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Guide to the Bede Griffiths Collection
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Accruals
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Separated Materials

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Bede Griffiths collection
    Dates: 1932-2002
    Collection number: 95-8-01
    Collector: Bede Griffiths Trust
    Collection Size: 10 linear feet (30 boxes)

    Repository: The Graduate Theological Union. Library.
    Berkeley, CA 94709
    Abstract: A British Benedictine monk, Bede Griffiths was a prominent figure at several ashrams in South India. The collection is the designated archive for the the Bede Griffiths Trust. Materials include original papers, correspondence, photocopies, publications, manuscripts, audiotapes, videotapes, photographs by and about him.
    Physical location: 2/F/1, 2/F/3-2/F/6
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    Collection is open for research.


    All incoming personal correspondence from individuals addressed to Bede Griffiths is restricted for 25 years from the date of creation.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Graduate Theological Union. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Graduate Theological Union as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    Bede Griffiths collection, 95-8-01. Graduate Theological Union Archives, Berkeley, CA.

    Acquisition Information

    The Bede Griffiths Trust, 1995. The Trust retains ownership of the collection. The GTU Archives is the designated depository.


    The first accrual was in 1996.
    The second accural was in 2002.
    Materials continue to be donated to the Bede Griffiths Collection, and will therefore continue to be integrated in the most orderly way possible. Revised dates will not be added as this collection continues to receive additional items from various donors.


    Bede Griffiths (Alan Richard Griffiths), 1906-1993, was born near London, England, December 17, fourth and last child of Walter Griffiths and Harriet Lilian Frampton-Day Griffiths. Because of reduced circumstances due to business losses, Alan was sent to Christ Hospital, a government school for poor boys, at which he ranked first in his exams, earning a scholarship to Oxford. Alan was at Oxford, 1925-29 studying English Literature and Philosophy. During his third year, C.S. Lewis became his tutor. The two became close, the friendship lasting until Lewis' death in 1963.
    Soon after graduation, Alan and two friends, Martyn Skinner and Hugh Waterman, purchased a cottage in the Cotswalds and began "an experiment in Common Life," a life immersed in nature, a protest against contemporary life. Here they read the Bible together as literature. Though this lasted just short of a year, the experiment had a profound effect on Alan's life. He applied for ministry in the Church of England, and was sent to work in the London slums, an experience which left him crushed and confused. Returning to the Cotswalds to live with a farm family, he fasted, prayed, and read Cardinal Newman.
    Alan visited Prinknash Abbey, a Benedictine monestary. In 1931, he was received into the Roman Catholic Church, and entered the Abbey a few weeks later. He was clothed as a Benedictine in 1932, receiving the name, Bede. He offered his Perpetual Vows in 1937, and was ordained 1940. He served as guestmaster until 1947 when he was sent to be prior first at Farnborough, then Pluscarden in Scotland. His first book, an autobiography, The Golden String, was published in 1954.
    While at Farnborough, Bede met Fr. Benedict Alapatt, an Indian priest. They requested permission to start a Benedictine house in India, arriving there in 1955. They settled in Kengeri, Bangalore. In 1958, Fr. Bede joined Fr. Francis Acharya in Kurisumala, staying there until 1968 when he took over the Saccidananda Ashram. The ashram had been founded in 1950 by Fr. Jules Monchanin and Fr. Henri LeSaux. Fr. Bede immersed himself in the study of Indian thought and Hinduism, attempting to relate it to Christian theology. He continued to write and publish, give conferences and lectures, daily teachings on the Vedas, and homilies at Eucharist and Vespers, and maintain a voluminous correspondence.
    He suffered a first stroke in January 1990, and near death had an intense experience of divine love. Returning to his life, he suffered a final stroke in December 1993. Surrounded by much love and care, he died May 13, 1993.
    (Taken from, Bede Griffiths: The Man, the Monk, the Mystic, by Sr. Pascaline Coff O.S.B., ca. 1994. See Box 10, ff 13. See also: A Sense of the Sacred: A Biography of Bede Griffiths, by Kathryn Spink, 1988 (Box 14); Beyond the Darkness: A Biography of Bede Griffiths, by Shirley du Boulay (Box 14); and A Human Search: Life of Father Bede Griffiths, 1993, Videotape 3).

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This collection contains both original material and photocopy material. The original donation came from a Trust consisting of several members, therefore from several sources having no original order. Some materials come from Bede Griffiths' Saccidananda Ashram in India, some from other sources around the world. Materials continue to be donated to the Bede Griffiths Collection, and will therefore continue to be integrated in the most orderly way possible.


    The collection is arranged in nine series: 1. Correspondence; 2. Manuscripts; 3. Published Articles (by and about Bede Griffiths); 4. Subject Files; 5. Newsletters; 6. Photographs; 7. Published Books (by and about Bede Griffiths); 8. Audiotapes; and 9. Videotapes

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Christianity and other religions--Hinduism
    East and west--History--20th century--Sources
    Spirituality--Catholic church--History--20th century
    Monastic and religious life--History--20th century
    Monasticism and religious orders--India
    Benedictines--England--History--20th century--Sources
    Benedictines--India--History--20th century--Sources
    Interfaith worship--India
    Spiritual life--Benedictines
    Camaldolese--History--20th century--Sources
    Lewis, C.S. (Clive Staples), 1898-1963
    Skinner, Martyn
    Monchanin, Jules
    Saccidananda Ashram
    Prinknash Abbey
    Bede Griffiths Trust

    Separated Materials

    Books added to the general GTU Library Circulating collection:
    • Essays in Mysticism: Explorations into Contemplative Experience, Wayne Teasdale, with an Afterword by Bede Griffiths (Sunday Publications, Inc.: Lake Worth, FL, 1982). BV5082.2 T43 1982 (The Afterword has been photocopied and placed in Box 7, ff 3.).
    • Yoga and the Jesus Prayer Tradition: An Experiment in Faith, Thomas Matus, with a Preface by Bede Griffiths (Paulist Press: Ramsey, NJ, 1984). BR128.H5 M36 1984 (The Preface has been photocopied and placed in Box 7, ff 4.).
    • The Other Half of My Soul: Bede Griffiths and the Hindu-Christian Dialogue, ed. Beatrice Bruteau (Theosophical Publishing House: Wheaton, IL, 1996). BR128 H5 O65 1996
    • Inward Transcendence: A Study on the Encounter of Western Consciousness with Indian Interiority based on the Works of Fr. Bede Griffiths , Anthony Kalliath. Master of Theology Dissertation, Dharmaram Pontifical Institute, Bangalore, India, 1986. BR128 H5 K35 1986
    • The Principle of Relatedness in the Ecological Ethic of Bede Griffiths, J. Samuel Savio, Dr. of Sacred Theology Dissertation, The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., 2000. BT695.5 S26 2000
    • Emerging Consciousness for a New Humankind: Asian Interreligious Concern, ed. Michael von Bruck (Asian Trading Corporation: Bangalore, India, 1985). BL1035 E54 1985
    • As We Are One: Essays and Poems in Honor of Bede Griffiths, ed. Beatrice Bruteau (Pfafftown, NC: Philosophers' Exchange, 1991). PN6110 R4 A8 1991
    • Bede's Journey to the Beyond, Jesu Rajan (Bangalore, India: Asian Trading Corp., 1997). BX4705 B89 1997
    Books added to the GTU Library Storage collection for library use only:
    • The Universal Christ: Daily Readings with Bede Griffiths, ed. Peter Spink (Darton, Longman and Todd, Ltd.: London, 1990). BV4832.2 G57 1990
    • Pathways to the Supreme: Bede Griffiths, ed. Roland R. Ropers (Harper Collins: London, 1995). BL205 G75 1995