32 Facts About Ananda Coomaraswamy


Ananda Kentish Muthu Coomaraswamy was a Ceylonese metaphysician, historian and a philosopher of Indian art who was an early interpreter of Indian culture to the West.

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Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy was born in Colombo, British Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, to the Ceylon Tamil legislator and philosopher Sir Muthu Coomaraswamy of the Ponnambalam–Coomaraswamy family and his English wife Elizabeth Beeby.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy's father died when Ananda was two years old, and Ananda spent much of his childhood and education abroad.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy moved to England in 1879 and attended Wycliffe College, a preparatory school in Stroud, Gloucestershire, at the age of twelve.

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On 19 June 1902, Ananda Coomaraswamy married Ethel Mary Partridge, an English photographer, who then traveled with him to Ceylon.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy knew he could not rely on museum curators or other members of the cultural establishment – in 1908 he wrote "The main difficulty so far seems to have been that Indian art has been studied so far only by archaeologists.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy then met and married a British woman Alice Ethel Richardson and together they went to India and stayed on a houseboat in Srinagar in Kashmir.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy divorced his second wife after they arrived in America.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy married the American artist Stella Bloch, 20 years his junior, in November 1922.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy wrote catalogues for the Museum of Fine Arts and published his History of Indian and Indonesian Art in 1927.

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Shortly thereafter, on 18 November 1930, Ananda Coomaraswamy married Argentine Luisa Runstein, 28 years younger, who was working as a society photographer under the professional name Xlata Llamas.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy was ordained a Traditionalist Roman Catholic priest, despite the fact that he was married and had a living wife.

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Rama Ananda Coomaraswamy studied in England and then in India, learning Hindi and Sanskrit.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy served as curator in the Museum of Fine Arts until his death in Needham, Massachusetts, in 1947.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy helped with the collections of Persian Art at the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D C, and the Museum of Fine Arts.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy made important contributions to the philosophy of art, literature, and religion.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy once remarked, "I actually think in both Eastern and Christian terms—Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, Pali, and to some extent Persian and Chinese.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy expressed some of his feelings in a letter to Graham Carey:.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy was well aware of historical change but he felt that the connecting elements had been lost by the extreme emphasis placed on change and “progress”.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy pointed out that the Greek word daimon, which at root indicates something given, was synonymous with the Christian Holy Spirit, God's gift of life.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy was a strong advocate for Indian independence and was pressured to leave England for publicly suggesting that Indians not fight in the First World War.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy didn't believe that science and metaphysics were in opposition but were two different ways of looking at the world.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy was trained as a geologist and was well equipped to deal with science as well as metaphysics.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy was critical of the writings of Carl Jung and of Theosophy which he believed distorted the meaning of traditional ideas.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy felt that traditional symbolism could best be understood by means of images, which preceded writing and which contained ideas that had been handed down from the earliest times and preserved in a vast array of media.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy was fond of quoting the curator, John Lodge: “From the Stone Age until now, quelle degringolade.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy spent a lot of his time documenting themes and images that appeared to be very old, given their widespread distribution.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy found these symbols in many cultures and time periods, both in religious writings and in folklore.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy maintained that traditional technologies were applications of metaphysical ideas, just as modern technology is an expression of scientific principles.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy offers a perspective on the tradition that complements Guenon's.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy was extremely perceptive regarding aesthetics and wrote dozens of articles on traditional arts and mythology.

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Ananda Coomaraswamy built a bridge between East and West that was designed to be two-way: among other things, his metaphysical writings aimed at demonstrating the unity of the Vedanta and Platonism.

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