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Professor Muller and a real Mahatma:

Nov 05, 2000 07:46 AM
by arthra999

Interestingly you will still find Max Muller's translations of 
Sanskrit works even though they were produced over a hundred 
years ago. 

I recall reading his book some years ago entitled "Ramakrishna, 
HIs Life And Sayings" and it was a very fair piece and perhaps 
the first of its kind to be written on Ramakrishna.

Swami Abhedananda in his "Ramakrishna Kathamrita and 
Ramakrishna" mentions an article Max Muller wrote in 1896 for 
the August number of the "Nineteenth Century" entitled "A Real 
Mahatman"... Abhedananda writes:

"In this celebrated article , which was for some time the subject 
of most severe criticism both in England and India among many 
of the Christian missionaries and the Theosophists, the noted 
Professor showed the difference between the imaginary 
Mahatmas of the Theosophists and the real Mahataman or the 
great soul of India who had reached God consciousness and 
had manifested Divinity in all the actions of his daily life." - p. 18

Some of you may be aware that i am sympathetic to this view, 
that we as theosophists should have more deference for real 
saints and sages such as Ramakrishna, Ramana Maharshi 
rather than the quasi spiritualist entities of the early theosophical 

I do however respect the tradition and legend of the 
Mahasiddhas, otherwise known as the eighty four adepts which 
is held by both Tantric Buddhists and Hindus. Somehow it 
seems early theosophists attempted to synthesize the 
Rosicrucian legends with the Siddha traditions and serve their 
own brew to gullible westerners. 

- Art

Below I attach a review by H.H. Anniah Gowda of Max Muller's My 
Autobiography and Nirad C. Chaudhuri's Scholar Extraordinary: 
The Life of Prof.the Rt.Hon. Friedrich Max Muller 

Reviewed by H.H. Anniah Gowda


EVERYTHING"- Friedrich Max Muller in a letter to his son.

Muller had the artist's insight to pierce through the Hindu 
scriptures and discover their pure poetic essence. He put the 
study of the origins of language, thought, religion, philosophy 
and law or other human creations of the Vedic period on the 
same level as the literatures of Greece, Rome and Germany. His 
knowledge of classical literature was richly enhanced by his 
Indian acquaintances and correspondents: Dwarkanath Tagore, 
R.R. Deb, Devendranath Tagore, Keshab Chander Sen and a 
host of other scholars and religious reformers. With some of 
them his friendship was deep and abiding.

Strangely enough, Chaudhuri adds his own favourable 
comments to Muller's opinion of the Indians who reciprocated 
his feeling in abundant measure. Georgina Muller in her 
biography gives a letter from a middle-class Hindu in Madras 
who wrote to him on hearing that Muller was ill. His reactions 
were warm and heartfelt:

"Sunday was the mail day, on which English mail letters are 
delivered at Madras...The postman gave me a which the 
following lines were written: `Professor Max Muller is seriously ill 
and not able to attend to any letter.' When I read these lines tears 
trickled down my cheeks unconsciously. When I showed the 
card to my friends who spent the last days of their lives like mine 
in reading the Bhagavad Gita... They decided to have special 
service performed to God Sri Parthasarathy your 
name for complete recovery. The temple priest raised many 
objections to have our object accomplished, and the chief one of 
his objections was that he can't offer prayers and enchant 
manthrams to god in the name of one who is not a Hindu by 
birth...But, when one of our friends promised to pay ample 
remuneration for the purpose, he acceded to our request."

Muller and Georgina come sympathetically alive in the pages of 
Chaudhuri's book. His portrait is fully evoked: Muller possessed 
a gift for languages and for music, he had an artistic 
temperament, the soul of a great lover, and of an affectionate 
father. He had a life-long involvement with God. Chaudhuri takes 
note of his hero's less scholarly occupations at Oxford. The 
death of his daughter Mary in 1876 brought about the virtual end 
of his intellectual life. The hero suddenly withdraws and enters 
into telepathic communication with his dead daughter. He keeps 
a journal addressed to her, to keep her presence alive. Like 
Georgina's parents, Muller was unwilling to give permission to 
his second daughter to marry an impecunions don, though he 
had been one himself. Later, he relented, but continued to pour 
moral precepts on her. The unhappy daughter died in childbirth.

The journal ends with the telegram announcing the death of his 
second daughter pasted in. The apostle of Aryan idealism was 
beaten into submission by a cruel fate. His karma proved too 
strong to bear, and he wrote to his son: "We must learn to see a 
meaning in everything, we must believe that as it was, it was 

Chaudhuri set out to tell a story of the rise, glory and decline of 
one whose devotion of Vedic literature was unparalleled. The 
scholar's existence is evoked in fluent prose with a sharp eye for 
the history of India and of Europe. Only occasionally does 
Chaudhuri yield to the temptation of overwriting. He has 
summarized a mass of facts and arguments with great skill, and 
written about them with appropriate lucidity. The biographer 
remains throughout in a mood of respectful admiration. Scholar 
Extraordinary is a coherent and colourful tapestry: a grateful 
literary garland from India.

H.H.Anniah Gowda was a Reader in English at the University of 
Mysore, Editor of The Literary Half-Yearly, author of a Kannada 
version of George Orwell's Animal Farm ( under the title Mruga 
Prabhutva and of The Revival of English Poetic Drama


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