Walter Yeeling Evans-Wentz
– July 17
) was an
anthropologist and writer who was a pioneer in the study of
. He was born in
Jersey, and as a teenager read Madame Blavatsky's Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine and became
interested in the teachings of Theosophy. He received both his B.A. and M.A. from
University, where he studied with William James and William Butler Yeats.
studied Celtic mythology and
folklore at Jesus
College, Oxford (1907); there he adopted the form Evans-Wentz for
his name. He travelled extensively, spending time in
Mexico, Europe, and the Far
East. He spent the years of the First World War in Egypt.
travelled to Sri
Lanka (then Ceylon) and India, reaching
Darjeeling in 1919; there he enountered Tibetan religious
Evans-Wentz is best known for four texts translated from the
Tibetan, especially The Tibetan Book of
. Evans-Wentz credited himself only as the
compiler and editor of these volumes. The actual translation
of the texts was performed by Tibetan Buddhists, primarily Lama
Kazi Dawa-Samdup (1868–1922), a teacher of English at the
Maharaja's Boy's School in Gangtok, Sikkim who had also
done translations for Alexandra
David-Neel and Sir John
Evans-Wentz was a practitioner of the religions he studied. He
became Dawa-Samdup's "disciple" (E-W's term), wore robes and ate a
simple vegetarian diet. He met Ramana
in 1935, and meant to settle permanently in India, but
returned to the U.S. when World War II compelled him to do so. He
passed his final twenty-three years in San Diego, and provided
finanancial support to the Maha Bodhi
, Self-Realization Fellowship
the Theosophical Society
Tibetan Book of the Dead
was read at his funeral.
Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University has hosted The Evans-Wentz Lectureship in Asian
Philosophy, Religion, and Ethics since 1969, funded by a
Evans-Wentz died in 1965.
- The fairy-faith in Celtic countries, London, New York,
H. Frowde, 1911 ..
- The Tibetan book of the dead; or, The after-death
experiences on the Bardo plane, according to Lāma Kazi
Dawa-Samdup’s English rendering, with foreword by Sir John Woodroffe, London, Oxford University
Press, H. Milford, 1927.
- Tibetan yoga and secret doctrines; or, Seven books of
wisdom of the great path, according to the late Lāma Kazi
Dawa-Samdup’s English rendering; arranged and edited with
introductions and annotations to serve as a commentary,
London, Oxford University Press, H. Milford, 1935.
- Tibet’s great yogī, Milarepa : a biography from the Tibetan
; being the Jetsün-Kahbum or biographical history of
Jetsün-Milarepa according to the late Lāma Kazi Dawa-Samdup’s
English rendering (2d ed.), edited with introd. and
annotations by W. Y. Evans-Wentz, London, New York : Oxford
University Press, 1951.
- The Tibetan book of the great liberation; or, The method of
realizing nirvana through knowing the mind, preceded by an epitome
of Padma-Sambhava’s biography and followed by Guru Phadampa
Sangay’s teachings. According to English renderings by Sardar
Bahädur S. W. Laden La and by the Lāmas Karma Sumdhon Paul, Lobzang
Mingyur Dorje, and Kazi Dawa-Samdup. Introductions, annotations,
and editing by W. Y. Evans-Wentz. With psychological commentary by
C. G. Jung. London, New York, Oxford University Press,
- Sutin 262, pg. 262
- Sutin 2006, pg. 263
- Sutin 2006, pg. 267
- Stanford Evans-Wentz Lectureship
- The Fairy-faith in Celtic Countries by W.
Y. Evans-Wentz (1911): Parts of this book are available online on