Other nations also got fascinated by the new discovery. In 1775 Voltaire the philosopher of the French Enlightenment wrote: “ I am convinced that everything has come down to us from the banks of the Ganges: astronomy, astrology, metempsychosis, etc.” Soon enough the works of Germans were translated into French and in 1816 the first university chair was established in Paris. Jules Michelet renowned historian and author of Histoire de France, claimed India to be “ the womb of the world” and Diderot suggested that “sciences of India may be more ancient than of Egypt.”
Russia published its first Sanskrit text in 1787 – Novikov translated from English Charles Wilkins’s edition of Bhagavad-Gita. In 1810 an Asian Academy was established in St. Petersburg with a Sanskrit department. Famous Indologists of the 19th century were Vasilyev and Minaev.
In 1718 in America, a former governor of British East India, Elihu Yale, had funded Yale University and the former Indian studies begun in 1841. In 1836 at Harvard University the cream of America’s literary world – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman formed the Transcendental Club of America. In 1842 the American Oriental Society was founded contributing to interest in Vedic knowledge.
Emerson wrote about Gita: “ I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad-Gita. It was the first of books; it was as if an empire spake to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence….”
Thoreau stated: “What extracts from the Vedas I have read fall on me like the light of a higher and purer luminary….. In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad-Gita. The reader is nowhere raised into and sustained in a bigger, purer or rarer region of thought than in the Bhagavad-Gita.” He boldly declared: “ The religion and philosophy of the Hebrews are those of a wilder and ruder tribe, wanting the civility and intellectual refinements and subtlety of Vedic culture.”
Other American intellectuals influenced by the Vedas were T.S. Eliot, Paul Elmer and Irvin Babbitt. They had all studied at Harvard under renowned Sanskritist Charles Lanman, who taught for almost forty years and published many books on the Vedas.