American Veda by Philip Goldberg [updated Jan 05, 2016]


By Philip Goldberg

Foreword by Huston Smith

“An illuminating, gracefully written, and remarkably thorough account of India’s spectacular impact on Western religion and spirituality.”

—Deepak Chopra

“American Veda shows us how we got to where we are. It chronicles a revolution in consciousness and describes India’s lasting influence on our culture, from gurus, meditation, and yoga to sitar music and aromatic curries. Savor it.”

—Michael Bernard Beckwith, author of Spiritual Liberation: Fulfilling Your Soul’s Potential

In February 1968 the Beatles went to India for an extended stay with their new guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It may have been the most momentous spiritual retreat since Jesus spent those forty days in the wilderness. The media frenzy over the Fab Four made known to the sleek, sophisticated West that meek, mysterious India had something of value. Our understanding and practice of spirituality would never be the same.

With these words Philip Goldberg begins his monumental work, American Veda: From Emerson and the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation, How Indian Spirituality Changed the West (Harmony Books; Hardcover; November 2, 2010), a fascinating look at India’s remarkable impact on Western culture, with a foreword by Huston Smith. Goldberg’s eye-opening chronicle shows how the ancient philosophy of Vedanta and the mind-body methods of Yoga have profoundly influenced the nation, producing a radical shift in the worldview of millions.

What exploded in the 1960s actually began more than two hundred years earlier, when the United States started importing knowledge as well as tangy spices and colorful fabrics from Asia. The first translations of Hindu texts found their way into the libraries of John Adams and Ralph Waldo Emerson. From there the ideas spread to Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and succeeding generations of receptive Americans, who absorbed India’s “science of consciousness” and wove it into the fabric of their lives.

Charismatic teachers like Swami Vivekananda and Paramahansa Yogananda came west in waves, prompting leading intellectuals, artists, and scientists such as Aldous Huxley, Joseph Campbell, Allen Ginsberg, J. D. Salinger, John Coltrane, Dean Ornish, and Richard Alpert to adapt and disseminate what they learned from them. The impact has been enormous, enlarging our current understanding of the mind and body and dramatically changing how we view ourselves and our place in the cosmos.

With fascinating stories of key players and the times they lived in, Goldberg paints a compelling picture of this remarkable East-to-West transmission, showing how it accelerated through the decades and eventually moved from the counterculture into our laboratories, libraries, and living rooms. Now physicians and therapists routinely recommend meditation, words like karma and mantra are part of our everyday vocabulary, and Yoga studios are as ubiquitous as Starbucks cafés. The insights of India’s sages permeate so much of what we think, believe, and do that they have redefined the meaning of life for millions of Americans—and continue to do so every day.


In 2009, Newsweek ran a provocative essay titled “We Are All Hindus Now.” American Veda tells exactly why and how that came to be. It is not only the very first popular history of Indian religion and philosophy in America, it is a stirring tribute to India, whose ancient traditions continue to influence our everyday lives.

About the Author

PHILIP GOLDBERG is the author or coauthor of nineteen books, including Roadsigns: On the Spiritual Path and The Intuitive Edge. Based in Los Angeles, he is an ordained interfaith minister, a public speaker and seminar leader, and the founder of Spiritual Wellness and Healing Associates. He is director of outreach for SpiritualCitizens.net and blogs regularly on religion for the Huffington Post. Visit http://www.philipgoldberg.com or http://www.americanveda.com for more information.

Philip Goldberg on American Veda: How Indian Spirituality Changed the West

In 1968, the Beatles went to India for an extended stay with their new guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a spiritual retreat that exploded the ancient philosophy of Vedanta and the mind-body methods of Yoga into popular Western culture, an introduction that actually began when translations of Hindu texts penetrated the thinking of John Adams and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the ideas spread to Thoreau, Whitman, and succeeding generations of receptive Americans, who absorbed India’s “science of consciousness.”

Philip Goldberg, author, director for SpiritualCitizens.net, and Huffington Post blogger on religion, traces this movement from Emerson to the Beatles to Yoga and Meditation. http://www.philipgoldberg.com

How Indian Spirituality Changed the West (Philip Goldberg)

Philip Goldberg, author of American Veda, discusses how American culture has been influenced by Indian Spirituality.

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