World Congress of Faiths

03 Jul 1936
End date: 
18 Jul 1936
Event location: 

University College, London


The World Congress of Faiths was a descendent of the Parliament of Religions Congress held in 1893 in Chicago (attended by Swami Vivekananda). A Second Parliament of Religions was held in 1933 in Chicago, organized by Kedar Nath Das Gupta and Charles Weller. Francis Younghusband attended this Congress and through discussions the idea arose to have a Congress in London in 1936.

A number of international speakers were invited to the Congress, which sought to discuss spiritual matters. The committee for the Congress was headed by the international president, the Maharaja Gaekwar of Baroda, but the British National Chairman was Sir Francis Younghusband. After the success of the Congress, the World Fellowship of Faiths based in the UK decided to break away from the American parent organization and ran annual congresses such as in Oxford in 1937, Cambridge in 1938, and Paris in 1939.

Published works: 

Millard, A. Douglas (ed.), Faiths and Fellowship: Proceedings of the World Congress of Faiths held in London, foreword by Sir Francis Younghusband (London: J. M. Watkins, 1936)


Reportage in newspapers such as The Times

Secondary works: 

Braybrooke, Marcus, A Wider Vision: A History of the World Congress of Faiths 1936-1996 (Oxford: One World, 1996)

Archive source: 

Sir Francis Younghusband papers, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Purohit Swami


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.

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]

Date of birth: 
12 Oct 1882

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.

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

City of birth: 
Badnera, Central Provinces
Country of birth: 
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 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

Tags for Making Britain: 
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