by Anna Monday

The correspondence between Swami Vidyatmananda (John Yale, 1913-2000), and longtime American Vedantist contributor Bill Page will soon be housed in the Harry Ransom Center’s  Swami Vidaytmananda Archive.

The Center describes the Archive as such: “The Swami Vidyatmananda Collection comprises correspondence to Vidyatmananda as well as correspondence he gathered through his association with the Vedanta Society of Southern California and the Centre Védantique Ramakrishna in Gretz, France. Three distinct groups of correspondence are present: letters between Christopher Isherwood and Swami Vidyatmananda (John Yale), 1950-1986; correspondence to Lady Sandwich (formerly Amiya Corbin) from Aldous Huxley, John Van Druten, Christopher Isherwood, Walter De la Mare, E. M. Forster, and Gerald Heard, 1944-1977; and letters to the French diplomat Martha Vanek from Jan Masaryk, René Fülöp-Miller, and Igor Stravinsky, 1923-1930.

“The Isherwood correspondence is arranged chronologically. Among the letters is a 1955 postcard written by both Isherwood and King Vidor. Isherwood’s letters to Vidyatmananda come from London, New York, San Francisco, and Santa Monica, and reach Vidyatmananda first at the Vedanta Center of Southern California, then at the Centre Védantique Ramakrishna in Gretz, France. The correspondence includes Isherwood’s edits on an essay by Vidyatmananda, Vidyatmananda’s edits on Isherwood’s novel A Meeting by the River (1967), as well as a debate on whether to dedicate that novel to John Yale or Swami Vidyatmananda. They also exchange views on Swami Prabhavananda, Vidyatmananda’s monastic superior, leading to occasional tensions between them. Nonetheless, they continued to correspond until Isherwood’s death in 1986.”

The present UT archived materials stop at 1986, but the characteristically frank and lively Page correspondence spans 1989-1999, ending shortly before Vidyatmananda’s death, expanding the archive’s available information by 13 years.


About Anna Monday: She has been a Member of a Vedanta Society, depending on where careers took us, since 1970.