|Over the past
century and a half various spiritual teachers have come to the western world from India.
Many of the teachings of the Indian spiritual tradition have also become available. They
have made their imprint on our culture and on our language. This influence is one of the
main factors, if not the most important, in the New Age culture emerging today and has
become one of the primary forces of conscious change in the world.
Such terms as guru and avatar, ideas as karma and reincarnation,
Self-realization and God-realization, such practices as yoga, meditation, vegetarianism
and non-violence, all arise from the spiritual matrix of India. While the eastern world is
under the influence of western culture on a technological and scientific level, the West
in return is experiencing the spiritual side of culture preserved better in the East,
particularly in India, the ancient land of religion.
Emerson and Thoreau, America's own great early teachers,
first brought attention to the teachings of India in the middle of the nineteenth century.
H.P. Blavatsky and the Theosophical Movement followed in the later part of the century;
many of their teachings were based on Hindu and Buddhist sources from the great masters of
the Himalayas. The first important teacher to arrive in this country from India was young
Swami Vivekananda in the eighteen nineties bringing over the teachings of his great
master, regarded by many as an avatar or incarnation of God, Ramakrishna. A few years
later came Swami Rama Tirtha for a brief but inspiring stay.