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Eknath Easwaran

An English professor and Sanskrit scholar introduced America to a form of meditation the literati would love.

By Phil Catalfo

When he first came to America, in 1959, Eknath Easwaran (19111999) had already been an English professor, a Sanskrit scholar, and a contributor to several leading periodicals in his native India. He settled in at the University of California, Berkeley, as a Fulbright Scholar and "went from education for degrees to education for living," as he later said. He began giving talks on meditation and India's spiritual tradition, and in 1961 established the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation. In 1968, at UC Berkeley, he taught what may be the first academic course on meditation ever offered for credit at a major American university; it attracted some 500 students.

From his maternal grandmother, whom he considered his guru, Easwaran learned a deeply ecumenical outlook: "The truth is the same by whatever name it is called," he said. And an encounter with Mahatma Gandhi left him with "an image of the human being...far more radiant than any I had known," which so impressed him, he became convinced that every person could achieve self-transformation. For decades, he taught his Eight Point Program for doing just that (see "Passage to Meditation,") and examined treasures of spiritual literature in scores of books, audiotapes, and videotapes. Blue Mountain continues to teach meditation worldwide; to learn more, visit www.nilgiri.org.


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