“On a typical day, more children can be seen hanging from the trees in our campus than fruits.”

From Steiner to the Subcontinent: Tracing the Path of Anthroposophy in India

Nana Goebel sums it up in her piece “Rudolf Steiner – An Indian inspiration”

Anthroposophy, a worldwide spiritual and philosophical movement, originated in the early 20th century with the work of Austrian philosopher and esotericist Rudolf Steiner. Born in 1861, Steiner is renowned today as the founder of Waldorf education. He developed Anthroposophy as a cohesive philosophy that sought to integrate scientific, artistic, moral and spiritual understanding. In 1913, Steiner formalised Anthroposophy and founded the Anthroposophical Society. The movement encompasses a broad range of disciplines, including education (Waldorf education), agriculture (biodynamic farming), medicine (Anthroposophical medicine), and the arts. Steiner’s lectures, writings, and teachings form the foundational texts of Anthroposophy, which emphasises the evolution of human consciousness and the interconnectedness of the inner and outer worlds.

Anthroposophy found its way to India through various channels, as early as 1925. While Rudolf Steiner himself did not personally travel to India, his teachings gained traction through the efforts of followers and anthroposophists starting with Dr. Hans Koester, who held the office of the German Consul General in Calcutta. The dissemination of Anthroposophy in India can be attributed to the global nature of the movement, and the cross-cultural exchanges between Western and Eastern thinkers. Anthroposophy’s seeds of ideas on holistic education, spiritual development, and connections between the material and spiritual worlds resonated with some visionaries and reformers in India’s diverse spiritual and philosophical landscape. Over the years, various Anthroposophical initiatives, study groups, and educational institutions influenced by Anthroposophy have been established in India. These include Waldorf schools, biodynamic farms, and organisations dedicated to Anthroposophical principles. There are currently over 50 Waldorf/Steiner inspired schools in India.

In this downloadable PDF, you may read a more detailed description of how this movement took root in India, and the interesting alignment of events that led to establishing Waldorf Education within the subcontinent. ‘Rudolf Steiner: An Indian Inspiration’ is an English excerpt from eminent Waldorf scholar Nana Goebel’s 2000-page book titled ‘Die Waldorfschule und ihre Menschen Weltweit’.

Not to miss — there is an interesting footnote at the end on how the movement was received in Hyderabad during the Nizam’s rule that makes for an interesting slice of history as well!

Read the full excerpt
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