Myron Henry Phelps

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Myron Henry Phelps (Lewiston, Fulton County, Illinois, 2 April 1856 - Bombay, 29 December 1916) was a New York lawyer and religious writer who studied the Bahā'ī Faith and the Radha Soami movement, and supported India House in Manhattan.[1] His biography of `Abdu'l-Bahā is still read today, as well as Phelps' Notes, his transcription of Mādhav Prasād Sinha's talks that is standard fare in the literature of the Radhasoami Satsang of Soami Bagh, Agra.[5]

Interest in Buddhism[edit]

Phelps was also interested in Buddhism.[2] He had a secret "spiritual marriage" to Miranda de Souza Canavarro (Sister Sanghamitta) (1849-1933) formerly the wife of the Portuguese ambassador to Sandwich Islands, and the first woman to convert to Buddhism on American soil (in 1897).[3][4]

Visit to `Abdu'l-Bahā[edit]

Phelps and Sanghamitta visited `Abdu'l-Bahā in ‘Akkā and stayed with "the Master" for over a month, questioning him extensively.[5] Except for a brief incident wherein Sanghamitta got extremely irritated and vocal with a translator,[6] the visit was cordial and fruitful and resulted in Phelps's biography of `Abdu'l-Bahā (dedicated to M.A. de S. Canavarro). The work has been well-known among Bahā'īs for nearly a century, and is especially popular for its precious documentation of recollections by Bahiyyih Khánum, "The Greatest Holy Leaf"—but it is not regarded as authoritative since it's colored by Phelps's opinions which divert from `Abdu'l-Bahā's.



  1. ^ Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale University... Yale University - 1917 - Page 644 Myron Henry Phelps, B.A. 1876 Born April 2, 1856, in Lewiston, Ill. Died December 29, 1916, in Bombay, India Myron Henry Phelps was the son of Major George Phelps and Cornelia (Rogers) Phelps and was born April 2, 1856, at Lewiston, ...
  2. ^ Stockman, Robert, Notes on the Thornton Chase Papers[1]: "Myron Phelps... is an ardent admirer of Ramanathan of Columbo, Ceylon ... Sister Sanghamitta's Buddhist teacher."
  3. ^ Thomas A. Tweed, The American Encounter with Buddhism, 1844-1912, 1992, Page 87: "21 Canavarro transgressed the boundaries of Victorian social norms even more clearly and forcefully, however, when she began her secret "spiritual marriage" to Myron Henry Phelps (1856-1916), the Buddhist sympathizer, New York attorney"
  4. ^ Stockman, Robert, Notes on the Thornton Chase Papers[2]: "Chase... describes two visits with Sister Sanghamitta and Dr. Phelps at their farm in N.J."
  5. ^ [3]
  6. ^ [4]