Recommended Books (M to S)

A collection of books of spiritual interest for the modern traveller. Contact Us, if you have any other recommendations for books that should also be added to this list!

Recommended Books:

Mahabharata: William Buck

Few works in world literature have inspired so vast an audience in nations with radically different languages and cultures as the Mahabharata. Written some 2,000 years ago and probably the longest Indian epic ever composed, it is a story of dynastic struggle that culminates in a fatal clash between two branches of a single ruling family. It is a moral and philosophical tale as well as a historical one. In his introduction, Sanskritist B. A. van Nooten notes that apart from William Buck’s rendition no other English version has been able to capture the blend of religion and martial spirit that pervades the original epic. William Buck (1933-1970) was a Sanskritist, devoting his life’s work to modern retellings of the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and the unfinished Harivamsa.

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Man of Miracles: Howard Murphet

This is probably the best introduction to Sathya Sai Baba and his teachings. Murphet and his wife travelled to India to visit the international headquarters of the Theosophical Society in Adyar, Madras and also wanted to discover if there was any deeper spiritual dimension in the life of modern India. They heard about Sai Baba from a wandering yogi and they eventually met him in 1966.

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Meditation and Spiritual Life: Swami Yatiswarananda

Swami Yatiswarananda was famed for his meditative life and spiritual attainment. His book, Meditation and Spiritual Life, is a compilation of his class talks to earnest spiritual aspirants in Europe, the USA and India, and is considered one of the finest compendiums on spiritual life. It is perhaps the best manual of spiritual life with special emphasis on meditation. The book includes practical hints and secrets of meditation and covers all aspects of spiritual life, including a chapter on the reactions to spiritual practice. An uncompromising approach. Readers should keep in mind that this book, as with all spiritual books, contains teachings given to certain people at a certain time in a certain place.

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Meetings with Yogi Ramsuratkumar: Will Zulkowsky

A biography by American Will Zulkowsky who with his wife Joan, lived for some time with Yogi Ramsuratkumar during the 1970’s.

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New Lives: Malcolm Tillis

The book takes you on a profound pilgrimage of spiritual discovery, wandering the length and breadth of India in search of Westerners who have forsaken their old lives in the West for totally new, dramatically for them, more meaningful ones in the East. The 54 Interviews in the book were recorded in India. Among the people interviewed are Vijayananda, Anil Tenzin Palmo (Diana Perry), Swami Jnanananda, Bill Aitken, Atmananda, Lucia Osborne and Father Bede Griffith.

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Pistis Sophia

The original text of the Pistis Sophia, written in Greek, has been lost; the earliest version we have is an ancient translation into Coptic. The codex containing it was brought to England around 1772 and was later sold to the British Museum. The most recent translation was made in 1978. The text is divided into three major parts. In the first, Jesus is with his disciples for eleven symbolic years (perhaps eleven months) after his return from the dead, at the Mount of Olives, he starts to instruct his disciples about his experiences and other occult matters. The other two components of the text are the narrative of the story of Pistis Sophia and additional instructions to the disciples. Pistis Sophia is a profound revelation of the pilgrimage of the soul, revealing the higher mysteries of the complex cosmologies and knowledge necessary for the soul to reach the highest divine realms. Sophia was regarded by the early Coptic’s as a female presence who undergoes the experience of transgression and redemption in her path to full participation in the many universes, in conjunction with the Christ. Pistis Sophia reveals the true relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Like the Gospel of Thomas and other recently discovered documents of the Nag Hammadi Library, the Pistis Sophia is devoted entirely to the esoteric teachings of Jesus to his disciples.

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On the Road to Freedom Part 1. A pilgrimage in India: Swami Paramatmananda

The Autobiography of Swami Paramatmananda Puri. This story narrates the archetypal quest for spiritual realisation, the trials of personal transformation, and meetings with some of India’s greatest contemporary masters. It is a rare and revealing account of a young Westerner’s heartfelt, 30-year spiritual journey in modern India.

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On the Road to Freedom Part 2. A pilgrimage in India: Swami Paramatmananda

The Autobiography of Swami Paramatmananda Puri. This story narrates the archetypal quest for spiritual realisation, the trials of personal transformation, and meetings with some of India’s greatest contemporary masters. It is a rare and revealing account of a young Westerner’s heartfelt, 30-year spiritual journey in modern India.

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Ramayana: William Buck

Few works in world literature have inspired so vast an audience, in nations with radically different languages and cultures, as the Ramayana, written some 2,000 years ago by a poet known to us as Valmiki. William Buck has retold the story of Prince Rama – with all its nobility of spirit, courtly intrigue, heroic renunciation, fierce battles, and triumph of good over evil – in a length and style that makes the great Indian epic accessible without compromising the spirit and lyricism of the original. Stunningly illustrated with majestic imagery throughout, the 35th anniversary edition from University of California Press is a true collector’s item. William Buck (1933-1970) was a Sanskritist, devoting his life’s work to modern retellings of the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and the unfinished Harivamsa.

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Sai Baba and Nara Narayan Gufa Ashram: Swami Maheshwaranand

The story of finding the ancient Narayana Gufa Ashram cave, in which the writer Vyasa composed the Mahabharata and the Panchama Veda. Sri Sathya Sai Baba sent eleven sannyasis to the cave at 18,000 ft elevation on the slopes of Narayana Parvat in the Himalayas near Badrinath. There they lived in temperatures below normal human endurance and were feed daily from a golden bowl materialised by Sathya Sai Baba, known in Hindu mythology as Akshaya Patra, an inexhaustible vessel which holds a never-failing supply of food and drink. Swami Rama is said to have also been in possession of a Akshaya Patra. The Pandavas during their exile obtained their food from the Akshaya Patra, the divine vessel bestowed on Yudhisthira by Lord Surya to ensure that they never go hungry during their exile (the only stipulation being that the vessel would become exhausted each day after Draupadi finished her meal).

This English translation published in Febuary 1990 is based on the Hindi text of Swami Maheshwaranand, who resided in Puttaparthi. He is the only person whose name is published in connection with the entire story.

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Saints In Rome & Beyond: Rev. Daniel Thelen

A Guide for finding the First Class Relics of the Saints. By focusing primarily upon the saints of the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar it is hoped that the pilgrim may in a unique way participate in the Divine Liturgy by visiting the shrines of the saints on their feast days.

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Sathyam Sivam Sundaram Vols 1 – 4: Professor N Kasturi

The life story of Sri Sathya Sai Baba as written by his chosen biographer, Professor N. Kasturi.

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Search for the Guru. Prequel to Adventures of a Western Mystic: Peter Mt Shasta (Search for the Guru: Adventures of a Western Mystic, Book I)

In the tradition of Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, this is the first half of Peter Mt. Shasta’s adventures on the quest for a spiritual teacher and, ultimately, enlightenment.

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Seeking the Master: Muz Murray

This book was the first ever guide to the ashrams of India.

First published in 1980. It became renowned as the “Bible of India-bound spiritual seekers.” The Gurus and their teachings explored in this work have long left this worldly plane, but the ashrams are still there with new teachers and the directions of how to find them are invaluable. It contains information on over 300 ashrams and monasteries, their daily programmes and teachings, with the impressions of Western seekers of both the Masters and the ashrams of the time, plus a wealth of geographical and travel information, tips on keeping healthy in India and much more. It’s worth taking a look.

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Mr. and Mrs. Murray-Gardenchild with their daughter Saffron, Photo: The Mountain Path July 1973.

Spiritual India Handbook: Stephen Knapp

A Guide to Temples, Holy Sites, Festivals and Traditions

Spiritual India is for anyone who wants to know of the many holy sites that you can visit while travelling within India, how to reach them, and what is the history and significance of these most spiritual of sacred sites, temples and festivals. It also provides a deeper understanding of the mysteries and spiritual traditions of India.

Spiritual Nutrition: Gabriel Cousens M.D.

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When we eat, can we feed the soul as well as the body? Can a diet have an impact on spirituality? Spiritual Nutrition empowers readers to develop personal diets that are appropriate to their lifestyles and spiritual practices. Drawing on 14 years of clinical experience and research, Dr Gabriel Cousens discusses nutritional issues that can help answer these questions, including raw vs. cooked food; high vs. low protein; the concepts of assimilation and fasting; alkaline-acid balance; attitudes about food; nutrients, energy, and structure building. In addition, Cousens shares his new dietary system of “spiritual nutrition” that is based on the relationship that the colour of the food has to corresponding colours of the human chakra system, hence, the “rainbow diet.” For true nourishment, he strongly promotes the connection of diet to meditation, fellowship, wisdom, and love.

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Swami Abhedananda’s Journey into Kashmir and Tibet: Ramakrishna Vedanta Math

This is Swami Abhedananda’s chronicle of his search for the truth of Jesus’ sixteen years in India. In 1922, he made a long and strenuous journey across a difficult terrain from the plains of India, Kashmir and on to Tibet where he discovered material that sheds new light on the life of Jesus. He describes a land that had been hidden from Westerners for decades. Includes extracts from The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ by Nicolas Notovitch.

The writings and speeches of Swami Abhedananda, a direct disciple of Ramakrishna, were spread over a long period of spiritual ministration both in America and in India.

After his Master’s death in 1886, he plunged into intense sadhana (meditation), by shutting himself up in a room at the Baranagar matha, this gave him the name of “Kali Tapaswi” amongst his fellow disciples. After the death of Ramakrishna, he formally became a Sanyasi along with Vivekananda and others, and came to be known as Swami Abhedananda.

For the next ten years, of his life as a monk he travelled extensively throughout India, depending entirely on alms. During this time he met several famous sages like Pavhari Baba, Trailanga Swami and Swami Bhaskaranand. He went to the sources of the Ganges and the Yamuna, and meditated in the Himalayas. He was a forceful orator, prolific writer, yogi and intellectual with devotional fervour.

In 1896, Vivekananda was in London, when he asked Abhedananda to join him, and propagate the message of Vedanta in the West, which he did with great success. He went to USA in 1897, when Vivekananda asked him to take charge of the Vedanta Society in New York, here he preached messages of Vedanta and teachings of his Guru for about 25 years, travelling far and wide to United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong. Finally, he returned to India in 1921, after attending the Pan-Pacific Education Conference at Honolulu.

In 1922, he crossed the Himalayas on foot and reached Tibet, where he studied Buddhist philosophy and Lamaism. In the Hemis Monastery, he claimed to have discovered a manuscript on the lost years of Jesus, which has been incorporated in the book Swami Abhedananda’s Journey into Kashmir and Tibet published by the Ramakrishna Vedanta Math.

He died on the 8th of September 1939 at Ramakrishna Vedanta Math. At the time of his death he was the last surviving direct disciple of Ramakrishna.

The Complete Works of Swami Abhedananda is an eleven volume set that includes a huge amount of material on many spiritual subjects including karma, reincarnation, spiritualism, and of course, the yogas.

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