Heinrich Zimmer

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Heinrich Zimmer

Heinrich Zimmer (6 December 1890 – 20 March 1943) was an Indologist and historian of South Asian art.


  • We of the Occident are about to arrive at a crossroads that was reached by the thinkers of India some seven hundred years before Christ. This is the real reason, why we become both vexed and stimulated, uneasy and yet interested, when confronted with the concepts and images of Oriental wisdom.
    • Quoted from Gewali, Salil (2013). Great Minds on India. New Delhi: Penguin Random House.
  • The whole edifice of Indian civilization is imbued with spiritual meaning.
    • source: Philosophies of India, Heinrich Zimmer. Quoted from Gewali, Salil (2013). Great Minds on India. New Delhi: Penguin Random House.
  • Finally, however, under the onslaught of Islam, from the eighth century to the tenth, both Buddhist and Manichaean as well as the Nestorian Christian culture and monuments of the region were destroyed.... In the north very little survives of the ancient edifices that were there prior to the Muslim conquest: only a few mutilated religious sites remain. It is clear from Indian literature that both temples and images must have existed in the second century BC and perhaps earlier. Very little architectural evidence remains, however, antedating the epoch of the Gupta dynasty (C. AD 320-650), for it was precisely in the Ganges Valley, the central and chief area of the Gupta empire, that the Muslim empire flourished a millennium later and most of the monuments above ground were destroyed by the sectarian zeal of Islam. The oldest stone ruins that have been found represent not the beginnings of a style, but fully developed forms...
    Since the earliest important body of Indian art surviving to us stems from the century of Asoka, it is predominantly Buddhist. During subsequent periods, however, Buddhist and Hindu (Brahmanical) themes alternate in rich profusion. The two traditions flourished side by side, even sharing colleges and monasteries, for nearly two millenniums, until about the height of the Muslim conquest (C. AD 1200), Buddhism disappeared from the land of its birth.
    • Heinrich Zimmer, Art of Indian Asia, Princeton, Paperback Edition, 1983, Vol. I, quoted in Sita Ram Goel, Hindu Temples - What Happened to them

Philosophies of India (1951)[edit]

  • Hegel's argument—and it is still the argument of those who entertain the old reluctance to confer the title "philosopher" upon the immortal thinkers of India and China—is that something is missing from the Oriental systems. When they are compared with Western philosophy, as developed in antiquity and in modern times, what is obviously lacking is the ever-renewed, fructifying close contact with the progressive natural sciences—their improving critical methods and their increasingly secular, nontheological, practically anti-religious, outlook on man and the world. This is enough, we are asked to agree, to justify the Western restriction of the classic term.
    • p. 30

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