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American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation How Indian Spirituality Changed the West

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  255 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
In February 1968 the Beatles went to India for an extended stay with their new guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It may have been the most momentous spiritual retreat since Jesus spent those forty days in the wilderness.

With these words, Philip Goldberg begins his monumental work, American Veda, a fascinating look at India’s remarkable impact on Western culture. This eye-openi
Hardcover, 398 pages
Published November 2nd 2010 by Crown Archetype (first published January 1st 2010)
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Ward Hammond
Sep 23, 2012 Ward Hammond rated it it was amazing
I can't put it down. Explains at lot about me, my love of George Harrison, Aldous Huxley, Emerson and all things Eastern.
Sep 23, 2014 Kb rated it it was amazing
This was a fantastic insight into the history of yoga in the west. I also love how Goldberg gets into some of the more practical teachings of indian philosophies in his course the great yogic transmission.
Nov 08, 2013 Moshe rated it it was amazing
Amazing, awesome book! The kind that made me extra eager for my nighttime reading fix! We met Phil the author at Bhaktifest. He was the MC for a session there about the Beatles influence on bringing Eastern spirituality to the West - with a very cool 4 piece band of yogi rockers doing the Beatles songs. Anyway, we got autographed copy from him there.

Took me a long time to get through the book. It has great depth and no wasted words. It is as thorough and well-researched as it is enlightening an
Aug 26, 2013 Phil rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everybody
Recommended to Phil by: Numerous people
"American Veda" is an extremely well-researched and well-written exploration of how India's ancient spiritual wisdom seeped into the cultural bloodstream of America. The vast majority of the information in this book was brand-new to me. It was fascinating to learn how Ralph Waldo Emerson, and later Henry David Thoreau and other nineteenth-century writers and poets, were responsible for disseminating the wisdom of the East to the unawakened masses in the West. Then came Swami Vivekananda's moment ...more
Justin Douglas
Aug 27, 2012 Justin Douglas rated it it was ok
Very thorough. Too thorough. So much so, in fact, that I didn't finish this veritable encyclopedia of the transcontinental transmission of Vedantic truth. The author gets too caught up in trying to present everything relevant to the subject that after a while it just becomes tedious--and the published edition is a heavily abridged version of the first draft!

Mostly, I was interested in his main idea that America has been receptive to and influenced by Indian thought and spirituality for much long
Jun 19, 2014 bookinglibrarian rated it it was amazing
This should be required reading not only for anyone in a yoga teacher training program, but for any person interested in American intellectual and cultural history. This captivating book covers a huge range of areas where ideas and spiritual practices from India have influenced writers and poets, scholars and scientists, artists and musicians, and thinkers of all types during the last two centuries of American history. Reading Goldberg's overview will expand your mind!
Jan 19, 2012 Kathleen rated it it was amazing
Like a college survey course titled The Influence of Indian Spirituality on American Culture. I found it very readable, and gave me huge lists of people and topics to probe into further. I strongly recommend the spiritually curious to read this book.
Terrence Daugherty
Feb 09, 2016 Terrence Daugherty rated it did not like it
I had to read this book for a class a couple of years ago, and all I can really say is that it's nothing, but a mass collection of unverified theories purported as truth regarding the origins of American culture and religion.

In time I hope to write a full-scale rebuttal against this nonsensical work, but for now this terse review will have to do.

I do not recommend this book except for those who wish to study the delusions of an entrepreneurial pagan and contrarian.
Adam Swift
Jul 13, 2014 Adam Swift rated it it was ok
Not badly written, but there is next to no critical analysis separating the important ways Indian spirituality has impacted the West. Basically a list of "hey, Emerson read Vedic texts, and hey this new age goobledegook was influenced by India, and isn't it all equally great!"
Kristin Butler
Dec 27, 2015 Kristin Butler rated it really liked it
Great overview of Vedic thought and its influence on modern culture. I have a far better understanding of the roots of many movements/philosophies that have migrated to the U.S. And a much better historical perspective.
B Scott
Jan 24, 2014 B Scott rated it liked it
A very very thorough presentation of the history of the coming of Indian spirituality to (mostly) the US. It absolutely kept my attention from start to finish but assumed that I was more familiar with the many branches and varieties of Indian practices than I actually am.
Heather Pagano
A fun collection of interesting facts about the way Vedantic thought influenced American culture. I went into the book knowing a decent amount about yoga and Hinduism, and still learned about some influences and connections that surprised and delighted me. There's no gripping thesis to this book, no theme that makes it a compelling read. It's mostly a chronological report on the early days of Vedanta in the U.S. with some discussion of influences grouped by topic: scientists, musicians, etc.
Marie Kelleher
A decent starting point, and I enjoyed the chapters on Vivekananda and Yogananda) but the central argument sort of breaks down, and the second half of the book devolves into a guru-per-3-pages format, to the point where it seemed more like a narrative catalog than a monograph. That said, I left the book wanting to read more to fill in the gaps (for example, the ambivalent relationship between yoga and modernity, or cultural commodification) and that's never a bad thing.
Pranada Comtois
May 09, 2012 Pranada Comtois rated it really liked it
Goldberg has done a brilliant job of showing how spirituality has changed since the 19th century through the influence of eastern thought; the pitfalls of the gurus and babas that carried the philosophies and more.

Benjamin Zapata
Feb 24, 2012 Benjamin Zapata rated it it was amazing
A fascinating book,...wonderfully comprehensive,positive,and illuminating. Superbly researched,chronicling a revolution in consciousness and India's lasting influence on our culture,from gurus,meditation,yoga,sitar music,and aromatic curries.An influence that started from Emerson to the Beatles to the present,and still going strong!
Apr 08, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Very interesting but very fact heavy. There was no way I could digest the amount of info presented in this book, contributors to the movement, sects, etc. in the three weeks I had it out from the library. It gives a very good basis for the development of vedic and yogic teachings in the west as well as their consequent evolution.
Nov 20, 2012 Erin rated it really liked it
While this book had some slow mind numbing moments it was a fascinating read. Anyone, interested in yoga, literature, eastern philosophy, and the Indian culture would enjoy it. I certainly would recommend it but be warned that at times it has a text book feel which makes for a slow read.
Aug 08, 2013 John rated it really liked it
A concise history of Eastern spiritual and philosophical influences on the West, especially the U.S., in the 19th and 20th centuries, with brief reference to its lasting effects and contemporary descendents. Interesting.
Heidi DuPree
Oct 08, 2013 Heidi DuPree rated it really liked it
Thorough, thought-provoking, and eye-opening history of how Eastern spirituality has deeply influenced Western culture, giving a sense of not only where we've been, but where we are headed.
May 10, 2011 Amanda rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, yoga
Great book. I had no idea Emerson had such an influence on American when it comes to Indian Sprituality. Worth the read and a great, although brief chapter on how yoga came to the US.
Aug 12, 2012 Danielle rated it liked it
The book was entertaining. Worth looking into. Goldberg shares some good incite and has interesting and thought provoking ideas throughout the book.
An interesting, thorough, useful and well written overview of the influence of Indian spirituality on the American culture. Recommended.
Jul 11, 2012 Matagiri rated it liked it
An adequate survey/history of new religious movements America. A good counter-weight to all those creepy and sensational anti-cult books.
Nov 26, 2011 MaryAnn rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed learning from this book. Fascinating history, opened my eyes about many great leaders in "new" thought.
Hardy Khana
Mar 26, 2013 Hardy Khana marked it as to-read
Veda means knowladge and i think this book is full of real and spiritual knowladge
Highly readable history of the people who spread Vedanta across America.
Dec 23, 2011 Sno rated it really liked it
Nov 19, 2012 Victoria rated it it was ok
Shelves: stopped-reading
so wonky, i couldn't get through it.
Jan 16, 2012 Maly rated it really liked it
An interesting read.
Venkat Gururajan
Venkat Gururajan marked it as to-read
Jul 25, 2016
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“Emerson used India to formulate his philosophy, and India used Emerson to legitimize its ancient wisdom to the modern mind.” 0 likes
“By sacralizing both nature and human flesh, Whitman set the poetic template for what some consider a homegrown Tantra, the stream of Vedic spirituality that sees the divine in the mundane and directs sensory experience toward spiritual realization. “He taught people a way of beholding nature which is itself a form of prayer,” said the author and poet Diane Ackerman. She called Leaves of Grass “a sacred American text about the essential goodness and perfectibility of people, the sanctity of the common man, the holiness of the human body viewed naked and up close, the privilege of democracy, the need to forge one’s own destiny, and the duty of all to discover the world anew, by living in a state of rampant amazement at the endless pocket-size miracles one encounters every day.”16 That is as good a description of an American Tantra as can be imagined. Transcendental” 0 likes
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