JOHNSTON, Charles

JOHNSTON, Charles. Ballykilbeg, Down County 17.2.1867 — New York 16.10.1931. Irish Theosophist, Author and Translator of Sanskrit Literature in the U.S.A. Son of William J., M.P. for Belfast, and Georgiana Barbara Hay. Educated in Derby, England, and at Dublin University. In 1886 joined I.C.S., in 1888-90 served in Bombay, Madras, Calcutta and Allahabad. In 1890 had to resign because of malaria, returned to Europe, travelled there several years in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Russia, Austria and France, and in 1896 moved to the U.S.A. Lived in New York, in 1903 naturalized as U.S. citizen. From 1908 Special Lecturer in Political Science at University of Wisconsin. In 1888 married Vera Vladimirovna de Zhelihovsky (1864-1923), the niece of H. P. Blavatsky.

CJ was a professional author, who always kept his early interest in India, especially in Indian philosophy. He was also known as translator of Russian literature. Early friend of W. B. Yeats and G. W. Russell, Theosophist from 1885.

Publications: Useful Sanskrit nouns and verbs in English letters. 4+30 p. L. 1892.

From the Upanishads. 22+60 p. Portland, Maine 1896; “Indian belief in pre-natal existence”, Academy March 5, 1892, 233ff.; “Studies in the Vedānta”, Calcutta Review 104, 1897, 277-303; and a few further articles on Indian philosophy.

Translated: The Awakening of the Self. N.Y. 1897 (Ātmabodha); Bhagavad-Gītā. 8+200 p. N.Y. 1908; Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. “The Book of the Spiritual Man” An Interpretation. 119 p. N.Y. 1912, 2nd ed. 1949; The Crest-Jewel of Wisdom. 1925 (Vivekacūḍāmaṇi); The Great Upanishads. 1. Isha, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Upanishads. 245 p. N.Y. 1927.

Translated from German: P. Deussen: The System of the Vedānta. 13+513 p. Chicago 1912.

The Crest Jewel of Wisdom: And Other Writings of Sankaracharya. Covina, Calif. 1946 (collected ed. of earlier translations).

The Memory of Past Births. N.Y. 1900; Kela Baj: An Anglo-Indian Idyll. N.Y. 1900; furtehr Theosophical and popular books; translations from Russian.

Sources: Who Was Who in America 1; brief note in JAOS 52, 1932, 273f.; Wikipedia with photo.

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