TACHITSUBOSUMIRE.gif (532 bytes) A Tribute to India TACHITSUBOSUMIRE.gif (532 bytes)

Quotes: 1-20 21-40 41-60 61-80 81-100   Thoughts:

 pinkbuttons.gif (2036 bytes)Quotes on Sanatana Dharma                                                                                                                                                             

S-Gold.gif (4973 bytes)ome of the famous intellectuals in the West and the East had the following things to say about Sanatana Dharma:

1. Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), American Philosopher, Unitarian, social critic, transcendentalist and writer:

"In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seems puny." 1

"What extracts from the Vedas I have read fall on me like the light of a higher and purer luminary, which describes a loftier course through purer stratum. It rises on me like the full moon after the stars have come out, wading through some far stratum in the sky." 2

"In the great teaching of the Vedas, there is no touch of sectarianism. It is of all ages, climes and nationalities and is the royal road for the attainment of the Great Knowledge."3

wpe3B.jpg (6384 bytes) "I would say to the readers of the Scriptures, if they wish for a good book, read the Bhagvat-Geeta .... translated by Charles Wilkins. It deserves to be read with reverence even by Yankees...."Besides the Bhagvat-Geeta, our Shakespeare seems sometimes youthfully green... Ex oriente lux may still be the motto of scholars, for the Western world has not yet derived from the East all the light it is destined to derive thence." 4.

In his book
Walden, Thoreau contain explicit references to Indian Scriptures such as: 
" How much more admirable the Bhagavad Geeta than all the ruins of the East."
He even followed a traditional Hindu way of life. 
"It was fit that I should live on rice mainly, who loved so well the philosophy of India." 6.

Thoreau, the Concord sage, said, "The Vedanta teaches how by 'forsaking religious rites' the votary may obtain purification of mind." And  "One sentence of the Gita, is worth the State of Massachusetts many times over".7
Along with Emerson , he published essays on Hindu scriptures in a journal called
The Dial.

2. Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), German writer and certainly one of the greatest philosophers of the 19th century. He was the first Western philosopher to have access to translations of philosophical material from India, both Vedic and Buddhist, by which he was profoundly affected.

"From every sentence (of the Upanishads) deep, original and sublime thoughts arise, and the whole is pervaded by a high and holy and earnest spirit....

"In the whole world there is no study so beneficial and so elevating as that of the Upanishads. It has been the solace of my life -- it will be the solace of my death.  8.

To Schopenhauer, the Upanishads were documents of  'almost superhuman conception,' whose authors could hardly be thought of as 'mere mortals.'

    He spoke of India as the 'fatherland of mankind' which 'gave the original religion of our race,' and he expressed the hope that European peoples, 'who stemmed from Asia,...would re-attain the religion of their home.'
He believed that the Upanishads, together with the philosophies of Plato and Kant, constituted the foundation on which to erect a proper philosophy of representation. It was the Upanishads' analysis of the self which caused Schopenhauer to stamp them as " the product of the highest human wisdom". He dedicated himself to this task, producing his magnum opus, The World as Will and Representation, in 1819. This is what he says in this book:

    "We, on the contrary, now send to the Brahmans English clergymen and evangelical linen-weavers, in order out of sympathy to put them right, and to point out to them that they are created out of nothing, and that they ought to be grateful and pleased about it. But it is just the same as if we fired a bullet at a cliff.  " In India, our religions will never at any time take root; the ancient wisdom of the human race will not be supplanted by the events in Galilee. On the contrary, Indian wisdom flows back to Europe, and will produce a fundamental change in our knowledge and thought."  9.

Schopenhauer regarded the Hindus as deeper thinkers than Europeans because their interpretation of the world was internal and intuitive, not external and intellectual. For intuition unites everything, the intellect divides everything. The Hindus saw that the "I" is a delusion, that the individual is merely phenomenal, and that the only reality is the Infinite One "That art Thou"  10

      3. Lord Warren Hastings (1754-1826), was the first governor general of British India. Hastings was very much impressed with Hindu philosophy:

"The writers of the Indian philosophies will survive, when the British dominion in India shall long have ceased to exist, and when the sources which it yielded of wealth and power are lost to remembrances." 11

4. Ralph Waldo Emerson, (1803-1882) author, essayist, lecturer, philosopher, Unitarian minister said this about the Gita:

" I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad-Gita. It was as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence which in another age and climate had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions which exercise us."12

Repelled by the increasing materialism of the West, Emerson turned to India for solace:
 " The Indian teaching, through its clouds of legends, has yet a simple and grand religion, like a queenly countenance seen through a rich veil. It teaches to speak truth, love others, and to despose trifles." 13

His famous poem
" Brahma" is an example of his Vedantic ecstasy. 14

Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767- 1835), Prussian minister of education, a brilliant linguist and the founder of the science of general linguistics. Humboldt  began to learn Sanskrit in 1821 and was greatly moved by Schlegel's edition of the Bhagavad Gita, on which he published an extensive study and which he pronounced as:

"The most beautiful, perhaps the only true philosophical song existing in any known tongue ....perhaps the deepest and loftiest thing the world has to show." 15

He thanked God for having permitted him to live long enough to become acquainted with the Gita. 16 

Mark Twain (1835-1910) the American writer and humorist wrote:

" So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked." 17

    "Land of religions , cradle of human race ,birthplace of human speech , grandmother of legend , great grandmother of tradition. The land that all men desire to see and having seen once even by a glimpse , would not give that glimpse for the shows of the rest of the globe combined." 18 

Mark Twain remarked: " India has two million gods, and worships them all. In religion all other countries are paupers; India is the only millionaire." 19

Dr. Arnold Joseph Toynbee (1889-1975) the great British historian. His massive research was published in 12 volumes between 1934 and 1961 as `A Study of History'. Toynbee was a major interpreter of human civilization in the 20th century.

         "It is already becoming clear that a chapter which had a Western beginning will have to have an Indian ending if it is not to end in self-destruction of the human race. At this supremely dangerous moment in human history , the only way of salvation is the ancient Hindu way. Here we have the attitude and spirit that can make it possible for the human race to grow together in to a single family." 20

wpe3B.jpg (4154 bytes)  8. Annie Wood Besant (1847-1933), George Bernand Shaw regarded her the " greatest woman public speaker of her time." Was a prominent leader of India's freedom movement, member of the Indian National Congress, and of the Theosophical Society, said on India and Hinduism :

   "After a study of some forty years and more of the great religions of the world, I find none so perfect ,none so scientific, none so philosophical and no so spiritual that the great religion known by the name of Hinduism.   Make no mistake, without Hinduism, India has no future. Hinduism is the soil in to which India's roots are stuck and torn out of that she will inevitably wither as a tree torn out from its place.  And if Hindus do not maintain Hinduism who shall save it?  If India's own children do not cling to her faith who shall guard it. India alone can save India and India and Hinduism are one. " 21
Annie Besant  thought that  "among the priceless teachings that may be found in the great Indian epic Mahabharata, there is none so rare and priceless as the Gita." 22

9. Victor Cousin, (1792-1867) French Philosopher believes that:

    "When we read the poetical and philosophical monuments of the East--above all, those of India, which are beginning to spread in Europe--we discover there many a truth, and truths so profound, and which make such a contrast with the meanness of the results at which European genius has sometimes stopped, that we are constrained to bend the knee before the philosophy of the East, and to see in this cradle of the human race the native land of the highest philosophy." 23

10. Jules Michelet, (1789-1874), French writer, the greatest historian of the romantic school said:

   "At its starting point in India, the birthplace of races and religions, the womb of the world." 24

This is what Michelet said of the
        "Whoever has done or willed too much let him drink from this deep cup a long draught of life and youth........Everything is narrow in the West - Greece is small and I stifle; Judea is dry and I pant. Let me look toward lofty Asia, and the profound East for a little while. There lies my great poem, as vast as the Indian ocean, blessed, gilded with the sun, the book of divine harmony wherein is no dissonance. A serene peace reigns there, and in the midst of conflict an infinite sweetness, a boundless fraternity, which spreads over all living things, an ocean (without bottom or bound) of love, of pity, of clemency." 25 

11. Rudyard Kipling,(1865-1936) British writer, who spent his earliest years were blissfully happy in an India full of exotic sights and sounds. Kipling was a Nobel Laureate in Literature, said this to Fundamental Christian Missionaries :


"Now it is not good for the Christian's health to hustle the Hindu brown for the Christian riles and the Hindu smiles and weareth the Christian down ; and the end of the fight is a tombstone while with the name of the late deceased and the epitaph drear , " A fool lies here who tried to hustle the east". 26

12. Will Durant, (1885-1981) American historian, would like the West to learn from India, tolerance and gentleness and love for all living things:

    "Perhaps in return for conquest, arrogance and spoliation, India will teach us the tolerance and gentleness of the mature mind, the quiet content of the unacquisitive soul, the calm of the understanding spirit, and a unifying, a pacifying love for all living things." 27

    "India was the motherland of our race, and Sanskrit the mother of Europe's languages: she was the mother of our philosophy; mother, through the Arabs, of much of our mathematics; mother, through the Buddha, of the ideals embodied in Christianity; mother, through the village community, of self-government and democracy.
Mother India is in many ways the mother of us all. Nothing should more deeply shame the modern student than the recency and inadequacy of his acquaintance with India....This is the India that patient scholarship is now opening up like a new intellectual continent to that Western mind which only yesterday thought civilization an exclusive Western thing."28

"As flowing rivers disappear in the sea, losing their name and form, thus a wise man, freed from name and form, goes to the divine person who is beyond all." Such a theory of life and death will not please Western man, whose religion is as permeated with individualism as are his political and economic institutions. But it has satisfied the philosophical Hindu mind with astonishing continuity.

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Durant felt that " Even in Europe and America, this wistful theosophy has won millions upon millions of followers, from lonely women and tired men to Schopenhauer and Emerson. Who would have thought that the great American philosopher of individualism would give perfect expression to the Hindu conviction in his poem 'Brahma', that individuality is a delusion? " 29

13. Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) the English novelist and essayist, born into a family that included some of the most distinguished members of the English ruling class, says that the Gita is for the whole world.

    "The Bhagavad-Gita is the most systematic statement of spiritual evolution of endowing value to mankind. The Gita is one of the clearest and most comprehensive summaries of the spiritual thoughts ever to have been made. Hence Huxley thought its enduring value, not only for Indians, but for all mankind." 30

 14. Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947), British mathematician, logician and philosopher best known for his work in mathematical logic and who, in collaboration with Bertrand Russell,  authored the landmark three-volume Principia Mathematica,  (1910, 1912, 1913). 
is reported to have remarked:

    " Vedanta is the most impressive metaphysics the human mind has conceived." 31

Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) was one of the foremost interpreters of myth in our time. Campbell was a prolific writer, dedicated editor, beloved teacher, inspiring lecturer, and an avid scholar of spiritual and cultural development.

    "It is ironic that our great western civilization, which has opened to the minds of all mankind the infinite wonders of a universe of untold billions of galaxies should be saddled with the tightest little cosmological image known to mankind? The Hindus with their grandiose Kalpas and their ideas of the divine power which is beyond all human category (male or female). Not so alien to the imagery of modern science that it could not have been put to acceptable use." 32.

"There is an important difference between the Hindu and the Western ideas. In the Biblical tradition, God creates man, but man cannot say that he is divine in the same sense that the Creator is, where as in Hinduism, all things are incarnations of that power. We are the sparks from a single fire. And we are all fire. Hinduism believes in the omnipresence of the Supreme God in every individual. There is no "fall". Man is not cut off from the divine. He requires only to bring the spontaneous activity of his mind stuff to a state of stillness and he will experience that divine principle with him." 33

16. Sir Monier-Williams (1860-1888)Indologist and head of the Oxford's Boden Chair said:   

"The strength of Hinduism lies in its infinite adaptability to the infinite diversity of human character and human tendencies. It has its highly spiritual and abstract side suited to the philosopher, its practical to the man of the world, its aesthetic and ceremonial side attuned to the man of the poetic feeling and imagination; and its quiescent contemplative aspect that has its appeal for the man of peace and the lover of seclusion." 34

"The Hindus, according to him, were Spinozists more than 2,000 years before the advent of Spinoza, and Darwinians many centuries before Darwin and Evolutionists many centuries before the doctrine of Evolution was accepted by scientists of the present age. 35.

17.Friedrich Maximilian Müller (1823-1900) German philologist and Orientalist. He did more than any other scholar to popularize philology and mythology, e.g., his lectures Science of Language.
Muller is best known for his series Sacred Books of the East. He wrote:

    "If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered over the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions of some of them which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant, I should point to India." And if I were to ask myself from what literature we who have been nurtured almost exclusively on the thoughts of Greeks and Romans, and of the Semitic race, the Jewish, may draw the corrective which is most wanted in order to make our inner life more perfect, more comprehensive, more universal, in fact more truly human a life...again I should point to India."  36

 " I maintain that for everybody who cares for himself, for his ancestors, for his history, for his intellectual development, a study of
Vedic literature is indispensable ".37 

" The Upanishads are the.....sources of .....the Vedanta philosophy, a system in which human speculation seems to me to have reached its very acme." "I spend my happiest hours in reading Vedantic books. They are to me like the light of the morning, like the pure air of the mountains - so simple, so true, if once understood."38

18. Count H. Keyserling: (1880-1946) philosopher, author, public speaker. He is the first Western thinker to conceive and promote a planetary culture, beyond nationalism and cultural ethnocentrism, based on recognition of the equal value and validity of non-western cultures and philosophies. Keyserling founded the School of Wisdom in Darmstadt, Germany in 1920 based on the original Schools of Wisdom which prospered over two thousand years ago in Northern India.

    "I have not found in Europe or America, poets, thinkers or popular leaders equal, or even comparable, to those of India today." 39
" Hinduism at its best has spoken the only relevant truth about the way to self-realization in the full sense of the word."40

19. Romain Rolland,(1866-1944) French Nobel laureate, professor of the history of music at the Sorbonne and thinker. He authored a book on the " Life of Ramakrishna"

   This is what he said about India:

 "If there is one place on the face of the earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India." "Let us return to our eagle's nest in the Himalayas.   It is waiting for us, for it is ours, eaglets of Europe, we need not renounce any part of our real nature...whence we formerly took our flight." 41 

Romain Rolland thought: "The true
Vedantic spirit does not start out with a system of preconceived ideas. It possesses absolute liberty and unrivalled courage among religions with regard to the facts to be observed and the diverse hypotheses it has laid down for their coordination. Never having been hampered by a priestly order, each man has been entirely free to search wherever he pleased for the spiritual explanation of the spectacle of the universe." 42

20. Mahatma Gandhi: (1869-1948) Was among India's most fervent nationalists, fighting for Indian independence from British rule said:

    "Hinduism has made marvelous discoveries in things of religion, of the spirit, of the soul. We have no eye for these great and fine discoveries. We are dazzled by the material progress that western science has made. Ancient India has survived because Hinduism was not developed along material but spiritual lines."
Hinduism is a relentless pursuit of Truth. "Truth is God". 43

This is what Gandhi  wrote about the Gita:

"The Geeta is the universal mother.  I find a solace in the Bhagavadgeeta that I miss even in the Sermon on the Mount. When disappointment stares me in the face and all alone I see not one ray of light, I go back to the Bhagavadgeeta. I find a verse here and a verse there , and I immediately begin to smile in the midst of overwhelming tragedies - and my life has been full of external tragedies - and if they have left no visible or indelible scar on me, I owe it all to the teaching of Bhagavadgeeta." 44
 He considered the Bhagvad Gita as a book 'par excellence'.

    "India is to me the dearest country in the world, because I have discovered goodness in it. It has been subject to foreign rule, it is true. But the status of a slave is preferable to that of a slave holder."45

“Hinduism is a living organism. One and indivisible at the root, it has grown into a vast tree with innumerable branches. Knowledge is limitless and so also the application of truth. Everyday we add to our knowledge of the power of Atman (soul) and we shall keep on doing so.” 46
He was a Hindu to the core. Defining his attitude to a prominent Indian Christian, Kali Charan Banerjee, he said:

" I am unable to identify with orthodox Christianity. I must tell you in all humility that Hinduism, as I know it, entirely satisfies my soul, fills my whole being, and I find solace in the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads that I miss even in the Sermon on the Mount."    47

"If all The Upanishads and all the other scriptures happened all of a sudden to be reduced to ashes, and if only the first verse in the Ishopanishad were left in the memory of the Hindus,  Hinduism would live for ever."  48

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