 AD (known as the "Mongol yoke") had shielded the emergent Russian ethnos from the aggressive neighbor to the West, allowing it to gain time to achieve maturity. The idea of Eurasianism contrasts with Konstantin Leontyev's Byzantism, which is similar in its rejection of the West, but identifies with the Byzantine Empire rather than with Central Asian tribal culture.

Eurasian Economic Union

Main articles: Eurasian Economic Union and Enlargement of the Eurasian Economic Union

The Eurasian Economic Union

The Eurasian Economic Union was founded in January 2015, consisting of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and observer member Moldova, all of them being previous members of the Soviet Union. Members include states from both Europe and Asia; the union promotes political and economic cooperation among members.

"Greater" Russia

Not to be confused with Great Russia.

Russia growth 1613–1914

The political-cultural concept espoused by some in Russia is sometimes called the Greater Russia and is described as a political aspiration of pan-Russian nationalists and irredentists to retake some or all of the territories of the other republics of the former Soviet Union and territory of the former Russian Empire and amalgamate them into a single Russian state. Alexander Rutskoy, the Vice President of Russia from 1991–1993, asserted irredentist claims to Narva in Estonia, Crimea in Ukraine, and Ust-Kamenogorsk in Kazakhstan, among other territories.[2]

Before war broke out between Russia and Georgia in 2008, Aleksandr Dugin visited South Ossetia and predicted, "Our troops will occupy the Georgian capital Tbilisi, the entire country, and perhaps even Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula, which is historically part of Russia, anyway."[3] Former South Ossetian president Eduard Kokoity is a Eurasianist and argues that South Ossetia never left the Russian Empire and should be part of Russia.[4]


See also: Hellenoturkism

The Greek poet, Turkologist and Sinologist, Professor of International Relations and Geopolitics Dimitri Kitsikis, was involved in promotion of Turkish–Greek friendship and eurasianist historiosophy and geopolitical concepts.[5]


See also: Hungarian Turanism

The Hungarian far-right party and movement, Jobbik, espouses a form of Hungarian nationalism that fosters kinship with other "Turanian" peoples, including the Turkic peoples of Asia.[6]


The political activist Silviu Brucan, was involved in shaping eurasianism as a geopolitical concept, with articles focused on Russian politics that were published in a monthly magazine called Sfera Politicii.[7]


See also: Turanism

Distribution of the Turkic peoples in Eurasia.

Since the late 1990s, Eurasianism has gained some following in Turkey among nationalist (ulusalcı (tr)) circles. The most prominent figure who is associated with Dugin is Doğu Perinçek, the leader of the Patriotic Party (Vatan Partisi).[8] Some analysts of modern Turkish politics have suggested that the ultra-nationalist and secular elite that are also affiliated with the members of the Turkish military, who have come under close scrutiny with the Ergenekon coup case, have close ideological and political ties to the Eurasianists.[9]

In literature

In the future time depicted in George Orwell's novel "Nineteen Eighty Four", the Soviet Union has mutated into Eurasia, one of the three superstates dominating the world.

Similarly, Robert Heinlein's story "Solution Unsatisfactory" depicts a future in which the Soviet Union would be transformed into "The Eurasian Union".

See also

• All-Russian nation
• Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation
• Donetsk
• Eurasian Economic Union
• Eurasian Observatory for Democracy and Elections
• Intermediate Region
• Manifest destiny
• Turkey-Azerbaijan relations
• National Bolshevism
• Neo-Sovietism
• Nostalgia for the Soviet Union
• Novorossiya (confederation)
• Russophilia
• Russian irredentism
• Slavophilia
• Soviet Empire
• Territorial evolution of Russia
• Nikolay Vasilyevich Ustryalov

• Geography portal
• Asia portal
• Europe portal
• Politics portal


1. Laruelle, Marlène "Histoire d'une usurpation intellectuelle: Gumilev, 'le dernier des eurasistes'? (analyse des oppositions entre L.N. Gumilev et P.N. Savickij" in Sergei Panarin (ed.) Eurasia: People & Myths, Moscow, Natalis Press, 1993 (Russian lang.)
2. Chapman, Thomas; Roeder, Philip G. (November 2007). "Partition as a Solution to Wars of Nationalism: The Importance of Institutions". American Political Science Review. 101(4): 680. doi:10.1017/s0003055407070438.
3. "Road to War in Georgia: The Chronicle of a Caucasian Tragedy", Spiegel, August 25, 2008.
4. Neo-Eurasianist Aleksandr Dugin on the Russia-Georgia Conflict, CACI Analyst, September 3, 2008.
5. Giorgios K. Filis – Russia and Turkey in the Geopolitics of Eurasia & Theory of Median Space
6. Evelyne Pieiller, "Hungary Looks to the Past for Its Future," Le Monde Diplomatique, English ed. November, 2016.
7. Brucan, Silviu. "Geopolitics and Strategy" (PDF). Sfera Politicii. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
8. Mehmet Ulusoy: "Rusya, Dugin ve‚ Türkiye’nin Avrasyacılık stratejisi" Aydınlık Dec. 5 2004, pp. 10-16
9. [1] Emre Uslu: Turkish military: a source of anti-Americanism in Turkey. Today's Zaman, July 31, 2011.


• The Mission of Russian Emigration, M.V. Nazarov. Moscow: Rodnik, 1994. ISBN 5-86231-172-6
• Russia Abroad: A comprehensive guide to Russian Emigration after 1917 also some Ustrialov's papers in the Library
• The criticism towards the West and the future of Russia-Eurasia
• Laruelle, Marlene, ed. (2015). Eurasianism and the European Far Right: Reshaping the Europe–Russia Relationship. Lexington Books. ISBN 978-1-4985-1068-4.
• Stefan Wiederkehr, Die eurasische Bewegung. Wissenschaft und Politik in der russischen Emigration der Zwischenkriegszeit und im postsowjetischen Russland(Köln u.a., Böhlau 2007) (Beiträge zur Geschichte Osteuropas, 39).

External links

• The Fourth Political Theory - Eurasianism
• Evrazia
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Jul 17, 2019 8:11 am

Part 1 of 6

D.S. Mirsky: A Russian-English Life, 1890-1939 [EXCERPT]
by Gerald Stanton Smith, Professor of Russian, Oxford University and Fellow G.S. Smith



Chapter 5: Writing Russian

In Foma Gordeiev, which I consider to be Gorky's masterpiece, there is an unforgettable scene where Foma's father Ignat watches the loss of his ship laden with goods. He knows that his entire fortune will go down with it, but his only feeling is admiration for the beauty of the spectacle. He will have his moment of exultation over his own splendid disaster, for he knows that he has it in him to begin again and build himself up an even greater fortune. (D. S. Mirsky, 1922)


A good number of the front-rank Russian writers and critics active in 1917 emigrated rather than stay on in the Soviet state. 1 There was something of a generational and genre split; on the whole, the older prose writers left, while the younger poets and critics stayed. Among Mirsky's contemporaries who had made a reputation before 1917, Akhmatova, Mandelshtam, and Mayakovsky remained in Russia, for very different reasons. Tsvetaeva left Russia to join her husband in Czechoslovakia in 1922. Pasternak, Viktor Shklovsky, and Count A. N. Tolstoy -- the last-named an aristocrat of fairly similar background to Mirsky -- went back to Russia in 1923 after spending some time in Berlin.

In August 1922, about 120 key intellectuals and administrators were expelled from Russia after Lenin decided that he could not put up with the potential strength of opposition that they represented.2 From among these men (all the prime targets were men, but their families were sent out with them), Mirsky soon came into personal contact with Nikolay Berdyaev, Sergey. Bulgakov, V. N. Ilin, and Lev Karsavin. The reaction of Mirsky's soon-to-be friend Suvchinsky to the expulsion expresses an irreverent view of these men as sanctimonious failures that was common among his and Mirsky's generation:

When the first group arrived (Frank, Berdyaev; [U. A.] Ilin) it felt as if some sort of individual selection of people was going on. All they've done now is simply to transplant from Russia to Berlin -- like a piece of turf from one cemetery to another, or like a piece of dead skin -- a cultural layer that has completely outlived its time, and for what? So that these people should stand at the head of the emigration, of course, so they should speak for it, and by doing so prevent anything being born that is new and alive, and consequently dangerous for the Bolsheviks.3

In 1922-3, after the returns and the expulsions, emigre culture began to crystallize as a consciously separate formation. Mirsky played an active part in it for several years. At the same time as he was writing on Russian literature for the English readership, he was steadily publishing in Russian for his fellow emigres. As with his critical writing in English, at no time did Mirsky promote Russian literature outside Russia at the expense of the literature on the inside. But at the same time, he did not hesitate to point out the difficulties faced by writers under the new regime, and he could still refer to himself late in 1925 as an 'anti-Communist'. 4

During the first two or three years of the post-revolutionary emigration, there was no insuperable barrier to communication between the literary intellectuals in emigration and those who had remained behind in Soviet Russia, and each side kept a keen eye on the other. Books could be published simultaneously inside and outside Russia; for a couple of years, 'Berlin-Petrograd', for example, was a common item on title-pages. It was always much easier, though, for those on the outside to, get hold of what was published on the inside. Maksim Gorky, who was expelled by Lenin in 1921 but remained fundamentally pro-Soviet, at first thought that the journal he edited from Berlin in 1923-5, to which he gave the hopeful title Dialogue, would be admitted into Russia and put on open sale; he was disabused of this idea by 1924.5 The idea of a permanent rupture was generally accepted only about 1925. The most poignant discussion of it is the lament that Vladislav Khodasevich published in the Paris newspaper Days, 'Over There or Over Here?', in which literature on both sides of the divide is said to be seriously infirm.6

Evidently, copies of the London Mercury carrying Mirsky's 'Russian Letters' reached the most famous literary Anglophile left in the country, Korney Chukovsky, and he wrote an appreciation to Mirsky, whose reply, written on 12 May 1922, has survived. Even allowing for the positive emphasis that would have been inevitable under these circumstances, Mirsky's letter shows that from the very beginning of his time outside Russia he believed that the emigre segment of Russian literature was not and could not be sufficient unto itself, much less set out on an independent and autonomous existence. Rather, it was and would remain a subordinate fragment of the literature as -a whole, whose centre remained inside Russia. And Mirsky wanted to take part in the work of the centre, not the periphery:

We on this side are dreading that an unbridgeable abyss will open up between us and you. Your letter is a sign that this is not so. Those who have stayed behind in Russia are for us like saints and martyrs for the faith [podvizhniki], and consequently, if Russian Culture survives, it will be due to you and your heroic efforts. We are no better than rats who have saved themselves from the ship, while you still might be destined to save the ship itself ... [The] Russians here are not up to much economically, and the English are nowhere near as interested in Russian culture as it might seem .... However, something will be done .... We will find the opportunity to move the English along in a literary sense.

In general, books from Russia are our daily bread: I enclose my article about the first two volumes of Blok from the 'Times Literary Supplement'.7 Please give my most sincere greeting to Anna Andreevna [Akhmatova].8

And may God grant you strength and success.

D.S. -Mirsky9

This would seem to be the contact that led to the most surprising item in Mirsky's bibliography, an essay on contemporary English poetry that was published in Soviet Russia in 1923 in the journal The Contemporary West, which was edited by Chukovsky and Evgeny Zamyatin. This was the only piece Mirsky published in Russia between 1911, when his collection of poems came out, and 1932, when he returned from emigration. In his letter to Mirsky, Chukovsky had evidently asked Mirsky to set about the task of publicizing and translating the literature currently being published in Russia. The most immediate result was Mirsky's translation of Zamyatin's story 'The Cave', which soon became a classic of the revolutionary period.10

It was in London, rather than on the Continent, that Mirsky made personal contact with the young Soviet prose whose rise he saluted several times shortly after he began his teaching career, as he undertook to do in his letter to Chukovsky. The novelist Boris Pilnyak (1894-1937), who was rapidly making a name for himself as one of the most significant post-revolutionary literary figures after the publication of The Bare Year in 1922, left Russia for a four-month trip to England on 1 May 1923. Pilnyak had wangled an official visit to. the London trade delegation of the newly recognized state, and off his own bat he attempted to set up a Russian chapter of the PEN Club; the organizers wanted Gorky, but he considered the project too politically sensitive. While Pilnyak was in London, he met Mirsky. Pilnyak reported to Chukovsky from England that in his view Mirsky 'was born a hundred years too late'.11 In May 1924 Mirsky wrote an introduction to a collection by Pilnyak that was called in English Tales of the Wilderness; at this time and also later, he was in general uncomplimentary, arguing that Pilnyak was too undisciplined mentally to be a great writer of prose. It is clear, though, that Mirsky and Pilnyak, however much they might have disagreed with each other, shared a fondness for extended discussion over a bottle, the favoured location being the back room of Mrs Makarova's Russian bookshop near the British Museum.12

Apart from this chance contact with a prominent literary Russian, Mirsky tried to keep up with his schoolmate Viktor Zhirmunsky, who had remained in Petrograd, now renamed Leningrad. In a letter to Suvchinsky of 19 December 1924 Mirsky says that he is in correspondence with Zhirmunsky and has been receiving books from him, but that the copy of 'my English Avvakum' (by which Mirsky means the translation by Harrison and Mirrlees with his preface) has been returned stamped 'Non-admis'. No letters from Mirsky have turned up in Zhirmunsky's archive; it may well be that he destroyed anything he had relating to Mirsky after the latter was arrested. But this, and the much more important letter to Chukovsky, constitute the only evidence that has surfaced so far that Mirsky was in touch with literary people in Russia before he managed to write to Pasternak in 1927.


Throughout the 1920S the principal site of Mirsky's emigre activities was Paris. The first surviving letter written from France back to England is to Sir Bernard Pares, dated 20 August 1924, and addressed from 214 rue de Becon, Courbevoie. This is the house that Mirsky's mother and sisters had settled into when they moved from Athens at a date unknown, and it was to serve as Mirsky's Paris base until it was put up for sale after the death of his mother.

The addresses of Mirsky's letters and the announcements in them of his travel plans show that he would make his way to Paris as soon as possible after the end of the university term, and that he would only return to London at the last minute to start his teaching. From Paris, Mirsky ventured far and wide in France; during his first years he was in Quimper in Brittany, Nantes, Cannes, and Normandy. In January 1926 he spent some time in Pau.13 In August 1927 he stayed with the Bassianos at their villa near the then exclusive Atlantic resort of La Baule-les-Pins, Loire Inferieure. On 23 September 1927, Mirsky wrote to Salomeya Halpern from perhaps the most spectacular hostelry of all those whose stationery he used, the Grand Hotel du Raisin de Bourgogne in the town of Niort. Vera Traill, who was no stranger to the kitchen, and who once published a Russian cookbook with her friend Moura Budberg, said:

When he came [to France] with money in his pocket, he was a terrible glutton, terribly interested in food, and he would make expeditions. He had the gastronomic guide . . . and he was perfectly capable of taking a trip for just one night, let's say to Lyon, just to taste a special chicken dish .... In Paris we went to terribly expensive, spectacular restaurants .... I remember one of them where we had something I wouldn't know how to cook myself-boiled lettuce. It's the same as spinach but made with lettuce. Anyway, he knew where to go, where the thing to eat was this lettuce.

Marina Tsvetaeva saw all this from a different perspective in a letter to Yury Ivask in June 1934, by which time Mirsky's diet had become rather more austere:

What's my favourite food, you ask. Does it really matter? I hate kasha, every sort except the black, and even in Moscow in 1920, the most savage year, I didn't eat millet. That aside, I'm very unassuming and simple -- I eat everything, and I don't pay much attention to it, which during our friendship made Mirsky heartily disappointed (he was a passionate eater and expert, as very isolated people often are). He took me -- in secret conspiratorially-connoisseurily -- round the best restaurants of Paris and London. 'All you do is talk! he once exclaimed, grief-stricken, 'and you don't care what you're eating -- they might as well be servmg you hay!' Hay maybe, but not millet, though. 14


The general evolution of Mirsky's involvement with Russian emigre culture is clear-cut: to borrow once more one of his own favourite images it traced a rising line until 1926, then a plateau until 1929, and after that it fell away steeply. From the time Mirsky arrived on the emigre scene in 1922 until the summer of 1926 he was regarded on the whole as a talented but untried younger colleague by the leading lights in the literary emigration. He compelled them to take him seriously, but he then managed to alienate them completely. After 1?26 he withdrew further and further from literature, and by the end of 1929 this process was practically complete. He returned to writing literary criticism in Russian only after he arrived back in Moscow in 1932, and then, it would seem, primarily because he was directed to do so rather than by choice. In the interim, during his last three years in emigration, he was writing mainly in English on historical and political subjects.

Mirsky's earliest piece of critical writing in Russian for the emigre readership after he came to London turned out to be a non-starter. It was a survey art1cle on the current state of Russian poetry, submitted to Russian Thought (Russkaya mysl'), the journal edited by P. B. Struve, in June 1922. Soon after this, the journal encountered insuperable financial and organizational problems, and this became the earliest of several articles by Mirsky that were first published only long after his death. 15 In this case, though, there may well have been another reason: a good deal of the factual material in the article especially its account of which poets were in which places, was rapidly over~ taken by events as the division between emigre and Soviet literature coalesced . Struve may well have decided that, despite the brilliance of Mirsky's literary Judgements, there was too much in the article that events had rendered inaccurate.

The most significant aspect of this article is its bravura tone, which is set by the first sentence: 'For about a quarter of a century now Russian poetry has been experiencing a period of flowering which has taken it from the· debased and insignificant situation of the 1890s to its dominant situation of today.' This v1ew contrasts strongly with Mirsky's attitude about five years later when he saw not just th.e poetry of his youth, but all Russian literature of that period, as obsessed w1th death. The article culminates with a discussion of three women poets who lapsed into obscurity soon after the date of Mirsky's article: Anna Radlova, Mariya Shkapskaya, and Irina Odoevtseva. He had probably known Radlova before 1917, and met her again after he went back to Russia; he came to know Shkapskaya in the 193os; but he never seems to have met Odoevtseva (1895-1991), who emigrated with her husband Georgy Ivanov (1894-1958), and survived long enough to be able in 1987 to go back and die in the city she left seventy years previously, soon before 1t was renamed once more and became St Petersburg again.

The article's final paragraph presents a conception of poetry that Mirsky was to restate many times in his later writings; he was always on the s1de of 'will and reason':

Mandelshtam declared that 'Classicism is the poetry of Revolution'. And if by Revolution is understood that which Peter the Great began, there is a certain amount of truth in this. Classicism is active poetry, the poetry of Will and Reason -- teleological art, antithetical to Romanticism, which is passive, determinist art. 16


On 8 August 1923, at Quimper in Brittany, Mirsky finished the introduction to his Russian-language The Russian Lyric: A Little Anthology from Lomonosov to Pasternak the first book he published after his youthful collection of poems in 1911. The crisp Notes that Mirsky included at the back of his anthology make a highly instructive contrast with those he supplied m the same year as his own anthology was published, 1924, for Maurice Baring's Oxford Book of Russian Verse. Writing in English for Baring, Mirsky can take nothmg for granted:

Konstantin Konstantinovich Sluchevsky, b. 1837 in St. Petersburg. Served in the Foot Guards and later on in the Civil Service; he was for a long time editor of the official Pravitel'stvennyi Vestnik (Government Gazette). His first poems appeared in 1860, but he was hissed off the literary stage by the Anti-Verse critics and did not appear m book form until 1876. He died in 1904. He is the most remarkable and original poet of an unpoetical period. He had real genius and a wonderfully alert and receptive mind. Much of his best poetry is metaphysical, but he is probably at his best in his 'geographical' poems (especially in his poems of the North of Russia). He was heavily handicapped, for never in any Christian country (except perhaps in America at the same time) was the level of poetical craftsmanship so low as it was in Russia m the last lap of the nineteenth century. His verse is more often than not uncouth and clumsy, but his ideas are always original and stimulating.17

Easily recognizable here are some permanent features of Mirsky's evaluative thinking: the evolution of poetry describing a 'falling line', the deleteruous effect of 'social' criticism, the importance of work and craftsmanship, , the supreme importance of thought in poetry. There is even evidence of his peculiar staff officer's fascination with terrain. By contrast, here is Musky's note on the same poet from his own anthology; the translation is deliberately literal:

Konstantin Konstantinovich Sluchevsky, b. 1837 in Spb t 1904. Sluchevsky was a tongue-tied genius. An insatiable love for the concrete multiplicity of physical existence; a sharp eye, directed all around him; the vigilant work of powerful thought to which the 'light yoke' of ideas is absolutely alien -- these could have made of him a poet of the first magnitude. His decadent times denied him the armament he needed. This is Demosthenes with his tongue cut out. Sluchevsky's lofty tongue-tiedness is perhaps his principal attraction but it is indisputably annoying. He liberates himself from it rarely and not always appropriately, and in doing so he lapses (especially in the early poems) into cheap prettiness. His first poems began to appear in the second half of the 1850s, but were hissed at by the critics; from 186o until 1876 he was silent. In our age when formal tasks are dominant, Sluchevsky has little chance of attracting attention. 18

This incisive verve, spiked with the occasional bold metaphor, is entirely characteristic of Mirsky's Russian-language criticism. The two notes cover the same ground and are consistent with each other, but the English note primarily imparts information, while the Russian one is above all impressionistically evaluative. Equally instructive is the contrast between Mirsky's notes on those (very few) individual poems that happen to appear in both books. For Blok's 'The Unknown Woman' Mirsky supplies Baring with two short dry sentences: 'The most widely popular of Blok's poems. The scene is a summer resort in the environs of St. Petersburg.'19 For his Russian readers, Mirsky can display the inwardness of his understanding:

The Unknown Woman, dated 24 March 1906 Ozerki, from An Unexpected Joy. An extremely well-known poem. It is central for an entire period; in it some lyric themes intersect that are repeated in different combinations. Here Blok for the first time achieves a synthesis of his dissonances, combining sharp, grotesque naturalism with a romantic melody (the second half); remarkable here is the 'magical', 'forced' disposition of vowels. 20

The second name in the subtitle of Mirsky's anthology, 'From Lomonosov to Pasternak', was a shocking provocation in a Russian emigre publication even before the battle-lines had hardened, because -- apart from the obscurity of the little poetry he had published by then -- Pasternak had declared allegiance to the Soviets by returning to Russia. Mirsky's subtitle is one of the earliest unambiguous proclamations in Russian literary history of Pasternak's major status.

Mirsky is at his most incisive in discussing what he calls his 'Salon des Refuses'. The poets of the modernist period for whom he finds no place in his anthology seem in part like a deliberate provocation to the emigration, because although he finds room for one poem each by Balmont and Gippius, he does not include Bunin and Khodasevich. Mirsky shows off his insider's knowledge by apologizing for not including some of the cult poets of his generation: Konevskoy, Dobrolyubov, Komarovsky, and -- another pointer towards some sort of personal connection -- Elena Guro. But the poet whose absence was most remarked upon, and her omission persistently used as a stick to beat Mirsky with in view of what happened soon aftenhe appearance of the anthology was MarinaTsvetaeva; it is in this preface that Mirsky used the phrase 'a talented, but hopelessly undisciplined woman from Moscow'.21

Tucked away in his note on the second-rate poet Apollon Maikov (1821-97) is a passage in which Mirsky came nearer than anywhere else to defining what he detested most in Russian poetry, an attitude that lies behind all his negative assessments: 'The self-satisfied pomposity of his "concern with ideas" (ideinost'), the eclecticism of his taste, the neutrality of his verbal texture make him almost into a blank space for the modern reader. Maikov made entirely real the ideal poet "according to Belinsky" with his "artistry", "thinking in images", and concern for public opinion. '22 Instead of these qualities, Mirsky admired poets who wrestle with their own thought instead of received ideas, expose 'the resistance of the material' in the linguistic surface of their texts so that the poem is manifestly a thing made, and whose concerns are aristocratically elitist rather than populist.


Mirsky made his debut in January 1924 in a periodical based in Paris, The Link (Zveno). This journal was founded as a literary supplement to the leading Russian newspaper in Paris, The Latest News, the nominal editor being that of the main paper, P. N. Milyukov, who was joined by the almost equally nominal M. M. Vinaver;23 the actual work was done by Solomon Vladimirovich Pozner (1876-1946). The Link appeared from 1923 to 1928.24 It carried a wide variety of articles on· current literary history. The chief literary critic was Georgy Adamovich, but an increasingly prominent part was played by the highly gifted but wayward Nikolay Bakhtin (1894-1950), who had served a stint in the Foreign Legion. He has remained in relative obscurity, overshadowed by his vaunted younger brother Mikhail. 25 Mirsky gave The Link several substantial pieces about current English literature in 1924 and 1925, including what appears to have remained the only serious essay ever written in Russian on the work of Maurice Baring.26

In 1925 Mirsky began contributing to the most important Russian 'thick journal' of the inter-war period, Contemporary Notes (Sovremennye zapiski), which came out regularly from 1921 to the fall of Paris in 1940, edited by a notoriously philistine group of former SRs. Three of his reviews are particularly important. One of them concerns the earliest collected edition of Babel's stories; the others deal with the debuts in prose that had recently been made by the poets Mandelshtam and Pasternak. Mirsky was among the very first critics to argue for the significance of these now long-canonical texts. 27 Besides these, in 1926 he published the first ever article-length assessment in Russian of a long poem by Tsvetaeva. 28 And, as we have seen, he also gave to Contemporary Notes a composite review of nine of the classic texts of Russian Formalist criticism that had come out in its final years of glory, 1923-4.29

Mirsky's most substantial contribution to Contemporary Notes was in fact his first, an obituary of the poet who had been one of the models for his own youthful efforts, Valery Bryusov, who died in October 1924 after spending his last years as a member of the Bolshevik party. Mirsky's obituary culminates with some acid remarks about Bryusov's political opportunism, which in a sense foreshadowed his own ten years later, anticipating some of the charges that would later be made against himself when he declared for the Soviets.

In late 1925 and early 1926 Mirsky also contributed some incisive pieces on current English literature, including articles on Belloc, George Saints bury, and living poets, to Days, the newspaper edited by the former head of the Provisional Government, Aleksandr Kerensky. In 1926 Mirsky also contributed important articles on Tsvetaeva and Esenin to the most explicitly left-wing 'thick journal' of the emigration, The Will of Russia (Volya Rossii), which was published in Prague for a decade starting in 1922. The Esenin obituary contains one particularly noteworthy passage where Mirsky makes some ominous remarks about the doomed nature of his own generation:

Esenin simply was a poet, while Nadson was not. But their functions within the social organism were similar. Both of them concentrated within themselves, with special power for the average contemporary reader, all the weakness and anguish of their generation. The manner of death of each is significant -- Nadson's tuberculosis and Esenin's noose. The first symbolizes the limpness, powerlessness, and sterility of the 'men of the 188os'. The second symbolizes the emptiness, the restlessness, the violated state [ograblennost'] of our generation. Nadson's was a sickness of power. Esenin's was a sickness of faith. Nadson could not act. Esenin could not believe. Unbelief is the root of Esenin's tragedy.30

The most celebrated elegy on Esenin was written by another member of his generation, Mayakovsky. The poem has a closing couplet that became a byword for Communist commitment: 'In this life, to die is nothing hard, / Making life is harder, and by far.' Mirsky's next obituary for a major poet with whom he identified himself was to be about Mayakovsky, with whose own suicide these words took on a ghastly new resonance.


Mirsky's final involvement as a contributor to an emigre publication edited by someone else came about in 1925-6 in connection with a short-lived and essentially amateur project by another emzgre prince, Dmitry Alekseevich ' Shakhovskoy. He published two almanacs whose title uses the adjectival noun· often found in the diary of Mirsky's mother, The Well-Intentioned. The first of these almanacs brought together in uniquely broad church fashion a number of eminent writers in the emigration who were soon to become irreconcilable enemies and would no longer be seen between the same two covers. In his dealings with Shakhovskoy, Mirsky speaks condescendingly, and as a definite advocate of 'the left' in literature. When he is writing in Russian, as opposed to English, he resists style-editing: 'Do not change particular words, and retain my punctuation as far as possible. I'm afraid that in general the article has come out too political, and what's worse is that it's completely disconnected. Malheureusement on n'ecrit pas ce qu'on veut mais ce qu'on peut.'

The article concerned was 'On the Current State of Russian Literature' , in which Mirsky makes a trenchant statement of general principle and some concise literary assessments. As living classics he cites Akhmatova, Zamyatin, Khodasevich, and A. N. Tolstoy (with some reservation about the last-named). The remaining living writers are then mustered into' groups. 'Genuine, fully formed masters' who are continuing to develop include Mandelshtam, Tsvetaeva, Pasternak, and Babel. Those who have stopped developing include Mayakovsky, Aseev, and perhaps Tikhonov. Promising beginners include Artyom Vesyoly and Selvinsky. Worth mentioning in other categories are Leonov, Zoshchenko, Esenin, Pilnyak, Nikitin, perhaps Lidin. The tail-enders in this list are dealt some stinging remarks:

Genuinely talented and clever, but lacking any 'inner content', a journalist and also 'a slave to authority' and, what's worse, to the consumer: Erenburg.

Almost a 'man of genius', but a completely undisciplined31 journalist who cultivates his indiscipline but is the father of almost all the ideas by which contemporary aesthetics lives: Shklovsky. 32

Mirsky notes as he goes through these names the high proportion of Jews among them; he uses the term standard in the late Tsarist administration, inorodtsy, 'aliens'. He eventually apologizes for the fact that of all the names he lists, only one is 'completely white': he has in mind, of course, Khodasevich. This leads to the second half of the article, which condemns the use of political criteria in judging literature, a sin committed not so much by the Bolsheviks, says Mirsky, as by the emigration.


By 4 February 1926, Mirsky had finished his article for the second and final issue of Shakhovskoy's almanac, 'On Conservatism', which, he remarks in his accompanying letter, he hopes 'is not too ill-intentioned':33

'The reader you speak about (there is another kind, but there are fewer of them) is guided by two laws: intellectual laziness and the fear of making a fool of himself Literature has to keep him occupied and cheer him up, "like tasty lemonade in summer".34 Be is not prepared to expend any effort. Literature, like music in a restaurant or cinema, like the cinematograph, is rest and relaxation. It therefore has to be immediately comprehensible, and to achieve that it has to follow familar models. A small amount of innovation is fine; it stimulates the appetite and tickles the nerves .... The educated reader knows that one should take an interest in what is new and that art must renew itself But he also knows from bitter experience that there are many charlatans and impostors, that he can't distinguish between them and the "real" ones, and it's therefore easy to make a fool of himself by saying that Igor Severyanin is a great poet, while Khlebnikov's a clown. He therefore entrenches himself inside the wholly dependable classics, making common cause with them according to their degree of deadness, or with what look to him like the least innovatory of his contemporaries according to their degree of sclerosis. You musn't reproach the reader for doing this, of course. Too much of his energy goes on following the ups and downs of the stock market, or to earning himself a salary, and there's none left for reading "incomprehensible" poets, as you call them.'

'But they really are incomprehensible.'

'Everything is incomprehensible to someone who hasn't the time to comprehend. Art is the creation of new values ... .'

This last sentence caught the fancy of Jane Harrison; she wrote from Cambridge on 9 August 1926:

'Art is the creation of new values' [Harrison cites the phrase in Russian] now that is really worth saying & to me the most illuminating thing I have read for a long time with more stuff in it than a whole decade of Pontigny analysis.

I have often wanted to ask you to formulate for me the reactionary and revolutionary element in yr outlook but I did not feel I knew you quite well enough (asking a person to state their opinions is really more intrusive than asking the amount of their income)35 & now you have done it unasked.

By the next time Mirsky wrote to Shakhovskoy he had delivered his lecture on 'The Ambience of Death in Pre-Revolutionary Russian Literature', which was to become notorious. Mirsky offered this piece to Shakhovskoy for publication in The Well-Intentioned, but then evidently changed his mind, and saved it for his own journal, Vyorsts, even though it would miss the first issue. The last letter of the correspondence with Shakhovskoy dates from 17 June 1926. Mirsky complained that Shakhovskoy was a bad correspondent -- not knowing that during the preceding couple of months Shakhovskoy had gone through the decisive phase of the evolution that led him to choose the path diametrically opposite to the one that Mirsky soon opted for: he gave up the world entirely and went to Mount Athos in order to study to become a priest of the Orthodox Church. He would end up as one of the most eminent clerics of the emigration, known in the highest office he occupied as Archbishop Ioann of San Francisco and the Western United States.

By 1926, the year in which the first volume of his English-language history appeared, Mirsky had thus made an appearance in all the principal periodical publications of the Russian emigration. As a sort of epitaph to this involvement, he then published a harshly critical review of the back issues of Contemporary Notes and The Will of Russia in the first issue of the journal he founded himself, Vyorsts, and left himself with no way back into the mainstream. 36


In his dialogue on conservatism, Mirsky set down one particularly significant passage about his relations with his fellows in the emigration:

'Tradition is like Ariadne's thread -- once dropped, it cannot be picked up again. One can take one's stand only on a directly precursive tradition that has not yet been broken. Restoration never happens, either in politics or culture. The new must be new, not yesterday's stuff warmed up. It must be revolutionary, it must look forward and not back. True, it sometimes dons a mask that's got up to look like the old. But that's only a mask. You mentioned the Eurasians. They have one face but two souls, which "war with each other, alas". If the soul wins that wears the face, they will lose all significance. If the soul wins whose face wears the mask, the soul that is organically related to the future, they will become the greatest cultural force of tomorrow.'

Starting in 1925, Mirsky involved himself more and more deeply with these mask-wearing men who had two souls, the men of the Eurasian movement.37 The initial contact took place in September 1922, when Mirsky visited Berlin and was introduced to Pyotr Petrovich Suvchinsky, one of the four founders of Eurasianism. Though this impression may be the result of the fact that more evidence concerning it survives than concerning any other -- 163 letters by Mirsky written between October 1922 and September 1931 -- Mirsky seems to have formed a closer relationship with Suvchinsky, and for longer, than with any other person he met after he left Russia.

Suvchinsky (1892-1985)38 was born in Kiev and educated in SfPetersburg; he went to the Tenishev school, like Mirsky. He became a musicologist and took part in musical journalism immediately before the First World War; he was then found unfit for military service. In emigration he became an amateur of the arts whose main interest remained music; his practical abilities and/ or dedication as pianist and singer never seem to have been sufficient for him to make a career as a performer. Suvchinsky first lived in Sofia, where the Eurasian movement began. He moved to Berlin at some time in 1922, then to Paris in 1925, and remained there to the end of his life.

As soon as Mirsky got back to London from Berlin in the autumn of 1922, with his customary expeditiousness he published three English-language accounts of the Eurasian movement, all of them positive.39 In a letter of 7 September 1922 to P. N. Savitsky, Suvchinsky claimed Mirsky as a convert, and in 1923 charged him with forming a Eurasian group in England.40

The Eurasian movement was a complex and tangled conglomeration of ideas . and personalities, policies, theories, and agendas. By the end of the 1920s it had spawned a very substantial body of printed documents. They include a series of collections of articles, several monographs, and a chronicle dealing with the organization's public activities.41 Eurasianism is best known, indeed almost exclusively known, in its ideological aspect, which has been confidently summarized many times. By far the clearest summary of its ideology in its initial phase (1921-6) is by Mirsky, an article that stands as one of the best examples of his ability to boil down complex notions to their essentials.42 The article was written in 1926, when Mirsky was feeling maximally benevolent towards the movement and the personalities involved in it, and just at the time when he himself was becoming a leading participant. Several further summaries of Eurasian ideology were made long after the demise of the movement by scholars outside Russia.43 Until the late 1980s, the movement was not an approved topic of research and discussion inside Russia. After the fall of the USSR, the Eurasians' attempts to conceptualize a post-Communist Russia became of great interest and relevance, and there began a spate of republications44 and reinterpretations.45

The formal beginning of the movement was marked by a collection of ten essays that appeared in Sofia in 1921 under the title Exodus to the East, edited and written by four emigres who had landed up there after making their way out of Russia by various routes: Prince Nikolay Sergeevich Trubetskoy (189o-1938), Georgy Vasilievich Florovsky (1893-1979), Pyotr Nikolaevich Savitsky (1894-1968), and, as we know, P. P. Suvchinsky. How exactly the four got together and from whom the original impetus came to produce the book has not yet been clearly related. All four original Eurasians, like Mirsky, were in terms of social and academic background and upbringing metropolitan Russian intellectuals from the dvoryanstvo, but they had different areas of specialization. Trubetskoy was the only one of them who had published any significant proto-Eurasian writings before the 1921 collection, and he was clearly the principal ideologue. But he was always a reluctant leader. He was an academic dedicated to research in his specialist subject; in emigration at the University of Vienna he held one of the most prestigious chairs in Slavonic studies, and he was soon to emerge as one of the greatest theoretical linguists of the twentieth century if not of all time.46 His commitment to his academic work grew stronger as the 1920s went on, and eventually led him to resent the time and energy he was called on to spend on his unruly brainchild, which from his point of view kept on side-slipping into politics and away from the speculative ideas that interested him. It would appear from his earliest writings that as an adolescent, in strong contrast to Mirsky, Trubetskoy conceived a violent antipathy towards Western culture, and British attitudes in particular.

Savitsky was an economist and geographer who had been a favourite pupil of P.B. Struve and had worked with him in the White administration in the Crimea. He responded immediately to Trubetskoy’s early publications, and he was to prove the most enthusiastic and persistent proponent of Eurasianism among the original quartet. He was also the most prolific author among them; indeed, he was something of a graphomaniac, and the knotty loquacity of his writings is one factor that has deterred scholars from tackling his archival legacy.47 Mirsky eventually came to view him as a self-righteous bigot.48

Florovsky was an Orthodox theologican, and very soon publicly distanced himself from the movement.49 Florovsky and Savitsky, however, were brothers-in-law, and apparently retained a close personal relationship. Florovsky was replaced as the Eurasian house theologian by Lev Karsavin (1882-1952), the ballerina Tamara’s brother, who suffered all his life from not being as rich and famous as she was.50 He was one of the group of intellectuals expelled from Russia in 1922, and he became closely involved with Eurasianism when he moved to Paris in 1925. The presence in the same place of Suvchinsky and Karsavin was one factor that altered the centre of gravity of the movement for a while at this point.

Suvchinsky was the least distinguished of the four founders intellectually. He contributed a number of culturological essays to the various Eurasian publications, but none of them really repays careful study because his thought is so slipshod; they consist mainly of verbose emotional gestures. Mirsky’s letters to Suvchinsky teem with ever-harsher instructions about how he should tighten up his thinking and clean up his style. Suvchinsky was by nature a parlour intellectual, fond of the sound of his own voice and loving to hold court. How he managed to support himself is an enigma, unless he really did manage to allot himself a salary from Eurasian funds; his third former wife, Vera, contemptuously referred to him as ‘a genuine parasite’. He was something of a sexual predator, and he married four times, all the women concerned being between 18 and 22 years old at the time. His fourth marriage, in 1933, was something of a Eurasian dynastic event, to Marianna Karsavina, one of the daughters of the philosopher. Karsavin, incidentally, was conned into thinking that Suvchinsky was a millionaire.

As a body of doctrine, Eurasianism has been much more frequently summarized than critically examined. This is partly because the publications are so extensive, and partly because they are still difficult of access; there does not seem to be a single repository anywhere in the world where all the Eurasian publications can be studied together.51 The anonymous preface to Exodus to the East spelled out the fundamental ideas. The sentence from it that became most famous also marks the limit of the usual notion of what Eurasianism amounted to: ‘The Russian people and the peoples of the “Russian world” are neither European nor Asiatic.’

The Eurasian people, one but only one constituent among whom are the ethnic Russians, inhabit that geographically distinctive space which stretches from the Baltic to the Pacific, and from the Arctic to the mountain ranges that provide it with a southern border. In terms of climate and vegetation it is divided into four broad ‘flag-like’ strips that run east-west; reading from north to south they are made up of tundra, northern forest, steppe, and desert.52 Eurasian history is essentially the process of human confrontation with and assimilation of this space. This history begins not with Kievan Christianity but with the unfortunately named Tartar yoke, which the Eurasians viewed as a positive phenomenon rather than a catastrophe that gave rise to Russia’s notorious ‘backwardness’. Under the Mongols the Eurasian space was first brought under unitary rule; it functioned efficiently as a political and economic entity and successfully defended itself against Catholicism and Protestantism and the false beliefs and economic exploitation indivisible from them.

A definition of national identity, subsuming and transcending ethnicity, sprang from the geopolitical basis. The Eurasian mentality, according to Exodus to the East, is continental, nomadic, and tolerant in religious affairs. Nevertheless, a central administration came about that gave a coherent political articulation to ‘continent Eurasia’ as a geographical space, further integrated by growing adherence to the Russian Orthodox Church and the use of the Russian language. The outlook of the people who inhabit the landlocked and featureless expanses of Eurasia was and remained utterly different from that of the peoples who inhabit the regions west of the Elbe, with their peninsulas and islands riven by mountains and short rivers flowing fast to nearby seas. In this setting there developed individualism, participatory democracy, aggressive chauvinism, rapaciously acquisitive materialism, religious intolerance and eventually secularism, and a ruthless hunger for technological development; these attitudes drove the acquisition of sea-borne empires founded on myths of national supremacy and on the enslavement or even extermination of aliens rather than the Eurasian process of comparatively benign enserfment of the native lower orders. The reforms of Peter the Great betrayed the Eurasian idea of importing alien Western concepts and structures of government, leading to a loss of organic unity, a growing alienation between rulers and ruled, and the eventual revenge of the ruled in 1917. The revolution was taken over from the top, however, by fanatical adherents of Marxist Communism, the most obnoxious of all the ideologies that had been foisted on Russia from the West. The Eurasians thus accepted the legitimacy of the Russian revolution, but rejected the legitimacy of Bolshevism.

The four founding ideologues of Eurasianism were all Russian men of the same generation as Mirsky. Like him, they just had time to complete at least a substantial part of their higher education in their native country before historical developments robbed them of the context in which it would have been natural for them subsequently to emerge as leading figures in their chosen fields and perhaps more widely, in political life. 53 Their personal circumstances had been transformed beyond recognition by the events that began in 1914. Instead of being leaders-in-waiting, these men found themselves outcasts in alien societies whose values they found unacceptable.

All along there were really two Eurasias in the thinking of the original group, as is implied by Mirsky's remark about the two souls. They were complementary, and were never really synthesized. The first, associated with Trubetskoy, was an ethnic and cultural construct. The second, developed particularly by Savitsky, was a geopolitical construct. In the second phase of the movement there was an attempt to add a legal arm and what one might call a religious arm, the theory of the 'symphonic personality' as developed by Karsavin. But from the start there was a fatal lack of agreement about the purpose of the movement. In a situation where no power was at stake, there was a vacuum at the point where male motivation normally has its roots. Eurasian ideology was in no way less coherent than that of Bolshevism before or after 1917, but there was no equivalent among the Eurasian leaders to Lenin, whose life and soul were dedicated to the cause of revolution and who before 1917 was undeterred by apparent success or failure in the real world-and whose mother supplied him with an allowance that enabled him to devote himself to his obsession. Savitsky was the nearest thing there was to a Eurasian fanatic, but his thoughts and actions seem childish and unfocused compared with the unremitting purposiveness of Lenin.
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