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Walther Eidlitz – Vamana Dasa – Austrian Writer On Vaishnava Philosphy

Walther Eidlitz (1892 – 1976), also known as Vamana Dasa, was an Austrian writer of novels, plays, travelogues and Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy and history. Much can be learnt about Walther Eidlitz by reading his autobiographical work, which was originally published in 1952 with the title, Unknown India: A Pilgrimage into a Forgotten World (London, New York: Rider and Co.).

Walther Eidlitz was a prolific writer with over fifteen books in Swedish and German, among which at least nine relate to Vaishnava theology, religious beliefs and practice. They are

  • Den glomda varlden (Stockholm: 1948)
  • Bhakta, Eine Indische Odyssee (1955)
  • Krishnas Leende (1955)
  • Die Indische Gottes Liebe  (1955)
  • Indisk Mystik (1956)
  • Krishna – Caitanya: Sein Leben und Siene Lehre (1968)
  • Livets mening och mal I indiskt tankevvarld (1972)
  • Der Sinn des Lebens: Der indishe Weg zur Liebenden Hingabe (1974)
  • Guds Lek (1976)

His book on Krishna Chaitanya is prescribed in various European universities as a text book.

In Unknown India, Walther Eidlitz writes of his quest for truth and his relationship with his Guru, Sri Maharaj, who he met in the Himalayas in the 1930s. The story is familiar – a Western seeker finds and Indian Guru and decides to adopt a traditional form of Eastern spirituality.

But Walther Eidlitz, being an Austrian, was placed in a dilapidated prison camp for nearly six years during the Second World War (1939-45). During his interment, however, he met Sadananda, a European gentleman in Indian attire. They forged a deep friendship, and Sadananda introduced Walther Eidlitz to the tenets of Vaishnavism. Impressed by Sadananda’s knowledge and wisdom, Eidlitz felt that Sadananda had augmented the knowledge he had received from Sri Maharaj, and consequently, he accepted Sadananda as his new Guru. Interestingly after meeting Sadananda the Unknown India that Eidlitz wrote about was not the exotic land itself, nor was it the teachings commonly associated with Hinduism. Rather, Eidlitz saw Vaishnavism as India’s greatest treasure, and in his subsequent writings he shared his respect and knowledge of his profound tradition.

Journey to Unknown India (1998, reprint) - Mandala Publishing Group, California
Encyclopedia of Hinduism (2011) – Volume IV page 14 – Rupa - IHRF