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Ananda Coomaraswamy

Ceylonese philosopher

Ananda Coomaraswamy (Tamil: ஆனந்த குமாரசுவாமி, Ānanda Kentiś Muthū Kumāraswāmī; 22 August 1877 − 9 September 1947) was a Ceylonese Tamil philosopher and Metaphysicist, as well as a pioneering historian and philosopher of Indian art, particularly art history and symbolism, and an early interpreter of Indian culture to the West. In particular, he is described as "the groundbreaking theorist who was largely responsible for introducing ancient Indian art to the West."


  • The more superficially one studies Buddhism, the more it seems to differ from the Brahmanism in which it originated; the more profound our study, the more difficult it becomes to distinguish Buddhism from Brahmanism, or to say in what respects, if any, Buddhism is really unorthodox. The outstanding distinction lies in the fact that Buddhist doctrine is propounded by an apparently historical founder, understood to have lived and taught in the sixth century B.C. Beyond this there are only broad distinctions of emphasis. It is taken almost for granted that one must have abandoned the world if the Way is to be followed and the doctrine understood.... but nothing could be described as a 'social reform' or as a protest against the caste system. The repeated distinction of the 'true Brahman' from the mere Brahman by birth is one that had already been drawn again and again in the Brahmanical books.
    • Ananda Coomaraswamy, Hinduism and Buddhism
  • The image of Shiva as Nataraj is indelibly stitched into the Indian imagination. How many various dances of Shiva are known to His worshippers. I cannot say. No doubt the root idea behind all of these dances is more or less one and the same, the manifestation of primal rhythmic energy. Whatever the origins of Shiva's dance, it became in time the clearest image of the activity of God which any art or religion can boast of.
    • By Ananda Coomaraswamy in . Nataraja. SSCNET, UCLA. Retrieved on 11 January 2014.
  • O my Lord, Thy hand holding the sacred drum has made and ordered the heavens and earth and other worlds and innumerable souls. Thy lifted hand protects both the conscious and unconscious order of thy creation. All these worlds are transformed by Thy hand bearing fire. Thy sacred foot, planted on the ground, gives an abode to the tired soul struggling in the toils of causality. It is Thy lifted foot that grants eternal bliss to those that approach Thee. These Five-Actions are indeed Thy Handiwork."
    • By Ananda Coomaraswamy in "Nataraja".

About Ananda CoomaraswamyEdit

  • He was definitely an apologist of Hinduism, a defender of Hindu values and traditions (including the caste system) against the numerous misconceptions and prejudices common among the Western and anglicized-Indian audiences.
    • Elst, Koenraad (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism. ISBN 978-8185990743

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