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HOW THOREAU's WALDEN POND MIXED WITH THE GANGES AND YOGA CAME TO AMERICA WITH SWAMI VIVEKANANDA

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Published on Jan 12, 2014

This short movie is found in the book I just completed on How Yoga Came to America. It is available for purchase at the Apple iBookstore: http://tinyurl.com/n6u6tgy

One early morning in 1846, during the coldest days of a New England winter, Henry David Thoreau looked out the window of his small cabin on Walden Pond and saw men cutting its ice into blocks. That ice was hauled by horse to a railroad that ran across the western edge of Walden Pond, packed into a boxcar and taken to Boston where it was loaded onto a clipper ship that sailed to Calcutta, India, arriving about four months later. Once there, that ice was purchased by grateful members of the East India Company. Thoreau had witnessed a small part of the global ice trade between New England and India that took place during the latter part of the nineteenth century.

When Thoreau considered the ice trade, his vision sailed on metaphors far beyond the scope of business. The waters he imagined flowed both east and west and carried not just natural elements, but culture, religion and philosophy as well. He envisioned that after arriving in Calcutta, the New England ice of Walden Pond would eventually melt and run downhill where it would join with the sacred water of the Ganges. He wrote of this in Walden:

"It appears that the sweltering inhabitants of Charleston and New Orleans, of Madras and Bombay and , drink at my well. In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Gita, since whose composition years of the gods have elapsed, and in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial; and I doubt if that philosophy is not to be referred to a previous state of existence, so remote is its sublimity from our conceptions.

"I lay down the book [Bhagavad-Gita] and go to my well for water, and lo! there I meet the servant of the Bramin, priest of and and who still sits in his temple on the Ganges reading the , or dwells at the root of a tree with his crust and water jug. I meet his servant come to draw water for his master, and our buckets as it were grate together in the same well. The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred water of the Ganges."

For Thoreau the "water of the Ganges" represented the religious philosophy of ancient India, epitomized in the teachings of the Bhagavad-Gita, one of two books he brought with him to his retreat in the woods. He saw both Walden Pond and the Ganges were mingled, lying in the same well of water. This water symbolized the eternal Law of life, what the Vedic civilization called the Sanatana Dharma, the great theme of the Gita and subject of Thoreau's consideration throughout his stay at Walden.

A few miles upriver from where that Walden ice was unloaded at Diamond harbor in Calcutta, was the Kali Temple of Dakshineswar on the banks of the Ganges. It was the home of Sri Ramakrishna, the great God-man of India and his well-known disciple, Swami Vivekananda. Ramakrishna had told Vivekananda that he had great work to do in the world and nearly fifty years after Thoreau's sojourn at Walden Pond, Vivekananda came to America for the World Parliament of Religions, held in Chicago in 1893, bringing with him (symbolically), the waters of the Ganges (the ancient sacred culture of the Vedas). In this, he was the first person to bring the Yoga of God-Realization to America, although what he carried with him has little resemblance to what we generally call Yoga today.

This enhanced ebook tells the story of these mingling waters. The book contains an introductory movie, over 150 pictures, stories and quotations of the people, events and ideas that make up the story of how Yoga first came to America.

This short movie is found in the book I just completed on How Yoga Came to America. It is available for purchase at the Apple iBookstore:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/how-...

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