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Hindu Scriptures & American Transcendentalists

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Item Code: UBJ608
Publisher: Notion Press
Language: English
Edition: 2019
ISBN: 9781645878490
Pages: 181
Other Details 9.00 X 6.00 inch
Weight 260 gm
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Book Description
About The Book

In this extraordinarily candid book, Umesh Patri presents a fresh reappraisal of the impact of Indian scriptures on American transcendentalism which flourished in New England in the 19th century. The major premise of the study is that other influences on the transcendentalists, such as Chinese, Persian, Sufi, Arabic, Neo-Platonism and German transcendentalism, are of less significance than that of Indian scriptures comprising of Hindu and Buddhist texts. In the writings of Emerson, Thoreau and minor transcendentalists like Alcott, Fuller, Channing, Johnson, Brownson, etc., the influence of Indian scriptures is clearly discernable. An attempt has been made here to show that Indian scriptures have not only influenced the philosophical thinking of these writers but also their lifestyle and social conduct. It also attempts to show that transcendentalism was not an isolated movement but was a part of a cultural renaissance which swept the entire nation in the wake of avid interest and curiosity in the ancient lore of other countries. Transcendentalism, it is suggested here, continues to affect the thinking of Americans and can be viewed as a continuing movement of thought in American intellectual history. This book draws attention to many aspects of transcendentalism which have not been adequately discussed so far.

About The Author

Umesh Patri was awarded a PhD in comparative literature from Utkal University, Odisha. Patri has a long and distinguished teaching career in different university colleges. As part of his post-doctoral project, he visited several libraries and universities abroad. Besides, he had an extensive lecture tour in the USA, Canada, England, Germany, Israel, Jordan, Egypt and a part of the Middle East. Because of his exemplary performance, he has been listed in the most selective directories of International Organisations for Good Temperance (IOGT), England and Asian Admirable Achievers. He is referred to as a writer in the Norwegian and British Humanist Journals and the Thoreau Society Bulletin, N.Y. A prominent essayist and critic in Odia, he was awarded the Odia Sahitya Akademi Award for his pioneering research on Aryas, which he advertently refused to accept. A champion of animal rights activists, he was associated with many philanthropic activities. With many books in Odia and English to his credit, he has also been widely translated. A public speaker of repute, Patri is an invited speaker on many platforms.


Henry David Thoreau, in his masterpiece Walden, thinking of the deep spiritual insights he had perceived in the various Indian scriptures, rejoiced, that "the pure Walden is mingled with the sacred water of the Ganges," when American ice was shipped in his day to help cool tropical India. Fortunately, the intellectual exchange, between India and the United States has continued over the years and on a far more significant level than the symbolic shipping of Walden ice to India. Just as Thoreau had been influenced by the Bhagwad Gita and other works, Mahatma Gandhi was influenced by Thoreau. And Gandhi, in turn, influenced Dr. Martin Luther King. So the exchange has gone on.

Over the years some of the best scholars in both the nations have studied and discussed these intellectual exchanges and their influences. Man Mohan Singh and S.P. Das in India and Frederic Ives Carpenter, Aurther Christy, and Carl T. Jackson in the United States, among others, have made notable contributions to this study. Now Dr. Patri has synthesized the work of his predecessors and added to it his own unique contributions to our knowledge.

I was deeply honored to be asked to continue this long history of international intellectual exchange through writing a preface to Dr. Patri's book. I was delighted and honored when I was asked several years ago to be one of the official readers of his doctoral dissertation from which this book is derived. I am even more pleased now to thus greet it in its final book form.


Even the most casual reader of the American Transcendentalist is aware that they were deeply influenced by Hindu and Buddhist texts. Yet, the task of demonstrating this influence requires understanding of both Hindu and Buddhist scriptures as well as the abundant writing of the American Transcendentalists who flourished in New England from 1820 to 1860.

Umesh Patri's astonishing grasp of Indian writings and the American Transcendentalists enables him to place this influence in a historical context and to illuminate the substantive effect of Indian beliefs on a philosophical and cultural revolution sweeping the US. In turn, he demonstrates the influence of American Transcendentalism on Indian philosophy, particularly Thoreau's impact on Gandhi's thinking. The circularity of the demonstration makes Dr. Patri's book valuable to people concerned with American Transcendentalism and Indian philosophy.

While others have argued that American Transcendentalism also was shaped by Chinese, Persian, Sufi and Arabic philosophies as well as German Idealism, Dr. Patri effectively singles out Hindu scriptures as the dominant influence. He also goes beyond an analysis of the work of the major Transcendentalists, Emerson and Thoreau, and includes the often neglected minor prophets of Transcendentalism such as Bronson Alcott, James Freeman Clarke and William Henry Channing.

Book's Contents and Sample Pages

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