Showing posts with label Arthur Avalon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arthur Avalon. Show all posts

Hinduism - Who Was Sir John Woodroffe?


Sir John Woodroffe (1865–1936) was a Calcutta High Court Justice who also translated and published writings on tantra, a hidden, ritual-based religious practice, under the alias Arthur Avalon.

Woodroffe was one of the early European proponents of tantra as a cohesive religious path, and he defended the texts' purportedly "impure" or "immoral" ceremonial actions.

In his tantric expositions, Woodroffe was attempting to persuade two audiences, both of whom were outraged by the licentiousness detailed in the tantric scriptures, which included breaking deeply established taboos on nonvegetarian cuisine, alcohol use, and illicit prostitution.

On the one hand, Woodroffe was speaking to the British, who were the political overlords of the moment, and on the other, educated Indians, many of whom would have dismissed the tantras as a fad.

Although more thorough academic work has been done since then, his publications and lectures were crucial in helping to make tantrism acceptable.

Representatives from major global religions, including Asian religions, were invited to the World Parliament of Religions Meeting in Chicago in 1893.

It was a turning point in the Euro-American perception of non-Christian faiths, when they were no longer dismissed as mere idolatry but were considered seriously as legitimate religious pathways.

It's also worth noting that many mainline Christian churches were not represented, with historically black congregations providing the majority of the Christian presence.

The presentation by Swami Vivekananda, in which Hinduism—in its logical, Vedantic form—was first seriously acknowledged by his Western hearers, was one of the highlights of the Parliament.

Vivekananda's charm was such that he spent the following four years in America, where he created the Vedanta Society in 1897.

You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.

Hinduism - Who Was Arthur Avalon?

Arthur Avalon was Sir John Woodroffe's pen name. 

Sir John George Woodroffe (15 December 1865 – 16 January 1936), sometimes known as Arthur Avalon, was a British Orientalist whose vast and complicated published works on the Tantras and other Hindu traditions sparked a broad interest in Hindu philosophy and yoga. 

  • He studied Sanskrit and Hindu philosophy in addition to his judicial responsibilities, and he was particularly interested in Hindu Tantra. 
  • He translated twenty original Sanskrit works and published and spoke extensively on Indian philosophy and a broad variety of Yoga and Tantra subjects under the alias Arthur Avalon. 
  • "By editing the original Sanskrit scriptures, as well as by writing articles on the various elements of Shaktism, he demonstrated that the religion and worship had a deep philosophy behind it, and that the method of devotion it advises was nothing illogical or obscurantist," T.M.P. Mahadevan wrote. 

James Tisdall Woodroffe and his wife Florence, a daughter of James Hume, had a son named Woodroffe. 

  • James Woodroffe was a Justice of the Peace, and a Knight of St. Gregory.
  • He was the Advocate-General of Bengal and a Legal Member of the Government of India. 
  • John received his education at Woburn Park School and University College, Oxford, where he studied jurisprudence and passed the Bachelor of Civil Law exams. 

  • In 1889, he was admitted to the Inner Temple and registered as an advocate of the Calcutta High Court the following year. 
    • He was shortly named Tagore Law Professor and became a Fellow of Calcutta University.
  • In a widely used textbook, Civil Procedure in British India, he worked with Ameer Ali. 
  • In 1902, he was appointed as the Government of India's Standing Counsel, and in 1904, he was promoted to the High Court Bench. 
  • He became Chief Justice in 1915 after eighteen years on the bench. 

  • After retiring to England, he worked at the University of Oxford as a Reader in Indian Law. 
  • He died in France on January 18, 1936.

You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.