Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy (Tamil: ஆனந்த குமாரசுவாமி, 22 August 1877, Colombo - 9 September 1947, Needham, Massachusetts) was primarily a metaphysician, and wished to be remembered as one, but also he was a pioneering historian and philosopher of Indian art, especially art history and symbolism, and an early interpreter of Indian culture to the West . Tamil (ta தமிழ்; t̪əmɨɻ is a Dravidian language spoken predominantly by Tamil people of the Indian subcontinent. Events 392 - Arbogast has Eugenius elected Western Roman Emperor. Year 1877 ( MDCCCLXXVII) was a Common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common Colombo ( Sinhala:, ˈkoləmbə Tamil: கொழும்பு is the largest city and commercial capital of Sri Lanka. Events 1000 - Battle of Svolder, Viking Age. 1379 - Treaty of Neuberg, splitting the Austrian Year 1947 ( MCMXLVII) was a Common year starting on Wednesday (link will display full 1947 calendar of the Gregorian calendar. Needham is a town in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States. Metaphysics is the branch of Philosophy investigating principles of reality transcending those of any particular science See also History An historian is an individual who studies and writes about History, and is regarded as an Authority on it Aesthetics or esthetics ( also spelled æsthetics) is commonly known as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values sometimes called Art history is the Academic study of objects of Art in their Historical development and stylistic contexts i "Symbolic" redirects here For other uses see Symbolism (disambiguation and Symbolic (disambiguation. The culture of India has been shaped by the long History of India, its unique geography and the absorption of customs traditions and ideas from some of its neighbors
Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy was born in Colombo, Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka) to the Sri Lankan Tamil legislator and philosopher Sir Muthu Coomaraswamy and his English wife Elizabeth Beeby. Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka ( Sinhalese:, இலங்கை known as Ceylon before 1972 is an Island Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka ( Sinhalese:, இலங்கை known as Ceylon before 1972 is an Island Sri Lankan Tamil people ( or Ceylon Tamils, are an Ethnic group native to the South Asian island state of Sri Lanka who predominantly speak The Indian Tamils of Sri Lanka are Tamil people of Indian origin in Sri Lanka. A legislator (or lawmaker) is a person who writes and passes laws especially someone who is a member of a Legislature. Philosophy is the study of general problems concerning matters such as existence knowledge truth beauty justice validity mind and language Muthu Coomaraswamy ( Tamil: முத்து குமாரசுவாமி (1833 - 1879 was a prominent colonial era legislator from Sri Lanka. The English people (from the adjective in Englisc) are a Nation and Ethnic group native to England who predominantly speak English His father died when Ananda was 2 years old and Ananda spent much of his childhood and education abroad.
Coomaraswamy moved to England in 1879 and attended Wycliffe College, a preparatory school, at the age of 12. Year 1879 ( MDCCCLXXIX) was a Common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common Wycliffe College is an Anglican Church of Canada seminary at the University of Toronto. In 1900, he graduated from University College, London, with a degree in geology and botany. Year 1900 ( MCM) was an exceptional Common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar of the Gregorian calendar University College London ( UCL) is a multi-faculty university institution based in the United Kingdom and a constituent college of the University of London London ( ˈlʌndən is the capital and largest urban area in the United Kingdom. Geology (from Greek γη gê, "earth" and λόγος Logos, "speech" lit Botany, plant science(s, phytology, or plant biology is a branch of Biology and is the scientific study of plant Life On June 19, 1902, Coomaraswamy married Ethel Mary Partridge, an English photographer, who then traveled with him to Ceylon. Events 1179 - The Norwegian Battle of Kalvskinnet outside Nidaros. Year 1902 ( MCMII) was a Common year starting on Wednesday (link will display calendar of the Gregorian calendar (or a Common year starting A photographer is a person who takes a Photograph using a Camera. Coomaraswamy's field work between 1902 and 1906 earned him a doctor of science for his study of Ceylonese mineralogy, and prompted the formation of the Geological Survey of Ceylon which he initially directed. DSc ScD SD, or DrSc are common abbreviations for the Latin Scientiæ Doctor, meaning Doctor of Science. Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka ( Sinhalese:, இலங்கை known as Ceylon before 1972 is an Island Mineralogy is an Earth Science focused around the Chemistry, Crystal structure, and physical (including optical) properties of Minerals  While in Ceylon, the couple collaborated on Mediaeval Sinhalese Art; Coomaraswamy wrote the text and Ethel provided the photographs. His work in Ceylon fueled Coomaraswamy's anti-Westernization sentiments.  Partridge and Coomaraswamy divorced after a few years and she returned to England, where she later married the writer Philip Mairet and, as Ethel Mariet, became well known as a weaver and advocate of hand craft. The spirit presiding over much of the early activity of Ananda and Ethel was William Morris, the English craftsman and author, who initiated the handcraft revival in the later 19th century as a response to mass-produced industrial manufacture.
He met and married an Englishwoman who performed Indian song under the stage name Ratan Devi. They had two children, a son (Narada) and daughter (Rohini). He moved to the United States in 1917 to serve as the first Keeper of Indian art in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The United States of America —commonly referred to as the The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, is one of the largest museums in the United States attracting over one million visitors a year Narada was killed in a plane crash and an already ailing Ratan died shortly thereafter. 
Coomaraswamy married the American artist Stella Bloch (29 years his junior) in November 1922. Through the 1920s, Coomaraswamy and his wife lived in two worlds. They were comfortable in bohemian and arts circles in New York City--for example, Coomaraswamy befriended Alfred Stieglitz and knew the artists who exhibited at his gallery. At the same time, however, he was studying Sanskrit and Pali; deepening his knowledge of scripture and religious literature both in Indic and Western traditions; and writing learned catalogues for the Museum of Fine Arts. His History of Indian and Indonesian Art (1927) was the last word on its topics.
Although the couple divorced in 1930, they remained friends. Shortly thereafter, on November 18th, 1930, Coomaraswamy married Argentinian Doña Luisa Runstein (28 years his junior) who was working as a society photographer under the professional name Xlata Llamas. For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Argentina topics. They had a son, Coomaraswamy's third child, Rama Ponnambalam, who in later years became an eminent physician and traditionalist Catholic author of great force and learning. Rev Dr Rama Poonambalam Coomaraswamy MD, (1929 - 2006 was a Cardiac surgeon, then a Psychiatrist and later a Traditionalist Catholic Priest After her husband's death, Doña Luisa was famous among students of Indian art and those interested in Coomaraswamy's writings as a generous guide and resource.
In 1933 Coomaraswamy's title at the Museum of Fine Arts changed from curator to Fellow for Research in Indian, Persian, and Mohammedan Art. Year 1933 ( MCMXXXIII) was a Common year starting on Sunday (link will display full calendar of the Gregorian calendar. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, is one of the largest museums in the United States attracting over one million visitors a year Curator (from Latin cura care means manager overseer. A curator or keeper of a cultural heritage institution (e India, officially the Republic of India (भारत गणराज्य inc-Latn Bhārat Gaṇarājya; see also other Indian languages) is a country The Iranian cultural region - consisting of the modern nations of Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Mohammedan (variant forms Muhammadan Mahommedan or Mahometan is a term used as both a Noun and an Adjective meaning belonging or relating to either 
He served as curator in the Museum of Fine Arts until his death (in Needham, Massachusetts in 1947), having been an important and prominent figure in bringing the study of Eastern art to the West. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, is one of the largest museums in the United States attracting over one million visitors a year Needham is a town in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States. Year 1947 ( MCMXLVII) was a Common year starting on Wednesday (link will display full 1947 calendar of the Gregorian calendar. He played an important role in the collection of Persian Art for the Freer in Washington, D.C. and the Museum of Fine Arts as well. The Iranian cultural region - consisting of the modern nations of Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and The Freer Gallery of Art is the Smithsonian Institution 's museum of East Asian art including Art from East Asia ( China, Korea Washington DC ( formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, the District, or simply D The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, is one of the largest museums in the United States attracting over one million visitors a year
Coomaraswamy made important contributions to art, literature, and religious thought over the course of a long working life. As a young man in Sri Lanka, he applied the lessons of William Morris to Sri Lankan culture and produced, with his wife Ethel, a groundbreaking study of Sri Lankan craft and culture. In India, where he was equally at home, he moved in the circle of Rabindranath Tagore and other artists, and contributed as an author to the "Swadeshi" movement, an early phase of the struggle for independence. In the 'teens of the 20th century, he made pioneering discoveries in the history of Indian art (especially the distinction between Rajput and Moghul painting), and his book Rajput Painting was and remains a classic exercise in scholarship and connoisseurship. At the same time he amassed an unmatched collection of Rajput and Moghul painting, which he took with him to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, when he joined its curatorial staff in 1917. Through 1932, from his base in Boston, he produced two kinds of publications: brilliant scholarship in his curatorial field, but also graceful introductions to Indian and Asian art and culture, typified by The Dance of Shiva, a collection of essays that have lost none of their attractiveness and remain in print to this day. From 1932 until his death in 1947, he was yet another man, another mind. Deeply influenced by Rene Guenon, he became (as noted elsewhere in this article) a founder of the Traditionalist school. His books and essays on art and culture, symbolism and metaphysics, scripture, folklore and myth, and still other topics, offer a remarkable education to readers who accept the challenges of his resolutely cross-cultural perspective and insistence on tying every point he makes back to sources in multiple traditions. He once remarked, "I actually think in both Eastern and Christian terms—Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Pali, and to some extent Persian and Chinese. "  Alongside the deep and not infrequently difficult writings of this period, he also delighted in polemical writings created for a larger audience -- essays such as "Why exhibit works of art?" (1943). Coomaraswamy was a heroic scholar.
He was described by Heinrich Zimmer as That noble scholar upon whose shoulders we are still standing. Heinrich Zimmer (1890 - 1943 was an Indologist and historian of South Asian art While serving as a curator to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in the latter part of his life, he devoted his work to the explication of traditional metaphysics and symbolism. His writings of this period are filled with references to Plato, Plotinus, Clement, Philo, Augustine, Aquinas, Shankara, Eckhart, Rhinish and other Asian mystics. Biography Early life Birth and family Plato was born in Athens Greece Plotinus ( Greek:) (ca AD 204–270 was a major philosopher of the ancient world who is widely considered the founder of Neoplatonism (along with his Philo (20 BC - 50 AD) known also as Philo of Alexandria (gr Φίλων ὁ Ἀλεξανδρεύς Philo Judaeus, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria Mysticism (from the Greek grc μυστικός mystikos, an initiate of a Mystery religion) is the pursuit of communion with identity He was responsible for creating the collections of oriental art for the Freer Museum, Washington D. C. , as well as for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. When asked what he was, foremostly Dr. Coomaraswamy referred to himself as a Metaphysician, referring here to the concept of perennial philosophy or Sophia Perennis. Perennial philosophy (Latin philosophia perennis "eternal philosophy" also Philosophia perennis et universalis) is the notion of the universal recurrence
Along with René Guénon and Frithjof Schuon, Coomaraswamy is regarded as one of the three founders of Perennialism, also called the Traditionalist School. René Guénon ( November 15 1886 – January 7 1951) was a French author and intellectual who remains an influential figure in the Frithjof Schuon, ( June 18, 1907 &ndash May 5, 1998) was a German philosopher metaphysician and author of numerous books on religion and spirituality The Traditionalist School of thought also known as Integral Traditionalism (in the sense of Integralism) or Perennialism (in the sense of Perennial The Traditionalist School of thought also known as Integral Traditionalism (in the sense of Integralism) or Perennialism (in the sense of Perennial Several articles by Coomaraswamy on the subject of Hinduism and the Perennial Philosophy were published posthumously in the quarterly journal, Studies in Comparative Religion, alongside articles by Schuon and Guénon (among others). Hinduism is a religious tradition that originated in the Indian subcontinent. The Traditionalist School of thought also known as Integral Traditionalism (in the sense of Integralism) or Perennialism (in the sense of Perennial Studies in Comparative Religion was a Quarterly journal published from 1963 - 1987, containing essays on the Spiritual practices and Religious
Although he agrees with Guénon on the universal principles, his works are very different in form from Guénon's. By vocation, he was a scholar, who dedicated the last decades of his life to searching the Scriptures. He offers a perspective on the tradition which complements well that of Guénon. He had a very highly active aesthetic perceptiveness and he wrote dozens of articles on traditional arts and mythology. His works are also intellectually more balanced. Although born in the Hindu tradition, he had however a deep knowledge of the Western tradition and had also a great expertise and love for Greek metaphysics, especially that of Plotinus, the founder of Neoplatonism. A Hindu ( Devanagari: हिन्दू is an adherent of the philosophies and scriptures of Hinduism, a set of religious, Philosophical The term Western world, the West or the Occident ( Latin: occidens -sunset -west as distinct from the Orient) can have multiple meanings
He built a bridge between East and West that was designed to carry a two-way traffic: his metaphysical writings aimed, among other things, at demonstrating the unity of the Vedanta and Platonism. His works also rehabilitated original Buddhism, a tradition that Guénon has for a long time limited to a rebellion of the Kshatriyas against Brahmin authority. Kshatriya (क्षत्रिय kṣatriya from क्षत्र kṣatra) is one of the four varnas (social orders in Hinduism Brahmin ( Brāhmaṇa, sa ब्राह्मणः is the class of educators scholars and preachers in Brahminical Hinduism.
See also his work of technical art history "The Technique and Theory of Indian Painting" in Technical Studies in the Field of the Fine Arts vol. 3:1 (1934-5): 58–89, which includes extracts from Indian artists' technical recipe texts.
His two works
still stand today as a remarkable achievement in the scholarly and metaphysical explanation of earliest Buddhist symbolism and its roots in Vedic and Upanishadic thought. Metaphysics is the branch of Philosophy investigating principles of reality transcending those of any particular science Buddhism is a family of beliefs and practices "Veda" redirects here For other uses see Veda (disambiguation. The Upanishads ( Devanagari: उपनिषद् IAST: upaniṣad also spelled "Upanisad" are Hindu scriptures that constitute the core teachings
A representative anthology of his work is to be found in the Princeton University Press Bollingen series (1977) collected by Roger Lipsey:
Some of the very last unpublished works of Coomaraswamy, mostly on Greek philosophy, were only released in 2004 by Fons Vitae, called