An American in Gandhi's India

An American in Gandhi's India

The Biography of Satyanand Stokes
Asha Sharma
Foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Distribution: World
Publication date: 6/16/2008
Format: paper 392 pages, 20 b&w photos, 1 maps
6.125 x 9.25
ISBN: 978-0-253-21990-9
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Samuel Evans Stokes, Jr., a son of a prominent Philadelphia family, was a 21-year-old Quaker missionary when he arrived in India in 1904 to work in a home for lepers. He soon became disillusioned with the foreign missionary community and began a new spiritual quest, adopting Indian dress, forgoing the privileges of a Westerner in colonial India, and founding a mendicant religious brotherhood. Later in life he married a Rajput Christian girl, converted to Hinduism, and adopted a new name. Stokes became a leader in Gandhi's independence movement in the 1920s, and was the only American jailed by the British for this cause. He is most often remembered in India, however, as the man who introduced American Delicious apples to the Himalayas. An American in Gandhi's India draws on oral history and interviews as well as Stokes's books, journals, and letters. Sharma's fascinating account offers a rare glimpse into a century of interaction between India and the United States.

Author Bio

Asha Sharma is a granddaughter of Satyanand Stokes. A graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism, she has been a fellow of the Indian Council of Historical Research and a Research Associate at the University of California at Berkeley.


"Sharma has written a lively and philosophical book, reflecting closely Stokes's mixed personality and steely commitment." —Michael Fathers, Time Asia

"This is . . . the story of the commitment to India that prompted Gandhi to describe Stokes as a foreigner who had made India his home, 'in a manner in which perhaps no other American or Englishman has.'" —Mark Tully, India Today

"Of the men and women from foreign climes who came to India to preach and stayed to learn, the name of Samuel Stokes is an outstanding one." —Chanchal Sarkar, Hindustan Times

"The fascinating story of Samuel Evans Stokes is a meticulously documented and well-written book." —H. V. Sharada Prasad, Asian Age

"All interested in the America-India relationship, including the growing ranks of Indian-Americans, will profit from this fascinating account of an 'American Indian,' a Pennsylvania Quaker who made the hills of northern India his home, and who played a memorable role in India's freedom movement." —Rajmohan Gandhi, author of Gandhi: The Man, His People, and the Empire

"Asha Sharma, the author of this lovingly detailed and enormously moving biography, is a granddaughter of Stokes. . . . Sharma makes Stokes' story alluring in both its early Philadelphia moments and its long unfolding in India." —Carlin Romano, Philadelphia Inquirer

"This is a significant and important book about late colonial and nationalist India. . . . Asha Sharma writes sensitively and insightfully about Stokes's sometimes turbulent family life, his role as a local leader in the Simla Hills . . . and in the broader terrain of Punjab politics and Gandhi's colleague and interlocutor." —Lloyd Rudolph, Pacific Affairs , Vol. 83, No. 1

"This compelling account of the life of American missionary to India . . . reads like a novel while offering a meticulously researched portrayal of the social and political environment of India in the decades prior to independence." —Lyn Miller,
Quaker History

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Table of Contents

Foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Note on This Edition

1. A Journey of No Return
2. The Quest Begins
3. The Ascetic
4. Visit Home
5. The Brotherhood in India
6. Alternate Path
7. An Inner Struggle
8. Home at Last—A Family Man
9. War on Two Fronts
10. For the Rights of Men—Begar
11. Joining the Freedom Struggle
12. The Fight Continues
13. In Khadi
14. Following the National Trail
15. Arrest and Trial
16. Guest of the British Empire
17. Debates with Gandhi: Test of Friendship
18. Johnny Appleseed of the Himalayas
19. A School in My Garden
20. Came to Teach and Stayed to Learn
21. Satyakamvadi
22. The Burdens Increase
23. Marketing the Fruits of Labor
24. World War II and After
25. The Vedantist
26. Eventide

Appendix 1. Stokes' Written Statement
Appendix 2. Verses Written in Jail
Appendix 3. Folk Song Composed on the Occasion of Stokes' Marriage
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