A Search in Secret India Book Reviews


“Among India's Mystics”
“His book tells...the story of his search all over India and of his experiences and adventures among many who professed to be more than they were and among a very few who professed nothing but gave him much. He found many marvelous things, many that looked strange and impossible, many that were evident trickery. But now and then a man of real spirituality set his feet on the way that finally led him to what he had looked and hoped for. In the Maharshi—the Great Sage—who lives in hermetic seclusion in a lowly dwelling at the foot of the Hill of the Holy Beacon and who formerly spent six years in a cave on the mountainside, Mr. Brunton found that which he had been seeking, the holiest of holy men.”—New York Times Book Review, Sept. 30, 1934

“His work is excellent. It has life, color, movement; [Westerners]...will find their interest unflagging from the first page to the last.”— The Times Literary Supplement [London]

“Only a mastery of the journalist's art could have elicited so much information from the reserved and sometimes taciturn men encountered on his journey. But it was not readiness of wit nor long practice in journalism which brought Paul Brunton into the presence of some of India's greatest sages, but an insistent desire for enlightenment, something in himself—Destiny? On a holy hill in South India he found the Master he sought, and an overwhelming experience came to him there. India had restored his faith.
   “This is not everybody's book, but no one can read it without having his eyes opened wide to "facts" which the West ignores and derides. Some will cherish the book as a precious possession, for its moving testimony to a Truth they have already discerned—and is not India's alone.”—The Inquirer [London] Dec. 1, 1934

“Strong support to the belief in the existence of Masters of the Ancient Wisdom in the East will be found by readers of A Search in Secret India, which contains a practical account by a trained journalist of a year's pilgrimage through India in search of these legendary men, and which went to a second printing within a few days of publication. Some sidelights on his personal history may be gained from an interview which he kindly gave to Light.
   “I have been clairvoyant and clairaudient from boyhood. I was convinced of the reality of the unseen world before my spiritual development began. The possession of psychic faculties does not make one spiritual. that is an entirely different development. While undergoing it my psychic faculties waned. I was always fascinated by the East, and it was my life's desire to ascertain by personal investigation what was the truth behind the wisdom-traditions of India.
   “I did not set about my journey in a haphazard fashion. I knew that, merely as a journalist, I had but small hope for success. I prepared myself for this quest by years of study. I had a thorough knowledge of Spiritualism, Theosophy, and Mysticism. Perhaps this is why I have been more fortunate than I would have been otherwise. I found spiritual giants and at least one great Master, the Maharshi of a jungle hermitage. I could get along quite well with English and the occasional help of an interpreter. When I had no one to interpret, I discovered, to my surprise, that I could understand by some process of telepathy. I have spent weeks and months in the company of these holy men and found immense spiritual strength in such associations.”—Light [London] July 13, 1934

“For a person with the intellectual equipment and spiritual sensitiveness of Mr. Brunton, it is no wonder that the Sage of Tiruvannamalai made the strongest appeal. We have great pleasure in unhesitatingly recommending this brilliant record of Mr. Brunton's travels to be read by all lovers of India. As a piece of literature giving graphic pictures of Indian life, this book has few compeers.”—Vedanta Kesari [Madras] Sept. 1934

“One is...impressed by Mr. Brunton's pains to seek out truth an the obvious honesty of his record.”—Sunday Times [London]

“The book is a masterpiece of spiritual experience. Paul Brunton depicts in his inimitable poetic style the subtleties of the inner mystery of life. All through this most inspiring boo runs the mystic glow of a deep spiritual realization. A non-believer in the existence of an Eternal Spirit as the basis of the world manifestation who is at once its creator and controller, on an attentive perusal of this great work, cannot but be shaken in his agnostic creed and feel the urge to probe into the secret fountain of his life and verify the realistic and soul-thrilling experiences of Paul Brunton. He has certainly attained a rebirth in the Divine consciousness and life. Verily the book is a poem ringing with the music of the Spirit. It is splendid beyond evaluation.”—The Vision [South-West India] reviews a selection from A Search in Secret India titled The Maharishi and His Message

“Mr. Brunton, in his search for secret or sacred India, was not satisfied with any spurious spirituality; and he found what he was looking for just when he had almost given up his search in despair. In the person of Maharshi—the Great Sage—he found the person who could calm his trouble mind.”— The Daily Post and Mercury [Liverpool] July 25, 1934

“This fascinating book will be read, and deservedly so, by a large English public. Secret India is in reality that of yogis and fakirs of whom the Western world knows so little.”—The Asiatic Review

“His faithful record is worthy of close study by those who see the via mystica as a spiritual road to heaven, steeper and speedier than any revealed by reasoning.”—The Morning Post [London]

“Ramana Maharshi is one of the greatest, if not the greatest of living sages. Mr. Paul Brunton has given us delightful and inspiring pictures of the life of this great man.”—Hindu Madras, June 21, 1936

“He penetrated to the remotest haunts of the yogis and apparently discovered many of their secrets. The accounts of the many things he witnessed are thrilling....To those who wish to obtain an insight into the mysteries of the yogis and their occult powers and psychological phenomena, this book can be thoroughly recommended.”—Times of Ceylon, Sept. 2, 1934

“By his book, A Search in Secret India, Mr. Paul Brunton established for himself a great reputation. That book took a section of the public in England by storm, and four printings of it were sold out in less than two months. The Indian Press hailed the publication with fervid applause as an intelligent endeavor by a receptive yet critical western mind to understand the sublime self-introversion of Indian sages.”— United India and Indian States [Delhi] April, 1935

“He came across, in his wanderings from Southern India to Northern India and back to the South, many types of yoga practitioners. He has something to tell us of them all in his very readable book, illustrated, with foreword by Sir Francis Younghusband.”—The Saturday Review [London] July 14, 1934

“Among the Yogis: India's Secret Places”
"In his search throughout India for the greatest exponents of truth, Mr. Paul Brunton went through the whole gamut of adventures and experiences. He set out, he declares, as a journalist in pursuit of genuine 'masters,' but it is clear that something deeper and more significant than mere curiosity drove him now east and west, now north and south to gain first-hand contact with those holy men who, forsaking the world and its subtle tentacles, seem to live continuously in the rarefied atmosphere of spiritual understanding.
   “The journey was an interesting one, not least because after months of seeking he found one Maharshi who was able to quell the urgent restlessness which drove Mr. Brunton forward to find peace. Before the eventful meeting took place however, the author saw a great deal of an India which is passed unnoticed by the average Westerner. In some inexplicable fashion—an also to his journalistic flair for following the faintest trail--a good handful of fakirs and fakers were revealed to the searcher.
   “Of the former were Yoga devotees who sought to dispel the mists of maya by--to our Western eyes--the weirdest postures and most exacting breathing exercises. There was, for example, the old fellow who brought a dead sparrow to life, and who gave other evidences of his remarkable occult powers. But these miracle-workers were not the type that Mr. Brunton sought. He sought men of deeper wisdom.
   “...one cannot help being impressed by the adventures of the journey; the author—at once so sceptical yet so earnest—relates, with what seems perfect fairness, everything of moment that befell him, and one might do very much worse than read his interesting book for an aspect of of India which is too little known in the West.
   “Mr. Brunton's style...is pleasantly readable whilst the illustrations in his book are unusually good."—The Queen [London], Aug. 8, 1934

“India's Men of Mystery: Amazing Feats of the Holy Masters”
“Mr. Paul Brunton has a strange and intensely interesting tale to tell in his A Search in Secret India.
   Many of the tricks of the lower Indian fakirs are familiar even to Western people, but Mr. Brunton in his tour of sacred India sought for something deeper, and his book is an amazing story of the astonishing practices and feats of the true Yogis and Fakirs—holy men who jealously guard their secrets in secluded hermitages and jungle retreats.
   “Forcing his way through the spurious, Mr. Brunton had audience with some of the most remarkable holy men in the land and the account of these interviews is more astounding than the most imaginative writings of fiction. Much of what our author writes is of an India "which has been hidden from prying eyes for thousands of years, which has kept itself so exclusive that to-day only its rapidly disappearing remnants are left.
   “....It is a serious study of a fascinating subject and is written with a simple erudition by a writer who has sought with sincerity to understand something of the mind of the Indian people, and who as a result has produced a book that is as valuable to the student as it is entertaining to the general reader.”—Cambridge Daily News, July 25, 1934

“A sensational new book was published yesterday in London which is likely to create a wide interest in India. It has been written by an English journalist, Mr. Paul Brunton, who has spent much time wandering through the heart of India specially investigating the lives, powers and teachings of various kinds of Yogis and Fakirs.”—The Bombay Chronicle, June 30, 1934

“One of Paul Brunton's most significant contacts is that which he made with Shri Shankara, the spiritual head of South India. It was he who extracted from the author a pledge that he would not leave India before paying a visit to a yogi known as 'the Maharshi.' The interview with Shri Shankara, by the way, was the first to be granted by His Holiness to any European writer.”—The London Forum

“It is not surprising that a second printing of A Search in Secret India was called for three days after publication. It is a remarkable book about a remarkable subject—Yoga....well written and fascinating.”—Sheffield Telegraph

“It is not often that our very limited space allows of any book-reviewing, but a recent work by Paul Brunton entitled A Search in Secret India is so fine an achievement that it is difficult to resist making at least a brief mention of it.”—The Christian [Theosophist] Spring 1935

“Fascinating reading, both from a historical point of view, but also because of the spiritual insights it contains.”—Books Magazine

“Translated into many languages, A Search in Secret India, one of the most enlightening books on that land ever published, is enjoying a very gratifying popularity. Mr. Brunton, who is the possessor of a delightful sense of humor as well as a clear, logical and graphic literary style, is not one to be hoodwinked when it comes to distinguishing a saint from a charlatan.”—Inner Culture [Los Angeles]

“Armed with a naturally sceptical mind, yet possessing a nature spiritually sensitive, Mr. Brunton at last succeeded in finding his way to 'the very embodiment of all that India holds most sacred,' to quote the words of Sir Francis Younghusband, whose appreciative foreword to the volume is a recommendation which cannot lightly be dismissed.”—The Booklover [London]

“Mr. Brunton's book—illustrated with many good photographs—may be recommended to all readers who want to know what the 'holy men' of India are really like No other Western visitor has searched for them with such patient determination and written of them with such sympathetic impartiality.”— Yorkshire Post

“The growing desire of humanity to know more about itself...is manifest in the demand for these two books [A Search in Secret India & The Secret Path] written by Paul Brunton....An absorbing book, the mere reading of which carries you away into unrealized regions of peace and contentment.”—The Nottingham Journal

“Those to whom such a search appeals should read this very clear-seeing, critical and yet beautiful book....The eyes of many who imagine that they know India will be opened by the reading of Mr. Brunton's experiences.”—The Near East and India

“Mr. Brunton has written an exceedingly interesting book about India; his prose has the flow and the freshness of clear water.”—The Short Story [Madras]

A Search in Secret India is a commendable record of Mr. Paul Brunton's study of Hinduism as it prevails today among the Holy Men of India....His holy pilgrimage is in the end amply rewarded. If India has a message to the world, it is this which Mr. Paul Brunton has sought and found. We warmly recommend this book to all the seekers after Divine Heritage.”—Prabuddha Bharata [Calcutta]

“The book is fascinating....there is a freshness of style and a feeling for the genuine spiritual life of India which makes it very attractive.”— The Christian Century [Chicago]

“Mr. Brunton...possesses a scientific spirit combined with a keen spiritual sensitivity. It is a worthy contribution to the study of religious psychology.”—The Christian-Evangelist [St. Louis]

“How earnestly this search was pursued and with what an open mind was studied the various creeds is evident as one follows the wanderer from place to place sharing with him all sorts of discomforts.”—The Providence Sunday Journal [Rhode Island]

Amazon reader reviews for A Search in Secret India:

“This is one of the most astonishing true spiritual search books ever written. Brunton encounters a variety of masters and wonder-workers, and finds, in 'The Great Sage' the answer to his quest. This book is a genuine classic.”

“This is an amazing book on the experience of a western journalist who traveled in India in search of a spiritual yogi and the yoga. I would recommend this book to any westerner, who would want to explore India from a spiritual point of view. This may also be read by the modern Indian, who may not have the opportunity to experience what the author has.”