Mircea Eliade between Indology and History of Religions

Research Programs

Mircea Eliade between Indology and History of Religions. From Yoga to Shamanism and Archaic Religiosity

Mircea Eliade between Indology and History of Religions. From Yoga to Shamanism and Archaic Religiosity

Grant: PN-II-RU-PD-2012-3-0600
Contract: 63 / 30.04.2013

1 May 2013 – 31 October 2015

Project Leader:

Andrei PLEȘU, PhD, Professor of Art History, Philosophy and Religion, University of Bucharest


While a pioneering figure of History of Religions, Eliade also played a key role in introducing Yoga to the West beyond the borders of Indology. The project aims to reconstruct his Indological formation, to evaluate his work on India against the background of Sanskrit texts and of the Indological state of the art, and to study their influence on his later work on History of Religions, following the thematic continuity from Yoga to shamanism and archaic religions. Unlike the few earlier researches, it is my goal to establish this investigation on the basis of new evidence from his Romanian writings, forgotten in various journals, and from his still insufficiently-explored archives in Bucharest and Chicago.

A thorough assessment of Eliade’s work on India is necessary for at least two main reasons:

1) To assess his part in the development of Yoga studies and to evaluate the relevance of his work within the current state of scholarship;
2) To establish how Indian studies influenced his ideas and methods in studying the religious phenomenon on a global scale.

Determining Eliade’s place in the history of Yoga scholarship will serve not only the historiographical perspective but also to evaluate present-day Indological scholarship and its future trends. Establishing the Indian influence on his work in History of Religions will further our understanding of the genesis and development of this scholarly discipline and also provide a new platform for the still-lively debates on its status after the death of one of its most important pioneers