Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy (1947-76) was one of the best minds that India has produced in the twentieth century. Son of a Tamil father and an English mother, his life was a living example on how to build bridges between Eastern and Western cultures.
By profession an art critic and a museum curator, Ananda K. Coomaraswamy was also a masterful exponent of metaphysics. As much at home with Plato, Aristotle and Aquinas as with Shankara and the other Vedic commentators, familiar with the Scriptures of all the main religions and proficient in many languages, he used to teach metaphysical principles by explaining the symbolism of traditional works. In his writings Coomaraswamy never displays his vast knowledge for the sake of mere erudition, but rather uses his amazing scholarship for a well-crafted plan: to show that below the endless variety of art forms and traditional beliefs a common thread runs deep — the acceptance of the sacred as the ultimate means to validate the multiplicity of everyday experience.
This book is a compilation of quotations from his works and letters, and it constitutes a good introduction to his thought. His theories are here applied to concrete situations, related to the problems of modern India, and could still suggest a third way to avoid both the traps of modern technocracy and the temptation of fundamentalism. It should not surprise us that his views are still relevant to the present situation: his opinions are rooted in truths that are neither political nor historical, neither ideological, or simply religious, nor even merely intellectual. They are rather related to that inner wisdom that embraces, without crushing it, all the distinctiveness of human experience.