Sir Edwin Arnold (1832-1904) was a British poet, journalist and educator. He was sent to India in 1856 where he served as a school principal for seven years. While there, he was exposed to Buddhism, heretofore virtually unknown in the West. After returning to England, where he worked as a journalist, he published The Light of Asia in 1879. It was the first major exposure of Buddhism to the Western World. The book was a great success and has been translated into 30 languages, including Hindi.
The book takes the form of a poem and follows the life of Indian Prince Gautama Buddha, his renunciation of his formerly privileged life, and his pathway to Enlightenment. Mahatma Gandhi, then a law student in London, was given a copy of the book by his friend, the author. After reading the book, Gandhi, felt compelled to learn more about his own religion, Hinduism. Interestingly, Edwin Arnold, a vegetarian, was the Vice President of the West London Food Reform Society (and Gandhi was Secretary).
These handsome bookends were made by Bradley & Hubbard in the 1920's or 1930's. They feature quotes from Arnold's book. Click on the photo above to learn more about them.
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