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Aleister Crowley in India : The Secret Influence of Eastern Mysticism on Magic and the Occult
Inner Traditions

Aleister Crowley in India : The Secret Influence of Eastern Mysticism on Magic and the Occult

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Aleister Crowley in India
Author(s): Tobias Churton

Follow Aleister Crowley through his mystical travels in India, which profoundly influenced his magical system as well as the larger occult world

• Shares excerpts from Crowley’s unpublished diaries and details his travels in India, Burma, and Sri Lanka from 1901 to 1906

• Reveals how Crowley incorporated what he learned in India--jnana yoga, Vedantist, Tantric, and Buddhist philosophy--into his own school of Magick

• Explores the world of Theosophy, yogis, Hindu traditions, and the first Buddhist sangha to the West as well as the first pioneering expeditions to K2 and Kangchenjunga in 1901 and 1905

Early in life, Aleister Crowley’s dissociation from fundamentalist Christianity led him toward esoteric and magical spirituality. In 1901, he made the first of three voyages to the Indian subcontinent, searching for deeper knowledge and experience. His religious and magical system, Thelema, shows clear influence of his thorough experimental absorption in Indian mystical practices.

Sharing excerpts from Crowley’s unpublished diaries, Tobias Churton tells the true story of Crowley’s adventures in India from 1901 to 1906, culminating in his first experience of the supreme trance of jnana (“gnostic”) yoga, Samadhi: divine union. Churton shows how Vedantist and Advaitist philosophies, Hindu religious practices, yoga, and Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism informed Crowley’s spiritual system and reveals how he built on Madame Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott’s prior work in India. Churton illuminates links between these beliefs and ancient Gnostic systems and shows how they informed the O.T.O. system through Franz Hartmann and Theodor Reuss.

Churton explores Crowley’s early breakthrough in consciousness research with a Dhyana trance in Sri Lanka, becoming a devotee of Shiva and Bhavani, fierce avatar of the goddess Parvati. Recounting Crowley’s travels to the temples of Madurai, Anuradhapura, and Benares, Churton looks at the gurus of yoga and astrology Crowley met, while revealing his adventures with British architect, Edward Thornton. Churton also details Crowley’s mountaineering feats in India, including the record-breaking attempt on Chogo Ri (K2) in 1902 and the Kangchenjunga disaster of 1905.

Revealing how Crowley incorporated what he learned in India into his own school of Magick, including an extensive look at his theory of correspondences, the symbology of 777, and the Thelemic synthesis, Churton sheds light on one of the most profoundly mystical periods in Crowley’s life as well as how it influenced the larger occult world.

“Relying to a large degree on unpublished documents, Churton’s narrative account demonstrates the extent of Crowley’s engagement with both the theoretical and practical dimensions of Hindu and Buddhist teachings and their enduring influence on his magical philosophy. Crowley’s efforts in conjoining the spiritual systems of the East and West have important implications for the study of comparative esotericism, and Churton deserves praise for his eloquent treatment of this fascinating subject.”
“The devil is in the details when it comes to the study of Aleister Crowley, and in this groundbreaking book Tobias Churton offers a compelling look at this all-too-overlooked period of Crowley’s sojourns in South Asia. Much praise and credit is due to Churton for revealing the many strands of Crowley’s life and relationships during this formative period--from his poetry to his mountaineering and from his interest in the yogi Sri Sabhapati Svami to his humorous and often purposely offensive social commentaries. Scholars of early modern Hinduism, Buddhism, and Western esotericism as well as general Crowley aficionados will all find much of interest here, especially given the wealth of historical context that Churton provides for the colonial-era history of India, for early Theosophy, and of course for Crowley right in the thick of it all with his mystical and magical aspirations.”
“In this excellent book, Tobias Churton examines Crowley’s critically productive time as a student of yoga and Buddhism under his brilliant mentor Allan Bennett and sheds light on the wider context of the cultural push to bring Eastern mysticism to the West, a movement that has shaped both modern spirituality and world history itself.”
“Tobias Churton has once again uncovered--and more importantly, interpreted--some critical aspects of Aleister Crowley’s life and legacy. As with Aleister Crowley in America, he has leveraged his unprecedented access to long-hidden archival material by and about the Great Beast; with these records Churton fills in additional pieces of the grand puzzle that is Crowley, so the reader can see a more complete picture of the experiences that shaped the development and interpretation of his mandate to spread Thelema to the world.”

ISBN:  9781620557969