Mircea Eliade

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Mircea Eliade

Mircea Eliade (March 13, 1907 – April 22, 1986) was a prominent Romanian historian of religion, fiction writer, philosopher, and professor.


Mircea Eliade was born in Bucharest on March 9, 1907. He took an M.A. in philosophy from the University of Bucharest in 1928 and studied Sanskrit and Indian philosophy at the University of Calcutta from 1928 1931. He then lived for six months in the Ashram (hermitage) of Rishikesh, Himalaya. After he returned to Romania he earned his Ph.D. in 1933 and was named assistant professor at Bucharest, where he taught the history of religions and Indian philosophy until 1939. In the later half of the 1930s he became a supporter of Codreanu's Legionary Movement and because of that was imprisoned by King Carol's dictatorship in 1939. In 1945 he went to Paris as a visiting professor at the École des Hautes Études of the Sorbonne. He eventually went to the United States and in 1956 became professor of the history of religions at the University of Chicago, where he remained until his death in 1986. Eliade was also the editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Religion and the founder of the journal History of Religions (1961). [1]

Eliade is well-known for his religious philosophy. He believed in the reality of religious revelations and the manifestations of the Sacred throughout the world, which he called hierophanes. He taught that humanity understood the Sacred normally, although not always, through symbols, myths, and rituals. Much of Eliade's research deals with tracing the forms that hierophanes have taken throughout the world and through time. His greatest works in this field were The Myth of the Eternal Return[2] and The Sacred and the Profane[3] (both are available in multiple languages, including English). [4]

It should be mentioned that despite his earlier support for Legionarism, later in his life Eliade's philosophy diverged from Legionary or Nationalist thought, eventually tending towards universalism and humanism. He had begun disregarding most of the differences between ethnicities and races and focused mostly on similarities in religious attitudes and culture, although he supported pluralism and the preservation of different ethnicities and religions. [5] It is very possible that since America was dominated by Liberal and anti-nationalist thought, its influences and pressure on Eliade became strong enough that he succumbed to it. It is also possible, as some suggest, that he decided to purposely hide his nationalism while still privately adhering to it despite not expressing it. Nevertheless, Eliade's work on religion is extremely valuable even from a nationalist perspective and especially useful for a proper study as well as defense of religion and religious history. The reader simply needs to balance Eliade's thought with with more particularist and nationalistic spiritual thought.

Major Works

  • Cosmos and History: The Myth of the Eternal Return (1954)
  • Yoga, Immortality and Freedom (1958)
  • Rites and Symbols of Initiation: Birth and Rebirth (1958)
  • Patterns in Comparative Religion (1958)
  • The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion (1959)
  • Myths, Dreams and Mysteries: the Encounter between Contemporary Faiths and Archaic Realities (1960)
  • Images and Symbols: Studies in Religious Symbolism (1961)
  • Myth and Reality (1963)
  • Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy (1964)
  • The Two and the One (1965)
  • The Quest: History and Meaning in Religion (1969)
  • Occultism, Witchcraft, and Cultural Fashion: Essays in Comparative Religion (1976)
  • The Old Man and the Bureaucrats (1979)
  • A History of Religious Ideas, vol. I, From the Stone Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries (1978)
  • A History of Religious Ideas, vol. II, From Gautama Buddha to the Triumph of Christianity (1982)
  • The History of Religious Ideas, vol. III, From Muhammad to the Age of the Reforms (1985)


  1. Bryan Rennie, "Mircea Eliade," in Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (New York: Routledge, 1998).
  2. Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005).
  3. Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion (Orlando: Harcourt, 1987).
  4. Rennie, "Mircea Eliade"
  5. Guido Stucco, "The Legacy of a European Traditionalist: Julius Evola in Perspective". The Occidental Quarterly, Vol. 2, No. 3. (2002), pgs. 30-32. Stucco observes the differences between Evola's and Eliade's thought.

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