Cultural exchange and religious change: Buddhism, Vedanta and immortality in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain (1).
These historians have suggested that, contrary to previous assertions, religion thrived in industrial society and Victorian intellectuals, for example, did not experience an attenuation of belief. (4) Rather, nineteenth-century thinkers sought out new sources of legitimacy for their beliefs. In his pioneering 1974 study Between Science and Religion, Frank Miller Turner showed that the desire to seek out new sources of legitimacy for belief should not be equated with belief's decline. (5) In a 1982 study of religious vitality in Lambeth, Jeffrey Cox suggested that "We should use greater caution in linking [religious] 'decline' with broad general theories of 'secularization'." (6) Historians such as John Wolffe increasingly maintain that the modern period simply offered new "ways of being religious." (7) In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, new "ways of being religious" included philosophical Idealism, natural theology or scientific naturalism, modernist theology, vitalism, existentialism, and Eastern religious philosophy.
Eastern religious philosophy or philosophies, such as Buddhism and the Hindu sect Vedanta, remain among of the best-known alternative spiritualities today. Another well-known occult derivation of these philosophies is Theosophy, an ostensible synthesis of Eastern religion and Western science. The popularity of Theosophy, Buddhism, and Vedanta increased throughout Europe and North America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, (8) and as their popularity increased, so too did important new conceptions of religious belief. In particular, Eastern religious philosophy influenced many in Europe and North America to understand immortality in new ways. (9)
This article focuses on eschatology, or the "doctrine of last things," as a significant context of religious change. Christian eschatology has traditionally conceived of immortality as personal, maintaining that individual souls survive after bodily death. Many people still hold to this notion today, but many others, unorthodox seekers and otherwise, define immortality differently: perhaps 20 per cent of Western populations believe in reincarnation, while others conceive of immortality in terms of consciousness, energy, artificial intelligence, race, or genes. (10) The genesis of these unorthodox--to orthodox Christians, anyway--definitions in Britain can be traced especially to the influence of Buddhism and Vedanta in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The subjects of this article, unorthodox religionists concerned with eschatological questions, are discussed in roughly chronological order, preceded by an introductory section on secularization and eschatology. The second section briefly describes Vedanta's early history in Europe, and the third section shows how the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) reacted to Liberal eschatologies by trying to establish immortality on a scientific basis. The fourth section discusses the more contrary Theosophical Society (TS), whose leaders, Helena Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott, propounded alternatively individual and collective eschatologies that they too attempted to establish on a scientific basis. The final section focuses on Indian Vedantists and their British followers between the wars, who propounded the most collective conception of immortality of all the groups discussed here. Due in large part to the lasting influence of British Vedantists of the 1920s and 30s, Vedanta continues to grow in influence today, both in Britain and in North America.
I. Eschatology and Secularization
Late-Victorian intellectuals sought new ways of being religious for several reasons. The most obvious reason to the twenty-first-century mind is the influence of Darwinism, although several historians have shown that in its day, "Darwinism" became a catch-phrase for anything scientific and that Darwin's own ideas were not as secular as some have supposed. (11) Furthermore, the so-called "crisis of faith" stemmed as equally from philosophical and theological developments, including the work of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Renan, as from scientific ones. Nonetheless, evolutionism in general influenced many clerics, both pre-and post-Darwin, to view the church and church doctrine as ever-changing and ever-evolving. (12)
Intellectuals also sought new ways of being religious to counter materialistic or naturalistic explanations of the universe, which they perceived to encourage amorality. Frank Turner observed that "Just as the piety and bibliolatry of Evangelicalism had bred the honest doubter in matters of religion, so also ... dogmatic science ... nurtured a new variety of honest doubter who questioned the all-sufficiency of contemporary scientific concepts, theories, and categories to describe and interpret every facet of life." (13) Somewhat paradoxically, then, many Victorian scholars turned to psychical research, the ostensibly scientific investigation of such phenomena as mediumship and telepathy, to interpret supernaturalism. (14) But the psychical researchers did not view their use of science as a paradox. Rather, they saw themselves as pioneers of a new paradigm that rejected the period's increasing division of sacred and secular by using contemporary scientific discourse and empirical, classificatory methods to explore spiritual realms.
In rejecting the dualistic division between sacred and secular, both psychical research and Spiritualism in general shaped new ways of being religious. Spiritualism was a broad church, encompassing folk customs and scientific discourse, "Protestant" grammar and Buddhist lexicon, and liberal and illiberal elements. (15) Theosophists, for example, initially invoked Spiritualism to justify their beliefs but then discarded it in favour of Buddhism and Vedanta, while retaining a broad belief in supernaturalism. (16)
Perhaps most significantly for religious change, popular interest in Buddhism and Vedanta helped shape increasingly collective conceptions of immortality. As the Western crisis of faith increased skepticism regarding such traditional doctrines as the resurrection of the body and the survival of the soul, eschatological questions gained currency. If the individual body did not endure, then what did? And if morality required belief in some kind of posthumous existence, as many suggested, who or what determined the shape of this existence? The importance of immortality and Eastern religious philosophy to psychical researchers, Theosophists, and other unorthodox religionists makes eschatology vital to understanding the process of religious change in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain.
Mapping the influence of Buddhism and Vedanta on eschatology can help historicize the concept of secularization and divorce it from the judgments often inherent in modernization. Arguing for a qualitative approach to the study of religious change, Sarah Williams has suggested that secularization may be viewed "as part of the discourse in which we are engaged in studying rather than as an objective historical process." (17) The increasing influence of Buddhism and Vedanta on changing notions of eschatology can be viewed as one process of exchange between different "types of religious discourse," making a discursive approach particularly appropriate to the study of British religious change in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The influence of Buddhism and Vedanta on British intellectuals highlights the role of what Mary Louise Pratt calls "transculturation," or cross-cultural exchange, in secularization. Despite the epistemological difficulties of assessing cross-cultural exchange, it appears that a number of British intellectuals were at least partly influenced by Indian thought to define immortality in collective terms, and that this influence was partly enabled by Indian thinkers' use of British philosophical and scientific terms. In the course of this exchange, Pratt would say that both centre and periphery shaped each other dialectically. (18)
II. Early Representations of Vedanta
Eastern religious philosophy first came to the attention of Western thinkers during the late-eighteenth century "Oriental Renaissance," a phrase coined by the historian Raymond Schwab to describe Europeans' "discovery" of "the East" through imperial conquest. (19) According to Schwab, English colonial administrators quickly "realized that languages would be the key to dominion" and founded the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1784, which published translations of sacred and literary Indian texts and a journal entitled Asiatic Researches. (20) Asiatic Researches reported on the society's work and disseminated its findings to England, Germany, and France. (21)
Imperialist motives only partly explain European interest in Hinduism, however. Historians have also characterized this interest as an intellectual reaction to Enlightenment dualism: a desire for "unity and wholeness." (22) Wanting a more positive foundation for existence in the aftermath of the French Revolution, many European intellectuals focused on India, as they perceived it to be the source of human origins and therefore uncorrupted by modern rationalism. Many German Idealist philosophers, for example, looked to India's ancient Hindu texts as they sought to understand the history of humanity and to recover the innocence of civilization's infancy. (23) The English Romantic poets read the work of these philosophers and Asiatic Researches, influences that seem to have been mutually reinforcing. (24) It was said at the time that each of the Lake poets "had begun his career with an Asian poem." (25)
In this same period, translations of Hindu texts promoted misconceptions of Vedanta that continued into the early twentieth century. Misinterpreting the Bhagavad Gita as the "Hindu Bible," intellectuals and poets alike took Vedanta as representative of Indian thought as a whole and conflated it with Advaita Vedanta. (26) Where Vedanta is dualistic, Advaita Vedanta is non-dualistic, (27) but since the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, most Western writers on Vedanta have presented it as monistic. Richard King argues that this perennialization of Vedanta reflected the spirit in which European intellectuals approached "the Orient." Rather than investigating Eastern ideas simply to understand them, these intellectuals looked to the East for inspiration on how to reconstruct European civilization in the wake of the Enlightened rationalism that had brought about such upheaval during the French Revolution. This desire for reconstruction, argues King, resulted in "the projection of Christian theological debates and concerns about the nature and status of Christian mysticism onto an Indian canvas." (28) Thus, European interpretations of Eastern philosophy have had less to do with the actual influence of Hindu and Buddhist thinkers and more to do with the role of "the East" as a foil for Western concerns. Pace Edward Said, it is common sense to acknowledge that colonialism has clouded Western visions of "the East" and vice versa. But few postcolonial critics today accept Said's monolithic theory. And it seems obvious that any representation, of "the East" or otherwise, can be both foil and influence--in other words, transculturative. In any case, arguments about influence are, in the end, epistemological: how can we be sure we know what we think we know? In enabling transculturation to occur, colonial modernities have helped facilitate religious change. European interest in Eastern religious philosophy coincided with increasing debate about eschatology and the rise of Biblical criticism, (29) which created a space for alternative religious beliefs. Once Biblical criticism determined Judgment Day to be this-worldly, immortality no longer needed to be personal, raising questions about the precise nature of the future life while maintaining its theological importance. Non-theologians, such as psychical researchers, sought answers to these questions in new, unorthodox ways.
III. The Society for Psychical Research
Psychical researchers contributed to the collectivization of conceptions of immortality through their investigation of such phenomena as mesmerism, apparitions and haunted houses, and mediumship or thought-transference. (30) Several Cambridge intellectuals founded the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) in 1882 out of concern for traditional questions of Christian eschatology. The early psychical researchers investigated telepathy with the hope of obtaining evidence of immortality, or survival of the human personality after bodily death, evidence that they believed could counter the amoral materialism they perceived to be encouraged by mechanistic, "scientific" views of the universe. Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900), for example, believed that ethics could only be sanctioned by a concept of human immortality that "kept alive the possibility that individual pleasures foregone in this life, for the common good, would be entered as a credit in the life to come." (31) Sidgwick's SPR colleagues--the philosopher and statesman Arthur Balfour (1848-1930), Edmund Gurney (1847-1888), Frank Podmore (1856-1910), Frederic Myers (1843-1901) and Oliver Lodge (1851-1940), among others--put forth similar views, although the last two postulated more collective notions that had affinities with Vedanta.
Reflecting the theological uncertainty of the period, this group could not agree on the precise shape of human immortality, nor did it necessarily view "psychic phenomena" as manifestations of immortal individuals. For example, Edmund Gurney claimed that telepathic communications "are outside the individual's consciousness, just as the events in another person's consciousness are; but they differ from these last in not revealing themselves as part of any continuous stream of conscious life; and no one, therefore, can give an account of them as belonging to a self." (32) Frederic Myers, on the other hand, came to view telepathy as communication between an individual and collective consciousness, which implied the existence of some kind of collective immortality. Even Oliver Lodge, who became well-known after the First World War for his alleged spiritualistic communications with his deceased son, echoed Myers's ambiguous eschatology.
Of all the psychical researchers, Myers articulated the most collective conception of immortality. He did so in his posthumously published magnum opus Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death (1903). Myers exerted considerable influence on the formation of psychological thought in the early twentieth century, particularly on Carl Jung's concept of the collective unconscious, (33) although Jung did not believe in collective immortality himself. Aldous Huxley described Myers's concept of the unconscious as "superior to Freud's" in its comprehensiveness and truth, and "superior to Jung's" in its documentation. (34)
But Myers came to his eschatology only gradually. In Phantasms of the Living (1886), he echoed Gurney's uncertainty about the relationship between psychic phenomena and immortal individual personalities and called for further experiments in telepathy. Despite the absence of significant evidence, Myers hypothesized that the existence of telepathy might indicate that a collective human consciousness was evolving: "Perhaps beneath the body politic a soul politic is integrating itself unseen." (35) In Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death, Myers described this "soul politic" in greater detail, suggesting that the possession of a soul put one in touch with "a spiritual Universe." (36) Elsewhere, he characterized the spiritual Universe as a "World Soul," or "universal consciousness." (37)
Myers's move towards collective notions of immortality echoed the Romantic idealism that had influenced the Liberal Protestants. Like the Romantic poets he admired, Myers found spiritual insight in the natural world and looked to Eastern religious philosophy for confirmation of his beliefs. In his book on Wordsworth, he described "the loss of delight in Nature" as "the truest definition of Atheism, inasmuch as unity in the universe is the first element in our conception of God." (38) From the connections he perceived between the spiritual and material realms, (39) Myers postulated the existence of a "subliminal self," a part of individual consciousness that could draw energy from the spiritual world. (40) Although this subliminal self could exist separately from its physical organism, contact other subliminal selves across time and space, and survive bodily death, Myers did not equate it with the soul.
Myers never fully developed his conception of the soul, let alone its relationship to the subliminal self. (41) But given his use of such terms as "universal consciousness" and his references to Buddhism, it is fair to say that he would have characterized it as collective. He wrote in his concluding chapter, "Nay, as to our own soul's future, when that first shock of death is past, it is in Buddhism that we find the more inspiring, the truer view." (42)
Myers's ideas and influence highlight the importance of divorcing secularization from modernization. Although he helped pave the way for more collective conceptions of immortality, he was not a secularist. The historian John J. Cerullo fell victim to Myers's ambiguity and interpreted his theory of the subliminal self as "the secular soul." (43) In The Secularization of the Soul (1982), he described the period of psychical research from the turn-of-the-century to the 1920s as "the Age of Myers," and claimed that his posthumously published Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death (1903) "may turn out to be one of the key documents in modern European intellectual history, just as Myers himself may be a much more pivotal figure than he is now acknowledged to be." (44) Cerullo based this claim on a somewhat complex interpretation of secularization as the divestiture of "ecclesiastical suasions" from religion, a process that he claimed was intrinsically Protestant and with which he associated Myers's theory. (45) He wrote of Myers's subliminal self:
It was indeed a version of the soul in that it was described as some mysterious inner part (or parts) of ourselves that distinguished us as categorically superior to other forms of life; it was an "other" part of ourselves entirely. Yet at the same time it was secular in that it was a functioning component of our own earthly organisms, manifest (through telepathic phenomena) in this world. It was in fact an entirely new way of conceptualizing noumenal selfhood. (46)
Cerullo's association of Myers's theory of the subliminal self with both the divestiture of "ecclesiastical suasions" and, accordingly, secularization, is challenged by Myers's retention of a soul alongside a subliminal self. Significantly, Myers himself did not view his own context as secular; he began his book with the presumption that "a spiritual world exists." (47) And while he did not conceive of the spiritual world in orthodox Christian terms, he did conceive of it in the traditional Christian terms of the soul, albeit somewhat creatively. Finally, contrary to what Cerullo suggested, Myers did not present the spiritual machinations of human personality as entirely earthly, as evident in his concept of the subliminal self.
In facilitating the transition from personal to collective conceptions of immortality, Myers influenced, among others, the views of his longer-living contemporary, Oliver Lodge. Like Myers, Lodge conceived of the afterlife as possessing both collective and personal elements, and exhibited a similar vagueness about the relationship between the two. But Lodge altered his perception of this relationship with the times, giving particular emphasis to personal elements in the First World War era.
In early writings like Science and Immortality (1908), Lodge restricted personal immortality to those "creatures who have risen to the attainment of Godlike faculties" or overcome the restrictions of individuality; those who are "one with the universe [and] ... in tune with the infinite." (48) In other words, an individual personality could survive bodily death so long as he/she did not feel like an individual personality. At the same time, however, Lodge found proof of "[man's] individual survival" in such things as telepathy, automatism, mental pathology, repressed memories of past lives, and genius. (49)
One may well ask how deceased individuals can communicate with the loved ones they have left behind if they cease to view themselves as individuals. Lodge addressed this question in a 1912 letter. He suggested that most messages from beyond are "due to ... subliminal activity, namely the subconscious or dream part of the mind," by which he likely meant, given his admiration for Myers's work, subliminal communication between the living and the dead. (50) In other words, most communication between the deceased and the living is unconscious. But Lodge also acknowledged the possibility that such communication may also be "open to psychic influences from the outside," and "dominated by higher influences." (51) Again, given his adherence to many Myersian principles in this period, one can infer that by "higher influences" Lodge likely meant some kind of larger existence--that is, a collective immortality.
Lodge's openness to different kinds of posthumous communication reflects his gradual abandonment of the more Christian idea that "God-like faculties" were essential to immortality. But in abandoning this idea, he also temporarily abandoned the concept of collective immortality. In Raymond (1916), the bestseller (52) he dedicated to the son he lost in the Great War, he suggested that "individuality and Personality ... can only survive where they already exist"--in other words, all humans have individual afterlives. This emphasis on personal immortality reflected the needs of many mourning the loss of loved ones in the war, and Lodge's name became synonymous with Spiritualism in this period.
Lodge, however, returned to musing on the relationship between individual and collective elements in the 1920s, which suggests that the attractions of collective immortality were too strong for him to resist. In Why I Believe in Personal Immortality (1928), for example, he claimed that individual personalities persist after death as part of a larger whole, the whole being comprised of "perhaps a larger or more subliminal self, parts of which may possibly be liable to some modified form of reincarnation hereafter." (53) If even Oliver Lodge, Britain's foremost authority on Spiritualism in the interwar period, acknowledged the existence of a collective immortality, then one can presume that many others did so as well.
IV. The Theosophical Society
Lodge's wavering stance towards immortality reflects the contradictions inherent in transculturation and religious change. These contradictions are also evident in the history of the Theosophical Society, founded by Helena or "Madame" Blavatsky (1831-1891) and the American agriculturalist Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907) in New York in 1875. Like the Society for Psychical Research, the TS reflected Victorians' yearning for a universal basis for spirituality and attracted many of the same people. Unlike the SPR, however, the TS turned increasingly to Eastern religious philosophy and paved the way for the Vedantist revival of the interwar period.
Blavatsky was Theosophy's main disseminator of collective eschatology as the TS itself did not, as a society or a movement, possess a consistent philosophy. This inconsistency derived from several factors, principal among them the differences between its early leaders, Blavatsky and Olcott. For several years, they worked as a team and made the TS into a worldwide organization, but this cooperation was enabled by an intellectual division of labour which ultimately resulted in their estrangement from one another and the formal division of the TS in 1895. Stephen Prothero describes Blavatsky as the "philosopher" and Olcott as the "ethicist," by which he means that where Blavatsky concerned herself with the cosmology behind the TS, or other-worldly matters, Olcott focused on the TS's moral duties, or this-worldly matters. (54) Prothero suggests that the differences between the two "chums," as they called one another, were so great that "it may be helpful to think of not one but two theosophies existing side-by-side from the start." (55) Given Blavatsky's own belief that each person was "comprised of seven interpenetrating bodies," (56) these two theosophies may, perhaps, be multiplied seven-fold.
Despite their differences, both Blavatsky and Olcott concerned themselves particularly with immortality and contributed to eschatological change by continuing its debates. Where Blavatsky defined immortality as collective, Olcott defined it as personal. Indeed, he claimed the TS was especially important for justifying personal immortality, despite the organization's initial reluctance to summarize its beliefs. (57) He wrote in Human Spirits and Elementaries, "To the church [the TS] offers proof that the soul is immortal, at once final and irresistible ..." (58)
Olcott's belief in personal immortality raised cross-cultural eschatological debate when he sought official approval for his Buddhist Catechism (1881). Despite his supposed adherence to Buddhism, Olcott understood the soul in essentially Protestant terms. (59) This foreign interpretation came to the attention of a high-ranking Sri Lankan (then Ceylonese) monk, Hikkaduve Sumangala, who only approved the book for publication once Olcott removed his references to human physical survival of bodily death. (60) Thus in answer to the question, "Does Buddhism teach the immortality of the soul?," the first edition of the Buddhist Catechism read, "'soul' [is] a word used by the ignorant to express a false idea ... there can be no immortal survival of a changeful thing." (61) Here "soul" is compared to "personality" or "individuality" (62); because human personality continually changes through reincarnation, one cannot speak of individual souls.
Despite or perhaps because of Sumangala's intervention, Olcott retained his personal belief in individual immortality, reflecting the contradictions of the transculturation process. He added a lengthy footnote on the nature of personality to future editions of the Buddhist Catechism that argued for the existence of individual souls. Drawing on the work of the Orientalist T.W. Rhys-Davids, Olcott suggested that where personality is changeable, individuality persists, and that Buddha's "denial of 'Soul'" simply denied the permanence of personality. (63) He wrote, "though personalities ever shift, the one line of life along which they are strung like beads, runs unbroken ... It is therefore ... an individual vital undulation--which is careering through the objective side of Nature ... and persists through many cyclic changes." (64)
The ongoing nature of the transculturation process is also evident in a note made by Sumangala himself at the front of the first edition of the Buddhist Catechism. Adopting Christian idioms in his certificate of approval, he wrote, "I hereby certify that I have carefully examined the Sinhalese version of the Catechism prepared by Colonel H.S. Olcott, and that the same is in agreement with the Canon of the Southern Buddhist Church." (65)
Blavatsky's writings also reflect the inconsistent nature of transculturation. Like academic Orientalists, she took Hinduism to be a religion of the book, describing the Upanishads as the "priceless thesaurus" of Vedanta and "the esoteric glossaries of the Vedas." (66) She also took Vedanta, a dualistic philosophy, for Advaita Vedanta, a non-dualistic philosophy. But although she was inconsistent in her terminology, using the terms "self," "soul," and "personality" interchangeably, (67) she held a consistently collective conception of immortality. She sometimes attributed this conception to Buddhism and sometimes to Vedanta, reflecting her belief that Vedantism had originated in Buddhism. (68)
In Isis Unveiled (1877), Blavatsky argued that the West's dominant belief in personal immortality had resulted from mistranslation (69)--an ironic claim given her own linguistic slipperiness, but an interesting one given its recognition of the relationship between discourse and religious change. Immortality, she suggested, belonged to a divine aether [sic] or Nirvana from which individual spirits emanate. (70) In Voice of the Silence (1889), her shortest and most widely-read book, Blavatsky replaced aether with Alaya, which she described as akin to "Nature's Soul-Thought." "All is impermanent in man except the pure bright essence of Alaya," she wrote. (71) She analogized the relationship between personality and immortality as akin to the relationship between a raindrop and an ocean; "Thou shall not separate thy being from BEING, and the rest, but merge the Ocean in the drop, the drop within the Ocean." (72) In The Key to Theosophy, another 1889 work, Blavatsky distinguished temporal personality from immortal individuality, claiming that true individuality came to earth in the form of personality through reincarnation. (73)
It is difficult to pinpoint the precise moment at which the Theosophical Society began to decline and British esotericists began to turn to other Eastern interpreters. Blavatsky had invoked such spiritual phenomena as correspondence from divine Masters to support her claims, and the SPR deemed these phenomena to be fraudulent in 1885. But as Joy Dixon notes, the SPR announced its conclusions in the same period in which people began to question scientific naturalism. Thus, "[f]or those who were drawn to the ancient wisdom that theosophy claimed to convey, the result of the [SPR's conclusions] was, paradoxically, to increase rather than decrease the mystique of the [Masters]," and the TS reframed "the supposed conflict between science and spirituality ... as a conflict between the 'modern civilization of the West' and the 'ancient wisdom of the East'." (74) While this refraining served to strengthen the TS's hand for a time, its increasing emphasis on Eastern rather than syncretic doctrines enabled the dissemination of Vedantist and Buddhist ideas in Britain and ultimately prepared the way for the diffusion of Theosophical ideas and the diminution of the Theosophical Society itself.
British intellectuals turned increasingly to alternative sources for Eastern religious philosophy, particularly between the mid-1920s and the mid-1930s, and the Theosophical Society declined in influence. The TS was especially shaken by the formal resignation of Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) in 1930. Krishnamurti had been "discovered" in 1909 on a beach near Madras in India by a former pupil of Madame Blavatsky, Charles Leadbeater (1847-1934). Leadbeater held him to be the Lord Maitreya, an earthly incarnation of the supernatural benevolent Being who had previously appeared in the guises of Sri Krishna and Jesus Christ. (75)
Krishnamurti himself preached a collective notion of immortality in the years after he resigned from the TS. He equated the desire for personal immortality with egotism, and argued that immortality is only possible for those who overcome their individualities. He said in 1933, "Immortality is free from all opposites; it is harmonious action in which the mind is utterly freed from the conflict of the 'I'." (76) Being "freed from the conflict of the 'I'" entailed a "continual becoming" into a new form of consciousness, Krishnamurti said in 1935. It entailed an "intelligence which is freed from the particular as well as from the group, from that consciousness which creates distinctions." (77)
Both Krishnamurti and Theosophy still have their followers today. While Theosophy lacks the overt presence it possessed a century ago, it continues to influence unorthodox seekers through the New Age movements to which it helped give rise. Such movements include Waldorf School founder Rudolf Steiner's Anthroposophical Society, Krishnamurti's own followers, (78) and countless others. As Mark Bevir points out, Madame Blavatsky's ideas and approach persist, whether associated with her or not. These ideas and approaches include the equation of New Age beliefs with ancient, usually foreign, wisdom; the desire to reconcile the modern scientific world with religion; the selective use of scholarship to justify interpretations of "alternative religious traditions";79 and collective notions of immortality. But as the history of Vedanta indicates, the selective interpretation of Eastern religions began long before Blavatsky.
Vedanta gained increasing numbers of British adherents in the wake of Theosophy's decline between the wars. A high point of religious transculturation, this period saw collective notions of immortality supercede personal notions among unorthodox religionists. Unlike its late eighteenth- and mid-nineteenth-century proponents in Europe, Vedanta's foremost exponents in twentieth-century Britain were Indian. Prominent among them were Swami Vivekananda (born Narendranath Datta, 1863-1902), the philosopher and future Indian President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888-1975), and the poet Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), all of whom repudiated personal immortality. In the British interwar period, Hindu doctrines appealed to both intellectuals and the working classes, and Radharkrishnan and Tagore cut cult-like figures. (80)
These Indian Vedantists were both products and architects of colonial modernities. Western-educated critics of British imperialism, they invoked Western concepts and discourse in defense of Vedantist ideas, contributing to both political and religious change. Vivekananda was the first to help associate Vedanta with Indian nationalism and social activism. Partly because of this, he is often credited with having introduced Vedanta to the West, principally because of his well-publicized speech to the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893 and his American lecture tour between 1893 to 1897, when he founded a number of Vedantic centres in California. (81) These centres came to represent the American arm of the Ramakrishna Order, which Vivekananda founded in India after he returned from the United States. (82) But as explained in the first section of this article, Vedanta penetrated the West long before Vivekananda came on the scene. Paul J. Will suggests that he may have been responsible for making Western conceptions of Vedanta synonymous with "Hinduism" but, again, the path had already been paved for him. (83)
Vivekananda drew on Western psychological discourse to argue for a collective eschatology that gave credence to India's strength in numbers. He saw all selves as part of a larger self, or Atman in Vedantist terms, and claimed that humans could evolve by undertaking the eight stages or steps of Raja Yoga which, if followed correctly, would lead to samadhi, or "superconsciousness." (84) These steps aimed towards the realization of the underlying unity of the universe, or Pranayama, which manifested itself in subtle vibrations akin to telepathic waves. He claimed that the universe harboured both continuous mass and continuous mind, and that "even in the universe of thought we find this unity, and at last, when we get to the Self, we know that Self can only be One." (85)
Richard King presents the psychologized Vedantism of Indian intellectuals like Vivekananda as an example of hybridity: a discourse comprehensible to colonizers that could be used to promote Indian nationalism and decolonization. (86) King argues that Vedanta "c[a]me to the fore" because of "a confluence of interests"--both colonial and anti-colonial. (87) He explains that from the colonizers' point of view, Vedanta encouraged a useful quietist ideal; from the anti-colonialist standpoint, it aided "in the promotion of a sense of a unified, national identity" necessary both for collective resistance and, ultimately, decolonization. (88)
Certainly, Vedanta's collective aspects proved useful in Gandhi's promotion of Indian nationalism and mass resistance. But King's suggestion that colonizers promoted Vedanta because of its political and social utility overstates its functionalism. As repeated throughout this article, the grounds for Vedanta's perennialization had been prepared long before Vivekananda became active. While the earlier Asiatic Societies may have recognized Vedanta's useful function, its non-dualism also acted as an intellectual foil. Vedanta's monistic philosophy appealed to unorthodox religionists and Westernized Indian intellectuals alike, all of whom rebelled against a politico-religious system that they believed to neglect the human spirit.
Vivekananda's association with Indian nationalism and social activism helped ensure his posthumous influence. (89) A collection of his lectures was published in English in 1922 under the title Raja Yoga, a book that remains in print to this day. (90) Following in Vivekananda's footsteps, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan furthered the perennialization of Vedanta and the collectivization of immortality through such publications as Eastern Religion and Western Thought (1939). (91) In The Hindu New of Life, for example, while arguing for religious ecumenism he also claimed that "Vedanta is not a religion, but religion itself in its most universal and deepest significance." (92) Unlike Vivekananda, however, he looked to Advaita Vedanta rather than Vedanta, although his British followers, such as Cyril Joad (discussed below), failed to appreciate the difference between the two. (93)
The most well-known Indian philosopher in Britain in this period, Radhakrishnan was described by the philosophy journal Mind described as "the best of all interpreters of Indian thought to Europe and of European thought to India." (94) Radhakrishan's transculturative abilities can be related at least in part to his education in philosophy at the Madras Christian College between 1905 and 1909. (95) During his years in Britain, he gave the 1929 Hibbert Lectures, became the Spalding Professor of Eastern Religion and Ethics at Oxford in 1936, and published several books on Hinduism in English including Indian Philosophy (2 volumes, 1923-1927), The Hindu View of Life (based on his 1926 Upton Lectures, 1927), The Philosophy of the Upanishads (reprinted from Indian Philosophy, 1924), and Contemporary Indian Philosophy (edited with J.H. Muirhead, 1936). (96) British workers attended his lectures on Hinduism in London and Manchester. (97)
Not surprisingly, given Vedanta's checkered Western history, Radhakrishnan's ideas have been much debated, with many critics claiming that he read too many Western ideas into Indian thought and too many Indian ideas into Western thought. (98) But these alleged misreadings signify Radhakrishnan's participation in the transculturation process and his goal of religious ecumenism. In his Hibbert Lectures, for example, he drew on the language and ideas of the Upanishads, Buddha, Greek myths, the Indian philosopher Samkara, Plato and Hegel (among other classic Western philosophers), biology, physics, psychology, Romantic poetry, and Christianity to argue for the importance of religion, the unity of humanity, and the unity of the universe. About immortality, Radhakrishnan wrote, "Heaven is not a place where God lives but an order of being, a world of spirit where the ideas of wisdom, love and beauty exist externally, a kingdom into which we all may enter at once in spirit ..." (99)
In keeping with his ecumenical aims, Radhakrishan characterized the human spirit alternately as God, universal, vast, profound, true, indivisible, and infinite, and suggested that the different names for "God" essentially amount to the same thing. (100) Like Frederic Myers, he found proof of humanity's universal spirit in intuition and genius. (101) Unlike Myers, however, he did not view this spirit as unconscious but conscious, (102) and he took it as indicative of humanity's spiritual and material collectivity. "However self-conscious and self-determining," he wrote, "the human being is not absolutely individual," citing the relationship between cells and their organisms as an analogy. (103) Given that humanity's essence is collective, then immortality is collective as well. But Radhakrishnan did not view immortality as cosmic; rather, he suggested that belief in eternal life "is merely an assertion of the omnipotence of the spirit and the all-compelling character of goodness." (104) In other words, people's positive influences remain after they have physically departed; true immortality lies in goodness, or godliness.
Radhakrishnan and Tagore's intellectual influence converged in Britain around the same time, although Tagore had been well-known since 1913, when he won the Nobel Prize for literature. The philosopher gave the Hibbert Lectures in 1929; the poet gave them in 1930. (105) Radhakrishnan even wrote a book on Tagore. (106) Unlike the philosopher, however, the poet had a significant presence in Europe as a whole during the 1920s and 1930s. Tagore's fame can be gauged by the Golden Book of Tagore, published for his seventieth birthday in 1930. British contributors included poets, of course (John Masefield, Laurence Houseman and W.B. Yeats), intellectuals (J.S. Huxley, Harold Laski, Havelock Ellis, and Bertrand Russell), and religious writers (R.J. Campbell, Evelyn Underhill). Countless non-British figures also contributed, such as Albert Einstein, Stefan Zweig, Benedetto Croce, Hermann Hesse, Thomas Mann, Jawaharlal Nehru, Radhakrishnan, and Gandhi. (107) German newspapers allegedly complained "that [Tagore] was more enthusiastically acclaimed in Goethe's native country than the German poet ever was." (108)
Tagore had advocated Anglo-Indian cultural exchange as a means for political change from the early years of the twentieth century, (109) and his ecumenical promotion of religious transculturation grew stronger during the interwar period. His promotion of cross-cultural religious dialogue is particularly evident in his Hibbert lectures, published in 1931 as The Religion of Man, where he drew on the Upanishads, Bengali poetry, Buddhist teachings, English literature, and the Western terms of psychology, physics, biology, (110) and Christianity. In keeping with his belief that "whatever name ... given to the divine Reality" is unimportant, he referred to the Universal Self as "the Super Soul", "God", "Eternal Spirit" and advaitam (the infinite One), (111) and invoked one of Jesus's parables in defense of his cross-cultural project: "I refuse to think that the twin spirits of the East and the West, the Mary and Martha, can never meet to make perfect the realization of truth." (112)
Tagore contributed to the collectivization of immortality by arguing that one must surrender one's individuality "to the Universal Self" associated with "the final nature of the world." (113) "Religon," he wrote, "is the liberation of our individual personality in the universal Person who is human all the same." (114) Like Radhakrishnan, however, Tagore did not conceive of immortality as cosmic. Rather, he suggested that true immortality can be achieved through love, since the Universal Self is, in essence, love: "'The infinite is love itself'--the eternal spirit of joy." (115) To convey his belief in the material or human nature of the infinite, Tagore called his belief system "the religion of Man," and emphasized that the divine lies "in Man and not in the temple, or scriptures, in images and symbols," citing Wordsworth for good measure. (116)
The writings of Tagore, Radhakrishnan, and Vivekananda influenced several British intellectuals to focus on Vedanta in the interwar period, including the popular scientific and religious writer Gerald Heard (1889-1971), the novelist Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), the Cambridge scholar and psychical researcher Whately Carington (1892-1957), and the London philosopher Cyril Joad (1891-1953). (117) Just as the Victorians' eschatological concerns reflected their perception of society as amoral and materialistic, so too the eschatological preoccupations of interwar thinkers reflected their perception of society as amoral and industrial. This time, however, their trigger was not industrialization itself but rather the increasing prospect of another industrial war. Heard, Huxley, and Joad all became vocal pacifists in the late 1930s, and all three advocated the non-violent approach of Gandhi. (118)
Heard came to Vedanta between the late 1920s and early 1930s, a period when he belonged to a host of organizations including the Society of Psychical Research and the Guildhouse, an inter-denominational church allied with the Indian independence movement from at least 1935. (119) As he became more influenced by his reading of Vivekananda and his interest in non-violence, both Vedanta and pacifism increasingly supplanted psychical research in Heard's sympathies. Nonetheless, he remained an active and prominent member of the SPR and sat on its Council from 1934, when he presented it with an anonymous thousand-pound donation--"the most substantial donation towards research that the Society [had] received for many years." (120) He sat on the Council until 1937 with the philosophers C.D. Broad and F.C.S. Schiller, and the biologist Julian Huxley, among others, and served on its research committee between 1935 and 1936. (121) The press viewed Heard as an authority on psychical research and commissioned him to write several articles and reviews on the subject for a range of periodicals that included The Spectator, The New Statesman and Nation, The Listener and Time and Tide. (122) He opened a BBC Talks series on psychical research, "Inquiry into the Unknown," on 5 January 1934. (123)
Exemplifying the larger eschatological trends of the period, Heard gradually moved away from psychical research and towards Vedanta. Despite his extensive involvement in the SPR, he devoted just one chapter of one of his books, The Ascent of Humanity (1929), to psychical research. Still, reflecting the esteem in which he and others held the subject at that time, he argued that psychical research justified an impersonal, collective, or mystical conception of immortality, rather than the personal conception of immortality associated with Oliver Lodge's Raymond. (124)
Although Heard's interest in Eastern religious philosophy was still inchoate when he wrote The Ascent of Humanity, the book still reflects the influence on him of Vedanta, in general, and Vivekananda's Rdja Yoga (1922), in particular. For example, he used Vivekananda's term "super-conscious" to describe his fourth psychological evolutionary stage of "extra-individuality." Six years later, Heard repudiated the significance he had previously ascribed to psychical research, reflecting British intellectuals' diminishing interest in the subject by the early 1930s. He wrote in The Source of Civilization (1935): "Some people ... think that psychical research, yielding as it does evidence of telepathy, clairvoyance and prevision, gives the necessary evidence of the larger state of consciousness to which we all belong. This ... does not seem sufficient." (125) Echoing Tagore, he argued that mysticism could only be realized with the aid of yoga. (126)
Like Heard, Whately Carington also moved away from psychical research and towards Vedanta. A former President of the Society for Psychical Research, Carington had been a member of its Council from 1920, both before and after Heard's own time there. (127) The Society considered his views on the nature of immortality important enough to ask him to deliver the Frederic W.H. Myers Lecture in 1935 as part of the same series in which Oliver Lodge had lectured on "The Conviction of Survival" in 1929. Carington also lectured on "The Meaning of 'Survival'," which he characterized as "impersonal." (128)
His eschatological beliefs became more overtly collective over the next few years. In The Death of Materialism, a 1933 work in which Carington developed the ideas of a paper that he had delivered to the Society for Psychical Research the same year, he argued against the possibility of individual survival or personal immortality, based on what he perceived to be the nature of telepathy. (129) He claimed his experiments had shown telepathic communication to lack any kind of symbolic system of communication, and he suggested that this lack necessarily entailed the existence of a mystical "community of consciousness." (130)
Influenced by Jiddhu Krishnamurti, Theosophy's former Lord Maitreya, Carington associated knowledge of this mysticism specifically with Eastern religion. He claimed that the East "lays more stress than does Western [mysticism] on 'the unity of all life' and on the realisation of this as a definite stage in the expansion of human consciousness." (131) Paraphrasing Krishnamurti, Carington concluded "'The object of all experience is to remove the illusion of separateness.'" (132)
Cyril Joad was influenced neither by Krishnamurti nor by Vivekananda, but by Radhakrishnan. A professor of philosophy at the University of London who achieved popularity in the 1940s for his participation in BBC Radio's "Brains Trust" debates, Joad began his career as an atheist and ended it as an Anglican. Like Gerald Heard, Joad's eschatological focus shifted from psychical research to Vedanta in the 1930s--about the same time he embraced pacifism. He used Radhakrishnan's work to defend the collective or impersonal conception of immortality that he had initially defended with the evidence of telepathy or mediumship.
Joad had first participated in psychical research with Harry Price (1881-1948), a wealthy Englishman interested in the paranormal, as part of the National Laboratory of Psychical Research that Price founded in 1925 and which was taken over by the University of London Council for Scientific Investigation in 1934. (133) Joad headed this Council when it first started up and he supported Price's proposal for a London chair in the subject. (134)
But where Price refused to come to any conclusions about the nature of immortality, Joad interpreted his work with Price as evidence of immortality's collective or impersonal nature. He first outlined this "evidence" in The Future of Life--A Theory of Vitalism (1928), where he cited "psychic factors" in general and "medium-ship" in particular as concrete proofs against personal immortality. Like Frederic Myers, Joad believed the universe to be pervaded by some kind of collective animating principle in which individuals became submerged after death. Unlike Myers, however, Joad did not at first conceive of this principle in terms of consciousness but rather in the Bergsonian terms of a non-material "life force." He wrote, "The individual, we have suggested, is the embodiment in matter of an isolated current of a universal force or stream of life. On his death this current reverts to the main stream, carrying with it the acquisitions of knowledge, skill, and power with which the individual has increased his initial vital inheritance during his life-time." (135)
When Joad came to redefine immortality as collective consciousness in Counter-Attack From the East (1933) four years later, the influence was not Myers but Radhakrishnan. Although he did not agree with Radhakrishnan's equation of God with the human spirit, or with his characterization of goodness as the ultimate eternal life, he did adopt the philosopher's suggestion that human consciousness is essentially collective. Joad himself made the leap in logic from collective consciousness to collectively immortal consciousness. Quoting Radhakrishnan, he wrote, "The ultimate end is one in which individuals achieve unity not only with God but with one another, 'by a perfect interpenetration of mind by mind.'" (136)
Like Heard, Joad did not relinquish his broad interest in psychical research but turned to Vedanta for salvation from the uncivilized, mechanized, war-mongering West. He wrote, "At the moment the Western world is within measurable distance of destroying itself through its inability to control the forces with which its science has endowed it." (137) Joad suggested that the time had come for the West to learn from the East: "while the East knows little of machines ... it inherits from its long line of seers and sages a traditional wisdom in the light of which men may live at peace and be content." (138) For Joad, that wisdom came from Radhakrishnan, who suggested that "Religious idealism ... seems to be the most hopeful political instrument for peace which the world has seen." (139)
Since their initial appearance in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Buddhism and Vedanta have increased in influence alongside broader causes of eschatological change. The popularity of Vedanta in particular was boosted in postwar California by its association with the counter-cultural British emigres Aldous Huxley, Gerald Heard, and, perhaps most notably, Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986), all of whom espoused collective eschatologies. (140) Isherwood wrote a number of books about his spiritual journey and edited anthologies of Vedantist writings by Heard, Huxley, Tagore, himself, and others. (141) Both Buddhism and Vedanta received greater attention in America in the 1950s and 1960s due to the work of the Beats, (142) as well as the advocacy of Gandhian non-violence by Martin Luther King Jr. and the Vietnamese monk he nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, Thich Nhat Hanh. The 1980s saw the publication of many new critical editions and translations of Buddhist and Vedantist texts, (143) and both movements continue to influence people today through works published by the Shambhala Press and through the ever-proliferating yoga centres. (144)
The history of Buddhism and Vedanta in Britain suggests that they have met enduring spiritual needs and underscores the role of cross-cultural exchange in religious change. Both movements have also functioned as foils for the perceived evils of Western dualism, which have included the violence of the French Revolution in the late-eighteenth century, the amorality of Victorian materialism in the nineteenth century, and the destructive industrial warfare of the twentieth century from the First World War to Vietnam. In attempting to counteract Western dualism, both Vedanta and Buddhism have helped shape collective eschatologies at the margins of Western spirituality, and these margins have gained ground in recent decades.
A number of historians have adopted a discursive approach to religion. (145) But those historians concerned with the discourse surrounding Eastern religions have not related it to secularization or religious change. The relationship between colonial modernities and religious change suggests that in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, secularization can be historicized as a product of transculturation. To explore further the relationship between religious change and colonial modernities, more research is needed on the role of Westernized Eastern intellectuals themselves, not simply representations of their ideas. More needs to be said about the influence of Vivekananda, Radhakrishnan, Tagore, and Gandhi, as well as the Japanese Zen scholar D.T. Suzuki (1870-1966), (146) for example, before it can be said for certain that in the area of religion, at least, the Empire really did strike back.
(1) The author would like to thank John McCannon and the reviewers for their helpful comments, and Joy Dixon for her encouragement some years ago.
(2) See B. Wilson, Religion in Secular Society (London, 1966); A.D. Gilbert, Religion and Society in Industrial England." Church, Chapel and Social Change, 1740-1914 (London, 1976); A.D. Gilbert, R. Currie and L. Horsley, Churches and Churchgoers." Patterns of Church Growth in the British Isles Since 1700 (Oxford, 1978); and A.D. Gilbert, The Making of Post-Christian Britain: A History of the Secularization of Modern Society (London, 1980).
(3) T.W. Heyck, "The Decline of Christianity in Twentieth-Century Britain," Albion, 28 (1996), p. 441.
(4) See for example F.L. Baumer, Religion and the Rise of Scepticism (New York, 1960) and O. Chadwick, The Secularization of the European Mind in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge, 1975).
(5) F.M. Turner, Between Science and Religion." The Reaction to Scientific Naturalism in Late Victorian England (London, 1974).
(6) J. Cox, The English Churches in a Secular Society." Lambeth, 1870-1930 (Oxford, 1982), p. 16. See also C.G. Brown, "Did urbanization secularise Britain?" Urban History Yearbook, 15 (1988); C.G. Brown, "A revisionist approach to religious change," in S. Bruce (ed.), Religion and Modernization (Oxford, 1992); C.G. Brown, "The mechanism of religious growth in urban societies: British cities since the eighteenth century," in H. McLeod (ed.), European Religion in the Age of Great Cities 1830-1930 (London, Routledge, 1995); R. Gill, Competing Convictions (London, 1989); and S.J.D. Green, Religion in the Age of Decline." Organisation and Experience in Industrial Yorkshire 1870-1920 (Cambridge, 1996).
(7) J. Wolffe, God and Greater Britain--Religion and National Life in Britain and Ireland 1843-1945 (London, 1994), pp. 256, 260. See also G. Davie, Religion in Britain Since 1945 (Oxford, 1994); L. Holscher, "Secularization and urbanization in the nineteenth century: an interpretative model," in McLeod (ed.), European Religion in the Age of Great Cities 1830-1930; and J. Garnett, "Religious and Intellectual Life," in C. Matthew (ed.), The Nineteenth Century--The British Isles: 1815-1901 (Oxford, 2000), p. 214.
(8) J. Webb, The Occult Underground (La Salle, Illinois, 1974); J. Webb, The Occult Establishment (La Salle, Illinois, 1976); D. Burton and D. Grandy, Magic, Mystery and Science: The Occult in Western Civilization (Bloomington, 2004), pp. 183-207; P. Washington, Madame Blavatsky's Baboon: A History of the Mystics, Mediums and Misfits Who Brought Spiritualism to America (New York, 1995) [not entirely reliable but certainly provocative]; C. Treitel, Science for the Soul: Occultism and the Genesis of the German Modern (Baltimore, 2004); S. West, The Visual Arts in Germany, 1890-1937: Utopia and Despair (Manchester, 2000), pp. 59-82; R. Pincus-Witten, Occult Symbolism in France: Josephin Peladan and the Salons de la Rose-Croix (New York, 1976); M. Carlson, "No Religion Higher Than Truth": A History of the Theosophical Movement in Russia, 1875-1922 (Princeton, 1993); and B. Glatzer Rosenthal (ed.), The Occult in Russian and Soviet Culture (Ithaca, 1997).
(9) "Religious" is a contentious term in intellectual history, particularly in regards to Hinduism and Buddhism, as they are not codified "religions of the book." But in accordance with much of their historical representation in Europe and America, both Buddhism and Vedanta will be referred to here as religious philosophies.
(10) T. Walter, "Reincarnation, Modernity and Identity," Sociology, 35 (2001), p. 21; J. Redfield, The Celestine Prophesy: An Adventure (New York, 1993), pp. 78-79; Anon., "Resurrection at Boot-Up Hill," Economist, 338 (1996), pp. 86-87.
(11) F.M. Turner, "The Religious and the Secular in Victorian Britain," in Contesting Cultural Authority (Cambridge, 1993), pp. 18-19. Turner lists a number of historians whom he credits with having "transformed the face of Darwin studies ... James Moore, Dov Ospovat, J.H. Brooke, Neal Gillespie, David Kohn, and others.... "
(12) See C.D. Cashdollar, The Transformation of Theology, 1830-1890: Positivism and Protestant Thought in Britain and America (Princeton, 1989); D.N. Livingstone, D.G. Hart, and M.A. Noll (eds.), Evangelicals and Science in Historical Perspective (New York, 1999); V. Shea and W. Whitla (eds.), Essays and Reviews: The 1860 Text and Its Reading (Charlottesville, 2000).
(13) Turner, Between Science and Religion, p. 3.
(14) See ibid; J. Oppenheim, The Other World." Spiritualism and Psychical Research in England, 1850-1914 (Cambridge, 1985); and Turner, "The Religious and the Secular in Victorian Britain," p. 10.
(15) S.C. Williams, Religious Belief and Popular Culture in Southwark, c. 1880-1939 (Oxford, 1998); S. Prothero, The White Buddhist: the Asian Odyssey of Henry Steel Olcott (Bloomington, 1996), pp. 7, 9, 69; P. Levine, Feminist Lives in Victorian England." Private Lives and Public Commitment (Oxford, 1990), pp. 31, 36. See also J. Dixon, Divine Feminine: Theosophy and Feminism in England (Baltimore, 2001), p. 3. For discussion of the feminist context of American spiritualism, see A. Braude, Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women's Rights in Nineteenth-Century America (Boston, 1989).
(16) Prothero, White Buddhist, 62.
(17) S. Williams, "The Language of Belief: An Alternative Agenda for the Study of Victorian Working-Class Religion," Journal of Victorian Culture, 1 (1996), p. 314.
(18) M.L. Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (London, 1992), pp. 6, 8.
(19) For example, see R. Schwab (trans. G. Patterson-Black and V. Reinking), The Oriental Renaissance--Europe's Rediscovery of India and the East, 1680-1880 (New York, 1984).
(20) Ibid., p. 33.
(21) Ibid., p. 54.
(22) W. Halbfass, India and Europe: An Essay in Understanding (Albany, 1988), p. 73; E. Burnouf, Introduction h l'histoire du Buddhisme indien (1844; second edn, Paris, 1876); and translation and commentary by E. Burnouf (ed. J. Mohl), Le Lotus de la bonne loi (i.e. Saddharmapundar?kam) traduit du Sanscrit, accompagne d'un commentaire et de vingt et un memoires relatifs au Buddhisme par M.E. Burnouf (Paris, 1852; second edn, Paris, 1925).
(23) Halbfass, India and Europe, pp. 69-73; Schwab, Oriental Renaissance, p. 53.
(24) Schwab, Oriental Renaissance, pp. 195-96.
(25) Ibid., p. 53.
(26) R. King, Orientalism and Religion (London, 1999), pp. 120-21; J.J. Clarke, Oriental Enlightenment." the Encounter Between Asian and Western Thought (London, 1997), p. 56.
(27) King, Orientalism and Religion, p. 128.
(28) Ibid., pp. 60, 126.
(29) See L.E. Elliott-Binns, The Development of English Theology in the Later Nineteenth Century (London, 1952; 1971 edn), pp. 17-21.
(30) J. Fraser Nicol, "History of Psychical Research--Britain," in I. Grattan-Guinness (ed.), Psychical Research A Guide to Its History, Principles and Practices (Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, 1982), p. 19.
(31) Oppenheim, Other World, p. 116.
(32) E. Gurney, F.W.H. Myers and F. Podmore, Phantasms of the Living (1886; Gainesville, 1970), I, p. 69. Leonard Ashley notes in the introduction that Gurney wrote most of the book. L.R.N. Ashley, "Introduction," Phantasms of the Living, p. viii.
(33) W. James, "Frederic Myers' Service to Psychology," in F. Burkhardt and E Bowers (ed.), The Works of William James: Essays in Psychical Research (Cambridge, 1986), p. 196; S. Shamdasani, "Automatic Writing and the Discovery of the Unconscious," Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 54 (1993), pp. 100-31.
(34) A. Huxley, "Foreword," in F.W.H. Myers, Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death (Charlottesville, 2001), p. xv.
(35) F.W.H. Myers, "Note on a Suggested Mode of Psychical Interaction," Phantasms of the Living, II, pp. 314-16.
(36) F.W.H. Myers, Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death, (London, 1903), 1, p. 119.
(37) Turner, Between Science and Religion, p. 122 f. 48.
(38) F.W.H. Myers, Wordsworth (New York, 1881), p. 23.
(39) F.W.H. Myers, "Modern Poets and Cosmic Law," in Science and a Future Life (London, 1893), p. 198.
(40) Myers, Human Personality, I, p. 14.
(41) Turner, Between Science and Religion, p. 125.
(42) Myers, Human Personality, II, p. 289.
(43) William James noted this ambiguity in his review of Myers' work. William James, "Review of 'Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death,' by Frederic W.H. Myers (1903)" in William James, Essays in Psychical Research (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1986), pp. 207-208.
(44) J.J. Cerullo, The Secularization of the Soul--Psychical Research in Modern Britain (Philadelphia, 1982), p. 101.
(45) Ibid., pp. 4-5, 102-103.
(46) Ibid., pp. 102-103.
(47) Myers, Human Personality, I, p. 7.
(48) Oliver Lodge, Science and Immortality (New York, 1908), pp. 167-68. Subsequent editions of this book bore the title Man and the Universe.
(49) Lodge, Science and Immortality, pp. 168, 171-74, 177-80, 188-91, 181-84, 185-88.
(50) Oliver Lodge (ed. J. Arthur Hill), Letters from Oliver Lodge--Psychical Religious, Scientific, Personal (London, 1932), p. 18.
(51) Lodge, Letters, p. 18.
(52) Raymond went "through six editions in two months." Oppenheim, Other World, p. 377.
(53) Oliver Lodge, Why I Believe in Personal Immortality (London, 1928), p. 28.
(54) Prothero, White Buddhist, p. 51.
(55) Ibid., p. 52.
(57) Ibid., p. 49.
(58) H.S. Olcott, Human Spirits and Elementaries and Eastern Magic and Western Spiritualism (Adyar, India, n.d.), p. 40, quoted in Prothero, White Buddhist, p. 49.
(59) Prothero, p. 66. See also S. Prothero, "Henry Steel Olcott and 'Protestant Buddhism,' in Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 63 (1995), pp. 281-302.
(60) Prothero, White Buddhist, p. 101.
(61) Ibid., p. 103: H.S. Olcott, Buddhist Catechism (forty-fourth edn, London, 1915), pp. 51-52.
(62) Olcott, Buddhist Catechism, p. 52, f. 2.
(63) W.W. Rhys Davids, Buddhism (London, 1887).
(64) Olcott, Buddhist Catechism, p. 53, f. 1.
(65) H. Sumangala, "Certificate to the First Edition," in Buddhist Catechism, p. x.
(66) Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, I, p. 269; II, p. 484.
(67) For example, early in Isis Unveiled (1877) she defined the soul as "the vital principle" and spirit as "the purely divine principle." Several pages later, she suggested there were two souls: one perishable and one immortal. Two hundred pages later, she pointed to the existence of one primal force that could be called both "world-soul" and "life-spirit." See H.P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled (1877; Wheaton, Illinois, 1972 reprint), I, pp. xli, 12, 215.
(68) M. Bevir, "The West Turns Eastward: Madame Blavatsky and the Transformation of the Occult Tradition," Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 62 Number 3, pp. 757-8.
(69) Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, p. 37.
(70) Ibid., p. 290.
(71) H.E Blavatsky, The Voice of the Silence (1889; Pasadena, California, 1971), p. 57.
(72) Ibid., p. 49.
(73) H.P. Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy (1889; Los Angeles, 1973), p. 34.
(74) Dixon, Divine Feminine, p. 39.
(75) S. Holroyd, Krishnamurti--the Man, the Mystery and the Message (Shaftesbury, 1991), p. 4.
(76) Jiddu Krishnamurti (ed. Krishnamurti Foundation of America), The Collected Works of J. Krishnamurti, Volume I 1933-34: The Art of Listening (Dubuque, Iowa, 1991), p. 22.
(77) Krishnamurti, Collected Works, Volume II 1934-35." What Is Right Action?, p. 113.
(78) Bevir, "West Turns Eastward," p. 765.
(80) On Hinduism's appeal to the working classes, see R. Graves and A. Hodge, The Long Weekend--A Social History of Great Britain 1918-1939 (London, 1995), p. 203. On the Radhakrishnan cult, see Sarvepalli Gopal, Radhakrishnan: A Biography (Delhi, 1989), p. 104; on the Tagore cult, see E.P. Thompson, "Alien Homage": Edward Thompson and Rabindranath Tagore (Delhi, 1993), p. 36.
(81) For example, C.L. Jackson, Vedanta for the West: the Ramakrishnan Movement in the United States (Bloomington, 1994).
(82) Jackson, Vedanta for the West, p. ix.
(83) P.J. Will, "Swami Vivekanada and Cultural Stereotyping," in N. Smart and B. Srinivasa Murthy (eds.), East-West Encounters in Philosophy and Religion (Long Beach, 1996), p. 385.
(84) N. Datta, Raja Yoga--Being Lectures by the Swami Vivekananda (London, 1922), p. 74.
(85) Ibid., pp. 34-36.
(86) King, Orientalism and Religion, p. 134. King notes that whether this discourse "constituted an authentic and effective means of subaltern resistance remains a subject of considerable debate."
(87) Ibid., p. 132.
(88) Ibid., p. 134.
(89) P. Roy, Indian Traffic--Identities in Question in Colonial and Postcolonial India (Berkeley, 1998), p. 106.
(90) N. Datta, Raja Yoga (New York, 1983).
(91) S. Radhakrishnan, Eastern Religions and Western Thought (Oxford, 1939).
(92) Radhakrishnan, Hindu View of Life, p. 18.
(93) Halbfass, India and Europe, p. 251. While Radhakrishnan promoted Vedanta on the academic level, a Bengali monk named Swami Avyaktananda promoted it on the popular level. Avyaktananda arrived in Britain in 1934 and founded a Ramakrishna Mission in London in 1935. The Mission subsequently spawned Vedanta Societies similar to those that Vivekananda had established earlier in the United States. Little is known about the early British history of this Mission, but it would be well worth investigating. See R. Burghart, "The diffusion of Hinduism to Great Britain," in R. Burghart (ed.), Hinduism in Great Britain--the Perpetuation of Religion in an Alien Cultural Milieu (London, 1987), p. 6.
(94) J.S. Mackenzie, "An Idealist View of Life. By S. Radhakrishnan," Mind, 53 (1934), p. 505.
(95) S. Radhakrishnan, "The Spirit in Man" in S. Radhakrishnan and J.H. Muirhead (eds.), Contemporary Indian Philosophy (second edn, London, 1952), p. 475.
(96) S. Radharkrishnan, An Idealist View of Life--the Hibbert Lectures for 1929 (London, 1932); Indian Philosophy (London, 1923-1927); S. Radharkrishnan, The Hindu View of Life (London, 1927); S. Radharkrishnan, The Philosophy of the Upanishads (London, 1924); and S. Radhakrishanan and J.H. Muirhead (eds.), Contemporary Indian Philosophy (London, 1936).
(97) F. Younghusband, Dawn in India (London, 1930), p. 282.
(98) R.N. Minor, "Perennial Issues in Radhakrishnan Scholarship," in S.S. Rama Rao Pappu (ed.), New Essays in the Philosophy of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (Delhi, 1995), p. 31.
(99) S. Radhakrishnan, Idealist View of Life (second edn, London, 1937), p. 124.
(100) Radhakrishnan, Hindu View of Life, p. 32.
(101) Radhakrishnan, Idealist View of Life (second edn), pp. 206-207.
(102) Radhakrishnan, Hindu View of Life, p. 51.
(103) Radhakrishnan, Idealist View of Life, (second edn), p. 272.
(104) Ibid., p. 286.
(105) Rabindranath Tagore, The Religion of Man--the Hibbert Lectures for 1930 (London, 1931; 1958).
(106) Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore (London, 1919).
(107) Ramananda Chatterjee (ed.), The Golden Book of Tagore--A Homage to Rabindranath Tagore from India and the World In Celebration of His Seventieth Birthday (Calcutta, 1931), pp. xiii-xviii.
(108) Viktors Ivbulis, Tagore: East and West Cultural Unity (Calcutta, 1999), p. 159. For other treatments of Tagore's influence in this period, see Alexis Aronson, Rabindranath Through Western Eyes (Allahabad, 1943), p. 81 and E.P. Thompson, "Alien Homage," pp. 30-31.
(109) For example, R. Tagore, "East and West," in Towards Universal Man (London, 1961), pp. 133, 138.
(110) For example, he analogized the surrender of individuality to the formation of a "multicellular character." Tagore, Religion of Man, p. 47.
(111) Ibid., pp. 17, 24, 66, 205.
(112) Ibid., p. 178.
(113) Ibid., p. 23.
(114) Ibid., p. 193.
(115) Ibid., pp. 68, 100.
(116) Ibid., pp. 96, 110, 113.
(117) On Carington, see G. Murphy, The Challenge of Psychical Research--A Primer of Parapsychology, 26 (New York, 1961), p. 63.
(118) G. Heard, "The Significance of the New Pacifism" and A. Huxley, "Pacifism and Philosophy" in G.K. Hibbert (ed.), The New Pacifism: Essays (London, 1936); C.E.M. Joad, Why War? (Harmondsworth, 1939).
(119) See, for example, M. Royden, "India To-Day," Guildhouse Monthly, 9 (1935), pp. 139-45; M. Royden, "The Man of the Future in India," Guildhouse Monthly, 10 (1936), pp. 149-52.
(120) See G. Heard: "Bernhard Bavink, The Anatomy of Modern Science," Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (hereafter cited as JSPR) 28 (1933), pp. 7-9; "Note on an Attempt to Locate in Space the Alleged Direct Voice Observed in Sittings with Mrs. Leonard," JSPR, 28 (1933), pp. 84-85; "Miss Geraldine Coster, Yoga and Western Psychology," JSPR, 29 (1935), pp. 43-45; "Note by Dame Edith Lyttelton and Mr. Gerald Heard," JSPR, 29 (1935), pp. 68-69; Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research (hereafter cited as PSPR) 41 (1933), pp. 282-83; "Through a Stranger's Hands--New Evidence of Survival, compiled by Nora Walker," PSPR, 44 (1936), pp. 13-15; JSPR, 29 (1935), p. 24.
(121) JSPR, 30 (1937), p. 52; JSPR, 29 (1935), p. 38; JSPR, 29 (1936), p. 207.
(122) See G. Heard: "The Notion of Survival," Spectator, 146 (1931), pp. 262-63; "This Surprising World--Spiritualism Put to Proof," Listener, 8 (1932), pp. 12-13; "Spiritualism Put to Proof," Living Age, 15 (1932); "A Science in the Cradle," Spectator, 151 (1933), p. 627; "Enquiry into the Unknown," Listener, 10 (1933), p. 859; "Mesmerism," The New Statesman and Nation (New Series), 7 (1934), p. 885; "Serialism," Time and Tide, 15 (1934), pp. 1598, 1600; "The New Epoch in Psychical Research," Forum and Century, 1 (1936), p. 25.
(123) G. Heard, "Inquiry into the Unknown," Listener, 11 (1934), p. 61.
(124) G. Heard, Ascent of Humanity (London, 1929), pp. 298-99.
(125) G. Heard, Source of Civilization (London, 1935), p. 401.
(126) Ibid., pp. 230, 403-404.
(127) J. Hazelgrove, Spiritualism and British Society Between the Wars (Manchester, 2000), p. 226, f. 133. See, for example, W.W. Smith, PSPR, 31 (1921), p. 401; "Implications of Telepathy," JSPR, 28 (1933), pp. 57-64; W.W. Carington, "The Qualitative Study of Trance Personalities," PSPR, 42 (1934), pp. 173-240; W.W. Carington, "The Qualitative Study of Trance Personalities," PSPR, 43 (1935); JSPR, 25 (1929), p. 63; PSPR, 44 (1937).
(128) W. Whately Carington, The Meaning of "Survival"--The Frederic W.H. Myers Lecture, 1935 (London, 1936).
(129) W. Whately Carington (W. Whately Smith), The Death of Materialism (London, 1933), pp. 229, 237-38.
(130) Ibid., pp. 60-62.
(131) Carington, Death of Materialism, p. 240.
(132) Ibid., p. 237
(133) Harry Price, Confessions of a Ghost-Hunter (London, 1933), pp. 75-76, 338-43,373.
(134) See C.E.M. Joad, The Future of Life--A Theory of Vitalism (London, 1928), p. 107; G. Thomas, Cyril Joad (London, 1992), p. 28.
(135) Thomas, Cyril Joad, p. 107.
(136) C.E.M. Joad, Counter-Attack From the East--the Philosophy of Radhakrishnan (London, 1933), p. 31.
(138) Ibid., p. 32.
(139) Ibid., p. 39.
(140) D. Robb, "Brahmins from Abroad: English Expatriates and Spiritual Consciousness in Modern America" in American Studies, 26 (1985), pp. 45-60.
(141) C. Isherwood (ed.), Vedanta for Modern Man (New York, 1945); C. Isherwood (ed.), Vedanta for the Western World (London, 1948); C. Isherwood and Swami Prabhavananda (trans.), How to Know God." The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali (1953); C. Isherwood, Ramakrishna and His Disciples (London, 1965); C. Isherwood, My Guru and His Disciple (London, 1980.)
(142) For example, see J. Kerouac, Dharma Bums (New York, 1958).
(143) F.X. Clooney, "Reading Vedanta at the End of the Twentieth Century" in Living Wisdom: Vedanta in a World Community (Madras, 1995), p. 144.
(144) See, for example, The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen (London, 1997) and Patajali, The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali: A New Translation with Commentary (London, 2003). The International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, founded in Montreal in 1959, has approximately eighty locations and has trained over 10,000 yoga instructors. See: http://www.sivananda.org/about/index.html (last consulted 25 November 2003).
(145) C. Brown, Death of Christian Britain (London, 2001); J. Dixon, "Ancient Wisdom, Modern Motherhood: Theosophy and the colonial syncretic" in A. Burton (ed.), Gender, Sexuality and Colonial Modernities (London, 1999), pp. 193-206; Dixon, Divine Feminine; Clarke, Oriental Enlightenment: the Encounter Between Asian and Western Thought; King, Orientalism and Religion.
(146) See D.T. Suzuki: Essays in Zen Buddhism (London, 1927); An Introduction to Zen Buddhism (Kyoto, 1934); and Mysticism: Christian and Buddhist (London, 1957).
Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario
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|Publication:||Canadian Journal of History|
|Date:||Aug 1, 2004|
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