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Last Edited: Monday, November 21, 2011 10:07 AM -0600 / Last Updated: Monday, November 21, 2011 10:07 AM -0600
Born in Madrid, Spain, in 1953, Alvaro Enterr�a, traveled to India for the first time in the year 1981. He subsequently made many other trips until 1989 when he remained in Benares (Varanasi) for a stay of two years from which he did not return. In the sacred city, he got married to an Indian wife and started a family. He also founded, together with his Indian partner, Dilip Kumar Jaiswal, the �ndica Books imprint in Benares.
Antonio T. de Nicolas was
born in Villalaco (Palencia, Spain), and
educated in Spain, India and the United States, where he
received his Ph.D. in philosophy at Fordham University in New York. He is
currently Professor Emeritus of philosophy at the
State University of New York at Stony Brook, Long Island,
New York and Director of the Center for Biocultural Studies in Florida.
Antonio is the author of some 27 books in English
and numerous articles, particularly the book Avat�ra:
The Humanization of Philosophy through the Bhagavad G�t�
Meditations Through the Rig Veda,
classics in the field of Indic studies; and
Habits of Mind: An Introduction to Clinical Philosophy,
a criticism of higher education, whose framework
has recently been adopted as the educational system for the new Russia
and in seven states in the USA. He is also known for his acclaimed
translations of the poetry of the Nobel Prize-winning author,
Juan Ramon Jimenez, and of the mystical
writings of St. Ignatius de Loyola and St.
John of the Cross.
A philosopher by profession, Antonio confesses that his most abiding philosophical concern is the act of imagining that he has pursued in his studies of the Spanish mystics, Eastern classical texts and, most recently, in his own poetry. His books of poetry: Remembering the God to Come, The Sea Tug Elegies, Of Angels and Women, Mostly, and Moksha Smith: Agni's Warrior-Sage (An Epic of the Immortal Fire), have received wide acclaim. Critical reviewers of these works have offered the following insights. From Choice: "these poems could not have been produced by a mainstream American. They are illuminated from within by a gift, a skill, a mission...unlike the critico-prosaic American norm" From The Baltimore Sun: "Steeped as they are in mythology and philosophy these are not easy poems. Nor is de Nicolas an easy poet. He confronts us with the necessity to remake our lives...his poems...show us that we are not bound by rules. Nor are we bound by mysteries. We are bound by love. And therefore, we are boundless" From William Packard, editor of the New York Quarterly: "This is the kind of poetry that Plato was describing in his dialogues, and the kind of poetry that Nietzsche was calling for in Zarathustra."
Carl is the author of Towards Truth: An Australian Spiritual Journey (Sydney: Pacific Press, 1992). He is also the editor of Bhakti! newsletter published in Canberra. A participant-scholar of Murugan worship in Malaysia and India, Carl is completing his doctorate at Deakin University in Australia. I discovered Carl through a Google search in 2000 on "transgressive sacrality," and learnt to my pleasant surprise that the insights that I've attempted to conceptualize are being applied in unexpectedly productive ways to the religious anthropology of my country of birth. All the more so because, for several years after the award of my doctorate in B.H.U., I had been struggling in vain to join the Indian/Tamil Studies Dept. at the Universiti Malaya, which was keen to take me but found it impossible to circumvent the civil service requirement that permanent appointees have at least a basic (Bachelors) degree from Malaysia. It is therefore personally gratifying to note how Carl has been working closely with my would-be Malaysian colleagues like Dr. Raymond Lee.
I met Catherine, Elizabeth's elder sister, on my first trip to the West in June 1984, and she visited us the following year in Benares. Over the years, I've been getting to know her work on Jewish philosophy better and have also participated with her in several scholarly and community events (some organized by her): interreligious seminar on the problem of evil by Levinas, Ricoeur and Jacques Dupuy (8?); memorial services for her student David Gritz killed tragically during a suicide-bombing at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2003); mourning reunions for Charles Mopsik, etc. Catherine has become increasingly active in interfaith dialogue and recently participated at a public exchange at the Georges Pompidou Center with a Muslim scholar who had recently translated the Koran.
Charles Mopsik, long-time editor of the series on Judaism, Les Dix Paroles (Verdier Press), was the foremost specialist of the Kabbalah in France. A researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), Charles also taught Kabbalistic themes at the �coles des Hautes �tudes en Sciences Sociales. We got to know him through our collaboration on "Union and Unity in Hindu Tantricism and Kabala" for Hananya Goodman, ed., Between Jerusalem and Benares: Comparative Studies in Judaism and Hinduism (SUNY Press, October 1994). We had also discussed plans for a collective volume on transgressive sacrality in the Jewish tradition. Charles subsequently introduced us to several specialists of Judaism, starting with Moshe Idel and most recently Jonathan Garb, and we had likewise introduced him to our circle of friends, such as Jacques Vigne. Charles Mopsik passed away in June 2003, while Elizabeth and I were in Paris, leaving behind a prodigious life-work of Kabbalistic studies. His last seminar at the EHESS was devoted to bio-ethics (cloning, etc.) from a (Jewish and particularly) Kabbalistic (golem, etc.) perspective. His latest book on ben Sira will appear in 2003 also with Verdier Press.
With a French 'aggregation' (competitive exam qualifying him to teach in the university), Dr. Christian M. Bouchet has been working for the last 20 years on the lucid dream to which had devoted his state thesis (1994), which he completed under the direction of Prof. Michel Hulin, who taught Indian and Comparative Philosophy at the Sorbonne. To complete this research, he devised in the 1980s methods of inducing oneiric lucidity that have allowed him to train, in a sustained manner, a hundred or so individuals in the practice of lucid dreaming. We were introduced to Christian on 14 Dec. 02 by his parents Jacqueline and Roland over dinner with Jacques Vigne, which we followed up with the entire evening of 4th Jan. 2003 devoted to a discussion of lucid dreaming with Christian, Jacques, Charles and Aline Mopsik, Jean-Marc and Etsuko, and a couple of other friends. We had dinner in July 03 with Christian and his former thesis director, Prof. Michel Hulin, who had also presided over the jury at Elizabeth's own thesis defense towards a state-doctorate. This was thus also an occasion of sorts to celebrate the publication in Spanish of Christian's thesis-abstract in the latest issue of the Sarasvat� magazine.
Cleo McNelly Kearns holds a Ph.D in comparative literature from Columbia University and writes on modern literature, theology and postmodern philosophy of religion. She is the author of T. S. Eliot and Indic Traditions: A Study in Poetry and Belief (Cambridge University Press, 1987) and of numerous essays and articles on the implications for religion of the work of Jacques Lacan, Julia Kristeva and Jacques Derrida. She served for several years as editor of the Cultural Criticism series of the American Academy of Religion, and during her tenure she published two books on the intersections between Indic traditions and recent trends in postmodern philosophy, including pragmatism and deconstruction. She is currently at work on a study of the figure of the Virgin Mary in the sacrificial discourse of monotheism. Cleo and I began interacting around our respective contributions on T.S. Eliot and Ahinavagupta even before we met each other at the Indic Colloquium on 24 July 02. We discovered there at Menla that we had several other interests in common, such as the remarkable parallels between (the esoteric and folk representations of) the Virgin Mary and the Newar Kum�r�, the points of convergence between deconstructionist readings of classical texts and postmodern spiritual motivations, theologies of liberation and commitment to social justice.
David's research areas include comparative philosophy as a mode of inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue, the Pratyabhijna philosophy of monistic Kashmiri Saivism, and related areas of Hinduism and Buddhism. Recently he has been particularly interested in monistic Saiva approaches to identity and the body; and Abhinavagupta's legacy of using Pratyabhijna categories to interpret nonphilosophical tantric symbolism and practice. His publications include Rediscovering God with Transcendental Argument: A Contemporary Interpretation of Monistic Kashmiri Saiva Philosophy (SUNY, 1999). David received his BA from George Washington University (GWU), and his MA and PhD from the University of Chicago (1992). He has taught in the Division of Humanities of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the Department of Religion of Concordia University, Montreal. He is now a visiting associate professor in the Department of Religion of the University of Manitoba. With regards to mentors, David's graduate school advisors were Wendy Doniger, Paul Griffiths, Bimal Krishna Matilal and David Tracy. He first visited India from 1987-1989, where he studied monistic Saivism mainly with Hemendra Nath Chakravarty in Varanasi and Navjivan Rastogi at Lucknow University. He also studied monistic Saivism and related areas of Sanskritic philosophy with other scholars including Srinarayan Mishra and Radheshyam Chaturvedi of Banaras Hindu University. He has since visited India for several shorter trips to work with Pt. Chakravarty, Prof. Rastogi and Prof. Mishra.
"The Visuvalingams extended great hospitality and support to me during my first visit to Varanasi. They helped me to get settled into the city and introduced me to some of its cultural and spiritual riches. At that time, their home was a magnetic center for a number of interesting scholars of monistic Saivism and other areas of Hinduism. I am delighted to have renewed our friendship and to participate in the Abhinavagupta website." David looked us up on his arrival in Benares in 1987 at the suggestion of our friend Alf Hiltebeitel (his ex-teacher at GWU). I recall several passionate discussions with David about Trika philosophy in our BHU apartment, and we also got to meet his father when the latter first visited him in the sacred city. Though David briefly visited us in Boston, in the early 90s after we had moved from India, we lost touch during his years in Hong Kong. We were delighted to renew our friendship after his well-received talk on "Concepts of Empowered Identity and Tradition in Medieval Monistic Shaivism" at the Chicago University South Asia Watch panel on Religion and Identity in Kashmir (9 April 2004). We had been impressed from the very beginning by David's personal�and clearly ongoing�attempt to engage Abhinava not as a mere curiosity from an obsolete Indian past but on account of his relevance to burning issues in contemporary philosophical and religious thought.
Felix and I originally met during the 'First' World Humor Conference in Hyderabad in 198?, where we spoke on humor in Spanish and Sanskrit literature respectively. I subsequently invited him from Jawaharlal Nehru University (Delhi), where he was teaching Spanish, to lecture at the English and Philosophy Depts. at BHU. F�lix had lived in Madras and Gujarat from ? to ? studying (Gujarati and) Indian traditions. On our first visit to America in Dec. 85, we were received royally by the Ilarraz', the whole humanities program at Indiana State University (ISU), and by the Indian community at Terre Haute. Their proximity was a decisive factor in my taking up the computer publishing job in Indianapolis in Nov. 1993. On retiring to Madrid in 199?, after having taught Spanish and Indian philosophy at ISU for over 30 (?) years, F�lix has continued to further the cause of Indian culture in the West, for example, through significant contributions to the endowment of the Tagore Chair in Bloomington. Back in Madrid, he assumed active direction of the Purusha Foundation dedicated to promoting knowledge of Indian (and other) tradition(s) in Spain. Their generous hospitality in Dec-Jan. 2000-01 and again in summer of 2001 allowed us to discover the cultural riches of the Iberian peninsula. Hailing from a family of Jesuit priests, F�lix is himself a product of its rigorous discipline. His sister has lived most of her life as a Carmelite nun among the poor of the slums of Bombay.
Francesco Brighenti (born in Venice, Italy, 1963) has travelled extensively in India in pursuit of his academic interest in the living traditions of Hinduism and their relation to tribal cultures. Having worked on the goddess-cults of Orissa (1995-97), he received his Ph.D. from the Utkal University, Bhubaneswar. His doctoral thesis was subsequently expanded into a book (Shakti Cult in Orissa, New Delhi, D.K. Printworld, 2001). As a member of the Venetian Academy of Indian Studies�an association of Indologists with close ties with the Department of East Asian Studies, Ca� Foscari University, Venice, Italy� Francesco has been researching the religious practices of different Scheduled Tribes of eastern India in reelation to the regional typologies of Hindu cults. In particular, he has done field work in the areas of Orissa populated by the Kondhs and in those of Jharkhand populated by the Mundas. His main concern has been to detect the religio-cultural parallels between the tribal and the Hindu traditions of human- and buffalo-sacrifice. The results are embodied in two essays. The first one, entitled "Traditions of Human Sacrifice in Ancient and Tribal India and Their Relation to Sh�ktism," will appear soon in Breaking Boundaries with the Goddess: New Directions in the Study of Sh�ktism. Essays in Honor of Narendra Nath Bhattacharyya, ed. by Rachel McDermott and Cynthia Humes (under contract with Manohar Publishers, New Delhi). The second essay, on buffalo-sacrifice, is available below.
Frank Burch Brown is Frederick Doyle Kershner Professor of Religion and the Arts at Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) in Indianapolis. Dr. Brown is author of four books, including Religious Aesthetics (Princeton Univ. Press, 1989) and Good Taste, Bad Taste, and Christian Taste: Aesthetics in Religious Life (Oxford Univ. Press, 2000), which has twice been nominated for the prestigious Grawemeyer Award in Religion and which was chosen by the Association of American Publishers as one of the three �most outstanding� academic books in religion and philosophy for the year 2000. For five years he was Area Editor in arts, media, culture, and religion for a new edition of the multi-volume Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart (Religion Past and Present), currently being published in German and later in English. A composer with twenty commissioned works to his credit, Brown is former Director of the Master of Arts in Church Music program at CTS. He was a Henry Luce III Fellow in Theology for 1996-97, in the area of Theology and the Arts, and was appointed a Visiting Fellow in the Faculty of Divinity at Cambridge University for the fall term of 2000. In the fall semester of 2003, he will be the inaugural Luce Visiting Professor of Theology and Art at Saint John�s University School of Theology�Seminary. Brown has lectured widely, having given multi-media presentations at institutions such as Cambridge, Yale, U of Chicago, Northwestern, Union Theological Seminary (NYC), and seventy others. In 1994 Brown gave the Walter Hussey Lecture in the Church and the Arts at Oxford University. He is also a consultant to churches and arts organizations.
Frank has a keen interest in Hindustani classical (and other forms of traditional) music. We have been exchanging ideas on religion, aesthetics, and, more recently, politics, since we were introduced to Frank (and his wife Camilla) in 1996 (?) by a common friend, Sinologist Deborah Sommer. They have traveled in India twice, and have even spent several days in Benares on their first visit. During their most recent trip to South India in Jan. 2002, they also visited Buddhist, Chinese, Hindu and Muslim sites in Kuala Lumpur accompanied by my childhood Chinese friend (and classmate for 12 years), Liung Cheong Poh. Frank has been drawing upon all these experiences, and the treasured clips he brings back, for teaching religions and aesthetics. Frank and Sunthar have been exchanging email, often within a larger forum of friends and associates, about various aspects of Good Taste ever since his book came out in Fall 2000
Member of a reputed Romany (gypsy) family living in Sweden since 1898, Hans Caldaras belongs to the same blood lineage as the famous writer of short-stories, Katarina Taikon, and the jeweler in silver, Rosa Taikon. Originally from Russia, the family had migrated from Romania. Hans experienced in his childhood the life of the last wandering Roma in this Scandinavian nation. He rapidly became renowned for his recordings of traditional Roma music and for his live and televised performances in Sweden and other European countries. His book of memoirs, an immediate best seller currently being translated into several languages, has shaken the conscience of Swedish society by exposing crude evidence of the radical xenophobic measures implemented against minorities by a socio-political disposition that is otherwise generally seen abroad as the ideal rule of the welfare state. Hans is now a prominent activist and project leader at the Roma Cultural Center in Stockholm, having organized hand-in-hand with Fred Taikon such successful events as the Romany Writers Meeting (June 2003) and the Roma International Cultural Conference (Nov 2004). He was elected in the latter event to be a board member of the Roma Cultural Committee for the international promotion of Romany language, art and folklore.
Ian Whicher is a professor in religion at the University of Manitoba. His interests include the religious and philosophical thought of India, Hinduism, the Yoga Tradition. He is the author of The Integrity of the Yoga Darsana: A Reconsideration of Classical Yoga (SUNY 1998). I got to know Ian through our exchanges on the draft of his paper on "Countering World Negation" (below) even before we got to meet at the Indic Colloquium in July 2002. Since we shared the long ride back to Albany airport, where we also had to wait together for our respective flights, we had much time to discuss Indian spirituality, the relationship between Sri Aurobindo and Abhinavagupta, Ian's planned sabbatical in Europe, etc.
When I bounced into Jack Park at XML 2000 around 12 Dec. 2000 at Washington D.C., after having read some of his thoughtful postings (especially regarding the viability of a Standard Upper Ontology) to the Topics Map mailing list over the previous months, it was immediately apparent that we were kindred spirits. We were then both working on taxonomy-building, Jack for the world of e-commerce, and myself for the IT industry. He had just begun putting together a collective volume on Topic Maps for the Web, the TOC of which reads like a who's who in this knowledge management standard/technology. Subsequently, I became a "development editor" of sorts in my spare time for Addison-Wesley Professional, and was able to enter Jack's circle of collaborators/interlocutors and interact constructively with several of the key contributors. By a strange "coincidence" Jack quit VerticalNet on 30 April 2001, the same day that I left InformIT/Pearson Education. Jack has been very involved with Doug Engelbart (inventor of the mouse and inspiration to a whole generation of technology innovators) and the latter's BootStrap project for solving the world's problems through futuristic networking technology.
Roland and Jacqueline are the parents of ChristianBouchet. Jacqueline had done her Ph.D. in English Literature at the Sorbonne on (the theme of the 'foreigner' in) George Eliot (pen-name of Mary Ann Evans). Roland had been responsible for setting up the IT networks in several departments of the French academic establishment, including the Sorbonne. They are also in charge of the Center for Information and Documentation of Francophone India (CIDIF). Hailing from a Tamil family in the former French colony of Pondicherry, Jacqueline has spent her youth growing up in Indo-China and Africa, where her father had served as a judge in the French administration. Roland has just prepared for publication in the public domain of a volume by Olagnier.
We got to know Jacqueline and Roland during our 'sabbatical' in Paris from Aug 02 - Jul 03 on the occasion of the visit and celebration of some 20 Indian writers (Les Belles �trang�res) to France. We first noticed Jacqueline, when she intervened forcefully after the round-table with Esther David, Shauna Singh Baldwin and Nirmal Verma at the Marguerite Durand Library around the theme of "The inexpressible feminine in Indian writers." However, we got to know each other only at our next encounter, when we arrived early to listen to readings in English (and French!) by Shashi Tharoor at the Atelier bookshop on 26 Nov. Discovering in Roland a remarkable combination of information technology and wide reading in the humanities, Sunthar found it surprisingly easy to clarify his research on transgressive sacrality to someone so familiar with French thinkers such as Caillois, Bataille, Girard. Roland told us especially about the fascinating researches of their son, Christian. We subsequently ran into them at every other public event around these visiting Indian celebrities (including Arundhati Roy at the Sorbonne on Dec. 4). On Dec. 14, they invited us, along with Jacques Vigne and Shyamala Raja (a francophone Malaysian friend) to dinner, where we all got to know Christian.
When Jacques Vigne visited us at the Benares Hindu University (BHU) in the early 1980s (with a reference from a common Bengali friend, Jayanti Mishra), he was on a French Romain Rolland Fellowship working on a book comparing the guru-disciple relationship in India with the therapist-patient interaction in the West (see book online in English and French). We had introduced him to our cosmopolitan circle of friends and scholars in Benares, and he was soon a regular visitor there. Subsequently, Jacques renounced a top placement to practice psychiatry at the prestigious St.-Anne hospital and thus a promising career in France in order to sit at the feet of Hindu spiritual masters, like Swami Vijayananda (himself a Western doctor of Jewish descent) at Anandamayi Ma's Ashram at Haridwar. Coming from a devout Catholic background--e.g., he sings medieval Gregorian chants (sometimes with his brother), and did so at our BHU apartment on the occasion of Swami Agehananda Bharati's visit--Jacques had also practiced as a psychiatrist in North Africa, and much of his writings reflect a desire to reconcile the different approaches of the various (Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Sufi, etc.) traditions towards a unifying mystical experience. Moreover, he collaborates actively with circles of (especially French) psychoanalysts, psychiatrists and doctors, who are likewise keen to incorporate centuries-old Eastern techniques of spiritual healing into their clinical practice. Like Oscar, Jacques contributes regularly to the Sarasvat� magazine published in Spanish by the Purusa Foundation. Living in India for more than 17 years now, Jacques spend most of the year in Himalayan solitude near Rishikish, visiting Europe regularly to conduct spiritual workshops and guiding groups of Westerners on 'pilgrimages' to holy sites in India. We were delighted to renew our friendship with Jacques during his stay in France in late 2002, and have him participate in our recent session with Christian on lucid dreaming.
I got to know Jean-Marc through our interaction after his talk on 2nd Dec 2002 on "Islam and Javanism in Indonesia: the example of ritual initiation in the martial practices" within the framework of Marc Gaborieau's seminar on "Islam in the Indo-Pakistani subcontinent." It seemed clear to me from some of the textual extracts and other terminology used that the tradition was a Kaula tantric one that had been reworked into an Islamic context. Particularly striking was the elaboration of the Sanskritic rasa-theory from the otherwise restricted realm of aesthetics into an existential mode of being for the Indonesian Muslim initiate, and the role of eros (shrng�ra) and the worship of Bhairava for, among other goals, mastery over the body while undergoing the discipline of the martial arts. Jean-Marc and I subsequently met a couple of times over lunch to discuss the larger background of his researches and his personal involvement in the South-East Asian martial arts tradition. Along with his Japanese companion, Etsuko, who is an artist, he also joined Charles Mopsik, Jacques Vigne, Christian Bouchet and others at our place in Jan 2003 for the marathon discussion of 'lucid dreaming' (as in the Indian tantric traditions, dreams, and their interpretation, also play an important role in initiation into the Javanese martial arts). On 29th May 2003, we also had the pleasure of visiting with Jean-March and Etsuko the Monet Museum at Giverny, just outside Vernon where they live, before spending a most agreeable afternoon discussing French anthropology, etc., with several of Jean-Marc's colleagues working on China and Indonesia and belonging to the same research group, under the direction of Jean-Claude Galey (who was very close to Louis Dumont). Jean-Marc spent all of June 2003 in Malaysia to study Pancak Silat (another martial arts tradition) and is now in Java pursuing further research. While in Kuala Lumpur, he spent much time with my childhood friends and family.
Jeff Conklin is a facilitator, consultant, and teacher. Over the past decade he has developed a dialog mapping facilitation approach (previously called Visual Issue Mapping System, or VIMS) that is based on Horst Rittel's Issue Based Information System (IBIS). The technique uses graphical hypertext software (QuestMap) to interactively map the meeting dialog of project teams working on "wicked" technical problems. In addition to using Dialog Mapping as a consultant with various clients, he teaches the technique in a 2-day workshop. He is passionate about getting the knowledge of IBIS and Dialog Mapping out to a wider audience, and is currently working full time on a book about it. Jeff wrote an early survey paper on hypertext that was published in IEEE Computer (1987), developed the gIBIS software at MCC in Austin, Texas, and launched a software company, Corporate Memory Systems, that created the QuestMap software. That experience, and the company's financial demise, taught him a lot about the practical side of collaborative technology. He is also very interested in knowledge management and organizational memory, and is collaborating on a requirements analysis approach based on IBIS and Dialog Mapping called Compendium. Jeff and I sort of sizzled on the same wavelength, without however getting to meet, in the discussion following Jack Park's presentation at Knowledge Technologies 2001 in March 2001.
Mukur Khisha and I met Joaquin for the first time in Madrid on 22 July 2001 around late lunch at the Ill�raz's. He is a "writer, sniper and chronicler of artistic life," who lives in Spain. He has written extensively on his Rom heritage that he sees as deeply rooted in Indian tradition. By an interesting "coincidence" I witnessed my first bullfight at the Plaza de Toro the same evening immediately after taking leave of Joaqu�n. I was introduced to Joaqu�n, who has lived several months in Benares, by Oscar Pujol. You can read more about him and his various cultural activities at the Indo-Roma home page that he maintains at svAbhinava Friends.
Having discovered Joe 'Pomonomo' on the Ontological Ethics (devoted to Plato, Nietzsche and Heidegger) forum soon after joining, in Nov 2001, the Abhinavagupta group that had been launched, also by Gary, as its sister site for comparative Indo-Western philosophy, I was immediately struck by the 'dialogical' skill with which he made complex thoughts readily accessible to those not yet schooled in the seminal texts of the Western tradition, even while remaining ever focused on the development of a particular insight and train of reasoning. He joined the Abhinava forum the following month, and eventually began contributing to raising the level of discourse by injecting those qualities that have already endeared him to Ontological Ethics. For example, his timely post on Emmanuel Todd's 'anthropological' approach to the impending 'conflict of civilization' (25 Sep 02) resulted not only in a better appreciation of the 'familial' underpinnings of the problematic of acculturation, but also in Elizabeth and I listening to and meeting Todd just a couple of weeks later, after having read his latest book on American imperialism.
Karine is completing her French doctorate in art history at the University of Paris-IV on the Iconography of Bhairava in South Indian sculpture (till the XIIIth century). We were introduced to her (and Krist�le) towards the end of our 'sabbatical' year in Paris, on 8th July 2003, by David Dubois. Before working in South India, Karine had also done some research on the iconography of Bhairava in the Katmandu Valley, which is highly original, hybrid and influenced by (Vajray�na) Buddhism.
Professor of English, Centre for Linguistics and English, School of Language, Literature, and Culture Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University since 1999. He teaches courses at the M.A. and M.Phil level and guides doctoral research. His M.A. courses include American Literature, Indian Literature in English/Translation, Readings in Literary Theory and Criticism, and M.Phil courses include Research Methodology and Introduction to Contemporary Literary Theory. His Ph.D. in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign focused on "Mysticism in Indian English Poetry." Makarand is General Editor of a series of reprints of rare and out-of-print Indian English titles published by the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, and Editor of Evam: Forum on Indian Representations, an international biannual journal. He is also Managing Trustee of the non-profit Samvad India Foundation. Makarand is a regular guest speaker or organizer at several conferences, seminars and workshops worldwide.
My introduction to Makarand was through his talk at the Indic Colloquium on "The Third Eye and Two Ways of (Un)knowing: Gnosis, Alternative Modernities, and Postcolonial Futures" (July 25, 2002) reflections that were explicitly inspired by the writings of Shri Aurobindo. I approached him thereafter to discuss points of contact between these perceptions and those of Abhinavagupta. Makarand subsequently visited us in Paris for dinner on 7th July 2003, and even saw me off on the talgo to Madrid the following day. We have begun collaborating in our publication projects.
Mary and I
got to know each other in early 70s, shortly after my taking up residence at
the International House of the Banaras Hindu University, through our
collaboration in organizing lectures on religious culture, particularly
Hinduism, sponsored by the Maharajah at his Chet Singh Palace on the banks of
the Ganga. I was then President of the International Students Union, Mary
would soon be teaching at the Sociology Dept. She has focused on the Muslim
community of Banaras, particularly the weavers (Ansari), who constitute a
quarter of the population of the Hindu sacred city. Mary subsequently returned
to the U.K., where she is now teaching sociology at the University of
Manchester and at the Metropolitan University. Her research has provided
source materials for our monograph Between Mecca and Benares, and we
also facilitated the publishing of her essay on Gh�z� Miy� in Living
Benares (SUNY). We renewed our friendship and intellectual exchanges over
my few days with her (and her colleagues) in August 2001 in the world's first
industrial and working class city. Our discussions on (the Puritan element in)
'English' national character, stimulated by my visit to the monument
paying tribute to (Manchester's support for) Abraham Lincoln's war-effort (to the
detriment of England's own textile industry!), and my subsequent discovery of
Irish nationalism in Dublin, helped prepare me mentally for the thesis that
the American War of Independence was, in many respects, a continuation of the
English Civil War, and has provided me valuable insights into the increasing
polarization of political debate in greater Anglo-America with respect to
civil liberties and (the impact of) 'globalization' (on developing countries).
Most recently, Mary visited France for the first time to stay with us in Paris
from 8-14 Jan 2003, during which time she got to know
Vinay Bahl, and also met
friends like the Fran�ois Chenet.
We were introduced to Mohammad and his family in 29 Sep. 2002 by his colleague at the Philosophy Dept. of Paris-VIII University, Dr. Rada Ivekovic (whom we have known from Benares and who has recently published a book on the city). We discussed the respective contributions of (Shia) Islam, Western (neo-) colonialism and (Aryan) theocracy towards the current impasse of Iranian society and the alienation of its intelligentsia. As regards, the 'incompatibility' between reason and intuition in Shia intellectual history, I have been urging Mohammad ever since to look at this problematic in the 'philosophical' work of Abhinavagupta, as a possible way to mediate the opposition between these two faculties. I have been attending several of Mohammed's seminars confronting Western and Islamic thought on such diverse subjects as revelation, mysticism and apocalypse. On ??? June 2003, we enjoyed most of the day at the Fashahis in the company of several of his departmental colleagues (including Rada), all with a strong background in the sociology of knowledge.
I got to know Mohan Thampi at BHU after I began working towards my Ph.D. thesis in 1977 and while he was still a professor at the English Dept. Mohan was Aesthetics editor for the leftist Indian journal, The Social Scientist, and in the course of our long walks around the open BHU campus (reputed then to be the second largest in the world), he introduced me to Indian working class issues, Marxist thought, and, in turn, I served as an intermediary for exposing him to wealth of French (post-)structuralist thought in Elizabeth's library. Though not a Sanskritist by formation, Mohan's own Ph.D. thesis, ???, drew insights from Abhinava's aesthetics. Indeed, it was he, who drew my attention to the indispensable compendium by Prof. G. K. Bhat (whom I later got to meet in Poona) on the Vid�shaka, to which my own Ph.D. was a systematic response of sorts. Along with Profs. J. N. Tiwari, A. K. Chatterjee, and others, Mohan became part of the intimate circle of BHU scholars, who met regularly at our apartment, often to receive visiting scholars from abroad. For example, as Head of the English Dept., he subsequently invited F�lix Ilarr�z to speak on Spanish literature. Like many Indian Marxists, Mohan had previously been a Gandhian and the tension between the two allegiances, it seems to me, had nurtured a (self-) critical spirit of inquiry that is refreshing amidst the fanaticisms of our times. We lost touch after our departure from India in early 1989 and missed each other on his visit to the USA in 1994 (when I was in Indianapolis). We have finally resumed contact as of October 2003.
Before his retirement from the Indian Foreign Service in December 1993, Mukur had served as India�s Ambassador to Congo, Chile, Colombia, Cuba and Argentina. I got to know him as a friend the Ilarraz' in Madrid in July 2001, His views on India's malaise are particularly interesting because he is a practicing Buddhist of tribal background. Moreover, as a spiritual orphan of the Partition, his arguments reflect a lifelong attempt to come to terms with a trauma that many other Hindu nationalists may have not lived through except in their imagination.
Probably the most promising Sanskrit scholar from Spain, Oscar has been teaching Spanish at the Banaras Hindu University, where he received his Ph.D. in Sanskrit Grammar in 1999. His wife, Mercedes, is a Bharata N�tyam dancer, who did her arangetram in Delhi in 1999 . She regularly teaches Bharata N�tyam in Mallorca, Spain. Vasant, his multilingual son, goes to school in Banaras where he was born. Oscar is currently converting his Sanskrit-Catalan dictionary into Sanskrit-Spanish. He has published several other books, especially the translation of Abhinavagupta's Abhinavabh�rat� on Rasa. Oscar has been very active in promoting cultural exchanges between traditional Indian and contemporary Spanish/Catalan scholars (he's currently working on a Spanish text "From the Ganges to the Mediterranean"). We got to know Oscar and family shortly before we quit India in early 1989, and we were able to renew our friendship at his parents' place in Barcelona in June 2001. During the intervening period, Oscar worked closely on various projects with F�lix (who subsequently undertook an extended stay in Benares), ending with a Spanish book on Indian philosophy (in press). He is a prime mover behind the Fundaci�n Purusa.
Paul Wilson is an MBA candidate at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business. His undergraduate studies included physics and mathematics at Maharishi International University (MIU), a private liberal arts college in Iowa, with an innovative curriculum that includes the study of consciousness as a meta-foundation for all other disciplines. He began practice of the experiential component of this study of consciousness at age thirteen by learning the Transcendental Meditation� (TM) technique of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. During his years at MIU, he added an advanced practice of the TM technique, the TM-Sidhi� program, to his daily routine. In the mid-1980s, he was fortunate to take a series of courses in various Vedic disciplines that were offered at MIU, led by some of India's top Vedic scholars. His focus was Ayur-Veda, the holistic health teachings of the Vedic tradition. Scholars and vaidyas (therapeutic practitioners) offering this knowledge included Drs. H.S. Kasture, C.P. Shukla, V.M. Dwivedi, Balraj Maharshi, Raj Vaidya B.D. Triguna, and the now-famous Deepak Chopra. In addition, Paul studied Jyotish (Vedic astrology), Gandharva Veda (music), Sthapatya Veda (architecture), and Vedic mathematics. In the early 1990s, Paul co-founded an Ayur-Vedic panchakarma treatment facility in Indianapolis and received training in the panchakarma rejuvenative therapies. During these same years, he had new opportunities to continue his studies in Ayur-Veda and Jyotish under scholars who stayed for up to a year at his clinic. Paul has worked in other fields during the years in-between, including computerized litigation support and in computer book publishing, where he specialized in quality.
Curiously enough, I discovered Paul only on account of his capacity as quality control specialist at Macmillan Computer Publishing. In my role as development editor, I had taken it upon myself to program (in VBA) a MS Word template to automate and streamline routine authoring, editing, indexing and proofing tasks that was regularly used by my computer book authors and myself. In 1998, the production department, attempting to make the template official and have it accepted by editorial staff across all the various imprints, assigned Paul to ensure that it met their quality control needs even while adapting to the divergent work-habits of the various editors involved in the publication workflow upstream. Not only did Paul thus provide the occasion for me to familiarize myself with the 'patron saints' of the American quality movement (Deming, etc.), but I was wonderfully surprised to discover so much interest in Sanskrit, etc., in someone who had never been to India. He rapidly became a member of our Indy 'inner circle' and helped greatly with my move in summer of 2001 to Chicago. Before leaving Macmillan in early 2002, Paul was serving the parent company, Pearson Education, as quality manager.
Do�a M� Anunciaci�n Ordu�a Ferrero (Nunci) and Don Pedro Soto Adrados are the current President and Treasurer respectively of the Fundaci�n Purusa. We were introduced by the Ilarraz' on our first visit to Madrid in Dec. 2000 - Jan 2001, and had the pleasure of getting to know them better on our second visit to Spain in July 2001. Originally presided over by F�lix Il�rraz, the Fundaci�n Purusa publishes the Sarasvati journal (East-West Studies towards a Humanist Renaissance), which features inter-cultural articles by scholars from all religious traditions. Oscar, a frequent contributor, had worked on the Sanskrit to Spanish dictionary for a year under the auspices of the Fundaci�n. Pedro and Nunci are personally involved with Indian traditions; Pedro was in Benares, Maharashtra and at the Allahabad Kumbha-Mela in early 2001. Since our first encounter, they have published several papers in the Sarasvat� journal by Jacques Vigne, Christian Bouchet, Elizabeth and myself (and more soon by other friends...). Pedro introduced us (F�lix, Aurora and myself) to Swami Satyananda, a Spanish monk who lives in Tiruvannamalai, on 13th July 2003 when I last visited Madrid in July 2003.
Peter Heehs is a historian based in Pondicherry. He is the author or editor of seven books, most recently (2002) Indian Religions: A Historical Reader of Spiritual Expression and Experience (NYU Press). A member of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives and Research Library, he is part of the editorial team that is bringing out the Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo in 37 volumes. Peter is the author of the following books: Nationalism, Terrorism, Communalism: Essays in Modern Indian History (1998-2000); India's Freedom Struggle 1857-1947: A Short History; Sri Aurobindo: A Brief Biography (1997); The Bomb in Bengal: The Rise of Revolutionary Terrorism in India 1900-1910 (1996). We were introduced to Peter's work by Vinay Bahl in Aug. 2003 just after she had come across his "Shades of Orientalism" (below) and was struck by its mediating role in our continuing exchanges on the relevance of the 'Abhinavagupta and the Synthesis of Indian Culture' project to her own socio-historical approach to contemporary problems in India and the global economy.
Rainer hat seine Dissertation (als Dr. phil.) �ber das kosmographische System der Pur�Nas [Jahr?] fertiggestellt, der im Verlag seines Doktorvaters Albrecht Wezler publiziert wurde [Jahr?]. Er schreibt seit einiger Zeit an einem Buch �ber �Wirtschaftsstruktur und Semantik im alten Indien�. Zur Zeit besch�ftigt er sich mit dem �Haushalt der Het�re� bzw. mit dem Thema �Prostitution�. Seine Quellen sind dharma-, artha- und k�mash�stra-Quellen. Rainer h�lt Niklas Luhmann f�r den wichtigsten zeitgen�ssischen Soziologen und ist von seinem rigorosen Anspruch an saubere Theorie absolut �berzeugt: nur sie historisches Material wirklich zum Sprechen bringen kann. Er habe sich mit dieser Orientierung auch den indologischen Theorien entzogen, die ihm fr�her einmal als besonders vielversprechend erschienen waren: Dumont, Biardeau und vor allem Heesterman.
Having disappeared beyond the horizon since my resettlement in Benares in 1972, Rajan, my maternal cousin, introduced himself to me as a Unitarian after my talk on "Death and Sexuality in Hinduism and Islam" at Chicago University on 2nd April 1991. He had enrolled as a Doctor of Ministry candidate in September 1988 at the Meadville Lombard Theological School, Chicago, and did a ministerial internship the following year at the May Memorial Unitarian Society, Syracuse, New York (where he also go to know Swami Aghehananda Bharati). Rajan had been living in Indianapolis from 1992 to 1993, just before my taking up a position there in Nov. 93 with Macmillan Computer Publishing. He had organized a Tagore Festival in Indianapolis with UU minister, Rev. Larry (and Nancy) Hutchinson (whom I got to know through Rajan during his subsequent visit to Indy), in which Indian scholars from Terre Haute had also participated. We met again briefly in Kuala Lumpur but I subsequently lost track of him again until Oct. 2001. Raja has worked as a UU chaplain at hospitals in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne (Indiana), and Austin (Texas). Rajan subsequently visited us in Chicago in June 2001 and again in Paris in the spring of 2003, and has been participating in the discussions at the Abhinavagupta forum.
After studying in Delhi's St. Columba's High School and then St. Stephen's College, Rajiv arrived in the US in 1971 to study Physics and Computer Science. His corporate careers and business entrepreneurship included the computer, software and telecom industries. He now spends full time with The Infinity Foundation, a non-profit organization in Princeton, New Jersey. Its main interests include fostering harmony among the diverse cultures of the world. Many of its projects strive to upgrade the portrayal of India's civilization in the American education system and media. This involves both challenging the negative stereotypes and also establishing the many positive contributions from India's civilization.
My niece Sumi Sivaratnam left Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) in 198? to resettle in Australia. She is currently completing her doctorate in the classics on Plotinus. She has also taught Sanskrit. The following 2 articles were published in Dirk Baltzly, Douglas Blyth and Harold Tarrant, eds., Power and Pleasure, Virtues and Vices (Prudentia, Supplement 2001, ISBN: 0-9582211-5-4)
Valerie J. Roebuck was born in Hertfordshire, England, in 1950. She found her love for the culture of India at the age of 18, when she visited her first exhibition of Indian art. She pursued this passion at the University of Cambridge, where she received a BA Hons in Oriental (Indian) Studies, with Sanskrit as the major subject, and a PhD for a thesis on "South Indian Bronzes of the Vijayanagar Period". She is involved in adult education, and is an Honorary Research Associate of the University of Manchester. Her translation of the UpaniSads was published by Penguin Books (New Delhi, India) in 2000 (ISBN: 0-14-044749-0; 503 pages, 395 Rs.). A new edition for Penguin Classics is due to be published in the UK and USA early in 2003. Previous publications include The Circle of Stars: An Introduction to Indian Astrology (Element Books, 1992). She is a Buddhist, practicing and teaching meditation in the Samatha tradition. She is currently the Hon. Secretary of Manchester Interfaith Forum. She admires the philosopher Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), and is married to Peter Roebuck, an artist.
Vinay is associate professor of sociology at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. Her training is in modern Indian history and sociology with special focus on industrialization, work, gender and culture. She is the author of The Making of the Indian Working Class: The Case of the Tata Iron and Steel Company 1880-1946 (1995) and book chapters in Congress and Classes: nationalism, Peasants and Workers (1988). She has published fifteen articles on the subject of the working class, industrialization, women, and caste. We first met Vinay during a book-signing ceremony on 13 Nov. 2003 in Paris, where she was spending a year as a research fellow at the Coll�ge de France that coincided with our own 'sabbatical' from Aug 02-Aug 03. Sunthar subsequently interacted with her French and Indian critics at the Subaltern Day at the CEIAS (Center for the Study of India and South-Asia) on 03 Dec 2003 in Paris, where she had been invited to give the opening talk. Vinay thereafter got to know several of our friends, both Parisians and visitors from abroad (such as Mary Chatterjee), and we've been engaged in an ongoing dialogue between modern world-historiography and Indian traditions (such as embodied in Abhinava).