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Hinduism and American Literature


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Henry David Thoreau
Hinduism and American Literature

Thoreau was deeply influenced by Hindu philosophy, which is reflected in his seminal book 'Walden' and other writings.

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Like his friend Emerson, Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was well read in the Vedic scriptures. Indophilia permeates his book Walden where he offers an example of one possible approach to realizing one's divinity, to fulfilling one's potential for ideal existence in the real world. He advises his readers to exercise their minds and create an idea of themselves as they might ideally be, and then find the means of making that idea, come true: "If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost;/ that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them".

In his Transcendental thoughts the world at large conglomerate into one big divine family. He finds beside his Walden pond "the servant of the Brahmin, priest of Brahma and Vishnu and Indra, who still sits in his temple on the Ganges reading the Vedas …"their buckets "grate together in the same well. The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred water of the Ganges".

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