Presented by Kusumita Priscilla Pedersen
at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting
of the American Academy of Religion,
Panel on Religion and Literature
March 1985.


The “Hindu renaissance” of nineteenth and twentieth­ century Bengal has given rise to a number of notable literary figures writing in both Bengali and English. Among these are the novelist and essayist Bankim Chandra Chatterji (1838-1894), Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), Nobel Laureate in 1913, and the yogin, theologian and poet Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950). Religious themes are prominent in much of their work. Bankim's novel Anandamath fanned the flames of Hindu nationalism. 

Rabindranath’s poem-cycle Gitanjali is pervaded by the ethos and imagery of earlier Bengali poetry in the tradition of Krishna bhakti or devotion. Sri Aurobindo’s epic Savitri, based on a story from the Mahabharata, is his spiritual auto-biography. This essay interprets the English poetry of Sri Chinmoy (1931- ) as a vehicle of religious statement emerging from the Bengal tradition of Neo-Vedanta, with special concern for his use of narrative as a mode of poetic expression which plays a special role in making that statement. View PDF...