Herman Vetterling

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Herman Constantin Vetterling (2 August 1849 – 5 September 1931),[1] also known as Herman Carl Vetterling and by the pseudonym Philangi Dasa,[2] was a Swedish-American Swedenborgian philosopher who converted to Buddhism in 1884 and took the Arabic-cum-Sanskritic name Philangi Dasa (meaning "Western Devotee").

Vetterling was born in Pjätteryd, Kronoberg, Småland, Sweden, and immigrated to the United States in 1873. He was naturalized in Philadelphia in 1880.[3] He was one of the first Americans to officially embrace Buddhism.[2] He founded The Buddhist Ray in Santa Cruz, California in 1887, which was the first Buddhist journal in the United States.[4]

His most well-known work was Swedenborg the Buddhist, or The Higher Swedenborgianism: Its Secrets and Thibetan Origin, published in 1887. It is a fictional spiritual dialogue between Swedenborg, a Buddhist monk, a Brahmin, a Parsi, an Aztec Indian, an Icelander, an anonymous woman, and Vetterling himself. Six years later this work was translated into Japanese.[5]

Due to his eclectic combination of Swedenborgianism, Theosophy, Buddhism, homeopathy and Spiritualism, many scholars of his lifetime questioned his authenticity as a "real" Buddhist.[2]


  1. ^ California, Death Index, 1905-1939
  2. ^ a b c Dodin, Thierry. Imagining Tibet : Perceptions, Projections, and Fantasies. Wisdom Publications. pp. 171–172. ISBN 0-86171-191-2.
  3. ^ U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925 for Herman Constantin Vetterling, 1922, County of Santa Clara
  4. ^ Loy, David (1995). "The Dharma of Emanuel Swedenborg: A Buddhist Perspective". The Swedenborg Association. Retrieved 2007-03-31.
  5. ^ "53. From Yoshinaga Shin'ichi (Nov. 24, 1999)". Retrieved 2007-03-31.