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Encyclopedia > Ananda Coomaraswamy
Dr. A.K. Coomaraswamy
Dr. A.K. Coomaraswamy

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Life of Dr. A.K. Coomaraswamy

Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy (22 August 1877 Colombo - 9 September 1947 Needham, Massachusetts) was the son of the famous Sri Lankan legislator and philosopher Sir Mutu Coomaraswamy and his English wife Elizabeth Beeby. He became a pioneering historian and philosopher of Indian art, and a great interpreter of Indian culture to the West. He was also a tireless campaigner for the regeneration of Hinduism. In 1917, he became the first Keeper of Indian art in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. He stressed the spiritual element in Indian art. August 22 is the 234th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (235th in leap years), with 131 days remaining. ... 1877 (MDCCCLXXVII) was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... Location Map of Colombo with its administrative districts Coordinates , Government District Colombo Division, Colombo District Mayor Uvaiz Mohammad Imitiyaz (Independent Group) Geographical characteristics Area     City 248 mi²/ 642 km²     Land   / km²     Water   / km² Population     City (2001) 647,100 ( 2001 census )     Density   3,305/km²   Metro 2,234,289 (Colombo metropolitan... September 9 is the 252nd day of the year (253rd in leap years). ... 1947 (MCMXLVII) was a common year starting on Wednesday (the link is to a full 1947 calendar). ... Settled: 1680 â€“ Incorporated: 1711 Zip Code(s): 02492 â€“ Area Code(s): 339 / 781 Official website: http://www. ... Hinduism (Sanskrit - Sanātana (eternal) Dharma also known as Vaidika (Vedic) Dharma) is a religion or philosophy that originated from the Indian subcontinent and nearby surrounding areas. ... 1917 (MCMXVII) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar (see link for calendar) or a common year starting on Tuesday of the 13-day slower Julian calendar. ... Paul Gauguin, Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? (Doù venons-nous? Que faisons-nous? Où allons-nous?) (1897). ... Boston is a town and small port c. ... Spirituality is, in a narrow sense, a concern with matters of the spirit. ... A miniature, Kishengarh, Rajasthan The vast scope of the art of India intertwines with the cultural history, religions and philosophies which place art production and patronage in social and cultural contexts. ...


Born in Ceylon, educated in his mother’s homeland England, he became one of the world’s greatest art historians and scholars of traditional iconography. He served as curator in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts until his death, having been the first Oriental to make the meaning of oriental art understood in the West. He played an important role in the collection of Persian Art for the Freer in Washington, D.C. and the Boston Museum of Fine Art as well.


What made him one of the most qualified and gifted interpreters of traditional symbolism to have ever lived was his extensive knowledge, love, and understanding of our world’s diverse cultures, sacred scriptures, and languages. Coomaraswamy knew thirty-six languages, which meant for him that he had no need of a dictionary and knew that culture’s literature, poetry, and music. He once admitted, “ I actually think in both Eastern and Christian terms—Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Pali, and to some extent Persian and Chinese.” For this reason, he had access to the deepest levels of meaning to be found in language which made it possible for him to truly be able to interpret symbols and mythologies within the context of the literature and where they are found.


Works of Coomaraswamy

Amongst his books are The Dance of Siva (1918), History of Indian and Indonesian Art (1927), Hinduism and Buddhism, The Living Thoughts of Gotama the Buddha, Am I My Brothers Keeper?, Figures of Speech or Figures of Thought, What is Civilization, Time and Eternity, and The Transformation of Nature in Art (1934).


His two works Origin of the Buddha Image, and Elements of Buddhist Iconography still stand today as the greatest achievement in the scholarly and metaphysical explanation of earliest Buddhist symbolism and theirs roots in Vedic and Upanishadic thought.


Considered his pinacle collection is in the Bollingen series (1977) collected by Roger Lipsey, of what is the highest example of a great many of Dr. Coomaraswamy's works in the three volume set: 1: Traditional Art and Symbolism 2: Metaphysics, and lastly a biography of his life by Mr. Lipsey 3: His Life and Work. Some of the very last unpublished works of Dr. A.K. Coomaraswamy were only recently published in 2005 by Fons Vitae, mostly on Greek metaphysics, called "Guardians of the Sun-Door".


Traditionalist and Metaphysician

Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy was described by Heinrich Zimmer as "That noble scholar upon whose shoulders we are still standing", was one of the world's greatest art historians and scholars of traditional iconography. he knew thirty-six languages and admitted he did "actually think in both Eastern and Christian terms, Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Pali and to some extent Persian and even Chinese." While serving as a curator to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in the latter part f his life, he devoted his work to the explication of traditional metaphysics and symbolism. His writings of this period are filled with references to Palto, Plotinus, Clement, Philo, Augustine, Aquinas, Shankara, Eckhart and the Rhinish and oriental mystics. AKC was responsible for creating the collections of oriental art for the Freer Museum, Washington D.C., as well as for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. When asked what he was, foremostly Dr. Coomaraswamy referred to himself as a "Metaphysician".


Along with René Guénon, Julius Evola, and Frithjof Schuon, Coomaraswamy is regarded as one of the three founders of the Traditionalist School. Although he agrees with Guénon on the universal principles, his works are very different in form from Guénon's. By vocation, he was a scholar, who dedicated the last decades of his life to “searching the Scriptures” and a universal mind who spokes ten or more languages. His works are erudite, extremely pithy, and scholarly documented. Coomaraswamy offers a perspective on the Tradition which complements well that of Guénon. He had a very highly active aesthetic perceptiveness and he wrote dozen of articles on traditional arts and mythology. His works are also intellectually more balanced. Born in the Hindu Tradition, he had however a deep knowledge of the Western Tradition and had also a great expertise and love for Greek metaphysics, especially that of Plotinus, the founder of Neoplatonism. He built a bridge between East and West that was designed to carry a two-way traffic: his metaphysical writings aimed, among other things, at "demonstrating" the unity of the Vedanta and Platonism. His works also rehabilitated original Buddhism, a tradition that Guénon has for a long time limited to a rebellion of the Ksatryas to brahamic authority. René Guénon (later also Sheikh Abd al-Wahid Yahya, name given to him upon his embracement of Islam) (Blois, France November 15, 1886 - Cairo, Egypt January 7, 1951) was a French-born author. ... Julius Evola, born Giulio Cesare Andrea Evola, aka Baron Giulio (May 19, 1898-June 11, 1974), was a controversial Italian esotericist, who wrote prolifically on matters political, philosophical, historical, and religious from a Traditionalist point of view. ... Frithjof Schuon (June 18, 1907 - May 5, 1998) is a metaphysician, poet, painter and a leading figure of traditional metaphysics. ... The Traditionalist School of thought (not to be confused with the traditionalism professed by some ultra-conservative Roman Catholics) was founded in its current form by the French metaphysician René Guénon, although its precepts are considered to be timeless and to be found in all authentic traditions. ...


Much more than a mere outstanding scholar, Coomaraswamy at all times expressed his deepest interests and convictions to the effect of his desire to have a genuine mystical insight into the topics upon which he wrote; and adamantly stated that it was impossible to intelligently write about same with any authority without that non-empirical mystical insight gained in noetic direct comprehension which was beyond the texts with which he was already fully versed upon.


External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Ananda Coomaraswamy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (771 words)
Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy (22 August 1877 Colombo - 9 September 1947 Needham, Massachusetts) was the son of the famous Sri Lankan legislator and philosopher Sir Mutu Coomaraswamy and his English wife Elizabeth Beeby.
Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy was described by Heinrich Zimmer as "That noble scholar upon whose shoulders we are still standing", was one of the world's greatest art historians and scholars of traditional iconography.
Along with René Guénon, Julius Evola, and Frithjof Schuon, Coomaraswamy is regarded as one of the three founders of the Traditionalist School.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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