About the Book:
Asia was destined by the Providence to become the cradle of human civilization. Among the known old civilizations like the Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Incan, Mayan, Greek, Roman, and others, the one that bloomed on the banks of the Indus is today undisputedly acknowledged as the oldest. In its chequered journey through the past several millennia, its invaluable literary treasures were wafted to all directions, paving the way for the cultural growth in distant lands. Archaeological, historical, and Indological probing has shed enough light on the contributions of Oriental thought on humankind in general. Will Durant, the great historian, begins The Story of Civilization saying:
'Our story begins with the Orient, not merely because Asia was the scene of the oldest civilizations known to us, but because those civilizations formed the background and basis of that Greek and Roman culture, which Henry Maine mistakenly supposed to be the whole source of the modern mind. We shall be surprised to learn how much of our most indispensable inventions, our economic and political organization, our science and our literature, our philosophy and our religion, goes back to Egypt and the Orient.'
Swami Tathagatananda's Light from the Orient is an illuminating sequel to his earlier well-researched Journey of the Upanishads to the West, both focusing on the glorious Oriental literary heritage to the world at large.
While comparing the aims and achievements of the Oriental and Occidental civilizations, Swami Vivekananda once observed that each of these civilizations has its grandeur, each its glory. He said: "To the Oriental, the world of spirit is as real as to the Occidental is the world of senses... Each calls the other a dreamer. But the Oriental ideal is as necessary for the progress of the human race as is the Occidental, and I think it is more necessary' (Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, vol. 4, p. 155). Swamiji also pointed out that from India, 'like tidal waves, spirituality and philosophy have again and again rushed out and deluged the world, and this is the land from whence once more such tides must proceed...' (Ibid. vol. 3, p. 285).
In this work, Light from the Orient, Swami Tathagatananda, Minister-in-charge of the Vedanta Society, New York, has done immense service to the world of learning by bringing to light little-known material, including observations by Indologists, on 'the impact of India's literature on the West'. We believe this valuable work will be well received by readers all over the world.
13 July 2005
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