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Stella Bloch Papers Relating to Ananda K. Coomaraswamy 1890-1985, bulk 1917-1930

Ananda K Coomaraswamy

Ananda K. Coomaraswamy Papers at Princeton University
The Primordial Tradition: A Tribute to Ananda Coomaraswamy - Ranjit Fernando
Relevance of Ananda Coomaraswamy in the 21st Century - Manik Sandrasagra.1999
Dr.Ananda Coomaraswamy - B.Srinivasa Rao

S. Durai Raja Singam on
Ananda K Coomaraswamy
at adebooks.com

Wisdom of Ananda K.Coomaraswamy: Great Thoughts Selected from His Writings, Letters and Speeches (ISBN:8186569219)
Ananda Coomaraswamy: A Centenary Volume N. N. Bhattacharyya,Rajatananda Rajatananda, D. P. Ghosh, Hiranmay Banerjee, S. Durai Raja Singam
Fundamentals of Indian Art: Vol. I: Themes and Concepts
With Ananda K.Coomaraswamy at a Study Table
Homage to Ananda Coomaraswamy
Who is This Coomaraswamy?, 1980
The World of Coomaraswamy
Ananda Coomarasway The Bidge Builder : A Study of a Scholar - Colossus

Books by Ananda K Commaraswamy
* link to Amazon.com

*The Door in the Sky : Coomaraswamy on Myth and Meaning
*Myths of the Hindus and Buddhists
*What Is Civilization ? : And Other Essays
*Am I My Brothers Keeper
*Essays in Early Indian Architecture
*Art and Swadeshi
*The Arts and Crafts of India and Ceylon
*Buddha and the Gospel of Buddhism
*Bugbear of Literacy
*Christian and Oriental Philosophy of Art
*Dance of Shiva
*Elements of Buddhist Iconography
*Hinduism and Buddhism
*History of Indian and Indonesian Art
*Introduction to Indian Art
*New Approach to the Vedas; An Essay in Translation an Exegesis
*Selected Letters of Ananda K. Coomaraswamy
*Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power in the Indian Theory of Government
*The Transformation of Nature in Art
*Visvakarma: Examples of Indian Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, Handicraft
*Ananda K. Coomaraswamy : bibliography/index
*Ananda K. Coomaraswamy : Essays in Architectural Theory
*Coomaraswamy : 2 Selected Papers Metaphysics (Bollingen Series ; 89)
*Coomaraswamy : Selected Papers, Traditional Art and Symbolism (Bolligen Series, No Lxxxix)
*What is civilisation?, and other essays

One Hundred Tamils of the 20th Century

Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy
nominated by Sachi Sri Kantha, Japan

"Nations are created by poets and artists, not by merchants and politicians. In art lie the deepest life principles." - Coomaraswamy

From Journey Down Memory Lane To Reach 'tamiz Izam'
Chapter 41 - R.Shanmugalingam

"Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy was born on August 22, 1877, in Colombo. His father, Sir Muthu Coomaraswamy, noted for his forensic brilliance and classical scholarship, was the first Asian to be knighted during the reign of Queen Victoria. Sir Muthu enjoyed the esteem of such men as Lord Palmerston, Lord Tennyson, Lord Beaconsfield. Indeed, Lord Beaconsfield portrayed him as his Kusinara in his last unfinished novel.

In 1876, Sir Muthu married an English lady of Kent named Elizabeth Clay Beeby, and when their only child Ananda was born, he received the middle name 'Kentish.'

Ananda, after a brilliant career at Wycliffe and London University was appointed Director of the Minerological Survey of Ceylon when he was just 26 years of age. Though he received a D.Sc. from London University for his research, his valuable discovery of thorianite in 1904 is not generally known. It was characteristic of Coomaraswamy's self-effacement that he called the new mineral "thorianite" instead of linking with his own name.

In the course of his scientific work, he became interested in the artistic heritage of Ceylon and did a study of the surviving guilds of the mediaeval Sinhalese craftsmen and their artifacts. The results of the study are recorded in his classic monograph "mediaeval Sinhalese Art (1908).

Soon, he abandoned geology altogether and devoted himself wholly to the study of the arts and cultures of India and Ceylon.It was at this time that he published another excellent monograph. "The Aims of Indian Art" (1908). In this study and in others, Coomaraswamy tried to reconstruct and interpret the philosophy of the national art rather than convey merely the beauties of different art-works.

He was not a romantic aesthetician but the foremost academic historian of Indian art scattered through the ages in different parts of Asia, but also in creating a new consciousness of Indian cultural unity.

Undoubtedly, the aesthetic philosophy of Indian nationalism found its most articulate exponent in Coomaraswamy during the first decade of the twentieth century. In "Essays in National Idealism" he wrote: "We want our India for ourselves because we believe each nation has its own part to play in the long tale of human progress and nations which are not free to develop their individuality and character are also unable to make the contribution to the sum of human culture which the world has a right to expect of them." In other words, he argued that every nation ought to make its own contribution to what Mazzini acclaimed as the "concert of mankind, the orchestra of human genius."

To him the word 'nationalism' denoted the cultural expression of a nation. When India had attained independence, his message was "Be Yourself." It placed the accent on aesthetic authenticity and not on the political content of freedom. "Nations" observed Coomaraswamy, "are created by poets and artists, not by merchants and politicians. In art lie the deepest life principles."

In his famous oration delivered before the Phi Beta Koppa Society in 1837, Emerson had castigated American writers for their subservience to the artists of Europe and called them to create an indigenous literature. His oration has been justly hailed as "America's declaration of spiritual independence." Similarly, to Coomaraswamy Indian nationalism was a quest for self-realization, a declaration of spiritual independence.

We cannot perceive the full significance of Coomaraswamy's philosophy of Indian nationalism without perceiving the aesthetic impact of the theory of "dhvani" on his philosophy of Indian art. The word 'dhvani" literally means "suggestion in an aesthetic sense' and was developed into an elaborate theory by Anandavardhana, the celebrated Indian literary critic of the ninth century AD while the "Dhvanyaloka" of Anandavardhana the "locus classicus" in Indian literary criticism, deals with the aesthetic significance of words and their subtle undertones, Coomaraswamy reflected on the significance of art motifs and their symbolic meanings. Thus Coomaraswamy's approach to nationalism combined the patriotic spirit of Mazzini, the intellectual freedom of Emerson, and the aesthetic insight of Anandavardhana.

Coomaraswamy wrote much and he always wrote well. A master of the aphoristic style, in his discourse, he blended thought and feeling, poetical fervor and lucid expression.

Between 1895, when as a young man of 18 he published his first article "The Geology of Doverow Hill" and 1947, his seventieth year, he had written more than 500 publications. Their scope is astonishing. He had written several articles on Indian, Indonesian and Sinhalese art in the "Encyclopedia Brittanica" and also in "The National Encyclopaedia of America," in addition to editing English words of Indian origin in "Webster's New International Dictionary." The rest of his publications range from his collection of essays entitled "The Dance of Shiva," to such works as "The History of Indian and Indonesian Art," "Hinduism and Buddhism" and "A New Approach to the Vedas."

"The History of Indian and Indonesian Art," which was published in 1927, is his chief contribution to the study of Indian Art in its historical. sociological and philosophical contexts. Beginning with the Indo-Sumerian finds, it gives a clear and connected account of the entire history of Indian and Indonesian art, with special emphasis on problems relating to the Indian origin of the Buddha image. His profound grasp of the various interrelated disciplines helped him to realize the twin ideals of harmony and truth in all Indian art. Thus, in discussing the evolution of Indian art and culture as a joint creation of Aryan and Dravidian genius, he was able to reveal that the Gupta Buddhas, elephanta Maheswara, Pallava lingams, and the later Natarajas are products of two spiritual natures.

According to Coomaraswamy, this situation resulted in a cultural process, which "in a very real sense" was a "marriage of the East and West," or of the North and South consummated, as the donors of the image would say, "for the good of all ancient beings; a result, not of a superficial blending of Hellenistic and Indian technique, but of the crossing of spiritual tendencies, racial "samskaras" (preoccupations) that may well have been determined before the use of metals was known."

Looking back, we cannot doubt that Coomaraswamy's migration to Boston was a gain; it led to a deeper appreciation of Indian art in the West and particularly in America. Also, his stay at Needham widened his intellectual horizons and deepened his ideas on mysticism. During this period, he concerned himself especially with the general problems of art, religion, and philosophy. By harmonizing his manifold interest, both Eastern and Western, he attained a unity of outlook which invests his writings with a lasting significance.

Coomaraswamy has argued in his "Hindu View of Art" that the fusion of religious ecstasy and artistic experience is not an exclusively Hindu view; it has been expounded by many others - such as the neoplatonists, Hsieh Ho, Goethe, Blake, Schopenhauer, or Schiller and also restated by Croce. In one of his flashes of self-revelation, Coomaraswamy called himself "an orientalist who was in fact almost as much a platonist as a mediaevelist." And he was continually striving to understand the creative unity of symbolical expressions - the Brahma of Indian philosophers, or the "Unio Mystica" of Jan van Ruysbroeck the father of mysticism in the Netherlands, and the "Urquelle" of the German Meister Eckhart - and, in this way, to synthesise the fundamental insights of the Eastern and Western traditions of mysticism.

His culturally most significant notion is that of the chosen people of the future - a notion which elevates Coomaraswamy to the select company of those choice spirits who have effectively contributed to the continuous dialogue between East and west. According to him, "the chosen people of the future cannot be any nation or race but an aristocracy of the earth uniting the virility of European youth to the serenity of Asiatic age." Elsewhere he wrote: "Who that has breathed the clear mountain air of the Upanishads, of Goutama, Sankara and Kabir of Rumi, Laotse and Jesus can be alien to those who have sat at the feet of Plato and Kant, Tauler Behman and Ruysbroeck, Whitman, Nietzsche and Blake."

Coomaraswamy hoped for a more fruitful era in 'East West Cultural Relations' and wrote that "men like the English De Morgan and George Boole, the American Emerson and the contemporary Frenchmen Rene Guenon and Jacques de Marquette were able to make a real and vital contact with Indian metaphysic which became for them a transforming experience."

He also stressed the desirability of "using one tradition to illuminate the other so as to demonstrate even more clearly that the variety of the traditional cultures, in all of which there subsisted until now a poor balance of spiritual and material values, is simply that of the dialects of what is always one and the same language of the spirit, of that perennial philosophy to which no one people or age lay an exclusive claim."

It is remarkable that Coomaraswamy, who began his career as a geologist, should have ended it with the publication of "Time and Eternity," an impressive contribution to comparative aesthetics. He achieved distinction in four different fields of intellectual and creative endeavor, geology, political philosophy, Indian art history, and the general philosophy of art, literature and religion.

In his own person he symbolized a confluence of East and West, as well as an aesthetic symbiosis of the two cultures, scientific and literary. Child of Ceylon and England, he became an Indian in the same deep sense in which Henry James transformed himself into a European and T.S Eliott into an Englishman. While reflecting on the life of Coomaraswamy one is irresistibly reminded of Walt Whitman's 'marriage of continents, climates and oceans.'

Coomaraswamy's early scientific career can be compared to a spring originating from some subterranean mineral source delighting everyone by its natural freshness and sweetness. And the later development of his mind can be likened to the course of the stream of Indian artistic consciousness, which, starting from its Vedic source and flowing through India, catches the nationalistic current at the turn of the century, then mingles with the stream of traditional European art and finally joins the ocean that washes the shores of 'philosophia perennis'." ( from A Confluence of East and West - A. Ranganathan)

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