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“Dr. Dasgupta has an interesting chapter on the practises of the Yoga sect — — interesting not only because that sect attains to heights of imbecility unsurpassed even in India, but also because its blowsy nonsense has made many converts in America. They are chiefly concentrated in Los Angeles the damned, and include thousands of unhappy and half-witted women who have passed through the stages of High Church Episcopalianism, Christian Science and the New Thought. The essence of the Yoga revelation is that an adept, by the double device of thinking profoundly and breathing deeply, can throw off the trammels of the body and become a sort of gaseous angel, purged of sin and as happy as the boy who killed his father.

This benign process goes on in Los Angeles in dark rooms heavy with incense, the while the police outside chase bootleggers and mop up the blood of murdered movie Lotharios. The banker’s widow from the Mortgage Belt, closeted in such shade with a yogin, comes out flapping her wings and convinced that her rheumatism is much better. The yogin on his part, feeling the feathery weight of a $10 bill in his hand, returns from the empyrean to enter it upon his books. The thing threatens to spread: the yogins, working eastward, have already reached the western suburbs of Dallas and Kansas City.

And why not? The United States is the original home of suckers. It houses more ecclesiastics than even Italy or Spain, and they are of much higher virtuosity. Once the principles of Hindu mysticism were known among us, it would flourish as the devil-chasing of Billy Sunday, or the Four-Square Gospel of Aimée Semple McPherson, D.D. All that is needed is propaganda. Unfortunately, Dr. Dasgupta’s book is too intellligent. It must be translated into Brisbanes.”

[H.L. Mencken, Nonsense from the East, 1920s]

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