Quotes On Hinduism

Discussion in 'Hindu Quotes' started by Speechless world, Dec 9, 2015.

  1. Speechless world

    Speechless world New Member

    Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), German philosopher and writer. He was 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. Counted among his disciples are such thinkers as Nietzsche and Wittgenstein, as well as Sigmund Freud, who takes a large part of his psychological theory from the writings of Schopenhauer.

    No other major Western philosopher so signalizes the turn towards India, combined with a disenchantment with the European-Christian tradition. He proclaimed the concordance of his philosophy with the teachings of Vedanta. His contribution to the propagation and popularization of Indian concepts has been considerable.

    (source: India and Europe: An Essay in Understanding - By Wilhelm Halbfass p. 436).

    "There is no religion or philosophy so sublime and elevating as Vedanta."

    (source: Kumbha Mela - By Jack Hebner and David Osborn p. preface - By Thomas Beaudry).

    Schopenhauer became acquainted with the thought of the Upanishads through a Latin translation from Persian by a Frenchman, Anquetil Duperron. His eulogy is well known.

    "The Indian air surrounds us, the original thoughts of kindred spirits.....And O! how the mind is here washed clean of all its early ingrafted Jewish superstition! It is the most profitable and most elevating reading which is possible in the world."

    (source: Eastern Religions and Western Thought - By Dr. S. Radhakrishnan p 248 and Hinduism Invades America - By Wendell Thomas p. 240 published by The Beacon Press Inc. New York City 1930).

    "How entirely does the Oupnekhat (Upanishad) breathe throughout the holy spirit of the Vedas! How is every one, who by a diligent study of its Persian Latin has become familiar with that incomparable book, stirred by that spirit to the very depth of his Soul!

    (source: Harvest Fields).

    Schopenhauer was in search of a "philosophy which should be at once ethics and metaphysics." India did not disappoint him. He found it in the Upanisadhic "tat twam asi", "that thou art".

    "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. They are destined sooner or later to become the faith of the people."

    Schopenhauer, who was in the habit, before going to bed, of performing his devotions from the pages of the Upanishads, regarded them as:

    " It has been the solace of my life -- it will be the solace of my death."

    (source: The Discovery of India - By Jawaharlal Nehru Oxford University Press. 1995. pg 92 and The Upanishads Translated for the Modern Reader By Eknath Easwaran Nilgiri Press. 1987 p. 300 and Outlines of Hinduism - By T. M. P. Mahadevan - p.30).

    He anticipated later speculations with his claim that Christianity had "Indian blood in its veins" and that the moral teachings of the New Testament had their historical source in Asia beyond Israel: "Christianity taught only what the whole of Asia knew already long before and even better"

    (source: Oriental Enlightenment: The encounter between Asian and Western thought - By J. J. Clarke p.68-69).

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

    He also remarked: "How every line is of such strong, determined, and consistent meaning! And on every page we encounter deep, original, lofty thoughts, while the whole world is suffused with a high and holy seriousness."

    (source: cited in German in Upanishaden: Altindische Weisheit (Upanishads: Ancient Indian Wisdom) - By Alfred Hillebrandt (Dussseldorf-Koln, Germany; Diederichs Verlag, 1964 p. 8).

    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."

    (source: The World as Will and Representation - By Arthur Schopenhauer Volume I, & 63 p. 356-357).

    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"

    (source: India and World Civilization - By D. P. Singhal Pan Macmillan Limited. 1993. p 254).

    Schopenhauer wrote in the preface of his The World as a Will and Representation

    "According to me, the influence of Sanskrit literature on our time will not be lesser than what was in the 16th century Greece's influence on Renaissance. One day, India's wisdom will flow again on Europe and will totally transform our knowledge and thought."

    Schopenhauer, had extracted from Indian philosophy its contempt for the mere intellect. He admitted extracting his philosophical outlook from the Vedanta and attempting to weld "empirical realism" with transcendental idealism."

    "Schopenhauer went on from there to vindicate Indian philosophy's rightful place in the world.." He even went so far as to express pleasure at the continuous failure of West-Christian proselytism in Asia and added: "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." His anti-Christianism was largely based on a fierce anti-Biblism; .....he attributed systematically to subtle influences originating on the "holy-banks of the Ganga."

    (source: The Soul of India - By Amaury de Riencourt p 274-275).

    It is well-known that the book 'Oupnekhat' (Upanishad) always lay open on his table and he invariably studied it before retiring to rest. He called the opening up of Sanskrit literature 'the greatest gift of our century', and predicted that the philosophy and knowledge of the Upanishads would becomes the cherished faith of the West.

    (source: Western Indologists: A Study in Motives - By P B Dutt http://www.philosophy.ru/…/asia…/indica/authors/motives.html).

    The Upanishads came to Schopenhauer as a new Gnosis or revelation. "That incomparable book," he says, "stirs the spirit of the very depths of the soul."

    (source: The Legacy of India - edited By G. T. Garratt p. 32).

    Schopenhauer was fond of saying that the first intuition of the work he was to do came to him while reading these texts, of which he was later to say that they had been “his life’s consolation.”

    (source: Yoga and the Hindu Tradition - By Jean Varenne p. 186 - 187).
  2. Speechless world

    Speechless world New Member

    Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American Philosopher, Unitarian, social critic, transcendentalist and writer. It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who aroused in him a true enthusiasm for India.

    The force from the Upanishads that Thoreau inherited emerged in Walden and inspired not only those who pioneered the British labor movement, but all who read it to this day. Meandering in northeastern Massachusetts, his reverent outer gaze fell upon Walden Pond.

    He alluded often to water---the metaphor is clear---the Gita's wisdom teachings are the purifier of the mind: "By a conscious effort of the mind we can stand aloof from actions and their consequences; and all things, good and bad, go by us like a torrent."

    He had found his sacred Ganga (Ganges). Living by it and trying to "practice the yoga faithfully" during his two years at Walden, he wrote:

    "In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavat Geeta, since whose composition years of the gods have elapsed, and in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial; and I doubt if that philosophy is not to be referred to a previous state of existence, so remote is its sublimity from our conceptions. I lay down the book and go to my well for water, and lo! there I meet the servant of the Brahmin, priest of Brahma, and Vishnu and Indra, who still sits in his temple on the River Ganga reading the Vedas, or dwells at the root of a tree with his crust and water---jug. I meet his servant come to draw water for his master, and our buckets as it were grate together in the same well. The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred water of the Ganga (Ganges)."

    At Walden he put the Bhagavad Gita to the test, while proving to his generation that "money is not required to buy one necessary for the soul."

    (source: The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau - Walden 1989. Princeton Univ. Press. p 298 and How Vedanta Came to the West - By Swami Tathagatananda - swaveda.com). Listen to The Bhagavad Gita podcast - By Michael Scherer - americanphonic.com.

    In the 1840s Thoreau's discovered India, his enthusiasm for Indian philosophy was thus sustained. From 1849-1854, he borrowed a large number of Indian scriptures from the Harvard University Library, and the year 1855 when his English friend Thomas Chilmondeley sent him a gift of 44 Oriental books which contained such titles as the Rig Veda Samhita, and Mandukya Upanishads, the Vishnu Puranas, the Institutes of Manu, the Bhagavad Gita and the Bhagvata Purana etc.

    In Indian contemplation he found a "wonderful power of abstraction" and mental powers which were able to withdraw from the concerns of the empirical world to steady the mind and free it from distractions.

    "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."

    (source: Commentaries on the Vedas, The Upanishads & the Bhagavad Gita - By Sri Chinmoy Aum Publications. 1996. p 26).

    "Whenever I have read any part of the Vedas, I have felt that some unearthly and unknown light illuminated me. 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. When I am at it, I feel that I am under the spangled heavens of a summer night."

    (source: The Hindu Mind: Fundamentals of Hindu Religion and Philosophy for All Ages - By Bansi Pandit B & V Enterprises 1996. p 307).

    Henry David Thoreau - The Concord sage who derived spiritual inspiration from the Bhagavad Gita.

    (image source: Webmaster's personal collection of art).

    Refer to Chitra Gallery.


    "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."

    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.'

    (source: The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau - Walden 1989. Princeton Univ. Press. p 57).

    Thoreau described Christianity as "radical" because of its "pure morality" in contrast to Hinduism's "pure intellectuality"

    (source: A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers - By Henry David Thoreau p 109 - 111).

    "The Vedas contain a sensible account of God." "The veneration in which the Vedas are held is itself a remarkable feat. Their code embraced the whole moral life of the Hindus and in such a case there is no other truth than sincerity. Truth is such by reference to the heart of man within, not to any standard without."

    Thoreau, like other Transcendentalist had a breath and catholicity of mind which brought him to the study of religions of India. From the beginning he was disillusioned with organized Christianity (he never went to Church) and like Emerson showed great interest in Hinduism and its philosophy. In comparison to Hebraism, Thoreau found Hinduism superior in many ways. The following passage demonstrates Thoreau’s disenchantment with Hebraism and his love for Hinduism: In 1853 he wrote:

    “The Hindoos are most serenely and thoughtfully religious than the Hebrews. They have perhaps a purer, more independent and impersonal knowledge of God. Their religious books describes the first inquisitive and contemplative access to God; the Hebrew bible a conscientious return, a grosser and more personal repentance. Repentance is not a free and fair highway to God. A wise man will dispense with repentance. It is shocking and passionate. God prefers that you approach him thoughtful, not penitent, though you are chief of sinners. It is only by forgetting yourself that you draw near to him. The calmness and gentleness with which the Hindoo philosophers approach and discourse on forbidden themes is admirable.”

    The Christian and Hindu concept of man, Thoreau thinks, are diametrically opposed to each other, the former sees man as a born sinner whereas the latter takes him to be potentially divine. The lofty concept of man embodied in Hinduism appealed to Thoreau. Praising such concept he writes: “In the Hindoo scripture the idea of man is quite illimitable and sublime. There is nowhere a loftier conception of his destiny. He is at length lost in Brahma himself ‘the divine male.’

    Thoreau – his grand philosophic aloofness, his hatred of materialism, his society, his yogic renunciation and austerity, his lack of ambition, his love of solitude, his excessive love of nature, resulting his refusal to cooperate with a government whose policies he did not approve of, were certain extreme traits like to be misunderstood. Besides, he was a vegetarian, a non-smoker, and a teetotaler. He remained a bachelor, throughout his life, walked hundreds of miles, avoided inns, preferred to sleep by the railroad, never voted and never went to a church, derived spiritual inspiration from the Hindu scriptures like the Bhagavad Gita, and the laws of Manu living an extremely frugal and Spartan life.

    The influence of Hinduism made Thoreau a Yogi.

    (source: Hindu Scriptures and American Transcendentalists - By Umesh Patri p 98 -240 and India And Her People - By Swami Abhedananda p.235-236).

    Henry David Thoreau, was dazzled by Indian spiritual texts, especially the Bhagavad-Gita. He kept a well-thumbed copy of the Gita in his cabin at Walden Pond, and claimed wistfully that “at rare intervals, even I am a yogi.”

    (source: Fear of Yoga - By Robert Love - Columbia Journalism Review- December 2006).

    "In the Hindoo scriptures the idea of man is quite illimitable and sublime. There is nowhere a loftier conception of his destiny. He is at length lost in Brahma himself....there is no grandeur conception of creation anywhere....The very indistinctness of its theogeny implies a sublime truth."

    Thoreau's use of Indic scriptures in Walden far outweighs his use of the Bible. He refers to the Bhagawad-Gita, the Harivamsa, the Vedas, the Vishnu Purana, Pilpay (whose fables form the Hitopadesa) and Calidasa. Thoreau annexes India for his own purpose. It is, for example, in the spirit of the Indic myth that Thoreau writes the fantastic passage connecting Walden with the Ganga and Concord with India, and it is in the spirit of India that Thoreau wrote or included the story of the artist of Kuru.

    On 6 August 1841 he wrote in his journal that:

    "I cannot read a sentence in the book of the Hindoos without being elevated as upon the table-land of the Ghauts. It has such a rhythm as the winds of the desert, such a tide as the Ganga (Ganges), and seems as superior to criticism as the Himmaleh Mounts. Even at this late hour, unworn by time with a native and inherent dignity it wears the English dress as indifferently as the Sancrit."

    (source: India in the American Mind - By B. G. Gokhale p.22-27)

    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."

    (source: Philosophy of Hinduism - An Introduction - By T. C. Galav Universal Science-Religion. ISBN: 0964237709 p 18).
  3. Speechless world

    Speechless world New Member

    In his Transcendental thoughts, the world at large conglomerate into one big divine family. He finds beside his Walden pond "the servant of the Brahmin, priest of Brahma and Vishnu and Indra, who still sits in his temple on the Ganga reading the Vedas…" their buckets "grate together in the same well. The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred water of the Ganga".

    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"

    (source: The Bhagavad Gita: A Scripture for the Future Translation and Commentary - By Sachindra K. Majumdar Asian Humanities Press. 1991. p 5.)

    "The reader is nowhere raised into and sustained in a bigger, purer or rarer region of thought than in the Bhagavad-Gita. The Gita's sanity and sublimity have impressed the minds of even soldiers and merchants."

    He also admitted that, "The religion and philosophy of the Hebrews are those of a wilder and ruder tribe, wanting the civility and intellectual refinements and subtlety of Vedic culture." Thoreau's reading of literature on India and the Vedas was extensive: he took them seriously.

    (source: The Secret Teachings of the Vedas. The Eastern Answers to the Mysteries of Life - By Stephen Knapp volume one. p 22).

    Like Emerson, the Concord sage, Thoreau, was also deeply imbued with the sublime teachings of Vedanta.

    (source: India And Her People - By Swami Abhedananda p.235-236).

    He was particularly attracted by the yogic elements in the Manu Smriti. Thoreau embarked on his Walden experiment in the spirit of Indian asceticism. In a letter written to H. G. O Blake in 1849, he remarked:

    "Free in this world as the birds in the air, disengaged from every kind of chains, those who have practiced the Yoga gather in Brahmin the certain fruit of their works. Depend upon it, rude and careless as I am, I would fain practice the yoga faithfully. This Yogi, absorbed in contemplation, contributes in his degree to creation; he breathes a divine perfume, he heard wonderful things. Divine forms traverse him without tearing him and he goes, he acts as animating original matter. To some extent, and at rare intervals, even I am a Yogi.

    (source: Oriental Enlightenment: The encounter between Asian and Western thought - By J. J. Clarke p. 86-87 and Hindu Scriptures and American Transcendentalists - By Umesh Patri p 98 -240). For more on Thoreau refer to chapter GlimpsesVI).

    Along with Emerson, he published essays on Hindu scriptures in a journal called The Dial.

    Thoreau paid ardent homage to the Gita and the philosophy of India in A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers:

    "Most books belong to the house and streets only, . . . .But this . . . . addresses what is deepest and most abiding in man. . . . Its truth speaks freshly to our experience. [the sentences of Manu] are a piece with depth and serenity and I am sure they will have a place and significance as long as there is a sky to test them by."

    (source: How Vedanta Came to the West - By Swami Tathagatananda - swaveda.com)

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