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Buddhadharma : Summer 2012
SUMMER 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 65 Reviews AN AMBITIOUS AND UNORTHODOX PIONEER The life and writings of Theos Casimir Bernard, the first American Buddhist pilgrim to reach Lhasa, inspired many Westerners to learn more about Tibet and its religion. He was also an influential popularizer of hatha yoga but has been virtually forgotten since the 1960s. These biographies, however, should revive interest in this single-minded visionary. In the 1930s, when Bernard began his public career, yoga was still an exotic practice in America. There were few teachers, and some were little more than charlatans, like his uncle Pierre Bernard, known as “The Great Oom.” There were no Tibetan Buddhist teachers in the United States, and Tibet itself was conflated THEOS BERNARD, THE WHITE LAMA: Tibet, Yoga, and American Religious Life By Paul G. Hackett Columbia University Press, 2012 $32.95; 494 pages WHITE LAMA: The Life of Tantric Yogi Theos Bernard, Tibet’s Lost Emissary to the New World By Douglas Veenhof Harmony Books, 2011 $27.50; 446 pages Reviewed by Michael J. Sweet MICHAEL J. SWEET is the author of Mission to Tibet: The Extraordinary Eighteenth-Century Account of Father Ippolito Desideri and a researcher in Madison, Wisconsin, focusing on the early modern Catholic missions to Tibet. Theos Bernard at Drepung Monastery in Lhasa, ca 1937 COURTESYOFTHEPHOEBEA.HEARSTMUSEUMOFANTHROPOLOGYANDTHEREGENTSOFTHEUNIVERSITYOFCALIFORNIA