Indian Philosophy and Yoga in Germany

Routledge, 2024.

This book sheds new light on the fascinating – at times dark and at times hopeful – reception of classical Yoga philosophies in Germany during the nineteenth century.

When debates over God, religion, and morality were at a boiling point in Europe, Sanskrit translations of classical Indian thought became available for the first time. Almost overnight India became the centre of a major controversy concerning the origins of western religious and intellectual culture. Working forward from this controversy, this book examines how early translations of works such as the Bhagavad Gītā and the Yoga Sūtras were caught in the crossfire of another debate concerning the rise of pantheism, as a doctrine that identifies God and nature. It shows how these theological concerns shaped the image of Indian thought in the work of Schlegel, Günderrode, Humboldt, Hegel, Schelling, and others, lasting into the nineteenth century and beyond. Furthermore, this book explores how worries about the perceived nihilism of Yoga were addressed by key voices in the early twentieth century Indian Renaissance – notably Dasgupta, Radhakrishnan, and Bhattacharyya – who defended sophisticated counter-readings of their intellectual heritage during the colonial era.

Written for non-specialists, Indian Philosophy and Yoga in Germany will be of interest to students and scholars working on nineteenth-century philosophy, Indian philosophy, comparative philosophy, Hindu studies, intellectual history, and religious history.

The Gold Open Access version is available here.


LicenseCC BY-NC-ND 4.0

ISBN: 9781003376088


"Owen Ware's instructive and at times even entertaining study of the reception of Yoga philosophy in nineteenth century Germany is a valuable contribution to current attempts to look beyond overly narrow constructions of the philosophical canon. And the final chapter, which addresses the early twentieth century Calcutta philosophers is an important addition to the study of world philosophies." Robert Bernasconi, Penn State University, USA.

"The monolithic civilizational narrative of 'Western philosophy' is undergoing serious critical reflection, and Owen Ware builds on existing scholarship and offers further revision in this study. Following 'yoga' down its pathways in post-Enlightenment German philosophy, Ware offers an accessible account of the cross-cultural anxiety of influence that lingers in modern philosophy, and—even more importantly—an account of the South Asian intellectuals who came to know this narrative and answered in no uncertain terms." Bradley L. Herling, Marymount Manhattan College, USA