Krishna Prem

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Krishna Prem
Sri Krishna Prem.jpg
Born Ronald Henry Nixon
(1898-05-10)10 May 1898
Cheltenham, England
Died 14 November 1965(1965-11-14) (aged 67)
India
Nationality British/Indian
Alma mater King's College, Cambridge
Occupation
  • Spiritual teacher
  • Author

Ronald Henry Nixon (10 May 1898 – 14 November 1965), later known as Krishna Prem or Krishnaprem, was a British spiritual aspirant who went to India in the early 20th century. Together with his spiritual teacher Yashoda Ma, he founded an ashram at Mirtola, near Almora, India. He was one of the first Europeans to pursue orthodox Vaishnavite Hinduism. Remaining a strict Gaudiya Vaishnavite the rest of his life, he was highly regarded, and had many Indian disciples.

Early life[edit]

Ronald Henry Nixon,[1]:218 more commonly called Ronald Nixon, was born in Cheltenham, England, in 1898,[2] and educated in Taunton.[1] His mother was a Christian Scientist and his father was reportedly in the glass and china business.[1]:218

At age 18, Nixon became a British fighter pilot in the First World War.[1][3] On one occasion, he experienced an escape from death that he believed was miraculous, in which a "power beyond our ken" saved him from several enemy planes.[4] His experiences of death and destruction during the war filled him with a "sense of futility and meaninglessness".[1]:218

After the war, Nixon enrolled in King's College, Cambridge, where he studied English literature.[1] During this period Nixon also studied philosophy, and became acquainted with Theosophy, Advaita Vedanta Hinduism, Buddhism, and Pali, and developed an interest in going to India to learn more about the practical aspects of Indian religion.[1]:218[3]

Life in India[edit]

In 1921, while still in England, Nixon accepted the offer of a teaching position at the University of Lucknow, in northern India.[3] As it turned out, the university's vice chancellor, Gyanendra Nath Chakravarti, was also spiritually inclined and interested in Theosophy, and offered Nixon assistance. Over time, Nixon came to regard Gyanendra's wife, Monika Chakravarti, as his spiritual teacher. In 1928, Monika took vows of renunciation in the Gaudiya Vaishnavite tradition, where these vows are called vairagya.[2] She adopted the monastic name of Yashoda Ma. Soon thereafter, she initiated Nixon into vairagya, and he adopted Krishna Prem as his monastic name.[2]

In 1930, Yashoda Ma and Krishna Prem together founded an ashram at Mirtola, near Almora, in mountainous north-central India (state of Uttarakhand). The ashram "began and has continued to be"[2] aligned with strict orthodox Vaishnavism. In 1944, Yashoda Ma died and Krishna Prem succeeded her as head of the ashram.[2] He travelled little, but in 1948 he visited South India, meeting Sri Ramana Maharshi, as well as Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Alfassa ("The Mother").[2] Sardella states that Nixon appears to have been "the first European to embrace Vaishnavism in India".[5]:143 Haberman states that Nixon "was perhaps the first Westerner to tread the path of Krishna-bhakti, and was certainly the first to have any official affiliation with the Gaudiya Vaishnavism of Braj."[1]:223

Krishna Prem, despite his English origins, became widely accepted and admired in the Indian Hindu community. Brooks wrote that "Krishna Prem's evident intellectual and inspirational qualities gained him wide fame and many disciples in India, as reflected in numerous books on his life and teachings."[3]:100 Gertrude Emerson Sen wrote that "I know of no other person like Krishnaprem, himself 'foreign' to begin with, who has drawn so many Indians to himself".[1]:220 His biographer Dilip Kumar Roy wrote that Krishnaprem "had given a filip [stimulus] to my spiritual aspiration".[6]

Haberman wrote that Krishna Prem "was recognized as a Hindu saint by many Indians of his day."[1]:217 When Nixon died in 1965, he was hailed by Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, then president of India, as a "great soul".[1]:221 Nixon's final words were "my ship is sailing".[1]:221

Works[edit]

Krishna Prem, Sri (1976). Initiation into yoga: An introduction to the spiritual life. London: Rider. ISBN 9780091256319. OCLC 2440284.  ISBN 0091256313 (128 pages)

  • Krishna Prem, Sri; Ashish Madhava (1969). Man, the measure of all things, in the stanzas of Dzyan. London: Rider. ISBN 9780090978700. OCLC 119543.  ISBN 0090978706 (360 pages)
  • Krishna Prem, Swami (1938). The search for truth. Calcutta, India: Book Land. OCLC 35694199.  (138 pages)

About

Biographical sources[edit]

Full biography

Brief biographies

Other

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Haberman, David L. (1 July 1993). "A cross‐cultural adventure: The transformation of Ronald Nixon". Religion (Routledge) 23 (3): 217–227. doi:10.1006/reli.1993.1020. ISSN 0048-721X. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Krishna Prem, Sri (1898–1965) Western-born Vaishnavite Guru" in Jones, Constance; James D. Ryan (2006). Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Infobase Publishing. p. 246. ISBN 9780816075645. 
  3. ^ a b c d "The Case of Sri Krishna Prem" in Brooks, Charles R. (1989). The Hare Krishnas In India. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 98–101. ISBN 9788120809390. 
  4. ^ Page 17 in Ginsburg, Seymour B.; Madhava Ashish (2010). The masters speak: an American businessman encounters Ashish and Gurdjieff (1st Quest ed. ed.). Wheaton, Illinois, USA: Quest Books/Theosophical Pub. House. ISBN 9780835608824.  (on page 283, the quote from Nixon is cited to page 54 of Roy's biography, 1975 2nd edition)
  5. ^ Sardella, Ferdinando (2013). Modern Hindu personalism: the history, life, and thought of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199865901. 
  6. ^ quoted in Haberman, p. 221.

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