Quote of the Day: T.S. Eliot on understanding Indian philosophy

My first encounter with Sanskrit came from a precocious and confused reading of The Waste Land as a teenager.  I was recently thinking about his famous borrowing of the phrase datta, dayadhvam, damyata (give, sympathize, control yourself) which I hope to write about.  I came upon this quote.  Discuss.

“Two years spent in the study of Sanskrit under Charles Lanman and a year in the mazes of Patanjali’s metaphysics under the  guidance of James Woods, left me in a state of enlightened mystification.  A good half of the effort of understanding what the Indian philosophers were after — and their subtleties make most of the great European philosophers look like schoolboys — lay in trying to erase from my mind all the categories and kinds of distinction common to European philosophy at the time of the Greeks.  My previous and concomitant study of European philosophy was hardly better than an obstacle.  And I came to the conclusion … that my only hope of really penetrating to the heart of that mystery would lie in forgetting how to think and feel as an American or a European: which, for practical as well as sentimental reasons, I did not wish to do.”

After the Strange Gods, 43-44

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