Younghusband, Sir Francis (Edward)
(1863–1942)
British explorer, soldier, author, and mystic. Born at Murree,
India, May 31, 1863, he was educated at Clifton and Sandhurst,
England. He joined the British army in 1882.
From 1886 to 1887 he traveled across central Asia from Peking
to Yarkand and on to India, crossing the Karakoram
Range by the Muztagh Pass. He discovered the Aghil Mountains
and showed that the Great Karakoram was the water divide
between India and Turkistan. On later explorations beyond
the Karakoram he was able to trace the river Shaksgam
to its junction with the Yarkand, and explored the Pamirs. During
his period in the 1st Dragoon Guards, Younghusband held
the rank of captain.
In 1890 he transferred to the Indian political department
and served in northwest frontier stations. He visited South Africa
in 1896. He was a special correspondent for The Times newspaper,
London, in the Chitral Expedition in 1895 and a political
agent in Haraoti and Tonk in 1898. While residing in India,
he was the British Commissioner to Tibet (1902–04). He led
the British mission to Lhasa, culminating in the Anglo-Tibetan
Treaty of September 7, 1904. For this he was honored by the
decoration of Knight Commander of the Indian Empire. He
was one of the first modern British explorers to investigate the
almost legendary territory of Tibet and enter the mysterious
city of Lhasa, long fabled by Theosophists and others as the
center of mysterious adepts and Masters. While he discovered
no secret occult forces, he did develop a sympathetic consideration
of Eastern religions and an appreciation of their spirituality.
In 1905 he returned to England, where he became Rede lecturer
at Cambridge University before traveling to Kashmir as
Resident. He was honored as Knight Commander of the Star
of India in 1917. After his retirement in 1919, he became chairman
of the Royal Geographical Society, who had awarded him
their gold medal in 1891. He also formed and was chairman of
the Mount Everest Committee.
Younghusband typified the best of the old-style British patriots
of the British Empire period. He was an excellent and
courageous soldier and explorer, yet deeply sympathetic to the
aspirations and spiritual ideals of other peoples. He recognized
the need for self-government in India. His book Modern Mystics
(1935; reissued University Books, 1970) expressed his sympathy
with the spirituality of different religions and his belief in
an underlying unity. In 1936 he founded the World Congress
of Faiths. His books include But in Our Lives (1926), The Heart
of Nature (1921), India and Tibet (1910), Within (1912), The World
Congress of Faith (1938), and World Fellowship of Faiths (1935).
He died at Lytchett Minster, near Poole, Britain, on July 31,
1942.
Sources
Samuel, Herbert L. Man of the Spirit Sir Francis Younghusband.
London, 1953.
Seaver, George F. Francis Younghusband Explorer and Mystic.
London, 1952.