Introduction to the Bibliography of Professor Agehananda Bharati's Works
Bharati, or Swami, as he was known, was a dominating figure in South Asian
Studies in the U.S., Europe, and India. Swami was born Leopold Fisher in
Austria on April 20, 1923. Leopold’s interest in South Asia began when he was a
young boy in Vienna learning classical Sanskrit and Hindi. He graduated from
the Akademisches Gymnasium, Vienna, in 1941 and the Oriental Institute and
Ethological Institute of the University of Vienna in 1948. He received the name
Agehananda Bharati in 1951 when he was ordained in the Dasanami Sanyasi order
of Hindu monks. He earned his Acharya, the equivalent of a PhD, from Sanyasa
Mahavidyalaya in Varanasi, India, that same year.
Professor Bharati became a noted
scholar of Indian culture, teaching linguistics, comparative philosophy,
anthropology, and South Asian studies at universities and institutions in
India, Japan, Thailand, and the United States. In the 1950s, he was a lecturer
in German at Delhi University, a reader in philosophy at Banaras Hindu
University in India, a guest professor of comparative religion at the Nalanda
Institute of Post-graduate Buddhist Academy in Bangkok, Thailand, Asia
Foundation Visiting Professor at the universities of Tokyo and Kyoto in Japan,
and research associate for the Far Eastern Institute at the University of
Washington in Seattle. He recounts this journey in his acclaimed autobiorgraphy,
The Ochre Robe (Ross Erikson, 2nd
Bharati joined the Maxwell faculty in 1961 as an assistant professor of
linguistics and anthropology and was Syracuse University’s first Hindi
instructor at a time when Maxwell was building its connections with India. He
was promoted to associate professor in 1964 and to full professor in 1968. He
chaired the anthropology department from 1971 to 1977 and was acting chair
during the spring semester of 1985. In 1991, he was named the Ford/Maxwell
Professor of South Asian Studies and also was presented with the Chancellor's
Citation for Exceptional Academic Achievement. He passed away from brain cancer
in the spring of 1991.
taught in an anthropology department, his primary work focused on Indian
religion, especially Tantric studies. He was an outstanding Sanskritist who
spoke 15 classical and modern European and Indian vernacular languages—skills
that he relished showing off. He is perhaps best known for his books The Tantric
Tradition (The Hutchinson University Publishers, 1966), his
autobiography, and a book on mysticism, The Light
at the Center (Ross Erikson, 1976). Professor Bharati also wrote hundreds
of articles for publications distributed worldwide, was an editor for several
international publications, and presented numerous lectures and papers at
national and international professional conventions.
In the 1980s,
Swami served as the priest for the growing Hindu community in the Syracuse area,
performing many life cycle rituals. He was also the Hindu chaplain for the
university and he took great glee in telling about meetings with the chaplains.
Swami was a large man, probably 6’4” and until the early 1980s a large 300 lbs.
The Evangelical Christian chaplain was a small man from Kerala. When they were
introduced at public events, newcomers were more than startled when the large
white European was introduced as the Hindu chaplain and the small Indian as the
death in 1991, his vast collection of writings was donated to the Syracuse
University Special Collections in Bird Library. The objective of these web pages, supported by the Friends of Agehananda Bharati, aims to make his many writings more accessible. When available
via the online databases, there are hyperlinks to access those sources. When the material is available only at Syracuse University Libraries' Special Collections, patrons are urged to
contact them directly. Special Collections has more information on their website. In addition, we include information regarding tape recordings of lectures on Indian
religions given at Cornell University in the summer of 1986 and video recordings of lectures at Syracuse University in 1987. Access to the audio and files of these lectures are available on request from the South Asia Center. Professor Bharati also served as research consultant on a film about the Ganges released by Berg in the early 1980s. Finally, Chris Helton wrote a dissertation focused on Swami, titled "Agehananda Bharati and the Search for Orthodox Humanism," which was completed in 2018 at the Univerzita
Komenského v Bratislave, Slovakia. Please email Dr. Helton if you would like a copy of this dissertation.
In addition to supporting the creation of this web resource, the Friends of Agehananda Bharati have supported graduate research at Maxwell for over 25 years through fellowships to undertake field research in South Asian Studies. More information on the Bharati Memorial Grant can be found here.