Christopher Isherwood and Vedanta

by Anna and Jon Monday

Christopher Isherwood is a multifaceted character, each facet with its own fan base. While most popularly known as a celebrated writer, the creator of the source materials for some blockbuster musicals and films, and a vanguard of gay rights activism. . . Less prominent to the world at large is his role as an early practitioner of Vedanta in America and his dedicated work in the service of that cause. . .

And within Vedanta circles, while he is recognized for his literary contributions and intellectual achievements, his tremendous guru-bhakti; his life as one of the original Vedanta Society of Southern California monks; and his reverence for the shrine, the ritual worship, and the relics may come as a complete surprise. Learning about his role and the impact Vedanta had on his writing is made easy by the tremendous cache of self-revelatory works he has left behind including essays, lectures, novels, his diaries, and the autobiographical My Guru and His Disciple, which affords us the luxury of gathering information from firsthand accounts.

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2 Responses

  1. Dan Haren says:

    Thank You for this wonderful article..I first came to Hollywood in late 1985…..I remember a memorial at the Temple in early 1986..I had no clue at that time about who Christopher Isherwood was. Over the years I have read many of his books and can relate to his struggles.He made being a “flawed” Vedantist acceptable.We are “works in progress”, striving to find our way home to Ramakrishna…and Christopher has helped me greatly.

  2. This is an excellent article. For me, it captures some of the lovable things about Chris. I was privileged to talk with him on Tuesday afternoons when he was the Visiting Regents’ Professor of English at my campus in 1966. We were so different yet we shared so many things in common. The first time we talked, this Englishman actually had tears in his eyes talking about our guru. As a straight male, I took some not so nice “jesting” about the fact that we were seen together. I really did not care. He was one of my real family.

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