Reviewer Dr. Wesley Britton: Dr. Britton is the author of four non-fiction books on espionage in literature and the media. Starting in fall 2015, his new six-book science fiction series, The Beta-Earth Chronicles, debuted via BearManor Media. For seven years, he was co-host of online radio’s Dave White Presents where he contributed interviews with a host of entertainment insiders. Before his retirement in 2016, Dr. Britton taught English at Harrisburg Area Community College. Learn more about Dr. Britton at his WEBSITE
Author: Suneel Dhand
Drawing connections between the thinking of Thomas Jefferson with principles stressed in Eastern religions is nothing new. However, as few Buddhist or Hindu texts were widely available in the American colonies, just how Jefferson came to adopt quasi-religious views similar to such philosophies has been the subject of speculation for some time.
Now, Sun eel Dhand, M.D., proposes that, as a young boy, Jefferson and his mother came under the influence of a seer from the Himalayas named Buddha Bhai. Hand believes a long correspondence between Jefferson and Bhai had much to do with the Virginian’s personal development, especially regarding his vegetarian diet, regimen, and “mindfulness.” In fact, splicing in blocks of texts from Bhai’s alleged letters to Jefferson, Dhand’s 134 page biography suggests this mysterious mentor was much more than a minor correspondent with the man who penned the Declaration of Independence.
But there are a number of problems with accepting any of this. First, Hand claims to have been given copies of Buddha Bhai’s letters in Nepal when he met with a group of Himalayan sages. They claim these letters had “been confiscated after the Revolution,” disappeared into some unspecified “archives,” and recently given to their order. One wonders just who had the power or reason to confiscate any of Jefferson’s correspondence. To add to the mystery, the sages claim the reason so little is known about Jefferson’s mother is that she was a follower of Buddha Bhai. Apparently, the same unknown powers that removed a selection of Jefferson’s letters and hid them for 300 years or so also had the ability to suppress documents mentioning Jane Jefferson.
Many of the events Buddha Bhai describes also defy credibility. He claims to have witnessed Paul Revere racing by on that midnight ride and that he was one of those dressed up like Mohawk Indians for the Boston Tea party. More importantly, he writes of conducting an extended mission in the colonies that aroused the attention of the British authorities to the point they forced him to flee the country. One wonders what this mission was that lasted from Jefferson’s boyhood to the early days of the Revolution. If Bhai had indeed been doing something that inspired the British army to hunt him down, surely that would be in a public record?
And there’s the rub. Nowhere in the book are any citations or attributions of any kind. There’s no bibliography. True, much of the biographical material on Jefferson is general enough and well-known enough that citing specific texts might be superfluous. But there’s nothing to signal Dhand explored any sources to corroborate anything regarding the figure of Buddha Bhai. Judging from the letters presented in Dhand’s text, he wasn’t exactly dispensing dangerous or esoteric knowledge that would inspire a need for three centuries of suppression. For example, after doling out “ancient principles” in letters spaced out over many years, Buddha Bhai finally shares the most important of all:
The Fifth Ancient Principle is one of the most straightforward, but also the most enduring. Value good character above all else and practice only the best human virtues. Be honest, sincere, kind, compassionate, and gentle. Be forgiving and show empathy.
Admittedly, Dhand does not claim to be a scholar. Rather, he’s a medical doctor who became intrigued to learn Jefferson’s wellness practices are much the same as what health practitioners advocate now. Perhaps this is a book that needs to come out in a second edition with more evidence of evidence. Perhaps it’s all a hoax and the joke is on me. Well, President Jefferson was a man who practiced skeptical thinking. This is a case where we should do likewise.