Purohit Swami

Other names: 

Shri Purohit Swami


Lancaster Terrace, London
7 Lancaster Terrace
London, W2 3PA
United Kingdom
51° 30' 44.2008" N, 0° 10' 33.1176" W
Fellowship Club
51 Lancaster Gate
London, W2 3LX
United Kingdom
51° 30' 42.4764" N, 0° 10' 50.1276" W
Date of birth: 
12 Oct 1882
City of birth: 
Badnera, Central Provinces
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
01 Jan 1940
Precise date of death unknown: 
Location of death: 
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
28 Feb 1931
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

28 February 1931 - 29 November 1935


Purohit Swami was a poet, philosopher and Hindu monk. He came to Britain in 1931 and struck up friendships with various British literary figures. As a disciple of Shri Bhagwan Hamsa, Purohit Swami gave a series of lectures on the Bhagvad Gita at the 'Fellowship Club', and became involved with British 'spiritualists' who were interested in helping him set up an ashram in London.

Having been introduced to Thomas Sturge Moore, Purohit Swami was busy writing an autobiography, a biography of Shri Bhagwan Hamsa and his own poems in Britain. Moore introduced the Purohit to William Butler Yeats and from there formed a strong friendship and literary relationship. Yeats wrote the introductions for Purohit Swami's works. They then decided to work together on a translation of the Upanishads for which they went to Majorca in 1935. Purohit Swami was beset by ill-health during the latter part of his time in Britain and after his time in Majorca sailed directly back to India.

Purohit Swami was involved in various scandals during his time in Britain. He fell out with Thomas Sturge Moore because Moore felt he was not properly acknowledged for his help in editing Purohit Swami's autobiography and felt that he had been paid off by the Purohit. Rumours also circulated about Purohit Swami's relationship with a Gwyneth Foden who lived close by in Lancaster Gate and falsely gave the impression that she would finance his ashram.


Leonard S. Bristowe, Margot Collis, Richard de la Mare, Walter de la Mare, T. S. Eliot, Gwyneth Foden, John Masefield, Thomas Sturge Moore, Elizabeth Pelham, Dorothy Pound, Omar Pound, Josephine Ransom, Olivia Shakespear, William Butler Yeats, Francis Younghusband.

Published works: 

An Indian Monk,  introduction by W. B. Yeats (London, Macmillan, 1932)

Bhagwan Shri Hamsa, The Holy Mountain, trans. by Shri Purohit Swami, introduction by W. B. Yeats (London: Faber & Faber, 1934)

The Geeta, trans. by Shri Purohit Swami, preface by Sayaji Rao Gaekwar (London: Faber & Faber, 1935)

(with W. B. Yeats) The Ten Principal Upanishads (London: Faber & Faber, 1937)

Bhagwan Shree Patanjali, Aphorisms of Yoga, trans. by Shri Purohit Swami, introduction by W. B. Yeats (London: Faber & Faber, 1938)

The Songs of Silence (Delhi: Rupa, 2003) [first published in Poona in 1931]

Secondary works: 

Bridge, Ursula (ed.), W. B. Yeats and T. Sturge Moore: Their Correspondence, 1901-1937 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1953) 

Finneran, R. J., Harper, G. M., and Murphy, W. M. (eds), Letters to W. B. Yeats, Vol. 2 (London: Macmillan, 1977)

Harwood, John (ed.), 'Olivia Shakespear: Letters to W. B. Yeats', in Warwick Gould (ed) Yeats Annual,  No. 6 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1988)

Harwood, John, Olivia Shakespear and W. B. Yeats. After Long Silence: 1923-38 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1989) 

McHugh, Roger (ed.), Ah Sweet Dancer: W. B. Yeats - Margot Ruddock (London: Macmillan, 1970)

Mokashi-Punekar, Shankar (ed.), Avadhoota Gita, trans. by Shri Purohit Swami (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1979)

Mokashi-Punekar, Shankar, The Later Phase in the Development of W. B. Yeats (A Study in the Stream of Yeat’s Later Thought and Creativity) (Dharwar: Karnatak University, 1966)

Sena, Vinod, 'The Life and Works oF Shri Purohit Swami' in Shri Purohi Swami, The Autobiography of an Indian Monk (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1992)

Archive source: 

Letters and papers, Nehru Memorial Library, New Delhi

Letters from Yeats, Yeats Collection, University of Delaware

Letters to Yeats, Yeats Collection, Stony Brook University

Correspondence with Thomas Sturge Moore, Add Ms 45732, British Library Manuscript Collection, St Pancras