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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Woodroffe, John

(1865-1936). Sanskrit scholar, lawyer and author who wrote under the nom-de-plume, Arthur Avalon. Woodroffe was born December 15, 1865. After matriculating from Oxford University, he was called to the Bar by the Inner Temple in 1889 and in 1890 was enrolled as an advocate of the Calcutta High Court. His qualities as a lawyer soon earned him the distinction of appointment as Tagore Law Professor and in 1904 he was raised to the High Court Bench. After his retirement, he was Reader in Indian Law for seven years at the University of Oxford. He was knighted in 1915.

According to M. P. Pandit, author of Kuṇḍalinī Yoga (Ganesh & Co., Madras, 1972), Woodroffe took initiation in the Gāyatrī MANTRA from a guru after undergoing the rituals in the orthodox fashion at Varanasi and wore the yajñopavīta, (the sacred thread). He was said to be a firm believer in the profound meaning of each Hindu Ritual.

Woodroffe’s principal claim to literary distinction lies in his definitive work on Laya Yoga entitled The Serpent Power, which is a translation of the Tantric texts Sat-cakra-nirupana (description of the six cakras [i.e., wheel-like centers in the body]) and Paduka-pañca (Five-footprints; also a name of Durga). These texts deal with a form of Tantric Yoga named KUNDALINI YOGA, or, in some works, Bhuta-suddhi (Removal of Demons).

Publications include:

Introduction to Tantra Sastra; Sakti and Sakta; Garland of Letters; The World as Power; Mahahmaya; The Serpent Power; The Great Liberation; Principles of Tantra. All these works were published by Ganesh & Co., Madras, India.

P.S.H.

 

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