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Bede Griffiths

This Benedictine monk devoted most of his life to exploring a synthesis of Eastern and Western spirituality that he called Christian Vedanta.

By Phil Catalfo

Born into an Anglican family in an English village in 1906, Alan Griffiths was a seeker from a young age. An acute love of nature and a passion for literature led to devoted reading of literary mystics such as Wordsworth and Lawrence. Study at Oxford and an experiment in living a life of voluntary simplicity heightened his quest for cosmic truth. He converted to Catholicism and was ordained a priest, then became a Benedictine monk, receiving the name Bede (meaning "prayer").

Introduced to yoga and Indian scriptures by a Jungian analyst, Griffiths leapt at the opportunity to serve in India in 1955. "I am going to discover the other half of my soul," he wrote to a friend. He spent the rest of his life exploring a synthesis of Eastern and Western spirituality that he called Christian Vedanta. In the Hindu concept of saccidananda, which he understood as "being" (sat), "consciousness" (cit), and "bliss" (ananda), he found a sublime echo of the Holy Trinity. While still a devout Christian, he became a sannyasin (renunciant) and took the Hindu name Dayananda. For many years, he led the Shantivanam ashram in Southern India. And although he made regular visits to the United States and Europe over the course of several decades, India remained his spiritual home.

Upon his death in 1993, Griffiths left behind dozens of books and more than a hundred articles articulating his "interspiritual thought"—as well as a legacy of ecumenism fostering the union that is the heart of yoga. For more information, visit www.bedegriffiths.com.



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