Bhagavad Gita is one of the most important spiritual texts in the world. It is said that the pith of Hinduism and the Vedas and Upanishads is in the Gita. It has influenced Hinduism and many great men in India such as Sri Aurobindo, Adi Shankracharya, Mahatma Gandhi, Vivekananda, etc. But did you know that Gita has had a lasting effect on many international personalities as well. Even rational atheists could see the power of the meaning of Gita. The intellectual geeky kinds, all over the world, have found Gita to be one of the most profound books ever. Here are nine non-Indian geeks who were inspired by the Gita.
1. Aldous Huxley:
Aldous Huxley was an English writer who wrote ‘Brave New World’. He was influenced heavily by the Bhagavad Gita. He said that Gita is “one of the most clear and comprehensive summaries of perennial philosophy ever revealed; hence its enduring value is subject not only to India but to all of humanity.” And that Gita was “the most systematic statement of spiritual evolution of endowing value to mankind.”
2. Henry David Thoreau:
Henry David Thoreau was an American author, poet, philosopher, historian and naturalist. His work on civil disobedience and simple living such as Walden have influenced many men all over the world. He wrote “In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial.”
3. J. Robert Oppenheimer:
Oppenheimer was an American physicist and the leader of the Manhattan Project which earned him the name of “Father of the Atomic Bomb”. He had learned Sanskrit and read the Gita in its original form which had shaped his philosophy of life. Upon witnessing the first nuclear test in 1945, he recited a verse of the Gita which translated to “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”. He felt that the atomic bomb was the coming of Kalki, the destroyer, as per Hinduism.
4. Ralph Waldo Emerson:
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American author, essayist, poet and transcendentalist. He was a supporter of individualism. He said about the Gita, “The Bhagavad Gita is an empire of thought and in its philosophical teachings Krishna has all the attributes of the full-fledged montheistic deity and at the same time the attributes of the Upanisadic absolute.”
5. Carl Jung:
Carl Jung was one of the pioneering psychiatrists of the world. He introduced the idea of archetypes and collective unconscious. He said, “The idea that man is like unto an inverted tree seems to have been current in by gone ages. The link with Vedic conceptions is provided by Plato in his Timaeus in which it states…” behold we are not an earthly but a heavenly plant.” He visited India and was highly influenced by Hinduism.
6. Hermann Hesse:
Hermann Hesse was a German poet and Nobel Prize winning author. He was interested in spirituality and self knowledge and said about the Gita, “the marvel of the Bhagavad-Gita is its truly beautiful revelation of life’s wisdom which enables philosophy to blossom into religion.”
7. Albert Schweitzer:
Albert Schweitzer was a German-French philosopher, theologian, physician and medical missionary to Africa. He reinterpreted the life of Jesus and read the Bhagavad Gita. He said, “The Bhagavad Gita has a profound influence on the spirit of mankind by its devotion to God which is manifested by actions.”
8. Rudolf Steiner:
“In order to approach a creation as sublime as the Bhagavad Gita with full understanding it is necessary to attune our soul to it.” This was the opinion of Rudolf Steiner about Gita. He was an Austrian philosopher, architect and social reformer.
9. Hermann Graf Keyserling:
Hermann Graf Keyserling was a German philosopher. He travelled to Asia and was influenced by the Bhagavad Gita. He said about the Gita that it was, “Perhaps the most beautiful work of the literature of the world.”