How The Search For Enlightenment Went West

Dominic Green at Literary Review:

Not so long ago, India’s greatest export to the West, people aside, was spirituality. Mick Brown’s The Nirvana Express is an engaging history of India’s spiritual influence on the West between 1893, when Swami Vivekananda was the surprise star at the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago, and 1990, when the multimillionaire cult leader and tax dodger Bhagwan Rajneesh popped his sandals. The economic reforms that began the transformation of India’s economy started a year after Rajneesh’s death. The subsequent changes make the history described in Nirvana Express feel almost ancient.

I should mention that my most recent book, The Religious Revolution, feels even more ancient, because it is the Victorian prequel to The Nirvana Express. Brown has written the kind of book that I would write, should my publisher ever speak to me again. Brown, whose previous books include The Spiritual Tourist: A Personal Odyssey Through the Outer Reaches of Belief, has synthesised a small Himalaya of material into a clear and well-told narrative. His subject is not so much India as the uses and abuses of subcontinental religions in the West in the 20th century.

more here.