A Search in Secret India

Book Review: A Search in Secret India
Author: Paul Brunton
Publisher: Srishti Publishers & Distributors
To get a chance to read this book is in itself a blessing. Paul Brunton’s account of his travels in India in the first half of the twentieth century is a must read for anybody. It is miles apart from most books about westerners’ experiences in India that abound today. This is the book that introduced Sri Ramana Maharshi to much of the western world.
But to say that this book will interest only spiritual seekers from the west is a grave injustice. In a mere 300 odd pages, Brunton has offered a vivid snapshot of the deeper India and has shown clearly what lies behind what the common man sees in  her. His skeptical approach combined with a genuine urge to find the truth will appeal to questioners and believers alike.

“Spiritual sensitivity and scientific skepticism usually range in sharp conflict and flagrant opposition,” says the author in his introduction. Yet, he has balanced these elements in perfect harmony. Each episode in this book tells a fascinating story – some that of magicians and some of genuine future tellers, and many of saints who dwell in perfect peace emanating the bliss that captures and quiets the busiest of minds.

This book was first published in 1934, and it is sad that the ‘secret India’ Brunton unearthed has actually gone deeper into the woods since then. Materialism is at an all time high now and the real yogis and sadhus seem to come out in fewer numbers. Still, this book shows that the true seeker’s quest is never in vain, even though the answer may not be obvious at first.

It is hard to put this book down, as page after page each of Brunton’s adventures seems to be more interesting than the previous one. And it is only apt that finally his faith is restored “in the only way a skeptic could have it; not by argument, but by witness of an overwhelming experience”.

– Sriram Ramanujam

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