“Guénon is not an ‘orientalist’ but what the Hindus would call a guru.”
—Ananda K. Coomaraswamy
In the first half of the twenteeth century, a French man, René Guénon (1886–1951), struck the conscience of the Western world by reminding it about the spiritual knowledge that was at the heart of all traditional civilizations but that the modern Western world had completely lost sight of, and urged it earnestly to recover it before it would be too late. A profound knower of Hindu, Islamic, Taoist and other traditions, Guénon expounded, in the same way as A.K. Coomaraswamy with whom he regularly corresponded, the traditional metaphysics which gave a unity beyond the forms to the apparently different traditions of mankind. Though completely ignored by the official academic world, his message inspired quite a few seekers, and more than 50 years after his death his books are regularly republished and his influence grows steadily.
In The Crisis of the Modern World, published for the first time in 1927, Guénon writes a relentless and radical criticism of the modern world, revealing its shallowness and its spiritual destitution when confronted with the traditional civilizations. Eighty years later, his words are still amazingly present and fully valid, but there is something that has definitely changed: the traditional East that Guénon sets against the modern West has disappeared in a great measure as Asia has taken, by its own choice or by the force of circumstances, to the same road than the West. The reflexions of Guenon about the modern world are thus in a big extent applicable to the India of today, in danger of being submerged by the strong flow of modern ways and conceptions and of forgetting the spiritual base that was always the foundation of its civilization and that was the main cause for its unique survival through so many centuries.